Local News Archives

Task Force Calls For Local Human Trafficking Resolutions

The Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force is hoping to see communities around Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties take a page from South Bend and approve their own anti-human trafficking resolutions. Task Force founder Cathy Knauf tells WSJM News the South Bend City Council recently approved a resolution stating its opposition to the crime and warning residents about it. She asks why not communities here in southwest Michigan?. ...Read Full Story

State Police Responded To 183 SWM Crashes This Week

Michigan State Police say they responded to 183 traffic crashes across southwest Michigan this week. Thanks to the severe weather, the highways were the scene of crashes throughout the region. In addition to responding to all of those incidents, the patrol vehicles of five Michigan State Police troopers were struck by drivers, although none of the troopers were seriously hurt. MSP reminds everyone that drivers are responsible for maintaining control of their vehicles at all times. If you crash because it is slick on the road, you could still get a ticket because you weren’t going slow enough. Also, police say state law requires that when drivers see a stationary emergency vehicle or tow truck pulled over with its lights on, passing drivers must move over at least one lane. If that’s not possible, they must slow down and pass with caution.. ...Read Full Story

Warm-Up Could Mean Slight Flood Threat

With the weather expected to quickly warm up this weekend and into next week, FEMA is advising everyone to watch their homes for signs of possible flooding. Region V Administrator James Joseph tells WSJM News low-lying areas could be affected, and the agency is keeping an eye on southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Ice-Time Festival This Weekend

South Haven isn’t the only southwest Michigan community with an ice fest this weekend. Saturday will bring the 23rd Ice-Time Festival in Dowagiac. There will be ice carving all over the downtown area starting at 8 a.m. The day also features snow globes at the library, a sled dog meet and greet, games, ice castle building, and the always-popular frozen fish toss competition. There be a snow shuttle around town and ice cream. The day will end with a daddy-daughter dance. You can find the full festival line-up right here.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Ice Breaker Fest This Weekend

One of South Haven’s largest annual events is happening this weekend. It’s the 26th annual Ice Breaker Festival running Friday through Sunday. With the weather forecast calling for a warm up, organizers say the conditions should be perfect. Kathy Wagaman with the South Haven Chamber tells that ice carvings are a big draw on Saturday.. ...Read Full Story

Consumers Gives All-Clear On Natural Gas Effective At Midnight

Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe is thanking all natural gas heating customers statewide for cutting back their usage Wednesday night and throughout the day and night today following a fire that knocked a large storage and compression facility offline in Macomb County. Poppe says after they and Governor Whitmer asked people to turn down the thermostat to 65-degrees, they saw a 10% cut in demand.. ...Read Full Story

New Berrien Community Foundation Nursing Scholarship

A new scholarship is being offered by the Berrien Community Foundation to those interested in pursuing an education in nursing. The scholarship fund set up by Mark and Jean Penwell will cover two $1,500 nursing scholarships each year. They’ve named it the F.A. Mason Penwell Scholarship in honor of Mark’s mother, Frances Abbie Mason Penwell, who was an artist and teacher. Mark says she always wanted to be a nurse, but she was forced to leave school in the 1940s when the administration discovered she was married. Jean says one could not be both a nurse or teacher and married back then, adding her mother always held nurses in high regard. The Berrien Community Foundation says Lake Michigan College, with its long-accredited nursing program, is grateful for the new support for nursing students.. ...Read Full Story

Former GOP, Democratic Legislative Leaders Proposing Gas Tax Hike

Everyone wants the roads fixed, but nobody wants to pay for it. Governor Whitmer was elected on a promise to get the roads fixed and is expected to unveil her plans for that in March. To that end, a group of former legislative leaders from both parties have been brainstorming the situation, and former Senator Bob Emerson says they’ve determined getting Michigan’s roads up to the condition they should be is a $2.7 billion annual problem. So, their Michigan Consensus Policy Project has an idea.. ...Read Full Story

Consumers Explains Why Everyone Asked To Dial Back Thermostats

Consumers Energy officials say the plea to everyone across the state to dial back their thermostat to 65 degrees to cut down on natural gas usage is working. It was the result of a fire at their Ray Natural Gas Compressor Station in Macomb County, which is a combination compression and storage field for natural gas. Consumers CEO Patti Poppe says they’re aware that many people who aren’t Consumers Energy customers, like here in southwest Michigan, questioned why they were also asked to cut back.. ...Read Full Story

Mackinac Island Opposes Installing Oil Pipeline Anchors

(Mackinac Island, MI – AP) – Mackinac Island is challenging a state agency’s decision to let the pipeline company Enbridge install anchor supports for its Line 5 oil pipes in the Straits of Mackinac, which links Lakes Michigan and Huron. The state Department of Environmental Quality last year issued two permits to the Canadian company that together allow 70 saddle supports along the dual underwater pipelines.. ...Read Full Story

Flags To Be Lowered For Army Corporal From Bloomingdale

Flags around the state will be lowered to half-staff Saturday to honor Army Corporal Cole Wixom. The 24-year-old from Bloomingdale was killed January 22 in a training accident in New Mexico. Wixom graduated from Bloomingdale High School in 2013 and enlisted in the Army in 2016. He served one tour in Afghanistan. Corporal Wixom’s funeral will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at Bloomingdale High School, preceded by an 11 a.m. visitation. Governor Whitmer ordered flags lowered in his honor for the day of his funeral.. ...Read Full Story

Fire Marshal Urges Safety In Frigid Weather

Michigan Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer is urging fire safety for all Michiganders during this week’s frigid weather. Sehlmeyer says seniors, in particular, need to be careful. He tells us 63% of the 136 fire fatalities in Michigan last year involved adults over the age of 40. He says everyone can start being safe by making sure they have working smoke alarms and a carbon monoxide detector. Sehlmeyer also recommends a fire escape plan for all households. In this week’s severe weather, Sehlmeyer says everyone should clear snow away from all exterior doors, have smoke alarms in each sleeping area of the home, never use the oven as a heat source, make sure space heaters are plugged directly into the outlet, and to never use extension cords with those space heaters.. ...Read Full Story

Consumers Energy Asks For Reduction In Gas Usage

Consumers Energy is calling on all customers to voluntarily reduce their natural gas usage as a result of an unexpected gas incident in Southeast Michigan. Consumers tells us there was a problem at a gas compressor station in Macomb County that led to a fire on Wednesday. As a result, Consumers Energy is activating natural gas peaking storage fields around the state to get gas to customers. Natural gas is stored underground and reserved in those fields, which are activated when energy demand requires it. The utility is also asking its largest business customers to reduce gas usage. Consumers says customers can reduce their usage by setting the thermostat to 65 degrees when at home and 62 when away. It also suggests everyone check for leaks in windows and doors by feeling around for cool air.. ...Read Full Story

Second Child Death From Flu This Season In Michigan

From the Associated Press — Michigan health officials say a child from Alpena County is the second in the state to die from the flu this season. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services confirmed this week that the child died from complications of flu. The child was of school-age, but details including the child’s name weren’t released. Alpena County is located about 185 miles north of Detroit. The department in December had announced the death of a child in Osceola County from the flu. It says Michigan now has widespread flu activity. Other children in the U.S. have died from the flu during the 2018-19 season. Two Michigan children died last flu season from flu-related complications. The department recommends everyone 6 months of age and older get a seasonal flu vaccine.. ...Read Full Story

Congress Tackling PFAS

Work is underway in Congress to address the issue of PFAS contamination in water. Congressman Dan Kildee told CSPAN this week, first, the new PFAS Task Force wants to ask the EPA to evaluate the standards for the chemical. Then, it wants to address the clean-up of PFAS. Who will pay for it?. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Closes Non-Essential Services

The city of South Haven is closing all non-essential government services on Thursday. It tells us the South Haven Police Department and emergency services will continue to be open and operational. City crews will continue snow removal services throughout the city. Other city facilities will be closed. If a member of the public wishes to report a non-emergency event, they can call 269-637-5151. For emergency events, call 911.. ...Read Full Story

State Government Closed Again Thursday

All Michigan state government offices, including the Legislature, will remain closed again Thursday. Governor Whitmer says shutting things down due to the weather isn’t an easy decision but felt it was important to do so early enough to keep people protected from the extreme cold.. ...Read Full Story

Sturgis Hospital CEO Fired

The CEO of Sturgis Hospital, who executed dramatic cutbacks including the elimination of their birthing and hospice centers, has now also gotten the ax. The hospital board relieved CEO Rob LaBarge of his duties when they met this week. His proposed cuts, including the elimination of 60 jobs, made him very unpopular, prompting state Representative Aaron Miller to call for his resignation. Some of those jobs were saved when he struck a deal with Ascension Borgess to save their Oncology Center. The reason for his termination was not immediately available.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Sheriff: Don’t Travel Today

Cass County Sheriff Richard Behnke is stopping short of issuing a travel ban, but is telling people to stay home and off the roads if at all possible today. The county is experiencing near-blizzard conditions with frequent whiteouts that are resulting in slide-offs and stuck vehicles. The sheriff’s department says that causes unsafe conditions for emergency crews and road commission plows. They add vehicles with low ground clearance will get stuck in drifts, blocking traffic, and you can get frostbite in as few as 10 minutes if you wind up trying to walk away. Sheriff Behnke is also urging people to limit calls to road clearing agencies and the 911 dispatch center to either emergencies or complaints that need immediate attention.. ...Read Full Story

Upton: Another Shutdown Could Be Avoided

Congressman Fred Upton is hopeful another government shutdown can be averted. The deal last week that re-opened the federal government following its more than 30-day partial shutdown was intended to give Congress and the president three weeks to address border security. Upton tells WSJM News his Problem Solvers group had considered the possibility.. ...Read Full Story

Bridgman Schools Gets In On Snow Day Video Craze

Bridgman Public Schools has gotten in on the craze of turning snow days into viral celebrations. F.C. Reed Middle School Principal John Truesdell passed along a video to us this week featuring a Bridgman Bee mascot engaging in antics around the district to the tune of “Another One Bites the Dust.” The video suggests ways to pass the time during a snow day.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Closes Non-Essential Services

The city of Niles has announced it has closed for Wednesday due to the extremely frigid weather. All non-essential city services, including Dial A Ride, are shut down through at least Thursday. The city manager will decide Thursday morning whether the city is to remain closed. Emergency and essential services will remain active, including police, fire, and street department crews. The city also urges anyone without functioning heat to go to a local business providing a warming station. They are UltraCamp and Michiana Heating and Cooling. Anyone needing a ride to a warming center should call the Niles Police Department’s non-emergency line at 269-683-1313.. ...Read Full Story

BH Asks Residents To Let Water Drip, Make Sure Pipes Have Heat

The city of Benton Harbor is asking residents to let their water drip until the current round of frigid weather passes. With sub-zero temperatures over the next few days, the possibility of freezing water lines is increased. The city says residents can protect themselves by allowing a small drip of water to run through Saturday. That allows for continued movement through the plumbing. Also, the city asks residents to make sure areas where their plumbing is exposed — like basements and crawl spaces — are adequately heated to avoid the possibility of water lines freezing. City Manager Darwin Watson says while there have been no indications of excessive frost penetration, it is important those measures be taken to avoid problems.. ...Read Full Story

BH Woman Killed In Allegan County Crash

A Benton Harbor woman is dead following a weekend crash in Allegan County. The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department tells us it happened around 6:30 p.m. on M-89 at Second Street in Gun Plains Township. Deputies say 25-year-old Kalyn Ann Cole was killed when her vehicle was struck as it passed some other vehicles and failed to get back into its correct lane on time. A child who was secured in a booster seat was pinned in the backseat and received injuries that were non-life-threatening. No one else was hurt. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Homes Sales Year In Review

Home sales in southwest Michigan were slightly down in December. The Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors tells us December of 2018 sales were down 4% from December of 2017. Also, looking at 2018 as a whole, the year did not pass 2017 when it came to homes sold. However, 2018 did set records for total dollar volume and selling prices. The association says for the year, the number of houses sold dwindled to just under 1,300 compared to 1,365 in 2017. When it comes to inventory, at the end of 2018 there was 5.1 month supply of houses for sale. For comparison, in 2010, the inventory in the region was a 12.7 month supply. The association says the rising home prices throughout 2018 was partly due to that tight inventory.. ...Read Full Story

Many Benton Harbor Churches Serving As Warming Stations

With the dangerously frigid temperatures this week, several warming stations are being announced in the Benton Harbor area, many of them at churches. Among the places where someone can go to warm up are Keep It Real Ministries on Pipestone, New Bethel Baptist Church on Townline Road, Brotherhood of All Nations on Emery Street, and Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church on Jakway. This information is according to the Facebook page of Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad. He challenged local churches to offer their own warm spaces. Also, First Presbyterian on Morton Hill will have a hot meal at 6 p.m. Thursday. You’re advised to call a given church to learn more about what they are offering before heading there.. ...Read Full Story