Local News Archives

Legislation Aims To Fight Unemployment Fraud

State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker is hailing passage of legislation last week to fight back against fraudulent unemployment claims filed as a result of identity theft. The Lawton Republican tells WSJM News companies and individuals suffer when some thief steals an identity and uses it to collect unemployment.. ...Read Full Story

State’s Gas Prices Fall 6¢; South Haven Down To $2.09

Gas prices throughout Michigan are down to start the week. Triple-A Michigan puts the statewide average at $2.45 a gallon, down 6¢ from a week ago, but 19¢ more than we paid at this time last year. Locally, the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph average fell a dime to $2.41. The state’s lowest price is in Traverse City at $2.37, marking the second week they’re the lowest in Michigan. Drivers in Marquette are paying the most for the third week in a row at $2.62. GasBuddy says South Haven’s prices are actually the lowest in the state, with two stations down to $2.09 a gallon and the others at $2.12. The Van Buren County city is not, however, included in the auto club’s survey.. ...Read Full Story

Report Raises Concerns About MI Pipelines

From the Associated Press — Environmental advocates say Michigan’s aging gas pipelines have a heightened risk of corrosion or other material failure that could cause a fire or explosion. The Detroit News reports that the concerns follow last month’s gas explosion in Orion Township, about 30 miles north of Detroit. Consumers Energy is waiting for test results to determine what caused the blast. Federal records show that the explosion comes after more than 20 other incidents over the past decade involving the utility’s pipelines in Michigan.
Data the utility reported show the incidents caused more than $10 million in property damage, though none resulted in injuries or deaths.
A utility spokeswoman says the company’s parent firm, CMS Energy, is investing $378 million to test pipeline integrity, replace old sections and expand its gas line network in the state.. ...Read Full Story

InterCare Opens New Women’s Health Center

InterCare is celebrating the completion of its new women’s health center in Benton Township. Executive Director Velma Hendershott tells WSJM News a $1 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration last year made it possible. An open house for the new 9,100 square foot facility was held this past week.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Celebrates One Year With 21st Century Cures

Congressman Fred Upton is marking one year since his landmark 21st Century Cures legislation became law. The plan increased funding for the National Institutes of Health and sped up the approval process for new drugs and medical devices. In a promo video released this week, Upton said 21st Century Cures is all about trying to help the kinds of people he meets every day.. ...Read Full Story

Experts Recommend Buying Local Christmas Trees

This is the time of year when people bring more greenery into their homes, but the Van Buren Conservation District is warning that those wreaths and trees can bring with them a whole host of unwanted guests. The district tells us forest pests that can hurt native tree species can enter the state on Christmas trees. In order to stop the spread of these insects, the Van Buren Conservation District encourages everyone to buy this year’s tree from local tree farms or dealers. Insects like the balsam woolly adelgid or fungi like spruce decline can get into the state on imported plants. That’s why buying local can help. Anyone with questions should call the Van Buren Conservation District.. ...Read Full Story

MOSIAC Grant To Be Announced

A “significant grant” is set to be announced Monday morning by MOSIAC and the AEP Foundation. MOSIAC executive director Ric Pawloski tells WSJM News the grant will help to launch a new housing initiative by the organization. No other details are being revealed until the announcement.. ...Read Full Story

Extra State Police Patrols Continue

Set for this weekend is another Michigan State Police Operation CARE. That’s Crash Awareness and Reduction Efforts. Michigan State Police Special Lieutenant Jim Flegel tells WSJM News extra patrols will be out on the state’s highways in all 83 counties watching out for bad behavior.. ...Read Full Story

Hagar Twp Slated To Get New Park

Hagar Township is getting a new park thanks to a state grant. Township Supervisor Iggy DiMaggio tells WSJM News the township has been approved for $300,000 from the Michigan Department of Natural Resource Trust Fund for next year to build a new kayak launch on the Paw Paw River on property off Coloma Road. It used to be a landfill.. ...Read Full Story

Attorney General Asks Army Corps To Take Action On Asian Carp

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and two other state attorneys general have sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking more to be done to stop the Asian carp. Specifically, they’re asking for a physical barrier to be installed in the Chicago shipping canals to stop the Asian carp from getting into Lake Michigan. AG spokesperson Megan Hawthorne tells WSJM News this follows the recent release of the Brandon Road Lock and Dam study.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Blood Asks For Holiday Donations

Michigan Blood is hoping you’ll take a moment to make a donation this holiday season. The organization tells us it’s offering folks a special incentive to give. From December 21 through January 2, anyone who donates at one of Michigan Blood’s main donor centers will receive a $10 Meijer or Speedway gift card while supplies last. That means donors can save lives while getting a stocking stuffer for someone special in their life. It just so happens that Michigan Blood has a donation center in St. Joseph. It’s on Cleveland Avenue near the bowling alley. A drive is also taking place at Michigan Blood in St. Joe on Wednesday, December 27 from noon to 7 p.m. One in every seven people entering the hospital needs blood, and Michigan Blood tells us it provides blood products to more than 60 hospitals across the state.. ...Read Full Story

SJ Commission Applicant Forum Set For Monday

St. Joseph City Commissioners now have an action plan for filling a vacancy on the body. At this Monday’s meeting, they approved a schedule for a public forum next Monday when the public can question 8 applicants for a 2 year vacancy. The meeting starts at 5:30, there will be a break at 6:30, and then more questions. At 7:55, commissioners will talk among themselves about who to appoint. Mayor Mike Garey spoke with WSJM News about the plan.. ...Read Full Story

Plan To Allow Online Gambling In Michigan

Some forms of internet gambling would be allowed in Michigan under legislation that cleared a state House committee this week. The plan from state Representative Brandt Iden allows internet-based gaming only through casinos currently operating in Michigan. Iden says people are already gambling online, only on sites based overseas.. ...Read Full Story

Judge Blocks License Suspensions For Poor Due To Unpaid Fines

From the Associated Press — A federal judge is blocking the state of Michigan from suspending driver’s licenses of people who say they can’t afford to pay traffic fines. U.S. District Judge Linda Parker on Thursday issued a preliminary injunction, writing that there’s “a strong likelihood” that those who sued will show that the law violates the right to due process. Secretary of state spokesman Fred Woodhams says in an email the office is reviewing the judge’s opinion and believes Michigan’s traffic safety laws “are equally applied to all drivers.”
The lawsuit filed by Equal Justice Under Law, a civil rights group, accuses the secretary of state of running a “wealth-based” scheme in which people too poor to pay fines are having licenses suspended. Arguments are expected later on whether to permanently block the practice.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagons To Distribute Holiday Meals Next Week

The Pokagon Band of Pottawatomi and the Four Winds Casinos are once again preparing to provide holiday food baskets to needy families in the region. This time, the Pokagons will distribute 455 meals to the Food Bank of Northern Indiana in South Bend. The delivery day is slated to be Tuesday. Volunteers from Four Winds Casinos and the Pokagon Band will distribute the food baskets, each with the items needed to prepare a holiday meal including a frozen ham, to families in need. The distribution of the meals in South Bend is part of 1,200 total meals packaged and distributed by Four Winds during the holiday season. This distribution follows the more than 1,000 meals given out during Thanksgiving week. The volunteers will drop off the Christmas donation at noon on Tuesday.. ...Read Full Story

New Legislation Aims To Prevent Opioid Abuse

State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker says obtaining opioids for the purposes of abuse will be harder to do in Michigan thanks to new legislation now headed to the governor. The Senate this week concurred with a House bill that requires all prescribers of Schedule 2 through Schedule 5 controlled substances to review a Michigan Automated Prescription System report prior to issuing that prescription. Schuitmaker spoke with WSJM News about the legislation this week.. ...Read Full Story

SJ Commissioners Receive 2017 Coastal Study

St. Joseph City Commissioners are keeping their eye on the community’s coastal areas. In 2012, the commission voted to do periodic coastal studies to monitor water levels on Lake Michigan and beach erosion. Commissioners Monday heard the results of the 2017 study from Colin Hassenger of Edgewater Resources. He told WSJM News it is helpful for local governments to have a handle on shoreline issues.. ...Read Full Story

Consumers Energy Tips On Winter Savings

Now that the freezing weather is here, utilities around Michigan are reminding residents how they can keep themselves safe and also maybe save a little on their home heating bills. Consumers Energy’s Brian Wheeler tells WSJM News you’ve got to protect yourself against carbon monoxide in the winter.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Talks State Parks Grants

State Senator John Proos is praising the recent announcement of this year’s Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grants. The trust fund awards grants to communities throughout Michigan each year for parks projects. Proos tells WSJM News the money it gives out does not include any tax dollars.. ...Read Full Story

Former BH Superintendent Found Guilty

Former Benton Harbor Area Schools Superintendent Leonard Seawood has been found guilty on all counts in his embezzlement trial. Seawood is accused of stealing more than $40,000 from the district by taking payouts for unused vacation days. The trial this week included testimony from several current and former school board officials, along with Seawood himself. He maintains he received authorization for the vacation payouts. School board officials say Seawood was not straightforward about it. He was fired from the district last year following a lengthy suspension and investigation by Michigan State Police. The jury returned its verdict of guilty on counts of embezzlement and obtaining money under false pretenses this morning  after a day of deliberations. WNDU reports sentencing will be January 29. Seawood could get up to 15 years in prison.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Rotary To Ring Bells For Salvation Army

Coming soon to South Haven will be an annual holiday tradition. The Salvation Army bell ringers will be out in force. The South Haven Rotary tells us its volunteers ring the bells and will be out and about on December 23. You can stop by the Golden Brown Bakery and Walmart beginning at 7 a.m. and throughout the day to drop a couple of bucks in their red canisters. The South Haven Rotary has rung the bell for the Salvation Army every year since 1982. Last year, generous shoppers around South Haven donated more than $1,500 to the Salvation Army via the Rotary.. ...Read Full Story

BH School Board Talks Security, Discipline

Recent troubles involving discipline and student safety at Benton Harbor Area Schools have prompted the board of education to order up a review of security and the use of a grant. At a Thursday meeting, the board heard from parents concerned about recent videos on social media depicting student fights. Trustee Marletta Seats addressed that.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Extra Patrols This Weekend

Set for this weekend is another Michigan State Police Operation CARE. That’s Crash Awareness and Reduction Efforts. Michigan State Police Special Lieutenant Jim Flegel tells WSJM News extra patrols will be out on the state’s highways in all 83 counties watching out for bad behavior.. ...Read Full Story

New Law Allows Corrections Department To Hire Felons

The Michigan Department of Corrections will now be allowed to hire felons thanks to legislation approved by Michigan lawmakers and signed by the governor. The plan from state Representative Dave Pagel of Berrien Springs applies to non-violent offenders. Pagel tells WSJM News it seems right to him that the DOC could put its money where its mouth is.. ...Read Full Story

Verizon Talks New Tech With MI Police

Police, fire, and other Michigan first responders getting a behind-closed-doors demonstration by Verizon of new cellphone and drone technology that can help them with responding to emergencies. Verizon spokesman Kevin King told Michigan News Network this week the future looks bright.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Marks One Year Since 21st Century Cures Approval

Congressman Fred Upton is marking one year since his landmark 21st Century Cures legislation became law. The plan increased funding for the National Institutes of Health and sped up the approval process for new drugs and medical devices. In a promo video released this week, Upton said 21st Century Cures is all about trying to help the kinds of people he meets every day.. ...Read Full Story

Conservation District Recommends Buying Local Christmas Trees

This is the time of year when people bring more greenery into their homes, but the Van Buren Conservation District is warning that those wreaths and trees can bring with them a whole host of unwanted guests. The district tells us forest pests that can hurt native tree species can enter the state on Christmas trees. In order to stop the spread of these insects, the Van Buren Conservation District encourages everyone to buy this year’s tree from local tree farms or dealers. Insects like the balsam woolly adelgid or fungi like spruce decline can get into the state on imported plants. That’s why buying local can help. Anyone with questions should call the Van Buren Conservation District.. ...Read Full Story

Thursday Session To Address Opioid Addiction

Set for this Thursday is a special engagement at the Berrien County Health Department with an addiction specialist. Berrien County coalitions “Voice. Change. Hope.” and Families Against Narcotics are hosting a community event to talk about the root nature of addiction and why it should be viewed and treated as a brain disease. The Berrien County Health Department’s Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News a focus is opioids.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Blood Making Holiday Push For Donations

Michigan Blood is hoping you’ll take a moment to make a donation this holiday season. The organization tells us it’s offering folks a special incentive to give. From December 21 through January 2, anyone who donates at one of Michigan Blood’s main donor centers will receive a $10 Meijer or Speedway gift card while supplies last. That means donors can save lives while getting a stocking stuffer for someone special in their life. It just so happens that Michigan Blood has a donation center in St. Joseph. It’s on Cleveland Avenue near the bowling alley. A drive is also taking place at Michigan Blood in St. Joe on Wednesday, December 27 from noon to 7 p.m. One in every seven people entering the hospital needs blood, and Michigan Blood tells us it provides blood products to more than 60 hospitals across the state.. ...Read Full Story

More Than 6,200 Flint Water Pipes Replaced So Far

From the Associated Press — The mayor of Flint says more than 6,200 water pipes have been replaced as the result of the city’s lead crisis.
Mayor Karen Weaver gave an update Tuesday. The city and the state of Michigan agreed earlier this year to replace at least 18,000 lead or galvanized-steel water lines by 2020. Weaver says “significant progress” is being made. Michael McDaniel, who is overseeing the program, says crews are finding some homes have copper service lines that don’t need to be replaced. Flint’s water system was contaminated by lead because corrosive water from the Flint River wasn’t properly treated in 2014 and 2015, causing lead to break off inside old pipes. Flint now gets its water from a different source, although residents still are encouraged to use filters.. ...Read Full Story

Schuette Calls For Asian Carp Action

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and two other state attorneys general have sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking more to be done to stop the Asian carp. Specifically, they’re asking for a physical barrier to be installed in the Chicago shipping canals to stop the Asian carp from getting into Lake Michigan. AG spokesperson Megan Hawthorne tells WSJM News this follows the recent release of the Brandon Road Lock and Dam study.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool Wins Digital Edge 50 Award

A cloud computing project at Whirlpool has received some new attention. The Whirlpool Cloud Project has been named a winner of the 2018 Digital Edge 50 Award from IDG Enterprise and CIO Magazine. Whirlpool tells us the award is for companies that use the internet to improve their products and enhance the customer experience. It says the Whirlpool Cloud Project, launched in 2016, will allow Whirlpool Corporation to deploy connected products around the globe, delivering advanced appliance features more quickly and reducing development times. In other words, it’s a Whirlpool initiative to have connected appliances. Whirlpool Corporate Vice President and Global Chief Information Officer Mike Heim says the company is “proud of this project and the team behind it.”. ...Read Full Story

SJ Cemetery Records Now Online

You can now search an online database of the plots at Riverview Cemetery in St. Joseph. St. Joe Deputy Public Works Director Greg Grothous tells WSJM News a new system recently installed in his department tracks the information of individuals buried there.. ...Read Full Story

Upton On Conyers Retirement

Congressman Fred Upton thinks Governor Rick Snyder’s decision to set the elections to replace former Congressman John Conyers for August and November was a reasonable one. He told Michigan’s Big Show this week a lot has to be done to replace Conyers, so allowing some time for the process could be a good thing. Plus, he doesn’t think the constituents of Conyers are really losing all that much representation.. ...Read Full Story

Former Berrien Landfill Employees Charged With Embezzlement

A couple of former employees of the Southeast Berrien County Landfill Authority are facing charges in an embezzlement case. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office tells WSJM News 46-year-old Clyde Fuller of Buchanan and 54-year-old Terry Snow of Eau Claire were arraigned on Tuesday. Fuller is charged with conducting a criminal enterprise and embezzlement over $10,000, while Snow is charged with aiding and abetting a criminal enterprise and embezzlement over $10,000.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Approves Municipal Retirement Funding Bills

From the Associated Press — Bills designed to get a handle on municipalities’ underfunded employee retirement benefits are going to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk for his expected signature. The legislature overwhelmingly approved the legislation Tuesday, after removing
contentious provisions last week. Communities will have to set aside money for retirement health costs for employees hired after June 30, 2018. The state treasurer annually will determine the funding status of each local government’s retirement plans. Those not meeting minimum funding thresholds or not getting a waiver will submit corrective actions to a new Municipal Stability Board appointed by the governor. The board will approve or reject plans _ but not be empowered to force changes. Supporters say many local governments have already taken steps to address their liabilities, and the bills will help those that haven’t.. ...Read Full Story