Local News Archives

Donation Means Dental Sealants For Kids Statewide

A donation of $200,000 is being made to a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services dental program this year by the Delta Dental Foundation. The foundation is the charitable arm of the non-profit insurer, Delta Dental. Executive Director Teri Battaglieri tells WSJM News the money will be used to provide sealants to elementary and middle school students through the state Oral Health Program’s SEAL Michigan initiative.. ...Read Full Story

Possible Return Of Local Control To BH Schools

Could local control be returning to Benton Harbor Area Schools? It’s possible. State School Reform Officer Bill Pearson tells us lame duck legislation approved by state lawmakers eliminated language related to the School Reform Office. If it’s taken strictly, then the SRO, and therefore the cooperative agreement governing Benton Harbor Area Schools, would end on July 1. District CEO Robert Herrera told Benton Harbor school trustees last week they need to be prepared for the possibility of a return of local control. Pearson says he’s waiting for instructions from the Michigan Attorney General’s office on what last year’s legislative change means. Currently, under the cooperative agreement, Herrera runs Benton Harbor schools under the oversight of the state while the board of education serves an advisory role. Pearson says he’s hoping for clarification on what’s next from the AG within the next month.. ...Read Full Story

Free Fishing Weekend This Weekend

Coming up this weekend will be free fishing all across Michigan. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources tells us this coming Saturday and Sunday will be a chance for anyone to go fishing without a license. Also, throughout the weekend, state parks will waive the Recreation Passport entry fee normally required for vehicle access. The DNR says there are also several organized events planned in the spirit of outdoor recreation throughout the weekend. You can find out about them at Michigan.gov/FreeFishing. The DNR notes all other fishing regulations will remain in place this weekend.. ...Read Full Story

Public Visitation To Be Held For Dingell

From the Associated Press — A public visitation will be held in Michigan to honor John Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in history, who died last week at age 92. The visitation will be Monday at Ford Community and Performing Arts Center in his hometown of Dearborn, a Detroit suburb. A funeral will be held Tuesday at a local church. His wife, Rep. Debbie Dingell, says another funeral will be held in Washington and that her husband will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery. Her office says former Vice President Joe Biden, Rep. John Lewis of Georgia and Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan will speak at the Tuesday service in Michigan. It says former President Bill Clinton, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland and former House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio will speak at the Washington service Thursday. Dingell represented parts of southeastern Michigan in Congress for nearly 60 years before retiring in 2014.. ...Read Full Story

Great Lakes Water Levels Expected To Be Higher In 2019

Expect smaller beaches this year once again in the Great Lakes. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit, water levels on the lakes will be higher than normal once again. Lake Michigan will be above normal, but won’t be breaking any records, and the same goes for Lake Huron. Lake Superior, however, could break a record set in the mid-1980s by May due to how high it already is. The Corps adds Lake Erie could also be at a record high. Lake Ontario’s levels are controlled, so no record is expected there. While it means smaller beach areas, higher lake levels also mean good news for shipping because the vessels won’t be scraping bottom in shallow waters.. ...Read Full Story

Two Facing Charges In Van Buren, Kalamazoo Counties For Stealing Cars

Local jurisdictions are waiting in line to prosecute a couple from Van Buren County wanted for using a Facebook Marketplace scam to steal two vehicles last week, including a Buick Enclave taken from the wife of a Kalamazoo County judge. A female suspect talked Cheri Bell, the wife of Judge Curtis Bell, into letting her take a test drive. She never returned. Instead, the suspect and a male were arrested in Van Buren County the next day, and the Buick recovered. Once they are done with the charges they face in Van Buren County, they couple will be transferred from the county jail in Paw Paw to the Kalamazoo County Jail to be arraigned for unlawful driving away of an auto and other outstanding warrants in Kalamazoo.. ...Read Full Story

Casco Township Home Leveled By Propane Blast; One Hospitalized

A suspected propane explosion is blamed for leveling a home in Casco Township. South Haven Area Emergency Services says the home in the 6000 block of 104th avenue near 60th Street blew up around 12:30 Sunday afternoon. One woman was in the house at the time and was rushed by SHAES ambulance to the Bronson Burn and Wound Center in Kalamazoo. Her condition has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

Fernwood Botanical Garden Featured In New Exhibit

Fernwood Botanical Garden near Buchanan is one of 21 botanical gardens to be selected for a new U.S. Botanic Garden exhibit. “Celebrating New American Gardens” will be on display through October 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. The U.S. Botanical Garden says the display shows off locations across the United States that have created new gardens or renovated a garden within the last five years. It includes photos, drawings, landscape designs, and project descriptions for each. Fernwood tells us it’s honored to be one of 21 gardens selected. A panel featuring Fernwood’s Entry Garden is part of the exhibit. Fernwood Executive Director Carol Line says the “unique nature of all gardens and the diversity represented within their botanical collections is so well demonstrated in this exhibit.” Below is a list of all the other gardens included. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Man Killed When Hit By Vehicle

A car – pedestrian accident in Niles has claimed the life of a 70-year-old man. Michigan State Police say Earl Doss of Niles was killed when he was hit by a car driven by a 35-year-old from Niles near the Cass-Berrien county line at the intersection of US 12 and Reum Road just before 7 Saturday night. Troopers say Doss was apparently crossing the street in front of the Marathon gas station when he was hit. The driver stayed at the scene and was cooperative with police. There’s no word yet on possible charges, and the crash is still being investigated.. ...Read Full Story

“Donkey Basketball” Coming To Lake Michigan Catholic

Coming soon to the gym at Lake Michigan Catholic High School will be live donkeys. LMC tells us Donkey Basketball is a sport in which the participants are donkeys as well as people. Lake Michigan Catholic Schools will host Buckeye Donkey Basketball at the House of Noise in the middle and high school gymnasium on Wednesday, February 13 at 6 p.m. The doors will open at 5:30 p.m. at which time children 12 and under can have a free donkey ride with a parent or guardian in attendance. Then commences the basketball game where instead of running the length of the court to shoot and score a basket, players will be sitting on their donkeys and riding up and down the court. In the four-team tournament, the winners are the players who manage their donkeys the best. Each team is made up of 10 LMC students, staff, and administrators. In addition to donkey action, concessions, and raffles will also be available. You can get tickets by calling the Lake Michigan Catholic Business office at the high school.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Discussing Round Of Street Projects

Benton Harbor City Commissioners are now talking about how to spend the money being generated with the city’s new income tax. At a meeting this past week, the commission heard from Abonmarche President Chris Cook, who gave a presentation on the first proposal for street repairs to be paid for with the funds. Using an estimate of $1 million per year, Cook said about half would be for major streets and half for neighborhoods. For example, major streets possibly getting cape sealing in 2019…. ...Read Full Story

Talons Out Honor Flight Expands To Include Vietnam Veterans

Talons Out Honor Flight has announced it’s going to start taking Vietnam veterans to visit their war memorial in Washington, D.C. The organization for years has taken veterans of World War II and the Korean War to the nation’s capital to see their memorials. At a press conference this week, Talons Out announced the expansion to cover Vietnam veterans as well. Talons Out Honor Flightvtells us dwindling numbers of Korea and WWII vets prompted it to make the move, and it expects applications to jump as a result. Talons Out Honor Flight takes veterans on a day trip to Washington, typically leaving out of Grand Rapids or Kalamazoo. It allows each veteran to bring along a companion, and the day includes meals. It’s all possible thanks to donations.The first flight of 2019 will leave Kalamazoo on April 20. Anyione who wants to learn more can go to TalonsOutHonorFlight.org.. ...Read Full Story

Longtime Face Of The Cook Plant Retires

He’s been the face and the voice of the Cook nuclear power plant for 24 years, and now Bill Schalk has retired. As Cook spokesperson, Schalk tells us it was his job to keep the public informed about what’s going on at the facility. He was also active throughout the southwest Michigan community in a variety of other ways before retiring this past Wednesday. Schalk came to Cook in 1986 after doing television work in Fort Wayne and then working for I&M there. He tells WSJM News although the fundamental science behind nuclear power has stayed the same, some of the technology in industry has changed, and the whole energy market has evolved.. ...Read Full Story

Fatal Crash In Cass County

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a fatal crash that occurred on Friday night in Porter Township. It was reported just before 10:30 at Sunset Boulevard near South Beechwood Street. Sheriff’s deputies tell us 39-year-old Travis Lee Schlabach of Elkhart was southbound on Sunset when he lost control of his vehicle. It left the road and crashed into a tree. Schlabach was killed. Police say it appears speed was a factor in the crash, and Schlabach was not wearing a seat belt. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

BH Residents Can Pick Up Free Water Filters

Water filters are being made available for all residents of Benton Harbor starting this past week. The Berrien County Health Department’s Nicki Britten tells us the filters are certified to reduce the risk of lead exposure in drinking water. That’s after some homes around the city tested for elevated levels of lead late last year. The filters will be provided at several locations throughout the city for free.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Warn About Latest Email Scam

Michigan State Police are advising everyone about an e-mail scam that’s been making the rounds. MSP says it’s been hearing about an increase in e-mails containing malicious links or attachments sent to businesses and individuals. They’ve had subject lines that include words like “invoice” or “receipt,” and the email contains an attachment or link to download a PDF, MS Word, or Excel document containing malware. Recent infections have been a result of the Emotet virus, which has been known to steal contact information from e-mail address books. It also could steal passwords and spread to other computers in a network. Michigan State Police remind everyone to treat e-mails with attachments with extra care. Don’t open an attachment unless you’re certain who it’s from and that it’s safe. Also, don’t follow links that are e-mailed to you. You can find out more about the latest threat right here.. ...Read Full Story

Advocates Slam Proposed Payday Lender Rules

The federal government is proposing to gut rules that protect consumers from short-term payday loan companies. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau already put the Obama-era Payday Lending Rule on hold, but on Wednesday, the agency said it wants to remove the requirement that lenders determine whether borrowers have the ability to pay the loan back. Christine Hines with the National Association of Consumer Advocates tells us she thinks the feds have caved to industry pressure.. ...Read Full Story

Realtors Association Taking Applications For Placemakers Grants

The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors is notifying organizations throughout the region that it’s offering grants to community and neighborhood projects. The Placemaking Challenge Grants are intended for smaller projects intended to improve a community in an innovative way. The grants can range from $500 to $3,500, and there will be two available this year. The Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors notes past Placemaking Challenge Grants have helped to pay for a dog park in Baroda, a park and playground area next to Milton Township Hall, and Victorian style exterior post clock in Downtown Watervliet. The deadline to apply for a Placemaking Challenge Grant is March 15. You can find the application for the Placemakers Grants right here.. ...Read Full Story

Two Arrested In BH Drug Bust

A Benton Harbor man is facing charges following a heroin and meth bust this week. The Southwest Enforcement Team tells us police conducted a sting on Tuesday following a nine month investigation into the 36-year-old suspect for the sale and distribution of methamphetamine and heroin in Benton Harbor. Officers with SWET say they saw the suspect conduct several drug transactions in the area of McCord and East Vineyard. When he was apprehended, police say they found a large amount of crystal meth, heroin, and cash on him. The suspect was taken to the Berrien County Jail on charges including eight counts of delivery of heroin, second offense, possession with intent to deliver heroin, second offense, possession with intent to deliver crystal meth, second offense, and two outstanding warrants for unarmed-robbery and fleeing eluding police. One other man was arrested on two counts of delivery of heroin, second offense.. ...Read Full Story

County Thanks Employees For Severe Weather Support

With last week’s frigid weather shutting down many businesses and many government offices, the Berrien County Board of Commissioners this week took a minute to salute those county employees who still came out to work. The board approved a resolution from Commissioner Teri Freehling recognizing those critical members of county staff who braved the cold and dangerous driving conditions. She spoke with WSJM News.. ...Read Full Story

Conference To Focus On Body Art Health, Safety

With tattoos all the rage these days, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is holding a conference this month for tattoo providers to make sure they’re in compliance with all of the rules about health and safety. Spokesperson Lynn Sutfin tells WSJM News there are many health risks when it comes to body art.. ...Read Full Story

Former Congressman John Dingell Dies At 92

The longest-serving member of Congress in history has died. Dearborn’s John Dingell represented the Detroit area from a 1955 special election following the death of his father until his retirement in 2015, and died Thursday at the age of 92. It was revealed this week that he had entered hospice care, with his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, skipping the State of the Union address to be by his side.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Talks Vaccination Rules

As a measles outbreak continues in Washington state, many are blaming the state’s relaxed laws on vaccine exemptions. According to The Washington Post, Washington is one of 17 states that allow philosophical exemptions from vaccinations, meaning virtually any parent can opt their child out. In Michigan, the rules are different. The Berrien County Health Department’s Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News those seeking a non-medical vaccine waiver have to take extra steps.. ...Read Full Story

Mall Starts Paying Back Taxes

The Orchards Mall in Benton Township has paid its taxes. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News the mall’s new owners, Durga Property Holdings out of Cincinnati, submitted a check for more than $220,000 on Tuesday. That covers the 2016 property taxes, avoiding foreclosure for another year about two months before the money was due. Witkowski says the payment could be a sign those new owners will do better than some owners of the past.. ...Read Full Story