Local News Archives

Opponents Of Proposed Potash Mine In Michigan To Continue The Fight

Despite a legal setback, opponents of a proposed potash mine in Hersey, Michigan, say they’re not backing down. The group Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation filed a legal challenge to permits issued by the Department of Environmental Quality for potash mining wells in Osceola County. More than a year later, and just days before the scheduled hearing in September, Administrative Law Judge Daniel Pulter said he didn’t have jurisdiction to rule on the matter and cancelled the hearing. MCWC board member Ken Ford, who lives near the site, contends this is just the latest setback in what he calls a long, uphill battle.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Trial Court To Celebrate Adoption Month

A special event is in the works to celebrate Adoption Month in Michigan by the Berrien County Trial Court. On Tuesday, November 19, four families will have their adoptions finalized and the hearings will be open to the public. Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman will join Berrien County Family Division Judges Mabel Johnson Mayfield, Brian Berger, and Jennifer Smith for the celebration, which starts with the first hearing at 10 a.m.. ...Read Full Story

Study: Few Michigan Residents Try To Get Convictions Erased

From the Associated Press — A study has found few Michigan residents are taking advantage of a legal option that allows people to erase their criminal convictions, even though an expungement can open doors to housing, student loans and employment. The Lansing State Journal reports that a University of Michigan law school study estimates just 6.5% of people who meet the requirements end up having their convictions set aside within five years of becoming eligible. Attorneys and law students volunteered their time last week at a free clinic in Lansing to educate more than 100 people on how to clear their records. The University of Detroit Mercy School of Law is using a $20,000 grant from the Michigan State Bar Foundation to host a series of fr. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Commission Approves License Agreements For Shoreline Protection

Nine property owners along the shore of Lake Michigan will be allowed to put up armor stone to try to protet their homes from erosion from the high level of Lake Michigan. The St. Joseph City Commission has approved license agreements to be available to those landowners, with city officials saying the temporary plans are in line with previous shoreline studies dating back to 2012. City attorney Laurie Schmidt said this is meant as a stop gap solution.. ...Read Full Story

World War II Navajo Code Talker To Speak In Buchanan, Dowagiac

A World War II Navajo code talker will be coming to southwest Michigan next month. The Buchanan American Legion Veterans Day Committee, the University of Notre Dame, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, and Southwestern Michigan College have all partnered to host Peter MacDonald, Sr. He enlisted in the U.S. Marines at 15 and served from 1944 to 1946 alongside other Navajo Marines for the top secret Navajo Code School. After the war, he became an engineer. Navajo Code Talkers were credited with saving hundreds of thousands of lives to shorten the war in the Pacific, and MacDonald received the Congressional Silver Medal for his service. He was also given a Special Commendation by President Richard Nixon and was featured in TIME magazine as one of 200 “Rising Leaders of America” in 1974. He is currently the president of the Navajo Code Talkers Museum and Veteran Center in Arizona. MacDonald will be speaking in Buchanan, Dowagiac, and South Bend from November 11 to the 14. You can see the schedule below.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Voters To Decide Marijuana Issue

Set to appear on the ballot next week in the city of South Haven is a question about banning recreational marijuana businesses. Municipalities across Michigan have to decide if they want to allow businesses that sell pot for non-medical uses since voters approved recreational marijuana last year. South Haven Assistant City Manager Kate Hozier spoke with WSJM News about the issue.. ...Read Full Story

Former MSU President To Stand Trial

From the Associated Press — Former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon has been ordered to stand trial on charges she lied about her knowledge of allegations against now-imprisoned ex-sports doctor Larry Nassar. Eaton County District Judge Julie Reincke ruled Monday. Authorities say Simon knew in 2014 that Nassar had been accused of molesting a patient at a campus clinic. But Simon told police she knew only that a complaint had been filed against a sports doctor. The ruling came after it was disclosed that Michigan State trustee Nancy Schlichting resigned Saturday over the governing board’s decision to drop a promised independent investigation into the handling of complaints against Nassar. Schlichting, who was appointed less than a year ago, says she could no longer serve after the board wouldn’t proceed with the review.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Commission Candidates United On Marijuana Opt-Out Decision

Not only is the St. Joseph City Commission united on the decision to have the city opt out of allowing recreational marijuana businesses right now, so are the three challengers for seats on the commission in next week’s election. News/Talk 94.9 WSJM held a candidate forum Friday morning, and that was among the topics. Former city communications director Susan Solon, running for office for the first time, says the commission is doing it right by putting in a delay.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Holding Meeting On US-12 Road Diet In New Buffalo Next Week

Changes for US-12 are in the works in the New Buffalo area. The Michigan Department of Transportation will hold an open house next Wednesday, November 6 at New Buffalo High School to discuss the road diet for the highway from the Indiana state line to Mayhew Street, and then from Wilson Street to Red Arrow Highway. MDOT’s Nick Schirripa says it’ll be done in 2021 as part of a resurfacing project.. ...Read Full Story

Police: Don’t Fall For Utility Scams

The South Haven Police Department is warning residents about utility scams. It says many businesses in South Haven have been affected by scam attempts. A caller will pretend to represent a utility company and say electric or water service will be shut off if immediate payment on a bill is not made. Some would-be victims have reported the caller claimed to represent the South Haven Electric Department. Police remind everyone to never give out personal information like banking numbers over the phone. If you’re in doubt, hang up on such a call and contact your utility yourself. Legitimate companies don’t demand a specific payment method like gift cards or wiring money. Also remember these scammers will spoof their phone numbers to make it look like they’re calling from a different number than the one they’re really using.. ...Read Full Story

New SMC President To Start In January

The next president of Southwestern Michigan College is busy preparing to take on the new role starting in January. Dr. Joseph Odenwald was selected by the SMC Board of Trustees this week to replace Dr. David Mathews when Mathews retires. Odenwald is the the current SMC vice president of student services. He’s from Louisiana and started working for SMC in 2017. He tells WSJM News he’s loved the area.. ...Read Full Story

Two Rivers Coalition Meeting Coming Up

The eleventh annual Two Rivers Coalition annual meeting will be next month in Lawrence. Two Rivers Coalition President Kevin Haight tells WSJM News the group works to protect the Black River and Paw Paw River watersheds. Its annual meeting will include updates on key programs throughout the past year.. ...Read Full Story

Road Commission Asks Residents To Check Mailboxes Ahead Of Winter

As the winter approaches, the Van Buren County Road Commission is asking homeowners to secure their mailboxes. It says you can prepare your mailbox for winter by tightening screws and ensuring the post and box are secure enough to endure large amounts of thrown snow. The road department’s policy states the agency will only replace mailboxes or posts if it is determined its own equipment made direct contact with the mailbox, and not when the box is knocked over by snow or slush that is thrown by the plow. Therefore, it’s urging everyone to shake their mailbox this October to avoid a bigger headache later on.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Launches Road Repair App

The Van Buren County Road Commission has launched a new app to allow residents to report non-emergency road problems. With SeeClickFix, people will be able to take a photo of a road issue, like a pothole, give its location, add a description, and click “submit” to send requests directly to the commission. Van Buren County Road Commission Interim Managing Director Greg Brucks says the service will “serve to increase civic engagement by involving citizens in community dialogue, and also improve the efficiency in which service requests are addressed.” SeeClickFix is now available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. You can learn more about the Facebook page of the Van Buren County Road Commission.. ...Read Full Story

Non-Profits Spreading Word About Next U.S. Census

The Berrien Community Foundation is working to get the word out about the importance of taking part in the next U.S. Census. President Lisa Cripps-Downey tells WSJM News count day will be April 1 of next year. She says critical state and federal funding for communities is calculated based off population numbers obtained through the census.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Prosecutor Announces New Attorneys

Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz has announced the hiring of three new attorneys for his office. Devante McCullom became part of the staff in April, and has been advocating for crime victims and handling trials. Ryan Funk is now working as an assistant prosecutor, handling many meth cases. The third person joining the prosecuting attorney’s office is Brent Rocheleau, who is working as an intern after graduating from the University of Michigan this year. Prosecutor Fitz says the three are hard workers who “have their nose to the grindstone.” He adds he looks forward to the trio contributing to the safety of the public in Cass County.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Mourns Loss Of Benton Township Supervisor, MDOT Employee

The death this week of Benton Township Supervisor Kevin White in a freak accident along the side of I-94 serves as a reminder of the dangers faced by road workers. White was the first MDOT employee to be killed in a work zone since 2008, but his death came less than a month after an employee of an MDOT contractor was killed along I-96 near Portland. MDOT spokesperson Jeff Cranson tells WSJM News drivers should take a moment to think about those workers.. ...Read Full Story

New Park Open In Hagar Township

Three years of work have paid off in Hagar Township as the brand new Riverside Kayak Park is open to the public. Hagar Township Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio tells WSJM News the park is on Coloma Road about a quarter mile east of exit 4 from I-196. The park takes up about seven acres of 112 acres owned by the township. DiMaggio says it’s in two levels. The top has a pavilion, picnic tables, grills, and toilets. He says the lower level is the centerpiece of the park.. ...Read Full Story

Commissioners Discuss Importance Of Census

With the U.S. Census coming up next year, Berrrien County officials are thinking about how they can help ensure as many county residents as possible are counted. At this week’s Berrien County Board of Commissioners meeting, Commissioner Michael Majarek said most of the census will be done online next year, which creates a problem in a county where many residents don’t have access. He said perhaps the county could help them.. ...Read Full Story

Ibrahim Parlak Protests Removal Of U.S. Troops From Syria

A Berrien County restaurateur and Kurdish immigrant who has faced deportation to Turkey for years has been publicly criticizing President Donald Trump’s decision to pull U.S. soldiers out of Kurdish-controlled northeastern Syria. The South Bend Tribune reports Ibrahim Parlak, who runs Cafe Gulistan in Harbert, led a vigil at his restaurant, protested at the Turkish consulate, and appeared on news outlets decrying the American troop withdrawal. Parlak, who has fought deportation for 15 years, says he’s “not going anywhere.”. ...Read Full Story

State Christmas Tree Going Up Saturday

It’s about to start looking a lot more festive in Michigan’s capital city. The state Christmas tree, a 61 foot blue spruce from Iron Mountain, will be set up in Lansing at the state Capitol on Saturday. State Department of Technology, Management, and Budget spokeswoman Christyn Herman says the tree will be decorated before the holidays.. ...Read Full Story

Founder’s Brewery Temporarily Shuts Down In Detroit Amid Backlash

Founders Brewery is closing it’s Detroit location temporarily starting today following allegations of racial discrimination. Michigan’s largest brewery has been steadily losing business after a deposition was made public this week in a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by a fired employee. Founders president Dave Engbers says the location will remain closed until Tuesday.. ...Read Full Story

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Tomorrow

The next National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is tomorrow. Police agencies around Michigan are teaming up with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency to encourage people to clean out the medicine cabinet and get potentially dangerous and unneeded medications out of homes so they can be destroyed by the DEA. No questions will be asked of anyone dropping off those medicines. All 30 Michigan State Police posts will take part, and the take-back will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow. National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is held twice a year, in April and October. During the April 2019 effort, state police posts collected more than 1,100 pounds of prescription drugs. Police say everyone can do their part to combat the opioid crisis by dropping off those medications on take-back day. It’s free and anonymous.. ...Read Full Story

Policy League Applauds Whitmer Overtime Announcement

The Michigan League for Public Policy is applauding an announcement by the administration of Governor Gretchen Whitmer this week that it’s seeking to increase the threshold for overtime eligibility in Michigan. League policy analyst Peter Ruark tells WSJM News the current threshold for overtime is $35,500 per year, meaning if you make less than that, you qualify. The Whitmer administration announced Thursday it’s seeking to increase that to somewhere between $51,000 and $61,000.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Waiting On Budget Progress

State Senator Kim LaSata can only be optimistic that Michigan lawmakers will be able to work out budget issues with Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The Legislature approved a state budget on time, but the governor used line item veto powers to strip funding for a variety of programs, calling the budget a mess. Senator LaSata tells WSJM News her office has been hearing a lot from those affected by the vetoes.. ...Read Full Story

County Parks Millage Under Review

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners continues to review whether the county parks millage should be increased to meet expected demands. The matter was discussed at a Thursday meeting. Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey tells WSJM News the parks plan includes several improvements that will be needed at county parks in the coming years.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Senate Votes To Delay Cage-Free Ban For Hens

From the Associated Press — A divided Michigan Senate has voted to delay a requirement that farm animals confined in small cages and stalls be given more room. Legislation approved 21-17 Thursday would push back standards that are scheduled to take effect his month for egg-laying hens and pregnant pigs. Farmers would not have to comply until October 2025 for hens and next April for pigs under the bill that will go to the House for consideration next. The Republican-backed measure is part of an update to the Animal Industry Act that has bipartisan support otherwise. Starting in October 2025, businesses would be prohibited from selling shelled
eggs that are the product of hens confined in enclosures that are not considered to be cage-free housing.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Moves To Expand Overtime Eligibility

From the Associated Press — Governor Gretchen Whitmer is moving to make more Michigan workers eligible for overtime pay. The Democrat announced Thursday that her administration will establish rules to change the salary threshold under which employers must pay overtime to their workers. Whitmer did not say what the threshold would be. The Trump administration is making overtime pay available to 1.3 million additional workers, though the proposal replaces a more generous one advanced by former President Barack Obama. Whitmer says Trump’s plan “leaves 200,000 Michigan workers behind.” She says boosting paychecks in good for families, businesses and the economy. It could take up to year to finalize a Michigan overtime rule.. ...Read Full Story

School Offers Free Tuition To Detroit High School Graduates

From the Associated Press — Wayne State University has launched a scholarship promising free tuition to full-time, first-year students starting next fall who have graduated from a Detroit high school. The Detroit university on Wednesday announced the Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge, which is designed to fill the gap after financial aid to cover tuition and fees. There are no restrictions on family income. To be eligible, students must live in the city and have graduated from any Detroit high school. University officials say the program expands on one launched in 2017 that’s enabled roughly 2,300 students statewide to enroll with no cost for tuition and
fees. Many schools, including University of Michigan, offer free tuition to students whose families fall below a certain income threshold.. ...Read Full Story

Buttigieg Calls For Legalized Marijuana Nationwide

Presidential candidates admitting to using marijuana is no longer as taboo as it was nearly 30 years ago when then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton told MTV that while studying as a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford in England he “experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t inhale it, and never tried it again.” The somewhat evasive answer became a punchline for years.. ...Read Full Story

Officials Promote Pedestrian Safety

Police agencies around Michigan and the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning are working to reduce vehicle-pedestrian crashes. Office of Highway Safety Planning spokesperson Jon Ross tells WSJM News more drivers and pedestrians alike need to be mindful of the rules.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Create Task Force To Catch Medical Professionals Illegally Providing Medication

In an effort to fight the opioid epidemic and overdose deaths in the state, Michigan State Police have announced the creation of a task force charged with investigating medical professionals suspected of illegally distributing controlled substances. MSP Detective Lieutenant Benjamin Garrison tells WSJM News the vast majority of doctors and other medical professionals obey the law, but there have been cases when they’ve provided people with opioids and other drugs illegally.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Opts Out Of Recreational Marijuana For Time Being

After a few delays in the vote, the Benton Harbor City Commission has opted the city out of allowing recreational marijuana business to wait for the state to get rules and regulations in place. City Clerk Kimberly Thompson issued a statement Wednesday certifying the commission’s vote to approve the ordinance Monday night. Commissioner Juanita Henry made brief comments before the unanimous vote.. ...Read Full Story

I-94 Accident Kills Benton Township Supervisor, MDOT Worker Kevin White

Benton Township Supervisor Kevin White has died as a result of injuries he suffered on the job for the Michigan Department of Transportation. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says White was working along the side of I-94 near the 33 mile marker when a semi lost two tires, with one hitting the 48-year-old just after 7 this morning. White died after being rushed to Spectrum Health Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph.. ...Read Full Story

Longer Term Limits Being Discussed For State Lawmakers

Longer term limits could be in the works for the Michigan House and Senate. Discussions have started between the group Voters Not Politicians, which got an overhaul of the state’s redistricting process passed last fall, along with Republican legislative leaders and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield updated their caucuses on the talks on Tuesday.. ...Read Full Story

Fugitive Arrested With Underage Runaway In Bangor

A fugitive with a nationwide warrant out of Kentucky is in the Van Buren County Jail after Bangor police found the suspect in an apartment with an underage runaway. Both were hiding in a bedroom when officers arrived. The child was turned over to Van Buren Juvenile Court. Police say the 27-year-old suspect took the minor through several states while trying to evade police at various locations. That suspect is now facing charges in several states, including Michigan. No names have been released, and police have not indicated the genders of the two.. ...Read Full Story

Incoming SMC President Preparing For New Job

The next president of Southwestern Michigan College is busy preparing to take on the new role starting in January. Dr. Joseph Odenwald was selected by the SMC Board of Trustees this week to replace Dr. David Mathews when Mathews retires. Odenwald is the the current SMC vice president of student services. He’s from Louisiana and started working for SMC in 2017. He tells WSJM News he’s loved the area.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Road Commission Launches App

The Van Buren County Road Commission has launched a new app to allow residents to report non-emergency road problems. With SeeClickFix, people will be able to take a photo of a road issue, like a pothole, give its location, add a description, and click “submit” to send requests directly to the commission. Van Buren County Road Commission Interim Managing Director Greg Brucks says the service will “serve to increase civic engagement by involving citizens in community dialogue, and also improve the efficiency in which service requests are addressed.” SeeClickFix is now available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. You can learn more about the Facebook page of the Van Buren County Road Commission.. ...Read Full Story

Perrigo Scientists Make World Record Attempt

A team of scientists from Allegan-based Perrigo has made a stab at a world record. On Saturday, the group was at the Kelly Family Sports Center at Grand Valley State University to put together the world’s largest periodic table. The event was intended to inspire kids to pursue careers in STEM fields and also to honor the 150th anniversary of the periodic table. The one put together by the Perrigo team was 108 yards, filling the entire football field at GVSU. All 118 elements were 18 by 14 feet. On hand for the unveiling Saturday were representatives of the Guinness Book of World Records officials, and they’ll issue a determination on whether the record was broken within a few months.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County To Hold Military Edition Of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University

Military veterans and active duty service personnel are being invited by Berrien County Veterans Services to take a nine-week course to get their financial house in order. Lee Lull is the county’s Veterans Services director and says offering the Military Edition of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University came about thanks to a county veterans service fund grant from the state of Michigan.. ...Read Full Story