Local News Archives

House Approves Opioids Plan

Congressman Fred Upton is hailing last week’s passage of legislation designed to help in the fight against opioid addiction. He tells WSJM News the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act goes back about a year, and is a combination of a couple of different Senate and House opioid bills.. ...Read Full Story

Advocates Concerned About Effects Of Medicaid Work Requirement

The percentage of uninsured adults in rural Michigan dropped by 22 points since the state expanded Medicaid, according to a recent study by Georgetown University and the University of North Carolina. The state Legislature passed a bill this summer to require people on Healthy Michigan to work 80 hours a month, nine months a year, in order to maintain coverage. But Emily Schwarzkopf, a policy analyst with the Michigan League for Public Policy, calls that a “one step forward, two steps back” approach and predicts people will fall off the insurance rolls.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Buying State Property

The old Michigan State Police Post in South Haven is owned by the city and they lease out the building. The property around the building, however, is still owned by the state and they want the city to buy it. City Manager Brian Dissette spoke with WSJM News about the deal.. ...Read Full Story

House Candidate Arrested At Wage Protest

From the Associated Press — A U.S. House candidate is among 18 people arrested for disorderly conduct during a protest in Detroit for a higher minimum wage and the right to form unions. Democrat Rashida Tlaib was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon for blocking a traffic lane. She faces candidates from the Green and Working Class parties for the 13th District House seat. The protest was organized by Fight for $15, a national movement seeking to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour for fast food, child care, airlines and other workers. The group also wants the right to start unions or join existing ones. Several hundred people marched before protesting in front of a Midtown McDonalds. Deputy Police Chief Elvin Barren said those arrested would be ticketed and released later Tuesday.. ...Read Full Story

Group: $134 Million In Marijuana Taxes If Measure Passes

From the Associated Press — Organizers of a Michigan ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for recreational use say it would generate up to $134 million a year in taxes for state and local governments. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol released the projection Monday in an economic study it commissioned. The report estimates combined revenue from a 10 percent excise tax on retail sales and the 6 percent sales tax at $520 million in the first five years of implementation, including $134 million in 2023. Proposal 1 spokesman Josh Hovey says the taxes would help underfunded roads, schools and local governments. A group opposing the measure, Healthy and Productive Michigan, says the study does not factor in costs for state regulatory oversight and higher auto insurance rates due to more instances of drugged driving.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Recruit Academy Underway

128 prospective Michigan State Police troopers are now taking part in a training academy in Lansing. MSP Captain Monica Yesh tells WSJM News the recruits go through 26 weeks of all-day study that covers topics including traffic stops, defense, firearm use, criminal law, and ethics. The academy is underway as Michigan State Police look to bolster their ranks with many looming retirements.. ...Read Full Story

Anti-Overdose Training Coming Up

An opioid overdose prevention training event is set for this month in Benton Harbor. This time organized between the Berrien County Suicide Prevention Coalition and the Voice Change Hope Alliance, it will be offered in the afternoon so more people can attend. The Suicide Prevention Coalition’s Trent Watford tells WSJM News opioid overdoses and suicide are often related.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeland Now A Division Of Spectrum

Lakeland Health is now officially a division of Grand Rapids-based Spectrum Health. The board for each entity has signed the deal and finalized it. Spectrum Health Lakeland President Loren Hamel tells WSJM News Lakeland’s 4,000 employees have now been added to Spectrum’s 26,000 employees.. ...Read Full Story

Man Killed In Motorcycle Crash

A Dowagiac man is dead following a motorcycle crash in Cass County on Monday. The sheriff’s department tells us it happened just before 3 p.m. near the intersection of M-51 south and Pokagon Street in Pokagon Township. The preliminary investigation shows the Dowagiac Police Department had tried to pull over a motorcycle in the area of North Paul and Spruce Street when the motorcycle took off. Dowagiac police did not try to chase it. Cass County dispatch then got calls about the crash at M-51 near Pokagon Street. Witnesses told them the motorcycle had been going fast and increased its speed going around the curve. The driver lost control and crashed into some trees. He has been identified as 32-year-old Ryan Glen Grady. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department says the crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

State Names 211 Schools HeartSafe

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has awarded 211 schools with the MI HeartSafe School designation for the current year. Spokesperson Lynn Sutfin tells WSJM News the HeartSafe program was created five years ago to reduce cardiac deaths in schools.. ...Read Full Story

Haight Disappointed By LaSata Decision To Not Debate

We reported in September that there will not be any debates in the state House and Senate races in Berrien County this fall, as the Republican candidates have decided against the traditional events held by the League of Women Voters. Ian Haight is running for the 21st District Senate seat against Republican state Representative Kim LaSata.. ...Read Full Story

Driver Responsibility Fees Gone

Expect longer waits at the Secretary of State branch offices in Benton Harbor, Niles, and Dowagiac over the next few days. That’s because the unpopular driver responsibility fees are now off the books, and people who have had their driver’s licenses suspended for them can now get those reinstated without having to pay the standard $125 fee. Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says if there are other issues, however, those still need to be taken care of. An estimated 300,000 Michigan residents were eligible to get their licenses reinstated with the elimination of the fees, which had been in place since 2003. They were enacted to help address a budget shortfall, but that backfired because many who were charged the fees were the least able to actually pay them. The combined fees that were still owed and are being wiped off the books was $637 million as of August 2017.. ...Read Full Story

Land Donation For American Legion

A donation of land for a new storage space has been made to the Three Oaks American Legion by Horizon Bank. The bank tells us it owned about one acre of excess property in Three Oaks for some time, and when the American Legion told them it could make good use of the parcel, the donation was arranged. The property has two outbuildings, which the American Legion post will use for storage. The post also says the property gives it more space to hold events. Horizon Bank says the land donation is one way the bank could be supportive of the community.. ...Read Full Story

High Support For Asian Carp Barrier

An overwhelming number of residents of Great Lakes state support immediate action to build structural protections to keep Asian carp out of the lakes. The survey commissioned by the Great Lakes Partnership to Block Asian Carp asked people in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin about their understanding of the threat posed by the fish. Over 90% believe it’s important to immediately take steps to block the Great Lakes from the carp, and over 70% support a “fair share” funding proposal, and over 80% support having Michigan pay the share of any state that can’t pay its own portion to block Asian carp. Governor Snyder says in a statement the poll results “clearly demonstrate that Great Lakes residents understand that the time to act on Asian carp is now.”. ...Read Full Story

Portage Boy Dies After Sand Dune Accident At Van Buren State Park

The death of a 12-year-old at the Boy Scout Camp at Van Buren State Park is under investigation. South Haven police say Gage Wilson of Portage was digging into a sand dune with two other scouts when he crawled in the hole and it collapsed. Wilson was pulled from the sand by scout leaders, who performed CPR while waiting for police and a volunteer from South Haven Area Emergency Services, who took over the efforts and were able to restore a pulse. Wilson was airlifted to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo, where he was pronounced dead. Autopsy results are pending.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Talking End Of Fees

The state’s unpopular driver responsibility fees are being wiped off the books soon. Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says in a YouTube video those who have had their license suspended for not paying driver responsibility fees can get that taken care of for free next month.. ...Read Full Story

Busy Deer Season Expected

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is expecting the deer hunting season this year to be a strong one. DNR deer biologist Ashley Autenrieth tells WSJM News the 2018 forecast notes a robust herd this year due to favorable weather.. ...Read Full Story

Wide Range Of Life Expectancies In Berrien

Life expectancy and health is tied directly to race and your Zip code. In Berrien County and across America racism literally kills. Dr. David Ansell, Vice President Of Community Health at Rush University Medical Center, spoke on this shocking reality this past week at Lake Michigan College’s Hanson Theater.. ...Read Full Story

Treasurers Work Together To Fight Fraud

A partnership that allows the Berrien County Treasurer’s Office help its counterparts in Van Buren County catch fraudulent homestead claims will continue for another three years. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News his office lends its staff to the Van Buren County Treasurer’s Office to investigate incidents of property owners claiming a vacation or rental property as their home to get out of taxes. There are a few ways to catch them.. ...Read Full Story

State Senate Candidate Forums Coming Up

Two candidate forums featuring the Republican and Democratic candidates for the Michigan Senate in the 21st District are set for next month. State Representative Kim LaSata has announced she’ll be at a Berrien RESA Candidate Forum on Monday, October 8. That event will be at 8 a.m. at the Administrative Center at Berrien RESA in Berrien Springs. The other event will be the Niles New Tech Candidate Forum on Friday, October 26. That’ll be at 5 p.m. at the Niles Library. Democrat Ian Haight, LaSata’s opponent, tells us he will also be at both events, although he would prefer traditional debates. Haight tells us the formats of the forums won’t allow for very detailed answers. Haight and LaSata are running to replace state Senator John Proos, who can’t run again due to term limits.. ...Read Full Story

Big Emergency Drill Coming Up

Coming up next month will be a nationwide test of emergency alert systems, and officials in Berrien County want the public to let them know how it goes. Set for Wednesday, October 3 at 2:20 p.m., the Federal Emergency Management Agency in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission will conduct the nationwide test of the IPAWS system. It sends out alerts to smart phones automatically, and users don’t have to sign up it. To get those wireless emergency alerts, though, you may need to look at the system settings in your phone. Berrien County Emergency Management tells us the county also has an opt-in service called B-WARN that people can sign up for. B-WARN allows the Emergency Management Office to send out text messages, phone calls, and emergency emails to residents. The county will put up a survey on its website following the October 3 national test to find out how many people were contacted. You can find it right here.. ...Read Full Story

Traffic Changes Likely For Napier

The public has had a chance to offer input on plans to repave part of Napier Avenue in St. Joseph and Benton townships starting next year. At a forum this week, the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission talked about the possibility of adding sidewalks or bike paths along the road from the St. Joseph River to I-94. Berrien County Road Department Director Jason Latham tells WSJM News that could mean traffic changes.. ...Read Full Story

Report Recommends Support For Young Parents

A new report looks at the outcomes of kids who are born to young parents. Researchers from the Annie E. Casey Foundation found 9% of all 18 to 24-year-olds in Michigan — or about 85,000 people — have young children, and those families have about 100,000 kids between them. Alicia Guevara-Warren, Kids Count project director with the Michigan League for Public Policy, tells us one good idea would be to expand access to higher education and training.. ...Read Full Story

State Recognizes Rail Safety Week

This past week was Rail Safety Week in Michigan when everyone was reminded to follow the rules of railroad tracks. Sam Crowl with Michigan Operation Lifesaver tells WSJM News they held events all week following a proclamation by the governor. Crowl says everyone should know what to do if they get stuck on a crossing. Look for the Emergency Notification System sign.. ...Read Full Story

Local Schools To Address Literacy

Officials at Benton Harbor Area Schools are planning a new push to promote literacy. Communications Director Amy Nichols tells WSJM News “We Welcome Literacy” is a community event set for October 8 at the high school. On hand will be Dr. Patricia Edwards and Dr. Susan Piazza, experts on literacy education who will talk with parents about engaging the children in reading and learning.. ...Read Full Story