Local News Archives

Positive Review For Bridgman Superintendent

The Bridgman Public Schools Board of Education has voted to extend the contract of Superintendent Shane Peters by three years. That’s after he got a positive yearly performance evaluation this month. The board rated Peters as highly effective, and praised him for helping Bridgman students exceed state and county averages in math and English. They also noted several new programs were added to the district during the most recent year, including reading programs at the elementary and middle school levels, and a fifth year Spanish class at the high school. The board said Peters is engaged with the public and it’s proud of the district and the community.. ...Read Full Story

City Reimburses HUD Money

The city of Benton Harbor has to reimburse some Community Development Block Grant money to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. At Monday’s meeting, they approved a reimbursement of just under $61,000 from 2013. City Manager Darwin Watson said HUD oversight determined there were issues with the CDBG program that year.. ...Read Full Story

OutCenter Working With College-Bound Students

The OutCenter in Benton Harbor kicked off its new program for college-bound students in southwest Michigan with a forum this week. OutCenter Executive Director Mary Jo Schnell tells us the LGBTQ+ Journey to College “It Gets Better” meeting would include a panel of five college students and recent college grads who will talk about their experiences. Schnell tells us the OutCenter wants local high school students to know it gets better.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Still Working On Marijuana Rules

The South Haven City Council is unable to make a choice on allowing or banning recreational marijuana businesses. City Manager Brian Dissette explains the consequences of the deadlocked vote this past week which would have prohibited the businesses and directed the Planning Commission to study the city’s options with a placeholder ordinance.. ...Read Full Story

Man In Custody Following Standoff

A Hartford man is in custody following a standoff with police Friday afternoon. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us it all started around 4:45 p.m. when a Watervliet Township woman called police believing her boyfriend, who had warrants out, might be hiding in her home in the 5400 block of Forest. When police arrived, they found 35-year-old Joshua Petersen barricaded in a bedroom. He threatened to shoot anyone who entered. Police negotiated with the suspect for five hours and say at one point he threw a utility knife at them. Finally, police entered the bedroom by force. They used “less lethal” devices to subdue Petersen and take him into custody. It was found the suspect had harmed himself while barricaded, and he was treated at the scene by an ambulance crew and then taken to a hospital. Later, he was transported to the Berrien County Jail. It was found the suspect never really had a gun. He is facing charges that include assault with a dangerous weapon and resisting and obstructing police.. ...Read Full Story

New Rules For BH Commissioners

Come next year, Benton Harbor City Commissioners will be doing things a little bit differently. At their final regular meeting of 2018 this past week, they voted to amend the council rules to allow members to suspend the rules at the will of the majority and to add resolutions from the floor. They also voted to change the position of committee vice chair to co-chair. Commissioner Mary Alice Adams said the rules they’d been operating under prevented the commission from taking quick action.. ...Read Full Story

Police Respond To Large Fight At School

There have been no reported injuries following a fight at South Haven High School during a basketball game Friday evening. The South Haven Police Department tells us the brawl broke out during the varsity game between South Haven and Paw Paw. It says that after a foul at the end of the court, players began shoving each other and then players from both benches entered the court. Some bystanders also jumped in to either break up the fight or join it. The total number of people involved is estimated by police to be 70. The fracas ended quickly and everyone dispersed. The rest of the game was canceled before the second quarter. South Haven police officers who had been assigned to the game responded to the fight, and they were assisted by the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department, Michigan State Police, and the Covert Township Department. The incident remains under investigation by police and school officials. The South Haven Police Department says any review by the Van Buren County Prosecutor’s Office is pending video evidence and witness statements.. ...Read Full Story

Busy Year For Kinexus

It’s been a busy year for Kinexus. CEO Todd Gustafson tells WSJM News the agency worked with employees and students, helping 687 young people get their high school diploma or GED. It’s also worked with employers.. ...Read Full Story

Emergency Psychiatric Bed Database To Be Created

Legislation that would create a statewide database of psychiatric hospital beds available for emergency use has been approved by the Michigan Legislature and is now headed to Governor Rick Snyder. Plan sponsor state Representative Mary Whiteford tells us when someone goes to an ER, the staff will be able to search the whole state to find quick help for them. She says that’s not always possible now.. ...Read Full Story

Officials Look To Address Beach Erosion In New Buffalo Area

Leaders in the New Buffalo area are hoping to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stop shoreline erosion in the area. Last week, Army Corps Major General Mark Toy visited New Buffalo to learn more about the serious need for action. New Buffalo Township Supervisor Michelle Heit spoke with him and tells WSJM News there’s no beach left in her own community and homes are being threatened. She says residents have spent a fortune on revetments to try to protect their properties. ...Read Full Story

TwinCATS Affirms Support For Pere Marquette Line

As the Michigan Department of Transportation works on a long-term plan for rail service around the state, the Twin Cities Area Transportation Study, or TwinCATS, wants to make sure the Pere Marquette rail line isn’t left in the dust. Southwest Michigan Planning Commission associate planner Ryan Fellows tells WSJM News the TwinCATS committee this week approved a resolution to that end.. ...Read Full Story

Body Found Along Highway In Allegan County

Police in Allegan County are investigating after a body was found along the side of US-131 Friday morning. The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department tells us a call about someone lying on the shoulder just north of the Wayland exit came in just before 9 a.m. A responding officer found a deceased male with obvious injuries indicating he’d been hit by a vehicle. The investigation found there had been a vehicle reported as driving erratically on northbound US-131 around 2:15 a.m. and that it had crashed in the same area. However, when police responded to that crash, the driver had run off. Information found on the body later on indicated he was the person who had crashed and then abandoned the car. The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department has also learned a car-deer crash was reported in the same around 5:30 a.m. although no deer was ever found. It says the driver in the car versus deer crash is cooperating with them. No names are yet being released, and police continue to investigate.. ...Read Full Story

State Lawmakers Wrap Up Year With 22-Hour Session

Governor Snyder has over 300 pieces of legislation to go through between now and December 31 following the end of the legislative session Friday morning. The Senate adjourned for the year at 7 a.m., with the House wrapping up work an hour later. In the flurry of activity on the final day, they gave final approval to a bill that strips away some of the authority of Democratic Attorney General-elect Dana Nessel by allowing the Legislature to intervene in any lawsuit involving the state. She and fellow Democrats are calling that a power grab, and are calling on Governor Snyder to veto it. Also passed was a new supplemental $1.3 billion spending plan that shifts money from the School Aid Fund to the roads, puts more cash toward environmental cleanup, and would hire mental health counselors for schools. The bills also would allocate funding to hire more child protective services caseworkers following a scathing audit of the agency. The vote early Friday was the final chance for the Republican governor and many lawmakers to put their imprint on spending. WSJM News has reached out to Senator John Proos for his final thoughts on his last days in office.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Woman Freed After Nine Years For Husband’s Murder

A Van Buren County woman will be home for the holidays for the first time in 9 years after she was convicted of murdering her husband. Linda Stermer was released Thursday after a federal judge ruled that she did not get a fair trial, citing errors by prosecutors. She was charged with setting her house and her husband on fire, and then running him over with a truck after he emerged from the burning home. She has claimed all along that was not what happened. Stermer was convicted largely on circumstantial evidence. She was released on $10,000 bond, suggesting that the judge does not consider her to be a flight risk. The Attorney General’s office has some decisions to make and may appeal the ruling. If that fails, they will have to decide whether to retry the case or drop it. That decision is very likely to fall on Attorney General-elect Dana Nessel.. ...Read Full Story

Counselor Talks New Year’s Resolutions

Do you make a New Year’s resolution every year but find it difficult to stick with it? You’re not alone. A new survey from Wallet Hub shows that 92% of Americans say they fail at keeping their resolutions. Anahid Lisa Derbabian is a counselor in Troy who spoke with Michigan New Network about why that might be,. ...Read Full Story

Alliance For Great Lakes Thanks Volunteers

The Alliance for the Great Lakes is looking back at 2018 as a successful year when it comes to cleaning up pollution, and it’s thanking volunteers for that. Each year, the alliance works with tens of thousands of people to hold beach cleanup events. It tells us in 2018, 15,000 people mobilized in the eight Great Lakes states, picking up more than 37,000 pounds of trash. 85% of it was plastic. The alliance thanks all of those who came out, and notes it will continue to pick up along the lakes. You can go to GreatLakes.org and search for cleanup opportunities in your area.. ...Read Full Story

Commissioners Saluted As They Step Down

Two longtime Berrien County Commissioners have been honored as they step down from their posts. Commissioners Debra Panozzo and Jeanette Leahey have served on the board since 1997 and 2003, respectively. Resolutions were approved by the county commission at its Thursday meeting to thank them. Leahey told WSJM News it’s been a long, eventful ride.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Would Allow Mid-Level Dental Providers In MI

From the Associated Press — Legislation heading to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder would authorize midlevel dental providers to work in the state. Dental therapists could perform a variety of routine procedures now handled by dentists. They would need a license and could practice if they reach an agreement with a supervising dentist. Supporters say the bill that won final Senate approval 23-15 Wednesday would help ensure treatment for more patients in underserved populations, including in rural areas. They say Michigan has an uneven distribution of dentists, leaving people without access to basic care. Opponents, such as the Michigan Dental Association, say there is no shortage of dentists. They say dental therapists with less training than dentists should not perform irreversible procedures.. ...Read Full Story

Police Look For Missing Woman

Michigan State Police are looking for a woman missing out of Van Buren County. Troopers from the Paw Paw post say 41-year-old Natily Nacole Franklin of Decatur has been missing since November 2. She was last seen with friends in South Bend on that date. Her purse, clothing, money, and cellphone were all left behind, and she’s had no contact with family since. She’s known to have a small chihuahua dog with her most of the time. The dog is described as a red-brown dog. Natily is described as a white female, about five foot eight, 140 pounds, with curly brown hair that has highlights. She also has a sleeve tattoo on her right arm. Anyone with information on her location is asked to contact Michigan State Police.. ...Read Full Story

Medical Issue Causes Niles Man To Crash Into Building

A 37-year-old Niles man is being treated at St. Joseph Hospital in Mishawaka after crashing his car into the side of a building. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department tells us it happened due to a medical problem just after 8 pm Wednesday at US-12 and Beebe Road in Milton Township. Jerry Gross went off the road and slammed into the cinder block building. He complained of minor injuries when first responders arrived. Police say he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Corrections Bill Gets Final Approval

A state commission that studies possible corrections reforms in Michigan will continue its work for another year under legislation from state Senator John Proos that is now on its way to the governor. Proos tells us Senate Bill 844 extends the Criminal Justice Policy Commission’s deadline from December 31 of this year to September 30 of next year. He says the commission was created in 2014 and charged with collecting, analyzing, and compiling data on prisons, jails, sentencing guidelines, prison population trends, and the effects of efforts to reduce recidivism. Proos adds the governor last year signed restorative justice reforms that will result in better outcomes, and the commission should be allowed to complete its job.. ...Read Full Story

$90,000 Awarded To Be Healthy Berrien

The Be Healthy Berrien partnership has been awarded a $90,000 grant to continue work on some south Berrien County recreation and nutrition programs. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced the funds from the Michigan Health and Wellness 4×4 Grant Program, which aims to fight obesity. The $90,000 grant will be used by Be Healthy Berrien to work on exploring opportunities to extend the Indiana-Michigan River Valley trail, do a study on expanding Niles Dial-A-Ride, create a Niles historical bicycle tour, and to work with businesses to serve healthy foods. Be Healthy Berrien is a partnership between the Berrien County Health Department, the United Way, Lakeland, the YMCA, and the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission to reduce obesity in Berrien County.. ...Read Full Story

Survey Finds MI Business Leaders Optimistic

Business Leaders for Michigan is finding optimism in the state’s business community when it comes to the next year. Despite recent stock market setbacks and other controversies, the organization tells us more than 80% of Michigan’s largest companies forecast their employment and investment in Michigan will stay the same or increase in the next 6 to 12 months. Oddly enough, however, 90% of those same leaders believe the state and U.S. economies will stay the same or worsen during that time. Doug Rothwell, Business Leaders for Michigan president and CEO, says the results show “Michigan business leaders find the state a more attractive place to invest than the nation as a whole.” You can find the BLM survey right here.. ...Read Full Story

Grants To Fight Invasive Species

Two grants totaling $113,000 have been announced for agencies in southwest Michigan to fight against the spread of invasive species. Michigan Department of Natural Resources invasive species communications coordinator Joanne Foreman tells us the southwest corner of the state is viewed as key to preventing non-native species.. ...Read Full Story

Psychologist Talks Big Holiday Stressers

When families get together for the holidays it can mean eating, drinking, and arguing. The current political climate, family responsibilities, and relationships top the list of stressers between family members according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. Dr. Lynn Bufka is with the organization and spoke with Michigan News Network.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Bill To Expand OK2SAY Signed

Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation from state Representative Kim LaSata to expand Michigan’s OK2SAY hotline so sexual abuse and assault can now be reported through it. LaSata tells us her bill was inspired by the Larry Nassar situation. She adds OK2SAY is a natural fit for reporting sexual crimes.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph High School Lunch Fight Prompts Brief Lockdown

Two St. Joseph High School students are facing disciplinary action after a fight at lunch Thursday that resulted in police being called. Principal Greg Blomgren tells parents in a letter that the fight prompted a brief lockdown. Blomgren says it erupted with over 500 students witnessing it in the student center, and he says many of them were cheering, laughing, and recording the fight on their phones. He says he wants the student body to hold themselves to a higher standard and is asking parents to talk to their students about the fight and the response from onlookers. Blomgren says administrators and staffers acted quickly to separate the fighting students and “diffuse the situation.”. ...Read Full Story