Local News Archives

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

Marijuana Proposal Possible For Ballot

It’s a proposal to legalize the sale and possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for personal use in Michigan, and we’ll find out this week if it makes the November ballot. Josh Hovey, spokesperson for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol,tells Michigan News Network Colorado got it right when it comes to legalizing pot.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Bans Sale Of Whip Its To Minors

From the Associated Press — Kids hoping to get high off laughing gas would have a harder time under a bill that is headed toward Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk. The Michigan Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to prohibit the sale or distribution of devices intended to hold nitrous oxide to minors. Commonly known by the street name “whip-its,” these containers have surged in popularity due to the temporary buzz produced from inhaling the gas. Those who fail to adhere to the sales ban would face a maximum $500 civil fine under the House-sponsored bills. The Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police testified in support of the bills, citing abuse of laughing gas as the root of multiple injuries and at least one death in the state.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Makes It Official

Congressman Fred Upton has made it official. He has filed for re-election, submitting more than the number of petition signatures required to qualify for the ballot. He announced last November that this was his intention. He had toyed with the idea of running for the U.S. Senate against Debbie Stabenow but after assessing his chances, the support available and consulting with his family, he has decided instead to try for his 17th term representing South West Michigan in Congress. The 6th District includes all of Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties and most of Allegan County. A half-dozen democrats have come forward to run for the seat, and will face off in an August Primary to determine who will challenge Upton this fall.. ...Read Full Story

Humane Society Closes For Move

The Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan is on the move. The organization put out word Tuesday morning that it is now closed until its relocation to the new shelter in Royalton Township is complete. The facility on M-139 replaces the old Crystal Avenue shelter in Benton Township, which the Humane Society tells us had become grossly inadequate. While the move is ongoing, the Humane Society asks everyone to be patient and understand it could take some weeks to complete the process. It says the staff and animals both appreciate your understanding. We’ll keep you posted when the organization announces its ribbon cutting celebration for the new shelter.. ...Read Full Story

Liquor Revenue Could Pay For Substance Abuse Treatment

From the Associated Press — The Michigan House wants to direct 4 percent of the Liquor Control Commission’s revenue toward fighting substance abuse. The chamber voted 104-3 Tuesday to earmark state funds from alcohol taxes, liquor licenses and liquor code violation fees for distribution among community health agencies. The bill would inject the money into services such as substance abuse prevention and treatment programs – one-fourth of which could not be exclusively alcohol-centric. Supporters of the bill say it provides a much-needed bridge for funding gaps in Michigan’s health entities, which would gain almost $20 million from the measure. During the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the Liquor Control Commission’s net revenue topped $430 million. The bill now heads to the Senate.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joe Conducts Water System Study

A recent study of the community’s water system in St. Joseph is helping city officials better plan for repairs. St. Joe Public Works Director Tom MacDonald tells WSJM News the city commission in September hired a company that came in and used specialized sounding equipment to find underground leaks. The survey found seven leaks, which were causing about five million gallons of water per year to be wasted.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joe Republican Running For House

There is a new Republican now running for the Michigan House in the 79th District. It’s Bruce Gorenflo of St. Joseph. Gorenflo is a technical writer and graphic designer who has lived in southwest Michigan almost his entire life. He tells WSJM News a big priority is reducing auto insurance rates.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Pushes For Dredging Funds

Now is the time to get some dredging done in recreational harbors in southwest Michigan. So says Congressman Fred Upton, who has sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking that money be set aside for harbors in Saugatuck, South Haven, and New Buffalo. He spoke with WSJM News about the issue.. ...Read Full Story

Former LMC President Running For County Commission

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

Man Arrested In Domestic Violence Incident

No one was hurt and one man was taken into custody following a domestic violence incident in St. Joseph Tuesday that got a response from the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Tactical Response Unit. The St. Joseph Department of Public Safety tells us it happened in the 1700 block of Forres Avenue around 4:30 p.m. Officers arrived at the scene and were told by a woman that she had been assaulted. A man inside the home refused to come out, and police were told he was intoxicated and armed. St. Joseph Public Safety called in the sheriff’s department for assistance, and the man eventually gave up. He was taken into custody.. ...Read Full Story

Latest Homes Sales Numbers

The southwest Michigan real estate market has managed to turn around after a relatively slow February. According to the latest numbers released by the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors, the number of houses sold in March of 2018 was down 13% from March of 2017, but the average selling price was up by 15%. Plus, year-to-date, the average selling price this year has been up by 10%. Home sales in March were up 35% compared to February. Part of the reason prices are up is the low inventory, which continues to be a problem for the southwest Michigan housing market. The inventory is at a 4.5-month supply.. ...Read Full Story

House Approves Increase In School Funding

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s public schools would receive their largest increase in base per-student funding in 17 years under a budget plan endorsed by the state House. The Republican-controlled House approved the plan Tuesday, including a boost ranging from $120 to $240 per pupil proposed by Governor Rick Snyder. Once the Senate passes a proposal and revised revenue estimates are released, a budget agreement will be finalized in June. Though the House backed the governor’s base K-12 funding proposal, it rejected proposed cuts to online charter schools and to aid that helps public schools enroll private students in elective classes. Unlike Snyder, the House voted to close a prison next fiscal year. Republicans rejected Democratic amendments to spend more on road improvements and to restore free bottled water for Flint residents.. ...Read Full Story

Public Hearing On SJ Tax Rate

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

Al-Van Humane Society New Shelter

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

Man Faces Trial In Fatal Bike Crash

From the Associated Press — A trial is expected to run about two weeks for a man involved in a 2016 crash that killed five bicyclists and injured four others in southwestern Michigan. Prospective jurors in the case of Charles Pickett are appearing Monday in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court and jury selection is expected to take place Tuesday. The Michigan Supreme Court earlier this year decided against hearing an
appeal of the second-degree murder charges he faces. Pickett is accused of driving under the influence of drugs and plowing into a group of bicyclists in Cooper Township on June 7, 2016. His girlfriend told police he downed handfuls of pain pills and muscle relaxers before driving. Pickett’s lawyer has argued the evidence established, at most, the elements of reckless driving causing death.. ...Read Full Story

Report Calls For Minimum Wage Increase

A new report calls for raising the federal minimum wage to 15-dollars an hour to reduce poverty and promote pay equity. While the minimum wage in Michigan is $8.25 per hour, it still is $7.25 an hour in 21 other states. Since the current federal minimum wage went into effect nine years ago, it has lost 13% of its value, and the minimum federal wage for workers who get tips has stayed at $2.13 an hour since 1991. Emily Chatterjee, senior counsel at the Leadership Conference Education Fund, says raising the wage would do more than help lift people out of poverty.. ...Read Full Story

Businessman Turns In Signatures For Governor

From the Associated Press — Businessman Shri Thanedar has submitted 30,000 signatures to run for governor, becoming the third Democratic candidate to file. Thanedar turned in the petitions Monday, before Tuesday’s deadline. He says he wants to be governor to “make a difference for this state, which has given me so many breaks.” Thanedar is a scientist by training and immigrant from India who last year told a stake in his chemical-testing company for tens of millions of dollars. The political novice has been airing TV ads to build his name recognition. Other Democrats running are Gretchen Whitmer and Abdul El-Sayed. Retired business executive Bill Cobbs is running, too, but may not have enough voter signatures to qualify.. ...Read Full Story

Final Approval For Pier Life Rings

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

Health Department Talks Hepatitis A

The Berrien County Health Department is reminding everyone to talk with their doctor about getting the Hepatitis A vaccine. Spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News Hepatitis A is a liver disease that has been on the rise in Michigan, especially in the southeast part of the state.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Talks Opioid Abuse Prevention

Combating the fight against opioid addiction before it starts. That’s the idea behind a new bill in Lansing. State Representative Joseph Bellino tells Michigan News Network he has a plan that would require certain prescriptions to come in locked vials that can administer pills at specific intervals. Bellino admits to once being a cocaine addict himself.. ...Read Full Story

PGA Champ Not Playing This Year

Next month’s KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores will be missing one key player. Last year’s champion, Bernhard Langer, announced at Monday’s Media Day he will sit out the event, slated for May 22 through May 27, because his son is graduating high school that same week. He did have some praise for the Harbor Shores golf course.. ...Read Full Story

Robotics World Competition Heads To Detroit

Later this week, some 40-thousand students, mentors, and family members are descending on downtown Detroit for the FIRST Robotics Championship at Cobo Center and Ford Field. Nearly 700 qualifying teams from around the world will start competing Wednesday. Students will build and operate robots to complete a task which increases in difficulty at each level. Co-Director Patti Poppe is President & CEO of Consumers Energy.. ...Read Full Story

Indiana Health Officials: Don’t Go To Michigan Unless…

Health officials in Indiana are warning summer travelers — don’t go to Michigan unless you get the Hepatitis-A vaccine. The Indiana Department of Health says residents should be aware if traveling to the Great Lakes State or Kentucky due to the liver damaging virus in recent months. According to Michigan officials, more than 800 cases have been reported since August 2016, resulting in at least 25 deaths. Meanwhile, the Louisville Kentucky area has seen more than 250 cases since last November.. ...Read Full Story

BH Salutes Tiger Basketball

The Benton Harbor City Commission has officially recognized Benton Harbor High School Tigers Basketball for its state championship win this year. At this past week’s meeting, Mayor Marcus Muhammad read a resolution granting a key to the city for the team.. ...Read Full Story