Local News Archives

Gov. Whitmer Downplays Fuel Tax For Roads Proposition

She was elected on a promise to “fix the damn roads,” but how that will be done by Governor Whitmer is still up in the air. There have been several reports, notably from the Michigan News Network’s Tim Skubick, that the governor’s plan will include taking all the fuel tax money and putting it into road repairs. The problem with that is the School Aid Fund currently gets some of that revenue. During a stop in Grand Rapids this weekend, Whitmer admitted she was disturbed by a recent study by Michigan State University laying out how deep the education funding cuts have been since Proposal A was adopted in the mid-1990s.. ...Read Full Story

Warming Centers Opening In Niles

With temperatures expected to drop below zero in the middle of this week, several warming centers will be opening in Niles. The city tells us UltraCamp on East Main Street will make soup and water available from 9 a.m. Tuesday through 9 a.m. Friday. Blankets, pillows, entertainment, and showers will not be available, and you should bring your own if you go there. Also, Michiana Heating and Cooling on 11th Street will be open from 3 p.m. Tuesday through 10 a.m. Saturday as a warming station. No food or showers will be available, and anyone who goes there should bring their own blankets, pillows, and entertainment. Finally, the Niles District Library will be open to the public during regular business hours. There will be no special accommodations, but the public can use the library as a place to warm up. The city of Niles says anyone without functioning heat or utilities in their homes is strongly urged to make immediate alternative living arrangements for the week. With the wind chill, temperatures this week are expected to drop to well below zero.. ...Read Full Story

Chemical Bank, TCF Bank To Merge

The Chemical Bank name is going away. The Detroit-based financial institution is merging with Minnesota-based TCF Bank, which will keep its name. The new bank will be headquartered in Detroit, and Chemical Financial CEO David Provost says the combination “substantially enhances our competitive position” and creates a top-ten size bank in the Midwest.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Postpones City Commission To Next Monday

Due to the winter storm, the city of St. Joseph is postponing tonight’s city commission meeting. The meeting will now be held next Monday night, February 4, at 6 p.m. at City Hall. City manager John Hodgson closed City Hall today at 1 p.m. because of the weather, following the lead of Berrien and Van Buren counties and the state of Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

All Berrien, VB County Offices Closed

All county offices in Berrien and Van Buren counties are closed for the day due to the weather. Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey says all non-essential workers in that county were sent home at noon. As for the roads, they’re covered by blowing snow but there haven’t been a lot of accidents.. ...Read Full Story

All State Government Offices In Lower Peninsula Close

If you have any business that needs to get done at a Secretary of State branch office, you’re out of luck until tomorrow at the earliest. All state government offices, including those branches, are closed for the day in the Lower Peninsula due to the massive winter storm. Governor Whitmer is also taking the step of telling drivers to stay off the road and not travel. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is encouraging people to use the ExpressSOS.com website for anything they need to take care of that doesn’t require photographs or anything specific to be done by a branch office clerk.. ...Read Full Story

Chamber To Meet With Elected Officials

Set for this coming week is a breakfast intended to acquaint members of the Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce with their representatives in Lansing and Washington. The “Meet Your Elected Officials” breakfast will be Monday at The Hilton Garden Inn in Benton Harbor. On hand will be state Senator Kim LaSata, 79th District state Representative Pauline Wendzel, 78th District state Representative Brad Paquette, and Mike Ryan, the district director for Congressman Fred Upton. Cornerstone Chamber’s Chris Heugel tells us the forum is a chance for members to interact with their officials, especially with so many of them being freshman in Lansing this year. He says they may hold more such events moving forward. The breakfast will allow each official a time for an introduction, followed by a Q and A session.. ...Read Full Story

Fire At Ameriwood Industries In Dowagiac

Several fire departments were called to the scene of a fire at Ameriwood Industries in Dowagiac Sunday night. The blaze caused the third and first shifts at the furniture maker to be canceled, according to Moody on the Market. There have so far been no reports of injuries. The cause is not yet known.. ...Read Full Story

Winter Storm Warning Issued For Berrien, Cass Counties

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for Berrien and Cass counties on Monday. It is in effect from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m. The National Weather Service says total snow accumulations are expected to be between 8 and 12 inches. The service warns travel could be very difficult due to areas of blowing snow that could reduce visibility. These hazardous conditions are expected to affect the morning commute. A Winter Storm Warning for snow means severe winter weather conditions will make travel very hazardous or impossible. If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in your  vehicle in case of an emergency.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Seeks More PFAS Action

Legislation designed to ensure the clean-up of PFAS is being pushed by Congressman Fred Upton. Upton has introduced the plan to require the EPA to report releases into the environment and clean up tainted PFAS sites with fellow Michigan Representatives Debbie Dingell and Dan Kildee. He tells us it’s become clear that more action needs to be taken on the chemical since it was discovered in the water supplies of multiple Michigan communities this year.. ...Read Full Story

Photo Submissions Being Taken By SJ Today

As St. Joseph Today prepares to hold the first March Mannequins event downtown, it’s asking residents to submit photos that could be displayed in storefronts that day. St. Joe Today tells us the theme for this year’s March Mannequins will be Awkward Family Photos. If you’ve got any, they can be submitted at the Welcome Center on State Street in downtown St. Joe or emailed to Info@StJoeToday.com. The top three entries will win a $25 St. Joseph Today gift certificate. The deadline is February 1. The March 2 March Mannequins event replaces the old Live Mannequins event that used to be held as part of Light Up the Bluff each winter. It was moved to draw more people downtown during a normally slow month.. ...Read Full Story

BH Water Plant Work Ordered By State

The city of Benton Harbor has to make some improvements to its water plant as part of a new agreement with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. At this past week’s city commission meeting, the relocation of an aluminum sulfate line at the plant was approved following a DEQ order. The work is needed to help maintain water quality and it comes with a price tag of $10,900. Mayor Marcus Muhammad said this project is part of a consent agreement with the DEQ regarding the water plant after the DEQ noticed some issues there.. ...Read Full Story

Center Aims To Help Those Struggling With Addiction

A new treatment center for people struggling with an addition is open in southwest Michigan. Carol’s Hope is a non-profit operated by the Community Healing Center. It’s a free resource for those in need to get access to treatment. Recovery coach Melinda tells WSJM News the idea is to help overcome confusion and fear that comes with seeking treatment.. ...Read Full Story

BH Working On New Income tax

The city of Benton Harbor’s income tax is now being implemented. City Manager Darwin Watson tells us businesses located within the city have been withholding the tax for affected workers, while those who will need to submit forms themselves to pay the tax will have to do so this spring.. ...Read Full Story

State To Install Flashing Signs To Warn Wrong-Way Drivers

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Department of Transportation plans to install a new warning system on highway ramps with the goal of reducing deadly wrong-way crashes. Spokesman Nick Schirripa says flashing lights are being installed at exit ramps on U.S. 131 in Kalamazoo and I-194 in Battle Creek. He says the locations were picked because of traffic volume and crash history. Department records show there were 374 wrong-way crashes in the state in 2017, which resulted in 13 deaths. The warning system’s sensors will trigger bright LED lights to alert drivers when their vehicles are approaching the highway in the wrong direction. Schirripa says additional lights could be installed this year around Grand Rapids, and the technology could also be used in the Detroit area.. ...Read Full Story

Warning About Property Scam

Michigan State Police are warning everyone about a rental property scam. Troopers out of the Paw Paw post say they’ve learned of a case where someone found information online about a property supposedly for rent and requested more information. They contacted a real-estate agent and learned the actual homeowners were not renting the place. Meanwhile, the person posing as the property owner provided a tenant application and requested a security deposit. Michigan State Police say everyone must be cautious when reviewing property listings online. They say you should never respond to an offer you don’t thoroughly understand, never give out personal financial information to entities you don’t know, and never respond to letters asking you for financial information. You can get more information at fbi.gov/scams-safety.. ...Read Full Story

Power Outage Planned In St. Joseph

Indiana Michigan Power has announced a planned power outage on Saturday for about 200 customers in St. Joseph. Spokesperson Schnee Garrett tells us the affected customers have been notified. The six-hour planned outage is needed so I&M crews can address a tree that is threatening service to the area. Garrett says without the work, that tree could cause an even larger outage for a longer period of time. The power for the 200 affected customers will go out around 8 a.m. and they hope to be finished around 2 p.m. I&M says its crews will work as quickly as they can given the frigid weather.. ...Read Full Story

Wendzel Receives Committee Assignments

79th District state Representative Pauline Wendzel has received her House committee assignments, and they’re relevant to southwest Michigan. She tells us she’s been picked to serve as vice chair of the House Commerce and Tourism Committee, along with the House Energy Committee.. ...Read Full Story

Amtrak Train Hits Box Truck In Three Oaks

Amtrak passengers on the Wolverine line had to be taken by bus after the 350 train hit a box truck that was stuck on the tracks in Three Oaks. No passengers were hurt, but Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari tells us their engineer was injured by debris that same in through the front window of the train. The crash happened on North Elm Street, just north of US 12 this morning. Magliari tells WSJM News he’s not sure how severe the train engineer’s injuries are. The train is the Wolverine line that runs from Chicago to Pontiac.. ...Read Full Story

New AG Wants To Settle Lawsuit Over Same-Sex Adoption

From the Associated Press — Under new leadership, the Michigan attorney general’s office is in talks to settle a lawsuit by same-sex couples who say their rights have been violated by faith-based adoption agencies that don’t want to work with gays and lesbians. A federal judge granted a 30-day timeout Thursday for negotiations between the American Civil Liberties Union and Attorney General Dana Nessel. During the fall campaign, Nessel told The Associated Press there’s “no viable defense” to a 2015 law signed by then-Governor Rick Snyder. The law says faith-based groups can refuse to provide certain services if they conflict with their beliefs and still get tax dollars. Nessel, who is a lesbian, said the only purpose is discrimination. Groups such as Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services are paid by the state to place children from troubled families with new families.. ...Read Full Story

Town Hall Updates Public On Lead Issue In Benton Harbor

The city of Benton Harbor is working with Berrien County and the state of Michigan to address elevated lead levels found in some homes around the community last year. The city detected the problem in October, and since then about 320 residents have brought in samples for testing. About 50 of those had elevated lead levels. At a town hall Thursday, the Berrien County Health Department’s Nicki Britten said anyone who is concerned should flush their water for five minutes whenever it has not been running for six hours or more. Additionally, the county is providing filters to the homes known to have elevated lead levels starting next week, and it will provide the filters to anyone who wants them starting the week of February 4.. ...Read Full Story