Local News Archives

Former Sports Doctor Sentencing Expected To Take Days

From the Associated Press — A gymnast has told a Michigan judge of her confusion and embarrassment at age 9 when a now-disgraced former sports doctor sexually abused her during a medical examination. Seventeen-year-old Jessica Thomashow said Tuesday that her coaches arranged for her to see Larry Nassar for a rib injury when she was 9. But “everything changed” in a back room, and “he touched the most innocent places on my body.” She described being confused and embarrassed, and said abuse occurred again when she was 12. She was among the first victims to speak at a four-day sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar. Nassar pleaded guilty to molesting females with his hands at his Michigan State University office, his home and a Lansing-area gymnastics club. He also worked for Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.. ...Read Full Story

New MSP Trooper Recruit School Underway

The 134th Michigan State Police Trooper Recruit School is now underway in Lansing. MSP Sergeant Michael McDonald tells WSJM News there are 149 prospective troopers now training Sunday through Friday each week from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. They do both physical training and classroom training. McDonald tells us new recruits come from all walks of life.. ...Read Full Story

2017 A Record Year For MI Lotto

The 2017 fiscal year was a record year for the Michigan Lottery. Spokesperson Jeff Holyfield tells WSJM News the lotto raised nearly $1 billion for the state’s schools. They reached $924 million, and they’ve got their eyes set on that $1 billion goal for 2018.. ...Read Full Story

New Four Winds Casino Opens In South Bend

The opening the Pokagon Band of Pottawatomi’s new casino in South Bend is being celebrated with local officials this week. Leaders of the Pokagon Band joined with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and others for a ceremony for Tuesday’s opening day of the Four Winds South Bend casino, which is now open to the public. It’s the first tribal casino in Indiana and joins three that the Pokagon Band owns in New Buffalo, Hartford, and Dowagiac. The tribe says the casino has 1,800 electronic gambling machines, four restaurants and three bars, and employs about 1,200 people. It’s on South Bend’s southwest side, near the U.S. 31-20 bypass. The new tribal casino won’t pay state taxes, giving it a business advantage over Indiana’s 13 existing casinos.. ...Read Full Story

MSU Extension To Hold Wine Grape Conference

A conference set for next month in Benton Harbor will give prospective wine grape growers an idea of how to best go about the process. The Michigan State University Extension office will host the wine grape establishment conference, says the organization’s Joanne Davidhizar. She tells us the wine industry in the state is growing.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Education Association Endorses Whitmer For Governor

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Education Association has endorsed Gretchen Whitmer for governor. The approximately 140,000-member union announced its support for Whitmer on Monday. It represents teachers, support staff, higher education faculty and
staff and retirees across Michigan. MEA President Paula Herbart said Whitmer’s support for educators and her commitment to the success of Michigan students makes her the strongest candidate for governor. As Senate Democratic leader, she opposed legislation that took 3
percent out of educator’s paychecks to pay for retiree health care. Whitmer’s mother taught in the Lansing Public Schools, her grandmother taught in Waterford, and her grandfather was a superintendent in Pontiac. The teachers union chose Whitmer over three other Democrats: scientist and businessman Shri Thanedar, ex-Detroit health director Abdul El-Sayed and former Xerox executive Bill Cobbs.. ...Read Full Story

Shadowland Ballroom Saluted By Industry Website

Shadowland Ballroom in St. Joseph has received a distinction from the wedding website The Knot. It’s been listed as a 2018 winner in The Knot Best of Weddings, an award that recognizes wedding professionals based on user ratings. Shadowland Wedding Manager Amy Parnell tells WSJM News only 3% of the roughly 300,000 wedding professionals listed on TheKnot have the same distinction.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeshore Chamber Annual Meeting Next Week

Set for next Monday is the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce annual meeting. To be held at Santinello’s in Stevensville, the meeting will provide guests with business networking opportunities, a dinner, and a business meeting. The keynote speaker will be the Cook nuclear power plant spokesperson Bill Schalk. He’ll talk about the status of the Cook Plant, the economic impact of Indiana Michigan Power in the community, along with volunteer engagement. The Lakeshore Chamber president will also will present an overview of chamber activities for 2017 while laying out the goals and objectives for 2018. The meeting will wrap up with the recognition of the 2017 Business of the Year and the 2017 Community Spirit Award. Anyone who wants to register for the annual meeting should contact the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce.. ...Read Full Story

Two Parks Grants Announced For Royalton Township

Royalton Township is the recipient of $300,000 in Michigan Department of Natural Resources grants for parks projects. The DNR this month announced two Land and Water Conservation Fund grants for the township, each for $150,000. One is for Bicentennial Park for the addition of new playground equipment and improved access to walkways. The other grant is for the development of a paved walkway, a parking lot, and a boardwalk at the Bacon School Road Nature Trail. The DNR says the Land and Water Conservation Fund is made up of federal dollars intended to improve recreational opportunities around the state. A total of more than $2.7 million in such grants were announced this month.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Announces MLK Diversity Award Winner

Retired Michigan State Police Trooper Maurice Burton is the recipient of this year’s recipient of the Lake Michigan College Diversity Award. He received the honor at Monday’s 23rd annual LMC Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Celebration. Burton reflected on his 31 years as a Michigan State Police trooper, running local youth programs.. ...Read Full Story

Rising Great Lakes Water Levels Keep MI Companies Busy

From the Associated Press — Rising water levels in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are keeping shoreline stabilization, dock and hoist companies in Michigan busy. The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports that the Army Corps of Engineers says water levels for the two lakes averaged 580 feet in December, nearly two feet higher than the long-term average. Officials predict water levels will have an overall increase of 4 to 6 inches this year. Brandon Oaks owns the Silver Lake area-based Pure Harbor Dock and Boat. He says the rising levels means he constantly has work removing old docks and designing new ones that will clear the water. The Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit says water levels depend on snow accumulation across the Great Lakes basin and ice on the lake. ...Read Full Story

Allegan County Worried About Sheriff’s Department Funding

Allegan County authorities are concerned that funding for their sheriff’s department is not what it should be and they are seeking options to increase revenue. County Board Chairman Dean Kapenga of Hamilton, a retired deputy himself, admitted that not enough residents are aware that the resources of the sheriff’s department haven’t kept up with the growth of the county.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Post Another Week-Over-Week Gain

AAA of Michigan says gas prices have increased 8¢ a gallon in the last week, despite gasoline inventories being at a high not seen since September in the Midwest. The latest increase might be because oil prices are near a three-year high. Continued cuts by OPEC nations and Russia are keeping prices high according to GasBuddy’s Patrick DeHaan.. ...Read Full Story

Eau Claire Schools Superintendent Dies

There will be a Celebration of Life Service tomorrow at 11 a.m. at the Eau Claire Student Activities Center for Superintendent David Gray. He died on Friday at the age of 72, and the district is canceling classes for Tuesday. They are also moving the end of the first semester to Friday, January 26 to allow students time to finish their assignments and exams. Along with tomorrow’s service, a visitation will be held this afternoon from 4 to 8 p.m. at Starks & Menchinger Chapel in St. Joseph on Niles Road. Gray will have a private burial at a later date at Caldwell Cemetery in Eau Claire.. ...Read Full Story

Continued Call For Increase In Minimum Wage

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

Heart Of Cook Program Taking Grant Applications

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

Health Department Talks Winter Flu

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

Several Dogs Believed Killed In Mobile Home Fire

Several pet dogs are believed to have been killed in a Sunday morning mobile home fire in South Haven Township. South Haven Area Emergency Services was called to the home just before 8 a.m. in the Lakeshore Mobile Home Park on 16th Avenue. The home was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived, and the person who lives there was able to get out. That resident is being treated at Bronson-South Haven for smoke inhalation. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Report Recommends Changes 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

Jeff Morley; With Respect 01/14/18

John’s guest this week is Jeff Morley, the author of “The Ghost, the Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Angleton”. They talk of the world of espionage and counterespionage throughout American history, but mostly of the amazing life and work of James Angleton, the second most powerful person in the CIA during the 50s and 60s. He began opening letters of people suspected of being disloyal to the United States, a program which morphed from a few letters a year to what is now the reality of monitoring millions or billions of communications around the world. Jeff talks of the quiet links with J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. Most unique about this book is his revelation of how Angleton kept close tabs on Lee Harvey Oswald BEFORE the Kennedy assassination. . ...Read Full Story

Parks Grant Going To Paw Paw

State Representative Beth Griffin is saluting a new Michigan Department of Natural Resources Recreational Passport grant for the village of Paw Paw. She tells us funding in the amount of $61,500 has been approved to develop a boat launch and install a natural shoreline at Sunset Park. Money from the grant will also be used to improve the parking lot. Griffin says the project represents a “great partnership” between Paw Paw and the state. She adds this “type of collaboration provides better use of taxpayer dollars and promotes real community partnerships.”. ...Read Full Story

Upton Hoping For DACA Replacement This Month

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 on immigration reform with President Trump this past week 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

State Working To Determine Elk Population

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

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