Local News Archives

Michigan House Votes To End State’s Ban On Stun Guns

From the Associated Press — Michigan would lift its ban on stun guns under legislation advanced by lawmakers. The bill would allow the sale, possession and “reasonable use” of a stun device by those 18 and older. Michigan currently allows law enforcement and people with a concealed pistol license to use a Taser, which is a different type of self-defense device than a stun gun. The Republican-led Senate will consider the measure next after it cleared the GOP-controlled House on an 84-24 vote Tuesday. Supporters say the stun gun ban contradicts court rulings. They contend that people may prefer nonlethal forms of protection over guns.. ...Read Full Story

Board Trustee To Resign

Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education Trustee Patricia Rush is resigning. At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Rush said she ran for the board in 2018 because of her commitment to social justice, and upon being seated, threw herself into understanding the intricacies of school operations. However, she said she doesn’t see how she can move forward with the way she’s been treated lately by Board President Joseph Taylor.. ...Read Full Story

Board Hears Report On Incident Following Basketball Game

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has received a report on last week’s incident involving district cheerleaders as they left a basketball game in Battle Creek. Following the Tiger victory over Battle Creek Central, the Benton Harbor cheerleaders and their coach allege they were harassed and attacked while walking out to their bus. At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Benton Harbor Interim Superintendent Robinson said Battle Creek Central is a longtime rival of Benton Harbor, and in the future, more will be done to protect the athletes when they go to these rival games.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Vows To Restore Grant For Paw Paw

State Representative Beth Griffin says she’s fighting to restore a $200,000 downtown facade improvement grant for the village of Paw Paw. She says the funds from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation were cut off when the governor and state Legislature had an impasse over the state budget last year. The governor had line item vetoed nearly $1 billion in spending approved by the Legislature, much of which was later restored. Griffin tells WSJM News the grant for Paw Paw remains held up.. ...Read Full Story

Grand Rapids Graduates Get Free Tuition At Community College

From the Associated Press — Graduates of public and private high schools in Grand Rapids can attend a local community college for free. The Grand Rapids Promise Zone scholarship was announced Monday. It covers tuition for 60 credits at Grand Rapids Community College, as well as books and other fees. Students qualify for a full scholarship if they live in the city and attend a local high school for at least three years. A graduate who spends two years at a high school would get a 50% scholarship. The money is coming from Grand Rapids Community College and local donors.. ...Read Full Story

Hunter Ice Festival This Weekend In Niles

The 16th annual Hunter Ice Festival is set for this week in Niles. You might not think the weather is appropriate, but the winter celebration will feature thousands of pounds of ice blocks being carved into art. The ice fest starts on Friday and will run through Sunday, featuring live music, a 5K, and plenty of food. That includes the popular Hunter Ice Cream Booth on the south side of Main Street in the 100 block. The Hunter Ice Festival was started as a way to celebrate the Hunter Brothers Ice and Ice Cream Company, which was a commercial ice harvesting business that operated in the area in the late 1800s and early 1900s. You can find the full festival schedule right here.. ...Read Full Story

Vehicle Strikes Stevensville Cracker Barrel

No one is hurt after vehicle crashed into the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Stevensville on Tuesday. The Lincoln Township Police Department says it happened at 9:45 a.m. A 93-year-old man was backing out of a parking spot when he struck another vehicle. He then put the car in drive and mistakenly accelerated, jumping the curb and running through the north side wall of the building, into the retail area. Although no one was injured, the driver was taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland Hospital by Medic 1 to be checked out. The restaurant was evacuated, and police say it will remain closed for the rest of the day. The incident remains under investigation. The Lincoln Township Police Department was assisted by the Lincoln Township Fire Department, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan State Police, and Medic 1.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Cheerleading Coach: We Were Attacked

There’s a good chance this will be brought up at tonight’s Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education meeting. High school cheerleading coach Ronnella Booker says her squad was attacked by Battle Creek Central High School fans last week while walking to their bus after the boys basketball game. Booker tells our partners at WSBT-22 they didn’t feel safe from the time they arrived in Battle Creek.. ...Read Full Story

Decatur Man Killed In Car-Pedestrian Crash

Michigan State Police are investigating a crash in Decatur that killed a pedestrian. It happened shortly after 10 Monday night on 39th Street near Burgess Road. Troopers say 33-year-old Devin Mattis was hit by a northbound vehicle on 39th, and they don’t know why he was in the road at the time. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

AARP Offering Tax Filing Help

Tax season officially starts in a few weeks, and hundreds of volunteers are finalizing their training so they can help Michiganders prepare their returns. The AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide Program runs from February 1st until April 15th, and volunteer preparers can assist filers with their forms and identify possible credits or deductions. Peter Elliott heads up the group’s Michigan Tax-Aide Team, and says roughly 800 counselors will be available at 150 sites.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Spreading Awareness About Human Trafficking

With January being National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Michigan State Police are making an extra effort to spread awareness about the crime. MSP Sergeant Scott Morrison with the motor carriers division tells WSJM News troopers are reaching out to truck drivers with pamphlets and cards listing signs of human trafficking and how to report it. Morrison says truckers are in a unique position to spot human trafficking.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Investigating Possible Fraud At Breathalyzer Vendor

Michigan State Police are investigating possible fraud involving contract employees of a firm that calibrates breathalyzer machines around the state. The agency says it has stopped its contract with Datamaster vendor, Intoximeters, and is advising officers to use blood draws to determine drunk driving until it has been able to confirm the machines are all properly calibrated. The agency says its investigation so far has uncovered discrepancies at several police departments, including at the Niles Police Department and the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department. When a discrepancy is found, state police say the results can be double checked through additional testing. Michigan State Police say they will pursue criminal charges where it is determined an employee of the breathalyzer vendor committed fraud. In the meantime, the agency has taken all of the 203 affected machines out of service.. ...Read Full Story

State Offers Great Lake Shipwrecks Map

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has put together a map of Great Lakes shipwrecks. It says there are more than 1,500 shipwrecks submerged in Michigan waters. Some, like the Syracuse, recall the Great Lakes sailing heyday, when goods and people routinely plied the lakes along well-used routes. The Syracuse, a two-masted schooner carrying a cargo of coal, sank in Lake Huron on November 10, 1863. There are more recent wrecks as well, including the 600-foot Cedarville, which sank while transporting a cargo of limestone on May 7, 1967. The DNR says the Michigan Shipwrecks Public Web App is now up, offering everyone a closer look at shipwrecks as well as the locations of lighthouses and boating access sites. Users can search for wrecks by name or location or customize and print their own PDF maps. Here in southwest Michigan, the map lists the Havana as a local shipwreck. The 135 foot schooner was lost on October 3, 1887 after it encountered rough waters north of Benton Harbor. You can find the shipwreck map right here.. ...Read Full Story

Clinics Awarded Grants To Help Uninsured, Underinsured

From the Associated Press — Nearly four dozen clinics will share $860,500 through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s strengthening the Safety Net program. Blue Cross says the funding will help the clinics provide free or low-cost medical, dental and
mental health care services to uninsured and underinsured Michigan residents. The funding also pays for substance use disorder treatment. Grants of up to $25,000 each were awarded to 17 clinics. Another 30 clinics were awarded up to $15,000 each. Recipients expect to provide care to more than 60,000 people this year. Health care organizations offering primary care services also received
more than $190,000 in matched funding through the program.. ...Read Full Story

Nessel On LGBTQ Protections: It’s Time

“It’s time.” Those are the words of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nesel regarding protections for LGBTQ people under Michigan’s civil rights law. Currently, a petition campaign by “Fair and Equal Michigan” is trying to gather more than 340,000 names of registered voters to send the proposal to the state Legislature:. ...Read Full Story

Waves Take Out Part Of Beach Stairs

The staircase at Cherry Beach in Chikaming Township has been closed as a result of the wild action on Lake Michigan lately. Chikaming Township Parks, Preserves, and Beaches posted pictures of the staircase to its Facebook page over the weekend showing the bottom section of the stairs are gone. The group says it’s now about an eight-to ten-foot drop down to the beach from what’s left of the stairs. The issue at Cherry Beach isn’t the only one Chikaming Township has had with its beaches as of late. Harbert Beach has also been closed due to damage to the stairs. Due to high water levels in Lake Michigan and plenty of wave action this past weekend, coastal areas have been seeing even more erosion. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is predicting things will continue like this throughout the year.. ...Read Full Story

Allegan County Sheriff’s Department Looking For Missing Woman

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department is looking for a missing woman. It says 28-year-old Alexa Christine Knooihuizen was reported missing by family on December 30 after she didn’t come to visit her children over Christmas. The department says she is known to use narcotics and could be in danger. Anyone who knows of the woman’s location is asked to contact the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Working On Offering Third Gender Option On Licenses

From the Associated Press — Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office is working to add a third gender option on Michigan licenses and ID cards. According to The Detroit News, Benson had previously attempted for a third gender designation, but the department’s software prevented her from doing so. She instead opted for a new policy making it easier for people to change their gender designation from male to female or female to male on state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards. The possibility to add a non-binary option might be completed by 2021.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph City To Consider Harbor Authority Joint Meeting Tonight

The St. Joseph City Commission is expected to approve holding a joint meeting later this month with the Benton Harbor City Commission and St. Joseph Charter Township Board tonight. The three are set to discuss establishing a group to work on recommendations for the development of the St. Joseph Harbor. Benton Harbor and St. Joseph Township each approved the concept last week. The joint meeting of the three is likely to be held on Wednesday, January 22. The efforts have been ongoing for a few years, spurred by an Andrews University and Southwest Michigan Planning Commission Twin Cities Harbor Study sponsored by the city of Benton Harbor in 2015.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Clearing Brush, Adding Trees Along I-94

Drivers in Van Buren County are being advised to watch out for intermittent lane and shoulder closures along I-94 for the next few years. Michigan Department of Transportation spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News crews will be doing tree and shrub removal along the highway. They started this week. They will also be planting new pine trees. There’s a reason for that.. ...Read Full Story

Two Charged In Connection With Niles-Area Standoff

Two Niles residents are facing charges resulting from a standoff last week in Cass County’s Milton Township. Officers from the Fugitive Apprehension Street Team and US Marshal’s Service Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force went to their home on Redfield Street last Wednesday afternoon looking for 41-year-old Adam Neiman and retreated once Neiman pulled a gun. He was finally arrested after a standoff that lasted over 12 hours when he and 41-year-old Clemie Chapman came out of the home more than five hours after police were able to get a child out of the house.. ...Read Full Story

Workshop To Discuss Service Animals

The Disability Network Southwest Michigan will hold a workshop on service animals and emotional support animals this month. Disability Network Community Education Coordinator Miranda Grunwell will lead the discussion, titled “Do’s and Don’ts: Assistance Animals.” She tells WSJM News they held a few similar presentations last year.. ...Read Full Story

Upton: New Trade Deal Will Mean Jobs

The new United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement will be good for the U.S. economy. That’s the thought of Congressman Fred Upton, who hailed House passage of the NAFTA replacement just before Christmas. He tells WSJM News the new agreement will be good for the auto industry.. ...Read Full Story

Program Enables Credit Union Employees To Support Communities

Employees of United Federal Credit Union have been able to donate more than $16,000 around their communities in the past year thanks to the organization’s Pay it Forward program. With Pay it Forward, UFCU gives each employee $15 to donate to those in need. They get to pick who they support. Many times, departments and branches combine their funds to create a more substantial donation. United CEO Terry O’Rourke tells WSJM News Pay it Forward was created at the request of employees.. ...Read Full Story

New Superintendent to Start Next Month

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has approved a contract for new Superintendent Andrae Townsel. The board voted on the agreement this week with Townsel in attendance. He then sat in with the body for the rest of its meeting on Tuesday. Townsel comes to Benton Harbor from the Detroit area, where he is currently assistant superintendent at Wayne-Westland Community Schools. He tells WSJM News he’ll start February 17, and plans to hit the ground running.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Road Commission Plans Meetings On Millage Renewal

A couple of meetings are coming up in Van Buren County for residents to learn about a road millage renewal that will be on their March 10 ballot. Van Buren County Road Commission Finance Director Linnea Rader tells WSJM News this is strictly a renewal, and not a new millage. The road commission asks for voters to re-approve what she calls an essential millage that’s been in place since 1978.. ...Read Full Story

Heart Of Cook Grant Applications Now Available

The Berrien Community Foundation says applications are now available for the next round of Heart of Cook grants. The Heart of Cook program is funded by Indiana Michigan Power’s Cook nuclear power plant and administered by the Berrien Community Foundation. Educational projects, human services programs that support families, and environmental protection and preservation projects are the focus areas for the Heart of Cook, and grant recipients are picked by Cook staff each year. Last year, the Heart of Cook provided more than $65,000 to 38 non-profit programs around southwest Michigan. The Heart of Cook grant applications are now online at the Berrien Community Foundation’s website. They’re due by February 10, and the grant recipients will be announced in May.. ...Read Full Story

New Buffalo Getting Grant To Improve Its Dune Walk

The city of New Buffalo has been approved for a $220,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Land and Water Conservation Fund to improve its dune walk. The city says its dune walk is an iconic part of the community that has been the site of many senior class photos and wedding proposals. With the local match for the grant, the total improvement project for the walk will be $440,000. The city plans to renovate and improve the existing dune walk, and also add a second ADA accessible walkway into the dunes. The dune walk is currently nearing the end of its functional lifecycle, and this new project will enable New Buffalo to extend its life. Mayor Lou O’Donnell IV says the timing on this grant was perfect. The design and construction of the dune walk project is expected to start around mid-year.. ...Read Full Story

Pagel Appointed To RESA board

Former state Representative Dave Pagel has been appointed to the Berrien RESA Board of Education. Pagel replaces Linda Holt, who passed away last month. It was up to the RESA board to fill the vacancy, and it selected Pagel on Thursday. Pagel has plenty of school board experience, having served on the Berrien Springs School Board for 14 years. He was also a Berrien County Commissioner from 2009 to 2012 before being elected to the Michigan House. Pagel served in the House as the representative the 78th District in southern Berrien County for six years. He recently retired from the agriculture business after running Dave Pagel Produce from 1978 to 2019 and Dave Pagel Farms from 2004 to 2019. Pagel’s term on the RESA board will be through June 20 of 2021.. ...Read Full Story

Kinexus Workshop to Teach Better Public Speaking Skills

Southwest Michigan workers who want to brush up on their public speaking skills will have a chance to do so next week thanks to a workshop being held by Kinexus. Kinexus New Business Development Director Dan Peat tells us they’re holding an all-day session at the Michigan Works Training Center. That’s after Kinexus heard from local businesses about the need. The workshop will feature guest speaker Brian Lam, who will weave his Second City Improv background into teaching attendees how to give a strong presentation. Peat says it’s a unique opportunity.. ...Read Full Story

Army Corps: All Great Lakes Expected To Set Record Highs This Year

A new record high level for Lakes Michigan and Huron is expected this year. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District says all of the Great Lakes are starting 2020 higher than last year, when record highs were set for Superior, Erie, and Ontario along with Lake St. Clair. The director of the Detroit District’s Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office says with Michigan and Huron, which hydrologically are considered one lake, set to hit a new high, coastal impacts and damages this year will be similar to or worse than 2019. The water levels of each lake peaked during this past summer or fall and since then have been in a seasonal decline, however, significant erosion continues in many locations as water levels remain extremely high. Strong storm systems and resulting large waves have led to substantial erosion along much of the Great Lakes coastline.. ...Read Full Story

Sepic Won’t Seek Reelection As Berrien County Prosecutor

Berrien County will have a new prosecutor next year. Prosecuting Attorney Michael Sepic says he will not seek re-election in 2020, saying he will be 70 years old at the end of this current term at the close of the year, and is looking forward to retirement. He was appointed prosecutor in 2013 after Arthur Cotter stepped down to become a judge and was elected in 2014 to fill the rest of that term and again in 2016. Sepic’s law career began in 1979 in Eaton Rapids, outside of Lansing, in private practice. He became an assistant prosecuting attorney in Calhoun County in 1985 and joined the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office as an assistant in 1988.. ...Read Full Story

Wendzel Bill Would Double Self-Distribution Limit For Craft Brewers

Michigan’s craft beer industry continues to blossom and expand, but brewers say they’ve got an issue with the cap on how much beer they can distribute on their own without having a contract with a distributor. That limit is 1,000 barrels a year and includes what is consumed in taprooms. Enter state Representative Pauline Wendzel, who is announcing a doubling of that limit and exempting taproom sales in a new bill.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Forecasts Modest Growth In Economy, Tax Revenue

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s tax revenues are slightly higher than anticipated, but Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration and Republicans in the Legislature say it’s not a jackpot for new spending. Economists agreed Friday to forecasts that will help the Democratic governor propose the next budget. Economic growth will be modest. Revenues in two main funds are projected to rise 1.1% this fiscal year and 2.3% next year. Revenue could come in $321 million higher than was estimated previously. Budget director Chris Kolb says there will be “huge pressures” on spending due to Medicaid costs, a past road-funding deal,
tax cuts and other factors.. ...Read Full Story

Clementines, Clementines’s Too Reach Settlement With U.S. Dept. Of Labor

A settlement has been reached between Clementine’s in South Haven, Clementine’s Too in St. Joseph, and the U.S. Department of Labor. On Facebook, the restaurant says they were investigated in November by the Labor Department and told it was random. Issues were found with one job position who received tips from wait staff and bartenders from the tip pool. That job is the “Expeditor,” and that person delivers food to customers at the bar and for take-out orders and trays up the food for the wait staff. To fix the issue, the Labor Department and Clementines have reached a deal where the restaurant will repay the money paid in tips to the Expeditor to the wait staff and bartenders. The statement from Clementines adds “The judgment calls it a ‘minimum wage issue’ because a server is considered, under labor guidelines, a minimum wage employee, even though with their tips they make far above minimum wage. By having them share a small portion of their tips with the Expeditor, their wage, by definition, was below minimum wage.”. ...Read Full Story

Non-Binding War Powers Resolution Passes House; Upton A No Vote

The US House has approved a resolution asserting that President Trump must seek approval from Congress before engaging in further military action against Iran. The war powers resolution is not binding on Trump and would not require his signature. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi nonetheless insists it “has real teeth” because “it is a statement of the Congress of the United States.”. ...Read Full Story

Flu Restrictions In Place At Spectrum Health Lakeland

Spectrum Health Lakeland has announced new restrictions for visitors due to the flu. The rules are in place at all of the organization’s hospitals in southwest Michigan. Spectrum Health Lakeland says visitors who have not had a flu shot will be asked to wear a mask while in the facility. Everyone is asked to stay at home if they are sick, have a fever, runny nose, cough, or body aches, or are less than 18 years old. Spectrum also says you should go to the emergency department if you or a loved one are experiencing difficulty breathing, dizziness, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, severe or persistent vomiting, or other severe symptoms. It notes there is no cure for the flu, adding the best protection is getting the vaccine.. ...Read Full Story

MSU Forum To Explore New Redistricting Commission

Michigan State University’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research will host a forum next week to explore the implications of the state’s new redistricting commission. It was created by voters in November of 2018 as a way to reduce gerrymandering of legislative districts. MSU Institute for Public Policy and Social Research Director Matt Grossman tells WSJM News the forum will be next Wednesday at the Anderson House Office Building across from the Michigan Capitol. It will explore how the redistricting commission will work, and more.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Killed In Niles Township Crash

A Goshen, Indiana woman is dead following a crash in Niles Township on Thursday. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says it happened on US-31 near mile marker 6 just before 2:30 p.m. Sheriff’s deputies learned a Chrysler Concord driven by the 35-year-old Goshen women had been northbound when it crossed the median and struck a southbound Ford Fusion driven by a 17-year-old male from Niles. The 17-year-old and his 16-year-old female passenger were taken by ambulance to Memorial Hospital in South Bend to be treated for non-life threatening injuries. The Goshen woman was also taken to Memorial Hospital, where she later died. The cause of the crash remains under investigation, and the names have not been released.. ...Read Full Story

New Interest In Foreclosed Condos

The Benton Harbor Downtown Development Authority has its eye on a partially foreclosed condo complex on Riverview Drive. According to The Herald Palladium, the DDA met this week and voted to express an interest in the New Harbor Condominiums. 43 out of the complex’s 90 units are in the hands of the Berrien County Land Bank since April’s foreclosure. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News the Benton Harbor DDA has indicated an interest in developing the dilapidated condos.. ...Read Full Story

Bridgman Public Schools Gets AP Recognition

Bridgman Public Schools has made strides when it comes to getting more students into advanced placement classes. The school district says it’s been placed on the College Board’s 10th Annual AP District Honor Roll for that work. Bridgman Public Schools is one of 250 school districts around the United States and Canada to be on the AP honor roll. In order to qualify, the district had to increase the number of students participating in advanced placement classes since 2017 while also increasing or maintaining the percentage of students earning AP Exam scores of 3 or higher. The district says getting on the honor roll demonstrates it has been successful in identifying motivated students who are ready for AP.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Man Charged With Child Sexually Abusive Activity

A 36-year-old Benton Harbor man is facing multiple charges including distributing child pornography. Michigan State Police say Matthew Davidson was arrested and arraigned on December 13 of last year after troopers received a tip from the National center for Missing & Exploited Children. No other details have been made available, including when Davidson will next be in court or if there are any local victims in the case.. ...Read Full Story

Mobile Home Destroyed By Fire In Van Buren County

A Van Buren County mobile home is a total loss after a fire in Columbia Township on Thursday. South Haven Area Emergency Services says firefighters from three departments were called out to the blaze on County Road 384 near 52nd Street around 7:40 a.m. By the time they arrived, the home was fully engulfed in flames. The residents had gotten out safely. Assisting the Columbia Township Fire Department were firefighters from Bangor and South Haven Area Emergency Services. LIFE ambulance and Michigan State Police were also on the scene. The cause of the fire is under investigation, and there were no injuries.. ...Read Full Story

Fugitive Apprehended After Standoff In Cass County

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department has a fugitive in custody after an all-day standoff on Wednesday in Milton Township. The department says members of the Fugitive Apprehension Street Team working in conjunction with the U.S. Marshal’s Service went to a home in the 33,000 block of Redfield Street around 1:35 p.m. to locate a suspect out of Laporte County, Indiana. The suspect was wanted on several charges. When officers went to the home, they found the fugitive there along with a woman and a child. The sheriff’s department says when the fugitive flashed a gun, officers were forced to “revert to a position of advantage” and set up a perimeter. Negotiators from Cass County Sheriff Office, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, and Michigan State Police talked with the fugitive for several hours as the standoff dragged on. Shortly after 10 p.m. the suspect let the child go, and police stormed the building around 2:30 a.m. At 2:45, the fugitive and the woman exited the home and were brought into custody. Both are now facing charges in Cass County and in Laporte County, Indiana. Their names have not yet been released.. ...Read Full Story

MI Supreme Court Gives Green Light To Phones In Court

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Supreme Court says the public can bring laptops, tablets and phones into state courthouses. The court announced the groundbreaking policy change Wednesday. The new rule covers the use of electronic devices in courtrooms and clerk’s offices, where public documents are stored.The public can bring electronic devices into courtrooms to take notes, use the internet or exchange email and text messages. Photos or video, however, are prohibited unless approved by a judge. Many court clerks opposed the rule because it could reduce lucrative copying fees.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Road Commission Seeking Millage Renewal

A couple of meetings are coming up in Van Buren County for residents to learn about a road millage renewal that will be on their March 10 ballot. Van Buren County Road Commission Finance Director Linnea Rader tells WSJM News this is strictly a renewal, and not a new millage. The road commission asks for voters to re-approve what she calls an essential millage that’s been in place since 1978.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Hails New Trade Deal

The new United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement will be good for the U.S. economy. That’s the thought of Congressman Fred Upton, who hailed House passage of the NAFTA replacement just before Christmas. He tells WSJM News the new agreement will be good for the auto industry.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Talks Trash Bill

Benton Harbor City Commissioners want to avoid a repeat of a situation that arose last year when the trash wasn’t picked up for nearly a week. At a Monday meeting of the city commission, Mayor Pro Tem Duane Seats separated the city’s monthly trash collection bill from the accounts payable listing to propose a motion specifying exactly to whom the trash payment would be made. That’s because there’s a dispute within Wecycle Industrial Sanitation regarding who owns the company. In November, the city’s payment went to the wrong person, leading to the trash not being picked up. Seats said on Monday that can’t happen again.. ...Read Full Story

Bloomingdale Branch Library Hosting Census Worker Application Event

Census workers are needed this year, and there will be an event to get more information out to those who may be interested later this month in Van Buren County. The Bloomingdale Branch Library will host an application day on Tuesday, January 21 from 2-5 p.m. Applications to be a census worker can be filled out at the event. The U.S. Census Bureau does plan to do as much of the population count online as possible, but there will be parts of the country where internet service is either non-existent or unreliable, and there are also some populations of folks who are more difficult to get to participate. The census, done once a decade, determines all sorts of things from government funding for programs to the number of members each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives. Michigan is expected to lose a House member following the 2020 census due to population outflow.. ...Read Full Story

Officials Extend Comment Period For Kalamazoo River Cleanup

From the Associated Press — Federal officials are giving the public more time to comment on a proposed settlement with one of the companies responsible for polluting the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department announced the deal last month. It calls for NCR Corp. to pay $245 million to continue a cleanup that began more than 20 years ago. The settlement filed in federal court includes a public comment period that was scheduled to end Jan. 16. But in a notice scheduled for publication Monday, the Justice Department says it will be extended to February 18.. ...Read Full Story