Local News Archives

JC Penney Mum On Which Stores Will Close

It was once one of the largest department store chains in the country, but now JC Penney is shrinking its retail footprint, and thousands of employees are being asked to retire early. Michigan News Network Business Editor Murray Feldman tells us the closure of  about 140 stores nationwide will likely have an impact on Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

BH Superintendent Encouraged By Governor’s Delay On School Closure Decision

Benton Harbor Area Schools Superintendent Dr. Shelly Walker is pleased with Governor Rick Snyder’s move this week to delay the Michigan School Reform Office’s decision on possible school closures statewide. She tells us the governor’s delay of about two months indicates he is aware that closing schools would harm their students and communities. Walker is confident the three Benton Harbor Schools on the SRO’s list will be allowed to remain open.. ...Read Full Story

Orchards Mall Behind On Property Taxes, Water Bills

The Orchards Mall in Benton Township is a little more than a month away from foreclosure. The Berrien County Treasurer’s office tells WSJM News the mall still hasn’t paid its property taxes, and they’re due on March 31. If that day comes and goes, the treasurer will foreclosure on the property, and he also tells us he will not offer the mall’s owners a payment plan due to their prior history of failing to pay bills. About $500,000 to $600,000 is owed by the mall in property taxes. However, the treasurer also wants its stores to know the building will not be closed if he pursues foreclosure. The stores will be allowed to stay open.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata: Closing Schools Will Put Hardships On Families

State Representative Kim LaSata is praising Governor Rick Snyder’s action to delay the Michigan School Reform Office’s decision on possible school closures across the state. This week, the governor gave the SRO until the end of May to make its decisions on the fate of 38 schools targeted for possible closure due to poor test scores. Three Benton Harbor schools — the Dream Academy, the STEAM Academy, and the International Academy — are on the list. LaSata says shutting the schools down would put “a significant hardship on families in our community.” She adds that she believes the delay given to the SRO by the governor will allow the state more time to look at ways of improving performance, as opposed to closing the buildings.. ...Read Full Story

Protest In Lansing Over Possible School Closures

From the Associated Press — A few dozen people staged a protest against the potential closings of up to 38 underperforming schools across the state. The group marched from a Lansing church to the state Capitol complex where they were unsuccessful in meeting with Michigan’s director of Technology, Management and Budget. More than half of the schools that could close are in Detroit. Others are in Benton Harbor, Bridgeport, East Detroit, Kalamazoo, Pontiac, River Rouge, and Saginaw. Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad was one of the protesters and said he has children attending schools on the closure list. Michigan’s School Reform Office has said it would examine issues and options for students in the schools before making a decision. Governor Rick Snyder has asked officials to review and decide on the schools’ fates by May.. ...Read Full Story

Slow Recovery Continues For Abigail Kopf

15-year-old Abigail Kopf continues her recovery from last year’s shooting spree in Kalamazoo. Abigail was shot in the head in the rampage that ultimately killed six, and has since then undergone two surgeries to replace part of her skull. Her father, Gene Kopf, tells Michigan News Network the ordeal has been hard on the whole family.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Man Convicted In Double Shooting

Up to 24 years in prison await a 54-year-old Benton Harbor man for a double shooting at his home in September. A Berrien County jury found Timothy Young, Jr. guilty on two lesser charges of assault with intent to do great bodily harm and not assault with intent to murder. Prosecutors contend Young shot Jeanie Patton-Yarbrough and her cousin, Dontae Henderson outside his home after they had beaten up his cousin. A third woman who was also at the home but wasn’t shot also testified with Henderson and Patton-Yarbrough that Young was who shot the two, though his defense attorney says it was another man who pulled the trigger. Jurors were not allowed to consider self-defense in the case, as Young did not testify. He will be sentenced on March 27.. ...Read Full Story

South Bend Mayor Hoping To Head DNC

The Democratic National Committee will elect a new chairman on Saturday. The most high profile names nationally up for the job are former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, but South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is also in the running.. ...Read Full Story

School Reform Office Gets More Time On School Closures

There is a reprieve for Benton Harbor Area Schools as three of the district’s schools face closure. Governor Snyder has given Michigan’s School Reform Office more time before deciding which of 38 chronically underperforming schools will be closed. Snyder said Thursday that he’s asked the reform office and state education officials to review and decide on the schools’ fates by May.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Planning Big Expansion To Nursing Program

Southwestern Michigan College is planning to expand its Nursing and Health Education Building so more programs can be offered and more students trained. SMC President Dr. David Mathews tells WSJM News the $9.6 million project is intended to help SMC better serve the area, noting the nursing program has been a big success.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Co-Sponsors Plan To Maintain Pre-Existing Condition Protections

A plan to stop health insurance companies from denying coverage to patients due to pre-existing conditions once the Affordable Care Act is repealed has been introduced in the U.S. House, co-sponsored by Congressman Fred Upton. Upton says the Pre-Existing Conditions Protection Act of 2017 will continue to ACA’s practice of disallowing insurers from basing premiums off someone’s health status. It will also keep coverage available to those with health issues. The act has been introduced as the House works to prepare for the repeal of the ACA and to craft a replacement. Upton says he’s talked healthcare with constituents in a series of tele-town halls this month. He’s planning another one for Monday, and notes there will be extensive discussions as the House moves forward on the Obamacare repeal.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Man Charged In Fatal Indiana Crash

A Niles man is facing charges over a crash this week that killed a man in Indiana. According to our reporting partners at NewsCenter 16 WNDU, the St. Joseph County, Indiana Prosecutor’s office has charged 39-year-old James Morrison with one count of causing death while driving, as well as charges of causing bodily injury and resisting arrest. The crash happened on Tuesday afternoon following chase that started in Berrien County. A deputy tried to pull over the Blazer Morrison was driving because it had been reported stolen. The chase when down into Indiana and ended in the crash which involved five vehicles. Police say the chase involving Morrison at times went as fast as 100 miles per hour.r.. ...Read Full Story

Police Searching For Suspect In Van Buren County Chase

Police are looking for a suspect who led them on a chase through Hartford on Wednesday. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us it all started shortly after 5 p.m. when they got a call about a hit and run traffic crash on Red Arrow Highway near 65th Street. Deputies got a description of the vehicle that hit a woman’s car, and not long after, spotted it in the city of Hartford. They tried to pull over the maroon 2001 Chevy Tahoe, but it took off through some neighborhoods. It also pulled into a school parking lot near some kids that were playing, so deputies kept a safe distance. The chase at one point caused a Hartford police officer to crash into a fire hydrant, suffering minor injuries. For safety reasons, deputies broke off the chase. Anyone with information on the suspect is asked to contact the sheriff’s department.. ...Read Full Story

Groundbreaking Tomorrow On Renovations In Downtown New Buffalo

Officials from New Buffalo will break ground Friday on a major initiative to improve the downtown area. They’ll be gathering at 1 p.m. for a ceremony to mark the start of a $5 million renovation project set to include infrastructure work, new streetscaping, parking changes, signage, and wider sidewalks along Mechanic and Barton Streets. The city tells us the effort has been in the making for about 13 years, and it’s now being made possible partly with a $1.6 million grant from the Pokagon Fund. City leaders say the work will transform the downtown. The first phase of the project, mostly involving underground work, starts in early March, while the rest of work is slated to start in the fall.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Office Gets More Time To Decide On School Closures

From the Associated Press — Governor Rick Snyder has given Michigan’s School Reform Office more time before deciding which of 38 chronically underperforming schools will be closed. Snyder said Thursday that he’s asked the reform office and state education officials to review and decide on the schools’ fates by May. The reform office said in January that it would spend 30 to 45 days examining issues and options for students in the failing schools before making a decision. More than half of the 38 schools are in Detroit. The others are in Benton Harbor, Bridgeport, East Detroit, Kalamazoo, Pontiac, River Rouge and Saginaw. MLive reports that public school districts in Saginaw and Kalamazoo have filed a joint lawsuit in the Michigan Court of Claims against the reform office to head off any closings.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Designed To Protect Corrections Officers

Legislation now under consideration by a Michigan House committee would make it a felony for an inmate or detainee at a jail to try to expose officers to bodily fluids or human waste. Among the plan’s supporters is Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller, who tells WKZO News many on the House Committee on Law and Justice seem to like the idea. He testified before them this week.. ...Read Full Story

State House Rejects Income Tax Cut

The Republican-led Michigan House has defeated legislation to lower the state’s income tax. The bill that fell three votes short of passage early Thursday would lower the 4.25% tax to 4.05% by 2019 and then to 3.9% by 2021 as long as the state savings, or rainy day, fund is not below $1 billion. House Speaker Tom Leonard told Michigan News Network he was disappointed.. ...Read Full Story

Busy Year Ahead For Benton Harbor Downtown Development Authority

A busy year is being planned by the Benton Harbor Downtown Development Authority. President Richard Hensel tells WSJM News, for one thing, they’re aiming to have a block party this June to raise money for the annual holiday lighting that’s put up along Main Street. Support from the parks conservancy was recently pulled, but Hensel says the DDA wants to find a long-term way of making sure the lights go up each year.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeland Implements Visitor Restrictions Over Flu Concerns

Lakeland Health is asking anyone with the flu to refrain from visiting loved ones that might be staying at one of its facilities. It’s just about the peak of the flu season, and Lakeland tells WSJM News they’re issuing visitation restrictions to try to keep patients safe. If you’re sick with the flu, don’t go to the hospital to see someone, and if you haven’t had a flu shot, you’ll be asked to wear a mask while there and to stand at least six feet from patients. Lakeland adds it’s not too late to get vaccinated, saying that’s the best way to avoid getting the flu.. ...Read Full Story

Detroit Suburb Settles Mosque Lawsuit

From the Associated Press — A Detroit suburb that denied a religious organization’s proposal for a mosque in a residential neighborhood has agreed to settle two federal lawsuits that alleged discrimination. The Sterling Heights City Council voted late Tuesday to accept the
settlements, including one in a lawsuit brought in December by the U.S. attorney’s office. Federal authorities said Wednesday that Sterling Heights will allow construction of the mosque. City officials say the settlement keeps Sterling Heights out of costly litigation. The city’s planning commission voted in 2015 against a special land agreement sought by the American Islamic Community Center. A lawsuit brought by the
community center noted a “hostile” commission and public. Sterling Heights says parking, traffic and issues involving the size of the mosque dome and spires have been addressed in the settlement.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State To Handle Some Winning Lottery Tickets

From the Associated Press — A license plate, and a winning lottery ticket? In northern Michigan, the state lottery says it will allow people to claim large winnings at Secretary of State offices in four cities. The money will be electronically transferred to a player’s bank account the next day. They’ll need to present the winning ticket, a photo ID, Social Security card and bank account information. The ticket must be worth $601 to $50,000. The participating Secretary of State offices are in Escanaba, Grayling, Marquette, and Sault Ste. Marie. The service starts Thursday.
Prizes of $600 or less can be collected at stores that sell lottery tickets.. ...Read Full Story