Local News Archives

Legislature Begins New Term

Michigan lawmakers have commenced a new two-year term. A veteran Republican senator on Wednesday planned to quickly propose eliminating the state income tax – a proposal that’s unlikely to be embraced by Governor Rick Snyder but which could prompt discussions about a cut in the tax. New leaders take the helm of the House, where representatives are taking the oath of office and picking seats. Republicans will again control the agenda in both chambers. It’s a day of pomp, swearings-in and proud moments for new House members and their families. Lawmakers will meet next week to hear the Republican governor’s State of the State address. His budget proposal is expected in February and will be based on numbers to be set Thursday at a revenue-estimating meeting.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Natives Killed In Atlanta Crash

Police in Atlanta, Georgia say three people from Benton Harbor are dead following a crash over the weekend. It happened Sunday when the car they were in hit a utility police and then burst into flames. Killed were 36-year old Joi Whaley Barnes, along with a man identified as her boyfriend, and another woman who has not yet been identified. Whaley was the sister of former NBA star Robert Whaley. Staff at Harbor Shores, where Whaley’s mother works, have launched a GoFundMe to help the family.. ...Read Full Story

Arrest Made In Theft Of Toys For Tots Jar

An arrest has been made in the theft of a Toys for Tots donation jar in Cass County last month. On December 12, Dowagiac police were called to a Shell Mart station after a man made off with the jar. Police posted surveillance photos of the suspect to social media, leading to a whole lot of tips from the public. That eventually led them to 30-year-old Michael Ted Doane, of Laporte, Indiana. He’s now charged with felony larceny in a building, which could get him up to four years in prison. Police thank everyone who offered them tips to catch the Grinch.. ...Read Full Story

Chicken Coop Fire Started In Exhaust System

A cleanup effort will be getting underway at the Chicken Coop in St. Joseph following this week’s fire. The St. Joseph Township Fire Department tells us the building suffered plenty of smoke damage in Tuesday’s blaze, but it’s not a total loss and repairs can be made. The fire was contained to the building’s exhaust and duct system, where it all started. Firefighters think the cause of the fire could have been an exhaust fan. They had to knock a hole in the chimney to put out the flames, and cleared the scene within about an hour.. ...Read Full Story

State Investigating Legionnaires’ Cases In Flint

State health officials say they’re following up on 17 cases of Legionnaires’ disease last year in Genesee County after winning a legal dispute over access to records. The Department of Health and Human Services sent a letter Wednesday to Flint-area health officials and McLaren Hospital. The department wants to know more about what the hospital is doing to strengthen its water system. A phone message and email seeking comment were left with the hospital. At least two Legionnaires’ cases from 2016 have been linked to McLaren. The patients survived. Michigan’s chief medical executive, Dr. Eden Wells, says she has no evidence that the hospital is risky for patients. The Michigan appeals court recently threw out orders that prohibited McLaren
and local health officials from talking to the state about Legionnaires’ disease and water issues in Flint.. ...Read Full Story

Man Killed In Cass County Factory Stabbing

An Elkhart man is jailed in Cass County following what police say was a homicide at a Mason Township factory. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department tells us deputies were called out to Ameri-Kart on Grange Street around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday over a fight between two employees. When deputies got there, they learned one of the men had stabbed the other in the neck. 24-year-old Jan Carlos Velazques Mendez, from Elkhart, was later pronounced dead. The suspect is a 23-year-old who is now in the county jail. His name hasn’t been released yet. Police say other employees managed to hold him until deputies arrived.. ...Read Full Story

New BH School Trustees Take Their Seats

Marletta Seats and Elnora Gavin have been sworn in as Benton Harbor School Trustees. At Tuesday’s work session, they took their seats for the first time. Seats was picked by the board to fill a vacancy created when James Turner stepped down, while Gavin was elected in November. Also Tuesday, the board picked its officers. Once again, Joseph Taylor is the board president. Also, Stephen Mitchell is the vice president, Lisa Gulley’s the secretary, and Angelika Macgowan is the treasurer.. ...Read Full Story

Bill Would Take Midwest Wolves Off Endangered Species List

Some members of Congress are making another run at taking gray wolves in the upper Midwest and Wyoming off the endangered list. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had tried to take wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming off the list, saying those populations had recovered sufficiently to allow resumed hunting under state management plans.
But courts in 2014 re-imposed federal protections for the wolves. A bill introduced Tuesday by U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Sean Duffy of Wisconsin and Liz Cheney of Wyoming would block the courts from intervening.Similar proposals failed to advance last year, partly due to White House  opposition, but farmers and ranchers who say they have no way to protect their livestock from problem wolves are hoping that changes under the Trump administration.. ...Read Full Story

Gary Peters Talks Trump Effect On Auto Industry

What will a Donald Trump administration mean for the U.S. auto industry? Michigan’s two U.S. senators discussed that on the floor of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit Monday. Senator Gary Peters was asked if his fellow Democrats will be able to work with Trump on vital issues for Michigan’s top industry.. ...Read Full Story

Crews Respond To Fire At Chicken Coop In St. Joseph

The Chicken Coop in St. Joseph will have some cleaning up to do following a fire Tuesday evening. Crews from the St. Joseph Township Fire Department were called out around 6:30. They arrived to find smoke coming out of the roof. No one was injured. The fire department hasn’t yet released the cause of the blaze. We’ll have information once it’s available.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Holding Berrien County Photo Contest

If you’re a photographer, whether amateur or professional, then state Representative Kim LaSata could use your help. She’s looking to decorate her Lansing office with photographs of Berrien County, so she’s started a contest. Just send her a picture you’ve taken and she could hang it there.. ...Read Full Story

State Senator Proposes Repeal Of Law Allowing For School Closures

A key state senator is proposing to repeal Michigan’s school-turnaround law and to overhaul a system that potentially could lead to the closure of academically failing schools. Senate Education Committee Chairman Phil Pavlov said Tuesday he will introduce repeal legislation Wednesday, the first day of the two-year legislative term. His bill comes as Michigan prepares to soon release its latest school rankings list. Governor Rick Snyder’s administration has said state-ordered school closures, an unused option allowed for under a 2009 law, could be coming for chronically under-performing schools where other forms of intervention haven’t worked. Pavlov, a Republican, says the law was “created with the best of intentions” but is “deeply flawed.” He says his bill will launch a conversation about replacing the law with “something that actually incentivizes” school improvements.. ...Read Full Story

More Than 309,000 MI Residents Sign Up For Affordable Care Act

More than 309,000 Michigan residents have signed up for health insurance under the health care law, despite Republican efforts to repeal “Obamacare.” That’s about 14,200 fewer people than at the same time last year. Federal figures released Tuesday show about a quarter of enrollees live in rural Michigan. About half are between 45 and 64-years-old, and another 24
percent are 18 to 34-years-old. Fifty-four percent are white. 80% qualify for cost-reducing tax credits of $267 per month, on average. Enrollment continues on HealthCare.gov through the end of January. Consumers have until Sunday to sign up for coverage starting February 1. Nationally, 11.5 million people have signed up for marketplace coverage as of December 24. That’s 290,000 more than last year at the same time.. ...Read Full Story

No Injuries In Dowagiac School Bus Crash

No one’s hurt following a crash involving a school bus in Dowagiac Monday. Police tell us it happened around 3:40 p.m. at the intersection of Orchard and North Street. The 17-year-old driver of a Grand Prix told officers she didn’t see the bus as she approached the intersection. The Grand Prix slammed into the side of the bus. On board were only the driver and a 5-year-old passenger, but neither were hurt. Due to Dowagiac Union Schools policy, they were still both checked out by EMTs. The 5-year-old’s parents were called to come pick their child up, and police gave a ticket to the 17-year-old.. ...Read Full Story

State Officials On The Lookout For Invasive Tree Parasite

Experts say it’s never too early in the year to take a peek at your trees, and this year, it could help to stop the spread of a dangerous pest. The hemlock woolly adelgid, or HWA, is a tiny insect that secretes white wax as it feeds on the sap of hemlock trees. The wax, over time, can kill the tree. The invasive insect has already been found in parts of West Michigan. Roger Mech, with the DNR, says you don’t have to go far to see just how harmful it can be.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Leaders Hope To See Action On Erosion Of Bluff Property

St. Joseph City Commissioners are hoping to see some action to strengthen part of the bluff along Old Lakeshore Road. That’s because it appears to be in danger of collapsing. On Monday, they discussed the problem area, located around 2405 Old Lakeshore. Some residents have documented the failing of the sea wall and subsequent bluff erosion. CSX Railroad is responsible for the property, and Mayor Mike Garey tells WSJM News they’ve got to be convinced to do something.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Picking Up Christmas Trees This Month

The city of St. Joseph will be picking up Christmas trees all this month. Anyone looking to dispose of one should put it out at the curb and make sure it’s not surrounded by snow. Also, be sure it has nothing on it, including plastic. Anyone who needs their tree picked up from an alley should call the city public works department. The number is 983-6341.. ...Read Full Story

Chikaming Twp Police Looking For Burglary Suspects

Police in Chikaming Township are looking for a couple of burglary suspects who they say fired off a gun as they got away on Friday. Shortly after midnight, officers were called to a home on Sawyer Road on a report of a burglary in progress. They were told by the homeowner two men had gone into his barn. He went outside to confront them, and one of them came out and pointed a long gun at him. The two suspects then ran off while one fired the gun, possibly at the homeonwer’s dogs. The two men are described as white males wearing Carhart-style clothing. Police remind everyone to lock their cars and outbuildings at night.. ...Read Full Story

Heart Of Cook Grant Applications Being Taken

The Berrien Community Foundation is once again taking applications for Heart of Cook grants. Heart of Cook is a grant program funded by the Cook nuclear power plant that goes to non-profits around Berrien County each year. Last year, they gave out $53,000 in funding to programs in the fields of education, human services, and environmental protection. In all, a total of 29 organizations benefited. Anyone thinking of applying for a grant for their own group can do so at BerrienCommunity.org/HOC. The deadline is February 6.. ...Read Full Story