Local News Archives

City Tax Fight

A tax tribunal case between Harbor Shores and the city of Benton Harbor will continue. At a Monday meeting, the city commission rejected a settlement with Harbor Shores regarding its 2017 and 2018 assessments. The golf course wants its taxable value adjusted lower. The settlement, if accepted, would have caused a loss of about $33,000 to the city. The city assessor warned commissioners the fight could drag out for years with little chance for the city. Mayor Marcus Muhammad liked the situation to “an indecent proposal.”. ...Read Full Story

Leonard Nominated For Attorney General

From the Associated Press — Michigan Republicans have nominated Tom Leonard for attorney general and Mary Treder Lang for secretary of state. Leonard, the state House speaker, defeated state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker for attorney general on Saturday at a nominating convention in Lansing. Thousands of Republican delegates also backed accountant Mary Treder Lang over former Michigan State University assistant professor Joseph Guzman for secretary of state. The selections fill out the top of the Republican ticket after gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette and U.S. Senate candidate John James won in the primary.
Schuette’s running mate is Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons. Democrats also are meeting this weekend. They endorsed their attorney general and secretary of state choices in the spring but will officially nominate lawyer Dana Nessel and election expert Jocelyn Benson on Sunday.. ...Read Full Story

Class On Campaigning At LMC

A new kind of class is being offered this upcoming academic year at Lake Michigan College. The college tells us it’s holding a course to teach students how to run a political campaign. LMC political science professor Tiffany Bohm tells WSJM News Campaigns and Elections will cover several election-related topics, like public speaking, data analysis, and voter registration.. ...Read Full Story

Growth For Grand Rapids Airport

July marked the seventh record breaking month in a row this year for the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids. Airport spokeswoman Tara Hernandez says July of this year was the busiest July ever with passenger numbers up 16.7% year over year.. ...Read Full Story

NRC Talks Cook Plant

The duties of some of the most detail-oriented, safety minded engineers in the area were on display at the Silver Beach Center in St. Joseph Tuesday, as the resident inspectors from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission who oversee the safety efforts at Bridgman’s Cook Nuclear Plant met with the public. One of them is John Ellegood, who has been at Cook for six-and-a-half years and tells WSJM News he enjoys being able to share what they do with people.. ...Read Full Story

Donation To Bridgman STEM Lab

STEM education in Bridgman is getting a boost. The Bridgman Foundation for Educational Excellence gave the final $150,000 of $300,000 raised to support the F.C. Reed Middle School STEM Lab during this week’s school board meeting. Superintendent Shane Peters tells us the school’s approach is a little different than others when it comes to the science, technology, engineering, and math lab as all 5th through 8th graders can participate in the STEM lab.. ...Read Full Story

Mutt March Today

Animal Aid of Southwestern Michigan will hold its annual Mutt March today. The Mutt March raises money for the animal rescue organization. It’s a walk including dog owners and their friends in St. Joseph. The theme this year is “Rescue to Rescue: Honoring Rescue, Law Enforcement and Military,” and will feature participants including the St. Joseph Department of Public Safety, veterans groups, and first responders. The march starts at 11 a.m. at Lake Bluff Park in St. Joseph with an entry fee of $10. Animal Aid is an all-volunteer organization that works to find homes for animals. You can find out more about the Mutt March at AnimalAidSWMI.org.. ...Read Full Story

“Commodity Fair” Teaches Kids About Farm Risk

As county fairs are held around Michigan this summer, young future farmers have been receiving a lesson in risk management through a program of the CME Group. The company has teamed up with 4H chapters across the country for the past six years to offer its Commodity Carnival at fairs. CME Group’s Tim Andriesen tells WSJM News the carnival allows young people to simulate raising hogs by having them take part in a game in which they raise small eggs that represent livestock and weigh the costs versus revenue. The lesson they hope to teach?. ...Read Full Story

Detroit Mayor Suing Over Auto Insurance Law

From the Associated Press — Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and residents have filed a federal lawsuit over Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance law. The Detroit News reports that the lawsuit was filed Thursday against Patrick McPharlin, the director of Michigan’s Department of Insurance and Financial Services. The department oversees the state’s no-fault insurance system.
The lawsuit alleges the system has caused excessive rates and is unconstitutional. The filing says Michigan’s average auto insurance premium is more than $3,000, while the national average is about $1,500. The suit says Detroit has the highest auto rate of any city in the U.S., with drivers paying an average of about $6,200 for insurance. Department spokeswoman Andrea Miller says officials are reviewing the complaint. The lawsuit is asking the court to give the state six months to change the
system.. ...Read Full Story

Red Arrow Highway Reconstruction Planned

You may have noticed that Red Arrow Highway is not in the best shape south of Bridgman in Berrien County, and at least part of that is about to change. Berrien County Road Department Director Jason Latham tells WSJM News they’re going to reconstruct two miles of Red Arrow Highway, from the south end of Bridgman to Browntown Road, starting just after Labor Day.. ...Read Full Story

Schuitmaker, Leonard Fight For Attorney General Nomination

From the Associated Press — The race to become Michigan’s next attorney general will be set this weekend, when 2,100 Republican activists choose between two state lawmakers vying for the nomination to face Democrat Dana Nessel this fall.
House Speaker Tom Leonard and Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker are battling to succeed term-limited Bill Schuette, the Republican nominee for governor. Both lawyers point to their career backgrounds to argue they are best prepared for the job, while citing different reasons why they are best positioned to win in November.The nominee selected Saturday at a Lansing convention will try to extend a 16-year run in which a Republican has served as the state’s top lawyer and law enforcement official. Nessel, who won her party’s support at an April convention, will be officially nominated in East Lansing Sunday.. ...Read Full Story

Honor Flight Next Month

Set for September 15 is the next Talons Out Honor Flight. Talons Out is an organization that provides free trips to Washington, D.C. for veterans of the Korean War and World War II so they can see their war memorials. The group’s Bobbie Bradley tells WSJM News they’ve been doing this since 2013.. ...Read Full Story

Kinexus Recognizes Offender Success Program

Kinexus is celebrating its Offender Success program. The employment agency in Benton Harbor tells us Offender Success pairs up recently-released inmates with job opportunities and programs designed to prevent them from re-offending. Offender Success Director Derek Knuth tells WSJM News the program has delivered a 61% region wide placement rate since being started in 2017. Knuth tells us it works when all parties are committed.. ...Read Full Story

Road Department Contract Approved

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has approved its first tentative labor contract with the Berrien County Road Department since taking the road operation over last year. At a Thursday meeting, the county commission agreed to a three-year contract with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324, which includes 51 employees, says Berrien County Road Department Director Jason Latham. He spoke with WSJM News about the contract and the affected employees.. ...Read Full Story

Report: MI Schools Getting Short Changed

Michigan students will be missing out on almost $1 billion in funding this school year, and a new report blames what it calls “state budgeting gimmicks.” Voters approved the School Aid Fund more than two decades ago to support K-through-12 education, but research from the Michigan League for Public Policy shows over the past nine years, $4.5 billion from the fund was shifted to universities and community colleges. Report co-author Peter Ruark tells us it’s a tactic to prevent General Fund dollars from being used on higher education.. ...Read Full Story

Coach Charged With Lying In Nassar Case

From the Associated Press — Investigators say a former head gymnastics coach at Michigan State University lied in June when she denied that witnesses had told her in the past about being sexually assaulted by former sports doctor Larry Nassar.
Charging documents released Thursday don’t specify who allegedly reported Nassar’s abuse to the former coach, Kathie Klages.
But former gymnast Larissa Boyce has said she told Klages that Nassar had abused her in 1997, when Boyce was 16. Boyce had been training with the Spartan youth gymnastics team at the time. Klages has denied that Boyce reported abuse to her.
In his warrant request, special agent David Dwyre with the Michigan attorney general’s office says he told Klages in June that he was conducting a criminal investigation. He says she proceeded to “knowingly and willfully” make statements she knew were false or misleading. A message seeking comment was left Thursday with attorneys for Klages.. ...Read Full Story

West Nile Virus Found In Berrien County

The West Nile virus has been found in Berrien County. Berrien County Health Department spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News the illness was confirmed in a woman in late July. She couldn’t tell us more about the specific case, but said it was the first this year in the county. West Nile is relatively rare in the county.. ...Read Full Story

Kalamazoo Planning “Graffiti Gardens”

From the Associated Press — A southwestern Michigan city is planning what are known as graffiti gardens where people can legally draw or paint on billboard-like plywood structures. Kalamazoo is working to provide more opportunities for art on utility boxes and streets to create an alternative to illegal graffiti. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports graffiti gardens in Upjohn Park and Rockwell Park would offer another legal outlet, though profanity, nudity or gang sings would be prohibited. The update comes as the City Commission is reviewing amendments to noise offenses that add other nuisances, including graffiti and issues with vacant properties. Some of these are already restricted, but the changes would add more specific language and make them enforceable by civil infraction of up to $200. A planning official is meeting with local artists to find spaces for public
art.. ...Read Full Story

MSU Searching For New President

From the Associate Press — Michigan State University trustees have appointed 19 members to a search committee looking for the school’s next president. The selections were announced Wednesday. The committee will have 10 men and nine women – including various representatives for students, faculty, the board of trustees and others. A co-chairwoman of the presidential search committee, Trustee Dianne Byrum, says the panel is “inclusive, diverse and representative of the broader MSU
stakeholders.” After Lou Anna Simon resigned in January amid fallout from the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal, Michigan State named former Gov. John Engler as interim president. The board of trustees plans to announce a new president no later than June 2019.. ...Read Full Story

Car Break-Ins Reported In South Haven

A series of car break-ins has law enforcement busy around the South Haven area. Incidents of break ins in Casco Township and South Haven have been reported, leading the South Haven Police Department to tell residents to be vigilant and not leave valuable items in sight and always lock your car. Police are asking anyone that sees suspicious activity or has information about these break ins to call your local law enforcement agency.. ...Read Full Story

MI Utilities Steadfast O Coal Plans

The Trump administration announced on Tuesday it’s loosening rules on emissions from coal-fired power plants, rolling back the requirements of President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan. The new rules would largely allow states to regulate emissions, and in Michigan, it’s unclear whether utilities or the Department of Environmental Quality would seek less stringent air-pollution controls for state’s 15 coal-fired power plants. Pete Ternes with DTE Energy tells us his company plans to close all of its coal plants by 2040 and is sticking with its plans to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions significantly.. ...Read Full Story

Upton On Return Of House

When the U.S. House gets back to work after Labor Day, Congressman Fred Upton will be pushing for the implementation of new rules for the chamber. He tells WSJM News November’s elections are likely to result in a shift of power in the House, and the new Speaker must not be allowed to block popular ideas just because they come from another party.. ...Read Full Story

Update On Michigan Water Testing

From the Associated Press — Michigan officials say they’re halfway finished with collecting samples for a statewide study of toxic chemicals that have been detected in 33 states’ drinking water. The Department of Environmental Quality has sampled 892 of Michigan’s 1,841 public water systems and schools with their own wells. They are looking for polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS. From those samples, 341 laboratory test results have come in. Only the city of Parchment’s results have exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion, which is also the level the DEQ has set to trigger cleanup of groundwater used for drinking. The Michigan League of Conservation Voters says a tougher standard is needed.The state is spending $23 million to locate PFAS contamination, identify sources and oversee cleanups.. ...Read Full Story

Crowdfunding Campaign For New Theater Goes Well

A new theater in Benton Harbor is ready to begin renovations. Ghostlight Theater Director Martha Hesse tells WSJM News a crowdfunding campaign started this past Sunday, and was just a few hundred dollars from its goal as of Wednesday afternoon. The Ghostlight is seeking a $50,000 match from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, along with another $50,000 match from a local foundation. Hesse tells us the theater could open Memorial Day weekend, 2019.. ...Read Full Story

Longjohn Addresses Commission

Democratic candidate for Congress in Michigan’s Sixth District Matt Longjohn stopped by Benton Harbor City Hall on Monday to speak with the Benton Harbor City Commission. Longjohn, a doctor, promoted his healthcare credentials to commissioners, saying his experience as a public health official puts him in a good position to better serve citizens.. ...Read Full Story

Existing Home Sales Surge In July In SWMI

Sales of existing homes in July surged 18% over last year according to the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors. Average and median sales prices were nearly unchanged. The inventory of houses for sale rose slightly from a 5.9 month supply in June to a 6.29 month supply in July. Year-to-date, the total dollar volume of homes sold is up 5%, while that volume was higher by 20% compared to July 2017. The number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions in July dropped to 4%, which is a low for the year and even with the level last July and August. The highest percentage for the month was 35% in July 2009.. ...Read Full Story

Record Number Of Schools Starting Early

At least 143 Michigan school districts have asked for waivers to begin school before Labor Day this year, the largest number since a law was passed requiring the later start. The tourism industry argued the later start gave them more summer weekends, despite arguments from educators that it was bad for kids. Michigan State University economist Paul Ballard says he doubts the economic bump is worth the damage it does.. ...Read Full Story

NWS Again Cautioning Against Swimming In Lake Michigan

A beach hazards advisory is still in effect until 8 tonight from the National Weather Service for the Lake Michigan shoreline all the way from Indiana to Manistee. While there have been people surfing the big waves today in South Haven, NWS meteorologist David Cook says it’s recommended people don’t swim, especially if they’re not too experienced.. ...Read Full Story