Local News Archives

Van Buren County Commission Fighting Palisades Closure

The Van Buren County Commission has added its voice to the chorus of those trying to keep the Palisades nuclear power plant open. This week, commissioners approved a resolution asking the Michigan Public Service Commission to reject Consumers Energy’s request to get out of a contract to buy power from the Covert Township facility by the end of 2018. Commissioners cite the economic importance of Palisades to the region, saying it means $1.8 million for the township, $4.4 million for Covert Schools, and $1.6 million for the county. Commissioners also note the Consumers Energy contract was supposed to go through 2022, adding ending the contract sooner leaves too little time to prepare.. ...Read Full Story

3.5 Million Michiganders Expected To Travel This Month

Estimates from AAA say nearly 3.5 million people from Michigan will travel for the year-end holidays, up 2.5 percent from last year. The auto club says Thursday it’s the highest total volume of people going 50 miles or more from the state since AAA began tracking holiday travel data in 2001. Most will drive. AAA says the increase in holiday travel is being boosted by additional consumer spending, a result of improvements in the labor market and rising wages. Additionally, relatively low gas prices and increased consumer optimism are seen as factors. The year-end holiday travel period is defined as December 23 to January 2, one day fewer than last year’s holiday period. It includes Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Day.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Unemployment Goes Up

Michigan’s unemployment rate rose to 4.9% in November, marking the first month this year the state’s jobless rate was above
the national rate. The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget said Wednesday the rate was up from 4.7% in October and above the national November rate of  4.6%. Michigan seasonally adjusted jobless rate increased for the third time in three months in November, but was below November 2015’s rate of 5.1%. Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives Director Jason Palmer says the unemployment increase is due to a “sizeable entry” of people into the workforce. He says most have found jobs. From November 2015 to this November, total employment rose in Michigan by 2.5% while the state’s workforce grew by 2.3%.. ...Read Full Story

Trump Adviser Speaking In Lansing

Michigan is on the mind of economist Stephen Moore today. Moore, who’s also an economic adviser to president-elect Donald Trump, will be the keynote speaker at the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce today. Lansing Chamber CEO Tim Daman says more than 500 people from across the state will be on hand, many of them from the manufacturing sector.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan City Sued For Blocking Mosque

Federal prosecutors are suing a Detroit suburb after a religious organization’s proposal for a mosque in a residential neighborhood was denied.
The U.S. Attorney’s office filed the suit Thursday in federal court against Sterling Heights. Planning commissioners voted in 2015 against a special land agreement sought by the American Islamic Community Center. Some residents protested the plan, citing traffic congestion and other concerns. Mosque supporters said the issue was anti-Muslim bias. The lawsuit says the denial constitutes discrimination on the basis of
religion and imposed a “burden on the religious exercise” of the center. Sterling Heights says Thursday that the center’s application denial was not based on “emotional feelings tied to religious beliefs either for or against the applicant.” The Associated Press left a message seeking comment from the center.. ...Read Full Story

Detroit Red Wings To Honor Berrien County Bailiffs Killed On Duty

The Detroit Red Wings are honoring law enforcers, especially five Michigan officers killed in the line of duty this year. The Red Wings play the Los Angeles Kings at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday. The team says the opening ceremony will be dedicated to the fallen officers – three from Detroit and two from Berrien County. They are Wayne State University Sergeant Collin Rose, Detroit Sergeant Ken Steil, Detroit Officer Myron Jarrett and Berrien County courthouse officers Ron Kienzle and Joe Zangaro. You’ll remember Kienzle and Zangaro were killed in a shootout with a man who tried to escape from the courthouse on July 11. The Red Wings say more than 1,100 police officers and their families will attend the game.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagon Fund Helping Harbor Country Kids For Christmas

As Christmas approaches, the Pokagon Fund is stepping up donations to groups that can help kids have a good holiday. It’s given $9,000 to Toys for Tots to provide more than 400 kids in Harbor Country with presents this year. Also, the fund is helping out the Harbor Country Rotary Club’s Hats and Mittens project with a donation of $3,000, and backing Operation Good Cheer. That’s a department of human services program that gives holiday presents to foster kids. Pokagon Fund leaders tell us they want to make sure every child in Harbor Country has a good Christmas.. ...Read Full Story

Baby Found Dead In Benton Township

A medical examination will determine the cause of death for a 7-week-old baby found on Wednesday in Benton Township. The police department tells us officers were called to a home in the 1,400 block of Rose Avenue just before 1 p.m. on a report of an unresponsive child. They arrived to find the baby had died. An exam is scheduled for Thursday morning in Grand Rapids. The case is under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

UPDATE — Sheriff’s Department Sergeant In Hospital After I-94 Crash Near Watervliet

Michigan State Police are investigating a crash on I-94 Wednesday that closed the highway for a few hours. It happened shortly after 1 p.m. on eastbound I-94 near M-140 in Watervliet. Troopers say a Berrien County Sheriff’s Department patrol car was escorting a slower moving semi off the road when a pick-up driven by a 32-year-old Hartford man crashed into the back of the patrol car. That caused the patrol car to crash into the semi in front of it, and then into another semi to the side. The sergeant in the patrol car was taken by ambulance to Lakeland Hospital and the driver of the pick-up was taken to a hospital in Kalamazoo. The crash caused traffic on eastbound 94 in the area to be rerouted on to I-196. The road was back open around 4 p.m.. ...Read Full Story

Vigil Calls For Electors To “Vote Their Conscience”

A group of southwest Michigan residents concerned about the result of the presidential election are braving the cold each evening until the Electoral College meets to hold vigils in front of St. Joseph City Hall. They’re asking electors to vote their conscience. Katie Kwon is one of them who told WSJM News the electors have the power to stop Donald Trump.. ...Read Full Story

Auto Insurance, Energy Policy On MI Legislative Agenda

Michigan lawmakers are continuing talks on energy policy and changes to the state’s auto insurance system. Legislators now have two days left in the two-year session. They voted Tuesday for higher speed limits on rural highways and to give schools more flexibility on “zero-tolerance” expulsion and suspension requirements. But some major items, including a rewrite of 2008 energy laws, remain bottled up. Majority Republicans also have proposed a scaled-back plan to rein in medical costs for people seriously injured in car crashes.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Asks For Study On Municipal Retiree Health Benefits

Gov. Rick Snyder says he wants municipalities and labor unions to jointly study how best to tackle retiree health care costs after Republican lawmakers removed a contentious proposal to aggressively curb the benefits from the post-election agenda. The governor told The Associated Press on Wednesday that unfunded liabilities remain as an “important issue,” and he plans to create a broad task force to “put the facts on the table.” The group could be formed in early January and be given three or four months to work, with legislation to follow. Snyder had questioned quickly passing bills in the lame-duck session, but the problem is still a priority for him in 2017. He says the recent legislative debate was “too general” and there are several dimensions to the issue.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Buys New Utility Truck

The city of Dowagiac has taken a step to ensure reliable electric service to residents. The city runs its own utilities, and so is responsible for keeping the lights on in town and this week, the city council approved buying a new line truck. The 2015 model replaces a 28-year-old truck that had been deemed unfit for use. It’ll be brought to town this week at a cost of $186,000. The line truck will be used to fix downed power poles and lines, and also to set street lights. The city gets about 10 to 15 power poles knocked down per year, mostly due to weather or car crashes. Just last year, they replaced 30 poles.. ...Read Full Story

Crash Injures Berrien Deputy Sheriff

Michigan State Police are investigating a crash on eastbound I-94 Wednesday afternoon that closed the highway for a few hours. They say a Berrien County Sheriff’s Department patrol car was hit from behind by a pickup on the highway near M-140 in Watervliet shortly after 1 p.m. The officer in the patrol car was taken to Lakeland Hospital to be treated for injuries, while the driver of the pickup was airlifted to a hospital. More information on the crash will be released later.. ...Read Full Story

MI Lawmakers Ease School Expulsion And Suspension Rules

Michigan lawmakers have given final approval to legislation that would soften “zero-tolerance” expulsion and suspension requirements by inserting what backers say is some common sense into the process. Bills approved overwhelmingly by the House Wednesday would require school officials to consider certain factors before expelling or suspending students. They include the pupil’s age, disciplinary history and whether the misconduct threatened the safety of others. Other factors would include whether the student has a disability, if a lesser punishment could address the violation and whether “restorative” meetings between the offender and a victim could help. Bringing a gun to school would remain an automatic expulsion. Backers say too many kids are being harshly disciplined for inadvertently bringing weapons to school. The legislation goes to Governor Rick Snyder for his expected signature.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Cities Invited To Seek “Tree City” Designation

Michigan communities, college campuses and utilities can seek a state designation honoring their commitment to high-quality tree care.
Applications for certification as a Tree City, Tree Campus or Tree Line USA must be submitted to the Department of Natural Resources by January 16. The Arbor Day Foundation sponsors the annual programs, which state forestry agencies administer. Successful applicants must meet foundation criteria. The Tree City program began in 1976 as a bicentennial project promoting tree planting in urban areas. It recognizes the economic, health and aesthetic benefits trees provide. The DNR says 123 communities, two utilities and four campuses won designations
last year. Michigan ranks ninth among states in the number of communities certified. They range in size from the city of Detroit to the village of Richland.. ...Read Full Story

Snowmobiles To Cross Mackinac Bridge Saturday

Vintage snowmobiles will be allowed to cross the Mackinac Bridge during a special event. The Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum in Naubinway and the St. Ignace Visitor’s Bureau are teaming up to host the ride Saturday. MLive.com reports only snowmobiles at those least 25 years old can participate. They must be outfitted with wheel kits, and the wheels must be at least 2 inches wide without studs or cleats. There’s a fee of $35 per snowmobile. Participants will leave their machines in Mackinaw City and drive their trailers to the north end of the bridge in St. Ignace. A shuttle will return participants to their snowmobiles. It’s believed this will be the first time snowmobiles will be allowed to cross
the bridge linking the Lower and Upper Peninsulas.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Identifies Four Finalists For President

Lake Michigan College has released the names of its four finalists for president. The LMC Board of Trustees plans to bring in the four for in-person interviews next month. In no order, the first candidate is Dr. Trevor Kubatzke, Vice President of Milwaukee Area Technical College. Up next is Dr. Jon Mandrell, VP of Academic Services at Sauk Valley Community College in Dixon, Illinois. Next is Dr. Orinthia Montague, VP of Student Affairs at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minnesota, and finally, there’s Dr. Dr. Rebekah Woods, Provost of Jackson College in Jackson, Michigan. The board of trustees hopes to have the new president on board in March. In the meantime, Dr. Bob Harrison continues to serve as interim president.. ...Read Full Story

Toys For Tots Donation Jar Stolen In Dowagiac

Police could use your help in finding the Grinch who stole a Toys for Tots donation jar from a gas station in Dowagiac. The department of public safety tells our newsroom it happened at the Shell Mart on North Front Street late Sunday. Police have released photos of the suspect, who’s a white man wearing a dark coat. He was driving a white car. Anyone who can identify the man is asked to call Dowagiac Public Safety. You can see surveillance pictures below.. ...Read Full Story