Local News Archives

Church Volunteer Event This Weekend

The First Church of God in the St. Joseph area is aiming to have 1,000 volunteers out and about in St. Joe, Benton Harbor, and Stevensville this Sunday as part of its sixth Do Something! day. Jenny Fry with the church outreach program tells us the volunteers will do work at other groups that also serve the community.. ...Read Full Story

Plan To Prevent Sex Assaults Moving Forward

State Representative Mary Whiteford of Casco Township is pleased to learn a Michigan Senate committee has approved her legislation intended to help prevent sexual assaults by doctors following the Larry Nassar scandal. Whiteford tells WSJM News her bill requires that records of a variety of medical treatments be kept for 15 years.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Talks Corrections Budget

The latest Michigan corrections and judiciary budgets are being praised by state Senator John Proos. He tells WSJM News the new spending plans focus on protecting public safety and improving efficiency by continuing programs designed to reduce recidivism. He likes a new one included in the House budget for corrections.. ...Read Full Story

Hartford Strawberry Festival

The Hartford Strawberry Festival is here. Each summer, the community celebrates its strawberry growers with the event, which is one of the first community-wide summer celebrations to be held. Festival Secretary Patty Schroeder tells WSJM News there will be lots of strawberries to sample and buy.. ...Read Full Story

Army Corps Of Engineers Photo Contest

If you’re an amateur photographer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is inviting you to enter a photography contest it’s holding. Corps Ranger Michelle Briggs of the Detroit District tells WSJM News they’ll soon take entries for a photo contest showing off the Soo Locks, the Duluth Ship Canal, or from a Corps pier, breakwater, or federal harbor on the Great Lakes. She says they’ve held the contest each year since 2016.. ...Read Full Story

BH Summer Book Giveaway

Thousands of books could be given away to children in Benton Harbor this summer thanks to a program the public school district is considering. Benton Harbor Area Schools Interim Superintendent Patricia Robinson tells WSJM News Title 1 funds could be put toward the summer book giveaway.. ...Read Full Story

El-Sayed Talks Healthcare

A Democratic gubernatorial candidate is proposing a plan to offer no-premium, no co-pay healthcare to everyone in Michigan. In part, Abdul El Sayed told Michigan News Network the plan would be paid for with what he calls a “gross receipts” tax on Michigan’s larger corporations.. ...Read Full Story

Group Calls For Juvenile Justice Reforms

Legislation is currently proposed in the Michigan House that would raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 18, rather than 17. Michigan Catholic Conference Vice President for Advocacy Tom Hickson tells us 17-year-olds are still developing and more inclined to risky, impulsive behaviors. He say it’s not right to treat them like adults in the justice system.. ...Read Full Story

Sheriff’s Department Wins Two Awards

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is the recipient of a couple of awards from Assisted Patrol, a company that makes police equipment. Chief Deputy Robert Boyce tells us the sheriff’s department submitted some ideas for a contest seeking new law enforcement investigative techniques.. ...Read Full Story

Covert Schools Food Program

Covert Public Schools has announced the sponsorship of the Summer Food Service for Children. Free meals will be made available to children 18 years of age and under or those up to 26 years of age who are enrolled in an educational program for the disabled that’s recognized by a state or local education agency. Covert’s Director of Communications Brittany Millan spoke with WSJM News about the program.. ...Read Full Story

Reactions To Prevailing Wage Vote

Lawmakers from Michigan are reacting to the state legislature’s vote on Wednesday to repeal Michigan’s prevailing wage law. The 1965 statute requires that higher “prevailing” wages be paid to construction workers on state-financed projects. Following the repeal vote on Wednesday, state Representative Dave Pagel of Berrien Springs issued a statement saying while he believes “construction workers from the various trades should receive fair and competitive wages,” he does “not believe that state government should artificially inflate those wages over free-market forces.” He feels the repeal is a plus. On the other side is U.S. Senator Gary Peters, who says the repeal will “not only hurt hardworking Michiganders who deserve decent pay for a job well done, it also threatens our public safety.” Peters says at a time when the state faces a shortage of skilled trades workers, the move will only make things worse. He pledges to work to protect a similar federal law.. ...Read Full Story

Life Rings Now Installed

City leaders in St. Joseph are hoping the north pier will be a little safer now that 12 life rings to help prevent drownings have been installed. City Manager John Hodgson tells WSJM News the rings come with throw bags and 90 foot ropes. A video explaining how to use the rings may be produced.. ...Read Full Story

Grand Opening Planned For Animal Shelter

The grand opening for the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan’s new animal shelter will be this Saturday. Humane Society Executive Director Jill Svoboda tells WSJM News it’s been a long journey to get the $2 million Yeager Family Pet Shelter on M-139 in Royalton Township built. The animals and staff have spent the past few weeks moving in.. ...Read Full Story

Orchards Mall Auction Delayed

The auction of the Orchards Mall in Benton Township is being delayed. It was supposed to have been held online this week, but is now scheduled for next Wednesday, June 13. No reason has been given for the delay. WSJM News has reached out to the real estate firm representing mall owner Michael Kohan, but has not yet received a reply. The opening bid for the property remains $750,000, and the initial goal was to sell the mall and the land it’s on for around $2.5 million. Kohan has narrowly escaped foreclosure by Berrien County the past two years for not paying the property taxes. Those have been paid on the deadline in both years, and he’s still several years behind on those payments.. ...Read Full Story

School Board Talks Graduation

With graduation set for this Friday, leaders at Benton Harbor Area Schools are hoping to ensure some students who are just a half credit away from the diploma requirements are still allowed to walk the field with their class. At Tuesday’s work session, the board of education heard from the distraught parents of one senior who is a half credit away. They just found out she can’t walk with the class. Trustee Joseph Taylor wondered if she could do so if she signed up for summer school first.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Repeals Michigan’s Prevailing Wage Law

The Michigan Legislature has voted mostly along party lines in both the House and Senate to repeal a decades-old law that guarantees higher “prevailing” wages for construction workers on state-financed projects. Governor Snyder opposes the bill, but is unable to veto it because it was initiated through a ballot drive. Michigan has become the fifth conservative-led state to annul its prevailing wage law since 2015. Republicans say the law costs taxpayers more when school construction and other government projects could be done for less money. Democrats, union contractors and others say the repeal initiative is an attack on workers and the 1965 law ensures they are paid fairly and quality work is done.. ...Read Full Story

Journeyman Distillery Facing Cease And Desist Order

One of the area’s top spirits makers is in danger of being shuttered, but there is hope. Three Oaks Village Manager Mike Greene tells WSJM News they are trying to resolve issues with Journeyman Distillery over the wastewater discharge. Journeyman has been given a cease and desist order that takes effect Friday, but Greene says he’s been in contact with the village council about it.. ...Read Full Story

Police Looking For Hit-And-Run Driver In Dowagiac

Authorities in Dowagiac are looking for a car involved in a hit-and-run around 10:30 Tuesday night. A 20-year-old man was hit as he and three others were walking along M-51 against oncoming traffic. Another driver stopped to help, and none of the other three were hurt. Police are looking for a dark-colored, mid-sized sedan that kept going north. The man who was hit is hospitalized at Borgess Lee Memorial in Dowagiac, and investigators say the extent of his injuries aren’t known.. ...Read Full Story

New Map Of MI Forests

From the Associated Press — A newly developed online map provides information about how Michigan’s state forests are managed. The Department of Natural Resources says the map makes it easier to learn about timber sales, prescribed burns and other activities. Users can navigate on the map or simply type in an address to find out what activities are planned or underway in areas of interest. The DNR manages 4 million acres of state forest. It has a crew of geographers and data managers who provide up-to-date information on forest health, wildlife populations and more. The current map highlights activities planned for 2020. Next year forestry staff will work on actions for 2021. You can find the map right here.. ...Read Full Story

Senate Considering Nassar Bills

The state Senate has before it a package of sexual assault bills prompted by the Larry Nassar scandal at Michigan State University. Some had been modified by the House, and Representative Klint Kesto told Michigan News Network he’s calling on the Senate to approve the bills and send them to Governor Snyder.. ...Read Full Story

Andrews University Shutting Down Dairy Operations

The focus of the operations of the Andrews University Farm is changing. The Board of Trustees voted this week to close down the farm’s dairy operations by the summer of 2019. Senior vice president for financial administration Lawrence Schalk tells us that due to low milk prices, the operation has been losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.. ...Read Full Story

School Board Discipline Policy

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education will be asked next week to approve a policy giving the district more control over which students are allowed to enroll. Interim Superintendent Patricia Robinson tells WSJM News an issue has arisen with an influx of kids following February’s student could.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Cottage Walk This Month

Tickets are now available for South Haven’s annual Cottage Walk. SHOUT for South Haven’s Sue Cunningham tells WSJM News the booster organization has held the walks on the last Saturday of every June for 23 years now. This year’s event will give walkers a chance to tour five homes in locations all over South Haven.. ...Read Full Story

Krasl Public Art

The Krasl Art Center will be installing a new sculpture in Benton Harbor’s Arts District this week as part of the center’s Biennial Sculpture Invitational. Krasl Deputy Director Tammy Miller tells WSJM News “Eve’s Awareness” by Terry Hewlett replaces “Eve and the Serpent,” a sculpture that’s being removed due to complaints. The new one is more family friendly.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Remains Opposed To Trump Tariffs

Congressman Fred Upton continues to speak out against the tariff increases on steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union announced by President Trump. He says while Presidents have the authority to take that action, it’s especially unfair to impose the tariff on Canada.. ...Read Full Story

State To Close Another Prison In 2019

The state plans to close another prison next year. Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Gautz says the closure comes as crime in the state and the prison population continue to dwindle. It’s not yet clear which prison will close. Jobs will be lost, but he predicts not many.. ...Read Full Story

Voters To Decide Marijuana Legalization

From the Associated Press — Michigan voters will decide whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. A citizen-initiated measure wasn’t approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature before a 40-day deadline passed Tuesday. That means the ballot initiative will get a public vote in November. Michigan has allowed medical-marijuana use for nearly a decade. If the ballot measure is successful, Michigan would become the 10th state to legalize recreational marijuana. The proposal would allow people age 21 or older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana outside their home and grow up to 12 plants at home. A 10 percent excise tax on marijuana would be assessed at the retail level. The Michigan Senate leader wanted legislators to pass the bill to make it easier to change later, but support was lacking in the. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Approves Recreational Projects

From the Associated Press — Governor Rick Snyder has approved nearly $50 million in spending to boost public recreation statewide.
The $49.9 million for the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund enacted Monday will go to 34 land acquisition projects and 97 development projects . It includes $12.5 million to buy up to 372 acres surrounded by Ludington State Park. Among the state or local development projects are trails, parks, canoe and kayak launches, playgrounds and splash pads across Michigan. About $45 million in matching funds will be provided locally. Also Monday, Snyder signed legislation establishing a five-member group to advise the Natural Resources Trust Fund Board on annual spending recommendations. The fund consists of royalties paid by oil and gas companies
that buy and lease state-owned mineral rights.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Approves Recreational Projects

From the Associated Press — Governor Rick Snyder has approved nearly $50 million in spending to boost public recreation statewide.
The $49.9 million for the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund enacted Monday will go to 34 land acquisition projects and 97 development projects . It includes $12.5 million to buy up to 372 acres surrounded by Ludington State Park. Among the state or local development projects are trails, parks, canoe and kayak launches, playgrounds and splash pads across Michigan. About $45 million in matching funds will be provided locally. Also Monday, Snyder signed legislation establishing a five-member group to advise the Natural Resources Trust Fund Board on annual spending recommendations. The fund consists of royalties paid by oil and gas companies
that buy and lease state-owned mineral rights.. ...Read Full Story

Water Protest In Lansing

A protest took place Monday at the state capitol in Lansing, staged by hundreds of poor people, clergy, and others regarding water issues in Michigan. The Reverend-Dr. Liz Theoharis is co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. She spoke with Michigan News Network about the protest.. ...Read Full Story

Water Protest In Lansing

A protest took place Monday at the state capitol in Lansing, staged by hundreds of poor people, clergy, and others regarding water issues in Michigan. The Reverend-Dr. Liz Theoharis is co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. She spoke with Michigan News Network about the protest.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Poised To Repeal Prevailing Wage Law

From the Associated Press — A 53-year-old Michigan law that guarantees higher “prevailing” wages for construction workers on state-financed projects could soon be nullified. The Republican-controlled Legislature this week is poised to repeal the statute, which would make Michigan the fifth state to annul its prevailing wage law since 2015. Though GOP Governor Rick Snyder opposes the bill, it is veto-proof because it was initiated through a ballot drive by nonunion contractors. Conservatives say repealing the law would save taxpayers money. On the other side are union contractors, Democrats and others who say the 1965 statute ensures that workers are paid fairly and that quality work is done on schools, fire stations and other public works projects. They are pressing Republicans to let the legislation proceed to the November ballot.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Poised To Repeal Prevailing Wage Law

From the Associated Press — A 53-year-old Michigan law that guarantees higher “prevailing” wages for construction workers on state-financed projects could soon be nullified. The Republican-controlled Legislature this week is poised to repeal the statute, which would make Michigan the fifth state to annul its prevailing wage law since 2015. Though GOP Governor Rick Snyder opposes the bill, it is veto-proof because it was initiated through a ballot drive by nonunion contractors. Conservatives say repealing the law would save taxpayers money. On the other side are union contractors, Democrats and others who say the 1965 statute ensures that workers are paid fairly and that quality work is done on schools, fire stations and other public works projects. They are pressing Republicans to let the legislation proceed to the November ballot.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Approves Demolitions

Eight buildings, most of them houses, will be torn down in Benton Harbor this year following Monday’s city commission approval of the 2018 Berrien County Land Bank demolition list. None of the houses are occupied, and Mayor Marcus Muhammad described them as eyesores. He said tearing them down is in the interest of the city.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Approves Demolitions

Eight buildings, most of them houses, will be torn down in Benton Harbor this year following Monday’s city commission approval of the 2018 Berrien County Land Bank demolition list. None of the houses are occupied, and Mayor Marcus Muhammad described them as eyesores. He said tearing them down is in the interest of the city.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool Appliance Sale

The spring Whirlpool Appliance Sale is coming up soon. Set for June 9 and 10, the sale is a way for anyone to buy Whirlpool appliances with a deep discount. Whirlpool Senior Manager of Global Operations Gokul Nair tells WSJM News the sale includes everything from refrigerators to dishwashers and beyond.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool Appliance Sale

The spring Whirlpool Appliance Sale is coming up soon. Set for June 9 and 10, the sale is a way for anyone to buy Whirlpool appliances with a deep discount. Whirlpool Senior Manager of Global Operations Gokul Nair tells WSJM News the sale includes everything from refrigerators to dishwashers and beyond.. ...Read Full Story

Sentencing In Tax Evasion, Embezzlement Case

A Buchanan woman who allegedly embezzled more than $1.9 million from her former employer has been sentenced to three years in federal prison for tax evasion. The U.S. Attorney out of Grand Rapids tells us 52-year-old Lynn Pawielski will also have to serve three years of supervised released after prison and pay restitution. She pleaded guilty to attempted tax evasion for 2015 when her income was more than $330,000, as opposed to the $150,000 she reported. It all stemmed from the embezzlement of more than $1.9 million from her former employer between 2009 and 2016. The U.S. Attorney dropped embezzlement charges against Pawielski in exchange for her guilty plea in the tax case. She will have to pay back more than $511,000 to the IRS and $1.9 million to her former employer, who has not been identified.. ...Read Full Story

SJ Life Rings Being Installed

There are now life rings installed on the north pier in St. Joseph. City Manager John Hodgson tells us the first six rings were put in just in time for Memorial Day, and the remaining six are expected in on Tuesday of this week. The city had mounts for the rings specially made, and the rings themselves were picked up from a Holland vendor. The total cost of obtaining and installing all 12 rings will be about $5,000 and Hodgson says an anonymous donor has offered to contribute about $1,000. The city started installing the rings at the far end of the pier, working from the lighthouse back to shore. It’s possible an instructional video for the life rings will be posted on the city’s website. St. Joseph City Commissioners in April agreed to have life rings installed on the north pier following a recommendation from the U.S. Cost Guard.. ...Read Full Story

New Bangor Superintendent

After serving as Bangor Public Schools interim superintendent for eight months, Lynn Johnson has been hired for the position of superintendent full time. There were 14 applicants for the job, narrowed down to three finalists, and Johnson was selected. Johnson also served as the community education director. That position will now need to be filled. The school board will meet to go over Johnson’s contract and salary. He is expected to assume his new duties on July 1st.. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw Teen Sentenced For School Threat

It’s a year in a residential treatment center as punishment for a plot to shoot up Paw Paw High School for a 15-year-old boy. He was charged in juvenile court and pleaded guilty to a felony explosives charge and a weapons count, with authorities dropping eight other charges. He was sentenced Monday. The teen’s parents turned him in to police after finding evidence of the plot, including a shotgun that had been stolen from his grandfather and sawed off so that it would fit in a bag. He will be treated at the Shawono Center in Grayling for the next year, and will be under court supervision until he turns 19.. ...Read Full Story

Clements Shocked By Elections Officials Ruling

Congressional candidate Paul Clements isn’t backing down. The Kalamazoo Democrat is taking the state to court to be included on the August primary ballot in the 6th Congressional District after the Board of State Canvassers ruled Friday he was nine signatures short on his petitions. Clements tells WSJM News he was “shocked” by the reasoning invalidating signatures where voters marked incorrectly if they lived in a township or city in areas that share the same name like St. Joseph and Kalamazoo.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Authorities Release Names In Double Fatal Crash

What caused a Mishawaka woman to cross the center line on M-51 last night near the Four Winds Casino in Dowagiac is still not known. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department says 34-year-old Lee Ann Saenz is in critical condition at South Bend Memorial after causing the crash that killed one backseat passenger in her car and a backseat passenger in the other vehicle. Two others who were in her car are in serious but stable condition at Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph and Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo. The driver of the other car is being treated at Borgess Lee Memorial for non-life-threatening injuries. The two people killed were 31-year-old David Conner of Niles and 37-year-old Tracy Seitenstich of Dowagiac.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Crash Kills Two

Details are few, but a head-on crash in Dowagiac has left two people dead and five others fighting for their lives. The Cass County Sheriff’s Office says the crash happened on M-51 roughly a mile south of the Four Winds Casino near Crystal Springs Street. The five who have survived are hospitalized in critical condition. No names have been released, and the crash is still being investigated.. ...Read Full Story

College Success Rates

Students at Michigan’s 15 public universities and 28 community colleges are finding more success, according to data reported this week by the state’s Center for Educational Performance and Information. Spokesperson Lauren Leeds tells WSJM News university students successfully complete their degrees after six years about 71% of the time. As for community college students…. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Walking Tours

Walking tours around St. Joseph will once again be offered this summer by the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center. Heritage Museum Curator Tracy Gierada tells WSJM News this year’s program will feature sculpture tours and history tours.. ...Read Full Story

Calls Grow For New Soo Locks

The Michigan Manufacturers Association is expressing support for Governor Rick Snyder’s commitment this week of $50 million of state revenue toward the national effort to rebuild the Soo Locks. The association’s Mike Johnston tells WSJM News the manufacturing industry depends on the locks.. ...Read Full Story

Emergency Services Talks Beach Safety

Hot weather and summer vacation with the kids often means a trip to the beach. South Haven has seven public beaches and all them have beach warning flags that will inform you about swimming conditions in Lake Michigan at the beach where you are. South Haven Area Emergency Services Chief Ron Wise spoke with WSJM News about the matter.. ...Read Full Story

Successful Humane Society Auction

This year’s Bids for Barks auction to benefit the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan was a resounding success. So says the Humane Society, which tells us a record amount was raised at the event, held May 19 at the Mendel Center in Benton Township. Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan Board President Don Blackmond spoke with WSJM News about the auction.. ...Read Full Story

Summer Lighthouse Tours Planned

The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in St. Joseph has released the schedule for this summer’s lighthouse tours. Curator Tracy Gierada tells us this will be the third year for the tours, which opened up in 2016 following the lighthouse renovations. She tells us there are a few different types of tours, starting with the walking tours.. ...Read Full Story

Boost For Food Pantry

Just three months after it got started, the student food pantry at Southwestern Michigan College has gotten a big boost. At a meeting last month, Cass County 100+ Women Who Care voted to adopt the Roadrunner Kitchen. SMC Vice President of Instruction David Fleming tells WSJM News the food pantry began this year as a way for students to pick up items when in need.. ...Read Full Story

New Wine Fest In Bridgman

Excitement is brewing for the newest wine festival in southwest Michigan. Set for June 9 at Weko Beach in Bridgman will be the Makers Trail Festival, featuring 23 makers of wine and other spirits. Greater Bridgman Area Chamber Director Calli Berg tells WSJM News it’s all about celebrating what may be the region’s fastest growing industry.. ...Read Full Story

Summer Event In Bridgman

Downtown Bridgman will be a livelier place this summer thanks to a new series of events organized by the city and local merchants. Bridgman City Manager Juan Ganum tells WSJM News this past Friday brought the first of four Bridgman Family Friday Fests. The events are inspired by the winter Holiday Village festivities.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Talks STEM

A Michigan House committee has approved legislation from state Senator John Proos to encourage high school students to take more STEM classes. Proos tells WSJM News students who take extra science, technology, engineering, or math classes could get a STEM certification on their diploma or transcript. He says that would help those students find work.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Road Closure

The Michigan Department of Transportation is notifying drivers of a partial road closure beginning in South Haven next week. MDOT tells us there will be single-lane closures and a temporary traffic signal for concrete pavement repairs on M-43 between Aylworth Avenue and Francis Street. The work starts Monday and will run through Friday, June 29. Drivers are reminded to give themselves a few extra minutes if they commute through that route. You can stay on top of all of MDOT’s summer road construction projects at the MIDrive website. It’s at Michigan.gov/MIDrive.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Statement On Tariffs

Congressman Fred Upton has weighed in on the Trump administration’s new tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. In a statement issued Friday, Upton says, “We need to target tariffs to address specific unfair trading practices in a way that minimizes negative consequences for Michigan jobs, manufacturers, and consumers.” He goes on to say after speaking with local manufacturers and farmers, Upton has learned they believe a “trade war hurts Michigan.”. ...Read Full Story