Local News Archives

Commission Fires City Manager

Darwin Watson is no longer the city manager of Benton Harbor. At a special meeting Monday night, the Benton Harbor City Commission fired Watson. The vote was five to three, with Commissioner Edward Isom, Mayor Po Tem Duane Seats, and Mayor Marcus Muhammad voting no. Commissioner Sharon Henderson was not present, and the rest of the body voted yes. Prior to the vote, Pro Tem Seats said if any commissioners have an issue with Watson, they should try to correct him rather than firing with no public explanation. He pointed to years in the past when the commission would fire managers and then get sued.. ...Read Full Story

Nessel Announces Settlement With Equifax

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has announced her office has joined 49 other Attorneys General in a multi-state settlement with Equifax as a result its massive 2017 data breach. The settlement includes up to $425 million in consumer restitution and $175 million to the states. Michigan’s share is $4.6 million. The AG’s office says under the settlement, Equifax agrees to provide a single Consumer Restitution Fund of up to $425 million, with $300 million dedicated to consumer redress. If the $300 million is exhausted, the fund can increase by up to an additional $125 million. The company will also offer affected consumers extended credit-monitoring services for a total of ten years, and it’s taken other steps to address the problems caused by its data breach. You can find out more about the Equifax settlement at EquifaxBreachSettlement.com.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Returns From Border Visit

A delegation of 16 members of Congress that traveled to the southern U.S. border last week returned on Saturday, and among those to go was Congressman Fred Upton. He spoke to Michigan’s Big Show on Monday and said the visit to McAllen, Texas took him and other members of the Problem Solvers Caucus to a border crossing point, and to a detention facility for migrants. He said the $4.5 billion approved by Congress last month for the border may have been a lot, but…. ...Read Full Story

Army Corps Warns About Breakwater Hazards

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is advising everyone to be careful around breakwaters, piers, or jetties in the Great Lakes. It says due to the high Great Lakes water levels, the threat of injury near a breakwater is increased. The Corps strongly advises everyone to obey all posted warning signs and to not swim near or jump off any structure. High water levels create safety hazards like submerged breakwaters, rip currents, and electric shock risks. The Corps says there are also many underwater structures like docks that boaters should watch out for. Due to the high lake levels, those structures can’t be seen right now. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommends that everyone check out the website of the Great Lakes Beach and Pier Safety Task Force. It’s at RespecthePower.org.. ...Read Full Story

Utility Seeks More MI Wind Parks

From the Associated Press — DTE Energy is planning to buy three new wind parks in Michigan that are expected to help lower carbon emissions from the utility’s operations. The Detroit-based utility says Michigan’s Public Service Commission has granted conditional approval for the proposed purchase. Two of the wind parks are in mid-Michigan’s Isabella County. They are expected to begin commercial operation next year. The third park will be in Delta County in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Together, they are expected to increase DTE Energy’s renewable energy portfolio by nearly 50%. The utility says the projects will offset nearly 890,000 metric tons of carbon emissions annually. DTE Energy Chief Executive Jerry Norcia says investing in renewable energy is a key part of the utility’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions by at least 80% by 2040.. ...Read Full Story

States, Provinces Discuss Stopping The Asian Carp

From the Associated Press — U.S. states and Canadian provinces in the Great Lakes region are looking for ways to cooperate on preventing Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan. Representatives of the states and provinces met last week in Chicago to discuss a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal for installing new technologies at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois. The facility is considered a choke point where electric barriers, air bubbles and underwater noisemakers could be used to scare away the invasive fish, which have infested the Illinois River. The region’s governors and premiers have endorsed the $778 million plan and Illinois is the non-federal sponsor. During last week’s meeting, the other states and provinces discussed how they could help. In addition to costs, the agenda included ecological and engineering issues.. ...Read Full Story

Feds Announce New Great Lakes Cleanup Program

From the Associated Press — The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a $2 million grant program to clean up the shorelines and waters of the Great Lakes. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler during an appearance Friday in Cleveland says the grants will be available to state and local governments, nonprofit groups and universities for cleanup programs. Wheeler says removing trash from U.S. waterways is an EPA priority. The program is part of the EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. It will
fund up to a dozen projects, with the largest amount set at $500,000. The EPA is seeking projects that will address trash on beaches, shorelines, harbors and rivers. It will also fund litter prevention and education programs. Grant applications will be accepted starting in October, with awards announced in February.. ...Read Full Story

Group Files Civil Rights Complaint Against Restaurant

A Michigan group that advocates for Muslims has filed a civil rights complaint against Tim Hortons restaurants, claiming a worker refused to serve a Muslim-American couple and told them to “Go back to your own country.” At a news conference Friday, the Council on American Islamic Relations’ Michigan chapter planned to release video from the incident, which it says took place at a Tim Hortons restaurant in Ypsilanti on June 28. Amy Doukoure, a staff attorney for CAIR, says things went downhill when the couple said their coffee order was wrong and asked for a replacement or a refund.. ...Read Full Story

MI Supreme Court Considering Minimum Wage Law

It could be Labor Day before we know if the Michigan Supreme Court will issue an opinion on the constitutionality of the Michigan legislature action gutting the state minimum wage law. The GOP severely weakened the law and stripped out the provision that would have made $12 a minimum state wage for all workers, including tipped ones. The state’s highest court heard oral arguments last week.. ...Read Full Story

Fernwood Botanical Garden Holding Film Fest

Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve in Niles is teaming up with Chikaming Open Lands for an environmental film festival this summer. Fernwood tells us they’ll be showing two films with a green message. First up will be “One Big Home,” to be presented July 24 at the Vickers Theatre in Three Oaks. Twelve years in the making, One Big Home follows one carpenter’s journey to understand the trend toward giant houses on the tiny island of Martha’s Vineyard. The next film to be screened will be “Landscape Film: Roberto Burle Marx,” to be presented at the Vickers Theatre on August 14. It’s a journey through the art and life of the Brazilian landscape architect and painter Roberto Burle Marx. Those who want to take part in the film fest can call Fernwood Botanical Garden to register.. ...Read Full Story

Hartford Library Sale This Week

The fundraising is underway for a new home for the Hartford Public Library. Director Stephanie Daniels tells WSJM News the goal is to break ground in September on a new facility located on East Street, the site of the former Red Arrow Elementary School. They need to raise $300,000 after the acquisition of grants and support from Bonna VanDerlyn.. ...Read Full Story

State Warns About Swine Flu Risk At Fairs

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is advising everyone how to be safe at fairs this summer. With so many county fairs taking place around the state, spokesperson Lynn Sutfin tells WSJM News swine flu becomes a concern. While swine influenza viruses do not usually infect humans, human infections have been reported.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Area Emergency Services Promotes Firefighter

South Haven Area Emergency Services has promoted one of its own to be the new deputy chief and fire marshal. Firefighter and paramedic Keith Bierhalter has been moved up to the new rank. Bierhalter has 37 years’ experience with the department, 12 years as a paid-on call firefighter and 25 years as a fulltime firefighter and paramedic. He was also honored as the department’s Firefighter of the Year for 2010 and 2011. Bierhalter follows the footsteps of his late father, Lieutenant Edward Bierhalter, as a second generation firefighter. He’s been serving as the acting deputy chief since the retirement of Tony Marsala on June 30.. ...Read Full Story

County Collecting Pesticides For Recycling

Berrien County is holding a pesticide collection event this month. Farmers, greenhouse operators, golf course staff, and gardeners are welcome to drop off unwanted and outdated pesticides at the Clean Sweep Collection site in Benton Harbor on July 31. They’ll take all the classes of “cides” — fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, and rodenticides. Fertilizers are not accepted as part of Clean Sweep. The program is possible thanks to a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development grant. Anyone who wants to drop something off should register with the Berrien County environmental property manager. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Scream Park Announces Scholarship Recipients

The Niles Scream Park has announced its community project scholarship recipients for the year. Secretary Kelly Welch tells WSJM News six young people from Niles, Brandywine, and South Haven High Schools have been picked for $500 scholarships from the non-profit park. Some of them were volunteers for the attraction, but that’s not the only reason they’d be picked.. ...Read Full Story

Health Officials Investigating Illness In Van Buren County

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is investigating multiple cases of an uncommon gastrointestinal illness reported in Van Buren County. Spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News it’s called cyclosporiasis, and it’s believed to have come from a South Haven restaurant. People can become infected by consuming contaminated food or water. The illness typically results in watery diarrhea, and can include the loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps, bloating, nausea, and fatigue. Wheaton says the preliminary investigation has found the cases may have come from Taste restaurant in South Haven.. ...Read Full Story

State Confirms New Measles Case In Detroit

From the Associated Press — Health officials in Detroit have confirmed a case of measles in a city resident who recently returned from overseas travel. The Detroit Health Department says the person with the highly contagious disease went to the emergency department Tuesday of Children’s Hospital of Michigan as well as a physician’s office in suburban Macomb County. The health department says everyone who may have been exposed at the physician’s office was notified, but those who were at the hospital’s emergency department between 12:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Tuesday may have been exposed and should check to see if they need treatment.
The case is at least the 46th in Michigan this year. Most have been in Detroit’s suburbs. One was reported in Traverse City. The number is the highest since 65 in 1991.. ...Read Full Story

Two Sentenced In Break-In, Gun Theft Case

Two suspects who police say broke into an Allegan County hardware store and stole 22 guns are now headed to prison. The U.S. Attorney in Grand Rapids says Matteo Marroquin and Lacy Zimmerman broke into the Graafschap Hardware Store late on December 7 or early on December 8 of last year. They were picked up thanks to an investigation by the Allegan County Sheriff’ Department, Michigan State Police, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. The two pleaded guilty in federal court to the theft of firearms from a federal firearms licensee. On Thursday, a federal judge sentenced Marroquin to ten years in prison. Zimmerman was also sentenced to ten years in prison in May. A third person, Andrew Leenheer, was sentenced to 44 months in prison this month for purchasing two of those firearms after the burglary. The U.S. Attorney’s office says the guns stolen from Graafschap Hardware were recovered through “extraordinary police-work.”. ...Read Full Story