Local News Archives

Parents, Teachers Learn About Opioid Addiction At BH School Event

Parents and teachers in Benton Harbor have had a chance to learn about opioid addiction and anti-overdose drugs, thanks to an event Thursday at Benton Harbor High School. It was the Benton Harbor Area Schools Summer Safety Fair. The kids played basketball and had ice cream while the adults heard from Nancy King, with Families Against Narcotics of Southwest Michigan. She told WSJM News knowing addiction and how to use Naloxone is increasingly important.. ...Read Full Story

Mendel Center Announces Next Season Lineup

The next lineup for the Mendel Center Mainstage has been announced. The venue at Lake Michigan College announced the 2017-2018 visitors this week, telling us the whole thing will kick off September 8 with a performance by the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra featuring the Texas Tenors. What will follow is a season featuring 13 additional guests which include comedian Howie Mandell, Riverdance, a touring production of Cabaret, Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis, and Art Garfunkel. Mendel Center management adds there will likely be a couple of additions to be announced later. You can find the whole lineup and get tickets at TheMendelCenter.com.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Road Commission Looks To Fill Vacancy

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

Governor Signs Bill To Make Overdose Drug More Available

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

Pagel Introduces Hotel Carbon Monoxide Bill

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

Agency: Ending Pensions For New Teachers Costs Billions

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

BH Event Focuses Attention On Plight Of The Transgendered

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

Owner Of Allegan County Antique Shop Killed In Shooting

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

Niles Man Charged With Selling Heroin

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

St. Joseph Planning For Major Infrastructure Work

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

MI Senate Votes To Allow Dogs On Restaurant Patios

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

Former BH Superintendent Bound Over For Trial

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

Stabenow Vows To Protect Great Lakes Funding

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

Michigan Senate OKs Big Changes To Natural Resources Fund

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

MI House Approves Bill On Handling Of Police Body Cam Footage

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

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

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

Michigan Gets Nearly $400,000 In Settlement With Target

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

No Serious Injuries After West MI School Evacuated

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

Protests In Kalamazoo Over Paw Paw Team Name

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

Humane Society To Break Ground On New Shelter Next Month

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

Drivers Warned About Hilltop/Washington Avenue Traffic Shift

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