Local News Archives

Michigan Economy, Revenues Expected To Be Stable In 2019

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s economy will keep growing but at a slower rate, resulting in stable tax revenue growth at a time new Gov. Gretchen Whitmer begins working to put her imprint on state spending. That is among the takeaways from Friday’s semiannual meeting where the state treasurer and legislative fiscal experts agreed to consensus economic and tax projections. The Democratic governor will use the numbers when drafting her first budget proposal, due to the Republican-led Legislature in March. Economists gave a largely positive update to state officials but also warned of risks. U.S. auto sales are expected to dip, impacting a state that is bracing for job cuts at General Motors. Economists said Michigan’s strong labor market should help some workers who lose their jobs find work more quickly.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Organizations To Merge

The Van Buren County United Way is merging with the United Way of Southwest Michigan. The merger will be complete on July 1, and the back office operations are being combined immediately. According to a statement from the United Way of Southwest Michigan, the consolidation is being done to “increase efficiencies, reduce duplications and build on the collective thought.” UWSM CEO Anna Murphy and VBCUW executive director Vera Sebree say the merger will also provide more resources for residents and nonprofits in Van Buren County. Sebree says both organizations are excited about the move.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Discusses Fuel Spill In County Drain

Someone dumped around 500 gallons of fuel into a Berrien County drain, and the county board of commissioners would like to know who it was. At this week’s meeting, the Berrien County Board of Commissioners instructed County Administrator Bill Wolf to study options when it comes to paying for the clean-up of the drain at Napier Avenue and Park Road in Bainbridge Township. Drain Commissioner Christopher Quattrin tells WSJM News the spillage was discovered last week when the drain was reported clogged. A contractor found red fuel in a manhole. Quattrin says, fortunately, the blockage in the drain stopped the fuel from spreading far.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Celebrates Opening Of Expanded Nursing Facility

The newly-expanded nursing facility at Southwestern Michigan College is now open. The completion of the $9.6 million expansion was celebrated Wednesday with an open house at the Dowagiac campus. The expansion roughly doubles the capacity of the SMC nursing program, says SMC President David Mathews. He tells WSJM News this will help address a nursing shortage in southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven To Hear Assessment Appeals

Property owners in the city of South Haven who don’t agree with the assessed value of their property will be able to appeal that assessment starting in March with the board of review. City Manager Brian Dissette spoke with WSJM News about the plan after a city council meeting this week.. ...Read Full Story

County Seeks Input On Parks Plan

As the Berrien County Parks Commission works to create a new five year plan for parks, the public has a chance to offer its thoughts. Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey tells WSJM News there will be two town hall-style meetings next Wednesday for input on the plan. The document will guide parks development from 2020 to 2024. Bailey says it includes planned improvements. He gave us some examples.. ...Read Full Story

Pedestrians Struck By Vehicle In Niles

Three young people are recovering from minor injuries after they were hit by a vehicle in Niles on Thursday. The Niles Police Department tells us it happened just before 3 p.m. at 13th and Sycamore Streets. First responders learned a vehicle driven by a 40-year-old Niles resident was northbound on 13th and had stopped at the stop sign. Four juveniles were walking west on the sidewalk of Sycamore, and when the vehicle started moving north again, it struck three of the pedestrians when they stepped over the curb and into the street. They were taken to area hospitals. Alcohol or drugs are not believed to have been factors in this crash, and the Niles Police Department continues to investigate.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Repeats Call To End Partial Gov’t Shutdown

Eight Republicans in the U.S. House joined with Democrats last week to approve legislation to reopen the federal government without including any money for President Trump’s border wall as a first step to end the partial shutdown. As we reported then, Congressman Fred Upton was among them, and he was the only Republican from Michigan to do so. He says it’s time to move on.. ...Read Full Story

Two Hurt In Bainbridge Crash

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a two vehicle head-on crash in Bainbridge Township Wednesday that left one of the drivers trapped in their vehicle. The department tells us it happened just before 5:30 p.m at Napier Avenue and Arent Road. The driver of a Nissan Sentra crossed the center line and struck a GMC Sierra pick-up. The pick-up then left the road and hit a utility pole, breaking the pole in half. The driver of the Nissan Sentra had to be freed from their vehicle by first responders and was then taken to Lakeland Hospital. The driver of the pick-up was also taken there. Police believe alcohol was a factor, and the names have not yet been released. American Electric Power was brought in to replace the utility pole. The crash caused traffic in the area to be re-routed for several hours.. ...Read Full Story

New County Commissioner Talks Priorities

New Berrien County Commissioner Bob Harrison is ready to get to work now that he’s been sworn in. Harrison, the former president of Lake Michigan College and now county commissioner for the Seventh District, told Moody in the Morning Wednesday he sees the declining population as a major problem for Berrien County.. ...Read Full Story

Meth Ring Busted In Southwest Michigan

A major meth ring has been busted in Kalamazoo. Michigan State Police tell us after a six month investigation also involving federal and local detectives, it was found the drug trafficking organization had delivered more than 400 pounds of methamphetamine from California to Kalamazoo in the past two years. On Tuesday of this week, the Southwest Enforcement Team got information that another shipment was on the way. Officers were able to intercept it, finding 27 pounds of ice hidden in a vehicle. Officers from SWET, the DEA, and troopers from the Michigan State Police Paw Paw post then executed a search warrant in Kalamazoo, finding two men in their 50s — one from Kalamazoo and one from California — who were taken into custody. While this was going on, officers in California found another 30 pounds of meth. The case is now being turned over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Grand Rapids, who will be working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in California to prosecute.. ...Read Full Story

BH Schools Lead Work About Finished

All but one of the water fixtures in need of replacement due to lead at Benton Harbor Area Schools have now been replaced. That word at this week’s district CEO meeting. Benton Harbor Area Schools had the water at all of the district’s facilities tested for lead after recent issues in the community and announced in November five fixtures were found to exceed the federal action level of 15 parts per billion. In addition, the district applied the stricter state standard of five parts per billion, finding a total of 20 fixtures above that. It then announced it would replace all of them. 19 are done. The one that has yet to be replaced requires some electric work as well, causing the delay. The district COO said at Tuesday’s CEO meeting that work is slated to be completed this Thursday.. ...Read Full Story

State Announces Blight Elimination Grants

From the Associated Press — Blight elimination funding is available for land banks and governmental units in Michigan counties with fewer than 50,000 people. The Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority says the Michigan Rural Community Demolition grants are designed to help communities remove vacant and abandoned structures from neighborhoods to prepare the areas for developments that spark business investment and provide good jobs. The maximum award per proposal is $50,000 and can be used toward dealing with vacant and abandoned, blighted commercial or residential structures. Proposals will be evaluated based on their anticipated impact in promoting
public safety, enhancing economic development, public and private investment in the project and alignment with the community vision or other place-making efforts. Applications will be accepted until 2 p.m. on February 15.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers Look To Reform Civil Forfeiture Laws

From the Associated Press — Republicans and Democrats in the Michigan House want to make it tougher for law enforcement to take ownership of property seized in drug cases that don’t result in convictions. The first bills introduced in the 100th Legislature Wednesday relate to asset forfeiture. Republican House Speaker Lee Chatfield joined Democrats, including Attorney General Dana Nessel, to back the legislation. One bill would prohibit prosecutors from permanently confiscating assets thought to be associated with criminal activity unless a defendant is convicted of a drug crime, has entered into a plea agreement or no one claims any interest in the assets. The measure wouldn’t apply in seizures of property and cash worth more than $50,000, excluding the value of contraband. The House passed similar legislation last year, but it died in the Senate.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren District Library To Host Smithsonian Exhibit This Year

The Smithsonian is bringing a traveling exhibit to Van Buren County this year. The Van Buren District Library’s Kay McAdam tells us the Decatur branch will host “Main Street’s Crossroads: Change in Rural America” this fall. It’s one of six locations in Michigan to be selected as a site for the display. It’s all about how small towns became centers of commerce, trade, local politics, and culture in the United States. McAdam says they also have to put together locally-relevant programs.. ...Read Full Story

School CEO Hopes To Meet With Board Of Education Next Week

A meeting of the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education could take place next week as district CEO Robert Herrera aims to work more closely with trustees on a vision for the district. After Tuesday’s CEO meeting, Herrera said he’s working to set a meeting date with the board as three new trustees have been elected and another needs to be appointed. He told WSJM News after much organization since he was brought in working under the state, he’d like school board input.. ...Read Full Story

High Schools To Take Part In Driver Safety Campaign

Students at Benton Harbor High School will take soon take part in a driver safety program offered by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning and Ford Motor Company. Strive For a Safer Drive is a peer-led traffic safety campaign that seeks to reduce traffic crashes, the leading cause of death for teens. The Office of Highway Safety Planning announced this week 62 schools statewide have been selected to receive grants of $1,000 to create the driver safety campaign. The top five in the state will get cash prizes ranging from $500 to $1,500. Also among the schools picked for Strive for a Safer Drive is Cassopolis Ross Beatty High School.. ...Read Full Story

Civil Rights Groups Praise Whitmer

Civil rights groups are celebrating a new directive from Governor Gretchen Whitmer that bans discrimination against LGBTQ people who work for the state or its contractors, or who service state properties. The directive specifically forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Erin Knott, with the group Equality Michigan, tells us the move will affect thousands of people.. ...Read Full Story