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Local News Archives

Berrien Co. Road Commission Managing Director Leaving

After about three and a half years on the job, Louis Csokasy is stepping down from the Berrien County Road Commission as its managing director. He tells WSJM News he’ll be 70 in July and the time is right to exit the position he’s held since being hired in October 2013. Csokasy was hired after the Berrien County Board of Commissioners removed several road commissioners and managers over allegations of a hostile work environment and fiscal mismanagement. The commission was also investigated by the U.S. Department of Transportation earlier in the decade. Csokasy says rumors that he’s being “forced out” are not true, and his contract runs through May 26. He adds he’s not aware of what plans the road commission may have to fill the post after he leaves this spring.... [Read Full Story]

Cass County Murder Investigation

A murder is under investigation by the Michigan State Police in Cass County. A 32-year-old Elkhart man is in custody and accused of stabbing a 59-year-old man to death in Mason Township last night. Troopers were sent to a home in the 16-thousand block of State Line Road just after 8:20 last night and found the victim dead. No details about what lead to the murder have been released. Authorities have also not released the names of the suspect or victim.... [Read Full Story]

SJ Building Officials Begin Property Inspections

Property inspections in the city of St. Joseph have begun for the year. City Chief Building Official Cecil Derringer says the staff is in place to go property by property looking for violations for their owners to address. They’ll check out each lot from the street or the adjacent property and look at everything from the roof down to the ground. Folks with violations will be notified, and they’ll have several weeks to address each matter. This season, the city is focusing on homes from about Old Lakeshore Road to the St. Joseph River, almost all of them west of Main Street. Then, they’ll do another area next year, and so on. It’s been about ten years since such inspections were conducted.... [Read Full Story]

Homeland Security Secretary Speaks In Detroit

From the Associated Press — Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly says he told members of the Detroit area’s Arab-American and Latino communities that he is committed to keeping the country safe without targeting anyone based on a person’s ethnicity or religious affiliation.
The retired Marine general spoke to reporters after the private meetings that took place Monday in Detroit’s suburbs. He also toured a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility in Detroit just across the river from Canada. President Donald Trump has focused on building a wall at the Mexico border in an effort to boost security. He also wants to restrict immigration from six majority-Muslim countries, but federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland blocked his revised executive order on the topic. Messages left with some people who attended the meeting were not immediately
returned.... [Read Full Story]

St. Joseph Officials Still Hope To See Blighted home Torn Down

The city of St. Joseph continues efforts to have a dilapidated house on Niles Avenue torn down. Last week, the city’s Property Maintenance Board of Appeals granted the owner of the home near the AT&T store a five week delay as part of his appeal of the demolition order. That was only because one of the board’s members wasn’t present, which St. Joe City Commissioner Jeff Richards tells WSJM will be fixed soon with more alternate appointees. He says the property’s owner has run out of time to do needed repairs.... [Read Full Story]

MI Truckers Helping Out In Kansas, Texas After Fires

A convoy of trucks has left Michigan for Kansas and Texas to help relief efforts following some devastating fires there. You may have spotted some of those trucks over the weekend after they left the Thumb region. Trucker Matt Schaller, with Hunt Farms, tells WKZO News it all started as a small thing on social media and just kept growing and growing.... [Read Full Story]

St. Joseph Could Get A Playground Accommodating Special Needs Children

St. Joseph could become just the second city in Michigan to have a playground that caters to special needs children. That’s after the city commission Monday night approved the concept for Riverview Park. They heard from Craig Carlson, of the Ray Carlson Memorial, a non-profit that operates under the umbrella of the Elks Lodge. He tells WSJM News he’s looking to raise money for a playground with a variety of features for kids with all sorts of disabilities.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan, Flint To Replace 18,000 Lead-Tainted Water Lines

From the Associated Press — Michigan and the city of Flint have agreed to replace thousands of home water lines under a sweeping deal to settle a lawsuit over lead-contaminated water in the troubled city. A court filing Monday says Flint will replace at least 18,000 lead or galvanized-steel water lines by 2020, and the state will pick up the bill with state and federal money. The state said it will pay $87 million and keep another
$10 million in reserve if necessary. The settlement will be presented to a federal judge in Detroit on Tuesday for approval. Flint’s water was tainted with lead for at least 18 months, as the city tapped the Flint River but didn’t treat the water to reduce corrosion. As a result, lead leached from old pipes and fixtures.... [Read Full Story]

Today Is Oberon Day

For many, summer has begun, and that’s because Monday was Oberon Day. That’s the day each spring when Kalamazoo’s Bell’s Brewery unleashes its latest batch of Oberon beer on to the world. Brewery Founder Larry Bell tells WSJM News folks get excited when the new batch of Oberon goes public.... [Read Full Story]

Homeland Security Secretary In Detroit Today

US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly will be visiting metro Detroit today. No official schedule yet has been released, but Kelly is expected to meet with Arab-American leaders, who say they plan to press him on President Trump’s proposed travel restrictions on visitors from majority-Muslim countries. The “Detroit Free Press” says Kelly will also sit down with Governor Rick Snyder, and with officials from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Detroit, regarding the Ambassador Bridge. He will be joined on the trip by U.S. Senator Gary Peters.... [Read Full Story]

Gas Prices Down To Start Week

We’re paying 8¢ less a gallon in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph to fill up than a week ago. Triple-A Michigan says our average price stands at $2.26 to start the week. The statewide average is down 7¢ at $2.29. Flint’s prices are the cheapest at an average of $2.23, while the most expensive gas is in Ann Arbor and in the Upper Peninsula, where Marquette drivers are shelling out $2.33 per gallon. The state average is a penny higher than what we’re paying nationally.... [Read Full Story]

Hospitality Jobs Fair Tomorrow At Mendel Center

Coming up this week is a hospitality jobs fair at Lake Michigan College. Organized by Kinexus, the fair will include more than 50 employers in the hospitality industry seeking to hire people right now. Kinexus Director of Business and Industry Alex Grumbine tells WSJM News hospitality is a huge employer in the region.... [Read Full Story]

I&M Steps Up Efforts To Prevent Power Outages

Indiana Michigan Power is currently working on a project to reduce the number of power outages customers in its Michigan service area experience. This week, we reported Michigan ranks fourth in the nation for annual power outages, and a big reason is trees. I&M’s Tracy Warner tells WSJM News that is correct, and they’re working on it.... [Read Full Story]

Andrews University Health Fest This Week

Set for next week is the second annual Health and Wellness Fest at Andrews University. Throughout Wednesday and Thursday, the Berrien Springs university will hold cooking schools, a 5K walk, a wellness Chapel, and screenings of documentaries around campus. This year’s Wellness Fest is a little different from last year’s in that it will emphasize presentations from on-campus health experts. Last year, they brought in a lot of guests. Andrews University Director of Heath and Wellness Dominque Wakefield says the event is in line with the university mission, noting its very logo incorporates body, mind, and spirit. The Health and Wellness Fest is open to everyone in the community, and you can find out more right here.... [Read Full Story]

One Killed In Benton Harbor Crash

One person is dead following a single-vehicle crash in Benton Harbor Saturday afternoon. The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety responded to the scene on Paw Paw Avenue around 1 p.m. The driver of the vehicle was killed, and there were no passengers. Police have not yet released the victim’s identity or the cause of the crash. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is assisting in the investigation.... [Read Full Story]

“Little Free Library” To Be Dedicated In Benton Harbor Wednesday

A Little Free Library will be dedicated next week in Benton Harbor. Little Free Libraries are small boxes on a pole that are stationed in places like parks or in front of schools. Folks can drop off or take books from them. The one in Benton Harbor is sponsored by the Berrien County Democratic Party, with the party’s Julee Laurent telling WSJM News it’s all about promoting literacy.... [Read Full Story]

Palisades Open House Next Week

The Palisades nuclear power plant next week will hold another open house at its operations center in Benton Harbor for everyone to come and learn everything they want to know about the facility. Palisades spokesperson Val Gent tells WSJM News they’ll have experts on hand to answer questions.... [Read Full Story]

Installation Of Luxury Seating At Celebration Cinema On Track For June Completion

The renovation project underway at Celebration Cinema in Benton Harbor is on track to be finished in early June. The theater is installing new luxury power recliners in all auditoriums, replacing the old seats. Spokesperson Steve VanWagoner tells WSJM News they’re now in three auditoriums — 6, 7, and 8. Although the new bigger seats will reduce the overall number of seats in the building and result in more sold out shows, he says the enhanced theater experience will make up for it.... [Read Full Story]

Rotary Awards Given To Denise Bohn, Nancy Racine

The Rotary Club of St. Joseph-Benton Harbor has handed out its annual Paul Harris Fellow Community Leadership Awards. At a celebration of the Rotary on Monday, they gave out two of the awards, which Rotary President Steve Smith tells WSJM News are all about saluting those who embody the group’s spirit, even if they’re not members.... [Read Full Story]

Part Of Red Arrow Hwy To Be Renamed For Fallen State Troopers

A section of Red Arrow Highway in Berrien County is being renamed in honor of two Michigan State Police troopers who were killed in the line of duty in 1971. Troopers Gary Rampy and Charles Stark were shot and killed during a traffic stop along the road in New Buffalo Township on December 31 of that year. Recently-elected Berrien County Commissioner Ezra Scott, of New Buffalo Township, tells WSJM News he was about 14 years old when it happened. He remembers Trooper Rampy.... [Read Full Story]

Stabenow Comments On Failure Of GOP Health Bill

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow says the failure of the Republican healthcare reform plan on Friday creates a new opportunity for the GOP to work with Democrats on a package to reduce costs while making it easier for working Americans to buy insurance. She issued a statement after the White House told Republican House leaders to pull the American Healthcare Act. Stabenow says, “It’s time to come together in a bipartisan way to improve health care for middle-class families in Michigan and across the country, instead of this irresponsible rush to pass a bill that would have raised costs and reduced medical care for most Michigan families.” President Trump is now saying he’d be “open” to tackling healthcare again if the Affordable Care Act implodes, as he’s predicting.... [Read Full Story]