Local News Archives

Chemical Bank, TCF Bank To Merge

The Chemical Bank name is going away. The Detroit-based financial institution is merging with Minnesota-based TCF Bank, which will keep its name. The new bank will be headquartered in Detroit, and Chemical Financial CEO David Provost says the combination “substantially enhances our competitive position” and creates a top-ten size bank in the Midwest.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Postpones City Commission To Next Monday

Due to the winter storm, the city of St. Joseph is postponing tonight’s city commission meeting. The meeting will now be held next Monday night, February 4, at 6 p.m. at City Hall. City manager John Hodgson closed City Hall today at 1 p.m. because of the weather, following the lead of Berrien and Van Buren counties and the state of Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

All Berrien, VB County Offices Closed

All county offices in Berrien and Van Buren counties are closed for the day due to the weather. Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey says all non-essential workers in that county were sent home at noon. As for the roads, they’re covered by blowing snow but there haven’t been a lot of accidents.. ...Read Full Story

All State Government Offices In Lower Peninsula Close

If you have any business that needs to get done at a Secretary of State branch office, you’re out of luck until tomorrow at the earliest. All state government offices, including those branches, are closed for the day in the Lower Peninsula due to the massive winter storm. Governor Whitmer is also taking the step of telling drivers to stay off the road and not travel. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is encouraging people to use the ExpressSOS.com website for anything they need to take care of that doesn’t require photographs or anything specific to be done by a branch office clerk.. ...Read Full Story

Chamber To Meet With Elected Officials

Set for this coming week is a breakfast intended to acquaint members of the Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce with their representatives in Lansing and Washington. The “Meet Your Elected Officials” breakfast will be Monday at The Hilton Garden Inn in Benton Harbor. On hand will be state Senator Kim LaSata, 79th District state Representative Pauline Wendzel, 78th District state Representative Brad Paquette, and Mike Ryan, the district director for Congressman Fred Upton. Cornerstone Chamber’s Chris Heugel tells us the forum is a chance for members to interact with their officials, especially with so many of them being freshman in Lansing this year. He says they may hold more such events moving forward. The breakfast will allow each official a time for an introduction, followed by a Q and A session.. ...Read Full Story

Fire At Ameriwood Industries In Dowagiac

Several fire departments were called to the scene of a fire at Ameriwood Industries in Dowagiac Sunday night. The blaze caused the third and first shifts at the furniture maker to be canceled, according to Moody on the Market. There have so far been no reports of injuries. The cause is not yet known.. ...Read Full Story

Winter Storm Warning Issued For Berrien, Cass Counties

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for Berrien and Cass counties on Monday. It is in effect from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m. The National Weather Service says total snow accumulations are expected to be between 8 and 12 inches. The service warns travel could be very difficult due to areas of blowing snow that could reduce visibility. These hazardous conditions are expected to affect the morning commute. A Winter Storm Warning for snow means severe winter weather conditions will make travel very hazardous or impossible. If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in your  vehicle in case of an emergency.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Seeks More PFAS Action

Legislation designed to ensure the clean-up of PFAS is being pushed by Congressman Fred Upton. Upton has introduced the plan to require the EPA to report releases into the environment and clean up tainted PFAS sites with fellow Michigan Representatives Debbie Dingell and Dan Kildee. He tells us it’s become clear that more action needs to be taken on the chemical since it was discovered in the water supplies of multiple Michigan communities this year.. ...Read Full Story

Photo Submissions Being Taken By SJ Today

As St. Joseph Today prepares to hold the first March Mannequins event downtown, it’s asking residents to submit photos that could be displayed in storefronts that day. St. Joe Today tells us the theme for this year’s March Mannequins will be Awkward Family Photos. If you’ve got any, they can be submitted at the Welcome Center on State Street in downtown St. Joe or emailed to Info@StJoeToday.com. The top three entries will win a $25 St. Joseph Today gift certificate. The deadline is February 1. The March 2 March Mannequins event replaces the old Live Mannequins event that used to be held as part of Light Up the Bluff each winter. It was moved to draw more people downtown during a normally slow month.. ...Read Full Story

BH Water Plant Work Ordered By State

The city of Benton Harbor has to make some improvements to its water plant as part of a new agreement with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. At this past week’s city commission meeting, the relocation of an aluminum sulfate line at the plant was approved following a DEQ order. The work is needed to help maintain water quality and it comes with a price tag of $10,900. Mayor Marcus Muhammad said this project is part of a consent agreement with the DEQ regarding the water plant after the DEQ noticed some issues there.. ...Read Full Story

Center Aims To Help Those Struggling With Addiction

A new treatment center for people struggling with an addition is open in southwest Michigan. Carol’s Hope is a non-profit operated by the Community Healing Center. It’s a free resource for those in need to get access to treatment. Recovery coach Melinda tells WSJM News the idea is to help overcome confusion and fear that comes with seeking treatment.. ...Read Full Story

BH Working On New Income tax

The city of Benton Harbor’s income tax is now being implemented. City Manager Darwin Watson tells us businesses located within the city have been withholding the tax for affected workers, while those who will need to submit forms themselves to pay the tax will have to do so this spring.. ...Read Full Story

State To Install Flashing Signs To Warn Wrong-Way Drivers

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Department of Transportation plans to install a new warning system on highway ramps with the goal of reducing deadly wrong-way crashes. Spokesman Nick Schirripa says flashing lights are being installed at exit ramps on U.S. 131 in Kalamazoo and I-194 in Battle Creek. He says the locations were picked because of traffic volume and crash history. Department records show there were 374 wrong-way crashes in the state in 2017, which resulted in 13 deaths. The warning system’s sensors will trigger bright LED lights to alert drivers when their vehicles are approaching the highway in the wrong direction. Schirripa says additional lights could be installed this year around Grand Rapids, and the technology could also be used in the Detroit area.. ...Read Full Story

Warning About Property Scam

Michigan State Police are warning everyone about a rental property scam. Troopers out of the Paw Paw post say they’ve learned of a case where someone found information online about a property supposedly for rent and requested more information. They contacted a real-estate agent and learned the actual homeowners were not renting the place. Meanwhile, the person posing as the property owner provided a tenant application and requested a security deposit. Michigan State Police say everyone must be cautious when reviewing property listings online. They say you should never respond to an offer you don’t thoroughly understand, never give out personal financial information to entities you don’t know, and never respond to letters asking you for financial information. You can get more information at fbi.gov/scams-safety.. ...Read Full Story

Power Outage Planned In St. Joseph

Indiana Michigan Power has announced a planned power outage on Saturday for about 200 customers in St. Joseph. Spokesperson Schnee Garrett tells us the affected customers have been notified. The six-hour planned outage is needed so I&M crews can address a tree that is threatening service to the area. Garrett says without the work, that tree could cause an even larger outage for a longer period of time. The power for the 200 affected customers will go out around 8 a.m. and they hope to be finished around 2 p.m. I&M says its crews will work as quickly as they can given the frigid weather.. ...Read Full Story

Wendzel Receives Committee Assignments

79th District state Representative Pauline Wendzel has received her House committee assignments, and they’re relevant to southwest Michigan. She tells us she’s been picked to serve as vice chair of the House Commerce and Tourism Committee, along with the House Energy Committee.. ...Read Full Story

Amtrak Train Hits Box Truck In Three Oaks

Amtrak passengers on the Wolverine line had to be taken by bus after the 350 train hit a box truck that was stuck on the tracks in Three Oaks. No passengers were hurt, but Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari tells us their engineer was injured by debris that same in through the front window of the train. The crash happened on North Elm Street, just north of US 12 this morning. Magliari tells WSJM News he’s not sure how severe the train engineer’s injuries are. The train is the Wolverine line that runs from Chicago to Pontiac.. ...Read Full Story

New AG Wants To Settle Lawsuit Over Same-Sex Adoption

From the Associated Press — Under new leadership, the Michigan attorney general’s office is in talks to settle a lawsuit by same-sex couples who say their rights have been violated by faith-based adoption agencies that don’t want to work with gays and lesbians. A federal judge granted a 30-day timeout Thursday for negotiations between the American Civil Liberties Union and Attorney General Dana Nessel. During the fall campaign, Nessel told The Associated Press there’s “no viable defense” to a 2015 law signed by then-Governor Rick Snyder. The law says faith-based groups can refuse to provide certain services if they conflict with their beliefs and still get tax dollars. Nessel, who is a lesbian, said the only purpose is discrimination. Groups such as Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services are paid by the state to place children from troubled families with new families.. ...Read Full Story

Town Hall Updates Public On Lead Issue In Benton Harbor

The city of Benton Harbor is working with Berrien County and the state of Michigan to address elevated lead levels found in some homes around the community last year. The city detected the problem in October, and since then about 320 residents have brought in samples for testing. About 50 of those had elevated lead levels. At a town hall Thursday, the Berrien County Health Department’s Nicki Britten said anyone who is concerned should flush their water for five minutes whenever it has not been running for six hours or more. Additionally, the county is providing filters to the homes known to have elevated lead levels starting next week, and it will provide the filters to anyone who wants them starting the week of February 4.. ...Read Full Story

Big Expansion Could Be Coming To Park

Paw Paw River County Park in Watervliet could be getting a substantial expansion. The Berrien County Board of Commissioners on Thursday approved the purchase of 63 acres of property adjacent to the park. Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey tells WSJM News the parcel owned by the Enders family is across the river from the island that makes up a large part of the current park. He’s been working with the Enders family to acquire it.. ...Read Full Story

Two Arrested In Cass County Burglaries

Two people are facing charges after police say they were found to be in possession of a large amount of stolen property in Cass County. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department tells us an investigation into several burglaries took deputies to a home on Brownsville Road in Calvin Township last Wednesday. They searched the place and say it was full of stolen property from burglaries and larcenies throughout Southwest Michigan and Elkhart County, Indiana. They say they also found meth. It took police two and a half days to process all of the evidence. Arrested were 32-year-old Sunny Fogg and 35-year-old Amber Biggs, both from Cassopolis. They’re charged with burglary, possession of stolen property, and criminal enterprise. Fogg is being held on $70,000 bond and Biggs is being held on $60,000 bond. Police ask anyone who knows of additional burglaries in the area to contact them.. ...Read Full Story

State Mandates BH Water Plant Work

The city of Benton Harbor has to make some improvements to its water plant as part of a new agreement with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. At this week’s city commission meeting, the relocation of an aluminum sulfate line at the plant was approved following a DEQ order. The work is needed to help maintain water quality and it comes with a price tag of $10,900. Mayor Marcus Muhammad said this project is part of a consent agreement with the DEQ regarding the water plant after the DEQ noticed some issues there.. ...Read Full Story

Bill Would Mandate Kindergarten For 5-Year-Olds

Right now, kids are not required to attend school in Michigan until they turn six. State Representative Bill Sowerby says that should change. He has proposed legislation which would require 5-year-olds to go to Kindergarten as long as their birthday is before September 1st. He’s confident he’ll get the support he needs in Lansing this time.. ...Read Full Story

Wife Of Murdered Army Sergeant Makes Court Appearance

The wife of murdered Army Sergeant Tyrone Hassel III is due back in court in Berrien County next week following a pre-exam hearing yesterday. Kemia Hassel is facing a murder charge for allegedly plotting her husband’s killing on New Year’s Eve in St. Joseph Township. His father, Tyrone Hassel Jr., spoke with our partners at WNDU NewsCenter 16 outside the courtroom and says he still can’t even look at his daughter-in-law.. ...Read Full Story

Police Warn Of Online Property Scam

Michigan State Police are warning everyone about a rental property scam. Troopers out of the Paw Paw post say they’ve learned of a case where someone found information online about a property supposedly for rent and requested more information. They contacted a real-estate agent and learned the actual homeowners were not renting the place. Meanwhile, the person posing as the property owner provided a tenant application and requested a security deposit. Michigan State Police say everyone must be cautious when reviewing property listings online. They say you should never respond to an offer you don’t thoroughly understand, never give out personal financial information to entities you don’t know, and never respond to letters asking you for financial information. You can get more information at fbi.gov/scams-safety.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joe Today Taking Photo Submissions For March Mannequins

As St. Joseph Today prepares to hold the first March Mannequins event downtown, it’s asking residents to submit photos that could be displayed in storefronts that day. St. Joe Today tells us the theme for this year’s March Mannequins will be Awkward Family Photos. If you’ve got any, they can be submitted at the Welcome Center on State Street in downtown St. Joe or emailed to Info@StJoeToday.com. The top three entries will win a $25 St. Joseph Today gift certificate. The deadline is February 1. The March 2 March Mannequins event replaces the old Live Mannequins event that used to be held as part of Light Up the Bluff each winter. It was moved to draw more people downtown during a normally slow month.. ...Read Full Story

City Working To Implement Income Tax

The city of Benton Harbor’s income tax is now being implemented. City Manager Darwin Watson tells us businesses located within the city have been withholding the tax for affected workers, while those who will need to submit forms themselves to pay the tax will have to do so this spring.. ...Read Full Story

Conservation Officers Conducting Snowmobile Patrols In Northern Michigan

From the Associated Press — Conservation officers are conducting snowmobile patrols in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to promote safety and enforce state laws. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says weekend patrols started January 11 along the state-managed trail system in Houghton County and on Jan. 12 in Ontonagon County. The patrols continue as the DNR says police agencies in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula investigated the deaths Friday of two snowmobilers in Gogebic County and one each in Luce, Alger and Kalkaska counties. This winter, the DNR says six snowmobilers have died in the Upper Peninsula and three in the Lower Peninsula. The patrols allow officers to remind snowmobilers about safety messages, enforce violations and remove operators who are drinking and driving from trails. Safety and enforcement patrols will continue throughout the winter.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Talks PFAS Legislation

Legislation designed to ensure the clean-up of PFAS is being pushed by Congressman Fred Upton. Upton has introduced the plan to require the EPA to report releases into the environment and clean up tainted PFAS sites with fellow Michigan Representatives Debbie Dingell and Dan Kildee. He tells us it’s become clear that more action needs to be taken on the chemical since it was discovered in the water supplies of multiple Michigan communities this year.. ...Read Full Story

Town Hall To Address Water Issues

A town hall meeting will be held in Benton Harbor this Thursday for residents to hear more about the ongoing effort to eliminate lead in the water. In October, the city announced lead levels exceeding the federal action level had been detected in some homes. City Manager Darwin Watson tells us everyone is welcome to this week’s meeting to find out what’s happened since.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Calls Into Question New Ballot Drive Law

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s new secretary of state is calling into question the constitutionality of a Republican-enacted law that makes it harder to initiate ballot drives. Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, sought a formal opinion Tuesday from Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel. Such opinions, while not the same as legal rulings, are considered to bind state agencies unless reversed by a court. The law, which was enacted in December’s lame-duck session, imposes a geographical-based requirement on signature collection. No more than 15 percent of signatures can come from a single congressional district. Benson says she is concerned the law violates people’s constitutional rights by “adding new burdens and restrictions on the process” of circulating initiative, referendum and constitutional amendment petitions. Nessel could limit the law’s effect, though a court fight could be likely.. ...Read Full Story

Study: Michigan Ranks Last In School Funding Growth

Despite claims from some that under former Governor Rick Snyder the state was putting more money than ever into education, a newly-released study finds no other state tightened its education spending more than Michigan did over a 20-year period. Michigan State University said Wednesday that the state ranked dead last in total education revenue growth between 1995 and 2015.. ...Read Full Story

One Killed In Head-On Cass County Crash

One person is dead and two others are hospitalized in South Bend after a head-on crash County’s Milton Township. According to the sheriff’s department, 52-year-old Joseph Johnson of Niles died at the scene. He was a passenger in a car driven by 31-year-old Ryon Koth of Niles that crossed over into oncoming traffic on US 12 just before 6 pm Tuesday. His car hit two other vehicles. Koth and one of the other drivers, 26-year-old Victoria Mallard of South Bend, were rushed by ambulance to South Bend Memorial Hospital. The cause of the crash is still under investigation, but it did happen after freezing rain began causing plenty of problems on the roads throughout southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Cornerstone Chamber Plans Breakfast With Elected Officials

Set for next week is a breakfast intended to acquaint members of the Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce with their representatives in Lansing and Washington. The “Meet Your Elected Officials” breakfast will be Monday at The Hilton Garden Inn in Benton Harbor. On hand will be state Senator Kim LaSata, 79th District state Representative Pauline Wendzel, 78th District state Representative Brad Paquette, and Mike Ryan, the district director for Congressman Fred Upton. Cornerstone Chamber’s Chris Heugel tells us the forum is a chance for members to interact with their officials, especially with so many of them being freshman in Lansing this year. He says they may hold more such events moving forward. The breakfast will allow each official a time for an introduction, followed by a Q and A session. It’s nearly all booked up. It will be free for members of the Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce.. ...Read Full Story

City Receives Clean Audit

The city of Benton Harbor has received a clean, unmodified audit for the most recent fiscal year. At Tuesday’s meeting, city commissioners were told the latest audit carries the highest possible rating and that no deficiencies or weaknesses were found. The city’s fund balance has gone up by more than $800,000, largely because of the new income tax. Mayor Marcus Muhammad said the strong audit, plus income tax money coming in, could enable even bigger infrastructure projects to come.. ...Read Full Story

Addiction Center Now Open

A new treatment center for people struggling with an addition is open in southwest Michigan. Carol’s Hope is a non-profit operated by the Community Healing Center. It’s a free resource for those in need to get access to treatment. Recovery coach Melinda tells WSJM News the idea is to help overcome confusion and fear that comes with seeking treatment.. ...Read Full Story

Community Action Agency Advisory To Those Receiving Food Aid

As the partial federal government shutdown continues, there’s concern among the 1.2 million Michigan residents who get food assistance about what’s going to happen next month. The state started loading Bridge cards on Saturday for early payments to cover February. Yvonne Vidt of the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency warns those who get food aid not to spend their money for February now.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Hopes For End To Shutdown

Congressman Fred Upton is back in Washington as the U.S. House tries to organize for its new session. He tells WSJM News the ongoing partial government shutdown negotiations have somewhat thrown a wrench into normal business. However, Upton sees some hope in President Trump’s compromise offer from the weekend.. ...Read Full Story

Andrews University Aviation Program Taking Off

The Federal Aviation Administration has authorized Andrews University’s aviation program to reduce the number of training hours required of students seeking an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate. The Berrien Springs university tells us it got word late last year its department of aviation it can require 1,000 hours of flight time before awarding the certification, instead of the previous 1,500 hours. Andrews says according to a mandate by Congress, students pursuing a basic airline pilot license must complete 1,500 hours of flight time to be eligible to take the airline pilot exam. At the request of airlines, however, a few exemptions to the mandate were developed, including an exemption stating that students completing a four-year university bachelor’s program would only be required to complete 1,000 flight hours if the university’s aviation program if approved. Andrews says it has now been approved.. ...Read Full Story

Names Released In Fatal Van Buren County Crash

A Benton Harbor man is facing charges following a two-vehicle head-on crash in Van Buren County on January 12 that killed a 6-year-old girl and a 73-year-old woman. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us the crash happened on Red Arrow Highway in Hartford Township when the vehicle driven by 23-year-old Jose Humberto Canedo crossed the center line. Killed were 73-year-old Mary Ann Fender of Paw Paw and 6-year-old Skylinn Salinas. Fender was the driver of the other vehicle, while Salinas was a passenger in Canedo’s vehicle. Canedo was arrested this week on a warrant for failing to appear in court for a show cause hearing on a original charge of operating while intoxicated. Two other people hurt in the crash are in stable condition.. ...Read Full Story

Effort To Make Lake MI Park In Indiana A National PArk

From the Associated Press — A new effort is being made in Congress to designate the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore along Lake Michigan as a national park. A bill for the designation has been filed by Indiana Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun and Rep. Pete Visclosky. The same proposal was approved by the House in 2017 but failed to get through the last Congress. The Senate didn’t take a vote. Visclosky says designating Indiana Dunes as a national park would recognize what he calls the lakeshore’s environmental wonder and enhance the region’s economy. The national lakeshore was established in 1966 and now includes about 15,000 acres at the southern end of Lake Michigan. There’s also an Indiana state park in the area.. ...Read Full Story

GVSU Picks New President

The fifth president of Grand Valley State University has been named. The board of trustees unanimously voted for its first female president, Philomena Mantella. She now serves as the senior vice president and chief executive officer of the Lifelong Learning Network at Northeastern University, a private research university in Boston.. ...Read Full Story

Police Urge Caution On Icy Roads

Michigan State Police are warning drivers to use extra caution today. There have been a variety of crashes and slide-offs on the highways around southwest Michigan due to icy conditions. State police say drivers should plan alternate routes home that avoid the highway and give themselves ample time for travel. The Michigan Department of Transportation has been reporting crashes along I-94 in several locations throughout Berrien and Van Buren counties. You can get real-time information on the latest highway crashes at Michigan.gov/Drive.. ...Read Full Story