Local News Archives

Students Hold Walkouts At Local Schools

High school students at schools around southwest Michigan and the entire country have raised their voice to speak out against violence. At Lakeshore High School Wednesday morning, the kids walked out to chants of “enough is enough.” One of the walkout’s organizers, senior Anna, told WSJM News the recent school shootings in Parkland, Florida have resonated with students.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Leaders Talking 2018 Priorities

South Haven City Manager Brian Dissette is tasking the city council with addressing a list of priorities he gave to them at a meeting last night. The council members also added to the document, and Dissette says this is just the first step in deciding what the priorities are and what order they should be addressed.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation To Help Nassar Victims Being Held Back

From the Associated Press — Legislation in Michigan that would help victims of imprisoned sports doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse move forward with lawsuits is in limbo amid pushback from universities, the Catholic Church and others. The Republican-led Senate is considering bills Wednesday to retroactively extend the statute of limitations to sue and restrict governments’ ability to claim immunity. Senators discussed the bills privately and plan to resume session later in the day. Michigan State University, where Nassar worked for decades, has been sued by more than 250 girls and women. The school contends many waited too long to sue and that it has immunity.
People sexually abused as children in Michigan generally have until their 19th birthdays to sue. Under the legislation, those abused in 1993 or later could sue until their 48th birthdays.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Avoiding Deportation Finds Sanctuary In MI church

From the Associated Press — A Michigan woman has moved into a church in the southwest part of the state in an effort to avoid being deported to Pakistan. Saheeda Nadeem moved into First Congregational Church in Kalamazoo Monday. The 62-year-old was born in Pakistan, and then lived in Kuwait before moving to the U.S. 13 years ago. She came to the U.S. legally but overstayed her visa. Nadeem hasn’t been back to Pakistan in 40 years. First Congregational unanimously voted to become a public sanctuary church last year. Rev. Nathan Dannison says the congregation won’t let ICE tear families apart. A 2011 Immigration and Customs Enforcement memo says the agency’s policy limits actions at places of worship, except in extreme cases. ICE didn’t immediately respond to the Kalamazoo Gazette’s request for comment.. ...Read Full Story

Cyber Security Summit Underway In Metro Detroit

A special summit is underway this week in metro Detroit highlighting how Michigan is a driving force in cyber security through the automotive and defense industries. Sarah Tennant is the Strategic Advisor for Cyber Initiatives at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. She spoke with Michigan News Network about the summit.. ...Read Full Story

Municipal League Wants Federal Infrastructure Money

The head Michigan’s association of local governments says Uncle Sam needs to dig deeper to help fix our roads. Dan Gilmartin of the Michigan Municipal League told Michigan News Network this week at least an extra billion dollars would help, but it doesn’t cover the need for a mass transit system, which is becoming more and more of a need by businesses coming to Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Man Trapped In Vehicle Following Crash

A South Bend man is recovering after a crash on Tuesday in Berrien County that left him trapped in his vehicle. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us it happened around 3 p.m. on US-12 near Sage Road in Bertrand Township. Responders found 56-year-old Arnold Lancaster pinned in his Dodge minivan. He had to be freed with the Jaws of Life by the Niles Township Fire Department. Sheriff’s deputies learned Lancaster had stopped behind a westbound semi on US-12. The semi had been stopped for a garbage truck that was collecting trash along the road. A second garbage truck, also westbound, came along and the driver didn’t see the other vehicles stopped. He swerved to avoid a crash, but his truck hit Lancaster’s vehicle on the driver’s side rear end, pushing the minivan into the semi. Lancaster was taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend with serious but non-life threatening injuries.. ...Read Full Story

BH School Leaders Talk Security

Benton Harbor School leaders continue to think about improving security. At a Tuesday meeting, the board of education heard from Acting Superintendent Patricia Robinson the district’s metal detectors are almost repaired, with six door units now operational. There are also upgrades in the works to the security cameras. Trustee Joseph Taylor told WSJM News he wants metal detectors working quickly, especially in light of the recent tragedy in Florida.. ...Read Full Story

Changes Planned For SJ World War I Monument

Changes are coming to the World War I monument along the bluff in downtown St. Joseph. At a meeting this week, the city commission approved moving the plaque listing area World War I soldiers to a more prominent spot at the doughboy statue. It’s currently in the back, often obscured by vegetation. Now, it will be encased in concrete to the side of the statue. They’re also adding a U.S. flag to the monument. A representative of the parks advisory board told commissioners about it Monday.. ...Read Full Story

Democrat Running For MI Senate In Van Buren County

There’s a Democrat running for the Michigan Senate in the 26th District. That’s the district currently represented by state Senator Tonya Schuitmaker, covering Van Buren and Allegan counties and part of Kent County. Garnet Lewis is a former Northern Michigan University Trustee and current member of the Saugatuck Planning Commission. She tells WSJM News she was inspired to get back into politics following the election of President Trump.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Announces Annual Art Competition

Congressman Fred Upton has announced the 2018 Congressional Art Competition, open to high school artists throughout the Sixth Congressional District. The winner will have his or her piece hang in the U.S. Capitol for a year along with the winners of the award from Congressional districts across the country. Plus, the winner and a guest will get to go to Washington, D.C. to attend a reception. Upton’s office tells us the arts are a vital part of southwest Michigan’s diverse community. You can find the rules and the entry forms for the Congressional Art Competition at Upton’s website. Last year’s winner was Cami Hoogstraten of Otsego who submitted a digital drawing of a Native American Dancer.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joe Commissioners Approve Parks Master Plan

St. Joseph City Commissioners have approved a five year parks master plan for three parks in the community. Monday’s action was needed if the city is going to pursue grants to pay for improvements at Riverview Park, Dickinson Park, and Whirlpool Centennial Park. City Deputy Public Works Director Greg Grothous told WSJM News last month the plans for Whirlpool Centennial Park include ways to make fountain maintenance easier.. ...Read Full Story

You’re More Apt To Win Powerball Than Be Hit By Space Station Chunk

A Chinese space station is falling back toward Earth and should be re-entering the atmosphere in early April. The trajectory of the space station, which is about the size of an RV, has it falling back to the ground along southern Michigan’s latitude. That said, experts are trying to calm people down about the chances of any part of the space station not burning up in the atmosphere and slamming into people or buildings in the state.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Leaders Discussing Top Priorities

South Haven City Manager Brian Dissette is tasking the city council with addressing a list of priorities he gave to them at a meeting last night. The council members also added to the document, and Dissette says this is just the first step in deciding what the priorities are and what order they should be addressed.. ...Read Full Story

State Announces Lead Control Grants

From the Associated Press — Nearly $4 million in grants to expand lead hazard control services to homes where someone is enrolled in Medicaid has been awarded to two Michigan communities and an agency that serves several counties. The state Health and Human Services department says Battle Creek and Grand Rapids each are getting $1.5 million. About $962,000 is going to the Human
Development Commission for Huron, Tuscola, Sanilac and Lapeer counties. Inspections, risk assessment, removal of lead-based paint from eligible residences, and removal of plumbing and service lines deemed to be lead hazards are among the services that can receive funding. Funding also can be used to temporarily relocate residents during lead abatement. Activities must be completed by September 30. The funding was provided through Michigan’s Children’s Health Insurance Program.. ...Read Full Story

MI Universities Seek Delay On Nassar-Inspired Bills

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s 15 public universities are asking the Michigan Legislature to delay voting on bills inspired by the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case, expressing concern about measures that would retroactively extend the time victims would have to file lawsuits and remove an immunity defense for governmental agencies. The Senate may vote this week on the legislation backed by victims of the imprisoned former doctor at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics. The Michigan Association of State Universities wrote a letter to lawmakers Monday. The universities say several bills would have a “profound impact” and encourage the filing of a “significant number” of lawsuits against schools, churches, governments and organizations. People sexually abused as children generally have until their 19th birthdays to sue. Under the legislation, those abused as children in 1993 or later could sue until their 48th birthdays.. ...Read Full Story

SJ Commission Signs Off On Krasl Work

St. Joseph City Commissioners have given the green light to the Krasl Art Center as it seeks an improvement project for its grounds to attract more visitors. At a Monday meeting, the commission signed off on a Planned Unit Development request for Krasl as it pursues more than $1.4 million in work. Krasl’s Julia Gourley told WSJM News they’ll add a commissioned sculpture along with some other features.. ...Read Full Story

National Weather Service Offering Spotter Classes

Warmer weather’s return also means the threat of severe weather here in southwest Michigan, and to prepare for that possibility, the Van Buren County Office of Domestic Preparedness conducted a training session for some 50 volunteer weather spotters from across the county at Paw Paw High School over the weekend. Jim Maczko, a meteorologist from the Grand Rapids National Weather Service Office, led the session. He told WSJM News that even with all of today’s technology, information provided by boots on the ground is the most valuable.. ...Read Full Story

$1.5 Million In Loans Announced For Affordable Housing

Congressman Fred Upton has announced a couple of affordable housing loans for communities in Van Buren County. His office tells us a total of $1.55 million is coming to the county from the United States Department of Agriculture. A $775,000 Rural Development low-interest loan is going to Lawrence Downs in Lawrence to be used to rehabilitate the inside and outside of a 48-unit family rental property. Also, a $775,000 loan will go to Decatur Downs in Decatur to acquire and rehabilitate a 48-unit family project with 31 units eligible for assistance on paying rental fees. Congressman Upton tells us the USDA loans will directly help southwest Michigan families, adding “Affordable housing is critical for those looking to put down roots in our region.”. ...Read Full Story

Soybean Farmers Urged To Help Protect Honeybees

A major endeavor is under way to educate soybean farmers about helping save honeybees. The Honey Bee Health Coalition this month unveiled a management plan for growers. Adam Dolezal, assistant professor at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, did the research for the report. He told us several factors have led to massive bee die-offs, including pesticide use and loss of habitat.. ...Read Full Story

State Identifies City With Unfunded Liabilities

The Michigan Department of Treasury has released its preliminary list of municipalities with underfunded retirement liabilities, and Benton Harbor makes an appearance. Treasury spokesperson Ron Leix tells WSJM News a new state law requiring local units of government to report underfunded benefits is now being implemented. More than 110 out of 490 local units of government have been identified as having an underfunded pension or healthcare plan, or both.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Approves Disaster Declaration

Governor Rick Snyder has approved a disaster declaration for 17 counties affected by recent flooding in Michigan, including Berrien County. Snyder’s move Monday opens up the Disaster and Emergency Contingency Fund to local governments for clean-up. The disaster declaration came just as damage assessments for areas affected by flooding were completed. By declaring a state of disaster, Snyder has made available all state resources for the disaster areas. The declaration authorizes the Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division to coordinate with local agencies beyond what has already been done. Through the state disaster fund, local governments in the declared counties can apply for grants to receive reimbursement for response costs up to $100,000, or 10% of their previous year’s operating budget. You can read the full disaster declaration right here.. ...Read Full Story

Deadline Approaching For Flood Cleanup Help

The deadline is approaching to apply for disaster clean up help from Team Rubicon. The volunteer service run by veterans announced this week it would provide damage assessments, muckout operations, and debris removal around Berrien County for free to those affected by flooding. Team Rubicon will take applications for that help through Saturday, March 18. After that date, homeowners will have to pay for such services through a contractor. You can call 211 for information on flood cleanup assistance. You can reach Team Rubicon at 269-224-0310.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Discusses Talent Plan With WSJM

$100 million is the price tag for Governor Snyder’s ambitious plan to expand job training programs for all ages. Called the “Marshall Plan for Talent,” he tells WSJM News the reaction has been positive from lawmakers so far since he announced the initiative in South Haven last month.. ...Read Full Story

Allegan Deputies To Patrol Schools

A new program is being launched in Allegan County to have sheriff’s deputies spend more time in local schools in an effort to improve security. State Representative Mary Whiteford tells WSJM News it was the idea of Sheriff Frank Baker. He pitched it at a meeting last week with superintendents and Whiteford present. She says it will be good for the kids concerned in light of recent events.. ...Read Full Story

Red Cross Closes Berrien Springs Shelter

The American Red Cross has closed its last flood shelter. The organization closed its shelter shelter in Berrien Springs at the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Sunday after moving there from Berrien Springs Middle School last week when classes resumed. Red Cross officials say despite closing all shelters, they are still working to help the families who were displaced by last month’s floods. Disaster assessment work has been wrapped up, and the organization is now working with government and community partners to assure all families whose homes were destroyed or damaged have been identified.. ...Read Full Story