Local News Archives

Queen Of Soul Aretha Franklin Dies At 76

The music world has lost an icon. The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, has died at her home in Detroit at the age of 76 from pancreatic cancer. Franklin has been in hospice care for much of the past week at her home on the Detroit River. She was born in Memphis, Tennessee to Barbara and C.L. Franklin, a Baptist minister. After moving to Detroit, she became active musically and recorded her debut album at the age of 14 in 1956. Franklin won 18 Grammy awards and was the first female solo artist inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. She performed at two presidential inaugurations: 1993 for Bill Clinton and 2009 for Barack Obama. Along with her storied music career, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 from President George W. Bush and Yale University awarded her an Honorary Doctorate in Music in 2010.. ...Read Full Story

Trolling With The Troops Next Week

Coming up next week is the second annual Trolling with the Troops event in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor. Organizer Scott Mann tells WSJM News it’s a fishing trip for veterans out in Lake Michigan. The local Steelheaders recruit boat captains to take the veterans out, and then a celebratory lunch is held after. Last year, they had 67 veterans and 17 boats.. ...Read Full Story

Grant For Great Lakes Protection

Congressman Fred Upton has announced a $180,000 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant for the Allegan Conservation District. It’s specifically for the Allegan Conservation District Project, intended to encourage the implementation of best management practices to reduce sediment runoff in the Gun River Watershed. The Great Lakes Commission says the program protects the lakes by helping communities reduce the sediment and nutrient runoff. Upton’s office says every year, tons of pollutants enter the Great Lakes Basin, causing economic and environmental losses, along with contributing to the formation of Algal Blooms and dead zones. The GLC aims to fight that by working with local organizations like the Allegan Conservation District. The grant funding is provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative under an agreement between the GLC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.. ...Read Full Story

Recognition For SWM Wines

Some southwest Michigan wineries have come out on top in a statewide contest. Held in Lansing on August 9 was the 2018 Michigan Wine Competition. Kathy Sturm with the Lake Michigan Wine Trail tells WSJM News out of 415 wines entered, wineries of the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail received a good deal of medals.. ...Read Full Story

Allegan Agency Sued By Justice Department

The Allegan Area Educational Service Agency is being sued by the U.S. Justice Department for failing to protect two female teachers who were subjected to sexual harassment by a supervisor. The department says the suit, filed Wednesday in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, alleges the Allegan Area Educational Service Agency discriminated against the two teachers when they were repeatedly subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace by a former principal at the school where they worked. The principal was later convicted of criminal assault of the teachers. The Justice Department lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for the teachers, and also a requirement that AAESA develop and implement policies that would prevent sex discrimination and harassment in the future.. ...Read Full Story

MI Unemployment Rate Down

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s unemployment rate fell by one-tenth of a percentage point to 4.3 percent in July.
Figures released Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget show Michigan’s jobless rate was four-tenths of a percentage point higher than the national rate of 3.9 percent last month and two-tenths of a percentage point higher than the state’s July 2017 rate of 4.5 percent. The agency says total employment in Michigan increased by 6,000 during the month while the number of unemployed fell by 7,000. Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives Director Jason Palmer says Michigan’s July jobless rate was the lowest since 2000, but total employment remains about 250,000 below the level achieved then.. ...Read Full Story

Bangor Police Event Today

If you’re a resident of Bangor or thinking of moving to Bangor, you’re invited to the End of Summer Bash and Fire Prevention Fun Day on Wednesday, starting at five at the Bangor High School and Middle School lot. Hot dogs, burgers, and chips will be available for free. Backpacks and school supplies will be given to the first 100 kids. Police will display how the Jaws of Life work, and firefighters will be on hand. The event is sponsored by the Bangor Community Fire Department, Bangor Police Department, and Bangor Public Schools. The school district will have informational booths for those families interested in attending Bangor Public Schools.. ...Read Full Story

Hearing Pushed Back In Dowagiac Murder Trial

Court proceedings in a Dowagiac murder trial are being pushed back to next month. Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz says the preliminary exam for Rolandis Russell has been rescheduled from tomorrow until September 10. Russell is facing eight charges for the shooting death of Fabian Wesaw outside the Beeson Street Bar on July 29. He’s accused of getting an AK-47 out of his car and firing at a man with whom he was arguing, but missed the intended target. Wesaw was part of a group that followed the men outside and was pronounced dead at the scene. Police had been sent to the bar for the fight, and say they heard the gunshots while they were en route.. ...Read Full Story

State Expanding Collection Of Sales Taxes

The state of Michigan will begin collecting sales taxes on online purchases from out of state sellers next month. The Michigan Department of Treasury tells us a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision has prompted it to change the state’s sales tax administration. Shoppers were previously required to track and annually self-report uncollected taxes from mail order and online retailers physically located outside of Michigan. Treasury says this week’s announcement allows for the more efficient collection of the sales tax by collecting from businesses rather than individuals. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a more than 30-year precedent allowing the Michigan Department of Treasury to collect sales tax from retailers physically located outside the state if the retailer exceeds $100,000 in sales or 200 or more transactions in Michigan within the previous calendar year. The state Treasury Department estimates more than $200 million in additional state revenue will be collected each year under the new sales tax rule.. ...Read Full Story

Youth Fair Continues All Week

Now in full swing in Berrien Springs is the 2018 Berrien County Youth Fair. The rides opened up Monday evening, just in time for Kids Day on Tuesday. That’s when the kids through high school age got in for free. Tuesday also featured a corndog eating contest between 98.3 the Coast’s Jonny and The Herald Palladium’s Tony Witkowski. They attempted to eat five corndogs in five minutes. For Johnny, it wasn’t easy going.. ...Read Full Story

MI Prison Closing This Fall

The Ojibway Correctional Facility in the western Upper Peninsula will close in December. The Michigan Department of Corrections announced the closure today as the prisoner population continues to decline statewide. State Representative Scott Dianda, who represents the western Upper Peninsula, tells Michigan News Network it’s bad news.. ...Read Full Story

Judge Who Sentenced Nassar To Remain

From the Associated Press — A Michigan chief judge says a colleague who sentenced former sports doctor Larry Nassar to prison for molesting women and girls will remain on the case. Ingham County Circuit Judge Richard Garcia ruled Tuesday in defense of Judge Rosemarie Aquilina’s status on Nassar’s case. Nassar’s appellate lawyers, accuse her of bias during a seven-day hearing in January when roughly 150 victims spoke and say he deserves another hearing. At sentencing , Aquilina said Nassar deserved cruel punishment if the Constitution would allow it. Garcia says Aquilina’s statements “do not constitute impermissible bias.” He added that Nassar apparently wants to be resentenced by a judge “who is ambivalent about the suffering of his victims,” and that “standard would disqualify any judge with a pulse.” This month, Aquilina said she wouldn’t disqualify herself.. ...Read Full Story

Bill To Boost National Parks Funding

National Parks in Michigan and around the nation could get some TLC if Congress Acts. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is promoting bipartisan legislation that would address the $12 billion maintenance backlog at parks across the country. Yaron Miller with the Pew Charitable Trusts Restore America’s Parks campaign says many of the problems at the parks impact access and safety.. ...Read Full Story

Bangor Group Looks To Buy Museum

The Bangor Historical Society is looking to purchase its museum Museum on West Monroe Street. The society tells us it’s had a generous landlord for years, but now, the landlord would like to sell the building in the next year. So, that means the museum will have to purchase the building or move. Bob Emmert, president of the museum, spoke with WSJM News about the issue.. ...Read Full Story

Time Changed For U-M Band Performance At Lakeshore

If you’re planning to watch the University of Michigan marching band perform at Al Stockman Stadium at Lakeshore High School on September 1, you need to get there a little earlier. The time has changed and is now 12:30 pm for the performance of the pregame and halftime performances, which had originally been scheduled for 2:45 p.m. Michigan is stopping by Lakeshore on the way to the opening game of the season at Notre Dame that night. Michigan State also performed at Lakeshore a few years ago while en route to South Bend for their last game against the Fighting Irish.. ...Read Full Story

University Program Offers Two Years Of Tuition

From the Associated Press — A new program at Eastern Michigan University allows prospective students willing to commit to paying for their first two years of tuition to get their final two years paid for by the university. The Ann Arbor News reports the 4WARD Graduation Scholarship concept is scheduled to begin for students entering college in fall 2019. Eligible students
pay for the their first two consecutive years of tuition at a locked-in rate that’s expected to be a little more than $13,000 a year for 30 credits. The school’s Vice President for Enrollment Management Kevin Kucera says students will live in an on-campus community for each of their four years at a locked-in room-and-board rate. Participants would get two consecutive years of
education of 30 credits per year paid for by the school.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Putting Public Art On Hold For 2019

There will not be any public art on the sidewalks in the city of St. Joseph next year. The program is being paused for a year, partly due to the retirement of communications director Susan Solon, and partly because she says it’s been successful in bringing people and families downtown and helping to fill storefronts that had been empty when it began as an economic development tool 15 years go.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Citizens Academy Next Month

Anyone interested in learning more about police work will soon have a chance to take part in a Michigan State Police Citizens Academy. Trooper Alan Fitzpatrick of the Paw Paw post tells WSJM News the next academy will start September 24, and they’re taking registrations now. He says each Monday session looks at different aspects of the work state police do.. ...Read Full Story

Antwan “Tank” Mims Expected To Be Arraigned Tuesday

Antwan “Tank” Mims is back in southwest Michigan after spending some time on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list this summer for a double murder at a party on March 25. He is expected to be arraigned Tuesday on two charges of open murder for the deaths of 22-year-old Cortez Miller and 29-year-old Michael Johnson. Benton Harbor Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis talked to our partners at WNDU NewsCenter 16 after Mims was taken off a plane and sent to the Berrien County Jail Monday afternoon.. ...Read Full Story

Marijuana Business Plans MI HQ

From the Associated Press — A medical marijuana business plans to build a headquarters for its state operations in southern Michigan. The Battle Creek Enquirer reports Michigan Pure Med plans to break ground this fall on a growing and processing center in Marshall that in five years is expected to employ about 400 people. Joe Jarvis, chief operations officer of Pure Med, says the company also plans research and development at the facility. He says the company is “taking a pharmaceutical approach to the market and bringing high-quality, low-cost product and making that available to Michigan patients.” Pure Med had previously received approval for a smaller site. The newspaper says the company will have 10 retail locations or provisioning centers in Michigan. Michigan voters approved marijuana use in 2008 for some chronic medical condition.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Property Tax Collections Up

School districts around Berrien County have seen their revenues jump dramatically since the closure of a property tax loophole last year. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News legislation from state Representatives Dave Pagel and Kim LaSata made it possible to revoke the homestead exemptions of property owners making that claim on more than one property. Since the crackdown, Witkowski says nearly a million dollars more has been collected for Berrien County schools.. ...Read Full Story

Grants Announced For Baroda, Van Buren County

Congressman Fred Upton has announced a couple of grants for Berrien and Van Buren counties. His office tells us the first USDA Rural Development grant in Berrien is $95,000 for the village of Baroda. It will be used to build a road through the industrial park. The park has 14 lots, 12 of which are sold to businesses looking to construct facilities. However, there isn’t road access to all of the sites. The grant will change that. It’s expected to lead to the creation of 20 jobs. The other grant is for $41,000 for Van Buren County to conduct a comprehensive countywide economic development plan. It will focus on three areas — transportation, workforce housing, and internet connectivity. Congressman Upton says the two USDA Rural Development grants will “directly help boost our local economy and create local jobs.”. ...Read Full Story

Group Looking At SWM Retail Needs

Cornerstone Alliance is looking at all options to help Benton Township replace the Target store in the Fairplain Plaza, which closed earlier this year. To that end, they’ve hired an organization called The Retail Coach to study the market. The company’s Will Kline talked about the work with 98.3 The Coast.. ...Read Full Story

OK2Say Tip Line Gets 500 Tips In July

Michigan’s OK2Say student safety tip line continues to receive a large number of calls and texts, even though it’s the summer. The Michigan Attorney General’s office tells us OK2Say received 510 tips in July. The most common types of tips are about suicide, followed by cyberbullying, self-harm, and threats. Attorney General Bill Schuette says the tip line, launched in 2014, has proven to be a success. The AG’s office increased its promotions of OK2Say following the school massacre in Parkland, Florida this year. The office notes it regularly holds assemblies regarding OK2Say at schools around the state. Presentations are currently scheduled in 162 schools in 26 counties for the upcoming school year. OK2Say has received more than 15,000 tips total since launching. You can find out more at Michigan.gov/OK2Say.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Accepting Applications For Treasurer

Applications are now being accepted by the Cass County Treasurer Appointment Committee for that post. It became open with the death of Treasurer Linda Pruett in late July. Probate Judge Susan Dobrich, County Clerk Monica McMichael and Prosecutor Victor Fitz make up the committee authorized by state law to find someone to serve the remainder of Pruett’s term, which ends December 31, 2020. Prospective candidates need to be at least 18, be registered to vote in Cass County or able to move there if appointed, have an accounting background, experience managing a small staff and be familiar with real estate matters. The deadline to apply is 4 p.m. on August 31. The person selected will be eligible to run for a full term in 2020.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Settles Marijuana Question

Applications to open a medical marijuana business in Benton Harbor will become available on September 1. That’s following a meeting this past week of the city commission. The commission previously had set the application date about a month later, but a shift in state rules prompted bumping the local dates up. Commissioner Mary Alice Adams on Monday pushed for an even earlier date, but Mayor Marcus Muhammad didn’t want to overwhelm city staff.. ...Read Full Story