Local News Archives

Berrien County Road Commission Looks To Fill Vacancy

If you’re interested in serving on the Berrien County Road Commission, you may be in luck. They’ve got a vacancy on the board. The seat representing District 1 is currently empty, and the county is taking applications. District 1 represents Coloma, Watervliet, Hagar, Bainbridge, Pipestone, and Sodus Townships. You don’t have to be from one of those places to get the seat, but there is a preference for applicants who are. The Berrien County Road Commission is responsible for more than 1,400 miles of county roads, and is governed by a board of five. Meetings are held every other Wednesday, and the District 1 term will expire at the end of 2019. You can get an application by stopping by the Berrien County Administration office in St. Joseph or BerrienCounty.org.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Signs Bill To Make Overdose Drug More Available

Governor Rick Snyder has authorized the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to issue a standing order pre-authorizing
pharmacists to distribute the overdose reversal drug naloxone to eligible individuals. Snyder’s office said Thursday that pharmacies that obtain the standing order will be able to dispense naloxone to those at risk of an opioid-related overdose and to family members, friends, or others who might be able to help such individuals. Naloxone currently is only available to be administered by law enforcement and other first responders.
Health and Human Service Department chief medical executive Dr. Eden Wells says the shorter response time allowed by the standing order is a vital step in  reducing opioid-related deaths in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Pagel Introduces Hotel Carbon Monoxide Bill

The carbon monoxide poisoning death of a teenager at a Quality Inn hotel in Niles last month is prompting a potential new law. Republican state Representative Dave Pagel of Berrien Springs is teaming up with Democratic Senator Steve Bieda of Warren to introduce bills requiring all hotels have carbon monoxide detectors. It’s mandatory for new hotels, but this would ensure older ones add them, as well. Eleven people were sickened by the odorless gas from malfunctioning equipment in the pool area over spring break at the Niles Quality Inn. A lawsuit has been filed by the family of Bryan Douglas-Watts. Thirteen states already have the requirement.. ...Read Full Story

Agency: Ending Pensions For New Teachers Costs Billions

From the Associated Press — Legislative economists estimate that it would cost $410 million in the first year to close Michigan’s pension system to newly hired teachers and instead provide them a 401(k) only. The nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency released its analysis Wednesday, a day
after Republican-sponsored legislation was introduced. The bill would affect new school employees hired after September 30. The analysis
estimates transition costs would total $2.3 billion in the first full five years, or about $465 million annually. Majority Republican lawmakers say the pension plan should be closed to new hires so the state stops accumulating debt. Governor Rick Snyder and Democrats say a 7-year-old hybrid pension/401(k) plan is working and upfront costs of a switch are too high.. ...Read Full Story

BH Event Focuses Attention On Plight Of The Transgendered

The struggle faced by transgendered Americans is being highlighted by the OutCenter in Benton Harbor. It held an event with Equality Michigan Wednesday to bring attention to the economic and other problems the transgendered face. Natalie Mooney is the mother of a transgendered southwest Michigan man. She said people need to think about the language they’re using, and also about how they can make things better for others.. ...Read Full Story

Owner Of Allegan County Antique Shop Killed In Shooting

The owner of a Casco Township antiques shop is dead following a Wednesday morning shooting. Michigan State Police tell MLive 58-year-old Robert Hill was killed by his 27-year-old stepson at Hill’s home in the 1,100 block of Blue Star Highway. The stepson’s name has not been released, and he gave himself up without incident. The victim’s wife was home at the time, but police say she wasn’t hurt. Police are investigating the circumstances of the shooting. Hill was the owner of Farmhouse Glenn Antique Shop, located on the same property.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Man Charged With Selling Heroin

A Niles man is facing drug charges after police say he sold heroin to an undercover officer. The Niles Police Department tells WSJM News 29-year-old Daqone Williams was under investigation for possible crack and heroin distribution in the area. They and the Cass County Sheriff’s Department teamed up for a month-long operation in which the heroin sale allegedly took place. Williams was arrested this week after a search of his home that police say turned up heroin, crack, and marijuana. They tell us the drugs have a street value of about $8,000. Williams was arraigned Wednesday with bond set at $20,000.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Planning For Major Infrastructure Work

A whole lot of infrastructure work is needed in St. Joseph, and at a Wednesday meeting, city leaders spoke with residents to find out what work they consider the most pressing. Engineering consultant Shawn Keough tells WSJM News residents have to offer input because the dozens of projects likely in the next several years won’t be cheap.. ...Read Full Story

MI Senate Votes To Allow Dogs On Restaurant Patios

From the Associated Press — Patrons could bring their dogs along while eating in outdoor areas of restaurants under a bill advancing in the Michigan Legislature. State law generally prohibits live animals at restaurants. The legislation was approved 32-6 by the Senate on Wednesday and sent to the House for consideration. The bill would allow dogs on restaurant patios under certain circumstances. Dogs would have to be leashed and couldn’t pass through the restaurant interior or sit in chairs or on customers’ laps. Patios would have to be free of dog hair. Surfaces contaminated by dog waste would have to be disinfected immediately. The legislation wouldn’t require restaurant owners to allow dogs, and local
communities could pass ordinances prohibiting dogs on restaurant patios.. ...Read Full Story

Former BH Superintendent Bound Over For Trial

Former Benton Harbor Area Schools Superintendent Dr. Leonard Seawood will go to trial in August for embezzlement. At a preliminary exam Wednesday, Berrien County Judge Donna Howard found there was enough evidence Seawood knowingly presented falsified documents to members of the school board and the district’s HR office when submitting for reimbursement of unused vacation days. Seawood’s accused of getting about $41,000 he wasn’t supposed to be paid under his contract. The judge found probable cause to let Seawood be bound over. His attorney, Keith Lynch, said they were disappointed, telling us they’re confident a jury knows how hard Seawood worked for the community will find him not guilty. Seawood will be tried starting August 1.. ...Read Full Story

Stabenow Vows To Protect Great Lakes Funding

President Donald Trump’s administration says state and local governments should pay for cleanups of the Great Lakes and other iconic waterways. The proposed federal budget for 2018 would eliminate $427 million for regional water restoration initiatives. U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan told Michigan News Network the money is vital for the environment.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Senate OKs Big Changes To Natural Resources Fund

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Senate has approved significant changes in how the state buys and improves land for public recreation. Legislation passed 24-14 Wednesday by the Republican-controlled chamber would empower the Legislature to have more say in decisions that largely are made by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund board. Another bill would spend nearly $8 million more on projects this year than recommended. Senators say the state should spend more from the fund. Governor Rick Snyder’s administration is opposed to the bill, saying it is an unconstitutional overreach. Attorney General Bill Schuette has been asked to weigh in with a legal opinion. The fund consists of royalties paid by companies to drill for oil and natural gas on state property and is used to buy and improve land for public recreation.. ...Read Full Story

MI House Approves Bill On Handling Of Police Body Cam Footage

From the Associated Press — Michigan lawmakers are looking to create guidelines for body camera footage obtained by law enforcement officers. The state House passed a bill Tuesday that would require police departments to have written policies on using body cameras and maintaining and handling recordings. It would prohibit certain footage from being obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Republican Representative Jim Runestad of White Lake is sponsoring the bill and says there are hardly any rules on how departments should handle footage. Lisa McGraw, public affairs manager for the Michigan Press Association, opposes the legislation and says the footage should be made available to the public because if there is an instance of an officer behaving inappropriately, the public should know. The legislation passed unanimously and now goes to the Senate.. ...Read Full Story

Upton: Some Proposed Budget Cuts Are “Non-Starters”

President Trump’s budget proposal is facing opposition from Congressman Fred Upton. He tells us many of the cuts the president lays out in his official budget, released Thursday, are “non-starters.” They include big cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the National Institutes of Health. Upton issued a statement Wednesday saying, “the president’s budget proposal is just that: a proposal.” He adds he will “continue to advocate for common-sense budgeting that reels in spending, makes government more accountable, but also properly funds essential programs the most vulnerable amongst us depend on.” Upton notes the budgeting process will continue all summer. The plan current in place runs out September 30.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Gets Nearly $400,000 In Settlement With Target

From the Associated Press — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says the state will receive nearly $400,000 from an $18.5 million settlement with Target Corporation to resolve a multi-state probe into the discounter’s pre-Christmas data breach in 2013. Target’s breach affected more than 41 million customer payment card accounts and exposed contact information for more than 60 million customers. The breach
forced Target to overhaul its security system. The company offered free credit reports for potentially affected shoppers. The settlement requires Target to maintain appropriate encryption policies and take other security steps. Schuette said Tuesday in a statement that the state’s proceeds from the settlement will go to its general fund. The settlement involves 47 states and the District of Columbia.. ...Read Full Story

No Serious Injuries After West MI School Evacuated

From the Associated Press — About 20 students and staff members at a western Michigan school have been treated for breathing problems caused by an unknown irritant. The Muskegon Chronicle and WOOD-TV report hazardous materials teams were inside Muskegon Catholic Central on Tuesday trying to determine the cause of the irritant. Classes have been cancelled for the day. Authorities say there is no evidence of foul play, and those treated at and released from hospitals weren’t considered to be critical. Reported symptoms included shortness of breath, coughing and chest tightness. Michigan Catholic Central President Ken Rasp said he could feel something in his throat that made him want to sneeze. About 450 people were in the school at the time of the evacuation. Air samples were expected to be sent to a laboratory for testing.. ...Read Full Story

Protests In Kalamazoo Over Paw Paw Team Name

The controversy over the “Redskins” nickname for Paw Paw Public Schools isn’t going away, despite the school board voting to keep it in place earlier this year. The high school’s varsity baseball team was met by protesters yesterday at Kalamazoo Central High School, with about two dozen people chanting “change the mascot,” “Redskin means murder,” and more at the ballgame. Kalamazoo Public Schools put out a statement saying they did not announce the team mascot of “Redskins” because the name is offensive to some students. Supporters of the “Redskins” moniker called it “sad” that people would protest a high school baseball game.. ...Read Full Story

Humane Society To Break Ground On New Shelter Next Month

Ground will be broken on the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan’s new shelter in Royalton Township next month. Board President Don Blackmond tells WSJM News they have raised more than $1.2 million of the $2 million shelter goal, enough to get started on construction and to finance the rest. He says the campaign for a new shelter has been a success.. ...Read Full Story

Drivers Warned About Hilltop/Washington Avenue Traffic Shift

Drivers are being advised to avoid the intersection of Hilltop Road and Washington Avenue in St. Joseph while construction work wraps up. The city and several other entities are working to resurface Hilltop and replace water pipes. The contractor, Wightman and Associates, tells us current traffic shifts on Hilltop, which have involved lane closures, will continue until the project can be completed all the way to Washington. Access to some driveways in the area will be occasionally closed, and the Hilltop/Washington traffic signal has been converted into a four-way stop. Drivers should avoid the area when possible.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Businesswoman Running For U.S. Senate

From the Associated Press — Republican businesswoman Lena Epstein is running for U.S. Senate in Michigan. In her announcement Monday, the 35-year-old said Michigan is ready for another outsider with business experience after helping elect Donald Trump president. Epstein is a third-generation co-owner of Vesco Oil Corporation, a large distributor of automotive and industrial lubricants based in the Detroit suburb of
Southfield. The political newcomer has not held elective office but was a co-chair of Trump’s Michigan campaign. She says in a statement that “politicians have failed us” and she will “take the fight directly to” Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat who is expected to seek a fourth term in 2018 and who coasted to re-election in 2006 and 2012. Epstein is the first Republican to enter the Senate race.. ...Read Full Story

MI Democrats Introduce “Healthcare Bill Of Rights”

From the Associated Press — Democrats in Michigan’s Legislature are speaking out against Republican-backed health care legislation approved by the U.S. House. Lawmakers on Monday introduced a proposed “Michigan Health Care Bill of Rights” resolution and held news conference in five cities. The measure would aim to block parts of the proposed plan like the “age tax” and to protect people with pre-existing conditions.
House Minority Leader Sam Singh of East Lansing says millions of people would lose health coverage and costs for seniors would go up under the bill now being considered in the U.S. Senate. State Democrats plan to hammer on the issue often _ including by fighting Medicaid cuts _ and want to get GOP legislators to say where they stand on the federal legislation. The Legislature is controlled by Republicans.. ...Read Full Story

Scientists To Release Sterile Lampreys Into Michigan Waterways

From the Associated Press — Scientists will release sterile sea lampreys into several Michigan rivers in the continuing quest to control the aquatic parasites that threaten fish in the Great Lakes region. Crews this month will put about 4,000 sterile males into the Pigeon, Sturgeon and Maple rivers in the northern Lower Peninsula. The idea is to drastically outnumber the small population of fertile males and reduce their odds of mating successfully with females. Eel-like sea lampreys attach themselves to fish with a suction-cup mouth and feed on the hosts’ body fluids.
The sterile lampreys have passed the point in their life cycle when they would feed. Scientists have reduced the Great Lakes lamprey population with a specially designed poison, but it’s expensive. If the sterile-male plan works, fewer lampricide river treatments will be needed.. ...Read Full Story

Suspected Drug Dealers From Indiana Busted In Bangor

Two suspected drug dealers from Elkhart, Indiana planning to attend a music festival near Bangor ended up in the Van Buren County Jail instead after they were discovered to have about 100 Ecstasy pills and methamphetamine in their car. Van Buren County deputies stopped their car for a traffic violation along C.R. 687 in a rural area in Bangor Township at about 7:30 Saturday evening. The driver of the vehicle was not arrested.. ...Read Full Story

Ford CEO Mark Fields Out

Ford Motor Company is replacing its chief executive. Mark Fields is retiring amid pressure based on the company’s stock price according to anonymous sources familiar with the situation. During the 56-year old’s three-year tenure, shares dropped 40%. Former Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett is said to be assuming Fields’ job. Over the last year, Hackett has overseen Ford’s subsidiary which works on autonomous vehicles.. ...Read Full Story

Bill Would Allow Horse Race Betting Via Smart Phone

Legislation now in the Michigan House would allow state residents to place bets on horse races through their smart phones. State Representative Dan Lauwers, of Brockway Township, tells Michael Patrick Shiels there are 20 states in which you’re allowed to place a horse track bet on your phone instead of having to wait in line. The plan would also wagers on out-of-state races. A vote was expected Thursday, but House Speaker Tom Leonard tells MIRS News some representatives still had questions. They’re hoping to get answers to those questions over the weekend.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Would Crack Down On Theft Of Veterans Grave Markers

A plan from state Senator John Proos to put the hammer down on those who steal veterans grave markers has cleared a committee. Proos tells us his plan would make it a felony to steal a veteran grave marker with a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, depending on its value. He adds the measure would apply broadly, including antique stores and scrap dealers who would melt down the markers for the metal. It was approved this week by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and appears to be headed for full Senate passage.. ...Read Full Story

Two Facing Drug Charges After Van Buren County Traffic Stop

Two people are facing drug charges following a traffic stop in Van Buren County Friday. The sheriff’s department tells us deputies stopped a vehicle in the area of County Road 687 and County Road 376 in Bangor Township around 7:30 p.m. They did a search and say they found more than 100 ecstasy pills. Police believe the pills were being transported from Indiana to an outdoor music festival in Bangor Township. Deputies also found a small amount of suspected methamphetamine on one passenger. Two of the three people in the vehicle are now facing drug charges. Police have not released the names of the suspects. Both are from Elkhart, Indiana.. ...Read Full Story

Comcast To Hold Hiring Event For New BH Store

Comcast needs employees for its new Benton Township XFinity store, and there will be a special gathering this month to help it find them. The company tells us there will be a hiring event at the Holiday Inn Express in St. Joseph May 30. On hand will be Comcast managers and reps who can answer questions about working for them, as well as applications. Comcast tells us you should apply in advance at Jobs.Comcast.com. The May 30 hiring event will be from 2 to 4 p.m. The full and part-time employees it’s hiring will work at the new office in the Fairplain Plaza. It’s replacing the Comcast office in downtown Benton Harbor.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan GOP Lincoln Tribute Dinner Today

The chairperson of the Republican National Committee will headline the 122nd annual Lincoln Tribute Dinner this weekend. It’s a familiar face and a familiar name. Former Michigan Republican Party Chairperson Ronna Romney McDaniel, the niece of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney and the granddaughter of former Governor George Romney, will deliver the keynote address Saturday at the Gull Lake Country Club. That’s according to Kalamazoo County GOP Chairperson Scott McGraw, who spoke with WKZO News about the dinner.. ...Read Full Story

West Nile Virus Found In Michigan

West Nile virus has been identified in Michigan. It’s in a turkey found in Barry County, and two crows. One was in Kalamazoo County and the other was in Saginaw County. Jennifer Eisner, with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spoke with Michigan News Network about the virus.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Road Commission Issues Summer Construction Map

A summer construction map has been released by the Berrien County Road Commission. Engineer Brian Berndt tells WSJM News big projects this year include the replacement of a culvert on Territorial Road over Blue Creek. That $1 million project should be finished by July 4. There’s plenty of other work going on in the next few months, and Berndt asks drivers to take it easy.. ...Read Full Story

BBQ, Blues And Bluegrass Festival Saturday

Set for this Saturday is a day of barbecue, blues, and bluegrass in St. Joseph. Thousands are expected to head down to Whirlpool Centennial Park for the annual BBQ, Blues and Bluegrass Festival. The headliner is Jonny Lang, and also on hand will be the Steeldrivers, the Marcus King Band, and the Lil’ Smokies. The event is rain or shine, and tickets are still on sale. You can get them at the St. Joseph Welcome Center downtown or at the door. You can find out more at StJoeToday.com.. ...Read Full Story

GOP Leaders Call Off Budget Talks With Snyder Over Teacher Pension Dispute

From the Associated Press — Republican legislative leaders have canceled budget talks with Governor Rick Snyder’s administration due to their dispute with the governor over switching new teachers away from a pension into a 401(k) retirement plan. Snyder opposes closing the pension system to newly hired school employees. The move to cancel a Friday meeting between top lawmakers and Snyder’s budget director could put at risk a quick resolution of the next budget, which Snyder and the GOP-led Legislature like to finish in early June. Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and House Speaker Tom Leonard want to see progress on talks over the teacher retirement system before resuming budget
negotiations.. ...Read Full Story

Panel Recommends Pay Raises For MI Elected Officials

From the Associated Press — A panel is recommending that Michigan restore the pay of statewide elected officials to levels that were in place before a 10% cut was imposed in 2010. The State Officers Compensation Commission said Friday that the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and secretary of state should receive 10% pay hikes. It also said Supreme Court justices should receive their first raise since 2002. Pay levels ultimately are set by the legislature, which has been reluctant to vote for pay hikes and previously cut the pay of legislators and others during the economic downturn. The commission, which meets every two years, says pay should be boosted to attract quality public servants. It did not recommend a pay hike for legislators.. ...Read Full Story

Self-Defense Claimed In Benton Township Shooting Death

Self-defense is claimed in a shooting death in Benton Township earlier this month. At a Thursday hearing, Jade Roy testified that she and her boyfriend, Derrick Bailey, encountered her ex-boyfriend the night of May 1 at the intersection of Benton Center and Red Arrow Highway. She says that ex, Nicholaus Kling, had been sending her threatening text messages after finding out she was dating Bailey.. ...Read Full Story

Conviction In Attack On MSP Trooper

One of the two men accused of attacking Michigan State Police Trooper Garry Guild is headed to prison. 21-year-old Michael Barber faces up to 15 years behind bars for the most serious conviction, assault with intent to commit great bodily harm. Defense attorney Scott Sanford told our partners at WNDU NewsCenter 16 he was pleased the jury found Barber guilty of that instead of attempted murder, which was in front of them.. ...Read Full Story

State Approves Forms For Marijuana, Prevailing Wage Petitions

From the Associated Press — Groups that want to legalize recreational marijuana and repeal a law that requires union-level wages on state-financed building projects can begin gathering voter signatures. The Board of State Canvassers approved the form of the petitions on Thursday.
The ballot committees must collect roughly 252,000 valid voter signatures needed to put the bills before the Republican-led Legislature and potentially voters. Lawmakers likely would not act on the marijuana measure and instead let it go to a statewide vote in 2018. A new ballot committee has been created to oppose the marijuana legalization drive. GOP legislators could pass the repeal of the prevailing wage law to bypass Republican Governor Rick Snyder’s past veto threat.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Benton Harbor Shooting

Police are looking for a suspect in a Thursday shooting in Benton Harbor. The department of public safety tells us it happened around 6:30 at the intersection of Main and McCord. Officers arrived to find 38-year-old Dondrell Blackamore, of Benton Harbor, wounded. He was taken to Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph for treatment. Blackamore is the owner of M&M Garage, which is located at that intersection. Police don’t yet have any suspects, but say they’re investigating several leads. They did get a report of a man dressed in back running from the scene. If you have information on the shooting, you’re asked to contact the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety.. ...Read Full Story