Local News Archives

Lawmaker Calls For PFAS Ban

Michigan’s new water crisis is coming from a chemical used in manufacturing, fire suppression foam and other uses. PFAS has turned up in wells north of Grand Rapids, near Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek, and has now rendered the city of Parchment’s water system unusable in Kalamazoo County. State Representative Peter Lucido of Macomb County wants an immediate ban on the substance enacted. He spoke with Michigan News Network about it.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Sends Fire Help To California

As wildfires continue to burn across multiple states out west, some assistance is being provided by Michigan. It comes in the form of a firetruck, which is stationed at the Carr Fire in northern California. Dan Laux, Fire Supervisor with Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources, spoke with Michigan News Network about the matter.. ...Read Full Story

Lt. Gov. Declares Emergency In Kalamazoo County For Water

Residents of the city of Parchment and Cooper Township in Kalamazoo County are not being allowed to drink or use the tap water due to the discovery of PFAS contamination in Parchment’s water. Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley declared a state of emergency for the county on Sunday, authorizing the coordination of state efforts by the Michigan State Police Emergency Management Homeland Security Division. Calley says they’ve been testing smaller water systems statewide for the likely carcinogen since it was found in wells in northern Kent County and in Battle Creek.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Backing LaSata

State Representative Kim LaSata has received the endorsement of the man she is running to replace in the Michigan Senate’s 21st District. State Senator John Proos tells WSJM News he’s backing LaSata because he believes her priorities will be the best. Proos says LaSata voted to roll back the state income tax, for example.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Treasurer Dies

WSJM News has learned that Cass County Treasurer Linda Pruett has died. Pruett passed away Sunday evening. She had been in office since 2002. No details surrounding her passing have yet been released by Cass County officials, including naming an interim treasurer or setting a special election. We will have more on this story on Monday.. ...Read Full Story

Realtors Contribute To Watervliet Clock

The Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors has chipped in to help spruce up downtown Watervliet. It’s given the city a $3,500 Placemaking Grant to purchase a two-faced Victorian-style exterior post clock for the area. The clock will be installed near Library Park on Main Street, and the Watervliet Community Development Coordinator says it’s intended to become a focal point in the community. The total cost for the clock is $7,500, and the Watervliet DDA, city, and some residents have also helped reach the total amount needed. Mikki Swisher with American Homes Real Estate in Coloma is the realtor sponsor for the donation. The Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors Placemakers Grants are awarded to various community projects in the area, and are typically in the range of a few thousand dollars. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Autopsies Show 6 Killed In Motel Fire Died From Smoke Inhalation

Smoke inhalation is what killed a mother and her five children between the ages of 10 and 2 in a fire at the Cosmo Extended Living Motel in Sodus Township on M-139 just north of I-94 on Saturday. The fire started just before 2 a.m. and has been ruled accidental. Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Robert Boyce tells us the Michigan State Police Fire Marshal and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives found no evidence of accelerants or narcotics manufacturing at the scene. ...Read Full Story

SJ Water Pipe Work

One of the water intake pipes from Lake Michigan for the city of St. Joseph’s water supply needs to be cleaned out. Greg Alimenti is the city’s water plant superintendent and utility services director and told the city commission the north intake has between two and four-feet of sand that has accumulated along with a layer of zebra mussels that need to be removed. He says there are other worries as well.. ...Read Full Story

Man Caught In Act Burglarizing Van Buren County Home

A man is in the Van Buren County Jail awaiting arraignment on home invasion and other charges after breaking into a Porter Township home Saturday night. A couple had gone to their parents’ home and discovered the suspect inside. He threatened to kill the woman, who was calling 9-1-1, and she and her husband were forced to leave the home. While still on the phone with dispatchers, they saw the suspect leave the home with one of the homeowner’s vehicles, and gave chase until Lawton police took over. The suspect then crashed into a field and tried to run away before being caught a few hours later with the help of a K-9 from the Michigan State Police Paw Paw Post. Several items from the home were found with him. He also had outstanding warrants for his arrest.. ...Read Full Story

Fatal Shooting In Dowagiac

The Dowagiac Police Department is investigating a shooting Sunday that left one man dead. It tells us officers were sent to the Beeson Street Bar for a large fight in progress at approximately 2:30 a.m. While on the way, the officers heard several gunshots coming from the area around Beeson Street.  Officers arrived and found a large crowd of people and what they described as a chaotic scene. The officers found one man who was dead from a gunshot wound.. ...Read Full Story

Walk In Clinic For South Haven

Bronson Healthcare is opening a new walk-in clinic in South Haven. The Bronson FastCare location will be there for anyone seeking treatment without an appointment for minor conditions or illnesses like sore throats, flu, ear and sinus infections, pink eye, and allergies. It’s a way for someone to get quick care without having to go to an emergency room. Bronson says FastCare will take most insurances, and will honor the office visit co-pay determined by the patient’s insurance company. The facility will be located across the street from Bronson South Haven Hospital at 970 South Bailey Avenue. Its opening is set for Wednesday, August 1.. ...Read Full Story

Fatal Crash During Chase

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says a 24-year-old Berrien County man is dead following a chase with police that ended in a crash. Deputies tell us it started around 5:30 p.m. Friday when a report came in of a possible drunk driver. A deputy spotted the vehicle in question in Niles and tried to pull it over, but it took off at a high rate of speed. The sheriff’s department tells us during the chase, the driver of the vehicle made several erratic maneuvers and exceeded 100 miles per hour on some stretches of Niles-Buchanan Road. He eventually lost control on westbound Niles-Buchanan Road west of Mayflower Road, left the north side of the road, and hit a tree. The driver, identified as David Lee Bross Jr., was pronounced dead at a South Bend Hospital. The Berrien  County Sheriff’s Department tells us the pursuing deputy did not have sight of the fleeing vehicle at the time of the crash and the deputy only saw the dust cloud caused by the vehicle leaving the road and hitting the tree. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

One Dead In Van Buren County Crash

Michigan State Police are investigating a fatal crash in Almena Township. Troopers say it happened on M-43 near  22nd Street shortly after midnight on Sunday. They tell us the driver of a westbound passenger vehicle lost control and swerved off the road. The vehicle went down an embankment and rolled over. It had 3 occupants, all men from Weslaco, Texas. The front seat passenger was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced deceased at the scene. The rear seat passenger was released from the scene without injuries. The driver was arrested for operating while intoxicated, causing death. He was taken to the Van Buren County Jail. The crash is still under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Water Safety Reminder

Even the strongest swimmers and most experienced boaters will be in big trouble if they fall into fast-moving river water. That’s a lesson to learn after a Kalamazoo kayaker was found dead in the St. Joseph River after a three day search this past week. Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Robert Boyce tells WSJM News the river conditions have been harsh lately.. ...Read Full Story

Comments Being Taken On MDOT Plan

The Michigan Department of Transportation has released its next five-year plan and is taking the public’s comments. MDOT spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News the biggest projects tend to be in the large metro areas, although there are about 15 Berrien County road and bridge projects planned. They include laying the groundwork for the eventual connection of US-31 and I-94. The prep work includes two separate projects.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Praises Company Expansion

Governor Rick Snyder is pleased to see his Good Jobs for Michigan tax incentive being used for the first time in the expansion of Pfizer that was announced this week. The drug maker is investing in its plant in Portage. Snyder tells WSJM News the Pfizer plan is exactly what Good Jobs for Michigan was designed to do.. ...Read Full Story

Changes At SJ Public Safety

City officials in St. Joseph are remaining tight-lipped about the sudden resignation on Friday of Public Safety Director Brian Uridge after a little less than two years on the job. City Manager John Hodgson wouldn’t address rumors that have been floating about the conduct of the former director. He did tell WSJM News there were some other issues, however.. ...Read Full Story

Motel Fire Under Investigation

The American Red Cross has set up a temporary shelter for those who were displaced by a motel fire in Sodus Township early Saturday morning. Six people were killed in the blaze at the Cosmo Extended Living Motel on M-139. They were a 26-year-old woman and her five children. Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey spoke with WSJM News at the scene.. ...Read Full Story

Buchanan Gets Dog Park

The city of Buchanan has opened its first dog park. City Manager Bill Marx tells WSJM News the Field of Dreams Dog Park, located at the south end of Clark Street and is part of the McCoy Recreation Area, is the result of a four year campaign by the dog park committee.. ...Read Full Story

Tariffs Hit Whirlpool

Whirlpool stock took a hit after the release of second quarter earnings this week. The appliance maker reported a loss in the quarter of $657 million, and fell short of Wall Street expectations with just $3.20 earnings per share. CEO Marc Bitzer says there were several macroeconomic factors going against them in the last three months, notably the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on imported steel and aluminum.. ...Read Full Story

Victims Identified In Deadly Sodus Twp Hotel Fire

Six members of one family have been killed in an overnight fire at the Cosmo Extended Living Hotel in Sodus Township. The fire started just before 2 a.m. Saturday, firefighters and other first responders immediately began to evacuate the building when they arrived to see it filled with fire and smoke. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department estimates 90% of the rooms had fire, smoke, or water damage. The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined. The sheriff’s department has identified the victims as:. ...Read Full Story

Rental Rule Vote Coming Soon

The city of South Haven isn’t the only municipality having to deal with the short-term rental issue. Casco Township has seen a rising number of homes being acquired by investors to rent out as short-term vacation homes. Some year-round residents say they have had to repeatedly call police to report rowdy behavior. Casco Township officials have been working on a zoning ordinance for residents to approve or disapprove on August 7. The ordinance limits the number of guests allow in a vacation rental, stating guests must follow the township noise ordinance. The ordinance also set up a home inspection program that requires smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Already in place is a 24-hour hotline for short term rental complaints.. ...Read Full Story

Nature Preserve Planned In Chikaming Township

Chikaming Open Lands is looking to set up a new nature preserve, and it’s raising money to make that happen. Executive Director Ryan Postema tells WSJM News the conservation group wants to purchase 49 acres in Chikaming Township on Warren Woods Road between Warren Woods State Park and the Chikaming Township Preserve.. ...Read Full Story

Property Auction Next Week

The summer Berrien County Land Auction is Tuesday. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News it’s a chance for anyone to bid on recently-foreclosed properties. Although the number of available properties is down, Witkowski says the variety is wide.. ...Read Full Story

Former Officer Going To Trial

A former officer for the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety is heading to trial for running a man down with his squad car during a chase in May. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office tells us 51-year-old Patrol Officer Steven Johnson ran over a man who was trying to escape police in Benton Harbor the night of May 10. Officers were investigating a report of a stolen lawnmower when it happened. The man, 25-year-old Ronald Glover, Jr., recovered, and was later sentenced to a year in jail for resisting and obstructing as well as possession of marijuana. In court last week, prosecutors showed dashcam video taken from that night as Johnson pursued Glover into an alley and struck him with his squad vehicle. Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic tells us the footage makes it appear the collision was intentional. The video shows Glover get up after being hit, pause, and then continue fleeing. Judge Arthur Cotter last Thursday set Johnson’s trial on a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon for October 16. Johnson faces up to four years in prison if convicted.. ...Read Full Story

County Considers Transportation Aid

Berrien County could be lending a hand to Cass County when it comes to managing transportation services. This week, the Berrien County Board of Commissioners tabled a proposal to have the county’s transportation planner and coordinator work for Cass County one day per week. Berrien County Administrator Bill Wolf spoke with WSJM News about the matter.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joe Lighthouse Featured On Vernors Cans

The St. Joseph Lighthouse has a new claim to fame, now appearing on some limited-edition cans of Vernors ginger ale. Working with Pure Michigan, Vernors is featuring historic Michigan lighthouses on its cans. They are the St. Joseph Lighthouse, along with the lighthouses at Forty Mile Point in Rogers City, Old Mackinac Point in Mackinaw City, Point Iroquois in Brimley, Point Betsie in Frankfort, Little Sable Point in Mears, and Fort Gratiot in Port Huron. The image of the St. Joe Lighthouse appearing on those Vernors cans is courtesy of an image from well-known photographer Josh Nowicki. Vernors says it wanted to showcase Michigan lighthouses on its cans as a way of celebrating the state. The cans will be available through October.. ...Read Full Story

Payments To Nassar Victims Halted

From the Associated Press — Michigan State University has halted payments from a $10 million fund it set up for counseling services for victims of now-imprisoned former sports doctor Larry Nassar amid concerns about possible fraudulent
claims. The Lansing State Journal reports the school stopped making payments Wednesday after the Healing Assistance Fund administrator’s flagged the issue. MSU spokeswoman Emily Guerrant says stopping payments will allow an investigation
into the issue. Guerrant says the fund had distributed more than $1.1 million as of June 30. Nassar worked for Michigan State and USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. He is imprisoned for molesting athletes and possessing child pornography.
The Detroit News reports John Manly, a civil attorney for roughly 200 victims, says fraud should be rooted out but that he worries about how victims will cope without.. ...Read Full Story

Democrat Whitmer Releases Plan To Fight Urban Poverty

As the August 7th primary approaches, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Gretchen Whitmer is releasing her plan to fight urban poverty. It includes her support for regional transit, the effort to cut auto insurance rates, and expand affordable housing. Whitmer, who served in Lansing in the House and Senate for several years, was asked why she didn’t try to fix those pressing issues during her time in the Legislature.. ...Read Full Story

PFAS Renders Drinking Water Unusable In Parts Of Kalamazoo County

Don’t try to boil it or filter it. Health officials in Kalamazoo County are telling residents of the city of Parchment and Cooper Township to not drink the water. Officials are advising residents to immediately stop using tap water for drinking, making baby formula and washing vegetables. Kalamazoo County Health Officer Jim Rutherford says authorities only became aware of the situation on Thursday.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Rental Meeting

The South Haven Planning Commission will hold a special meeting on Friday to discuss and fine tune two proposals regarding short-term rentals. One of the proposals to be discussed is possibly to prohibit short-term rentals in newly-constructed homes and-or prohibit occupancy increases after renovations. The other proposal to be discussed involves prohibiting or putting a cap on new short-term rentals in certain areas of the city, generally south of the Black River and close to Lake Michigan. This special meeting is a Planning Commission Work Session at 1pm. The next Regular Planning Commission Meeting will be held on August 2nd at 7.. ...Read Full Story

Realtors Spruce Up Park

The Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors has helped to improve another park in the region. This time it’s the playground area next to Milton Township Hall in Cass County. The realtor’s association provided the township with a Placemaking Grant of a little more than $2,400 to make it happen. The township used the money to buy bike racks and trash receptacles for the area. Members of the Association of Realtors also volunteered to install the items and to paint and spruce up the park. Realtor Mark VanDusen was the sponsor for the Milton Township Park grant. He says the area next to the town hall is for the community to play, have picnics, and hold family events. You can find out more about Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors Placemaking Grants right here.. ...Read Full Story

Changes Coming To School Board

There will be some new faces on the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education next year. That’s because four trustees who could have run in November have opted not to file. Trustees Joseph Taylor, Martha Momany, Margaret Gast, and Marletta Seats, who is also the board president, are sitting out, according to The Herald Palladium. They did not file by Tuesday’s deadline. The Berrien County Clerk’s office tells us three candidates have filed. They are Patricia Rush of Sodus Township, Matthew Bradley of Benton Harbor, and Lue Buchana of Benton Township. Buchana is a former school trustee for Benton Harbor Area Schools. The board of education, whoever is on it, will have a reduced role going forward. That’s after the board agreed this summer to hire Robert Herrera as the district’s new CEO. Herrera is working directly under the state, which is now mostly in control. The school board at this point only controls things related to taxes and borrowing.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Judge Appointed To Circuit Court

Berrien County Judge Donna Howard has a new appointment. On Thursday, Governor Rick Snyder appointed Howard to serve as the new judge of the 2nd Circuit Court in Berrien County. The governor’s office says Howard was elected as a district judge to the Berrien County Trial Court in 2014. She has been assigned to both the Criminal and Civil Divisions and oversees the problem-solving courts. She also presides over the Business Court. Howard has been appointed to the Circuit Court to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Judge John Donahue. Howard will have to seek election in November 2020 for the remainder of the term. Prior to serving as a judge, Howard served as Corporate Counsel to Berrien County.. ...Read Full Story

Treasurer Hearing From Generous Residents

The Berrien County Treasurer’s office has been receiving inquiries from residents who would like to chip in to help those in need of property tax assistance. Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News since an article published this month about an 88-year-old Niles woman who walked a mile to his office to sign up for a payment plan, he’s been getting calls. Witkowski says one woman even sent him $250 to help people in similar situations to the Niles case.. ...Read Full Story

Great Lakes Funding Secured

Congressman Fred Upton is hailing the U.S. House for approving full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for another year. He tells WSJM News the Trump administration tried yet again to gut the $300 million in funding for 2019, but the delegations from the Great Lakes states once again thwarted it.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Lighthouse Keepers Honored

The Historical Association of South Haven and the Michigan Maritime Museum are memorializing some of South Haven’s lighthouse keeprs. They are first lighthouse keeper William P. Bryan and the longest serving keeper, Captain James S. Donahue. Both men were laid to rest at Lakeview Cemetery this week. One and his wife had no grave marker for 125 years. A memorial service for the men will be held on Saturday at the Lakeview Cemetery at 4 p.m. Everyone is welcome.. ...Read Full Story

Another Endorsement For LaSata

State Representative Kim LaSata continue to win the support of current and former lawmakers in her bid to jump to the Michigan Senate after just a single term in the House. Former Senator Ron Jelinek, who represented the district prior to being term-limited out of office and opening the door for Senator John Proos, has announced his endorsement of the Republican from Bainbridge Township. Jelinek cites LaSata’s conservative record over the past two years in tossing his support behind her, saying her voting record “best reflects the values and beliefs of our area.” She is facing Representative Dave Pagel of Berrien Springs in the August Republican primary. Pagel is in his third term in the House and has broken with majority Republicans on a few issues over his six years in office.. ...Read Full Story

Energy Plan Slammed

Michigan gets a failing grade for the effectiveness of its Renewable Portfolio Standard in a new report. The group Food and Water Watch examined the R-P-S in states that have established these standards for getting a percentage of their electricity from renewable sources. Michigan’s current goal is 15%, which is one of the lowest among the 29 states with standards in place. Patrick Woodall with Food and Water Watch says Michigan still has a long way to go toward using 100%.. ...Read Full Story

Nassar Seeks Resentencing

From the Associated Press — Lawyers for imprisoned former sports doctor Larry Nassar are asking that he be re-sentenced by a different judge in the first of the major molestation cases he faced. The Lansing State Journal reports Wednesday that the appellate lawyers filed motions Tuesday in Ingham County. Nassar, who’s serving a 60-year federal sentence for possessing child pornography, was also sentenced to up to 175 years in state prison for molesting young athletes. He agreed to a 25- to 40-year minimum term. But his attorneys say they believe Judge Rosemarie Aquilina decided to impose the maximum allowed
before the sentencing hearing even began. They cite her statements, including that she might let people do to Nassar what he did to the girls if the Constitution didn’t prohibit cruel and unusual punishment.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Honors Volunteers

The winner of this year’s United Way of Southwest Michigan Margaret B. Upton Volunteer Leadership Award is Jerry Flenar of Buchanan. He was among those honored for their community service at the United Way’s annual Volunteer Recognition Event Wednesday night in St. Joseph. Flenar has a lifetime of donating time and services throughout the community. We asked him why he serves.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Fair Starts This Week

The 167th annual Cass County Fair gets underway this week. Fair Board President Gail Peterson tells WSJM News the animal competitions and displays start Friday, and the opening day for the events is Sunday, featuring the parade at 5 and a street legal tractor pull at 7. This year’s theme is Fair-A-Tales Do Come True.. ...Read Full Story

Chemical Bank Moving HQ To Detroit

From the Associated Press — A Michigan-based banking company is moving its headquarters from Midland to Detroit and plans to construct a 20-story building downtown. Officials announced Wednesday that Chemical Financial Corp., the holding
company for Chemical Bank, will immediately make its current space in Detroit its headquarters and the new building is part of its longer-term plans. Chemical Bank says it will add roughly 500 workers to Detroit once the new building is done and it plans to keep 500 employees in Midland. The mid-Michigan city also will keep serving as the company’s corporate operations center.
Chemical Bank CEO Tom Shafer says in a statement the company expects to make several additional investments in the city.
Detroit also announced that Chemical Bank will serve as the city’s new primary banking partner.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Praises Pfizer Expansion

Governor Rick Snyder is pleased to see his Good Jobs for Michigan tax incentive being used for the first time in the expansion of Pfizer that was announced this week. The drug maker is investing in its plant in Portage. Snyder tells WSJM News the Pfizer plan is exactly what Good Jobs for Michigan was designed to do.. ...Read Full Story

Age Discrimination Claims By Former Symphony Musicians Denied By SMSO Director

Three members of the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra have chosen to resign rather than go through work to make improvements as the result of getting musical warning termination letters. Susan Dietrich-Reed and her husband Steven are two of them, and she says all five who received the letters over the age of 65. Symphony director Sue Kellogg tells WSJM News it is part of contract negotiations and the five receiving the letters were musicians that the music director felt needed some improvements. Dietrich-Reed is questioning if it’s age discrimination, which Kellogg denies. Kellogg was adamant in talks with both WSJM News and MoodyOnTheMarket.com that no musicians have been or are being fired. Dietrich-Reid tells us a sixth musician who is 63 received a “milder disciplinary letter.” She has been playing for 44 years, while her husband has been playing for 40.. ...Read Full Story

Police Urge Caution On Water

Even the strongest swimmers and most experienced boaters will be in big trouble if they fall into fast-moving river water. That’s a lesson to learn after a Kalamazoo kayaker was found dead in the St. Joseph River after a three day search. Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Robert Boyce tells WSJM News the river conditions have been harsh lately.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Five Year Plan

The Michigan Department of Transportation has released its next five-year plan and is taking the public’s comments. MDOT spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News the biggest projects tend to be in the large metro areas, although there are about 15 Berrien County road and bridge projects planned. They include laying the groundwork for the eventual connection of US-31 and I-94. The prep work includes two separate projects.. ...Read Full Story

Upton On Parlak Victory

Congressman Fred Upton expects Ibrahim Parlak may seek U.S. citizenship now that a federal immigration judge has allowed him to avoid deportation. The judge last week approved Parlak’s application for deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture, meaning he won’t be deported to Turkey. Upton tells WSJM News the U.S. Department of Homeland Security can appeal, but he’s not sure it will.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Endorses LaSata

State Representative Kim LaSata has received the endorsement of the man she is running to replace in the Michigan Senate’s 21st District. State Senator John Proos tells WSJM News he’s backing LaSata because he believes her priorities will be the best. Proos says LaSata voted to roll back the state income tax, for example.. ...Read Full Story

Boy Injured In Fireworks Accident

A 12-year-old boy has lost part of his hand and suffered injuries to his face due to a fireworks accident over the weekend in Berrien Township. Michigan State Police tell us the incident happened shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday. Troopers were called after the boy suffered serious injuries to the hand and face while igniting a mortar-style firework. It exploded instantly upon being ignited. Medic One ambulance took the boy to Borgess Memorial hospital in Kalamazoo, and then he was transferred to the University of Michigan hospital in Ann Arbor for surgery. His injuries included the partial amputation of one hand and minor injuries to the other hand and face. Two adults who were present at the time of the incident were not hurt. The incident remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Commission: Investigate LGBT Complaints Despite AG

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Civil Rights Commission has directed an agency to continue investigating complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity despite the state attorney general having
declared its interpretation of the law to be invalid. The commission made the decision Monday, three days after Bill Schuette said only the legislature or voters can expand Michigan’s civil rights law to provide LGBT protections. Michigan Department of Civil Rights Director Agustin Arbulu says the commission is an independent, constitutionally created body that isn’t bound by
Schuette’s opinion. He says the only recourse is for courts to decide the matter, and LGBT-based discrimination will continue to be investigated. A Schuette spokeswoman says his opinion is binding on state agencies, in part because he’s the attorney for all executive departments and agencies.. ...Read Full Story

Pfizer Planning MI Expansion

From the Associated Press — Pfizer Inc. has been awarded $11.5 million in state incentives to build a new manufacturing facility in Michigan and add 450 jobs. The Michigan Strategic Fund Board approved the deal Tuesday. State officials said the pharmaceutical company headquartered in New York could have chosen one to expand in one of its 12 other facilities across the world. Pfizer plans to spend $465 million on a new sterile drug manufacturing facility in Portage near Kalamazoo. The facility – which will take eight years to construct – is needed so Pfizer can comply with new regulations from the federal government.
This is the first time the state is doling out special tax incentives under its “Good Jobs” program that was enacted last year.. ...Read Full Story

Bureau: Minimum Wage, Sick Time Drives Have Enough Petition Signatures

The Michigan elections bureau says enough voter signatures have been submitted by proponents of ballot drives to raise the minimum wage and require employers to provide paid sick time. The bureau released reports Tuesday, and the Board of State Canvassers could certify the signatures at a meeting Thursday. Business groups have challenged the petitions, but the challenges were rejected by the bureau. A lawsuit filed by restaurants opposing the minimum wage proposal is pending in the courts. If certified, the measures would go to the Republican-led Legislature. If it did not act, the proposals would be placed on the November ballot. Proponents want to gradually raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour and require a minimum amount of earned sick time, depending on the size of a business. Part of the minimum wage proposal would eliminate the lower wage for tipped workers and raise their pay to the standard minimum wage. Those who are opposed to that include bartenders and wait staff around the state, who argue it would be a massive pay cut with tips being eliminated.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan’s Credit Rating Goes Up

Standard and Poor’s has increased Michigan’s credit rating. Michigan Department of Treasury spokesperson Ron Leix tells WSJM News this is the first credit rating increase for the state in the past ten years. S&P has moved Michigan from AA-  to AA with a stable outlook. Leix says this means something for the state’s residents.. ...Read Full Story

Missing Kayaker’s Body Believed Found

An autopsy will be done in the next few days on the body of a Kalamazoo man pulled from the St. Joseph River. Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey says remains believed to be 35-year-old Michael Scott were found by bow fishermen with high-powered lights around 10:30 pm Monday near where he disappeared on Saturday. Scott had been reported missing by friends he was kayaking with on Saturday. Searches during the day Sunday and Monday were called off due to low visibility in the water. The autopsy and confirmation of the identity of the body will be done at Western Michigan University.. ...Read Full Story