Local News Archives

Jobs Program Employs Youth For Summer


Kinexus is teaming up with the Michigan Department of Transportation for a summer jobs program for young people. 60 youths will be hired for the Youth Development Mentoring Program, says its director, Don Marshall. He tells us the program is all about preparing young people for the jobs market, working on road projects while making real money.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Stresses Importance Of Vaccinations


With a measles outbreak going around the country this year, the Berrien County Health Department is reminding everyone to make sure they are vaccinated, and also to be sure their kids get all the vaccines they need. Department spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News some adults are unsure if they got all the measles vaccine. She suggests contacting the health department.. ...Read Full Story

Humane Society Casino Night Tonight


The Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan is hoping people will come out to gamble their tails off tonight for the first ever Bets for Pets Casino Night. Humane Society Director Jill Svoboda tells WSJM News the event will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Benton Harbor.. ...Read Full Story

Flags Going Up For Foster Kids


Throughout this month, flags will be displayed at locations around Michigan to raise awareness of the state’s foster children. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News there are about 13,500 foster kids in Michigan, most as a result of abuse and neglect. Volunteers are putting up blue and white flags all over the state to honor them.. ...Read Full Story

Treasurer Announces New Texting Service


The Berrien County Treasurer’s office is starting a new text message service to let people know when their property tax payments are due. The treasurer tells us taxpayers will start getting those messages this month to remind them of their next payment. It’s in an effort to improve efficiency and reduce the use of paper for monthly invoicing. There are currently 891 Berrien County property owners in monthly payment plans to avoid foreclosure and to get caught up. The treasurer says those payment plans have a 92% success rate. Anyone who is in a payment plan is automatically enrolled in the text service.. ...Read Full Story

Three SWM Communities Receive Road Improvement Grants


Three southwest Michigan communities are receiving state grants to improve their roads. Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the road funding grants through a new Community Service Infrastructure Fund program on Thursday. 23 grants are going out statewide, and they are all for communities with populations of less than 10,000. Among the recipients are Bloomingdale and Breedsville in Van Buren County, and Marcellus in Cass County. Breedsville is getting $38,000 for work on East Main Street, Bloomingdale is getting $154,000 for work on Miller Road, and Marcellus is getting $46,000 for work on Maple, Reed, Woodland, Wordon, Jones, Centre, Burney, and Dibble. The governor’s office says the projects were picked because they’re shovel-ready, paired with infrastructure work, coordinated with other road agencies, and focused on extending the useful life of the road. The state grants are intended to help the selected communities get to work this year. You can find out more about the projects right here.. ...Read Full Story

Young Children Reading Events This Month


Berrien RESA is planning a couple of family reading events around the area for this month. RESA Director of Early Education Kerenda Applebey tells WSJM  News the Parents as Teachers Program and libraries of Berrien County are teaming up for Read Around the County. It’s for kids ages five and under. They can hear some of their favorite stories read by characters in costume on May 21 in Niles and May 23 in St. Joseph.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Talks House Auto Insurance Plan


The auto insurance reform plan approved this week by the Michigan House will now be reconciled with the plan approved by the Michigan Senate as state lawmakers work to reduce rates for drivers. State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan tells WSJM News that work will likely continue throughout the week. We asked her what she thought of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s non-so-positive response to the plans.. ...Read Full Story

Mattawan Man Hurt In ATV Crash In South Haven


An ATV crash has a 40-year-old Mattawan man hospitalized in Kalamazoo. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says he was riding the vehicle on trails owned by KGC ATV Rental in South Haven when he crashed. The man was airlifted to Bronson Methodist Hospital, and the extent of his injuries has not been released. The South Haven Fire Department brought out a side-by-side UTV to allow first responders to reach the injured man. Police say no charges are being sought, and alcohol was not a factor in the crash.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Twp To MDOT: Rethink US-12 Plans Without Michigan Left Turns


Rethink the plans. That’s the message from the Niles Township board to the Michigan Department of Transportation when it comes to changes to the intersection of US 12 and Third Street. MDOT is planning to install indirect left turns, better known around here as Michigan Lefts, saying their studies show they cut down on the number of crashes where they’re built. The township board isn’t buying the explanation and our partners at WSBT report they’ve passed a resolution asking MDOT to come up with a different solution. Their main worry is over gas tanker trucks that go through the area and are concerned about potentially catastrophic crashes involving those trucks.. ...Read Full Story

Semi Driver Killed In US-31 Crash


A crash between a semi and a Jeep towing a trailer on US 31 in Oronoko Township has resulted in the death of the semi driver. Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Police say he was 58-year-old David Schultz of Florida and had hit the Jeep and the trailer from behind just before 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Both were headed south on the highway. Schultz was pronounced dead at the scene. The Jeep driver, 55-year-old Ronnie Shepley-Minner Sr. of Mishawaka, is being treated at Spectrum Health Lakeland, while his son, 26-year-old Ronnie Shepley-Minner Jr., was treated and released. Police say both vehicles hit several trees after going off the road, and Shepley-Minner Jr. was ejected from the Jeep. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Marks 150 Years


The city of South Haven will mark 150 years today. It was on May 10, 1869 that Village President George Hannahs gaveled to order the first meeting of the South Haven Village Council. Exactly 150 years later, South Haven Mayor Scott Smith will lead a celebration at the historic Johnston Park to kick off a full year of activities to mark 150 years. There will be a community picnic from 4 to 7 p.m. featuring free food, entertainment, activities for the kids, and historical information. At 6 p.m. there will be the unveiling of a commemorative plaque from the Historical Society of Michigan. The South Haven History Club and Historical Association of South Haven will also present videos of South Haven’s past.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Graduation Projection Up


It looks like the number of Benton Harbor High School seniors who will graduate this year is dramatically up from a projection made in March. At that time, Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO Robert Herrera said only 38 seniors were on track to graduate. According to our reporting partners at WSBT, district officials on Thursday revealed the number is now up to 95 for graduation in June, while another 26 are on track to graduate by August. That’s 121 out of 133 seniors. Benton Harbor Area Schools Assistant Superintendent of Transformation LaWanna Shelton says a combination of human error and problems with the district’s online database led to it appearing as if far more students were off track than really were. She also says students who were behind have been helped with credit recovery programs. Some classes that students had completed weren’t reflected in their transcripts, and computers hadn’t correctly calculated some grades. Much work has been done since March to get everything straight. Now, Benton Harbor High School’s seniors are looking forward to graduation.. ...Read Full Story

Letter Carriers Food Drive Saturday


This Saturday is everyone’s chance to help make a difference for those in need with the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger food drive. Mark White is a letter carrier in the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph area who tells WSJM News local food pantries see a need for more donations in the summer.. ...Read Full Story

Wilson Chandler Teaming Up With Cornerstone Alliance For Building Improvements


NBA star Wilson Chandler is teaming up with Cornerstone Alliance to pursue the renovation of the facade of the historic Farmers and Merchants Bank building in downtown Benton Harbor. Cornerstone Alliance President Rob Cleveland tells WSJM News the building at 92 West Main was first opened in 1888, and it’s hoped a renovation of its front will make way for a new occupant.. ...Read Full Story

Industrial PFAS Site Identified In Hartford


The state of Michigan says a new PFAS contamination site has been found in Van Buren County. Specifically, it’s at the former Du-Wel Metal Products plating facility in the city of Hartford, and residents of Hartford and Hartford Township will be contacted by the Michigan Department of Energy, Great Lakes, and Environment soon to learn more. State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan tells us no contamination has been found in residential wells, but testing of specific wells will begin in and around the former plating facility on Friday. Local officials are also planning a town hall for the next week for everyone to learn more. Griffin’s office tells us residents of the 50 or so properties with wells in the testing areas can pick up bottled water immediately at the Hartford Fire Department from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m to 1 p.m. on Saturday.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Man Convicted In Shooting Incident


A Cass County man with a long criminal history has been found guilty in a shooting case. The Cass County Prosecutor’s office tells us a jury on Wednesday convicted Justin Huffman of assault with a dangerous weapon, receiving and concealing a stolen firearm, possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of ammunition by a felon, and two counts of felony firearm. He was accused of firing at least two shots outside his parents Vandalia home in August of last year. The prosecutor says trial testimony showed Hoffman was living with his parents when he stole a rifle from them. On August 8, he threatened his father with the gun during a dispute, and police say he also fired it off. Police later found him hiding at a nearby Buddhist Temple. The prosecutor says Hoffman’s criminal record includes convictions of custodial kidnapping and meth making. He could be sentenced to life in prison on May 31.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Signs Bill Limiting Civil Forfeitures


From the Associated Press — Law enforcement will be unable to permanently take ownership of cash and other property seized in drug cases unless certain conditions are met under legislation signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. She enacted the bipartisan bills Thursday at a ceremony in the Capitol building with lawmakers, the state attorney general and others. The laws target civil asset forfeiture, a practice that critics say has been abused to fund police activities. Starting in 90 days, the laws will prohibit assets taken in suspected drug
crimes from being forfeited unless the defendant is convicted or the value of the money and property is more than $50,000, excluding the value of contraband. Whitmer, a former prosecutor, says citizens have not been treated fairly nor given adequate legal protections, “and that changes today.”. ...Read Full Story

Nine-Year-Old Charged With Murder In Death Of Mother Near Sturgis


A nine-year-old boy is charged with open murder for allegedly shooting his adoptive mother at their home near Sturgis. Investigators say the boy, who came from a troubled home and had a history of mental issues, shot 63 year-old Pauline Randol with a rifle. She was found dead early Monday at their home in Fawn River Township near Sturgis. Randol’s daughter, Harley Martin, says her brother needs treatment, not jail.. ...Read Full Story

State House Passes No-Fault Reform In Middle Of Night


Under cover of the dead of night, the state House has passed its version of no-fault auto insurance reform. The vote shortly after 2 a.m. overhauls the system and lets drivers completely opt-out of the mandatory unlimited medical coverage for car crashes. The Senate passed a plan earlier in the week, setting up a potential showdown with Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer if a bill reaches her desk. She has vowed a veto of the Senate bill.. ...Read Full Story

Summer Program To Employ 60 Youths


Kinexus is teaming up with the Michigan Department of Transportation for a summer jobs program for young people. 60 youths will be hired for the Youth Development Mentoring Program, says its director, Don Marshall. He tells us the program is all about preparing young people for the jobs market, working on road projects while making real money.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Parks Open House Next Week


The public will have another chance next week to weigh in on the Berrien County Parks Department’s plans for the next few years with two open houses next week. Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey told WSJM News earlier this spring the department is working on its master plan for 2020 through 2024. The plan outlines what developments could be coming to Rocky Gap, Silver Beach, Love Creek, Madeline Bertrand, Paw Paw River, Historic Courthouse Square, and Galien River County Parks.. ...Read Full Story

Spectrum Health Lakeland Warns About Data Security Issue


Spectrum Health Lakeland is notifying another 1,000 patients of a data security issue discovered with one of its vendors. Lakeland says the vendor is OS, Incorporated, a billing services company. It has confirmed to Lakeland an unauthorized individual accessed an email account of one of its employees. That could have exposed information about some Spectrum Health Lakeland patients. Lakeland learned of the issue on March 8, and says it’s been working with its own technology experts since. The information in question includes patient names and addresses, the type of health services provided, dates, diagnosis information, and health insurance providers. Spectrum Health has arranged for free identity theft protection services through Experian for affected patients for one year, and is also recommending those patients monitor their accounts closely. It’s in the process of reaching out to the patients who may have been affected.. ...Read Full Story

Supporters Push Anti-Vaping Bills


Supporters are speaking out this week in favor of a pair of anti-vaping bills with opponents saying they don’t go far enough. Michigan Senate Bills 106 and 155 would ban the sale of e-cigarettes and vaping products to minors and impose fines of up to $2,500 on retailers who violate the law. State Representative Isaac Robinson is behind the ban, and notes the law applies to more than just liquid nicotine.. ...Read Full Story

Semi Trailer Burns Near South Haven


South Haven Area Emergency Services says no one was hurt on Wednesday when a semi that was hauling vegetables was destroyed by fire on I-196. The vehicle was bound for Grand Rapids when the fire broke out in the area of 109th Avenue in Casco Township around 11:45 a.m. The fire appeared to have started in the wheels of the trailer. The driver was able to disconnect his truck from the trailer after pulling onto the shoulder. The fire had engulfed the trailer of the truck by the time firefighters arrived, and a whole lot of produce was lost. The fire caused northbound traffic on I-196 to be snarled for several hours. Michigan State Police and MDOT assisted with traffic control.. ...Read Full Story

USDA Announces Baroda Investment


Baroda will be getting nearly a million dollars from the federal government to build a roadway through its industrial park. The U.S. Department of Agriculture loan of $983,000 is coming from the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program. Village Clerk Tina Martin says they are hoping to begin construction of the road in July after the fireworks. It will connect Hills Road on the other side of the industrial park to 1st Street, and Martin says they’re hoping it will allow some heavy truck traffic to move off the main road. She adds most of the properties have been sold, and the village anticipates the others will sell once the road is complete. Baroda also received a $95,000 grant from the USDA for the work previously, and also secured another loan of over $500,000 from the USDA’s water program for the water and sewer part of the project. In all, the USDA announced $68 million in loans in 13 states and Puerto Rico this afternoon to fund 20 projects. The Village of Baroda will kick in $75,000 for the project.. ...Read Full Story

1986 Cold Case Murder Charges Dropped In Light Of New Evidence


There’s a twist in a cold case murder in southwest Michigan. The Van Buren County Prosecutor’s office has dropped all charges against Michael Leon Curry in the murder of his neighbor, Wilda Wilkinson, in her Bangor home in 1986. The charges were dismissed without prejudice, so he could be charged another time. But Chief Assistant Prosecutor Keith Robinson says DNA evidence is pointing to other suspects and the charges were dismissed based on that new information. No other suspects have been publicly identified as yet. The 59-year-old Wilkinson was strangled in her home, and Curry had confessed to killing her several times. A retired detective who worked on the case more than 30 years ago told WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids earlier this year that they always felt Curry’s confessions were bogus.. ...Read Full Story

Kalamazoo Superintendent Picked As State Superintendent


From the Associated Press — Michigan’s Board of Education has selected Kalamazoo Public Schools Superintendent Michael Rice to be the next state superintendent. The board voted 5-3 for Rice on Tuesday after conducting final interviews with three candidates. Once a contract is signed, he will lead the state Department of Education, starting in July and making $216,000 a year. Board members say they liked Rice’s focus on addressing the achievement gap among students and his experience as an educator in other states. Other finalists were Randy Liepa, superintendent of the Wayne Regional Educational Service Agency, and Jeanice Swift, superintendent of Ann Arbor Public Schools. Michigan has had an interim superintendent, Sheila Alles, for a year since the May 2018 death of Brian Whiston. The elected board has six Democrats and two Republicans.. ...Read Full Story

Local Elections Held Tuesday


Voters headed to the polls Tuesday to decide on some local matters. In Berrien County, St. Joseph Public Schools had a $5.8 million millage renewal on the ballot. It easily passed. In Royalton Township, voters were asked for a small millage increase for the fire department to raise $35,000 over five years and also to renew the township’s millage for fire, ambulance, and library services. They said yes to both issues.. ...Read Full Story

Police To Be Honored Next Week


Berrien County police officers will be honored next week in St. Joseph. Wednesday brings the annual Peace Officers Memorial Day Service at the Berrien County Law Enforcement Officer’s Monument along the bluff. The event is hosted by the Fraternal Order of Police Blossomland Lodge. 20 police officers who made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting the peace will be honored. Among them will be Berrien County Court Security Supervisor Joseph Zangaro and Berrien County Trial Court Officer Ronald Kienzle, who were killed in the line of duty at the courthouse on July 11, 2016. The memorial service will be next Wednesday, May 15, at noon.. ...Read Full Story

Mackinac Center Praises Progress On Auto Insurance


The Michigan Senate on Tuesday approved Senate Bill 1, the plan to reform the state’s auto insurance system. Applauding the move is the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, with Research Director Michael Van Beek telling WSJM News the plan will remove the requirement that everyone have unlimited medical benefits for injuries suffered in crashes. He says drivers in no other state have that requirement, and are just fine.. ...Read Full Story

OutCenter Plans Meeting With ACLU


The OutCenter in Benton Harbor is planning to host a town hall this month on discrimination faced by LGBTQ Michiganders and the protections they have. Set for May 16 at Lake Michigan College, the presentation will feature guest speaker Jay Kaplan, the LGBT Project Staff Attorney of the ACLU of Michigan. He’ll talk about case law and current policy developments, and also take questions. The event is being held as part of the OutCenter VOICES program. The OutCenter’s Mary Jo Schnell says she often hears from people who want to know about the protections in place for them, and this will be a chance for many to learn more. The town hall will be Thursday, May 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Lake Michigan College’s Todd Center.. ...Read Full Story

MI Village Considers Banning Smoking On Beaches


From the Associated Press — A northern Michigan village is weighing a possible tobacco ban at its parks and beaches following complaints about discarded cigarette butts. The Elk Rapids Village Council is expected to hear testimony Monday and possibly decide whether to adopt a proposed tobacco ban. Residents Christine Petersen and Beth Guntzviller tell the Traverse City Record-Eagle they’re tired of picking up cigarette butts at Elk Rapids’ parks and beaches. Guntzviller is a member of the village’s parks and recreation committee. She says she doesn’t think anyone will oppose the proposed ban. Village Clerk Caroline Kennedy reviewed communities’ tobacco restrictions before drafting the village’s proposed ordinance. She says the idea is to protect air quality for parkgoers and beachgoers, while also minimizing litter in public places from smoking.. ...Read Full Story

Volunteers Being Sought For 2020 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


The recruitment of volunteers for the 2020 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores is underway. The PGA of America is looking for 1,600 people to help make the event run smoothly upon its return to the area. There are 20 committees for volunteers to chose from, and the minimum age to take part is 14. Adult volunteers are required to be at Harbor Shores for at least four shifts during the championship for a total of 16 to 20 hours. It costs $120 to volunteer, and with that comes four tickets for family and friends, a discounted round of golf at Harbor Shores, an official program, and the volunteer golf shirt, jacket, and hat. Harbor Shores has hosted the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship every other year since 2012. Next year’s championship will is scheduled for May 19-24. To volunteer, just follow this link.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Rejects Finance Director’s Resignation


The resignation of the city’s former finance director has been rejected by Benton Harbor City Commissioners. At a Monday meeting, some commissioners indicated they never received the resignation letter of former Finance Director Andrew Clark. He stepped down in February, with The Herald Palladium reporting he had complaints about how city income tax payments were being handled. At Monday’s meeting, Commissioner Juanita Henry said the body should investigate.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Grapples With Grass Cutting Contracts


Benton Harbor City Commissioners have plenty to say about who is hired to do the city’s landscaping. At Monday’s meeting, the commission discussed at length who should be hired to cut grass in the city, and how. Mayor Pro Tem Duane Seats, who has long had issues with the city’s landscaping bills, said efforts should be made to divvy up the work between multiple contractors.. ...Read Full Story

RES Planning “Read Around The County” Events


Berrien RESA is planning a couple of family reading events around the area for this month. It tells us the Parents as Teachers Program and libraries of Berrien County are teaming up for Read Around the County. It’s for kids ages five and under. They can hear some of their favorite stories read by characters in costume on May 21 in Niles and May 23 in St. Joseph. The activities are free, and the first 100 children at each location will receive a book. Snacks are also provided. The May 21 event will be at 11:30 a.m. at Niles Riverfront Park, and the May 23 event will be at 11:30 a.m. at the St. Joseph bluff across from the library. Anyone looking for more information can contact Berrien RESA.. ...Read Full Story

Carol’s Hope Expands To 24 Hour Service


A new milestone has been reached by Carol’s Hope, the addiction recovery center that opened late last year in the St. Joseph area. Michigan State Police Lieutenant Melinda Logan tells WSJM News they’re now able to be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. She says Carol’s Hope connects those who are struggling with an addiction to recovery resources in the community. They’ve had a strong response since opening in December.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagon Fund Director Stepping Down


The executive director of the Pokagon Fund is stepping down. The fund’s board of directors announced Monday that Janet Cocciarelli is leaving the organization, effective June 7, to spend more time with family in the Grand Rapids area. Cocciarelli has lead the Pokagon Fund for four years. Board Chair Rob Gow commended Cocciarelli, saying she “implemented with extraordinary vigor and vitality the board’s strategic vision of the fund as a leader in community development.” Cocciarelli says she “will sorely miss Harbor Country.” The Pokagon Fund, based in New Buffalo, was set up in 2007 as a way for a small portion of Four Winds Casino slot revenues to be distributed to the community. Since then, it has awarded more than $25 million in grants and scholarships in southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

DEA Touts Successful Drug Take Back Day


The Drug Enforcement Agency is touting a very successful National Prescription Drug Take Back Day last month. Held on April 27, the DEA says nearly 64-hundred collection sites took in and destroyed nearly 469 tons of medicines. In Michigan, almost 27,000 pounds of unwanted, expired, and unused pills were given back to law enforcement and hospital collection sites. The events have been held since the fall of 2010 to try to cut back on prescription drug abuse, misuse and theft and to prevent medications from being flushed down toilets and getting into the water supply.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Tick Slightly Higher In Michigan; Stable In BH/SJ


The average price for a gallon of unleaded gas in the state is up 3¢ from a week ago. Triple-A Michigan says the average is $2.91, but notes prices have slipped from a high for the year of $2.93 on Friday. Saginaw has the highest price in the state at $2.95, while the lowest prices are in Traverse City at $2.81-cents a gallon, and the St. Joseph/Benton Harbor area is in the middle at $2.90. That price is steady with a week ago. AAA says prices will keep flirting with the $3 per gallon mark through the end of the month.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Arrested After Smoking Meth, Taking Off Clothes


A disorderly conduct charge is being faced by a 36-year-old Dowagiac woman who was arrested late Friday night while naked and high on meth. Police were called to the 200 block of Dewey Street around 11:30 pm on a report of the woman laying in several yards, in the road, and taking off her clothes. She told police upon her arrest that she had recently smoked meth, and it was making her do it. One neighbor told investigators the woman had been walking through gardens and looking into windows in the area as well.. ...Read Full Story

Police Seek Help In Arson Investigation


The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department has released two surveillance photos as part of the investigation into a recent fire at the Niles Walmart. The Walmart was evacuated the afternoon of April 27 when a fire broke out in the clothing department. No one was injured and the fire was quickly put out. The sheriff’s department on Monday posted the surveillance photos to its Facebook page, saying it’s trying to “find the identity of the female that may have information reference the Niles Walmart Arson that occurred on 4/27/19.” The sheriff’s department says anyone with information is asked to give it a call at 269-983-1747, extension 7224.. ...Read Full Story

Two Busted For Meth In Cass County


Two people are in the Cass County Jail awaiting arraignment on charges of possession with intent to deliver meth. The county’s drug enforcement team raided a home in the 21-thousand block of Calvin Hill Street in Calvin Township on Saturday after being tipped off to possible drug activity. They seized several bags of meth along with paraphernalia and items used in the sale and distribution of the drug. The suspects are a 37-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman, and their names have not yet been released.. ...Read Full Story

Millages, Bonding Requests Before Voters Tuesday


Tomorrow is an election day, with millage and bonding requests before voters around the state. Locally, Royalton Township voters are being asked to approve a small millage increase for the fire department to raise $35,000 over five years and to renew the township’s millage for fire, ambulance and library services over 7 years at just over $292,000. St. Joseph Public Schools have a $5.8 million millage renewal over five years on the ballot. In Cass County, Edwardsburg and Jefferson Township both have road funding millages before voters, while Edwardsburg Public Schools are seeking a millage renewal to bring in $2.1 million. Two issues are before voters in Van Buren County. In Bangor, the Bangor Historical Society is asking for a millage increase over 5 years for $16,000 and Lawton Community Schools have a bonding request up for approval. That is for a half-mill over 14 years and would raise $4.5 million. For the first time, you can register to vote on election day.. ...Read Full Story

Two SWM Law Enforcement Officers To Be Honored Tomorrow


Two veteran southwest Michigan law enforcement officers will be honored next week. They’ll be in Lansing on Monday for the 26th annual Michigan Peace Officers Memorial Service at the Michigan Capitol. Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department Detective Loren Tarner will be representing all Michigan police officers injured in the line of duty, and Michigan State Police Sergeant Jim Campbell will represent all state officers who serve until retirement. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us Deputy Loren Tarner was seriously injured in the line of duty on January 17, 2016 when a semi crashed into the scene of a previous crash that Tarner was working on I-94. After a lengthy recovery period, the sheriff’s department says Tarner returned to service and is now a detective. Meanwhile, Sergeant Campbell retired this year after 31 years with Michigan State Police. He most recently served in Paw Paw. You can find out more about Monday’s memorial service at MICOPS.org.. ...Read Full Story

Invasive Species Grants Available


From the Associated Press — State funding is available for local efforts to control or get rid of invasive plants in Michigan’s inland lakes.
The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy says a new grant program will reimburse permit fees required for projects that use physical, biological or chemical controls targeting the unwanted species. A total of $100,000 will be awarded this year. Details on eligibility are available online. The department’s Water Quality Division is developing a handbook and application procedures, which will be posted June 1. Applications for grants will be accepted from June 1 through July 1. Michigan’s Invasive Species Program is operated by the departments of Agriculture & Rural Development; Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy; and Natural Resources.. ...Read Full Story

BBQ, Blues, Bluegrass Festival This Month


St. Joseph Today is busy making preparations for the seventh annual BBQ, Blues and Bluegrass Festival. Set for Saturday, May 18, the event will feature headliner JD McPherson performing with his back to Lake Michigan starting at 6:50 p.m. at Whirlpool Centennial Park. St. Joe Today’s Daniele Crevier tells WSJM News McPherson isn’t the only performer. There will be a lineup of six beginning at 12:30.. ...Read Full Story