Local News Archives

State Police Looking For Missing SWM Man

Michigan State Police are looking for a man missing out of Allegan County. They say Todd Lilge was last seen Monday around 10 a.m. at the Plainwell Police Department. His vehicle was later found in Allegan County at a state gaming area on 125th Avenue near 43rd Street. Lilge is described as a white male, about 5 foot 11 inches and 240 pounds. He has gray and brown hair and brown eyes. Anyone who knows where he is should contact Michigan State Police at the Paw Paw post.. ...Read Full Story

Possible Triple Murder-Suicide Under Investigation In Kent County

The Kent County Sheriff’s Department is investigating what has the looks of a triple-murder-suicide that has left 3 young children and an adult woman dead in a home near Cedar Springs in northern Kent County. Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young says it’s believed the children were killed somewhere else and then taken to a home on 19 Mile Road, where the woman took her own life.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Enacts Six-Month Pause On Recreational Marijuana

No recreational marijuana businesses will be allowed in the city of South Haven for at least six months following the adoption of a placeholder ordinance. The ordinance gives the Planning Commission six months to work out local regulations, and Mayor Scott Smith says they want a full study on the who, what, and where of weed businesses. He talked to our newsroom about what would have happened had the city council not hit the brakes on the issue Monday.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Performance Series Schedule

The South Haven Performance Series has announced its 2019 lineup. The series began in 2010 as a way to bring quality music to the residents of South Haven, and it’s all non-profit and volunteer-based. The series will kick off this year on June 28 with the Chicago-based Lincoln Trio, a Grammy-nominated chamber ensemble. On July 26, they’ll welcome the Alliance Brass from Chicago, followed by opera singer Meredith Arwady on August 30. October 4 will bring the Lang Lang International Music Foundation Young Scholars to the community, and the South Bend Chamber Singers will perform a holiday concert on December 17. The venues vary from engagement to engagement. You can find out more at SouthHavenPerformanceSeries.org.. ...Read Full Story

OutCenter Forums At LMC

A new series of forums intended to spread awareness about the southwest Michigan transgender community and related issues will begin this week at Lake Michigan College. The OutCenter in Benton Harbor tells us “Southwest Michigan VOICES: Real Stories of Transgender Life” will explore things like coming out to friends and family, public acceptance, what religion says, and wellness services. Thursday’s forum will feature teacher and scholar Jamie Wagman from St. Mary’s College in South Bend. The topic will be a transgender oral history project. Those who attend are welcome to take part in the discussions. The forum will be Thursday in room B-309 at Lake Michigan College in Benton Township from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Anyone with questions can contact the OutCenter in Benton Harbor.. ...Read Full Story

State May Forgive Extra Snow Days

From the Associated Press — Michigan lawmakers are considering whether to cut schools some slack after frigid temperatures and other weather caused a high number of snow days. State law forgives schools from making up six days that have been canceled, and schools can get a waiver for three additional days. Some legislators from both parties say the wintry weather has been so extreme that the law should be
loosened. Many districts have already reached or exceeded nine snow days. Some are up to 15 or 16. Newly introduced legislation would exclude days that are canceled during state-declared emergencies from counting as snow days. If enacted, the five-day period from January 28 through February 1 – when an arctic deep freeze shut down many normal activities, including school – would be forgiven statewide.. ...Read Full Story

Anti-Bullying Tour Coming To St. Joseph

Former Michigan State University basketball player Anthony Ianni will make a stop in St. Joseph Tuesday as part of his anti-bullying Relentless tour. Started by Ianni in 2013, Relentless is intended to raise awareness of autism and the problem of bullying. Ianna tells WSJM News he wants young people to be inspired.. ...Read Full Story

Florida Company May Open Eel Farm In Michigan

From the Associated Press — A Florida-based company may build a $30 million commercial eel farm in Michigan. The Lansing State Journal reports that Aqua Vida Aquaculture is considering land in an industrial park in St. Johns, near Lansing. The facility would occupy
up to 2 acres and could create about 25 jobs. Company founder Kit Munday says the facility would raise African longfin eel and American eel. He says the fish are a source of “high quality protein” and are often grilled, stewed or roasted. Stephen Hussey is the aquaculture and poultry program manager for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. He says the facility would be the state’s first commercial farm that raises eel for food. Hussey says the company must acquire an aquaculture research permit to move forward.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Make Sharp Jump To $2.55

Gas prices have made a huge jump around the area to $2.55 a gallon. GasBuddy analyst Patrick DeHaan put out the warning about the unexpected increase late this morning, and prices started moving higher a short time later. Triple A Michigan had put the statewide average at $2.37 before the jump, which was an 8¢ increase from a week ago. Crude oil prices have hit three-month highs. The increase is a 20¢ jump in pump prices in the St. Joseph-Benton Harbor area since this morning. The national average as of this morning according to AAA was $2.31 a gallon.. ...Read Full Story

Teens Arrested For Stealing Car In Dowagiac

Charges are pending against several teenagers accused of stealing a car outside the Northside Liquor store in Dowagiac. A woman told police she left the car running while she went inside to make a purchase, and when she came out a few minutes later, it was gone. A Cass County Sheriff’s deputy spotted the car about five miles away a few minutes later and pulled it over after a short chase near the intersection of M-51 North and Elm Street. Two 17-year-old boys from Benton Harbor were sent to the Cass County Jail on charges of receiving and concealing a stolen car and the 15-year-old from Dowagiac who was driving was also arrested. Two other juveniles were released to their parents. The car wasn’t damaged and was given back to the victim.. ...Read Full Story

Several Arrested Following Cass County Standoff

The arrest of an Elkhart man by Cass County Sheriff’s deputies after a nearly hour-long standoff on Sunday is also resulting in drug charges for three people at the house near Edwardsburg where he sought shelter. That 34-year-old man led police in Elkhart and Cass counties on a chase yesterday in a stolen car and has been sent back to Indiana. During a search of the home, police found a gallon-size Ziploc bag full of marijuana, another bag full of cocaine, $4,000 cash, over an ounce of meth, and two vehicles reported stolen in Indiana. Police arrested two women, 30 and 18-years-old, and a 40-year-old man. A third woman at the home was questioned but not arrested.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Looks To Increase Broadband Access

A plan to help with the expansion of broadband internet in rural areas of Michigan is being worked on by state Representative Beth Griffin and state Senator Aric Nesbitt. Griffin tells WSJM News she’s reintroducing the legislation that would create a property tax exemption for companies that roll out broadband infrastructure.. ...Read Full Story

Donation Supports Dental Program For Kids

A donation of $200,000 is being made to a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services dental program this year by the Delta Dental Foundation. The foundation is the charitable arm of the non-profit insurer, Delta Dental. Executive Director Teri Battaglieri tells WSJM News the money will be used to provide sealants to elementary and middle school students through the state Oral Health Program’s SEAL Michigan initiative.. ...Read Full Story

State Clarification Sought Regarding BH Schools Agreement

Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO Robert Herrera is waiting on word from the Michigan Attorney General’s Office on what’s next for the district following a legal change last year that may eliminate its cooperative agreement with the state. Last week, Herrera told trustees the change may mean a restoration of school board control to the district come July. The Michigan Department of Education has told him to wait for those AG instructions. He can’t really answer anything until that’s ironed out.. ...Read Full Story

Latest Land Bank Report

2018 was a busy year for the Berrien County Land Bank. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells us the entity manages foreclosed properties that can’t be sold at auction. He notes a big deal in 2018 was the sale of the former Alreco property in Benton Harbor, which is going to a medical marijuana producer.. ...Read Full Story

Deficit Plan For Schools Being Revised

The five-year deficit elimination plan for Benton Harbor Area Schools is being reworked by district officials with the Michigan Department of Treasury. Following a meeting this week, district CEO Robert Herrera told WSJM News the preliminary deficit plan proved to be unworkable on a year-by-year basis.. ...Read Full Story

Federal Support Announced For YouthBuild

The YouthBuild program in Benton Harbor is receiving a grant of nearly $1 million from the U.S. Department of Labor. Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News YouthBuild is a chance for at-risk young people to earn their high school diploma or GED while also learning construction trade skills through the rebuilding of houses, playgrounds, and community centers. It’s run by Kinexus.. ...Read Full Story

It’s A Free Fishing Weekend

This weekend features free fishing all across Michigan. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources tells us Saturday and Sunday are a chance for anyone to go fishing without a license. Also, throughout the weekend, state parks will waive the Recreation Passport entry fee normally required for vehicle access. The DNR says there are also several organized events planned in the spirit of outdoor recreation. You can find out about them at Michigan.gov/FreeFishing. The DNR notes all other fishing regulations will remain in place this weekend.. ...Read Full Story

State Issuing Food Aid Early

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has announced it will issue March and April food assistance benefits early to reduce the gap between benefits payments that resulted from the partial federal government shutdown. The department tells us food assistance recipients can expect to get next month’s benefits on March 3, 4, or 5. April benefits will be issued between April 3 and 12, and May payments will be issued as normally scheduled. The department made the changes so families don’t have to go more than 45 days without food assistance. The department issued February benefits early beginning in January at the direction of the federal government due to the shutdown that was happening at the time. About 1.2 million Michiganders receive food assistance through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program administered by the state health department. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Sports Groups Back Asian Carp Plan

From the Associated Press — Hunting and fishing groups have teamed up to support a plan for preventing Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes. They have formed the Great Lakes Conservation Coalition, which will push for funding of a strategy proposed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The $778 million plan calls for installing technologies such as noisemakers and a water-flushing lock at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Illinois, to prevent the carp from migrating upstream to Lake Michigan. Scientists say the invasive fish could out-compete native species if they become established in the lake. The Michigan United Conservation Clubs is a member of the new coalition. Director Amy Trotter says a carp invasion could harm an outdoor sports industry that pumps $11.2 billion into the state’s economy annually.. ...Read Full Story

Peters Pushes Great Lakes Legislation

New legislation from Senator Gary Peters is aimed at boosting protections for the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization Act would give the U.S. Geological Survey the authority to support the Great Lakes Science Center with funding. Peters tells WSJM News Great Lakes research does not receive regular funding renewals.. ...Read Full Story

Mims Found Guilty On All Counts

A man charged with two murders in Benton Harbor has been found guilty on all charges. Antwan Mims of Benton Harbor was on the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives list at one point for the shooting deaths of Cortez Miller and Michael Johnson in front of about 100 witnesses in March of last year. Police say Mims shot the two at a party and then fled to Georgia where he was eventually apprehended. Mims claimed self-defense in court, but the jury came back with guilty verdicts on charges that include two counts of first-degree murder Friday afternoon. Sentencing will be March 18, according to WNDU.. ...Read Full Story

Murder Charges In Fatal Crash

A Benton Harbor man is charged with murder in the deaths of a 6-year-old girl and 73-year-old woman in a January crash. It happened on January 12 in Hartford Township. Police say a vehicle driven by 23-year-old Jose Canedo crossed the center line on Red Arrow Highway and struck another vehicle head-on. Killed were 73-year-old Mary Ann Fender of Paw Paw and 6-year-old Skylinn Salinas of Coloma. Canedo was found to be intoxicated at the time. He was arraigned on Friday on a variety of charges that include two counts of second degree murder, drunk driving causing death with a prior conviction, and driving on a suspended license causing death. Bond has been denied. Also injured in the crash were a 1-year-old Benton Harbor boy and a 57-year-old Paw Paw woman.. ...Read Full Story

Cornerstone Business Awards Held

Cornerstone Alliance and Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce have held their annual Business Recognition Breakfast, saluting businesses around Berrien County who have made a difference. At the ceremony on Thursday, Red Rabbit Automation received the Manufacturing Large Business Award. Cornerstone says it specializes in automation integration solutions for small and medium sized manufacturers. Getting the Economic Growth Award was DeGroot out of Coloma. Cornerstone says it’s one of the largest packaged plant suppliers in the country. The Microenterprise Award went to Lazy Ballerina Winery, which produces wine in St. Joseph, and the always prestigious Pat Moody Award went to Anna Murphy, the president of United Way of Southwest Michigan. The Small Business Award went to Competetive Edge, the Excellence in Customer Service Award went to Starks Family Funeral Home, the Economic Impact Award went to Pearson Construction, the Green Business of the Year is Michigan Energy Business solutions, and Bob Rogers of Servpro was named Ambassador of the Year.. ...Read Full Story

Sensible Bond Project Coming To Five MI Courts

From the Associated Press — Five Michigan courts, from the Detroit area to the Upper Peninsula, will participate in a program to try to reduce jail costs by setting reasonable bonds for people awaiting trial. Chief Justice Bridget McCormack says no one should sit in jail just because they can’t afford to pay bail. She wants judges to set bail amounts that protect rights and public safety as well as save money for local governments. Courts in Hamtramck, Clinton Township, Mount Pleasant, Flint and Escanaba will participate in the program. Judges will set bonds based on statistical models of risk. The state Supreme Court says more than 7,500 jail inmates are awaiting trial, and many have been charged with non-violent crimes.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Opposes Snow Day Bill

Many school districts around the state have used up all 6 of their allowable snow days for the year and have gone over due to some nasty weather the past month and a half. 175 have so far requested a waiver from the Michigan Department of Education for three additional days that don’t have to be made up, and legislation is being proposed at the Capitol to forgive a total of five days. However, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey doesn’t like it, saying more school days shouldn’t be taken away from kids.. ...Read Full Story

Positive Evaluation For County Admin

A one-year contract extension and a 2% raise will be going to Berrien County Administrator Bill Wolf following his annual performance evaluation by the Berrien County Board of Commissioners. Personnel Committee Chair Bill Chickering said at this week’s meeting Wolf was given a score of 3.7 out of 5 when rated by the 12 commissioners in several different categories.. ...Read Full Story

$250,000 Grant For Water Filters

The Berrien County Health Department is receiving a state grant of $250,000 to pay for the water filters it’s giving out to residents of Benton Harbor. Following the discovery of elevated lead levels in some homes last year, health department spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News the filters for lead are now available to all city residents for free. The grant program was made available by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services following the Flint water crisis.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Criticizes TV Station Story Featuring Comments About Her During Speech

From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is criticizing a Detroit TV station’s decision to broadcast a segment and publish an online story that features people’s unflattering and sexist comments on social media about her dress and body during the State of the State speech. Whitmer tweeted Thursday that the story “was way out of line,” before adding “I’m tough, I can take it.” Fox 2 (WJBK-TV) aired the story Wednesday night about reaction to Whitmer’s blue dress. The Democrat says boys have teased her “about my curves” since fifth grade. She says at a time when women are leading, she hopes people “focus on our ideas and accomplishments instead of our appearance.” The station is defending the story. News director Kevin Roseborough says the station was “taken aback” by the number and nature of many inappropriate Facebook comments on Whitmer’s appearance during the speech and decided to “examine them through person-on-the-street interviews and an expert’s opinion on the double standard faced by female leaders.”. ...Read Full Story

BH School Leader Looking To Save On Contracts

Leaders at Benton Harbor Area Schools are seeking to switch out some contracts to reduce costs. At this week’s CEO meeting, the district CFO said bids are being put out for both transportation and food services. Currently, the district contracts with First Student for buses. With the transportation costs around $1.4 million per year, the district will seek bids this month to see what comes in. It’s doing the same for food service, which is currently provided by Sudexo. It was also noted this wek the district currently has about $500,000 in excess food funds in the budget, and that will be put into equipment upgrades for the kitchen. Finally, CEO Robert Herrera said the contract with Berrien RESA for a technology director was terminated last month. The district has now moved that position in-house.. ...Read Full Story

Senate Votes To Limit Forfeitures In Drug Cases

From the Associated Press — Legislation advancing in Michigan would limit law enforcement’s ability to take ownership of cash and other property in drug cases that don’t result in convictions. The Senate voted 36-2 Wednesday, sending the bill to the House. It was the first vote on a bill by either chamber this year, though the Republican-led House last week passed a resolution rejecting an environmental order issued by Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The Senate measure would prohibit prosecutors from permanently confiscating
assets thought to be associated with drug crimes unless a defendant is convicted, has entered into a plea agreement, no one claims any interest in the property or the owner relinquishes it. The measure would not apply in seizures of property and currency worth more than $50,000, excluding the value of contraband.. ...Read Full Story

Former Major League Pitcher At Weekend Clinic

Student athletes who would like to improve their throwing technique with the help of a former Major League pitcher will have a chance to do so this weekend in Paw Paw. Tom House was a pitcher for the Braves, the Red Sox, and the Mariners throughout the 1970s and also worked as a college coach. He’ll lead a three-day super camp at Performance FieldHouse starting Friday. The fieldhouse’s Mark Lipson told WSJM News more.. ...Read Full Story

Federal Grant Announced For YouthBuild Program

The YouthBuild program in Benton Harbor is receiving a grant of nearly $100,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor. Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News YouthBuild is a chance for at-risk young people to earn their high school diploma or GED while also learning construction trade skills through the rebuilding of houses, playgrounds, and community centers. It’s run by Kinexus.. ...Read Full Story

BHAS CEO Waiting On Direction From The State

Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO Robert Herrera is waiting on word from the Michigan Attorney General’s Office on what’s next for the district following a legal change last year that may eliminate its cooperative agreement with the state. Last week, Herrera told trustees the change may mean a restoration of school board control to the district come July. The Michigan Department of Education has told him to wait for those AG instructions. He can’t really answer anything until that’s ironed out.. ...Read Full Story

Ford Recalling 1.5M F-150 Trucks

(Dearborn, MI – AP) – Ford Motor Company is recalling nearly 1.5 million pickup trucks in North America because the transmissions can suddenly downshift into first gear. The recall covers F-150 trucks from the 2011 through 2013 model years with six-speed automatic transmissions.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Endorses Hands-Free Driving Law

From the Associated Press — Gretchen Whitmer wants Michigan to be the 17th state to adopt a hands-free driving law that restricts the use of mobile devices while driving. The Democrat got behind the newly introduced legislation in her State of the State speech Tuesday night. Texting while driving is prohibited, but other uses of phones are allowed. Whitmer says “you cannot navigate the road if you are looking at your phone.”. ...Read Full Story

Kalamazoo Woman Accused Of Stealing Mail In Van Buren County

A 24-year-old Kalamazoo woman is in the Van Buren County Jail for allegedly stealing mail from more than a dozen homes in Columbia and Geneva townships. The sheriff’s department thinks she likely has more victims, and they’re asking anyone who thinks they’re missing items to call. The woman was arrested Monday after someone spotted her going from mailbox to mailbox in a white Cadillac and taking things out. The thefts happened along County Roads 215 and 384 along with 59th Street. The woman’s name hasn’t yet been released.. ...Read Full Story

Coastal Management Seminar In South Haven This Week

A discussion on coastal management will take place in South Haven this week. “Planning for Resilient Coastal Communities” is is set for Thursday at South Haven High School. The presenters will focus on the Great Lakes and the adjoining shorelines, and how to plan for changes of living along the shorelines. The seminar will teach the history of the Great Lakes and how communities can plan for changes. Representatives from Casco, Covert, and South Haven townships and the city of South Haven will be attending. The public is also invited to attend the seminar at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Listiak Auditorium at the high school.. ...Read Full Story

BHAS Officials Working On Deficit Plan

The five-year deficit elimination plan for Benton Harbor Area Schools is being reworked by district officials with the Michigan Department of Treasury. Following a meeting this week, district CEO Robert Herrera told WSJM News the preliminary deficit plan proved to be unworkable on a year-by-year basis.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Confident About Avoiding Shutdown Friday

The deadline to avoid another partial shutdown of the federal government is fast approaching, and Congressman Fred Upton tells us he’s encouraged about the chances of beating it. He says a verbal agreement to allow for a spending resolution to keep the government open for the rest of the year was reached late Monday. He says all responsible parties in Congress are anxious to avoid putting the nation through another shutdown, and he thinks the agreement will be approved.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Remembers John Dingell

Congressman Fred Upton remembers John Dingell as a witty, hardworking, and well-versed member of Congress. Upton had to miss Dingell’s funeral on Tuesday in Dearborn because the weather stopped his plane from being able to land, but he tells WSJM News he’ll certainly be there for services in Washington Thursday. Upton says he worked with Dingell on a variety of issues on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and in other ways.. ...Read Full Story

Donkey Basketball Canceled

This week’s icy weather has prompted Lake Michigan Catholic High School to cancel the planned donkey basketball game for this week. The plan had been to stage a basketball game between LMC staff and students, all of whom would have been riding on the backs of donkeys. It was to be a fundraiser. The district now tells us the Wednesday event will not take place because of the local weather forecast and the distance of travel for a some of the participants. Anyone who already bought a ticket can get a refund through the Lake Michigan Catholic Business Office.. ...Read Full Story

Some Water Filter Distribution Sites Canceled

The Berrien County Health Department has announced the cancellation of two of its water filter pick-up dates for the city of Benton Harbor. It tells us because of high demand and the weather, it’s had to cancel Wednesday’s distribution at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Thursday’s distribution at First Presbyterian Church. Those distribution dates will be moved to next week. A distribution site scheduled for this Friday at Benton Harbor Charter Academy is still open. To date, the Berrien County Health Department has distributed more than 1,200 free water filters to Benton Harbor City residents. That’s after elevated levels of lead were found in some homes last year. Below is the cancellation and rescheduling information. ...Read Full Story