Local News Archives

Upton Praises Disaster Designation For Farmers

Congressman Fred Upton is hailing a decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to announce 43 Michigan counties as primary natural disaster areas, including Berrien, Cass, and St. Joseph, due to weather this year. Following excessive rain, flooding, and extreme temperatures, Upton sent a letter urging support for Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s USDA disaster designation request for the state. Upton says the disaster designation from U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue “provides vital assistance for farmers across the Sixth District and our state as they look to rebound from a tough season.” He says he’s talked to many farmers who have seen their crops heavily damaged as a result of the weather this year. According to the USDA, a secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties will be eligible to be considered for assistance from the Farm Service Agency.... [Read Full Story]

County Budget Approved

Berrien County’s budget for 2020 is now in place, but it does include a deficit that was made up for by taking out some reserve funds. At Thursday’s meeting of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners, Commissioner Ezra Scott took issue with the $1.3 million shortfall.... [Read Full Story]

Commissioner Plans To Take Action On Shoreline Erosion

Shoreline erosion has been a major problem all over the Great Lakes region this year as levels in the lakes reach record highs or near record highs. That’s why Berrien County Commissioner Ezra Scott is preparing to take action. He said at this week’s meeting of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners he has spoken with officials from around the region, and is working on a resolution that could be passed locally and then sent to all of the other 82 counties in Michigan.... [Read Full Story]

Whitmer Seeks To Cut Opioid Deaths By Half In Five Years

From the Associated Press — Gretchen Whitmer’s administration is launching initiatives to cut opioid overdose deaths in half in five years. Whitmer and other top officials on Thursday announced a series of steps to combat an epidemic that has claimed more than 7,000 lives over five years. They include removing prior authorization requirements for opioid-treatment medicines in the Medicaid program and spending $1 million on advertising to reduce the stigma around addiction. The state also is expanding medication-assisted treatment in prisons and support for syringe-service programs. Whitmer says reducing overdose deaths by 50% is “ambitious” but “absolutely doable.” She says government cannot tackle the issue alone and must collaborate with others.... [Read Full Story]

Firearm Deer Season Starts Friday

Firearm deer season in Michigan opens Friday. Chronic wasting disease has been a major concern among deer in the state. Chad Stewart of the Department of Natural Resources says so far its been identified in nine counties, all of which are in southwestern Michigan with the exception of Dickinson County in the U.P. They don’t have great concern with its impact on the deer population this year, however…... [Read Full Story]

AAA Projecting Over 1.7 Million Michiganders Will Travel For Thanksgiving

If you’re heading out over the river and through the woods for Thanksgiving, you’re not alone. AAA Michigan is projecting 1.7 million of us in Michigan will go at least 50 miles from home for the upcoming holiday. It’s the most since 2005, and the second-highest Thanksgiving travel projection for Michigan since AAA started tracking it in 2000. The vast majority will drive to their destination at 1.6 million, a 2.7% increase from 2018. Air travel is expected to have the biggest increase in travel volume, up 5.4% from last year. The busiest travel day is expected to be Wednesday, November 27, but AAA is forecasting major travel delays throughout the entire week.... [Read Full Story]

Niles Walmart Halloween Arson Suspects Caught

The two suspects in the most recent arson inside the Niles Walmart are in custody in Indiana. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says 34-year-old Stephen Taghon and 36-year-old Paula Krysi, both of South Bend, are now awaiting extradition to Michigan to face charges. Berrien County deputies joined St. Joseph County, Indiana deputies to arrest the two on Wednesday. The fire happened in the apparel department of the store on South 11th Street on Halloween. It’s not yet known if they’re considered suspects in several earlier arsons at the Walmart store.... [Read Full Story]

South Haven Area Emergency Services Searching For New Leader

South Haven Area Emergency Services is now hunting for its next executive director. Ron Wise is retiring next year, and SHAES has put out notice that its Authority Board has set an application deadline for the job of December 16. Whoever gets the job will need state of Michigan certifications as Fire Fighter Two, Fire Officer Three and have a current EMT Basic or EMT Paramedic license. They’ll also be responsible for all the planning and coordinating of the activities of the fire and ambulance authority in South Haven. The full job description and application can be found on the SHAES website.... [Read Full Story]

St. Joseph Master Plan Work Wrapping Up

Rather significant changes are being proposed in the St. Joseph Downtown Vision Master Plan. Consultant John Houseal of Houseal and Associates met with dozens of city residents last night for the final open house to discuss the plan before it’s turned over to the city’s steering committee in December, laying out ideas that include redeveloping Silver Beach Hotel with the current ownership and dramatically revamping parking.... [Read Full Story]

Big Cut To Auto Insurance Fee In Michigan In 2020

Following the passage of reforms to the state’s no-fault auto insurance system earlier this year, a big change is on the way for 2020. The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association is dropping the assessment charged per vehicle from the current $220 to $100. The 55% reduction will take effect July 2 and run through June 30, 2021. Senator Aric Nesbitt of Lawton, whose Senate Bill 1 was the impetus of the changes tells WSJM News the MCCA fee will only be charged for those who keep their full, unlimited medical coverage and will be eliminated for all other insurance plans.... [Read Full Story]

Cass County Man Facing List Of Child Pornography Charges

A 40-year-old Cass County man is facing a list of child pornography charges. Michigan State Police say Travis Howey of Cassopolis was arraigned in late October on three charges of distributing or manufacturing child sexually abusive material, three counts of possessing that material, and six counts of computer crimes. He faces a maximum sentence of up to 192 years in prison if found guilty on all charges. The arrest was made after a tip came in from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Investigators have not said if Howey had any southwest Michigan victims. The MSP Computer Crimes Unit encourages parents to speak to their children about the safe use of the internet.... [Read Full Story]

Buttigieg Surges To Lead Among Democrats In Iowa

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is surging in Iowa among the Democratic presidential hopefuls. In the latest Monmouth University poll, Buttigieg is on top with 22% support of likely caucus goers in Iowa, up 14 points from August. In second is former Vice President Joe Biden at 19% and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts with 18% support. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is in fourth at 13%, and is the only other candidate with double-digit support in Iowa. The Iowa caucuses will be February 3rd and are the first contests of the primary season. The New Hampshire primary will be the next week on February 11.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan Budget Standoff Unlikely To End Until December

(Lansing, MI – AP) – A budget standoff between the Republican-led Legislature and Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer is unlikely to be resolved until December at the earliest. The Michigan House won’t convene for voting Wednesday. It began a three-week hunting and Thanksgiving break last week but had left open the possibility of meeting Wednesday if a deal was in reach.... [Read Full Story]

Holiday Music To Be Played In Downtown St. Joseph In December

Speakers will be added to the light poles in downtown St. Joseph between now and the Winter Wonderland and Light Up The Bluff festival put on by St. Joseph Today and the city on December 6. The organization’s director, Amy Zapal, made the request of the St. Joseph City Commission this week to allow those to go up so they could play holiday music from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. from December 6th through Christmas Day.... [Read Full Story]

One Killed In Accident Involving Bobcat In Van Buren County

The death of a man in a farm accident in Van Buren County is under investigation. The sheriff’s department says the man was crushed by a Bobcat while cleaning an area of snow between greenhouses in Arlington Township east of Bangor. It happened around 10 this morning on 28th Street between 50th and 52nd streets. The victim’s name hasn’t been released. Other workers called 9-1-1 and tried to revive him with CPR, but were unsuccessful.... [Read Full Story]

South Haven Continues Looking For Affordable Housing Solutions

South Haven officials continue to look for affordable housing solutions. The second in a series of public meetings on the issue was held Monday with the city, South Haven Charter Township, and the South Haven Housing Commission. South Haven City Manager Brian Dissette says they’re focused right now on one area of the city, with that being the six-acre, city-owned Overton site, which is off Indiana Avenue and Elkenburg Street. Around 70 people attended the session.... [Read Full Story]

MDOT Closes Main Street At Riverview Drive In Benton Harbor

Main Street at Riverview Drive in Benton Harbor in front of the Whirlpool Riverview Campus is closed. The Michigan Department of Transportation has closed the road due to flooding once again. The stretch has been a problem for flooding for the past several months. A spokesman for MDOT tells WSJM News that they don’t know how long the road will be closed due to the latest issue.... [Read Full Story]

St. Joseph Mayor Lays Out Top Issues For Next Two Years

As there were no changes to the St. Joseph City Commission in last week’s election, no changes will be made to leadership. Commissioners on Monday unanimously voted Mike Garey to serve another term as mayor, with Laura Goos as mayor pro tem. Garey has been mayor since 2013, and says one top priority is to finish work on the city’s master plan. But that’s not all.... [Read Full Story]

Winter Storm Warning Remains For SWMI

A winter storm warning is still in effect until 5 p.m. Tuesday for Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties. WSBT meteorologist Matt Rudkin says St. Joseph, Benton Harbor, Stevensville, and Bridgman will likely be spared the brunt of the storm when it comes to snowfall totals. The heaviest amounts will be further inland, as is typically the case with lake effect snow.... [Read Full Story]

Klobuchar: Woman With Buttigieg’s Record Would Miss Debate

(Associated Press) – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar says she and other top female presidential candidates wouldn’t be on the debate stage if they had the same experience as South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. The Minnesota Democrat said Sunday on CNN that she believes the 37-year-old mayor is qualified, but that she’s the better candidate. Klobuchar says, “I’m the one from the Midwest that has actually won in a statewide race over and over again.” She says of the female candidates: “Maybe we’re held to a different standard.”... [Read Full Story]

Vaping-Related Double Lung Transplant Performed At Detroit Hospital

(Detroit, MI – AP) – Doctors at a Detroit hospital have performed a double lung transplant on a man whose lungs were damaged from vaping. No other details of the transplant were released Monday by Henry Ford Health System, which has scheduled a news conference Tuesday. The patient has asked his medical team to share photographs and an update to warn others about vaping.... [Read Full Story]

Buttigieg Says He’d Nominate Nation’s First Female VA Director If Elected

Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg says if elected he’d like to name a woman to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs for the first time. Campaigning on Veterans Day, the 2020 hopefuls are taking aim at President Donald Trump’s record on stemming military suicide and helping female vets. Several of the top candidates rolled out proposals to meet the needs of America’s 20 million veterans, who as whole stand among Trump’s biggest supporters.... [Read Full Story]