Local News Archives

State Palisades Meeting Tomorrow In Lawrence

The Michigan Public Service Commission is planning a couple of sessions for tomorrow to hear the public’s thoughts on the proposed closure of the Palisades nuclear power plant in Covert. Spokesperson Judy Palnau tells WSJM News all three public service commissioners and an administrative judge will be on hand.. ...Read Full Story

MI Attorney General Launches New Anti-Meth Campaign

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has launched a new campaign to raise awareness about laws concerning the purchase of meth ingredients. His office says the practice of buying cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine and then giving it to someone else so they can make meth — known as “smurfing” — is illegal. Schuette was joined this week by state Senator John Proos to push the anti-smurfing campaign. Proos, as the sponsor of the initial legislation that enacted the National Precursor Log Exchange, says he’s pleased to be part of the effort. The hope is that a combination of the NPLEx system and anti-smurfing legislation will help to fight the spread of meth in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Blossomtime Parade Award Winners Announced

The 111th Blossomtime Grand Floral Parade has been held in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, and the float awards have already been announced. The theme for this year’s parade was “If It Starts With ‘B,’ It Must Be Blossomtime.” Below is the list of awards.
Sweepstakes Award — Blooming Beauties, out of Berrien Springs. ...Read Full Story

Man Killed While Cutting Down Tree In Cass County

An 83-year-old man is dead following a tree cutting accident in Cass County. The sheriff’s department tells us it happened in the 12,000 block of Old 112 in Porter Township around 2 p.m. Friday. 83-year-old Gordon Jackson had been cutting down a tree when it broke free and hit him. Jackson was dead when deputies arrived at the scene. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department was assisted by the Porter Township Fire Department and the SEPSA Ambulance Service.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Tea Party Leader Talks GOP Healthcare Bill

Some southwest Michigan conservatives are not pleased with the healthcare bill approved this week by the U.S. House of Representatives. Van-Kal Tea Party Patriots Chair Gene Clem tells WSJM News they got together Thursday, and he doesn’t recall one member supporting the plan. The problem, he tells us, is that it keeps the government involved in healthcare, rather than letting the free market sort it all out. He says the House GOP dropped the ball on the issue of healthcare reform. ...Read Full Story

Kellogg Foundation Gives $51 Million To Battle Creek Schools

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is giving $51 million to public schools in its hometown of Battle Creek, Michigan. The five-year infusion announced Friday is aimed at tackling low academic performance that has been linked to longstanding racial inequality and segregation. The grant from the foundation started by its namesake breakfast cereal maker ranks among the largest to a public K-12 school system. The money will go toward hiring academic and social support staff, offering a free pre-kindergarten summer transition program and creating a behavior plan with alternatives to suspensions, among other things.The gift comes after the January release of a study highlighting decades of racial disparities. The city has a population of about 50,000 that’s roughly 70% white, 18% black, and 7% Hispanic or Latino.. ...Read Full Story

Saturday Event To Focus On Missing Persons Cases In Michigan

Police and the public will gather Saturday near Detroit to talk about missing persons cases. This is the seventh annual “Missing in Michigan” gathering, and on hand will be representatives of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. Michigan State Police Detective Sergeant Sarah Krebs tells WSJM News the day is all about spreading awareness and honoring those how have been lost.. ...Read Full Story

New Playground Equipment To Be Unveiled At Lions Park Beach

Set to be unveiled this Saturday at Lions Park Beach in St. Joseph will be more than $100,000 worth of new playground equipment. The city worked with the Lions Club to make the purchase possible, and it will be dedicated at 12:30 p.m. On hand will be members of the Lions Club, the owner of the Great Lakes Recreation Company, St. Joe Mayor Mike Garey, and a representative of the Lincoln Elementary School Student Council. Kids at the Lincoln School helped the city pick the new equipment. It’s designed to resemble the St. Joseph lighthouses. Everyone’s welcome to come and check out the new features.. ...Read Full Story

Lawsuit Challenges MI Driver’s License Suspensions

From the Associated Press — The state of Michigan is being sued in a bid to restore the driver’s licenses of people who say they can’t afford to pay traffic fines. A lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court says the secretary of state is running a “wealth-based” scheme in which people too poor to pay fines are having their licenses suspended. The lawsuit says a traffic violation can cause a “downward spiral” of lost opportunities for jobs and education. The lawsuit says the state doesn’t distinguish between people who are intentionally skipping fines and others who can’t pay. Kitia Harris, a 25-year-old Detroit woman, says her license was suspended when she couldn’t afford a $150 ticket in Ferndale. In response, the secretary of state office says it’s following Michigan law. The lawsuit was filed by Equal Justice Under Law, a civil rights group.. ...Read Full Story

MI Republicans Reaching Out To Hispanic Voters

From the Associated Press — The Republican Party is looking to reach out to Hispanic business owners and leaders in Michigan. Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel met with Hispanic business owners at the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce on Friday. McDaniels says they are having a broad discussion on tax policy, health care and how the Republican Party can engage more with Hispanic communities. Michigan GOP Chairman Ron Weiser also attended the event along with various Hispanic community members from Michigan. McDaniels noted that the day was to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and Mexican-American heritage in the U.S. She says conversations also must take place with Hispanics in states such as Nevada and Arizona, which have large numbers of Mexican-Americans.. ...Read Full Story

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