Local News Archives

State Grants For Ailing Communities Now Available

From the Associated Press — The state of Michigan says it’s accepting grant applications from local governments with rough finances.
The grants are designed to help cities, villages or townships. Communities experiencing at least one condition of probable financial distress can apply for up to $2 million. The Treasury Department says grants can be used to pay for projects or services that move a community toward financial stability. About $5.4 million is available. Applications must be submitted by October 20. School districts aren’t eligible.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Rise, As Expected, Post-Harvey

Gas prices are up as expected in the area, with most stations in St. Joseph, Benton Harbor and South Haven around $2.65 or so a gallon. It’s all due to Hurricane Harvey and refineries in the Gulf being shut down. GasBuddy.com analyst Patrick DeHaan says the uptick should be somewhat short-lived.. ...Read Full Story

Kellogg’s Company Proposing Battle Creek Layoffs

Job cuts are coming to a southern Michigan food giant. Kellogg Company is proposing changes in Battle Creek that will eliminate over 220 full-time and salaried jobs. The plan is to idle two existing lines at the plant, cease warehouse operations and transition distribution to a direct-ship model similar to the system adopted by other Kellogg facilities across the country. Layoffs are not finalized at this stage. Kellogg will discuss the plan with the union in a process they say will take about two months. If the cereal-maker follows through, changes would first be seen in early 2018 and completed by the end of the year. Kellogg said it would cut 250 jobs at the company headquarters and close 39 distribution centers earlier this year.. ...Read Full Story

AG To Gas Stations: Don’t Even Think About Price Gouging

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has issued a warning to state gas stations not to gouge or take advantage of customers following refinery closures in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. This outage could potentially affect other states, including Michigan, and Schuette has made it clear to gas station owners that taking advantage of this type of disaster would not be tolerated. The nation’s largest refinery in Texas is currently shut down due to Harvey. GasBuddy.com puts the statewide average at $2.61 a gallon, up a dime from last week and the ninth-highest average in the country.. ...Read Full Story

Federal Grant To Protect Lake Superior

From the Associated Press — An Upper Peninsula nonprofit group has received a federal grant for a “green infrastructure” project intended to protect Lake Superior waters near Marquette. The Environmental Protection Agency awarded the $288,500 grant to the Superior
Watershed Partnership. The project will relocate an open-channel drain in Marquette that discharges storm water across a public beach and into the lake. The drain’s outfall will be moved to an adjacent wetland. Watershed partnership senior planner Geraldine Grant says in addition to reducing runoff into the lake, the adjustment will provide a consistent water source for the 12-acre wetland. It filters pollutants and provides important wildlife habitat. City officials say the project will improve nearshore Lake Superior water quality and help Marquette deal with intense storms and changing water levels as the climate gets warmer.. ...Read Full Story

Nina And Pinta Now In South Haven

The Nina and the Pinta are now docked at the Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven. At least, replicas are. WSJM News caught up with Kat, a crew member. She sailed into South Haven from Muskegon Wednesday and told us a bit about the vessels. For example, aboard the Nina, Kat told us the replicas are almost the size of the real ships Christopher Columbus sailed in 1492.. ...Read Full Story

Here’s How You Can Help Hurricane Harvey Victims

The American Red Cross is encouraging people to donate money on its website or to text 90999 to donate $10. Other organizations include the Salvation ArmySamaritan’s Purse and Heart to Heart International. The crowdfunding website Global Giving is trying to raise $2 million to provide “food, water, and medicine in addition to longer-term recovery assistance” to Harvey’s victims.. ...Read Full Story

Improvements Being Made To Watervliet Running Track

Some renovations are planned for the Watervliet Parcourse. That’s a 1.1 mile track located behind Lakeland Hospital, Watervliet that’s been open to the public for the past 30 years. The track is worn, and so Lakeland’s Regina Ciaravino tells WSJM News they’re raising $125,000 to redo it. The renovated track will be different.. ...Read Full Story

State Warns About Post-Hurricane Scams

Don’t let your post Hurricane Harvey generosity cause you to get ripped off. That’s the message of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, whose office has issued a warning to everyone as more groups start seeking money to help with relief efforts. AG spokesperson Megan Hawthorne tells WSJM News to be wary of groups that call you unsolicited.. ...Read Full Story

Man Arrested After Fleeing Police In Van Buren County

A suspect who police say fled from them in Van Buren County has been arrested after a long search through some harsh terrain. The Southwest Enforcement Team tells us officers were conducting surveillance in South Haven on Tuesday when they noticed a suspicious vehicle. They say they trailed the vehicle to the Covert area, and when they tried to stop it, the passenger in the front seat jumped out of the window and ran off into some woods. Police say the driver confirmed to them the passenger was a fugitive, and so they set up a perimeter. The enforcement team tells us it caught 39-year-old Toby Allen Farly after a lengthy track. He was taken to the Van Buren County Jail on two felony warrants.. ...Read Full Story

Test Results: Michigan Kids Worse In Reading, Better In Math

From the Associated Press — Michigan students were less proficient in reading and more proficient in math and social studies in the latest round of statewide standardized tests. M-STEP results were released Tuesday by the state Department of Education. They show that English language arts scores worsened in four of the five grades in which students were tested last spring. Math scores improved in four
of the five grades from the year before. State Superintendent Brian Whiston says the math and science results are “exciting” while the reading scores are “disappointing.” He says Michigan’s initiative to target early literacy should lead to better reading results as it is fully implemented. Whiston is currently working to establish a new state testing system – one that takes less time and benchmarks progress throughout the academic. ...Read Full Story

SJ Commissioners Approve Plan For Reconstruction, Repaving Of Wallace Avenue

Residents along Wallace Avenue in St. Joseph will lose some of their parking, but at least their street will get reconstructed. That’s after St. Joseph City Commissioners Monday night voted to proceed with a Wallace plan which will mean no more parking between Stadium and Lakeshore. The city had to go with that option because it’s required to put in a ten-foot path along the street for bikes. If it didn’t, the project would lose $460,000 in federal funding. Commissioner Mary Goff said the plan isn’t perfect.. ...Read Full Story

Mackinac Island Facing Labor Shortage

From the Associated Press — Some business owners in the tourist industry of Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island say they’re experiencing a severe worker shortage because of a drop in federal visas. The Detroit News reports the federal government limits visas to 66,000 foreign
workers per year, but it doesn’t include returning workers against the cap. Congress decided not to renew the exemption for returning workers in September 2016 after then-presidential candidate Donald Trump condemned foreign workers getting American jobs.
Mackinac Island business owners say the shift has hurt the tourism industry because the island of fewer than 500 residents has depended on foreign workers to fill summer jobs for decades. Employers expect temporary relief due to the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security approving 15,000 extra foreign workers for this year.. ...Read Full Story

Health Officials Warn About Salmonella Risks With Backyard Chickens

The largest outbreak of salmonella associated with backyard chicken flocks has hit the United States, and experts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it’s critical that bird owners take precautions to keep it from getting worse. Megin Nichols, public-health veterinarian for the CDC, tells us some folks buy their own backyard chickens thinking they reduce the risk of salmonella, but many of those birds come from factory farms.. ...Read Full Story

State Rep Highlights Education Funding Increases

As a new academic year draws closer, state Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan is applauding the increased funding schools are receiving. She tells us the state legislature last year approved a per pupil funding increase of $60 for K through 12 schools. Some smaller, rural districts are getting $120 more per student. Griffin says the budget also includes another $25 per student for high school students on top of the base allocation. She lauded the focus on career and technical education the funding has. Griffin’s office tells us state funding for K-12 education is now at a record amount.. ...Read Full Story

Upton: Congress Has To Get To Work On Tax Reform

Congress gets back to work next week, and Fred Upton is ready to get a few things done. The Republican congressman from Michigan’s Sixth District told Michigan’s Big Show this week Congress has to get to work on tax reform. He tells us he doubts anything will come out of President Trump’s threats to shut down the government without a border wall.. ...Read Full Story

Two More Charged In Benton Harbor Shooting Death

Two more suspects have been charged in the shooting death of a Benton Harbor man this month. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office tells WSJM News 21-year-old Shuantae Hill and 23-year-old Denzeil Dade are now charged with felony murder, armed robbery, and felony firearm in the death of 32-year-old Nathaniel Lee. Felony murder comes with a penalty of life in prison. Bond for both Hill and Dade has been set at $1 million, and they’re due back in court September 1. A total of four suspects are charged in Nathaniel Lee’s Death. He was shot and killed outside of the River Terrace apartments in Benton Harbor on August 15. The prosecutor says police believe it happened during a robbery. The other two suspects, Antonio Hall and Davion Turner, have also been arraigned.. ...Read Full Story

State Announces New Deer Hunting Rules

From the Associated Press — If you’re a hunter who shoots deer or related animals in other states, be advised that there are new rules about bringing their parts into Michigan. The tougher regulations are intended to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease among Michigan’s deer, elk and moose. The illness attacks the central nervous system of animals in the deer family and can eventually kill them.
Nine free-ranging deer in Michigan have tested positive since April 2015. Under the new rules, hunters who kill a deer in any other state or Canadian province can bring only certain parts into Michigan. Among them are hides, deboned meat, quarters, finished taxidermy products, cleaned teeth and antlers. The Department of Natural Resources says violators can be fined and have the animal confiscated.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Twp Police: Lock Your Doors!

A warning is going out in St. Joseph Township to keep your doors locked on your homes and your vehicles. The township police department on Facebook says they’ve had several home invasions and window peepings in the Arlington, Arbor, Clemens, and Marvin areas of the township. No description of the suspect has been released. Police say the suspect is getting in to homes through unlocked doors after midnight while people are sleeping. No other details are being released.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Issuing Driver’s License To Comply With Federal Law

Michigan is set to start issuing driver’s licenses today that residents eventually need to board domestic flights if they don’t have passports or other accepted documents. New ID standards were created after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Starting in October 2020, compliant driver’s licenses or state IDs will be needed to fly or to visit federal buildings, nuclear plants and military bases unless other acceptable documents are provided. If you already have an enhanced driver’s license or ID card, you won’t need to make any changes, as that card is already REAL-ID compliant.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Up, Will Go Higher Due To Hurricane Harvey

Get ready for some pain at the gas pump, courtesy of Hurricane Harvey. Prices around the state went up a modest 6¢ a gallon over the past week according to Triple-A Michigan, but more increases are on the way. We’re starting the week with an average in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph of $2.44, which is currently the lowest average in the state, while Traverse City drivers are paying the most at $2.53. The statewide average is currently $2.47. On Twitter, GasBuddy.com analyst Patrick DeHaan is predicting prices in the Midwest will go up by a dime to a quarter per gallon in the next two weeks. Just when the increase will start and how steep it will be remains to be seen.. ...Read Full Story

Retired MSP Trooper Honored In Benton Harbor

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have honored a local Michigan State Police trooper with a key to the city. Trooper Maurice Burton retired this year after serving the state police since 1986. He’d been the city’s community service trooper since the Granholm administration and told WSJM News he’s seen the community’s police presence change a lot since then.. ...Read Full Story

New Flint Scholarship Program Announced

There’s already a Kalamazoo Promise for students. Now, some business owners are trying to set up a Flint Promise scholarship program. Detroit Pistons owner and Flint area native Tom Gores, along with the Consumers Energy Foundation, on Wednesday announced they’re donating $1 million to the Flint Promise. Consumers Energy President and CEO Patti Poppe tells Michigan News Network with more donations, the program should be able to begin helping students go to college next year.. ...Read Full Story

One More Berrien County Road Commission Hearing Scheduled

Another public hearing will be held on the question of the Berrien County Road Commission. Board of Commissioners Chair Jon Hinkelman tells WSJM News the board is thinking about creating a new county roads department to take over the functions of the road commission. Commissioners wanted to hear from the public at the Thursday session. There’s one more to go, set to be held in the evening.. ...Read Full Story

Upton: Much Work To Do In Congress

Congressman Fred Upton is hoping to see the situation in the White House stabilize with recent changes in staff. He tells us he’s optimistic about the job new Chief of Staff John Kelly can do. Congressman Upton tells WSJM News there’s real work that needs to get done.. ...Read Full Story

Police Camera System Under Review In Benton Harbor

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have tabled a proposal to install some police cameras in key areas of the city to help with crime prevention. At a meeting this past week, the commission was asked to approve a $67,000 bid for the system, $25,000 of which would have been reimbursed via a grant. Mayor Pro Tem Duane Seats said they weren’t provided the answers to several questions he had about the system.. ...Read Full Story

Libraries To Make Push For New Card Holders Next Month

A push will be made by libraries all over Michigan to sign up kids for cards next month. Kay McAdam, with the Van Buren District Library, tells WSJM News the American Library Association declared September Library Card Sign Up Month 30 years ago. At the Van Buren District Library, they want kids and parents to know they do more than just lend out books.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Girl Scout Builds A Little Free Library

A St. Joseph Girl Scout is making good in the community by encouraging young people to read. Elise Voglewede is about to enter the ninth grade at St. Joe High School, and she’s built a Little Free Library as she pursues a Girl Scout Silver Award. Elise tells WSJM News her Little Free Library will be stationed outside of E.P. Clarke Elementary School in St. Joseph starting on September 12.. ...Read Full Story

Suicide Prevention Candlelight Vigil Planned In St. Joseph

A candlelight vigil for suicide victims will be held next month in St. Joseph. September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, and the local event will take place on the veranda of the Whitcomb from 8 to 8:30 p.m. Berrien County Suicide Prevention Coalition Vice Chair Trent Watford tells WSJM News everyone is welcome to come out for the event. He says, too often, those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts do not talk about them, perhaps because of a perceived stigma.. ...Read Full Story

Charges Filed In Paw Paw-Area Stabbing

Two charges of assault with intent to murder are now faced by a 47-year-old man from Missouri for a stabbing attack on two people in a vehicle near Paw Paw late Sunday night. Boyd Hicks is in the Van Buren County Jail on a one-million dollar bond. The sheriff’s department has not released any details on what led up to the attack on M-43 near Hidden Pines Drive in Almena Township. The two victims have been released from the hospital after undergoing surgeries. Hicks is due back in court on September 6. In addition to the attempted murder charges, he’s also charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Commissioners Continue Road Discussions

Another public hearing has been held on the question of the Berrien County Road Commission. Board of Commissioners Chair Jon Hinkelman tells WSJM News the board is thinking about creating a new county roads department to take over the functions of the road commission. Commissioners wanted to hear from the public at the Thursday session. There’s one more to go, set to be held in the evening.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata planning Energy Town Hall

State Representative Kim LaSata is planning an energy town hall. Her office tells us the meeting is specifically about clean energy issues. LaSata notes there are more than 80,000 clean energy jobs right here in Michigan, and on hand for her town hall will be speakers from the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. They’ll talk about where clean energy in Michigan is heading and what people can do to help. The meeting will be at the Kinexus building on Main Street in Benton Harbor on Thursday, August 31. It will start at 5:30 p.m. and everyone’s invited.. ...Read Full Story

Business Group Praises New Tax Incentives For Job Creation

Higher wages for people in Michigan are just some of the expected benefits of the recently-enacted “Good Jobs for Michigan” law. Business Leaders for Michigan’s Doug Rothwell tells WSJM that he’s proud of state lawmakers for passing the bills this summer, and says the law will help people who feel left behind by the state’s economic recovery since the recession.. ...Read Full Story

Lawsuit Alleges State Improper Aided Anti-Gerrymandering Group

From the Associated Press — A Republican strategist has filed a complaint against Michigan’s elections bureau, alleging staff improperly gave advice on the wording and legality of an anti-gerrymandering ballot initiative. The Board of State Canvassers approved the petition form last week, and the group Voters Not Politicians is collecting signatures to qualify for a 2018 statewide vote. But Bob LaBrant, a longtime GOP political adviser, said in a complaint Thursday that elections staffers “engaged in mission creep” and ignored rules that
limit them to reviewing petition formatting and other technical issues. The secretary of state’s office could not immediately be reached for comment. The redistricting initiative would create an independent commission to draw congressional and legislative seats. The Legislature and governor currently control the once-a-decade process.. ...Read Full Story