Local News Archives

Stabenow Hails Senate Passage Of New Farm Bill

A new Farm Bill is expected to become law soon. The version passed by the House and Senate conference committee, based mostly on the Senate version, was easily passed by the Senate with bipartisan support on Tuesday, 87-13. That vote came less than one day after the House and Senate reached an agreement on the bill, which for months had been caught up in tense negotiations over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan is the Ranking Member of the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and had a big hand in crafting the legislation with Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Murder Trial Underway

A Van Buren County man is now on trial for the shooting death of his ex-wife’s new boyfriend. It happened in June when Troy Taylor tried to drop off his son at his ex-wife’s house in Gobles and she wasn’t there. Her daughter found her nearby having sex with Tim Henley in his Jeep. In the anger that followed, police said Henley began punching the windows in Taylor’s BMW, shattering the driver’s side window. Taylor’s son, who was sitting in the backseat, testified Tuesday that he was scared and that’s when his father pulled out a gun and fired three times at Henley, who would die from the wounds. Taylor claims it was self-defense, and may take the stand to testify. The prosecution claims it was second degree murder.. ...Read Full Story

Partnership To Curb Opioid Crisis Launches In Michigan

(Lansing, MI – AP) – A public-private effort has launched in Michigan that aims to curb opioid overdoses and deaths. Officials on Wednesday announced the creation of the Michigan Opioid Partnership. It plans to distribute $2.6 million in grants focusing on medication-assisted treatment, which experts say is an effective approach combining medication and behavioral therapy. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which is part of the collaborative, says about 1,900 of the nearly 2,700 drug overdose deaths in the state last year have been attributed to opioids. Organizers say the funding will pay for planning, training and treatment coordination. Grant recipients will be announced early next year. The partnership also includes the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and several foundations.. ...Read Full Story

BHAS Lead Testing Results Revealed

Work will be done over the next month to replace five water fixtures in Benton Harbor Area Schools. Those came back with lead levels above a more strict 5-parts-per-billion for lead adopted by the district, which CEO Robert Herrera says is well below the federal standard of 15-ppb.. ...Read Full Story

Registrations Being Taken For Fishing Events

From the Associated Press — Bass and walleye fishing tournaments in Michigan, and competitive fishing events targeting muskellunge, have to register with the state starting January 1. Michigan’s Natural Resources department says the events must register in the state’s Fishing Tournament Information System. Results also must be reported. Statewide registration and reporting requirements for bass fishing tournaments have been in place since 2016. More than 2,000 bass tournament registrations and reports have been received.
DNR tournament fishing specialist Tom Goniea says the requirements are important to “gaining a better understanding of what competitive walleye and muskellunge fishing means to angling, conservation and Michigan’s economy.”. ...Read Full Story

Charges Dropped Against Benton Harbor Charter Schools Academy Admins

The charges against Benton Harbor Charter Schools Academy Principal Tim Harris and Assistant Principal Ashley Smith for not reporting a classroom incident immediately to the Department of Health and Human Services are being dismissed. Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic has dropped the charges against the two after they both took part in training in the Detroit suburb of Troy and at the school last week regarding proper reporting of child abuse. Former teacher Thomas Barnes of St. Joseph pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to nine months probation after he threw a chair in anger in an attempt to get control of his classroom. The chair hit an 11-year-old girl and caused her to suffer a concussion. In addition to the recent training for Harris and Smith, Choice Schools has committed to holding similar training sessions for all staff at the start of the school year from now on.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Snyder Pushing For Illinois Involvement In Asian Carp Fight

Governor Snyder is pleading with his counterpart in Illinois to join with Michigan and other Great Lakes states and provinces in a partnership to keep Asian carp out of Lake Michigan and beyond. He sent a letter to Governor Bruce Rauner today, noting because it’s a non-federal project, the State of Illinois is the lead agency with jurisdiction, supervision and regulatory permitting authority over the waters of that state. Snyder’s director of strategic policy Angela Ayers tells WSJM News the governor is interested in pursuing a partnership agreement directly with the state of Illinois.. ...Read Full Story

Governor-Elect Whitmer To Meet With President Trump This Week

Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer will be headed to Washington on Thursday with a group of other newly elected governors from both parties to meet with President Trump at the White House. A spokesperson says it will be Whitmer’s chance to press her points on trade policies, health care access and funding for everything from the Soo Locks to Asian carp. Trump narrowly won Michigan two years ago, and the midterms suggest he will find it difficult to repeat that feat, especially if his tariffs hurt soybean growers and automakers.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph City Commission Honors John E.N. Howard

The memory of John E.N. Howard will not be forgotten anytime soon in the city of St. Joseph. He died last month at the age of 99, and the St. Joseph City Commission honored him with a resolution at the start of Monday night’s meeting. Commissioner Jeff Richards knew Howard well, and spoke about the impact he could have with just a few words.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Wants More Time To Study LSV Rentals

Come back next month. That’s the message from the St. Joseph City Commission to Scooter Joe’s owner Joe Allen regarding his request to rent low-speed vehicles this summer from his location at the Inn at Harbor Shores. After over a half-hour of discussion between Allen and the city commission, Mayor Mike Garey asked him to return for the second meeting in January after the city’s attorney and staff had more time to look over the idea after initially telling Allen to try again in a year. The mayor said he’d rather get input from the community and consultants working on the downtown master plan before deciding whether to allow what are essentially street-legal souped-up golf carts to be rented out. Allen told the commission the sooner they can make a decision the better, as he’s set to go with the marketing and ready to purchase as many as three vehicles. They have seat belts and crush-resistant roofs and are allowed on streets with a speed limit of up to 35 miles-an-hour by state law. Allen said he would likely restrict his to no faster than 20 miles-an-hour.. ...Read Full Story

GM Fighting To Keep Tax Credits

From the Associated Press — General Motors is fighting to retain a valuable tax credit for electric vehicles as the nation’s largest automaker tries to deal with the political fallout triggered by its plans to shutter several U.S. factories and shed thousands of workers. Preserving the $7,500 tax incentive for buyers is crucial for GM as it pivots from internal combustion engines in favor of building cars powered by batteries or hydrogen fuel cells. The layoffs and plant closings could imperil GM’s push to keep the incentive. The credit makes plug-ins such as the $36,000 Chevy Bolt more affordable at a time when competition from other electric vehicle makers is heating up. GM faces opposition from President Donald Trump and other Republicans who consider the credit a waste of taxpayer money and want it eliminated.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagon Fund To Discuss Needs Study

The results of a Pokagon Fund study on the needs of the communities it serves will be discussed at two meetings on Tuesday. The Pokagon Fund tells us it teamed up with the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, the Council of Michigan Foundations, and several local groups to determine how it could better serve southwest Michigan residents. The Harbor Country Community Needs Assessment will be the topic of discussion at a meeting set for 1 p.m. at the Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce in Three Oaks, and then again at 7 p.m. at New Buffalo Township Hall. Pokagon Fund leaders will talk about key findings, report on activities already taking place, identify leaders for task forces, and solidify volunteers. The Pokagon Fund was set up to give out a small portion of Four Winds Casino slot revenues to community projects. It’s given out more than $25 million since 2007.. ...Read Full Story

MSU Extension Taking PFAS Questions

Michigan residents with questions about PFAS can now turn to an online service of the Michigan State University Extension office. MSU Extension tells us its new PFAS Team is designed to serve as an easily accessible conduit to the appropriate resources. PFAS have been found in communities across Michigan where their use in tanneries, metal plating factories, and fire-fighting foams were once prevalent. PFAS were also routinely used in consumer products like stain-resistant carpeting and non-stick cookware, paints, and fast food wrappers. PFAS contamination was found in the water system of Kalamazoo County’s Parchment this past summer, rendering the water undrinkable. Since then, the state has been working to make sure other water systems are tested for the chemicals. You can find the MSU Extension question page right here.. ...Read Full Story

Part Of Napier Avenue Closing This Week

The Berrien County Road Department will be closing part of Napier Avenue this week for drain work. It tells us Napier between Bainbridge Center Road and M-140 will be shut down on Wednesday of this week for the replacement of a drain by the Berrien County Drain Commission. The road will remain closed through next Tuesday, December 18. A detour that takes drivers on M-140, Empire Avenue, and Bainbridge Center Road will be posted. Homeowners and first responders will be able to access the road up to the point of closure, but will not be able to pass through the work zone at the county drain. Anyone with questions should contact the Berrien County Road Department.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Up 6¢ Statewide After Last Week’s Surge

AAA Michigan says average gas prices statewide are up 6¢ in the past week to about $2.34 per gallon following a string of declines linked to lower oil prices. The Dearborn-based auto club says early Monday the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline increased after recently sinking to its lowest level since July 2017. Major oil producers on Friday including the OPEC cartel agreed to cut global oil production – sending oil prices higher. The state’s highest average was $2.42 per gallon in the Marquette area. The lowest was in the Traverse City area at $2.29 a gallon, while the Twin Cities of Benton Harbor and St. Joseph are second-lowest along with Flint at $2.32.. ...Read Full Story

Spot Highways For MDOT This Winter

If you have a daily commute that takes you on highways in Allegan, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon, or Ottawa counties, then the Michigan Department of Transportation could use your input. Spokesperson John Richard tells WSJM News the agency is signing up volunteer Road Watchers for the winter. Volunteers will be polled about highway conditions following winter storms, and their input will be used to deploy winter maintenance crews and identify best practices. The Road Watcher program attracted more than 80 volunteers last year in west Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Calls Continue For Auto Insurance Reform

Now that Michigan lawmakers are in Lansing for a few more weeks as the session winds down, the Insurance Alliance of Michigan is urging them to tackle auto insurance reform. Spokesperson Mark Fisk tells WSJM News now is the perfect time, with the issue no doubt fresh on the minds of legislators.. ...Read Full Story

State Tax Scam Warning

There’s a new scam that targets those who may owe overdue taxes, and the Michigan Department of Treasury is putting out a warning. Spokesperson Ron Leix tells WSJM News the scammer will send a letter through the U.S. Postal Service, telling someone they owe money.. ...Read Full Story

BH Leaders Asked To Help Ox Creek Clean-Up Plan

Berrien County Drain Commissioner Christopher Quattrin is asking Benton Harbor City Commissioners to lend their support to a clean-up project for the Ox Creek drain system. At this past week’s commission meeting, the body was told easements would need to be granted for the drain commissioner to remove dead trees, industrial debris, and litter throughout the creek. About 10% of the adjoining land is owned by the city. Quattrin told WSJM News it will require jurisdiction to make the clean-up happen.. ...Read Full Story

LMC To Introduce CDL Program

Lake Michigan College is starting a truck driving program. At this past week’s meeting of the LMC Board of Trustees, the sale of 6.5 acres of excess LMC property at the Bertrand Crossing campus was authorized for a price of just under $148,000. The buyer is N&M Transfer Company, a trucking firm out of Wisconsin. LMC VP of Academic Affairs Leslie Kellogg tells WSJM News the deal allows for a public-private partnership for the college to use a facility the trucking firm intends to build there. She says students will be able to get a CDL at LMC.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Holds “Shop With A Cop”

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department has helped ten families and 34 kids have a merry Christmas this year. On Saturday, sheriff’s deputies took the children on the annual Shop with a Cop trip to the Niles Wal-Mart. Each child was able to pick out gifts for the holiday. The kids were from the Niles, Berrien Springs, New Buffalo, and Benton Harbor areas. After the free shopping trip, everyone went to the Michiana Christian Embassy in Niles for snacks and gift wrapping. Shop with a Cop is organized by the Berrien County Sheriff ‘s Office Reserve Division Deputies Kimberly Fedison and Katie Bauer. They were able to collect more than $7,000 in donations to cover the costs of the event thanks to area businesses and others. In addition to providing the funds to allow the children to shop, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department also provided holiday food baskets to the ten families.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Talks Remaining House Prioities

There are still several critical tasks Congress must get done before the year ends, and Congressman Fred Upton is confident they will be finished in time. He tells WSJM News the House may have taken some time off to honor former President George H.W. Bush this past week, but lawmakers but there was still plenty lawmakers had to do.. ...Read Full Story