Local News Archives

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

Clements, Garrod Out Of Dem Field

There are now just four Democrats set to appear on their party’s primary ballot for Congress in the Sixth District this August. On Friday, the State Board of Canvassers held up an opinion from the State Bureau of Elections that Paul Clements and Eponine Garrod did not turn in enough valid petition signatures to get on the ballot. The two appeared before the board at its morning meeting, and both said they felt that had collected enough signatures. The Michigan Secretary of State tells us Clements initially turned in more than 1,300 of the 1,000 needed petition signatures, but more than 300 of them were deemed invalid. Garrod turned in 1,019, leaving her much less wiggle room. 45 of her petition signatures were found to be invalid. The Democratic field for Congress in the Sixth District is now down to George Franklin, David Benac, Rich Eichholz, and Matt Longjohn.. ...Read Full Story

State Police: Arrow Story Was A Lie

Michigan State Police say a Paw Paw man who reported being shot with an arrow back in March was lying. Troopers from the Paw Paw post were called out to investigate on March 25 when Michael Downey reported he’d been shot in the neck with an arrow while walking in the woods on a trail close to the eastern edge of Van Buren County. Troopers tell us after an extensive investigation involving the MSP Crime Lab and a K9, they determined the report was false. Downey later admitted he’d made the story up. Downey was arraigned Friday on a charge of false report of a felony. Michigan State Police say they will seek restitution for the cost of the investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Makers Faire Tomorrow

Coming up this Saturday is the fourth annual Southwest Michigan Mini Maker’s Faire at Whirlpool Centennial Park in St. Joseph. The fair is organized by Berrien RESA to celebrate that maker spirit that’s been growing in southwest Michigan. RESA Technology Consultant Joe Rommel tells WSJM News there will be all kinds of makers showing off the things they’ve produced. There will also be interactive displays.. ...Read Full Story

Bangor Train Celebration Tomorrow

The Bangor Historical Society will be dedicating the Duane Goss Kalamazoo Toy Train this Saturday at the museum located at the old Ely Hardware building on West Monroe Street. Musum member Rick Dillman told WSJM News the toy trains are an important part of Bangor’s history.. ...Read Full Story

EPA Taking Heat Over Pesticides

A new lawsuit accuses the Environmental Protection Agency of putting farmworkers in Michigan and other states at increased risk of pesticide exposure. Earthjustice and Farmworker Justice are suing the agency for its failure to issue a notice that updated pesticide training materials are available under the Worker Protection Standard passed in 2015. Earthjustice attorney Hannah Chang tells us the materials have been ready for more than a year, and are needed to protect workers.. ...Read Full Story

Makers Trail Festival Coming Up

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

Shooting Victim Taken To Cass County Gas Station

A man is hospitalized in Elkhart after being shot in northern Indiana and left at a Cass County gas station. Our newsgathering partners at WNDU NewsCenter 16 report the man was taken to a Marathon station in Union after being shot in Elkhart. Police were called and he was taken back over the border for treatment. The man’s injuries are not believed to be life-threatening, and there’s no word on any suspect or if an arrest has been made.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers Fight Over Marijuana Proposal

From the Associated Press — Republican legislative leaders are at odds as a deadline nears to enact a marijuana legalization measure or let it go to a statewide vote in November. Tuesday is the deadline. The Legislature could adopt the citizen-initiated bill, which would enable lawmakers to later amend it. Or it could do nothing and let the proposal go on the ballot. Republican Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said Thursday there’s support within the Senate to pass the legislation, but he won’t vote unless the House gets on board. He accuses House Speaker Tom Leonard of standing in the way and doing a “poor job” educating his caucus. Leonard says there’s not enough support among House Republicans to pursue the initiative. He adds he’s no “dictator” and would allow a vote if there’s support.. ...Read Full Story

Meeting To Determine Candidate Eligibility

Two of the Democratic candidates seeking their party’s nomination to run against Congressman Fred Upton in November will find out Friday if their names will appear on the primary ballot. Michigan Secretary of State spokesperson Fred Woodhams tells WSJM News the state Bureau of Elections this week made a preliminary ruling against Paul Clements and Eponine Garrod.. ...Read Full Story

Infant Death Under Investigation

The death of a six-week-old baby in under investigation in Berrien County. The sheriff’s department tells us deputies were called out to a home in the 3900 block of Fikes Road in Hagar Township around 6:20 a.m. Thursday on a report of an infant not breathing. They arrived to find the six-week-old child dead. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says the investigation into the case is ongoing, and an autopsy will be performed Friday at Western Michigan University. Child Protective Services is assisting. The sheriff’s department says upon completion of the investigation, the report will be forwarded to the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office for review, which is customary in suspicious death situations.. ...Read Full Story

Democratic Field Challenging Upton Could Be Shrinking

There were once seven Democrats running for their party’s nomination to challenge Congressman Fred Upton this fall, and now the field is down to five. Aida Gray was the first to drop out, as her name is not among the list of candidates in the most recent listing by the Secretary of State’s office. Now comes word state elections officials are recommending Western Michigan University professor Paul Clements, who won the nomination but lost to Upton in both 2014 and 2016, be removed from the primary ballot in August. A supporter of Democratic candidate Matt Longjohn filed a challenge that Clements didn’t have enough valid signatures of registered voters in the 6th Congressional District to qualify. If the recommendation stands, voters will chose between David Benac, Rich Eichholz, George Franklin, Eponine Garrod, and Longjohn in August.. ...Read Full Story

Lighthouse Tours This Summer

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

South Haven Dealing With Japanese Knotweed

Japanese knotweed has been a problem for a few years in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, and now the invasive plant is in South Haven. City officials in the Van Buren County city have identified 13 locations where the plant has been found and are working to educate people about not trying to remove it. The city will be working on eradication by hiring a qualified contractor this fall. The plant can have roots ten-feet deep, and using normal weed killing chemicals only causes it to get stronger. New signs have been put up in South Haven helping people identify the plant and warning them to stay off of it and not cut it down, as that causes it to spread faster. The BBC reported in April that the largest study to date, done in Wales, determined there is no currently available method to get rid of Japanese knotweed.. ...Read Full Story

Record 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

Silver Beach Fight Prompts South Bend Coach To Resign

The fight that shut down Silver Beach County Park early on Monday evening is pushing a high school wrestling coach in South Bend to resign. Tony McWilliams posted on Facebook that he was stepping down as the coach at Washington High School because he’s upset by the school’s inaction regarding the bullying of his daughters. McWilliams says video of the fight shows his daughters being jumped by girls who had been bullying them at school. He says he will fight until he’s “satisfied with the outcome,” adding “zero tolerance is supposed to mean zero tolerance.” McWilliams says he “played along for a year” and is seeking “justice from everyone.” Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey told WSJM News this week that the fights at the beach were started by women who had come to town from northern Indiana.. ...Read Full Story

MI Colleges Increasing 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