Local News Archives

MI Board Allows Flint To Sue The State

A state board overseeing Flint as it transitions from state emergency management has reversed course and lifted the city’s ability to sue without first getting approval from the board. The Receivership Transition Advisory Board on Wednesday amended a resolution it passed in March just days after Flint served notice it might file a lawsuit against Michigan over its lead-contaminated water supply. State Department of Treasury spokeswoman Danelle Gittus says the change clarifies the earlier order, and it was never the board’s intent to block Flint from suing “but rather to provide oversight of settlements related to litigation and labor disputes.” Also Wednesday, the board OK’d an agreement for Republic Services to continue hauling trash in Flint for one year, with an option to extend the contract for an additional year.. ...Read Full Story

Website: MI Cops The Most Overworked

Michigan has the hardest working men and women in blue, according to one website. Security site SafeWise.com took a look at FBI statistics, and found Michigan has about 23,200 law enforcement employees, leaving one cop for about every 350 civilians. SafeWise’s Sarah Brown tells WSJM News if you combine that with another stat, MI cops are a busy lot.. ...Read Full Story

Millions Of Toyotas Being Recalled

Millions of Toyota vehicles are being recalled due to problems with Takata airbags. 5.8 million overseas vehicles are being sought after most U.S. models have already been taken back. Auto analyst John McElroy says it’s going to take several years for Takata to make enough airbags to go into those recalls.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Adult Recovery Court Celebrates First Graduate

The first graduate of Van Buren County’s Adult Recovery Court has been celebrated. Last week, local judges and others gathered to observe as the first offender to make it through the recovery court’s rigorous program was passed through. The Adult Recovery Court was set up in 2015 as a way to help non-violent offenders stay out of prison while addressing the root cause of their troubles, which are often mental health-related. The Van Buren County court system has several specialty courts along those lines intended to reduce recidivism. Since they were created, the specialty courts have been exclusively state and federal funded.. ...Read Full Story

Bridgman’s Getaway Hopping This Week

If you’re looking for a hopping place to hang out for a World Series game, you might want to consider the Getaway in Bridgman. The Chicago Cubs-themed bar and grill has been a favored haunt of Cubs fans since 1983, and for the first time, they actually get to see their team in the World Series. Owner Tom Ackerman tells WSJM News the vibe is incredible.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Clerks To Open Offices Next Saturday

Clerk’s offices across Michigan will be open next Saturday for everyone to have one last chance to get an absentee ballot ahead of the November 8 election. The office in Benton Harbor will be open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and many other Berrien County community clerk’s offices will be open 9 to 2 for the day. Under state law, they have to be open that Saturday. Anyone still interested in voting absentee can show up, sign up, and then leave with their ballot. To find out details, call your local clerk.. ...Read Full Story

Drunk Driver Leads Police On High-Speed Chase

A 42-year-old Laporte man is facing several charges after police say he led them on a high-speed chase that started in Michigan and ended in Indiana this week. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us it all started about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday when someone reported their vehicle being hit by a reckless driver in the area of Red Arrow Highway and US-12 near New Buffalo. A sheriff’s deputy found the the Jeep Liberty in question, but it wouldn’t stop, and the chase continued across the state line to Indiana. It eventually ended when the suspect crashed while trying to exit I-94 at Michigan City. He was taken to a hospital in Indiana and is facing charges in that state. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is also asking he be charged here with drunk driving, fleeing and eluding, and leaving the scene of an accident.. ...Read Full Story

Judge Won’t Budge On Blocking “Ballot Selfies”

A judge has refused to suspend her order that allows Michigan voters to take photos of their completed ballot in the November 8 election. Citing the First Amendment, Grand Rapids federal Judge Janet Neff blocked Michigan’s ban on taking so-called ballot selfies. The secretary of state is
appealing. The judge said Wednesday that she won’t freeze her decision while the legal process moves to a higher court. Joel Crookston of Portage filed a lawsuit in September. In 2012, he took a photo of his ballot while voting for a write-in candidate for Michigan State University trustee. He didn’t know it was illegal. Lawyers for the secretary of state are predicting “chaos” if voters take photos. They say it’ll lead to longer lines at polling places and other problems.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Signs Bill Requiring More Reporting At Veterans Homes

A new law will require the state of Michigan to report staffing levels, patient complaints and other information about state-run veterans homes four times a year. Legislation signed Wednesday by Governor Rick Snyder outlines quarterly reporting requirements for state agencies that evaluate conditions at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette. In February, Snyder replaced the director of Michigan’s veterans agency after an audit uncovered insufficient care and inadequate staffing levels at the Grand
Rapids facility. Snyder says veterans “deserve the highest standards of care available,” and the law helps ensure that conditions at the two homes are evaluated and reported more consistently and effectively. The bill was sponsored by Republican Representative Holly Hughes of Montague.. ...Read Full Story

Former Democratic Party Chair Blasts Snyder Court Decision

An Ingham County court judge has blocked a request for a one-person grand jury to investigate Governor Rick Snyder’s use of taxpayer money to handle legal matters connected to the Flint water crisis. The request was made by former Michigan Democratic Partyt Chair Mark Brewer, who says the state attorney general and the legislature have refused to act on the matter.. ...Read Full Story

General Motors Reports Record Earnings

General Motors reported a record third-quarter profit that doubled the same period a year ago, despite falling sales and market share in the U.S. The Detroit automaker earned $2.77 billion, or $1.76 per share, compared with $1.36 billion, or 84 cents per share a year ago. Sales in the U.S., GM’s most lucrative market, fell nearly 4 percent in the quarter. But GM said its strategy to cut low-profit sales to rental car companies, a strong performance in China and cost cuts led to the record. Excluding a 4-cent benefit from an unspecified ignition-switch recall recovery, GM made $1.72 per share. That beat Wall Street estimates of $1.46 per share. Revenue hit a record $42.8 billion. U.S. auto sales have started to slow after hitting a record 17.5 million last year.. ...Read Full Story

Kalamazoo Accepts $70 Million In Donations

The Kalamazoo City Commission has taken a step toward using roughly $70 million in private donations to help cover city costs. The commission voted 6-1 to approve the memorandum of understanding during a public meeting Monday. The document outlines the agreement between donors and the city as well as each party’s commitment to the Foundation for Excellence. The foundation, introduced in July, would help stabilize Kalamazoo’s budget, decrease property taxes and invest in infrastructure and neighborhood improvement projects. The $70 million would be donated over three years to endow the foundation. It’s expected to be created by the end of August 2017. City Commissioner Matt Milcarek gave the dissenting vote, saying he’d like to see an example of how the foundation will be a sustainable model for the city.. ...Read Full Story

MI Chamber Supporting Energy Reform Legislation

An influential business group’s decision to support energy legislation is being called a “breakthrough” in an attempt to update Michigan’s energy laws. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce said Tuesday new versions of the bills would guarantee a competitive bidding process for electricity generation and preserve competition. The Republican-led Senate is expected to approve the plan shortly after the November 8 election. Chamber President and CEO Rich Studley says the breakthrough means there is “no good reason” that the GOP-controlled House should not send the legislation to Governor Rick Snyder by year’s end. He says the organization would oppose the bills it if believed they killed the “customer choice” program that gives competitors to DTE Electric and Consumers Energy up to 10 percent of power sales in their regions.. ...Read Full Story

Judge Approves Volkswagen Emissions Settlement

A federal judge in San Francisco has approved a $15 billion court settlement of most claims against Volkswagen for its emissions-cheating scandal. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer signed the order Tuesday approving the largest auto-scandal settlement in the nation’s history.
About 475,000 owners of VWs and Audis with 2-liter four-cylinder diesel engines now will be able to seek buybacks of their vehicles starting next
Tuesday. Most of the owners are expected to sell their cars back to VW after the company acknowledged cheating on emissions testing and putting dirty cars on the road. In addition to having their cars bought back, owners can each get payments of $5,100 to $10,000.. ...Read Full Story

SJ Officials Look To Crack Down On Blighted Properties

The city of St. Joseph will soon hire a new code enforcement officer, and officials hope that will make it easier to address the matter of blighted homes. Several weeks ago, a group of residents complained, in particular, about the home at 907 Wayne Street. The owner has been ticketed, and the city’s building inspector says he’s fixed some of the problems there. Mayor Mike Garey tells us the city has to respect property rights while ensuring standards are met in the community.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Springs Community Expo Friday

Set for this Friday is the first every community expo at Berrien Springs High School. Anyone who’s interested in learning more about what the community of Berrien Springs has to offer is invited to stop by. Berrien Springs High School senior Daniel Chi is one of the organizers who tells us they want to better connect students with local businesses.. ...Read Full Story

September Home Sales Up In SWM

Homes sales in southwest Michigan remain strong, as the latest numbers show a 14% jump for the month this year over last year. Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors Vice President Gary Walter tells us September’s unit sales were the highest the region has seen in the month for ten years. It’s a good time to buy.. ...Read Full Story

Court Denies Request For Probe Of Snyder’s Flint Legal Bills

A Michigan court has rejected a request for a one-judge grand jury investigation of Governor Rick Snyder’s decision to use at least $2 million in state funds for his legal representation related to criminal probes of Flint’s water crisis. A city resident and her attorney said Tuesday that the Ingham County Circuit Court denied their petition. The judges did not state a reason in their ruling. The resident, Keri Webber, and lawyer Mark Brewer – former chairman of the state Democratic Party – filed a complaint Oct. 11 alleging the Republican governor broke the law by violating conflict-of-interest prohibitions and spending taxpayer money for personal benefit without proper authority. Snyder’s office has said the spending is “legally sound” because the fees are related to actions taken in his official capacity.. ...Read Full Story

Judge Blocks “Ballot Selfie” Ban

A judge has blocked Michigan law and policies that would prevent voters from taking photos of their ballot in the November 8 election. Joel Crookston of Portage sued in Grand Rapids federal court, saying his First Amendment right to free speech was violated. Judge Janet Neff issued a preliminary injunction Monday. State election officials had argued that the rules are intended to protect the integrity of the election. But the judge said it could be done without a sweeping prohibition. The secretary of state asked Neff to freeze her order so it can file an appeal.  Crookston filed a lawsuit after learning that a picture of a ballot could get him in trouble. He took a “ballot selfie” in 2012 while voting for a write-in candidate for Michigan State University trustee. No action was taken.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Officials Seeking Action On Run-Down Homes

The city of St. Joseph will soon hire a new code enforcement officer, and officials hope that will make it easier to address the matter of blighted homes. Several weeks ago, a group of residents complained, in particular, about the home at 907 Wayne Street. The owner has been ticketed, and the city’s building inspector says he’s fixed some of the problems there. Mayor Mike Garey tells us the city has to respect property rights while ensuring standards are met in the community.. ...Read Full Story

MI Companies Building Parts For Mars Ship

Part of NASA’s first manned spaceship to Mars will be made in Michigan. The Detroit News reports the government agency’s new Space Launch System that’s being created to transport humans to Mars in the 2030s relies on dozens of Michigan suppliers that build everything from steering to components covers for harnesses and cables. Warren-based Futuramic Tool & Engineering is the most vital contributor from Michigan.
The company once made tooling that modeled metal for the body of every single car in Ford Motor Co.’s lineup. But the automaker outsourced that work to Mexico about 15 years ago, and the supplier was forced to diversify to the aerospace industry. Futuramic has manufacturing plants in Detroit and Warren that build the parts, which are shipped to NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, where the rocket is being built.. ...Read Full Story

Feds Recommend Automakers Focus On Cybersecurity

The government’s highway safety agency says automakers should make cybersecurity part of their product development process by assessing risks and designing in protections. Companies also should identify safety critical systems such as engine control computers and limit their exposure to attacks, under best practice guidelines released Monday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The agency also wants automakers to limit access to car owners’ personal data. The guidelines aren’t requirements but will go into effect after a 30-day
public comment period. The agency also wants automakers to make plans to detect cyberattacks and respond rapidly to limit them. The guidelines suggest closing off software developer access to firmware that controls cars. The industry already is doing most of the recommendations and has set up its own best practices and information-sharing methods.. ...Read Full Story

$1.5 Million Gift For MSU College Of Nursing

McLaren Greater Lansing has made a $1.5 million gift to Michigan State University to establish the College of Nursing’s first endowed
chair position. The East Lansing school said Monday that the donation to help create the Endowed Chair for Behavioral Mental Health Nursing Education is the second largest gift ever given to the nursing college. McLaren has been an active participant in the “Healthy! Capital Counties”
collaborative to conduct a community health needs assessment, which measures and prioritizes the region’s health care needs. Mental health care was identified as one of the area’s top priorities. The university notes that endowed chair and professorship positions provide scholars with stable support to actively engage in leading-edge work.. ...Read Full Story

Report Calls For Closing Youth Prisons

A new report suggests a new direction for the juvenile justice system in the US. The findings from the Annie E. Casey Foundation report, “The Future of Youth Justice” say youth prisons are not fit for kids and are associated with high costs and negative outcomes. Patrick McCarthy CEO of the foundation, says states pay on average about 90 thousand dollars a year for every youth in a juvenile facility.. ...Read Full Story