Local News Archives

Ford Ditching Several Models

Ford Motor Company has announced it will be ditching its sedan lines over the next few years. That includes the Taurus, Fusion, Focus, Fiesta, and C-Max models. They don’t sell like their trucks and SUVs, and the automaker needs to cut $11 billion in costs. Auto Analyst John McElroy told Michigan News Network this week the price of gas isn’t a big concern as Ford is making trucks more fuel efficient at a time when domestic energy supplies are in better shape.. ...Read Full Story

Allegan Republican Running For State Senate

There’s a new Republican in the running for the Michigan Senate in the 26th District. That’s the district currently represented by state Senator Tonya Schuitmaker, who is being term limited out of office. The latest to announce for the post is Don Wikstra, a dentist and township planning commissioner from Allegan County’s Hamilton. He spoke with WSJM News.. ...Read Full Story

Fatal Crashes Down In 2017

The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning says alcohol and drug-related crashes remain a significant problem in the state, even though a new report shows overall traffic deaths decreased 3% last year. MSP spokesperson Kendall Wingrove tells WSJM News the latest statistics are a bit troubling.. ...Read Full Story

Girls On The Run Events Next Month

May will bring the first of two Girls on the Run 5Ks planned in southwest Michigan this year. Girls on the Run of Southwest Michigan Dirctor Julie Bos tells WSJM News the organization will stage the runs in Berrien Springs on May 17 and in Decatur on June 1. Nearly 900 girls will take part, and Bos says the atmosphere is exciting.. ...Read Full Story

Marijuana Proposal Clears Major Hurdle

From the Associated Press — A legislative leader says initiated legislation to legalize marijuana for recreational use will go on the November ballot. The Michigan Legislature could enact the bill on its own after it was certified by election officials Thursday, but House Speaker Tom Leonard says there is “not much support” within his Republican caucus. Assuming the GOP-controlled Legislature does not act within 40 days, voters will decide the proposal’s fate in November. The proposal would let people 21 and older possess up to 2.5 ounces
of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants at home. A 10 percent tax on marijuana would be assessed on top of the 6 percent state sales tax.. ...Read Full Story

Group Trying To Stop Nestle Operation

From the Associated Press — A group is trying to stop Nestle Waters North America Inc. from pumping more western Michigan groundwater for its Ice Mountain brand. Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation says Wednesday that it’s preparing a petition for a contested case against Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality, which approved Nestle’s application to remove 400 gallons (1,514
liters) of water per minute from an Osceola Township aquifer. The group says the DEQ will get the administrative challenge within 60 days.
Nestle had been permitted to withdraw 250 gallons (946 liters) a minute from the aquifer. The conservation group says the DEQ has “clearly bent the law to favor Nestle” by granting the permit before the company could provide “real data” on the consequences of withdrawing the additional water. The DEQ declined to comment on the petition. Nestle did not respond to a request for comment.. ...Read Full Story

New Roller Coaster At Cedar Point

Cedar Point has introduced its latest roller coaster to the media. Steel Vengreance was unveiled Wednesday, and it’s being called the world’s first ever hyper-hybrid roller coaster that climbs over 200 feet into the air before diving back down to earth into a series of hills, twists, dives, and over-banked turns lasting 2 and a half minutes. Cedar Point General Manager Jason McClure told Michigan News Network it’s easy to lose your senses on this ride.. ...Read Full Story

Calley Slams Flint Water Probe

From the Associated Press — Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley is escalating his criticism of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s prosecution of top state officials for the Flint water crisis, calling it a “gross abuse of power.” His comments to The Associated Press on Wednesday are the strongest words to date from Governor Rick Snyder’s administration on the criminal cases. Calley and Schuette are running to succeed the term-limited governor. Schuette’s criminal probe has led 15 current or former government officials to be charged, including two members of Snyder’s cabinet. Calley said the ongoing, long-running preliminary exams for state Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon and chief medical executive Eden Wells are “show trials” and “political stunts.” A Schuette spokeswoman declined comment, saying the cases are still before a judge.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Museum Opens

A new Michigan State Police Museum and Learning Center opened on Wednesday in Dimondale with a ribbon cutting. MSP Captain Mike Krumm told Michigan News Network the museum features weapons and vehicles that state police used back when the department began in 1917. He says it’s interactive.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Gets Award For Promoting Organ Donation

An award has been given to state Senator John Proos for his work to promote organ donation in Michigan. This month, the Michigan Secretary of State’s office gave Proos the Shining Star Award. It’s for his role in getting Lauren’s Law approved in the state. Proos tells WSJM News the law requires the Secretary of State to ask people if they want to sign up for the organ donor registry when they renew their licenses.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Promotes Drug Take-Back Day

A national drug take-back event is being held this Saturday, and Congressman Fred Upton is reminding everyone about it. He tells WSJM News the Drug Enforcement Agency is working with police agencies across the nation to collect unneeded prescription medications. Last year, the DEA collected more than 912,000 pounds of pills across more than 5,000 sites.. ...Read Full Story

Child Abuse Prevention Rally In Lansing

About 600 silver and blue pinwheels have been placed in a park near the state Capitol in Lansing as part of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services 10th annual Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Day. Spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News a rally was held at the Capitol Wednesday to show support for those who fight child abuse and to raise money for the state’s Children’s Trust Fund.. ...Read Full Story

Effort Focuses On Long-Term Flood Recovery

The United Way of Southwest Michigan has set up a long-term recovery team to help those affected by flooding this year in the region. The United Way tells WSJM News it will now host bi-monthly meetings with state and local organizations focused on uniting resources with community needs to ensure everyone recovers from the disaster. President Anna Murphy says a large number of southwest Michigan families were displaced by the flooding, and in some cases, their homes cannot be repaired. The United Way is teaming up with groups that include the Berrien Community Foundation, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and the Michigan State Police Office of Emergency Management to get ongoing help to those people. Anyone looking for more information can call the United Way of Southwest Michigan. It also notes the disaster relief fund it set up following February’s floods remains open. You can find it right here.. ...Read Full Story

Marijuana Proposal Possible For Ballot

It’s a proposal to legalize the sale and possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for personal use in Michigan, and we’ll find out this week if it makes the November ballot. Josh Hovey, spokesperson for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol,tells Michigan News Network Colorado got it right when it comes to legalizing pot.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Bans Sale Of Whip Its To Minors

From the Associated Press — Kids hoping to get high off laughing gas would have a harder time under a bill that is headed toward Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk. The Michigan Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to prohibit the sale or distribution of devices intended to hold nitrous oxide to minors. Commonly known by the street name “whip-its,” these containers have surged in popularity due to the temporary buzz produced from inhaling the gas. Those who fail to adhere to the sales ban would face a maximum $500 civil fine under the House-sponsored bills. The Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police testified in support of the bills, citing abuse of laughing gas as the root of multiple injuries and at least one death in the state.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Makes It Official

Congressman Fred Upton has made it official. He has filed for re-election, submitting more than the number of petition signatures required to qualify for the ballot. He announced last November that this was his intention. He had toyed with the idea of running for the U.S. Senate against Debbie Stabenow but after assessing his chances, the support available and consulting with his family, he has decided instead to try for his 17th term representing South West Michigan in Congress. The 6th District includes all of Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties and most of Allegan County. A half-dozen democrats have come forward to run for the seat, and will face off in an August Primary to determine who will challenge Upton this fall.. ...Read Full Story

Humane Society Closes For Move

The Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan is on the move. The organization put out word Tuesday morning that it is now closed until its relocation to the new shelter in Royalton Township is complete. The facility on M-139 replaces the old Crystal Avenue shelter in Benton Township, which the Humane Society tells us had become grossly inadequate. While the move is ongoing, the Humane Society asks everyone to be patient and understand it could take some weeks to complete the process. It says the staff and animals both appreciate your understanding. We’ll keep you posted when the organization announces its ribbon cutting celebration for the new shelter.. ...Read Full Story

Liquor Revenue Could Pay For Substance Abuse Treatment

From the Associated Press — The Michigan House wants to direct 4 percent of the Liquor Control Commission’s revenue toward fighting substance abuse. The chamber voted 104-3 Tuesday to earmark state funds from alcohol taxes, liquor licenses and liquor code violation fees for distribution among community health agencies. The bill would inject the money into services such as substance abuse prevention and treatment programs – one-fourth of which could not be exclusively alcohol-centric. Supporters of the bill say it provides a much-needed bridge for funding gaps in Michigan’s health entities, which would gain almost $20 million from the measure. During the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the Liquor Control Commission’s net revenue topped $430 million. The bill now heads to the Senate.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joe Conducts Water System Study

A recent study of the community’s water system in St. Joseph is helping city officials better plan for repairs. St. Joe Public Works Director Tom MacDonald tells WSJM News the city commission in September hired a company that came in and used specialized sounding equipment to find underground leaks. The survey found seven leaks, which were causing about five million gallons of water per year to be wasted.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joe Republican Running For House

There is a new Republican now running for the Michigan House in the 79th District. It’s Bruce Gorenflo of St. Joseph. Gorenflo is a technical writer and graphic designer who has lived in southwest Michigan almost his entire life. He tells WSJM News a big priority is reducing auto insurance rates.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Pushes For Dredging Funds

Now is the time to get some dredging done in recreational harbors in southwest Michigan. So says Congressman Fred Upton, who has sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking that money be set aside for harbors in Saugatuck, South Haven, and New Buffalo. He spoke with WSJM News about the issue.. ...Read Full Story

Former LMC President Running For County Commission

Former Lake Michigan College President Bob Harrison is now running for the Berrien County Board of Commissioners. He’s filed to run for the Republican nomination in the 7th District, which includes the village of Stevensville and part of Lincoln Township. Harrison tells WSJM News he sees the county commission facing challenges specific to southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Man Arrested In Domestic Violence Incident

No one was hurt and one man was taken into custody following a domestic violence incident in St. Joseph Tuesday that got a response from the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Tactical Response Unit. The St. Joseph Department of Public Safety tells us it happened in the 1700 block of Forres Avenue around 4:30 p.m. Officers arrived at the scene and were told by a woman that she had been assaulted. A man inside the home refused to come out, and police were told he was intoxicated and armed. St. Joseph Public Safety called in the sheriff’s department for assistance, and the man eventually gave up. He was taken into custody.. ...Read Full Story

Latest Homes Sales Numbers

The southwest Michigan real estate market has managed to turn around after a relatively slow February. According to the latest numbers released by the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors, the number of houses sold in March of 2018 was down 13% from March of 2017, but the average selling price was up by 15%. Plus, year-to-date, the average selling price this year has been up by 10%. Home sales in March were up 35% compared to February. Part of the reason prices are up is the low inventory, which continues to be a problem for the southwest Michigan housing market. The inventory is at a 4.5-month supply.. ...Read Full Story

House Approves Increase In School Funding

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s public schools would receive their largest increase in base per-student funding in 17 years under a budget plan endorsed by the state House. The Republican-controlled House approved the plan Tuesday, including a boost ranging from $120 to $240 per pupil proposed by Governor Rick Snyder. Once the Senate passes a proposal and revised revenue estimates are released, a budget agreement will be finalized in June. Though the House backed the governor’s base K-12 funding proposal, it rejected proposed cuts to online charter schools and to aid that helps public schools enroll private students in elective classes. Unlike Snyder, the House voted to close a prison next fiscal year. Republicans rejected Democratic amendments to spend more on road improvements and to restore free bottled water for Flint residents.. ...Read Full Story

Public Hearing On SJ Tax Rate

A public hearing on the budget and the local tax rate will be held by St. Joseph City Commissioners next month. Mayor Mike Garey tells WSJM News the commission is grappling with multiple considerations as it looks at possible millage increases. That includes the need for street repair money. He credits city staff with being on top of the looming challenges.. ...Read Full Story

Al-Van Humane Society New Shelter

The Al-Van Humane Society is preparing to open its brand new shelter in South Haven next week. Executive Director Jennifer Nuernberg tells us the new 8,000 square foot building on Blue Star Highway is just around the corner from the current facility, and the animals will be moved this coming weekend. The Humane Society had to raise $500,000 to make the move possible.. ...Read Full Story