Local News Archives

Lengthy Budget Impasse Taking Toll On Services In Michigan

From the Associated Press — A budget impasse in Michigan is starting to take a toll on government programs and services. Sheriff’s offices, jails, charter schools, private colleges, hospitals, local governments and nonprofits are casualties of the standoff that has dragged on much longer than expected. Nearly two months ago, Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoed an unprecedented $947 million in funding to restart broken-down budget talks. She and the Republican-led Legislature want to reverse some or many of her vetoes. But they remain at odds over Republicans’ push to curtail her powers after the first-year governor shifted funding within state departments. A popular school truancy program in rural northeastern Michigan has begun laying off staff. Sheriffs are worried about road safety. And college students are anxious that they might not get tuition assistance.. ...Read Full Story

Lawsuit Aims To Stop Medicaid Work Requirement

Michigan lawmakers are being asked to put the brakes on the implementation of work requirements for Healthy Michigan enrollees. A coalition of healthcare and anti-poverty organizations filed a lawsuit last week challenging the Trump administration’s approval of the state’s Medicaid waiver project, which allows Michigan to begin work requirements for able-bodied Healthy Michigan enrollees on January 1. Health Policy Analyst with the Michigan League for Public Policy Amber Bellazaire says Medicaid is a supportive health program that should not be altered in a way that makes it punitive or ineffective.. ...Read Full Story

USDA Talks Thanksgiving Food Safety

As family cooks everywhere are getting ready to prepare their Thanksgiving meals this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is reminding them of how to safely cook that bird. USDA technical information specialist Chrystal Okonta tells WSJM News you need to give a 20 pound turkey several days to thaw. If you haven’t got time to just leave it in the fridge, there are thawing techniques.. ...Read Full Story

Buchanan City Commission Approves Marijuana Zoning

All that remains for legal recreational marijuana businesses to set up shop in Buchanan now is state and local licensing. The city commission this week approved a zoning ordinance amendment to allow for those companies. The state has so far issued eight licenses, with three of those in Ann Arbor to businesses already selling medical marijuana. As many as six retail sites and two consumption centers will be allowed in Buchanan. That city and Niles are the only local governments in Berrien County so far to allow recreational marijuana businesses.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Man Claims $300,000 Instant Lottery Game Jackpot

A Van Buren County man has an additional 300,000 reasons to give thanks this week. The Michigan Lottery says the 62-year-old has chosen to remain anonymous after claiming his jackpot from the Super Bingo instant game. He bought the winning ticket at Halftime Food and Beverage in Lawton, and picked up his $300,000 winnings – before taxes – on Monday at Michigan Lottery headquarters in Lansing. He says he asked the clerk for a “big winner,” and she sold him three of the $5 Super Bingo tickets. Since the game launched in October 2018, more than $22 million has been won in the game with prizes ranging from $5 to $300,000. The Michigan Lottery says there are still two tickets out there with $10,000 prizes and a dozen good for $1,000.. ...Read Full Story

Benson Appoints New Elections Director

From the Associated Press — Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has named Jonathan Brater to be the next director of the Michigan Bureau of Elections following the retirement of current director Sally Williams. Brater, who will take over January 2, has worked alongside Williams for the past 11 months while he focused on elections while serving as the Department of State’s Legal Policy Director. He previously served as counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, a non-partisan nonprofit, where his work focused on modernizing elections in partnership with secretaries of state around the country. Benson says in a statement, “Throughout his career Jonathan has demonstrated his commitment to secure, non-partisan election administration.” Brater, an Ann Arbor native, was selected after an open application process that began shortly after Williams announced her retirement earlier this month.. ...Read Full Story

Commissioner Addresses Residents On Plan To Fight Erosion

Public attention is growing about an effort to get a disaster declaration for the entire Great Lakes coast in Michigan. The Berrien County Board of Commissioners last week approved a resolution asking the governor and Michigan Legislature to consider such a declaration due to severe erosion caused by the high water level and high winds this year. At a Monday night gathering in St. Joseph, Commissioner Ezra Scott, who introduced last week’s resolution, explained his plan to a crowd of residents. He told WSJM News federal support to address the erosion would come if the governor takes action.. ...Read Full Story

“A Bridge Too Far” – St. Joseph Commission Won’t Buy Lighthouse Keepers’ Quarters

The city of St. Joseph will not be purchasing the former Lighthouse Keepers’ Quarters from the U.S. Coast Guard. The federal government needed a decision by the end of this month with an asking price of $445,000. The cost to move the duplex to the base of the north pier at Tiscornia Park and renovations would have been several hundred thousand dollars, and Mayor Mike Garey summed up the feelings of the commission.. ...Read Full Story

Bridgman Library Taking Food Donations In Place Of Late Fees

Anyone who owes late fees to the Bridgman Public Library has a chance to pay them off this month while helping those in need. The library tells us they will accept donations of unopened, non-perishable food items or toiletries in lieu of money to take care of late fees. All donations will go to two local food pantries. The library says the offer is good through December 6, and there’s no required amount for donations. The offer only applies to late fees and not to book replacement fees.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeland To Require ID Badges For Visitors

A new policy is going into effect at Spectrum Health Lakeland hospital in St. Joseph requiring visitors to wear ID badges. Starting December 2, anyone age 12 or older visiting someone at the in-patient area of the hospital will have to get a badge. Visitors will be required to present a valid photo ID to the front desk which will be scanned into the system to create the badge. Photos can also be taken on-site for those too young to have an ID. The new badges will be color coded for each individual floor and will self-expire after 24 hours. If a visitor plans to be at the hospital longer than 24 hours, they will need to go back to the front desk to have another badge issued to them. Spectrum Health Lakeland Safety Director Rich Matthews says studies have shown healthcare is the second most violent profession in the country, and this new requirement can help ensure everyone is protected. Plans are also in the works to begin issuing badges in the emergency department. ...Read Full Story

BH Condo Complex Condemned, Help Sought For Residents

Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski and Benton Harbor Interim City Manager Ellis Mitchell are putting out an appeal for help to be found for the residents of the New Harbor Condominium complex on Riverview Drive now that the complex has been condemned. Witkowski tells WSJM News his office foreclosed on 43 of the 90 units this year, and problems with the facility have grown.. ...Read Full Story

Crash During Police Chase Injures Two On I-94

A Michigan State Police trooper is recovering from minor injuries and a semi driver is at Spectrum Health Lakeland for non-life threatening injuries after an early morning police chase and crash on I-94 in Bridgman. Troopers pulled over a Jeep Cherokee for speeding heading east on I-94 near Sawyer just after 3 a.m., and the driver sped off, injuring one of the officers. The chase then began east on I-94 until the suspect got off at the Bridgman exit and then tried to get back onto I-94 going west. While merging, the driver hit a semi and rolled several times, colliding with a second semi. Somehow, no one in the Jeep was hurt. The suspect was arrested on multiple charges including drunk driving, and the westbound lanes of the highway were closed for about three hours. All four people in the Jeep are from the Chicago area.. ...Read Full Story

New Faculty Contract In Place At SMC

The new contract for faculty at Southwestern Michigan College is in place. The SMC Board of Trustees approved the deal this past week, and the union has already voted on it. The contract includes pay increases of 2% in the next academic year, and 3% in each of the following two years. That’s for the faculty who are at or above the minimum salary levels for their educational level and years of service. A new vision care program for all college employees will begin in January, and SMC says healthcare, dental, and retirement benefits remain consistent with those offered to other full-time employees. The contract was reached after a year and a half of negotiations.. ...Read Full Story

Planners To Consider Special Use Permit For NIMBY Pond

An attraction in Baroda Township that often hosts events could lose its permission to do so. Baroda Township Planning Commission Chair David Schultz tells WSJM News the special use permit for NIMBY Pond is under its yearly review, and the property’s owner has a few things to work out with the township before it’s given approval. Schultz says the permit could be revoked or amended, depending on developments in the next two months. There have been some complaints about events held at the pond that may not have been allowed under its special use permit. Schultz didn’t want to get into specifics on the particular events, but said the planning commission is working with NIMBY Pond owner Mark Schutze on the issues in question. A hearing of the planning commission is set for January 13 where a decision could be made on whether to continue NIMBY Pond’s permit. Schultz tells us he thinks NIMBY Pond is a “good event for the community,” but the township ordinance must be followed. The final decision would rest with the township board once the planning commission makes its recommendation.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Shot While Watching TV In Bed In Benton Harbor

A 66-year-old Benton Harbor woman is in critical condition at Spectrum Health Lakeland after being shot in her home in the 900 block of Pavone late Saturday night. Benton Harbor Public Safety says she was in bed watching TV when she was shot just after 11 p.m. Officers say she likely was not the target, and they found evidence of a shooting at Broadway Park, a short distance to the south. They’re reviewing home security camera footage from the area to try to identify the people who were seen running from the park at the same time of the shots being fired. No arrests have been made.. ...Read Full Story

School Board Hears Positive News In Latest Audit Report

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has heard some good news out of the district’s latest audit. At a meeting this past week, trustees heard from CPA firm Hungerford Nichols the general fund, or operating deficit, has been reduced from $4.4 million to $3.7 million since last year. District Chief Financial Officer Scott Johnson spoke with WSJM News about the findings.. ...Read Full Story

Effort Underway To Speed Up Adoptions In Michigan

November is national Adoption Month, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has announced two new initiatives to help children in the foster system find adoptive homes. Spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News the first one will begin this month and involve the assigning of 21 child welfare staff to evaluate adoptions that have taken longer than six months. Their goal will be to resolve whatever issues are holding them up. The other initiative will be a partnership between the state and the Dave Thomas Foundation.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputy Receives Award

A Berrien County deputy sheriff has received Berrien RESA’s 2019 Partnership Award. Deputy Kelly Laesch was honored for her efforts to foster relationships that encourage student development, growth, and achievement. Laesch was nominated by RESA employees Joe Rommel and Kevin Clark. They say they nominated her for the Handle with Care program, an effort of the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department to partner with local school staff to help traumatized kids. The program aims to help those students be successful in school despite traumatic events they may have experienced. Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey was on hand when Laesch received the award, and said her “work promotes safe and secure schools, as well as being an advocate for the social, emotional well being of students and staff.”. ...Read Full Story

MI Supreme Court To Mark Adoption Day Next Week

November is National Adoption Month, and courts around Michigan are celebrating people who open their hearts and homes to children in need of a forever family. Ceremonies finalizing adoptions are being held throughout the month in more than 30 courts in the state to build awareness of children in foster care and the adoption process. The Michigan Supreme Court holds its Adoption Day ceremony on Tuesday, November 26th, which Communications Director John Nevin tells us is a truly special occasion.. ...Read Full Story

Kinexus Part Of New Manufacturing Association

Benton Harbor-based Kinexus has announced the creation of a new manufacturing support group. The Michigan Manufacturing and Technology Association is a partnership between several industry groups around the state to provide expertise to manufacturing companies looking to grow. MMTA Director Duane Berger tells WSJM News they’ll work with mostly smaller manufacturers.. ...Read Full Story

Upton: Help Available For Farmers

Congressman Fred Upton is welcoming news from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that farmers in southwest Michigan can now apply for help to recover from poor weather this year that’s damaged their crops. Upton says he and other members of the Michigan delegation sent a letter to U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue asking for a disaster designation, and last week, it came.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Men Convicted By Federal Jury In Crystal Meth Operation

Four Benton Harbor men who were part of a 24-member crystal meth ring are facing up to life in prison when sentenced next year. U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge says a federal jury in Grand Rapids found Darrell Summers the Second, Daryl Cannon, Timothy Mason, and Tremain Braxton guilty of multiple drug charges after a 10-day trial. Of the 24 people involved in bringing in meth from California and Arizona to southwest Michigan, 19 pleaded guilty and five were convicted by a jury. Birge says the operation sold meth all over the region from 2016 to 2018. During the investigation, police intercepted three shipments with a total of 14 pounds of crystal meth that was between 96% and 99% pure, with a street value of almost $100,000. Summers, Cannon, and Mason face minimum sentences of 10 years, while Braxton’s minimum sentence will be 15 years due to a previous drug conviction.. ...Read Full Story

Staircase At Harbert Beach To Remain Closed Pending Repairs Or Replacement

Harbert Beach in Chikaming Township could be closed indefinitely as the Chikaming Township Parks Board has decided the staircase leading down to Lake Michigan should remain closed until repairs can be made or a replacement can be built. The township shut down the staircase last month because its foundations were damaged by the high waves and high water level. The Chikaming Township Parks, Preserves, and Beaches Facebook page says the parks board met Saturday to discuss what to do about Harbert Beach, and decided the staircase is too dangerous to reopen at this time. On hand for the meeting was Berrien County Commissioner Ezra Scott, who briefed the board on his efforts to get a disaster declaration for the coastal areas of the Great Lakes in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

1988’s I-196 Jane Identified As Missing Oklahoma City Woman

Genealogy DNA has led to the identification of the body of a young woman found more than 31 years ago in Covert Township. She’d been known as “I-196 Jane” since the October 12, 1988 discovery, and Michigan State Police say they’ve determined she was 28-year-old Marcia Kaylynn Bateman of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Bateman was reported missing by her family in August 1988 and hadn’t been seen since May of that year.. ...Read Full Story

Enbridge Completes Rock Sampling For Michigan Tunnel Project

From the Associated Press — Enbridge says it has completed sediment and rock sampling in preparation for building a Michigan oil pipeline tunnel that some state leaders and environmentalists hope to block. The Canadian company said Thursday its crews took core samples from 27 locations in the Straits of Mackinac area, where Lakes Huron and Michigan meet. Project manager Amber Pastoor said geologists will study the samples. Results will be used to design the tunnel and a machine to drill through bedrock beneath the lake floor. Enbridge negotiated an agreement with former Republican Governor Rick Snyder to run an oil pipe through the tunnel and shut down its twin Line 5 pipes that traverse the lake bottom. His Democratic successor, Gretchen Whitmer, opposes the deal. Attorney General Dana Nessel is appealing a court ruling that upheld legislation authorizing the agreement. Nessel also has filed a lawsuit to decommission Line 5.. ...Read Full Story

Annual Holiday Sock Drive Underway

While you’re out and about shopping this holiday season, the St. Joseph lodge of the Masons is asking that you grab a package of socks to be given to those in need. Jerry Sirk says he’s started the group’s fifth annual sock drive. They’re collecting socks for the Salvation Army, the guardianship program at Avenue Family Network, the emergency women’s shelter, and the foster kids program at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Sirk tells WSJM News there’s a surprising need for socks.. ...Read Full Story

Napier Road Diet Moved To Next Year

The road diet being planned by the Berrien County Road Department for Napier Avenue has been delayed. Work on the first phase of the project to reduce the number of travel lanes to make room for a center turn lane, and possibly sidewalks, was supposed to start this fall. However, Berrien County Commissioner Bill Chickering reported at this week’s county board meeting the project has been bumped back to next year. The reason is a strike held this year by road builders trained to operate heavy machinery, which caused several delays for MDOT and other road agencies. Now, Chickering says the plan is to do both phases of the Napier road diet in 2020, rather than spreading them out over two years.. ...Read Full Story

County Commission Seeks Disaster Declaration Over Coastal Erosion

A disaster declaration for the entire Great Lakes shoreline in Michigan — more than 3,000 miles — is being sought by the Berrien County Board of Commissioners from the governor and the Michigan Legislature. At a Thursday meeting, the board approved a resolution from Commissioner Ezra Scott asking the state to consider such a move. Scott tells WSJM News large areas of coast are being lost due to high water levels and wind. He’s been talking to commissioners in the Upper Peninsula about the problem.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Talks Violence Prevention Legislation

Following the most recent mass shootings around the United States, Congressman Fred Upton has thrown his support behind legislation intended to prevent such incidents, but not through gun control. He tells WSJM News the TAPS Act would help state and local police agencies use behavioral threat assessment and management tools.. ...Read Full Story

New Apartment Development Begets More Development In Downtown South Haven

For the first time in more than a decade, there has been new development in downtown South Haven. The ribbon will be cut Friday afternoon on the new South Haven Center, which includes retail space and 18 market rate apartments. City Manager Brian Dissette says they’ve heard some complaints about the prices for the apartments, which range from $1,400 to $1,850 per month, especially with the area experiencing a shortage of affordable housing.. ...Read Full Story

Detroit Police Chief Releases Name Of Officer Killed In Ambush

Detroit’s police chief says a gunman who fatally shot one officer and wounded another was trying “to bait” them as they searched a home for him. Chief James Craig said the 28-year-old man waited at the bottom of basement stairs, fired two shots from an assault-type rifle and ran past the fallen officers. Other officers shot him in the arm outside the home. He was arrested a block away. Craig said the gunman was “very target specific” and “knew what he planned to do.” Officer Rasheen McClain was shot in the neck and died. Officer Phillippe Batoum-Bisse is being treated for a leg wound. The shooting happened Wednesday evening as officers responded to a report of a man with a gun who was looking for an estranged girlfriend. The suspect is in custody.. ...Read Full Story

Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist Makes Michigan History

History has been made at the state Capitol, as Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist has become the first black lieutenant governor to sign a bill into law in Michigan history. Gilchrist is currently serving as acting governor due to the trade mission in Israel by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. In remarks in the Capitol Rotunda, he said the bill signing “symbolizes the opportunity that exists when we create a space for more participation from a more diverse set of voices and experiences.”. ...Read Full Story

GVSU Brings Back Pledge Of Allegiance At Meetings

From the Associated Press — After a backlash, student government at Grand Valley State University is reinstating the Pledge of Allegiance at meetings. Student Senate President Eric-John Szczepaniak says there were reports that families were reconsidering whether a son or daughter would enroll at the Michigan school. He tells The Grand Rapids Press that people were also threatening to pull donations. Szczepaniak says student leaders “want to regain the trust of all alumni and donors.” He says he’s unilaterally reinstating the pledge. The Senate voted to scratch the pledge last week. Supporters of dropping the pledge said it was an effort to be accepting of all students, especially international students and non-Christians. Republican State Representative Lynn Afendoulis says eliminating the pledge was “disgusting.”. ...Read Full Story

Benton Township home invasion leaves one suspect dead

A home invasion at the Briarwood Apartments in Benton Township late last night has resulted in one fatality. According to the Benton Township police department, just before 11:30 pm, two 2 men wearing masks forced their way into one of the apartments armed with a handgun. The two then ordered the occupants of the living room to get down. Another resident who was in one of the bedrooms overheard what was going on and grabbed a rifle. That’s when gun fire was exchanged. The masked men tried to flee, while still firing. After police arrived they found one of the masked men lying on the pavement with a gunshot wound to the chest. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene, while police were unable to find the 2nd suspect, even bringing a K-9 to try to track him down. Police were able to identify the suspect that died on the pavement, but have not released his identity. They have not ID’d the second suspect. The four adults in the home and 3 children were not harmed. Police are asking anybody with information to contact the Benton Township Police department at 925-1135 or call Crimestoppers at 574-288-STOP.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Man In Court Following Accidental Death Of Granddaughter

A preliminary hearing was held Wednesday for a Niles man charged with negligent homicide in the death of his 18-month-old granddaughter. Salvatore Anello was aboard a cruise ship in Puerto Rico in July when he held Chloe Wiegand up to a wood railing near some windows. He didn’t realize the window was open, and the girl fell eleven stories. According to ABC News, the prosecution told the judge at Wednesday’s preliminary hearing in Puerto Rico they have witnesses as well as discovery to hand off to the defense. The judge agreed to postpone further hearings until that happens. Anello is due back in court on December 16.. ...Read Full Story

Tree Planting Planned Thursday In Buchanan

There will be a ceremony to plant trees in downtown Buchanan Thursday. The Buchanan Tree Friends will plant ten trees, including sugar maples, a London plane tree, a frontier elm, and various oaks at the Buchanan Common. The trees are being planted to honor the memory of some local residents. The Buchanan Tree Friends seeks donations to help purchase trees appropriate for the landscape of the city through its Tribute Tree Program. A supporter for Thursday’s event is Krista Parin, who says her family wanted to help because planting trees is “a simple way to leave a legacy in our community for generations to come.” Thursday’s tree planting will start at noon.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Springs Christmas Celebration Set For December 12

Preparations are underway for the next Kindle Your Christmas Spirit in Downtown Berrien Springs celebration. The village says the party will be Thursday, December 12 from 6 to 9 p.m. The downtown streets will be closed to traffic so everyone can walk around checking out all of the attractions. Those will include live music, ice carving, horse-drawn carriages, a live nativity, the lighting of the town Christmas tree, and Santa and Mrs. Claus at the village hall. The historic 1839 courthouse will also be open for tours. All are welcome to come and celebrate the holiday.. ...Read Full Story

Former Priest From Coloma Guilty In Clergy Sex Abuse Case

A former priest from Coloma will be sentenced in January after pleading guilty in a clergy sex abuse case today in Allegan County. Attorney General Dana Nessel says 57-year-old Brian Stanley faces up to five years in prison when he’s sentenced. Stanley pleaded guilty to one felony county of attempted false imprisonment during a pretrial conference, and will also have to register as a sex offender for 15 years. He was charged in August after being accused of secreting away a teenaged boy and holding him against his will in the janitor’s room of St. Margaret’s Church in 2013. Stanley reportedly immobilized the young man by wrapping him tightly in plastic wrap, then used masking tape as additional binding and to cover his eyes and mouth. Stanley left the victim, bound and alone, in the janitor’s room for an extended period of time before returning and eventually letting him go. His conviction came just hours after the first convicted defendant in Nessel’s clergy abuse investigation was sentenced.. ...Read Full Story

Honor Adoption Day Finds Homes For 32 Animals From Berrien County Animal Control Shelter

The Berrien County Animal Control shelter was able to adopt out 32 dogs and cats on Saturday thanks to a partnership with Honor Credit Union. They co-hosted Honor’s Adoption Day this past weekend, dramatically increasing the number of pets that found new homes from a normal Saturday. Animal Control says on average, fewer than three pets are adopted on a Saturday. The event with Honor brought 150 people to the shelter over a three-hour period. The credit union covered the adoption costs, leaving just things like supplies and dog licenses to be paid for by the people taking home their new pets. Some of the adopted animals had been at the shelter for more than a year.. ...Read Full Story

Man Confesses To 1986 Bangor Cold Case Murder

New DNA evidence in the 1986 cold case murder of Wilda Wilkinson of Bangor is resulting in a murder charge and a confession from one of the initial suspects. Michigan State Police say Robert Waite was linked to the murder in March. When interviewed in a Florida prison by MSP detectives, he gave a full confession and was arraigned today in Van Buren County District Court. Authorities had charged Michael Curry with her murder in March of this year, but the DNA evidence against Waite ruled him out and resulted in those charges being dropped. Wilkinson was found dead in her Bangor home 33 years ago, and investigators say her two daughters and two sons remained in constant contact with them during the investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Alcohol Likely To Blame For Cass County Crash

Two people are being treated at Elkhart General Hospital in Indiana as the result of a crash in Cass County late Tuesday night. The sheriff’s department says alcohol was likely among the reasons for the head-on crash in Mason Township at the intersection of Old M-205 and Cassopolis Road just after 9 p.m. Investigators say 32-year-old Matthew Degraff of Union crossed the center line and hit the vehicle of 65-year-old William Thorley of Cassopolis, knocking Thorley’s car into a third vehicle. Both Degraff and Thorley are hospitalized, though the extent and nature of their injuries hasn’t been disclosed. Thorley’s passenger and the driver of the third vehicle weren’t hurt.. ...Read Full Story

Ex-Lawmakers Sue To Block Michigan’s Legislative Term Limits

Eight former Michigan lawmakers are suing to challenge the state’s legislative term limits, alleging they are unconstitutional and ensure that the Legislature lacks experience. Those filing suit in Grand Rapids federal court Wednesday include three Republicans and five Democrats. They say Michigan’s term limits law has increased the power of lobbyists, unelected “bureaucrats” in the executive branch and political dynasties.. ...Read Full Story

State to Mail Redistricting Panel Applications To 250,000

From the Associated Press — The state of Michigan will mail 250,000 applications encouraging voters to apply to serve on a new commission responsible for drawing congressional and legislative maps. An independent accounting firm, Rehmann, randomly selected the 250,000 registered voters Tuesday. The applications will be mailed before year’s end. The 2018 voter-approved constitutional amendment creating the panel requires that at least 10,000 applications be mailed. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson
says she decided to send 250,000 to ensure enough people respond. Registered voters who don’t receive an application in the mail are still free to apply at www.RedistrictingMichigan.org. Applications are due June 1. The 13-member commission will start meeting in the fall of 2020 and will adopt congressional and legislative district lines in 2021. The once-a-decade process was previously controlled by the partisan Legislature.. ...Read Full Story

School Trustees Hear Audit Report

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has heard some good news out of the district’s latest audit. At a Tuesday meeting, trustees heard from CPA firm Hungerford Nichols the general fund, or operating deficit, has been reduced from $4.4 million to $3.7 million since last year. District Chief Financial Officer Scott Johnson spoke with WSJM News about the findings.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Police Bust Theft Suspects After Two-Hour Search

Three people are facing charges after fleeing police in South Haven on Tuesday. The South Haven Police Department says officers were called out to the area of the Ravines mobile home park on a report of three men with arm loads of suspected stolen property. Officers found the vehicle the suspects were in, and two of them took off running into some woods. After a two-hour search, police found the two suspects, partly thanks to the nose of K9 Ryker. The first suspect is a 40-year-old from Holland, who was also a wanted parole absconder. He’s now facing charges of felony retail fraud and resisting and obstructing. The second suspect is a 33-year-old from Benton Harbor, to be charged with felony retail fraud, and the third suspect is a 25-year-old from South Haven, charges of misdemeanor retail fraud and resisting and obstructing. All three were taken to the Van Buren County Jail.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Board Approves Faculty Contract

The new contract for faculty at Southwestern Michigan College is in place. The SMC Board of Trustees approved the deal Monday night, and the union has already voted on it. The contract includes pay increases of 2% in the next academic year, and 3% in each of the following two years. That’s for the faculty who are at or above the minimum salary levels for their educational level and years of service. A new vision care program for all college employees will begin in January, and SMC says healthcare, dental, and retirement benefits remain consistent with those offered to other full-time employees. The contract was reached after a year and a half of negotiations.. ...Read Full Story

Permit For NIMBY Pond Under Review

An attraction in Baroda Township that often hosts events could lose its permission to do so. Baroda Township Planning Commission Chair David Schultz tells WSJM News the special use permit for NIMBY Pond is under its yearly review, and the property’s owner has a few things to work out with the township before it’s given approval. Schultz says the permit could be revoked or amended, depending on developments in the next two months. There have been some complaints about events held at the pond that may not have been allowed under its special use permit. Schultz didn’t want to get into specifics on the particular events, but said the planning commission is working with NIMBY Pond owner Mark Schutze on the issues in question. A hearing of the planning commission is set for January 13 where a decision could be made on whether to continue NIMBY Pond’s permit. Schultz tells us he thinks NIMBY Pond is a “good event for the community,” but the township ordinance must be followed. The final decision would rest with the township board once the planning commission makes its recommendation.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Makes Pipeline Appeal

Congressman Fred Upton testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee Tuesday in an attempt to save a pipeline safety bill. He said the new Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration re-authorization bill is not bipartisan, pointing to previous bills that sailed through with few problems.. ...Read Full Story