Local News Archives

BH School Board Honors Former Coach

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has voted to honor former basketball coach Paul Wilhite by having his name placed on the high school gym floor. Wilhite was a coach for the school for 35 years before ending his time with the district in the early 2000s. At this week’s meeting of the school board, President Joseph Taylor read from the resolution to place Wilhite’s name on the court.... [Read Full Story]

Whitmer Admin Seeks Quick Ruling On Medicaid Work Rules

From the Associated Press — Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration is asking for a quick court ruling on the legality of Michigan’s Medicaid work requirements. The state hopes to avoid sending notices to more than 80,000 people who didn’t comply in the first month of the rules. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services filed a motion Tuesday with U.S.
District Judge James Boasberg in Washington – 11 days after a federal appeals court affirmed Boasberg’s decision to invalidate Arkansas’ work requirements. Whitmer says it’s inevitable courts will also find Michigan’s work requirements unlawful, so Michigan shouldn’t waste money and “cause senseless confusion” for families.... [Read Full Story]

Man Faces 15 Years For Resisting Officer

A Dowagiac man is headed to jail after resisting a police officer who was trying to arrest him for an outstanding warrant. The Cass County Prosecutor’s Office says 26-year-old Travis Fletcher was found guilty by a jury on Tuesday of resisting and obstructing. During the trial, a Dowagiac police officer testified he saw Fletcher walking on June 11 of last year, knowing Fletcher had outstanding warrants. The officer approached Fletcher to arrest him, but Fletcher threw a fit and refused to follow orders. So the officer shot him with a stun gun and got him into custody. It took the jury about 20 minutes to convict Fletcher at this week’s trial. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years as a habitual offender with three or more prior felony convictions. He will be sentenced on May 8. Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz says resisting arrest only puts people at risk, adding “You will always have a chance to argue your case in court. But not on the streets.”... [Read Full Story]

Waiver Granted To Berrien Schools For Pre-Labor Day Start

The Michigan Department of Education has approved a waiver for Berrien County school districts to start the next academic year before Labor Day. Berrien RESA Superintendent Kevin Ivers tells WSJM News a hearing was held Tuesday night featuring local superintendents and a state official on RESA’s application for that waiver. Ivers says the pre-Labor Day start is being sought because of how the school year will fall on the calendar for the next three years. He notes students in technical education programs would be affected by a late start.... [Read Full Story]

March Mannequins Slated For March 13 In Downtown St. Joseph

St. Joseph Today is busy planning for the next March Mannequins event, which is now slated for Friday, March 13 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in downtown St. Joseph. St. Joe Today’s Daniele Crevier tells WSJM News March Mannequins is the replacement for the former Live Mannequins event that used to be held downtown in December. The evening will feature downtown storefronts filled with live actors posing as mannequins.... [Read Full Story]

Sports, Online Betting Available Soon In Michigan

We could be just days away from placing legal sports bets in Michigan. Since Governor Whitmer signed the gambling expansion bills, state regulators have been working on the details of what it will take to bring sports betting to the state. Michigan Gaming Control Board executive director Rick Kalm says Michigan will be like New Jersey, where you’ll have to be in the state in order to place your bets.... [Read Full Story]

Van Buren County Deputy Pulls Man Down From M-40/I-94 Overpass

A Van Buren County Sheriff’s deputy had to act very quickly Tuesday evening to save the life of a Paw Paw-area man who was about to jump off the M-40 overpass onto I-94. The deputy was responding to a 9-1-1 call that officers had “two minutes to get to the overpass in Paw Paw” when he saw the man stop his car in the middle of M-40 and then crash it into the guard rail before getting out and climbing up onto the ledge.... [Read Full Story]

Grants Seek Market-Based Reductions Of Great Lakes Pollution

From the Associated Press — The federal government has awarded grants totaling more than $1.8 million for projects designed to reduce nutrient pollution that helps cause harmful algae blooms in the Great Lakes. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the grants Monday. Regional administrator Kurt Thiede says the money is being divided among five organizations that will use market-based approaches for targeting runoff of nutrients such as phosphorus. The funding will come from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a program that deals with some of the lakes’ most persistent environmental problems.... [Read Full Story]

School Board Appoints New Member

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has appointed Dashuna Robinson to fill a vacancy on the body. The board interviewed two candidates for the remainder of former Trustee Patricia Rush’s term on Tuesday night. Robinson is 2003 graduate of Benton Harbor High School who went on to Western Michigan University. She works for the state determining assistance eligibility, and told trustees she has experience with people in distress.... [Read Full Story]

SMC Increasing Tuition

Tuition is going up at Southwestern Michigan College for the next academic year. The SMC Board of Trustees met on Monday and agreed to a 1.8% tuition increase for in-district students and a 2% increase for in-state students. The amount works out to $2.25 per contact hour for those in-district, and $3.25 for those in-state. There will also be a $1 technology fee adjustment. SMC Board Chair Thomas Jerdon says the college always tries to keep expenses low, but some increases are needed to ensure staff wages remain competitive. He noted state funding for the college has been essentially flat this year. SMC says Michigan community colleges charged an average of $5,223 in tuition in the 2018-19 academic year. That’s the lowest tuition in the Midwest, and 31st lowest in the nation, according to Community College Review.... [Read Full Story]

Van Buren County Road Officials Promote Millage Renewal

When voters in Van Buren County head to the polls on March 10 to cast their ballots in the presidential primary, they’ll also be asked to approve a millage renewal for local roads. The Van Buren County Road Commission is seeking to continue the assessment that’s been in place since 1978. It was last renewed in 2016. Van Buren County Road Commission Finance Director Linnea Rader told WSJM News last month the funding the millage generates is critical.... [Read Full Story]

Logo Contest Being Held For Cass County Park

A contest to find a new logo for the Dr. Lawless International Dark-Sky Park is underway in Cass County. The Cass County Parks Department says Lawless Park got the Dark Sky designation from the International Dark Sky Association earlier this year thanks to its excellent star gazing. Parks Director Scott Wyman told WSJM News at the time it was exciting to see the attraction about nine miles from Cassopolis be recognized as one of just two Dark Sky parks in Michigan.... [Read Full Story]

Environmentalists Concerned About Trump Administration Proposal

The Trump administration is considering a rule that would allow trains carrying a potentially dangerous substance to travel through Michigan and other states. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is reviewing hundreds of public comments about the proposal to allow the bulk transport of liquefied natural gas in rail tank cars. Nathan Murphy with Environment Michigan says it would pose a threat to anyone who lives near the roughly 3,600 miles of railroad tracks.... [Read Full Story]

St. Joseph, USGS To Put Stream Gage Into St. Joseph River For Better Water Level Data

A stream gage will be put into the St. Joseph River in the city of St. Joseph this year to give officials more accurate data about the water level in the river and the volume of the flow. St. Joseph City Manager John Hodgson says the nearest one is in Niles, and it’s not effective for St. Joe or Benton Harbor due to the dam between Niles and the twin cities.... [Read Full Story]

Mattawan Woman Arraigned On Embezzlement Charge

A Mattawan woman is facing a felony embezzlement charge as Michigan State Police accuse her of stealing money from the Paw Paw Eagles Club while employed as its secretary. Sixty-nine-year-old Susan Ryan was arraigned Tuesday in district court in Paw Paw. MSP investigators say she’s charged with embezzlement of between $20,000 and $50,000. If found guilty, Ryan faces up to ten years in prison and a fine of as much as $15,000. Troopers from the MSP Paw Paw post launched their investigation in October.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan Adds 600-Acre Expansion Worth $2M To Public Lands

From the Associated Press — Michigan officials say the state’s 108,000-acre Pigeon River Country State Forest is getting a nearly 600-acre addition. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently announced a land deal valued at more than $2 million that was finalized last month. It adds the Elk Forest at Black River, which is in Montmorency County, to the state’s public lands. The area is surrounded on three sides by existing state-managed land and includes public access to Walled Lake. The money for the property purchase came from matching funds from the state agency’s Land Exchange Facilitation Fund and a donation from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.... [Read Full Story]

St. Joseph Commission Delays Action On Special Assessment For Three Shoreline Properties

The city of St. Joseph will look into other options to shoreline revetment plans to protect three homes, two in the 900 block of Lions Park Drive and one in the 200 block of First Street. The city commission heard from Frank Kolberg, who lives at 212 First Street, who told them he can’t afford on his pension to pay the share for his property if the city were to establish a special assessment district.... [Read Full Story]

Upton Seeking Another Term

Congressman Fred Upton is seeking reelection. His campaign announced on Monday he’s seeking another term in the November election. Upton issued a statement, saying “There is unfinished business we have to complete – Cures 2.0, fighting the opioid epidemic, immigration reform, and protecting the Great Lakes, among others.” He goes on to say he’s “committing to work with anyone of any party to deliver results, protect our communities, and simply solve problems.” Upton has represented Michigan’s Sixth District since 1987 after being elected in November of the previous year.... [Read Full Story]

Paquette Working On Legislation To Create A Network Of Teachers

A plan to create a network of teachers around Michigan that could weigh in on state education policy is in the works thanks to state Representative Brad Paquette. He tells WSJM News he led a brainstorming session with a group of teachers and state lawmakers last week to get ideas for how such a network would operate. Paquette says there are several entities that draft education policy without regular influence from teachers.... [Read Full Story]

School Board To Interview Vacancy Candidates

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education will hold a special meeting on Tuesday to interview the candidates for a vacancy on the body. Dashuna Robinson and Roosevelt Bell have put in applications to fill out the rest of former trustee Patricia Rush’s term. The interviews will be held on Tuesday during a meeting to start at 5:30 p.m. Also on Tuesday, the board will consider a resolution to place former basketball Coach Paul Wilhite’s name on the gym floor of the Benton Harbor High School, calling it Coach Wilhite’s court. A request to do so was made at a meeting earlier this month by Benton Harbor High School graduate Dayrl Jackson. He noted Coach Wilhite was one of the school’s winningest basketball coaches and a mentor. The school board’s resolution states “people in the community want to thank Coach Wilhite for not only being a coach, but also a great teacher and a friend. He is a legend.”... [Read Full Story]

MSP Trooper Rescues Dog From Icy Pond In Paw Paw

A Paw Paw family still has their dog with them thanks to quick action by Michigan State Police Trooper Brett Skoczylas. The lab mix named Taya had fallen through the ice in a backyard pond on Saturday, and Skoczylas grabbed a ladder from the yard to spread out his weight to go out on the ice to get the dog. A neighbor helped by anchoring the trooper with a broom, and he was able to lift Taya out of the water and get her onto dry land. Taya is expected to be just fine after having only her head and paws out of the water. Her owners were very appreciative of the effort made by Trooper Skoczylas, and allowed him inside with the pup to get warm, dry out, and rest up.... [Read Full Story]

Area Home Buyers Catch A Bit Of A Break In January

It’s been a seller’s market for a few years in the real estate business in southwest Michigan, and while January’s sales were strong, the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors says buyers got a bit of a break to start the year. The median selling price in January was down 23% compared to a year ago at $137,500. That’s the price at which 50% of homes are sold above and below. The average price, however, was up 11% to $220,881 in January compared to last year. The number of homes sold rose from 175 to 190 over 2019, which was a 9% increase. The number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions was 7% in January, reaching the lowest percentage in the year-over-year comparison. In December 2019, the percentage was 4%, and the highest percentage in January was 57% in 2009.... [Read Full Story]

Van Buren County Treasurer Trisha Nesbitt Holding Meetings On Foreclosure Help

Van Buren County Treasurer Trisha Nesbitt is planning to hold several meetings in early March around the county to help homeowners avoid foreclosure for unpaid 2017 property taxes. Nesbitt will be at the Van Buren District Library Covert Branch on Thursday, March 5 from 10 a.m. to noon; the Hartford Public Library on Monday March 9 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and then the Van Buren District Library Bangor Branch on Friday, March 13 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. She adds anyone interested in the hardship extension program can drop by her office at 219 East Paw Paw Street in Paw Paw every weekday during normal business hours. If taxes from 2017 and prior years are not paid on or before March 31, 2020, the property will be foreclosed, and the Treasurer’s office will be unable to assist residents in keeping their home.... [Read Full Story]

Blues Singer Shemekia Copeland Headlining BBQ, Blues And Bluegrass In St. Joseph

The 8th annual BBQ, Blues and Bluegrass Festival in St. Joseph in May will feature blues singer Shemekia Copeland as the headliner. St. Joseph Today made the announcement Monday, and tickets go on sale next Monday, March 2. They will be $20 in advance and $25 the day of the show for eight hours of music, food and drinks at Whirlpool Centennial Park. This year’s concert is set for May 16. Copeland was the 2019 Blues Music Awards Album of the Year winner. Bluegrass and folk performers will be Dustbowl Revival, Old Salt Union and Grand Rapids-based The Crane Wives. Copeland won’t be the only blues artist, as 18-year-old Michigander Jake Kershaw is also on the bill. Ticket and overnight stay information are available at stjoetoday.com/bbq or the Welcome Center at 301 State St. in downtown St. Joseph.... [Read Full Story]

Legislation Aims To Protect Recreational Boating In Great Lakes

Congressman Fred Upton is backing legislation to require the Army Corps of Engineers gives consideration to recreational harbor maintenance projects when it plans for projects each year. Upton tells WSJM News the Safer Harbors for Our Recreational Economy Act would direct the Army Corps to make sure the economic benefits of recreational boating are considered as it allocates funding.... [Read Full Story]