Local News Archives

Upton Seeks Federal Response To Coastal Erosion

Congressman Fred Upton has met with representatives of FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to discuss shoreline erosion and high water levels in the Great Lakes. He tells WSJM News he and two other Michigan reps asked for tactical assistance in finding ways to mitigate the threat to shoreline property owners and communities during a meeting this month.... [Read Full Story]

Agriculture Conference Next Month

Southwest Michigan farmers will gather at Lake Michigan College next month for the annual Southwest Michigan Horticultural Days conference. MSU Extension pest management educator Mike Reinke tells WSJM News the event is a trade show for those in the ag industry. It’s held in partnership with the Michigan Grape Society.... [Read Full Story]

Applications Available For Heart Of Cook Grants

The Berrien Community Foundation says applications are now available for the next round of Heart of Cook grants. The Heart of Cook program is funded by Indiana Michigan Power’s Cook nuclear power plant and administered by the Berrien Community Foundation. Educational projects, human services programs that support families, and environmental protection and preservation projects are the focus areas for the Heart of Cook, and grant recipients are picked by Cook staff each year. Last year, the Heart of Cook provided more than $65,000 to 38 non-profit programs around southwest Michigan. The Heart of Cook grant applications are now online at the Berrien Community Foundation’s website. They’re due by February 10, and the grant recipients will be announced in May.... [Read Full Story]

Bridgman Polar Party Next Month

The Bridgman Foundation for Educational Excellence and the Greater Bridgman Chamber of Commerce are planning the community’s first ever Polar Party for next month. The event will be held Saturday, February 8 near Bridgman City Hall. The party is set to begin at 3 p.m. and run through 9 p.m. They’ll have a Frozen-themed celebration with a chance for the kids to meet Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff from 3 to 6, food and drinks, and a performance by the Marks Ficks Band starting at 6. The funds raised through ticket sales will go to the Bridgman Foundation for Educational Excellence, which supports students at Bridgman Public Schools. Tickets are available at the Bridgman Foundation for Educational Excellence website, Harding’s in Bridgman, and at the administration building for Bridgman Public Schools. Those who go are advised to look for the giant igloo and tents in the parking lot adjacent to city hall.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan Works Offering Help To Healthy Michigan Enrollees

Michigan Works is offering help to those who are members of the Healthy Michigan plan continue getting benefits now that new work requirements are in place. The Director of operations Quin Braylock tells WSJMM News a new state law requires Healthy Michigan recipients to work at least 80 hours per week or be in training. It happens that Michigan Works can help people with both of those things.... [Read Full Story]

Treasurer Holding Payment Plan Meetings

Three meetings will be held next month by Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski to get property owners signed up for tax payment plans. Witkowski tells WSJM News this is for those property owners who are behind, especially for 2017 or previous years. Those who haven’t yet paid for 2017 face foreclosure on March 31. He says he’s holding the meetings in multiple locations around the county at varying times for those who can’t make it to his office. He notes the county has made much progress in recent years with helping people avoid foreclosure.... [Read Full Story]

Resolution Would Honor Blue Star Mothers

Congressman Fred Upton has introduced a resolution in the U.S. House expressing support for designating February 1, 2020 as Blue Star Mother’s Day. He tells WSJM News it’s in commemoration of the anniversary of the first meeting of the Blue Star Mothers, which took place in Flint.... [Read Full Story]

Benton Harbor Audit Meeting Next Week

A meeting of the Benton Harbor City Commission will be held on Tuesday for commissioners to hear the city’s latest audit report. The audit is a snapshot of the financial health of the city and also outlines how Community Development Block Grant and city income tax dollars are being handled. Tuesday’s meeting will be at 7 p.m. at Benton Harbor City Hall. In addition, the city commission has a meeting scheduled for January 29 to interview Interim City Manager Ellis Mitchell for the city manager job long-term. Mitchell is the only candidate now in the running after the commission’s other candidate passed on the job. The interview with Mitchell will be at 7 p.m. at city hall.... [Read Full Story]

Cass County Park Gets Dark Sky Designation

The Dr. T.K. Lawless County Park in Cass County has been designated as an International Dark-Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association, making it one of only two areas in the state with that distinction. The Cass County Parks and Recreation Department says the title comes after more than 2 years of preparation, education, and modification. The Dark Sky Designation goes to areas “possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment.” Cass County parks officials say Lawless County Park, nine miles east of Cassopolis, had to be open a certain number of nights for star viewing and provide special night programming events to qualify. The county is planning a dark sky celebration for the designation in April.... [Read Full Story]

Life Sentence Set Aside In Cass County Murder Case

From the Associated Press — A judge has set aside a life sentence for a man who was convicted of killing his pregnant girlfriend when they were teenagers and burying her body in southwestern Michigan. The decision Monday by a Cass County judge means 43-year-old Robert Leamon will get a new sentence and a chance for parole. Rebecca Stowe was strangled, and her body was buried in a rural area. Leamon was 16-years-old at the time of the death. Leamon’s case is being reopened because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that minors can’t automatically get no-parole life sentences like adults.... [Read Full Story]

Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Running For Berrien County Prosecutor

With Berrien County Prosecutor Mike Sepic not seeking another term, the first to announce his candidacy for the office is Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Steve Pierangeli. He has been with the office for more than 15 years, and has been the chief assistant prosecutor since 2018. In making the announcement, Pierangeli notes his experience prosecuting cases from traffic tickets to homicides, including the recent murder case against the wife of a U.S. Army sergeant who was ambushed and murdered while home on leave on New Year’s Eve 2018. Pierangeli developed a program on internet safety and cyberbullying for school-aged children and has presented the program to schools throughout the county. He also developed a similar program for adults on the topic of keeping children safe on the internet and has presented this program at schools, churches, and service organizations around the county. No other candidates have announced they’re running for the office as yet.... [Read Full Story]

State House Moves To Improve Child Protective Services

The Michigan House of Representatives has approved legislation designed to better protect Michigan’s vulnerable children and improve the performance of the state’s Children’s Protective Services division. State Representative Matt Hall of Marshall tells us his bill requires CPS to gather information on the safety of all children in a home where suspected child abuse or neglect has occurred within 24 hours of a report.... [Read Full Story]

Meeting Date Set For Harbor Revitalization Project

The date is set for a joint meeting of the Benton Harbor and St. Joseph city commissions along with the St. Joseph Township board to discuss the formation of the work group on the Twin Cities Harbor Revitalization project. All three municipalities have signed on, with the St. Joseph City Commission doing so this past Monday.... [Read Full Story]

New Buffalo Gets Trail Grant

The city of New Buffalo has been awarded a $112,000 grant from the state to further develop a local trail system. The office of state Representative Brad Paquette says the money comes from the 2019 Recreation Passport Grant Fund for the Marquette Greenway. The Marquette Greenway is a 58 mile trail running along the coast of Lake Michigan from Chicago to New Buffalo. Paquette says it’s an example of why “people travel from all across the state and country to see the beauty our communities offer.” The Recreation Passport grants are supported with funds raised by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Recreation Passports.... [Read Full Story]

Planning Commission Salutes Bridge Project

Some awards to recognize those who have worked to improve infrastructure in the past year around southwest Michigan have been announced by the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission. Associate planner Kris Martin tells WSJM News the group’s board has given its annual Graham Woodhouse Intergovernmental Effort Award to the entities who worked on the Sink Road Bridge Replacement Project in Cass County’s Pokagon Township.... [Read Full Story]

Van Buren County Seeks Coastal Disaster Declaration

The Van Buren County Board of Commissioners has approved a resolution asking the Michigan Legislature and the governor to declare the Great Lakes shoreline a disaster area. Van Buren County Administrator John Faul tells WSJM News the action taken by the board this week mirrors what the Berrien County Commission did last year.... [Read Full Story]

State House Speaker Seeks To Reduce Prison Population

Suggestions are being heard in Lansing on how to reduce jail populations. The 21-member Jail and Pretrial Incarceration Task Force was created by Governor Gretchen Whitmer and has support from Republican legislative leaders, like Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield. He spoke to Michigan News Network this week about the work the task force is doing.... [Read Full Story]

Hospitality Industry Working To Fight Human Trafficking

We reported this month that Michigan State Police are working with the trucking industry to help stop human trafficking. Another industry that is responding to the crime is hospitality. Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association President Justin Winslow tells WSJM News his group represents more than 5,000 restaurants and hotels in Michigan with more than 595,000 workers. The group is training staff how to spot signs of human trafficking and how to report it.... [Read Full Story]

Upton Hopeful About PFAS Bill

Congressman Fred Upton is hailing House passage last week of the PFAS Action Act. He tells us the legislation would designate the substances under the EPA’s Superfund program to accelerate the clean-up process at military facilities and in communities. It also would establish grants for communities to clean up PFAS. The White House has threatened a veto, but Upton is hopeful.... [Read Full Story]

Muskegon Agrees To Hire Sharpshooters To Kill Up To 30 Deer

From the Associated Press — A Lake Michigan community has voted to spend $20,000 to kill as many as 30 deer at two parks in western Michigan. The unanimous vote by the Muskegon City Commission is an effort to control growing herds, although there are different opinions among residents. The Muskegon Chronicle reports the cull by sharpshooters must be completed by March 31. Residents in favor of a special kill have talked about damage to vegetation and concerns about tick-borne illnesses. Some critics say the deer should be considered a community asset.... [Read Full Story]

Cost Of Recreation Passports To Go Up Slightly

The cost of a Michigan state parks Recreation Passport is about to go up. Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson tells WSJM News the price will go up by $1 in March, bring the passports to $12 per year. You can sign up for a Recreation Passport when renewing your vehicle registration. With it, you can get into any of the 103 state recreation areas for one year. Olson says the program has been popular since launching in 2011.... [Read Full Story]

Pedestrian Bridges Being Constructed With New International Crossing

The Michigan Department of Transportation unveiled five pedestrian bridges being built as part of the new Gordie Howe International Bridge to Canada in Detroit last week. Speaking on the MDOT podcast, Talking Transportation, the governor’s point man on the crossing, Andy Doctoroff, said the pedestrian bridges being built over the Gordie Howe’s interchange with I-75 show the design of this project is taking into account the needs of the community.... [Read Full Story]

City Approves Medical Marijuana Permits

Nobo of Michigan, LLC has been granted the permits it needs to move forward with opening a medical marijuana production and processing facility in Benton Harbor. The Benton Harbor City Commission, after much discussion, granted permits to Nobo for growing and processing at a meeting Wednesday night. Commissioner Juanita Henry wanted more of a commitment from Nobo on creating local jobs and supporting the community.... [Read Full Story]