Local News Archives

Secretary Of State Mobile Branch Office To Visit South Haven

The Michigan Secretary of State’s Mobile Branch Office will be in South Haven this week registering people to vote in the March 10 primary election. The office offers most of the services available at a regular branch office. Therefore, in addition to registering to vote, visitors can renew or replace their license plate, renew their driver’s license or state ID, change their address, and sign up on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry, among other things. The Mobile Branch Office will be parked outside of the South Haven Memorial Library on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Those who stop by the mobile office can also learn about REAL IDs and how to sign up for one. Starting October 1 of this year, you will need a REAL ID to fly within the United States and enter certain federal facilities, military bases, and nuclear power plants.. ...Read Full Story

State House Panel Takes Testimony From Rep. Paquette On CPL Bill

A bill from state Representative Brad Paquette aimed at making it easier for people to afford to have a concealed pistol license is pending in a House committee. The Military, Veterans and Homeland Security Committee held a hearing on Paquette’s legislation Tuesday, which would eliminate the renewal fee of $115 paid every five years for a CPL. The freshman Republican from Niles called the renewal fees “financially burdensome” on people’s right to self-defense, saying when added to the costs of the CPL training course, initial licensing fees, and the cost of a firearm, people are paying too much “for the ability to defend themselves.” The committee did not take action on the bill after the hearing. The bill is available at this link.. ...Read Full Story

Economists: Detroit Jobs, Household Income Forecast To Rise

From the Associated Press — Economists are forecasting that household income and employment for Detroit residents will increase over the next four years. Researchers with the University Economic Analysis partnership said Monday that Detroit’s unemployment rate will drop to just under 8% by 2023 and 2024. About 6,700 more residents are expected to find jobs, mostly in the service sector. Total resident income is forecast to rise 4% to 4.7% per year through 2024. University of Michigan economist Donald Grimes says Fiat Chrysler’s new $2.5 billion assembly plant and the $4.4 billion Gordie Howe International Bridge project between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, Canada, should provide new job opportunities.. ...Read Full Story

RESA Schedules Public Hearing Regarding Start Date For School Year

A public hearing will be held this month regarding a proposal to have several Berrien County school districts start their academic years before Labor Day for the next few years. Berrien RESA has submitted a request for a waiver on a state law requiring a post-Labor Day start date to the Michigan Department of Education. It’s due to where in the calendar Labor Day will fall for the next three years. RESA says if school doesn’t start until after the holiday, the school year will extend well into June. Its hearing on the matter will be on Tuesday, February 25 at 5 p.m. at the Berrien RESA Administrative Conference Center in Oronoko Township. On hand will be local superintendents who will explain why they’re seeking the later start. A representative of the Michigan Department of Education will also be available by phone.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Promoting Civic Engagement Among Students

A campaign underway at Southwestern Michigan College aims to promote civic engagement among students. SMC Votes is being run in order to get more students voting in the March 10 presidential primary. The college says it will feature a series of non-partisan events. So far, SMC welcomed some representatives of the Dowagiac City Council to come and discuss their experiences and accomplishments last week. SMC Votes will continue with a presentation called “The Art of Politics,” focused on campaign posters, buttons, and shirts, on February 18. The college also plans a primary information night on March 3. In 2019, SMC received national recognition for excellence in student voter engagement from the non-partisan ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge.. ...Read Full Story

RESA Board Selects New Superintendent

Lapeer Community Schools Superintendent Matthew Wandrie will be the next superintendent of Berrien RESA. The RESA Board of Education picked Wandrie for the job on Monday following its interviews with the final two superintendent candidates. The other candidate had been RESA Assistant Superintendent Eric Hoppstock. Prior to serving as Lapeer’s superintendent, Wandrie was the human resources director at Dearborn Public Schools. He’s also been a high school teacher, a coach, an assistant principal, an athletic director, and a principal. Contract negotiations now begin with Wandrie. RESA says he’s due to start on July 1, the same day current RESA Superintendent Kevin Ivers will retire. Wandrie currently lives in Oakland County’s Oxford.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Pop Up Giving Event This Month

Set for February 20 is the next Pop Up Giving event of the United Way of Southwest Michigan. Marketing manager Jennifer Tomshack tells WSJM News Pop Up Giving is a way for non-profits to make Shark Tank-like pitches for projects to benefit the community. This time, the non-profits will all be education-related.. ...Read Full Story

State Launches Effort To Inform Drivers About Changing Coming To Insurance Policies

The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services has launched a website to explain how the state’s auto insurance system is going to change this year. Due to reforms signed into law last year, unlimited personal injury protections will no longer be required with all auto insurance policies in Michigan come July 1. DIFS Director Anita Fox tells WSJM News this opens up options for people.. ...Read Full Story

President Trump’s Proposed FY2021 Budget Fully Funds Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Michigan lawmakers are cheering President Trump’s proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget for fully funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $320 million. The Trump administration had tried to wipe out funding for the GLRI every year he’s been in office thus far, with bipartisan efforts from Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and New York winning out to keep the money available. Nearly a year ago, Michigan Congressmen Bill Huizenga, Jack Bergman, and John Moolenaar met with the President in west Michigan to inform him of the importance of the Obama-era program and the critical role it plays in strengthening the economy and ecology of the Great Lakes. Following that, Trump announced in Grand Rapids that last year’s budget was going to be updated to include full funding for the GLRI. The U.S. House last week passed a bill supported by Congressman Fred Upton to reauthorize the program through 2026, and increase the funding by $25 million a year up to $475 million.. ...Read Full Story

Mason Jar Cafe Seeking Rezoning For Expansion

A popular restaurant in the Arts District of Benton Harbor is looking to expand. The Mason Jar Cafe is requesting a zoning change for vacant lots at the corner of Fifth and Park streets in Benton Harbor from light industrial to central business in order to put up a new building. The City of Benton Harbor Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the request next month on March 3 at 5:30 pm in City Hall. The Planning Commission will consider the request the same night after the public hearing. The Mason Jar Cafe opened in 2014 and specializes in using as many local and organic ingredients as possible in the menu.. ...Read Full Story

New Director Starts At Pokagon Fund

The Pokagon Fund has announced the hiring of its new director. Dan Petersen started on Monday. The 38-year-old Petersen was previously the president of EightCAP, Incorporated, a community action agency in Ionia County. WSJM News asked him what attracted him to the Pokagon Fund.. ...Read Full Story

Register Of Deeds Planning Speaking Engagements

Berrien County Register of Deeds Lora Freehling will spend part of this year going around the county speaking at senior centers. She says her talks will focus on the role of the Register of Deeds and the importance of a properly-worded deed. Freehling says making sure your document is correct before filing it with the Register of Deeds can save a lot of time and money. She will first speak at the Buchanan Area Senior Center on March 4 at 11 a.m. After that, she’ll be at the Benton Harbor Senior Center on March 5 at 10:30, the North Berrien Senior Center on March 11 at 1, the Niles Senior Center on March 19 at 1, and the St. Joseph-Lincoln Senior Center on April 2 at 10 a.m. Anyone with questions can contact the Berrien County Register of Deeds.. ...Read Full Story

Volunteers Removing Invasive Plants From Warren Dunes State Park

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is planning several volunteer stewardship days at Warren Dunes State Park throughout February. It says you don’t need experience when it comes to helping remove invasive plants from the park. This Sunday, volunteers are invited out to Warren Dunes from 1 to 4 p.m. for a match up against invasives. There will also be volunteer days on 16 and 23. The volunteers get training beforehand, and on various days they’ll be removing common privet, Japanese barberry, non-native honeysuckle, and other misfit plants. You can find out more about the volunteer opportunities right here.. ...Read Full Story

RESA board Interviewing Superintendent CandidatesMonday

The search for a new superintendent at Berrien RESA has been narrowed down to two. The RESA Board of Education says it will interview the candidates this coming week. They are Berrien RESA Assistant Superintendent Eric Hoppstock and Lapeer Community Schools Superintendent Matthew Wandrie. The next interviews with the candidates will be on Monday, February 10 at 1:30 p.m. following the regularly-scheduled RESA Board of Education meeting. The candidates will each present a proposal outlining their first 90 days in office. The interviews will be held at the Berrien RESA Administrative Conference Center in Oronoko Township. They will be open to the public.. ...Read Full Story

Planning Commission Honored For Websites, Promotion Materials

The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission has received some recognition for a couple of websites it created to educate the public on local resources and how they can be protected. The Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals has honored the commission with a Gold Award for production of a website for BetterBeachesSWMI.org. It also gave the association a Gold Award for an animated video on the site. Southwest Michigan Planning Commission Senior Planner Marcy Hamilton tells WSJM News  BetterBeachesSWMI.org was launched to educate the public about how runoff contaminates local beaches.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Financial Aid Event Coming Up

Lake Michigan College will hold a FAFSA Assistance Night this month. LMC staff will be available to answer questions and help students apply for financial aid. Students of all ages who plan to attend college in the next academic year are encouraged to attend, even if they’re undecided or planning to attend a school other than LMC. LMC Director of Admissions Jeremy Schaeffer tells WSJM News understanding assistance options is an important part of enrolling in college.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Hunters Rendezvous Today

Set for today is one of the biggest events for lovers of the outdoors held in southwest Michigan each year. It’s the 23rd annual Dowagiac Conservation Club’s Hunter’s Rendezvous at the club grounds in Dowagiac. Club Vice President Craig Lyons tells us the event is a fundraiser for the youth programs the organization runs. Everyone is welcome to come and display trophies.. ...Read Full Story

Taxpayers Urged Not To Miss Out On Credits

Filing tax returns can be tricky, and community organizations across the state are working to ensure Michigan taxpayers don’t lose out on the refunds they may be due. Ross Yednock with the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan encourages anyone seeking assistance with their income tax returns to ensure their preparer is qualified. He explains that in Michigan, like many other states, there are no requirements or regulations for paid tax preparers.. ...Read Full Story

Discovery Channel Show To Study Lake Michigan Plane Crash

A plane crash into Lake Michigan nearly 70 years ago will be the subject of the Discovery Channel’s Expedition Unknown show this coming Wednesday. Northwest Airlines Flight 2501 disappeared somewhere over the lake on June 23, 1950. The Michigan Shipwreck Research Association’s Valerie van Heest tells WSJM News material from the crash started washing up from Benton Harbor to Glenn.. ...Read Full Story

Market Van Buren Holds Local Government Summit

Market Van Buren is looking at ways local officials can work together to help address some key needs of Van Buren County. Market Van Buren Director Zachary Morris tells WSJM News that’s why the group held its annual Local Unit of Government Summit Thursday. The guest speakers included former state budget director Al Pscholka, staff from the offices of state Senator Aric Nesbitt and state Representative Beth Griffin, and a representative of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Addresses Detroit Economic Club

With her proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget now in the hands of state lawmakers, Governor Gretchen Whitmer spent some of her Friday in Detroit, speaking to the Detroit Economic Club at the TCF Center. The nearly $62 billion budget proposal increases education spending, puts more money into making sure all Michigan residents have healthcare, and spends money on road fixes.. ...Read Full Story

Secchia Memo: Political Donations At Risk Without Action On Erosion

A major figure in the Michigan Republican Party has suggested that political donations will diminish unless GOP lawmakers do something to help property owners being impacted by Lake Michigan erosion. Former Ambassador Peter Secchia sent a letter in November to Republican leaders in the Legislature noting a $6 million property loss in Ottawa County due to high lake levels. At the time, he said there seemed to be “little interest” among lawmakers and added donations would “diminish” as property values fall. He told “The Detroit News” that he isn’t threatening anybody. Secchia is a Grand Rapids businessman who has been a Republican donor and
activist for decades.. ...Read Full Story

Ford Shaking Up Management After Poor Fourth Quarter Performance

Ford Motor Company is shaking up its management after a poor fourth-quarter financial performance and the botched launch of the Explorer SUV. The company says automotive President Joe Hinrichs will retire. Jim Farley, president of new business and strategy, will become chief operating officer in charge of global markets and automotive operations. In addition, product development chief Hau Thai-Tang will take on an expanded role for products, services and customer experiences. Ford’s full-year profit plunged by more than $3.6 billion last year, and it lost $1.7 billion in the fourth quarter. Quarterly revenue fell 5% to $39.7 billion.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan House Approves Wendzel Package Updating Commercial Fishing Regulations

Bipartisan legislation to update the state’s commercial fishing laws and regulations is headed to the Michigan Senate. Representative Pauline Wendzel of Watervliet sponsored one of the bills in the package, and says this would be the first update in 60 years to the laws regarding commercial fishing operations. When the bills had a hearing in June before the House Natural Resources Committee, Wendzel testified they would create a list of all the species of fish available for commercial harvest.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Pushes For Civility, Bipartisanship

With the impeachment of President Trump now over, Congressman Fred Upton is hoping to get to work on issues the public cares about. He tells WSJM News he continues his tour with Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell talking about civility and bipartisanship. Last week, the two took part in a forum called “A More Perfect Union” hosted by The Hill. Upton says they have a message.. ...Read Full Story

County Commission Hears Plenty About Second Amendment Resolution

It was a packed house Thursday morning as the Berrien County Board of Commissioners heard from residents both opposed to and in support of a resolution declaring Berrien a Second Amendment sanctuary county. The resolution was proposed by local gun rights advocates last month. At Thursday’s meeting, dozens of speakers appealed to the board. Jack Straszewski of Niles told WSJM News if the Second Amendment can prevent violence, then he favors respecting it.. ...Read Full Story

Remains Found In Michigan Might Be Missing Girl From 1989

From the Associated Press — Investigators in western Michigan might have discovered the remains of a teenager who’s been missing since 1989. Aundria Bowman’s adoptive father was recently charged in an unrelated 1980 homicide in Virginia. Authorities say skeletal remains were found in a shallow grave under cement Wednesday in Allegan County’s Monterey Township. It could take weeks to get an identification. Undersheriff Mike Larsen says the search for Aundria gained momentum after the November arrest of her adoptive father, Dennis Bowman. He’s charged with killing the wife of a U.S. Navy pilot in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1980.. ...Read Full Story

Lincoln Township Beach Closed Due To Erosion

The high water level of Lake Michigan has wiped out Lincoln Township Beach. The township has had to close the park off completely, as the beach has been washed away along with a good chunk of the parking lot. Township Supervisor Dick Stauffer talked to our newsgathering partners at WSBT-22 about the decision to lock up Lincoln Township Beach, maybe forever.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Sheriff Finalist For National Sheriff Of The Year

Van Buren County Sheriff Daniel Abbott is up for the award of 2019 National Sheriff of the Year. That honor will be handed out by the National Sheriff’s Association at its winter conference in Tampa, Florida this weekend. Abbott says in order to be considered, nominees needed to demonstrate accomplishments both in office and with community involvement. He says adding an additional K9 team is one of those, along with bringing in Forgotten Man Ministries into the jail to give inmates skills to succeed once they’re released. Abbott says that program has been “very successful.”. ...Read Full Story

Lake Michigan College To Celebrate Renovations To Hanson Theatre

Renovations are complete on the Hanson Theatre on the Lake Michigan College campus in Benton Harbor. LMC will host a rededication ceremony next weekend at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, February 16 to celebrate. The Hanson Family Foundation and Merlin and Carolyn Hanson, for whom the theatre is named, helped to fund the over $600,000 in improvements to the facility. Those upgrades include new paint, carpet, seating and curtains along with a variety of acoustic and sound improvements. Work was also done to upgrade the theatre’s electrical and internet infrastructure, install new light and sound boards and new rigging and catwalks. LMC President Dr. Trevor Kubatzke and the LMC Board of Trustees will be joined by the Visual & Performing Arts Department to cut the ribbon on the newly-redone theatre. LMC’s acapella group, Soundwaves, will also perform.. ...Read Full Story

State Budget Proposal Includes Shoreline Protection Money

The Fiscal Year 2021 budget proposal from Governor Whitmer is now in front of lawmakers. State Budget Director Chris Kolb laid out the governor’s spending plans before a joint session of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. The budget includes $40 million for grants to go for shoreline erosion protection efforts. It also has a new $25 million dollar program to reimburse teachers up to $250 a year for classroom supplies purchased themselves. Additionally, the governor is also asking lawmakers to put money into the improvements in Illinois to the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, seen as the last hope to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.. ...Read Full Story

BH Schools Ending Contracts With RESA

Benton Harbor Area Schools is ending some of its service contracts with Berrien RESA. RESA has handled facilities and operations, accounts payable, and payroll for the district since 2014. At a Tuesday meeting, Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education President Joseph Taylor said that’s coming to an end.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Financial Aid Night This Month

Lake Michigan College will hold a FAFSA Assistance Night this month. LMC staff will be available to answer questions and help students apply for financial aid. Students of all ages who plan to attend college in the next academic year are encouraged to attend, even if they’re undecided or planning to attend a school other than LMC. LMC Director of Admissions Jeremy Schaeffer tells WSJM News understanding assistance options is an important part of enrolling in college.. ...Read Full Story

RESA Narrows Superintendent Search To Two

The search for a new superintendent at Berrien RESA has been narrowed down to two. The RESA Board of Education says it will interview the candidates next week. They are Berrien RESA Assistant Superintendent Eric Hoppstock and Lapeer Community Schools Superintendent Matthew Wandrie. The next interviews with the candidates will be on Monday, February 10 at 1:30 p.m. following the regularly-scheduled RESA Board of Education meeting. The candidates will each present a proposal outlining their first 90 days in office. The interviews will be held at the Berrien RESA Administrative Conference Center in Oronoko Township. They will be open to the public.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Allies Launch TV Ads To Support Road Bonding Plan

From the Associated Press — Allies of Governor Gretchen Whitmer have launched $750,000 in TV ads to support her plan to borrow $3.5 billion to roughly double construction spending on state-owned roads and bridges over five years. The Road to Michigan’s Future, a social welfare nonprofit, began airing the ads across Michigan on Friday. The group doesn’t have to disclose its donors’ identities. A spokesman says the ads will educate the public about Whitmer’s plan and encourage lawmakers from both parties to tackle Michigan’s road-funding problem. Whitmer says Michigan can afford to issue bonds because payments on old debt will drop substantially in coming years.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Election Officials: Iowa Problems Won’t Happen Here

With the final results of the Iowa Democratic caucuses from Monday still not official, the Michigan Secretary of State’s office says the same sort of problems can’t happen in the Great Lakes State. Communications director Jake Rollow is reminding voters Michigan uses traditional paper ballots and counting machines in all elections, does not hold caucuses, and especially does not entrust any votes to new and untested smartphone apps.. ...Read Full Story

Bridgman Fugitive Caught After TV Show Features Story

The Bridgman case featured on the TV show “In Pursuit with John Walsh” has resulted in the capture of 53-year-old fugitive William Stanson in Mexico. Michigan State Police say Stanson was arrested yesterday and has already been brought back to the U.S. He will be returned to Berrien County to face charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, first degree criminal sexual conduct, and failure to appear for sentencing on his original charge from 2015 of accosting a minor. Stanson fled southwest Michigan in 2015 just prior to being sentenced, and was last known to have been in Arizona.. ...Read Full Story

School: Dolls Of Black Figures On Tree-Like Racks Removed

From the Associated Press — Michigan State University officials say its performing arts center has removed a gift shop display featuring dolls depicting prominent black figures that were hanging from a tree-like rack. School spokeswoman Emily Gerkin Guerrant issued a statement apologizing for the display, which was intended to mark Black History Month along with programming
at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts. Black graduate student Krystal Rose Davis-Dunn tells the Lansing State Journal that the dolls recalled “lynching of black people from trees.” Guerrant says an internal investigation is underway. She added that officials will provide racial bias training for workers and volunteers.. ...Read Full Story

Board President Responds To Accusation Of Hostile Environment

Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education President Joseph Taylor has fired back against statements made by former Trustee Patricia Rush in her resignation letter. In her letter dated January 14, Rush said she was stepping down from the board due to the way Taylor treated her. She said he accused her of trespassing on school property when she went to district offices to work with finance staff. At this week’s school board meeting, Taylor said he had Michigan Association of School Boards attorney Brad Banasik review the situation, and Banasik said, in fact, board members are members of the public when going to a school building.. ...Read Full Story

Climate Change Group Welcomes New Members

The organizers of a new anti-climate change lobbying group in St. Joseph are hoping to strike a chord with residents and attract a robust membership. On Saturday, the first advocacy training event was held for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. CCL organizer Sandy Walker tells WSJM News she watched the CCL chapter in Kalamazoo grow to more than 900 members over the past few years, and decided to bring the idea to Berrien County. She thinks the group’s message resonates with a lot of people.. ...Read Full Story

Church Immigration Aide Gets Prison For Defrauding People

From the Associated Press — An immigrant who worked for the Roman Catholic Church in Kalamazoo has been sentenced to 33  months in federal prison for stealing fees from other immigrants. The government says Monica Mazei concealed the scheme by failing to open files for certain people and persuading them to give cash or blank checks. Mazei was ordered to pay $59,000 to her victims Monday, four months after pleading guilty to fraud. She worked in the Kalamazoo Diocese’s immigration assistance program. Mazei is a native of Ecuador who became a naturalized U.S. citizen.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Monitoring Coronavirus Response

The Berrien County Health Department is working to assure local residents that it’s on top of the unfolding situation with novel coronavirus, and that there is no need to worry. Spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News as of this Tuesday morning, there were still no confirmed cases of the respiratory illness in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Spectrum Health Lakeland Adds Second K9

Spectrum Health Lakeland has a new staff member, but this one is a little different. Hiro is a two-year-old German shepherd from Slovakia who is the second K9 working at the hospital. He’s paired with handler Chris Aungst, who retired from the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department after nearly 30 years and joined the hospital’s security team.. ...Read Full Story

Group Makes Policy Recommendations To Help Low Income Residents

While Michigan’s economy is improving, a new report finds the state could be doing more to help its residents who are living paycheck to paycheck. Holden Weisman, the associate director of policy at Prosperity Now, says Michigan’s “income poverty rate” of 13.4% is higher than many states, and its “liquid-asset poverty rate” has been rising for the past seven years. He recommends the state at least prohibit discrimination for anyone using a Housing Choice voucher. Weisman adds legislation making its way through the Michigan House also could help by providing tax relief for some low-income homeowners.

“There are a tremendous amount of people that are working hard but still not moving up the economic ladder. The EITC is extremely important as an anti-poverty measure, because it puts real cash in the pockets of people that truly need it.”. ...Read Full Story

High Water Could Cost South Haven Millions To Protect Critical Infrastructure

The city of South Haven is looking at some expensive repairs that need to be addressed soon due to erosion from, and high water levels on, Lake Michigan. The city council heard several reports this week, and Assistant City Manager Kate Hosier says the most critical need is to address issues with the wastewater treatment plant caused by the high water level. She says the treated water is returned to the Black River through a gravity-fed system.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer To Take National Stage To Rebut Trump

From the Associated Press — Democrats are putting Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on the national stage Tuesday to rebut President Donald Trump’s State of the Union message. By elevating a fresh face and casting an election-year spotlight on the Midwest, the party looks to win back states Trump narrowly captured. The 48-year-old’s ascendance comes as Democrats hope to solidify gains with female voters and as two men in their late 70s, former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, lead national primary polls. Whitmer’s selection has led to increased speculation that she could be a running mate pick, though she says she is not interested.. ...Read Full Story

BH Commissioners Approve Tax Abatement With A Limit

The Benton Harbor City Commission has approved a tax abatement for a developer seeking to turn the building at the corner of Riverview Drive and Empire Avenue into an events center. The action at a Monday meeting granted a Commercial Rehabilitation District exemption to Chicago Industrial Real Estate, LLC, allowing owner Matt Rogatz to have the property taxes frozen at this year’s level while he invests an estimated $1.5 million into the former All Phase electric building. However, there’s a slight catch. The commission granted Rogatz the abatement for seven years instead of the requested ten. The idea was pitched by mayor Pro Tem Duane Seats.. ...Read Full Story

Climate Change Lobbying Group Forms In St. Joseph

A citizens lobbying group to advocate for policies to reduce climate change has been formed in St. Joseph. Citizens’ Climate Lobby officially opened its St. Joe chapter on Saturday. CCL volunteers lobby Congress in support of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, which would put a carbon tax on fossil fuels to be returned to the public in order to cushion higher energy costs as fossil fuels are phased out. CCL says fossil fuels are a major source of greenhouse gases linked to global warming. St. Joseph Mayor Pro-Tem Laura Goos, a member of the new CCL, says the signs of climate change are all around us here in southwest Michigan, pointing to coastal erosion and flooding along Main Street in Benton Harbor and at Riverview Park in St. Joseph. The CCL will hold meetings on the second Saturday of each month at the Berrien Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on Lincoln Avenue. Each meeting will begin at 12:30 p.m. and run for two hours.. ...Read Full Story