Local News Archives

Ford Repackages Factory Investment Plan, Will Add 900 Jobs

(Dearborn, MI – AP) – Ford is repackaging a previously announced manufacturing investment in the Detroit area and now says it will spend $900 million and create 900 new jobs over the next four years. Most of the new workers will build a new generation of electric vehicle at a Ford factory in Flat Rock, Michigan, south of Detroit. It will see an $850 million investment. The company also plans a $50 million autonomous vehicle manufacturing center at an undisclosed site near Detroit that will add hardware to existing vehicles.. ...Read Full Story

Engler, AG Butt Heads Over Interview In Nasser Probe

(East Lansing, MI – AP) – A lawyer for John Engler is accusing a prosecutor of misconduct and wants her removed before the former Michigan State University president speaks to investigators. The attorney general’s office and Engler’s attorney, Seth Waxman, are in a war of words over his willingness to speak to investigators about campus changes after the Larry Nasser scandal.. ...Read Full Story

Tuition Increase At LMC

A tuition increase is coming for students at Lake Michigan College. At this week’s LMC Board of Trustees meeting, an increase of 1.5% for in-district students was approved. LMC President Trevor Kubatzke tells WSJM News the move is in response to increased operating costs.. ...Read Full Story

One Arrested For Meth In Dowagaic

A traffic stop in Dowagiac this week led to the arrest of a 34-year-old Granger, Indiana man on meth and other charges. The Dowagiac Police Department says an officer pulled over a vehicle Tuesday night for having an improper registration. There were three people in the vehicle, and one of them provided the officer with a false ID. A further check revealed the Granger man had a warrant out. Police say a K9 then searched the vehicle and found 22 grams of meth. The Granger man was arrested on multiple charges, and taken to the Cass County Jail.. ...Read Full Story

Website Lists MI Bridges And Their Conditions

The Michigan Department of Transportation has launched a new online dashboard to make information about the condition of bridges around the state known to the public. MDOT Deputy Chief Bridge Engineer Beckie Curtis tells WSJM News the site includes data on more than 11,000 bridges. It goes over the state of each.. ...Read Full Story

Shot Fired, No One Hurt In Niles Robbery

No one is hurt after a shot was fired during the robbery of the Check Into Cash store in Niles Wednesday. The Niles Police Department says a suspect walked into the store on South 11th Street shortly before 12:30 p.m. and flashed a gun. He fired off one shot, but police don’t know if it was accidental or on purpose. The suspect made off in a light-colored vehicle with an undisclosed amount of cash. Michigan State Police and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department helped in the search, but the suspect was not found. Anyone with information on the robbery is asked to contact police.. ...Read Full Story

MI House Approves Highway Designation For Aretha Franklin

From the Associated Press — In a sign of R-E-S-P-E-C-T, the Michigan Legislature is expected to honor the late Queen of Soul with a highway designation. The Michigan House voted 101-6 on Tuesday to designate a portion of M-10 in Detroit as the “Aretha L. Franklin Memorial Highway.” Franklin died in Detroit last year after battling pancreatic cancer. The legislation will next go to the state Senate.
Supporters say dedicating a portion of the highway is an appropriate way to honor the musical and cultural icon, who grew up in Detroit and learned the gospel fundamentals at New Bethel Baptist Church. The sponsor, Democratic Representative Leslie Love of Detroit, says Franklin was a “special lady” who fought for civil rights and “gave us all a soundtrack to our lives.”. ...Read Full Story

Father Charged For Teen’s 2017 Overdose Death

A Bangor man is facing a pair of felony charges for the drug overdose death of his 16-year-old son in 2017. Forty-eight-year-old Gary Birkhead was arraigned Wednesday in Van Buren County on a homicide-involuntary manslaughter charge and a count of second-degree child abuse connected to the death on August 13, 2017 of Cole Birkhead. The teen from Hartford died at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo of an overdose, though Michigan State Police and the Van Buren County Prosecutor’s office have not revealed which drug it was. Gary Birkhead was arrested on Tuesday following the lengthy investigation, which MSP says remains open.. ...Read Full Story

House OKs Subjecting Governor, Legislature To Records Requests

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s lawmakers and governor would be subject to public-records requests under bills moving forward in the Legislature. The House voted unanimously Tuesday for a package that aims to end Michigan’s status as one of just two states to fully exempt the Legislature and governor’s office from Freedom of Information Act requests. The legislation goes to the Senate for consideration next. Information such as communications with constituents could be exempt from disclosure. Similar bills passed the House in recent years only to die in the Senate. One of the sponsors, Republican Rep. Daire Rendon of Lake City, says “people deserve to see what we’re doing so that they can hold us accountable.”. ...Read Full Story

Mayor Delivers State Of The City Address

Benton Harbor is building forward. That was the message of Mayor Marcus Muhammad as he delivered his annual State of the City address Tuesday. Speaking at the Benton Harbor Public Library, Muhammad said the city has come a long way since being under state control, pointing to five years of positive fund balances.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Talks New Soo Lock

The inclusion of $75 million for a new Soo Lock in President Trump’s budget proposal is a plus in the eyes of Congressman Fred Upton. He tells WSJM News a new lock to replace the Poe Lock, the largest of those shipping channels connecting Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes is needed in case the Poe Lock fails.. ...Read Full Story

Work Underway On Farmers Market Pavilion

Work is underway on the new pavilion for the Benton Harbor Farmers Market. The structure will be put into use when the market is held throughout the warmer months, says the Berrien County Health Department’s Gillian Conrad. The pavilion will be located at the corner of Sixth Street and Main Street at in Dwight P. Mitchell City Center Park. ...Read Full Story

“Biggest Little Baseball Museum” To Open In Three Oaks

Preparations are being made for the grand opening of a new baseball museum in Three Oaks. The Biggest Little Baseball Museum will focus on local baseball teams throughout the decades, including town teams like the Three Oaks Greens, the New Troy Grays, and the Lakeside Aces, along with Little League teams. The museum will occupy the second floor of the Three Oaks Township Library. Its grand opening is set for noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 13. The grand opening will feature a special presentation at 1 on Civil War-era baseball by members of the House of David Echoes. Organizers of the Biggest Little Baseball Museum say the place will be “so big you can’t see it all in one visit, and so little you can’t get lost.” Everyone is welcome to go and check it out.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven To Make Repairs To Dyckman Bascule Bridge

Damage to the electrical conduit serving South Haven’s Dyckman Bascule Bridge has knocked it out of service for the time being. Emergency repairs will get underway next week by Strain Electric out of suburban Grand Rapids, with the city authorizing spending $26,500 on the work. Ice damaged the conduit over the winter, but city officials say it will be back in service before the upcoming boating season. The bridge was refurbished in 2015 and dates to 1967. On average, 88-hundred vehicles cross the bridge daily according to BridgeReports.com, with that number coming from a study four years ago.. ...Read Full Story

Divers Hope To Recover Underwater Crucifix Part In Michigan

From the Associated Press — Divers hope to locate and repair the arm of an underwater statue depicting a crucified Jesus in northern Michigan, which is part of a yearly event that draws hundreds to a frozen bay. The Petoskey News-Review reports that about 1,300 people gathered earlier this month to view the 11-foot tall, one-ton statue of Jesus Christ in Little Traverse Bay near the Petoskey shore. But many attendees questioned why the statue’s arm is missing. Event organizer Dennis Jessick says he believes compression forces from the ice caused the arm to break. He says event organizers and divers hope to locate the missing arm in the spring. The crucifix was brought to Petoskey in 1962 as a way to honor people who have died in bodies of water and moved to its current spot in 1986.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Approves Break For Apartment, Commercial Development

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have signed off on plans for an apartment development downtown. At a Monday meeting, the city commission approved the establishment of an Obsolete Property Rehabilitation District and a 12-year tax break for Cressy Commercial Real Estate to redevelop the Harbor Center building at Pipestone and Main Streets. The plan is to invest $2.5 to $3 million in turning the building into 14 apartments and two commercial spaces. Mayor Marcus Muhammad said the vacant building is currently dilapidated.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Optimistic About E-Cigarette Legislation

Legislation that would ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors in Michigan is making its way through the state House. State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan tells WSJM News the committee hearing on the plan brought to light one question. It was whether the liquids used in those products, which sometimes contain no nicotine, should be included.. ...Read Full Story

Presidential Contenders Campaign In Michigan

From the Associated Press — Two Democratic presidential candidates are campaigning in Michigan a year before the state’s primary. Beto O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman, made three stops in the Detroit area Monday. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York scheduled events later in the day. Democrats are emphasizing Michigan early after Donald Trump in 2016 became the first Republican to win the state in decades. At a stop in Macomb County, a man asked O’Rourke how Democrats can win back blue-collar white workers who supported Trump. O’Rourke said Trump has successfully “exacerbated the divisions” among Americans, but Democrats must “transcend that” and “be above it” while still confronting economic inequalities and the “hard truths” of slavery and segregation. O’Rourke also visited a carpentry training school in Oakland County and a Detroit coffee shop.. ...Read Full Story

Registrations Being Taken For Lory’s Place Run And Walk

Registrations are being taken for the next Lory’s Place Run, Walk, and Rock. This is the 15th year for the event, which raises money for Lory’s Pace, a St. Joseph-based program that helps people cope with grief. The Run, Walk, and Rock will be Saturday, May 18. The timed 5K run and walk course will take runners and walkers through St. Joseph’s Edgewater area and into Tiscornia Park. Meanwhile, rocking chairs will be available for spectators throughout the morning along the edge of the course. Individuals or groups can sponsor a rocker. That money goes to Lory’s Place, along with the registration fees paid by runners and walkers. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Jobs For MI Graduates Conference This Week

As Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates marks ten years, the program will hold its annual Career Development Conference in Lansing this week. Youth Solutions Director Kristin Harrington tells WSJM News JMG has grown to serve around 3,000 at-risk students across Michigan since it started in Benton Harbor a decade ago. Around 300 students will be at Thursday’s conference to take part in career skills competitions, showing off things they have learned.. ...Read Full Story

No Plea Deals Offered In Murder Of Army Sergeant

No plea deals are on the table for the couple accused of the murder of Army Sergeant Tyrone Hassel III. His wife, Kemia Hassel, and alleged gunman Jeremy Cuellar were both in court on Monday. They’re accused of using Snapchat to plan the killing, which happened New Year’s Eve at the home of Sergeant Hassel’s parents in St. Joseph Township. Defense attorneys for both and the Berrien County Prosecutor’s office have told the judge they all need more time to prepare their cases, meaning the scheduled April 30 start for the trial might be delayed. Authorities say Kemia Hassel and Cuellar were having an affair and she came up with the idea to kill her husband to get insurance money rather than file for divorce.. ...Read Full Story

Man Charged For 1986 Murder In Bangor

Michigan State Police believe they’ve solved a 1986 cold case murder in Bangor. One of the daughters of 51-year-old Wilda Wilkinson found her body, but investigators got nowhere in their investigation. State police detectives reopened the case nine years ago and narrowed down several suspects before starting to work full-time on the investigation last year. A man who was a neighbor of Wilkinson was never ruled out as a suspect, and was arrested last week in California. Michael Curry was arraigned Monday after waiving extradition and being brought back to Michigan. Investigators say several interviews and physical evidence led them to Curry, but have not disclosed exactly what cracked the case.. ...Read Full Story

Antwan Mims Sentenced For Double Murder

In reality, it was just a formality as Antwan Mims of Benton Harbor was sent away to prison for the rest of his life for a double murder a year ago this month outside a house party. Mims was convicted of first degree murder for the deaths of Michael Johnson and Cortez Miller, and was captured in suburban Atlanta, Georgia last year after being placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives list. He made no statement at today’s sentencing hearing. It took a jury just three hours to find Mims guilty of all charges in February. Johnson and Miller were shot in front of roughly 100 witnesses at the home of a friend of Mims on Lavette Avenue on March 25, 2018.. ...Read Full Story

AAA Survey: Gas Prices Up 7¢ To $2.59

AAA Michigan says average gas prices statewide are up about 7¢ from a week ago to about $2.59 per gallon. The Dearborn-based auto club says Monday the average price for self-serve regular unleaded is about 3¢ more than a year ago. AAA says the statewide average rose to a new 2019 high of $2.62 per gallon last Wednesday before easing later in the week, and prices are likely to keep going higher. The state’s highest average was about $2.65 a gallon in the Traverse City area. The lowest average was about $2.53 in the Flint area, while the average in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph is the second-lowest in the state at $2.56. According to GasBuddy, South Haven’s average is $2.47, but that area is not part of the Triple-A survey.. ...Read Full Story

Vehicle Break-Ins At Governor’s Residence Investigated

An investigation is underway after someone broke into two vehicles at Governor Whitmer’s home. Michigan State Police arrested one person this weekend, and the Ingham County Prosecutor’s office will determine charges. No information about what was stolen was released. State police wouldn’t say if the governor or her family were home when the thefts occurred. The governor’s residence is gated and has armed security. The “Lansing State Journal” reports part of the investigation involves how the suspect got onto the property.. ...Read Full Story

Tax Day Approaching

The clock is ticking towards tax day. Tax refunds are due in less than a month on April 15th if you don’t file for an extension. It’s expected that 30 million people will get a tax bill this year, not a refund as they usually do because of changes to tax laws and reform. Some people who say they have never had to pay before have received word they owe the IRS hundreds of dollars. If you have to pay, but don’t have the money, experts say you should talk to the IRS about a monthly payment plan.. ...Read Full Story

One Hurt In Cass County Crash

The impact was hard enough cause a vehicle to split into pieces in Cass County’s Porter Township Sunday afternoon. Sheriff’s deputies say 63-year-old Randy Riley was headed north on M-40 when he lost control and slammed into a tree. He’s being treated at Elkhart General Hospital, but authorities have not released his condition. Investigators don’t yet know what caused Riley to go off the road.. ...Read Full Story

Student Jobs Program Facing Funding Loss

A program that connects Michigan students with job skills and employment could be on the chopping block. State Representative Beth Griffin tells WSJM News that when she got a look at Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year, she noticed it contained no funding for Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates.. ...Read Full Story

Parks Grants Approved By State House

A list of recreation and parks projects recommended for state grants by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board has been approved by the state House. Among the 60 projects statewide that are included in the list is $2.4 million to acquire 42 acres for the Grand Beach Nature Preserve in Berrien County. It will be used to develop a trail system. State Representative Brad Paquette says “Grand Beach Nature Preserve is already a great part of our community,” and the acquisition will make it better for tourism. Also included in the latest list of grants is $534,000 to add another 126 acres to the Cornish State Game Area in Van Buren County. The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund is made up of money acquired by the development of minerals on state land. Each year, those dollars go to recreation projects all over the state.. ...Read Full Story

Funding Sought For New Soo Lock

President Trump is seeking more than $75 million for work on the new Soo Lock project in Sault Ste. Marie. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the money would be used to start construction of the upstream approach walls, continue the design of the New Soo Lock chamber, and finish construction of the upstream channel deepening. The Corps tells us the upstream approach walls will stabilize the existing approach walls to allow for modern vessels to tie up and wait their turn to pass through the new lock. It’s anticipated the wall designs will be finished in late 2019, and the construction contract will be awarded in summer 2020. Army Corp Lieutenant Colonel Greg Turner says the appropriation keeps the project on track for completion in seven to ten years from the start of construction. You can find out more about the new Soo Lock project right here.. ...Read Full Story

State Highlights Free College Program

The Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development is highlighting an early college program in Allegan County as a model for how more students could receive a college education, and for free. The Early College Allegan County program gives high school students a chance to earn an associate’s degree from Lake Michigan College before they even finish high school, says TED spokesperson Erica Quealey.. ...Read Full Story

Possible Rule Updates For Bridgman Beach

Weko Beach in Bridgman could be seeing some changes this year. For one, Bridgman Parks and Recreation Director Joan Guilfoyle tells WSJM News the beach could be going back to the policy stating dogs are not allowed on part of the beach while on their way to Warren Dunes State Park next door.. ...Read Full Story

BH Seniors Not On Track To Graduate

Of 138 seniors at Benton Harbor High School this year, only 38 are currently on track to graduate. That was one of many things Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO Robert Herrera told the community at a meeting this past week. He said a recent audit of the graduation numbers of this year and last year found many students far off track. Herrera told WSJM News when they can be helped, they will be.. ...Read Full Story

Weight Restrictions In Place On MI Roads

The Berrien County Road Department and the Van Buren County Road Commission have implemented seasonal weight restrictions to try to protect the roads from damage as the spring arrives. Van Buren County Road Commission Engineer-Manager Larry Hummel tells WSJM News when there has been an extended period of freezing weather, frost builds up under the road. As it thaws from surface on down, the road up top is in danger.. ...Read Full Story

Increased Drunk Driving Enforcement This Weekend

Michigan State Police are increasing patrols this weekend to watch out for drunk drivers around St. Patrick’s Day. This Sunday, troopers will join their counterparts from across the country in the international traffic safety initiative, Operation C.A.R.E. — or Crash Awareness and Reduction Efforts. The enforcement period begins at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, March 17, and will end at 11:59 p.m. Sunday. State police advise drivers not to rely on luck this St. Patty’s Day and to arrange for a ride if drinking. In addition to drunk driving, police will be looking out for aggressive driving and failure to use a seat belt.. ...Read Full Story

House Approves Prison Healthcare Cost Plan

Legislation designed to save money on prison costs by moving medically-frail inmates into healthcare facilities has been approved by the Michigan House. State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan tells WSJM News the four-bill package would let non-violent inmates with severe and chronic physical or mental disabilities complete their sentences at a medical facility rather than inside a prison. And that’s only if approved by a parole board.. ...Read Full Story

Gray Wolves Could Lose Protections

U.S. wildlife officials want to strip gray wolves of their remaining federal protections and declare them recovered after a decades-long restoration effort. Michigan Technological University wildlife ecology professor John Vucetich doesn’t support the move. He spoke with Michigan News Network about it.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Details Rescue Of Kidnapped Child This Week

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has revealed more information about a kidnapping in the Upper Peninsula that resulted in a statewide Amber Alert this week. Skip Hagy with the DNR in Newberry tells WSJM News 53-year-old George Cunningham and 68-year-old Jon Stygler on Wednesday night attacked multiple people at a home where Cunningham’s 5-year-old son lived. They then took the boy. The two men ditched a vehicle near Paradise, in Chippewa County, and went walking out on Whitefish Bay in Lake Superior.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Hearing On Marina Grant Next Week

The city of South Haven will hold a public hearing on Monday to allow comment on the proposed application to seek a grant for the purchase of the All Seasons Marine sit on Black River Street. The city already operates several marinas. Assistant City Manager Kate Hosier told WSJM News why the city is interested in the All Seasons Marine site.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor To Close Part Of Paw Paw Avenue

The city of Benton Harbor is closing a failing section of Paw Paw Avenue until further notice. The city says Paw Paw Avenue from north of Waukonda to the Public Works maintenance garage will be shut down starting on Monday at 8 a.m. The section will stay that way while the city investigates and then fixes it. During the closure, traffic will be re-routed to North Shore Avenue.. ...Read Full Story

Wendzel To Hold “Pints With Pauline” Next Week

This is a little different than holding a coffee hour. State Representative Pauline Wendzel’s office tells us she’s planning to hold a “Pints with Pauline” event this month at Arclight Brewing Company in Watervliet. She’ll be there on Monday, March 18 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. to talk with residents about any concerns they may have. Wendzel says she’s holding the event in the evening so those who work during the usual morning coffee hours have the opportunity to share their thoughts about state government and hear about what’s going on in Lansing. No appointment will be necessary. Anyone who wants to talk with Wendzel can just go to Arclight Brewing Company on Monday from 5 to 6:30 and have a chat.. ...Read Full Story

LMC conducting Community Survey

Lake Michigan College is seeking the community’s help in setting its goals for the future. It’s launched an online survey to ask everyone what they think should be LMC’s priorities. LMC tells us the first part of the survey asks for five key words or phrases that describe what the college should strive to achieve. The second part asks for feedback about the college’s current goals, which are academic excellence, student success, and community impact. The college’s 2019-2024 Strategic Planning Committee says it will use information collected through the survey to “hopefully end up with a statement that is shorter and more memorable, as well as more specific to our region and culture.” You can find the survey right here.. ...Read Full Story

Women’s Unity Walk This Saturday

A women’s unity march is planned for this weekend in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor. Berrien County Democratic Women Chair Kim Jorgensen Gane tells WSJM News the event is to learn about challenges women face, to amplify the voices of women in Berrien County, and to foster coalitions. On hand will be a variety of speakers.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Commissioners Signal Support For Trail Project

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has given the green light to the Berrien County Road Department to seek a $1.5 million grant for a trail project near New Buffalo. County Administrator Bill Wolf tells WSJM News the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission is working with the city of New Buffalo, New Buffalo Township, the Pokagon Fund, and others as it seeks the Transportation Alternative Program grant.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Announces Record Fundraising Year

The United Way of Southwest Michigan is marking a record fundraising year. At its annual celebration at Lake Michigan College Thursday, the organization announced it raised more than $4.2 million with its 2018 campaign. United Way of Southwest Michigan President Anna Murphy tells WSJM News the region cares.. ...Read Full Story

Group Asks Court For Decision On Minimum Wage Legislation

The Michigan chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business is filing an amicus brief urging the state Supreme Court to issue an opinion on the GOP lame-duck legislature’s gutting of the state minimum wage law. Supporters of a higher minimum wage say the action was an unconstitutional gutting of a ballot proposal that the legislature blocked from reaching voters. That raises the possibility of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the action. NFIB’s Charlie Owens.. ...Read Full Story

Energy Rebate For Benton Harbor Schools

A recent project to increase energy efficiency at Benton Harbor Area Schools has resulted in a rebate of just under $5,000 being awarded to the district by Indiana Michigan Power. At this week’s district CEO meeting, I&M’s Jason Whitman said the schools replaced 250 light fixtures to house efficient LED lighting.. ...Read Full Story

Two Arrested Following Overnight AMBER Alert Out Of Upper Peninsula

The alerts in the middle of the night likely woke up thousands of Michiganders regarding an AMBER Alert in the Upper Peninsula town of Paradise. There is a happy ending to that situation. Michigan State Police canceled the alert a little after 1 a.m. once they found five-year-old Zephaniau Cunningham alive and safe and arrested two adults, including abduction suspect George Cunningham. Troopers had found his pickup truck within a half-hour of the AMBER Alert buzzing phones and triggering broadcast alerts throughout Michigan, and then found all three people a short time later.. ...Read Full Story

Five Governors Opposing Trump Plan To Cut Great Lakes Spending

From the Associated Press — Governors of five states oppose President Donald Trump’s call for a 90 percent spending cut for a Great Lakes cleanup program. The president’s 2020 budget offers $30 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which gets $300 million most years. It removes toxic pollution, prevents algae blooms and species invasions, and restores wildlife habitat. The governors said Wednesday the cut would cost jobs, hurt tourism and jeopardize public health. They urged Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, a former Indiana governor, to fully fund the program. Issuing the statement were Democratic Governors Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania and J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, along with Republican Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said numerous states, local governments and others also support the program and that more details on the federal role will be released later.. ...Read Full Story