Local News Archives

WMU Looking For New Football Coach

Western Michigan University is looking for a new football coach. PJ Fleck is leaving to take the head coach job at the University of Minnesota, and WMU Athletics Director Kathy Beauregard says she’s confident they can get a top notch leader, despite recruits signing letters of intent soon.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Named Chair Of House Subcommittee On Energy

Congressman Fred Upton has received his latest committee assignment. He’s going to serve as the chair of the House Subcommittee on Energy. The subcommittee, which is under the umbrella of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, works to shape the nation’s energy policy. Upton tells us Michigan has been a leader in promoting 21st century policies when it comes to energy, and he wants to do the same on the federal level. Upton has been replaced as the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee by Congressman Greg Walden, of Oregon. Walden just gave Upton his new assignment Friday, while praising Upton for the work he did as Energy and Commerce Chair.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Declares Emergency In Southeast Michigan Due To Giant Sinkhole

Michigan’s governor has declared a state of emergency for a county north of Detroit following the collapse of a massive sewage line that – so far – has caused a football field-sized sinkhole. The disaster declaration was made Friday by Governor Rick Snyder and makes state resources available to Macomb County and communities affected by the sewer collapse. It follows a similar determination by Macomb County’s executive. The sewer collapse was discovered Christmas Eve after a family in Fraser awoke to find their home sinking. That house and two others have been condemned. Families in 19 other homes were
evacuated after water and gas services were cut. Snyder’s office says there is a threat of widespread and severe damage to 11
communities, a military base and more than 200,000 homes.. ...Read Full Story

Biden To Visit Michigan Next Week

Vice President Joe Biden is expected to stop in Michigan and Illinois next week, part of a three-state tour in his final days in office. The White House announced Friday that Biden will deliver remarks Tuesday in Detroit at an event for Motor City Match. It’s a grant program to help entrepreneurs. Biden will also travel Tuesday to Chicago, where President Barack Obama is
expected to deliver his farewell address. Obama is planning to give the evening speech at McCormick Place, a convention center in his hometown. Earlier in the week, Biden is expected to travel to California with stops in Los Angeles and San Francisco.. ...Read Full Story

Stabenow Opposes Betsy DeVos For Education Department Secretary

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow says she will vote against Betsy DeVos as the next head of the U.S. Education Department. The Michigan Democrat says she talked to DeVos. Stabenow says DeVos’ support for charter schools has “seriously undermined public education” in the state. DeVos, the former head of the Michigan Republican Party, is in favor of giving parents more education options. Her husband, Dick DeVos, started a charter high school in the Grand Rapids area that focuses on aviation and engineering. He also ran unsuccessfully for governor of Michigan against Jennifer Granholm in 2006.. ...Read Full Story

MI Congressman To Trump: Renegotiate NAFTA

Flint area Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee doesn’t oppose everything President-elect Donald Trump has suggested. For example, he’s all for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. Kildee tells us Canada and Mexico should agree to tougher environmental standards. Trump promised to renegotiate NAFTA when he stumped in Michigan, but Kildee says we need real action.. ...Read Full Story

Shadowland On Silver Beach Recognized As Top Wedding Venue

Shadowland on Silver Beach has been recognized as one of the best venues for a wedding in Michigan by TheKnot.com. The Knot, which is a wedding site, added Shadowland to its “Best of Weddings” list, which recommends vendors soon-to-be-married couples should hire for their big day. It’s the only venue in southwest Michigan to show up there. Shadowland tells us The Knot looked at nearly a million reviews as it compiled the Best of Weddings list. This is the fifth year Shadowland has been on it.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Signs Bill Allowing Some Higher Speed Limits

Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation to let Michigan motorists drive faster on at least 1,500 miles of rural highways as long as safety studies say the higher speed limits are OK. The bill enacted Thursday authorizes a 75 mph speed limit on 600 miles of freeways and a 65 mph limit on 900 miles of other roads. The limits will be raised within a year if a study shows it is safe and the new limits are no more than what 15 percent of traffic is exceeding. Proponents say speed limits are too low in rural areas.. ...Read Full Story

Unemployment Insurance System Incorrectly Accuses 20,000 People Of Fraud

The director of Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency has been reassigned after at least 20,000 people were wrongly accused of fraud by the agency’s automated system. Talent Investment Agency Director Wanda Stokes said Thursday that UIA Director Sharon Moffett-Massey will now work on special projects. Bruce Noll, TIA’s legislative liaison, will serve as acting assistant director of the unemployment agency during a search for a new director to replace Moffett-Massey. A state review of unemployment fraud cases found an error rate of 93 percent in auto-adjudicated cases between October 2013 and early August 2015, according to U.S. Congressman Sander Levin. Of some 22,000 cases reviewed, fraud determinations were upheld in just 1,462 cases. Stokes says staff now are reviewing potential fraud cases and not solely relying on the software.. ...Read Full Story

Official: Great Lakes Region’s Waters Deserve More Respect

The director of Michigan’s Office of the Great Lakes says the region should be known nationally for vast water resources instead of faded industrial glory. Jon Allan says he was disappointed during the recent election campaign to hear Michigan and other Great Lakes states described repeatedly as the “rust belt.” He says they’ve worked hard to restore their lakes, rivers and streams, and should develop a reputation for durable and healthy waterways. Allan delivered his message in Michigan’s annual “State of the Great Lakes” report. It outlines progress made in the past year and challenges that remain. Governor Snyder says in the report his administration will emphasize safe drinking water, harbor investments, preventing and controlling invasive species, reducing phosphorus runoff and developing water trails.. ...Read Full Story

Patrick Miles To Resign As US Attorney For Western Michigan

The U.S. attorney assigned to Michigan’s Western District plans to step down from his post later this month. Patrick Miles Jr. has announced his resignation at the end of President Obama’s administration. It will be effective at noon on January 20. The 49-year-old Miles spent 21 years in private law practice as a business attorney in Grand Rapids. He has been U.S. attorney for western Michigan since 2012. The office covers 49 counties, including Michigan’s entire Upper Peninsula. During his tenure, the office obtained 31 federal racketeering, firearm, drug distribution and other convictions against members of the Holland Latin Kings gang.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Defends Penalties For Live Streaming House Protests

Republicans in the U.S. House this week failed to gut an ethics panel, but they did pass new rules to retaliate against Democrats for live streaming a gun control protest last year when the House was not in session and the CSPAN cameras were off. New penalties have been introduced to fine House members for live streaming such protests. Critics say the GOP retaliation against Democrats is a violation of free speech, but St. Joseph Republican Congressman Fred Upton says there’s a right way and a wrong way to hold a protest.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata, Griffin Open Lansing Offices

Kim LaSata and Beth Griffin are getting situated in Lansing. The two were elected in November to represent parts of southwest Michigan in the state House, and their offices are now up and running. LaSata represents the 79th District in Berrien County, while Griffin represents Van Buren County’s 66th District. Griffin says she plans to “take a common-sense approach to a more effective and efficient government,” while LaSata tells us she’s eager to get to work. They’ve been holding meetings in Lansing, and both say they’ll soon schedule local office hours to meet with folks. You can reach LaSata’s office at (517) 373-1403, while Griffin’s office can be reached at (517) 373-0839.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Ranked Second Most Miserable State During Winter

Michigan is the second most miserable state during the winter, according to a list released by Thrillist. The popular rankings website says only Minnesota is more miserable this time of year. In the article published this week, the length of Michigan’s winters is noted, while recreation opportunities here are dismissed. Thrillist writes, “You actually look forward to a proper snowfall, just to cover the dirt.” Rounding out the five most miserable states for winter are Alaska, North Dakota, and Maine. The best place to be in winter? Hawaii. You can find the full article here.. ...Read Full Story

Program Aims To Monitor E-Coli At Berrien County Beaches

A program to test Berrien County waterways for E-coli contamination is utilizing dogs to help do the initial detecting. The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission’s Marcy Hamilton tells WSJM News the dogs can detect human waste in the water, and from there, the researchers take samples. Getting them helps pinpoint where runoff and leaks are causing the E-coli contamination.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Signs Bills Protecting Cities From Sidewalk Lawsuits

Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation to further shield municipalities from lawsuits filed by people who trip and fall on sidewalks. The law enacted Wednesday lets cities defend themselves by saying sidewalk defects are “open and obvious.”
Supporters say Detroit pays millions annually in sidewalk-injury settlements and should have a defense that is available to businesses. The Michigan Association of Justice, a group of plaintiff’s attorneys, had called for a veto, saying the bill effectively make cities entirely immune and removes incentives to maintain sidewalks. Under existing law, cities aren’t liable unless someone proves the city knew or should have known about the defect at least 30 days before the injury and the unevenness in the walkway is at least 2 inches.. ...Read Full Story

Abigail Kopf Suffers More Setbacks

The family of a teenage girl who survived a shooting rampage in Kalamazoo last year says she has suffered some recent setbacks in her recovery. Police say 14-year-old Abigail Kopf was shot in the head by Jason Dalton, an Uber driver who killed six people during his rampage on February 20 of 2016. On her recovery Facebook page, Abbie’s family writes she “is not doing very well.” She has low blood pressure, and is experiencing memory issues and difficulty with speech. Abbie has received an outpouring of support from all over the country since she survived the attack. She’s still waiting to go into a second surgery to replace part of her skull. You can find a GoFundMe page supporting Abbie’s medical journey right here.. ...Read Full Story

Near Record Auto Sales Reported For 2016

Demand may be slowing, but U.S. consumers still bought a whole lot of cars and trucks in 2016. U.S. sales of new vehicles could hit a new high in 2016. Consulting firm LMC Automotive and car-buying site Edmunds.com both predict sales will squeak past the record set last year and reach 17.5 million in 2016. General Motors Co. said its full-year sales were down 1.3 percent to just over 3 million cars and trucks. That was partly because the company cut back on low-profit sales to rental-car firms. Other automakers report December and full-year sales later Wednesday. LMC expects sales to be up 1.4 percent in December compared with a year ago, with total sales of just over 1.6 million vehicles. GM’s sales were up 10  percent for the month.. ...Read Full Story

Teen Killed When Tree Falls On Truck

A 16-year-old from Lansing is dead after a falling tree hit the pick-up he was riding in Wednesday morning in Cass County. The sheriff’s department says the pick-up was northbound on M-40 in Newberg Township around 6:30 a.m. when the tree fell on to the truck’s cab. The truck then left the road and hit some trees. The driver of the truck, 52-year-old Michael Rinehart, of Lansing, was taken to a hospital to be treated for his injuries, while the passenger, 16-year-old Nicholas Hewitt, was pronounced dead at the scene. Both were wearing seat belts, and the crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Police: Missing Man Drowned

The death of a man whose body was found at a Lincoln Township beach on Sunday has been ruled a drowning. 38-year-old Dilbag Singh was reported missing to the St. Joseph Department of Public Safety on Friday. The next day, his SUV was found crashed off the bluff along Lakeshore Drive. Then, Singh’s body was found Sunday afternoon at Glenlord Beach near Stevensville. St. Joseph Public Safety says a coroner has determined Singh drowned. They say it could take several weeks for toxicology results to come in.. ...Read Full Story

10-Year-Old Killed In MI Skiing Accident

A 10-year-old Illinois girl injured in a New Year’s Day skiing accident in northern Michigan has died. Officials at Crystal Mountain, a ski resort in Michigan’s Benzie County, released a statement on Tuesday saying the accident was Sunday around 2 p.m. during a group ski lesson on an intermediate trail. Officials say the girl was skiing ahead of the class when it appears she lost control and struck a tree. She was wearing a helmet. The girl was transported to a Grand Rapids hospital where she died from her injuries on Monday. Her name has not been released. The girl was visiting from Illinois with her family.. ...Read Full Story

BH Commissioners Talk Economic Development With Cornerstone Alliance

Cornerstone Alliance is planning a busy 2017. CEO Rob Cleveland addressed Benton Harbor City Commissioners Tuesday, telling them the organization helped bring $50 million in investment to Berrien County in the last three years. Commissioners wanted to know what’s coming for Benton Harbor. Cleveland said plenty, noting all of the industrial property in the area. He told WSJM News  later, work just started Tuesday on the next batch of projects.. ...Read Full Story

Kalamazoo Woman Sentenced In Death Of Infant Daughter

A Kalamazoo woman has been sentenced in the 2014 death of her infant daughter. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports that 23-year-old Tekia Wright was sentenced Monday. Kalamazoo County Circuit Court Judge Pamela Lightvoet sentenced Wright
to 28 months to 15 years in the Michigan Department of Corrections. Her 11-month daughter, Gabrielle, died on June 13, 2014. Prosecutors allege Wright left her daughter alone for hours that night. Court documents say the child was dehydrated among other things. A pathologist couldn’t determine the infant’s cause of death. Wright pleaded guilty last month to involuntary manslaughter. In the plea deal, second-degree child abuse charges were dropped. Wright’s attorney, Becket Jones, asked the judge to consider a one-year sentence. He’s said Wright was possibly dealing with postpartum and mental issues at the time.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool Appliances Get CES Awards

Whirlpool has earned six new awards for its appliances. The Consumer Electronics Show’s 2017 Innovation Awards go to Whirlpool appliances for sustainability, among other things. The new Zera Food Recycler, the 2-in-1 Over the Range Microwave Convection Oven, the French Door-within-Door Refrigerator, and the Whirlpool Smart All-in-One Care Washer and Dryer Combo also took honors. Brett Dibkey, the vice president of integrated business units at Whirlpool, says the team was excited to show off the new appliances at CES this year, promising to deliver what he called “Whirlpool Corporation’s promise of purposeful innovation.”. ...Read Full Story

Ford Investing $700 Million In MI Plant

Ford President and CEO Mark Fields says the automaker will invest $700 million to expand its Flat Rock Assembly Plant, instead of spending $1.6 billion on a new plant in Mexico. Flat Rock Assembly will be equipped to build new electric vehicles, and will move forward with a wireless charging pilot program.. ...Read Full Story

Democrat Files Paperwork To Run For Governor

Gretchen Whitmer, a former Democratic legislative leader and interim county prosecutor, is running for Michigan governor in 2018. Whitmer filed the paperwork Tuesday. She’s the first person to announce her candidacy for the open seat. Second-term Republican Governor Rick Snyder can’t run again due to term limits. In an email to supporters, Whitmer says she’s “no stranger to fights” and Michigan “can do better. We deserve better.” She says Michigan leaders for too long “have been content to manage our decline.” Whitmer, who lives in East Lansing and is 45 years old, was a lawmaker from 2001 through 2014. Most recently, she served as Ingham County’s interim prosecutor. Another potential Democratic candidate, Congressman Dan Kildee, of Flint Township, says he’ll decide whether to run in coming months.. ...Read Full Story

Trump Slams General Motors On Twitter

In another tweet targeting a U.S. company, President-elect Donald Trump is threatening to slap a tax on General Motors for importing compact cars to the U.S. from Mexico. But GM makes the vast majority of compact Chevrolet Cruzes in Lordstown, Ohio, near Cleveland. Trump tweeted early Tuesday that GM is sending Mexican-made Cruzes to the U.S. tax-free. He told GM to stop or pay a big border tax. GM saw the tweet and is formulating a response. Shares of GM fell 0.4 percent to $34.70 in premarket trading after the tweet. Last year Trump threatened to tax Ford, which plans to shift production of the compact Focus to Mexico. Jobs at the U.S. factory that makes Focuses would be preserved because the plant would get a new pickup and SUV.. ...Read Full Story

Cook Nuclear’s Unit 2 Back In Service After Refueling, Maintenance

Unit 2 of the Cook Nuclear Plant is back in service after an 89-day refueling and maintenance outage. The outage was longer than normal due to the replacement of the main turbine and the inspection and replacement of baffle bolts, which support internal components of the reactor vessel. Cook officials say the $250 million turbine replacement project has been in the works for over five years, and they were aware the work would make the outage last longer. The life cycle maintenance work done over the past three months includes 114 upgrade and replacement projects as part of the 20-year operating license extension granted to the facility by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2005.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Minimum Wage Rises

The start of the year means more money for Michigan’s lowest paid workers. The minimum wage has gone from $8.50 to $8.90 an hour, effective January 1. The wage will go up again on January 1, 2018 to $9.25, with future increases tied to the rate of inflation.. ...Read Full Story

Report Looks At Plastic Pollution In The Great Lakes

Environmental groups are hoping a New Year’s resolution for 2017 will be to keep the Great Lakes cleaner. A report by Rochester Institute of Technology estimates 22 million pounds of plastic ends up in the water every year. Lead author Matthew Hoffman says this study is the first picture of the true scale of plastic pollution in the Great Lakes.. ...Read Full Story

Auto Sales Expected To Be Up For 2016

Auto sales have been up slightly in 2016. J.D. Power is now predicting the year will end with sales up by about 5,000 vehicles in the U.S. That’s a 0.03% increase. Bill Crowder, with Signature Automotive Group, tells WSJM News he, too, has seen sales up. However, for him, they’ve been up 15% in 2016. He’s also feeling good about 2017.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Family Dollar Robbed

The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety is investigating the armed robbery of a Family Dollar store on Pipestone Street on Monday. It says a black male with his face covered walked into the store in the morning hours flashing a gun and demanding cash. He was able to get away with a small amount. The suspect is described as having a medium build, standing about 5’10. Anyone with information on the robbery is asked to call Benton Harbor Public Safety.. ...Read Full Story

Coast Guard: Don’t Shine Laser Pointers At Us

Everyone is being reminded not to shine laser pointers at Coast Guard vessels. A man in Washington state just last week was fined $9,500 for doing just that. Coast Guard Petty Officer Matt Huber, with the St. Joseph station, tells WSJM News there’s a whole procedure for staff when a laser pointer is shined at them.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate New Year’s Eve Shooting In Benton Harbor

The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety is investigating a shooting reported in the early morning hours of Saturday. They say it happened in the parking lot of Smokes Lounger at 250 North Fair Street. The victim, a 31-year-old man, suffered a serious but non life-threatening injury, and he’s expected to recover. The shooting remains under investigation, and anyone with information is asked to call Benton Harbor Public Safety at 927-0293.. ...Read Full Story

More Money Now Being Raised For Michigan Roads

The new year will mean more money for Michigan roads. Starting today, a license fee increase and increases in fuel taxes are in effect. County Road Association of Michigan Director Denise Donahue tells WSJM News that will mean $460 million more for roads this year, and $1.2 billion per year once all of the increases are fully implemented in five years. She says the state fell far behind in raising money for road maintenance a long time ago.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Officials Tightening Standards For Amber Alerts

Michigan State Police officials say they are changing the criteria for issuing Amber Alerts. Effective now, the emergency response system that disseminates information about missing children will only be used for child abductions. All Amber Alerts will receive a Wireless Emergency Alert, which pushes the notifications to mobile devices and interrupts broadcasts. Amber Alerts had been authorized for missing children with severe mental or physical disabilities who wandered away and could not care for themselves. Cases that don’t meet the new standards will be eligible for what’s called an Endangered Missing Advisory. Those notifications are sent to area broadcast and print media but not as wireless alerts. Officials say the changes help ensure that credible, useful information gets out to the public in the most critical cases.. ...Read Full Story

Body Found At Lincoln Township Beach

Police are investigating after a body was found Sunday along a beach in Lincoln Township. It was found at Glenlord Beach around 2 p.m. At the scene were the Lincoln Township Police and Fire Departments, as well as Michigan State Police. They are not offering further information just yet, and won’t comment on whether the body is that of a man reported missing Saturday after his SUV was found off the bluff in St. Joseph. We’ll have more information as soon as it becomes available.. ...Read Full Story

Annual Banned Word List Released

You, sir, (or ma’am): Focus, if you will, on a historic, on fleek listicle containing words nominated for bigly banishment. But don’t convene a town hall meeting or get your dandruff up in the echo chamber over them. Northern Michigan’s Lake Superior State University on Saturday released its 42nd annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse
and General Uselessness.The tongue-in-cheek, non-binding list comes from suggestions to the Sault Ste. Marie school. It includes “you, sir,” ”focus,” ”town hall meeting,” ”historic,” ”echo chamber,” “on fleek,” ”bigly,” ”listicle” and “get your
dandruff up,” seemingly a substitute for “dander,” its hair and skin kin. “Bigly” also made Merriam-Webster’s Top 10 for 2016. President-elect Donald Trump was fond this year of saying “big league” but making it sound like “bigly.”. ...Read Full Story

Lakeland Welcomes First Baby Of The Year

The BirthPlace at Lakeland Hospital in Niles has welcomed southwest Michigan’s first baby of 2017. April Jacobs, of Dowagiac, is the proud new mother of daughter Addison Jacobs. Baby Jacobs was born at at 4:12 a.m. on Sunday, weighing in at 7 pounds, 3 ounces and measuring 19 inches long. In keeping with their annual tradition of celebrating the first baby of the year, the Lakeland Auxiliary provided the family with a gift basket full of baby items valued at $100. Lakeland Health says it delivered 1,540 babies in its St. Joseph and Niles hospitals in the last fiscal year.
. ...Read Full Story

Three Oaks Drill Team Heading To Washington For Inaugural Parade

A group from Three Oaks is preparing to take the trip of their lives, as they’ve been invited to walk in the presidential inaugural parade next month. On January 20, President Donald Trump will watch as the Mid America Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team proceeds past them for the celebration. Captain Debbie Dunphy tells us she applied for the inaugural parade in 2008, but the group was still too new back then to have enough on its resume. This time around, though, things were different. She says it’s still hard to believe they got selected.. ...Read Full Story