Local News Archives

Michigan Treasurer Differs With Economist’s Take On New Tax Law

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s treasurer differs with a prominent economist’s characterization of the new U.S. tax law’s effect on state income taxes. Treasurer Nick Khouri said Wednesday he has a “technical disagreement” with economist Patrick Anderson, a former state deputy budget director. Khouri says the legislature must act to prevent an “unintentional” state tax increase spurred by the federal overhaul, while Anderson contends the new law won’t lead to a hike. Anderson says the federal law doesn’t eliminate a $4,050 personal exemption, but sets it to zero for several years. The law is explicit, he says, in saying the reduction shouldn’t be taken into account for other purposes. Khouri says state law stipulates taxpayers get the number of exemptions on their federal forms. He adds dealing with that discrepancy will require more than a policy directive by his department. The Snyder administration plans to make recommendations related to the exemption issue next week at a next revenue-estimating meeting.. ...Read Full Story

Former Prosecutor Named Interim US Attorney In Detroit

From the Associated Press — A former federal prosecutor is returning to lead the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit. Matthew Schneider was named interim U.S. attorney by the Justice Department. He’s also been mentioned as a candidate for the full-time post, but President
Donald Trump hasn’t nominated anyone in Michigan yet. Schneider was an assistant U.S. attorney for eight years before he joined the
Michigan attorney general’s office in 2011. He’s been serving as chief deputy attorney general under Bill Schuette.. ...Read Full Story

Hartford Area Standoff Ends After 8 Hours

No one was hurt in a Van Buren County standoff that lasted most of the day Wednesday. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tell;s MLive a Hartford-area man robbed a mechanic’s shop around 8 a.m. and then barricaded himself inside his home in the area of County Road 687 and 48th Avenue. A SWAT team was brought in to talk with the man. It took about eight hours, but police eventually got him into custody. The sheriff’s department says the standoff was difficult for deputies due to the extreme cold and snow. No shots were fired in the standoff.. ...Read Full Story

Cold Weather Not Yet Hurting SWM Crops

This frigid weather so far has not damaged southwest Michigan crops. Michigan State University Extension Fruit Educator Mark Longstroth tells WSJM News it needs to get down to about ten below zero before our crops are in trouble. He says most of them now are well dormant for the winter.. ...Read Full Story

Coloma Twp Police Officer Suffers Minor Injuries In I-94 Crash

A Coloma Township police officer is recovering after his patrol vehicle was caught up in the widespread rash of crashes on I-94 Wednesday morning and afternoon. The Coloma Township Police Department says in a Facebook post one of its officers was on I-94 around 10:30 a.m. when a semi that had lost control crashed into his vehicle. The officer was treated and released for minor injuries and then sent home to rest. The crash was just one of many that led to lane closures, and in some cases, full highway closures around southwest Michigan Wednesday.. ...Read Full Story

Fire Destroys Van Buren County Garage

A Casco Township garage was lost in a fire Wednesday. South Haven Area Emergency Services tells us it responded to the scene of the blaze on 64th Street near 107th Avenue just before 2:30 p.m. The building was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. They had to endure the winter elements as they tried to put the blaze out. There were no injuries. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices In Michigan Up

AAA Michigan says gas prices statewide have gone up about 8¢ per gallon in the past week. The Dearborn-based auto club said Tuesday the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was about $2.68 a gallon. That price is 16¢ more than at the same time a year ago. Michigan’s lowest average price was about $2.60 per gallon in the Marquette area. The highest was about $2.73 per gallon in the Jackson area. The Benton Harbor-St. Joseph average is up 11¢ to $2.68. AAA Michigan says the state has the country’s eighth most-expensive gasoline prices.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Republicans Lose Another Senate Candidate

There’s one fewer Republican running for the U.S. Senate in Michigan. Former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bob Young has exited the race. He announced on a Detroit radio station this morning that he is “suspending” his campaign for the GOP nomination because he wasn’t able to raise the money that he felt would be needed to successfully unseat Democratic U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow. Young is the third high-profile Republican to decide against trying to knock off Stabenow, along with Congressman Fred Upton and oil executive Lena Epstein, who headed up President Trump’s campaign in Michigan. Former Governor John Engler convinced Young to run, and he had the lead in polling done in November for the Republican nomination. His exit leaves Iraq War veteran John James and businessman Sandy Pensler as the top Republicans still in the race along with historic preservationist Bob Carr of Mackinac Island.. ...Read Full Story

Four Winds South Bend To Open This Month

From the Associated Press — A Native American tribe is set to open its first Indiana casino to join three it already operates in southwest Michigan. The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi announced Tuesday that the Four Winds South Bend casino will open to the public
on January 16. It will be Indiana’s first tribal casino. The tribe says the casino will have about 1,800 games, four restaurants, three
bars and employ about 1,200 people. The new casino is on South Bend’s southwest side, near the U.S. 31/20 bypass. A study for the Casino Association of Indiana estimates the tribal casino will cut Indiana’s tax revenue by more $350 million in its first five years because
it will reduce business at the state’s other casinos and won’t pay state gambling taxes.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Up As New Year Starts

From the Associated Press — AAA Michigan says gas prices statewide have gone up about 8 cents per gallon in the past week. The Dearborn-based auto club said Tuesday the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was about $2.68 a gallon. That price is 16 cents more than at the same time a year ago. Michigan’s lowest average price was about $2.60 per gallon in the Marquette area. The highest was about $2.73 per gallon in the Jackson area. The Detroit-area’s average rose about 4 cents to $2.67 per gallon. AAA Michigan says the state has the country’s eighth most-expensive gasoline prices.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Issues Yearly Report

Congressman Fred Upton is maintaining that much was accomplished in Washington throughout 2017. His office has released a 2017 year in review report, which can be found on its website. Upton says, “2017 was a transformational year but my focus never wavered from local initiatives such as helping constituents with problems big and small, and on bipartisan policies that create jobs and improve our economy.” He then predicts both parties can work together throughout 2018 to solve problems everyone cares about. Among accomplishments Upton wants to highlight for last year are helping South Haven’s Jim McCloughan get a Medal of Honor, his role with the Fuel Economy Harmonization Act, a plan that’s designed to reduce manufacturing costs for cars, and the FDA Reauthorization Act. You can see Upton’s report right here.. ...Read Full Story

BH Public Safety Department Getting New Radios

The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety will be getting some new radios. City Commissioners on Tuesday approved the purchase of 22 police radios at a cost of $31,500. A $25,000 grant pays for most of it, with Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis telling commissioners the extra money makes these replacements a lot easier.. ...Read Full Story

MI Lawmakers To Focus On Bike Safety This Year

From the Associated Press — In the capital of the U.S. auto industry, drivers have been slow to accept that more Americans are choosing bicycles over cars for commuting or for fun and exercise. Now Michigan is trying to make up for lost time by passing some of the nation’s strictest bike-safety regulations, including tough penalties on distracted drivers. While other states adopted bike-friendly safety laws in
recent years, Michigan steered clear of the trend and watched as more riders got killed by cars. If the proposals become law, Michigan cyclists would gain additional legal protections and motorists would have to wait for 5 feet of clearance before passing a bike – a wider berth than all but one other state. Cyclists say it is time for the state with the Motor City to change.. ...Read Full Story

Girls On The Run Taking 2018 Registrations

If you’re looking for an after school program for your daughter, one option is Girls on the Run. The southwest Michigan program is now taking registrations for its 2018 program. Girls on the Run Southwest Michigan Director Julie Boss tells us girls between the third and eighth grades can sign up to learn life skills and self-esteem, leading up to a 5K run in the spring.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeland’s First Baby Of 2018 Born In Niles

Southwest Michigan’s first baby of the year is Lillian Helton, born at Lakeland Hospital in Niles yesterday. According to Lakeland, she was born at 4:46 a.m. to Ciara Lamb and James Helton of Union. The little girl was eight pounds, eight ounces and 21 inches long. The Lakeland Auxiliary provided the family with a gift basket of baby items with a value of $100, as is their tradition. In the last fiscal year, 1,630 babies were born at Lakeland hospitals in St. Joseph and Niles.. ...Read Full Story

Pagel Reflects On 2017

2017 was a busy year for state Representative Dave Pagel. He tells WSJM News he looks back at the year and regards a failed House vote to eliminate the Michigan income tax as a significant moment. Pagel was one of the handful of Republicans who shot that idea down.. ...Read Full Story

New Laws Aim To Fight Opioid Abuse

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley this week signed legislation designed to fight the opioid epidemic in Michigan. State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan tells WSJM News one of the bills Calley signed Wednesday was her plan to have the Michigan Department of Education create an opioid curriculum for health classes in the state’s schools.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Hopes To Form Partnerships On More Projects

The Michigan Department of Transportation is pointing to a recent bridge project in St. Clair County as an example of how the agency could team up with local agencies and others to make road projects more efficient in the future. MDOT spokesperson Jocelyn Hall tells WSJM News the state agency helped the St. Clair County Road Commission find a new high-performance concrete project to use for joints on one of its bridges. The new concrete was produced by the University of Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

UPDATE: WB I-94 Reopens

Westbound I-94 is back open in Van Buren County between Decatur and Paw Paw. The highway had been shut down for a few hours Sunday afternoon due to a massive pileup involving as many as 50 vehicles. MDOT tells WSJM News the road reopened around 3:30 p.m.. ...Read Full Story

Massive Pileup Closes WB I-94 In Van Buren County

Westbound I-94 is closed in Van Buren County between exit 56 (Decatur/Dowagiac) and exit 60 (Paw Paw). Police have shut down the highway due to a massive pileup involving as many as 50 vehicles this afternoon. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department has activated its emergency operations center, and buses are being used by the Red Cross to help get stranded drivers out of the area. There are injuries reported, but there have not been any deaths as yet from the crash. Police are advising people who need to head west through that area to go Red Arrow Highway.. ...Read Full Story

Schuitmaker: Much Accomplished In 2017

2017 was a busy year for Michigan lawmakers, and each is now reflecting on what they feel were the biggest accomplishments. State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker of Lawton tells WSJM News she is disappointed the Michigan House didn’t get auto insurance reform approved. Still, she’s hoping for something on that front in 2018, perhaps in the Senate. ...Read Full Story

No Missed Votes For SWM Lawmakers This Year

All of the state lawmakers who represent southwest Michigan get a gold star for perfect attendance in 2017. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has released its latest tally of missed votes for Michigan lawmakers, and the seven lawmakers who represent either Berrien, Cass, or Van Buren counties all missed zero votes this year. The Mackinac Center’s Jack McHugh tells WSJM News the group started watching lawmaker attendance in 2003.. ...Read Full Story

Disappointing News For Some Taxpayers

Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski is sending out a message to all property owners. He says you can’t pay next year’s property taxes right now in order to get a deduction that’s about to go away. Witkowski tells WSJM News his office and others have been hearing from folks trying to pay their taxes early. It has to do with a new cap of $10,000 on property tax deductions soon to take effect.. ...Read Full Story

AAA Offers Winter Vehicle Tips

AAA of Michigan has seen a 157% increase in calls for roadside assistance this past week with single digit or near-single digit temperatures around the state. Spokesperson Susan Hiltz tells WSJM News your car needs extra care when it’s this cold.. ...Read Full Story

Health Experts Advise Caution In Cold Temps

With this week’s dangerously cold weather, health experts are reminding everyone how avoid needing to make a trip to the emergency room. Lakeland Emergency Department Nurse Manager Kathy Effa tells WSJM News they do see a spike in visits when it’s this cold. One major cause is frostbite. Bundle up to avoid it.. ...Read Full Story

State Taking Donations For Foster Children Scholarship Fund

If you’re felling generous now that the holidays are over, the Michigan Department of Treasury is recommending you consider the gift of a college education for a young person just coming out of the foster system. Michigan Education Trust Executive Director Robin Lott tells WSJM News the Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund provides scholarships for in-state colleges and universities to foster kids who are aging out. It’s been helping foster youths since 2012.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County 4H Announces Awards

The Berrien County 4H program has held its annual Member and Leader Recognition Program, honoring individuals who have worked with the 4H recently and for the long-term. At the banquet last month, Janice Gruss of Benton Harbor and Robert Lausch of St. Joseph were named the 2017 Berrien County Outstanding 4-H Leaders. 4H tells us Gruss has been a leader in the Countrysiders 4H Club for 18 years, educating young people in projects that include the arts and crafts, clowning, leathercraft, and cake decorating. Lausch has been a 4H leader for more 20 years working with youth in woodworking.. ...Read Full Story

Police Offer Safety Tips For Going On Ice

Police are reminding southwest Michigan residents how to be safe on ice this winter. Van Buren County Sheriff Dan Abbott tells WSJM News ice has to be five inches thick to hold the weight of a person and eight inches thick for a snowmobile or ATV. He also notes you can now buy low-profile flotation vests you can wear under or over your coat when out on the ice.. ...Read Full Story

Calley Talks Gubernatorial Race

Next year, Michigan’s gubernatorial election will have the nation watching. That’s according to Republican candidate and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley. Michigan News Network asked him this week if he would welcome an endorsement from President Donald Trump.. ...Read Full Story

Curious Kids Discovery Zone To Close For Renovations

The Curious Kids Museum in St. Joseph will be closing down its Discovery Zone this month for some renovations. The museum tells us the Discovery Zone located in the Silver Beach Center on Broad Street will be closed to refinish the floors from January 8 through January 21. During that time, all Discovery Zone memberships will be honored at Curious Kids Museum. Additionally, the Silver Beach Carousel will be closed during the same period for carousel maintenance. Anyone with questions can call the Curious Kids Museum at 983-2543.. ...Read Full Story

New Child Care Standards Approved For Michigan

Child care workers will need to pass criminal background checks and day care facilities will see increased inspections under legislation signed by Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley this week. State Senator John Proos tells WSJM News the new laws qualify Michigan to continue receiving $4 million in federal funding.. ...Read Full Story

Fresh Snow Leads To Crashes Around West Michigan

From the Associated Press — Authorities say perhaps 20 vehicles were involved in a pileup that closed a section of a southwestern Michigan highway as fresh snowfall snarled travel in much of the state. The Friday afternoon pileup on U.S. 31 near Muskegon included several sliding into each other and others going off the roadway. Information about the extent of any injuries wasn’t immediately available.
Semitrailer crashes on Friday temporarily closed U.S. 131 in both directions between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings issued for areas in the Upper Peninsula, where up to 15 inches of lake effect snow is possible. The weather service says Muskegon had more than 9 inches of fresh snow on Friday. Up to 6 inches of more snow was forecast for southwestern Michigan. There have also been several crashes on I-94 around berrien and Van Buren counties.. ...Read Full Story

Fewer MI Police Officers Killed In Line Of Duty This Year

The number of police officers killed in the line of duty took a drastic dip across the nation this year, and also right here in Michigan. National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund CEO Craig Floyd told Michigan News Network four officers were killed on the job here in Michigan in 2017. That’s nearly half the seven who died last year. Nationwide, 128 officers were killed in the line of duty, down 10% over last year and lowest number since 2013.. ...Read Full Story

Contractor Fined For Fatal Collapse Of West Michigan Arena

From the Associated Press — A demolition company is facing a $101,000 state fine for safety violations found after a worker was killed at a western Michigan arena. The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration found five violations by Grand Rapids-based X-Treme Demolition Inc. related to the August 1 collapse at the Holland Civic Center which killed 38-year-old Ruben Gomez-Vazques of Grand Rapids and injured another worker. The Holland Sentinel and Mlive.com reported Thursday the contractor was cited Nov. 28 for violations including improper fall protection and not having the floor supported. Authorities say the workers were using a sledgehammer and jackhammer to remove concrete stairs when the floor collapsed from underneath them. Gomez-Vazques was trapped under concrete debris and died at the scene.Officials from X-Treme Demolition didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.. ...Read Full Story

Perfect Attendance For SWM Lawmakers In 2017

All of the state lawmakers who represent southwest Michigan get a gold star for perfect attendance in 2017. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has released its latest tally of missed votes for Michigan lawmakers, and the seven lawmakers who represent either Berrien, Cass, or Van Buren counties all missed zero votes this year. The Mackinac Center’s Jack McHugh tells WSJM News the group started watching lawmaker attendance in 2003.. ...Read Full Story