Local News Archives

Manufacturing Award For State Lawmakers

Some state lawmakers from southwest Michigan have gotten praise from the Michigan Manufacturers Association for voting in line with its interests 100% of the time. Michigan Manufacturers Association VP of Government Affairs Mike Johnston tells WSJM News the lawmakers it saluted this month include state Representatives Beth Griffin, Kim LaSata, and Mary Whiteford. He says a top concern for manufacturers is worker development.. ...Read Full Story

Buchanan Woman Missing

The Buchanan Police Department is looking for a missing woman. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us Elizabeth Drew has been missing since Friday. She was last seen around the 100 block of Detroit Street in Buchanan. Police say she was wearing an olive green winter coat with a fur-lined hood and blue jeans. Anyone with information on her location should call the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool Appliance Sale Underway

This weekend will bring a chance for anyone to scoop up some slightly-outdated Whirlpool appliances for big discounts. It’s time for the 2018 Whirlpool Fall Appliance Sale. The company’s Gokul Nair tells WSJM News the sale benefits the United Way of Southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Council Considers Noise Rules

There has been a increasing demand in South Haven to hold special events in the parks, creating a noise problem late at night. The city council has heard resident complaints about amplified sound and has now approved changes to the Special Events Policy. Basically, amplified noise must end by 10 pm. For Saturday night events at all parks, amplified noise is prohibited from 10pm Saturday night until noon on Sunday. All noise must stay in the city’s noise ordinance. Questions regarding the noise ordinance should be directed to the police department at 637-5151.. ...Read Full Story

Volunteers To Fight Invasive Species At Warren Dunes

Volunteers are being invited to Warren Dunes State Park this weekend to help fight invasive species. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says they’ll be out there from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday removing non-native tree saplings from the dune areas. The DNR says no experience is needed to help out as it will provide the volunteers with training on what to look out for. The volunteers are told to meet at the organizational campground parking area on Floral Road at 10 a.m. so they can caravan to the areas being treated.. ...Read Full Story

Threat Leads To Evacuation Of Factory In Benton Township

No one’s hurt, but Gast Manufacturing in Benton Township was evacuated Friday morning due to a threat. The Benton Township Police Department tells us officers were called out to the Gast facility about 9:20 a.m. An employee had found a handwritten note on a disposable paper toilet seat in a women’s restroom. It alluded to death and had racial undertones, although there was no specific means or individual mentioned. The place was evacuated, and a K9 was brought in to search for any possible explosives. Police say none were found. A suspect hasn’t yet been identified, and the incident remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Jane Fonda To Hold Get Out The Vote Rally In Benton Harbor

Actress and activist Jane Fonda is returning to Michigan for a get out the vote rally along with Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors. They will be at the Benton Harbor Art and Cultural Center Saturday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. to encourage voters to get to the polls. They are also going to be calling on state lawmakers to leave alone the One Fair Wage proposal that the House and Senate passed earlier this fall during the upcoming lame duck session. Fonda campaigned this summer in Kalamazoo with fellow actress Lily Tomlin in support of that proposal before Republican leaders in Lansing decided to vote on it and prevent it from going to the ballot. By doing so, making changes only requires a simple majority in the Legislature instead of a 75% majority vote if it was approved by voters.. ...Read Full Story

Possible Policy Concerns Transgender Community

Since news this past weekend that the Trump administration is thinking about establishing a definition of gender for federal departments, people in the transgender community around southwest Michigan are concerned. Paula Camp is a facilitator for a support group at the OutCenter called the League of Extraordinary Genders. Camp told us how transgender Americans she has spoken to are feeling.. ...Read Full Story

Resource Officer Approved For BH Schools

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has approved a contract for the sheriff’s department to provide a school resource officer at Benton Harbor High School. Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey tells WSJM News the department has been providing two deputies at the school for 25 days now. That’s since a rash of 17 fights happened to start out the school year. Bailey says they’ve had two or three since the deputies were placed at the high school.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Schools Switch To Bottled Water As Precaution

Benton Harbor Area Schools have switched to only using bottled water at every building in the district after the announcement by the city this week that eight of 30 homes tested had high levels of lead in the tap water. The district’s food service is also using bottled water for food preparation until further notice. The district’s water is currently being tested, and until confirmation comes back that it’s safe, only bottled water will be available. The city is also offering free water testing for all customers of its municipal water system. The source of the lead hasn’t been determined, but is believed to be older galvanized and lead service lines connecting homes to the city’s water system. The eight families impacted are also being given bottled water by the city.. ...Read Full Story

President Signs Opioid Legislation

Landmark opioids legislation has been signed into law by President Trump. The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act was put together over about the past year with input from dozens of lawmakers, including Congressman Fred Upton. He tells us it passed the House and Senate with broad support. Upton told us about some of his contributions.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Schools To Interview Superintendent Finalists Next Week

Four finalists are now in place to become the next superintendent of South Haven Public Schools. The job opened up when Robert Herrera moved on to be the CEO of Benton Harbor Area Schools this summer. The school board will interview the finalists next week on Monday and Tuesday evenings. Three finalists are from Michigan, with the other being Dr. Raymond Lechner, the current superintendent in Wilmette, Illinois. He will be the first to be interviewed Monday at 6 pm followed by Nathan Robrahn, a high school principal in the Grand Rapids suburb of Wyoming at 7:30. On Tuesday, the board will hear from Watervliet Public Schools superintendent Kevin Schooley at 6, followed by Grant superintendent Jonathan Whan. The interviews are open to the public and will be conducted at South Haven High School. The board is working to have the new superintendent on the job at the start of January.. ...Read Full Story

Bangor Man Killed In Motorcycle vs Pickup Crash

A 70-year-old Bangor man has died in a crash between his motorcycle and a pickup truck. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us Bobby Tanner was northbound on M-140 when the pickup driven by 34-year-old Steven Riggs of Watervliet pulled out in front of him on 48th Avenue. Tanner died after being taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland Watervliet. Riggs was not arrested, but the sheriff’s department will send its report to the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office for review. Investigators don’t believe alcohol or speed were factors in the crash, which happened at 8 Wednesday night.. ...Read Full Story

WSJM Morning News – October 25, 2018

  • Water samples taken from eight homes in the city of Benton Harbor have come back with levels of lead higher than the federal action level of 15 parts per billion.
  • The OutCenter in Benton Harbor is blasting some reported plans of the Trump administration regarding transgendered Americans.
  • Landmark opioids legislation has been signed into law by President Trump.
  • A town hall on the opioid epidemic and what you can do will be held Thursday in Benton Harbor.
  • Michigan State Police are warning everyone about a phone scam that’s been reported in southwest Michigan.
  • Harbor Habitat for Humanity has a replacement for their old construction truck that had been totaled in a crash.
  • Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
  • The F-B-I, Secret Service and A-T-F all involved in an investigation into pipe bombs sent to a number of top Democrats and the New York offices of CNN Wednesday.
  • Two young girls are in custody after allegedly planning a Satanic attack on their middle school.
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Opioid Meeting Coming Up

A town hall on the opioid epidemic and what you can do will be held Thursday in Benton Harbor. State Representative Kim LaSata tells WSJM News the Berrien County Health Department, the Riverwood Center, the Community Healing Center, and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department will all be there. She wants everyone to come out.. ...Read Full Story

OutCenter Disturbed By Gender Definition Report

The OutCenter in Benton Harbor is blasting some reported plans of the Trump administration regarding transgender Americans. The New York Times reported last weekend on a memo from the Oval Office to the Department of Health and Human Services directing that department to define gender as either male or female, as assigned at birth. The OutCenter’s Mary Jo Schnell tells WSJM News this is another in a series of blows to transgendered Americans.. ...Read Full Story

Marijuana Fight In Home Stretch

With less than two weeks before the election, backers of Proposition One have released their first ad. They’re hoping to convince voters to make Michigan the first state in the Midwest to legalize recreational marijuana. The commercial, from the group MI Legalize, argues that the move would reduce dependency on opiates, citing a drop in opiate prescriptions in states that have decriminalized marijuana. Karen O’Keefe, a Michigander with the Marijuana Policy Project, tells us she’s convinced society would be safer if people could buy marijuana in a store instead of on the black market.. ...Read Full Story

Police K9 Gets Protective Vest

A K9 with the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department has received a bullet and stab-protective vest thanks to a donation from non-profit Vested Interest in K9s, Incorporated. The K9, Edo, will now sport the vest embroidered with the words “Born to Love – Trained to Serve – Loyal Always.” Its sponsors are Justin and Kristan Goodenough of Allegan. The sheriff’s department tells us the protective K9 vests have a value of more than $1,700. Edo is a two-year-old German Shephard handled by Deputy Blair Kacos. Kacos says the department is grateful for the donation. Since its inception in 2009, Vested Interest has provided more than 3,100 protective vests to police K9s in 50 states with a value of about $5.7 million. This is the third K9 protective vest donated by the organization to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers Praised By Manufacturing Group

Some state lawmakers from southwest Michigan have gotten praise from the Michigan Manufacturers Association for voting in line with its interests 100% of the time. Michigan Manufacturers Association VP of Government Affairs Mike Johnston tells WSJM News the lawmakers it saluted this month include state Representatives Beth Griffin, Kim LaSata, and Mary Whiteford. He says a top concern for manufacturers is worker development.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor, Berrien County Officials: This Is Not Flint Repeat

The city of Benton Harbor is working with the Berrien County Health Department and the state Department of Environmental Quality to get the word out about lead in the city’s drinking water that was found above the federal action level of 15 parts per billion at 8 homes of the 30 random samples taken this year. Dr. Rick Johansen of the Berrien County Health Department says they’re issuing guidance to parents of babies out of an abundance of caution.. ...Read Full Story

8 Benton Harbor Homes Test Positive For High Lead Levels In Water

Eight homes in Benton Harbor have lead contamination in the water. The city found those eight above the federal and state action levels of 15 parts per billion for lead in the 30 homes where water samples were taken. Those tap water tests have been done every three years as required by the Michigan Department Environmental Quality and the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The Berrien County Health Department is monitoring the blood lead levels of children six and under throughout the county by individual community. They have not detected any increases in the trend of elevated blood lead levels in Benton Harbor kids and there has been a downward trend in those that has continued this year. City Manager Darwin Watson will give an update on the situation today.. ...Read Full Story

Drug Drop-Off This Weekend

This Saturday will bring another statewide drug takeback event. Michigan State Police Sergeant Jason Bailey tells us the Niles MSP post will serve as a point where you can drop off any old, unwanted prescription medications cluttering your cabinet. Bailey says it’s all anonymous.. ...Read Full Story

Obama To Campaign In Michigan

From the Associated Press — Former President Barack Obama will campaign for Democrats in Michigan. Obama will headline a rally in Detroit Friday for Sen. Debbie Stabenow, gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer, U.S. House candidates and others 11 days before the election. Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will also attend. He leads a national Democratic group that is backing Michigan’s anti-gerrymandering ballot proposal to put redistricting in the hands of a commission instead of lawmakers. Obama’s rally was announced Tuesday by the Michigan Democratic Party, which will provide more details later.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders rallied with top Democrats in Ann Arbor last week, while Donald Trump Jr. campaigned with Republicans in Pontiac. The president’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, is in Michigan Tuesday to support gubernatorial
candidate Bill Schuette and Senate candidate John James.. ...Read Full Story

Robbery Suspects Arrested In Niles

A pair of robbery suspects are awaiting arraignment after being busted in Niles on Tuesday. Niles City Police Disptach got word from across the Indiana state line an armed robbery had just occurred there, and the suspects may have been headed in the direction of Niles. Niles police positioned themselves strategically to intercept the suspects, and less than twenty minutes later dispatch got a 911 call reporting a robbery at Pete’s Marathon on South 11th Street. Not long after, an officer encountered the two suspects and they were taken into custody. A search of their vehicle turned up illegal drugs and apparently stolen merchandise from the two robberies. The suspects are described as a 33-year-old female and a 30-year-old male from Elkhart, Indiana. The woman is charged with robbery, resisting and obstructing, and possession of methamphetamine, while the man is charged with robbery and being a felon in possession of ammunition.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Springs Oronoko Township Police Release Name Of Man Who Died In Custody

We now know the name of the man who died in police custody in Berrien County on Monday. Berrien Springs Oronoko Township Police Chief Paul Toliver tells WSJM News he was 51-year-old Jack Lunneen of Berrien Springs. He was arrested by a Berrien Springs Oronoko Township officer and a county sheriff’s deputy in the parking lot of a bank in Berrien Springs around 1:30 a.m., and authorities say Lunneen resisted arrest and had to be physically restrained. A statement from Toliver does not indicate what the officers did to restrain him, but he says they called for an ambulance when Lunneen began having medical issues. He died at Spectrum Health Lakeland in St. Joseph about an hour later. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death, and Michigan State Police are handling the investigation. Both officers are now on paid leave, as is standard procedure.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph City Commission Says No To Drugs

The city of St. Joseph is saying no to drugs for the time being. The city commission Monday night voted to direct City Attorney Laurie Schmidt and city staff to opt out of allowing commercial businesses involved in recreational marijuana if voters approve the legalization of the drug on November 6. Schmidt told commissioners they’re only looking to keep the businesses out, and can’t stop the drugs.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joe Moving Forward On Non-Discrimination Ordinance For LGBTQ Community

A non-discrimination ordinance to protect the LGBTQ community will likely be approved soon by the city of St. Joseph. After hearing from OutCenter director Mary Jo Schnell earlier this month, commissioners Monday night voted to have city staff draft an ordinance to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Mayor pro tem Laura Goos talked to Schnell prior to the meeting yesterday.. ...Read Full Story

Police Find Remains Of Missing Woman

From the Associated Press — Authorities believe they’ve recovered the remains of a southwestern Michigan woman who disappeared in 2010 while getting her mail. The St. Joseph County prosecutor, John McDonough, tells the Sturgis Journal that Doug Stewart took police to the burial site Monday. In 2011, he was convicted of killing his estranged wife, Venus Stewart, although her body hadn’t been found. Tests will be conducted next to confirm the identity. The Stewarts had been separated for a few months, and Doug Stewart was living in Newport News, Virginia, when his wife disappeared. The evidence against him
included phone records, key testimony from an accomplice and a partial fingerprint on a tarp found outside her parents’ home.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Stocks 21 Million Fish

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has stocked lakes and rivers around the state with more than 21 million fish so far this year. The DNR’s Elyse Walter tells WSJM News the fish stocking program goes back well over 100 years with the oldest hatchery dating back to 1901. They breed fish and pump them into waters all over.. ...Read Full Story

School Digs Up Time Capsule

A 19-year-old time capsule buried in 1999 by students at Brown Elementary School in St. Joseph has been opened. Brown Principal Kristen Bawks tells WSJM News about 50 people gathered Sunday to retrieve and open the capsule. Inside, they found a Time Magazine with an article about the Harry Potter craze, among other things.. ...Read Full Story

Palisades Shuts Down For Repairs

The Palisades nuclear power plant in Van Buren County is shut down for repairs after a transformer experienced a problem. That followed other repairs on a control rod drive seal. Nuclear Regulator Commission spokesperson Viktoria Mitlyng tells WSJM News the seal problem was noticed on October 13, and was minor.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Awards $80 Million For Water Improvements

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has awarded $80 million in loans for water and sewer projects intended to boost drinking water quality and protect public health in a number of cities. The funding comes from federal-state programs that provide loans for water-related infrastructure upgrades. They offer loans with lower interest
rates than those on the open market, as well as loan forgiveness opportunities. Among recipients were the Great Lakes Water Authority in southeastern Michigan; Monroe County; and the cities of St. Joseph, Highland Park and Saline. Also, the Huron River Green Infrastructure Drainage District got funding for street tree planting to reduce phosphorus runoff and bacterial contamination.. ...Read Full Story

I&M Expects Full Power Restoration By Tuesday Afternoon

Indiana Michigan Power expects 90% of its customers in Benton Harbor and Buchanan who lost power due to this weekend’s storms to have the lights back on by 6 p.m. today. Full restoration is expected by 3 tomorrow afternoon. There are currently 4,650 in Berrien County without power and another 750 in Van Buren County who are in the dark. Crews are working on side roads, in yards, and in neighborhoods today and tomorrow to repair the downed power lines. At the peak of the outage, I&M says it had over 31,000 customers without power in Michigan and Indiana.. ...Read Full Story

Man Dies In Berrien Springs/Oronoko Twp Police Custody

An investigation is underway into the death of a 51-year-old man while in police custody early this morning. The man had been arrested by a Berrien Springs Oronoko Township officer after a call came in about someone destroying property on West Union Street in Berrien Springs, with the officer spotting the suspect while on the phone with the person who made the complaint. According to Chief Paul Toliver, the man resisted arrest and had to be physically restrained. An ambulance was called after the man started having medical issues, and he died at Spectrum Health Lakeland in St. Joseph around 2:30 this morning, roughly an hour after being arrested. The Berrien Springs officer and the Berrien County Sheriff’s deputy involved in the arrest are both on paid administrative leave as an outside agency will handle the probe into the death.. ...Read Full Story

Possible MI Immigration Center

In west Michigan, the Immigration Centers of America has proposed converting the former Deerfield Correctional Center in Ionia into a federal immigration detention center. Dennis Muchmore, who represents the Immigration Centers of America, told Michigan News Network this week it would cost about $35 million.. ...Read Full Story

Two Chambers Integrating

The Greater Bridgman Chamber and Growth Alliance is integrating into the Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce. Cornerstone’s Chris Heugel tells WSJM News the Twin Cities-based chamber started helping the Bridgman chamber when its previous leader moved out of town, and over time, it made sense for the two to combine.. ...Read Full Story

Drunk Driving Crackdown Underway

Extra drunk driving patrols are out on Michigan roads ahead of the coming Halloween period. The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning’s Kari Arend tells WSJM News officers from around 100 police agencies are taking part in the enforcement crackdown through November 4. In particular, they’re focusing extra attention on those counties with a high number of fatal crashes involving drugs and alcohol. That includes Berrien and Van Buren.. ...Read Full Story

Krasl Preparing To Unveil New Improvements

The Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph is getting ready to unveil its new outdoor Sculpting Community along with a brand new sculpture by Richard Hunt. The piece from the Chicago artist was shipped into St. Joseph this past week, and then installed at the grounds of the Krasl in the following days. Hunt tells WSJM News it’s about 20 feet high and 40 feet across in two stainless steel pieces.. ...Read Full Story

Learn About Assistance Animals In SJ

A workshop on the different types of assistance animals and the rules that apply to them is planned for next month in St. Joseph. Disability Network Southwest Michigan Education Coordinator Miranda Grunwell tells WSJM News there are service animals, emotional support animals, and therapy animals.. ...Read Full Story

High Winds Causing Power Outages

High winds around southwest Michigan on Saturday have led to thousands of power outages and some roads to be temporarily blocked. As of early evening, Indiana Michigan Power was dealing with just under 27,000 outages. The high winds have knocked down tree branches throughout the region, leading to some parts of roads to be blocked while police, fire, and utility crews work to clear them. Police remind everyone to stay away from downed power lines and to report them to 911. You can stay on top of I&M power outages and also report outages at www.indianamichiganpower.com/outages.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagons Doing Major Campus Upgrade

Major construction is underway at the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi’s Rodgers Lake campus near Dowagiac. Pokagon Band Government Manager Jason Wesaw tells us they’re doing a major improvement project at a cost of $25 million on the Justice Center and the Pokagon Health Services building. He notes the Pokagon Tribal Police have been working out of a building not intended for law enforcement.. ...Read Full Story

Religious Complaint Against College

From the Associated Press — A complaint has been filed against a Michigan college for having a religious invocation at its commencement ceremony. The Muskegon Chronicle reports that the Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists on Thursday sent Muskegon Community College a letter detailing the complaint. The complaint was filed in response to a prayer said by college Trustee Ann Oakes at the college’s May 9 graduation ceremony. The association’s letter cites two U.S. Supreme Court cases that ban invocations in schools and other public institutions. College President Dale Nesbary says he’s surprised by the complaint. He says Oakes has been delivering the commencement invocation for many years. Nesbary says the college will respond after reviewing the issue. The association has filed several complaints in recent years regarding the separation of church and state.. ...Read Full Story

Three Hurt In South Haven Area Crash

Three people are injured following a crash in South Haven Township Friday night. South Haven Area Emergency Services responded to the two-vehicle, head-on crash on M-140 near 24th Avenue at 10:15 p.m. Responders found three people in a car were injured. The driver of a pickup was not hurt. Responders worked for nearly an hour freeing the trapped occupants who were taken to hospitals by ambulance and helicopter. Assisting at the scene was the South Haven Police Department, Covert Township police and fire departments, and Van Buren Sheriff Department. The crash remains under investigation. The names of the injured have not been released.
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Several Proposals To Appear On Ballot

The AARP of Michigan is hoping the state’s voters will get themselves familiar with the variety of proposals set to appear on next month’s ballot before they hit the polls. Manager of Advocacy Lisa Dedden Cooper tells us Proposal 1 would legalize recreational marijuana for people ages 21 and up. Proposal 2 would amend the state constitution to create a new commission to re-draw Michigan’s legislative districts when the Census comes out every 10 years. Proposal 3 would add several voting-rights provisions to the Michigan Constitution.. ...Read Full Story

Amtrak Prepares For Thanksgiving

Additional trains are being added to several Amtrak lines in anticipation of Thanksgiving. Amtrak spokesperson Marc Magliari tells WSJM News folks heading home for the holiday will have more chances to take a train. The busiest day in Amtrak’s entire history was on the Sunday following Thanksgiving last year, with more than 160,000 customers.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Warns About Fish Virus

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says the largemouth bass virus that killed hundreds of fish back in the early 2000s has been found in Cedar Lake in Alcona and Iosco counties. DNR Hatchery Manager Martha Van Amberg tells us, for the most, there is no danger to humans.. ...Read Full Story