Local News Archives

Former West MI Golf Course Turns Into Hilly Grassland

From the Associated Press — A former golf course in western Michigan has transformed into hilly grassland for hikers to walk through and for nature to thrive. The Grand Rapids Press reports that the Blandford Nature Center officially opened The Highlands to the public in Grand Rapids Thursday. The trail was formerly known as the Highlands Golf Club and is now considered an extension to the nature center.
The nature center acquired the more than 120-acre former golf course in February in partnership with Land Conservancy of West Michigan and has nearly doubled the size of the center. Blandford President Jason Meyer says that The Highlands’ hilly terrain is different from the original nature center and allows for more access to winter activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Signs State Budget

From the Associated Press — Governor Rick Snyder has signed a $56.5 billion budget, capping months of work with lawmakers on the state’s next spending plan. The Republican governor signed the bills Friday in Grand Rapids, at a career tech center run by the Kent Intermediate School District. He says the budget includes record spending on K-12 schools, including a big boost for at-risk students and to buy equipment for career and technical education programs. Snyder says the budget “will make a difference” in people’s lives. The plan includes a $35 million deposit into a state infrastructure fund, more spending on roads and bridges, and extra debt payments as part of an agreement to steer more newly hired school employees into a 401(k)-only retirement plan.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan To Steer New School Workers Into 401(k)-Only Plan

Governor Snyder has signed into law a plan to steer more newly hired school employees into a 401(k)-only retirement benefit instead of one with a pension. Republicans say Thursday’s move will prevent future underfunding, while teachers unions worry the measure could ultimately lead to closing the pension system entirely to new hires. Starting February 1, new school workers will be automatically enrolled in a 401(k)-only plan like what state employees receive. They could opt out and instead pay more of their salary toward a pension than current school workers do, assuming more of the risk of underfunding. New school employees have qualified for both a pension and a small 401(k)-type plan since 2010. It’s unknown how many new hires will take just the 401(k). Currently, 20% do.. ...Read Full Story

Mackinac Center Applauds Teacher Pension Reforms

Governor Rick Snyder has signed into law some teacher pension reforms. The plan is expected to largely move new teachers in Michigan over to 401(k) style retirement plans, rather than being put into the old traditional pension system. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s James Homan tells WSJM News it’s better for teachers.. ...Read Full Story

Part Of Red Arrow Highway Dedicated In Honor Of Fallen State Troopers

Red Arrow Highway between US-12 and Union Pier has now officially been dedicated as the Trooper Charles Stark and Trooper Gary Rampy Memorial Highway. That’s after Berrien County Commissioners approved a resolution Thursday stating as much. Commissioner Ezra Scott helped to usher through the move to honor the two Michigan State Police troopers who were shot and killed by a drunk driving suspect the night of December 31, 1971. He told WSJM News it took loo long.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeshore Schools To Seek $21 Million Bond

Lakeshore Schools has locked in a date to ask voters for a 25 year, $21 million bond. The board of education has bene thinking for several months about asking voters for the improvement funds. They would be used for parking lot work, door and window replacements, electric upgrades, and improvements to the high school auditorium. Lakeshore Superintendent Philip Freeman has told us the work is the second half of what the district had in mind when it pursued a $36 million bond. District officials note this latest bond would not cause taxes to go up because it’s coming up right as another millage expires. The bond will appear on your ballot in November, according to The Herald Palladium.. ...Read Full Story

Borgess-Lee Hospital Donates $10,000 To SMC Nursing Expansion

Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital in Dowagiac is helping Southwestern Michigan College with its big nursing program expansion. The hospital this week announced a $10,000 donation to SMC as it works to roughly double the number of nursing students it can accommodate. The college is awarding bids this month for the expansion of its nursing building to more than twice its current size. Borgess-Lee Hospital representatives say they’re contributing to the SMC effort because the hospital will directly benefit from the college’s nursing program. SMC is spending $9.6 million to expand the program, partly in response to a growing need for nurses in the region.. ...Read Full Story

Girls On The Run Chapters To Merge

Girls on the Run of Berrien County is merging with Girls on the Run of Van Buren-Cass-St. Joseph counties. Berrien Girls on the Run Director Julie Bos tells WSJM News the national program wanted to consolidate some chapters, so essentially, Berrien is taking over the other regional county operations. This will not affect next spring’s Girls on the Run event in Berrien Springs.. ...Read Full Story