Local News Archives

Michigan Has Much To Gain From New Trade Deal

Congressional leaders are still trying to hammer out a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, and there’s a lot on the line for workers in Michigan. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, would replace NAFTA. Exports within North America account for some 180,000 Michigan jobs, and Michigan is second in the U.S. for trade with its neighbors. Ford Motor Company’s President of Automotive Joe Hinrichs explains the trade deal is especially crucial for the auto industry, which depends on the free flow of trade between the three countries.. ...Read Full Story

Feds Announce $1 Million For PFAS Study

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced $1 million in funding for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to study the relationship between PFAS exposure and certain health outcomes in areas of the state affected by the chemical. Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News the funding is being granted as part of a nationwide, multi-site study to understand the health risks posed by PFAS in water. He says Michigan has been at the forefront of efforts to respond to PFAS.. ...Read Full Story

Boys And Girls Club Opens Location At St. Joseph High School

The Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor has opened a new location at St. Joseph High School. Director of Operations Liji Hanny tells WSJM News the organization ran a pilot last year at E.P. Clarke Elementary School that went well, and then administration at St. Joseph Public Schools inquired about having something similar for the high school. The Boys and Girls Club location opened in one classroom last week.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Becomes Fifth State To Join Age-Friendly Network

From The Associated Press — Michigan is the fifth state to partner with the AARP and the World Health Organization to be age-friendly, so people can age in place in their homes and communities. Governor Gretchen Whitmer helped announce Michigan’s application and certification on Monday at an AARP conference near Lansing. Michigan is one of the most rapidly aging states in the country. Projections show that in 2025, it will be the first state where residents age 65 and older outnumber those 18 and younger – a decade ahead of the nation as a whole. Whitmer says Michigan is the first state in the Midwest to join the network, which provides resources so cities, counties and states can become more age-friendly. The resources include access to research, planning models, best
practices and funding opportunities.. ...Read Full Story

Cedar Fair Says “No” To Six Flags Merger

Following up on a story we brought to you last week, the parent company of Michigan’s Adventure and Cedar Point is rejecting a merger offer from Six Flags. The $4 billion offer had been made last week. Reuters reports Cedar Fair officials felt the $70 per share buyout offer was too low. Six Flags has 26 amusement parks in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, while Cedar Fair’s portfolio includes 11 amusement parks and five water parks in the U.S. and Canada. Both have parks within a two-hour drive of southwest Michigan, depending on traffic, with Six Flags’ Great America in the north Chicago suburbs and Cedar Fair’s Michigan’s Adventure in Muskegon County.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Deputies Investigating Hit-And-Run

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a smaller, red SUV with front end damage that was involved in a hit-and-run crash in Mason Township. It happened just before 6:30 Sunday evening in the 70-thousand block of 5 Points Road. An Elkhart woman was turning left into a driveway when the SUV tried to pass her and hit her in the driver’s side. That driver, 32-year-old Alexandra Pressler, was taken to Elkhart General Hospital to be treated for undisclosed injuries, and her condition has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

New iPhones Stolen From Xtreme Wireless In Benton Township

Somebody has several high-end new iPhones that are worthless. The Xtreme Mobile Boost Wireless store was broken into last week on October 4, with the suspects breaking out the front door to get in. An employee tells WSJM News several iPhones were taken, but they won’t work without being activated by the retailer. Benton Township Police have no information on the crime, but the store says they do have surveillance footage of the incident. The store remains open.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Up, BH/St Joe Prices Second-Lowest In Michigan

Michigan’s average gas price is up a bit over the last week. Triple-A pegs that at $2.69, up 7¢ a gallon from last week and 3¢ higher than the national average. The highest prices are in Ann Arbor at $2.74, while Traverse City’s $2.52 is the lowest average in the state. In Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, the auto club puts the average at $2.62, the second-lowest in the state. According to GasBuddy, South Haven’s prices range from $2.59 to $2.64. South Haven isn’t part of the AAA survey.. ...Read Full Story

State Regulators Holding Forum In I&M Rate Hike Request Tonight

Indiana Michigan Power is seeking permission from state regulators to hike electric rates by almost 19%, and to that end the Michigan Public Service Commission will hold a forum this evening at Lake Michigan College. The MPSC wants to hear from area residents who are I&M customers from 5 to 7 pm at the Blue Lecture Hall on the LMC campus in Benton Harbor. The utility submitted its future plans to the commission this summer, which include modernizing the electrical grid in southwest Michigan to cut down on the number and length of power outages, replacing poles and wires, and doing $478 million worth of improvements to the Cook Nuclear Plant. The 19% proposed rate hike would raise the monthly bill for an average customer by around $36.. ...Read Full Story

Big Donation To Hospital Pavilion Project

The Spectrum Health Lakeland Auxiliary has pledged another $500,000 to the Lakeland Medical Center Pavilion project, bringing its total gift to $1 million for the work. This is the organization’s largest pledge to the hospital so far. The $500,000 announced on Wednesday will go toward the renovation of the Courtyard Café and Main Street which will connect the front of the hospital to the new pavilion when it’s all finished in 2020. Spectrum Health Lakeland Auxiliary President Linda Freeze says the group is pleased to renew its commitment to the Lakeland Medical Center Pavilion. Spectrum Health Lakeland says the community has contributed more than $5.7 million to the pavilion project so far. You can follow its latest progress at SpectrumHealthLakeland.org/Pavilion.. ...Read Full Story

High School Program Would Explore Local History

An after-school program focused on local history could soon be coming back to Benton Harbor High School. The board of education this week heard from Princella Tobias, who ran the local history program at the school in 2016. She wants to do it again this year, and tells WSJM News she learned the last time that teaching the kids about the history of their own community had a great impact on them.. ...Read Full Story

Court Upholds Feds’ Repeal of Net Neutrality, Allows State Protections

The Trump administration has the right to repeal Obama-era net neutrality protections. That’s the decision Tuesday by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The ruling means internet service providers like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast, will continue to have the legal right to block or slow down websites they don’t like, or charge more for faster internet service. Timothy Karr with the nonprofit group Free Press, says the ISPs may now be emboldened to push websites that they own, and thus stifle competition and freedom of expression.. ...Read Full Story

Rep. Wendzel Blasts Budget Vetoes

On Monday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the current fiscal year budget into law, but did so with 147 line item vetoes that took nearly $1 billion in spending off the table. Freshman state Representative Pauline Wendzel of Watervliet is still upset about how it was done.. ...Read Full Story

Krasl Hosting Discussion On Public Art

The Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph is going to hold a panel discussion on the benefits of public art installations this coming Tuesday. Krasl Marketing Manager Matthew Bizoe tells WSJM News they’re going to have artists Richard Hunt and John Sauve on hand for the open discussion. He notes St. Joseph-Benton Harbor has more than 40 public art installations.. ...Read Full Story

Senator Stabenow Backing Impeachment Inquiry

US House investigators have released dozens of text messages between American diplomats in Ukraine discussing President Donald Trump’s demands that the country launch an investigation into Joe Biden’s family. In return, the texts suggest, Ukraine’s new president would get a high-profile visit to Washington.. ...Read Full Story

Unemployment Office Working With LinkedIn On Pilot Program

Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency has announced a new partnership with job searching social network LinkedIn to help clients find new employment. Unemployment Insurance Agency Deputy Director Kimberly Berry tells WSJM News Michigan is part of a three-state pilot being launched by LinkedIn to have special portals for those who are unemployed and receiving benefits.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Reports First Vaping-Related Death

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has announced the state’s first death associated with an outbreak of vaping-related lung illnesses. The agency said Friday that it was notified Wednesday of the death of a man whose lung illness was linked to vaping. No other details were released. Of the more than 1,000 confirmed or probable vaping-related illnesses in the U.S., 30 have been reported in Michigan since August. No single device, ingredient or additive has been identified as the culprit. Most of those sickened say they vaped products containing THC, the high-producing ingredient in marijuana. Others say they vaped both THC and nicotine. A smaller group report they vaped only products containing nicotine. Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently banned the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.. ...Read Full Story

Flush Out Cancer Fundraiser Set For October 11

News/Talk 94.9 WSJM and 98.3 The Coast are again teaming up with City Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning for the fifth annual Flush Out Cancer in downtown St. Joseph on Friday, October 11. Mike Ross of City Plumbing says it started through his friendship with the late Denise Bohn and a collaboration with The Coast. Ross says that happened after his mom was diagnosed with cancer. The proceeds go to Berrien County Cancer Services, and he personally took their money to them last year.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Man Injured After Being Struck By Vehicle

A Benton Harbor man is being treated for critical injuries after he was struck by a vehicle on Friday morning. The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety says the crash happened on Main Street near Fair Avenue around 5:40 a.m. Officers arrived to find the 38-year-old man lying in the road and a vehicle that had sustained damage. It was driven by a 61-year-old Benton Harbor woman who had been eastbound. The man was taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland for treatment. The woman was not hurt. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Fire At Bridgman Apartment Complex Displaces Dozens

More than 50 people are temporarily displaced from Sunset Landing Apartments in Bridgman after a fire in a third floor unit on Thursday afternoon. It’s believed the fire started by someone cooking. The flames were contained to that unit, but several apartments have water and smoke damage. An inspection and repairs need to be done before residents will be allowed back in. No one was hurt in the fire, which started around 4 p.m. at the complex along Red Arrow Highway. Bridgman police thanked Harbor Country Mission for helping residents with food and water and with the use of their building to allow the Red Cross a spot to help people find a place to stay.. ...Read Full Story

Krasl To Host Forum On Public Art

The Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph is going to hold a panel discussion on the benefits of public art installations next week. Krasl Marketing Manager Matthew Bizoe tells WSJM News they’re going to have artists Richard Hunt and John Sauve on hand for the open discussion. He notes St. Joseph-Benton Harbor has more than 40 public art installations.. ...Read Full Story

Three Killed In Plane Crash Near Lansing

Three people are dead and three others are critically injured after a plane crash near Lansing Thursday morning. The single engine plan carrying the six passengers went down around 9 a.m. in a field near the Capital Region International Airport. Officials say the flight originated in Indianapolis and the plane was attempting to land when the crash occurred. Clinton County Sheriff Larry Jerue says the scene of the crash is not as some might expect.. ...Read Full Story

Report: Six Flags Wants Cedar Point, Michigan’s Adventure

Michigan’s Adventure could be getting new ownership. The amusement park in the Muskegon area is currently owned by Cedar Fair, which also owns Cedar Point in Ohio. Reuters is reporting Six Flags is interested in a merger, and Cedar Fair is considering the cash-and-stock offer. No details have been released about the possible merger. Cedar Fair owns and operates 11 amusement parks and five water parks in the United States and Canada, while Six Flags is the largest amusement park operator in the world with 26 parks in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. According to the Reuters report, Six Flags is viewing the potential buyout of Cedar Fair as a way to increase its ticketing pricing power, which could mean it’ll cost us even more to go to Cedar Point or Michigan’s Adventure if it goes through.. ...Read Full Story

State Officials Select Michigan’s Official 2019 Christmas Tree

This year’s official state Christmas tree will be the fourth from Dickinson County and the 23rd from the Upper Peninsula. The Department of Technology, Management and Budget says the 61-foot blue spruce is being donated by Jordan and Sarah Wolfenberg of Iron Mountain. It will be cut down on October 24 and hauled to Lansing to be placed in front of the state Capitol. The tree will be lit as part of the city of Lansing’s annual Silver Bells in the City celebration on November 22. This will be the 35th annual Silver Bells event, and will include a concert by 1980s pop star Tiffany to wrap up the evening’s festivities.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigating Shooting Death Of Paw Paw Couple

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the shooting deaths of a husband and wife in Paw Paw. Officers were called to the home in the 46-thousand block of 30th Street on a report someone had been found dead just before 10 a.m. Wednesday. Both had been shot, and investigators say there is no threat to the public, indicating a possible murder-suicide. Investigators are awaiting autopsy results, and the sheriff’s office says they will not be releasing the names of the couple until family members are notified.. ...Read Full Story

Activists Seek Net Neutrality Protections

The Trump administration has the right to repeal Obama-era net neutrality protections. That’s the decision Tuesday by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The ruling means internet service providers like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast, will continue to have the legal right to block or slow down websites they don’t like, or charge more for faster internet service. Timothy Karr with the nonprofit group Free Press, says the ISPs may now be emboldened to push websites that they own, and thus stifle competition and freedom of expression.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Slams Governor Vetoes

State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan is not pleased Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoed nearly $1 billion in appropriations approved by the Michigan Legislature this week. Griffin tells WSJM News lawmakers have seen many important programs slashed by the governor.. ...Read Full Story

High School Program To Focus On Local History

An after-school program focused on local history could soon be coming back to Benton Harbor High School. The board of education this week heard from Princella Tobias, who ran the local history program at the school in 2016. She wants to do it again this year, and tells WSJM News she learned the last time that teaching the kids about the history of their own community had a great impact on them.. ...Read Full Story

Spectrum Health Lakeland Auxiliary Pledges $500,000 To Pavilion Project

The Spectrum Health Lakeland Auxiliary has pledged another $500,000 to the Lakeland Medical Center Pavilion project, bringing its total gift to $1 million for the work. This is the organization’s largest pledge to the hospital so far. The $500,000 announced on Wednesday will go toward the renovation of the Courtyard Café and Main Street which will connect the front of the hospital to the new pavilion when it’s all finished in 2020. Spectrum Health Lakeland Auxiliary President Linda Freeze says the group is pleased to renew its commitment to the Lakeland Medical Center Pavilion. Spectrum Health Lakeland says the community has contributed more than $5.7 million to the pavilion project so far. You can follow its latest progress at SpectrumHealthLakeland.org/Pavilion.
. ...Read Full Story

Disability Network Holding Workshop For Employers

The Disability Network of Southwest Michigan is planning a training session for employers to help them learn about what to do when an employee discloses a disability. The workshop is designed to help businesses understand their responsibilities in that situation. The topics will include employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, under what conditions an employee must disclose a disability, why they may not want to, and how to determine what a reasonable accommodation in the workplace is. The Disability Network routinely offers disability disclosure workshops during October when the Department of Labor observes National Disability Employment Awareness Month. It also celebrates the contributions of disabled workers. The workshop will be October 29 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Disability Network’s office in St. Joseph. Employers can register by calling the Disability Network of Southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

EEE Deaths In Michigan Rise To Four

A fourth Michigan resident has died from rare mosquito-borne virus that has been recorded across the southern half of the state. The latest to be claimed by Eastern Equine Encephalitis is 79-year-old Stan Zalner of Battle Creek. WWMT-TV in Kalamazoo reports he died from the illness today.. ...Read Full Story

Flavored Vape Products Ban In Effect

Michigan’s ban on flavored electronic cigarettes is now in effect after a judge said she’s not ready to decide whether to stop it. Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens heard arguments Tuesday about an injunction sought by an Upper Peninsula store owner. The attorney general’s office says the hearing will continue on October 8.. ...Read Full Story

Upton, Dingell Asked If They’re Ready To Make Endorsements For 2020 Presidential Election

Congressman Fred Upton and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell are continuing to spread their message of bipartisanship and the importance of finding middle ground. The pair spoke to the Detroit Economic Club on Wednesday on a variety of topics from their Problem Solvers Caucus to protecting the Great Lakes and finding solutions for immigration and gun violence, but it was the very end of the program when attendees heard anything new.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Talks Health And Human Services Budget

With Governor Gretchen Whitmer having used line item vetoes to do away with several appropriations in the Republican passed state budget, lawmakers are now reviewing what’s next. State Representative Mary Whiteford tells us her committee put together the budget for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. She says she tried to focus on making sure money went to helping people and not administration.. ...Read Full Story

County Road Association Expects Peak Fall Colors Next Week

The peak fall colors are about to appear in Berrien County. Although it’s been warm to start off this week, the County Road Association of Michigan says those fall colors are almost here. It says the peak color driving period in Berrien County starts next Monday. The association’s Dustin Earley tells WSJM News people come to Michigan just to see fall colors.. ...Read Full Story

Nearly $88,000 Raised For Foster Scholarships

From the Associated Press — Nearly $88,000 has been raised to provide college scholarships for young people in Michigan’s foster care system. The state Treasury department says about 300 people attended the annual Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund Benefit Dinner last week in Detroit. The dinner is organized by the Michigan Education Trust and the state Health and Human Services department. The Michigan Education Trust is the Treasury department’s prepaid college tuition program. About 13,500 youth are in the state’s foster care system run by Health and Human Services. More than 540 are eligible to receive the scholarships.
Chief Deputy Director for Administration Elizabeth Hertel says foster youth often lack the family support that others take for granted.. ...Read Full Story

New Buffalo’s Harbor Grand Hotel To Rebuild After Fire

New Buffalo’s Harbor Grand Hotel will remain closed for the next eight to 10 months. On Facebook, the owners of the hotel confirmed the fire on Friday that did extensive damage was started by a lightning strike just before 6 p.m. The entire building suffered extensive water damage from both the effort to put out the fire and the storms that hit southwest Michigan that night. The hotel will be “stripped to the studs and rebuilt,” with the goal of having the lobby and restaurant open in April and guest rooms available again in early June 2020. Robert and Collette Kemper thanked first responders for the work done to put out the fire, and also thanked the community for their “love and support” after the fire. The hotel opened in 1995 on the New Buffalo harbor.. ...Read Full Story

BH Native, Actor Ernie Hudson To Assist Lake Michigan College Play This Fall

Lake Michigan College is getting some Hollywood help with its production this fall of the play “Exit Strategy.” The play by Ike Holter is about a struggling Chicago high school that is facing the possibility of being shut down. Actor and Benton Harbor native Ernie Hudson has agreed to take part behind the scenes as Associate Artistic Producer, and will be providing notes and advice using FaceTime during rehearsals. Hudson will come home to Benton Harbor for the last week of rehearsals and for the opening night performance of th play on November 15. The play will be staged at The GhostLight Theatre in Benton Harbor due to ongoing renovations at the Hanson Theatre on the LMC campus at The Mendel Center. Along with his starring roles in both Ghostbusters movies in the 1980s, Hudson has been in “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle;” “The Crow;” “Miss Congeniality;” and “You’re Not You;” among many others. Television credits include HBO’s lauded series “Oz,” the final season of NBC’s “Law & Order,” and Netflix’s “Grace & Frankie.”. ...Read Full Story

Pure Michigan Among Programs Axed By Line-Item Veto From State Budget

Among the programs being cut by line-item vetoes by Governor Whitmer in the new state budget is the immensely popular Pure Michigan marketing campaign. The governor vetoed 147 line items on Monday, with those carrying a combined total of $947 million, as she signed the 16 budget bills into law and prevented a state government shutdown. On Twitter, the governor talked about the vetoes without giving details.. ...Read Full Story

Four To Take Part In South Haven Council Candidate Forum

South Haven voters can learn more about four of the candidates for city council in a few weeks. A candidate forum will be held at Lake Michigan College’s South Haven campus on Veterans Boulevard from 7 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, October 15. Two of the wards have contested races in November. In Ward 3, incumbent Steve Schlack will face challenger Liji Hanny, and both will be at the forum being put on by the South Haven American Association of University Women. In Ward 2, current councilmember Clark Gruber can’t run due to term limits. Former councilmember Jeff Arnold is running for the seat against Nadine Newman, and they will also be at the forum. Not appearing will be Mayor Scott Smith and Ward 1 council member Letitia Wilkins, as they are both running unopposed in next month’s election.. ...Read Full Story

Search Underway For New Van Buren County Road Department Manager

The search is on for a new managing director at the Van Buren County Road Commission. That’s after the departure of the former manager back in April. The road commission says the ideal new leader is someone who wants to make a difference in the community and be part of the commission’s goal of maintaining a safe and efficient road network. The Van Buren County Road Commission takes care of 350 miles of primary and 980 miles of local roads with a yearly budget of about $18 million. The managing director oversees four department heads and indirectly manages a staff of 51 employees. Applications for the manager position will be taken through October 24. That will be followed by the candidate selection, interviews, final selection, and then a transition phase. The applications are being taken online.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Discusses Moratorium On Recreational Marijuana Businesses

Benton Harbor City Commissioners are looking to establish some rules for recreational marijuana businesses when they begin operating in Michigan. At a Monday meeting, commissioners considered a resolution that would have prohibited recreational marijuana businesses in town until the city can get zoning rules in place. City attorney Richard Racht said as the state deadline approaches for prospective recreational marijuana businesses to put in applications, the city needs to take action.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Works Holding Hiring Events in Benton Harbor

A series of hiring events will be taking place at Michigan Works in Benton Harbor starting October 8 and continuing through the end of the year. Michigan Works says these events will be a bit different from the usual sorts of job fairs it holds. That’s because the employers will be tasked with introducing themselves and explaining why they are a good place to work. It says this “Shark Tank” method of looking for employees will eliminate the uncomfortable feelings job seekers face when they attend hiring events. Plus, it will allow the employers to offer more information about themselves. The hiring days will be at the Michigan Works office on West Main Street in Benton Harbor on October 8, October 22, November 1, November 26, and December 12. They’ll all run from 10 a.m. to noon. Those who want to attend are told to bring an updated resume and to be interview-ready.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Issues Statement On Impeachment Inquiry

Congressman Fred Upton isn’t saying whether he supports the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Upton issued a statement through his office that says he’ll “review the facts that emerge before making any conclusions.” Upton calls recent developments “disconcerting,” but says there “are some people who may want to use this to grind our entire government to a halt, but I’m not one of them. There’s no joy in Mudville.” He says he remains focused on the issues that matter to the people of southwest Michigan. We spoke to Upton last week before the announcement there would be an impeachment inquiry. At that time, he said he was waiting for a transcript of President Trump’s phone call with the president of Ukraine before weighing in.. ...Read Full Story