Local News Archives

Health Department Talks Smoking Cessation Resources


This Friday is “World No Tobacco Day” as recognized by the World Health Organization. The annual campaign is used as a way to remind people of the dangers of smoking. The Berrien County Health Department’s Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News those who have decided to quit have many resources available. First up, she recommends calling the Michigan Tobacco Quitline. The number is 1-800-QUIT-NOW.. ...Read Full Story

Memorial Day Weekend Crash Deaths Fall From 2018


This Memorial Day weekend was considerably safer than 2018 according to preliminary data from Michigan State Police. Those reports indicate 10 people were killed in eight separate crashes between Friday evening and 11:59 p.m. Monday. Last year, 19 people were killed in 15 crashes in Michigan. Alcohol was a known factor in just one deadly crash, and one victim was a motorcyclist who was wearing a helmet.. ...Read Full Story

Unattended Candles In Bathroom Spark Dowagiac House Fire


Officials with the Dowagiac Fire Department are reminding people to be careful using candles in their homes. That’s coming after a late night fire Tuesday in a home in the 300 block of West High Street that is believed to have been started by candles that were burning in the bathroom. Everyone had gone to bed when a man in the house woke up smelling smoke around 11:15 p.m. He woke everyone up and two adults, two small children and two dogs all got out onto the first story roof of the two-story home after calling 9-1-1. The fire was under control within a half hour, but firefighters stayed on the scene until a little after 1 a.m. The entire house had smoke damage, but was insured. One of the adults was treated and released from Borgess Lee Hospital for smoke inhalation. The Dowagiac Fire Department did not say if the house had working smoke detectors.. ...Read Full Story

Professor: State Should Work With BH Board


As the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education prepares for a fight to keep the district’s high school open, one observer is Thomas Pedroni, an associate professor in curriculum studies at Wayne State University. He tells WSJM News he has studied the struggles of Michigan school districts for 15 years, and is surprised the Whitmer administration is taking the same path as others in the past and so quickly. Pedroni points to Highland Park, where he says the high school was also closed. He talks regularly with people in that community.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Mobile Branch Coming To Van Buren County


The Mobile Office of the Michigan Secretary of State will roll into South Haven and Bangor next week. The Secretary of State says the unit will be at the South Haven Memorial Library on Monday, June 3 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It will also be at the Bangor branch of Van Buren District Library on Tuesday, June 4. during the same hours. It’s a fully functional Secretary of State branch office where customers can renew their license plate tabs and driver’s licenses, register to vote, change their address, and sign up for the Michigan Organ Donor Registry. The mobile branch travels to towns all over the state each year to promote the Secretary of State and to help people conduct their business while on the go.. ...Read Full Story

BH School Trustee Talks State High School Proposal


Members of the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education say the state’s proposal last week to close Benton Harbor High School was sprung on them during what had been scheduled as a regular meeting with Treasury officials. Trustee Joseph Taylor tells WSJM NEws it was made clear at Friday’s meeting with representatives of the governor that, to them, only the administration’s proposal would be an option.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer: Care For Injured Drivers Will Still Be There


From the Associated Press — Gretchen Whitmer is defending a pending overhaul of Michigan’s auto insurance law, saying treatment for injured drivers will “still be there” if they forego what has been a mandatory unlimited personal injury protection benefit. The Democrat told The Associated Press in a Tuesday phone interview that people buying car insurance will have coverage, whether it’s through their auto
insurer, their health insurer or a government plan. Whitmer could sign the bill this week. It won overwhelmingly legislative support as a way to reduce high premiums but has come under criticism because injured motorists would likely hit caps on rehabilitation and other services through regular health insurance. Whitmer says providers may have to deliver care in “different mechanisms,” but she helped make the bill better than was proposed by Republicans.. ...Read Full Story

AAA: Gas Prices In Michigan Up 1¢ From Last Week, Down 22¢ From Last Year


Memorial Day is normally the high point of the year for gas prices, and Triple-A Michigan says the statewide average is up just a penny from last week. The post-holiday average in Michigan is $2.88 a gallon, and that’s down 22¢ a gallon from the same time a year ago. The auto club says for a 15-gallon fill-up, we’re saving $4 compared to 2018. Prices did spike last week just before the holiday weekend to an average of $2.93 on Friday, but have eased since then. AAA says while demand is “robust,” supply is on the upswing and that’s helping to keep any sharp price hikes at bay. The nation’s fuel inventories are up due to a drop in gas exports. The Benton Harbor-St. Joseph is the third-lowest in the state at $2.87. Traverse City drivers are paying the lowest prices at $2.79, while in the U.P. Marquette, the average is $2.96 per gallon.. ...Read Full Story

Repaving Of M-51 South Of Niles Starts Monday


A two-mile project on M-51 south of Niles will get underway on Monday. The Michigan Department of Transportation will be repaving the highway between Chestnut Lane and the Indiana state line. The $3.4 million project is scheduled to be done by September 6. Crews will be installing new sidewalk ramps, curbs and gutters and making joint and crack repairs along with drainage fixes as part of the work. One lane will remain open in each direction, but there will be a traffic shift during the project. MDOT says the work is being done to improve safety and ride quality, and will extend the life of M-51.. ...Read Full Story

MSU Names New President


(East Lansing, MI – AP) – Michigan State University has named a new president following the most extensive sexual abuse scandal in sports history. Dr. Samuel Stanley Jr., a medical researcher who has led Stony Brook University in New York for nearly a decade, was chosen by the board of trustees today. He will take charge of a 50,000-student university that has been led by a string of acting or interim presidents since the January 2018 resignation of Lou Anna Simon. She quit amid fallout over ex-campus sports doctor Larry Nassar’s molestation of hundreds of female gymnasts and other athletes under the guise of treatment. MSU board president Dianne Byrum says Stanley “is an empowering, compassionate and thoughtful leader.” Stanley is president of Stony Brook, a part of the State University of New York.. ...Read Full Story

Former Benton Harbor Officer Acquitted On One Charge, Guilty Of Another


The verdict is in for a former Benton Harbor public safety officer charged with assault with a deadly weapon for hitting a suspect with his patrol car. Steven Johnson has been acquitted on that charge, but convicted of reckless driving. Our partners at WSBT-22 report prosecutors were unable to prove he intended to hurt Ron Glover Jr. according to Judge Arthur Cotter. The judge says Glover being hit was an avoidable accident, and hitting a suspect with a car, even if he’s trying to run away, doesn’t fall under the guidelines of reasonable force. Sentencing is happening today, and we will have updates on Johnson’s punishment later.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Closing New Buffalo Welcome Center For June


Tourists are still going to be welcome in southwest Michigan in June, but the state’s official Welcome Center in New Buffalo won’t be open. The Michigan Department of Transportation is closing the facility on I-94 just over the state line from June 3 until June 28 to rebuild the ramps in and out of the facility. The closure will start next Monday.. ...Read Full Story

OutCenter To Award SJ City Commission


The OutCenter in Benton Harbor is gearing up for its annual Lake Effect Pride event. Set for Saturday, June 8 at the Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Lake Effect Pride is a chance for the OutCenter to celebrate its accomplishments of the past year and also recognize allies. Director Mary Jo Schnell tells WSJM News they’ll give out their annual Ally of the Year Award, and the winner is the St. Joseph City Commission.. ...Read Full Story

BHAS Board To Governor: Hands Off Benton Harbor High School


Hands off. That’s the message from the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Trustees to Governor Whitmer and her administration regarding the possible closure of Benton Harbor High School after the 2020-2021 school year. The board has sent her a letter urging her to attend a meeting at the high school on Tuesday, June 4 at 6 p.m. to let her hear from those directly impacted by the plan. State officials with the Treasury and Education departments announced on Friday that the school board is being given a proposal to close the high school and keep BHAS a kindergarten through 8th grade district, with eight area districts taking in the high school students. If they vote against the proposal, the state says further action will be up to the Legislature and warn normally, the next step is to dissolve the entire district.. ...Read Full Story

New BH theater Preparing For First Season


The new Ghostlight Theater in Benton Harbor is getting ready to open for its first season. The black box theater at 101 Hinkley Street held a media day last week to show off to the public what’s coming. Co-founder Paul Mow tells us after a career in theater, it’s a dream come true to open a new venue in Benton Harbor.. ...Read Full Story

Fatal Fire In Benton Township


A 78-year-old woman is dead following a Sunday fire in Benton Township. The Benton Township Police Department tells us officers were dispatched to a home in the 1800 block of Wood Street around 3:20 a.m. Upon arrival, they found the home actively engulfed in flames. Two residents had gotten out of the home and told officers there was still a woman trapped inside. The officers made several attempts to get to her, but couldn’t because of the flames and heavy smoke. The Benton Township Fire Department arrived and put the fire out. They found the deceased woman in the home. The two residents who had gotten out were treated for smoke inhalation at the scene. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Trail Summit Coming Up In Lawrence


The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission will hold a summit on trails in Van Buren County next month. Senior Planner Marcy Hamilton tells WSJM News the commission is putting together a seven-county trail plan for the Michigan Department of Transportation. It’s holding meetings throughout the region to get input from the public on what is needed in each county so there can be a robust, connected trail system.. ...Read Full Story

Report: More Than $2 Billion Needed For County Roads


The County Road Association of Michigan has released a plan for getting roads under the jurisdiction of counties back into good condition. Its “Michigan County Road Investment Plan” concludes another $2 billion in annual funding is needed for the state’s county road and bridge network. Association Director Denise Donahue tells WSJM News there isn’t often an assessment of local road needs.. ...Read Full Story

Police Plan More Tire Collection Events


An effort to clean up tires around the city of Benton Harbor made a splash last week. At this past week’s city commission meeting, Benton Harbor Director of Public Safety Dan McGinnis said the event last Friday at Dwight P. Mitchell City Center Park resulted in a lot of tires being dropped off.. ...Read Full Story

Pier Safety Training Tomorrow


This Sunday will bring a chance for everyone to learn more about how they can stay safe and help protect others along piers in southwest Michigan. St. Joseph Department of Public Safety Director Steve Neubecker tells WSJM News officers will be at Tiscornia Beach at the north pier tomorrow,  Sunday, May 26 from noon to 3 p.m. to offer training.. ...Read Full Story

Click It Or Ticket Campaign This Weekend


Another Click It or Ticket campaign is underway this Memorial Day weekend to make sure Michigan drivers and their passengers are using their seat belts. The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning’s Kendall Wingrove tells WSJM News officers from more than 100 police agencies are putting in overtime through June 2 to make sure people are being safe out on the roads.. ...Read Full Story

Grocery Chain Offering Home Deliveries


Martin’s Super Markets in St. Joseph and Stevensville are now offering same-day delivery of groceries. Martin’s has teamed up with Instacart, a North American leader in online groceries, for the program. To use it, you have to go to Delivery.MartinsSuperMarkets.com, or open the Instacart app on your mobile device. The delivery fee is $3.99 for orders of $35 or more. Those who sign up for an extra level of service can get the deliveries for free. Martin’s announced the new program in southwest Michigan and at some of its Indiana stores this week. Roger’s Foodland in St. Joseph also offers home delivery, as does Meijer.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagon Pow Wow Underway This Weekend


There is a party going on this weekend at the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi campus in Dowagiac. Tribal council member Andy Jackson tells WSJM News they’re holding their tenth annual Memorial Day weekend pow wow. It’s smaller than the Labor Day pow pow, where the dancing is competitive. Jackson says this weekend gives the young and old a chance to learn traditional dancing.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Advising Everyone Of Coming REAL ID Requirements


The Michigan Secretary of State is advising everyone that new and enhanced REAL IDs will be needed to board domestic flights and enter certain federal facilities starting next year. Secretary of State spokesperson Shawn Starkey tells WSJM News federal legislation approved in response to the 911 attacks will make those REAL IDs necessary starting October 1 of 2020. You’ll need your birth certificate or a passport to get these enhanced IDs.. ...Read Full Story

Charges Filed Against Priest Who Once Served In Benton Harbor


A priest who once served at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Benton Harbor is facing two charges of rape. The Michigan Attorney General’s office tells us 84-year-old Jacob Vellian of the Kalamazoo Diocese faces life in prison if convicted. He is one of five priests identified for sex charges as part of a state investigation. They all began with calls to a tip line and were verified using diocese records. The AG’s office says Vellian is charged with two rapes in the 1970s. The file says both victims were females under the age of 16. The Kalamazoo Diocese says Vellian was a visiting priest from India who served one year in Michigan in the early 70s. It says it’s fully cooperating with the state investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Flick Pick – John Wick: Chapter 3


Flick Pick is a podcast about movies. In today’s episode, Andrew Green reviews John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. In this film, Keanu Reeves is back as America’s favorite assassin, John Wick. Throughout the film, John Wick kills countless other assassins who all want to…well, assassinate him.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Signs Legislation To Move Medically Frail Inmates


Legislation designed to allow for some medically frail inmates in Michigan to be moved out of prisons and into medical facilities has been signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan told WSJM News earlier this year the plan is intended to reduce prison costs by having Medicaid pay for the care of those who are severely ill.. ...Read Full Story

OutCenter Provides Inclusivity Training To Local Business


The OutCenter in Benton Harbor is marking the first time it’s provided inclusivity training to a southwest Michigan business. OutCenter Director Mary Jo Schnell tells WSJM News on May 2, staff provided the training to the Moersch Hospitality Group’s management team. Moersch owns Tabor Hill Winery and Restaurant, Free Run Cellars, and Round Barn Winery. Schnell says OutCenter volunteer Caroline Jones worked on a scenario-based program for the group.. ...Read Full Story

State Teacher’s Union: Benton Harbor High School Proposal Not Ideal, But Best Option


The head of the state’s teacher’s union is supporting the proposal to close Benton Harbor High School after the coming year. Michigan Education Association President Paul Herbart says the proposal is not ideal, but is the “best solution for students and families” adding it’s “far better than closing down Benton Harbor’s schools and leaving that community, its students and its school employees without options.” However, that isn’t out of the realm of possibilities. If the Benton Harbor Area Schools board of education votes down the proposal, state officials say the Legislature will have to step in. In previous instances, they have moved to completely shut down struggling districts. Herbart goes on to call the proposal from the state “a bold solution that will put Benton Harbor students on a path to success.” She adds the MEA is ready to partner with all 8 districts in the area which will be taking in Benton Harbor students starting in the fall of 2020.. ...Read Full Story

Governor, Lawmakers Reach Deal On Auto Insurance Reform


It’s a compromise years in the making, as Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Republican leaders of the state House and Senate have a bipartisan agreement to reform the no-fault auto insurance system in Michigan. The Legislature is holding a rare Friday session, and if both chambers pass it, the Michigan News Network reports the governor could sign the reform bill today. In a statement, Whitmer says the “agreement in concept” will “lower costs and protect coverage for Michigan drivers.” Details weren’t immediately released, but she says the deal will cut rates for drivers and offer choices among coverage levels.. ...Read Full Story

Lawsuit Filed To Block New Ballot Requirements


From the Associated Press — Voting-rights advocates and a campaign-finance ballot drive group are challenging Republican-enacted requirements that make it harder to qualify proposals for the ballot. A lawsuit filed Thursday in the Michigan Court of Claims comes a day after Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel said a law passed in December’s lame-duck session is unconstitutional. Her opinion is binding on state officials, but courts will have the final say. The law says no more than 15% of petition signatures can be counted from any
one of Michigan’s 14 congressional districts. The suit was filed by the League of Women Voters of Michigan, the ballot committee Michiganders for Fair and Transparent Elections, and individual voters. They say the law is an unconstitutional attempt by lawmakers to amend the state constitution by statute.. ...Read Full Story

Foster Care Open House Set For Friday


There will be an open house for Van Buren County’s foster care system on Friday. Van Buren County Friend of the Court Lynn Bullard tells WSJM News the Judicial Court building in Paw Paw will host the event as speakers recognize the county’s current foster care parents and information is presented on how to become a foster parent. Bullard says there are 147 foster kids in the county now. There’s always a new need for more foster parents.. ...Read Full Story

Street Repaving Coming Up In South Haven


The city of South Haven is notifying drivers about some street paving starting next week. On Friday, May 31 the city will begin repaving Pearl Street from Erie Street to Church Street. During construction, the streets will remain open to local traffic, but there will be traffic disruptions on the days when the old asphalt is removed and new asphalt is installed. Property owners will be notified if the concrete and gutter are being replaced at their driveway approaches. The major work is set to be finished by June 28, and the final restoration is planned to be finished by July 3. Anyone with questions can contact the city engineer’s office.. ...Read Full Story

Cornerstone Chamber Changes Its Name


Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce has changed its name. The organization is now to be called the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber. After nearly 25 years of operating under the old name, the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber says its new name represents an attempt to adopt an attitude of regionalism and to represent a widening membership. Chamber President Chris Heugel says one of the first steps in that procees was the chamber’s announcement of a partnership with the Greater Bridgman Chamber and Growth Alliance last year. The Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber plans to begin using its new name and a re-fashioned logo over the next few months.. ...Read Full Story

Future Of Benton Harbor High School In Limbo


Rumors are flying and things appear up in the air for Benton Harbor High School. An announcement could be coming out of the governor’s office today regarding the school’s future and possible forgiveness of some of the school district’s debt. Multiple sources tell WSJM News there is a 9 a.m. meeting in Lansing involving Governor Whitmer, the Treasury and Education departments, and at least two members of the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education. After that is where things get cloudy.. ...Read Full Story

RESA Offering Summer Camps For Young People On Autism Spectrum


Berrien RESA is planning some special summer camps for autistic children this year. It tells us “Makin’ Waves in Berrien County” will be a day camp for kids of middle and high school age on the autism spectrum or with other disabilities. The goal is for teams of students to encourage each other as they take part in a variety of camp activities while strengthening connections, learning to support each another, and growing friendships. It’s hoped that will help the students when they begin their next school year. The camps will take place at Love Creek Nature Center in Berrien Center on July 16 and Riverview Park in St. Joseph on July 23. The registration deadline is June 13. Anyone looking for more information can call Berrien RESA.. ...Read Full Story

Area Housing Market Remains Tight


The housing market is heating up with the warmer weather in the area. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors says existing home sales in April were up 27% from March and set a record with 297 homes sold. That figure is up 7% over last year, and year-to-date, the number of homes sold is higher than last year by 5% at 941 compared to 900. The average sales price was up 2% from April 2018, at $218,607, while the median price set a new record for April at $170,000. That was a 10% jump from last year. It remains a sellers’ market, as inventory of homes for sale is 1,484, a 5.8-month supply. The number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all sales fell to 3%, the lowest it’s been at any time since 2009.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Boost Mobile Store Robbed


Benton Harbor Public Safety is looking for two men who robbed the Boost Mobile store on Pipestone this week. The department has just released information today regarding the Sunday afternoon armed robbery, which happened around 3:30 pm. One suspect had a semi automatic handgun, and they made off with several cell phones and an unknown amount of cash. Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis says this is the fourth time in four years the store has been robbed. Both men are black, one 6’1″, skinny, and wore all black with a hood covering his face. The other is 5’9″ with a medium build and was also dressed in all black but with a white scarf over his face.. ...Read Full Story

New Exhibit Compares 1950s South Haven To Present Day South Haven


A new exhibit on the history of South Haven will debut this weekend, and it’ll practically be like traveling through time. The Historical Association of South Haven’s Jim Ollgaard tells WSJM News they’ll host “Coming Home — South Haven, 1956.” Ollgaard says iconic local photographer Richard Appleyard spent a week in 1956 going around town taking photographs to preserve the memory of South Haven before the post-World War II boom changed things.. ...Read Full Story

Viticulture Field Day Next Month


Around 200 winemakers and grape growers will be in Benton Township on June 13 for the 2019 Viticulture Field Day. Organized by MSU Extension and the Lake Michigan College Viticulture Program, the event will be a full day for growers and makers to talk about improving their techniques. MSU Extension educator Michael Reinke tells WSJM News this comes after a damaging winter for southwest Michigan wine producers.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Updates Animal Ordinance


Benton Harbor City Commissioners have approved an update to the animal ordinance. At Monday’s meeting, City Manager Darwin Watson explained the ordinance amendment was intended to establish that certain kinds of farm animals aren’t allowed in city limits if they’re not being used for agriculture. However, he told commissioners this doesn’t mean the city would be going around checking homes to see what animals people have. The amendment is intended to make enforcement possible when someone complains about a disturbance.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Ring Lardner Middle School Selected For DON’T QUIT Fitness Center


Ring Lardner Middle School in Niles is one of three schools in the state picked to receive a DON’T QUIT! Fitness Center. Governor Whitmer and National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils chairman Jake Steinfeld made the announcement Wednesday, selecting the state’s most outstanding schools for demonstrating leadership in getting and keeping students fit. Along with Lardner, Burton’s Atherton Elementary and Lincoln Park Middle School in suburban Detroit were selected for the $100,000 fitness centers. Each fitness center is paid for by a public/private partnership with companies like Coca-Cola, Anthem Foundation, Wheels Up and Nike, and does not rely on taxpayer dollars or state funding. TuffStuff Fitness International provides all the fitness equipment, which is manufactured in the United States.. ...Read Full Story

Gop Frowns On, But Doesn’t Punish Amash Impeachment Call


From the Associated Press — Top House Republican Kevin McCarthy says Representative Justin Amash, the lone Republican to call for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, is an outlier. But neither he nor the most conservative House members are punishing the
Michigan Republican. And Amash isn’t backing down. Amash told The Associated Press Tuesday that “their pressure doesn’t have
influence” on him, adding, “I really am not concerned about what Kevin McCarthy thinks about it.” McCarthy told the AP that Amash has long voted in conflict with Republicans, including on Trump’s failed attempt to declare a national emergency to build his border wall.
Amash, a libertarian, is a founding member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and remains a member of the group. The caucus voted to condemn his comments on impeachment, but did not oust him.. ...Read Full Story

OutCenter Preparing For Lake Effect Pride Event


The OutCenter in Benton Harbor is gearing up for its annual Lake Effect Pride event. Set for Saturday, June 8 at the Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Lake Effect Pride is a chance for the OutCenter to celebrate its accomplishments of the past year and also recognize allies. Director Mary Jo Schnell tells WSJM News they’ll give out their annual Ally of the Year Award, and the winner is the St. Joseph City Commission.. ...Read Full Story

Report Looks At Local And County Road Needs


The County Road Association of Michigan has released a plan for getting roads under the jurisdiction of counties back into good condition. Its “Michigan County Road Investment Plan” concludes another $2 billion in annual funding is needed for the state’s county road and bridge network. Association Director Denise Donahue tells WSJM News there isn’t often an assessment of local road needs.. ...Read Full Story