Local News Archives

Southwestern Michigan College, Lake Michigan College Receiving State Grants

Southwestern Michigan College is among the nine community colleges in Michigan to receive a state grant to help improve student success rates among adult students. SMC will create a Career Services Office and hire a dedicated career coach who will identify local, in-demand careers for adult students. This specialist will empower Reconnect students to make informed decisions about the programs of study and credentials that lead to jobs that pay a living wage. SMC is receiving a Sixty by 30 Student Success Grant of up to $150,000. Four colleges, including Lake Michigan College, will receive up to $20,000 to hire a college completion coach in partnership with Michigan College Access Network.. ...Read Full Story

Four Arrested After Chase For Cell Phone Store Robberies

Four men from Grand Rapids, Muskegon, and Kentwood are in police custody after robbing two Benton Township cell phone stores yesterday. They first hit the AT&T store and then the T-Mobile store, both on Mall Drive. They got nothing from AT&T, but did get a safe opened at T-Mobile and left with several phones. The four escaped in a black Audi SUV, lost police, and they got into a gray Nissan SUV. T-Mobile told police one of the stolen phones had an active GPS tracker, allowing them to track them through Berrien, Van Buren, and Allegan counties until they crashed into another vehicle on northbound I-196 at the Kalamazoo River bridge in Saugatuck. All four were arrested after trying to run off, with one being bitten by a K9. They are in the Berrien County Jail on multiple charges.. ...Read Full Story

County Board Discusses Red Arrow Highway Project

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has approved the latest resurfacing project for Red Arrow Highway in Chikaming Township, but not without some discussion. During a Thursday meeting, Commissioner Ezra Scott suggested tabling the resolution authorizing the state contract for the road to be worked on from near Harbert Road to Sawyer Road. That’s because he had issues with the ongoing road diet Red Arrow Highway is getting.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Works Launches Job Search Hotline

Michigan Works has announced the launch of the new Jobs NOW hotline, designed to get individuals connected to local employers with a single phone call. It says with thousands of jobs open across Southwest Michigan, the Jobs NOW hotline is a call to action. Michigan Works of Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren Director Lily Brewer says the best time to get back into the labor market is now because there are plenty of choices and opportunities. Interested job seekers in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties call the Jobs NOW hotline at 866-604-JOBS and get connected to the team at Michigan Works to talk through experience, education, interests, and what type of work they’re looking for. The Michigan Works team will then connect the candidate to a local employer in their desired industry and location so they can find out more.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Still Planning For Return To In-Person Meetings July 1

Berrien County will continue to allow elected bodies to meet virtually through July 1, although the state has lifted restrictions as of next Monday. During Thursday’s meeting of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners, County Administrator Brian Dissette said the administration committee decided not to change the return to in-person government meetings from July 1 as has been the plan for weeks.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Shooting In St. Joseph Township

A Benton Harbor man is facing charges after a shooting in St. Joseph Township Thursday. The St. Joseph Township Police Department says officers were called to 150 Hoover Avenue shortly before 11 a.m. on a report of shots fired. They learned there had been a dispute and shots had been fired between two people.  One was shot in the leg and taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland by a private vehicle. Police say the shooting occurred as a result of an argument involving several individuals, all from Benton Harbor. The person who’d been shot was treated and released from the hospital and then arrested on a charge of assault with intent to create great bodily harm, less than murder. All of the others involved were interviewed and released pending a review by the Berrien County Prosecutor’s office.. ...Read Full Story

172 New COVID-19 Cases For Thursday

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Michigan for Thursday continued to be fewer than 200 with 172. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says there has been a statewide pandemic total of 893,002 cases. There were 20 deaths to report for the day, bringing that total to 19,598.. ...Read Full Story

Spectrum, Beaumont To Merge

Spectrum Health and Beaumont are planning a merger that would create Michigan’s largest health system and employer. Oakland University President Dr. Ora Hirsch Pescovitz said the merger combines two administrative functions, which could lead to lower costs for patients.. ...Read Full Story

Gordie Howe Bridge CEO Comments on Construction Progress

Work on the new Gordie Howe Bridge to Canada has hit some delays due to COVID-19, but officials say they still hope to open the span by the end of 2024. Bridging North America CEO Michael Hatchell says people on both sides of the border have been off work due to COVID and quarantines, although none of the workers contracted it on the job. Hatchell said this week you can see the bridge supports taking shape in Detroit and Windsor.. ...Read Full Story

State Lawmakers Urge Passage Of Dream Act

This week marks the one year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision allowing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, to continue. State Representative Mary Cavanaugh of Redford says the ruling only specified that the Trump administration used improper procedures to end DACA. She says the Biden administration committed to keeping the program in place as the Dream Act has passed the U.S. House. She spoke on Michigan News Network this week.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Urges Safety At Great Lakes Beaches

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is urging visitors to state parks to be cautious when they swim in the Great Lakes. It says stronger currents are often found near the outlets of rivers and breakwalls, especially during times that water levels are higher. So avoid swimming near those structures and watch out for waves when walking on them. Also, the DNR advises visitors to state parks to swim in the areas that are marked off for swimming, and to know the meaning of the flags that are posted at beaches. A green flag means you can enter the water, but stay aware of changing conditions. A yellow flag means be cautious and watch for strong currents and high waves. A red flag means do not enter the water. There are no lifeguards at state parks, so the DNR asks people to never swim alone and keep close watch of children. Of Michigan’s 100-plus state parks, 42 offer access to Great Lakes shoreline. You can learn more about beach safety right here.. ...Read Full Story

179 New COVID Cases In Michigan For Wednesday

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Michigan for Wednesday continued to be fewer than 200 with 179. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says there has been a statewide pandemic total of 892,830 cases. There were just four additional deaths to report for the day, bringing that total to 19,578. In southwest Michigan, Berrien County had six new cases for a total of 13,908 with deaths unchanged for the day at 271. Cass County had just one new case and no deaths for totals of 4,794 cases and 72 deaths. Van Buren County also had one new case for a total of 6,668 and deaths remained the same at 117. Looking at vaccinations, 60.6% of Michiganders have had at least one dose.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Starts Public Notification Service

The city of South Haven has set up a new public notification system to let residents know about things like power outages and road closures. It says it’s partnered with Nixle to ensure those who sign up can receive real-time alerts about Department of Public Works issues. To register, a person needs to text SHDPW to 888777 from their mobile device. Once registered, they will receive a confirmation text. The city says the Nixle service is free and secure to use. It can notify residents about everything from construction updates to utility information. You can learn more about the service here.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Republicans Pass Bills To Add Voter ID Requirements

From the Associated Press — Republicans who control the Michigan Senate have passed legislation to mandate a photo ID to vote in person and add identity requirements for people who want to vote by mail. The bills are among measures to tighten voting rules in several states. Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer will veto them if they reach her desk, but the GOP could sidestep her with a maneuver letting the Legislature enact ballot proposals. Michigan voters without a photo ID can sign an affidavit to vote. Under the legislation, they’d vote a provisional ballot and have to later verify their identity for it to count.. ...Read Full Story

Coloma Planning Downtown Summer Events

The city of Coloma has announced several activities it’s planning to help make 2021 the Summer Not Forgotten and bring activity to the downtown area. Mayor Marsha Hammond says it’s been a tough year and a half for everyone. The Glad Peach Festival had to be cancelled for this year due to ongoing COVID uncertainty, but a committee was put together to plan other events for this summer. They have announced a Summer Solstice 5K Walk and Run for June 18, a Christmas in July event for July 17, the Eats in the Street festival for August 6 and 7, and a car show and pancake breakfast for August 8. To learn more about the times and other information for Summer Not Forgotten events, you can check the city of Coloma’s Facebook page.. ...Read Full Story

Grand Junction Man Charged In Meth Bust

A Grand Junction man is facing charges related to the sale of meth in Van Buren County. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says detectives wrapped up a six month investigation into 31-year-old Jacob Rader with his arrest on Tuesday. They’d been investigating the sale of methamphetamine in the areas of South Haven, Grand Junction, and Bloomingdale and got an arrest warrant for Rader. On Tuesday, they were tipped off he was squatting at a home in the 5,100 block of Baseline Road. Detectives along with a Van Buren County K9 unit responded to the home where they were able to arrest Rader for his warrants. They say they also found meth paraphernalia. He was taken to the Van Buren County Jail and charged with four counts of delivering meth.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Town To Keep Statue Of Black Child, South Soldier

From the Associated Press — Leaders in a western Michigan community have voted to keep a statue of Confederate and Union Civil War soldiers with a Black child kneeling between them. The Allendale Township board voted 5-2 Monday, despite a recommendation from a group that the statue be replaced by one with Union soldiers who are Black, Native American and white. Dozens of people
attended the meeting, which was held outdoors at a park bandshell. Jody Hansen, township clerk and board member, says a majority of Allendale Township residents want to keep the statue.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers, Whitmer Back Bills To Boost Access To Child Care

From the Associated Press — Home-based child care providers without licensing violations could serve more children under legislation backed by lawmakers and Governor Gretchen Whitmer as a way to boost access to a critical service. The main bill would allow for one employee per seven children instead of six in small home operations. Large group homes could have up to 14 kids instead of 12. Staff-to-child ratios at larger child care centers would not change. The announcement of the legislation Tuesday came a day after Whitmer proposed how to spend $1.4 billion in federal COVID-19 aid designated for child care.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Legislature Passes $6.6 B In Federal Virus Aid

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Senate has voted unanimously to allocate nearly $4.4 billion in federal COVID-19 aid to K-12 schools after Republican lawmakers and Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration reached an agreement. The supplemental budget bill would spend all but $362 million in unallotted school funding from U.S. rescue packages approved in March and December. The House, meanwhile, voted Tuesday to release $2.2 billion in coronavirus aid designated for food and rental assistance and local governments. Final legislative votes are expected Wednesday. Negotiations continue over the 2021-22 budget and how to use billions in other virus funds.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Senate Passes $4.4B In K-12 Aid After Deal Struck

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Senate has voted unanimously to allocate nearly $4.4 billion in federal COVID-19 aid to K-12 schools after Republican lawmakers and Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration reached an agreement. The supplemental budget bill would spend all but $362 million in unallocated school funding from U.S. rescue packages approved in March and December. The House is expected to send the measure to the governor as soon as Wednesday. The vote was a sign of progress weeks after Whitmer and GOP legislative leaders announced the framework of a deal to open budget talks.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Pitches Bipartisan Infrastructure Proposal

Congressman Fred Upton says if an infrastructure package is going to be approved in Washington, it will have to be bipartisan, and that’s why he’s optimistic the proposal made last weekend by the Problem Solvers caucus has a chance. The group is pitching a $1.2 trillion plan that Upton tells WSJM News is scaled back from President Biden’s more than $2 trillion proposal.. ...Read Full Story

New Buffalo Police Charge Suspect In Theft Of A Yacht

The New Buffalo Police Department says a man who stole a yacht from the New Buffalo Marina is now facing an initial charge of possession of stolen property. The department was contacted last Friday when the owner of the Land Shark II learned his boat had been taken without his permission. Police learned a maintenance employee had been servicing the vessel the previous morning when a man came onto it impersonating a relative of the owner. He then took possession of the boat and powered off. The suspect, a 37-year-old from Syracuse, Indiana, was quickly identified while a search began for the yacht. It was found Saturday morning when it was seen adrift and possibly grounded near Bridgman. Michigan State Police and the Bridgman Police Department took the suspect into custody when he waded to shore. The suspect was tied to other thefts in the area, where he had left his wallet and ID behind. That also made it difficult for him to buy food or fuel for the boat. He was taken to the Berrien County Jail. The Land Shark II was towed to a marina in St Joseph.. ...Read Full Story

Alex Mandarino Foundation Duck Duck Run This Weekend

Set for this Saturday in St. Joseph is the Alex Mandarino Foundation’s annual Alex’s Duck Duck Run. This is the ninth year for the event that had to be skipped in 2020 because of COVID-19. The Alex Mandarino Foundation raises money to help fight pediatric cancer. It was started in 2013 by Alex Mandarino’s parents as a way to honor their late son. Alex’s Duck Duck Run includes a 1K Kids Fun Run and a 5K Run/Walk. The kids 1K starts at 8:15 a.m. Saturday at the Margaret Upton Arboretum, while the 5K run and walk for grown ups will start at 9 a.m. You can sign up for the run right here.. ...Read Full Story

GM Exec: Company To Announce More Battery Plants This Week

From the Associated Press — General Motors President Mark Reuss says his company plans to announce more U.S. battery factories later this week. He didn’t give any details about where the factories would be located or exactly what they would manufacture. He spoke in a weekend interview at an IndyCar race on an island park near downtown Detroit. Company spokesman Jim Cain wouldn’t comment Monday on the announcements, but said GM has previously stated it would build more factories to add battery capacity as electric vehicle sales grow. GM has set a goal to stop selling internal-combustion passenger vehicles by 2035.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph City Commission Not Hearing From Lawmakers On Short Term Rental Bills

The St. Joseph City Commission remains opposed to a pair of bills in the state Legislature to take local control away when it comes to regulating short term rentals. The House and Senate have both taken testimony in committee hearings on May 18 but neither have passed the bills and sent them to the other chamber. Commissioner Jeff Richards has tried to contact Senator Kim LaSata and Representative Pauline Wendzel but has not gotten a reply.. ...Read Full Story

New Tuesday COVID-19 Cases Under 200

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Michigan for Tuesday remains under 200 at 182. The Department of Health and Human Services says there has been a pandemic total of 892,651 cases. There were 26 deaths with 7 identified through vital records reviews to bring that total to 19,575 Michiganders who have lost their lives to the virus.. ...Read Full Story

NW Indiana Man Drowns While Rescuing Woman In Lake Michigan

From the Associated Press — Conservation officers say a northwestern Indiana man drowned in Lake Michigan after rescuing his girlfriend. They say 28-year-old Donald Turner of Portage was swimming with his girlfriend at the Washington Park beach in Michigan City when she began to struggle in the water Sunday afternoon. Officers say Turner went to her aid and was able to get her to safety before going underwater and not resurfacing. A nearby swimmer located Turner’s body a short distance away from where he was last seen. The Michigan City Fire Department immediately rendered lifesaving measures, and Turner was taken to a Michigan City hospital, where he was pronounced dead.. ...Read Full Story

Krasl Art Fair On The Bluff To Have A Few Changes

The Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff will have a few changes when it’s held in July as the state has relaxed it’s outdoor COVID-19 restrictions. Masks and social distancing will no longer be required. Krasl Art Center executive director Julia Gourley-Donohue told St. Joseph City Commissioners they will still need to require tickets.. ...Read Full Story

Ballot Drive Targets Michigan Law That Underpins Virus Rules

From the Associated Press — A group will launch a ballot drive to require legislative approval to extend emergency pandemic orders beyond 28 days, in what is the latest bid to neuter a law Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration has used to issue coronavirus restrictions. The initiative will be organized by Unlock Michigan. The ballot committee previously gathered signatures to repeal a law
that underpinned Whitmer’s rules. After the ruling, her administration kept the limits intact under a law giving the state health director broad authority to issue orders. The new measure would make emergency orders unenforceable after 28 days unless the Legislature OKs an extension.. ...Read Full Story

Dredging Underway In St. Joseph Harbor

Dredging in the St. Joseph Harbor is underway. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ordered emergency dredging due to the water being as shallow as 13 feet in May, making it impossible for larger vessels to reach the inner harbor. Congressman Fred Upton says that put in jeopardy several construction projects in the region, including the US-31 expansion to I-94. The commercial harbor receives shipments of limestone, sand, gravel, armor stone, cement, slag, salt, and petroleum products. An emergency allocation of $500,000 is paying for the dredging, which is being done by Great Lakes Dock and Materials LLC from Muskegon. The company is taking 11,500 cubic yards of material out of the harbor and dumping it at the Southwest Michigan Regional Airport.. ...Read Full Story

Lest We Forget Events Coming Up This Weekend

The Korean War will be the focus of this year’s Lest We Forget program, which is slated for this coming weekend in St. Joseph. “The Forgotten War” will run from Friday through Sunday at 275 Upton Drive along the St. Joseph River. The events will include helicopter rides, World War II landing craft rides, a MASH performance by the Twin City Players, and a beach landing reenactment. There will also be an address by James Ball of St. Joseph, who was a POW in the Korean War, and the opening remarks Saturday morning will be made by Medal of Honor recipient James McCloughan of South Haven. There will be awards given to veterans and displays on Korean culture and music. You can find a full schedule of events for this weekend’s Lest We Forget program at LestWeForgetUSA.org.. ...Read Full Story

RESA Superintendent Gets Positive Performance Evaluation, Contract Extension

Berrien RESA Superintendent Eric Hoppstock has received a positive performance evaluation from the board of education. The RESA Board of Education conducted their first evaluation of Hoppstock Monday, rating him as highly effective. The board used a tool provided by the Michigan Association of School Boards, evaluating Hoppstock’s performance in five areas. They were governance and board relations, stakeholder relations, employee relations, educational leadership, and operations and finance. He was rated as highly effective in all of those areas. As a result, the board extended Hoppstock’s contract for another year, taking him through June 30, 2024. RESA Board President Michael Lindley said Hoppstock is “a forward-thinking leader who is dedicated to continuous improvement, transparency and accountability.” He says the superintendent was able to negotiate through the COVID-19 pandemic throughout his first year on the job.. ...Read Full Story

Exodus Of Election Officials Raises Concerns Of Partisanship

From the Associated Press — There is no shortage of job openings for local election officials in Michigan. It’s the same in  Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and other states. After facing threats and intimidation during the 2020 presidential election, and now the potential for new punishments, county election officials are quitting or retiring early. The once quiet job has become a political
minefield thanks to the baseless claims of widespread fraud pushed by many in the Republican Party. Their exits raise concerns over whether the jobs will be filled by loyalists of former President Donald Trump who are intent on sabotaging the process of running elections.. ...Read Full Story

Three Convicted In Crystal Meth Distribution Ring

Federal prosecutors say they have secured the final three convictions of nine people in a crystal meth distribution conspiracy. A jury has found Timothy Calicutt and Dwayne Parks of Kalamazoo and Ronald Sutherland of Allegan guilty of dealing the drugs in 2019 and 2020. Parks was a regional supplier of hundreds of pounds of the drugs to Calicutt, who split it up and distributed it from Kalamazoo. Parks also distributed the drugs to Sutherland for use in Allegan County. U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge says the case was the result of several agencies working together into crystal meth distribution in west Michigan. They will be sentenced later this year.. ...Read Full Story

Children Found Inside Car Stolen Earlier

From the Associated Press — The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety says two children inside a car when it was stolen near Western Michigan University over the weekend have been found unharmed. MLIVE reported Sunday that officers soon after discovered the 5-year-old girl and 18-month-old boy sleeping inside the parked vehicle. The car was reported stolen Saturday just before midnight. The department didn’t specify when and where the children were found, and it didn’t mention arrests or suspects. The incident remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Zooming In: Lansing Will Keep, Expand Online School Option

From the Associated Press — The Lansing school district never returned to classrooms during 2020-21. It now plans to further  embrace online education in the fall by keeping it and offering it to other students in the capital region. Lansing still plans to open schools in a traditional way as the COVID-19 pandemic eases. But Superintendent Sam Sinicropi says there’s a demand for online classes. Lansing expects to enroll up to 600 students and hire 15 new teachers, who will teach solely online. Kids also can participate in sports and other activities.. ...Read Full Story

New Principal Coming To Benton Harbor High School

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has approved the hiring of Fred Roseburgh as the principal of Benton Harbor High School. He most recently served as principal of Fair Plain Middle School. During a school board meeting this past week where the hiring was approved, Trustee Trenton Bowens congratulated Roseburgh and said he was a student at the school district when he met Roseburgh.. ...Read Full Story

Boys And Girls Clubs Awarded $152,000

A state grant of $152,000 is going to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor. CEO Mackenzie Kastl tells WSJM News the grant comes from COVID dollars received by the state. It’s a Before and After School and Summer Learning Community Based Organization grant. It will support Boys and Girls Club Summer Brain Gain programs for 200 kindergarten through 8th grade students at four Boys and Girls Club locations.. ...Read Full Story

New COVID-19 Cases Fall Under 200 For Saturday

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Michigan for Saturday has fallen to under 200. The Department of Health and Human Services says there were 198 positive tests for a pandemic total of 892,131. There were 53 reported deaths, 50 of which came from vital records reviews. A total of 19,540 Michiganders have lost their lives to the virus.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Springs Pickle Festival Planned For July 4

Set for July 4 is the return of the Pickle Festival in Berrien Springs. The event is coming off a 15-year hiatus, starting with a 5K run at 8 a.m. on the fourth and continuing with activities throughout the day. The Pickle Festical started in 1995 as the Christmas Pickle Festival until it was discontinued. A promotional video on Facebook hails the event’s return, telling us we’ll relish the Pickle Festival because it’s going to be a big dill.. ...Read Full Story

Enrollment Open For DNR Hunting Access Program

If you own a large amount of land in Michigan, you can get paid by the state to let hunters use it. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Hunting Access Program allows the DNR to pay up to $25 per acre to property owners who participate. The DNR’s Mike Parker tells WSJM News to enroll, landowners should have at least 40 acres of land with some wildlife habitat.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigating Hit And Run In Cass County

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a hit and run crash in Howard Township on Saturday. It happened around 3:30 p.m. at Lake Shore Drive and Barron Lake Road. The investigation found 78-year-old Mary Laubach was turning into a private driveway when her Kia Soul was struck by a blue and gray Ford Escape. The driver of the Ford Escape continued west on Lake Shore Drive. Laubach was taken to Spectrum Health Niles by Edwardsburg Ambulance with minor injuries. Police are looking for the driver of the Escape and ask anyone with information to contact them.. ...Read Full Story