Local News Archives

More Children In Michigan Going Uninsured

Over the past two years, the percentage of uninsured children has risen, in Michigan and nationwide. Researchers from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families found that 3.4% of Michigan’s kids, or about 79,000 children, have no health insurance. That’s a nearly 10% increase Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics President Sharon Swindell tells us is troubling.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Tracks STD Increases

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services warned last month about increasing rates of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia around the nation and in the state. Berrien County Health Department spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News the same trend is happening in Berrien. She says 2018 brought troubling numbers.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Attorney General Announces Plan To Crack Down On Robocalls

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s attorney general plans a crackdown on illegal robocalls. Dana Nessel on Friday announced a dozen initiatives aimed at putting a halt to the calls, many of which she says are scams. Her office plans to educate residents so they can protect themselves, step up enforcement, work with the Legislature to update state laws and be a model that other states can follow. Nessel is urging people to hang up if they get an illegal robocall and to report it to her office. In October, Americans received a record 5.7 billion automated from scammers, telemarketers, debt collectors and others.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Pushes Legislation To Prevent Violent Crime

Congressman Fred Upton has co-sponsored legislation aiming to give states and local governments the resources to use behavioral threat assessment and management tools. Upton says the Threat Assessment, Prevention, and Safety Act, or the TAPS Act, seeks to help police identify the warning signs that someone could be a danger. In a statement, Upton said for decades, “the U.S. Secret Services has used behavioral threat assessment and management to protect our national leaders and foreign dignitaries. It’s been proven to work, and now we should use it to protect our schools, families, and local communities.” He goes on to say the U.S. has witnessed too many violent crimes lately, including this week’s high school shooting in California. Upton’s office notes the TAPS Act is co-sponsored by 156 other members of the House, and has wide support from groups including the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Fraternal Order of Police, and the National Sheriffs’ Association.. ...Read Full Story

Courts Prepare To Mark Adoption Day

The courts in Berrien and Van Buren counties are preparing to celebrate the next Adoption Day. The Van Buren County Circuit Court plans its Adoption Day for Tuesday, November 26 with a ceremony to mark the official adoption of children by their caretakers. On hand will be Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman and both the Mattawan High School a cappella group and the Mattawan High School Master Singers will perform. Also taking place this month will be Berrien County’s Adoption Day. It’s set for November 19 at the courthouse in St. Joseph with several formal adoptions set to be completed throughout the day. November is National Adoption Month, as court representatives say adoptions provide a sense of belonging for children taken in by foster parents, single parents, relatives, guardians, stepparents, and even for adult adoptees.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Signs Bill Banning Sale Of Cough Suppressant To Minors

From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed legislation to prohibit the sale of an over-the-counter cough suppressant to minors unless they have a prescription. The restriction on dextromethorphan will take effect next July.
Dextromethorphan, or DXM, is found in many cough and cold medicines but has been abused by teenagers seeking a hallucinogenic high. Retailers selling the over-the-counter drug will be required to ask for ID unless a customer appears to be at least 25 years old.
People who sell DXM-containing products to youth under age 18 and minors who buy them will face civil fines. Whitmer signed the bill Thursday.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Praises Disaster Designation For Farmers

Congressman Fred Upton is hailing a decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to announce 43 Michigan counties as primary natural disaster areas, including Berrien, Cass, and St. Joseph, due to weather this year. Following excessive rain, flooding, and extreme temperatures, Upton sent a letter urging support for Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s USDA disaster designation request for the state. Upton says the disaster designation from U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue “provides vital assistance for farmers across the Sixth District and our state as they look to rebound from a tough season.” He says he’s talked to many farmers who have seen their crops heavily damaged as a result of the weather this year. According to the USDA, a secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties will be eligible to be considered for assistance from the Farm Service Agency.. ...Read Full Story

County Budget Approved

Berrien County’s budget for 2020 is now in place, but it does include a deficit that was made up for by taking out some reserve funds. At Thursday’s meeting of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners, Commissioner Ezra Scott took issue with the $1.3 million shortfall.. ...Read Full Story

Commissioner Plans To Take Action On Shoreline Erosion

Shoreline erosion has been a major problem all over the Great Lakes region this year as levels in the lakes reach record highs or near record highs. That’s why Berrien County Commissioner Ezra Scott is preparing to take action. He said at this week’s meeting of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners he has spoken with officials from around the region, and is working on a resolution that could be passed locally and then sent to all of the other 82 counties in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Seeks To Cut Opioid Deaths By Half In Five Years

From the Associated Press — Gretchen Whitmer’s administration is launching initiatives to cut opioid overdose deaths in half in five years. Whitmer and other top officials on Thursday announced a series of steps to combat an epidemic that has claimed more than 7,000 lives over five years. They include removing prior authorization requirements for opioid-treatment medicines in the Medicaid program and spending $1 million on advertising to reduce the stigma around addiction. The state also is expanding medication-assisted treatment in prisons and support for syringe-service programs. Whitmer says reducing overdose deaths by 50% is “ambitious” but “absolutely doable.” She says government cannot tackle the issue alone and must collaborate with others.. ...Read Full Story

Firearm Deer Season Starts Friday

Firearm deer season in Michigan opens Friday. Chronic wasting disease has been a major concern among deer in the state. Chad Stewart of the Department of Natural Resources says so far its been identified in nine counties, all of which are in southwestern Michigan with the exception of Dickinson County in the U.P. They don’t have great concern with its impact on the deer population this year, however…. ...Read Full Story

AAA Projecting Over 1.7 Million Michiganders Will Travel For Thanksgiving

If you’re heading out over the river and through the woods for Thanksgiving, you’re not alone. AAA Michigan is projecting 1.7 million of us in Michigan will go at least 50 miles from home for the upcoming holiday. It’s the most since 2005, and the second-highest Thanksgiving travel projection for Michigan since AAA started tracking it in 2000. The vast majority will drive to their destination at 1.6 million, a 2.7% increase from 2018. Air travel is expected to have the biggest increase in travel volume, up 5.4% from last year. The busiest travel day is expected to be Wednesday, November 27, but AAA is forecasting major travel delays throughout the entire week.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Walmart Halloween Arson Suspects Caught

The two suspects in the most recent arson inside the Niles Walmart are in custody in Indiana. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says 34-year-old Stephen Taghon and 36-year-old Paula Krysi, both of South Bend, are now awaiting extradition to Michigan to face charges. Berrien County deputies joined St. Joseph County, Indiana deputies to arrest the two on Wednesday. The fire happened in the apparel department of the store on South 11th Street on Halloween. It’s not yet known if they’re considered suspects in several earlier arsons at the Walmart store.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Area Emergency Services Searching For New Leader

South Haven Area Emergency Services is now hunting for its next executive director. Ron Wise is retiring next year, and SHAES has put out notice that its Authority Board has set an application deadline for the job of December 16. Whoever gets the job will need state of Michigan certifications as Fire Fighter Two, Fire Officer Three and have a current EMT Basic or EMT Paramedic license. They’ll also be responsible for all the planning and coordinating of the activities of the fire and ambulance authority in South Haven. The full job description and application can be found on the SHAES website.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Master Plan Work Wrapping Up

Rather significant changes are being proposed in the St. Joseph Downtown Vision Master Plan. Consultant John Houseal of Houseal and Associates met with dozens of city residents last night for the final open house to discuss the plan before it’s turned over to the city’s steering committee in December, laying out ideas that include redeveloping Silver Beach Hotel with the current ownership and dramatically revamping parking.. ...Read Full Story

Big Cut To Auto Insurance Fee In Michigan In 2020

Following the passage of reforms to the state’s no-fault auto insurance system earlier this year, a big change is on the way for 2020. The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association is dropping the assessment charged per vehicle from the current $220 to $100. The 55% reduction will take effect July 2 and run through June 30, 2021. Senator Aric Nesbitt of Lawton, whose Senate Bill 1 was the impetus of the changes tells WSJM News the MCCA fee will only be charged for those who keep their full, unlimited medical coverage and will be eliminated for all other insurance plans.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Man Facing List Of Child Pornography Charges

A 40-year-old Cass County man is facing a list of child pornography charges. Michigan State Police say Travis Howey of Cassopolis was arraigned in late October on three charges of distributing or manufacturing child sexually abusive material, three counts of possessing that material, and six counts of computer crimes. He faces a maximum sentence of up to 192 years in prison if found guilty on all charges. The arrest was made after a tip came in from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Investigators have not said if Howey had any southwest Michigan victims. The MSP Computer Crimes Unit encourages parents to speak to their children about the safe use of the internet.. ...Read Full Story