Local News Archives

Benton Township Target Store Closing

It’s a blow to southwest Michigan retail. WSJM News has learned the Target store in Benton Township is closing. We’ve been told by a manager the store on Fairplain Drive will shut down on February 3. The news comes on the same day at least one other Target closing, in Kansas, was announced. Target corporate has yet to offer us any further details regarding why the Benton Township location has been selected for closure, and we’ll be following up on that in the coming days. The closing of the Benton Harbor Target comes at the end of a tough year for retail around the country. CNN Money reports 2017 has seen the announcement of more retail closings than any previous year on record. WSJM has been told Target owns the location it occupies in Benton Township, and the store closing is expected to be a hard blow for the rest of the plaza. We’ll continue to follow up on this story as more details become available.. ...Read Full Story

Tuesday Is Election Day In Southwest Michigan

This Tuesday is an election day in many southwest Michigan communities. In Berrien County, Benton Harbor voters will consider a local income tax proposal. They will decide if city residents should pay a 1% income tax, while non-residents who work in the city would pay 0.5%. Also on the ballot will be some city commission races in Benton Harbor, although the only contested one is an at-large race between Edward Isom and Jerry Price. Lakeshore Schools will have a millage renewal and a bond proposal on the ballot. That bond would be $21 million for a variety of building improvements districtwide. Voters in St. Joseph will have to pick three city commissioners out of a field of six. The candidates are Fran Chickering, Al DiBrito, Michael Garey, Peggy Getty, Mary Goff, and Laura A. Goos. Finally for Berrien County, there will be a road millage on the ballot in Chikaming Township.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Communities Struggle To Find Election Workers

From the Associated Press — Nearly half of local officials in Michigan’s large municipalities report struggling to find enough people with the necessary skills to work at the polls on Election Day. The figure is included in a survey of more than 1,100 cities and townships released by the University of Michigan’s Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy on Monday. When smaller municipalities are included, the number of
officials reporting trouble recruiting skilled poll workers is almost 30 percent. Nine in 10 officials are “very confident” that their jurisdictions can administer elections accurately. Two-thirds of local officials support legislation to let voters cast an absentee ballot without needing an excuse. The same number of respondents opposes allowing same-day voter registration on Election Day. About a quarter report experiencing equipment failures at the polls.. ...Read Full Story

Maggots Found In MI Prison Food Last Summer

From the Associated Press — Maggots were discovered in food at a Michigan prison during three incidents last summer. The Detroit Free Press says they’re the first discoveries since Trinity Services Group was hired to supply food in 2015. The newspaper cited documents
obtained by a Corrections Department employee. Prisons spokesman Chris Gautz says any food problems typically are related to a lack of experienced staff. Trinity Services didn’t respond to a request for comment. A corrections officer, Sgt. Michael Demps, says he saw four or five “worm-like bugs” still moving on a prisoner’s tray at the Cotton prison, near Jackson, on July 26. Records show “crunchy dirt” was found in a potato dish. Trinity replaced another contractor that had problems. Gautz says it’s not known if Trinity’s contract will be extended next year.. ...Read Full Story

Andrews University Planning Veterans Day Tribute

Andrews University is planning a Veterans Day tribute for this week. The event at the Howard Performing Arts Center will be Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. Andrews tells us the program will be one of reflection and thankfulness toward the veterans who have and are making sacrifices for the United States. The event will start with a posting of the colors by the American Legion Post #284 and the VFW Post #9820 out of South Bend. Then, there will be a music selection and a poem, followed by an address by United States Navy Reserve Chaplain Washington Johnson II. The program will also include a slideshow presentation of veterans that have been or are connected with Andrews University. Everyone is welcome to the special Veterans Day tribute.. ...Read Full Story

Pilot Program Aims To Prevent Opioid Addiction

Kalamazoo County will be the site of a pilot program in Michigan to fight opioid abuse if the governor approves it. State Representative Brandt Iden tells WSJM News a supplemental budget bill sent to the governor this week includes $700,000 for Medicaid recipients to receive genetic tests in the county. The goal is to find indicators of a pr-disposition to an opioid addiction.. ...Read Full Story

State Responds To Increase In Cases Of Hepatitis A

Cases of Hepatitis A are on the rise in the state, prompting the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to activate its Community Health Emergency Coordination Center. Department Spokesperson Angela Minicuci tells Michigan News Network that will provide more help to healthcare providers and facilities. Many of the hepatitis A cases are associated with those who have a history of substance use, people in transient living conditions, those in jails, and healthcare workers.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Named Sheriffs Association Legislator Of The Year

State Senator John Proos has received a special honor from the Michigan Sheriffs Association. He’s been named the group’s 2017 Legislator of the Year. New MSA president and Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey presented Proos with the award at the organization’s annual fall conference this week. Proos was picked for the distinction for his work on criminal justice legislation in the Michigan Senate. Proos says he’s honored to receive the award, and he looks forward to “continuing to work with our sheriffs to support our law enforcement officers and do what we can to make Michigan a safer place.”. ...Read Full Story

New Legislation Increases Penalties For Wage Theft

Bills to prevent wage theft will soon be introduced in the Michigan legislature. A report from the Economic Policy Institute earlier this year found Michigan workers across all demographic groups are losing $429 million every year as a result of wage theft. Lauren Rosen of Hazel Park told Michigan News Network this week she used to work for a restaurant in downtown Detroit that would not give workers their tips.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Clerk Discusses Local Elections

Berrien County Clerk Sharon Tyler wants voters to be ready for next week’s elections. She tells WSJM News the Berrien County communities holding elections will be the cities of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, along with Chikaming Township and the Lakeshore school district. Those voters should know a few things.. ...Read Full Story

Lest We Forget Hosting Veterans Day Ceremony

When Veterans Day is marked this month in St. Joseph, the ceremony will be held in a new venue and with a new host. Lest We Forget’s Hank Richmond tells us the annual ceremony previously organized by a Korean War veterans group in St. Joe has been handed over to his organization. So, Veterans Day will be marked on Saturday, November 11 at the Whitcomb.. ...Read Full Story

Tax Expert Talks Reform Proposal

The new federal tax reform proposal is still being reviewed by experts, but one southwest Michigan analyst tells us it looks to him like corporate rate cuts included in the plan will make big difference. Tom Austin with Austin Tax and Financial tells WSJM News the plan will allow corporate money moved overseas to be moved back with a very low tax rate.. ...Read Full Story

Police To Test Some Drivers For Controlled Substances

Michigan State Police are launching a new pilot program to catch drivers under the influence of a controlled substance, and Berrien County is one of five counties picked to be a part. MSP First Lieutenant Jim Flegel tells WSJM News, as part of the new program, specially-trained officers known as Drug Recognition Experts will collect a saliva sample from someone suspected of impaired driving. The officers will have instruments to run a preliminary test for some substances.. ...Read Full Story

New Safety Features Coming To SWM Roads

New safety features are being added to roads around southwest Michigan, and you may not even notice them. The Michigan Department of Transportation’s Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News the agency has identified areas where cars are more likely to leave their lanes, and it’s started adding features to help protect drivers.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Praises New Youth Sports Concussion Law

State Senator John Proos tells us the latest anti-concussion legislation signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder will ensure coaches and volunteers with youth leagues are up to date on the latest science. The plan recently signed by Snyder requires those who work with student athletes to get concussion awareness training every three years, says Proos.. ...Read Full Story

OutCenter Holiday Pride Concert Tomorrow

The OutCenter in Benton Harbor is hoping a large crowd turns out this Saturday for their annual holiday concert. The event will be held at the Heritage Museum in St. Joe, with the OutCenter’s Mary Jo Schnell telling WSJM News it’s all about welcoming one and all to enjoy the holiday spirit.. ...Read Full Story

Police Continue Investigation Into Officer-Involved Shooting

A woman who was injured in an officer-involved shooting in Mattawan Friday morning has been treated and released from a Kalamazoo hospital. Michigan State Police Lieutenant Chuck Christensen tells WSJM News the incident began around 8 a.m. near a Shell station. An officer with the Mattawan Police Department pulled over a vehicle that had been reported stolen out of Mattawan. At one point during the stop, the vehicle took off. That’s when the shots were fired. A female passenger in the vehicle was hit by shrapnel, Christensen says. All three of the vehicle’s occupants were found after a short search. The man who was driving was arrested. Christensen tells us none of the names are being released at this time. The case will be turned over to the Van Buren County Prosecutor’s office for a determination to be made about whether the shooting was justified. The incident prompted several local schools and daycare centers to be put on lockdown for a few hours Friday. Christensen tells us he won’t have more information to release until next Tuesday.. ...Read Full Story

State Making Changes To Campsite Reservation Fees

It might be easier to reserve a campsite in the state with some changes the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has made for reserving them. Starting November 1, you can reserve a camp site six months in advance, but if you cancel, there’s a $10 fee and that will go up the closer it gets to the date of the reservation. DNR parks and recreation chief Ron Olson tells Michigan News Network the changes are because the DNR has found cancellations were increasing.. ...Read Full Story

Man Killed By Train In Cassopolis

A Cassopolis man is dead after being hit by a train on Friday morning. The Cassopolis Police Department tells us it happened shortly after 5 a.m. at railroad tracks located at East State and Wolfe street. A northbound train struck the 63-year-old man. He was found by police about 50 yards from East State Street. An officer provided the man first aid until an ambulance arrived. He was taken to a hospital in Dowagiac where he died. The victim’s name has not yet been released. The Cassopolis Police Department was assisted at the scene by the Cass County Sheriff’s Department, Lifecare Ambulance, the Cass Central Fire Department, and CN Railroad Police.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Township Officer Pleads Guilty To Misdemeanor

A Benton Township police officer’s job is currently under review after he entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of neglect of duty. Berrien County Prosecutor Mike Sepic tells WSJM News 30-year-old Robert Fuller was leaving the township on several occasions in 2016 for personal reasons to drive by the home of his ex-girlfriend as he tried to identify her new boyfriend. Sepic notes state law only allows police to leave their jurisdiction for “limited legitimate reasons,” and that doesn’t count. Fuller both entered the plea and was sentenced to pay a $575 fine yesterday. He won’t serve any jail time or be on probation.. ...Read Full Story

State Responding To Hepatitis A Outbreak

A significant outbreak in Hepatitis A cases in southeast Michigan has state and county health departments taking action. Macomb County Health Director Bill Ridella told Michigan News Network this week health agencies are reaching out to high risk groups with vaccinations that are 90% effective in preventing the liver virus.. ...Read Full Story

House Approves Funding For Opioid Test Program In Kalamazoo County

Kalamazoo County will be the site of a pilot program in Michigan to fight opioid abuse if the governor approves it. State Representative Brandt Iden tells WSJM News a supplemental budget bill sent to the governor this week includes $700,000 for Medicaid recipients to receive genetic tests in the county. The goal is to find indicators of a pr-disposition to an opioid addiction.. ...Read Full Story

New State Police Program To Test Some Drivers For Controlled Substances

Michigan State Police are launching a new pilot program to catch drivers under the influence of a controlled substance, and Berrien County is one of five counties picked to be a part. MSP First Lieutenant Jim Flegel tells WSJM News, as part of the new program, specially-trained officers known as Drug Recognition Experts will collect a saliva sample from someone suspected of impaired driving. The officers will have instruments to run a preliminary test for some substances.. ...Read Full Story

Legislatures Favors Calling Residents “Michiganders”

From the Associated Press — Are you a Michigander or a Michiganian? The state Legislature is weighing into the debate in favor of using the term Michigander. The House this week approved a 13-bill package related to modernizing laws related to historical markers. A portion of one bill defines resident of the state as Michiganders and removes references to the term Michiganians. The bills, which previously cleared the Senate, need only final Senate votes before heading to Governor Rick Snyder. He uses the term Michiganders.. ...Read Full Story

Veterans Reminded How To Apply For Benefits

With Veterans Day just around the corner, an upcoming event in Detroit aims to support and honor those who have served by connecting them with services and benefits they’re entitled to as veterans. AARP Michigan’s Melissa Seifert tells us many veterans may simply be unaware of some of the many benefits that are out there.. ...Read Full Story

House Bid Intensifies To Reduce Auto Insurance Rates

From the Associated Press — Efforts are heating up to pass legislation to reduce the cost of auto insurance in Michigan. Members of the Republican-controlled state House talked behind closed doors about bill amendments Thursday, and Detroit hospitals that oppose the
legislation warned of an “imminent” vote. Legislators could be in session into the night. The bill lets drivers opt out of a requirement to carry unlimited medical benefits through their auto insurance for crash injuries. The legislation seeks varying cuts in personal injury protection fees for motorists choosing less coverage. Supporters say the bill would help drivers who face the highest premiums in the
country. Opponents say it would lead to inadequate treatment for people with brain and other catastrophic injuries. Democrats are largely united against the bill. Some Republicans also are opposed.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Expected To Approach $3 Per Gallon Soon

Gas prices have spiked again and GasBuddy’s Patrick DeHaan is expecting we could be going up even more to around $3 per gallon in the coming days due to a growing list of problems between the well and the pump. He says it all started with Hurricane Harvey compressing maintenance schedules of refineries in the Midwest, which stayed online to make up for the loss of plants in the Gulf during the storms.. ...Read Full Story

MI Supreme Court Justice Approved For Federal Bench

From the Associated Press — Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen has been promoted to a federal appeals court. The U.S. Senate confirmed Larsen’s nomination Wednesday. President Donald Trump selected her for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The
Cincinnati-based court hears appeals from Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee and Kentucky. Larsen has made a remarkable rise in just two years. Governor Rick Snyder appointed her to the Michigan Supreme Court in 2015. She was elected by voters last year. She served on the faculty at University of Michigan law school and worked in the administration of President George W. Bush. Snyder will choose another justice when Larsen leaves the Michigan court.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Talks Youth Sports Concussion Law

State Senator John Proos tells us the latest anti-concussion legislation signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder will ensure coaches and volunteers with youth leagues are up to date on the latest science. The plan recently signed by Snyder requires those who work with student athletes to get concussion awareness training every three years, says Proos.. ...Read Full Story

Two Killed In Edwardsburg Crash

A deadly crash in Cass County is under investigation. Two people were killed when their pickup truck hit a utility pole in Edwardsburg around 8 p.m. last night. According to our reporting partners at WNDU NewsCenter 16, officers were having trouble last night identifying the two. The crash happened in the rain, and police are trying to figure out if that played a role or if alcohol may have been involved. Several homes in the area also lost power for several hours due to the crash on Elkhart Road north of Redfield Street.. ...Read Full Story

Four Winds South Bend Holding Another Job Fair

The new Four Winds Casino in South Bend is looking for even more new employees. That’s why they’re holding a job fair this week. On Friday, applicants for gaming technician and surveillance engineer positions are invited to stop by the Four Winds Human Resources office on West South Street in South Bend. The job fair will run from noon until 5 p.m. There will be another job fair on Monday, November 13 from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. for those interested in food and beverage positions. Four Winds is hiring for a new location that is currently under construction. It’s expected to be finished early next year.. ...Read Full Story

Women’s Only Weekend Coming Up In South Haven

A Roaring 20s-themed series of events will be held next weekend in South Haven. The visitors bureau’s Scott Reinert tells WSJM News it’s time for Women’s Only Weekend from Thursday the 9th through Sunday the 12th. That’s when a variety of local businesses hold special events and sales to attract moms, daughters, and grandmas.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Clerk Talks Local Elections

Berrien County Clerk Sharon Tyler wants voters to be ready for next week’s elections. She tells WSJM News the Berrien County communities holding elections will be the cities of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, along with Chikaming Township and the Lakeshore school district. Those voters should know a few things.. ...Read Full Story

House Approves Recounts Only If Candidate Has Chance To Win

From the Associated Press — Political candidates could ask for a recount only if they have a reasonable chance of winning under legislation advancing in Michigan. The House approved the bill 98-10 Wednesday. It’s a response to Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s recount request last year, even though she won just 1 percent of the vote. The legislation would codify a Michigan Court of Appeals ruling that said “aggrieved” candidates can ask for a recount only if they can allege a good faith belief that but for fraud or mistake, they would have had a reasonable chance of winning the election. The bill moves to the Senate for consideration next. Another bill that’s pending would make candidate pay more for a recount if they are down by more than 5 percentage points.. ...Read Full Story

Stabenow Slams Possible Tax Proposal

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow says the tax reform plan being considered by Washington Republicans will hurt working-class Michiganders. Stabenow spoke with Michigan News Network this week, telling them there’s one provision in the legislation that especially concerns her.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan To Let Marijuana Shops Stay Open

From the Associated Press — Certain medical marijuana businesses will be able to remain open in Michigan while seeking a state license required under a new regulatory system. The state Department of Licensing and Regulatory reversed course Wednesday after previously giving dispensaries until Dec. 15 to close to avoid potentially not receiving a license. The department and its Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation intend to issue emergency rules this month. To avoid facing an impediment to licensure, an applicant must be operating in a municipality that has adopted an authorizing ordinance before December 15. Patients and others had expressed outrage that businesses would be forced to close for months while awaiting a license. State regulator Andrew Brisbo says patients’ concerns about not being able to get their medicine played a “big factor” in the about-face.. ...Read Full Story

White Nationalist Asks To Speak At University Of Michigan

From the Associated Press — A University of Michigan spokesman says it will pay “close attention to the safety and security of our community” in considering a request by white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak on campus. University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said Tuesday that no decision has been made on Spencer’s request. Fitzgerald says a representative of Spencer’s National Policy Institute indicated there was flexibility with the speaking date. Michigan State University earlier this year turned down a request for Spencer to speak there. Spencer’s group has filed a lawsuit seeking to have that blockage overturned. Spencer’s group has also filed a lawsuit against Ohio State University, which also turned down a request for speaking space. Spencer participated in a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that led to deadly violence in August.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers OK Budget Bill That Includes Vetoed Spending

(Lansing, MI – AP) – Michigan lawmakers have approved a $62.8 million supplemental budget bill that includes spending vetoed by Governor Rick Snyder months ago. The bill passed by the House Tuesday would restore about half of the $5 million in proposed general spending nixed by the Republican governor. An education budget bill already on Snyder’s desk includes another $1.2 million in spending he previously vetoed.. ...Read Full Story

Big Apartment Fire Displaces Niles Residents

Fire investigators are trying to figure out what sparked a massive three-alarm blaze at the North Niles Villa apartments on North 5th Street in Niles. The flames went through the roof in Building A of the complex last night, displacing residents of more than a dozen units. Niles Fire Chief Don Wise tells our reporting partners at WNDU NewsCenter 16 that in his more than three decades of fighting fires, this was among the worst he’s seen. The American Red Cross was on hand to help those people find shelter for the night. It’s believed the fire started in the attic, and investigators say it does not appear that the smoke detectors were working. One resident was hospitalized for smoke inhalation.. ...Read Full Story