Local News Archives

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