Local News Archives

Niles Woman Arrested In Drug Bust

A Niles woman is facing charges after a meth bust in Cass County this month. The Cass County Enforcement Team says it searched a home in the 1,000 block of Huntly Road in Howard Township on January 12 after getting some tips. It says officers found meth paraphernalia, marijuana, and crack. 46-year-old Andrea Sutfin was arrested for possession of meth, cocaine, and marijuana. She’s now in jail on $20,000 bond. Police ask anyone with information about drug activity to call them.. ...Read Full Story

Women’s March Planned For Saturday In Lansing

On Saturday, thousands of Michigan women will take to the streets in opposition to what they say is a wave of discrimination since the November election. Sarah Eisenberg is one of the organizers of the Women’s March on Lansing, which is expected to draw more than 5,000 people. She says the event is not about President Donald Trump, but about a narrative of intolerance that she believes needs to be addressed at the state and local level.. ...Read Full Story

Three Benton Harbor Schools Could Close

Three schools in Benton Harbor are in immediate danger of being shut down by the state. On Friday, the Michigan School Reform Office released its latest list of failing schools identified as being reviewed for the Next Level of Accountability. That means they could be targeted for closure within the next 30 to 45 days. Reform Office Director Natasha Baker tells WSJM News the International Academy, the STEAM Academy, and the Dream Academy are on the list. She’s talked with the local superintendent.. ...Read Full Story

State Fines Prison Food Contractor

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Department of Corrections has slapped its latest food contractor with more than $2 million in penalties for inadequate staffing and other problems since it began providing meals in September 2015. Department spokesman Chris Gautz told the Detroit Free Press the penalties against Trinity Services Group include $905,000 for unauthorized meal substitutions, $357,000 for delays serving meals, $356,000 for inadequate staffing levels, and $294,000 for sanitation violations. Gaultz says the department believes staffing problems lead to other issues. The penalties were first reported Thursday by Gongwer News Service. They show significant problems persist with the privatization of prison food services after the state and its first prison food contractor, Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services, ended their contract early. A message seeking comment was left Friday at Trinity’s Florida headquarters.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Center Picked As Driverless Vehicle Proving Ground

From the Associated Press — The U.S. Department of Transportation has designated a testing facility in Michigan for driverless vehicles as a proving ground for such technology. Those involved in the effort say proposals were sought for the Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds Pilot program after it was announced last year and 10 facilities were selected, including the American Center for Mobility in Washtenaw County’s Ypsilanti Township. The facility is being built at the site of a former General Motors plant. It’s also where B-24 bombers were made during World War II. It will be available for use by private industry, government, standards bodies and academia. Companies will be able to lease office space, garages and other amenities. It will include real-world environments with the ability to test under varied, yet controlled conditions.. ...Read Full Story

Grand Rapids Polish Hall Votes To Allow Women Members

From the Associated Press — For the first time in its 87-year history a Grand Rapids Polish hall will allow women to become official members. MLive reports that as many as 30 women are scheduled to be granted membership on Valentine’s Day at St. Ladislaus Aid Society. Discussion for the change came during Pulaski Days 2016, when more female volunteers came to work at the club than male volunteers. Over the course of the last eight months, current members voted to allow women members into the club on three different occasions. Andie Crapsey, 2016-2017 Grand Rapids Pulaski Queen, will become the Polish hall’s first female member. Grand Rapids currently has 14 Polish halls. St. Ladislaus Aid Society is one of the few Polish halls in the city that don’t allow women to become a member.. ...Read Full Story

Buchanan Thrill On the Hill Cancelled

The Thrill on the Hill in Buchanan has been cancelled. The annual sledding event had been slated for next Friday and Saturday, but warm weather has prompted city officials to call it off. They say the long-term forecast shows it will be too warm and there will likely be rain. That means they wouldn’t be able to generate enough snow for Front Street Hill. While you may be heartbroken about the news, don’t despair. The city says the Summer Thrill on the Hill is still planned for later in the year, and it will be bigger than ever.. ...Read Full Story

Warm Weather Not Expected To Damage Crops

The recent warm weather isn’t likely to damage southwest Michigan crops. Mark Longstroth, with the MSU Extension office in Paw Paw, tells WSJM News the crops went dormant in November or December, and the warm temperatures haven’t returned long enough for them to become vulnerable to another freeze.. ...Read Full Story

YMCA Merger Announced

It’s official. The Benton Harbor-St. Joseph YMCA and the Niles-Buchanan YMCA are merging. The two have been exploring the possibility since March when they started forming a management agreement. They’ve been sharing services since June, and tell us it’s worked out well. Mowitt Drew, of the Niles-Buchanan YMCA, says becoming one united entity to serve all of Berrien County just made sense as the next step. The new association will be called the YMCA of Southwest Michigan. Each branch will maintain its independent identity, while the two pool their resources.. ...Read Full Story

50,000 Expected At Chicago Women’s March

From the Associated Press — Organizers say about 50,000 people are expected to attend a women’s march in Chicago the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration. The Women’s March on Chicago is scheduled to begin with a rally in Grant Park at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The march through downtown is set for 11:30 a.m. The event is planned for the same day as a larger Women’s March on Washington. About 200 other “sister marches” are scheduled around the country. Organizers say that like those marches, the Chicago event is intended to send a message to the Trump administration “that women will defend and further their rights.” Jessica Scheller is a co-chairwoman for the Chicago march. She says grassroots organizers will rally attendees and highlight ways they may get involved in various issues.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Hit-And-Run Under Investigation

A hit-and-run accident is under investigation in Cass County. Michigan State Police say a pedestrian was hit in Howard Township Tuesday night around 6 in the 1000 block of Huntly Road. Police haven’t yet determined what kind of vehicle hit the man, but did recover a passenger side mirror at the scene. The victim is expected to recover despite suffering serious injuries. State police are asking anyone who knows what happened call the Niles post.. ...Read Full Story

Speedway Hiring More Than 1,000 Employees

If you’re looking for a job, Speedway needs about 1,000 people. The gas station-convenience store chain announced Wednesday it’s about to hire that many workers across nine states, including Michigan. They’ll be doing open interviews at every store next Wednesday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Speedway says it’s filling all positions. There are Speedways in Bridgman, Berrien Springs, Coloma, Three Oaks, Niles, Bangor, Paw Paw, and Mattawan. Good luck.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Working With Other States To Prepare For Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles are about to take over the world, and road agencies in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania want to be prepared. That’s why the new Smart Belt Coalition is being formed. Matt Smith, with the Michigan Department of Transportation, tells us MDOT is working with its counterparts to ensure technology to accommodate self-driving vehicles is installed on roads.. ...Read Full Story

Student Arrested While Handing Out Constitution Sues College

From the Associated press — A Battle Creek community college is being sued by a student and two others who say they were arrested while peacefully distributing the U.S. Constitution last fall. Michelle Gregoire says she was told she needed permission to distribute written materials. A lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court accuses Kellogg Community College of violating free speech rights and other protections. A group called Young Americans for Liberty is also a plaintiff. The lawsuit says Kellogg Community College allows “expressive activity” only at an information table in the Student Center. Gregoire and others were arrested while talking to students outside the performing arts center and then locked in jail for hours. The prosecutor dropped the case. The college says it will review the allegations in the lawsuit.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Today Announces Hiring Of New Director

The St. Joseph Today Board of Directors has announced the hiring of Amy Zapal, of St. Joseph, as the organization’s new executive director. Zapal comes to St. Joe Today from the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in St. Joseph, where she has been the executive director. She’ll take the reins from Interim Director and Events Manager Brian Smith, who stepped in following the resignation of former director Whitney Behnke in October.. ...Read Full Story

Septic Systems Pollute Waters Across Michigan

From the Associated Press — Research shows septic systems are polluting waters across Michigan. The Detroit Free Press reports more than 1 million of the individual waste disposal systems that don’t connect to a city sewer line still remain in the
state. A 2015 published research study from Michigan State University found E. coli from humans in all of the 64 rivers studied in the Lower Peninsula. Higher concentrations were found in areas with more septic systems. Grenetta Thomassey, spokeswoman for the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council based in Petoskey, says while 11 of Michigan’s counties have inspection requirements for septic systems when a property is sold, most counties and health districts don’t have one.
The study says Michigan is the only state in the U.S. that doesn’t manage septic systems statewide. Millions of homes nationwide still use septic systems.. ...Read Full Story

State: Commercial Fishing Enclosures Not Allowed In Great Lakes

From the Associated Press — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says state law doesn’t allow for net-like commercial fishing enclosures in the Great Lakes. In an opinion released Tuesday, Schuette said net-pen aquaculture operators would have to register with the state, and laws related to aquaculture don’t permit registration of such facilities in Michigan’s Great Lakes waters. Schuette says raising fish for commercial purposes is permitted in private waters, but the Great Lakes are part of the “public trust.” The opinion came in response to a request by Republican state Senator Wayne Schmidt. The Associated Press emailed Schmidt seeking comment. State agencies last year recommended against net-pen aquaculture, saying it
would pose risks to the environment, recreation and tourism. Michigan has received aquaculture proposals. There are no net-pen fish farms in U.S. Great Lakes waters.. ...Read Full Story