Local News Archives

Suspected Animal Abuse In Lawrence

A case of suspected animal abuse is under investigation in Lawrence. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department was tipped off to a situation at a home in the 200 block of South Exchange Street Sunday morning and found three dogs with no heat, water, or electricity in the vacant home. Animal feces, urine, and trash was found scattered throughout. Deputies say the dogs were confined to the basement without any care, and have been sent to Van Buren County Animal Control. Charges are being pursued against a 32-year-old Hartford woman in the case. Her name has not been released. The Van Buren County Prosecutor’s Office will review the report from deputies.... [Read Full Story]

New St. Joe Today Director To Start Next Month

We now know who’s going to lead St. Joseph Today. Its board announced this week that Amy Zapal, the current director of the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in St. Joe, will be the tourism and business group’s next director. Zapal tells WSJM News she looks forward to taking on her new role with St. Joe Today.... [Read Full Story]

Berrien County YMCA Branches To Merge

The Benton Harbor-St. Joseph YMCA is merging with the Niles-Buchanan YMCA. The two organizations have been sharing some programs since last year, and it’s worked out so well they say they’re going ahead with the full merger. Benton Harbor-St. Joseph YMCA Board of Directors President Bob Kenegy says the move will enable the new YMCA of Southwest Michigan, as it’s being called, reach a greater area and offer better services. Each entity will still have its own branch, but now they’ll be pooling resources. Collectively, the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph and Niles-Buchanan YMCAs have more than 14,000 members.... [Read Full Story]

Southwest Michigan Tourism Industry Remains Strong

Southwest Michigan has closed out 2016 with an improved employment picture as the tourism industry continued to expand. The latest economic outlook report from the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research shows hospitality jobs in the region jumped by more than the state average. That’s according to the institute’s Brian Pittelko.... [Read Full Story]

Three Benton Harbor Schools In Danger Of Being Shut Down

Three schools in Benton Harbor are in immediate danger of being shut down by the state. On Friday, the Michigan School Reform Office released its latest list of failing schools identified as being reviewed for the Next Level of Accountability. That means they could be targeted for closure within the next 30 to 45 days. Reform Office Director Natasha Baker tells WSJM News the International Academy at Hull, the STEAM Academy at MLK, and the Dream Academy are on the list. She’s talked with the local superintendent.... [Read Full Story]

Chronic Wasting Disease Found In Two Central Michigan Deer

State agriculture officials say chronic wasting disease has been identified in two female deer in central Michigan. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said Friday the deer were from a Mecosta County farm. It’s the second time the neurological disease has been found in a farmed facility in Michigan. The other was in 2008 when a white-tailed deer tested positive in Kent County. Officials say samples from the two deer were submitted for testing as part of the state’s mandatory chronic wasting disease surveillance program. State officials say they are quarantining the farm and working with the farmer to test all deer from the herd. All deer within a 15-mile radius will undergo increased testing as well. An informational meeting will be Wednesday in Big Rapids.... [Read Full Story]

St. Joseph Commissioners Looking At Replacing Some Parking Equipment

St. Joseph city leaders are looking at replacing the parking meters used at local parks. City Manager John Hodgson tells WSJM News the new ones would allow access to parks based on license plates, rather than the passes given out to residents each year. Since each residence currently just gets two parking passes, letting people into parks based on their vehicle’s license plate could be more convenient.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan State Police To Raise Awareness About Human Trafficking

Michigan State Police motor carrier officers will spend next week trying to raise awareness about human trafficking. MSP Lieutenant Susan Fries tells WSJM News they’ll primarily be talking with truckers and the management of trucking companies. They’re in a good position to catch human traffickers because they frequently stop at rest areas, where victims can often be found.... [Read Full Story]

LaSata “Deeply Concerned” About Benton Harbor Schools

State Representative Kim LaSata says she is “deeply concerned” about the fate of three Benton Harbor schools targeted for possible closure this week by the Michigan School Reform Office. In jeopardy are the Dream Academy, the International Academy at Hull, and the STEAM Academy at MLK. They are currently under review for failing to perform, and LaSata, who represents Benton Harbor in Lansing, said in a statement she’s been in contact with the reform office and local school officials trying to reach the best outcome for the students. She adds parents of the students at those schools should get an update sometime around early March.... [Read Full Story]

List Of Michigan House Salaries Now Online

A new list of the salaries of Michigan House members and their staff is now available online. State Representative Beth Griffin, of Mattawan, tells us it represents “the first step this legislative session to make information about the use of taxpayer dollars more available to the public.” Thanks to the list, we know that as a state representative, Griffin is paid about $71,000 a year, as are all the state reps. State House salaries range from around $30,000 to more than $100,000, depending on the position. Griffin says the House wants to make transparency a priority, and this publication is a step in that direction. You can find the list right here.... [Read Full Story]

State Reminds Travelers To Protect Themselves From Zika Virus

Michigan health officials are reminding travelers of some steps they should take to protect themselves from the Zika virus. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Eden Wells tells WSJM News not only are pregnant women at risk for the mosquito-borne illness, but women who are not pregnant should still take precautions for a time.... [Read Full Story]

Niles Woman Arrested In Drug Bust

A Niles woman is facing charges after a meth bust in Cass County this month. The Cass County Enforcement Team says it searched a home in the 1,000 block of Huntly Road in Howard Township on January 12 after getting some tips. It says officers found meth paraphernalia, marijuana, and crack. 46-year-old Andrea Sutfin was arrested for possession of meth, cocaine, and marijuana. She’s now in jail on $20,000 bond. Police ask anyone with information about drug activity to call them.... [Read Full Story]

Women’s March Planned For Saturday In Lansing

On Saturday, thousands of Michigan women will take to the streets in opposition to what they say is a wave of discrimination since the November election. Sarah Eisenberg is one of the organizers of the Women’s March on Lansing, which is expected to draw more than 5,000 people. She says the event is not about President Donald Trump, but about a narrative of intolerance that she believes needs to be addressed at the state and local level.... [Read Full Story]

Three Benton Harbor Schools Could Close

Three schools in Benton Harbor are in immediate danger of being shut down by the state. On Friday, the Michigan School Reform Office released its latest list of failing schools identified as being reviewed for the Next Level of Accountability. That means they could be targeted for closure within the next 30 to 45 days. Reform Office Director Natasha Baker tells WSJM News the International Academy, the STEAM Academy, and the Dream Academy are on the list. She’s talked with the local superintendent.... [Read Full Story]

State Fines Prison Food Contractor

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Department of Corrections has slapped its latest food contractor with more than $2 million in penalties for inadequate staffing and other problems since it began providing meals in September 2015. Department spokesman Chris Gautz told the Detroit Free Press the penalties against Trinity Services Group include $905,000 for unauthorized meal substitutions, $357,000 for delays serving meals, $356,000 for inadequate staffing levels, and $294,000 for sanitation violations. Gaultz says the department believes staffing problems lead to other issues. The penalties were first reported Thursday by Gongwer News Service. They show significant problems persist with the privatization of prison food services after the state and its first prison food contractor, Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services, ended their contract early. A message seeking comment was left Friday at Trinity’s Florida headquarters.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan Center Picked As Driverless Vehicle Proving Ground

From the Associated Press — The U.S. Department of Transportation has designated a testing facility in Michigan for driverless vehicles as a proving ground for such technology. Those involved in the effort say proposals were sought for the Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds Pilot program after it was announced last year and 10 facilities were selected, including the American Center for Mobility in Washtenaw County’s Ypsilanti Township. The facility is being built at the site of a former General Motors plant. It’s also where B-24 bombers were made during World War II. It will be available for use by private industry, government, standards bodies and academia. Companies will be able to lease office space, garages and other amenities. It will include real-world environments with the ability to test under varied, yet controlled conditions.... [Read Full Story]

Grand Rapids Polish Hall Votes To Allow Women Members

From the Associated Press — For the first time in its 87-year history a Grand Rapids Polish hall will allow women to become official members. MLive reports that as many as 30 women are scheduled to be granted membership on Valentine’s Day at St. Ladislaus Aid Society. Discussion for the change came during Pulaski Days 2016, when more female volunteers came to work at the club than male volunteers. Over the course of the last eight months, current members voted to allow women members into the club on three different occasions. Andie Crapsey, 2016-2017 Grand Rapids Pulaski Queen, will become the Polish hall’s first female member. Grand Rapids currently has 14 Polish halls. St. Ladislaus Aid Society is one of the few Polish halls in the city that don’t allow women to become a member.... [Read Full Story]

Buchanan Thrill On the Hill Cancelled

The Thrill on the Hill in Buchanan has been cancelled. The annual sledding event had been slated for next Friday and Saturday, but warm weather has prompted city officials to call it off. They say the long-term forecast shows it will be too warm and there will likely be rain. That means they wouldn’t be able to generate enough snow for Front Street Hill. While you may be heartbroken about the news, don’t despair. The city says the Summer Thrill on the Hill is still planned for later in the year, and it will be bigger than ever.... [Read Full Story]

Warm Weather Not Expected To Damage Crops

The recent warm weather isn’t likely to damage southwest Michigan crops. Mark Longstroth, with the MSU Extension office in Paw Paw, tells WSJM News the crops went dormant in November or December, and the warm temperatures haven’t returned long enough for them to become vulnerable to another freeze.... [Read Full Story]