Local News Archives

Study: Overhaul Needed In How Michigan Funds Schools

From the Associated Press — A new study says the base cost to educate a regular K-12 student in Michigan is $9,590. That figure doesn’t include transportation, food or capital costs.The report released Wednesday was funded by foundations and school groups. It says traditional and charter public schools should be funded equally, and transportation costs should be funded at $973 per rider. The School Finance Research Collaborative – whose members also include former lawmakers – didn’t analyze how its proposals compare with existing funding. But the study suggests an overhaul is needed and says the base cost figure is the most important factor in new school-finance systems. Researchers say there’s been too much focus on “equity” in funding when costs vary drastically depending on the district’s size, students living in poverty and other factors.. ...Read Full Story

MSU To Allow White Nationalist To speak On Campus

From the Associated Press — Michigan State University has agreed to allow white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak on campus during spring break. The deal signed Thursday says Spencer can appear on March 5. But he’ll be at the livestock pavilion auditorium, away from the heart of campus. Spencer ally Cameron Padgett must pay $1,650 and come up with at least $2 million in liability insurance. MSU will arrange for police. The deal settles a lawsuit that was filed after MSU last summer cited public safety and refused to rent space. Padgett said the school was violating free speech rights. Spencer popularized the term “alt-right” to refer to a fringe movement that’s a mix of white nationalist, white supremacist, anti-Semitic and anti-immigration beliefs. Under the deal, MSU is paying $27,400 for Padgett’s legal fees.. ...Read Full Story

Buchanan Thrill On The Hill Canceled

The winter Thrill on the Hill event in Buchanan has been canceled. The annual event features sledding down the big hill downtown on snow produced on site. The Buchanan Chamber of Commerce tells us Thrill on the Hill, which had been set for January 26 and 27, will not take place this year due to uncooperative weather. It goes on to say warm daytime and evening temperatures coupled with the rain in the forecast will make it impossible to make enough snow to provide a real thrill on Front Street. The chamber says it was a difficult decision to cancel the annual event, but have no fear. The summer Thrill on the Hill is still on with plenty of activities planned. The summer Thrill on the Hill is slated for August 2 through the 4th.. ...Read Full Story

MI Unemployment Rate Up Slightly In December

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s unemployment rate rose by one-tenth of a percentage point to 4.7 percent in December while the size of the state’s workforce grew by 12,000 people. Figures released Thursday by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management
& Budget show Michigan’s December’s employment rate was six-tenths of a percentage point above the national rate of 4.1 percent but four-tenths of a percentage point below the state’s December 2016 rate of 5.1 percent. The December 2017 jobless rate was the highest recorded in the state since April. December also marked the fifth straight month that Michigan’s jobless rate increased. Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives Director Jason Palmer says Michigan’s jobless rate fell for an eighth straight year while
payroll jobs rose for a seventh consecutive year.. ...Read Full Story

Proposal To Seek More Funding For Van Buren Senior Services

As the number of senior citizens increases, so does the need for the funding of services. The same millage that has been on the ballot for over 20 years in South Haven will be on the ballot again this year, along with another proposal for an increase due to increased demand for services. Jennifer Carver of Van Buren Senior Services spoke with WSJM News about the need for funding.. ...Read Full Story

MI House Mental Health Task Force Releases Report

The Michigan House has received a report from a task force that investigated mental health treatment over the past several months. The task force held meetings all over Michigan speaking with doctors, law enforcement, and advocates about how patients in need could be better served. Sitting on the panel was state Representative Mary Whiteford of Casco Township.. ...Read Full Story

Pedestrian Killed In Berrien Township

A Hartford man is dead after being struck by a car in Berrien Township Thursday morning. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us it happened on Old US-31 just north of Deans Hill Road around 7:20 a.m. Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene to find a passerby performing CPR on an unresponsive man who had been hit by a vehicle. The victim was taken to Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph where he was pronounced dead. Police learned a vehicle driven by a 60-year-old Niles man had been northbound on Old US-31 and had just passed Deans Hill Road when the driver noticed something in the road. He tried to swerve, but was unable to avoid hitting 52-year-old Lee Hauweghen of Hartford. Police say Hauweghen was walking across the road when he was hit. The accident remains under investigation,. ...Read Full Story

Detroit Doesn’t Make List Of Possible 2nd Amazon HQ Sites

Detroit isn’t on Amazon’s list of cities under consideration for the online retail giant’s second headquarters. Seattle-based Amazon on Thursday named 20 cities that didn’t include the Motor City, which had submitted a proposal. Amazon plans to invest $5 billion in the new headquarters and could employ as many as 50,000 people in and around the city it chooses. Detroit’s proposal included office space in existing buildings, more space in projects under development and vacant land. Amazon had made clear that tax breaks and grants would be a big factor in its decision about where to locate the project. Mayor Mike Duggan picked Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert to lead the team pursuing Amazon. Duggan says Thursday that Detroit’s proposal “showed a clear vision for the future” of the city.. ...Read Full Story

EPA Designates Benton Harbor Property For Expedited Cleanup

A couple of locations in southwest Michigan have been added to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund Sites Redevelopment Focus List. The office of Congressman Fred Upton tells us this means the EPA views those sites as having the greatest expected redevelopment and commercial potential. The sites are the Aircraft Components property in Benton Harbor and the Allied Paper-Kalamazoo River site in Kalamazoo. Upton says this is good news for Benton Harbor and Kalamazoo as it means “there is a clear priority to expedite work on these Superfund sites for the betterment of our economy and for commercial development.” The former Aircraft Components site in Benton Harbor was the location of various manufacturing activities from the 1910s to the 1950s. There is chemical contamination there. The site is located near North Shore Drive.. ...Read Full Story

MI Senate OKs Tax Cut That Goes Further Than Fix

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Senate has approved a tax cut that goes further than fixing an unintended consequence of the federal tax overhaul. A bill approved unanimously Wednesday and sent to the House would gradually raise Michigan’s personal tax exemption to $5,000, with future inflationary adjustments. That’s $700 more than what it will rise to currently, equating to an annual $30 tax cut per individual. The Senate also plans to vote next week to create a state tax credit for dependent care, such as caring for children or elderly parents. A couple with two dependents would save $490 a year. Governor Rick Snyder has proposed keeping intact and boosting Michigan’s personal tax exemption to offset unintended consequence of the federal tax cuts. But his administration has budgetary concerns with major tax cuts.. ...Read Full Story

Senate Committee Approves Resolution Opposing Sanctuary Cities

Two resolutions urging the U.S. Senate to cut funding to sanctuary cities and to pass Kate’s Law have received approval from the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee. The resolutions from state Senators Tonya Schuitmaker and Patrick Colbeck were introduced back in September. Schuitmaker told WSJM News at the time cities that don’t cooperate with immigration laws aren’t yet a problem in Michigan, but they could be.. ...Read Full Story

Saturday Evening Party Planned At Cass County Park

Set for this Saturday is the return of a popular winter event in Cass County. Parks Director Scott Wyman tells WSJM News they’re holding the 12th annual Discover Winter Nights at Dr. T.K. Lawless Park. Discover Winter Nights is a party held at the park featuring lighted tube sledding, star gazing, cross country skiing, mountain biking, and more.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigating Armed Home Invasion In Benton Township

The Benton Township Police Department is looking for a suspect following an armed home invasion on Wednesday afternoon. It happened in the 1300 block of Whispering Trail around 2:15. When officers arrived at the scene, they checked the home and found no suspect. The home’s resident told them he’d been sitting in the living room when the suspect came out of the basement brandishing a gun and demanding money. The victim said he was held there for “a lengthy period of time.” The victim was robbed of money, a cell phone, a tablet, and a bottle of liquor before the suspect left. Police say footprints found outside indicate the suspect ran off into the ravine, exiting on Peach Street from the woods. Police ask anyone with information on the crime to contact them.. ...Read Full Story

More Than $31,000 Going To Van Buren FIRST Robotics Teams

State grants totaling more than $31,000 are going to seven Van Buren County school districts for their FIRST Robotics teams. State Representative Beth Griffin announced the grants this week. She says they range in size from $2,500 to $6,500, and will go to school districts in South Haven, Bloomingdale, Mattawan, Paw Paw, Decatur, and Lawton. The Van Buren ISD is also getting one. Since 2014, Michigan has invested $12 million in FIRST Robotics teams. The world championships, planned for April, are expected to include nearly 60,000 students in Detroit. Griffin, a Mattawan Republican, says FIRST Robotics “teaches students life-long skills that will prepare them for jobs in the 21st century economy.”. ...Read Full Story

LMC Holds Privilege Walk For MLK Week

Students and others have had a chance to learn and think a little bit about privilege thanks to a program at Lake Michigan College this week. Wednesday brought a privilege walk at the college as part of LMC’s Martin Luther King week activities. Participants got in a line and each took steps forward or back depending on whether different life circumstances applied to them. LMC Diversity Consultant Danny Sledge told WSJM News it was all to illustrate a point.. ...Read Full Story

Police Arrest Two Following Chase In Van Buren County

Two suspects are facing charges following a chase in Van Buren and Kalamazoo counties on Tuesday morning. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us deputies tried to stop a vehicle for an obstructed license plate around 3 a.m. in Bloomingdale. The vehicle took off and a chase that took deputies into Kalamazoo County ensued. It was there that police used stop sticks to blow out the front tires of the car that was being chased. It kept going, but eventually, sheriff’s deputies were able to force the car to stop and break a window to reach the driver. They had to use a taser to get him to comply. Police learned the vehicle was stolen and the driver and its passenger had warrants out. 38-year-old Shawn Michael Newnum is now facing a variety of charges including fleeing and eluding. His bond has been set at $150,000. His passenger, 34-year-old Kristine Marie Jung, was found to have some meth on her. She’s charged with possession of meth, and her bond is set at $15,000.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Overrides Snyder Veto Of Tax Cut

From the Associated Press — For the first time in Governor Rick Snyder’s tenure, the Michigan Legislature has voted to override one of his vetoes. The Republican-led legislature voted Wednesday to support a tax cut for people who trade in their car for a new one. It is just the fourth veto override in Michigan in the last 67 years. In July, the Republican governor turned down legislation to accelerate the
sales tax break. He cited “additional financial strain” for the state and said the bills conflicted with a previous compromise to phase in tax relief for buyers of cars and RVs. But Republican and Democratic lawmakers say the tax cut would put money in people’s pockets and boost the auto industry. The Senate voted unanimously to override Snyder. The House voted 85-23 — more than the two-thirds needed.. ...Read Full Story

BH Commissioners Talk Home Rehab Program

Benton Harbor City Commissioners are looking at getting the city’s housing rehabilitation program up and running again, although they want it done right. At Tuesday’s meeting, they heard about a proposal to bring in the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency to administer a program run with federal dollars for home rehab. It’s been non-functional locally since 2011, said Community and Economic Development Director Stephanie Scott-Sims.. ...Read Full Story

Former Sports Doctor Sentencing Expected To Take Days

From the Associated Press — A gymnast has told a Michigan judge of her confusion and embarrassment at age 9 when a now-disgraced former sports doctor sexually abused her during a medical examination. Seventeen-year-old Jessica Thomashow said Tuesday that her coaches arranged for her to see Larry Nassar for a rib injury when she was 9. But “everything changed” in a back room, and “he touched the most innocent places on my body.” She described being confused and embarrassed, and said abuse occurred again when she was 12. She was among the first victims to speak at a four-day sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar. Nassar pleaded guilty to molesting females with his hands at his Michigan State University office, his home and a Lansing-area gymnastics club. He also worked for Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.. ...Read Full Story

New MSP Trooper Recruit School Underway

The 134th Michigan State Police Trooper Recruit School is now underway in Lansing. MSP Sergeant Michael McDonald tells WSJM News there are 149 prospective troopers now training Sunday through Friday each week from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. They do both physical training and classroom training. McDonald tells us new recruits come from all walks of life.. ...Read Full Story

2017 A Record Year For MI Lotto

The 2017 fiscal year was a record year for the Michigan Lottery. Spokesperson Jeff Holyfield tells WSJM News the lotto raised nearly $1 billion for the state’s schools. They reached $924 million, and they’ve got their eyes set on that $1 billion goal for 2018.. ...Read Full Story

New Four Winds Casino Opens In South Bend

The opening the Pokagon Band of Pottawatomi’s new casino in South Bend is being celebrated with local officials this week. Leaders of the Pokagon Band joined with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and others for a ceremony for Tuesday’s opening day of the Four Winds South Bend casino, which is now open to the public. It’s the first tribal casino in Indiana and joins three that the Pokagon Band owns in New Buffalo, Hartford, and Dowagiac. The tribe says the casino has 1,800 electronic gambling machines, four restaurants and three bars, and employs about 1,200 people. It’s on South Bend’s southwest side, near the U.S. 31-20 bypass. The new tribal casino won’t pay state taxes, giving it a business advantage over Indiana’s 13 existing casinos.. ...Read Full Story

MSU Extension To Hold Wine Grape Conference

A conference set for next month in Benton Harbor will give prospective wine grape growers an idea of how to best go about the process. The Michigan State University Extension office will host the wine grape establishment conference, says the organization’s Joanne Davidhizar. She tells us the wine industry in the state is growing.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Education Association Endorses Whitmer For Governor

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Education Association has endorsed Gretchen Whitmer for governor. The approximately 140,000-member union announced its support for Whitmer on Monday. It represents teachers, support staff, higher education faculty and
staff and retirees across Michigan. MEA President Paula Herbart said Whitmer’s support for educators and her commitment to the success of Michigan students makes her the strongest candidate for governor. As Senate Democratic leader, she opposed legislation that took 3
percent out of educator’s paychecks to pay for retiree health care. Whitmer’s mother taught in the Lansing Public Schools, her grandmother taught in Waterford, and her grandfather was a superintendent in Pontiac. The teachers union chose Whitmer over three other Democrats: scientist and businessman Shri Thanedar, ex-Detroit health director Abdul El-Sayed and former Xerox executive Bill Cobbs.. ...Read Full Story

Shadowland Ballroom Saluted By Industry Website

Shadowland Ballroom in St. Joseph has received a distinction from the wedding website The Knot. It’s been listed as a 2018 winner in The Knot Best of Weddings, an award that recognizes wedding professionals based on user ratings. Shadowland Wedding Manager Amy Parnell tells WSJM News only 3% of the roughly 300,000 wedding professionals listed on TheKnot have the same distinction.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeshore Chamber Annual Meeting Next Week

Set for next Monday is the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce annual meeting. To be held at Santinello’s in Stevensville, the meeting will provide guests with business networking opportunities, a dinner, and a business meeting. The keynote speaker will be the Cook nuclear power plant spokesperson Bill Schalk. He’ll talk about the status of the Cook Plant, the economic impact of Indiana Michigan Power in the community, along with volunteer engagement. The Lakeshore Chamber president will also will present an overview of chamber activities for 2017 while laying out the goals and objectives for 2018. The meeting will wrap up with the recognition of the 2017 Business of the Year and the 2017 Community Spirit Award. Anyone who wants to register for the annual meeting should contact the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce.. ...Read Full Story

Two Parks Grants Announced For Royalton Township

Royalton Township is the recipient of $300,000 in Michigan Department of Natural Resources grants for parks projects. The DNR this month announced two Land and Water Conservation Fund grants for the township, each for $150,000. One is for Bicentennial Park for the addition of new playground equipment and improved access to walkways. The other grant is for the development of a paved walkway, a parking lot, and a boardwalk at the Bacon School Road Nature Trail. The DNR says the Land and Water Conservation Fund is made up of federal dollars intended to improve recreational opportunities around the state. A total of more than $2.7 million in such grants were announced this month.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Announces MLK Diversity Award Winner

Retired Michigan State Police Trooper Maurice Burton is the recipient of this year’s recipient of the Lake Michigan College Diversity Award. He received the honor at Monday’s 23rd annual LMC Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Celebration. Burton reflected on his 31 years as a Michigan State Police trooper, running local youth programs.. ...Read Full Story

Rising Great Lakes Water Levels Keep MI Companies Busy

From the Associated Press — Rising water levels in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are keeping shoreline stabilization, dock and hoist companies in Michigan busy. The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports that the Army Corps of Engineers says water levels for the two lakes averaged 580 feet in December, nearly two feet higher than the long-term average. Officials predict water levels will have an overall increase of 4 to 6 inches this year. Brandon Oaks owns the Silver Lake area-based Pure Harbor Dock and Boat. He says the rising levels means he constantly has work removing old docks and designing new ones that will clear the water. The Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit says water levels depend on snow accumulation across the Great Lakes basin and ice on the lake. ...Read Full Story

Allegan County Worried About Sheriff’s Department Funding

Allegan County authorities are concerned that funding for their sheriff’s department is not what it should be and they are seeking options to increase revenue. County Board Chairman Dean Kapenga of Hamilton, a retired deputy himself, admitted that not enough residents are aware that the resources of the sheriff’s department haven’t kept up with the growth of the county.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Post Another Week-Over-Week Gain

AAA of Michigan says gas prices have increased 8¢ a gallon in the last week, despite gasoline inventories being at a high not seen since September in the Midwest. The latest increase might be because oil prices are near a three-year high. Continued cuts by OPEC nations and Russia are keeping prices high according to GasBuddy’s Patrick DeHaan.. ...Read Full Story

Eau Claire Schools Superintendent Dies

There will be a Celebration of Life Service tomorrow at 11 a.m. at the Eau Claire Student Activities Center for Superintendent David Gray. He died on Friday at the age of 72, and the district is canceling classes for Tuesday. They are also moving the end of the first semester to Friday, January 26 to allow students time to finish their assignments and exams. Along with tomorrow’s service, a visitation will be held this afternoon from 4 to 8 p.m. at Starks & Menchinger Chapel in St. Joseph on Niles Road. Gray will have a private burial at a later date at Caldwell Cemetery in Eau Claire.. ...Read Full Story

Continued Call For Increase In Minimum Wage

Michigan rang in 2018 with a 35 cent hike to the minimum wage, but some say that doesn’t go far enough and want voters to have the final word. This week marked the last of three scheduled increases under a law passed in 2014, taking the state’s minimum wage to $9.25 an hour. The group Michigan One Fair Wage is circulating petitions to put a measure on the November ballot to raise it to $12 an hour by 2022. Alicia Renee Farris chairs the campaign and tells us the state’s lowest earners still need more money.. ...Read Full Story

Heart Of Cook Program Taking Grant Applications

Applications for the Heart of Cook grants are now available. The Berrien Community Foundation tells us Heart of Cook is a program funded by Indiana Michigan Power’s Cook nuclear plant to help non-profit programs in southwest Michigan and northwest Indiana. Educational projects, human services programs that support families, and environmental protection and preservation projects are the focus areas for Heart of Cook. The grant review committee, comprised of Cook plant employees, gives special consideration to projects that involve I&M staff. The program is administered by the Berrien Community Foundation, and applications are available at its website. The deadline to apply is February 9. Last year, the Heart of Cook program gave out more than $52,000 to 36 non-profits. You can find the webpage to apply right here.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Talks Winter Flu

The explosion in flu cases reported in some parts of the United States this winter hasn’t quite come to Michigan, although flue cases have been up. Berrien County Health Department spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News there was a jump in local flu cases toward the end of December. Still, the state is still doing better than many others.. ...Read Full Story

Several Dogs Believed Killed In Mobile Home Fire

Several pet dogs are believed to have been killed in a Sunday morning mobile home fire in South Haven Township. South Haven Area Emergency Services was called to the home just before 8 a.m. in the Lakeshore Mobile Home Park on 16th Avenue. The home was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived, and the person who lives there was able to get out. That resident is being treated at Bronson-South Haven for smoke inhalation. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Report Recommends Changes To MI Unemployment System

The Michigan League for Public Policy is calling for several changes to the state’s unemployment insurance system. League Policy Analyst Peter Ruark tells WSJM News the maximum benefit hasn’t been raised since 2002, low-income workers don’t even qualify for help, and the legislature in 2011 reduced the amount of time someone could receive benefits.. ...Read Full Story

Jeff Morley; With Respect 01/14/18

John’s guest this week is Jeff Morley, the author of “The Ghost, the Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Angleton”. They talk of the world of espionage and counterespionage throughout American history, but mostly of the amazing life and work of James Angleton, the second most powerful person in the CIA during the 50s and 60s. He began opening letters of people suspected of being disloyal to the United States, a program which morphed from a few letters a year to what is now the reality of monitoring millions or billions of communications around the world. Jeff talks of the quiet links with J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. Most unique about this book is his revelation of how Angleton kept close tabs on Lee Harvey Oswald BEFORE the Kennedy assassination. . ...Read Full Story