Local News Archives

LaSata Pleased With Revenue Estimate

State Representative Kim LaSata is pleased with this year’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference, which is the first economic forecast of the year for the Michigan legislature. She tells us steady, sustainable economic growth will continue based on information presented to the House and Senate Appropriations committees during the recent conference. The report was compiled by the House and Senate Fiscal agencies and the state budget director. It predicts Michigan’s recovery from the recession earlier this decade will continue. LaSata says a “conservative approach to budgeting and diligence in cutting unnecessary spending has resulted in a vigorous economy that is creating jobs and improving the quality of life for Michigan families.” She adds the information presented to the conference will help state lawmakers prepare the next budget.. ...Read Full Story

School Boards Being Recognized Throughout January

January is School Board Recognition Month, and Berrien RESA Superintendent Kevin Ivers is calling on everyone to salute their school board. Ivers tells WSJM News school board members put in countless hours of work attending meetings and training just so they can help ensure the children of their community receive a quality education.. ...Read Full Story

Pagel Announces Grant For Chikaming Township Park

State Representative Dave Pagel is applauding a Michigan Department of Natural Resources grant that’s been announced for Chikaming Township. He tells us Harbert Park will get some work thanks to the $56,000 Recreation Passport from the DNR. The money will be used in the development of a parking lot expansion, the creation of concrete walkways, and to build a fishing and viewing platform. State Rep Pagel tells us the project “is an example of how good projects can be accomplished when we work together.”. ...Read Full Story

Upton Expects CHIP Funding Soon

Congressman Fred Upton is expecting quick approval of a plan to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program — or, CHIP — for five more years. Congress went home for the holidays without extending the life of the program that provides healthcare to about nine million children. Now that it’s back, Upton tells WSJM News action will be very soon.. ...Read Full Story

Swift And Sure Probation Graduation Next Week

The Van Buren County Trial Court is set to graduate eight enrollees from the Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program this Thursday. Van Buren County Specialty Courts Administrator Rachel Lindley tells WSJM News Swift and Sure is a way to help an offender avoid jail time while turning their life around through intense probation. She notes going through the program can be tough.. ...Read Full Story

Pscholka Stepping Down From Budget Director Post

State Budget Director Al Pscholka is resigning next month and will be replaced by Governor Rick Snyder’s strategy director. The Republican governor announced the change Friday, effective February 28. Pscholka, a former state representative from Berrien County who became budget director a year ago, says he wants to pursue unspecified opportunities in southwest Michigan and to spend more time with his family. He will stay on to help finalize and release the next proposed budget in February. Governor Snyder calls Pscholka an “outstanding addition to our team.”. ...Read Full Story

MI Lawmakers To Get More Anti-Sexual Harassment Training

From the ASsociated Press — The Michigan Legislature is mandating more frequent sexual harassment training amid the national reckoning with sexual misconduct. Until now, lawmakers were required to receive anti-harassment training after they were first elected to the House or Senate. Starting next week in the Senate and in February in the House, all legislators and staff will be required to attend training once a year. The Legislature so far has not seen lawmakers publicly accused by name of sexual misconduct like in other statehouses across the country. But some prominent political figures, including gubernatorial candidate and former legislative leader Gretchen Whitmer, have detailed inappropriate behavior they attribute in part to a “locker room” culture in the male-dominated Capitol.
They say women are reluctant to come forward.. ...Read Full Story

AG Recommends 40 To 125 Years For Former Sports Doctor

From the Associated Press — The Michigan attorney general’s office has asked a judge to sentence a disgraced Michigan sports doctor to 40 to 125 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting seven girls. The office filed its sentencing memorandum Wednesday for 54-year-old Larry Nassar ahead of a sentencing hearing beginning next week in Ingham County. He faces a minimum sentence of 25 years.
The Lansing State Journal reports that Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis wrote in the filing that Nassar for decades preyed upon unknowing victims at every turn and at every opportunity,” including at USA Gymnastics training facilities. A message seeking comment was left for one of Nassar’s attorneys. A federal judge in December sentenced Nassar to 60 years in prison for three child pornography convictions. Nassar is appealing that sentence.. ...Read Full Story

MI House Approves Bill To Name Road For Fallen Trooper

The Michigan House has approved legislation from state Representative Kim LaSata to re-name part of Red Arrow Highway in Berrien County after a fallen state police trooper. She tells us under her bill, Red Arrow between Glenlord and Hilltop roads will be called the Trooper Robert J. Mihalik Memorial Highway. Mihalik was shot and killed on September 9, 1984 while arresting a suspect for failing to pay for gas at a Shoreham area station.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Comments On Congressional Retirements

There is a wave this year of members of the U.S. House and Senate deciding they will not seek re-election. Congressman Fred Upton had weighed running for the Senate instead of the House, but recently decided to go after a 15th two-year term instead. He tells us he’s not too shocked by the number of colleagues deciding they’re done.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan DNR Doing Elk Count

How many elk are in Michigan? That’s what the Michigan DNR is attempting to find out with an elk count over the next week in northeast northern Michigan. 2018 is also the 100th anniversary of elk in the state. The DNR’s Katie Keen spoke with Michigan News Network about the history of Michigan’s elk population.. ...Read Full Story

Report Calls For Improvements To MI Unemployment System

The Michigan League for Public Policy is calling for several changes to the state’s unemployment insurance system. League Policy Analyst Peter Ruark tells WSJM News the maximum benefit hasn’t been raised since 2002, low-income workers don’t even qualify for help, and the legislature in 2011 reduced the amount of time someone could receive benefits.. ...Read Full Story

Anti-Prevailing Wage Group May Be Short On Signatures Again

From the Associated Press — A group pushing to repeal Michigan’s law that requires higher “prevailing” wages on state-financed construction projects may be short signatures – again. The state elections bureau said Tuesday that of 535 signatures sampled, 370
are valid. That’s shy of the 373 required by a statistical model. Officials will next pull a larger sample of 4,000 signatures to review.
A ballot committee backed by the nonunion Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan says it turned in more than 380,000 signatures for the veto-proof legislation. About 252,000 signatures must be valid. The group’s previous repeal push in 2015 faltered due to invalid signatures gathered by paid circulators. The group’s leader, Jeff Wiggins, says the initial sample shows there are 10,000 more signatures than needed and he’s confident the number will grow.. ...Read Full Story

Indiana Men Busted For Breaking-And-Entering

Two Indiana men are in the Cass County Jail awaiting breaking and entering charges. The sheriff’s department tells WSJM News they were called out to help Silver Creek Township police for a possible burglary in progress in the 31-thousand block of Magician Lake Terrace. Police had noticed a suspicious vehicle and a house that had been broken into around 2:30 this morning, and the sheriff’s department called for K9 officer Faust to track the two. They were hiding in the nearby woods. One man is 26 and from Michigan City, while the other is 29 and from Elkhart. Their names are being withheld until they’re arraigned.. ...Read Full Story

Man Rescued From St. Joseph River

A man is hospitalized after falling on the ice under the Bi-Centennial Bridge on Main Street overnight between St. Joseph and Benton Harbor. The U.S. Coast Guard had to go into the water in cold water ice rescue suits to help rescue the man. The St. Joseph Firefighters Local 1670 says on Facebook the incident happened overnight, but no details have been released as to how the man got onto the ice on the St. Joseph River to begin with. The Coast Guard used a stokes basket to bring the man to shore, and Medic 1 rushed him to the hospital. There’s no word on his condition.. ...Read Full Story

Small Waterway Cleanup Grants Available To MI Communities

From the Associated Press — Officials plan to divide $25,000 into small grants to support local river, stream and creek cleanups in Michigan. The state Department of Environmental Quality and Great Lakes Commission are offering the grants to local governments, which can partner with nonprofit groups or other volunteers to do the work. Local recipients must match at least 25 percent of the funding.
Michigan’s Volunteer River, Stream and Creek Cleanup Program is supported by fees from the sale of specialty water quality protection license plates. The deadline to apply for the grants is Feb. 20. The grant application package is available online. Decisions are expected in early May.. ...Read Full Story

Heart Of Cook Grant Applications Now Available

Applications for the Heart of Cook grants are now available. The Berrien Community Foundation tells us Heart of Cook is a program funded by Indiana Michigan Power’s Cook nuclear plant to help non-profit programs in southwest Michigan and northwest Indiana. Educational projects, human services programs that support families, and environmental protection and preservation projects are the focus areas for Heart of Cook. The grant review committee, comprised of Cook plant employees, gives special consideration to projects that involve I&M staff. The program is administered by the Berrien Community Foundation, and applications are available at its website. The deadline to apply is February 9. Last year, the Heart of Cook program gave out more than $52,000 to 36 non-profits. You can find the webpage to apply right here.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Optimistic On DACA Replacement

A replacement for the federal DACA program could be coming by the end of the month. That’s according to Congressman Fred Upton, who tells WSJM News a meeting this week on immigration reform with President Trump was promising. Upton says most are on the same page when it comes to helping out the young dreamers in the DACA program.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Aims To Reduce Wrong-Way Crashes On Highways

The Michigan Department of Transportation and Michigan State Police are teaming up to reduce the number of people who drive onto the wrong ramp and cause high speed head-on crashes that usually result in fatalities. MDOT Traffic Safety Engineer Josh Carey tells us they will be improving signage on ramps, installing cameras that will detect wrong way drivers earlier and posting alerts on highway information signs.. ...Read Full Story

January Is School Board Recognition Month

January is School Board Recognition Month, and Berrien RESA Superintendent Kevin Ivers is calling on everyone to salute their school board. Ivers tells WSJM News school board members put in countless hours of work attending meetings and training just so they can help ensure the children of their community receive a quality education.. ...Read Full Story

Seats Named President Of BH School Board

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education starts off a new year with a new president. Marletta Seats was picked for the post at the board’s re-organizational meeting Tuesday. Seats told WSJM News the new board leadership aims to continue following the district’s partnership agreement with the state.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Court To Celebrate Swift And Sure Graduations This Week

The Van Buren County Trial Court is set to graduate eight enrollees from the Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program this Thursday. Van Buren County Specialty Courts Administrator Rachel Lindley tells WSJM News Swift and Sure is a way to help an offender avoid jail time while turning their life around through intense probation. She notes going through the program can be tough.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Public Works Reduces Energy Consumption

The St. Joseph Department of Public Works has been able to save thousands of dollars in recent years thanks to work done to increase energy efficiency. Public Works Director Tom MacDonald told city commissioners this week the department has switched to LED lighting and fixed problems with its heating system. That’s led to more than $4,000 in rebates from AEP and Michigan Gas. He tells WSJM  News commissioners voted to allow the work a few years ago.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Sees December Jump In Flu Cases

The explosion in flu cases reported in some parts of the United States this winter hasn’t quite come to Michigan, although flue cases have been up. Berrien County Health Department spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News there was a jump in local flu cases toward the end of December. Still, the state is still doing better than many others.. ...Read Full Story

BH Police Identify Weekend Murder Victim

Police have identified the victim of a weekend murder in Benton Harbor. Public Safety Chief Dan McGimnnis tells WSJM News 38-year-old Novena P. Mathis of Benton Harbor was found dead in her car on at Hayward Wells Apartments on Sunday. The suspect, 38-year-old William “Coonie” Edwards of Benton Harbor, was quickly identified and arrested in Kalamazoo later. A warrant for open murder and some gun charges has been authorized against him, and he’s still being held in Kalamazoo County. McGinnis tells us Mathis and Edwards had been in a relationship for about 20 years and shared two children. He adds there was a history of domestic violence in the relationship. An autopsy performed on Mathis Tuesday confirmed the cause of death as a gunshot.. ...Read Full Story

Edwardsburg Woman Killed In Crash

A 40-year-old Edwardsburg woman is dead after crashing her vehicle into a tree in Jefferson Township in Cass County. The sheriff’s department tells WSJM News Jennifer Johnson was killed just before 7 last night in the crash on Calvin Hill Street near North Shore Drive. Investigators say she lost control of the car on an icy road and was the only one in the vehicle. Johnson had not been drinking, and was wearing her seat belt. The crash is still under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Judge: Lawmakers Can Be Questioned About Straight-Party Voting Ban

From the Associated Press — A federal judge says some Michigan lawmakers must sit for interviews about a law that bans straight-party voting. The questions will be limited to what they might have said about their motives to people outside their offices. U.S. Magistrate Judge Mona Majzoub says communications between lawmakers and their staff are protected. The depositions are part of a lawsuit. Straight-party voting means making a single mark on a ballot to pick candidates of one party. Critics of the ban say it violates the rights of black voters in urban areas who typically vote for Democrats. A judge suspended the law in 2016, but the litigation is ongoing. Majzoub’s decision affects Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, Senator Marty Knollenberg, Sen. David Robertson, Rep. Michael McCready, and former Rep. Lisa
Lyons.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Moves To Boost Personal State Tax Exemption

From the Associated Press — Governor Rick Snyder’s administration is proposing legislation so taxpayers can continue claiming Michigan’s personal exemption in the wake of the federal tax overhaul, and also is calling for a large state exemption increase. The plan was first unveiled Monday by Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, who is running for governor. The administration has warned that state taxes will rise if nothing is done. Calley tells The Associated Press that while 98% of the potential tax increase is because of how Michigan’s exemptions are linked to the U.S. tax code, Michigan’s personal exemption should be raised to address other issues such as the elimination of deductions for moving expenses. Calley says the “simplest, most fair answer” to protect people is to increase Michigan’s $4,000 personal exemption to $4,500 by 2021.. ...Read Full Story

Minimum Wage Push Continues In 2018

Michigan rang in 2018 with a 35 cent hike to the minimum wage, but some say that doesn’t go far enough and want voters to have the final word. This week marked the last of three scheduled increases under a law passed in 2014, taking the state’s minimum wage to $9.25 an hour. The group Michigan One Fair Wage is circulating petitions to put a measure on the November ballot to raise it to $12 an hour by 2022. Alicia Renee Farris chairs the campaign and tells us the state’s lowest earners still need more money.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool Showing Off New Tech This Week

With the annual Consumer Electronics Show underway in Las Vegas this week, Whirlpool is showing off some new tech. The appliance maker tells us it’s using the event to showcase its Apple Watch and Honeywell thermometer compatibility. Whirlpool says starting this year, its smart and connected appliances will be controllable with the Apple Watch. You can also use the wrist device to check the status of an appliance. That’s including ovens, washers, and dryers. Additionally, this year Whirlpool is rolling out a new collaboration with Honeywell that will enable customers to connect smart appliances to Honeywell’s line of connected thermostats. That means remote management of their appliance operating modes and energy outputs. Whirlpool Vice President of Brand and Strategy in North America Brett Dibkey says the company’s “consumers are sophisticated and expect their appliances to work smarter, not harder.”. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Woman Wins $1 Million In Lottery

A Berrien County woman is the latest big-time lottery winner in Michigan. The Michigan lottery tells us the 65-year-old has chosen to remain anonymous after she won $1 million from a scratch-off last week. She picked up her prize money on Friday, opting to take a lump sum payment of $634,500 instead of a 30 year annuity. The woman bought her winning Triple Millions instant ticket at the Exit 76 Auto Truck Plaza in Byron Center. She told the Michigan Lotto she’s been playing lottery games for years and still can’t believe she really won. She plans to pay bills, donate to her church, buy a brand new car, and then save the remainder of the money.. ...Read Full Story

Missing Woman Found Dead In Benton Harbor

A woman who was reported missing in Benton Harbor over the weekend has been found dead, and police suspect foul play. The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety tells us a young woman was reported by family as missing on Sunday. Police later found her vehicle and body outside the Hayward Wells apartment complex in Benton Harbor. A suspect was quickly identified, and he was later arrested in Kalamazoo on unrelated charges. A warrant request is pending in Berrien County for open murder, and an autopsy is planned on the victim for Tuesday. Police have not released the victim’s name.. ...Read Full Story

Statewide Gas Price Average Falls 6¢

AAA Michigan says gas prices statewide have declined by about 6¢ per gallon in the past week. The Dearborn-based auto club says late Sunday the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was about $2.63 per gallon. Michigan’s lowest average price was about $2.55 per gallon in the Bay City, Midland and Saginaw areas. The highest was about $2.66 per gallon in the Jackson area. We’re at $2.64 in the Benton Harbor/St. Joseph area, down 5¢ in the past week.. ...Read Full Story

One Hurt In Snowmobile Vs Vehicle Crash

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a crash between a snowmobile and a car in Silver Creek Township. The sled was piloted by Joseph Vantuyle of Dowagiac, who didn’t yield at a snowmobile crossing to the vehicle driven by a San Antonio man. Vantuyle was taken to Borgess Lee Memorial Hospital in Dowagiac to be treated for minor injuries. Deputies tell WSJM News that helmets and seat belts were worn, and alcohol isn’t believed to have been involved. The crash happened around 5 p.m. Saturday.. ...Read Full Story