Local News Archives

Report: Michigan’s Road Salt Storage Sites Need Work

(Lansing, MI – AP) – About half of Michigan’s road salt storage facilities are in poor condition. The critique comes from the Michigan Department of Transportation and was included Thursday in a report from the state auditor general. Road salt buildings are owned by the counties, but MDOT helps maintain them because a portion of the salt is used on roads controlled by the state. There are 189 county storage sites, and 48% are in poor condition, 41% are good and 11% are fair. The audit report says salt storage facilities can be risky if not structurally sound. There also can be environmental impacts when salt is regularly exposed to water. Lawmakers have approved $5 million to rehab salt storage sites.. ...Read Full Story

MSP: Traffic Deaths More Than Double In Weekend Ahead Of Christmas

‘Twas a deadlier Christmas holiday period on Michigan roads this year than last. Michigan State Police say according to preliminary reports received by Wednesday afternoon, 10 people were killed in nine separate crashes in the state between December 21 and December 23, which was the Operation C.A.R.E. Lifesaver Weekend period when extra police were on the roads. Last year, MSP officials say four people were killed during the Operation C.A.R.E. initiative. Of the 10 deaths this year, four were pedestrians and three wrecks were alcohol-related. The current Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is still running and will end on December 31.. ...Read Full Story

Events Planned To Help MI Residents With Finances

You can find out how to save thousands on your taxes and get financial advice at Show Me the Money Day, a series of community fairs to be held across the state in January and February. There will be 38 events in all. The first one is January 21 in Sault Saint Marie, but this year there will be ten in the city of Detroit alone, four in Kalamazoo, one in Flint and many more. Brian Rakovitis with the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan tells us the fairs offer valuable advice.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder Signs Cyberbullying Bill, Vetoes Baby Box Bill

From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has signed a bill making it a crime to cyberbully and has vetoed one that would have amended the law to let parents surrender a newborn inside a special “safety device.” The Republican governor signed legislation Thursday to let Michigan businesses count out-of-state workers for the purposes of qualifying for state economic development incentives. He vetoed a bill he says would have increased the number of digital billboards. The cyberbullying law makes it a misdemeanor to post a message or statement on the internet with the intent of threatening and committing violence against another person. Snyder says the newborn law is important, but it’d be inappropriate to let parents deposit a baby into a device rather than hand it to a police, fire or
hospital employee.. ...Read Full Story

Indigent Defense Rules Costly For Some MI Officials

From the Associated Press — Some officials in Michigan say new state rules designed to give financially limited defendants effective legal representation in court cases are costing too much money to implement. The Detroit News reports that Oakland County officials are seeking a court order that says they don’t have to comply with the state regulations until the county receives a grant to cover the cost.
The new rules require counties to provide court-appointed attorneys with continuing education and private spaces for discussions with their clients, among other things. Oakland County officials have made several requests for about $3 million a year to hire additional assistant prosecutors and magistrates. The state has rejected those requests, saying they’re asking for money that no other county is
receiving.. ...Read Full Story

Buchanan Discontinues Winter Thrill On The Hill

The city of Buchanan has announced it’s discontinuing the winter Thrill on the Hill event. In a statement, the city says due to unpredictable winter weather and the cost to replace and repair equipment needed to put on the event, the “difficult decision” has been made to end it. The annual winter Thrill on the Hill featured sledding down the big hill downtown on snow produced on site. The event was canceled last year due to uncooperative weather. The city says the summer Thrill on the Hill will continue, though. That is slated for the first weekend in August.. ...Read Full Story

Police ID Meijer Robbers

The Lincoln Township Police Department says it’s been able to identify the four suspects who robbed the Meijer in Stevensville last week. The department on Wednesday posted to its Facebook page, saying “the suspects responsible for the armed robbery at Meijer have been identified. This is all the information that we can release at this point.” It told us Thursday afternoon more information would be released soon. The robbery at the Meijer on Red Arrow Highway happened last Wednesday around 12:30 in the morning. Four suspects — three men and one woman — were seen stealing electronics, and when they were confronted by store personnel, one of them pulled a gun. They then got away. We’ll keep you up to date on the investigation as police release more information.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Elementary Principal Dies Following Knee Surgery

Students and staff at Patrick Hamilton Elementary in Dowagiac are mourning the loss of the school’s principal. In a Facebook post, Dowagiac Union Schools deputy superintendent Dawn Conner says Heather Nash died Thursday morning following complications from what had been described as a routine knee surgery earlier this month. A prayer vigil was held at the school Sunday night. Nash served as principal at Patrick Hamilton Elementary for over a decade. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.. ...Read Full Story

2018 Michigan Lottery Winnings Set Record

New homes, new cars, luxury vacations, and financial security top the wish lists of Michigan Lottery winners this year. Lottery officials say 44 people won at least $1 million this year from the games, and overall, players collected a record $2.2 billion in prizes. A $9.64 million Lotto 47 jackpot on October 10 was the largest prize won in Michigan this year, and that was split by two winners, one from Bay and the other from Macomb counties. Three people won a jackpot of $4 million from four different games, with the most recent being a Sault Ste. Marie man who claimed his prize on Wednesday at Michigan Lottery headquarters in Lansing. In the 2018 fiscal year, the Lottery provided more than $941.2 million for Michigan’s public schools, its fourth record contribution in row. Since it began in 1972, the Lottery has contributed more than $22 billion to support public education in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Governor-Elect Whitmer Adding To Cabinet

Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer has named additional members of her Cabinet, including the state’s top environmental regulator and the leader of a transportation agency she says needs more funding to fix the roads. The Democrat on Thursday announced Paul Ajegba will become the director of the Department of Transportation. He has worked at MDOT 28 years. Liesl Eichler Clark, co-founder of a clean-energy policy consulting firm, will lead the Department of Environmental Quality, which has been under fire during Governor Snyder’s tenure for its role in the Flint water crisis.. ...Read Full Story

Two Michigan Regulators Take Plea Deals In Flint Water Case

(Lansing, MI – AP) – Two Michigan environmental regulators implicated in the Flint water scandal have pleaded no contest to misdemeanors in exchange for more serious charges being dropped. Michael Prysby and Stephen Busch, employees at the state Department of Environmental Quality, also agreed to testify against others under the terms of their deals. They entered their pleas Wednesday. A no contest plea isn’t an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing purposes.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Conservation District To Recruit For Envirothon

Recruitment will be starting soon in Van Buren County for high school students looking to compete in Envirothon, a natural resources and environmental competition. Kyle Mead is with the Van Buren Conservation District and has been working with the program since he was a high school student over 15 years ago in Lawrence and says right now, they’re still working on the details for the meetings.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Lottery To No Longer Accept Medicare Cards As ID For Claiming Prizes

Changes are coming to the form of identification you’ll need to give the Michigan Lottery to claim any prize higher than $600. Starting on January 1, you’ll need a valid government-issued photo ID like a driver’s license, passport, carry-concealed weapons licenses with a photo and expiration date, or a military ID along with your Social Security card, and the names have to match. Those two have always been needed, but the change is the Michigan Lottery will no longer accept Medicare cards as proof of a winner’s identity. That is because Medicare cards are changing and will no longer include a recipient’s Social Security number.. ...Read Full Story

Be Healthy Berrien Gets Boost

A grant of $90,000 is going to the Be Healthy Berrien partnership so it can work on four recreation and health-related projects in southern Berrien County. This month, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced the funds from the Michigan Health and Wellness 4×4 Grant Program. Be Healthy Berrien’s Heather Cole tells WSJM News that program is intended to fight obesity.. ...Read Full Story

SHAES’ Next Citizen Fire Academy Starts In March

If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to fight fires, you’ve got a chance to learn in South Haven. South Haven Area Emergency Services is getting ready for its third Citizen Fire Academy starting on March 20. They’re looking for as many as 15 area residents to take part. It’s not a certification course, but all students will leave having learned some life-saving skills and getting a better understanding of the capabilities of a fire department. SHAES holds the academy every other year and it’s open to anyone who is at least 18 and lives in the greater South Haven area. Most classes will be Wednesday evenings at 6:30 through May 8, with three Saturday morning courses on March 23, April 13 and April 27. The deadline to apply is March 6, and you can do so by calling Owen Ridley at 269-637-1813.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Station Briefly Sells Gas For $1.51 A Gallon On Christmas

This deal is gone, but the memory of it remains on Twitter. GasBuddy analyst Patrick DeHaan posted a picture on the social media site Tuesday afternoon showing a Shell station in South Haven selling regular unleaded for just $1.51 a gallon. The price had risen back to $1.86, in line with the rest of the South Haven area, shortly after DeHaan’s post. He says with oil plunging to just $42 a barrel on Monday, there’s room for more price declines from the state’s current average of $2.08 according to his website and $2.10 according to Triple-A Michigan. The auto club’s Nancy Cain predicted last week that prices could fall as much as 15¢ a gallon before the end of the year from the $2.21 average they recorded on December 17. Most stations in the St. Joseph and Benton Harbor area are selling regular unleaded for between $1.96 and $2.03 a gallon.. ...Read Full Story

Doctor On Xmas Stress

When families get together for the holidays it can mean eating, drinking, and arguing. The current political climate, family responsibilities, and relationships top the list of stressers between family members according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. Dr. Lynn Bufka is with the organization and spoke with Michigan News Network.. ...Read Full Story

Positive Review For Bridgman Superintendent

The Bridgman Public Schools Board of Education has voted to extend the contract of Superintendent Shane Peters by three years. That’s after he got a positive yearly performance evaluation this month. The board rated Peters as highly effective, and praised him for helping Bridgman students exceed state and county averages in math and English. They also noted several new programs were added to the district during the most recent year, including reading programs at the elementary and middle school levels, and a fifth year Spanish class at the high school. The board said Peters is engaged with the public and it’s proud of the district and the community.. ...Read Full Story

City Reimburses HUD Money

The city of Benton Harbor has to reimburse some Community Development Block Grant money to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. At Monday’s meeting, they approved a reimbursement of just under $61,000 from 2013. City Manager Darwin Watson said HUD oversight determined there were issues with the CDBG program that year.. ...Read Full Story

OutCenter Working With College-Bound Students

The OutCenter in Benton Harbor kicked off its new program for college-bound students in southwest Michigan with a forum this week. OutCenter Executive Director Mary Jo Schnell tells us the LGBTQ+ Journey to College “It Gets Better” meeting would include a panel of five college students and recent college grads who will talk about their experiences. Schnell tells us the OutCenter wants local high school students to know it gets better.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Still Working On Marijuana Rules

The South Haven City Council is unable to make a choice on allowing or banning recreational marijuana businesses. City Manager Brian Dissette explains the consequences of the deadlocked vote this past week which would have prohibited the businesses and directed the Planning Commission to study the city’s options with a placeholder ordinance.. ...Read Full Story

Man In Custody Following Standoff

A Hartford man is in custody following a standoff with police Friday afternoon. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us it all started around 4:45 p.m. when a Watervliet Township woman called police believing her boyfriend, who had warrants out, might be hiding in her home in the 5400 block of Forest. When police arrived, they found 35-year-old Joshua Petersen barricaded in a bedroom. He threatened to shoot anyone who entered. Police negotiated with the suspect for five hours and say at one point he threw a utility knife at them. Finally, police entered the bedroom by force. They used “less lethal” devices to subdue Petersen and take him into custody. It was found the suspect had harmed himself while barricaded, and he was treated at the scene by an ambulance crew and then taken to a hospital. Later, he was transported to the Berrien County Jail. It was found the suspect never really had a gun. He is facing charges that include assault with a dangerous weapon and resisting and obstructing police.. ...Read Full Story

New Rules For BH Commissioners

Come next year, Benton Harbor City Commissioners will be doing things a little bit differently. At their final regular meeting of 2018 this past week, they voted to amend the council rules to allow members to suspend the rules at the will of the majority and to add resolutions from the floor. They also voted to change the position of committee vice chair to co-chair. Commissioner Mary Alice Adams said the rules they’d been operating under prevented the commission from taking quick action.. ...Read Full Story

Police Respond To Large Fight At School

There have been no reported injuries following a fight at South Haven High School during a basketball game Friday evening. The South Haven Police Department tells us the brawl broke out during the varsity game between South Haven and Paw Paw. It says that after a foul at the end of the court, players began shoving each other and then players from both benches entered the court. Some bystanders also jumped in to either break up the fight or join it. The total number of people involved is estimated by police to be 70. The fracas ended quickly and everyone dispersed. The rest of the game was canceled before the second quarter. South Haven police officers who had been assigned to the game responded to the fight, and they were assisted by the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department, Michigan State Police, and the Covert Township Department. The incident remains under investigation by police and school officials. The South Haven Police Department says any review by the Van Buren County Prosecutor’s Office is pending video evidence and witness statements.. ...Read Full Story

Busy Year For Kinexus

It’s been a busy year for Kinexus. CEO Todd Gustafson tells WSJM News the agency worked with employees and students, helping 687 young people get their high school diploma or GED. It’s also worked with employers.. ...Read Full Story

Emergency Psychiatric Bed Database To Be Created

Legislation that would create a statewide database of psychiatric hospital beds available for emergency use has been approved by the Michigan Legislature and is now headed to Governor Rick Snyder. Plan sponsor state Representative Mary Whiteford tells us when someone goes to an ER, the staff will be able to search the whole state to find quick help for them. She says that’s not always possible now.. ...Read Full Story

Officials Look To Address Beach Erosion In New Buffalo Area

Leaders in the New Buffalo area are hoping to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stop shoreline erosion in the area. Last week, Army Corps Major General Mark Toy visited New Buffalo to learn more about the serious need for action. New Buffalo Township Supervisor Michelle Heit spoke with him and tells WSJM News there’s no beach left in her own community and homes are being threatened. She says residents have spent a fortune on revetments to try to protect their properties. ...Read Full Story

TwinCATS Affirms Support For Pere Marquette Line

As the Michigan Department of Transportation works on a long-term plan for rail service around the state, the Twin Cities Area Transportation Study, or TwinCATS, wants to make sure the Pere Marquette rail line isn’t left in the dust. Southwest Michigan Planning Commission associate planner Ryan Fellows tells WSJM News the TwinCATS committee this week approved a resolution to that end.. ...Read Full Story

Body Found Along Highway In Allegan County

Police in Allegan County are investigating after a body was found along the side of US-131 Friday morning. The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department tells us a call about someone lying on the shoulder just north of the Wayland exit came in just before 9 a.m. A responding officer found a deceased male with obvious injuries indicating he’d been hit by a vehicle. The investigation found there had been a vehicle reported as driving erratically on northbound US-131 around 2:15 a.m. and that it had crashed in the same area. However, when police responded to that crash, the driver had run off. Information found on the body later on indicated he was the person who had crashed and then abandoned the car. The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department has also learned a car-deer crash was reported in the same around 5:30 a.m. although no deer was ever found. It says the driver in the car versus deer crash is cooperating with them. No names are yet being released, and police continue to investigate.. ...Read Full Story

State Lawmakers Wrap Up Year With 22-Hour Session

Governor Snyder has over 300 pieces of legislation to go through between now and December 31 following the end of the legislative session Friday morning. The Senate adjourned for the year at 7 a.m., with the House wrapping up work an hour later. In the flurry of activity on the final day, they gave final approval to a bill that strips away some of the authority of Democratic Attorney General-elect Dana Nessel by allowing the Legislature to intervene in any lawsuit involving the state. She and fellow Democrats are calling that a power grab, and are calling on Governor Snyder to veto it. Also passed was a new supplemental $1.3 billion spending plan that shifts money from the School Aid Fund to the roads, puts more cash toward environmental cleanup, and would hire mental health counselors for schools. The bills also would allocate funding to hire more child protective services caseworkers following a scathing audit of the agency. The vote early Friday was the final chance for the Republican governor and many lawmakers to put their imprint on spending. WSJM News has reached out to Senator John Proos for his final thoughts on his last days in office.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Woman Freed After Nine Years For Husband’s Murder

A Van Buren County woman will be home for the holidays for the first time in 9 years after she was convicted of murdering her husband. Linda Stermer was released Thursday after a federal judge ruled that she did not get a fair trial, citing errors by prosecutors. She was charged with setting her house and her husband on fire, and then running him over with a truck after he emerged from the burning home. She has claimed all along that was not what happened. Stermer was convicted largely on circumstantial evidence. She was released on $10,000 bond, suggesting that the judge does not consider her to be a flight risk. The Attorney General’s office has some decisions to make and may appeal the ruling. If that fails, they will have to decide whether to retry the case or drop it. That decision is very likely to fall on Attorney General-elect Dana Nessel.. ...Read Full Story

Counselor Talks New Year’s Resolutions

Do you make a New Year’s resolution every year but find it difficult to stick with it? You’re not alone. A new survey from Wallet Hub shows that 92% of Americans say they fail at keeping their resolutions. Anahid Lisa Derbabian is a counselor in Troy who spoke with Michigan New Network about why that might be,. ...Read Full Story

Alliance For Great Lakes Thanks Volunteers

The Alliance for the Great Lakes is looking back at 2018 as a successful year when it comes to cleaning up pollution, and it’s thanking volunteers for that. Each year, the alliance works with tens of thousands of people to hold beach cleanup events. It tells us in 2018, 15,000 people mobilized in the eight Great Lakes states, picking up more than 37,000 pounds of trash. 85% of it was plastic. The alliance thanks all of those who came out, and notes it will continue to pick up along the lakes. You can go to GreatLakes.org and search for cleanup opportunities in your area.. ...Read Full Story

Commissioners Saluted As They Step Down

Two longtime Berrien County Commissioners have been honored as they step down from their posts. Commissioners Debra Panozzo and Jeanette Leahey have served on the board since 1997 and 2003, respectively. Resolutions were approved by the county commission at its Thursday meeting to thank them. Leahey told WSJM News it’s been a long, eventful ride.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Would Allow Mid-Level Dental Providers In MI

From the Associated Press — Legislation heading to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder would authorize midlevel dental providers to work in the state. Dental therapists could perform a variety of routine procedures now handled by dentists. They would need a license and could practice if they reach an agreement with a supervising dentist. Supporters say the bill that won final Senate approval 23-15 Wednesday would help ensure treatment for more patients in underserved populations, including in rural areas. They say Michigan has an uneven distribution of dentists, leaving people without access to basic care. Opponents, such as the Michigan Dental Association, say there is no shortage of dentists. They say dental therapists with less training than dentists should not perform irreversible procedures.. ...Read Full Story

Police Look For Missing Woman

Michigan State Police are looking for a woman missing out of Van Buren County. Troopers from the Paw Paw post say 41-year-old Natily Nacole Franklin of Decatur has been missing since November 2. She was last seen with friends in South Bend on that date. Her purse, clothing, money, and cellphone were all left behind, and she’s had no contact with family since. She’s known to have a small chihuahua dog with her most of the time. The dog is described as a red-brown dog. Natily is described as a white female, about five foot eight, 140 pounds, with curly brown hair that has highlights. She also has a sleeve tattoo on her right arm. Anyone with information on her location is asked to contact Michigan State Police.. ...Read Full Story

Medical Issue Causes Niles Man To Crash Into Building

A 37-year-old Niles man is being treated at St. Joseph Hospital in Mishawaka after crashing his car into the side of a building. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department tells us it happened due to a medical problem just after 8 pm Wednesday at US-12 and Beebe Road in Milton Township. Jerry Gross went off the road and slammed into the cinder block building. He complained of minor injuries when first responders arrived. Police say he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Corrections Bill Gets Final Approval

A state commission that studies possible corrections reforms in Michigan will continue its work for another year under legislation from state Senator John Proos that is now on its way to the governor. Proos tells us Senate Bill 844 extends the Criminal Justice Policy Commission’s deadline from December 31 of this year to September 30 of next year. He says the commission was created in 2014 and charged with collecting, analyzing, and compiling data on prisons, jails, sentencing guidelines, prison population trends, and the effects of efforts to reduce recidivism. Proos adds the governor last year signed restorative justice reforms that will result in better outcomes, and the commission should be allowed to complete its job.. ...Read Full Story

$90,000 Awarded To Be Healthy Berrien

The Be Healthy Berrien partnership has been awarded a $90,000 grant to continue work on some south Berrien County recreation and nutrition programs. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced the funds from the Michigan Health and Wellness 4×4 Grant Program, which aims to fight obesity. The $90,000 grant will be used by Be Healthy Berrien to work on exploring opportunities to extend the Indiana-Michigan River Valley trail, do a study on expanding Niles Dial-A-Ride, create a Niles historical bicycle tour, and to work with businesses to serve healthy foods. Be Healthy Berrien is a partnership between the Berrien County Health Department, the United Way, Lakeland, the YMCA, and the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission to reduce obesity in Berrien County.. ...Read Full Story

Survey Finds MI Business Leaders Optimistic

Business Leaders for Michigan is finding optimism in the state’s business community when it comes to the next year. Despite recent stock market setbacks and other controversies, the organization tells us more than 80% of Michigan’s largest companies forecast their employment and investment in Michigan will stay the same or increase in the next 6 to 12 months. Oddly enough, however, 90% of those same leaders believe the state and U.S. economies will stay the same or worsen during that time. Doug Rothwell, Business Leaders for Michigan president and CEO, says the results show “Michigan business leaders find the state a more attractive place to invest than the nation as a whole.” You can find the BLM survey right here.. ...Read Full Story

Grants To Fight Invasive Species

Two grants totaling $113,000 have been announced for agencies in southwest Michigan to fight against the spread of invasive species. Michigan Department of Natural Resources invasive species communications coordinator Joanne Foreman tells us the southwest corner of the state is viewed as key to preventing non-native species.. ...Read Full Story

Psychologist Talks Big Holiday Stressers

When families get together for the holidays it can mean eating, drinking, and arguing. The current political climate, family responsibilities, and relationships top the list of stressers between family members according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. Dr. Lynn Bufka is with the organization and spoke with Michigan News Network.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Bill To Expand OK2SAY Signed

Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation from state Representative Kim LaSata to expand Michigan’s OK2SAY hotline so sexual abuse and assault can now be reported through it. LaSata tells us her bill was inspired by the Larry Nassar situation. She adds OK2SAY is a natural fit for reporting sexual crimes.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph High School Lunch Fight Prompts Brief Lockdown

Two St. Joseph High School students are facing disciplinary action after a fight at lunch Thursday that resulted in police being called. Principal Greg Blomgren tells parents in a letter that the fight prompted a brief lockdown. Blomgren says it erupted with over 500 students witnessing it in the student center, and he says many of them were cheering, laughing, and recording the fight on their phones. He says he wants the student body to hold themselves to a higher standard and is asking parents to talk to their students about the fight and the response from onlookers. Blomgren says administrators and staffers acted quickly to separate the fighting students and “diffuse the situation.”. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Trial Court Issues Reminder About Marijuana Policy

The Berrien County Trial Court is putting out the warning that while possession of marijuana by anyone over the age of 21 is legal now in the state, you still can’t have any on you at the courthouses or on any property leased or managed by or on behalf of the court. Chief Judge Gary Bruce says the drug remains illegal and fully criminalized under federal law, and the court is subject to the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. Legal and disciplinary action will still be taken against any court employees, officials, contractors and court users who violate the policy by possessing or using marijuana on the property and court employees can expect to still be tested for drugs.. ...Read Full Story

One GOP Power-Grab Bill Dies In State House

Legislation that would strip campaign finance oversight from the incoming Democratic secretary of state and shift it to a new bipartisan commission is in trouble in Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature. The Senate-passed bill is not on the agenda for a Wednesday committee meeting, an indication that it is at serious risk of stalling in the final week of the contentious lame-duck session. Representative Aaron Miller of Sturgis says there aren’t enough votes to pass the bill, which is seen by critics as potentially the most egregious attempt by Republican lawmakers to dilute the authority of a Democrat. Jocelyn Benson was elected last month and in January will become the first Democratic secretary of state in 24 years. Other contentious bills that would empower the Legislature to intervene in lawsuits and make it harder to initiate ballot measures remain under consideration.. ...Read Full Story

High Marks For Bridgman Superintendent

The Bridgman Public Schools Board of Education has voted to extend the contract of Superintendent Shane Peters by three years. That’s after he got a positive yearly performance evaluation this month. The board rated Peters as highly effective, and praised him for helping Bridgman students exceed state and county averages in math and English. They also noted several new programs were added to the district during the most recent year, including reading programs at the elementary and middle school levels, and a fifth year Spanish class at the high school. The board said Peters is engaged with the public and it’s proud of the district and the community.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Shielding “Dark Money” Advances

From the Associated Press — Legislation nearing the desk of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder would make it a crime for government agencies to require the disclosure of nonprofits’ donors. Critics decry the move as shielding political “dark money” while supporters
defend it as protecting people’s right to freedom of association. The Republican-led House approved the bill Tuesday, meaning it will go to
Snyder after a final procedural step in the Senate in the final days of a frantic lame-duck session. The legislation is seen by some as a pre-emptive strike against the incoming Democratic secretary of state and attorney general, who will succeed term-limited Republicans.
Politically active nonprofits that spend big on elections and ballot initiatives already do not have to disclose the sources of their funding to the IRS. The legislation would prohibit governments in Michigan from making such information public or even collecting it in the first place _ unless there is a warrant or a request as part of litigation.. ...Read Full Story

City To Reimburse Some HUD Funds

The city of Benton Harbor has to reimburse some Community Development Block Grant money to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. At Monday’s meeting, they approved a reimbursement of just under $61,000 from 2013. City Manager Darwin Watson said HUD oversight determined there were issues with the CDBG program that year.. ...Read Full Story