Local News Archives

Travel Michigan On Winter Attractions

You may be tired of the cold and snow in Michigan, but some are loving it. Travel Michigan Vice President Dave Lorenz told Michigan News Network this week snowmobiling, skiing, and ice climbing are all big in Michigan. He says there are cool things to see in many areas, like ice caves.. ...Read Full Story

State Rep: Legislation Would Help Prevent Sex Assault In Schools

State Representative Beth Griffin is hailing legislation designed to protect young people from sexual assault at Michigan schools. The plan, which was drafted in response to the ongoing Larry Nassar scandal at Michigan State University, would establish a mandatory reporting requirement for K-12 and post-secondary coaches and athletic trainers for criminal sexual conduct offenses. It would also prohibit anyone from using their position of authority to prevent someone from reporting a crime, including criminal sexual conduct, and add sexual abuse to the state of Michigan’s OK2Say tipline program. That way, someone could report a sex crime anonymously via the student service. Representative Griffin, a Republican from Mattawan, tells us the “scandal at Michigan State University is a lesson that we must give victims of this kind of illegal behavior multiple ways to report it.” The legislation is now before the state House Law and Justice Committee.. ...Read Full Story

Furniture Chain Founder, Philanthropist Dies

From the Associated Press — Archie Van Elslander, the founder of Art Van Furniture and a major Detroit-area philanthropist, has died. He was 87. A statement released by his family says Van Elslander, who was known as Art Van, died Monday. Company spokeswoman Diane Charles says he had cancer. Van Elslander opened his first furniture store in 1959 in East Detroit, now called Eastpointe. There are more than 120 Art Van stores in the Midwest, although most are in Michigan. The business was sold last year to Thomas H. Lee Partners, a Boston private equity firm. Van Elslander is credited with saving Detroit’s Thanksgiving parade. In December, he said he was donating $20 million to expand the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit, named for a Roman Catholic priest who is on a path to sainthood.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Running For MI Senate

State Representative Kim LaSata is running for the Michigan Senate. The 79th District Republican from Bainbridge Township tells WSJM News she plans to make auto insurance reform, tax relief, and attracting business her priorities if elected. LaSata is still in her first term in the state House, but with state Senator John Proos being term-limited out of office at the end of the year, this is her chance to seek the 21st District position. LaSata already has the endorsements of Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey, former state Senator Cameron Brown, and Southwestern Michigan College President David Mathews, all of whom will also serve as co-chairs of the LaSata for Senate Campaign. Also running for state Senate in the 21st District is Democrat and former Hagar Township Clerk Ian Haight.. ...Read Full Story

Deadline Soon For Local Grant Program

The deadline to apply for a Frederick S. Upton Foundation grant through the Berrien Community Foundation is quickly approaching. The foundation tells us the date is March 15 for those wishing to receive a grant in during the spring cycle. The Frederick S. Upton Foundation considers grant requests from a wide variety of non-profit organizations but focuses its efforts in Berrien County. This is the first year the Berrien Community Foundation is holding two grant cycles per year. The other will end in the summer. Any organization looking for more information can go to BerrienCommunity.org.. ...Read Full Story

Heritage Museum Plans Reopening

The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in St. Joseph is planning to reopen to the public next month. Curator Tracy Gierada tells WSJM News repair work is coming along nicely since the museum had to close in December due to flooding caused by the HVAC system. Since then, a crowdfunding campaign to get a new HVAC system has raised $53,000, more than the $50,000 needed to get a match from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Studying Fish Kills

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is hoping fishermen and anyone else who enjoys the great outdoors will act as its eyes when out and about this winter and coming spring. Spokesperson Elyse Walter tells WSJM News the DNR specifically wants to know about fish kills.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Helping Students Pursue Financial Aid

Coming up this month will be some events at Lake Michigan College to help students who are looking to navigate the financial aid system. LMC Financial Aid Director Kemmoree Duncomb tells WSJM News Help Night events will be held at the campuses in Benton Harbor, Niles, and South Haven on Thursday, February 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. The LMC financial aid staff will be on hand to help students fill out applications. Duncomb tells us many students have questions about aid.. ...Read Full Story

Program Will Allow For Home Repair Loans

The city of Benton Harbor will be working with the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency to administer a home rehabilitation program. That’s following action this past week by the Benton Harbor City Commission. The home rehab program uses HUD money, and it’s been non-functional in Benton Harbor since 2011. City Commissioners previously tabled working with the community action agency on it, but the organization satisfied most with a recent committee presentation. Mayor Marcus Muhammad said at Monday’s meeting the task of helping residents fix housing problems can’t be further delayed, adding the city’s community development director will oversee the program.. ...Read Full Story

School Official Hopes For Pool Repairs

The pool belonging to Benton Harbor Area Schools may be cheaper to reopen that previously thought. That’s the message from Trustee Steven Mitchell, who said at this past week’s school board work session he has sought a second opinion on the cost of fixing up the pool at the Charles Gray Community Center. The board was previously told it could cost up to $300,000. Mitchell said he’s been told it could cost less than $50,000.. ...Read Full Story

Political Newcomer Taking A Shot At SWM House District

Another Democrat has jumped into a southwest Michigan political race. Now running for Michigan House in Van Buren County’s 66th District is Dan Seibert, an IT engineer with Perrigo in Allegan. Seibert lives in Paw Paw, and tells WSJM News he wanted to run because he thinks there’s not enough transparency and accountability in state government.. ...Read Full Story

Plan Could Expand Bottle Deposit Law

A bill being proposed in Lansing would expand upon the law established in 1976 to pay a reimbursable ten cent deposit on pop and beer cans and bottles. Under the proposal from Kalamazoo Representative Jon Hoadley, the law would be expanded to non-carbonated beverages, such as water and juice bottles that often do not get recycled.. ...Read Full Story

New Director For Grief Services Organization

Lory’s Place has a new director. With the recent retirement of Lisa Bartoszek comes the naming of Stephanie Kohler as the new director of Lory’s Place. The organization provides grief counseling for families with loved ones who have been treated at Lakeland. Kohler has served as a family services coordinator at Lory’s Place beginning in 2005 before transitioning to family services coordinator leader in 2016. Kohler says Lory’s Place has “walked alongside thousands of children, teens, and adults since the doors opened in November of 2004,” adding she, too, has gotten help from the organization.. ...Read Full Story

Progress Continues On South Haven Park

Phase two in the construction of a new park in the South Haven area is now underway. The South Haven Recreation Authority tells us work at the Pilgrim Haven Natural Area throughout this year will include a fence installed along the northern property line, as well as a control gate for the site’s parking area. Once that work is done, the park can be opened to the public. The Pilgrim Haven Natural Area is just north of the Van Buren State Park, and is 27 acres of woods, dune grass prairies, and shoreline along Lake Michigan. It’s to be maintained through a partnership of the recreation authority, South Haven Township, the city of South Haven, and South Haven Public Schools. The current phase should be done this year, allowing for the park to be opened to the public. After that, they’ll start phase three, which is set to include new walkways, pit toilets, benches, and a place to pull out and secure kayaks and canoes.. ...Read Full Story

MSU Turns Over Materials To Attorney General

From the Associated Press — Michigan State University says it is turning over 45,000 pages of material to a special independent counsel investigating if the school mishandled sexual assault allegations against former doctor Larry Nassar. Pat Fitzgerald, a former Chicago federal prosecutor hired by the university, sent a letter to investigators Friday – the deadline imposed by the state attorney general’s office.
He says the school this week produced about 25,000 pages constituting Dr. William Strampel’s electronic calendar entries. The university on Friday announced its plan to revoke the tenure of Strampel. The former dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine told police he never followed up after ordering Nassar to have a third person present during certain treatments. The university says it is producing  approximately 20,000 additional pages of material Friday and will submit more on a rolling basis. Michigan State also faces inquiries from the Legislature, Congress and the NCAA.. ...Read Full Story

City Manager Continues Indefinitely

Darwin Watson remains the city manager of Benton Harbor. However, at a meeting Wednesday, city commissioners voted down a resolution to renew his contract for one year. At the meeting called by Commissioners Juanita Henry and Mary Alice Adams, Mayor Marcus Muhammad said he thinks Watson has done a good job.. ...Read Full Story

Environmentalists Blast DEQ Plan

Some state lawmakers want to shift control of environmental rules from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to state-appointed boards, a move environmentalists say would put the fox in charge of the henhouse. Senate Bill 652 would create an 11 member committee, mostly from industry groups like manufacturing, small business, oil and gas, and agriculture, to oversee all DEQ rule-making. And SB 653 would form another board with the ability to modify or reverse DEQ decisions. Peggy Case with Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation tells us there’s a very good reason those industries are regulated by the state.. ...Read Full Story

Senator Saluted By Police Group

State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker has been named the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police Legislator of the Year. The Lawton Republican tells WSJM News she was selected for the honor due to her work on several fronts, including the fight against opioids. She pointed to recent legislation requiring prescriptions for opioids to be checked against medical records in the state.. ...Read Full Story

Program For At-Risk Youth Gets $250,000 Grant

A program that works with at-risk young people in southwest Michigan has received a $250,000 grant to expand its operations. Youth Solutions, Incorporated is part of Kinexus and an extension of the Jobs for America’s Graduates program. Director Kristin Harrington tells WSJM News Youth Solutions pairs at-risk kids with mentors, working in Benton Harbor, Hartford, and Dowagiac schools to make sure those kids graduate.. ...Read Full Story

It’s Warm Your Heart Month In South Haven

It’s Warm Your Heart Month in South Haven with the 18th annual Island Sit at the Phoenix Street Welcome Island set for February 24. We Care’s church partners, community organizations, and area businesses are joining forces to raise funds for people in need of heating bill help, food, medical supplies and more. Rosalie Plechaty of We Care told WSJM News about some ways you can help raise funds.. ...Read Full Story

Kinexus Helping Job Seekers In Niles

Niles-area job seekers looking for a little extra help in their search for new employment can now stop by the Niles District Library every other Wednesday for sessions with Kinexus. The organization’s Sonya Blanzy tells WSJM News Kinexus sends experts down to the Niles library between 1 and 4 p.m. She says a major thing many job seekers need is help improving their resumes.. ...Read Full Story

Stevensville Master Plan Available For Review

The new master plan for the village of Stevensville is now online and available for all residents to review. Southwest Michigan Planning Commission Associate Planner Ryan Fellows helped work on the document and tells WSJM News the master plan is designed to guide development within the village for several years to come. The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission sent out more than 800 survey postcards to Stevensville residents to ask what they wanted to see in the plan.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Preparing For New Income Tax

The city of Benton Harbor is headed toward the implementation of its new income tax. At a meeting this week, commissioners approved the purchase of computer software to administer the tax at a cost of $65,000. They also approved hiring Secant Technologies to do a security assessment for the city so it can protect the personal information of the people who pay that tax. The cost of the contract is $14,000. City Manager Darwin Watson said there has to be very tight security for handling an income tax.. ...Read Full Story