Local News Archives

Soybean Growers Watching G20 Summit

Michigan soybean farmers are feeling the effects of the trade war between the U.S. and China since China has not been buying their soybeans. An educator with Michigan State Extension in Isabella County, Paul Gross, told Michigan News Network sales to China have dropped 98% this year.. ...Read Full Story

Bill To Ban Home Production Of Marijuana

You can brew your own beer or even make your own wine at home but one lawmaker says marijuana is different. Michigan Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof has introduced legislation that would ban growing marijuana at home. He says people don’t make alcohol and serve it at unregulated bars, and so they shouldn’t be able to home grow marijuana. Josh Hovey, the spokesperson for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, is against the bill. He spoke with Michigan News Network.. ...Read Full Story

Man Killed In Farm Accident

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a farm death in Hartford on Friday. It tells us deputies were sent to Red Arrow Dairy on County Road 362 around 6:30 a.m. when a 35-year-old male worker was found unresponsive. Emergency life saving procedures were conducted by employees of the dairy and first responders, and the man was taken to Watervliet Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Deputies learned the worker, who was from Middleville, was subcontracted for a company out of Grand Rapids and was on site to conduct testing. He was found buried in corn silage, which is fermented high moisture food fed to the cattle. Police believe the victim was near the roughly 30 foot-high corn silage when some of it broke away and fell on to him. Officials from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration were contacted and are investigating. The victim’s name has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

Bissell Pet Foundation Holding Latest “Empty The Shelters”

The Grand Rapids-based Bissell Pet Foundation will hold its latest “Empty the Shelters” event on Saturday to encourage pet adoptions. 49 shelters in Michigan are among 81 across the country taking part, and they include South Haven’s Al-Van Humane Society and Wishbone Pet Rescue Alliance in Allegan. Bri Olson of the Bissell Pet Foundation says animals can be taken home for just $20.. ...Read Full Story

Bills To Make Way For Upgrade To 5G Head To Governor

From the Associated Press — Bills designed to ease upgrades to 5G wireless systems in Michigan are heading toward Governor Rick Snyder’s desk. The Senate took a final procedural step Thursday, a day after the legislation was passed by the House. The bills would create streamlined regulations, including fees, to install a dense network of smaller, lower-powered cells on telephone poles and other infrastructure in public rights of way. They are backed by wireless providers but opposed by municipalities who say they interfere with their right to recover costs. Other opponents worry about the health effects of the technology. 5G systems are the fifth generation of wireless technology. AT&T Michigan President David Lewis says installing small cells will enable faster wireless internet speeds and provide more capacity for things like streaming music or videos.. ...Read Full Story

State Urges Testing For World AIDS Day

With World AIDS Day this Saturday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is urging everyone to “Know Your Status,” and get tested. Spokesperson Lynn Sutfin tells us between 2013 and 2017, there was an average of 762 new HIV cases diagnosed per year in the state.. ...Read Full Story

Bill Protecting Donors To Non-Profits Approved By Senate

From the Associated Press — A bill moving forward in Michigan’s Legislature is designed to keep secret the identity of donors who give money to nonprofit groups, including organizations involved in elections. Such groups running issue ads already do not have to disclose their donors. But the legislation , approved 25-12 by the Republican-controlled Senate on Thursday, would prohibit public agencies from trying to force disclosure or from releasing personal information without permission. The proposed law would not preclude a lawful warrant being used to obtain information. Democratic Attorney General-elect Dana Nessel has criticized the bill, saying it would hurt her ability to investigate fraudulent charities and calling it a “ham-handed effort to shield dark money.”. ...Read Full Story

Hartford Public Library Planning New Home

An effort is getting underway to build a new home for Hartford Public Library. Library Director Stephanie Daniels tells WSJM News they’re waiting for the paperwork to clear on the acquisition of the old Red Arrow Elementary School, which sits vacant on East Street. The plan is to tear it down to make way for a new library.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker To Review Plans For Kalamazoo River Greenway

A plan to make improvements along the Kalamazoo River in Allegan and Kalamazoo counties could soon come to fruition. State Representative Mary Whiteford tells us she’s meeting Friday with the Outdoor Discovery Center to get information on its master plan for the Kalamazoo River Greenway. It focuses on recreation, conservation, and education. Whiteford says there are many ways the greenway could be improved.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Talks Medicaid Bill

Legislation backed by Congressman Fred Upton is designed to protect senior citizens from being impoverished due to medical problems. He tells WSJM News the Protecting Married Seniors from Impoverishment Act would extend spousal protections for Medicaid beneficiaries receiving long-term care. Upton says pre-existing protections are currently set to expire.. ...Read Full Story

Community Loses Bid To Keep U.P. Prison Open

From the Associated Press — A judge has turned aside a legal challenge aimed at trying to keep a prison open in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. State law requires the Corrections Department to consider the economic impact on a community when planning to close a prison. Marenisco Township in Gogebic County claims the department didn’t follow the law. But Judge Stephen Borrello says the lawsuit doesn’t offer any additional details. He says the department simply had to consider the economic impact of closing the Ojibway prison. The judge says there’s nothing in law that would force the department to change its decision. The Snyder administration acknowledges that the economic impact will be significant. The prison has 203 employees, including some who live in Wisconsin. Ojibway is expected to close by Saturday.. ...Read Full Story

Addiction Center Opening

A $150,000 donation from Lakeland Health Foundations will help to start up a new center in southwest Michigan to help those suffering from a substance abuse problem. Lakeland Vice President of Quality Kendall Troyer tells WSJM News Carol’s Hope will help connect those who are struggling with existing services in the area.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Confident On Proposed House Rules

The push for new rules in the U.S House continues. Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News the Problem Solvers group appears to be gaining momentum with so many new members having been elected this month. The Problem Solvers want the new House Speaker to ensure amendments or bills supported by a certain number of representatives are guaranteed consideration.. ...Read Full Story

Army Corps Releases Asian Carp Plan

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released its final plan to stop the Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes. It centers around the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois, and involves a specially-designed vessel channel, noisemakers, and a water-flushing lock to keep the invasive fish out of Lake Michigan. The total cost of the plan — $778 million, much more than the $275 million the Corps estimated in a draft from last year. After a public comment period, the Corps is expected to send the plan to Congress in February as it seeks the funding. You can see the Army Corps plan right here.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Leader Talks Marijuana Policy

Leaders at Southwestern Michigan College are working to make sure students understand SMC’s policy on marijuana now that Michigan voters have opted to decriminalize the substance. SMC President David Mathews tells WSJM News no marijuana is allowed on campus.. ...Read Full Story

Minimum Wage, Paid Sick Time Changes Approved By State Senate

Changes have been approved to the state’s new minimum wage law by the Michigan Senate. The Government Operations Committee voted to push back the full implementation of the $12 minimum wage to 2030 instead of 2024, and full Senate passage happened this afternoon. Waitress Tracy Pease says she’s only received a $1 per hour raise in 30 years to go along with her tips.. ...Read Full Story

Whiteford Receives Committee Assignment

State Representative Mary Whiteford of Casco Township has been named to the Michigan House Committee on Committees. That’s a body that decides which lawmakers get assigned to which legislative committees when the new term begins in January. Whiteford tells us the body’s got its work cut out for it.. ...Read Full Story

Road Department Warns About Snow Removal Law

With snow now on the ground in southwest Michigan, the Berrien County Road Department is reminding everyone of rules they have to follow when it comes to shoveling. The department tells us every year it gets calls about people and snow removal businesses pushing snow across roadways. It is illegal to do so. The department says you may not remove or deposit snow across public roads or put snow in a place where it could block a driver’s line of sight. Snow deposited on road shoulders can freeze and damage plows. Everyone is reminded to be mindful of the state law.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Praises Funding For New Shipping Lock

Congressman Fred Upton is pleased the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has set aside more than $32 million to start work on a new Soo Lock. The Soo Locks in the St. Marys River allow for shipping between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes. Upton tells WSJM News the money announced Monday gets things rolling.. ...Read Full Story

Part Of I-196 To Be Closed

There will be intermittent traffic closures on I-196 and Blue Star Highway Wednesday morning between 8 and 11 near the Palisades power plant. The International Transmission Company, or ITC, will be installing a new transmission line in that area and there will be 15 minute traffic stoppages in both directions on I-196 and Blue Star Highway as the line is installed. A spokesperson for ITC stated traffic flow should resume to normal around 11 Wednesday morning.. ...Read Full Story

Support Grows For Pipeline Tunnel

As many have lined up in opposition to build a tunnel for Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac, the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council supports the tunnel, saying it would create 600 to 1,000 jobs. Council secretary-treasurer Pat Devlin spoke with Michigan News Network.. ...Read Full Story

Teacher Pleads Guilty, Sentenced For Throwing Chair

It’s nine months of probation for the former Benton Harbor Charter School Academy teacher who threw a chair in class this fall, injuring a student. The “Herald-Palladium” reports 49-year-old Thomas Barnes of St. Joseph pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor assault charge and apologized for losing his cool in the classroom. The chair hit 11-year-old Antownisha Johnson in the head, which gave the girl a mild concussion. Barnes was fired for the incident, but he’s not the only one facing legal issues as a result. Principal Timothy Harris and assistant principal Ashley Smith, both of Benton Harbor, are facing misdemeanor charges for failing to report child abuse. They’re accused of not contacting Child Protective Services in a timely manner.. ...Read Full Story

Buchanan Hits Brakes On Opting Out Of Recreational Marijuana Busineses

Buchanan residents want to be part of the discussion about whether or not the city should allow recreational marijuana sales and production with the decriminalization of the drug taking effect statewide next Thursday. The city commission pulled an opt-out ordinance last night after residents spoke up to say they felt their voices weren’t being heard on both sides of the issue. City Manager Bill Marx talked to our partners at WNDU NewsCenter 16, cautioning people interested in setting up shop in town to hold off for now.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Opt-Out Marijuana Ordinance Takes Effect December 6

The city of St. Joseph will have a new ordinance next Thursday banning any businesses from opening up to sell, manufacture, or transport recreational marijuana now that Proposal 1 will be in place the same day. Mayor Pro Tem Laura Goos says the city commission passed the ordinance opting out as a precaution to wait for the state to implement the laws and rules governing the drug.. ...Read Full Story

Wendzel Receives Committee Assignment

State Representative-elect Pauline Wendzel has received her first committee assignment in the Michigan House. She will serve on the House Committee on Committees for the 2019-2020 legislative term. The Committee on Committees chooses chairs and members of the standing Michigan House committees. Wendzel was just elected to the state House in the 79th District this month. She’s replacing state Representative Kim LaSata, who has moved up to the Michigan Senate. In regards to her commmittee assignment, Wendzel says it’s “truly an honor to have been chosen as one of the few first-term legislators to receive this privilege.”. ...Read Full Story

Traffic To Be Stopped On I-196 Wednesday Morning

Drivers that take I-196 in the South Haven area probably have noticed that the Michigan Department of Transportation has put up signs indicating traffic will be stopped near the Palisades nuclear plant Wednesday morning from 8 to 11. There has been some electrical power line work near Palisades and, after checking with Entergy/Palisades, they said it’s not related to what they are doing. A company named ITC owns the switchyard and did inspections of transmission towers and lines in our area this past September. Plan to take another route if traveling on I-196 north or south near the Palisades Power Plant on Wednesday morning.. ...Read Full Story

Red Cross Asks For Donors

The American Red Cross in the Great Lakes region says it has an urgent need for blood and platelet donors as the holiday season continues. Those donations often decline around the holidays as regular donors are busy and travel is more difficult. Everyone is asked to give now before the blood supply runs low. Those who do donate through December 19 will get a $5 Amazon gift card. You can make an appointment to donate blood with the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, at RedCrossBlood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.. ...Read Full Story

Analyst Talks GM Plant Closures

The potential closure of five plants, including two in Michigan, are part of a restructuring announcement by General Motors. The plants impacted include the Hamtramck Assembly Plant in Detroit and Warren Transmissions Operations in Warren. Kristen Dzichzek with the Center for Automotive Research told Michigan News Network  the workers in those plants will have other job opportunities.. ...Read Full Story

Former MSU President Arraigned

Former Michigan State University president Lou Anna Simon is now officially facing charges in Eaton County, just west of Lansing. She’s been charged with lying to police, regarding if she knew former sports doctor Larry Nassar was under investigation for sexual abuse. Her attorney Lee Silver says the charges are bogus.. ...Read Full Story

Winter Storm Knocks Out Power To Over 10,000 In Berrien County

The snowstorm is causing more problems than just slowing down travel. Indiana Michigan Power says there are just over 10,000 customers in Berrien County who have lost power, with 500 in the dark in Cass County and another 300 in Van Buren County. Repairs are getting underway early this afternoon, and the utility has not given an estimate as to when the power will be back, but they do say the equipment repairs will take about four hours. There have been plenty of power lines knocked down by falling tree limbs throughout the area.. ...Read Full Story

Income House Speaker Talks Road Funding

What do you think of the roads in Michigan? Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer pledged to fix the roads during her campaign, but she’ll be working with a Republican controlled House and Senate. Republican Lee Chatfield is the new Speaker of the House come January. He spoke with Michigan News Network about road issues.. ...Read Full Story

Retailers Optimistic

This holiday shopping season is expected to be a good one for retailers. Meagan Holland of the Michigan Retailers Association tells Michigan News Network the organization does a monthly survey in conjunction with the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago, and it has some telling signs.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Auction Starts Tomorrow

The United Way of Southwest Michigan is gearing up for another Bid United online auction. To be held next week, Bid United is a totally online auction with a wide variety of items and services up for grabs, all donated by local businesses. United Way spokesperson Ryan Cheevers spoke with WSJM News about the auction.. ...Read Full Story

Grant For LMC to Prevent Sex Assault

A $1 million grant to prevent sexual assault on college campuses has been announced by the Michigan Campus Sexual Assault Grant Program. Included in that allocation is $6,500 for Lake Michigan College. Michigan First Lady Sue Snyder launched the Campus Sexual Assault Grant Program in 2015, and so far it’s given out more than $2.5 million to colleges. this latest $1 million is the highest amount at one time yet. The First Lady says the money will be used by colleges and universities to “develop innovative, evidence-based campaigns and strategies to help make our campuses safer-for students and survivors.” The program is administered by the Michigan State Police and aims to change the overall culture of sexual assault among the college-age population.. ...Read Full Story

Short Term Rental Rules Hammered Out

An amendment to the short-term rental ordinance in South Haven was approved this week by the city council. The vote was four to two to update the rules that govern homes that are rented out to vacationers by their owners. City Manager Brian Dissette tells WSJM News the new amended ordinance establishes two types of short term rentals. The first is personal STRs.. ...Read Full Story

Health Officials Focus On Education Following Marijuana Vote

Now that Michigan voters have decided to decriminalize marijuana for those over 21, the Berrien County Health Department is expecting to step up its educational activities. Spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News the health department likely won’t have to inspect marijuana food facilities, but it will have to make sure everyone knows the rules. First of all, it will still be illegal for those under 21, and Conrad says that’s for a good reason.. ...Read Full Story

CISMA: Watch Out For Invasive Vines

The Van Buren Conservation District and the Southwest by Southwest CISMA are telling southwest Michigan residents how to spot invasive vines that could be choking out native plants. The CISMA says there are four invasive vines that have been found in the area. They are lack swallow-wort, Chinese yam, Kudzu, and Oriental Bittersweet. The CISMA’s Eleanor Serocki tells us those vines are obvious throughout the year, meaning even now is a good time to keep an eye out. We have pictures of all of them at WSJM.com. Serocki says native vines are important in our forests for a lot of reasons, from soil stabilization to pollinator habitat, but the invasive ones typically take over and damage trees, shrubs, and fences. Anyone looking for more information should call the Van Buren Conservation District.. ...Read Full Story

Small Business Saturday In St. Joseph

When the madness of Black Friday is over, there’s still Small Business Saturday to consider. St. Joseph Today tells us some downtown shops began offering deals as part of Black Friday with plans to continue the next day. According to the Civic Economic Study in Grand Rapids, MI when someone spends $100 at a local business, approximately $68 stays in the local community. St. Joe Today’s Amy Zapal tells us there’s something for everyone in downtown St. Joseph. In addition to special sales, shoppers in downtown St. Joseph can also take in free horse-drawn trolley rides from noon to 3 p.m. weather permitting. For a list of all the participating Small Business Saturday shops, go to St.JoeToday.com.. ...Read Full Story

Wrong Judge: MI Judge Gets Angry Calls Over CNN Ruling

From the Associated Press — A Michigan judge’s office fielded angry phone calls after callers mistook him for a federal judge who restored CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s access to the White House. Bay County District Court Judge Timothy J. Kelly was out of the office November 16
when U.S. District Court Judge Timothy J. Kelly in the District of Columbia granted Acosta a two-week injunction to return to work. The White House had initially revoked Acosta’s credentials after he and Trump tangled verbally during a November 7 press conference.  MLive.com reports that judge Kelly’s Bay City, Michigan, office received a half-dozen phone calls complaining about the other Timothy J. Kelly’s ruling. Judge Timothy J. Kelly of Bay County says he thinks the callers “would at east do your homework” before calling someone to complain.. ...Read Full Story

BH Water Testing Results

The city of Benton Harbor has released the results of the first batch of lead tests done on homes around the community after eight homes were found to have elevated levels last month. According to results from the first 159 homes that have been posted on the city’s website, 27 additional homes have tested for lead levels at or above the federal action level for lead, which is 15 parts per billion. Another 38 homes tested for more than five parts per billion, which is a stricter state standard. The city has posted information for residents on its website. City Manager Darwin Watson told The Herald Palladium the city is giving bottled water for drinking and cooking to the residents of homes where the lead level has been found to be high. He also said a contractor will be brought in to determine the cause of the lead levels.. ...Read Full Story

Crews Remove SWM Dam

From the Associated Press– Crews have wrapped up removal of a roughly 90-year-old dam in southwestern Michigan as part of an effort to help restore habitat for native fish. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced this month that the work was completed to remove the Alcott Street dam in Kalamazoo. The dam, which impounded Bryant Mill Pond on Portage Creek, was built in 1927
but no longer had a function. Instead, it prevented fish migration and held contaminated sediment in place. The project was funded by $2 million from the Kalamazoo River Natural Resource Damage Trustees. The DEQ says it provided about $3.1 million in additional funding for the project to conduct a feasibility study and to excavate and properly dispose of contaminated soils and sediments.. ...Read Full Story

U.S. Supreme Court Pushes Deadline On Lake Michigan Shore Case

From the Associated Press — The U.S. Supreme Court won’t decide until next year whether to consider arguments from residents of Chief Justice John Roberts’ Indiana hometown over ownership of the Lake Michigan community’s shoreline. The court is giving the state attorney general’s office an extra two months for a response to the request from Don and Bobbie Gunderson of Long Beach for the Supreme Court review. The (Northwest Indiana) Times reports the response is now due January 11. The couple wants to appeal an Indiana Supreme Court decision setting the ordinary high water mark as the boundary between state-owned land under Lake Michigan and private property. The Gundersons maintain their lakefront property extends to the water’s edge. Roberts lived as a child in Long Beach from the 1960s until leaving for Harvard in 1973.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Housing Prices Still Going Up

The area housing market remains strong. The latest report from the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors shows prices are still going up and the year-to-date total dollar volume through October is the highest since 2006, right before the market collapsed. The number of homes sold in October fell from 354 to 324 compared to last year, an 8% decline. Year-to-date, the number of homes sold has fallen by 4%. The average selling price rose 3% from last year in October, while the median price was up 10% at $171,000. That’s the price at which 50% of the homes were above and 50% were below. The inventory is also shrinking, down 5% from last year with 1,737 houses on the market.. ...Read Full Story

Marijuana Activist Pleased With Recent Vote

John Sinclair is a Michigan born artist, author, activist and cultural revolutionary who famously went to prison on a ten year sentence for two marijuana joints in the 1970’s. So we asked John for his thoughts on Michigan voters finally fully legalizing recreational marijuana – a cause Sinclair spent decades advocating. John Lennon joined a movement to free Sinclair from prison, wrote a song for him and performed at an Ann Arbor rally to free John. Days later the Michigan Supreme Court set him free. Michigan marijuana laws were changed. He says he’s happy about the legalization of pot but it wasn’t what he would have ordered. He wants to totally “free the weed” and says we should have a universal human right to legally use whatever drugs we choose.. ...Read Full Story