Local News Archives

Two Arrested In South Haven Fight

Two 24-year-old men from South Haven and Covert are facing charges for a large fight in South Haven over the weekend. Police were called to Kalamazoo and Cartwright around 8:45 Saturday night on a report of shots being fired along with the brawl, but have found no evidence guns were used and say the sounds may have been from firecrackers. The two were arrested for aggravated assault and resisting and obstructing officers, and felony drug charges are pending after police found suspected heroin at the scene. Investigators are still looking for others who may have been involved and ask anyone with information on the fight to call South Haven police.. ...Read Full Story

Upton On Immigration

Congressman Fred Upton remains disappointed in the U.S. House’s failure to pass an immigration reform plan. Since President Trump signed an executive order to end the separation of families detained at the border with Mexico, Upton tells WSJM News a new fear has arisen in Congress.. ...Read Full Story

Eau Claire Japanese Knotweed Meeting

A meeting will be this coming week in Eau Claire for everyone to learn more about Japanese knotweed. The invasive plant is a threat to infrastructure in southwest Michigan as the weed can grow through concrete. The Berrien Conservation District’s Jared Harmon tells WSJM News the meeting Wednesday, July 11 in Eau Claire will cover all bases.. ...Read Full Story

AARP Hopes Seniors Rally For Election

The November election could be pivotal for Michigan’s future, and a new effort is encouraging all Michiganders to make their voices heard. AARP of Michigan is kicking off its Be the Difference campaign to engage more voters in the midterms. Manager of advocacy for AARP Michigan Lisa Dedden Cooper tells us they’ll be talking about key issues and educating voters about registration and absentee ballot information.. ...Read Full Story

Soo Lock Study

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says construction of a second Great Lakes navigation lock for large freighters will be included in its 2020 budget request to the Trump administration. Lieutenant Colonel Dennis Sugrue of the agency’s Detroit district says the Soo Locks upgrade will have to compete with others from around the nation.. ...Read Full Story

New Opioid Laws In Effect

Several new laws took effect this week in Michigan aimed at getting the opioid crisis under control. State Representative Hank Vaupel of Fowlerville sponsored one of them, which limits opioid prescriptions to just a seven-day supply. He spoke with Michigan News Network about it.. ...Read Full Story

Reps Slam Separation Of Families

Three Michigan members of Congress and one from Ohio are speaking out after visiting refugee children at Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids. Republican Bill Huizenga of Zeeland says Congress needs to take action now, and they can’t wait for a perfect solution on immigration.. ...Read Full Story

Property Tax Problem Resolved

A Benton Harbor woman is close to getting an unusual property tax problem resolved, thanks to action by the city commission this week. At this week’s meeting, commissioners waived about $12,000 in back taxes for the woman whose home on Edwards Street was on two parcels, even though she hadn’t been told that when she bought the one parcel she thought it was on. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News the situation of a house on two parcels was all due to a mix up involving the state and a now-defunct non-profit from the early 2000s.. ...Read Full Story

Mental Health Hotline

A bill is before the state House Health Policy Committee to set up a mental health phone hotline referral system. Representative Mary Whiteford of the South Haven area has worked as an emergency room nurse and wants trained professionals handling the calls.. ...Read Full Story

Apply For Rotary Grants

Applications are now being taken for the 2018 St. Joseph-Benton Harbor Rotary Club Foundation grants. The Rotary Foundation tells us a total of $61,000 will be handed out to non-profits, with special consideration being given to projects that seek to provide better opportunities for youth and special needs individuals. The St. Joseph-Benton Harbor Rotary Club Foundation notes it has awarded more than $830,000 to local organizations since it began in 1980. Its 2017 grants went to groups that include Citizens Mediation Service, the Curious Kids Museum, Sarett Nature Center, and Second Harvest Gleaners Food Bank of West Michigan. The deadline to apply for a 2018 grant is September 28. Grant requests have to be for a minimum of $5,000, and you can apply at Edgewater Bank in St. Joseph.. ...Read Full Story

City Hall Renamed

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have voted to rename city hall the Dr. Wilce L. Cooke Municipal Building. At a Monday meeting, the commission approved the move in honor of the former mayor. Cooke served from 1981 to 1987, and then from 2004 to 2011. Director of the Wilce L. Cooke Foundation Princella Tobias told WSJM News Cooke has always been about serving the community. She said he’s honored by the commission’s action.. ...Read Full Story

Voter Registration Deadline Monday

If you’ve moved since the last election or haven’t registered to vote for whatever reason and want to cast a ballot in next month’s primary, you’re short on time. Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams tells WSJM News the state has a high number of registered voters, but it’s always good to make sure you’re good to cast your ballot.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Smoking Ban

It may be smokin’ hot on South Haven’s beaches this week, but smokin’ — or vaping for that matter — are definitely not welcome. They’ve been banned by South Haven’s City Council. The ordinance approved this week bans smoking and vaping not just at beaches but in public parks as well. Expected to kick in later this month, the ban allows for designated smoking areas at the bigger parks and beaches around South Haven. That would be North Beach, South Beach Stanley Johnston Park, and Riverfront Park. Violating South Haven’s anti-smoking ordinance at parks and beaches will cost you $50 the first time.. ...Read Full Story

Conservationists Seek Bird Protections

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act turns 100 this week, leading conservation groups to dub 2018 the “Year of the Bird,” and to ask the Trump administration to live up to the spirit of the law. The MBTA made it illegal to pursue, hunt, or capture migratory birds. Last December, the U.S. Interior Department rescinded Obama-era guidelines about prosecuting companies that cause bird deaths. Bob Dreher with Defenders of Wildlife tells us the replacement guidelines amount to a license to kill.. ...Read Full Story

Holiday Fatal Crashes Down

Four people were killed on Michigan roads between July 3 and 4 this year, according to the preliminary numbers from Michigan State Police. Special First Lieutenant Jim Flegel tells WSJM News that compares to 14 people killed on the road during the Fourth of July holiday period last year.. ...Read Full Story

Latest Phone Scam

Indiana Michigan Power is once again warning customers about a phone scam that’s going around. Spokesperson Schnee Garrett tells WSJM News customers have reported getting calls from someone who claims to be with the utility. The scammer will say that a customer is behind on their bill and about to have the power shut off.. ...Read Full Story

Historic Detroit Boat Burns

From the Associated Press — Police and fire officials say it’s doubtful that a boat that once carried passengers to an island amusement park in the Detroit River can be salvaged after the vessel caught fire at a marina. The blaze aboard the SS Ste. Claire was under investigation Friday after the fire broke out around 11:30 a.m. northeast of downtown Detroit. The Ste. Claire is one of two steamships that traveled for decades between Detroit and Boblo Island in Canada, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) away. The amusement park closed in 1993. The Ste. Claire and SS Columbia made their last runs in 1991. They were designated National Historic Landmarks in 1992. The Columbia was moved by tugboat in 2014 to Toledo, Ohio, for repairs before heading on to New York state.. ...Read Full Story

Enbridge Sues Over Pipeline Damage

From the Associated Press — A Canadian energy company is suing the shipping company whose tugboat anchor allegedly dented an aging oil and gas pipeline in Michigan earlier this year. MLive reports that Enbridge Energy’s lawsuit filed Tuesday is the third against VanEnkevort Tug and Barge Inc. Enbridge is seeking to recover costs for repairs and assessments made after the alleged April 1 anchor strike beneath the Straits of Mackinac. A VanEnkevort spokesperson declined to comment on the pending litigation. Twin oil pipelines were dented during the strike and about 600 gallons (2,270 liters) of mineral oil insulation fluid leaked from two electric cables. Crews capped and sealed the leaking cables in late April. The Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board investigated the incident. The state attorney general said a tugboat anchor was the cause.. ...Read Full Story

Grand Mere Stewardship Day

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is inviting volunteers to come down to Grand Mere State Park near Stevensville this weekend to help fight invasive species. The DNR says one of its stewardship days is Saturday starting at 10 a.m. Volunteers will hand-pull spotted knapweed and sweet clover from the open areas of Grand Mere to help native plants thrive. Those who show up to help are advised to wear long sleeves and long pants as they’ll be getting into vegetation. You should also bring a hat and some water because of the sun. Those who want to help out can show up Saturday at 10 a.m. and meet at the end of Willow Road.. ...Read Full Story

Fernwood, Chikaming Open Lands To Screen Film

Set for next week is a film screening courtesy of Fernwood Botanical Garden and Chikaming Open Lands intended to spread awareness of conservation issues. Jen Thompson with Chikaming Open Lands tells WSJM News this is the fourth year the two have teamed up for their summer environmental film screenings. Next Wednesday, they’ll show Death by Design.. ...Read Full Story

Calm Holiday At Silver Beach

With huge crowds at Silver Beach for Independence Day this week, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us peace was maintained. Sheriff Paul Bailey says several police agencies had a large number of officers at the beach from 9 a.m. through the end of the fireworks show.. ...Read Full Story

Child Killed In Allegan County Crash

One child has been killed and another is in a hospital in critical condition following a crash in Allegan County on Wednesday. The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department tells us the children were riding a small dirt bike-style motorcycle when the crash with a passenger car occurred around 7 p.m. It happened on 126th Avenue east of Blue Star Highway in Saugatuck Township. The two children on the bike were airlifted to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids where one died. The driver of the passenger car and two passengers were not hurt. None of the names have been released. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Couple Receives Service Award

A couple from South Haven have been honored for their years of service to the community. The Rotary Club of South Haven tells us John and Sue Gillett were presented the club’s Community Service Award at the organization’s recent yearly dinner. The Gilletts were picked for their work as co-managers of the We Care food pantry at the First Congregational Church. They’ve run the food pantry since 2006. The award each year goes to someone who makes a difference in the community while embodying the Rotary motto of “Service Beyond Self.” The Rotary tells us the Gilletts have lived in the community since 1974. John is a retired teacher, and Sue served many years as a children’s librarian at the South Haven public library.. ...Read Full Story

Three Rivers Woman Killed In Cass County Crash

A Three Rivers woman is dead after being hit by a car on M-40 in Porter Township Thursday morning. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department tells WSJM News that 76-year-old Shirley Boersma was crossing the road when she was hit by a Grand Rapids-area man. Boersma was pronounced dead at the scene. Deputies say alcohol was not involved, and they’re still investigating. It’s not known if the driver, 77-year-old Dale Hoekwater, will face any charges. The crash happened just after 10:30 a.m.. ...Read Full Story

Arrest Made In New Buffalo For Michigan City Armed Robbery

A Michigan City man is in the Berrien County Jail awaiting extradition to Indiana for an armed robbery in his hometown. The man was pulled over by a Berrien County deputy this morning for defective equipment on US 12 in New Buffalo, and the officer noticed drug paraphernalia in plain view. After the 46-year-old man was arrested, a search of the car turned up a handgun under the driver’s seat, and LaPorte County deputies recognized the vehicle as matching the description of one used in a robbery in Michigan City. Police from there were called in and confirmed it was the vehicle they’d been trying to find. A 49-year-old Michigan City man who was a passenger in the car was questioned by police, but it does not appear he was arrested.. ...Read Full Story

AARP Urges Election Participation

The November election could be pivotal for Michigan’s future, and a new effort is encouraging all Michiganders to make their voices heard. AARP of Michigan is kicking off its Be the Difference campaign to engage more voters in the midterms. Manager of advocacy for AARP Michigan Lisa Dedden Cooper tells us they’ll be talking about key issues and educating voters about registration and absentee ballot information.. ...Read Full Story

Income Tax Refunds For WWII Memorial

From the Associated Press — Michigan residents may designate part of their state income tax refund to finance a World War II memorial in suburban Detroit. The Detroit Free Press reports that Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation to add the Royal Oak memorial to the list of organizations and efforts that residents can donate their income tax returns toward using check-off boxes. State Sen. Marty Knollenberg says the proposed memorial will honor the 620,000 Michigan residents who served in the armed forces during World War II. He says the legislation creates a funding mechanism for the project, which will be built
solely on donations. The World War II Legacy Memorial will include nine statues, an ice rink, amphitheater and more. A Wall of Stars will represent the more than 15,000 Michigan lives lost.. ...Read Full Story

Rotary Grants Available

Applications are now being taken for the 2018 St. Joseph-Benton Harbor Rotary Club Foundation grants. The Rotary Foundation tells us a total of $61,000 will be handed out to non-profits, with special consideration being given to projects that seek to provide better opportunities for youth and special needs individuals. The St. Joseph-Benton Harbor Rotary Club Foundation notes it has awarded more than $830,000 to local organizations since it began in 1980. Its 2017 grants went to groups that include Citizens Mediation Service, the Curious Kids Museum, Sarett Nature Center, and Second Harvest Gleaners Food Bank of West Michigan. The deadline to apply for a 2018 grant is September 28. Grant requests have to be for a minimum of $5,000, and you can apply at Edgewater Bank in St. Joseph.. ...Read Full Story

Japanese Knotweed Meeting

A meeting will be held next week in Eau Claire for everyone to learn more about Japanese knotweed. The invasive plant is a threat to infrastructure in southwest Michigan as the weed can grow through concrete. The Berrien Conservation District’s Jared Harmon tells WSJM News the meeting next Wednesday in Eau Claire will cover all bases.. ...Read Full Story

Pet Groups: Chip Your Dog

Since your dog is going to be terrified of fireworks today and tomorrow, animal welfare organizations are recommending you keep it in a safe place so it won’t run off. Also, Al-Van Humane Society Director Jennifer Nuerenberg tells WSJM News dog owners should make sure their pooches are chipped.. ...Read Full Story

Federal Aid To U.P. Flood Areas

As cleanup is ongoing in the western Upper Peninsula following massive flooding last month, federal help is coming. The Federal Highway Administration said Tuesday morning it will provide $2 million from the Emergency Relief program. Chris Bush is acting commanding officer of the State Emergency Management Homeland Security Division. He spoke with Michigan News Network about the quest to get federal disaster assistance.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Still Wants Immigration Action

Congressman Fred Upton remains disappointed in the U.S. House’s failure to pass an immigration reform plan. Since President Trump signed an executive order to end the separation of families detained at the border with Mexico, Upton tells WSJM News a new fear has arisen in Congress.. ...Read Full Story

Unusual Tax Situation Resolved

A Benton Harbor woman is close to getting an unusual property tax problem resolved, thanks to action by the city commission this week. At Monday’s meeting, commissioners waived about $12,000 in back taxes for the woman whose home on Edwards Street was on two parcels, even though she hadn’t been told that when she bought the one parcel she thought it was on. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News the whole situation involving a house on two parcels was all due to a mix up involving the state and a now-defunct non-profit from the early 2000s.. ...Read Full Story

Warrant Issued In BH Shooting

A suspect has been identified in one of the shootings this past weekend in Benton Harbor. The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety tells us it has obtained a warrant for 22-year-old Tarone Devon Washington on charges of assault with intent to murder and felony firearm. The warrant is in relation to a shooting early Sunday morning on Edgecumbe near North McCord. 26-year-old Joseph “Jo-Jo” Tyson was killed in the incident, while Robert White Jr. and Natasha Hill were injured. Police say another person of interest in the case is 24-year-old Decorey Monte Harris Jr., who is currently listed as a parole absconder. Police ask anyone with information on the location of either Washington or Harris to contact them. Two people were killed in two shootings in Benton Harbor early Sunday. The other shooting was on Lavette. Killed in the incident was 22-year-old Andre Sanders.. ...Read Full Story

Voter Registration Deadline

From the Associated Press — The deadline to register to vote in the August 7 primary election is just days away. Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says the deadline is Monday, July 9. She says every community will have a primary election on Aug. 7.
Voters must be 18 years old by the election date. They can register by mail or in person at their local clerk’s office or at a secretary of state office. A registered voter who needs to change an address can go to www.ExpressSOS.com. The primary election ballot will include races for governor and U.S. Senate.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Fire Warning

The risk of wildfire started by fireworks is higher than normal this Fourth of July because of the recent hot, dry weather. The heat is drying out vegetation, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The agency is asking people to take extra precautions, especially in the northern part of the state on the lake shores. Paul Rogers, a fire prevention specialist with the DNR, tells us dune grass may look green and healthy. However, looks can be deceiving.. ...Read Full Story

Reminder: Don’t Leave Keys In Ignition Of Your Car

Lock you car and don’t leave the keys inside. That’s the bottom line from a rash of car thefts in the past week in Cass County. The sheriff’s department says nine vehicles have been stolen over the past week in six townships, and all have been recovered Anything valuable that was left inside is long gone, however. Investigators say in every case, the owner of the car or truck had left the keys in the ignition.. ...Read Full Story

Golf Course Owner: State Unfair About Water

From the Associated Press — A western Michigan golf course owner says the state is unfairly targeting him after elevated levels of chemical contaminants were found in nearby wells. Andrew Dykema tells MLive.com that Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality is forcing his Boulder Creek course to provide safe water to nearby properties. The Plainfield Township course, northeast of Grand Rapids, was built over a gravel pit and landfill. Dykema says he didn’t know the contaminants were
beneath the course. MLive.com reports that Environmental Quality officials told a development company in a June 19 letter that high levels of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances — known as PFAS — were found in monitoring wells at
the golf course. Contamination also was found in residential wells. The chemicals were used in firefighting, waterproofing, carpeting and other products.. ...Read Full Story

City Hall To Be Renamed For Former Mayor

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have voted to rename city hall the Dr. Wilce L. Cooke Municipal Building. At a Monday meeting, the commission approved the move in honor of the former mayor. Cooke served from 1981 to 1987, and then from 2004 to 2011. Director of the Wilce L. Cooke Foundation Princella Tobias told WSJM News Cooke has always been about serving the community. She said he’s honored by the commission’s action.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Fireworks Online

One of the largest fireworks displays on this side of Lake Michigan will happen Tuesday night in South Haven with Light Up the Lake. The fireworks are synced to music played on 103.7 Cosy FM and for a first this year, you can watch the show anywhere in the world at WCSY.com. Lucas Koenig of All Web Infused spoke with WSJM News about the options.. ...Read Full Story

Study Shows Better Chances For New Soo Lock

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says construction of a second Great Lakes navigation lock for large freighters will be included in its 2020 budget request to the Trump administration. Lieutenant Colonel Dennis Sugrue of the agency’s Detroit district says the Soo Locks upgrade will have to compete with others from around the nation.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Approves Sports Logos On License Plates

From the Associated Press — Detroit sports fans can now represent their professional teams while on the go. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a law on Monday allowing license plates that bear the logos of the Detroit Tigers, Pistons, Red Wings and Lions. Revenue from the plates will go toward charity funds run by the four teams. Some causes supported are free game tickets for low-income children, youth volunteering, and healthy living. Snyder says residents can “display their support while donating to a worthy cause.” The Secretary of State is required to set up a system for issuing the plates by February 2019.. ...Read Full Story

New Bike Safety Laws On Books

New bike safety laws will take effect in Michigan in about three months. The measures were prompted by the bicycle tragedy in Kalamazoo in June 2016 when a man who was high on drugs plowed into a group of cyclists, killing five and injuring several others. The new laws call for drivers to give bicycles three-feet of space when passing. Senator Margaret O’Brien of Portage pushed for the changes and had initially wanted a five-foot passing distance.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Rise Ahead Of July 4th Holiday

It’s more expensive this week than last to fill up as we hit the Independence Day holiday. The latest survey from Triple-A Michigan notes our average gas price in the state is up about 9¢ a gallon from a week ago at $2.99. Locally, the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph average rose by 13¢ to $2.98. The state’s lowest prices are up in Marquette at $2.87, while Ann Arbor drivers continue to pay the most at $3.06. The auto club says the statewide jump was the second-largest in the country in the past week, and our prices are the 14th highest in the nation. GasBuddy’s Patrick DeHaan warned in late June that prices would go up due to a rise in global oil prices after OPEC nations agreed to increase production by an amount lower than what had been expected. GasBuddy puts South Haven’s prices at $2.86. That area is not included in the Triple A survey.. ...Read Full Story

Photo Contest For West MI

A photo contest is being held by the West Michigan Tourist Association as it prepares to put together its 2019 West Michigan Carefree Travel Guide. The association tells us it wants photos that depict the beauty of the region from all west Michigan residents. The photos can be of everything from Harbor Country to the Upper Peninsula. The first place winner will have their submission featured on the cover of the 2019 West Michigan Carefree Travel Guide. They’ll also get a free trip to Grand Rapids and other goodies. Second and third place will get their photos featured on the inside of the travel guide, and some tickets to attractions in Grand Rapids and Muskegon. You can find our more about the photo contest right here.. ...Read Full Story

Man Rescued After Winds Capsize Boat In South Haven

The storm that blew through southwest Michigan Sunday evening cooled things down nicely, but also nearly killed a man as he was on an inflatable boat in South Haven. Police were called to North Beach around 7:15 p.m. on a report of a capsized boat about 30 yards from the North Pier. They found the man in the water and exhausted, not wearing a life jacket. Once he was pulled up on to the pier thanks to a life ring, he told police he had only intended to go down the river, but the wind picked up once he had gone past the pier and flipped his boat over. He said he was sure he was going to drown had they not thrown him the life ring. The man’s name has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

Report Looks At West MI Jobs

There have been some clear changes in Berrien County’s employment picture since the end of the Great Recession. The latest economic outlook report from the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research takes a look at such trends throughout west Michigan. Upjohn analyst Brian Pittelko tells WSJM News business and management jobs have dramatically grown in the Niles-Benton Harbor market since 2016. We asked Pittelko which jobs have gone down.. ...Read Full Story

Names Released In Benton Harbor Shootings

Benton Harbor Public Safety continues to look for suspects in a pair of shootings early Sunday morning that killed two people and have two others hospitalized at Lakeland in St. Joseph. 22-year-old Andre Sanders was killed in a shooting overnight on Lavette as police were breaking up a house party around 1:30 a.m. a block away.. ...Read Full Story

Scholarships For Foster Kids

When kids age out of foster care in Michigan, what do they do if they want to go to college? Fundraising efforts have been underway for the past several years through Fostering Futures to raise scholarship money for those who have aged out of foster care. Robin Lott is the executive director of the Michigan Education Trust and says 70% of kids who age out of foster care nationwide want to attend college.. ...Read Full Story

School To Fight Cancer

The St. Joseph High School football team is going to team up to fight cancer this year, and there are ways you can help. The Team Up Against Cancer campaign’s Regina Ciaravino tells WSJM News the Bears will use a September 24 game to raise money for the Marie Yeager Cancer Center and Berrien County Cancer Services.. ...Read Full Story