Local News Archives

Hartford Public Library Gets $400,000 Grant

The Hartford Public Library is now ready to move forward with plans for a new home thanks to a $400,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Library Director Stephanie Daniels tells WSJM News the goal is to acquire the old Red Arrow Elementary School on East Street, and then replace it with a new facility to be called the Art and Bonna VanDerlyn Community Center and Hartford Public Library.. ...Read Full Story

Great Lakes Beach Cleanup Events This Month

The spring kick-off of this year’s Adopt a Beach cleanup events will be this month. Alliance for the Great Lakes spokesperson Jennifer Caddick tells WSJM News from April 13 to April 29, clean-ups will be held along beaches throughout the Great Lakes states. Thousands of volunteers are expected to pick up trash. They log all of it.. ...Read Full Story

Allegan County Sheriff’s Department Mourns K9 Medo

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department is mourning the loss of K9 Medo. The dog had been with the department since 2011, and lived with the family of Deputy Ben Haas. The department says it received Medo as a gift from the Gun Lake Tribe and Casino. It tells us in their career, Deputy Haas and Medo were active in hundreds of cases that included catching suspects, finding missing persons, drug detection, and school programs. Haas says the most memorable search was in May of 2015, when he and Medo found a 2-year-old who had gone missing from his home. The sheriff says the 8-year-old Medo will be missed.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Planning Plenty Of I-196, I-94 Work

The Michigan Department of Transportation has projects underway along Interstate 196 in Berrien and Van Buren counties to remove trees and create a larger vehicle safety area when cars and trucks unexpectedly leave the highway. MDOT’s Nick Schirripa says they will be repaving a seven and half mile stretch between I-94 and the Hagar Shore Road exit on I-196 this year, as it’s become badly marred by potholes.. ...Read Full Story

House Bills Would Increase Illegal Dumping Penalties

Illegal dumping has become a serious concern across the state, as we’ve seen in Benton Harbor with a renewed effort to crack down on the problem. State Representative Cynthia Johnson of Detroit has submitted two bills to increase penalties on those who dump, especially those who don’t live in the neighborhoods. The current punishment is a fine of up to $500 and 90 days in jail for a first offense. Johnson’s bills would raise the fine to $2,500 for the first offense and extend the sentence to up to one year.. ...Read Full Story

Suspects Sought For Vandalizing Graves Of President Ford, First Lady Betty Ford

An investigation is underway into vandalism on the graves of President Gerald R. Ford and First Lady Betty Ford. Grand Rapids police have released surveillance images of two people seen defacing the graves on the property of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum on March 27. One is a heavyset white man with short brown hair, sideburns, and scruffy facial hair who was wearing a black hoodie, grey pants and yellow Nike shoes. The other appears to be a white woman with shoulder-length brown hair who wore a red and black shirt or jacket, black jeans and black Converse Chuck Taylor shoes. GRPD says the two are wanted for larceny of U.S. Government Property. President Ford died on December 26, 2006 and Betty Ford died July 8, 2011. He is the only President from Michigan and the only one to serve having never been elected President or Vice President.. ...Read Full Story

Man Who Died After Driving Into Cedar Lake In Marcellus Identified

The death of a 59-year-old Lawton man who drove his Hyundai into Cedar Lake in Marcellus is under investigation. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department has identified him as John Catalino, who was found shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday inside his car, about 20 yards offshore. A witness saw Catalino drive into the lake backwards, and then called 911 after watching the car sink. A wrecker driver and Lawton fire fighters used a nearby boat to pull the man out of the vehicle before the county’s dive team arrived to help remove the car from the lake.. ...Read Full Story

UWSM, Kinexus Land On List Of Nation’s Best Nonprofits To Work For

Two area nonprofits are being recognized for being among the best such organizations to work for in the country. Kinexus Group is 29th on the list put out by “The NonProfit Times,” and the United Way of Southwest Michigan is 14th. This is the third straight year Kinexus has been on the list of the top 50 nonprofits for which to work. The list is dominated by small organizations with between 15 and 49 employees and medium-sized outfits employing between 50 and 249 people. The United Way notes 18 small organizations like theirs are in the top 50. UWSM is the highest-ranking Michigan organization, while NOWCC Incorporated of Arlington, Virginia is at the top. A Lansing nonprofit is the only other from Michigan included, with Cinnaire ranked 31st.. ...Read Full Story

High Prices, Interest Rates Push Auto Sales Down

From the Associated Press — Automobile sales in the U.S. fell 2% in the first quarter, another sign the nation’s economy is starting to slow.
Automakers sold just over 4 million vehicles from January through March. Industry analysts blame the drop on rising vehicle prices, competition from late-model used vehicles, and relatively high interest rates. Weak sales of cars, harsh winter weather and the partial government shutdown also had an impact. Edmunds.com analyst Jeremy Acevedo says new vehicle sales are past their peak. He says that with prices on the rise, interest rates at post-recession peaks and leases growing in cost, the U.S. auto market is under pressure. Most analysts are predicting sales of around 16.9 million this year, still strong but down from last year’s 17.27 million. Sales peaked in 2016 at 17.55 million.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Graduating 101 New Troopers

The 135th Trooper Recruit School of the Michigan State Police will hold its graduation on Wednesday. That means 101 new MSP recruits will be sent out to posts throughout Michigan, including five coming to the Niles post. First Lieutenant Mike Dawson, the post commander in Niles, tells WSJM News it’s good to get them.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Prescribed Burn Season Starts

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources started doing some prescribed burns on state lands this week. DNR Fire Superintendent Dan Laux tells WSJM News the DNR burn season lasts throughout the spring, and there are more burns in the fall. He says those controlled fires are designed to help forests grow and native species thrive.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Signing Up Students For Summer Classes

Lake Michigan College is taking registrations for summer classes. LMC tells us a student who just graduated from high school could get an early start on racking up college credits by signing up for a summer class. Students who attend other colleges or universities who are home for summer can also enroll as guest students with credits that transfer and save some money. Special Saturday tours are planned for prospective summer students who want more information. They will be held at 11 a.m. on April 13 and May 18. You can also check out LakeMichiganCollege.edu/Summer.. ...Read Full Story

Judge Puts Former Governor Snyder Back In Flint Water Litigation

(Flint, MI – AP) – A judge says former Governor Rick Snyder can be sued by residents in the Flint water scandal, reversing a decision from last summer. Residents claim Snyder violated their right to bodily integrity by repeatedly doing nothing as Flint used corrosive water that released lead from old pipes. Judge Judith Levy says a right to bodily integrity is a “fundamental interest” protected by the U.S. Constitution.. ...Read Full Story

Judge Stops Crackdown On Unlicensed Pot Shops

From the Associated Press — A Michigan judge has blocked yet another attempt by state officials to shut down unlicensed medical marijuana provisioning centers. About 50 unlicensed shops in Michigan were set to be shut down by regulators. But Michigan Court of Claims Judge Stephen Borrello signed a temporary restraining order Thursday that prevents state regulators from enforcing a licensing deadline that had been set for Sunday. The judge’s order means that the unlicensed shops can keep their doors open for at least another two weeks. The Bureau of Marijuana Regulation said in a statement Friday that Sunday’s licensing deadline would not be enforced. State officials have tried to impose a deadline for licensure since September 2018, but it’s been pushed back multiple times due to legal challenges and official intervention.. ...Read Full Story

BH To Get App For Anonymous Tips To Police

Residents of Benton Harbor will soon have a new way to report tips to police without having to speak with the police themselves. At a Monday meeting, the Benton Harbor City Commission approved spending $6,000 to sign the community up for tip411. Deputy Director of Public Safety Michael Clark told WSJM News it will mean the creation of a mobile app for residents to submit tips and pictures to a third party that keeps the tipster’s information secure.. ...Read Full Story

2019 Fishing Licenses Available

Fishing license season is now underway in Michigan. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources tells us if you want to fish in Michigan waters, you need to get your license. All 2019 licenses are good for all species and will be valid through March 31 of next year. The standard resident annual license is $26, while seniors get a license for $11. You can also get a 24 hour license for $10 or a 72 hour license for $30. There are a few new regulations to note. The DNR says among them is the statewide daily possession limit for yellow perch has been reduced to 25. For the rest of them, check the 2019 Michigan Fishing Guide. It’s available at fishing license retailers or the DNR’s website.. ...Read Full Story

Judge Orders Closer Look At Great Lakes Oil Spill Plans

From the Associated Press — A federal judge has ordered a government agency to take a closer look at pipeline company Enbridge’s plans for dealing with a potential oil spill in the waterway connecting Lakes Huron and Michigan. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration previously approved the Canadian company’s spill response plans for areas traversed by Line 5, which carries oil from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario. A portion runs along the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac between Michigan’s upper and lower
peninsulas. Environmentalists sued, claiming the plans left too many questions unanswered. In a ruling Friday, U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith instructed the agency to provide more information about its reasons for approving the plans and to prepare an environmental assessment or impact statement. The pipeline agency declined to comment Monday.. ...Read Full Story

State Confirms More Measles Cases In Southeast Michigan

There have been 30 confirmed cases of measles in southeast Michigan this year as part of an outbreak that started last month. The outbreak began as a result of one person who had traveled internationally, and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Angela Minicuci told WSJM News it spread quickly because of a high number of people in the area who have not been vaccinated. She said the illness starts with many cold or flu-like symptoms, like a cough or runny nose.. ...Read Full Story

Cereal Drive In Allegan County

The Allegan County Food Pantry Collaborative has kicked off its fourth annual cereal drive. The Allegan County Community Foundation tells us they’re hoping to collect 30,000 boxes of cereal this month to be distributed through its 16 member pantries. It says for families whose children receive free or reduced breakfast and lunch, summer can be difficult with increased food costs. The goal of the cereal drive is to provide one box, per child, per week for the summer for those children whose families visit food pantries in Allegan County. There are a variety of drop-off locations throughout Allegan County for those who want to help. You can see them below. The food drive continues all month.. ...Read Full Story

Muskegon Heights 12-Year-Old Filling Potholes Himself

A west Michigan boy is getting attention for taking matters into his own hands to deal with potholes. Twelve-year-old Monte Scott recently used dirt from his backyard to even out a street near his Muskegon Heights home. Scott’s mother posted a video to Facebook last week, saying “he’s really got a garbage can full of dirt filling these potholes.” She adds her son took it upon himself to get something done to fix their street. So far, Scott has filled in about 15 potholes and says he plans to tackle the rest of the street when he can. He says he “didn’t want people messing up their cars like my mom did,” adding repairing a pothole-damaged vehicle can cost hundreds of dollars. The Facebook video has been seen over 50,000 times and has 1,200 shares.. ...Read Full Story

Body Found On Lake Michigan Shore Identified As Missing Chicago Woman

The body found along the shore of Lake Michigan on Sunday has been identified as a Chicago woman. Eddisa Concepcion Herrera was last seen on December 21 when she jumped into the lake at the North Avenue Beach in Chicago. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says they were helped out by Chicago Police in the investigation, and the positive identification was made during the autopsy at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Herrera’s death has been ruled an accidental drowning. Her remains were found by someone walking on the beach north of Warren Dunes State Park and Weko Beach shortly before 1 p.m. Sunday.. ...Read Full Story

Lawsuit Filed Over Medical Marijuana Testing Requirement

There are renewed concerns for medical marijuana patients in Michigan, as a new testing requirement is slated to go into effect this month. The Curing Corner, a licensed provisioning center in the Detroit suburb of River Rouge, has filed a lawsuit against the Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs department to allow caregivers to continue providing untested products to state licensed provisioning centers.. ...Read Full Story

Police: Car Thefts, Vehicle Larcenies Increasing In Van Buren County

Spring weather is bringing out thieves targeting vehicles in Van Buren County. The sheriff’s department tells WSJM News they’ve had an uptick in larceny reports from vehicles and several cars have also been stolen in the past several weeks. Most of the incidents are happening in the overnight hours. Police are reminding people to keep their vehicles, garages, and homes locked.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Up 14¢ In Benton Harbor Area, 7¢ Statewide

The amount we’re shelling out to fill up the gas tank keeps rising. Triple-A Michigan puts the average price for unleaded regular at $2.78 a gallon, up 7¢ from a week ago. The price is down from the high for the year of $2.83 set on March 27. The most expensive fuel is being sold in Jackson at $2.86 a gallon, while the lowest average price is $2.71 in Marquette. The auto club says the average in the Benton Harbor/St. Joseph area is $2.79, a 14¢ jump in the past week. Prices are a little lower in South Haven, with GasBuddy putting the average at $2.71 along the shore in Van Buren County.. ...Read Full Story

Two Berrien County Districts Among School Safety Grant Winners

A number of school districts in Michigan will be getting a share of a $25-million fund to make security improvements in their districts. Michigan State Police say the money comes from the 2019 School Safety Grant Program. They received 360 applications for $21-million more than they have to spend. Coloma and New Buffalo Public Schools both have grants coming. Grants range from a few thousand to a few hundred thousand, depending on the size of the district and the need.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Looks To Enhance Election Security

The new Michigan Election Security Commission created by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is expected to release a set of recommendations to improve the integrity of Michigan’s elections by the end of the year. Benson tells WSJM News she set up the body to get the input of elections and computer experts from around the country. We asked if she has any predictions for what the body will recommend.. ...Read Full Story

Body Washes Ashore Near Warren Dunes State Park

An autopsy will be done Monday on the body of a woman found washed ashore north of Warren Dunes State Park in Lake Township. Baroda/Lake Township police say a person walking on the Lake Michigan shore found the body shortly before 1 pm Sunday. Police say they have not been able to identify the remains, and the discovery remains under investigation. Several agencies are assisting with the investigation, including Department of Natural Resources park rangers from Warren Dunes, Lake Township Fire Department, Bridgman Police, and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Detective Bureau.. ...Read Full Story

Transportation Forum Coming Up

The Disability Network of Southwest Michigan is planning a transportation forum for next month. Program Director Lewis Whalen tells WSJM News the event will be a chance for anyone to ask questions and express concerns to representatives of Berrien County transportation agencies.. ...Read Full Story

Lincoln Twp Police Department Getting K9

A new officer is about to start at the Lincoln Township Police Department. Echo is a 1-year-old Belgian Malinois recruited to be the department’s K9, and she just arrived in the United States from Poland this month. Lincoln Township Police Chief Gary Soper tells WSJM News the department collected $30,000 from the public to get the K9. That support came in from businesses and individuals.. ...Read Full Story

Mental Health First Aid Training To Be Offered

The Healthy Berrien Consortium in partnership with Riverwood Center is offering free mental health first aid training next month. The eight hour course will be on Thursday, April 18. Riverwood Center Mental Health First Aid Instructor Kimberly Sparkmon tells WSJM News the program has been in the community for several years, and as many as 1,000 people in Berrien County have received the training. She calls it “first aid for the brain.”. ...Read Full Story

Redistricting Website Launches

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has announced a new website that will track progress on the redistricting process in the state. She tells WSJM News her office is preparing to put out applications to serve on the new 13 member redistricting commission created by a ballot proposal last year. This commission will replace the old system of having state legislators set up voting districts. Benson says anyone interested can check RedistrictingMichigan.org.. ...Read Full Story

Honor Flight Student Essay Contest

A student essay contest has been launched by Talons Out Honor Flight. The organization takes veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam to their memorials in Washington, D.C. for free, and the two winners of the essay contest will get to go along on the June 1 trip. Talons Out Honor Flight President Bobbie Bradley tells WSJM News the essays should be about the experiences of a World War II or Korean War vet from the student’s community. We asked her about some previous entries.. ...Read Full Story

Stretch Of State Highway Named For Slain Trooper

From the Associated Press — A stretch of mid-Michigan highway has been designated to honor a state trooper who was fatally shot during a 1982 traffic stop. The bill to name a portion of U.S. highway 127 between Leslie and the Jackson County line for 28-year-old Trooper Craig A. Scott was signed in December by then-Governor Rick Snyder, with the law taking effect Friday. The father of three was shot Feb. 9, 1982 along the highway. Jessica Misch, who was 8 when he died, tells the Lansing State Journal her father “sacrificed everything for the state.”
Two men were convicted in his death. Democratic state Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., who sponsored the bill, says: “The most important thing we can do is remember those who served us and made the ultimate sacrifice.”. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Hails New PFAS Commission

State Representative Beth Griffin is praising Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s creation of a PFAS commission. The governor has set up the panel to develop drinking water standards for the chemicals. Griffin tells us Whitmer “took an important step to continue our state’s progress toward better protecting the health of all Michigan families.” She notes ever since elevated levels of PFAS were found in Parchment, the state has used the Environmental Protection Agency’s drinking water limit as its cleanup standard. Griffin adds Michigan is “a national leader in protecting the health and safety of its residents from this contaminant. We’ve set the standard for action, and by creating this science advisory workgroup we can set a science-based standard for PFAS drinking water safety that Michigan families can trust.” Whitmer directed the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to create the panel to set the new PFAS standards.. ...Read Full Story

LMC To Mark International Education Week

This coming week will be all about developing a global perspective at Lake Michigan College. LMC Internationalization Committee member Amy Scrima tells WSJM News it’s International Education Week, a series of events featuring food and discussion. Tuesday brings a talk about food with a Mexico City-based chef, and then Wednesday will feature an international cuisine potluck at the Hawk’s Nest.. ...Read Full Story

Search Continues For Missing Man

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department continues to search for a man missing out of Dowagiac, and it has an update. 78-year-old Larry Waldschmidt has Alzheimer’s and needs insulin. He was reported missing Wednesday evening by family. Police say it appears he took off in the family vehicle, a white 2002 Ford Escape. When police initially reported the case, they said the Escape had a handicap plate, but they now say the family had applied for the handicap plate, but hadn’t yet received it. Police now say the Michigan Registration affixed to the vehicle is the old plate, ARW421. In addition, the sheriff’s department says it has received several tips from the Silver Alert sent out, and has followed up on every one of them with negative results. It asks anyone who sees Waldschmidt to contact authorities.. ...Read Full Story

Children’s Advocacy Center Offers Free Abuse Awareness Training

April is Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month, and there will be several activities at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan. Prevention and Outreach Specialist Allie Kibler-Campbell tells WSJM News they’re planting a pinwheel garden outside the office on M-139 south of St. Joseph, and holding free training sessions throughout the month. She says each session includes a group discussion, a workbook to take home, an informational video, and a certificate of participation.. ...Read Full Story

Insurance Group Comments On Fee Hike

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has ordered an audit of the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association after the non-profit raised the annual fee included in auto insurance premiums by $28, bringing the total to $220 per vehicle. Insurance Alliance for Michigan Executive Director Tricia Kinley told Michigan News Network the $20 billion being held by the MCCA is for lifetime medical care.. ...Read Full Story

SBA Loans Available For Van Buren, Allegan Counties

Some businesses in Allegan and Van Buren counties will be able to obtain Economic Injury Disaster Loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration due to heavy rains that soaked parts of the state between August 26 and September 6 of last year. The SBA says the loans are being made available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and small businesses engaged in aquaculture along with private nonprofit organizations. The program is for eligible farm-related and nonfarm-related entities that suffered financial losses as a direct result of the disaster. Loan amounts are for up to $2 million with 2.5% interest for private nonprofits and 3.675% for small businesses, with terms up to 30 years.. ...Read Full Story

Weight Restrictions Being Lifted Monday

In a sign of spring, the Berrien County Road Department is preparing to lift the annual frost rules. It says the seasonal weight restrictions went into effect on March 11. They’re implemented each year to help prevent damage to roads. When the ice under the road melts, the road bed becomes unstable, and it’s easy to damage the surface. The weight restrictions will be lifted on April 1 at 6 a.m. That’s no joke.. ...Read Full Story

Fire Department Truck Ceremony Interrupted By Fire Call

The Covert Township Fire Department held a ceremony this week to welcome its new fire engine, and wouldn’t you know it, the ceremony was interrupted by a fire. Firefighters were holding a “push-in” ceremony for new Engine 1921 when the call came in about a fire at a barbershop on 72nd Street near County Road 378. The ceremony had to be dropped while the firefighters rushed to the scene. They were able to protect a nearby home from the blaze, but found a shed engulfed when they arrived. The barbershop also suffered some damage. An hour later, firefighters returned to their station and conducted the “push-in” ceremony. It’s a tradition at many departments going back to the days when firefighters would push their fire wagons into the garage after unhooking them from horses. They still do push-ins on new trucks for good luck.. ...Read Full Story

Commissioner Hopes To Increase Broadband Access

Berrien County Commissioners are hoping to help spur the roll out of broadband internet in rural areas. Commissioner Teri Freehling tells WSJM News the Finance Committee will present a resolution of support next week for broadband development. She says she and other commissioners have been in talks about the need for reliable and fast internet.. ...Read Full Story

Public Defender Announced For Van Buren, Allegan Counties

A public defender has been named for Van Buren and Allegan counties. Chad Catalino of Grand Haven will lead the newly-created Allegan and Van Buren Counties Public Defender’s Office. It’s being set up as a joint venture of the two counties in response to a mandate from the state. Catlino brings 16 years of public defense experience to the new post having previously served as division director for the Muskegon County Public Defender’s Office. Funding for the Public Defender’s Office is shared by the state and the two counties. For this year, the state is paying $2.2 million, and the counties are paying $529,000.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Opposes Proposed National Institutes Of Health Cuts

Included in President Trump’s budget proposal for next year is a cut of $4.5 billion to the National Institutes of Health, something Congressman Fred Upton doesn’t support. He tells WSJM News this interferes with the intent of his 21st Century Cures legislation, which was signed into law by former President Obama and included a major funding increase for the NIH.. ...Read Full Story