Local News Archives

Tuition Adjustment At SMC

Tuition is going up at Southwestern Michigan College for the next academic year. The SMC Board of Trustees met on Monday and agreed to a 1.8% tuition increase for in-district students and a 2% increase for in-state students. The amount works out to $2.25 per contact hour for those in-district, and $3.25 for those in-state. There will also be a $1 technology fee adjustment. SMC Board Chair Thomas Jerdon says the college always tries to keep expenses low, but some increases are needed to ensure staff wages remain competitive. He noted state funding for the college has been essentially flat this year. SMC says Michigan community colleges charged an average of $5,223 in tuition in the 2018-19 academic year. That’s the lowest tuition in the Midwest, and 31st lowest in the nation, according to Community College Review.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Schools Get Permission For Pre-Labor Day Start

The Michigan Department of Education has approved a waiver for Berrien County school districts to start the next academic year before Labor Day. Berrien RESA Superintendent Kevin Ivers tells WSJM News a hearing was held this past week featuring local superintendents and a state official on RESA’s application for that waiver. Ivers says the pre-Labor Day start is being sought because of how the school year will fall on the calendar for the next three years. He notes students in technical education programs would be affected by a late start.. ...Read Full Story

Treasurer Prepares To Move On

Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski is preparing to step down. He made the announcement this month. Witkowski tells WSJM News after 16 years as the county treasurer, plus the years he served on the county commission, it’s time to move on to the private sector.. ...Read Full Story

Kal Haven Trail Named Pure Michigan Trail

The Kal Haven Trail is one of three Michigan trails to be recognized as Pure Michigan Trails this past month by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The DNR says Pure Michigan Trails are highlighted as some of the best destinations in the state for hikers and others looking to experience nature. The announcement of three new Pure Michigan Trails was made at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism, held in Grand Rapids February 18 through February 20. In addition to the Kal Haven Trail, the Canada Lakes Pathway in Luce County and the Haywire Grade in Schoolcraft and Alger counties were added to the list. The DNR says the Kal-Haven Trail is 33 miles long, linking the cities of South Haven and Kalamazoo via numerous bridges and small towns. It adds the Kal-Haven Trail also is of historic interest, noting this past year, the Michigan History Center completed a project to install dozens of historic panels along the heritage trail. Now that it’s a Pure Michigan Trail, it will get extra promotion in state tourism materials.. ...Read Full Story

Jobs For Michigan’s Graduates Students Visit State Lawmakers

Michigan lawmakers had a chance to meet with students enrolled in the Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates program this week. Students from across the state went to Lansing for JMG’s annual Legislative Day. Kinexus tells us legislators heard personal stories from the students about how they’re overcoming barriers like poverty, being abandoned by their parents, and a lack of transportation with the help of JMG. The students also demonstrated the communication, professionalism, and employability skills they learned throughout the year via Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates. Among those to meet with the students were former Budget Director Al Pscholka, Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist, and state Representative Beth Griffin. Kinexus says Legislative Day helps state lawmakers and others get a first-hand look at the results produced by the program.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Announces Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament

State Senator Kim LaSata has announced the start of her office’s annual Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament. The tournament, started by LaSata predecessor John Proos, gives high schools throughout LaSata’s district a chance to compete in a bracket-style tournament to determine which has the most pride. The 31 high schools in the tournament will be divided into four brackets, like in the NCAA basketball tournament. The schools will compete in a single-elimination bracket contest with those earning the most points advancing to the next round each week. The contest will be a little different this year. On Facebook, each matchup in each round will feature a graphic of the competing schools’ mascots. To vote, participants will react to the original posted graphic with a Haha to vote for one school or a Wow to vote for the other. Each graphic will indicate which reaction method to use for each school. The other way to support your school is through weekly polls to be posted on LaSata’s website. The bracket competition will run through April 3, when the winner will be determined.. ...Read Full Story

Treasurer Holding Payment Plan Meeting Tomorrow

Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski will hold a meeting this weekend to get property owners signed up for tax payment plans. He’s worked throughout the year to reach property owners who are behind on their taxes so they can get caught up. This Saturday’s meeting will be the last payment plan session outside of the county buildings this year. It will be at the Benton Charter Township Hall from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Witkowski urges everyone who is behind on their taxes to take advantage of the program as Berrien County currently has a 94% success rate with it. He also notes the number of properties in a payment plan is up 16% from last year, while the number of potential foreclosures is down nearly 8% over the same period. By law, you need to pay your 2017 property taxes by March 31 to avoid foreclosure. Witkowski says after that, there’s nothing the treasurer can do to help you.. ...Read Full Story

Rep. Wendzel, Hungerford Nichols CPA + Advisors For Tax Open House Saturday

The deadline to file your 2019 income taxes is coming up soon, and state Representative Pauline Wendzel is offering some help this weekend. She is hosting a tax open house on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at Lincoln Township Hall on John Beers Road. Accountants from Hungerford Nichols CPA + Advisors will be there to answer any questions people have and even help with filling out forms. Representative Wendzel will provide taxpayer guides with the most common forms for filling out taxes for those who choose to do theirs themselves and aren’t going to e-file. The filing deadline this year is the traditional date of April 15.. ...Read Full Story

Data Shows Benton Harbor High School Graduation Rate Plummeted In 2019

The graduation rate at Benton Harbor High School in the last year plummeted. Data released this week by the Michigan Department of Education shows the graduation rate went from 75.64% in 2017-18 to just 46.71% in 2018-19. The decline is the steepest in the state. The number of students who dropped out went from fewer than 10 to 37 last year, which is the highest dropout number for Benton Harbor in the past five years. The school’s graduation rate increased from 71.22% in 2014-15 to 78.92% in 2016-17 before falling slightly the next year and sharply falling last year.. ...Read Full Story

Man Sentenced For Threats Made Against Secretary Of State

From the Associated Press — A 72-year-old suburban Detroit man man who police say threatened Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has been sentenced to jail time served and probation. Neil Billington of Groveland Township pleaded no contest to a charge of malicious use of a telecommunications service. The Daily Tribune reports he was sentenced Tuesdayto three days and 12 months on
probation, and ordered to pay $980 in fines and court costs. Michigan State Police have said an investigation found threats were left on Benson’s voicemail and in-person at her office. Billington was arrested Jan. 30 after a search warrant executed at his home turned up weapons and other evidence.. ...Read Full Story

Clerk Preparing For March 10 Primary

March 10 will be the day for Michigan’s presidential primary, and Berrien County Clerk Sharon Tyler is hard at work getting the county’s roughly 500 election workers prepared. She tells WSJM News she’s expecting a lot of first-time voters, and is planning accordingly.. ...Read Full Story

County Commission Promotes Census

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners is urging everyone to fill out their census forms this year. A big push is being made statewide to get out the census message, and commissioners paused for a moment ahead of their Thursday meeting this week to do the same. Commissioner Bob Harrison told WSJM News population numbers collected through the census make a big difference in the community.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Settles Lawsuit Over Teen Abuse In Prison For $80M

From the Associated Press — The state of Michigan has agreed to pay $80 million to settle a class-action lawsuit on behalf of male teens who said they were sexually assaulted in prison while housed with adults. The deal closes years of litigation. The lawsuit accused the Corrections Department of failing to prevent the assaults. The department had denied the allegations and aggressively fought the lawsuit. But Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said the settlement allows the state to “move forward and brings closure for the inmates.” It’s unclear how many people could get a share of the settlement, although Michigan said the lawsuit was filed on behalf of more than 1,300.. ...Read Full Story

Four Arrested In Drug Raid At Apartment Complex

Four people are facing charges following a drug raid in Benton Harbor this week. The Southwest Enforcement Team says officers executed a search warrant at a unit of the Harbor Towers Apartments complex on East Wall Street Wednesday. With help from Michigan State Police and the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety, they found crack and drug paraphanelia. The four Benton Harbor residents who were arrested have not been identified by police and are awaiting arraignment. The Southwest Enforcement Team is made up of several police agencies from around southwest Michigan. It’s been operating in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties since 1981.. ...Read Full Story

Sanders Affected Upton’s Decision To Seek Reelection

Congressman Fred Upton’s decision to seek another term in this year’s elections was influenced by the prominence of Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primaries. According to the Associated Press, Upton says downballot Democrats would be harmed by Sanders, adding Sanders is “too much to chew on” for many voters. The AP reports many “Republicans believe a Sanders nomination would dramatically increase their chances of capturing House control.” Upton announced this week he is running again, this time for term number 18. He had been eyed as a possible retiree from the House this year. Upton said in his campaign announcement he wants to continue working on fighting the opioid epidemic and on immigration reform, among other things.. ...Read Full Story

State Senate Rejects Former GR Mayor For Natural Resources Appointment

The state Senate has rejected the appointment by Governor Whitmer of former Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell to serve as the chairman of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission, which regulates hunting and fishing. In committee this week, Senator Kim LaSata of Berrien County made the motion that the Advice and Consent Committee recommend his nomination be turned down. LaSata placed the blame on the shoulders of Governor Whitmer.. ...Read Full Story

BH School Board Honors Former Coach

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has voted to honor former basketball coach Paul Wilhite by having his name placed on the high school gym floor. Wilhite was a coach for the school for 35 years before ending his time with the district in the early 2000s. At this week’s meeting of the school board, President Joseph Taylor read from the resolution to place Wilhite’s name on the court.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Admin Seeks Quick Ruling On Medicaid Work Rules

From the Associated Press — Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration is asking for a quick court ruling on the legality of Michigan’s Medicaid work requirements. The state hopes to avoid sending notices to more than 80,000 people who didn’t comply in the first month of the rules. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services filed a motion Tuesday with U.S.
District Judge James Boasberg in Washington – 11 days after a federal appeals court affirmed Boasberg’s decision to invalidate Arkansas’ work requirements. Whitmer says it’s inevitable courts will also find Michigan’s work requirements unlawful, so Michigan shouldn’t waste money and “cause senseless confusion” for families.. ...Read Full Story

Man Faces 15 Years For Resisting Officer

A Dowagiac man is headed to jail after resisting a police officer who was trying to arrest him for an outstanding warrant. The Cass County Prosecutor’s Office says 26-year-old Travis Fletcher was found guilty by a jury on Tuesday of resisting and obstructing. During the trial, a Dowagiac police officer testified he saw Fletcher walking on June 11 of last year, knowing Fletcher had outstanding warrants. The officer approached Fletcher to arrest him, but Fletcher threw a fit and refused to follow orders. So the officer shot him with a stun gun and got him into custody. It took the jury about 20 minutes to convict Fletcher at this week’s trial. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years as a habitual offender with three or more prior felony convictions. He will be sentenced on May 8. Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz says resisting arrest only puts people at risk, adding “You will always have a chance to argue your case in court. But not on the streets.”. ...Read Full Story

Waiver Granted To Berrien Schools For Pre-Labor Day Start

The Michigan Department of Education has approved a waiver for Berrien County school districts to start the next academic year before Labor Day. Berrien RESA Superintendent Kevin Ivers tells WSJM News a hearing was held Tuesday night featuring local superintendents and a state official on RESA’s application for that waiver. Ivers says the pre-Labor Day start is being sought because of how the school year will fall on the calendar for the next three years. He notes students in technical education programs would be affected by a late start.. ...Read Full Story

March Mannequins Slated For March 13 In Downtown St. Joseph

St. Joseph Today is busy planning for the next March Mannequins event, which is now slated for Friday, March 13 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in downtown St. Joseph. St. Joe Today’s Daniele Crevier tells WSJM News March Mannequins is the replacement for the former Live Mannequins event that used to be held downtown in December. The evening will feature downtown storefronts filled with live actors posing as mannequins.. ...Read Full Story

Sports, Online Betting Available Soon In Michigan

We could be just days away from placing legal sports bets in Michigan. Since Governor Whitmer signed the gambling expansion bills, state regulators have been working on the details of what it will take to bring sports betting to the state. Michigan Gaming Control Board executive director Rick Kalm says Michigan will be like New Jersey, where you’ll have to be in the state in order to place your bets.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Deputy Pulls Man Down From M-40/I-94 Overpass

A Van Buren County Sheriff’s deputy had to act very quickly Tuesday evening to save the life of a Paw Paw-area man who was about to jump off the M-40 overpass onto I-94. The deputy was responding to a 9-1-1 call that officers had “two minutes to get to the overpass in Paw Paw” when he saw the man stop his car in the middle of M-40 and then crash it into the guard rail before getting out and climbing up onto the ledge.. ...Read Full Story

Grants Seek Market-Based Reductions Of Great Lakes Pollution

From the Associated Press — The federal government has awarded grants totaling more than $1.8 million for projects designed to reduce nutrient pollution that helps cause harmful algae blooms in the Great Lakes. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the grants Monday. Regional administrator Kurt Thiede says the money is being divided among five organizations that will use market-based approaches for targeting runoff of nutrients such as phosphorus. The funding will come from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a program that deals with some of the lakes’ most persistent environmental problems.. ...Read Full Story

School Board Appoints New Member

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has appointed Dashuna Robinson to fill a vacancy on the body. The board interviewed two candidates for the remainder of former Trustee Patricia Robinson’s term on Tuesday night. Robinson is 2003 graduate of Benton Harbor High School who went on to Western Michigan University. She works for the state determining assistance eligibility, and told trustees she has experience with people in distress.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Increasing Tuition

Tuition is going up at Southwestern Michigan College for the next academic year. The SMC Board of Trustees met on Monday and agreed to a 1.8% tuition increase for in-district students and a 2% increase for in-state students. The amount works out to $2.25 per contact hour for those in-district, and $3.25 for those in-state. There will also be a $1 technology fee adjustment. SMC Board Chair Thomas Jerdon says the college always tries to keep expenses low, but some increases are needed to ensure staff wages remain competitive. He noted state funding for the college has been essentially flat this year. SMC says Michigan community colleges charged an average of $5,223 in tuition in the 2018-19 academic year. That’s the lowest tuition in the Midwest, and 31st lowest in the nation, according to Community College Review.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Road Officials Promote Millage Renewal

When voters in Van Buren County head to the polls on March 10 to cast their ballots in the presidential primary, they’ll also be asked to approve a millage renewal for local roads. The Van Buren County Road Commission is seeking to continue the assessment that’s been in place since 1978. It was last renewed in 2016. Van Buren County Road Commission Finance Director Linnea Rader told WSJM News last month the funding the millage generates is critical.. ...Read Full Story

Logo Contest Being Held For Cass County Park

A contest to find a new logo for the Dr. Lawless International Dark-Sky Park is underway in Cass County. The Cass County Parks Department says Lawless Park got the Dark Sky designation from the International Dark Sky Association earlier this year thanks to its excellent star gazing. Parks Director Scott Wyman told WSJM News at the time it was exciting to see the attraction about nine miles from Cassopolis be recognized as one of just two Dark Sky parks in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Environmentalists Concerned About Trump Administration Proposal

The Trump administration is considering a rule that would allow trains carrying a potentially dangerous substance to travel through Michigan and other states. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is reviewing hundreds of public comments about the proposal to allow the bulk transport of liquefied natural gas in rail tank cars. Nathan Murphy with Environment Michigan says it would pose a threat to anyone who lives near the roughly 3,600 miles of railroad tracks.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph, USGS To Put Stream Gage Into St. Joseph River For Better Water Level Data

A stream gage will be put into the St. Joseph River in the city of St. Joseph this year to give officials more accurate data about the water level in the river and the volume of the flow. St. Joseph City Manager John Hodgson says the nearest one is in Niles, and it’s not effective for St. Joe or Benton Harbor due to the dam between Niles and the twin cities.. ...Read Full Story

Mattawan Woman Arraigned On Embezzlement Charge

A Mattawan woman is facing a felony embezzlement charge as Michigan State Police accuse her of stealing money from the Paw Paw Eagles Club while employed as its secretary. Sixty-nine-year-old Susan Ryan was arraigned Tuesday in district court in Paw Paw. MSP investigators say she’s charged with embezzlement of between $20,000 and $50,000. If found guilty, Ryan faces up to ten years in prison and a fine of as much as $15,000. Troopers from the MSP Paw Paw post launched their investigation in October.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Adds 600-Acre Expansion Worth $2M To Public Lands

From the Associated Press — Michigan officials say the state’s 108,000-acre Pigeon River Country State Forest is getting a nearly 600-acre addition. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently announced a land deal valued at more than $2 million that was finalized last month. It adds the Elk Forest at Black River, which is in Montmorency County, to the state’s public lands. The area is surrounded on three sides by existing state-managed land and includes public access to Walled Lake. The money for the property purchase came from matching funds from the state agency’s Land Exchange Facilitation Fund and a donation from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Commission Delays Action On Special Assessment For Three Shoreline Properties

The city of St. Joseph will look into other options to shoreline revetment plans to protect three homes, two in the 900 block of Lions Park Drive and one in the 200 block of First Street. The city commission heard from Frank Kolberg, who lives at 212 First Street, who told them he can’t afford on his pension to pay the share for his property if the city were to establish a special assessment district.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Seeking Another Term

Congressman Fred Upton is seeking reelection. His campaign announced on Monday he’s seeking another term in the November election. Upton issued a statement, saying “There is unfinished business we have to complete – Cures 2.0, fighting the opioid epidemic, immigration reform, and protecting the Great Lakes, among others.” He goes on to say he’s “committing to work with anyone of any party to deliver results, protect our communities, and simply solve problems.” Upton has represented Michigan’s Sixth District since 1987 after being elected in November of the previous year.. ...Read Full Story

Paquette Working On Legislation To Create A Network Of Teachers

A plan to create a network of teachers around Michigan that could weigh in on state education policy is in the works thanks to state Representative Brad Paquette. He tells WSJM News he led a brainstorming session with a group of teachers and state lawmakers last week to get ideas for how such a network would operate. Paquette says there are several entities that draft education policy without regular influence from teachers.. ...Read Full Story

School Board To Interview Vacancy Candidates

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education will hold a special meeting on Tuesday to interview the candidates for a vacancy on the body. Dashuna Robinson and Roosevelt Bell have put in applications to fill out the rest of former trustee Patricia Rush’s term. The interviews will be held on Tuesday during a meeting to start at 5:30 p.m. Also on Tuesday, the board will consider a resolution to place former basketball Coach Paul Wilhite’s name on the gym floor of the Benton Harbor High School, calling it Coach Wilhite’s court. A request to do so was made at a meeting earlier this month by Benton Harbor High School graduate Dayrl Jackson. He noted Coach Wilhite was one of the school’s winningest basketball coaches and a mentor. The school board’s resolution states “people in the community want to thank Coach Wilhite for not only being a coach, but also a great teacher and a friend. He is a legend.”. ...Read Full Story

MSP Trooper Rescues Dog From Icy Pond In Paw Paw

A Paw Paw family still has their dog with them thanks to quick action by Michigan State Police Trooper Brett Skoczylas. The lab mix named Taya had fallen through the ice in a backyard pond on Saturday, and Skoczylas grabbed a ladder from the yard to spread out his weight to go out on the ice to get the dog. A neighbor helped by anchoring the trooper with a broom, and he was able to lift Taya out of the water and get her onto dry land. Taya is expected to be just fine after having only her head and paws out of the water. Her owners were very appreciative of the effort made by Trooper Skoczylas, and allowed him inside with the pup to get warm, dry out, and rest up.. ...Read Full Story

Area Home Buyers Catch A Bit Of A Break In January

It’s been a seller’s market for a few years in the real estate business in southwest Michigan, and while January’s sales were strong, the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors says buyers got a bit of a break to start the year. The median selling price in January was down 23% compared to a year ago at $137,500. That’s the price at which 50% of homes are sold above and below. The average price, however, was up 11% to $220,881 in January compared to last year. The number of homes sold rose from 175 to 190 over 2019, which was a 9% increase. The number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions was 7% in January, reaching the lowest percentage in the year-over-year comparison. In December 2019, the percentage was 4%, and the highest percentage in January was 57% in 2009.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Treasurer Trisha Nesbitt Holding Meetings On Foreclosure Help

Van Buren County Treasurer Trisha Nesbitt is planning to hold several meetings in early March around the county to help homeowners avoid foreclosure for unpaid 2017 property taxes. Nesbitt will be at the Van Buren District Library Covert Branch on Thursday, March 5 from 10 a.m. to noon; the Hartford Public Library on Monday March 9 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and then the Van Buren District Library Bangor Branch on Friday, March 13 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. She adds anyone interested in the hardship extension program can drop by her office at 219 East Paw Paw Street in Paw Paw every weekday during normal business hours. If taxes from 2017 and prior years are not paid on or before March 31, 2020, the property will be foreclosed, and the Treasurer’s office will be unable to assist residents in keeping their home.. ...Read Full Story

Blues Singer Shemekia Copeland Headlining BBQ, Blues And Bluegrass In St. Joseph

The 8th annual BBQ, Blues and Bluegrass Festival in St. Joseph in May will feature blues singer Shemekia Copeland as the headliner. St. Joseph Today made the announcement Monday, and tickets go on sale next Monday, March 2. They will be $20 in advance and $25 the day of the show for eight hours of music, food and drinks at Whirlpool Centennial Park. This year’s concert is set for May 16. Copeland was the 2019 Blues Music Awards Album of the Year winner. Bluegrass and folk performers will be Dustbowl Revival, Old Salt Union and Grand Rapids-based The Crane Wives. Copeland won’t be the only blues artist, as 18-year-old Michigander Jake Kershaw is also on the bill. Ticket and overnight stay information are available at stjoetoday.com/bbq or the Welcome Center at 301 State St. in downtown St. Joseph.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Aims To Protect Recreational Boating In Great Lakes

Congressman Fred Upton is backing legislation to require the Army Corps of Engineers gives consideration to recreational harbor maintenance projects when it plans for projects each year. Upton tells WSJM News the Safer Harbors for Our Recreational Economy Act would direct the Army Corps to make sure the economic benefits of recreational boating are considered as it allocates funding.. ...Read Full Story

High Marks, Pay Raise For South Haven City Manager

The South Haven City Council is pleased with City Manager Brian Dissette. City Human Resources Director Kim Wise tells us the council filled out Dissette’s annual performance evaluation last month, extending his contract another year. On a scale of one to five, Dissette’s overall score was a 4.67. Council members rated him on categories including communications with the council, in which he got a 4.43 out of 5, professionalism, in which he got a 4.86, and delivery of services, in which he got a 4.71. Council members saluted Dissette for being dedicated, having a wealth of knowledge, and rising to the occasion in a crisis. He was granted a 3% pay increase, bringing his salary up to $113,000, and was also given a performance bonus of $6,000. Dissette has been the city manager of South Haven for 12 years.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Mobile Office In Lawrence Monday

The Michigan Secretary of State’s Mobile Branch Office will return to Van Buren County later this week when it visits Lawrence. The mobile office offers most of the services available at a regular branch office. In addition to registering to vote, visitors can renew or replace their license plate, renew their driver’s license or state ID, change their address, and sign up on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry, among other things. The Mobile Branch Office will be parked outside of the Van Buren District Library’s Lawrence branch on 212 North Paw Paw Street on Monday, February 24 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Those who stop by the mobile office can also learn about REAL IDs and how to sign up for one. Starting October 1 of this year, you will need a REAL ID to fly within the United States and enter certain federal facilities, military bases, and nuclear power plants.. ...Read Full Story

Play To Explore Gun Issues

Coming up this month will be a one-woman show focused on gun violence at the Ghostlight Theater in Benton Harbor. “The Gun Show” is being brought to the area by Interfaith Action of Southwest Michigan, a group representing around 30 churches and faith-based organizations. Co-lead Vicki Schroeder tells WSJM News Interfaith Action recently heard more about the threat to public health posed by gun violence at a meeting with health officials.. ...Read Full Story

WMU Gets Grant To Develop Better Batteries

Congressman Fred Upton is hailing news of a federal grant for Western Michigan University. He tells WSJM News he sent a letter to the Department of Energy in November in support of a Western project called “Enabling Advanced Electrode Architecture through Printing Technique.” It’s an effort of WMU to develop a manufacturing process to produce fast charging batteries with high energy and longer life cycles. Upton says the university has been approved for nearly $9.6 million.. ...Read Full Story

Indiana Panel Backs Ban On Drivers Using Handheld Phones

Going over the border in Indiana for Michigan drivers might bring a change regarding your cellphone in the near future. A proposal to ban drivers from using handheld cellphones on Indiana roads is advancing in that state’s Legislature. A state Senate committee voted 8-1 this week to endorse the bill that only permits cellphone use with hands-free or voice-operated technology, except in emergencies.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Holding Student Art Contest

Congressman Fred Upton is taking submissions for his annual Congressional Art Competition. He tells WSJM News high school students from all over the Sixth District are invited to send in two dimensional art. The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts will help to determine the winner.. ...Read Full Story

Slow Winter For Berrien County Parks

Mild winter weather has meant things are slow at Berrien County parks. The Berrien County Board of Commissioners learned this week there have only been four days of cross-country skiing at Love Creek County Park and three days of skiing at Madeline Bertrand. Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey tells WSJM News it’s unfortunate.. ...Read Full Story