Local News Archives

Effort Focuses On Long-Term Flood Recovery

The United Way of Southwest Michigan has set up a long-term recovery team to help those affected by flooding this year in the region. The United Way tells WSJM News it will now host bi-monthly meetings with state and local organizations focused on uniting resources with community needs to ensure everyone recovers from the disaster. President Anna Murphy says a large number of southwest Michigan families were displaced by the flooding, and in some cases, their homes cannot be repaired. The United Way is teaming up with groups that include the Berrien Community Foundation, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and the Michigan State Police Office of Emergency Management to get ongoing help to those people. Anyone looking for more information can call the United Way of Southwest Michigan. It also notes the disaster relief fund it set up following February’s floods remains open. You can find it right here.. ...Read Full Story

Marijuana Proposal Possible For Ballot

It’s a proposal to legalize the sale and possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for personal use in Michigan, and we’ll find out this week if it makes the November ballot. Josh Hovey, spokesperson for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol,tells Michigan News Network Colorado got it right when it comes to legalizing pot.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Bans Sale Of Whip Its To Minors

From the Associated Press — Kids hoping to get high off laughing gas would have a harder time under a bill that is headed toward Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk. The Michigan Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to prohibit the sale or distribution of devices intended to hold nitrous oxide to minors. Commonly known by the street name “whip-its,” these containers have surged in popularity due to the temporary buzz produced from inhaling the gas. Those who fail to adhere to the sales ban would face a maximum $500 civil fine under the House-sponsored bills. The Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police testified in support of the bills, citing abuse of laughing gas as the root of multiple injuries and at least one death in the state.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Makes It Official

Congressman Fred Upton has made it official. He has filed for re-election, submitting more than the number of petition signatures required to qualify for the ballot. He announced last November that this was his intention. He had toyed with the idea of running for the U.S. Senate against Debbie Stabenow but after assessing his chances, the support available and consulting with his family, he has decided instead to try for his 17th term representing South West Michigan in Congress. The 6th District includes all of Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties and most of Allegan County. A half-dozen democrats have come forward to run for the seat, and will face off in an August Primary to determine who will challenge Upton this fall.. ...Read Full Story

Humane Society Closes For Move

The Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan is on the move. The organization put out word Tuesday morning that it is now closed until its relocation to the new shelter in Royalton Township is complete. The facility on M-139 replaces the old Crystal Avenue shelter in Benton Township, which the Humane Society tells us had become grossly inadequate. While the move is ongoing, the Humane Society asks everyone to be patient and understand it could take some weeks to complete the process. It says the staff and animals both appreciate your understanding. We’ll keep you posted when the organization announces its ribbon cutting celebration for the new shelter.. ...Read Full Story

Liquor Revenue Could Pay For Substance Abuse Treatment

From the Associated Press — The Michigan House wants to direct 4 percent of the Liquor Control Commission’s revenue toward fighting substance abuse. The chamber voted 104-3 Tuesday to earmark state funds from alcohol taxes, liquor licenses and liquor code violation fees for distribution among community health agencies. The bill would inject the money into services such as substance abuse prevention and treatment programs – one-fourth of which could not be exclusively alcohol-centric. Supporters of the bill say it provides a much-needed bridge for funding gaps in Michigan’s health entities, which would gain almost $20 million from the measure. During the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the Liquor Control Commission’s net revenue topped $430 million. The bill now heads to the Senate.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joe Conducts Water System Study

A recent study of the community’s water system in St. Joseph is helping city officials better plan for repairs. St. Joe Public Works Director Tom MacDonald tells WSJM News the city commission in September hired a company that came in and used specialized sounding equipment to find underground leaks. The survey found seven leaks, which were causing about five million gallons of water per year to be wasted.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joe Republican Running For House

There is a new Republican now running for the Michigan House in the 79th District. It’s Bruce Gorenflo of St. Joseph. Gorenflo is a technical writer and graphic designer who has lived in southwest Michigan almost his entire life. He tells WSJM News a big priority is reducing auto insurance rates.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Pushes For Dredging Funds

Now is the time to get some dredging done in recreational harbors in southwest Michigan. So says Congressman Fred Upton, who has sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking that money be set aside for harbors in Saugatuck, South Haven, and New Buffalo. He spoke with WSJM News about the issue.. ...Read Full Story

Former LMC President Running For County Commission

Former Lake Michigan College President Bob Harrison is now running for the Berrien County Board of Commissioners. He’s filed to run for the Republican nomination in the 7th District, which includes the village of Stevensville and part of Lincoln Township. Harrison tells WSJM News he sees the county commission facing challenges specific to southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Man Arrested In Domestic Violence Incident

No one was hurt and one man was taken into custody following a domestic violence incident in St. Joseph Tuesday that got a response from the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Tactical Response Unit. The St. Joseph Department of Public Safety tells us it happened in the 1700 block of Forres Avenue around 4:30 p.m. Officers arrived at the scene and were told by a woman that she had been assaulted. A man inside the home refused to come out, and police were told he was intoxicated and armed. St. Joseph Public Safety called in the sheriff’s department for assistance, and the man eventually gave up. He was taken into custody.. ...Read Full Story

Latest Homes Sales Numbers

The southwest Michigan real estate market has managed to turn around after a relatively slow February. According to the latest numbers released by the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors, the number of houses sold in March of 2018 was down 13% from March of 2017, but the average selling price was up by 15%. Plus, year-to-date, the average selling price this year has been up by 10%. Home sales in March were up 35% compared to February. Part of the reason prices are up is the low inventory, which continues to be a problem for the southwest Michigan housing market. The inventory is at a 4.5-month supply.. ...Read Full Story

House Approves Increase In School Funding

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s public schools would receive their largest increase in base per-student funding in 17 years under a budget plan endorsed by the state House. The Republican-controlled House approved the plan Tuesday, including a boost ranging from $120 to $240 per pupil proposed by Governor Rick Snyder. Once the Senate passes a proposal and revised revenue estimates are released, a budget agreement will be finalized in June. Though the House backed the governor’s base K-12 funding proposal, it rejected proposed cuts to online charter schools and to aid that helps public schools enroll private students in elective classes. Unlike Snyder, the House voted to close a prison next fiscal year. Republicans rejected Democratic amendments to spend more on road improvements and to restore free bottled water for Flint residents.. ...Read Full Story

Public Hearing On SJ Tax Rate

A public hearing on the budget and the local tax rate will be held by St. Joseph City Commissioners next month. Mayor Mike Garey tells WSJM News the commission is grappling with multiple considerations as it looks at possible millage increases. That includes the need for street repair money. He credits city staff with being on top of the looming challenges.. ...Read Full Story

Al-Van Humane Society New Shelter

The Al-Van Humane Society is preparing to open its brand new shelter in South Haven next week. Executive Director Jennifer Nuernberg tells us the new 8,000 square foot building on Blue Star Highway is just around the corner from the current facility, and the animals will be moved this coming weekend. The Humane Society had to raise $500,000 to make the move possible.. ...Read Full Story

Man Faces Trial In Fatal Bike Crash

From the Associated Press — A trial is expected to run about two weeks for a man involved in a 2016 crash that killed five bicyclists and injured four others in southwestern Michigan. Prospective jurors in the case of Charles Pickett are appearing Monday in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court and jury selection is expected to take place Tuesday. The Michigan Supreme Court earlier this year decided against hearing an
appeal of the second-degree murder charges he faces. Pickett is accused of driving under the influence of drugs and plowing into a group of bicyclists in Cooper Township on June 7, 2016. His girlfriend told police he downed handfuls of pain pills and muscle relaxers before driving. Pickett’s lawyer has argued the evidence established, at most, the elements of reckless driving causing death.. ...Read Full Story

Report Calls For Minimum Wage Increase

A new report calls for raising the federal minimum wage to 15-dollars an hour to reduce poverty and promote pay equity. While the minimum wage in Michigan is $8.25 per hour, it still is $7.25 an hour in 21 other states. Since the current federal minimum wage went into effect nine years ago, it has lost 13% of its value, and the minimum federal wage for workers who get tips has stayed at $2.13 an hour since 1991. Emily Chatterjee, senior counsel at the Leadership Conference Education Fund, says raising the wage would do more than help lift people out of poverty.. ...Read Full Story

Businessman Turns In Signatures For Governor

From the Associated Press — Businessman Shri Thanedar has submitted 30,000 signatures to run for governor, becoming the third Democratic candidate to file. Thanedar turned in the petitions Monday, before Tuesday’s deadline. He says he wants to be governor to “make a difference for this state, which has given me so many breaks.” Thanedar is a scientist by training and immigrant from India who last year told a stake in his chemical-testing company for tens of millions of dollars. The political novice has been airing TV ads to build his name recognition. Other Democrats running are Gretchen Whitmer and Abdul El-Sayed. Retired business executive Bill Cobbs is running, too, but may not have enough voter signatures to qualify.. ...Read Full Story

Final Approval For Pier Life Rings

The north pier in St. Joseph will have life rings installed by Memorial Day weekend. So says St. Joe City Manager John Hodgson, who told city commissioners Monday night the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is on board, and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department will help with maintenance. Hodgson told WSJM News the north pier model will follow the county’s example with life rings at the south pier.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Talks Hepatitis A

The Berrien County Health Department is reminding everyone to talk with their doctor about getting the Hepatitis A vaccine. Spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News Hepatitis A is a liver disease that has been on the rise in Michigan, especially in the southeast part of the state.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Talks Opioid Abuse Prevention

Combating the fight against opioid addiction before it starts. That’s the idea behind a new bill in Lansing. State Representative Joseph Bellino tells Michigan News Network he has a plan that would require certain prescriptions to come in locked vials that can administer pills at specific intervals. Bellino admits to once being a cocaine addict himself.. ...Read Full Story

PGA Champ Not Playing This Year

Next month’s KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores will be missing one key player. Last year’s champion, Bernhard Langer, announced at Monday’s Media Day he will sit out the event, slated for May 22 through May 27, because his son is graduating high school that same week. He did have some praise for the Harbor Shores golf course.. ...Read Full Story

Robotics World Competition Heads To Detroit

Later this week, some 40-thousand students, mentors, and family members are descending on downtown Detroit for the FIRST Robotics Championship at Cobo Center and Ford Field. Nearly 700 qualifying teams from around the world will start competing Wednesday. Students will build and operate robots to complete a task which increases in difficulty at each level. Co-Director Patti Poppe is President & CEO of Consumers Energy.. ...Read Full Story

Indiana Health Officials: Don’t Go To Michigan Unless…

Health officials in Indiana are warning summer travelers — don’t go to Michigan unless you get the Hepatitis-A vaccine. The Indiana Department of Health says residents should be aware if traveling to the Great Lakes State or Kentucky due to the liver damaging virus in recent months. According to Michigan officials, more than 800 cases have been reported since August 2016, resulting in at least 25 deaths. Meanwhile, the Louisville Kentucky area has seen more than 250 cases since last November.. ...Read Full Story

BH Salutes Tiger Basketball

The Benton Harbor City Commission has officially recognized Benton Harbor High School Tigers Basketball for its state championship win this year. At this past week’s meeting, Mayor Marcus Muhammad read a resolution granting a key to the city for the team.. ...Read Full Story

Small Business Day Next Month

An event is coming up at the Mendel Center in Benton Township for small business owners and those interested in starting a business. Cornerstone Alliance Entrepreneurship Director Stacey Stephens tells WSJM News Small Business Day will be held Wednesday, May 2.. ...Read Full Story

Plan Would Create Medicaid Work Requirement

Able-bodied Medicaid recipients in Michigan may soon have to choose between finding a job or losing their health insurance. The ultimatum comes in the form of a bill approved by Michigan Senators this past week. After their amendments were shot down, Democrats took the floor Thursday to blast the bill for what they said was punishing the poor. Democrat Curtis Hertel spoke on the Senate floor.. ...Read Full Story

Report Examines Cigarette Taxes Vs Smuggling Rates

A new report from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy takes a look at the rate of cigarette tax evasion, noting how common smuggling is largely depends on what a given state’s cigarette tax is. Fiscal Policy Analyst Michael LaFaive tells WSJM News most cigarette smuggling into Michigan comes from Indiana, where the tax is $1 per pack compared to Michigan’s $2 per pack. In the recent analysis, though, smuggling wasn’t rampant between the two states.. ...Read Full Story

Plan Calls For Prison Kitchen Inspections

State Senator John Proos is working on language to insert in the Michigan Department of Corrections budget to subject all department-operated kitchens to the public safety requirements of the state’s food code. Proos tells WSJM News it would make sense for prison kitchens to be inspected the same way as restaurants.. ...Read Full Story

City Considers Public Safety Ordinance

A proposal to charge non-residents for their costs to the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety is being considered by city commissioners. At this past week’s meeting, commissioners heard a proposal from City Manager Darwin Watson to set up a fee structure for those out-of-towners who need things like fire services or emergency help. He noted many other communities have such an ordinance. Mayor Pro Tem Duane Seats said there are situations in which public safety spends a lot to help someone who doesn’t pay the city taxes.. ...Read Full Story

Dog Park Planned In Baroda

The village of Baroda is getting a new dog park thanks to the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors. Association Executive Alan Jeffries tells WSJM News they award a $2,500 grant each year to a local community for an improvement project with the national association’s placemaking grant program. This year, Baroda gets an area where people can take their dogs.. ...Read Full Story

Plan To Boost School Safety

Governor Rick Snyder is proposing a school safety plan that calls for upgrading security at up to 400 schools and tripling the budget of the OK2Say tip line. The proposal made Monday includes $20 million to update school buildings with locks and other security features, says spokesperson Ari Adler. He spoke with WSJM News about the proposal.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Highlight Safe Delivery Law

Michigan State Police are reminding everyone about the state’s Safe Delivery of Newborns Law. Approved in 2001, the law allows for the parents of an infant to surrender it to an emergency service provider within 72 hours of its birth without facing a penalty. The baby has to be dropped off with a uniformed or otherwise identified employee or contractor of a fire department, hospital, or police station that is inside the building and on duty. Also, a newborn can be surrendered to an EMT responding to a 911 call. Since the law was approved, it has resulted in the safe delivery of 155 newborns. Lawmakers approved it in order to prevent the abandonment of unwanted babies. You can find out more about the Safe Delivery of Newborns Law at Michigan.gov/SafeDelivery.. ...Read Full Story

Survey Considers Support For Teen Mothers

Most adults with children feel that state support for pregnant teens is a good investment in the baby’s health. That’s according to a new national study by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan. Study co-director Sarah Clark spoke with Michigan News Network about her findings.. ...Read Full Story

Amtrak Train Planned For PGA Event

Folks from the Chicago-area who want to come to Benton Harbor next month for the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship will have a new way to do so thanks to Amtrak. Spokesperson Mark Magliari tells WSJM News Amtrak will run a special train to the area on Saturday, May 26. The train will go from Chicago to Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor. It’s been a long time in the making.. ...Read Full Story

Beach Preparations Underway

Despite the recent weather, summer is actually coming to southwest Michigan at some point and that means getting South Haven’s beaches ready for visitors. City Manager Brian Dissette tells WSJM News work on the City’s North Beach has begun.. ...Read Full Story

Plan To Prevent Sex Assault By Doctors

Legislation is being worked on in the Michigan House to help ensure there is never a repeat of the Larry Nassar situation. Although the former sports doctor will be behind bars for the rest of his life, lawmakers want to make sure no other doctor can sexually abuse patients under the guise of medical examination. State Representative Mary Whiteford of Casco Township told us more.. ...Read Full Story

I&M Saluted For Green Energy Efforts

Indiana Michigan Power has been saluted for its green energy policies. The company has been named a 2018 Environmental Champion from a Cogent Reports study by Market Strategies International. I&M spokesperson Tracy Warner tells WSJM News the honor is for the company’s renewable energy portfolio. He says I&M gets two thirds of its electricity generation from emission-free sources, with the Cook nuclear power plant in Bridgman being a big part of that. I&M also has solar, hydroelectric, and wind programs.. ...Read Full Story

Police Continue Texting Enforcement

Troopers from the Michigan State Police post in Niles will be out in extra force for the rest of this month watching out for distracted drivers. MSP Sergeant Matt Waters tells WSJM News police statewide are taking part in the extra enforcement. As a cop, he’s seen it all.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Seeks Dredging Funds

Congressman Fred Upton is once again calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to set aside funding this year for the dredging of recreational harbors in Saugatuck, South Haven, and New Buffalo. Upton’s office notes the Army Corps has already provided funding for commercial harbors, like the one in St. Joseph, for the past three years. In a letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Army Civil Works division, Upton writes that he asks the Corps to “include critical operation and maintenance funding for dredging of harbors in Southwest Michigan, essential to jobs and economic activity up-and-down the region.” Upton calls southwest Michigan’s recreational harbors “the lifeblood of the coastal communities they serve.”. ...Read Full Story

Drug Take-Back Event Next Week

There will be a drug take-back event next Saturday in Berrien County. Michigan State Police Lieutenant Melinda Logan tells WSJM News  law enforcement offices and the Lakeland Center for Outpatient Services on Hollywood Road in St. Joseph will take unused prescription medications so they can be safely disposed.. ...Read Full Story

Bill Would Make OK2Say Tip Line Permanent

Legislation has been introduced to make the OK2Say school safety tip line a permanent program. State Representative Brandt Iden of Kalamazoo County’s Oshtemo Township tells WSJM News his bill and a couple of others would not only establish that OK2Say is here to stay, but set aside funding for the program each year. The OK2Say tip line was launched by the Michigan Attorney General’s office in 2015 to create a way for students to report potentially dangerous situations in their schools without fear of repercussions.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Gets Law Enforcement Endorsements

Three key endorsements from law enforcement have come in for state Representative Kim LaSata as she runs for Michigan Senate in the 21st District. Her campaign tells us Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey, Cass County Sheriff Rick Behnke, and St. Joseph County Sheriff Bradley Balk have all thrown their support behind LaSata. Those three counties make up the 21st Michigan Senate District. Currently representing that district is state Senator John Proos, who is being term limited out of office. Also running for the 21st District seat is state Representative Dave Pagel.. ...Read Full Story

New Leader For Senior Agency

Senior Services of Van Buren County has a new Executive Director. Her name is Diane Rigozzi, and she has served as assistant director for the past four years, working for Senior Services for a total of eight years. Rigozzi replaced Jennifer Carver, who retired in December. 19 people applied for the executive director position, and the personnel committee felt Rigozzi was best qualified for the position. Senior Services of Van Buren County has centers in Paw Paw, South Haven, and Hartford. It also hasw satellite sites in the county that serve close to 5,000 people with a variety of helpful services.. ...Read Full Story

Republican Seeking 79th District House Seat

There’s a new candidate in the running for the Michigan House in the 79th District. It’s Maria Moen, and she’s running as a Republican to replace state Representative Kim LaSata. Moen is the vice president for the board of directors of The Curious Kids Museum, and also serves on the St. Joseph Public School Foundation Board. She’s previously worked as an adviser for the Berrien Community Foundation TEAM teen group, on the Basic Needs Committee for United Way, and on the Lake Michigan Catholic School Board. Moen tells us if she makes it to Lansing, she wants to focus on education, jobs, and public safety. Also running for the state House as a Republican in the 79th District is Troy Rolling of Benton Township.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Fights Underage Drinking

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and the Berrien County Health Department is hoping to remind all parents and young people about the dangers of underage drinking. The department’s Lisa Peeples-Hurst tells WSJM News the brain doesn’t stop developing until the age of 25 for some. Introducing alcohol to a young brain can make a variety of already-existing problems even worse.. ...Read Full Story

Lampricide To Be Applied To Creek

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be treating Rogers Creek in Van Buren County this month for sea lamprey. They’ll apply lampricide to the creek between May 1 and May 10. The agency’s Scott Grunder told WSJM News last year the invasive sea lamprey came to the Great Lakes with the opening of shipping canals.. ...Read Full Story

MI Student Wins National Art Contest

A Macomb County ten-year-old girl is the winner of a national poster art contest to help find missing children. Michigan State Police Missing Children’s Clearinghouse Manager Jolene Hardesty tells WSJM News more than 2,000 submissions from 17 states came in for the 2018 National Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest. Now that a winner has been picked, her art will appear on posters reminding the public of missing children throughout the year.. ...Read Full Story

Senate Approves Medicaid Work Requirement

Able-bodied Medicaid recipients in Michigan may soon have to choose between finding a job or losing their health insurance. The ultimatum comes in the form of a bill approved by Michigan Senators 26 to 11. After their amendments were shot down, Democrats took the floor Thursday to blast the bill for what they said was punishing the poor. Democrat Curtis Hertel spoke on the Senate floor.. ...Read Full Story

MI Unemployment Edges Down

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s unemployment rate declined slightly to 4.7% in March. Figures released Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget show Michigan’s jobless rate last month fell from 4.8 % in February. It was six-tenths of a percentage point above the national rate of 4.1% last month and slightly higher that the state’s March 2017 rate of 4.6%. The agency says total employment was essentially unchanged over the month, as total employment increased by 3,000 and the number of unemployed in the state decreased by the same number. Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives Director Jason
Palmer says Michigan jobless rates have been very steady since September and payroll jobs have risen consistently since early fall.. ...Read Full Story

Police Talk School Safety With Parents

Parents from St. Joseph Public Schools have had a chance to hear from police about what is being done to prevent and be prepared for a violent incident at local schools. At a forum at St. Joseph High School Thursday, St. Joe Public Safety Director Brian Uridge said prevention and intervention are much more important than response. Noting that most incidents are over within five minutes, Uridge said it’s important for parents, teachers, and the students to know what to look out for. He spoke with WSJM News after the presentation.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Company Saluted For SAfety

A South Haven company has been saluted by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or MIOSHA, for its safety record. Albemarle Corporation is now a recipient of the Michigan Voluntary Protection Program Star Award for 2018. MIOSHA tells us Albemarle has a “commitment to worker health and safety protections” that exceeds what’s required. Albemarle first received its Rising Star award in April of 2012, and was awarded its first Star award in November of 2014. The MVPP Star is given to companies that implement protections beyond MIOSHA standards and have injury and illness rates below the industry average for the last three years. Albemarle Plant Manager Ricky Coats tells us the company is proud to receive the designation. Albermarle is a chemical company based in North
Carolina.. ...Read Full Story