Local News Archives

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

Mims Trial Could Start Next Week

As of now, one of the highest-profile murder cases in Berrien County’s history is due to get underway next week. It’s the double murder trial of Antwan “Tank” Mims, who was caught in suburban Atlanta, Georgia on July 31 after being placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives list. Authorities say he shot and killed two men, 22-year-old Cortez Miller and 29-year-old Michael Johnson, in front of roughly 100 witnesses at a house party last March. The trial is scheduled for a Monday start, but the Berrien County Courthouse has been closed for the past two days due to weather.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer’s State Of The State Moved Back

We have a new date for Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s first State of the State address. It had been scheduled for next Tuesday, February 5, but that’s the same night that U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Trump have moved the State of the Union. Whitmer will now address a joint session of the Legislature and the rest of the state on Tuesday, February 12. While no details have leaked out, she is expected to lay out her plan as to how to pay for road repairs around the state.. ...Read Full Story

Schools Starting To Close Through Thursday

Schools around southwest Michigan are already calling off classes through Thursday. It’s due to the blowing snow and life-threatening wind chills and frigid air heading in. Along with schools, some businesses are also closing down because of the weather. As a reminder, you can always check the full list of closings and cancellations at WSJM.com.. ...Read Full Story

Wife Of Murdered Sergeant Due In Court

The woman charged with murder for allegedly plotting the death of her Army sergeant husband on New Year’s Eve is scheduled to be in court today. That, however, is weather-dependent as all Berrien County offices including the courthouse were closed yesterday due to the weather. Kemia Hassel is is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing at 8:30 a.m. in front of Judge Angela Pasula, and WSJM News will be there.. ...Read Full Story

With Shutdown Over, Scientists Rush To Salvage Wolf Study

From the Associated Press — Scientists are rushing to salvage a study of wolves and moose at Isle Royale National Park now that the government shutdown is over. Biologists and support personnel typically spend seven weeks every winter on the Lake Superior island, observing how the predator and prey species interact. But the park was off-limits during the partial shutdown, raising fears the study would be interrupted after 60 continuous years and lose valuable data. Co-leader Rolf Peterson said Monday the team hopes to get to Isle Royale this week. He said there should be enough time for the most important tasks, including darting 20 moose by helicopter so they can be fitted with tracking collars. A private foundation has raised funds to keep the project going even if the federal government shuts down again.. ...Read Full Story

Children’s Advocacy Center Gets New Service Dog

The Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan has received a service dog. “Pawnee” is a 15-month-old female chocolate lab who came to the agency through the Canine Advocacy Program in collaboration with Leader Dogs for the Blind out of Rochester, Michigan. The Children’s Advocacy Center — or CAC — tells us Pawnee is a “career change dog” who was deemed not compatible with Leader Dogs for the Blind. She is trained to provide emotional support to people, and especially children. She will be used as a support animal in a therapeutic setting, and as a calming presence for children and adults in the community who are taking part in abuse prevention lessons offered by the CAC. Pawnee will also be able to work with clients during their court prep in the mock courtroom at the agency. Once at the courthouse, the children will be able to testify with the help of another CAC dog, known as Mr. Weeber. The Children’s Advocacy Center works with children who have been victims of sexual or severe physical abuse. It was established in 2002.. ...Read Full Story

State Treasury: Tax Season Now Underway

Income tax filing season is officially underway. The Michigan Department of Treasury tells us starting this week, Michiganders can start filing their 2018 state individual income tax returns online, or they can submit paper forms through the U.S. Postal Service. All individual income tax returns must be e-filed or postmarked by Monday, April 15. Deputy State Treasurer Glenn White says all “systems are operating as normal.” He adds filing electronically is the easiest and quickest way for Michigan taxpayers to do it. Treasury also says some individual income tax returns may be selected for identity confirmation as the department works to prevent tax-related ID theft. In those cases, the taxpayer will receive a letter from Treasury asking them to confirm their identity by completing a short online quiz or submitting paperwork. There will also be a phone option. Treasury says one way to avoid being scammed is to file as early as you can. We have a link to more information right here.. ...Read Full Story

Arrest In Van Buren County Arson

A Lawton man is facing charges after a weekend arson. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us firefighters were sent to a home in the 29,000 block of 62nd Avenue in Antwerp Township around 7:40 p.m. Sunday on a report of a structure fire. When responders from the Lawton Fire Department arrived, they found a couch inside the home was on fire. They then learned of a man at the scene who reportedly had tried to stab himself with a small knife. When sheriff’s deputies arrived, they found the man waving a large butane lighter and making threats. He was subdued by police and firefighters and taken into custody. Police say it appears the couch in the home was intentionally set on fire, and they also found a van at the property had all of its windows smashed out. The 35-year-old suspect was taken to the Van Buren County jail on two outstanding warrants , and the case will be referred to the Van Buren County Prosecutor’s Office.. ...Read Full Story

Officer Acquitted Of Reckless Discharge In 2017 Shooting

From the Associated Press — A Van Buren County police officer who fired five shots at a stolen car has been acquitted of reckless discharge of a gun. A jury returned the verdict on Friday. Chelsey Omilian was a Mattawan officer in November 2017 when she fired at a Chevrolet Impala. A woman inside the car was injured. Omilian’s lawyer says she fired her gun because she believed the male driver was trying to run her over. Sarissa Montague says Omilian had a “split second to make a hard decision.” She feels vindicated by the verdict. After the Impala crashed, a front-seat passenger fled to Mattawan High School, which had been on lockdown. Omilian no longer works for Mattawan police.. ...Read Full Story

Gov. Whitmer Downplays Fuel Tax For Roads Proposition

She was elected on a promise to “fix the damn roads,” but how that will be done by Governor Whitmer is still up in the air. There have been several reports, notably from the Michigan News Network’s Tim Skubick, that the governor’s plan will include taking all the fuel tax money and putting it into road repairs. The problem with that is the School Aid Fund currently gets some of that revenue. During a stop in Grand Rapids this weekend, Whitmer admitted she was disturbed by a recent study by Michigan State University laying out how deep the education funding cuts have been since Proposal A was adopted in the mid-1990s.. ...Read Full Story

Warming Centers Opening In Niles

With temperatures expected to drop below zero in the middle of this week, several warming centers will be opening in Niles. The city tells us UltraCamp on East Main Street will make soup and water available from 9 a.m. Tuesday through 9 a.m. Friday. Blankets, pillows, entertainment, and showers will not be available, and you should bring your own if you go there. Also, Michiana Heating and Cooling on 11th Street will be open from 3 p.m. Tuesday through 10 a.m. Saturday as a warming station. No food or showers will be available, and anyone who goes there should bring their own blankets, pillows, and entertainment. Finally, the Niles District Library will be open to the public during regular business hours. There will be no special accommodations, but the public can use the library as a place to warm up. The city of Niles says anyone without functioning heat or utilities in their homes is strongly urged to make immediate alternative living arrangements for the week. With the wind chill, temperatures this week are expected to drop to well below zero.. ...Read Full Story