Local News Archives

State Board Issues LGBT Ruling

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Civil Rights Commissions says the state’s civil rights law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The board voted 5-0 to issue the interpretative statement Monday, with one commissioner abstaining. An LGBT rights group had requested the move. Michigan Department of Civil Rights Director Agustin Arbulu says he commends the commission “for the courage they’ve shown in making this decision.” The department will begin processing complaints of sex discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity on Tuesday. The issue may not be settled. A conservative legal group had submitted opposition from 10 Republican lawmakers who say an interpretive statement is not binding law and note that the Legislature has rejected adding more classifications to the state civil rights law 11 times since 1999.. ...Read Full Story

City Commission Hears Harbor Study

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have heard a report on a study done by the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission and others regarding possibilities for development of the local harbor. The Twin Cities Harbor Study took a look at the potential for commercial and residential developments along the shore with the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission’s John Egelhaaf noting there’s a great deal of value there that could be even better utilized.. ...Read Full Story

Click It Or Ticket Underway

Michigan law enforcement is once again holding the Click it or Ticket campaign to reduce crashes and deaths this coming Memorial Day weekend. Kendall Wingrove with the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning told Michigan News Network the campaign is not a money grab.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Community Grants

The Greater South Haven Area Community Foundation has announced its latest round of grants. The organization tells us a total of more than $18,000 will be going to nearly 20 local non-profits this year. Recipients of grants will include the South Haven Speaker Series, Junior Achievement, SHOUT for South Haven, the South Haven Performance Series, the Al-Van Humane Society, and Michigan Maritime Museum. The Greater South Haven Area Community Foundation supports organizations with cultural, educational, and community service programs. It announces its grants every spring. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

SJ Schools Book Bonanza

Students from kindergarten through the fifth grade will be at the St. Joseph High School Library this Wednesday to pick out books for summer reading. St. Joseph Public Schools Curriculum Director Kelly Gaideski tells WSJM News each child will be able to pick out six books.. ...Read Full Story

Unemployment Provision Pulled From Medicaid Bill

From the Associated Press — The sponsor of proposed Medicaid work requirements is dropping a provision that would have exempted recipients who live in Michigan counties with higher jobless rates, saying Governor Rick Snyder’s administration worries it would be an “administrative nightmare.” Opponents of the legislation have said the provision would disproportionately hurt African-Americans because they live in cities with higher unemployment but counties with lower unemployment, while white Medicaid recipients in rural counties with higher jobless rates would not have to comply with the workforce engagement requirements. Shirkey told The Associated Press Monday that allegations of racism are “ridiculous,” but the provision is being pulled because it would be too difficult to administer. Instead, negotiators are focusing on a broader “grace period” exemption for people struggling to find work or facing other temporary
obstacles.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers Consider Surplus Options

More talks are expected this week between lawmakers and the governor’s office on whether to spend or save money from a budget surplus. Economists estimate a $500 million surplus for this year and next. Michigan Senate Appropriations Chairman Dave Hildenbrand of Lowell told Michigan News Network he doesn’t want all of the money spent on road repairs.. ...Read Full Story

Group Seeks Minimum Wage Increase

From the Associated Press — The prospect of a $12-an-hour minimum wage by 2022 for all Michigan workers, including tipped servers, could be put to a popular vote this fall. The Michigan One Fair Wage group on Monday submitted 373,507 signatures to the state Bureau of Elections. The Board of State Canvassers must certify roughly 252,000 of them before the proposal can go to the Republican-controlled
Legislature to pass or reject. Should it falter there, the initiative would be placed on the November ballot. Michigan’s current $9.25 an hour wage would be raised to $10 next year and gradually increase to $12 by 2022 under the proposal. Tipped employees would be paid full minimum wage on top of their tips by 2024. Employers currently must ensure tipped employees make at least the minimum wage.. ...Read Full Story

Former MSU President To Testify Before Senate Panel

Former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon will testify before a congressional panel that oversees the health and safety of USA Gymnastics and college athletes. A specific date for the testimony before the U.S. Senate’s subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security hasn’t been scheduled. Those on the committee say hearing from Simon and others are imperative to an investigation into abuse in amateur sports. Simon stepped down as president in late January as she received criticism for the handling of the Larry Nassar scandal.. ...Read Full Story

High Gas Prices For Memorial Day Travel

Triple-A Michigan is estimating 1.3 million of us in the state will travel for Memorial Day this weekend, the highest number in years. To go along with your travel plans are the state’s highest gas prices for the holiday in several years as well. AAA says the statewide average is exactly $3 a gallon, up 7¢ from last Monday. We hit the $3 mark toward the end of last week. Traverse City has the state’s lowest prices at $2.95, while the most expensive gas is being sold in Ann Arbor at $3.05. The average in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph is $3, up 15¢ a gallon from last week. GasBuddy says South Haven’s prices, which aren’t included in the Triple-A survey, are as low as $2.83 this morning.. ...Read Full Story

Watervliet Woman Seeks House Seat

The field of candidates in the running for the Republican nomination in the Michigan House in the 79th District includes a Watervliet woman with a long family family history in Bainbridge Township. Pauline Wendzel tells WSJM News she’s jumped into the race to replace state Representative Kim LaSata because she wants to promote conservative values and pursue growth. One priority is infrastructure.. ...Read Full Story

Energy Incentive For Buchanan Apartments

The owners of an apartment complex in Buchanan have received a check for more than $243,000 from Indiana Michigan Power for making improvements to their facility to save energy. Jason Muniz with Hollander Development Corporation tells WSJM News the company spent about $7 million to upgrade the units at Metea Court Apartments, a 100-unit community for low-income seniors.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joe Goes Green

St. Joseph City Commissioners are making their commitment to sustainability official. At this week’s meeting, the commission approved a resolution to pursue bronze certification from Michigan Green Communities. Commissioner Peggy Getty tells WSJM News she and Commissioner Laura Goos looked into it and realized the city was already doing many of the things to get bronze status.. ...Read Full Story

Beach Flags Now Out

In a sign of the summer, the safety flags are now flying at beaches in South Haven. South Haven Area Emergency Services tells us it monitors lake conditions as reported by the National Weather Service. Beach warning flags are placed at the city’s seven public beaches every day between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and are changed throughout the day as lake conditions change. The flags are either green, yellow, or red based on the conditions. A numbering system for the beach flag poles and pier safety boxes has also been developed to assist during a time of emergency as a point of reference. Anyone thinking of going in the water is advised to check the flags first. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

New Drug Drop Off Points

28 Walgreens stores will be part of an expansion into Michigan to provide drug kiosks so customers can get rid of unwanted medications. Spokesman Phil Caruso says millions of pounds of unused drugs have already been collected in the past two years, and there have been no problems with people trying to steal the drugs.. ...Read Full Story

Health Officials Warn About Ticks

This is the time of year when infections of Lyme disease increase, and the hazard is a particular concern here in southwest Michigan, Berrien County Health Department spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News Berrien County has a much higher rate of Lyme disease infections than the rest of state. We’ve got the terrain that ticks love.. ...Read Full Story

Lake Water Level To Be Lowered

The water level at the Berrien Springs Hydroelectric Dam will be coming down later this month for maintenance. Indiana Michigan Power plans to draw down the level of the water by three-and-a-half feet at a rate of six-inches a day. That will start on May 29 and will affect a three-and-a-half mile section of the St. Joseph River upstream of the dam, better known as Lake Chapin. The utility is warning homeowners and people who use the river for boating in the area that submerged objects will be closer to the surface of the water, and there will be areas of shallow depth. Additionally, if you own or operate boats in the area, you’re advised to dry dock them if you don’t remove them from the harbor during the drawdown. The work is expected to be done on or before June 18, with the restoration of the water level back to normal by Monday, June 25.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Road Meetings

A series of meetings will take place in Van Buren County over the next few months for residents to learn more about a road millage proposal voters will consider in August. The Van Buren County Road Commission tells us staff and officials will host discussions on the proposed millage, a review of current road conditions, current available road funding, and the intent of the millage proposal. The meetings will all be town hall-style, and will be held at the Van Buren Conference Center on South Paw Paw Street in Lawrence. Anyone who wants to learn more about road needs and what will be voted on August 7 is invited. Below is the schedule for the meetings.. ...Read Full Story

Roll Call For Fallen Soldiers

Set for this Memorial Day in South Haven will be a roll call of all the American soldiers who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Vietnam-era veteran Major Craig Massey of the U.S. Army will spend about three hours reading more than 3,400 names in front of the South Haven City Hall flagpole on Phoenix Street starting at noon May 28. Massey tells us he’s previously read the names of soldiers who died in Afghanistan, and this year, they’ve added to the program.. ...Read Full Story

New SJ Parks Foundation

The St. Joseph Kiwanis Club has started a new effort to help improve parks in the community. St. Joseph Kiwanis Community Parks Foundation Chair Chris Wagner tells WSJM News the group will raise money for all of the city’s parks.. ...Read Full Story

New Festival In South Haven

If you’re a fan of mermaids, then you’ll want to be in South Haven this Memorial Day weekend. Set for May 25 through May 28 is the first ever Mermaid MegaFest. Organizer Brad Carrier tells WSJM News it kicks off Friday the 25th with a series of guest speakers who will address freshwater preservation. Then there’s the fun stuff for the rest of the weekend.. ...Read Full Story

Residents Reminded Of Naloxone Order

Michigan residents are being reminded of the state’s standing order on anti-overdose drug naloxone. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Lynn Sutfin tells WSJM News the order was issued in May of last year, making it possible for anyone to get their hands on doses of naloxone.. ...Read Full Story

Congressman Hopes For MI Defense Site

Congressman Fred Upton is pushing for a site in Michigan to be selected by the U.S. Department of Defense for a missile defense facility. Upton tells WSJM News the Pentagon has been studying possible places for a site to house defensive missiles to protect the eastern United States.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Renaissance Faire Tomorrow

Set for this month is the first ever Niles Renaissance Faire. Niles History Center Director Christina Arseneau tells WSJM News the city decided to hold a renaissance faire because the events are increasingly popular in the region, attracting both history buffs and fans of fantasy. On hand will be food vendors and performers.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Backs Ban On Marijuana-Infused Beer

State Senator John Proos is among the lawmakers hoping to ban the latest THC-related innovation before it comes to Michigan. On Thursday, Proos voted for legislation to pre-emptively prohibit marijuana-infused beer, wine, and spirits. He tells us at a time when drunk driving kills thousands of people each year, allowing booze to become mixed with reefer would be a big mistake. The Michigan Senate approved a ban on the marijuana-infused beer, sending it on the state House. Currently, nine states and the District of Columbia permit the recreational use of marijuana. Michigan is one of 29 states where the medical use of marijuana is allowed, and a proposal set to be on the November ballot seeks to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, too. State lawmakers wanted to head off the marijuana-infused beer before it became a reality.. ...Read Full Story

Recycling Event Tomorrow

A household chemical recycling event is slated for this weekend in Berrien County. The Berrien County Parks Department tells us it will collect chemicals, home medical waste, electronics, and personal documents tomorrow at the Southeast Berrien County Landfill Recycling Center in Buchanan. The personal documents will be shredded. The county tells us you can drop off paint, old gasoline, used motor oil, pesticides, cleaners, unwanted pills, medical sharps, batteries, computers, televisions, printers, and small and large appliances mostly for free. There is a fee of $10 per computer monitor and $20 per television. The collection event will run this Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

New Tax Savings Accounts

Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski has announced a new service being offered by some local banks to help property taxpayers stay current on their bills. Witkowski tells WSJM News he’s arranged for the banks to offer special tax savings accounts. When you sign up, you can just have a portion of your earnings put aside each month for your property taxes later in the year. Witkowski says it’s clear many people could benefit.. ...Read Full Story