Local News Archives

Better Business Bureau Warns About Check Scam

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The Better Business Bureau of west Michigan is advising everyone of a scam that involves classified ads published in a newspaper. It says this is a car-wrapping scam that got a Hastings woman. The classified ad promises people can make $300 to $400 per week by simply driving their car. According to the victim, after responding to the email address in the ad, she was sent a check. The instructions were for her to cash the check, keep several hundred dollars, and then forward the rest to a third party. The Better Business Bureau says the check turned out to be fake, and the woman is now responsible for paying back the bank for the full amount withdrawn. Investigators have found the same email address used in the ad was used in others posted in newspapers around the country. Check scams were among the riskiest scams reported to the BBB ScamTracker in 2018.. ...Read Full Story

Owner Of St. Joseph’s “Tarp House” Trying Supreme Court Appeal

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If you were among the area residents expecting to see bulldozers or other equipment knocking down the so-called “Tarp House” at the corner of Niles and Hoyt in the city of St. Joseph at the end of this week, set aside that expectation. The owner of the home is continuing to fight the city in court over the demolition order, as an appeals court ruling earlier this year in favor of the city set March 29 as the deadline for the demolition. St. Joseph City Attorney Laurie Schmidt says the homeowner and his attorney are petitioning the Michigan Supreme Court for yet another appeal.. ...Read Full Story

LECO Gets Industrial Development District Approval

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LECO Corporation is planning an expansion on the south end of the city of St. Joseph. The company secured an Industrial Development District designation from the St. Joseph city commission Monday night for its headquarters on Lakeview in St. Joseph along with several adjoining properties. Cathy Tilley is the business development manager for Cornerstone Alliance, and spoke on behalf of the firm.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers Addressing Snow Day Questions

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Legislation to help Michigan schools recover from the large amount of snow days this year is being discussed in the Michigan House. State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan tells WSJM News the House Ways and Means Committee currently has the package. She says there are two parts to the discussion.. ...Read Full Story

Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament In Round Two

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Round two of state Senator Kim LaSata’s Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament has begun. LaSata is keeping alive the tradition started by her predecessor to have schools compete to show who has the most pride by submitting photos to her Facebook page. The bracket-style competition takes place alongside the March Madness basketball action. This year’s Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament started last week, and now advancing on to round two are 16 districts including Niles, Bridgman, Benton Harbor, St. Joseph, and Berrien Springs. Also still in is last year’s winner, Coloma. Anyone looking for more information on the tournament can check out LaSata’s Facebook page.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Launches Redistricting Website

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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

Task Force Aims To Stop Elder Abuse

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From the Associated Press — A new task force has been formed to help stop physical abuse, financial exploitation, emotional abuse and neglect of elderly people in Michigan. The state’s Attorney General Dana Nessel joined with Michigan Supreme Court Justices Richard Bernstein and Megan Cavanagh and others Monday to announce the formation of the Michigan Elder Abuse Task Force. More than 30 organizations including law enforcement, state agencies and advocacy groups have committed to being part of the effort. Michigan residents are urged to report signs or concerns about elder abuse to Nessel’s office, which has established an elder abuse hotline for anonymous tips, 800-24-ABUSE (800-242-2873) or online. Past state efforts to curb elder abuse included a 1998 Supreme Court Task
Force on Guardianships and Conservatorships and a 2007 Governor’s Task Force on Elder Abuse.. ...Read Full Story

Another Sign Of Spring: Oberon Day Arrives

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For craft beer lovers, today is nearly a holiday: Oberon Day, the release for the year of Kalamazoo County-based Bell’s Brewery’s popular wheat ale. Bars started tapping this year’s kegs at midnight on Monday to celebrate the official release. Bell’s founder Larry Bell says in most of the country, Oberon is only available during the warm months because it’s the type of beer that pairs well with sunshine and baseball games. But Bell’s operations director John Mallett says it has a different meaning for others.. ...Read Full Story

New Michigan Task Force Seeks To Stop Abuse Of Elderly

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A new task force has been formed to help stop physical abuse, financial exploitation, emotional abuse and neglect of elderly people in Michigan. State Attorney General Dana Nessel joined with Michigan Supreme Court Justices Richard Bernstein and Megan Cavanagh and others Monday to announce the formation of the Michigan Elder Abuse Task Force. Nearly three dozen organizations including law enforcement, state agencies and advocacy groups have committed to being part of the effort. Michigan residents are urged to report signs or concerns about elder abuse to Nessel’s office, which has established an elder abuse hotline for anonymous tips, 800-24-ABUSE (844-242-2873) or online .. ...Read Full Story

Upton Responds To What’s Been Released Of Mueller Report

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“We had to get to the bottom of it, and the conclusions had to take us to where we are today,” says Congressman Fred Upton on the release of the report by special counsel Robert Mueller into the Trump administration and Trump campaign. The St. Joseph Republican supported the investigation and told Michigan’s Big Show there are more documents that are yet to be released.. ...Read Full Story

Lory’s Pace Run, Walk, and Rock Coming Up

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Registrations are being taken for the next Lory’s Place Run, Walk, and Rock. This is the 15th year for the event, which raises money for Lory’s Pace, a St. Joseph-based program that helps people cope with grief. The Run, Walk, and Rock will be Saturday, May 18. The timed 5K run and walk course will take runners and walkers through St. Joseph’s Edgewater area and into Tiscornia Park. Meanwhile, rocking chairs will be available for spectators throughout the morning along the edge of the course. Individuals or groups can sponsor a rocker. That money goes to Lory’s Place, along with the registration fees paid by runners and walkers. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Mayor Talks Priorities In Annual Address

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Benton Harbor is building forward. That was the message of Mayor Marcus Muhammad as he delivered his annual State of the City address this past week. Speaking at the Benton Harbor Public Library on Tuesday, Muhammad said the city has come a long way since being under state control, pointing to five years of positive fund balances.. ...Read Full Story

Drive-By Shooting In Benton Township Meijer Parking Lot

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Benton Township police are reportedly looking for a suspect in a drive-by shooting in the parking lot of the Meijer store on Pipestone Road. A 34-year-old Benton Harbor man says he was walking in the grass between the store and a car wash when someone in a dark four-door sedan fired four shots at him out the window of the car. The man was not hurt in the incident, which happened around 4 p.m. Saturday.. ...Read Full Story

Website Lists Conditions Of 11,000 MI bridges

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The Michigan Department of Transportation has launched a new online dashboard to make information about the condition of bridges around the state known to the public. MDOT Deputy Chief Bridge Engineer Beckie Curtis tells WSJM News the site includes data on more than 11,000 bridges. It goes over the state of each.. ...Read Full Story

Record Year For United Way

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The United Way of Southwest Michigan has marked a record fundraising year. At its annual celebration at Lake Michigan College th9is month, the organization announced it raised more than $4.2 million with its 2018 campaign. United Way of Southwest Michigan President Anna Murphy tells WSJM News the region cares.. ...Read Full Story

BH Police Focus On Illegal Dumping

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An effort is underway in Benton Harbor to crack down on the illegal dumping of trash. The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety tells us discarded tires, mattresses, and other junk have become a major problem. Word went out Thursday about a new tip line that has been set up for people to report the practice. Police say the situation has gotten so bad the city has spent more than $169,000 on extra dumpsters to remove the illegally dumped material over the past three years. The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety has made four arrests as part of its illegal dumping investigation since last week. To report the illegal dumping of trash in Benton Harbor, call or text 269-944-7929.’. ...Read Full Story

Tax Proposal Gets Attention Statewide

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A tax credit being floated by Cornerstone Alliance President Rob Cleveland is getting some attention statewide. Cleveland tells WSJM News he came up with the idea for the HUGE credit while brainstorming with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. It would give an income tax break to recent college graduates in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Tuition At LMC Is Going Up

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A tuition increase is coming for students at Lake Michigan College. At this week’s LMC Board of Trustees meeting, an increase of 1.5% for in-district students was approved. LMC President Trevor Kubatzke tells WSJM News the move is in response to increased operating costs.. ...Read Full Story

Man Shot Through Window In Cass County

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The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a Saturday shooting in Mason Township. It says deputies were called out to a home on Starbrick Street near Tharp Lake Road shortly before 12:30 a.m. and learned a 57-year-old man had been shot through a window. He told deputies some unknown subjects had come to his home and demanded to speak with him. He said that when he refused to come outside, the subjects fired a gun through a window, injuring him. The man was taken to to Elkhart General Hospital in Elkhart Indiana, and police say he was listed in stable condition as of 11 a.m. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact the Cass County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Visits School Robotics Facility

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Just a few weeks after it was dedicated, Congressman Fred Upton has paid a visit to the new robotics facility at St. Joseph High School. He stopped by the Edward J. Todd Innovation Center Monday. Upton tells WSJM News FIRST Robotics is a program that helps kids apply their science, technology, and math skills.. ...Read Full Story

Town Hall Planned At Benton Harbor Area Schools

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There will be a town hall meeting on April 3 for the public to learn more about problems currently faced by Benton Harbor Area Schools. The board of education has scheduled the town hall for 6 p.m. at the high school cafeteria. There are several questions about the district’s future as declining enrollment is making its borrowing power go down. Meanwhile, the district’s cooperative agreement with the state is set to end on July 1, likely returning control of the schools back to the board of education. Everyone is welcome to attend the April 3 meeting.. ...Read Full Story

Measles Outbreak In Oakland County

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State health officials are responding to a measles outbreak in Oakland County. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Angela Minicuci tells WSJM News it all started with one person who got the measles while traveling. Since then, the total number of cases as a result of the one infection is up to eight. Minicuci says Michigan also had a high rate of measles last year.. ...Read Full Story

Bill Designed To Help Prevent Suicides

State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan is a co-sponsor of legislation designed to help prevent suicides in Michigan. She tells WSJM News the proposal would create the Suicide Fatality Review Act, allowing Michigan counties to establish a review task force. Those panels would include doctors, police, mental health experts, and others who have been affected by suicide. They would look for trends and patterns locally in an effort to address the situation, and meet following a student’s suicide. Griffin’s bill exempts the local panels from Open Meetings Act laws.. ...Read Full Story

Effort To Combat Abuse Launched At Andrews University

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Andrews University is rising up to fight abuse. Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Michael Nixon tells WSJM News the university hosted its first-ever Rise Up Against Abuse Rally last week, launching the Rise Up Against Abuse initiative. It’s to help people use awareness, intervention, and prevention to take action against all forms of abuse.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Girl, Family Raise $1,600 For Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital

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A St. Joseph girl is turning a bit of personal heartbreak last summer into something positive. Seven-year-old Devyn Whitney has a prosthetic right leg and is missing some fingers due to being born with a condition called Fibular Hemimelia, but didn’t feel like she was different from anyone else until last summer at the Krasl Art Fair according to her mom, Stephanie Watkins. Devyn noticed people staring and whispering for the first time and became upset, with her mom taking her down to the Whirlpool Compass Fountain to get away.. ...Read Full Story

Driver Killed In Bloomingdale Township Crash

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The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a deadly crash Thursday afternoon in Bloomingdale Township. A 57-year-old Paw Paw man was killed when his pickup went off the road on 24th Avenue west of M-40 and hit a tree. The crash happened just after noon. The driver was the only one in the truck, and he was not wearing a seat belt. The man’s name has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

Senator Nesbitt Wants Auto Insurance Reforms Before June 27

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State Senator Aric Nesbitt wants major changes to Michigan’s auto insurance system passed and on the desk of Governor Whitmer before lawmakers head out on their summer break at the end of June. He announced the self-imposed deadline this week in an effort to spur action after the House and Senate have tried for years to make changes. Lawmakers from both parties have said it was one of the top issues they heard about from voters during last year’s campaign, especially as more studies show Michigan’s insurance premiums are the highest in the country. To blame for that is the mandate that policies include lifetime health coverage for catastrophic injuries in crashes. Nesbitt says one of the biggest issues they’re looking at is giving drivers choices for the coverage levels they want, and adds everything is on the table. His Senate Bill 1 is pretty open-ended in order to make modifications.. ...Read Full Story

Today Is World Water Day

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Michiganders plan to show their support for the right to clean drinking water with the 26th annual World Water Day on Friday. The event highlights the importance of clean drinking water across the globe. Grand Rapids Water Protectors chief Shannon Abbott tells us several battles over water are going on across Michigan, including fights against chemical contamination and keeping water affordable. Abbott notes low-income communities and people of color face the brunt of those battles.. ...Read Full Story

Lincoln Township Police Department Receives K9

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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 last week. 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

Talons Out Honor Flight Announces Student Essay Contest

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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.. ...Read Full Story

Police Launch Tip Line To Report Illegal Dumping In Benton Harbor

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An effort is underway in Benton Harbor to crack down on the illegal dumping of trash. The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety tells us discarded tires, mattresses, and other junk have become a major problem. Word went out Thursday about a new tip line that has been set up for people to report the practice. Police say the situation has gotten so bad the city has spent more than $169,000 on extra dumpsters to remove the illegally dumped material over the past three years. The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety has made four arrests as part of its illegal dumping investigation since last week. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is also assisting. To report the illegal dumping of trash in Benton Harbor, call or text 269-944-7929.. ...Read Full Story

New Boating, Fishing Laws Take Effect

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If you boat or fish in Michigan, some new laws go into effect today. Boaters are now required to take steps to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. That includes things like draining all water from any live wells and bilges and ensuring that the watercraft and trailer are free of all aquatic organisms, including plants.. ...Read Full Story

State House Bill Would Lower Drunk Driving Threshold

Newly introduced legislation would make Michigan the second state to lower its drunken-driving limit to a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.05%. Mothers Against Drunk Driving is supporting the House bill that was proposed by Democrats Thursday. It would drop the limit to 0.05% from 0.08%, which is the limit in all other states except Utah. Utah dropped to the 0.05% threshold in December.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Price Jump Due To Variety Of Factors

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You likely noticed a big jump in gas prices this week, going from $2.56 in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor on Monday to $2.71 now according to AAA Michigan. GasBuddy analyst Patrick DeHaan says factors include crude prices being up, refineries doing spring maintenance and the turmoil in Venezuela, but the main reason is the end of the supply for relatively cheap winter blends.. ...Read Full Story

Ford Repackages Factory Investment Plan, Will Add 900 Jobs

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(Dearborn, MI – AP) – Ford is repackaging a previously announced manufacturing investment in the Detroit area and now says it will spend $900 million and create 900 new jobs over the next four years. Most of the new workers will build a new generation of electric vehicle at a Ford factory in Flat Rock, Michigan, south of Detroit. It will see an $850 million investment. The company also plans a $50 million autonomous vehicle manufacturing center at an undisclosed site near Detroit that will add hardware to existing vehicles.. ...Read Full Story

Engler, AG Butt Heads Over Interview In Nasser Probe

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(East Lansing, MI – AP) – A lawyer for John Engler is accusing a prosecutor of misconduct and wants her removed before the former Michigan State University president speaks to investigators. The attorney general’s office and Engler’s attorney, Seth Waxman, are in a war of words over his willingness to speak to investigators about campus changes after the Larry Nasser scandal.. ...Read Full Story

Tuition Increase At LMC

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A tuition increase is coming for students at Lake Michigan College. At this week’s LMC Board of Trustees meeting, an increase of 1.5% for in-district students was approved. LMC President Trevor Kubatzke tells WSJM News the move is in response to increased operating costs.. ...Read Full Story

One Arrested For Meth In Dowagaic

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A traffic stop in Dowagiac this week led to the arrest of a 34-year-old Granger, Indiana man on meth and other charges. The Dowagiac Police Department says an officer pulled over a vehicle Tuesday night for having an improper registration. There were three people in the vehicle, and one of them provided the officer with a false ID. A further check revealed the Granger man had a warrant out. Police say a K9 then searched the vehicle and found 22 grams of meth. The Granger man was arrested on multiple charges, and taken to the Cass County Jail.. ...Read Full Story

Website Lists MI Bridges And Their Conditions

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The Michigan Department of Transportation has launched a new online dashboard to make information about the condition of bridges around the state known to the public. MDOT Deputy Chief Bridge Engineer Beckie Curtis tells WSJM News the site includes data on more than 11,000 bridges. It goes over the state of each.. ...Read Full Story

Shot Fired, No One Hurt In Niles Robbery

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No one is hurt after a shot was fired during the robbery of the Check Into Cash store in Niles Wednesday. The Niles Police Department says a suspect walked into the store on South 11th Street shortly before 12:30 p.m. and flashed a gun. He fired off one shot, but police don’t know if it was accidental or on purpose. The suspect made off in a light-colored vehicle with an undisclosed amount of cash. Michigan State Police and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department helped in the search, but the suspect was not found. Anyone with information on the robbery is asked to contact police.. ...Read Full Story

MI House Approves Highway Designation For Aretha Franklin

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From the Associated Press — In a sign of R-E-S-P-E-C-T, the Michigan Legislature is expected to honor the late Queen of Soul with a highway designation. The Michigan House voted 101-6 on Tuesday to designate a portion of M-10 in Detroit as the “Aretha L. Franklin Memorial Highway.” Franklin died in Detroit last year after battling pancreatic cancer. The legislation will next go to the state Senate.
Supporters say dedicating a portion of the highway is an appropriate way to honor the musical and cultural icon, who grew up in Detroit and learned the gospel fundamentals at New Bethel Baptist Church. The sponsor, Democratic Representative Leslie Love of Detroit, says Franklin was a “special lady” who fought for civil rights and “gave us all a soundtrack to our lives.”. ...Read Full Story

Father Charged For Teen’s 2017 Overdose Death

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A Bangor man is facing a pair of felony charges for the drug overdose death of his 16-year-old son in 2017. Forty-eight-year-old Gary Birkhead was arraigned Wednesday in Van Buren County on a homicide-involuntary manslaughter charge and a count of second-degree child abuse connected to the death on August 13, 2017 of Cole Birkhead. The teen from Hartford died at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo of an overdose, though Michigan State Police and the Van Buren County Prosecutor’s office have not revealed which drug it was. Gary Birkhead was arrested on Tuesday following the lengthy investigation, which MSP says remains open.. ...Read Full Story

House OKs Subjecting Governor, Legislature To Records Requests

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s lawmakers and governor would be subject to public-records requests under bills moving forward in the Legislature. The House voted unanimously Tuesday for a package that aims to end Michigan’s status as one of just two states to fully exempt the Legislature and governor’s office from Freedom of Information Act requests. The legislation goes to the Senate for consideration next. Information such as communications with constituents could be exempt from disclosure. Similar bills passed the House in recent years only to die in the Senate. One of the sponsors, Republican Rep. Daire Rendon of Lake City, says “people deserve to see what we’re doing so that they can hold us accountable.”. ...Read Full Story

Mayor Delivers State Of The City Address

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Benton Harbor is building forward. That was the message of Mayor Marcus Muhammad as he delivered his annual State of the City address Tuesday. Speaking at the Benton Harbor Public Library, Muhammad said the city has come a long way since being under state control, pointing to five years of positive fund balances.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Talks New Soo Lock

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The inclusion of $75 million for a new Soo Lock in President Trump’s budget proposal is a plus in the eyes of Congressman Fred Upton. He tells WSJM News a new lock to replace the Poe Lock, the largest of those shipping channels connecting Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes is needed in case the Poe Lock fails.. ...Read Full Story

Work Underway On Farmers Market Pavilion

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Work is underway on the new pavilion for the Benton Harbor Farmers Market. The structure will be put into use when the market is held throughout the warmer months, says the Berrien County Health Department’s Gillian Conrad. The pavilion will be located at the corner of Sixth Street and Main Street at in Dwight P. Mitchell City Center Park. ...Read Full Story

“Biggest Little Baseball Museum” To Open In Three Oaks

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Preparations are being made for the grand opening of a new baseball museum in Three Oaks. The Biggest Little Baseball Museum will focus on local baseball teams throughout the decades, including town teams like the Three Oaks Greens, the New Troy Grays, and the Lakeside Aces, along with Little League teams. The museum will occupy the second floor of the Three Oaks Township Library. Its grand opening is set for noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 13. The grand opening will feature a special presentation at 1 on Civil War-era baseball by members of the House of David Echoes. Organizers of the Biggest Little Baseball Museum say the place will be “so big you can’t see it all in one visit, and so little you can’t get lost.” Everyone is welcome to go and check it out.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven To Make Repairs To Dyckman Bascule Bridge

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Damage to the electrical conduit serving South Haven’s Dyckman Bascule Bridge has knocked it out of service for the time being. Emergency repairs will get underway next week by Strain Electric out of suburban Grand Rapids, with the city authorizing spending $26,500 on the work. Ice damaged the conduit over the winter, but city officials say it will be back in service before the upcoming boating season. The bridge was refurbished in 2015 and dates to 1967. On average, 88-hundred vehicles cross the bridge daily according to BridgeReports.com, with that number coming from a study four years ago.. ...Read Full Story

Divers Hope To Recover Underwater Crucifix Part In Michigan

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From the Associated Press — Divers hope to locate and repair the arm of an underwater statue depicting a crucified Jesus in northern Michigan, which is part of a yearly event that draws hundreds to a frozen bay. The Petoskey News-Review reports that about 1,300 people gathered earlier this month to view the 11-foot tall, one-ton statue of Jesus Christ in Little Traverse Bay near the Petoskey shore. But many attendees questioned why the statue’s arm is missing. Event organizer Dennis Jessick says he believes compression forces from the ice caused the arm to break. He says event organizers and divers hope to locate the missing arm in the spring. The crucifix was brought to Petoskey in 1962 as a way to honor people who have died in bodies of water and moved to its current spot in 1986.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Approves Break For Apartment, Commercial Development

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Benton Harbor City Commissioners have signed off on plans for an apartment development downtown. At a Monday meeting, the city commission approved the establishment of an Obsolete Property Rehabilitation District and a 12-year tax break for Cressy Commercial Real Estate to redevelop the Harbor Center building at Pipestone and Main Streets. The plan is to invest $2.5 to $3 million in turning the building into 14 apartments and two commercial spaces. Mayor Marcus Muhammad said the vacant building is currently dilapidated.. ...Read Full Story