Local News Archives

State Launches New Soo Locks Website

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley has announced the launch of a new website to draw attention to issues with the Soo Locks. The locks, located between Lake Huron and Lake Superior, allow ships to travel between Lake Superior and the rest of the lower lakes. President Trump recently called for upgrades to the Soo Locks, and Calley says all Michiganders should thank him. There have been calls for a brand new lock for years, with Michigan leaders saying the economy would be greatly harmed if damage were to close the locks. According to Calley’s office, “a 2015 analysis by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security found that an unexpected closure of the Soo Locks, especially during peak shipping season, could result in a cascading collapse of the U.S. economy.” The new state website drawing attention to the locks is Michigan.gov/FixTheSooLocks.. ...Read Full Story

Teacher Gets Recognition

A Berrien County substitute teacher is getting some recognition for her entry into a video contest. Lauren Mott teaches grades K through 12 at Bridgman and River Valley Schools. She tells us she came to the area last year from Chicago.. ...Read Full Story

Drug Treatment Court Celebrates 10 Years This Week

May is National Drug Court Month and in celebration, the Van Buren County Drug Treatment Court will have guest speakers this Friday that will address the impact of drug courts in our area. Speakers will include the Assistant Chief Prosecuting Attorney, a Program Defense Attorney, Sheriff Abbott and retired Judge William Buhl, as well as a program graduate. The event will also celebrate the 10th year anniversary of the Van Buren County Drug Treatment Court. The public is invited to attend the event at the Van Buren County Courthouse in Paw Paw this Friday morning at nine.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Aims To Clarify Drug Prices

State Representative Mary Whiteford of Casco Township has introduced legislation intended to benefit patients getting prescriptions filled. She tells WSJM News under current rules, pharmacists are not allowed to tell a patient the true cost of their medication in some circumstances. She learned about the problem from a pharmacist she represents.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Twp Walmart Briefly Evacuated

Everything is back to normal at the Benton Township Walmart after a brief evacuation this morning. The Benton Township Fire Department and Michigan Gas Utilities were called out to the store around 8 a.m. on a report of an odor and found a malfunctioning heater in the back of the building. The gas company’s equipment did not detect elevated natural gas levels, but they did notice the smell. The evacuation was a precaution, and shoppers and employees were back inside before 9:30 a.m.. ...Read Full Story

Infighting Among Democrats In Gubernatorial Race

There is some infighting amongst Democrats running for governor. Gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed is challenging the validity of opponent Shri Thanedar’s ballot petition signatures. El-Sayed filed his complaint Tuesday, hours after Thanedar announced his own complaint saying El-Sayed has not been a registered voter over the four years leading up to this fall’s general election for governor — something required under Michigan’s constitution and election law. El-Sayed lived in New York for several years and while he canceled his Michigan drivers license during that time, he was still registered to vote in this state.. ...Read Full Story

Higher Education Poll Released

A new poll shows Michigan residents want the state to invest in higher education to keep tuition low, and that more than 80% believe their child will receive at least a four-year college degree. The survey was conducted for the Michigan Association of State Universities. President and CEO Dan Hurley says even though parents believe a college degree will help their child earn better money, they want their kids to be happy in their careers first and foremost.. ...Read Full Story

Results Of Statewide Drug Take-Back

A drug take-back event this past Saturday resulted in more than 966 pounds of unneeded prescription medications being collected across the state. Michigan State Police tell us the agency’s 30 posts served as drop-off locations for people to dispose of old drugs. The medications are then turned over to the DEA for safe disposal. The Niles post of Michigan State Police on Saturday collected 53 pounds of drugs alone. The next drug take-back event will be held in the fall. There are several locations around Berrien County where you can drop off unneeded medications every day. You can see a list below.. ...Read Full Story

Broadband Expansion Planned For Van Buren County

A Bloomingdale-based company is planning to invest $12 million in the expansion of broadband internet in Van Buren County over the next few years. Bloomingdale Communications General Manager Steve Shults tells WSJM News the company is rolling out fiber to areas north of Bloomingdale to about Allegan County and south to about M-43. He says the need for broadband in Van Buren is great.. ...Read Full Story

Man Convicted In Fatal Bike Crash

From the Associated Press — A man who was under the influence of drugs has been convicted of second-degree murder in a crash that killed five bicyclists in southwestern Michigan. The verdict against Charles Pickett was returned Tuesday in Kalamazoo County
court. There was no dispute that Pickett had swallowed painkillers and other drugs before driving his pickup truck, although his lawyer argued that murder charges were excessive. Pickett’s truck plowed into a pack of bicyclists on a narrow rural road near Kalamazoo in June 2016. Nine people were hit, including five who died from their injuries. The National Transportation Safety Board said better communication between dispatchers might have alerted police to stop Pickett while he was driving recklessly through different communities before the crash.. ...Read Full Story

Man Killed While Cutting Wood

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is investigating after a 73-year-old man was killed while cutting wood on Tuesday. The department tells us the accident happened around noon in the 58,000 block of White Temple Road in Penn Township while Robert Wright of Vandalia was working. He was struck by two trees. Police say Wright was cutting a tree down when it fell into another tree which uprooted itself. The two trees then struck Wright, causing extreme injuries. Emergency responders extracted Wright from the downed trees and began medical treatment, but he succumbed to his injuries.. ...Read Full Story

Court Scraps Pinkney Conviction

The Michigan Supreme Court has thrown out the conviction of a Benton Harbor activist who was charged with forgery after submitting petitions to recall a mayor. Edward Pinkney was sentenced to at least 30 months in prison in 2014 and has been on parole since last June. The Supreme Court said Tuesday Pinkney’s conviction in Berrien County must be set aside because he wasn’t properly charged under Michigan law. The court says its decision is “unusual” and “not one that we reach lightly.” In a 6-0 decision, the court says Pinkney was charged under a penalty provision of election law. Pinkney was accused of changing dates on recall petitions so signatures would be counted. The recall election against James Hightower was never held.. ...Read Full Story

SJ Opioid Meeting Wednesday

Everyone will have a chance to learn more about the opioid epidemic at a meeting planned for Wednesday in St. Joseph Township. St. Joe Township Police Officer Rick Knapp tells WSJM News the neighborhood watch program is welcoming a guest speaker from Families Against Narcotics and the Berrien County Medical Examiner to come and speak at the township hall next Wednesday.. ...Read Full Story

Bureau Reviewing Candidate Eligibility

From the Associated Press — Michigan election officials are reviewing a letter that requests an investigation into Democrat Abdul El-Sayed’s eligibility to run for governor. The state Bureau of Elections received a letter from Pamela Nelson last week. The DeWitt resident cited questions over whether El-Sayed will have been a registered and qualified Michigan voter for four years before the election. El-Sayed, one of three Democratic gubernatorial candidates, studied and worked in New York until moving back to Michigan in 2015. Nelson says she filed the complaint so the issue is resolved before August’s primary. The deadline to challenge a candidate’s nominating petitions is Tuesday. Spokesman Fred Woodhams says the elections bureau is reviewing the letter and “will decide what the next steps, if any, are.” vEl-Sayed has called the eligibility issue a “manufactured controversy.”. ...Read Full Story

New Pedestrian Safety Campaign

Heads up,GR! That’s the name of a new summer safety campaign in Grand Rapids for pedestrians and bicyclists. Grand Rapids Traffic Safety Manager Chris Zull told Michigan News Network they have a new law requiring drivers to stop for pedestrians in marked and unmarked crosswalks, a change from yield. Zull says the goal is to have zero pedestrian-involved crashes.. ...Read Full Story

BH Board Making Cuts

The changes keep coming for Benton Harbor Area Schools. At a Monday meeting, the board of education voted to part ways with or re-assign several administrators. It also moved to terminate a contract for a gang prevention study and drop a standby bus service. Other cuts will come. Trustee Martha Momany warned it won’t be pleasant.. ...Read Full Story

Home Heating Help Still Available

While spring has arrived in Michigan, some folks still are trying to catch up on their heating costs from winter. There is still one month available to apply for energy-bill assistance through the State Emergency Relief program. Consumers Energy Customer Assistance Manager Whitney Skeans tells us they have at least 100,000 qualified households among their customer base who have difficulty paying energy bills each year.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Man Killed In Motorcycle Crash

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is investigating after a Dowagiac man was killed in a motorcycle crash on Monday. It happened shortly after 5:30 a.m. on Calvin Hill Street near North Shore Drive in Calvin Township. 29-year-old Jerry West of Dowagiac was eastbound on Calvin Hill when his motorcycle hit a truck that was pulling out of a driveway. Police say West was pronounced dead at the scene, while the driver of the truck, a 52-year-old Cassopolis man, was taken to a hospital for treatment and then released. Police don’t believe alcohol was a factor in the crash, which remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

More Than 81 Pounds Of Prescriptions Collected

A whole heap of pills and other prescription medications are now being handed off to the Drug Enforcement Agency for safe disposal thanks to a drug take-back event held on Saturday in St. Joseph. Michigan State Police Lieutenant Melinda Logan tells WSJM News the number reflects the pills collected at just one site, Lakeland Center for Outpatient Services on Hollywood Avenue.. ...Read Full Story

Detroit Released From State Oversight

From the Associated Press — The city of Detroit has been released from active state oversight just over three years after exiting the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. A nine-member review commission unanimously voted Monday on a waiver that returns financial control to the mayor and City Council after Detroit delivered three consecutive years of audited balanced budgets. A $36 million operating surplus also is expected for fiscal year 2018. The waiver must be approved annually for 10 years before the commission is fully retired.
A state-appointed emergency manager overseeing Detroit’s finances filed for bankruptcy in 2013. Detroit exited bankruptcy in December 2014 after restructuring about $7 billion in debt. The financial review commission was created in 2014 and given oversight for
borrowing and large city-issued contracts as part of the bankruptcy restructuring plan.. ...Read Full Story