Local News Archives

Supreme Court Declines To Hear Challenge To Emergency Manager Law

From the Associated Press — The Supreme Court won’t take up a challenge to a Michigan law that allows the state to temporarily take away local officials’ authority during financial crises and appoint an emergency manager. The Supreme Court declined Monday to hear the case. Voters and elected officials were challenging a state law that says that to rescue financially stressed cities and school districts the state can reassign the governing powers of local officials to a state-appointed emergency manager. An emergency manager was in place during the water crisis in Flint. Those bringing the lawsuit said emergency managers have been appointed in a high number of areas with large African-American populations but not in similar areas with majority white populations. Lower courts said lawsuit was brought under a federal law that didn’t apply.. ...Read Full Story

Upton: Las Vegas Attack “Almost Defies Words”

Congressman Fred Upton says he joins the rest of the nation when he sends his deepest condolences to those affected by Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas. In a statement issued Monday, Upton writes he and his wife woke up to the news on Monday, seeing “stunning images of victims being mowed down.” He says it “almost defies words.” Upton also thanked all of the first responders who helped at the scene. At least 58 people were killed and more than 500 were injured in the massacre. It’s the nation’s deadliest mass shooting.. ...Read Full Story

Supreme Court Rejects MI Sex Offender Registry Case

From the Associated Press — The Supreme Court has upheld a lower court’s ruling that said significant changes to Michigan’s sex offender registry law could not be applied retroactively. Michigan asked the high court to take up the issue after a 2016 federal appeals court ruling, but the Supreme Court declined in an order Monday. The appeals court said that retroactively applying the changes to people already on
the list would unconstitutionally increase punishments after offenders’ convictions. Michigan said it changed its law in response to a 2006 federal law that sets minimum standards for registries. States that fail to follow those minimum standards can lose federal law-enforcement funds. Michigan argued that the case was important to all states trying to comply with federal law.. ...Read Full Story

Fernwood Breaks Ground On New Education Center

Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve near Buchanan has broken ground on a new education center. Dignitaries gathered Thursday to celebrate the beginning of a $2 million, 5,500 square foot facility set to be the location of classes, workshops, interactive exhibits, research materials, and a gathering space. Fernwood Director Carol Line.. ...Read Full Story

Trump Administration Pushes For STEM Education In Michigan

The Trump administration’s plans to get more students in STEM education classes is getting the backing of the likes of Amazon, Google, General Motors, and Lockheed Martin. Executives from all four of those companies along with Facebook and Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert joined presidential adviser and first daughter Ivanka Trump in Detroit this past week as she talked about the STEM push.. ...Read Full Story

County Road Association Releases Fall Color Tour Recommendations

The fall is just about here, and the County Road Association of Michigan is telling everyone about the best places and times to see all of the vivid colors of the season. Spokesperson Christina Strong tells WSJM News, soon enough, the weather will cool down and the show will begin. The road association expects the color show to start October 1 in the Upper Peninsula.. ...Read Full Story

Report: State Budget Fails To Serve Minorities

The new state budget takes effect today, and the Michigan League for Public Policy tells us it fails to adequately serve minorities. Policy analyst Pat Sorenson tells WSJM News the budget does allow for better access to child care and food stamps, but it fails to improve the education available to many low-income children.. ...Read Full Story

FBI Report Looks At Violent Crime In Detroit, Other Major Cities

New FBI data show violent crime in America rose for the second year in a row in 2016. The numbers suggest the increase was driven by a spike in killings in some major cities. Detroit landed on the top of the list as the most crime-ridden major city, something Police Chief James Craig is pushing back against. He told Michigan News Network the numbers for the Motor City are based on out-of-date software. Craig admits while overall violent crime has been trending lower in Detroit over the past several years, more needs to be done.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County To Hold Empty The Shelter Event

The Cass County Animal Control Shelter is teaming up with the Bissell Pet Foundation for an Empty the Shelters event next month. Empty the Shelter events are days on which the Grand Rapids-based Bissell Pet Foundation pays the adoption fees for animals picked up at shelters across the state. Cass County’s shelter will take part in an Empty the Shelters day on Saturday, October 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Anyone looking to bring a new dog or cat into their home is welcome to stop by the shelter in Cassopolis. In addition to paying the adoption fees, Bissell will give new dog owners free leashes. Anyone looking for more information can contact Cass County Animal Control at 269-445-3701.. ...Read Full Story

Four Winds Jobs Fair This Week

The Four Winds Casino is holding a job fair this coming week in South Bend. It’s the final job fair to help with the hiring of about 1,200 new employees for the Four Winds South Bend property. At the job fair next Tuesday, Four Winds staff will be on hand to talk about the available positions. They include hospitality positions in food and beverage for the new property’s five restaurants and three bars. The job fair will be at Century Center at 120 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in downtown South Bend on Tuesday, October 3 from 2 to 7 p.m. Everyone’s welcome.. ...Read Full Story

Small Business Group Pushes For Ban On Local Soda Taxes

Legislation has been introduced in Lansing to ban local soda taxes. One fan of the idea is the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents small businesses around the country. Michigan Director Charlie Owens tells WSJM News several cities around the country have soda taxes. The NFIB doesn’t think it should happen in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Andrews University Students Heading To Puerto Rico

Two Andrews University professors and 16 graduate architecture students are leaving for Puerto Rico this Sunday to help with hurricane recovery efforts. Andrews tells us Victor Perez Andino, an architecture student, is from Puerto Rico and helped the school to connect with a project there. The students had been planning to go to Puerto Rico this month to assist with the design of new housing and public spaces in a flood-prone, impoverished settlement in central San Juan. They were delayed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and now, their mission has changed substantially. The team has received some training in disaster relief, with many now being certified in First Aid/CPR/AED. They’re bringing along thousands of dollars worth of items in short supply right now in Puerto Rico. Andrews says anyone willing to donate towards aid for affected families in the area where the students are headed can send checks to the School of Architecture & Interior Design, 8435 East Campus Circle Drive, Berrien Springs, MI 49104. All proceeds will go directly to aid. The students leaving for Puerto Rico this Sunday will return on October 5.. ...Read Full Story

Grand Valley State University Producing Honey

Grand Valley State University students and faculty members are taking part in a program to gather honey produced by honey bees on campus. The team has bottled more than 360 pounds of honey and is selling it for $8 a bottle at their Allendale and Holland campuses. GVSU senior Megan Damico leads the program and spoke with Michigan News Network about it.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Praises New BH-SJ Pedestrian Bridge

A decision this week from the Michigan Strategic Fund Board to award a $1.2 million grant to Cornerstone Alliance for the construction of a pedestrian bridge over the Paw Paw River between Benton Harbor and St. Joseph is being praised by state Representative Kim LaSata. She spoke in favor of the project at the board’s meeting this week.. ...Read Full Story

Motorcycle Accident Kills Bangor Man

A Bangor man is dead following witness accounts that he lost control of his motorcycle at high speed and last night at about 7:30, and was tossed onto the pavement.   State Police say that 37-year-old Corey Danielle Hale was not wearing a helmet as the motorcycle raced along 26th Avenue in Covert Township, went out of control and hale was thrown from the bike. He was pronounced dead at the scene.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph City Leaders Looking At The Future Of Local Parks

St. Joseph city leaders are looking at the future of three local parks. At meeting this week, city commissioners heard from Robert Ford, a consultant who’s been brought on to draft a master plan for Dickinson, Whirlpool Centennial, and Riverview Parks. He told us Dickinson could be looking at restrooms, a pavilion, a playground, and some sidewalks. There’s a question about fences not yet resolved. As for Riverview, he said an obvious improvement would be new traffic patterns.. ...Read Full Story

Heritage Museum To Welcome Medal Of Honor Recipient

The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in St. Joseph will host a special presentation by Medal of Honor winner James McCloughan next month. McCloughan received his Medal of Honor this July for heroics in the Vietnam War. His program at the Heritage Museum will be called “The Role of the Combat Medic.” The engagement will be on Thursday, October 12 at 6:30 p.m. It will be free to attend, but those who go are asked to make a small donation to the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center. You can find out more at TheHeritageMcc.org.. ...Read Full Story

Sierra Club Slams Palisades Decision

The Sierra Club of Southwest Michigan is blasting the decision announced Thursday to keep the Palisades nuclear power plant in Van Buren County open through 2022. The club’s Bruce Brown has issued a statement saying the decision by Palisades owner Entergy to continue operating the plant when it has expressed a desire to get out of the nuclear business makes no sense. Brown writes, “The high cost of nuclear-powered electricity makes Entergy’s decision confounding. ” He goes on to state, “The Sierra Club remains unequivocally opposed to nuclear energy. All nuclear plants are dangerous.” Another non-fan of the decision to keep Palisades open is Kevin Kamps, with Beyond Nuclear. He warns the entire region is in danger as long as the aging Palisades reactor is in operation.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Hoping For End To Driver Responsibility Fees

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson is praising legislation in the Michigan House that would eliminate the state’s Driver Responsibility Fees. They were created in 2003 as extra penalties on drivers who were caught with no proof of insurance or multiple speeding tickets. Secretary of State spokesperson Fred Woodhams tells us the fees quickly escalate, leading to low-income drivers losing their licenses and being unable to get them back.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Veteran To Receive Replacement Medals Saturday

A Niles veteran will receive replacements for his lost service medals this weekend. 94-year-old Chester Dash lost his World War II medals in a fire several years ago. Congressman Fred Upton will pay Dash a visit on Saturday to hand over the new ones. The replacement medals Dash is to receive include the Bronze Star Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the Meritorious Unit Commendation, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 3 bronze service stars, WWII Victory Medal, Combat Infantryman Bridge 1st Award, and the Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII. Upton will salute Dash at noon in Niles.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven To Showcase High School Renovations Saturday

South Haven Pubic Schools is inviting everyone to come out this Saturday to get a first look at a recently-completed $36 million renovation project. The Community Thank You event will be at L.C. Mohr High School. State of the art classrooms and equipment technology, along with enhanced security are featured. South Haven High School recently added 11 new advanced course options for students, some of which are game designing and coding, robotics engineering, and script writing for TV. There will be an official ribbon cutting at 5 p.m. and tours will follow. Amy Nichols, Communication Coordinator for South Haven Public Schools, is excited.. ...Read Full Story

Lincoln School Named A National Blue Ribbon School

Lincoln School in St. Joseph is one of just 342 schools nationwide to be recognized this week by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy Devos as a National Blue Ribbon School. Those are schools which the U.S. Education Department says have above average overall academic performance or make progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Other Michigan schools to make the list include Countryside Elementary in Byron Center, Dix Street Elementary in Otsego, and Pinewood Elementary in Jenison. St. Joseph Public Schools Superintendent Ann Cardon says, “We are over the top proud of Lincoln School. This honor is such a testament to Mike Wagner’s leadership and to the dedicated, hard-working staff at Lincoln.” You can find out more about the nation’s Blue Ribbon Schools right here.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Bans Marijuana Billboards

Legislation is making its way through both the Michigan House and the Senate that would restrict marijuana advertisements on billboards. The House bill is sponsored by East Lansing Democrat Andy Schor. Grand Ledge Republican Rick Jones authored the Senate bill. He spoke with WKZO News about it.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Promoting Rail Safety

Everyone’s being reminded to be cautious around railroad crossings as part of U.S. Rail Safety Week this week. Michigan Operation Lifesaver Coordinator Sam Crowl tells WSJM News too many drivers and pedestrians seem to forget what to do when they’re near railroad tracks.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan State Police Director Faces Investigation After NFL Protest Post

The Michigan State Police says an internal investigation will determine whether the agency’s director will be disciplined for sharing a Facebook meme that called some NFL players “anti-American degenerates.” Spokeswoman Shanon Banner said in an email Friday that Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue will be treated the same as any other state police employee accused of misconduct. Banner says if Etue is found to have violated agency policy, she could receive a written reprimand or a five-day suspension.. ...Read Full Story

Ex Attorney In Race For MI Attorney General

From the Associated Press — Pat Miles, a former U.S. attorney in western Michigan, is running for state attorney general in 2018.
Miles is announcing his candidacy Thursday in Grand Rapids, Lansing and Detroit. He’s the second Democrat to enter the race, joining Detroit-area lawyer Dana Nessel. Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette can’t seek for the office again and is running for governor.The 49-year-old Miles became the first black U.S. attorney for the Western District of Michigan when President Barack Obama appointed him in 2012. Miles resigned in January when Donald Trump took office. The Harvard Law graduate spent 21 years at Grand Rapids law firms before becoming a federal prosecutor. He ran for Congress in 2010 but lost to Republican Justin Amash. Democrats will choose their attorney general nominees at conventions next summer.. ...Read Full Story

Fernwood Breaks Ground On New Education Center

Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve near Buchanan has broken ground on a new education center. Dignitaries gathered Thursday to celebrate the beginning of a $2 million, 5,500 square foot facility set to be the location of classes, workshops, interactive exhibits, research materials, and a gathering space. The project is three years in the making, and it’s been made possible thanks to the Seed the Future capital campaign, which has so far raised $3 million. The rest of the money will be used for improvements to the garden and the welcome center, and also to boost Fernwood’s endowment. The new education center’s two wings — Flora and Fauna — will bring Fernwood’s classroom capacity from 72 to 400. Fernwood will remain open during construction, and the project is expected to be finished next fall.. ...Read Full Story

New Mosaic Cafe Open At Lake Michigan College

Lake Michigan College now has a new location for students and the public to grab a sandwich. The Mosaic on Campus Cafe opened Tuesday. LMC President Trevor Kubatzke tells WSJM News it’s the first time an entity like Mosaic CCDA has opened a location on campus. He’s pleased to see a convergence of the missions of Mosaic and LMC.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Union High School Placed On Lockdown Thursday

Police say a tense situation at Dowagiac Union High School on Thursday has turned out to be nothing. The Dowagaic Police Department tells us the school was placed on lockdown around 11 a.m. when it got a report of a student at the school with a gun. The 15-year-old was found, and police searched him, finding no weapon. A search of other areas, including the student’s vehicle, also found no weapons. No threats involving the supposed gun were ever made, and no one was hurt. The student was turned over to his mother, and his name isn’t being released. Police say they don’t know if any charges will be pursued in the incident. Police also note an ambulance was dispatched to the school around the same time, but it was for an unrelated matter.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Moves To Dissolve Road Commission

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has voted to take over the county road commission. The vote Thursday morning was split 6 to 5 with Chair Jon Hinkelman voting no. He tells WSJM News the issue is the time frame for the appointment of a permanent director of the new Berrien County Road Department. Hinkelman felt giving Berrien County Adminsitrator Bill Wolf just three months to find a director was pushing it. Still, he thinks Wolf will make everything work.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Votes To Lift Rule On Proximity Of Liquor Stores

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Liquor Control Commission has voted to lift a longstanding rule prohibiting liquor stores from operating within a half-mile of each other. The Detroit News reports approval Tuesday from the three-member panel allows the rulemaking process to proceed. The proposal prompted public safety and business concerns. Michigan legislators could intervene, however, before the
rule is officially revoked. Some liquor store owners say that they built or bought their businesses with the expectation that other stores couldn’t open within a half-mile. They also say that because Michigan sets minimum liquor prices their ability to compete already is limited. Commission Chairman Andrew Deloney says he doesn’t think state government should provide liquor stores with “protection” from competition. The state says Michigan retail liquor sales topped $1 billion in 2016.. ...Read Full Story

Palisades To Stay Open Until 2022

The Palisades nuclear power plant will not shut down in 2018. Parent company Entergy and Consumers Energy say they have decided to keep operating under their current power purchase agreement until 2022. Palisades officials say the decision comes after the Michigan Public Service Commission last week granted Consumers recovery of only $136.2 million of the $172 million it requested to buy out the purchase agreement. The announcement reverses the decision from December to close Palisades on October 1, 2018. Entergy says, however, it is committed to getting out of the nuclear power business and expects to close the plant in five years time.. ...Read Full Story

Flushing Out Cancer This Friday In St. Joseph

Coming up this Friday, local dignitaries you know and love will be flushing away cancer at City Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning in downtown St. Joseph. The business has teamed up with 98.3 the Coast for the third annual Flushing Out Cancer event. It raises money for Susan G. Komen Michigan, says City Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning’s Mike Ross. He told WSJM News this is the third year for the event.. ...Read Full Story

Proposed Pedestrian Bridge Earns State Grant

The proposed pedestrian bridge between St. Joseph and Benton Harbor is getting some help from the state. The Michigan Strategic Fund Board this week approved a $1.2 million performance-based grant to be used in conjunction with a $35 million Whirlpool project to build a state-of-the-art lab and office facility and make renovations at its Project Tech location. The St. Joseph City Commission has green-lighted the bridge over the Paw Paw River, but the Benton Harbor City Commission slammed the brakes on it last week, wanting more answers and questioning why Harbor Shores reps didn’t make the presentation about it to them. Instead, it was Cornerstone Alliance’s Greg Vaughn who spoke at their most recent meeting. The state grant was announced by Representative Kim LaSata.. ...Read Full Story

House Approves Lesser Penalty For Expired Concealed Gun License

From the Associated Press — The Republican-led Michigan House has voted to lessen the penalty for having an expired concealed pistol license. The bill approved Wednesday would create a six-month grace period after a permit expires in which people who fail to renew would face a $330 fine if they are found carrying a concealed pistol. The current punishment is up to a five-year felony. The House on Wednesday also passed legislation designed to ensure that local governments do not pass their own gun regulations. A 1990 state law pre-empts
municipalities from such ordinances, but Republicans are concerned that some cities have passed them anyway. The bill would require municipalities to bring their rules into compliance with state law or face legal action. Both bills will be considered by the Republican-led Senate next.. ...Read Full Story

Old Lakeshore Bluff Work Starts

Work has started to strengthen part of the bluff along Old Lakeshore Road in St. Joseph. CSX Railroad is installing huge rocks at the bottom of the bluff near the 2,400 block where there has been a partial collapse. The city of St. Joseph reached out to the railroad earlier this year when some nearby residents noticed the bluff caving in. That’s a concern because CSX Railroad tracks are located nearby. It took a while, but CSX finally started to take action in the past few months. The last hurdle was getting permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. A crane could be seen in the area dropping large rocks to fill in part of the gap this week.. ...Read Full Story

Business Group Backing Ban On MI Soda Taxes

Legislation has been introduced in Lansing to ban local soda taxes. One fan of the idea is the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents small businesses around the country. Michigan Director Charlie Owens tells WSJM News several cities around the country have soda taxes. The NFIB doesn’t think it should happen in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Area State Rep Talks Auto Insurance Reform

You can count state Representative Mary Whiteford as among the supporters of an auto insurance reform package introduced this week in the Michigan House. She tells us this new plan to eliminate the requirement for unlimited catastrophic coverage would help Michiganders struggling with bills that are too high. Whiteford says that medical coverage is unsustainable.. ...Read Full Story

Former SMC Professor Charged With Criminal Sexual Conduct

A former professor for Southwestern Michigan College is facing several charges of criminal sexual conduct. The Cass County Prosecutor’s office tells us George Field was arraigned on Wednesday. He’s facing charges of criminal sexual conduct in the first, second, and fourth degrees, along with practicing psychology without a license. The prosecutor says the matter came to light after Southwestern Michigan College was told about an incident at the Family Center in Dowagiac and encouraged the victim to contact police. In addition to practicing at the Family Center, Field was an SMC professor at the time of the incident. Bond for Field has been set at $200,000, and his next court date is October 5. If convicted of the most serious charge, he could get up to life in prison.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Director Apologizes For NFL Protest Post

From the Associated Press — The director of the Michigan State Police has apologized for sharing a post on her Facebook page that called NFL players protesting during the national anthem “degenerates.” The message shared Sunday by Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue calls the
players “millionaire ingrates who hate America and disrespect our armed forces and veterans.” The posting signed “we the people” also calls the protesters “rich, entitled, ungrateful.” The post prompted calls from activists and others for her firing.A statement from Etue late Tuesday said it was a mistake to share the post and she’ll “continue my focus on unity.” The taking of a knee during the national anthem was started last year by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to draw attention to social inequality and police treatment of blacks.. ...Read Full Story