Local News Archives

Retired County Commissioner Honored

A former member of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners has been honored by having a conference room at the county administration building named for him. Kenneth Wendzel served on the county commission from 1969 to 1998 with nearly 20 years of that spent as chair of the finance committee. At a Thursday dedication ceremony, speakers including Berrien County Judge Dennis Wiley talked of their time working with Wendzel, remembering his fiscal conservatism and ability to get along with anyone. Commission Chair Mac Elliot served with Wendzel from 1985 to 1998.. ...Read Full Story

Fatal Hit And Run In Van Buren County

Police are investigating a fatal hit and run crash in Van Buren County. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us it happened in the 61,000 block of County Road 378 in Bangor Township around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Deputies arrived at the scene on a report of a car-pedestrian crash, and learned the vehicle had left. The pedestrian, a 55-year-old Bangor man, was pronounced dead at the scene. Police say the driver is believed to have been in a Dodge Journey, model year between 2010 and 2019. The vehicle is described as light-colored, possibly silver or light blue. The vehicle would have driver’s side front end damage. The sheriff’s department asks anyone with information on the vehicle or the crash to contact them.. ...Read Full Story

MSU Campaign Raises More Than $1.8 Billion

From the Associated Press — Michigan State University says its more than seven-year fundraising campaign brought in about $1.83 billion.
The Lansing State Journal reports more than 250,000 donors contributed to the Empower Extraordinary campaign, which in 2017 had already reached its $1.5 billion goal. The fundraising campaign started quietly in 2011 and was publicly launched in 2014 to help support building projects, scholarships and new endowed faculty positions. It wrapped up in December. The East Lansing school says money raised
for scholarships will assist an additional 3,500 undergraduates annually.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan’s Oldest Juvenile Lifer, 74, To Be Released

From the Associated Press — A judge has cleared the way for the release of a 74-year-old man who is the oldest Michigan prisoner serving a life sentence for murder as a teen. Sheldry Topp has been in prison since 1962. But he was resentenced Tuesday to a minimum of 40 years. Attorney Deborah LaBelle says the new sentence means Topp should immediately be eligible for freedom. Michigan and other states were forced to change the way they sentence teens after the U.S. Supreme Court said minors can’t automatically be given life prison terms. No-parole sentences still are possible. That’s what prosecutor Jessica Cooper wanted for Topp. But Oakland County Judge James Alexander says Topp has been rehabilitated. Topp was convicted of fatally stabbing a man during a robbery. He was 17 at the time of the death.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases PFAS Test Results

From the Associated Press — Officials say samples taken at 64 water systems around Michigan last year had measurable levels of a class of long-lasting toxic chemicals. The Department of Environmental Quality released findings Monday from a 2018 initiative to test Michigan’s public water sources for the substances known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, or PFAS. The compounds are used in a wide variety of consumer products including non-stick cookware and water-resistant fabrics. The DEQ sampled 1,114 municipal water systems, along with hundreds of schools, child-care facilities and tribal systems. Michigan requires cleanups if PFAS levels exceed 70 parts per trillion. The only systems that did so were the city of Parchment and Robinson Elementary School near Grand Haven. An additional 62 systems had levels of 10 to 70 parts per trillion.. ...Read Full Story

Bills To Exempt Feminine Hygiene Products From Taxes Introduced In MI Senate

State Senator Winnie Brinks of Grand Rapids has reintroduced a bill that would eliminate the so-called “tampon tax” in Michigan and make feminine hygiene products exempt from sales and use taxes. She has tried and failed before to get the bill passed in the state House and this is her first attempt in the Senate. She says it’s an unfair tax on women just for being women.. ...Read Full Story

MSP Expanding Drugged Driving Tests Statewide

A program that had some police officers in Berrien County and four others in Michigan asking drivers to allow a swab of their mouth to determine if they’ve been using drugs is being expanded statewide. Michigan State Police say it’s part of an effort to cut down on so-called drugged driving. The initial one-year pilot program started in late 2017 in Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties. Police officers who are trained as drug recognition experts collected oral fluid if they suspected a driver is impaired by drugs. During the initial pilot program, it was used on 92 drivers. State police say the roadside test correlated well with lab test and blood test results. Officials say it will take a few months before it’s launched statewide.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph “Tarp House” Owner Has Until March 29 To Tear It Down

March 29 is the deadline for demolition of an eyesore in St. Joseph. The home at the corner of Niles and Hoyt has become unofficially known as the “Tarp House,” due to the covering on the roof, and owner Dennis Knuth lost his latest appeal of the city’s demolition order. St. Joseph city attorney Laurie Schmidt talked about the timeline at this week’s city commission meeting, saying Knuth has 45 days from the date of the Michigan Court of Appeals ruling “to demolish the house, and if that doesn’t happen, the city will  have to take action.”. ...Read Full Story

Event Planned For Women Interested In Seeking Elected Office

An event is planned for this weekend in St. Joseph to help encourage and inform women interested in running for political office. Organized by Laura Goos, Amanda Hirsh, and Kim Jorgensen Gane, “Vote Her In, Why Not You?” will be a non-partisan program for women looking to run for office. Goos tells WSJM News they’ll discuss several aspects of managing a campaign.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Increasing Tuition Slightly

Southwestern Michigan College is increasing its tuition for the 2019-2020 year. The SMC Board of Trustees approved the changes Monday night, saying state appropriations for the college are about the same as they were 17 years ago while property tax revenues are weak. Tuition at SMC will go up $2.25 per contact hour — that’s 1.9% — for in-district students, and $3.50 for in-state state students. There will also be a $1 registration fee and 50 cent technology fee adjustment. SMC Board of Trustees Chair Thomas Jerdon says the college “has always had a balanced budget despite historical financial challenges.” SMC also notes it needs to keep up with providing aid to students who might struggle to pay for an education. The board addresses tuition each year around this time to give certainty to students signing up for fall classes in March.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Woman In Running For Military Spouse of the Year Award

A St. Joseph woman has been named the United States Coast Guard District 9 Spouse of the Year by Armed Forces Insurance, putting her in line to be named the national Military Spouse of the Year. Valerie Gehrke works in healthcare, and her husband, Jeff, is stationed with the Coast Guard in St. Joe. She tells WSJM News her family has been in the area for about four years now.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Backs Resolution To Block Emergency Declaration

Congressman Fred Upton is among the members of the U.S. House to vote for a resolution to end President’s Trump’s emergency declaration for a border wall with Mexico. Upton told us previously the idea of the president spending billions of dollars for such a project without the authorization of Congress didn’t sit well with him. He was one of the House Republicans to join Democrats to approve the resolution Tuesday. His office issued a statement in which Upton said “declaring a national emergency and reprogramming already appropriated funds without the approval of Congress is a violation of the Constitution.” He added he hopes the House and Senate will work together to find an appropriate solution to the question of border security.. ...Read Full Story

Repairs Made To Rail Line In St. Joseph

Everything is back to normal for part of a CSX railroad line in St. Joseph that had to be shut down on Monday due to some track damage. CSX tells us one of its engineering teams spotted the problem with the track near the West Basin Marina. They closed the track so repairs could be made. A section of the structure was saturated with water, likely the result of the recent weather. Rocks and other materials were poured into the side of the track to stabilize the road bed. CSX traffic resumed through the area Monday night after having been shut down for about six hours. CSX tells us “safety is our number one priority.”. ...Read Full Story

Fiat Chrysler Announces Major Michigan Investment

From the Associated Press — The city of Detroit’s incentives for Fiat Chrysler to build a new assembly plant include $12 million in tax abatements over a dozen years and 200 acres of land. Mayor Mike Duggan’s office said Tuesday that the city will work with the state
on other incentives for the automaker’s $1.6 billion investment to convert its Mack Avenue Engine Complex into a new facility. Detroit has 60 days to get the land, 170 acres (68 hectares) of which is owned by the city, a power utility, a public water authority and a family of prominent wealthy businessmen. Duggan said the city has limited funds and hopes to primarily use land swaps to acquire the properties. Environmental reviews of the land also are required. No residents are expected to be displaced by the project.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Preparing For Spring Book Drive

The United Way of Southwest Michigan aims to collect 5,000 books at 40 locations across Berrien and Cass counties with its Spring Into Reading book drive next month. The United Way tells us it’s teaming up with the Berrien County Great Start Collaborative and the Cass County Great Start Collaborative for the effort. They’re specifically hoping people will drop off new and gently used books for children and young adults. The books will be distributed through home-visiting programs, tri-county Head Start programs, area shelters, strategic businesses, and other agencies. Last year, the Spring into Reading Drive collected 10,000 books. The drive will run from March 1 through March 21, and you can find a list of the drop-off locations right here.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph To Seek Grant To Upgrade Whirlpool Centennial Park

A bit of a transformation is in the works for the Whirlpool Centennial Park in St. Joseph. The city will apply for a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund grant for just over $286,000 of the $409,000 project. Greg Grothous is the city’s deputy director of parks and grounds and explained the upgrades including replacing dune grass with artificial turf and adding more benches and sidewalks.. ...Read Full Story

Appeals Court Says Case Of Adult Foster Care Home Death Should Go To Jury

The case of the 2014 death of a man who had the freedom to come and go as he pleased from the Eau Claire Adult Foster Care home will be up to a jury to decide. The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled last week that a jury should hear the case brought against the facility by the family of 59-year-old Michael Wrenn. He died when he was hit by a truck driven by a 22-year-old Benton Harbor man on Christmas Eve 2014 while walking along M-140 in Pipestone Township by himself. Staff at the facility say they were required to follow his treatment plan and give him the freedom to leave when he wanted, while family contends they should not have let him take a walk on a cold and rainy afternoon.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Natural History Museum Opening In April

From the Associated Press — The University of Michigan Museum of Natural History is planning to reopen to the public in April in its new building. The Ann Arbor school says new exhibits will be on display in the museum, which combines natural history with scientific research. The museum , which is part of the university’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, closed in December 2017 . It moved from its previous home in the Ruthven Building to its current location in the new $261 million Biological Sciences Building. The public opening date is set for April 14. Some of the museum’s newest features include a Quetzalcoatlus pterosaur in the Biological Sciences Building atrium; a planetarium and dome theater; and a lab where visitors can see how fossils are prepared for study and display.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Moving Ahead On LGBTQ Non-Discrimination Ordinance

Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield has made it clear that there will be no action taken by lawmakers under his watch to expand the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include specific protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. To that end, it remains up to local communities to enact ordinances, and the city of St. Joseph is moving toward that.. ...Read Full Story

MI Universities, Health System Training Doctors To Combat Opioid Crisis

From the Associated Press — Three Michigan universities are teaming up with Spectrum Health to tackle the state’s opioid crisis through physician training. The University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University are working with the Grand Rapids-based health system on training more physicians as addiction medicine specialists. Officials say there aren’t enough specially trained doctors to meet demand – fewer than 200 statewide and only one in the Upper Peninsula – as the number of opioid-related deaths has
reached an all-time high. Program organizers say they will help physicians fulfill the requirements through online courses, clinical experiences and leadership opportunities. The doctors also will receive training to treat other addictions, including methamphetamines and alcohol. The program has received a two-year, $1.5 million grant from federal and state sources.. ...Read Full Story

Plans For Benton Township Arby’s Moving Forward

Plans for an Arby’s restaurant in Benton Township are moving forward. The Benton Township Planning Commission on Monday approved the preliminary site plan for the Arby’s to be located on the southwest corner of M-139 and Napier Avenue. Ken Knuckles with DMG Management group of Nashville, Tennessee tells WSJM News things could be moving soon.. ...Read Full Story

Krasl Naming Garden For Late Supporter

The Krasl Art Center has announced it’s naming the East Garden of its new Sculpting Community after a local supporter. The East Garden on the Krasl grounds is to be named for the late Maria “Lupe” Hopp due to her commitment to the community, education, and the arts. Krasl tells us Hopp and her husband Dan served as Honorary Sculpting Community Chairs for the center’s outdoor redevelopment, saying their early feedback ensured elements of universal design were incorporated into the site plan. The East Garden will host alternating sculptures intended to inspire a sense of play, wonder, and reflection, says the Krasl. The first sculpture installation and signs celebrating Hopp’s legacy will arrive this spring. Krasl tells us Hopp passed away after a battle with cancer in 2017, just three days before her 70th birthday. ...Read Full Story

Man Sentenced For Killing Ex-Wife’s New Boyfriend During Fight

A Van Buren County man will spend 7 to 15 years in prison for shooting and killing his ex-wife’s new boyfriend during a heated argument last year. Troy Taylor pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in December after a mistrial had been declared in his trial when the jury couldn’t reach a verdict. He shot and killed Timothy Henley at the home of his ex near Gobles in June after his daughter caught Henley and her mother having sex in a nearby vehicle. The two men got into an argument, and Taylor opened fire after Henley punched out a window in his BMW. He claimed self defense, but said he did not want to put his children through another trial when he agreed to plead guilty.. ...Read Full Story

Jollay Market Closing; Orchard To Remain Open

If you liked getting your cider and donuts from Jollay Market in Coloma, you need to find somewhere new. The family-owned market is shutting down, with the announcement being made on Facebook Monday morning thanking customers for “a great 9 years.” The post goes on to say the business “must take pause and see what life brings us,” leaving a possible return open-ended. When contacted by WSJM News, the response received was “We are looking forward to a fantastic U Pick season at Jollay Orchards.”. ...Read Full Story

Indiana Michigan Power Says Most Should Have Service By 11 pm

Indiana Michigan Power expects most customers in southwest Michigan to have their electric service restored by 11 pm. The utility says there will likely be a small number in the Buchanan area, however, who will be in the dark a little longer and no estimate has been released as yet for them. I&M says as of 9 a.m. today, power had been restored to almost 80% of the roughly 27,000 who lost service due to Sunday’s wind storm. Around 45-hundred in southwest Michigan are still without the lights at mid-day, along with 11-hundred in Indiana. The utility has over 400 employees and contractors making the repairs.. ...Read Full Story

Three Killed Near Kalamazoo In Amtrack/Car Crash

A violent train-car collision just west of Kalamazoo in Oshtemo Township has killed everyone on board the vehicle. Michigan State Police say there were three people in the car when Amtrak’s Wolverine 355 train slammed into it around 10 p.m. Sunday. The train was already 45 minutes late headed to Chicago at the time. No one on the train was hurt. Police have not released the names of the victims as yet, and there’s no word why the car was on the tracks at the time. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Working On Reauthorizing Domestic Violence Law

When President Trump this month signed a funding package to avoid another partial government shutdown, one thing that was not included was a re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Congressman Fred Upton, a longtime supporter of the act, tells WSJM News it was removed last minute from the deal. Now, he expects action on just that issue. He says there is time.. ...Read Full Story

Lineup Released For SJ Blues Fest

St. Joseph Today has announced rhythm, blues, and rock singer JD McPherson will be the headliner for this year’s BBQ, Blues and Bluegrass Festival. To be held at Whirlpool Centennial Park in St. Joseph on May 18, the festival will be a chance for anyone to take in live music with Lake Michigan serving as the backdrop. St. Joe Today’s Amy Zapal tells WSJM News McPherson is a retro rocker.. ...Read Full Story

Work To Prevent Shore Erosion In South Haven

High lake levels and winds along with constant wave action within the Black River Channel in South Haven have caused increased erosion between the channel and the north parking area at South Beach. South Haven Director of Public Works Bill Hunter told WSJM News what is happening and what the city is doing about it.. ...Read Full Story

State Food Benefits To Go Out Early

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has announced it will issue March and April food assistance benefits early to reduce the gap between benefits payments that resulted from the partial federal government shutdown. The department tells us food assistance recipients can expect to get next month’s benefits on March 3, 4, or 5. April benefits will be issued between April 3 and 12, and May payments will be issued as normally scheduled. The department made the changes so families don’t have to go more than 45 days without food assistance. The department issued February benefits early beginning in January at the direction of the federal government due to the shutdown that was happening at the time. About 1.2 million Michiganders receive food assistance through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program administered by the state health department. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Library Holds March Madness Book Bracket

The Van Buren District Library is putting a different spin on March Madness with a bracket competition called March Book Madness. The library’s Kay McAdam tells us they’re putting 64 works of literature up against each other, and the theme is old versus new. For example, the public can vote on things like The Lord of the Rings versus Game of Thrones or Fahrenheit 451 versus The Hunger Games. McAdam says this is the first time they’ve tried such an event.. ...Read Full Story

Utility Providing Grants For Natural Resources Preservation

The Consumers Energy Foundation has announced it’s providing $1.5 million to non-profits around Michigan this year for projects aiming to preserve, restore, and protect natural resources. Consumers spokesperson Brian Wheeler tells WSJM News the first Planet Awards will go to two or more Michigan non-profits looking to make a positive impact on the state’s land, water, or air.. ...Read Full Story

High Wind Warning Issued For Sunday

The National Weather Service has issued a High Wind Warning to begin at 7 a.m. Sunday and continue through 1 a.m. Monday. The service says it expects sustained west winds of 35 to 40 miles per hour with frequent gusts of up to 50 miles per hour. They are expected to start early Sunday morning and persist into the evening hours of Sunday. Periods of sustained winds up to 45 miles per hour and wind gusts to 60 miles per hour are also expected, especially during the day on Sunday. This could mean downed tree limbs and small trees blocking roads along with power outages and minor structural damage. The National Weather Service says driving in high profile vehicles, especially on north-south roads, could become hazardous, while unsecured outdoor objects will be blown around. The high wind conditions are expected throughout Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.. ...Read Full Story

Man Arrested After Chase With Police

A Decatur man is in custody following a chase with police in Van Buren County on Friday. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us a deputy tried to pull over a Pontiac Grand Prix for a traffic violation on Paw Paw Road near M-51 in Paw Paw Township around 1:15 p.m. The Grand Prix took off, but its driver crashed while trying to turn on to 40th Street. The driver then fled on foot, but was caught by the pursuing deputy. A search of the Grand Prix turned up meth-related contraband, and it was also learned the 30-year-old suspect was wanted on two warrants. When the suspect was taken to the Van Buren County Jail, police say they found meth in his sock. He’s now facing several charges, and his name has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Manufacturing Enters 2019 Strong

Manufacturing in southwest Michigan remains strong. Kinexus CEO Todd Gustafson tells WSJM News the latest state report for the region shows the manufacturing industry grew by 5% in 2018. Gustafson says the industry is southwest Michigan’s economic driver, employing more than 18,000 people.. ...Read Full Story

Plan To Establish Funding For Great Lakes Research

Legislation from Senator Gary Peters is aimed at boosting protections for the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization Act would give the U.S. Geological Survey the authority to support the Great Lakes Science Center with funding. Peters tells WSJM News Great Lakes research does not receive regular funding renewals.. ...Read Full Story

Griffin Hails DEQ Compromise With Governor

A dispute between Governor Gretchen Whitmer and legislative Republicans over the reorganization of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality was resolved this week with a compromise, something being hailed by state Representative Beth Griffin. The Mattawan Republican tells WSJM News the governor had issued an order to reorganize the DEQ while also eliminating three review commissions set up last year by the Legislature. On Tuesday, Griffin says she introduced a resolution asking the governor to resubmit the plan without dropping the commissions, and that’s just what happened.. ...Read Full Story

Utilities Preparing For High Winds

Power companies around Michigan are taking steps to prepare for high winds on Saturday night and Sunday. Consumers Energy tells us they’re closely watching the weather and mobilizing resources in advance in case of power outages due to winds that are expected to gust up to 50 miles per hour. Indiana Michigan Power says you can stay on top of outages in your area at IndianaMichiganPower.com/Outages. All utilities remind everyone to stay at least 25 feet away from downed power lines. If you see a line down, report it to the power company or to 911.. ...Read Full Story

Flick Pick – Happy Death Day 2U

Flick Pick is a podcast about movies. In today’s episode, Andrew Green reviews Happy Death Day 2U, which is the sequel to last year’s Happy Death Day. Andrew also reviewed that film, and loved it. Does this crazy sequel live up to the original. Scroll down and click the Play button to find out what our reviewer thinks.. ...Read Full Story

Registrations Being Taken For Sky Warn Training

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is now taking registrations for the next Sky Warn training sessions. They’re looking for volunteers who can help keep the community safe by providing reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service. Anyone can be a severe weather spotter, and the information provided by them has helped the National Weather Service track tornados, floods, and storms. Sky Warn volunteers who go through the training are taught things that include the basics of thunderstorm development, the fundamentals of storm structures, identifying potential severe weather features, how to report, and basic safety. The next Sky Warn training session will be on Saturday, March 16, from 2 to 4 p.m. at South Haven High School. Those who attend are encouraged to register by calling the Office of Domestic Preparedness of the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Twin Cities To Have The Meats

Following up on a story WSJM News broke earlier this week on our Moody On The Market digital site, the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph area will soon have an Arby’s restaurant for the first time in years. The Benton Township Planning Commission will consider a site plan application Monday night from Browning Properties II LLC to build the restaurant at the southwest corner of East Napier Avenue and M-139 across from Walgreens. The two lots are currently occupied by a closed dry cleaning and tuxedo rental business. Arby’s had been considering a return to the Twin Cities for at least the past year. The new location will be close to where the area’s last Arby’s was torn down in July 2018.. ...Read Full Story

Pilot Killed In Northern Indiana Small Plane Crash

Authorities say a pilot has died after a small plane hit power lines and crashed in a farm field in northern Indiana. The plane crashed Thursday night about 2 miles east of Goshen Municipal Airport. Elkhart County Sheriff Jeff Siegel says the pilot was believed to be the only one aboard. Witnesses reported seeing the plane dive into the field, hitting the power lines on the way down. Emergency crews at the crash site had to use extreme caution because of high-voltage lines on the ground. Siegel says his office was handling the crash as a death investigation and awaited investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct a review.. ...Read Full Story

SWMI Housing Market Cools Off In January

2019 is starting off a little quieter than the past few years for sales of existing homes in the area. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors says sales fell 8% last month compared to 2018. Association Executive Alan Jeffries says a drop in January numbers is not unusual given the normal push to close by the end of December for both buyers and sellers. Prices are also down, with the average sales price slipping 6% from January 2018 to just over $199,000 and the median price falling 8% compared to last year to $137,500. Jeffries notes the inventory of available homes on the market fell 4% last month year-over-year, and there is just a 4.9 month supply.. ...Read Full Story

Ford Investigating Whether Gas Mileage Was Overstated

From the Associated Press — Ford says it has launched an investigation into whether a flawed mathematical model caused it to overstate gas mileage and understate pollution from a wide range of vehicles. The company says a group of employees reported possible problems with the model in September. It has hired an outside firm to test the 2019 Ford Ranger. If problems are found, then Ford will start looking at models going back to 2017. Ford says it has no evidence yet that mileage or pollution numbers are wrong, but the investigation has just started. The company says it’s too early to tell how many and which models might be involved. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California regulators have been informed about the situation, according to the automaker.. ...Read Full Story

No-Reason Absentee Voting Now Allowed

From the Associated Press — Michigan voters can start casting an absentee ballot without giving a reason. Thursday is the first day residents can request to vote by mail in the May election. It is the first election since voters last fall approved no-reason absentee voting as part of a ballot initiative. Previously, absentee voters had to be at least 60 years old, be out of town when the polls are open or be unable to vote on Election Day due to a physical disability, religious tenets or incarceration. Requests for an absent voter ballot can be submitted in writing to the local city or township clerk. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Flint Township Clerk Kathy Funk are holding a news conference Thursday to welcome the new era of no-reason absentee voting.. ...Read Full Story

County To Seek Waterway Grant For St. Joseph River

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has agreed to pursue a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Waterways Grant to develop four public access points along the St. Joseph River in St. Joe and Benton Harbor. Cornerstone Alliance President Rob Cleveland tells WSJM News the idea is to spend about $350,000 on new infrastructure so the river can be used for travel by anyone.. ...Read Full Story

Cassopolis Residents Charged In Death Of Girl

Two Cassopolis residents are facing charges in the meth-related death of a 10-year-old girl in northern Indiana. Prosecutors say the girl and her 9-year-old sibling were taken to an Elkhart home last June by 34-year-old Brandon Hobbs and his 30-year-old girlfriend, Erica Reschke. Hobbs is the father of the children. The 10-year-old girl died at the home as a result of methamphetamine ingestion. Toxicology tests revealed high levels of the drug in her body. Hobbs and Reschke are now charged with neglect of a dependent, and Reschke is also charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death. Their trial is scheduled to start May 6 in Goshen.. ...Read Full Story

Attorney General: Church Sex Abuse Investigation Could Take Years

From the Associated Press — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says an investigation into possible sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in Michigan may last two years, and she has asked the state’s seven dioceses to suspend their own internal review processes until the probe is complete. She said Thursday there ultimately could be more than 1,000 victims, and there are hundreds of thousands of pages of documents to review. Nessel’s predecessor last year opened an investigation after a Pennsylvania grand jury report said more than 1,000 children had been molested there since the 1940s. The Archdiocese of Detroit says Nessel has not asked it to stop its internal review process, which it says is used to restrict or remove from ministry anyone who has committed sex abuse.. ...Read Full Story