Local News Archives

Planned Power Outage

If you live in St. Joseph, there’s a chance you may have a power outage Thursday. Indiana Michigan Power has been notifying customers of a planned maintenance outage that is supposed to go from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. That’s seven hours. It may be a bit long, but I&M tells us it’s needed to safely do the maintenance work. About 400 customers will be affected. 25 businesses will be affected. Anyone with questions can call the utility. The homes and businesses included in the outage can be found scattered around the area.. ...Read Full Story

BH Farmers Market Opens

This Wednesday brought the re-opening of the Benton Harbor Farmers Market. Held by the Berrien County Health Department, the market is intended to give Benton Harbor residents a place to purchase fresh fruits and veggies, says spokesperson Gillian Conrad.. ...Read Full Story

Child Support Division Releases Numbers

More than $250 million in back child support has been collected by the Michigan Attorney General’s office since it opened the Child Support Division in 2003. State Attorney General Bill Schuette tells us the focus of the Child Support Division is for parents who have the ability to pay child support but refuse to do so. For the Department of Attorney General to get involved with child support cases, there has to be at least $7,500 in back payments owed. When a case comes to the department, a 90-day investigation period begins. The state notes it has gone a far as to extradite a man from Alaska who owed more than $95,000 in child support in Michigan. You can find more information about the state’s Child Support Division right here.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Statement On Executive Order

Now that President Trump has signed an executive order ending the separation of detained illegal immigrants from their children at the U.S. and Mexico border, Congressman Fred Upton has issued a statement. He says, “Thank goodness this ugly practice is ending. As it should. Now we must re-double our efforts to fix a broken immigration system.” Upton told us this week action on immigration was likely in the U.S. House on Thursday. Upton had called the family separations “ugly and inhumane.” Earlier on Wednesday, before the president signed the executive order, Upton tweeted, “Mr. President, you can stop this madness. End the ugly family separation practice NOW.”. ...Read Full Story

Application For Marijuana Businesses

Benton Harbor is a step closer to having medical marijuana businesses registered in the city. At this week’s meeting, city commissioners approved the application that medical marijuana businesses will use when seeking permission to operate. Mayor Marcus Muhammad noted the applications come with a $5,000 fee.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Explains Bill To Cut Personal Property Tax For Utilities

The city of St. Joseph and Berrien County Board of Commissioners are among local governmental units concerned that a new bill sponsored by Senator John Proos of St. Joseph is going to hit their bottom lines. Proos has authored legislation to give a tax break to utilities on their transmission and distribution systems, as utilities were not included in the personal property tax repeal that passed several years ago for manufacturers and business. Proos tells us he’s talked with every member of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners about their concerns regarding the loss in tax revenues, and adds what’s been introduced will undergo changes.. ...Read Full Story

Existing Home Sales Down, Prices Up Sharply

The housing market in southwest Michigan is cooling off a bit, but it’s still red-hot for sellers because there still aren’t many homes on the market. Those that do go up are getting multiple offers within hours of being listed in some instances. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors says average selling prices jumped 20% from April to May and the median price shot up 44%. Sales numbers, however, are down 6% for the year compared to 2017 due to low inventory. The median price for May was just under $155,000, while the average price now stands at nearly $257,000. The local mortgage rate is also up, rising from 4.6% in April to 4.75% in May.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Summer Automation Academy

Lake Michigan College is trying out a new kind of summer jobs training program this year. Dean of Career Education Ken Flowers tells WSJM News Automation Engineering Pre-Apprentice Academy starts at the Hanson Tech Center Monday. It’s a seven-week summer academy to teach students about design and graphics, advanced cad techniques, industrial safety, robotics, and blueprint reading. The trick to this program is many of the students are sponsored by employers.. ...Read Full Story

WSJM Morning News – June 20, 2018

  • Congressman Fred Upton expects the U.S. House to take action on an immigration bill this Thursday.
  • Protesters gathered outside of Congressman Fred Upton’s office.
  • Those interested in starting a medical marijuana business in Benton Harbor now have a way to apply to the city for permission.
  • Michigan farmers are watching Capitol Hill closely over the next few weeks.
  • Lake Michigan College will launch a new kind of training program next week.
  • Coming up this Thursday will be a chance for everyone to help in the fight against Alzheimer’s by tuning into The Longest Day All-Day Broadcast.
  • The old Central Train Station in Detroit will be TRANSFORMED by Ford.
  • Federal highway safety officials have ordered a stop to a product that allows Tesla drivers to keep the autopilot function going for longer than intended.
. ...Read Full Story

Immigration Protest In St. Joseph

Congressman Fred Upton’s office in St. Joseph was the site of a protest Tuesday regarding immigration policy. Specifically, activists gathered to demand that Upton keep his word when it comes to fighting the Trump administration’s policy of separating detained illegal immigrants from their children. Protester Sandy Feldman told WSJM News they had a message for the St. Joe congressman.. ...Read Full Story

Alzheimer’s Radio-thon This Week

This Thursday will be the longest day if the year, and the Alzheimer’s Association is using it as a way to spread awareness and raise money. Michigan chapter spokesperson Samantha West tells WSJM News they want everyone to know the warning signs of Alzheimer’s. They’re different from normal, age-related forgetfulness.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Talks Immigration

Action on immigration reform is likely this Thursday in the U.S. House. So says Congressman Fred Upton, who issued a statement this week in opposition to the Trump administration policy of separating detained illegal immigrants from their children at the border. Upton told WSJM News he wants the practice ended.. ...Read Full Story

Bill On Businesses And Healthcare

A new bill in the Michigan Legislature is designed to shine a light on big companies that pay their workers so little they qualify for government-funded healthcare. House Bill 61-46, the Fair Share Health Care Disclosure Act, would require the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to publish an annual list of the 50 companies with the most employees on Medicaid. State Representative Patrick Green says taxpayers end up footing the bill when companies skimp on workers.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Calls For Action To Stop Separation Of Families At Border

There are more voices calling on the White House to change course when it comes to separating children from their parents at the border with Mexico. Michigan Congressmen Fred Upton, Bill Huizenga and Dan Kildee issued statements slamming the “zero-tolerance” policy being enforced by the White House, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer is also calling on everyone in the state to put pressure on the U.S. House and Senate to come up with a new law.. ...Read Full Story

New Farm Bill Could Be Passed Soon

There is optimism in Michigan’s agriculture community that this year’s federal Farm Bill will be finished and on the desk of the President before the current law expires this fall. Michigan Farm Bureau national lobbyist John Kran says one important thing for farmers is having certainty.. ...Read Full Story

Ford Celebrates Purchase Of Detroit Train Station

From the Associated Press — Ford Motor Co. is celebrating its purchase of Detroit’s long vacant train depot that the company plans to redevelop for research and development of self-driving vehicles. The company’s executive chairman, Bill Ford, has used the Michigan Central depot as a backdrop while publicly laying out plans for the 105-year-old train station and surrounding neighborhood. On Tuesday, the automaker held a public event outside the 500,000-square-foot
(46,450-square-meter) building. Bill Ford said Tuesday that the company is reimagining mobility and “making a big bet on” its future with the investments. He says the depot and 17-story office tower will be redeveloped over the next four years.
The last passenger train left the station in 1988. A businessman purchased the building in the mid-1990s, but it remained empty and became blighted, exemplifying Detroit’s long decline from manufacturing powerhouse to bankruptcy.. ...Read Full Story

120 Nassar Survivors Want Engler Out

A letter signed by at least 120 survivors of former sports doctor Larry Nassar demands that Michigan State University’s governing board remove interim school president John Engler. The women and girls issued a statement Tuesday, days before the board of trustees’ next meeting. Engler, a former Michigan governor, is resisting pressure to resign after media reports that he sent emails to another university official criticizing lawyers for Nassar’s sexual assault survivors and suggesting the first woman to go public with her accusations, Kalamazoo native and Nashville, Tennessee attorney Rachael Denhollander, was probably getting a “kickback” from her attorney. In the statement, the “sister survivors” say that Engler “has only reinforced the culture of abuse at MSU.” They say survivors “should know they can raise their voice without being characterized as pawns too foolish to know they are manipulated.” Denhollander worked with Michigan lawmakers to craft several of the bills that resulted from the Nassar fallout.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Salutes Niki Harris

Benton Harbor singing sensation Niki Harris has been honored by the city commission. At Monday’s meeting, commissioners saluted Harris as Mayor Marcus Muhammad read off some of her accomplishments, noting she has worked with Madonna, Whitney Houston, and Prince.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Talks Budget

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have approved the 2018-2019 budget, sending the city into the next fiscal year with a surplus of about $22,000. At Monday’s meeting, City Manager Darwin Watson said the spending plan anticipates a little more than $7.9 million in revenue and just under that in expenditures. He noted pensions remain a major expense.. ...Read Full Story

Homelessness Conference In Detroit

From the Associated Press — Leaders from more than 70 communities across the United States and Canada are expected to attend a conference in Detroit to discuss efforts to end chronic homelessness and homelessness among U.S. military veterans.
National nonprofit Community Solutions is hosting the June 26-27 event at Cobo Center. Its part of the Built for Zero campaign. Community Solutions says Detroit is one of the cities participating in the campaign. Jay Farner, chief executive of Detroit-based mortgage lender Quicken Loans, is scheduled to speak at the conference. Community Solutions president Rosanne Haggerty also is scheduled to speak.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Drive Wraps Up This Week

The drop-off date for the United Way of Southwest Michigan’s Christmas in June food drive will be this Wednesday. The United Way’s Charlotte Becker tells WSJM News Christmas in June last year resulted in more than 15,000 items being collected, and they hope to double that this year. The 34 southwest Michigan businesses that have been collecting items will drop them off at Upton Middle School in St. Joe, Buchanan Middle School, or Brookside Learning Center in Cassopolis Wednesday.. ...Read Full Story

Key Endorsements For Whitmer

Gretchen Whitmer has snagged some key endorsements in her run for governor. She told Michigan News Network on Monday Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham, Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith, and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel have chosen to back her as she seeks the Democratic nomination to run for governor.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Statement On Separation Of Families

“Ugly and inhumane.” That’s how Congressman Fred Upton describes the separation of undocumented parents and their kids at the U.S. and Mexico border. The Trump administration has been under fire for the practice of keeping the children of detained parents apart from the parents, with opponents including House Speaker Paul Ryan and former First Lady Laura Bush. In a statement issued Monday, Upton says it’s “never acceptable to use kids as bargaining chips in [the] political process.” He goes on to say that “separating young, innocent children from their parents is the wrong approach. The right approach is legislation to address the root issues.” Upton called on the U.S. House to vote on an immigration bill this week.. ...Read Full Story

Jeffrey Willis Sentenced For Murder Of Gas Station Clerk

He’s already serving life in prison without parole for one murder, and now 48-year-old Jeffrey Willis of Muskegon has a second identical sentence. That was handed down Monday in a Muskegon County courtroom for the death of 25-year-old gas station clerk Jessica Heeringa in 2013. She disappeared from work at a Norton Shores gas station in April of that year, and her body has not been found. Willis was previously convicted of murder in the death of jogger Rebekah Bletsch and is still awaiting trial for allegedly trying to kidnap a teenage girl in 2016. That was the case that broke open the Bletsch and Heeringa cases. Willis cried during his sentencing Monday, saying he’s innocent and didn’t get a fair trial.. ...Read Full Story

Local Rotarians Hear From Rotary International President

Members of the Rotary Club of St. Joseph-Benton Harbor are celebrating the local chapter’s 100th anniversary this year, and got a treat over the weekend. Rotary International President Ian Riseley was the keynote speaker at the centennial celebration at Lake Michigan College’s Mendel Center on Saturday. Riseley tells WSJM News a main focus for Rotary International is to recruit young people to get involved.. ...Read Full Story

Environmental Groups Seek Power Plant Info

A Freedom of Information Act request has been filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by a coalition of environmental groups seeking more information on a possible bailout for aging nuclear and coal power plants. Terry Lodge, attorney for the group that includes Beyond Nuclear and Don’t Waste Michigan, tells WSJM News the NRC and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission met last week to discuss the bailout possibility. He says it’s been floated by the Trump administration.. ...Read Full Story

Tax Break For Coloma Camp

The Coloma/St. Joseph KOA Campground is getting a boost from Hagar Township. The township board this week approved a Commercial Rehabilitation Exemption Certificate for upgrades at the campground. The move freezes the taxable value of the property for the next decade. New owners bought the campground in August 2017 and immediately launched into upgrades and improvements of the 40-acre property. The next phase will include upgrades to the plumbing, water, electric, and sewer infrastructure and the clubhouse, restrooms and pool will all be rehabbed. Campground owners worked with Cornerstone Alliance to obtain the exemption.. ...Read Full Story