Local News Archives

Michigan House Passes Bills On Concealed Pistol Licenses

From the Associated Press — The Michigan House has passed a package of four bills that would make concealed pistol licenses optional for people living in the state. The primary bill passed 59 to 49 Wednesday while others passed on similar votes. The bills now go to the state Senate. They would remove the restriction of requiring a license to carry a concealed pistol and let people voluntarily get education or training since a permit would not be required. Rep. Michelle Hoitenga, a Republican from Manton, says she knows of law-abiding citizens without licenses who get in trouble when their clothing accidentally covers their pistol when they are open-carrying. Opponents say not requiring concealed pistol licenses — and the training required to get them — could pose dangers to police and the public.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Unsure About Signing Anti-Abortion License Plate Bill

From the Associated Press — A spokeswoman for Republican Governor Rick Snyder says he’s undecided about signing legislation to require Michigan to create an anti-abortion fundraising license plate. The Republican-led Senate enrolled the bill Tuesday after it previously won
mostly party-line approval in the legislature. The measure would require a “Choose Life” plate to be issued by June 2018. Michigan has fundraising plates for universities and causes like breast cancer awareness. The anti-abortion plate would cost $35 initially. The money would go to a fund whose board is controlled by Right to Life of Michigan. The board would disperse grants to crisis pregnancy centers and other nonprofits promoting “life-affirming programs and projects.” Senators fell short of giving the bill immediate effect, which could delay the
plate’s release in 2018.. ...Read Full Story

State Panel Approves Higher Education Budget

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s 15 public universities would get an overall 2 percent boost in state funding under legislation ironed out by lawmakers. A Republican-led conference committee voted 5-1 for the $1.6 billion higher education budget bill Tuesday, with one Democrat in opposition. Schools’ funding increases would range from 1.5 percent to 2.7 percent. Five universities’ state aid would remain below levels from seven years ago. Legislators are advancing spending measures after setting targets without Governor Rick Snyder due to an impasse over closing the pension system to newly hired school employees. It’s unclear if the full Legislature will vote without a deal with the Republican governor.
Twenty-eight community colleges would see an overall 1 percent funding boost under another bill approved Tuesday. Increases would range from 0.6 percent to 3.2 percent.. ...Read Full Story

BH Schools Could Adopt Plan To Sell Off Surplus Properties

A final plan for Benton Harbor Area Schools to drop ten unused properties could be approved next week by the board of education. At a Tuesday work session, trustees were told a firm will be hired to handle the sale of surplus buildings and other properties. If they don’t sell within a year, they’ll either be auctioned or given to the land bank. Superintendent Dr. Shelly Walker told WSJM News the goal is to save money.. ...Read Full Story

This Is CPR Awareness Week

This is CPR and AED Awareness Week, observed by the American Heart Association every year in June to remind people that CPR is easy to learn and can save lives. When a person has cardiac arrest, their survival depends on quick administration of CPR, says Dan Grejcyzk, a CPR teacher.. ...Read Full Story

Detroit Tigers To Honor Fallen Officers

Ron Kienzle and Joseph Zangaro will be honored tomorrow by the Detroit Tigers along with five other officers who were killed in the line of duty in the state last year. You’ll remember Kienzle and Zangaro died when they were shot by an inmate trying to escape the Berrien County Courthouse last July. The Tigers’ 6th Annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Night at Comerica Park will include a special Michigan State Police helicopter flyover, and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game against the Los Angeles Angels. $10 from each ticket sold tomorrow night will be donated to the fund for the National Law Enforcement Museum, which is being built in Washington, DC.. ...Read Full Story

Free Fishing This Weekend

Coming up this weekend, you’ll be able to go fishing in Michigan waters free of charge. State Representative Kim LaSata tells us it’s another Free Fishing Weekend, June 10 and 11. That’s when the Michigan Department of Natural Resources waives all fishing license fees so everyone can check out the state’s fishing opportunities without having to pay up. Representative LaSata tells us there’s something special about southwest Michigan in that department, and so she urges everyone to take part. All other fishing rules still apply throughout the weekend. You can find out more at Michigan.gov/FreeFishing.. ...Read Full Story

BH City Commissioners Hear Medical Marijuana Recommendations

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have heard from Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey and Prosecutor Michael Sepic about the issue of medical marijuana dispensaries. At a Monday meeting, both officials recommended the city not allow such operations. Under recent state law, cities could start licensing dispensaries and growers as soon as December. Prosecutor Michael Sepic told WSJM News he doesn’t see the benefit of having more marijuana in a community.. ...Read Full Story

BH School Board Trustee Resigns

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education is looking for a new trustee. That’s because board member Elnora Gavin has resigned. She submitted her resignation on June 2. The board wants to start screening applicants to replace Gavin by June 23. It’s asking any interested community members to step forward. There will be a June 27 meeting at the high school so the board can review all of the applications it gets. The hope is to get someone in the seat by July 11. If you’d like to apply, stop by the central administration office on Pipestone.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Pinned Under Vehicle In Van Buren County Crash

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department believes a Paw Paw area woman was going too fast when she rolled her SUV this week near Lawton. It says deputies were called out to the scene on M-40 near 31st Street in Antwerp Township around 7:30 a.m. Monday. They found the 32-year-old woman with one leg pinned under the SUV, which was on its side. She was awake and able to speak with them. Firefighters from Lawton used airbags to get the vehicle off the woman, and she was taken to Bronson Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.. ...Read Full Story

Personal Watercraft Crash Sends One To Hospital

An Illinois man is being treated at Elkhart General Hospital in Indiana after a personal watercraft accident on Shavehead Lake in Cass County over the weekend. The sheriff’s department tells WSJM News 25-year-old Kyle Hughes of Mokena, Illinois was taken to the hospital after his personal watercraft collided with one piloted by Ryan Zawadzki of Frankfort, Illinois around 3:30 Saturday afternoon. Deputies don’t believe alcohol was a factor. They are using the crash to remind everyone born after December 31, 1978 that they need to have a Boater Safety Certificate to operate those vessels in the state of Michigan. The department does not, however, say if either Zawadzki or Hughes had such certification.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Up 7¢ Statewide

Our gas prices in Michigan are up 7¢ a gallon from last week. Triple-A Michigan puts the average at $2.50, which is lower than this time last year by about a dime per gallon. Marquette has the lowest prices in the state at $2.42, while Traverse City and Grand Rapids have the state’s highest prices at $2.54. Locally, the average in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph is up 9¢ to $2.47. Our average price is down 13¢ from year-ago levels. The auto club says demand for gasoline nationwide is continuing to rise due to summer, and that’s starting to eat into the supply glut of gasoline. GasBuddy puts the average in South Haven at $2.42 a gallon.. ...Read Full Story

One Stabbed In New Buffalo

An argument between roommates in New Buffalo took a violent turn just before 7:30 p.m. Sunday when one allegedly stabbed the other. According to the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, they were called when the 42-year-old victim was taken to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Michigan City. They arrested her 20-year-old roommate on charges of assault with a dangerous weapon, and she’s expected to be arraigned later today. The victim is expected to make a full recovery, as her injuries are not life-threatening.. ...Read Full Story

Politics Leading To More Stress In U.S. Workplaces

Workplace stress is on the rise, and it’s being blamed at least partly on tensions over politics in America. A survey by the American Psychological Association finds workplace stress levels have increased compared to those measured before the election.David Ballard, director of the American Psychological Association’s Center for Excellence, tells us managers might need to step in and set ground rules.. ...Read Full Story

Plan Would Expand Michigan Emergency Fund

Legislation cleared the state House this week that would increase the minimum balance of Michigan’s disaster and emergency contingency fund. The bills were inspired after the state ran out of money in that account to fix the sinkhole that threatened to swallow a neighborhood in Frasier last year. They were sponsored by state Representative Tim Marino.. ...Read Full Story

State Police: Have An Emergency Kit For Your Pets

Michigan State Police are reminding everyone of one aspect of emergency preparedness that most probably don’t think about. They say you should have a pet emergency kit in the house. The emergency management division of MSP tells us lots of folks keep around emergency supplies for themselves, as they should, but many also forget about Fido. June is National Pet Preparedness Month, and state police say your emergency kit should include pet food, a leash and collar, your pet’s records, a carrier, and any medications the animal needs. State police tell us you should be ready in case you find yourself stuck at home or forced to go elsewhere for 72 hours. You can get all the tips you need at Michigan.gov/MIReady.. ...Read Full Story

Nearly $10 Million Awarded To Michigan Airports

U.S. Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow have announced nearly $10 million in grant money for Michigan airports. The Federal Aviation Administration awarded the funds Friday to the Michigan State Block Grant Program to support a variety of airport improvement projects in small airports across the state. The money could go into runway improvements to terminal expansions to equipment purchases. A total of $9.93 million has been awarded for the purpose. The block grant program covers 73 non-primary airports around the state.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Man Receives Junior Achievement Award

A southwest Michigan man is the recipient of a Junior Achievement Leadership Award. Junior Achievement Northern Indiana tells WSJM News Harry Burrit, of Berrien County, has been teaching JA in southwest Michigan for more than 25 years. He’s also served on the local board of directors for more than two decades and helped to organize a merger allowing the organization to work with more kids. Junior Achievement Northern Indiana uses educators, volunteers, and business leaders to mentor students and help them believe in themselves and build their skills. The group recently held its annual Business and Education Leadership Awards in Fort Wayne, where Burrit received his honor. He runs a consulting firm out of Stevensville.. ...Read Full Story

Fernwood Botanical Garden Receives $250,000 Matching Grant

Fernwood Botanical Garden has received a $250,000 challenge grant as it seeks money for a capital improvement campaign. The garden in Buchanan Township tells WSJM News its Seed the Future legacy campaign is intended to address facility needs and also to help public outreach efforts. The goal is $3 million, and so far, they’ve raised $2.4 million. An anonymous donor has come forward with the $250,000 matching grant, meaning that person will match up to $250,000 that’s given through April 1 of next year. So, if you contribute now, it’s like you’re donating twice as much. You can find out more about the garden and its Seed the Future campaign at FernwoodBotanicalGarden.org.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Parks Department Sees Good Start To Summer

The summer is off to a good start for the Berrien County Parks Department. Director Brian Bailey tells WSJM News sales of permits are up. Nearly 900 were sold through the month of May this year, compared to 491 last year, and 575 in 2015. While Madeline Bertrand County Park and Silver Beach are the most popular attractions, Bailey recommends you check out Galien River County Park as well.. ...Read Full Story

MI Congressional Delegation Tours The Soo Locks

Several members of Michigan’s congressional delegation have taken a tour of the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie. Those along for the trip included Congressman Fred Upton and Governor Rick Snyder. All on the tour agreed there is a need to upgrade and build a replacement lock to ensure the shipping gateway stays open. They note there were originally four parallel locks, and today, there are only two still open, with just one big enough to handle 70% of the traffic that goes through. There hasn’t been a major improvement project at the Soo Locks in about 50 years. Congressman Fred Upton tells us he looks forward to working together with colleagues in Washington to set aside funds for an improvement project at the locks.. ...Read Full Story

Man Dies After Falling From Boat At West MI Marina

From the Associated Press — Authorities say a 71-year-old man has died after falling from a sailboat while working on the vessel at a marina in southwestern Michigan. The Allegan County sheriff’s department says John Edward DeBoer, of Kalamazoo, was found in Kalamazoo Lake less than 15 minutes after falling Thursday. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where the sheriff’s department says he was pronounced dead.
He had been working on the 25-foot sailboat at Sergeant Marina in Saugatuck. Investigators are trying to determine why he fell.. ...Read Full Story

Florida Man Jailed After High Speed Highway Chase

A Florida man is in the Berrien County Jail following a high-speed chase with police Thursday evening. Michigan State Police tell us the 33-year-old suspect first came to their attention when he committed a theft at Firekeepers Casino near Battle Creek around 7:30 p.m. Kalamazoo County dispatch issued a notice to be on the lookout for the man, and sheriff’s deputies did spot his vehicle on I-94 in that county. They tried to pull the suspect over, but he took off with them in pursuit. The chase went on into Van Buren County, where Michigan State Police troopers spotted the suspect and gave chase. That continued on into Berrien County, where the suspect finally crashed his vehicle into the median cable barriers near the 33 mile marker. He got out of the car and tried to run, but troopers caught him. The suspect was first taken to Lakeland Hospital and then to the jail and is facing a variety of charges.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Health Department Offers Help To Quit Smoking

The Berrien County Health Department is once again offering a Freedom from Smoking program. Developed by the American Lung Association, Freedom from Smoking will be led by a certified facilitator who will go over a step-by-step plan for kicking the habit. It’s all about adopting a different lifestyle, and the program uses techniques proven to work in many cases. The seven-week program is held on Tuesdays from 4 to 5:30 p.m. starting next Tuesday and running through August 1. It’s $10. Anyone interested in signing up can do so by calling the Berrien County Health Department.. ...Read Full Story

BH School Board Votes To Keep Coach Elliot Uzelac

Elliot Uzelac will remain the head football coach at Benton Harbor High School. The board of education voted Thursday night to keep him in the position, while also reprimanding him and ordering cultural sensitivity training for all coaches after some controversy last month involving a text Coach Uzelac wrote about a student. Remarking on a picture of the student posing in front of a hot rod with a stack of cash, the coach asked, “How much drugs did he sell to rent that?” He apologized, and trustees are willing to move on. Superintendent Dr. Shelly Walker spoke with WSJM News abut the school board’s decision.. ...Read Full Story

Burglary Suspects Caught In Breedsville

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us it was able to nab a couple of home break-in suspects last week after they were reported in the act. It happened last Thursday in Breedsville. Someone called police about an active home invasion. and when deputies showed up, they were told the two suspects had run off into the woods. A K9 was brought in and the two were caught. All of the items they stole were returned to their owner. The suspects are Robert Dellin Taylor and a juvenile. Taylor has been arraigned on a home invasion charge and is free on bond.. ...Read Full Story

More Information Released On Couple Charged In Courthouse Incident

A couple from Wyoming, Michigan remains in the Berrien County Jail facing a variety of charges after an incident involving a gun at the courthouse in St. Joseph this week. 40-year-old Arnelda Jackson and 37-year-old Molly Jackson tried to run when a gun in the woman’s purse was found by the court x-rays. They were arrested and charged with carrying a concealed weapon, resisting and obstructing, and tampering with evidence, among other things. Arnelda Jackson is also charged with possession of a firearm by a felon. They could get up to five years in prison. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office tells us the couple was at the courthouse because the man faced a charge of possession of counterfeit money. That case has been delayed. A preliminary exam for the gun incident is now scheduled for both suspects on June 9.. ...Read Full Story

Many Indiana Toll Road Drivers Seeing Big Rate Increase

If you’ve got an E-ZPass transponder, you’re not saving any money on the Indiana Toll Road starting today compared to using cash. Big increases are taking effect with the expiration of a state subsidy from the state’s lease of the highway more than a decade ago. The new rates taking effect Thursday will see cars, pickup trucks and motorcycles with electronic transponders being charged more than double previous levels. Drivers with E-ZPass transponders now will pay $10.52 to travel the Toll Road’s full length, up from $4.65.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder: Schools, Municipalities Need Resolution Of Budget

Governor Snyder says the state budget should be resolved soon because K-12 school districts and many municipalities start their fiscal year three months before the state does. The Republican governor told The Associated Press on Wednesday that a stalemate between him and GOP legislative leaders who want to close the pension system to newly hired teachers not only threatens a six-year streak of completing Michigan’s spending plan by early June. He says further delay would “make it challenging” for schools and local governments that rely on state funding and must plan for their fiscal years that begin July 1. Top Republicans cut Snyder out when setting “target” spending. They want to move new school employees from a hybrid pension/401(k) plan to a 401(k)-only system, which Snyder opposes.. ...Read Full Story