Local News Archives

Watchdog Says EPA Delayed Flint Emergency Order

The Environmental Protection Agency’s internal watchdog says the EPA had the authority and enough information to issue an emergency order to protect residents of Flint from lead-contaminated water as early as June 2015, seven months before it declared an emergency.
Inspector General Arthur Elkins says the Flint crisis should have generated “a greater sense of urgency” at the EPA to “intervene when the safety of drinking water is compromised.” Flint’s drinking water became tainted when the city began drawing from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money. The impoverished city of 100,000 north of Detroit was under state control at the time. Regulators failed to ensure water was treated properly and lead from aging pipes leached into the water supply.. ...Read Full Story

Bill To Exempt Michigan’s Masonic Lodges From Taxes Advances

(Lansing, MI – AP) – A bill advancing in the Legislature would exempt Michigan’s 275 Masonic lodges from property taxes. Supporters of the legislation , which won Senate approval Wednesday, say funding has become an issue for the fraternal service associations because Masons don’t have many options to increase revenue. Michigan law already provides tax exemptions for property owned by nonprofit charitable institutions, but they have been inconsistently allowed for Masonic associations.. ...Read Full Story

Indiana Official Clarifies Voter Registration Fraud Probe

(Indianapolis, IN – AP) – Indiana’s secretary of state says many of the thousands of altered registration records she flagged might just be residents rushing to correct their names or birth dates ahead of the election. Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson’s acknowledgment Wednesday came
after she had warned of potential widespread voting fraud. She says she wanted Indiana State Police to investigate to ensure there was no widespread fraud after her office found a heavier than usual number of changes to voter registration records this election cycle.. ...Read Full Story

Report Recommends Changes To Emergency Manager System

Michigan should consider abandoning its one-person emergency management structure and instead install a team of three experts when
deficit-ridden municipalities and school districts fall under state control. That’s according to a report released Wednesday by a legislative committee that investigated Flint’s lead-tainted water crisis. Nine current or former government workers have been criminally charged since
medical experts detected elevated levels of lead in children due to the water supply in the impoverished city of nearly 100,000. The report makes a raft of recommendations intended to prevent a repeat of such a crisis in the state. It suggests replacing lead service pipes statewide, lifting emergency managers’ general immunity from civil lawsuits and prohibiting them from using cost as the primary factor in any decision that will affect public health and safety.. ...Read Full Story

Report Ranks MI 33rd In Gun Violence

The Center for American Progress has released a new report on gun violence in each state, ranking Michigan 33rd. Co-author Chelsea Parsons says the researchers found laws requiring background checks, trigger-lock rules and training requirements coincided with lower rates of gun fatalities, especially with domestic violence.. ...Read Full Story

Bill Exempts Masonic Lodges From Property Taxes

A bill advancing in the Legislature would exempt Michigan’s 275 Masonic lodges from property taxes. Supporters of the legislation , which won Senate approval Wednesday, say funding has become an issue for the fraternal service associations because Masons don’t have many options to increase revenue. Michigan law already provides tax exemptions for property owned by nonprofit charitable institutions, but they have been inconsistently allowed for Masonic associations. The nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency says 30 of the 275 lodges aren’t taxed today. Tax revenue would decline by between $600,000 and $2.3 million annually if the bill becomes law. It was passed 31-6 by the Senate and goes to the House for consideration. Three Republicans and three Democrats opposed the measure Wednesday.. ...Read Full Story

Drug Takeback Day This Weekend

If you have a bunch of old, unneeded medications sitting around in your medicine cabinet, the DEA is giving you a chance to get rid of them this Saturday. Michigan State Police Lieutenant Mike Dawson tells WSJM News the posts in Niles and Paw Paw will be drop off sites. All you do is show up, and they’ll take pills, no questions asked.. ...Read Full Story

Police Seek Niles Bank Robbery Suspect

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is asking for the public’s help in finding the suspect who robbed a Chemical Bank branch in Niles last week. On Wednesday, the man walked into the bank on South 11th Street and handed the clerk a note demanding cash. He made off with an undisclosed amount. Police describe the suspect as a black male, about 5’8, with a medium build. Crimestoppers is offering a $1,000 reward to whoever gives it information leading to the man’s arrest. You can call them at 1-800-342-STOP.. ...Read Full Story

Defense Seeks New Judge In Gas Station Clerk Abduction Case

The case against a man charged with murder in the 2013 disappearance of a gas station clerk in western Michigan is being delayed as his
lawyers seek a new judge. Jeffrey Willis’ defense team says Judge Raymond Kostrzewa should step aside because he worked in the Muskegon County prosecutor’s office during the Jessica Heeringa investigation. Kostrzewa earlier said he wasn’t involved in the investigation and refused to step aside. A hearing scheduled for Wednesday on other issues has been delayed. Heeringa disappeared April 26, 2013, from the gas station where she worked in Norton Shores, near Muskegon. Her body hasn’t been found. Willis also is facing charges in two other cases: the fatal shooting of a 36-year-old female jogger in 2014 and the April attempted abduction of a teenage girl.. ...Read Full Story