Local News Archives

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

Police Look For Missing Benton Harbor Man

The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety is asking for the public’s help in finding a man who’s been missing since last week. It tells WSJM News Willie Brand was last seen Wednesday, May 10 in the area around Searles and Colfax in the city. He’s described as 5 foot 10 and about 160 pounds. Brand walks with the help of a cane and was last seen wearing khaki pants, a grey t-shirt, and a baseball cap. Brand has been known to frequent the Salvation Army in Benton Harbor, along with the public library and Harbor Towers. Police say his family is worried about him, and anyone with information on his location is asked to contact public safety.. ...Read Full Story

Police Officer Memorial Held In St. Joseph

An annual event to honor fallen police officers from Berrien County has been held in St. Joseph. The Berrien County Police Officer Memorial Day Program took place Thursday at Lake Bluff Park. Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey told WSJM News he personally knew many of the officers whose names are on the law enforcement memorial plaque there.. ...Read Full Story

Vehicles Damaged By Gunfire At Stevensville Dealership

Lincoln Township police are investigating after several cars were damaged by gunfire at a Stevensville dealership recently. We’re told it happened at Tyler Honda on Red Arrow Highway in Stevensville at the end of April. Someone opened fire on the dealership overnight, sending at least three rounds into the front window. 10 vehicles were also found with bullet holes. Police were notified the morning of April 30 when the damage was found by employees. Anyone with information on the crime is asked to contact the Lincoln Township Police Department. No one was injured in the incident.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Predicts Lengthy Budget Negotiations

While all of the focus has been on President Trump’s various controversies, there is regular old work to do in Congress. That includes crafting a federal budget. Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News he’s optimistic key programs can be maintained. He notes they were in the continuing budget resolution.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph To Spray For Weeds At Lake Bluff Park

St. Joseph residents are being advised that the city will be spraying for weeds this Friday at Lake Bluff Park. They’re trying to get a dandelion problem under control. Weather permitting, the spraying of a herbicide will be early this Friday, and everyone’s advised to keep their dogs and their children away from the area while it’s taking place. You can let them back in Lake Bluff Park once the grass has dried.. ...Read Full Story

Senate Unanimously Approves Legislation To Stop FGM In Michigan

The Michigan Senate has made short work of legislation designed to prevent female genital mutilation. On Wednesday, it unanimously approved a plan to make FGM illegal in Michigan. It also passed a bill to make it illegal to knowingly transport a girl for such a purpose. State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker tells us doctors have identified no benefits of the practice, and in fact, she believes it’s merely “used as a mechanism of control over young women.” The package is in response to a Detroit-area doctor recently indicted in a case involving two Minnesota girls. It makes FGM a 15 year felony, and allows parents who are convicted to be stripped of their parental rights. The legislation now goes to the state House.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Police Memorial Set For Tomorrow

Police agencies from all over Berrien County will gather in St. Joseph Thursday to remember the fallen. It’s the annual Police Officer Memorial Day Program at the Berrien County Law Enforcement Memorial located in Lake Bluff Park. Rick Smiedendorf, with the Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Police Department, tells WSJM News all fallen officers are honored.. ...Read Full Story

BH Mayor Weighs In On Football Coach Controversy

Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad tells us he’s hoping there can be reconciliation following controversy this week about some text messages made by Benton Harbor High School Football Coach Elliot Uzelac. Uzelac came under social media fire for writing in a group text about a picture of a student posing near a car. He wrote, “How much drugs did he sell to rent that?” Mayor Muhammad tells WSJM News he spoke with the school superintendent and Coach Uzelac about the matter.. ...Read Full Story

Revenue Estimate Predicts Less For State General Fund, More For Schools

State officials have reached released their revenue estimate for Michigan, finding more money for school aid, but less money for the state’s general fund in the next budget. The revenue estimating conference, which was held Wednesday in Lansing, is crucial for lawmakers to hammer out a spending plan. This year’s estimate predicts General Fund-General Purpose revenue will be $10.1 billion, down $179 million from estimates agreed to in January. Meanwhile, they’re expecting School Aid Fund revenue to be $12.6 billion, up $153 million from January. State Budget Director Al Pscholka tells us “our economy continues to show future growth and we are now poised to make it seven for seven when it comes to signing budgets in June.” Lawmakers have a September 30 deadline to get a budget in place.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Urges Comey To Testify In Congress

Congressman Fred Upton has waded into President Donald Trump’s latest controversy, urging the former FBI director to testify to Congress about a report Trump spoke with him about his investigation into Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. The House Oversight Committee has requested “all memoranda, notes, summaries, and recordings referring or relating to any communications between Comey and the President” with a deadline of next Wednesday. Congressman Upton has issued a statement, saying “Public trust is on the line and the country deserves answers sooner rather than later.” He adds he fully supports efforts to get all of the facts surrounding former FBI Director James Comey. He says he “would urge Comey to publicly testify before Congress on what exactly happened.”. ...Read Full Story

MI Unemployment Down In April

From the Associated Press — The state says Michigan’s unemployment rate fell to 4.7% in April, further depleting the ranks of jobless people.
The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget said Wednesday the rate fell from a revised rate of 5.0% in March and compared with a national April rate of 4.4%. Last month’s jobless rate in Michigan was two-tenths of a percentage point lower than the state’s year-ago rate of 4.9%. The agency says total employment in Michigan rose by 18,000 in April while the number of unemployed dropped by 17,000. It says the size of the state’s workforce changed little during the month.Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives Director Jason Palmer said the number of unemployed people in Michigan has fallen by 28,000 since February.. ...Read Full Story

Bill Would Dismiss Charges For Human Trafficking Victims

From the Associated Press — Human trafficking victims forced or coerced into prostitution could get certain criminal charges deferred or dismissed under a bill approved by the Michigan Legislature. The state Senate passed legislation Tuesday that would allow some
prostitution-related charges to be dropped regardless of any prior convictions. State Representative Bronna Kahle, of Adrian, says currently human trafficking victims currently are not eligible for deferrals or dismissals if they have previous prostitution-related convictions.
Kahle is the bill’s sponsor and says it would change Michigan’s law and help victims lead better and more whole lives. University of Michigan Human Trafficking Clinic Director Bridgette Carr says the legislation does not go far enough to address the issue of recognizing human
trafficking victims as victims.. ...Read Full Story

Expect Busy Road this Memorial Day Weekend

2017 will mark the third consecutive year of growth in Memorial Day travel. That’s according to AAA who projects that 39.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Memorial Day weekend. The report says 34.6 million Americans will drive to their destinations, an increase of 2.4 percent over last year.
While road trips continue to reign supreme for Memorial Day, more Americans will fly, ride the train or bus, or take a cruise vacation compared to last year. Air travel is expected to increase 5.5 percent over last year, with 2.9 million Americans taking to the skies this Memorial Day. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase 2.9 percent, to 1.75 million travelers.. ...Read Full Story

Driver Crashes Through Store Window

A driver was injured when his vehicle crashed thru window of the Auto Value store on M-140, South Haven Township, on Tuesday afternoon about 2:45 p.m. No one in the store was injured. The driver taken to South Haven Hospital-Bronson. The accident is being investigated by South Haven Police Department.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Football Coach Apologizes for Statements

Some highly-questionable statements in a group text message are putting Benton Harbor Football Coach Elliot Uzelac under fire. Reports are that Uzelac responded to screenshots of a picture of a black student standing in front of a car by saying “how much drugs did he sell to rent that,” then in another message says “our local drug dealers are doing well.” In a release from the District, Uzelac admitted to the superintendent that he texted some of the statements to fellow coaches. Superintendent, Dr. Shelly Walker says, “This misstep is an unfortunate blemish on Coach Uzelac’s record of commitment and positive relationships with our Benton Harbor students.” Coach Uzelac says, “I do regret and apologize for texting comments that were clearly inappropriate. Under no circumstances were these statements meant to be taken seriously. It has never been my intention to offend the Benton Harbor students or community.”. ...Read Full Story

Upton: Intelligence Sources Must Be Protected

Congressman Fred Upton says it’s “imperative” that the sources used by American intelligence are protected and not divulged. We caught up with him Tuesday to ask what he thought of the latest controversy involving President Trump, who was accused this week of providing classified information to Russian officials last week. Upton told WSJM News Congress is looking into the matter.. ...Read Full Story

I&M Seeking 17% Rate Increase

You could be getting an electric rate increase next year. Indiana Michigan Power spokesperson Tracy Warner tells WSJM News the company has asked the Michigan Public Service Commission to review its rates as it seeks to increase them by 17% on average. He tells us the change reflects I&M’s efforts to keep the grid reliable. It’s also in response to an ongoing $1.2 billion project at the Cook plant.. ...Read Full Story

Former BH Superintendent In Court Tuesday

A preliminary hearing has been held for former Benton Harbor Area Schools Superintendent Dr. Leonard Seawood. He’s charged with embezzlement and accused of taking $45,000 in extra cash payouts for unused vacation days between 2012 and 2015. He was resigned from the district in October of that year, and a Michigan State Police investigation into his conduct began not long after. In court Tuesday, current and former members of the school board testified, according to our news gathering partners at WNDU. Seawood will be back in court for in a week while the judge examines evidence in the case. If convicted, he could get up to 10 years in prison.. ...Read Full Story