Local News Archives

Bureau Reviewing Candidate Eligibility

From the Associated Press — Michigan election officials are reviewing a letter that requests an investigation into Democrat Abdul El-Sayed’s eligibility to run for governor. The state Bureau of Elections received a letter from Pamela Nelson last week. The DeWitt resident cited questions over whether El-Sayed will have been a registered and qualified Michigan voter for four years before the election. El-Sayed, one of three Democratic gubernatorial candidates, studied and worked in New York until moving back to Michigan in 2015. Nelson says she filed the complaint so the issue is resolved before August’s primary. The deadline to challenge a candidate’s nominating petitions is Tuesday. Spokesman Fred Woodhams says the elections bureau is reviewing the letter and “will decide what the next steps, if any, are.” vEl-Sayed has called the eligibility issue a “manufactured controversy.”. ...Read Full Story

New Pedestrian Safety Campaign

Heads up,GR! That’s the name of a new summer safety campaign in Grand Rapids for pedestrians and bicyclists. Grand Rapids Traffic Safety Manager Chris Zull told Michigan News Network they have a new law requiring drivers to stop for pedestrians in marked and unmarked crosswalks, a change from yield. Zull says the goal is to have zero pedestrian-involved crashes.. ...Read Full Story

BH Board Making Cuts

The changes keep coming for Benton Harbor Area Schools. At a Monday meeting, the board of education voted to part ways with or re-assign several administrators. It also moved to terminate a contract for a gang prevention study and drop a standby bus service. Other cuts will come. Trustee Martha Momany warned it won’t be pleasant.. ...Read Full Story

Home Heating Help Still Available

While spring has arrived in Michigan, some folks still are trying to catch up on their heating costs from winter. There is still one month available to apply for energy-bill assistance through the State Emergency Relief program. Consumers Energy Customer Assistance Manager Whitney Skeans tells us they have at least 100,000 qualified households among their customer base who have difficulty paying energy bills each year.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Man Killed In Motorcycle Crash

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is investigating after a Dowagiac man was killed in a motorcycle crash on Monday. It happened shortly after 5:30 a.m. on Calvin Hill Street near North Shore Drive in Calvin Township. 29-year-old Jerry West of Dowagiac was eastbound on Calvin Hill when his motorcycle hit a truck that was pulling out of a driveway. Police say West was pronounced dead at the scene, while the driver of the truck, a 52-year-old Cassopolis man, was taken to a hospital for treatment and then released. Police don’t believe alcohol was a factor in the crash, which remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

More Than 81 Pounds Of Prescriptions Collected

A whole heap of pills and other prescription medications are now being handed off to the Drug Enforcement Agency for safe disposal thanks to a drug take-back event held on Saturday in St. Joseph. Michigan State Police Lieutenant Melinda Logan tells WSJM News the number reflects the pills collected at just one site, Lakeland Center for Outpatient Services on Hollywood Avenue.. ...Read Full Story

Detroit Released From State Oversight

From the Associated Press — The city of Detroit has been released from active state oversight just over three years after exiting the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. A nine-member review commission unanimously voted Monday on a waiver that returns financial control to the mayor and City Council after Detroit delivered three consecutive years of audited balanced budgets. A $36 million operating surplus also is expected for fiscal year 2018. The waiver must be approved annually for 10 years before the commission is fully retired.
A state-appointed emergency manager overseeing Detroit’s finances filed for bankruptcy in 2013. Detroit exited bankruptcy in December 2014 after restructuring about $7 billion in debt. The financial review commission was created in 2014 and given oversight for
borrowing and large city-issued contracts as part of the bankruptcy restructuring plan.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Speaker Series Event

“Why Our Political Is Behaving So Oddly” is the topic South Haven Speaker Series guest Phil Power address on Thursday, May 10th at the Lake Michigan College South Haven campus. Speaker Series Board President Mark Odland tells WSJM News Power is the founder of the Center for Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw Insurance Agent Accused Of Stealing From Client

A former insurance agent in Paw Paw is facing decades behind bars for allegedly stealing nearly $300,000 from a client with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Attorney General Bill Schuette has charged 57-year-old Brian Lietzau with seven felonies, saying he abused his position when he was given power of attorney for the woman. He is the former owner of Farm Bureau-Lietzau Insurance and obtained power of attorney for the client in 2012. Schuette is accusing him of writing checks to himself from her account along with converting her money to his own. Lietzau is accuse of stealing the money while the woman was hospitalized and after she had died. The Attorney General’s Elder Financial Crimes Unit started investigating the case this year after it was turned over to Schuette’s office by the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services.. ...Read Full Story

Tax Hearing In St. Joseph

A public hearing on the budget and the local tax rate will be held by St. Joseph City Commissioners next month. Mayor Mike Garey tells WSJM News the commission is grappling with multiple considerations as it looks at possible millage increases. That includes the need for street repair money. He credits city staff with being on top of the looming challenges.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Museum Opens

A new Michigan State Police Museum and Learning Center opened on Wednesday in Dimondale with a ribbon cutting. MSP Captain Mike Krumm told Michigan News Network the museum features weapons and vehicles that state police used back when the department began in 1917. He says it’s interactive.. ...Read Full Story

Harrison Seeks County Commission Seat

Former Lake Michigan College President Bob Harrison is now running for the Berrien County Board of Commissioners. He’s filed to run for the Republican nomination in the 7th District, which includes the village of Stevensville and part of Lincoln Township. Harrison tells WSJM News he sees the county commission facing challenges specific to southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

I&M Talks Green Energy

Indiana Michigan Power has been saluted for its green energy policies. The company has been named a 2018 Environmental Champion from a Cogent Reports study by Market Strategies International. I&M spokesperson Tracy Warner tells WSJM News the honor is for the company’s renewable energy portfolio. He says I&M gets two thirds of its electricity generation from emission-free sources, with the Cook nuclear power plant in Bridgman being a big part of that. I&M also has solar, hydroelectric, and wind programs.. ...Read Full Story

MI Student Wins National Poster Contest

A Macomb County ten-year-old girl is the winner of a national poster art contest to help find missing children. Michigan State Police Missing Children’s Clearinghouse Manager Jolene Hardesty tells WSJM News more than 2,000 submissions from 17 states came in for the 2018 National Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest. Now that a winner has been picked, her art will appear on posters reminding the public of missing children throughout the year.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Gets Award

An award has been given to state Senator John Proos for his work to promote organ donation in Michigan. This month, the Michigan Secretary of State’s office gave Proos the Shining Star Award. It’s for his role in getting Lauren’s Law approved in the state. Proos tells WSJM News the law requires the Secretary of State to ask people if they want to sign up for the organ donor registry when they renew their licenses.. ...Read Full Story

Pier Life Rings To Be Installed Soon

The north pier in St. Joseph will have life rings installed by Memorial Day weekend. So says St. Joe City Manager John Hodgson, who told city commissioners Monday night the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is on board, and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department will help with maintenance. Hodgson told WSJM News the north pier model will follow the county’s example with life rings at the south pier.. ...Read Full Story

Plan To Make State Tip Line Permanent

Legislation has been introduced to make the OK2Say school safety tip line a permanent program. State Representative Brandt Iden of Kalamazoo County’s Oshtemo Township tells WSJM News his bill and a couple of others would not only establish that OK2Say is here to stay, but set aside funding for the program each year. The OK2Say tip line was launched by the Michigan Attorney General’s office in 2015 to create a way for students to report potentially dangerous situations in their schools without fear of repercussions.. ...Read Full Story

New Animal Shelter Opens Monday

The Al-Van Humane Society is preparing to open its brand new shelter in South Haven next week. Executive Director Jennifer Nuernberg tells us the new 8,000 square foot building on Blue Star Highway is just around the corner from the current facility, and the animals will be moved this coming weekend. The Humane Society had to raise $500,000 to make the move possible.. ...Read Full Story

Health Officials Warn Young People About Drinking

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and the Berrien County Health Department is hoping to remind all parents and young people about the dangers of underage drinking. The department’s Lisa Peeples-Hurst tells WSJM News the brain doesn’t stop developing until the age of 25 for some. Introducing alcohol to a young brain can make a variety of already-existing problems even worse.. ...Read Full Story

Rally For Child Abuse Awareness

About 600 silver and blue pinwheels were placed in a park near the state Capitol in Lansing this week as part of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services 10th annual Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Day. Spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News a rally was held at the Capitol Wednesday to show support for those who fight child abuse and to raise money for the state’s Children’s Trust Fund.. ...Read Full Story

New Features Planned At PGA Event

Everything is falling into place for the 2018 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor. The PGA Championship Director Ryan Ogle tells WSJM News there will be several new features this year for the event slated for May 22 through May 27.. ...Read Full Story

Students Attend Mock Interviews With Whirlpool

37 at-risk students from Benton Harbor, Hartford, Dowagiac, and Cassopolis have had a chance to learn what it’s like to interview for a job at Whirlpool thanks to the Youth Solutions program. Youth Solutions Engagement Director Jan Ennis tells WSJM News the students took part in mock interviews with Whirlpool Wednesday.. ...Read Full Story

Land Bank Ready For Vacant Property Decision

The Berrien County Land Bank is prepared to approve the sale of the former Alreco Metals property in Benton Harbor to a medical marijuana operation, but only as long as the city of Benton Harbor approves it. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News the land bank got a letter this week from Mayor Marcus Muhammad expressing support for the sale of the vacant industrial property to the Harvest Foundation, a medical marijuana producer.. ...Read Full Story

New Theater Planned For BH

Benton Harbor is getting a new theater. Planned for May of 2019 is the brand new GhostLight Theatre to be located at 101 Hinkley Street right behind the Citadel Dance and Music Center. GhostLight co-owner Martha Hesse tells WSJM News the place is vacant right now.. ...Read Full Story

Drug Drop-Off Event Tomorrow

There will be a drug take-back event tomorrow, Saturday the 28th, in Berrien County. Michigan State Police Lieutenant Melinda Logan tells WSJM News  law enforcement offices and the Lakeland Center for Outpatient Services on Hollywood Road in St. Joseph will take unused prescription medications so they can be safely disposed.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Praises School Security Funding

State Senator John Proos is praising school security money approved this week by a Senate committee. He tells WSJM News a supplemental appropriation bill for the current 2018 fiscal year allows $15 million for competitive grants for schools to beef up security. Proos says the program will allow for some flexibility on a case by case basis.. ...Read Full Story

Body Recovered At County Park

Police say they have recovered a body found at a park in Benton Township. The Benton Township Police Department tells WSJM News it responded to Rocky Gap Park about 9:20 a.m. Friday on the report of a body that washed up near the shore. Investigation found the deceased was Ralph Ford of White Pigeon. Ford was reported missing on April 10 from Brian’s Marina in St. Joseph where he was seen on his dock. The body was taken to Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph by Medic 1, and police say there is no evidence of foul play at this time.. ...Read Full Story

Underwater Utility Line May Have Been Damaged

From the Associated Press — A Michigan electric utility says decommissioned power cables it owns beneath the waterway connecting Lakes Huron and Michigan may have been damaged in the same incident that ruined two cables belonging to another company. Consumers Energy said Thursday it was notified by American Transmission Co., which recently used an underwater vehicle to inspect a network of its cables on the floor of the Straits of Mackinac. Two had been severed in what state officials say was an April 1 tugboat anchor strike. The strike caused the release of 600 gallons of insulation fluid. Consumers says the inspection found potential damage to other cables in the
area. The company also says its cables were taken out of service in 1990 and would not experience a similar leak. The Jackson-based utility says it will do its own inspection.. ...Read Full Story

Opioid Meeting In SH Township

Everyone will have a chance to learn more about the opioid epidemic at a meeting planned for next week in St. Joseph Township. St. Joe Township Police Officer Rick Knapp tells WSJM News the neighborhood watch program is welcoming a guest speaker from Families Against Narcotics and the Berrien County Medical Examiner to come and speak at the township hall next Wednesday.. ...Read Full Story

Thanedar Addresses Animal Controversy

Shri Thanedar is defending himself against an eight-year old report which has resurfaced online. In 2010, the now leading Democrat in the race for Michigan governor was forced to close a New Jersey-based research clinic due to financial trouble. It said over 100 animals were left behind. Thanedar spoke about the situation with Michigan News Network.. ...Read Full Story

Ford Ditching Several Models

Ford Motor Company has announced it will be ditching its sedan lines over the next few years. That includes the Taurus, Fusion, Focus, Fiesta, and C-Max models. They don’t sell like their trucks and SUVs, and the automaker needs to cut $11 billion in costs. Auto Analyst John McElroy told Michigan News Network this week the price of gas isn’t a big concern as Ford is making trucks more fuel efficient at a time when domestic energy supplies are in better shape.. ...Read Full Story

Allegan Republican Running For State Senate

There’s a new Republican in the running for the Michigan Senate in the 26th District. That’s the district currently represented by state Senator Tonya Schuitmaker, who is being term limited out of office. The latest to announce for the post is Don Wikstra, a dentist and township planning commissioner from Allegan County’s Hamilton. He spoke with WSJM News.. ...Read Full Story

Fatal Crashes Down In 2017

The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning says alcohol and drug-related crashes remain a significant problem in the state, even though a new report shows overall traffic deaths decreased 3% last year. MSP spokesperson Kendall Wingrove tells WSJM News the latest statistics are a bit troubling.. ...Read Full Story

Girls On The Run Events Next Month

May will bring the first of two Girls on the Run 5Ks planned in southwest Michigan this year. Girls on the Run of Southwest Michigan Dirctor Julie Bos tells WSJM News the organization will stage the runs in Berrien Springs on May 17 and in Decatur on June 1. Nearly 900 girls will take part, and Bos says the atmosphere is exciting.. ...Read Full Story

Marijuana Proposal Clears Major Hurdle

From the Associated Press — A legislative leader says initiated legislation to legalize marijuana for recreational use will go on the November ballot. The Michigan Legislature could enact the bill on its own after it was certified by election officials Thursday, but House Speaker Tom Leonard says there is “not much support” within his Republican caucus. Assuming the GOP-controlled Legislature does not act within 40 days, voters will decide the proposal’s fate in November. The proposal would let people 21 and older possess up to 2.5 ounces
of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants at home. A 10 percent tax on marijuana would be assessed on top of the 6 percent state sales tax.. ...Read Full Story

Group Trying To Stop Nestle Operation

From the Associated Press — A group is trying to stop Nestle Waters North America Inc. from pumping more western Michigan groundwater for its Ice Mountain brand. Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation says Wednesday that it’s preparing a petition for a contested case against Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality, which approved Nestle’s application to remove 400 gallons (1,514
liters) of water per minute from an Osceola Township aquifer. The group says the DEQ will get the administrative challenge within 60 days.
Nestle had been permitted to withdraw 250 gallons (946 liters) a minute from the aquifer. The conservation group says the DEQ has “clearly bent the law to favor Nestle” by granting the permit before the company could provide “real data” on the consequences of withdrawing the additional water. The DEQ declined to comment on the petition. Nestle did not respond to a request for comment.. ...Read Full Story

New Roller Coaster At Cedar Point

Cedar Point has introduced its latest roller coaster to the media. Steel Vengreance was unveiled Wednesday, and it’s being called the world’s first ever hyper-hybrid roller coaster that climbs over 200 feet into the air before diving back down to earth into a series of hills, twists, dives, and over-banked turns lasting 2 and a half minutes. Cedar Point General Manager Jason McClure told Michigan News Network it’s easy to lose your senses on this ride.. ...Read Full Story

Calley Slams Flint Water Probe

From the Associated Press — Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley is escalating his criticism of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s prosecution of top state officials for the Flint water crisis, calling it a “gross abuse of power.” His comments to The Associated Press on Wednesday are the strongest words to date from Governor Rick Snyder’s administration on the criminal cases. Calley and Schuette are running to succeed the term-limited governor. Schuette’s criminal probe has led 15 current or former government officials to be charged, including two members of Snyder’s cabinet. Calley said the ongoing, long-running preliminary exams for state Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon and chief medical executive Eden Wells are “show trials” and “political stunts.” A Schuette spokeswoman declined comment, saying the cases are still before a judge.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Museum Opens

A new Michigan State Police Museum and Learning Center opened on Wednesday in Dimondale with a ribbon cutting. MSP Captain Mike Krumm told Michigan News Network the museum features weapons and vehicles that state police used back when the department began in 1917. He says it’s interactive.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Gets Award For Promoting Organ Donation

An award has been given to state Senator John Proos for his work to promote organ donation in Michigan. This month, the Michigan Secretary of State’s office gave Proos the Shining Star Award. It’s for his role in getting Lauren’s Law approved in the state. Proos tells WSJM News the law requires the Secretary of State to ask people if they want to sign up for the organ donor registry when they renew their licenses.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Promotes Drug Take-Back Day

A national drug take-back event is being held this Saturday, and Congressman Fred Upton is reminding everyone about it. He tells WSJM News the Drug Enforcement Agency is working with police agencies across the nation to collect unneeded prescription medications. Last year, the DEA collected more than 912,000 pounds of pills across more than 5,000 sites.. ...Read Full Story

Child Abuse Prevention Rally In Lansing

About 600 silver and blue pinwheels have been placed in a park near the state Capitol in Lansing as part of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services 10th annual Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Day. Spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News a rally was held at the Capitol Wednesday to show support for those who fight child abuse and to raise money for the state’s Children’s Trust Fund.. ...Read Full Story

Effort Focuses On Long-Term Flood Recovery

The United Way of Southwest Michigan has set up a long-term recovery team to help those affected by flooding this year in the region. The United Way tells WSJM News it will now host bi-monthly meetings with state and local organizations focused on uniting resources with community needs to ensure everyone recovers from the disaster. President Anna Murphy says a large number of southwest Michigan families were displaced by the flooding, and in some cases, their homes cannot be repaired. The United Way is teaming up with groups that include the Berrien Community Foundation, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and the Michigan State Police Office of Emergency Management to get ongoing help to those people. Anyone looking for more information can call the United Way of Southwest Michigan. It also notes the disaster relief fund it set up following February’s floods remains open. You can find it right here.. ...Read Full Story