Local News Archives

Police Look For Missing Benton Harbor Girl

The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety is looking for a 15-year-old girl reported missing this week. The department tells us Anna Mae Taylor was last seen at her home around 12:20 p.m. Wednesday. She was reported missing by her mother. She is believed to be wearing blue jeans with holes in them and grey leggings underneath, a grey T-shirt, and a blue Pelle-Pelle jacket with a fur lined collar. Anna has a pierced nose and a long black and blond weave in her hair with two earrings in the tops of her ears. She also wears a gold cross necklace. Anna is described as being about four feet eleven inches tall and 112 pounds with brown eyes. Benton Harbor Public Safety says it’s investigating the case as suspicious. Anyone with information on Anna’s location is asked to contact the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety at 269-927-0293.. ...Read Full Story

GLRI Funding Restored In Budget

Funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative appears safe. President Trump wanted to cut that spending from $300 million to $30 million, but the GLRI is fully funded in a deal struck by U.S. House and Senate leaders. They hope to start voting as soon as today on a sweeping $1.3 trillion budget bill that substantially boosts military and domestic spending. A stopgap measure may be needed to ensure federal offices don’t shut down at midnight Friday when funding for the government expires. The White House says President Donald Trump backs the legislation, though he grumbled in a tweet, “Had to waste money on Dem giveaways in order to take care of military pay increase and new equipment.”. ...Read Full Story

Deadline Approaching For Pokagon Fund Grants

The deadline to apply for a Pokagon Fund grant this year is fast approaching. The fund tells us organizations looking for its support have until April 15 to get their paperwork in. To be qualified, an organization must be classified as 501(c)3 of the IRS or a public school. Since 2007, the Pokagon Fund has given out grants to community projects focused on education, the arts, recreation, environment, health, and other areas using a portion of Four Winds Casino revenues. Since its inception, the fund has given out more than $22 million. You can find out more about Pokagon Fund grants at its website.. ...Read Full Story

Municipal League Hoping For More Female Managers

Just 16% of Michigan’s municipal managers are women when women represent 50% of the population. That’s why the Michigan Municipal League is launching the 16-50 Project to draw more women to those management positions in local government. The League’s Emily Kieliszewski told Michigan News Network this week they plan to do it by removing barriers for women, and professional development.. ...Read Full Story

World Water Day Today

Folks from all ends of the state are being called upon to raise their voices for clean water. World Water Day is Thursday, and a coalition of organizations is rallying in the capital city to show elected leaders that affordable and protected water is a priority in Michigan. Shannon Abbott with the Grand Rapids Water Protectors says from Flint to the Straits of Mackinac and beyond, water contamination has been largely ignored by state officials.. ...Read Full Story

Bangor Schools Closed Due To Threat

Bangor Public Schools will be closed on Thursday due to a threat found written on one of the stalls in a restroom. Bangor Interim Superintendent Lynn Johnson says in a letter to parents a custodian found the threat after school was dismissed Wednesday. Johnson says the situation is being investigated by police, and as a precaution, classes will be cancelled Thursday, March 22. Johnson adds the school district is “consistently working to prevent any acts of violence in our schools. We have strong working relationships with all local, county and state police departments, and take all threats seriously.”. ...Read Full Story

Part Of Road Renamed For Trooper

Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation from state Representative Kim LaSata to rename a stretch of Red Arrow Highway in Berrien County in honor of a fallen state police trooper. She tells WSJM News Red Arrow Highway between Glenlord and Hilltop Roads will now be called the Trooper Robert J. Mihalik Memorial Highway.. ...Read Full Story

Final Eight In School Spirit Tournament

State Senator John Proos is congratulating the schools left in his annual Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament. He announced the Elite 8 this week, telling WSJM News we’re now down to Michigan Lutheran versus Lake Michigan Catholic, River Valley versus Grace Christian, Berrien Springs versus Coloma, and Edwardsburg versus Marcellus. They’re competing in a bracket-style tournament to prove their school spirit by sending Proos photo evidence they’re the best.. ...Read Full Story

Unemployment Edges Up

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s unemployment rate edged upward to 4.8% in February. Figures released Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget show Michigan’s jobless rate last month rose from 4.7% in January. It was seven-tenths of a percentage point above the national rate of 4.1 percent in February and unchanged from the state’s February 2017 rate of 4.8 percent. The agency says total employment was essentially unchanged over the month while the number of unemployed increased by 1,000.The February jobless rate increase was Michigan’s first since a minor uptick recorded in September. Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives Director Jason Palmer says the number of jobs statewide increasing by 16,000 over the first two
months of the year.. ...Read Full Story

House Approves Bike Passing Bill

From the Associated Press — A bill advancing in Michigan’s Legislature would require drivers to allow 3 feet (0.9 meters) of clearance while passing a bike, unless it’s impracticable. Wednesday’s 98-10 vote in the House comes after months of hearings and behind-the-scenes work. Michigan is among 11 states with no “safe passing” law, and bicyclists have been pushing lawmakers to act as more riders are killed by
motorists. As introduced, the legislation would have required 5 feet (1.5 meters) of clearance. But the House settled on a 3-foot distance.
Another bill approved 105-2 would mandate teen drivers receive at least one hour of instruction on laws pertaining to bicycles, motorcycles and other “vulnerable” roadway users including pedestrians. The legislation next moves to the Senate, where a 5-foot passing distance has
been proposed.. ...Read Full Story

Home Sales Slightly Down

The latest housing numbers are out from the Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors, and they show the regional market slightly sluggish in February. The association’s Alan Jeffries tells WSJM News the number of units sold in February was down by three from February of 2017.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Dowagiac Shooting

The Dowagiac Police Department is investigating a Wednesday shooting. It tells us officers were called to a home in the 300 block of Pokagon Street shortly before 11 a.m. when a woman called 911 to report she shot her boyfriend during a fight. Arriving officers found the 49-year-old man had been shot twice in the lower legs. He told police his girlfriend shot him with a handgun during an argument. He was taken to South Bend Memorial hospital to be treated for non-life threatening injuries. Officers seized the gun, and the 31-year-old woman was arrested on charges of assault with intent to commit great bodily harm. The names are being withheld pending arraignment.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Leaders Set Priorities

The South Haven City Council has its priorities for the upcoming fiscal year following a meeting this week. The top three priorities for the year are development of “missing middle” housing options, economic development, infrastructure repairs. South Haven Mayor Scott Smith told WSJM News how the priorities list is put together.. ...Read Full Story

Lt. Gov. To Snag Endorsement

Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Calley is expected to be officially endorsed by Governor Rick Snyder. Calley, who has been lieutenant governor alongside Snyder for more than seven years, will host the governor at a campaign event today in the Detroit suburb of Southfield. The pending endorsement is no surprise, but it could give Calley a lift among Republican voters. When Calley launched his campaign in November, Snyder touted him as a “wonderful partner” and was the special guest at a Calley campaign fundraiser. Snyder cannot run a third time because of term limits. Other Republicans running to succeed Snyder include Attorney General Bill Schuette, state Senator Patrick Colbeck and Dr. Jim Hines. Four Democrats are running. The primary election is in August.. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw Suspect Previously Questioned By FBI

The 15-year-old Paw Paw High School student facing charges for threatening a school shooting had been questioned by area police and the FBI last month. His parents say school officials also evaluated him, but did not believe him to be a threat. The teen’s stepdad says his son, however, had been relentlessly bullied and that only increased after he was caught drawing a bomb.. ...Read Full Story

Check Your School’s Financial Health

A new website has been launched by the state of Michigan Treasury Department to make financial information about public school districts available to parents. Treasury spokesperson Ron Leix tells WSJM News the site is easy to use, breaking down the state on a map, district by district.. ...Read Full Story

Blue Ice Forms Up North

This is quite a sight in northern Michigan. Blue ice is piled 20 feet high along the shores of Mackinaw City. Jamie Mersch is the executive director of the Mackinaw City Chamber of Commerce and told Michigan News Network this week the ice has boosted winter tourism.. ...Read Full Story

Softball Team Collecting Equipment

A new effort is underway to collect equipment for the Benton Harbor Tigers girls softball team. Benton Harbor Area Schools Varsity Softball Coach Chris Glisson tells us he started the collection drive to get all sorts of equipment when he realized his players were under-equipped.. ...Read Full Story

Coalition Talks Suicide Prevention

A meeting held at the Berrien County Health Department Tuesday aimed to spread the message that 911 is the number to call when a loved one is feeling suicidal. Berrien County Suicide Prevention Coalition founder Trent Watford told WSJM News 911 will connect someone who needs help with resources available.. ...Read Full Story

Shoreline Protection Bill Signed

Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation from state Representative Kim LaSata intended to strengthen a program for the clean-up of waterways in the state. LaSata tells WSJM News confusion was created several years ago when the Michigan Departments of Natural Resources and Environmental Quality were combined. After they separated, it was not clear which one was to run the Adopt-a-River and Adopt-a-Shoreline programs.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Approves Road Money

Another $175 million dollars in road funding has been signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder. That’s on top of the the $600 million already allotted by state lawmakers. Michigan News Network Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick tells us the additional funding may be little consolation for drivers with flat tires and broken axles from all this winter’s potholes.. ...Read Full Story

Commissioners Agree To No-Wake Zone Request

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources can now hold a hearing on extending the no-wake zone in the St. Joseph River in the area of St. Joe and Benton Harbor. That’s because Benton Harbor City Commissioners on Monday agreed to let the DNR move forward. City Manager Darwin Watson told WSJM News people with boats at Pier 1000 asked that the no-wake zone be extended.. ...Read Full Story

Soft Lockdown At Eau Claire Middle, High School

Eau Claire Public Schools put one of its buildings on a soft lockdown Tuesday due to a possible threat. Parents received a message telling them the middle school-high school was placed on a soft lockdown due to a message found in a restroom. A Facebook post from the school district says the school “found graffiti in a bathroom stall at the high school. The local and county police have been notified and are on site. We are taking every precaution to keep students and faculty safe. At this time, there are no immediate concerns. If there are any questions or concerns, please contact the school offices.” Police are investigating.. ...Read Full Story

Names Released In Deadly Crash

More details are now public regarding a deadly crash between three vehicles on M-139 in Oronoko Township. The Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Police Department says 61-year-old Karen Johns of Eau Claire was killed in the crash Monday morning. Investigators tell WSJM News Johns was northbound on M-139 when her car was hit by a northbound pickup driven by 17-year-old Riley Haygood of Berrien Springs, pushing her into the southbound lanes and into the path of a Ford Transit Van carrying seven people. The van’s driver suffered minor injuries, and several passengers were treated by paramedics at the scene. Police are still trying to determine what caused Haygood to hit Johns’ vehicle to start the crash.. ...Read Full Story

Website Shows School Finances

From the Associated Press — The fiscal health of each public school in Michigan now can be viewed on a new website. The Michigan Treasury department says the MI School Financials Dashboard is easy to use and provides visual financial data about local and intermediate school districts and public academies. It also features data on revenues and expenditures, enrollment and per-pupil
funding. Schools are required to report such data to the Center for Educational Performance and Information. Last year, the state Treasury department made public the MI Community Dashboard which highlights financial data reported annually by counties, cities, villages and townships in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

State Updates Cyber Security Rules

From the Associated Press — Open-records disclosures can no longer include information on cybersecurity plans and vulnerabilities in Michigan. Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation Monday that allows for the exclusion of cybersecurity information shared with Michigan State Police and other government bodies. The changes cleared the Legislature in a bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Brandt Iden of Oshtemo earlier this month. Supporters say the exemption reassures companies that sensitive information shared with officials in the event of a security breach does not surface in public-records requests under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act. The exclusion also applies to requests that could trigger future security breaches. The Michigan Press Association opposes the curtailment, saying it allows for excessive exemption-taking. Last week, the state announced that a recent audit found phishing vulnerabilities among its public employees.. ...Read Full Story

Trash Contract In Place

Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad has an update for residents regarding the city’s new garbage contract. At Monday’s meeting, Muhammad said the final contract with We-Cycle Industrial Sanitation is signed, and the trash cans to be used for pick up will soon be available.. ...Read Full Story

Former State Rep Running For MI Senate

Running for Michigan Senate in the 20th District is a familiar name in west Michigan politics. Former Republican state Representative and current Allegan County Clerk Bob Genetski is hoping to replace state Senator Tonya Schuitmaker when she’s term limited out of office this year. He tells WSJM News reducing auto insurance rates is a big priority.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Trooper To Be Honored This week

A Michigan State Police trooper from the Niles post will be honored at an event in East Lansing this week. State police tell us the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission’s annual awards presentation will be Wednesday, and on hand to be saluted will be Sergeant James Janes from the Niles post. He will be recognized for his efforts as a drug recognition expert — or, DRE — to reduce traffic crashes, injuries, and deaths. State police tell us Janes has been instrumental in his ability to catch impaired drivers. In 2015, Janes performed 40 DRE evaluations during his own investigations, making him one of the most active DREs in the state. He’s done more than 200 DRE evaluations in the past four years. At its awards this week, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission is handing out six Outstanding Traffic Safety Achievement awards, four long-term awards, and one student award.. ...Read Full Story

Museum Hosting Lego Carnivale This Week

Set for this Thursday is the first public event to be held at the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in St. Joseph since it had to shut down in December due to flooding. Heritage Museum Curator Tracy Gierada tells WSJM News they’re hosting a Lego Carnivale as part of the annual Build Your Way Around Town events going on this month.. ...Read Full Story

One Dead In Oronoko Twp Crash

One person is dead following a crash that shut down part of M-139 in Oronoko Township for several hours on Monday. The Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Police Department tells WSJM News it happened around 11:30 a.m. on M-139 at Hinchman Road. A northbound pick-up crashed into a northbound car, pushing the car into the southbound lanes. That’s when a southbound bus crashed into the car. The driver of the car was taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend, where that person was pronounced dead. Police are not yet releasing the deceased’s name. The crash remains under investigation by the Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Police Department and Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Judge Pushes Opioid Treatment Program

A southeast Michigan leader in the fight against opioid addiction says there’s a lack of urgency in what she calls one of the biggest health issues facing the country. Macomb County District Judge Linda Davis is the head of Families Against Narcotics, and says the stigma surrounding addiction isn’t helping.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Gets UAW Endorsement

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s largest labor union is endorsing Gretchen Whitmer for governor. The United Auto Workers, which represents 385,000 active members and retirees in the state, announced the endorsement Monday at its international headquarters in Detroit. Whitmer, a former legislative leader, is among four main Democrats seeking the nomination in August’s primary election.
She previously won the backing of the Michigan Education Association, the state’s second-biggest union. UAW President Dennis Williams says Whitmer is a “champion” who will protect members’ safety and jobs while strengthening their schools and communities. In her campaign, she has talked about protesting outside the Capitol when Republicans enacted a right-to-work law in 2012. Whitmer says it is time Michigan workers “had a governor who will fix the roads and fight for working people.”. ...Read Full Story

Arrest Made In Paw Paw Schools Threat

An arrest has been made in the case of a threat that shut down Paw Paw Schools Monday. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us a 15-year-old boy who is a student at the high school made the threat, which the department believes was credible. The sheriff’s department and Paw Paw police investigated after word of the threat reached them. They notified the school district, which made the decision to shut down all buildings for Monday. Police did a search of the suspect’s home and seized guns and other evidence. The 15-year-old is now being held at the Allegan County Juvenile Center on multiple charges pending arraignment. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us it’s determined there is no ongoing threat to the school district at this time.. ...Read Full Story

Threat Closes Paw Paw Schools

No school today for students in Paw Paw due to a threat against the district. A student is accused of threatening a shooting at the high school and has been arrested. The district put out automated calls last night to parents to let them know there would be no classes at any schools in Paw Paw today. In addition to Paw Paw Public Schools being closed, Trinity Lutheran School is also canceling today’s classes. Since the Parkland, Florida school massacre on Valentine’s Day, threats against schools across the state and the country have spiked.. ...Read Full Story

Congressional Art Contest Underway

Congressman Fred Upton has announced the 2018 Congressional Art Competition, open to high school artists throughout the Sixth Congressional District. The winner will have his or her piece hang in the U.S. Capitol for a year along with the winners of the award from Congressional districts across the country. Plus, the winner and a guest will get to go to Washington, D.C. to attend a reception. Upton’s office tells us the arts are a vital part of southwest Michigan’s diverse community. You can find the rules and the entry forms for the Congressional Art Competition at Upton’s website. Last year’s winner was Cami Hoogstraten of Otsego who submitted a digital drawing of a Native American Dancer.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Budget Work

If you think planning a family budget is difficult and time consuming, imagine trying to budget for a city. That’s what South Haven City Manager and staff are working on right now. City Manager Brian Dissette spoke with WSJM News this week about the process.. ...Read Full Story

Take Back The Tap

Bottled water sales in the United States are skyrocketing, but a new report looks at what is actually being sold to those customers. In “Take Back the Tap,” Food and Water Watch researchers look at the booming business of bottled water, which surpassed soda in sales in 2016. The group finds nearly 64% of bottled water comes from municipal taps, and that it cost almost two thousand times as much as tap water and four times as much as gasoline. Patty Lovera with Food and Water Watch tells us bottled water companies target demographics through advertising, especially immigrant communities.. ...Read Full Story

School Leaders Talk Security

Benton Harbor School leaders continue to think about improving security. At a Tuesday meeting, the board of education heard from Acting Superintendent Patricia Robinson the district’s metal detectors are almost repaired, with six door units now operational. There are also upgrades in the works to the security cameras. Trustee Joseph Taylor told WSJM News he wants metal detectors working quickly, especially in light of the recent tragedy in Florida.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Explores Changes To Prison Food Service

State Senator John Proos has some new ideas for prison food service. That’s after Governor Rick Snyder recently proposed moving away from having private companies provide it. Proos tells WSJM News he’s put together a Senate workgroup to explore training non-violent prisoners to prepare and serve meals at Michigan Department of Corrections facilities.. ...Read Full Story

Jon Cox; With Respect 03/18/18

John’s guest this week is Professor John Cox of Hope College. He is one of the world recognized experts on William Shakespeare. In this show, followed by a sequel next week, they talk about Shakespeare’s life and career in the days of Good Queen Bess. . ...Read Full Story

Changes Coming To Krasl

St. Joseph City Commissioners have given the green light to the Krasl Art Center as it seeks an improvement project for its grounds to attract more visitors. At a meeting this past week, the commission signed off on a Planned Unit Development request for Krasl as it pursues thework. Krasl’s Julia Gourley told WSJM News they’ll add a commissioned sculpture along with some other features.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Talks “Marshall Plan” For Jobs

$100 million is the price tag for Governor Rick Snyder’s ambitious plan to expand job training programs for all ages. Called the “Marshall Plan for Talent,” he tells WSJM News the reaction has been positive from lawmakers so far since he announced the initiative in South Haven last month.. ...Read Full Story

Municipal Group Calls For Infrastructure Funding

The head Michigan’s association of local governments says Uncle Sam needs to dig deeper to help fix our roads. Dan Gilmartin of the Michigan Municipal League told Michigan News Network this week at least an extra billion dollars would help, but it doesn’t cover the need for a mass transit system, which is becoming more and more of a need by businesses coming to Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Talks School Safety

As students protested school violence across the country Wednesday, the U.S. House was voting to increase security in schools. Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News the STOP School Violence Act had its vote, passing 407 to 10. It sets aside $75 million for school safety grants to train teachers and others. Upton says he has appreciated high school students getting involved in civics since the Parkland, Florida shootings.. ...Read Full Story

School Officials Get Academics Update

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has received an update on the academic progress of district students since the partnership agreement with the state went into effect. Acting Superintendent Patricia Robinson tells WSJM News there’s been some progress on reading scores, but they’re having trouble increasing math scores. A big part of the problem is the lack of certified math teachers.. ...Read Full Story

Update Planned For War Monument

Changes are coming to the World War I monument along the bluff in downtown St. Joseph. At a meeting this week, the city commission approved moving the plaque listing area World War I soldiers to a more prominent spot at the doughboy statue. It’s currently in the back, often obscured by vegetation. Now, it will be encased in concrete to the side of the statue. They’re also adding a U.S. flag to the monument. A representative of the parks advisory board told commissioners about it Monday.. ...Read Full Story

Humane Society Gets Challenge Grant

A new $700,000 challenge grant has been announced to help the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan as it prepares to move into its new facility. Humane Society Director Jill Svoboda tells WSJM News the Yeager family, longtime supporters, will match donations, dollar for dollar, to both the organization’s capital fund for the new shelter and its endowment.. ...Read Full Story

Dem Throws Hat In Ring For Senate

There’s a Democrat running for the Michigan Senate in the 26th District. That’s the district currently represented by state Senator Tonya Schuitmaker, covering Van Buren and Allegan counties and part of Kent County. Garnet Lewis is a former Northern Michigan University Trustee and current member of the Saugatuck Planning Commission. She tells WSJM News she was inspired to get back into politics following the election of President Trump.. ...Read Full Story

Calley Launches First TV Ad

From the Associated Press — Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Calley is launching a campaign ad that will run for nearly three weeks on network and cable TV stations. The 30-second ad begins airing Friday. It makes Calley, the state’s lieutenant governor, the second Republican to run ads. Dr. Jim Hines has also aired some ads. Calley’s ad shows him jogging through a town, with more people gradually joining in. He says Michigan’s conservative reforms have led to the creation of more than 500,000 jobs. Calley says the job is not finished, though, and “we’re just getting started.” Calley is among four main Republicans running for governor. Attorney General Bill Schuette is seen as the front-runner, with the primary five months away.. ...Read Full Story

State Does Cyber Security Audit

From the Associated Press — Auditors have flagged the state of Michigan for gaps that could increase the risk of its computer network being hacked. An audit released Friday made 14 findings, including five that are “material” – the most serious. The Office of the Auditor General says the Department of Technology, Management and Budget did not do enough to ensure that only authorized devices access the IT network and did not fully implement an effective process for managing updates to operating systems. Auditors also say conducted an exercise in which nearly one-fifth of 5,000 state employee randomly sample clicked on a “phishing” email and entered their credentials.
A state spokesman says it has already begun to implement many of the auditors’ recommendations, and the data in the state’s network is “safe and secure.”. ...Read Full Story

Smart Thermostat Program Brought To Michigan

A program that brings smart thermostats to southwest Michigan is now available for all customers of Indiana Michigan power. I&M spokesperson Tracy Warner tells us IM Home allows you to install an app on your phone that lets you control your home heat remotely. The app also watches your energy usage and takes steps to reduce it at times when you won’t notice.. ...Read Full Story