Local News Archives

DEA Opening Traverse City Office

From the Associated Press — The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is opening an office in Traverse City. The DEA’s Detroit Field Division says the new post will help the agency identify, disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations and their subsidiaries in northern Michigan. Special Agent in Charge Timothy Plancon says the office will work closely with the Michigan State Police Traverse Narcotics Team, which includes more than a dozen federal, state and local agencies. Plancon says the opioid epidemic is a priority for the DEA, but the new partnership will enable the agencies to deal with any future threat posed by illegal drugs in northern Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Large Grant To Motown Museum

A $500,000 grant from DTE Energy to the Motown Museum in Detroit will support its  plans for an expansion of the facility. CEO and Chairwoman of the Motown Museum Robin Terry told Michigan News Network this week the grant is keeping in line with recent efforts to upgrade the museum.. ...Read Full Story

SpartanNash Buys Martin’s Super Markets

An area grocery chain is being bought out. Grand Rapids-based SpartanNash is purchasing Martin’s Super Markets and all 21 of its locations in southwest Michigan and northern Indiana. SpartanNash owns 139 stores under the names D&W Fresh Market, Family Fare, VG’s Grocery, Dan’s Supermarket and Family Fresh Market. The sales price has not been disclosed, and the transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019. Martin’s employs about 3,500 people and for the fiscal year ending July 29, 2018 had over $450 million in net sales.. ...Read Full Story

BH City Manager’s Contract Terminated; Role Unclear

As they work to reach a new contract with City Manager Darwin Watson, Benton Harbor City Commissioners have voted to terminate his old contract. At a Monday meeting, the vote was unanimous to end the contract originally reached in February of 2016. It expired in February of this year, and had been extended month-to-month before the city commission approved an new contract in October. However, Watson has not signed that new contract. City Commission Personnel and Finance Committee Chair Edward Isom told us the commission’s move Monday night was needed as the body seeks to negotiate a new agreement with Watson, and that he remains the city manager. Watson, for his part, told us he has “no idea” if he’s still the city manager. Isom told us the next step is to work out kinks in the October agreement and move forward with Watson as city manager.. ...Read Full Story

Ground Broken On New Women’s Prison

Ground has been broken at the state’s women prison in Ypsilanti for a new vocational center. This marks construction of the third  of what are known as “vocational villages” in the state — the first for a women’s prison. Heidi Washington is the director of the Michigan Department of Corrections and talked with Michigan News Network about the program.. ...Read Full Story

Short-Term Rental Rules Approved

An amendment to the short-term rental ordinance has been approved by the South Haven City Council. At Monday’s meeting, the vote was four to two to update the rules that govern homes that are rented out to vacationers by their owners. City Manager Brian Dissette tells WSJM News the new amended ordinance establishes two types of short term rentals. The first is personal STRs.. ...Read Full Story

City Officials Talk Lead Testing

City officials in Benton Harbor are still waiting on results from water tests after elevated levels of lead were found in eight of 35 homes recently tested. At Monday’s city commission meeting, City Manager Darwin Watson said comparing Benton Harbor to Flint is incorrect because the issue in Benton Harbor is not a city-wide problem caused by changes to the water system itself.. ...Read Full Story

Strong Retail Season Expected

This holiday shopping season is expected to be a good one for retailers. Meagan Holland of the Michigan Retailers Association tells Michigan News Network the organization does a monthly survey in conjunction with the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago, and it has some telling signs.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Pushes Medicaid Legislation

New legislation from Congressman Fred Upton is designed to protect senior citizens from being impoverished due to medical problems. He and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell have introduced the Protecting Married Seniors from Impoverishment Act. It would extend spousal protections for Medicaid beneficiaries receiving long-term care. Upton’s office tells us Medicaid includes protections to prevent a spouse from depleting all their financial resources due to a significant others’ long-term care needs. However, in order to maintain Medicaid eligibility, beneficiaries with a family member needing long-term care may need to “spend down” their resources. That could bankrupt them. The new plan would extend spousal impoverishment protections for Medicaid beneficiaries receiving long-term care to prevent that from being necessary. You can read the full legislation here.. ...Read Full Story

GOP Seeks Last Ditch Law Changes

From the Associated Press — With their grip on power set to loosen come January, Republicans in several states are considering last-ditch laws to weaken Democrats and advance a conservative agenda. Michigan Republicans want to water down a minimum wage law they approved before the election so it would not go to voters and now be easier to amend. Republicans in neighboring Wisconsin are looking to dilute Democrat Tony Evers’ power before he takes over for Gov. Scott Walker. And in North Carolina, Republicans may hash out the requirements of a new voter ID law before they lose their legislative supermajorities. Republicans downplay the tactics. But some of the steps they’re expected to take will almost surely be challenged in court, and critics say such maneuvers undermine the will of people who voted for change.. ...Read Full Story

MSU Offers Housing For Substance Abuse Recovery

From the Associated Press — Michigan State University has joined a list of universities nationally that provide on-campus housing to students in recovery from substance abuse disorders. The East Lansing school says its Collegiate Recovery Community is in a residence hall on the north side of campus. A resident assistant, intercultural aid and peer recovery specialist also live in the hall and provide support to
the students. Officials say students must abstain from drugs and alcohol to be eligible for recovery housing. They add the housing is important because college stresses can threaten recovery. Features include individualized recovery planning, sober social events, community service opportunities and life skills workshops. The university says it’s the first in Michigan to offer such housing. It follows others such as Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers.. ...Read Full Story

AAA: Michigan Gas Prices Fall 12¢ To $2.48 Per Gallon

AAA Michigan says average gas prices statewide are down 12¢ in the past week to about $2.48 per gallon ahead of the Thanksgiving travel period. The Dearborn-based auto club says early Monday the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline is at its lowest level since February amid continued declines in oil prices. AAA says gas prices in Michigan for Thanksgiving are at their lowest level in two years. The state’s highest average was $2.71 per gallon in the Marquette area. The lowest was in the Grand Rapids, Holland and Muskegon areas at $2.34 a gallon. The Benton Harbor-St. Joseph average is the second lowest in the state at $2.36, though there are stations now under the $2.30 a gallon mark. In South Haven, GasBuddy spotters report several stations down to $2.23.. ...Read Full Story

Red Bud Trail To Close For Two Weeks

Flooding earlier this year is prompting the closure of Red Bud Trail in Buchanan for two weeks starting next Monday. The closure is just north of the Wheatberry restaurant according to the Berrien County Road Department. They need to close things off to repair a partially collapsed side slope. Access to Wheatberry will be maintained from the south side of the restaurant. For those who need to get into Riverside Estates, you’ll use Moccasin Trail. Detours will be posted that will take drivers from Arctic Street to North Main Street and then Miller Road.. ...Read Full Story

Theater Aims To Open Next Year

The Ghostlight Theater in Benton Harbor is ready to begin renovations on its Arts District building now that it’s completed the location’s purchase. Ghostlight’s Martha Hesse tells WSJM News thanks to a successful fundraising campaign, they now own the building at 101 Hinkley Street. Everything started with $50,000 and a fundraiser back in August.. ...Read Full Story

WMU To Help Train BH Teachers

A new partnership is in place between Benton Harbor Area Schools and Western Michigan University. Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO Robert Herrera made it official this week, bringing in WMU to provide training to district teachers and to develop new teachers. WMU Dean of Education Ming Li told WSJM News the agreement covers teacher professional development and providing social and psychological services to students. They’re also looking to develop more special education instructors.. ...Read Full Story

Good Year For County Parks

Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey this week laid out to some members of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners highlights this past year for the parks department. He tells WSJM News parks revenue was up this year by 6% to $821,000.. ...Read Full Story

Road Agency Prepared For Winter

The Michigan Department of Transportation is ready to go for the winter. Spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News construction projects in southwest Michigan, especially Berrien County, look like they’ll all be wrapped up before construction work is no longer possible.. ...Read Full Story

New Conduct Code Published For BH Schools

The new code of conduct for students at Benton Harbor Area Schools is now officially in place. At this past week’s CEO meeting, district CEO and Superintendent Robert Herrera signed off on the plan that he tells WSJM News does more than just lays out rules and penalties as the old code of conduct did.. ...Read Full Story

BHAS Water Testing Results In

The results of water fixture tests at Benton Harbor Area Schools are in, and they show lead levels at five of 135 testing sites throughout the district exceeded federal standards. The federal action level for lead is 15 parts per billion, and a school district new release on Friday said it’s using a stricter standard of five parts per billion and replacing all water fixtures exceeding that level. That means a total of 20 fixtures are being replaced districtwide. In the meantime, they’ve been disabled. Benton Harbor Area Schools started using bottled water last month when some homes around Benton Harbor tested for elevated levels of lead. The school district news release says none of the affected fixtures were primarily used for drinking water, and therefore “it is highly unlikely any students or staff members consumed water that contained contaminants.” You can find out more at BHAS.org.. ...Read Full Story

Humane Society Triples Donation

The Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan has received a donation from the Benton Harbor-Fairplain Lions Club that now has triple its original value because of the ongoing capital building fund. Humane Society General Operating Manager Alissa Saul tells WSJM News the Lions Club gave $5,000, and then it turned into $15,000.. ...Read Full Story

Celebrated Service Award For Sophia’s

The winner of Celebration Cinema’s 2018 Celebrated Service Award is Sophia’s House of Pancakes in Benton Township. Each year, the theater chain’s employees nominate businesses for the honor, and then the public votes on the winner. A Celebrated Service Award is given out in each of Celebration Cinema’s service areas. The award is intended to salute those local businesses who go out of their way to make the guest know they’re appreciated. As the winner, Sophia’s House of Pancakes will receive a $2,500 cash prize, specialized training at ZingTrain in Ann Arbor, and movie watch parties for its employees at the theater.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor-Area Road Closure Starting Monday

The Berrien County Road Department has announced a road closure in the Benton Harbor area. It tells us Crystal Avenue from Napier Avenue to Empire Avenue will be closed for two weeks starting Monday for water main work. A signed detour route will be posted on Napier Avenue, Pipestone Road, M-139, and Empire Avenue. Anyone with questions can contact the Berrien County Road Department.. ...Read Full Story

Red Arrow Project Suspended For Year

The Berrien County Road Department has suspended work on Red Arrow Highway just south of Bridgman until early spring. It had been reconstructing the road from south of town to Browntown Road. It has the first of two layers of new asphalt placed over the entire existing roadway, and minor alterations have been made to the drives to allow for vehicle traffic and winter operations. That area of Red Arrow Highway will be stripped and all four lanes open for the winter. It’s anticipated temperatures will not be warm enough to allow for the rest of the asphalt operations this year. The Berrien County Road Department says it will watch the road closely throughout the winter to make sure it remains safe.. ...Read Full Story

Andrews U Talks Partnership With Ghana

Andrews University expects to increase the number of students from Ghana attending its campus in Berrien Springs. That’s after Andrews President Andrea Luxton this week signed the agreement with the Ghana ambassador to the United States to create educational opportunities for that country’s citizens. Andrews Dean of Business Ralph Trecartin tells WSJM News the deal will most likely attract business students who serve the government of Ghana.. ...Read Full Story