Local News Archives

I&M Saluted For Green Energy Efforts

Indiana Michigan Power has been saluted for its green energy policies. The company has been named a 2018 Environmental Champion from a Cogent Reports study by Market Strategies International. I&M spokesperson Tracy Warner tells WSJM News the honor is for the company’s renewable energy portfolio. He says I&M gets two thirds of its electricity generation from emission-free sources, with the Cook nuclear power plant in Bridgman being a big part of that. I&M also has solar, hydroelectric, and wind programs.. ...Read Full Story

Police Continue Texting Enforcement

Troopers from the Michigan State Police post in Niles will be out in extra force for the rest of this month watching out for distracted drivers. MSP Sergeant Matt Waters tells WSJM News police statewide are taking part in the extra enforcement. As a cop, he’s seen it all.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Seeks Dredging Funds

Congressman Fred Upton is once again calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to set aside funding this year for the dredging of recreational harbors in Saugatuck, South Haven, and New Buffalo. Upton’s office notes the Army Corps has already provided funding for commercial harbors, like the one in St. Joseph, for the past three years. In a letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Army Civil Works division, Upton writes that he asks the Corps to “include critical operation and maintenance funding for dredging of harbors in Southwest Michigan, essential to jobs and economic activity up-and-down the region.” Upton calls southwest Michigan’s recreational harbors “the lifeblood of the coastal communities they serve.”. ...Read Full Story

Drug Take-Back Event Next Week

There will be a drug take-back event next Saturday in Berrien County. Michigan State Police Lieutenant Melinda Logan tells WSJM News  law enforcement offices and the Lakeland Center for Outpatient Services on Hollywood Road in St. Joseph will take unused prescription medications so they can be safely disposed.. ...Read Full Story

Bill Would Make OK2Say Tip Line Permanent

Legislation has been introduced to make the OK2Say school safety tip line a permanent program. State Representative Brandt Iden of Kalamazoo County’s Oshtemo Township tells WSJM News his bill and a couple of others would not only establish that OK2Say is here to stay, but set aside funding for the program each year. The OK2Say tip line was launched by the Michigan Attorney General’s office in 2015 to create a way for students to report potentially dangerous situations in their schools without fear of repercussions.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Gets Law Enforcement Endorsements

Three key endorsements from law enforcement have come in for state Representative Kim LaSata as she runs for Michigan Senate in the 21st District. Her campaign tells us Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey, Cass County Sheriff Rick Behnke, and St. Joseph County Sheriff Bradley Balk have all thrown their support behind LaSata. Those three counties make up the 21st Michigan Senate District. Currently representing that district is state Senator John Proos, who is being term limited out of office. Also running for the 21st District seat is state Representative Dave Pagel.. ...Read Full Story

New Leader For Senior Agency

Senior Services of Van Buren County has a new Executive Director. Her name is Diane Rigozzi, and she has served as assistant director for the past four years, working for Senior Services for a total of eight years. Rigozzi replaced Jennifer Carver, who retired in December. 19 people applied for the executive director position, and the personnel committee felt Rigozzi was best qualified for the position. Senior Services of Van Buren County has centers in Paw Paw, South Haven, and Hartford. It also hasw satellite sites in the county that serve close to 5,000 people with a variety of helpful services.. ...Read Full Story

Republican Seeking 79th District House Seat

There’s a new candidate in the running for the Michigan House in the 79th District. It’s Maria Moen, and she’s running as a Republican to replace state Representative Kim LaSata. Moen is the vice president for the board of directors of The Curious Kids Museum, and also serves on the St. Joseph Public School Foundation Board. She’s previously worked as an adviser for the Berrien Community Foundation TEAM teen group, on the Basic Needs Committee for United Way, and on the Lake Michigan Catholic School Board. Moen tells us if she makes it to Lansing, she wants to focus on education, jobs, and public safety. Also running for the state House as a Republican in the 79th District is Troy Rolling of Benton Township.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Fights Underage Drinking

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and the Berrien County Health Department is hoping to remind all parents and young people about the dangers of underage drinking. The department’s Lisa Peeples-Hurst tells WSJM News the brain doesn’t stop developing until the age of 25 for some. Introducing alcohol to a young brain can make a variety of already-existing problems even worse.. ...Read Full Story

Lampricide To Be Applied To Creek

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be treating Rogers Creek in Van Buren County this month for sea lamprey. They’ll apply lampricide to the creek between May 1 and May 10. The agency’s Scott Grunder told WSJM News last year the invasive sea lamprey came to the Great Lakes with the opening of shipping canals.. ...Read Full Story

MI Student Wins National Art Contest

A Macomb County ten-year-old girl is the winner of a national poster art contest to help find missing children. Michigan State Police Missing Children’s Clearinghouse Manager Jolene Hardesty tells WSJM News more than 2,000 submissions from 17 states came in for the 2018 National Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest. Now that a winner has been picked, her art will appear on posters reminding the public of missing children throughout the year.. ...Read Full Story

Senate Approves Medicaid Work Requirement

Able-bodied Medicaid recipients in Michigan may soon have to choose between finding a job or losing their health insurance. The ultimatum comes in the form of a bill approved by Michigan Senators 26 to 11. After their amendments were shot down, Democrats took the floor Thursday to blast the bill for what they said was punishing the poor. Democrat Curtis Hertel spoke on the Senate floor.. ...Read Full Story

MI Unemployment Edges Down

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s unemployment rate declined slightly to 4.7% in March. Figures released Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget show Michigan’s jobless rate last month fell from 4.8 % in February. It was six-tenths of a percentage point above the national rate of 4.1% last month and slightly higher that the state’s March 2017 rate of 4.6%. The agency says total employment was essentially unchanged over the month, as total employment increased by 3,000 and the number of unemployed in the state decreased by the same number. Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives Director Jason
Palmer says Michigan jobless rates have been very steady since September and payroll jobs have risen consistently since early fall.. ...Read Full Story

Police Talk School Safety With Parents

Parents from St. Joseph Public Schools have had a chance to hear from police about what is being done to prevent and be prepared for a violent incident at local schools. At a forum at St. Joseph High School Thursday, St. Joe Public Safety Director Brian Uridge said prevention and intervention are much more important than response. Noting that most incidents are over within five minutes, Uridge said it’s important for parents, teachers, and the students to know what to look out for. He spoke with WSJM News after the presentation.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Company Saluted For SAfety

A South Haven company has been saluted by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or MIOSHA, for its safety record. Albemarle Corporation is now a recipient of the Michigan Voluntary Protection Program Star Award for 2018. MIOSHA tells us Albemarle has a “commitment to worker health and safety protections” that exceeds what’s required. Albemarle first received its Rising Star award in April of 2012, and was awarded its first Star award in November of 2014. The MVPP Star is given to companies that implement protections beyond MIOSHA standards and have injury and illness rates below the industry average for the last three years. Albemarle Plant Manager Ricky Coats tells us the company is proud to receive the designation. Albermarle is a chemical company based in North
Carolina.. ...Read Full Story

All Clear After School Illness Scare

After a brief scare this week at the STEAM Academy at MLK, Benton Harbor Area Schools tells us the building has been cleared of illness by the Berrien County Health Department. The district says an illness was reported late in the day on Thursday with children vomiting and a few with rashes on their forearms. The kids were evaluated on scene by EMTs and no life threatening conditions were found. The Berrien County Health Department contacted Lakeland Health, MedExpress, and Intercare to request physician reports of the children ages eight to ten at MLK, and no illnesses reported by the hospital matched the initial report of vomiting. The school district tells us upon further investigation, the health department has found no threat to the public’s health present at the school or among the school population. Reports from community partners have also suggested that there are no environmental hazards present. There is also no suspicion of a food-borne illness.. ...Read Full Story

New Rules For Recounts

From the Associated Press — Political candidates who lose big like Jill Stein wouldn’t be able to seek a recount under legislation nearing the Michigan governor’s desk. The Republican-led Senate voted 27-8 Wednesday for legislation upping the standards for election recounts to require aggrieved candidates to prove they have a reasonable chance of victory. Currently, candidates need to believe they are aggrieved due to fraud or mistake to petition for a recount. The House also voted 93-16 for a bill to double a losing candidate’s fees to recount votes if he or she is down by more than 5 percentage points. Stein, the Green Party candidate in the 2016 presidential election, triggered a recount in Michigan after Donald Trump’s win over Hillary Clinton. Both bills will soon go to Gov. Rick Snyder.. ...Read Full Story

Former Lawmaker Pursuing Lawsuit

From the Associated Press — A former Michigan lawmaker who was expelled from office amid a sex scandal is asking a court to reconsider her lawsuit against the Michigan House, legislators and staff. The Holland Sentinel reports that Republican Cindy Gamrat filed a motion for
reconsideration on April 12, after a federal judge dismissed her claims against government officials last month. Gamrat and former legislator Todd Courser were involved in an extramarital affair in 2015. Gamrat’s motion says the court failed to address her claim that
she was treated unfairly during the investigation and hearings that led to her removal. Gamrat’s motion alleges that new evidence is being revealed in Courser’s criminal case supporting her original lawsuit’s claims of wiretapping, eavesdropping, stalking and conspiracy.
Courser faces criminal proceedings for allegations of perjury and misconduct.. ...Read Full Story

Amtrak Planning Special PGA Train

Folks from the Chicago-area who want to come to Benton Harbor next month for the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship will have a new way to do so thanks to Amtrak. Spokesperson Mark Magliari tells WSJM News Amtrak will run a special train to the area on Saturday, May 26. The train will go from Chicago to Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor. It’s been a long time in the making.. ...Read Full Story

School Hires Attendance Officials

Benton Harbor Area Schools is getting serious about maintaining student attendance levels. At this week’s meeting, the board of education approved the hiring of some attendance ombudsmen to make sure students make it to class each day. Interim Superintendent Patricia Robinson read the resolution.. ...Read Full Story

Medicaid Work Requirement Advancing

From the Associated Press — Able-bodied adults would have to complete 29 hours of work, job training or education per week to qualify for Medicaid under a bill advancing in Michigan. A Republican-controlled Senate committee approved the legislation on party lines Wednesday, months after the Trump administration announced it would permit such work requirements under a waiver process. If the bill is enacted, it could affect up to 1 million non-elderly, non-disabled Michigan adults enrolled in Medicaid, government health insurance for low-income people. Supporters say the Medicaid population is ballooning and costs are rising, and it makes sense to require that recipients work for their benefits. Opponents say the legislation would jeopardize access to health coverage and most of those who can work already do. The measure goes to the full Senate for consideration next.. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw Threat Hearing Adjourned To May 2

The Paw Paw High School liaison officer is disputing the claims of the family of a 15-year-old boy suspected of planning an attack on the school last month that he had been bullied. In court yesterday, Deputy Trever Tate testified he interviewed over 50 students, and none of them said the teen was a bullying victim. The boy’s parents, however, contend that was the case and have said a photo of their son in just his underwear had previously been posted on social media. Tate responded that wasn’t necessarily bullying when pressed by the boy’s attorney.. ...Read Full Story

Bills Aim To Prevent Nassar Repeat

Legislation is being worked on in the Michigan House to help ensure there is never a repeat of the Larry Nassar situation. Although the former sports doctor will be behind bars for the rest of his life, lawmakers want to make sure no other doctor can sexually abuse patients under the guise of medical examination. State Representative Mary Whiteford of Casco Township told us more.. ...Read Full Story

School Official Talks Homelessness

A recent report based on numbers from the University of Michigan inaccurately reported the number of homeless students at Berrien Springs Public Schools. So says the district’s special education director. Danny Bartz tells us a report run by some TV stations placed Berrien Springs high on the list Michigan school districts in that regard.. ...Read Full Story

Former Major Leaguer Reportedly Arrested In Berrien

A former pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks is reportedly facing a charge of assault and battery in Berrien County. According to TMZ Sports, 44-year-old Matt Mantei was arrested on Tuesday. He pleaded not guilty on Wednesday and was given a personal recognizance bond. Mantai was a closer who played ten seasons in the Major League. Details of his arrest have not yet been released, but Mantei is due back in court on May 1.. ...Read Full Story

School Safety Forum Planned

A forum for parents of students at St. Joseph Public Schools to discuss safety will be held Thursday night. The district notified parents this week “Creating a Safer School Environment through Prevention, Intervention, and Response” will be at the John and Dede Howard Auditorium from 6 to 7:30 p.m. On hand will be officials from the St. Joseph Department of Public Safety who will talk about school violence statistics, myths, prevention methods, and best practice models. They’ll also discuss how they want to develop a culture designed to prevent school violence that will include educators, the community, family, and police. The effort is the result of a partnership with St. Joseph Schools and the St. Joseph Department of Public Safety following the tragedy in Florida in February.. ...Read Full Story

Line 5 Remains Under Fire

The Line 5 oil pipeline in the Straights of Mackinac is being inspected by Enbridge. It was shut down on Sunday due to high waves and reopened Monday afternoon. David Holtz is with the Oil and Water Don’t Mix Campaign. He spoke with Michigan News Network.. ...Read Full Story

Trump Skipping Correspondents Dinner For Detroit-Area Rally

For the second straight year, President Donald Trump is holding a rally instead of attending the White House Correspondents Dinner. The president’s campaign announced Tuesday that Trump will hold a rally on April 28 in the Detroit suburb of Washington Township. His rally is slated to begin around the same time as the glitzy gala. Trump has skipped the dinner both years he has been in office. But this year, unlike in 2017, he has encouraged aides to attend. Some, however, will be needed to staff the just-announced rally. Last year, he held a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and spent much of the evening bashing the press, saying he was “with much, much better people” at the rally.. ...Read Full Story

Lt. Gov. Calley Turns In Signatures To Qualify For Ballot

(Lansing, MI – AP) – Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Calley has submitted more than 25,000 nominating signatures to qualify for the ballot. The lieutenant governor turned in the petitions Tuesday at the secretary of state’s office, where he was joined by his wife and their three children. He says his campaign is about “continuing Michigan’s comeback.” He cites job gains and a lower unemployment rate and a plan to help people fill professional and skilled trades jobs of the future. Calley is the fourth Republican candidate to turn in signatures in what has become an increasingly pitched battle between himself and Attorney General Bill Schuette, particularly as super PACs backing them run negative ads on TV.. ...Read Full Story

Tugboat Blamed For Pipeline Damage

From the Associated Press — The U.S. Coast Guard says it’s still looking into what caused damage to underwater electric cables and oil pipelines in the channel that connects Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. Cmdr. Shaun Edwards declined to comment Tuesday on an announcement by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette that his office was bringing civil action against VanEnkevort Tug & Barge of Escanaba, Michigan. Schuette says a company vessel dragged an anchor along the Straits on Mackinac on April 1. Edwards says Schuette’s move was separate from the investigation led by the Coast Guard and includes other federal, state and tribal agencies. Edwards says that after the investigation is finished, any mariner who acted wrongly could lose credentials or be referred to the Department of Justice for a
criminal investigation. Officials say two underwater remote vehicles will examine the damaged cables and pipelines.. ...Read Full Story

Olympic Medalist Wieber Sues MSU, USA Gymnastics

Olympic gold medalist Jordyn Wieber is the latest gymnast to sue Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee over former sports doctor Larry Nasssar’s sexual abuse. Wieber grew up north of Lansing was on the “Fierce Five” team that won gold in 2012. She filed a lawsuit in California Tuesday alleging Michigan State and former USA Gymnastics leaders hid Nassar’s conduct from the public and law enforcement. She says the abuse spanned between 2006 and 2012, her medical records were destroyed, and she and her teammates “were not protected.” More than 250 women and girls say Nassar sexually assaulting them under the guise of treatment. He’s serving 60 years in federal prison for child pornography and if he survives that sentence, he’ll serve the rest of his years in a Michigan prison for sexually abusing hundreds of women and girls. Accusers include three other members of the 2012 team – Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney. Those being sued have denied cover-up allegations.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Talks Procedures

Benton Harbor City Commissioners this week shot down a couple of proposals that would have changed up some of their own procedures. At Monday’s meeting, the commission considered changing a rule which states the mayor gets to make all committee appointments, which are then voted on by the full commission. Under the proposed resolution, committee appointments would instead be made by the legislative committee. Mayor Pro Tem Duane Seats wasn’t having it.. ...Read Full Story

Congressman Upton Comments On Death Of Barbara Bush

Congressman Fred Upton is among thousands of Americans remembering former First Lady Barbara Bush. In a statement, the St. Joseph Republican called her “the epitome of class and as genuine as they come.” He added he has great memories of campaigning with her and former President George H.W. Bush, saying she “always thought of others first, was always kind, and was always quick with a joke and a smile.” Barbara Bush was only the second woman in history to be both a first lady and the mother of a President. Her funeral will be Saturday in Houston, and by invitation only.. ...Read Full Story

Proos On Prison Kitchen Inspections

State Senator John Proos is working on language to insert in the Michigan Department of Corrections budget to subject all department-operated kitchens to the public safety requirements of the state’s food code. Proos tells WSJM News it would make sense for prison kitchens to be inspected the same way as restaurants.. ...Read Full Story

Teachers Voice Support For Principal

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has heard from a group of teachers opposed to the possible release of High School Principal Donald Pearson. The board was presented on Tuesday with a letter signed by nearly 40 staff members stating support for Pearson. Teacher Shay Briggs-Sternaman read from it.. ...Read Full Story

Realtors Helping To Create Dog Park

The village of Baroda is getting a new dog park thanks to the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors. Association Executive Alan Jeffries tells WSJM News they award a $2,500 grant each year to a local community for an improvement project with the national association’s placemaking grant program. This year, Baroda gets an area where people can take their dogs.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers Talk Nassar Bills

A Michigan House committee on Tuesday heard testimony on a package of bills in response to the Larry Nassar sexual misconduct scandal. Oakland County Republican Klint Kesto told Michigan News Network his legislation prohibits sexual contact under the pretext of medical treatment.. ...Read Full Story

Humane Society Festival Next Weekend

Tickets are on sale for the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan’s second annual Charcuterie Festival. Set for next Saturday in downtown Stevensville, it’s a chance for everyone to sample beers and food from 11 restaurants and 15 local breweries. The Humane Society’s Jill Svoboda spoke with WSJM News about the event.. ...Read Full Story

City Considers Public Safety Cost Ordinance

A proposal to charge non-residents for their costs to the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety is being considered by city commissioners. At Monday’s meeting, commissioners heard a proposal from City Manager Darwin Watson to set up a fee structure for those out-of-towners who need things like fire services or emergency help. He noted many other communities have such an ordinance. Mayor Pro Tem Duane Seats said there are situations in which public safety spends a lot to help someone who doesn’t pay the city taxes.. ...Read Full Story

Underwater Vehicle To Inspect Damaged Pipeline

From the Associated Press — The company that owns twin oil pipelines beneath the waterway that connects Lake Huron and Lake Michigan is preparing to launch an underwater vehicle to inspect damage that may have been caused by a ship’s anchor. A spokesman for Enbridge Inc. said Monday the remote-controlled vehicle will examine the submerged pipes in the Straits of Mackinac. They are part of Line 5,
which carries 23 million gallons of crude oil daily between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario. Enbridge temporarily shut down the line over the weekend, blaming a power outage at its Superior terminal. Officials say dents in both pipes may have been caused by “vessel activity” also believed responsible for damaging two electric cables that leaked 600 gallons  of coolant fluid into the straits.. ...Read Full Story

Airline Accused Of Mechanical Issues

Allegiant Air, which flies out of Grand Rapids, is accused in a “60 Minutes” report of having more than 100 serious mechanical incidents in a year and a half. Gerald R. Ford International Airport spokeswoman Tara Hernandez told Michigan News Network Allegiant has been a good partner.. ...Read Full Story

Study Examines Support For Teen Mothers

Most adults with children feel that state support for pregnant teens is a good investment in the baby’s health. That’s according to a new national study by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan. Study co-director Sarah Clark spoke with Michigan News Network about her findings.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Proposes School Safety Plan

Governor Rick Snyder is proposing a school safety plan that calls for upgrading security at up to 400 schools and tripling the budget of the OK2Say tip line. The proposal made Monday includes $20 million to update school buildings with locks and other security features, says spokesperson Ari Adler. He spoke with WSJM News about the proposal.. ...Read Full Story

Community Could Drop Lifeguard Services

New Buffalo city leaders are thinking about not having life guards at the local beach this summer. However, that won’t affect how the U.S. Coast Guard approaches its duties there. Executive Petty Officer Lazaro Lopez with the U.S. Coast Guard station in St. Joseph tells WSJM News they’ll serve the area as they always have, although not having lifeguards may reduce response times in some cases. He tells us he’s seen many communities drop lifeguard services at their beaches in recent years. Silver Beach is one of the few in southwest Michigan to still have them.. ...Read Full Story

Small Business Event Next Month

An event is coming up at the Mendel Center in Benton Township for small business owners and those interested in starting a business. Cornerstone Alliance Entrepreneurship Director Stacey Stephens tells WSJM News Small Business Day will be held Wednesday, May 2.. ...Read Full Story

Thousands Remain Without Power

From the Associated Press — Nearly a quarter of a million Michigan power customers remain without service after a storm brought freezing rain and high winds to the state. DTE Energy said Monday afternoon about 240,000 of its customers had no electricity after service to 150,000 other was restored. It says crews are finding more extensive damage than anticipated. Consumers Energy says about 9,000 customers remained without power after service to 130,000 was restored. In the Detroit suburb of Warren, a fallen power line sparked a fire that destroyed 10 vehicles at a used car dealership. Heavy rains caused scattered flooding and easterly winds were blamed for
weekend flooding along Saginaw Bay off Lake Huron and in Monroe County off Lake Erie. Other areas received heavy snow.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Democrats Pick Nessel As AG Choice

Michigan Democrats have endorsed Dana Nessel in a hotly contested race to be the party’s state attorney general candidate. Thousands of delegates made their choice Sunday at a convention at Cobo Center in Detroit. Nessel, a former assistant prosecutor in Wayne County who now is a private attorney, defeated Pat Miles, a former U.S. attorney for western Michigan under former President Barack Obama. She is expected to be formally nominated at a convention in August, but the victory will give her a head start preparing for November’s general election. Nessel is the first openly gay candidate for a statewide office in Michigan history.. ...Read Full Story

House Plan To Fight Student Sex Abuse

The Michigan House inquiry into the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal has led to the introduction of legislation intended to protect Michigan students. House leaders on Wednesday announced the package which includes tougher child pornography penalties and penalties for those who fail to report abuse. State Representative Kim LaSata told us more.. ...Read Full Story

MI Beverage Industry Shows Strong Growth

The food and beverage industry in southwest Michigan is showing very strong growth in a new study. Commissioned by Indiana Michigan Power, the study was done to help better plan for the utility’s responsibilities and also to help economic developers. I&M spokesperson Dave Bergsma tells WSJM News the craft beer industry has led the way in the growth of beverage producing in southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Names Released In Triple-Fatal Crash

All four young men who broke into the Black Arsenal Gun Store and led police on a chase that ended with their SUV crashing into a tree on M-139 near Rockey Weed Road have been identified. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says the crash killed 20-year-old Jamahri Fuller, who was driving the SUV, and two passengers, 17-year-olds Davion Patton and Allan Velox. 17-year-old Anton Morgan is hospitalized at Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids in critical condition. Lincoln Township Police say there were eight guns stolen from the gun store just after 5 a.m. Sunday, and all were recovered from the crash scene. Those were three pistols, five rifles, and one shotgun.. ...Read Full Story