Local News Archives

St. Joseph Lights Up The Bluff

The bluff has been lit. Hundreds gathered in downtown St. Joseph Friday night for the annual Light the Bluff celebration to kick off the holiday season. After a few words from St. Joe Mayor Mike Garey and a song from the high school choir, up went the lights on the community Christmas tree. Moments later, everyone counted down the lighting of the rest of the bluff. More than one million lights will illuminate the area throughout the winter. After the lighting ceremony, folks wandered the downtown area to check out live mannequins in store windows.. ...Read Full Story

Jobless Rate Falls For November

The nation’s jobless rate fell to 4.6% in November. That’s a nine-year low. However, coupled with weak pay increases in 2016, it suggests longer-term challenges for the US economy. Employers added 178,000 jobs last month. Michigan News Network Business Editor Murray Feldman explains where the jobs are right now.. ...Read Full Story

Ford Recalling 680,000 Vehicles

Ford is recalling more than 680,000 midsize sedans mainly in North America because the front seat belts may not hold people in a crash.
The recall covers certain 2013 to 2016 Ford Fusion, 2013 to 2015 Lincoln MKZ and 2015 and 2016 Ford Mondeo cars. Ford says heat generated when the seat belt pre-tensioners deploy can cause cables to break. If that happens the belts may not hold people. Ford says it knows of two injuries related to the problem. Pre-tensioners tighten seat belts when they sense that cars are stopping. Dealers will inject insulation into the pre-tensioners to protect the cables from heat at no cost to owners. The recall is expected to begin on January 16. Most of the cars are in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Orders Flags Lowered For Slain Police Officer

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has ordered flags to be lowered to honor a Detroit police officer killed in the line of duty. The governor’s office says in a release that U.S. and Michigan flags will be lowered to half-staff Friday on all state buildings and within the state Capitol complex for Wayne State University Police Officer Collin Rose. He was shot November 22 as he tried to arrest DeAngelo Davis and died the next day. Davis faces murder and gun charges. A funeral Mass was celebrated Thursday in suburban Detroit. Visitation was held Wednesday at Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions. Snyder says Rose, a canine officer, “dedicated his life to protecting” people and “was well-respected by his colleagues and the communities he served.”. ...Read Full Story

Suspect Arraigned In Fatal Benton Twp Shooting

Bond has been set at $500,000 for the man charged in a Wednesday fatal shooting in Benton Township. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office says 20-year-old Anthony Sanders was arraigned Friday on charges of felony murder, open murder, armed robbery, and felony firearm. Police say Sanders walked up to 43-year-old Kenneth Martin, Jr. on Wednesday night as Martin walked along Empire Avenue and shot him in the upper torso. Sanders then allegedly ran off, but thanks to a tip, police found him Thursday. The prosecutor’s office tells us Sanders is due back in court on December 9, and he remains in the Berrien County Jail.. ...Read Full Story

MI Attorney General Sues To Stop Recount

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed a lawsuit to stop Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s request to recount Michigan’s 4.8 million presidential ballots. It comes on the same day canvassers are meeting in Lansing to discuss a similar demand to stop the recount made on behalf of president-elect Donald Trump. In a press release, Schuette says it’s “inexcusable for Stein to put Michigan voters at risk of paying millions and potentially losing their voice in the Electoral College in the process.” As required, Stein’s lawyers sent the state a $973,250 check for the recount earlier this week — that’s $125 for each precinct. Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has estimated the actual cost of the recount could eclipse $2 million.. ...Read Full Story

State Police To Conduct “Eyes On 94” Enforcement Of Commercial Vehicles

You’ll see more state police on I-94 in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana next week. The three states are combining on a commercial vehicle enforcement to cut down on crashes called “Eyes on 94.” The focus by motor carrier officers will be on violations by truck drivers that are most likely to cause a crash. Those include speeding, not passing properly, driving distracted, improper lane use, and tailgating. The enforcement is a part of the national traffic safety campaign “Toward Zero Deaths.” You’ll remember that massive crash involving multiple semi trucks near the Kalamazoo-Calhoun county line just a few winters ago that was caused, in part, by semi drivers and passenger vehicle drivers going too fast for conditions.. ...Read Full Story

Report: Age Should Be Considered In Youth Parole Decisions

A new report finds it’s rare for a juvenile serving a life sentence in the U.S. to get paroled, even though the Supreme Court has ruled they can be. The ACLU’s “False Hope” report also shows few parole boards consider the convict’s age at the time of the original crime. Report author Sarah Mehta tells many people “age out” of criminal activity. She adds for people sentenced as teenagers, that can mean decades behind bars, even those considered model prisoners.. ...Read Full Story

Upton’s 21st Century Cures Package Approved By U.S. House

Congressman Fred Upton’s 21st Century Cures legislation has been approved by the U.S. House. Upton has spent the past few years backing the package designed to speed up the approval process for new drugs and medical devices. The legislation also provides a big boost in funding to the National Institutes of Health. The House gave it the green light Wednesday, voting 392 to 26. The plan is still one vote shy of what it needs to pass in the Senate, but it has the backing of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as support from President Obama. Upton hopes to see it on Obama’s desk by the end of the year.. ...Read Full Story

Suspect Arrested In Benton Township Fatal Shooting

A suspect has been arrested in a Wednesday night fatal shooting in Benton Township. Police say 20-year-old Anthony Sanders, of Benton Township, is facing charges of open murder and armed robbery after the killing of 43-year-old Kenneth Martin, Jr. Martin was shot as he walked along Empire Avenue shortly before 9:30 p.m. He’d been walking toward the Ravines mobile home park with a friend. She’s been identified as 43-year old Cynthia Sorrels, and she wasn’t hurt. Police say the two were approached by Sanders, who was planning to rob them, when Martin was shot before having a chance to respond. The suspect ran off, and detectives were able to identify and track him down on Thursday. He’s now at the Berrien County Jail.. ...Read Full Story

Uzelac Named Detroit Lions HS Coach Of The Year

A new honor for Benton Harbor High School Football Coach Eliot Uzelac. The Detroit Lions announced on Thursday he’s their High School Football Coach of the Year. Uzelac has gotten national attention since taking charge of the Tigers two seasons ago. The team was 4 and 50 in the six years prior to his arrival, and they’ve been 16 and 6 since Uzelac came around. They were also undefeated this past season. Uzelac has been a coach for 47 years, and has previously been a coach at colleges including Michigan, Ohio State, Colorado, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Maryland. Uzelac was also leader of the St. Joe Bears for five years.. ...Read Full Story

Recount Underway In Wisconsin

Observers representing Democrat Hillary Clinton, Republican Donald Trump and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein are spread out throughout Wisconsin to watch as ballots are recounted. Trump’s Wisconsin campaign director Pete Meachum was in Madison on Thursday
for the start of the recount. Meachum says the campaign had people in every major county across the state. Trump won Wisconsin by about 22,000 votes, or less than a percentage point. Stein has raised questions about the integrity of votes cast in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan without presenting any proof of wrongdoing. Stein said in a statement that “verifying the vote through this recount is the only way to confirm that every vote has been counted securely and accurately and is not compromised by machine or human error, or by tampering or hacking.”. ...Read Full Story

Black Friday Deals Help Lift November Auto Sales

Black Friday deals were expected to pull November U.S. auto sales out of their recent slump. General Motors’ sales jumped 10 percent over last November, while Toyota’s sales were up 4 percent. Nissan’s sales rose 7.5%. Total sales of new cars and trucks were expected to rise 4 percent for the month to 1.37 million units, according to Kelley Blue Book. That would be the highest November on record, beating the previous record of 1.32 million set in 2001. Higher incentives enticed buyers who sat out much of the fall. July was the last month that sales increased year-over-year.Barclay’s analyst Brian Johnson said incentives were averaging 12% of the price paid for new vehicles, which is one of the highest percentages in recent years.. ...Read Full Story

Bills Would Require Voters Without Photo ID To Return Later

Michigan Republicans are considering new legislation to change the procedure for voters who don’t show a photo ID at their polling place.
A bill up for a potential vote Thursday in the House Elections Committee would require those casting a provisional ballot to visit their clerk’s office no later than 10 days after the election to ensure it’s counted. They would have to present a photo ID with their current address or other documentation establishing their residency. Under current law, voters without a photo ID must sign a brief affidavit before voting. A hearing on the legislation was held Wednesday. The liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan says it’s a “voter suppression” bill. The sponsor, Republican Representative Lisa Posthumus Lyons, of Alto, says the measure would protect the integrity of elections.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Prohibits Plastic Bag Bans In Michigan

Efforts to rid Michigan communities of plastic shopping bags would be banned under legislation headed to Governor Rick Snyder. The Republican-controlled House approved the bill on a mostly party-line 62-46 vote Thursday. The measure won Senate passage in May. The bill would prohibit local governments from regulating, prohibiting or imposing a fee on the use or sale of “auxiliary containers’,’ which are
defined as reusable or single-use bags, cups, bottles or other packaging from stores and restaurants. More than 150 municipalities across the country have banned the environmentally unfriendly plastic bags or charged a fee. None are in Michigan, though at least two counties — Washtenaw and Muskegon — have considered whether to limit the bags. Democrats said the state should not strip local communities of decision-making.. ...Read Full Story

One Dead in Benton Township Robbery

Benton Township Police Department is asking for your help in finding a suspect in the shooting death of a man who was killed Wednesday night. Police were called to the 1900 block of East Empire Avenue around 9:15 p.m. in reference to a man who had been shot. When officers arrived they found 43-year-old Kenneth William Martin Junior just off the roadway and was shot in the chest. He was transported to Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph where he was pronounced dead. According to Officers, they learned that Martin was walking with a female companion when they were approached by an unknown male. The suspect demanded property from the two and during the robbery the suspect shot Martin. The female who was with Martin was not injured. Police say the suspect ran off in a northwestern direction. Police did used a K-9 unit to try to track the suspect but had no luck. The suspect remains at large and has not yet been identified. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Benton Township Police Department or Crimestoppers.. ...Read Full Story

Group Wants Debate Over Pure Michigan Cmpaign

There’s been some back and forth the past month between the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation about whether the Pure Michigan tourism ad campaign really works, and now the Mackinac Center wants a debate. Researcher Michael LaFaive tells WSJM News they should lay out the facts.. ...Read Full Story

County Clerks Prepare For Recount

It looks like a recount of this year’s presidential election is happening in Michigan, and county clerks across the state are preparing. Van Buren County Clerk Tina Leary tells WSJM News it’s going to be a hand recount, and as soon as she finds out what day it’s happening, she’ll assemble staff.. ...Read Full Story

LMC: On-Campus Security Always A Priority

With violent incidents now seeming to happen on a regular basis at college campuses around the U.S. you may be wondering if local institutions have taken steps to be prepared. Lake Michigan College President Dr. Bob Harrison tells WSJM News they have. At LMC, they’re constantly sensitive to security issues and how to respond.. ...Read Full Story

MI Panel Votes To Close Pensions To New Teachers

A legislative committee has voted to close the pension system to newly hired school employees in Michigan and instead provide them solely a 401(k) in retirement. The Republican-controlled Senate could pass the legislation later Wednesday and send it to the House. The bills would apply to school workers hired on or after July 1, 2017. Republicans say the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System is “unsustainable” and won’t be able to finance pension benefits because of a $26.7 billion unfunded liability. Since mid-2010, new hires have qualified for a “hybrid” plan, with a blending of a traditional pension and a 401(k). Older teachers receive a pension. Democrats say they’re unified against the measure. Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich says people “want more economic security, not less.”. ...Read Full Story

State Announces New Rules For Receiving Food Assistance

Michigan officials say able-bodied adults without dependents in four counties must meet work requirements to continue receiving food assistance after January 1. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday it’s notifying about 14,000 people in Kent, Oakland, Ottawa and Washtenaw counties this week of the change. Recipients ages 18-49 without disabilities that prevent them from working must spend an average of 20 hours per week each month in unsubsidized employment, job training, or volunteering at a nonprofit. The federal government waived work requirements in 2002 because of high unemployment, but lower joblessness means Michigan no longer is eligible for the waiver. The agency said it expects the waiver to be phased out statewide by October 2018. The four counties are going first because of low unemployment rates.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Limits Fundraising License Plates

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation to limit the number of state-sponsored license plates used to raise money for groups and
causes. Wednesday’s signing came after legislation was approved Tuesday by the Senate and House to cap the number at 20, not including university plates. Michigan has 15 university plates and 14 specialty fundraising plates, not including military plates. The legislation also revises the startup fee that groups must pay Michigan to develop a new fundraising plate. The bill was sponsored by former Representative Peter Pettalia, a Republican from Presque Isle who was killed in a motorcycle crash in September. In a statement, Snyder says the bill reflects Pettalia’s “common-sense approach to creating new laws and policies.”. ...Read Full Story

House Passes Pscholka Rainy Day Fund Bill

State Representative Al Pscholka’s legislation to protect the state’s Rainy Day Fund has been approved by the Michigan House. The fund was set up as a resource for lawmakers to use when the state’s facing a fiscal emergency, but it has been depleted in recent years. Pscholka WSJM News its use would be restricted under his bill.. ...Read Full Story

Dozens Arrested In Minimum Wage Protest

Detroit police say they arrested about 40 protesters who blocked traffic during a rally for union rights and an hourly wage of $15. Officer Jennifer Moreno says about 200 people protested early Tuesday outside a McDonald’s restaurant on the city’s west side and those who wouldn’t get out
of a street were arrested. WWJ-AM reports some locked arms and sat in the middle of the roadway. The crowd chanted “We work, we sweat. Put 15 on our check.” A protest also took place outside a McDonald’s in Flint. The protests are part of a nationwide campaign for higher hourly wages, including for workers at airports and fast-food restaurants. The campaign has included several rounds of actions, including multiple Michigan protests, since the efforts began in 2012.. ...Read Full Story

MI Senate Approves New Business Incentives

Michigan would provide up to $250 million in tax breaks a year to attract larger-scale business expansions under legislation advancing in
the legislature. A Senate committee quickly and unanimously approved bipartisan bills Tuesday that supporters say are needed to compete with other states. They say Michigan is among two states with a corporate income tax and no tax credits, and Ohio and Indiana offer incentives worth seven times more than Michigan’s. The legislation, which the Senate plans to pass Tuesday, would authorize the Michigan Strategic Fund to strike 10-year deals with companies so they could keep income tax withholdings. Business could qualify if they create at least 250 jobs that pay 125% or more of the average wage in the county, or if they create at least 500 jobs.. ...Read Full Story

Kellogg Pulls Advertisements From Breitbart

Kellogg says it will no longer advertise on Breitbart.com, the website formerly run by one of President-elect Donald Trump’s top aides, Steve Bannon. Kellogg Company  spokeswoman Kris Charles says the food company regularly works with media buyers to ensure its ads “do not appear on sites that aren’t aligned with our values as a company.” She says “occasionally something is inadvertently missed,” and Kellogg decided to “discontinue” advertising on Breitbart after learning its ads were on the site. Breitbart is the target of a concerted effort on social media that calls on companies to cease advertising on the site, which has been condemned as racist, sexist and anti-Semitic. The site called Kellogg’s decision “economic censorship” and “un-American,” saying Kellogg was denigrating “to its own detriment” the consumers who
elected Trump.. ...Read Full Story

Workers At O’Hare Airport Expected To Strike Over Wages

(Chicago, IL – AP) – Workers at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport are expected to walk off the job over union rights and an hourly wage of $15. About 500 workers have committed to the strike on Tuesday. They include cabin cleaners, janitors, wheelchair attendants and baggage handlers. The workers are employed by private contractors. Strike organizers say many work for minimum wage. They’re trying to unionize with the help of Service Employees International Union Local 1.. ...Read Full Story

Detroit Police Arrest About 40 During Union, Wage Protest

Detroit police say they arrested about 40 protesters who blocked traffic during a rally for union rights and an hourly wage of $15. Officer Jennifer Moreno says about 200 people protested early Tuesday outside a McDonald’s restaurant on the city’s west side and those who wouldn’t get out of a street were arrested. Some locked arms and sat in the middle of the roadway. The crowd chanted “We work, we sweat. Put 15 on our check.” The protest is part of a nationwide campaign for higher hourly wages, including for workers at airports and fast-food restaurants. The campaign has included several rounds of actions, including multiple Michigan protests, since the
efforts began in 2012.. ...Read Full Story

More MI Kmart Stores Closing Next Month

Several Kmart stores in Michigan are preparing to close next month, following dozens of others that have shuttered in the state since the
company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection nearly 15 years ago. The Detroit News reports nearly two-thirds of the 2,165 Kmart stores that were operating in the U.S. have closed since 2000. More than 130 nationwide closures have been announced this year. Seven stores in the state are slated to close December 11, including locations in Jackson and Fenton. Some defunct Kmarts in Bloomfield Hills, Woodhaven and other Metro Detroit cities have been resurrected as new enterprises, but vacant Kmart buildings are still scattered throughout the region.
The nature of the aging buildings makes them difficult to fill with other retail as they’re often massive structures tailored to house Kmarts.. ...Read Full Story

MI GOP Preparing For Possible Recount

After raising more than five-million dollars for election recount efforts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has set her sights on Michigan. Ronna Romney McDaniel, Chair of the Michigan Republican Party, says this is all a waste of time.. ...Read Full Story

Honor Credit Union Announces Teacher Award Winners

Honor Credit Union has announced the winners of its seventh annual teacher awards. In all, 30 teachers from areas served by the credit union were picked to receive special accolades, as well as $100 to use in their classroom or school. In the St. Joseph area, the winning teachers were Renee Carle and Mary LoPresti, while Dawn Luckritz was the Lakeshore winner. For South Haven, the honored teachers were Cheri Stein and Linda Brzezinski. Honor Credit Union took submissions for teacher awards from more than 300 schools. Entrants had to submit a short description of how they would use the money to better educate their students if they won. You can see the full list of winning teachers below.. ...Read Full Story

State Police To Collect Toys In BH, Niles

Everyone will have a chance to help Michigan State Police collect toys, clothing, and food for kids in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program this coming weekend. For the third year in a row, the Niles post is holding a Stuff a Blue Goose toy drive Saturday. Trooper DeWayne Robinson tells our newsroom they’ll fill up an MSP vehicle with toys.. ...Read Full Story

Report: Some Recalled Toys Could Still Be On Store Shelves

An annual survey of toy safety is out just in time for the holiday shopping season. “Trouble in Toyland 2016” from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund found that over a dozen recalled toys may be available for sale online. The group’s Mike Litt tells us that over the past 30 years, the annual report has contributed to more than 150 recalls. It’s also helped push for toy safety legislation.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Scream Park Raises $124,000 For Charity

The Niles Scream Park has done it again. During its most recent season of scares, the spooky non-profit attraction managed to raise more than $124,000 for charities all over southwest Michigan. This was the 43rd year in a row for the Niles Scream Park, and the money it collected will go to more than 55 area children’s organizations, civic groups, and other charities. Some funds will also be used to support four college scholarships for local high school grads. This year’s Scream Park had six attractions in all, and it took 530 volunteers giving up 22,000 hours of their time to run for the Halloween season. The park also hit a milestone this year, welcoming its 1.8 millionth visitor.. ...Read Full Story

University Of Michigan Beats Ohio State In Blood Drive

The University of Michigan may have lost on the football field, but the school topped Ohio State University in an annual drive to get blood donations. The Ann Arbor school says in a statement that Michigan had 2,363 donations and Ohio State brought in 2,355 in the 35th annual blood drive. Michigan and Ohio State competed in the weeks before Saturday’s football game between the Wolverines and Buckeyes in Columbus, Ohio. The blood drive is called “Blood Battle” and Ohio State had won the last two blood drive competitions. The University of Michigan gets the American Red Cross traveling trophy. On the football field, Ohio State beat Michigan in double-overtime.. ...Read Full Story

Republican States That Expanded Medicaid Want It Kept

Republican-led states that signed onto Medicaid expansion are in a tough spot as they wonder if president-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to dump the Affordable Care Act means the expansion goes away. Former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer fought her own Republican party in the state
Legislature to push through expansion three years ago. Brewer now hopes one of the pillars of President Barack Obama’s health care  law can be saved. She says there’s no more cost-effective way to provide insurance to the working poor. Nearly 400,000 Arizonans have gained Medicaid
insurance since Brewer’s proposal took effect in 2014 and about 9 million nationwide. Many officials in the GOP-led states that embraced expansion are also strong proponents of the program.. ...Read Full Story

SW Michigan Has State’s Lowest Gas Prices

Michigan’s lowest gas prices are right here in southwest Michigan. GasBuddy says South Haven’s prices are as low as $1.78, which is the rock-bottom level in the state. Triple-A Michigan’s latest survey of prices shows the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph area has an average of $2 per gallon, which is the lowest of the 10 areas the auto club surveys daily. Statewide, the average is $2.08, down 3¢ from last week. While prices are falling, they’re still up by 23¢ a gallon from last year statewide and up 18¢ in the Twin Cities.. ...Read Full Story

2016 A Strong Year For SWM Home Sales

Southwest Michigan’s housing market has been strong throughout 2016, although sales took a bit of a breather in the month of October. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors’ Philip Amodeo tells WSJM News sales for the month were down 6% from October of 2016. However, the year as a whole remains strong.. ...Read Full Story

Study Examines Healthcare Needs In Southwest Michigan

A year-long study done by Lakeland Health has given us a sense of what communities need to help residents live healthy, and also what folks around southwest Michigan are concerned about. The 2016-2019 Community Health Needs Assessment took about a year to compile, and points to several things weighing on the public’s mind, says Lakeland’s Dr. Lynn Todman.. ...Read Full Story