Local News Archives

Coalition Talks Suicide Prevention

A meeting held at the Berrien County Health Department Tuesday aimed to spread the message that 911 is the number to call when a loved one is feeling suicidal. Berrien County Suicide Prevention Coalition founder Trent Watford told WSJM News 911 will connect someone who needs help with resources available.. ...Read Full Story

Shoreline Protection Bill Signed

Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation from state Representative Kim LaSata intended to strengthen a program for the clean-up of waterways in the state. LaSata tells WSJM News confusion was created several years ago when the Michigan Departments of Natural Resources and Environmental Quality were combined. After they separated, it was not clear which one was to run the Adopt-a-River and Adopt-a-Shoreline programs.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Approves Road Money

Another $175 million dollars in road funding has been signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder. That’s on top of the the $600 million already allotted by state lawmakers. Michigan News Network Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick tells us the additional funding may be little consolation for drivers with flat tires and broken axles from all this winter’s potholes.. ...Read Full Story

Commissioners Agree To No-Wake Zone Request

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources can now hold a hearing on extending the no-wake zone in the St. Joseph River in the area of St. Joe and Benton Harbor. That’s because Benton Harbor City Commissioners on Monday agreed to let the DNR move forward. City Manager Darwin Watson told WSJM News people with boats at Pier 1000 asked that the no-wake zone be extended.. ...Read Full Story

Soft Lockdown At Eau Claire Middle, High School

Eau Claire Public Schools put one of its buildings on a soft lockdown Tuesday due to a possible threat. Parents received a message telling them the middle school-high school was placed on a soft lockdown due to a message found in a restroom. A Facebook post from the school district says the school “found graffiti in a bathroom stall at the high school. The local and county police have been notified and are on site. We are taking every precaution to keep students and faculty safe. At this time, there are no immediate concerns. If there are any questions or concerns, please contact the school offices.” Police are investigating.. ...Read Full Story

Names Released In Deadly Crash

More details are now public regarding a deadly crash between three vehicles on M-139 in Oronoko Township. The Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Police Department says 61-year-old Karen Johns of Eau Claire was killed in the crash Monday morning. Investigators tell WSJM News Johns was northbound on M-139 when her car was hit by a northbound pickup driven by 17-year-old Riley Haygood of Berrien Springs, pushing her into the southbound lanes and into the path of a Ford Transit Van carrying seven people. The van’s driver suffered minor injuries, and several passengers were treated by paramedics at the scene. Police are still trying to determine what caused Haygood to hit Johns’ vehicle to start the crash.. ...Read Full Story

Website Shows School Finances

From the Associated Press — The fiscal health of each public school in Michigan now can be viewed on a new website. The Michigan Treasury department says the MI School Financials Dashboard is easy to use and provides visual financial data about local and intermediate school districts and public academies. It also features data on revenues and expenditures, enrollment and per-pupil
funding. Schools are required to report such data to the Center for Educational Performance and Information. Last year, the state Treasury department made public the MI Community Dashboard which highlights financial data reported annually by counties, cities, villages and townships in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

State Updates Cyber Security Rules

From the Associated Press — Open-records disclosures can no longer include information on cybersecurity plans and vulnerabilities in Michigan. Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation Monday that allows for the exclusion of cybersecurity information shared with Michigan State Police and other government bodies. The changes cleared the Legislature in a bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Brandt Iden of Oshtemo earlier this month. Supporters say the exemption reassures companies that sensitive information shared with officials in the event of a security breach does not surface in public-records requests under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act. The exclusion also applies to requests that could trigger future security breaches. The Michigan Press Association opposes the curtailment, saying it allows for excessive exemption-taking. Last week, the state announced that a recent audit found phishing vulnerabilities among its public employees.. ...Read Full Story

Trash Contract In Place

Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad has an update for residents regarding the city’s new garbage contract. At Monday’s meeting, Muhammad said the final contract with We-Cycle Industrial Sanitation is signed, and the trash cans to be used for pick up will soon be available.. ...Read Full Story

Former State Rep Running For MI Senate

Running for Michigan Senate in the 20th District is a familiar name in west Michigan politics. Former Republican state Representative and current Allegan County Clerk Bob Genetski is hoping to replace state Senator Tonya Schuitmaker when she’s term limited out of office this year. He tells WSJM News reducing auto insurance rates is a big priority.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Trooper To Be Honored This week

A Michigan State Police trooper from the Niles post will be honored at an event in East Lansing this week. State police tell us the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission’s annual awards presentation will be Wednesday, and on hand to be saluted will be Sergeant James Janes from the Niles post. He will be recognized for his efforts as a drug recognition expert — or, DRE — to reduce traffic crashes, injuries, and deaths. State police tell us Janes has been instrumental in his ability to catch impaired drivers. In 2015, Janes performed 40 DRE evaluations during his own investigations, making him one of the most active DREs in the state. He’s done more than 200 DRE evaluations in the past four years. At its awards this week, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission is handing out six Outstanding Traffic Safety Achievement awards, four long-term awards, and one student award.. ...Read Full Story

Museum Hosting Lego Carnivale This Week

Set for this Thursday is the first public event to be held at the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in St. Joseph since it had to shut down in December due to flooding. Heritage Museum Curator Tracy Gierada tells WSJM News they’re hosting a Lego Carnivale as part of the annual Build Your Way Around Town events going on this month.. ...Read Full Story

One Dead In Oronoko Twp Crash

One person is dead following a crash that shut down part of M-139 in Oronoko Township for several hours on Monday. The Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Police Department tells WSJM News it happened around 11:30 a.m. on M-139 at Hinchman Road. A northbound pick-up crashed into a northbound car, pushing the car into the southbound lanes. That’s when a southbound bus crashed into the car. The driver of the car was taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend, where that person was pronounced dead. Police are not yet releasing the deceased’s name. The crash remains under investigation by the Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Police Department and Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Judge Pushes Opioid Treatment Program

A southeast Michigan leader in the fight against opioid addiction says there’s a lack of urgency in what she calls one of the biggest health issues facing the country. Macomb County District Judge Linda Davis is the head of Families Against Narcotics, and says the stigma surrounding addiction isn’t helping.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Gets UAW Endorsement

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s largest labor union is endorsing Gretchen Whitmer for governor. The United Auto Workers, which represents 385,000 active members and retirees in the state, announced the endorsement Monday at its international headquarters in Detroit. Whitmer, a former legislative leader, is among four main Democrats seeking the nomination in August’s primary election.
She previously won the backing of the Michigan Education Association, the state’s second-biggest union. UAW President Dennis Williams says Whitmer is a “champion” who will protect members’ safety and jobs while strengthening their schools and communities. In her campaign, she has talked about protesting outside the Capitol when Republicans enacted a right-to-work law in 2012. Whitmer says it is time Michigan workers “had a governor who will fix the roads and fight for working people.”. ...Read Full Story

Arrest Made In Paw Paw Schools Threat

An arrest has been made in the case of a threat that shut down Paw Paw Schools Monday. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us a 15-year-old boy who is a student at the high school made the threat, which the department believes was credible. The sheriff’s department and Paw Paw police investigated after word of the threat reached them. They notified the school district, which made the decision to shut down all buildings for Monday. Police did a search of the suspect’s home and seized guns and other evidence. The 15-year-old is now being held at the Allegan County Juvenile Center on multiple charges pending arraignment. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us it’s determined there is no ongoing threat to the school district at this time.. ...Read Full Story

Threat Closes Paw Paw Schools

No school today for students in Paw Paw due to a threat against the district. A student is accused of threatening a shooting at the high school and has been arrested. The district put out automated calls last night to parents to let them know there would be no classes at any schools in Paw Paw today. In addition to Paw Paw Public Schools being closed, Trinity Lutheran School is also canceling today’s classes. Since the Parkland, Florida school massacre on Valentine’s Day, threats against schools across the state and the country have spiked.. ...Read Full Story

Congressional Art Contest Underway

Congressman Fred Upton has announced the 2018 Congressional Art Competition, open to high school artists throughout the Sixth Congressional District. The winner will have his or her piece hang in the U.S. Capitol for a year along with the winners of the award from Congressional districts across the country. Plus, the winner and a guest will get to go to Washington, D.C. to attend a reception. Upton’s office tells us the arts are a vital part of southwest Michigan’s diverse community. You can find the rules and the entry forms for the Congressional Art Competition at Upton’s website. Last year’s winner was Cami Hoogstraten of Otsego who submitted a digital drawing of a Native American Dancer.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Budget Work

If you think planning a family budget is difficult and time consuming, imagine trying to budget for a city. That’s what South Haven City Manager and staff are working on right now. City Manager Brian Dissette spoke with WSJM News this week about the process.. ...Read Full Story

Take Back The Tap

Bottled water sales in the United States are skyrocketing, but a new report looks at what is actually being sold to those customers. In “Take Back the Tap,” Food and Water Watch researchers look at the booming business of bottled water, which surpassed soda in sales in 2016. The group finds nearly 64% of bottled water comes from municipal taps, and that it cost almost two thousand times as much as tap water and four times as much as gasoline. Patty Lovera with Food and Water Watch tells us bottled water companies target demographics through advertising, especially immigrant communities.. ...Read Full Story

School Leaders Talk Security

Benton Harbor School leaders continue to think about improving security. At a Tuesday meeting, the board of education heard from Acting Superintendent Patricia Robinson the district’s metal detectors are almost repaired, with six door units now operational. There are also upgrades in the works to the security cameras. Trustee Joseph Taylor told WSJM News he wants metal detectors working quickly, especially in light of the recent tragedy in Florida.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Explores Changes To Prison Food Service

State Senator John Proos has some new ideas for prison food service. That’s after Governor Rick Snyder recently proposed moving away from having private companies provide it. Proos tells WSJM News he’s put together a Senate workgroup to explore training non-violent prisoners to prepare and serve meals at Michigan Department of Corrections facilities.. ...Read Full Story

Jon Cox; With Respect 03/18/18

John’s guest this week is Professor John Cox of Hope College. He is one of the world recognized experts on William Shakespeare. In this show, followed by a sequel next week, they talk about Shakespeare’s life and career in the days of Good Queen Bess. . ...Read Full Story

Changes Coming To Krasl

St. Joseph City Commissioners have given the green light to the Krasl Art Center as it seeks an improvement project for its grounds to attract more visitors. At a meeting this past week, the commission signed off on a Planned Unit Development request for Krasl as it pursues thework. Krasl’s Julia Gourley told WSJM News they’ll add a commissioned sculpture along with some other features.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Talks “Marshall Plan” For Jobs

$100 million is the price tag for Governor Rick Snyder’s ambitious plan to expand job training programs for all ages. Called the “Marshall Plan for Talent,” he tells WSJM News the reaction has been positive from lawmakers so far since he announced the initiative in South Haven last month.. ...Read Full Story

Municipal Group Calls For Infrastructure Funding

The head Michigan’s association of local governments says Uncle Sam needs to dig deeper to help fix our roads. Dan Gilmartin of the Michigan Municipal League told Michigan News Network this week at least an extra billion dollars would help, but it doesn’t cover the need for a mass transit system, which is becoming more and more of a need by businesses coming to Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Talks School Safety

As students protested school violence across the country Wednesday, the U.S. House was voting to increase security in schools. Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News the STOP School Violence Act had its vote, passing 407 to 10. It sets aside $75 million for school safety grants to train teachers and others. Upton says he has appreciated high school students getting involved in civics since the Parkland, Florida shootings.. ...Read Full Story

School Officials Get Academics Update

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has received an update on the academic progress of district students since the partnership agreement with the state went into effect. Acting Superintendent Patricia Robinson tells WSJM News there’s been some progress on reading scores, but they’re having trouble increasing math scores. A big part of the problem is the lack of certified math teachers.. ...Read Full Story

Update Planned For War Monument

Changes are coming to the World War I monument along the bluff in downtown St. Joseph. At a meeting this week, the city commission approved moving the plaque listing area World War I soldiers to a more prominent spot at the doughboy statue. It’s currently in the back, often obscured by vegetation. Now, it will be encased in concrete to the side of the statue. They’re also adding a U.S. flag to the monument. A representative of the parks advisory board told commissioners about it Monday.. ...Read Full Story

Humane Society Gets Challenge Grant

A new $700,000 challenge grant has been announced to help the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan as it prepares to move into its new facility. Humane Society Director Jill Svoboda tells WSJM News the Yeager family, longtime supporters, will match donations, dollar for dollar, to both the organization’s capital fund for the new shelter and its endowment.. ...Read Full Story

Dem Throws Hat In Ring For Senate

There’s a Democrat running for the Michigan Senate in the 26th District. That’s the district currently represented by state Senator Tonya Schuitmaker, covering Van Buren and Allegan counties and part of Kent County. Garnet Lewis is a former Northern Michigan University Trustee and current member of the Saugatuck Planning Commission. She tells WSJM News she was inspired to get back into politics following the election of President Trump.. ...Read Full Story

Calley Launches First TV Ad

From the Associated Press — Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Calley is launching a campaign ad that will run for nearly three weeks on network and cable TV stations. The 30-second ad begins airing Friday. It makes Calley, the state’s lieutenant governor, the second Republican to run ads. Dr. Jim Hines has also aired some ads. Calley’s ad shows him jogging through a town, with more people gradually joining in. He says Michigan’s conservative reforms have led to the creation of more than 500,000 jobs. Calley says the job is not finished, though, and “we’re just getting started.” Calley is among four main Republicans running for governor. Attorney General Bill Schuette is seen as the front-runner, with the primary five months away.. ...Read Full Story

State Does Cyber Security Audit

From the Associated Press — Auditors have flagged the state of Michigan for gaps that could increase the risk of its computer network being hacked. An audit released Friday made 14 findings, including five that are “material” – the most serious. The Office of the Auditor General says the Department of Technology, Management and Budget did not do enough to ensure that only authorized devices access the IT network and did not fully implement an effective process for managing updates to operating systems. Auditors also say conducted an exercise in which nearly one-fifth of 5,000 state employee randomly sample clicked on a “phishing” email and entered their credentials.
A state spokesman says it has already begun to implement many of the auditors’ recommendations, and the data in the state’s network is “safe and secure.”. ...Read Full Story

Smart Thermostat Program Brought To Michigan

A program that brings smart thermostats to southwest Michigan is now available for all customers of Indiana Michigan power. I&M spokesperson Tracy Warner tells us IM Home allows you to install an app on your phone that lets you control your home heat remotely. The app also watches your energy usage and takes steps to reduce it at times when you won’t notice.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Seeking Mental Health Funding

Congressman Fred Upton is pushing for more money for states next year to treat mental illness. He tells WSJM News he and some colleagues this week sent a letter to the House Appropriations Committee asking for money set aside in the 21st Century Cures legislation to be set aside again next year.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Attempted ATM Theft

The St. Joseph Township Police Department is investigating a crime involving a local ATM that has international implications. The department tells us officers were called out to the United Federal Credit Union at 2580 South Cleveland around 2:30 a.m. on Thursday. There, they found and apprehended two suspects who had been trying to fraudulently get money out of the ATM. Police say both suspects, from Venezuela, have been involved in these types of crimes nationwide. They’re now lodged at the Berrien County Jail and the investigation continues.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Warns About Phone Scam

Southwestern Michigan College is telling everyone in the area not to fall for a phone scam that shows up on caller ID as the college. SMC tells us someone calls with a high pressure sales pitch for cruises with the ID indicating the caller is from the college. It’s not from the college. A Dowagiac women reported getting one of the calls this week and notified the college. SMC President David Mathews tells us SMC suspects “this is a number-masking technique used by unscrupulous telemarketers throughout the country. SMC is obviously not in the travel sales business.” If you get such a call, just hang up.. ...Read Full Story

Online Voter Registration Could Be Coming

From the Associated Press — Michiganders should be able to register to vote online, state senators say. The lawmakers voted 35-1 Thursday for five bills that would enact an electronic voter registration database operated through Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s office.
Individuals electing to sign up this way must possess a valid driver’s license or official state ID card. Because driver’s license registration already exists online through the secretary of state’s website, supporters of the legislation say incorporating electronic registration in voting as well streamlines registration without compromising security. The lone dissenter, Senator Patrick Colbeck, a Republican from Canton Township, says past irregularities from the 2016 election make the stakes too high to add another potential point of entry for hackers.
The bills now head to the House, where similar bills already are under consideration.. ...Read Full Story

Students Demand Sen. Schuitmaker Apologize

State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker is being ripped by students in Allegan for her remarks about the national student demonstrations this week calling for gun law reforms and honoring the victims and survivors of the Parkland, Florida school massacre. Thirteen students attending Allegan High School and the Allegan Tech Center have released their letter to Schuitmaker, calling on the Lawton Republican to issue an apology for calling the demonstrations “a statement which solves nothing.” The senator also said she was “greatly disappointed” in the adults who encouraged their children to get involved in the national conversation. The Allegan students are demanding Schuitmaker not only publicly apologize, but cut her ties with the NRA. They accuse the senator of not listening to students, and they are promising to “take it to the polls in November.” Schuitmaker is seeking the Republican nomination for attorney general and is up against state House Speaker Tom Leonard.. ...Read Full Story

Warren Dunes Volunteer Day

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is looking for a few volunteers who would like to help remove invasive plants from Warren Dunes State Park this weekend. On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. stewards of the park will work to protect the dunes by pulling out invasive shrubs like privet, honeysuckle, and Japanese barberry before they take over the habitat. Everyone who shows up is asked to dress for the weather and off-trail work. Volunteers should meet at the picnic area of the campground, which is on the left past the headquarters. Those who take part should show up at 10 a.m. Saturday.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Aims For Federal Flood Aid

Now that Governor Rick Snyder has approved a disaster declaration for 17 counties affected by flooding this month and last month, Congressman Fred Upton is hoping to get some federal relief for businesses that were hurt. He spoke with WSJM News about the flooding this week.. ...Read Full Story

Board President Reads Statement On Investigations

This week’s meeting of the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education brought a statement from School Board President Marletta Seats about the status of ongoing investigations. Seats read a prepared statement, saying parents have asked her for an update on school safety, along with the investigation into Superintendent Shelly Walker. She said the board is working with the Michigan Departments of Treasury and Education to be sure all is above board.. ...Read Full Story

Open House On Napier Plans

An open house will be held this month for Benton Harbor-area residents to hear about possible plans for improvements to Napier Avenue. The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission’s Ryan Fellows tells WSJM News a study is currently in the works for Napier between the St. Joseph River and I-94.. ...Read Full Story

Scholarships Announced For LMC

Lake Michigan College has announced the creation of four new scholarships for students. Offered through the Lake Michigan College Foundation, three of the funds will support students in advanced manufacturing, culinary management, and wine making. Another is for South Haven area women studying early childhood education, engineering, and life sciences. The new scholarships range in size from $500 to $1,500. They add to the LMC Foundation’s $600,000 in private scholarships available each year. Anyone interested in pursuing financial assistance for college via one of the LMC scholarships can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Griffin Seeking Re-Election

Now seeking a second term in the Michigan House representing Van Buren County is state Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan. She tells WSJM News she filed paperwork on Thursday to run for re-election. Griffin says it’s been a productive year since she took office, and wants more time to serve the 66th District.. ...Read Full Story

Engler Testifies About MSU

There was testimony in Lansing Thursday from John Engler, the president of Michigan State University. Following the school’s failed handling of complaints about sexual assault from former spots doctor Larry Nassar, the Michigan Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education asked questions about MSU Title Nine Department.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Threat Found At Countryside Academy

Classes were cancelled for Thursday at the Countryside Academy in Benton Township due to a threat found in a men’s room on Wednesday. The Benton Township Police Department tells WSJM News officers were called out to the high school on Meadowbrook Road shortly after 1 p.m. Wednesday. That’s after a note containing threats to shoot up the school was found. Police say the note also contained racial overtones. Classes were cancelled on Thursday as a result. The Benton Township Police Department is working the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force on investigating the threat. Anyone with information on it is asked to contact Benton Township police.. ...Read Full Story

School Board Gets Update On Academic Progress

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has received an update on the academic progress of district students since the partnership agreement with the state went into effect. Acting Superintendent Patricia Robinson tells WSJM News there’s been some progress on reading scores, but they’re having trouble increasing math scores. A big part of the problem is the lack of certified math teachers.. ...Read Full Story

Water Meters, Fire Truck To Be Purchased By Benton Harbor With Grants

Benton Harbor is going to get a pair of grants totaling nearly $800,000 from the Michigan Department of Treasury. The money will be used for a new fire engine and to replace water meters in the city. Treasury is awarding over $5 million to 11 cities as part of the Financially Distressed Cities, Villages and Townships Grant Program. One grant for Benton Harbor is for $490,000 for the new fire engine, with the water meter grant coming in at $309,500. All of the other grants are going to Detroit suburbs, including Ecorse, Melvindale, Hamtramck and Harper Woods. Treasury says the grant pays for specific projects, services, or strategies that are geared toward helping local governments make strides toward financial stability.. ...Read Full Story

Report Looks At Bottled Water Sales

Bottled water sales in the United States are skyrocketing, but a new report looks at what is actually being sold to those customers. In “Take Back the Tap,” Food and Water Watch researchers look at the booming business of bottled water, which surpassed soda in sales in 2016. The group finds nearly 64% of bottled water comes from municipal taps, and that it cost almost two thousand times as much as tap water and four times as much as gasoline. Patty Lovera with Food and Water Watch tells us bottled water companies target demographics through advertising, especially immigrant communities.. ...Read Full Story

House Approves Bill For Veteran Services

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s first veteran fund has been approved by lawmakers in the state House. They voted 107-1 Wednesday to create the County Veteran Service Fund, which would deploy veteran service officers to each county to assist veterans in
adjusting to civilian life. Each county’s grant would consist of a base $25,000 amount and a per-capita total based on the veteran population. The fund would be established within the Department of Treasury, and the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency would operate the program’s distribution of grants. The bill proposes a $5 million appropriation and is sponsored by the state’s Department of Military and Veteran Affairs as well as multiple state and county level veteran agencies. The bill now heads to the Senate.. ...Read Full Story

Ice Arena Closes For The Season This Weekend

You’re running out of time to go skating at the John and Dede Howard Ice Arena in St. Joseph this winter. The city of St. Joe tells us the arena will be closing for the season this Sunday. As the closing approaches, the city will be offering special pricing of half price admission — or, $2.50 — and free skate rentals starting this Friday and running through Sunday. Plus, Twisted Dog Concessions will have specials going on for those hungry skaters looking for snacks. Open skate for this weekend will take place between noon and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon and 6 p.m. Sunday. Then, another season for the John and Dede Howard Ice Arena will wrap up.. ...Read Full Story