Local News Archives

Schuette, Proos Look To Cut Meth Production

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Senator John Proos of St. Joseph have launched a campaign to stop meth production in Michigan. Schuette announced the effort Thursday to stop “smurfing.” That’s when meth producers pay others to buy over-the-counter medicine used to make the drug. A news release says 8,744 boxes of cold and allergy medicine were blocked from sale in 2016 after being flagged suspicious. Schuette says meth use has greatly affected the state and he wants to crack down on people participating in the system.. ...Read Full Story

Palisades Meeting Monday In Lawrence

If you want more information about the expected closure next May of the Palisades nuclear power plant in Covert, you’re being encouraged to attend one of two meetings on Monday in Lawrence. Both are being held by the Michigan Public Service Commission at the Van Buren Conference Center on South Paw Paw Street. The first is from 3 to 5 p.m., followed by a second with the same material being presented from 6 to 8 p.m. Consumers Energy has decided to end its agreement to buy the power generated from the plant in 2018, and Palisades is slated to be shut down a year from now. Two MPSC commissioners and the commission chairman will be at both meetings.. ...Read Full Story

Blossomtime Parade Saturday

This year’s Blossomtime Grand Floral Parade is tomorrow in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor. The two-and-a-half mile parade starts at 1 p.m. at Main and Pearl streets in St. Joe and ends at Main and 5th streets in Benton Harbor. This year’s theme is “If It Starts With ‘B,’ It Must Be Blossomtime.” Bundle up, as the high is only expected to be around 55 tomorrow. The Youth Parade at St. Joseph High School was canceled yesterday due to the weather, and won’t be rescheduled. You’re also being reminded that you can’t put out anything to mark your spot along the parade route before 6 a.m. In St. Joseph, Lake Boulevard will be closed along with the drawbridge over the river, Niles Avenue from 1st Avenue to Main Street, and Main Street will also be closed from 1st Avenue to where it merges with Niles. This is the 111th year for the event.. ...Read Full Story

MI Senate Approves Budget Bills

From the Associated Press — Local communities and public universities would receive about 2% more in state funding next fiscal year under Senate-passed budget bills that leave out Gov. Rick Snyder’s request for additional money for infrastructure and Flint emergency reserve funds.
The Republican-led chamber finished approving 16 spending bills Thursday. Now the Legislature and Snyder will resolve differences in coming weeks, with GOP legislative leaders pushing to potentially use hundreds of millions of uncommitted funds to help close the pension system to newly hired teachers. Many bills won overwhelmingly support Thursday. But Democrats and some Republicans opposed a higher education plan that would give 15 public universities an overall 1.8% funding increase – below what Snyder wants. Critics say five schools’ funding would remain below levels from seven years ago.. ...Read Full Story

Millage Celebration To Be Held At BH High School Next Week

A celebration is planned at Benton Harbor High School next week for residents and supporters of the school district to mark passage of the critical sinking fund millage this week, as well as the new partnership agreement with the state. Everyone is welcome to come to the library next Thursday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. to meet Superintendent Dr. Shelly Walker. The sinking fund millage was approved by voters Tuesday. It allows for building maintenance and repairs throughout the district, generating about $1.3 million per year. Dr. Walker says its passage is a positive sign the district is moving in the right direction. She adds it’s an honor to be part of the community.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Receives Bids For Jail Work

An improvement project at the Berrien County Jail is coming together now that the board of commissioners has received bids for the work. Their next task is to settle on the final plan. It could include security equipment, kitchen upgrades, and storage. County Administrator Bill Wolf tells WSJM News the intake area of the jail, in particular, needs upgrades.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Joins Colleagues In Voting For New Healthcare Bill

Congressman Fred Upton has joined his colleagues in approving the American Health Care Act, the GOP’s plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. He came out in support of the plan this week after introducing an amendment setting aside money to help those with preexisting conditions who might be hit with higher premiums. Upton tells us Obamacare is broken and something needs to be done. He points to some counties across the country where insurance providers have pulled out of the federal healthcare marketplace, adding premiums here in Michigan have gone up by nearly 17%. He calls the new GOP plan a first step in the right direction. Among other things, it aims to expand access to health savings accounts, establish a transition period for those who will lose Medicaid, and continue monthly tax credits for poor Americans who can’t afford insurance on their own. The plan narrowly passed the House Thursday.. ...Read Full Story

Kalamazoo Sheriff Talks Consolidated 911 Plan

Kalamazoo County law enforcement officials will keep trying to convince voters of the need for a new consolidated 911 dispatch system following this week’s failure of a ballot proposal that would have created one. Sheriff Richard Fuller tells WKZO News the pro campaign’s message wasn’t clear enough, and voters probably did like the idea of increasing their monthly 911 surcharge from 42 cents to $2.30.. ...Read Full Story

MI Senate OKs $25.5B Health And Human Services Plan

The Michigan Senate has approved a $25.5 billion health and human services budget that would spend less than what Governor Snyder has proposed. Majority Republicans say trimming the Republican governor’s plan would make room as they push for changing the teacher retirement system so newly hired employees qualify solely for a 401(k) and not a pension. They say important services are still funded.. ...Read Full Story

Work Underway On I-196 In South Haven

The Michigan Department of Transportation is advising drivers of some work coming up on I-196 in Van Buren County. It tells us there will be lane closures on I-196 at Blue Star Highway in South Haven all the way through June 9. They started this week. MDOT is adding right turn lanes on the I-196 Business Loop, and also widening the shoulders. One lane of I-196 will remain open in each direction while the work is going on.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Health Department Honors Pscholka

The Berrien County Health Department has honored former state Representative Al Pscholka with its Friend of Health Award. The department bestowed the award on Pscholka Wednesday at its headquarters in Benton Township. Pscholka said six years in Lansing have taught him the issues that really matter are the life and death ones.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Now Willing To Support Healthcare Legislation

Congressman Fred Upton has backed off in his opposition to the Republican healthcare bill. After meeting with President Donald Trump Wednesday morning, Upton said he’s flipping his position after introducing a new amendment to the legislation designed to help those with preexisting conditions pay for their coverage if it becomes more expensive. Upton told WSJM News Tuesday he would not back the GOP plan because it allowed states to decide whether those with preexisting conditions should pay more for coverage. However, under the new deal reached Wednesday, Upton’s amendment will set aside $8 billion to help those patients with such costs. The House Rules Committee is expected to consider Upton’s amendment Thursday.. ...Read Full Story

Coloma Man Charged In Shooting Of Girlfriend’s Ex

A Coloma man has been charged with open murder in the shooting death of an Eau Claire man this week. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office tells WSJM News 37-year-old Nicholaus Kling was shot in the chest three times during a confrontation with 22-year-old Derrick Bailey at the intersection of Red Arrow Highway and Benton Center Road in Benton Township Monday. The vehicle Bailey had been riding in was being driven by his girlfriend, and the prosecutor tells us Kling, the victim, was the woman’s ex. Bailey was arrested at the scene following the shooting. He’s now in the Berrien County Jail with bond set at $250,000. He’s due back in court May 12 for a preliminary exam hearing.. ...Read Full Story

Kalamazoo To Remove Lead Water Pipes

From the Associated Press — More than 200 lead water pipes will be removed from a southwest Michigan city this summer. MLive reports the Kalamazoo City Commission approved a nearly $850,000 construction contract on Monday with Rieth-Riley Construction Co. to replace the
lines. The city’s 2017 Water Capital Improvement Budget will fund the service line replacement project. Public Services Director James Baker says Kalamazoo plans to replace almost 500 lead service lines during the 2017 construction season. Baker says on average the city has removed 100 lead pipes per year. Many of the lead lines are located in the northeastern part of the city and in the city’s oldest neighborhoods. The city collected lead and copper monitoring data a year early in response to public concern over the Flint water system lead problem.. ...Read Full Story

Upton To Meet With Trump On Healthcare

Congressman Fred Upton’s opposition to the current Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has gotten the attention of the White House. CNN is reporting the southwest Michigan congressman and Congressman Billy Long of Missouri will meet today with President Trump about their current stance of voting “no” on the bill as it is. Long says the President wants to negotiate how pre-existing conditions will be covered. Upton has put forth an amendment to the bill that would put millions of dollars toward helping people with pre-existing conditions pay for their insurance. He tells WSJM News that he currently cannot support what his party has come up with right now.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Traffic Deaths Continued Rise In 2016

Officials say Michigan traffic deaths rose 10% last year as drug-impaired, bicyclist and motorcyclist traffic deaths increased. The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning noted Wednesday that it’s the second consecutive year to show a 10% increase. They rose from 963 in 2015 to 1,064 in 2016 according to numbers from the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Courthouse, Jail Proposal Destroyed

Landslide. Van Buren County voters have told county leaders in no uncertain terms they do not want to pay more taxes to renovate the jail and court buildings. The 20-year millage proposal was destroyed by nearly 3,000 votes, with 4,795 no votes and just 1,884 voting yes. As far as other proposals in Van Buren County, voters said yes to a park proposal in Bangor and a library proposal in both the city and township of South Haven. The county-wide proposal for the jail and courthouse only passed in two precincts in the city of South Haven. The other 31 precincts were resoundingly against it.. ...Read Full Story

House Approves Legislation Allowing Drivers To Warm Up Cars On Private Property

From the Associated Press — Legislation advancing in Michigan aims to let residents legally leave a vehicle running unattended on private property. The bill, approved 77-30 by the House Tuesday, was proposed after a Detroit-area man was ticketed $128 for leaving a car running in his driveway as the vehicle warmed up. A state rules requires people to stop the engine and remove the ignition key before letting a vehicle stand unattended. The bill would keep the prohibition in place only for vehicles parked on public streets. The sponsor, Republican Representative Holly Hughes, says warming up or cooling down a car is common practice. The legislation goes to the Senate. It’s opposed by cities and others who say it would make it easier to steal cars.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Schools Sinking Fund Renewal Approved By Voters

A victory for Benton Harbor Area Schools as its sinking fund millage was renewed by voters Tuesday. The sinking fund is a millage that generates about $1.3 million per year for the district to handle building maintenance and repairs. District officials told us its renewal was essential. Elsewhere in Berrien County Tuesday, a sinking fund for Buchanan Community Schools was rejected. It would have generated about $285,000 a year for the district. Voters in Galien Township were also in a mood to say no, rejecting an operating millage by 20 votes. Finally, New Buffalo Township voters approved a public safety millage. Turnout in the communities holding elections was less than 10%.. ...Read Full Story

Comcast Opening Store In Benton Township

Coming soon to Benton Township will be a full service Comcast Xfinity store. Comcast is closing down its Benton Harbor office to make way for the new retail location where you’ll be able to do all of the things you do at the current place, and then some. The company tells us the new store, to be located at Fairplain Plaza, will have demo areas where you can try out all of their products. The store, set to open at the end of the summer, will have 15 employees. Comcast is planning an event to find those employees. It’ll be May 30 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express in St. Joseph. Anyone interested should RSVP to Sean_JandaForner@cable.comcast.com.. ...Read Full Story

Bill To Ban Shining Lasers At Aircraft Sent To Snyder

From the Associated Press — Michigan would make it a crime to intentionally shine a laser at an aircraft under legislation going to Governor Rick Snyder for his expected signature. Pointing a laser at an aircraft — which can temporarily blind the pilot — is currently a federal crime punishable by five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. But the Michigan State Police says a state law would deter strikes and help authorities catch people who are increasingly “lasing” aircraft, often near airports. The main bill passed the House 106-2 Tuesday. It would make shining a laser at
an aircraft or moving train a felony punishable by five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Exceptions would be made for research conducted by the military or aviation industry.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Health Dept To Honor Former Rep. Pscholka

Former state Representative Al Pscholka will be getting another honor this week. It’s already been announced he will be given a distinguished service award by Lake Michigan College on Sunday at LMC’s 70th annual commencement. Now comes word the Berrien County Health Department will name him this year’s recipient of the Friend of Public Health Award. Pscholka is currently the state budget director. His legislation creating the Good Samaritan law protecting people from prosecution for reporting a possible drug overdose and his work to expand Medicaid in Michigan are among the accomplishments listed by the health department. He will receive the award at a ceremony on Wednesday prior to the Berrien County Board of Health meeting.. ...Read Full Story

BH Commissioners Reject Repayment Of Federal Housing Rehab Funds

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have rejected a request by the city manager to repay about $140,000 to the federal government for the rehabilitation of a home. In 2012, the city put the house at 1111 Superior Street on the market, but it never sold. City Manager Darwin Watson said the city has to pay the NSP 1 funds for the rehab back as a result. Mayor Pro Tem Duane Seats tells WSJM News they could have demolished the house and sought a waiver, but that wasn’t attempted.. ...Read Full Story

One Dead In Benton Township Shooting

An argument of some sort ended with gunshots and one person dead in Benton Township Monday night. There aren’t a lot of details as yet, but police say 37-year-old Nicholaus Kling of Eau Claire stopped another vehicle at North Benton Center and Red Arrow Highway and got into a confrontation with the passenger of the other vehicle. During that fight, that passenger, 22-year-old Derrick Bailey of Coloma, shot Kling several times in the chest with a semi-automatic handgun. Kling was pronounced dead at the scene, and Bailey was arrested. It happened just after 7:30 last night. Exact charges against Bailey have not been announced. He’s awaiting arraignment in the Berrien County Jail.. ...Read Full Story

BH City Commissioners Assert Authority Over Construction Contracts

Complications arising from a traffic light replacement project have led the Benton Harbor City Commission to assert its authority on construction contracts. Commissioners last year approved some traffic light replacements near Pipestone and Wall Streets. Cornerstone Alliance has property there, and because some of the work extended to their sidewalk, it agreed to chip in up to $15,000. Mayor Marcus Muhammad told WSJM News the deal was organized by the city manager, and he thinks it should have been brought to the commission.. ...Read Full Story

May Day Rallies Held In Lansing

From the Associated Press — Social justice advocates have held a May Day rally in front of Michigan’s Capitol to show solidarity with immigrants and refugees.Members from Black Lives Matter, the American Civil Liberties Union and others gathered Monday afternoon in protest of President Donald Trump’s aggressive immigration actions. Lansing is one of seven communities in Michigan – and roughly 200 cities across the nation – holding May Day events. Angela Waters Austin, co-founder of Black Lives Matter in Lansing, says she came to support her neighbors as well as those immigrants and those seeking asylum. Mario Quintero is an immigrant from Mexico City living in the U.S. illegally. He says many families are suffering and he attended the rally with them in mind. The White House had no immediate response to the demonstrations.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Collect 597 Pounds Of Medications Saturday

Michigan State Police tell us they were able to collect more than 597 pounds of medication this past weekend as a result of their annual drug takeback event with the Drug Enforcement Agency. MSP posts all across the state took unwanted pills from folks looking to get rid of them, and the DEA will make sure those medications are destroyed in a safe manner. The state police post in Niles collected more than 19 pounds of pills alone. MSP and the DEA ask folks to get rid of medications in this way so they don’t wind up in the environment or in the wrong hands. You can still drop off unneeded drugs at MSP posts on weekdays during business hours. The service is free and anonymous.. ...Read Full Story

Weekend Event Helps 1,500 Pets Find New Homes

The Bissell Pet Foundation’s latest Empty the Shelters event, held this past Saturday, has resulted in more than 1,500 dogs and cats finding new homes. The Grand Rapids-based organization paid the adoption fees for folks looking to pick up a critter, says spokesperson Holly Kroeze. She tells WSJM News the events make a big difference.. ...Read Full Story

Coloma Township Police Warn A bout Stolen Kayaks, Canoes

The Coloma Township Police Department is urging the owners of kayaks, canoes, and paddle boats to write down their serial numbers and to keep them in a secure location. That’s because it’s seen an increase in the theft of the watercraft recently. The Coloma Township PD tells us you should also jot down any other identifying information about your craft so it can be found quickly if stolen. Police ask anyone who notice anything to give them a call, or to call Berrien County Dispatch.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Praises Spending Plan

A spending bill designed to keep the federal government open through October is being praised by Congressman Fred Upton. The plan being advanced this week will prevent a government shutdown. Congressman Upton tells us it maintains funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and increases funding for the National Institutes of Health, something he fought for with his 21st Century Cures legislation. The spending plan does not include money for President Trump’s border wall, but it does include another $1.5 billion for border security, which Upton says is a good thing. He adds the process hasn’t been perfect, but he’s pleased to see an agreement go forward.. ...Read Full Story

Watervliet Man Killed In Friday Crash

Police continue to investigate the cause of a fatal crash on I-94 near Coloma on Friday. It happened in the eastbound lanes around 1:50 p.m. and involved two semis and a pick-up. Coloma Police tell us the driver of the pick-up, 55-year-old Regil Mattson, of Watervliet, was killed. The drivers of the semis, from Ontario and Nebraska, were not hurt. The crash caused I-94 to be shut down on the eastbound side for several hours.. ...Read Full Story

Statewide Average Gas Price Falls 10¢

We are paying about a dime less per gallon around the state to start the week. Triple-A Michigan’s survey of stations statewide finds a $2.42 average per gallon, with our prices in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor down 13¢ from last week at $2.40. The state’s most expensive gas is in Jackson at $2.51, while Traverse City drivers pay the least in the areas surveyed by the auto club at $2.35. South Haven prices are even lower, with GasBuddy spotters pegging those at $2.33. According to Triple-A, one of the reasons for recent drops in crude oil prices is skepticism about whether OPEC countries and others will extend their pledge to cut production by another six months. Global inventories are viewed as bloated, and the market isn’t sure if Russia will keep cutting its production after the end of June.. ...Read Full Story

Detroit Officer Shot, Suspect Killed

A Detroit police officer is in critical condition after being shot while responding to a call about a domestic dispute. Police say the suspected gunman was shot and killed.  Detroit Police Chief James Craig says the officer, a 14-year veteran, was in surgery early Monday with a gunshot wound to the head. The police department’s Twitter page reported that the officer was in “very critical condition but is alive.” The incident happened around 10:30 p.m. on the city’s west side. Craig says since September, there have been eight officers either shot or murdered in the line of duty in Detroit.. ...Read Full Story

AARP Volunteers Help Sign Flint Residents Up For New Water Pipes

This week marked three years since the start of the Flint water crisis, and Saturday, volunteers from AARP Michigan hit the streets to help the city rebuild. Paula Cunningham, the state director of AARP Michigan, tells us volunteers are signing people up to get their water pipes replaced. She add it’s critical to get the word out that replacing the pipes is the only long-term solution.. ...Read Full Story

Fire Destroys Casco Township Barn

Nobody was hurt, but a Casco Township barn has been completely destroyed in a Sunday morning fire. Firefighters from South Haven Area Emergency Services, and Columbia, Ganges and Lee townships were called in, with Bangor giving backup i South Haven during the response. The barn contained equipment for the fruit farm. What started the fire remains under investigation. The fire started around 6 a.m. at 111th Avenue near 67th Street.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Road Commission To Spray For Brush This Summer

The Van Buren County Road Commission is letting property owners know it’s about to start spraying for brush and weeds along county right of ways. The commission has hired a Zeeland company to do the spraying so visibility for drivers is maintained. The areas to be sprayed will include bridge approaches and overpasses, guardrail sections, and intersections. The county notes there will not be spraying done near orchards, vineyards, or farms. Anyone who wants to get their property excluded from the program affected can call the road commission. The spraying starts on May 10, and will wrap up September 17.. ...Read Full Story

Demolition Of St. Joseph House Remains On Track

The demolition of a blighted home in St. Joseph remains on track. At a hearing this week, the city’s Property Maintenance Board of Appeals upheld a previous order that the structure at Niles Avenue near Hoyt Street be torn down. The home, which has had a tarp on its roof since last spring, has been the subject of complaints from neighbors for several months. City inspectors ordered it to be torn down in February after doing an inspection and finding the entire structure to be badly damaged. The owner then appealed. However, the city now tells us the Property Maintenance Board of Appeals ruled against him Thursday. The home is scheduled for demolition in 45 days. The matter is still being appealed in court.. ...Read Full Story

Flash Flood Watch Tonight Through Monday Morning

Two to four inches of rain are expected for our area tonight through Monday. This is prompting a FLASH FLOOD WATCH from this evening through Monday morning for Berrien and Cass Counties. Periods of heavy rainfall are expected tonight through Sunday night. In addition to potential flooding of streets and roads in flood prone areas, area rivers and streams are also likely to experience flooding as well. A Flash Flood Watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding. Stay with News/Talk 94.9 WSJM for updated forecasts and be prepared to take action should Flash Flood Warnings be issued.

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