Local News Archives

MSP Bodycam Footage Of Fentanyl Bust Released


Michigan State Police have released bodycam footage of the traffic stop on I-94 near Paw Paw on March 7th that resulted in the state’s largest fentanyl bust. Twenty-five-year-old Brahajan Martinez-Garcia of California was pulled over for having a black frame blocking his license plate and for driving erratically and consented to a search of the car after saying not everything in it was his. A red bag with four bricks of fentanyl was found in the back of the car and police learned about two more kilos of fentanyl in Michigan for a total seizure of six kilos of the drug worth nine-million-dollars. Martinez-Garcia remains in the Van Buren County Jail awaiting trial.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph City Commissioners looking into noise issues


St. Joseph City Commissioners have heard an earful about problematic noise and lead-footed drivers around Lions Park Drive. At a meeting this week, there was about a half hour of public comments from residents focused on those issues. They reported vehicles speeding own Lions Park Drive and other streets while making too much noise. Mayor Laura Goos told us she’s like to hear a report from the department of public safety.. ...Read Full Story

School proposals on May ballot in Berrien County


There will be plenty for Berrien County voters to decide on May 2, especially when it comes to schools. The election will feature bond proposals on the ballot for several districts. In Buchanan, voters are asked for a $34.9 million bond to improve school buildings, athletic facilities, and instructional technology. In Coloma, the ask is $28.2 million for remodeling, furnishings, and facilities and playground work. Watervliet Public Schools are asking for $29.9 million for additions to buildings, remodeling, and improvements to parking areas and driveways. Eau Claire is seeking $16.7 million for a gym addition, remodeling, and instructional technology. Finally, Lakeshore Public Schools is asking voters to approve $19.9 million for remodeling, furnishings, and improvements to playgrounds and parking. Also on the ballot are a handful of millage renewals around the county.. ...Read Full Story

Ribbon cutting, celebration planned for new Bridgman Courtyard project


A ribbon cutting and celebration of the new Bridgman Courtyard project is planned for June. That’s after the crowdfunding campaign to raise $50,000 for the public gathering space was successful this month. The Greater Bridgman Area Chamber and Growth Alliance’s Tara Heiser tells us since the campaign raised the needed funds, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation has now awarded a matching $50,000 grant to the project. She says public support has been excellent.. ...Read Full Story

Six file to run for St. Joseph City Commission


Six candidates have filed to run for St. Joseph City Commission this year. There will be three seats up for grabs, and since only six have filed, there won’t be a primary. The top three vote getters in November will be elected to the commission. According to the St. Joseph City Clerk’s office, those who have filed to run are incumbent Commissioner Brook Thomas, Michael Fernandez, James Christopher Lannert, Shawn Osburn, Tess Ulrey, and David Yardley. The top two vote getters in November will be elected to four year terms and the candidate with the third most votes will get a two year term.. ...Read Full Story

Former Lakeshore teacher pleads guilty to criminal sexual conduct


Former Lakeshore second grade teacher Perry Heppler has pleaded guilty to one count of second degree criminal sexual conduct as part of a deal with prosecutors. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office tells us the 66-year-old Heppler had one count of first degree criminal sexual conduct and two additional counts of second degree dropped. The plea deal calls for a sentence of 42 months to six years in prison with a maximum of 15 years. He was charged in February on accusations he’d sexually assaulted an underage student. The school district says the incident did not happen on school property or during a school event. Heppler’s bond has been revoked and he’s in the Berrien County Jail. He’ll be sentenced on June 12.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Communities Have Several Proposals On May 2 Ballot


Voters in several Van Buren County communities will have proposals on the ballot May 2. For the city of Bangor, voters are being asked to renew a levy of a half-mill for the Bangor Historical Society Millage for five years. It will raise an estimated $18,000 in 2024 for services, programs, maintenance, and improvement of the museum on West Monroe Street. In Bangor Township, a road millage proposal is on the ballot to be increased by 4 mils from 2023 through 2026. Covert Township has several millages before voters. One would renew police protection, another would renew ambulance and fire protection, and the third would renew the road improvement millage. Keeler Township voters will decide on a township operating millage of .35 mills, a police millage renewal, and a road millage renewal.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Whitmer Named Co-Chair Of President Biden’s Reelection Campaign


Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been named a co-chair of the reelection campaign of President Joe Biden. She previously served as a co-chair of his inauguration committee. In a post on Twitter, Whitmer said Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have spent their first term “fighting for our freedom, democracy, and more rights – not less” and said “dangerous extremists are trying to take us backward.”. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Attorney Facing Criminal Sexual Conduct Charges


A 54-year-old Buchanan attorney is charged with 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct and four counts of engaging a person for the purposes of prostitution. Berrien County court documents say Lanny Fisher allegedly abused seven separate victim that either he or others employed by him represented in court. Two charges are for a victim between 13 and 15 years old when the crimes happened. Fisher is accused of the abuse from 2010 through 2022 and has been released after posting bond, which was set at $150,000. He was charged Tuesday.. ...Read Full Story

City Commission approves ‘Monarch Waystation’ on the bluff downtown


How about turning part of the bluff in downtown St. Joseph into waystation for migrating monarch butterflies? That’s what’s going to be done following action Monday by St. Joseph City Commissioners. They heard from Ann St. Amand with PhycoTech, an environmental consulting firm. She said vegetation favored by monarchs could be planted north of the bluff stairs on the side of the bluff. When the butterflies migrate through the area around late summer and fall, they could thrive by stopping in St. Joseph. Speaking with her was Andy Sawyer, who said these monarchs go on an amazing journey.. ...Read Full Story

Region IV Area Agency on Aging CEO meeting with members of Congress this week


Region IV Area Agency on Aging CEO Christine Vanlandingham has been in Washington, D.C. since last week to advocate for policies that benefit seniors. She tells us she was invited to testify before the Senate Special Committee on Aging about barriers faced by seniors seeking to reenter the workforce. They include a lack of access to technology training, lack of broadband, and age discrimination. Vanlandingham says members of Congress have been receptive to her message.. ...Read Full Story

More than 150 Berrien County girls explore tech careers at Tuesday event


160 high school girls from schools throughout Berrien County have had a chance to hear from role models who work in the tech field, thanks to an event organized by Whirlpool on Tuesday. The Get IT Summit was held at Lake Michigan College with guest speakers who inspired the crowd with messages about confidence and career preparedness. The Michigan Council of Women in Technology worked with the Whirlpool Foundation to put the event on. The council’s Tammy Doroshewitz told us they work with companies throughout the state to spread the message that tech is for everyone.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph City Commissioner Lynn Todman Not Seeking Reelection


St. Joseph City Commissioner Lynn Todman will not be seeking reelection. At Monday’s St. Joseph City Commission meeting, she made the announcement. Todman said, “I have a job that makes my life challenging.” Todman works for Corewell Health, where she is the Vice President of Health Equity and Community Partnerships. This sometimes causes her to miss commission meetings or be late. That fact is not lost on her. Therefore, Todman’s seat on the commission will be up for grabs. This year’s elections will see the seats of Mayor Laura Goos, Todman, and Commissioner Brook Thomas up for a vote. Neither Goos nor Thomas said Monday whether they will seek additional terms. The deadline for them to file is today.. ...Read Full Story

Councilman Joe Reeser Running For South Haven Mayor


South Haven City Councilman Joe Reeser is challenging Mayor Scott Smith in the November election. Reeser made the announcement yesterday, saying he can better help the city with several issues it faces from providing economic growth, getting more affordable housing, and balancing the use of short-term rentals with promoting tourism as an important industry. He says as a business owner for more than 30 years, he learned the importance of listening to customers and suppliers and incorporating their feedback into making tough decisions. Reeser has been an active member of Big Brothers Big Sisters for the past 17 years and is on the South Haven Housing Commission.. ...Read Full Story

More than 280 pounds of medications collected at Cass County drug takeback event


A drug takeback event in Cass County this past weekend collected more than 280 pounds of unwanted medications. The CASS Community Coalition says the drop off was held at multiple locations around the county on Saturday. People dropped off 284.55 pounds of medications. CASS Coalition coordinator E.J. McAndrew says Saturday’s event was the 22nd collection to be held in the county, and in the past 12 years, they’ve collected more than 4,677 pounds of unused medications. He says keeping toxins out of the environment, and more importantly, keeping drugs from being diverted to street use is critical. In Cass County, National Drug Take Back Day is held in partnership with Woodlands Behavioral Healthcare, the Cass County Sheriff’s Department, the Edwardsburg/Ontwa Police Department, the Dowagiac Police Department, Pokagon Tribal Police, and the Drug Enforcement Agency.. ...Read Full Story

New Buffalo Schools hires new superintendent


New Buffalo Elementary School Principal Adam Bowen has been selected to serve as the district’s new superintendent. Fresh off being named the Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association 2022 Principal of the Year, the New Buffalo Area Schools Board of Education announced this month Bowen will now lead the district. He’s been elementary principal since 2017 and has worked for the district for more than 15 years. The district says Bowen was hired for the top job after the public was surveyed and multiple rounds of interviews were held. Bowen says his “vision is to make every kid successful,” and “whatever their dream is, we can make it come true.” He says being superintendent will help him do that. He’ll take on the new job July 1. He replaces Interim Superintendent Michael Lindley, who came out of retirement to lead the district when former Superintendent Jeff Leslie left for Petosky last year.. ...Read Full Story

Southwest Michigan home market picks up steam in March


The southwest Michigan housing market picked up steam in March after slowing down in January and February. However, at the close of the first quarter of 2023, the numbers show the market is no longer as red hot as it was in the past two years. The Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors says in March, the number of houses sold fell 3% from March of last year. For the whole quarter, home sales were down 12% from 2022. The inventory of houses for sale gained 15% from a year ago, bringing the inventory of houses for sale up to a 3.2 month supply compared to 2.2 months in March 2022. The current inventory is still low for the market area. The average selling price in March of 2023 was $321,000, compared to $313,000 in March of 2022, a 3% increase. The association says the number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions was 3%, up from 2% in February. Association Executive Alan Jeffries says for March, “the market’s previous sales frenzy and across-the-board record-setting sales and selling prices have settled to pre-peak years activity.”. ...Read Full Story

Susan Marie Kole

Susan Marie Kole, 60, of Benton Harbor, passed away peacefully on Saturday, April 22, 2023 at her home in Benton Harbor. She was born October 19, 1962 in Watervliet, MI to Thomas and Arvilla (Alexis) Wood.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph County Sheriff Sentenced To Probation For Drunk Driving Crash


St. Joseph County Sheriff Mark Lillywhite will be on probation for the next year after he pled guilty to two misdemeanor charges Monday morning in Kalamazoo County. He will be subject to random drug and alcohol testing and is not allowed to consume any alcohol or be inside a bar during probation. Lillywhite hit a vehicle from behind on US-131 in Schoolcraft early in the morning of February 26. The victims said he did not have his headlights on and they did not know anyone was behind them when the crash happened. Lillywhite told the judge Monday his blood-alcohol level at the time was point-25-percent, over three times the state’s legal limit. Police found two pistols, a rifle, and ammunition when they searched his county-owned vehicle. He was charged with driving while intoxicated and possessing a firearm while drunk.. ...Read Full Story

Boil Water Advisory Lifted For Covert Township


The boil water advisory for Covert Township has been lifted. The South Haven Water & Sewer Authority lifted that just before 8 am today. It was started on Friday for all water being used for cooking and drinking. The South Haven Water & Sewer Authority and Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy determined this morning it was no longer needed after corrective measures were taken and sampling determined there was no coliform bacteria in the water. The boil water advisory came after a boring company hit a water main at the intersection of 77th Street and 28th Avenue in Covert Township, causing a large leak that required part of the water main to b shut down for repairs.. ...Read Full Story

Bangor Public Schools Closed Due To Fire


Classes are canceled at Bangor Public Schools today due to an electrical fire near the high school gym. Firefighters were called to the school before sunrise and the district says there is smoke damage in the middle school and high school hallways. There is not much structural damage from the fire. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Fire At Bangor High School


A fire has damaged Bangor High School. The fire department responded early this morning to the flames, but the extent of damage is not yet known. It is also not known if anyone was inside when the fire began or if anyone has been hurt.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool IT program for girls this week


The Whirlpool Foundation is funding a Get IT Summit for Berrien County girls this week. Between 150 and 180 girls from the 9th through the 12th grade will be at Lake Michigan College’s Mendel Center from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday to talk tech and work on IT projects. The Whirlpool Foundation is working with the Michigan Council of Women in Technology on the event. The foundation says it will provide high school girls with insights into technology innovations, technology careers, and technology education options as well as the opportunity to build skills necessary for college admissions and career success. The girls come from eight Berrien County schools, with 95 of the attendees coming from Benton Harbor. Whirlpool’s Global IT organization is supporting the event with more than 30 Whirlpool volunteers. Whirlpool notes women are underrepresented in the tech workforce, making up just a third of the workforce in science, technology, engineering, and math jobs.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Man Shot In The Head


South Haven police are investigating after a 60-year-old man was shot in the head around 1:30 a.m. Sunday by a 33-year-old woman. The shooting happened in the 72-thousand block of M-43. Police were notified as he was being taken to the hospital in a private vehicle. South Haven K-9 Ryker and a Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office K-9 searched the area for hours tracking the suspect before she was arrested just after 6:30 a.m. No names have been released, nor has his condition. Police say the two were in a relationship. The shooting remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Big sewer project planned in Benton Harbor


There will be a lot of sewer work in Benton Harbor in the coming years if all goes according to plan. At a meeting this past week, city commissioners approved a project planning document that will have the city seek around $20 million from the state Drinking Water Revolving Fund for sanitary sewer work. Elaine Venema of civil engineering firm Fleis and VandenBrink said work is needed throughout the city, not only on sewer lines, but on infrastructure like lift stations.. ...Read Full Story

May brings the return of Antiques on the Bluff


Coming back for the summer on May 7 will be Antiques on the Bluff in downtown St. Joseph. St. Joseph Today’s Amy Zapal tells us the events will be held the first Sunday of the month through October. It’s a chance to browse items being sold by 60 antique vendors from around southwest Michigan right at Lake Bluff Park.. ...Read Full Story