Local News Archives

Niles Getting MDOT Money For Work On Grant, Wayne Streets

The city of Niles is receiving just over $312,000 from the Michigan Department of Transportation for work to improve Grant and Wayne streets. Grant will be repaved between Grand Avenue and M-139, while the work on Wayne Street will be from M-139 to M-51. MDOT notes both are important stretches of the Niles commercial truck network. The grant from the Transportation Economic Development Fund is one of 10 announced statewide on Thursday. MDOT has not indicated when the work will begin.. ...Read Full Story

AAA Michigan Projecting Record Holiday Travel

A lot of us will be on the road over the upcoming Christmas and New Year’s holiday season. Triple-A Michigan is projecting nearly 3.6 million in the state will go at least 50 miles from home, which is the highest since the auto club began tracking holiday travel and up by 4% from last year. While the vast majority will drive, AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins says a lot of people will take to the air.. ...Read Full Story

Holiday Food Sharing Program Taking Applications

Once again, Benton Harbor and St. Joseph area residents can apply for the gift of a free turkey and holiday food basket thanks to the Holiday Food Sharing Program. It’s an effort of the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency, the city of Benton Harbor, Whirlpool, and the PGA. Now in its third year, the Holiday Food Sharing Program is giving away around 400 turkeys and food baskets season. The turkeys will be given away on December 21, and applications for them are being taken now. The deadline is Monday, December 17. Applications can be picked up at several local agencies, including the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency, the United Way, Benton Harbor City Hall, Michigan Works, and the Salvation Army. Below is a list of all the locations where applications can be picked up.. ...Read Full Story

Fatal Crash In Weesaw Township

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a fatal crash in Weesaw Township on Wednesday. It tells us first responders were sent to the scene at Elm Valley Road near Boyle Lake Road shortly after 5 p.m. Officers found a Jeep station wagon had driven off the road and into a tree. The driver was deceased and identified as 84-year-old Jack Lee Phillippi of Galien. He was wearing a seat belt. The Weesaw Township Fire Department and Buchanan Township Fire Departments assisted at the scene, and police say weather does not appear to have been a factor in the crash. The Berrien County Crash Reconstruction Team has been called in to help with the investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Reflects On Time In Office

State Senator John Proos has less than a month left of being a Michigan lawmaker as term limits will prevent him from continuing to serve when the year ends. WSJM News caught up with him to ask about highlights of his 14 years in office, both as a state representative and senator. Proos tells us he’s proud of his 2009 cottage kitchen legislation, designed to help start-up food producers.. ...Read Full Story

House Panel Advances Bill To Restrict Ballot Drives

From the Associated Press — A lame-duck bill advancing in Michigan’s Republican-controlled Legislature would make it harder to organize ballot drives. The House Elections and Ethics Committee passed the legislation on a 6-3 party-line vote Wednesday. It would impose a geographic threshold for groups proposing constitutional amendments, initiated bills, and referendums. They would be limited to collecting no more than 10 percent of their signatures from a single congressional district. Groups across the political spectrum – such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Right to Life – oppose the bill as unconstitutionally hampering their ability to pursue ballot drives. But business groups supporting the legislation say it is needed. The full House may vote later Wednesday.. ...Read Full Story

Human Remains Found In Van Buren County

Michigan State Police out of the Paw Paw post are investigating after human remains were found near I-94 in Lawrence on Wednesday afternoon. An employee of a local business was walking in some woods when they noticed the remains and called police. Troopers responded to the 900 block of Crandall Parkway to investigate. They also called in the Michigan State Police Crime Lab to help. Police are working to identify the remains and ask anyone with information to contact them.. ...Read Full Story

Stabenow Hails Senate Passage Of New Farm Bill

A new Farm Bill is expected to become law soon. The version passed by the House and Senate conference committee, based mostly on the Senate version, was easily passed by the Senate with bipartisan support on Tuesday, 87-13. That vote came less than one day after the House and Senate reached an agreement on the bill, which for months had been caught up in tense negotiations over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan is the Ranking Member of the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and had a big hand in crafting the legislation with Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Murder Trial Underway

A Van Buren County man is now on trial for the shooting death of his ex-wife’s new boyfriend. It happened in June when Troy Taylor tried to drop off his son at his ex-wife’s house in Gobles and she wasn’t there. Her daughter found her nearby having sex with Tim Henley in his Jeep. In the anger that followed, police said Henley began punching the windows in Taylor’s BMW, shattering the driver’s side window. Taylor’s son, who was sitting in the backseat, testified Tuesday that he was scared and that’s when his father pulled out a gun and fired three times at Henley, who would die from the wounds. Taylor claims it was self-defense, and may take the stand to testify. The prosecution claims it was second degree murder.. ...Read Full Story

Partnership To Curb Opioid Crisis Launches In Michigan

(Lansing, MI – AP) – A public-private effort has launched in Michigan that aims to curb opioid overdoses and deaths. Officials on Wednesday announced the creation of the Michigan Opioid Partnership. It plans to distribute $2.6 million in grants focusing on medication-assisted treatment, which experts say is an effective approach combining medication and behavioral therapy. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which is part of the collaborative, says about 1,900 of the nearly 2,700 drug overdose deaths in the state last year have been attributed to opioids. Organizers say the funding will pay for planning, training and treatment coordination. Grant recipients will be announced early next year. The partnership also includes the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and several foundations.. ...Read Full Story

BHAS Lead Testing Results Revealed

Work will be done over the next month to replace five water fixtures in Benton Harbor Area Schools. Those came back with lead levels above a more strict 5-parts-per-billion for lead adopted by the district, which CEO Robert Herrera says is well below the federal standard of 15-ppb.. ...Read Full Story

Registrations Being Taken For Fishing Events

From the Associated Press — Bass and walleye fishing tournaments in Michigan, and competitive fishing events targeting muskellunge, have to register with the state starting January 1. Michigan’s Natural Resources department says the events must register in the state’s Fishing Tournament Information System. Results also must be reported. Statewide registration and reporting requirements for bass fishing tournaments have been in place since 2016. More than 2,000 bass tournament registrations and reports have been received.
DNR tournament fishing specialist Tom Goniea says the requirements are important to “gaining a better understanding of what competitive walleye and muskellunge fishing means to angling, conservation and Michigan’s economy.”. ...Read Full Story

Charges Dropped Against Benton Harbor Charter Schools Academy Admins

The charges against Benton Harbor Charter Schools Academy Principal Tim Harris and Assistant Principal Ashley Smith for not reporting a classroom incident immediately to the Department of Health and Human Services are being dismissed. Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic has dropped the charges against the two after they both took part in training in the Detroit suburb of Troy and at the school last week regarding proper reporting of child abuse. Former teacher Thomas Barnes of St. Joseph pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to nine months probation after he threw a chair in anger in an attempt to get control of his classroom. The chair hit an 11-year-old girl and caused her to suffer a concussion. In addition to the recent training for Harris and Smith, Choice Schools has committed to holding similar training sessions for all staff at the start of the school year from now on.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Snyder Pushing For Illinois Involvement In Asian Carp Fight

Governor Snyder is pleading with his counterpart in Illinois to join with Michigan and other Great Lakes states and provinces in a partnership to keep Asian carp out of Lake Michigan and beyond. He sent a letter to Governor Bruce Rauner today, noting because it’s a non-federal project, the State of Illinois is the lead agency with jurisdiction, supervision and regulatory permitting authority over the waters of that state. Snyder’s director of strategic policy Angela Ayers tells WSJM News the governor is interested in pursuing a partnership agreement directly with the state of Illinois.. ...Read Full Story

Governor-Elect Whitmer To Meet With President Trump This Week

Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer will be headed to Washington on Thursday with a group of other newly elected governors from both parties to meet with President Trump at the White House. A spokesperson says it will be Whitmer’s chance to press her points on trade policies, health care access and funding for everything from the Soo Locks to Asian carp. Trump narrowly won Michigan two years ago, and the midterms suggest he will find it difficult to repeat that feat, especially if his tariffs hurt soybean growers and automakers.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph City Commission Honors John E.N. Howard

The memory of John E.N. Howard will not be forgotten anytime soon in the city of St. Joseph. He died last month at the age of 99, and the St. Joseph City Commission honored him with a resolution at the start of Monday night’s meeting. Commissioner Jeff Richards knew Howard well, and spoke about the impact he could have with just a few words.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Wants More Time To Study LSV Rentals

Come back next month. That’s the message from the St. Joseph City Commission to Scooter Joe’s owner Joe Allen regarding his request to rent low-speed vehicles this summer from his location at the Inn at Harbor Shores. After over a half-hour of discussion between Allen and the city commission, Mayor Mike Garey asked him to return for the second meeting in January after the city’s attorney and staff had more time to look over the idea after initially telling Allen to try again in a year. The mayor said he’d rather get input from the community and consultants working on the downtown master plan before deciding whether to allow what are essentially street-legal souped-up golf carts to be rented out. Allen told the commission the sooner they can make a decision the better, as he’s set to go with the marketing and ready to purchase as many as three vehicles. They have seat belts and crush-resistant roofs and are allowed on streets with a speed limit of up to 35 miles-an-hour by state law. Allen said he would likely restrict his to no faster than 20 miles-an-hour.. ...Read Full Story

GM Fighting To Keep Tax Credits

From the Associated Press — General Motors is fighting to retain a valuable tax credit for electric vehicles as the nation’s largest automaker tries to deal with the political fallout triggered by its plans to shutter several U.S. factories and shed thousands of workers. Preserving the $7,500 tax incentive for buyers is crucial for GM as it pivots from internal combustion engines in favor of building cars powered by batteries or hydrogen fuel cells. The layoffs and plant closings could imperil GM’s push to keep the incentive. The credit makes plug-ins such as the $36,000 Chevy Bolt more affordable at a time when competition from other electric vehicle makers is heating up. GM faces opposition from President Donald Trump and other Republicans who consider the credit a waste of taxpayer money and want it eliminated.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagon Fund To Discuss Needs Study

The results of a Pokagon Fund study on the needs of the communities it serves will be discussed at two meetings on Tuesday. The Pokagon Fund tells us it teamed up with the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, the Council of Michigan Foundations, and several local groups to determine how it could better serve southwest Michigan residents. The Harbor Country Community Needs Assessment will be the topic of discussion at a meeting set for 1 p.m. at the Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce in Three Oaks, and then again at 7 p.m. at New Buffalo Township Hall. Pokagon Fund leaders will talk about key findings, report on activities already taking place, identify leaders for task forces, and solidify volunteers. The Pokagon Fund was set up to give out a small portion of Four Winds Casino slot revenues to community projects. It’s given out more than $25 million since 2007.. ...Read Full Story

MSU Extension Taking PFAS Questions

Michigan residents with questions about PFAS can now turn to an online service of the Michigan State University Extension office. MSU Extension tells us its new PFAS Team is designed to serve as an easily accessible conduit to the appropriate resources. PFAS have been found in communities across Michigan where their use in tanneries, metal plating factories, and fire-fighting foams were once prevalent. PFAS were also routinely used in consumer products like stain-resistant carpeting and non-stick cookware, paints, and fast food wrappers. PFAS contamination was found in the water system of Kalamazoo County’s Parchment this past summer, rendering the water undrinkable. Since then, the state has been working to make sure other water systems are tested for the chemicals. You can find the MSU Extension question page right here.. ...Read Full Story

Part Of Napier Avenue Closing This Week

The Berrien County Road Department will be closing part of Napier Avenue this week for drain work. It tells us Napier between Bainbridge Center Road and M-140 will be shut down on Wednesday of this week for the replacement of a drain by the Berrien County Drain Commission. The road will remain closed through next Tuesday, December 18. A detour that takes drivers on M-140, Empire Avenue, and Bainbridge Center Road will be posted. Homeowners and first responders will be able to access the road up to the point of closure, but will not be able to pass through the work zone at the county drain. Anyone with questions should contact the Berrien County Road Department.. ...Read Full Story