Local News Archives

MI Unemployment Rate Up Slightly

Michigan’s unemployment rate rose slightly to 4.6 percent in September when more people entered the job market. Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives Director Jason Palmer attributed the increase Wednesday to more people seeking jobs. The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget reported total employment rose by 11,000 over the month while the number of people unemployed increased by 4,000. It says the total employment gain for the month followed several monthly employment declines in the state during the middle of the year.The higher jobless rate was the first monthly increase for the state this year. The September rate was half a percentage point lower than the same month in 2015 and four-tenths of a percentage point lower than the national rate of 5.0 percent.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Health Chief Is Target In Flint Criminal Probe

A lawyer says Michigan’s top public health official is a target in the criminal investigation of Flint’s water crisis. Nick Lyon, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services, received a letter in early September from investigators indicating he is a focus, his attorney Larry Willey said Tuesday. Eight current or former state employees and one Flint worker have been charged in Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s probe.. ...Read Full Story

State Spending On Private Students Up 51% In 3 Years

A new report says Michigan spent $86 million last academic year to help educate private students in kindergarten through 12th grades, a 51 percent increase from three years before. The figure was reported Tuesday by the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan. It’s about $29 million more than was spent in the 2012-13 fiscal year. Michigan has a “shared time” arrangement that provides extra state aid to public schools that enroll nonpublic students in non-core, elective classes. The number of shared time students last year was 11,300, a fraction of
Michigan’s 1.4 million public students. There were 7,700 such students three years ago. Craig Thiel, senior research associate for the Citizens Research Council, says shared time instruction has seen “prodigious” growth at the same time public school enrollment is decreasing.. ...Read Full Story

Romney Addresses SWM Economic Club

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is sticking to his guns on the matter of Donald Trump. Speaking to the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Tuesday, Romney said Trump has “failings of a personal nature” that Romney can’t look past. The current nominee won’t get his vote.. ...Read Full Story

Southwestern Michigan College Receives Positive Audit

Southwestern Michigan College is on strong financial footing. That’s according to the college’s latest audit, which was presented to the board of trustees this week. The report released by Plante and Moran on Monday gives SMC the highest grade that can be awarded by an auditing firm. Board of Trustees Chair Thomas Jerdon says it shows the college has controlled costs, while still being affordable to students. The college has also received an AA bond rating. SMC says the audit was “outstanding.”. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Mayor Urges Calm After Shooting

Community leaders in Benton Harbor are urging everyone to sit back and allow the investigation to be completed into the fatal shooting of a man by the department of public safety Tuesday. It happened in the early morning hours outside a home on Pavone when officers say the man fired shots at them while they were responding to a call. Neighbors have identified the man as 28-year-old Darius Wimberly. At a Tuesday afternoon  press conference, Mayor Marcus Muhammad said everyone should stay calm and not let anger govern their actions.. ...Read Full Story

U of M Gets Funds For Autonomous Vehicle Research

The University of Michigan is set to receive $27 million from a Chinese investment firm to aid in the institution’s driverless vehicle and robotics research. The university’s President Mark Schlissel and Vice President for Research S. Jack Hu signed a memorandum of understanding on Saturday in Shenzhen, China, with Front Capital Management Ltd. The funding will establish a joint research center at the university and assist the construction of a previously announced robotics laboratory and garage. It’ll also provide engineering service and consulting fees for university researchers to advise the firm on design of an autonomous vehicle test facility in Shenzhen. Schlissel said in a statement that the firm’s investment will help advance mobility across the world. Officials say they expect the investments to be made over five years, but a starting time hasn’t been finalized.. ...Read Full Story

BH Public Safety Chief: “We Have Nothing To Hide” In Shooting

Benton Harbor Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis says they stand ready to release body camera footage of a police-involved shooting early this morning on Pavone once the family of the victim sees it and it’s cleared by the Berrien County Prosecutor’s office. McGinnis says a 28-year-old man was shot and killed after opening fire on police responding to a call of someone holding another person at gunpoint in a home.. ...Read Full Story

Romney Speaking To Econ Club Tonight

Former Massachusetts governor and one-time Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is speaking in southwest Michigan tonight. He’ll be addressing the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan at the Mendel Center on the Lake Michigan College Campus. Romney had been scheduled to speak as part of the 2014-2015 speaker series, but had to cancel. He lost the 2012 presidential election to President Obama. A Michigan native, Romney enacted a massive reform of healthcare in Massachusetts which served as a bit of a model for the Affordable Care Act. He also founded the venture capital and investment firm Bain Capital, and is the director of Marriott International.. ...Read Full Story

Officer Involved Shooting in Benton Harbor

Benton Harbor authorities are investigating and officer involved shooting around 2:00 this morning. It happened near east Empire near the Benton Harbor High School. No details yet on what led up to the shooting, or the extent of any injuries. Detectives have crime scene tape surrounding the area. WSJM Jacob Holmes is on the scene and will provide updates as it becomes available.. ...Read Full Story

Goodwill Mentoring Program Working With MI Youth

A mentoring program run by Goodwill Industries aims to connect Michigan young people with positive influences who can guide them through the toughest parts of growing up. Kim Owens, the branch manager for GoodGuides in Flint, says she knew one teen who didn’t think he would make it through high school before he started working with a mentor.. ...Read Full Story

BH City Commission Tables Budget Amendment

Benton Harbor City Commissioners want to take a look at how public safety officers are trained as they work to reduce the amount that has to be spent on the department. On Monday, the commission shot down a budget amendment sought by City Manager Darwin Watson, shifting $65,000 more into its overtime fund. Watson said officers have to be paid overtime if they put in more than 40 hours training, but commissioners wanted more information. Mayor Marcus Muhammad told WSJM News he has several questions about how the money would be spent.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Mobile Office In Bloomingdale Next Week

Coming next week to the Bloomingdale branch of the Van Buren District Library will be the Michigan Secretary of State’s mobile office. The SOS mobile branch is a fully-functional office of the Secretary of State where anyone can get titles, address changes, or sign up for the organ donor registry, among other things. The mobile branch office will be at the Bloomingdale library Monday from noon to 6 p.m. It’s been touring the state this fall, having stopped at several college campuses registering young people to vote.. ...Read Full Story

This is School Bus Safety Week

This is School Bus Safety Week, and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is reminding all drivers of the need to pay attention in school zones and around school buses. Deputy Kelly Laesch tells WSJM News distractions are the biggest problem on the road.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Association Of Realtors Getting New Leader

The Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors is getting a new leader. The organization announced this week that Executive Vice President Gary Walter is retiring next month after having served for the past 32 years. Walter will be replaced by Philip Amodeo, from Arlington, Texas. Amodeo has been a realtor in Indiana, Nevada, and Texas during his more than 25 years in the business. Paul Dumke, President of the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors, says the group will miss Gary Walter’s “unparalleled commitment to our association and community.”. ...Read Full Story

Work Underway On New Development In Downtown Bridgman

There’s a big new development on the way for downtown Bridgman. The vacant buildings on the south side of Red Arrow Highway at Lake Street downtown will soon be the site of the Monogram Centre, a residential and commercial development planned by Marty and Chris Mason. Chris tells WSJM News his dad bought the property because he wants to see activity there.. ...Read Full Story

MI GOP To Remove Grassroots Leader

The Michigan Republican Party is planning to remove its grassroots leader for her refusal to back Donald Trump in the presidential election.
GOP spokeswoman Sarah Anderson said Monday that grassroots vice chairwoman Wendy Day’s position is at odds with a bylaw requiring the party’s elected leaders to support the Republican ticket. Day is refusing to resign and says her stance against Trump will “protect what the party has stood for.” Anderson says Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel hopes to make Day’s position vacant later Monday. Anderson says Republicans are welcome to their own opinion on the presidential race, but Day – as one of 12 elected leaders – must back the entire GOP ticket.
Matt Hall, a state committee member, asked McDaniel on Saturday to remove Day from her post.. ...Read Full Story

Vandalia Woman Found Safe

A Vandalia woman who was reported missing last week has been found. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department tells WSJM News 48-year-old Ramona Huffman left on her own free will, and is not in any danger. She was last seen in the area Tuesday evening. Now that she’s been located, the case is closed.. ...Read Full Story

Next Presidential Debate Wednesday

Wednesday is the last time the presidential candidates will share a stage before November’s election — as the final debate is set to take place at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. Ed Sidlow, a political science professor at Eastern Michigan University, says this year is similar to elections of the past.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeland Gets Donation From Hanson Family For Expansion

Construction will get underway in the spring on a massive expansion of Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph. The new Lakeland Medical Center Pavilion will include the Hanson Heart Center, named for donors Merlin and Carolyn Hanson and their family. Lakeland Health President and CEO Dr. Loren Hamel talked to WSJM News about the family’s $1.5 million donation, which was announced this week.. ...Read Full Story

Worker At Detroit Auto Plant Has Legionnaires’ Disease

(Detroit, MI – AP) Fiat Chrysler says an employee at its Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit has been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. The automaker says in a statement Friday that it hasn’t been determined where the employee may have come in contact with bacteria that cause the disease. FCA says that “out of an abundance of caution” the automaker is testing water sources at the plant. The company says it’s in contact with appropriate agencies, which would include health officials, and plans to cooperate as needed with them. Legionnaires’ disease is a pneumonia caused by bacteria that thrive in warm water and infect the lungs. Cooling systems can be a carrier. The disease has received recent attention in the Flint area, where there’s been an outbreak amid the city’s crisis with lead-tainted water.. ...Read Full Story

South Bend Police To Release Use-Of-Force Information

(South Bend, IN – AP) The mayor of South Bend says the city’s police department will begin releasing information about its use of force, citizen complaints and training. Mayor Peter Buttigieg said Thursday that the releases will be part of an initiative led by the White House. Communities participating in the effort agree to publish data about the use of force and police accountability. Buttigieg says South Bend will start releasing data on the city’s open data portal over the coming months. He didn’t specify what information the department would release. President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing inspired the White House Police Data Initiative, which includes nearly 130 communities. Buttigieg says it’s “never been more important to use the power of information to build accountability and trust around law enforcement.”. ...Read Full Story