Local News Archives

Public Safety Director Resigns

St. Joseph Department of Public Safety Director Brian Uridge has resigned. He submitted his notice of resignation Friday, indicating to city officials he is returning to the public sector and a private life. Uridge told city staff that he has enjoyed working for St. Joseph and getting to know the community. Uridge, who also served as the assistant city manager, added he believes “We have achieved the goals I and the City had set for us when I joined Saint Joseph government. Now it is time for me to move on to new challenges.” St. Joseph City Manager John Hodgson tells us the city commission will consider related issues — such as appointing an acting/interim director — on Monday.... [Read Full Story]

New City Rental Rules

The South Haven City Council this week adopted Phase 1 of the new Short Term Rental Amendments. Assistant City Manager Kate Hosier has the specifics says the old one-time $20 fee is shooting way up to an annual fee of $200 once the ordinance has been published, which is expected in about ten days.... [Read Full Story]

Arrest For Drunk Driving With Children In Car

A Detroit woman is facing charges after being arrested for drunk driving early Saturday morning in Van Buren County. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us a deputy was on his way to work around 5 a.m. when he spotted a vehicle swerving erratically on westbound I-94 near the Paw Paw exit. He pulled the vehicle over, and the 31-year-old woman behind the wheel told him she was on her way to Detroit from a party in Kalamazoo. The deputy told her she’d been going the wrong way and administered a blood alcohol test which found her to be three times the legal limit. After getting the woman to jail, sheriff’s deputies learned the woman had given them a false name and did not have a valid driver’s license. The woman had three boys in the vehicle with her — a 10-month-old, a 2-year-old, and a 7-year-old. Their father was called to come and get them. The woman is now facing charges of drunk driving, child endangerment, possession of marijuana, possession of cocaine, driving on a suspended license, and giving false information to police. Police say the woman also had three warrants out in Detroit. Her name has not been released.... [Read Full Story]

BCF Grants Announced

More than $117,000 in For Good Grants were announced this week by the Berrien Community Foundation. The foundation’s Susan Matheny tells WSJM News the For Good Grants come from interest off the organization’s endowments so the grants can last forever. The grants announced this week go to 24 non-profits.... [Read Full Story]

LMC Welcomes New Trustee

There’s a new trustee in place at Lake Michigan College. At a meeting this week, the LMC Board of Trustees voted to appoint Joan Smith to a vacant seat. The position was formerly occupied by Judy Truesdell, who retired last month. Smith has been the chair of LMC’s Campaign for Tomorrow, which raised money for the new Hanson Tech Center. She’s also served on the LMC Foundation Board. She tells WSJM News she believes in the mission of community colleges.... [Read Full Story]

City Considers Trash Problems

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have voted to put the community’s trash collector on notice. At a meeting this past week, they talked at length about how to correct problems reported with the service provided by We-Cycle Industrial Sanitation since the company was hired last year. Those problems include a lack of trash cans for residents and rude workers. The commission considered a resolution to send a 60-day contract termination notice to We-Cycle. Commissioner Ruthie Haralson spoke at Monday’s meeting.... [Read Full Story]

Tariffs Hit Soybeans

Michigan soybean growers are being hit by the Trump administration’s new tariffs on China. Michigan Farm Bureau Field Crops Specialist Kate Thiel tells WSJM News direct sales of soy to China are expected to drop by 23%.... [Read Full Story]

Van Buren Road Meeting

The Van Buren County Road Commission is hoping to fill in the public next week about its need for new road funding. The last of three public information meetings on an August ballot proposal for a new millage will be Tuesday, July 24 at the Van Buren Conference Center in Lawrence. The meeting will run from 6 to 8 p.m. The road commission tells us on hand will be engineers who will give a Power Point presentation regarding the proposed millage, along with a review of the current road conditions, the current road funding, and the intent of the millage. The road commission is asking voters for an additional three mills for 12 years. That would work out to about $15 per month for the average property owner. The Van Buren County Road Commission tells us road funding is grossly inadequate under old models still in place. Right now, about 67% of the roads in the county are classified as being in poor condition. Everyone is invited to next Tuesday’s meeting to hear more.... [Read Full Story]

Splash Pad For South Haven

Future visitors to South Haven’s South Beach will most likely be enjoying a splash pad. The public has asked for it and the city’s parks and recreation department is now working on engineering studies. That’s according to Assistant City Manager Kate Hosier. She spoke with WSJM News about the project.... [Read Full Story]

County Promotes Tax Accounts

Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski is thanking Honor Credit Union for making an effort to promote its new property tax savings accounts. Witkowski tells WSJM News he worked with some local banks to create the accounts taxpayers can use to have a portion of their earnings put aside each month for property taxes later in the year.... [Read Full Story]

Pokagons Elect Tribal Chair

Matt Wesaw has been elected as the Tribal Council Chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi. Wesaw was picked for the post in the tribe’s general election on Saturday, July 14. This is Wesaw’s third election as tribal chairman with the previous elections being in 2008 and 2012. In October 2013, Wesaw announced his retirement from the council to become the executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. At that time, current Chairman John P. Warren was chosen in a special election to serve out the remainder of the term and was re-elected in 2015. With Wesaw now once again serving as tribal chairman, he’ll also serve as CEO of the Pokagon Gaming Authority Board, which oversees the band’s casino properties in New Buffalo, Hartford, Dowagiac, and South Bend. Also elected July 14 were Kelly Curran as secretary, Colin Wesaw as elders representative, and Gary Morseau, Sr. as member at large. The Pokagon band includes around 5,600 citizens.... [Read Full Story]

Mendel Center Volunteer Awards

The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College is saluting its Volunteers of the Year. Mainstage Director Grace Kelmer tells us they held their annual volunteer appreciation dinner this month, and named Larry and Linda Becker as the recipients of the award. Kelmer tells us the Mendel Center relies on volunteers.... [Read Full Story]

Film Being Shot In St. Joseph

There another movie being shot around southwest Michigan. Filmmaker John Hancock, the director of Prancer and 2015’s The Looking Glass, could be seen with his crew in downtown St. Joseph on Thursday shooting scenes for The Girls of Summer. The movie is about a female country rock band, and the crew was out at the Howard Band Shell with about 50 extras. St. Joseph Mayor Michael Garey tells us the movie was shooting at Tiscornia Beach on Wednesday, and the crew will be back at the Silver Beach Carousel later. They’re also shooting around South Bend and Laporte. The movie is expected to premiere next year, and you can follow its progress at its Facebook page. Garey says the movie appears to be family-friendly, and he thinks it’s good promotion for the city. But don’t worry. Garey told us he doesn’t believe St. Joe is going Hollywood.... [Read Full Story]

Study On Possible Line 5 Spill

In theory, more than 400 miles of shoreline in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Canada would be impacted by a potential oil spill from Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac. The report was put together by a Michigan Tech University professor. Michigan Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Ed Golder spoke with Michigan News Network about the report.... [Read Full Story]

Van Buren County Assault Arrest

A Decatur man is facing charges of assault with a dangerous weapon and possession of a firearm while under the influence following an incident early Friday in Sister Lakes. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us deputies were sent to the Lakeview Inn around 1:40 a.m. on a report of an assault. They learned a 26-year-old man had been thrown out of the establishment due to his behavior. He then allegedly retrieved a loaded semi-automatic rifle from his vehicle, returned to the patio, and pointed it at the person who had removed him. That person and some bystanders wrestled the weapon from the man and held him until police arrived. The suspect has been identified as Alanzo Gasca. He was arrested and arraigned on Friday. His bond was set at $50,000.... [Read Full Story]

MI Dems Hold Final Debate

From the Associated Press — Democrats running for Michigan governor have held their second and final televised debate weeks before the Aug. 7 primary. Abdul El-Sayed, and Gretchen Whitmer sparred Thursday night over the influence of corporate money in politics. El-Sayed accuses Whitmer of using “Republican gimmicks” because an allied outside group airing pro-Whitmer ads can use “unlimited corporate money” and has not disclosed its donors. Whitmer counters that El-Sayed – who rejects corporate political action donations – has received $170,000 in donations from corporate executives, and “you can’t be half-pregnant on this one.” The sharp exchange punctuated a debate in which the candidates, including businessman Shri Thanedar, answered questions about business taxes, roads, tariffs and abortion rights.... [Read Full Story]

State Officials Back Federal Wildlife Plan

From the Associated Press — Michigan officials want Congress to approve legislation that would boost funding for fish and wildlife conservation. Pending bills would allocate $1.3 billion a year to the Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program. The money would be generated through energy development on federal lands and waters. State Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh says the federal program would be similar to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund. It uses
royalties from the sale or lease of state-owned minerals to buy or improve public lands for recreation. The DNR estimates Michigan would receive $31 million per year if the federal initiative were approved. It could be used for efforts such as habitat
restoration and fighting invasive species. More than 300 wildlife species in the state need protection to prevent them
from becoming endangered.... [Read Full Story]

Public Defender Search Continues

The task of finding a new chief public defender for Berrien County is one the county commission hopes to complete soon. Berrien County Chief Public Defender Carl Macpherson will be stepping down July 31 after leading that office since its creation in 2015. Berrien County Board of Commissioners Chair John Hinkelman tells WSJM News the search is on.... [Read Full Story]

South Haven Getting Splash Pad

Future visitors to South Haven’s South Beach will most likely be enjoying a splash pad. The public has asked for it and the city’s parks and recreation department is now working on engineering studies. That’s according to Assistant City Manager Kate Hosier. She spoke with WSJM News about the project.... [Read Full Story]

MSU Students To Get Free Bus Service

From the Associated Press — Students, staff and faculty at Michigan State University will get free on-campus bus service for a year starting in late August. The East Lansing school says it’s amended its contract with the Capital Area Transportation Authority for the 2018-19 academic year. The free service will go into effect August 27, when fall semester classes start, and will run on a trial basis for a year. Details of the CATA routes included are posted online. CATA has provided on-campus service to the university since April 1999. Last year, there were 3 million rides taken on campus routes. The school will evaluate the free ride program after the end of the trial period, looking at usage and student satisfaction.... [Read Full Story]

Driver Sought In Cass County Hit-And-Run

Deputies with the Cass County Sheriff’s Department are looking for a dark-colored SUV involved in a hit-and-run crash around 6 a.m. today. It happened in Marcellus, and witnesses tell police an Hispanic man crashed into a utility pole and a stop sign after going over the center line on Main Street near Jones Street. No one outside of the vehicle was hurt, and the man had driven off by the time authorities arrived. Anyone who knows of an SUV with damage that would be consistent with such a crash is being asked to call Crime Stoppers or the Cass County Sheriff’s Department.... [Read Full Story]

Berrien County Taking Applications For Register Of Deeds

Applications are now being accepted by Berrien County to fill the vacant Register of Deeds office. That elected office was left by the death this summer of Lori Jarvis, whose elected term ran through December 31, 2020. A committee made up of Probate Judge Mabel Mayfield, Berrien County Clerk Sharon Tyler, and Prosecutor Michael Sepic will review the applications. Those interested should be at least 18, be registered to vote in Berrien County, and ideally have experience managing a small staff and an office budget along with being familiar with real estate matters. The deadline to apply is 4 p.m. on August 17. To do so, send a completed application, available on the county’s website, along with a cover letter and resume to: Berrien County Clerk Sharon Tyler, Courthouse, 811 Port Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085.... [Read Full Story]

Endangered Species Act Endangered

A push to alter the Endangered Species Act continued Tuesday at a hearing in the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The draft bill from Wyoming Senator John Barrasso would give state and local officials more power on species recovery teams, prioritize state scientific studies over the feds, and exempt federal listing decisions from judicial review. The Endangered Species Coalition’s Melissa Smith tells us, in recent years, many states have sided with industry in arguing against protections for certain species.... [Read Full Story]

Couple Die In Crash After Wedding

From the Associated Press — Authorities say a young husband and wife have died in a crash in western Michigan just a few weeks after they were married. The Allegan County sheriff’s office says three vehicles were involved in Tuesday’s crash in Heath Township. The sheriff’s office says 24-year-old Logan Thunderland Allbaugh and 22-year-old Hannah Mae Kwekel died in the crash. A statement from the office said they’d been married for two weeks, but a registry under their names listed a June 23 wedding had been planned. Preliminary information indicates the Holland, Michigan-area couple’s vehicle was struck by a vehicle that apparently failed to obey a stop sign. The couple’s vehicle then was struck by another vehicle. One of the other drivers had minor injuries and the other wasn’t hurt. The crash is under investigation.... [Read Full Story]

Study Considers MI Youth Program

A new study from the University of Michigan has found the Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates program has a major effect on the students who participate. Youth Solutions Director Kristin Harrington tells WSJM News the 10-year-old program helps young people finish high school, guides them toward post-secondary education, and teaches them soft skills for the workplace.... [Read Full Story]

Parlak Relieved To Hear Judge’s Decision

“Justice finally prevailed.” That’s what Ibrahim Parlak is thinking after a federal immigration judge this week approved his application for deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture. The Kurdish immigrant and Berrien County restaurant owner has been fighting deportation to Turkey since not long after 9/11, and tells WSJM News this week’s decision gives him a break.... [Read Full Story]

Feds: MI Needs Special Ed Intervention

From the Associated Press — Federal education officials say Michigan is the only state in the U.S. that needs intervention after failing to meet federal special education requirements this year. The Detroit News reports that the U.S. Department of Education determined the need for intervention after evaluating Michigan’s compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for the 2016-17 school year. Education experts say Michigan’s rating reflects its high drop-out and low
graduation rates for students with disabilities. Federal officials say 29 percent of Michigan children with disabilities dropped out of school and 63 percent graduated with a regular high school diploma. Michigan ranks alongside Washington, D.C., Palau and Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. Commonwealth. Michigan Department of Education officials say they’re still reviewing the federal report. The U.S. Department of Education declined to comment further on findings.... [Read Full Story]