Local News Archives

Food Benefits Expanded

The more than 1.2 million people in Michigan who are eligible for food assistance will receive an additional payment by the end of January that raises their monthly amount by 15%. The move was announced Thursday by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. It says the increase was included in the recently passed Congressional relief bill. As a result, Michigan food assistance recipients will see the 15% increase added to their Bridge Cards by the end of January in addition to benefits they received earlier in the month. Food assistance will increase by $102 per month for a household of four, which will now receive $782 per month. The maximum SNAP benefit now available for a single person is $234 per month. In subsequent months, the 15% increase will be added to Bridge Cards from January. The increase is in effect through June.... [Read Full Story]

$500,000 In Grants Coming To SWM Medical Centers

Nearly $500,000 in federal grants are going to two healthcare centers in southwest Michigan. Congeressman Fred Upton has announced Intercare Community Health Network in Bangor and Family Health Center, Incorporated in Kalamazoo are receiving funds as part of the Department of Health and Human Services National Hypertension Control Initiative. The grants are intended to improve treatment of hypertension among minorities. Upton says the money “will help us with understanding and eliminating disparities in COVID-19 outcomes by addressing hypertension among minorities, who often rely on HRSA-funded health centers for their care.”... [Read Full Story]

Michigan Works Announces $2 Million Job Training Grant

Nearly $2 million in job training funds are coming to employers in southwest Michigan thanks to a grant being awarded to Michigan Works of Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties. Agency Director Lily Brewer tells WSJM News it’s receiving a $1.98 million grant from Michigan’s Going PRO Talent Fund. The funds will be distributed to 55 employers in the region.... [Read Full Story]

State Releases COVID Numbers For Saturday

Michigan has reported 1,601 additional cases of COVID-19 for Saturday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services coronavirus website shows the state has reported a total of more than 548,000 cases of COVID since . It recorded 221 additional deaths for Saturday, bringing the state’s death total to 14,291. 205 of the new deaths were identified through a review of vital records around the state. The state coronavirus website on Saturday showed Berrien County with 37 more cases than on Friday, with a pandemic total of 9,802 and 204 deaths, an increase of five. Van Buren County was listed with a total of 4,379 cases, an increase of 16 over Friday, and 81 deaths, an increase if one.... [Read Full Story]

Lakeland Pavilion Project In Phase II

The Pavilion project at Spectrum Health Lakeland has entered its second and final phase. Spectrum Health Lakeland spokesperson Jessica Springer tells WSJM News Phase I was completed in March of last year. With a new phase of construction underway, those who go to the hospital in St. Joseph should know how to get in.... [Read Full Story]

South Haven Area Emergency Services Unveils New Murals

South Haven Area Emergency Services has put its commitment to public safety into art with some new murals. SHAES says two of its fire trucks and the apparatus room at station 3 now have the murals painted on them. The art work shows a bald eagle swopping into the scene of a fire clutching a fire axe and a fire hose. The original mural was created by retired deputy chief Tony Marsala and current deputy chief Keith Bierhalter. The three painted on SHAES property were made possible through memorial donations in honor of deceased firefighters. The murals were adapted for placement on the trucks by Anchor Signs of Benton Harbor.... [Read Full Story]

Former Rep. Gamrat Files Wide-Ranging Federal Lawsuit

Disgraced former state Representative Cindy Gamrat of Plainwell is alleging wiretapping, stalking and defamation in a lawsuit against the Michigan House, former House Speaker Kevin Cotter and her soon-to-be former husband. The defendants include Cotter and his chief of staff and general counsel, ex-staffers Keith Allard and Ben Graham, Joe Gamrat and many others. Fellow Republican and former lover Todd Courser previously filed a suit with a similar list of defendants, but later filed a motion to dismiss over failing health. Both conservative Christians were accused of using taxpayer resources to cover up their affair. That scandal led to Courser tendering his resignation in September 2015. Gamrat was thrown out of office an hour after Courser stepped down.... [Read Full Story]

Waterfront Film Festival Finds Permanent Home

The Waterfront Film Festival will not be returning to South Haven. The festival left South Haven in 2013 for Saugatuck and was canceled in 2015 due to a partnership with ArtPrize in Grand Rapids for a film competition. Organizers now say they have a permanent home being set up in Holland that will give them a year-round facility for screening films and for education and other purposes. A matching grant from the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs helped to make the permanent home possible. Ticket information for the grand opening on June 22 will be announced next month.... [Read Full Story]

One Hurt In Bridgman Rollover

A 78-year-old Harbert man is being treated at Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph for back, head, and neck injuries after a rollover crash in Bridgman. Police were called to the scene around 11:20 a.m. Tuesday on Lake Street near Pine Street and found the man trapped inside the car. Investigators believe he suffered a medical incident prior to the crash, causing him to cross into the oncoming lanes and then into a brick planter. The crash is still being looked into, and the man’s name has not been released.... [Read Full Story]

Car-Bike Accident Sends One to Hospital

A woman remains in the hospital after being hit by a car while riding her bicycle. The incident happened around 11:30 yesterday (Monday) morning on County Road 354 in Porter Township. 67-year-old rider was riding southbound when a car, driven by a 35-year-old man hit her from behind. Sheriff’s Deputies report the driver appeared to be under the influence of drugs and was arrested. He is being held in the Van Buren County Jail for possession of Marijuana and operating a motor vehicle with the presence of drugs. The bicyclist was transported to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo and is listed in stable condition. Their names have not been released.... [Read Full Story]

St. Joseph Veteran To Receive Medals Tuesday

Congressman Fred Upton will be in St. Joseph Tuesday to honor a veteran. He’s presenting 11 overdue service medals to Lewis Bolman, of St. Joseph. Bolman served in the United States Army during Operation Desert Shield and Storm. Among the honors Bolman is getting are the Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Good Conduct Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal with three Bronze Service Stars, Army Service Ribbon, and the Overseas Service Ribbon. Upton will hand over the medals to Bolman at his office on Main Street in St. Joseph at 4 p.m.... [Read Full Story]

Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament Down To Final Four

We’re down to the final four in state Senator John Proos’ Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament. Proos holds the contest each year to find out which community has the most pride in its schools, taking photo submissions through his Facebook and Twitter accounts. Folks just need to show how they’re proud. Proos announced Monday the final four this time around are Michigan Lutheran versus Watervliet, and Centreville versus Marcellus. The schools that enter Proos’ contest each year are all in his district. You can find out more at SenatorJohnProos.com.... [Read Full Story]

Berrien County Holding Recycling Event His Week

If you’ve got a bunch of junk piled up in your basement or garage and you’d like to have it recycled, this is your week. Berrien County Environmental Property Manager Jill Adams tells WSJM News the county is doing a Reduce, Reuse, Recycle event on Wednesday at Lake Michigan College. Lots of people always show up.... [Read Full Story]

Children, Woman Attacked By Dog In Cass County

Two children are recovering after they were attacked by a dog in Cass County on Sunday. The sheriff’s department tells our newsroom the two-year-old and seven-year-old were saved by a 44-year-old woman who was also hurt. The attack happened about 5:40 p.m. in the 63,000 block of Crooked Creek in Calvin Township. Sheriff’s deputies were able to get the dog into custody, and it’s being kept in quarantine for ten days before they decide what to do with it. The two-year-old is now in an Indianapolis hospital after being airlifted to South Bend due to severe head trauma. The seven-year-old was treated at Lakeland in Niles, along with the woman who helped them. Police say criminal charges could be pursued in the case against the dog’s owner.... [Read Full Story]

Expelled MI Lawmaker Sues For Back Pay

From the Associated Press — A former Michigan lawmaker kicked out of the House because of a sex scandal says she was illegally expelled and deserves back pay. Cindy Gamrat, a Republican from Allegan County, says House leaders violated her rights in 2015. She filed a new lawsuit last week in federal court in Grand Rapids. Gamrat is seeking back pay as well as money for distress and humiliation. She says she had struck a deal to be censured, not removed from office. Attorney Sarah Riley Howard, a lawyer representing two former House aides, says the lawsuit “has no merit.” Gamrat’s former husband is also named in the lawsuit. He’s accused of using listening devices to try to catch Gamrat and Todd Courser, a Lapeer County Republican, in their affair. Courser quit the House.... [Read Full Story]

Consumers Energy Shopping For New Gas Powered Plant

The Associated Press erroneously reported this weekend that Consumers Energy planned to buy the Palisades Nuclear Plant and convert it to Natural Gas. That is not happening, and the AP has since issued a correction. The real story is that Consumers Energy is shopping around for an existing gas powered facility that can provide the megawatts they will be losing when the Covert reactor shuts down in the summer of 2018. The Michigan Public Service Commission says it may not approve the closure of the plant without the assurance that Consumers has the juice it needs to cover peak loads. They are planning a pair of public hearings on the issue on May 8th.... [Read Full Story]

Two Arrested in High Speed Chase

Three people have been arrested after a 40-mile high-speed chase across multiple midMichigan counties. It began as police in Gratiot County were searching for a suspect who allegedly punched an elderly man in a grocery store and tried to take his groceries. Authorities pursued a car on U-S 127 matching the description of one linked to the incident. After the chase that hit speeds of 110 miles-per-hour, police arrested the woman for fleeing and eluding authorities… and for outstanding warrants from multiple counties. Two men inside were also arrested.... [Read Full Story]

Niles Hotel Reopens After CO Leak Kills Teen

The Quality Inn in Niles reopened over the weekend, after making the necessary improvements, and passing a building inspection. They booked their first rooms since the death of 13-year-old Bryan Watts on April 2nd. Watts and 5 friends were overcome by Carbon Monoxide fumes that accumulated in an indoor pool because of a faulty ventilator on the gas fired heater that warmed the water in the pool. The others all survived. The building was technically in compliance, and was not required to have a detector because of its age. That building code is currently being reviewed by Lansing Lawmakers. The Watts family is reportedly consulting with an attorney and may file a civil suit.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan Supreme Court on Religious Schools

The Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments this week in an uncommon case — can courts intervene when religious schools reject students? Churches and faith-based schools operate with broad protections under the First Amendment. But this case raises questions about whether a student claiming discrimination can overcome that legal threshold. The parents of a student at Notre Dame Preparatory School in Pontiac say she was illegally turned down because of a learning disability. The Catholic school denies any discrimination and insists the girl was rejected because of low grades.... [Read Full Story]

Talons Out Honor Flight Set For This Month

Talons Out Honor Flight, the group that takes veterans on free trips to Washington, D.C. to see war memorials, is planning its next trip for April 22. Vice President Dan Moyle tells WKZO News by the time it’s finished, they will have taken more than 750 vets to Washington. He’s hoping a big crowd comes to welcome the veterans back to Michigan at Kalamazoo Christian Middle School the night of the trip.... [Read Full Story]