Local News Archives

Deputies Investigating Niles Twp Drive-By Shooting

Berrien County Sheriff’s deputies are looking for suspects in a drive-by shooting in Niles Township. It happened just before 3 a.m. at 1126 Lawndale Avenue, with the home being hit by several bullets. That home is just south of US-12 and just to the east of M-51 near Shelton’s Farm Market. No one inside was hurt. Investigators don’t have any other details, including a description of the vehicle involved in the shooting.. ...Read Full Story

Bridgman Holiday Village This Weekend

The city of Bridgman will celebrate Christmas this weekend as it opens up its Holiday Village. Several businesses in the downtown area will have sales and special Christmas-related activities going on Saturday. Among other things, there will be a poinsettia sale at Small Town Weddings, a pet parade at Paws to Wash, pizza bites at Lake Street Eats, crafts at the library, and reading with Mrs Claus and cookie decorating at the Sandpiper. Additionally, the following Saturday — December 15 — will bring a chili cook-off at Tapestry Brewing with proceeds going to the Southwestern Michigan Humane Society. You can check out the Facebook page of the Bridgman Holiday Village to learn more.. ...Read Full Story

Marijuana Possession Now Legal In Michigan

It’s official. You can now possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and have as much as 10 ounces locked up in a safe spot in your home thanks to the passage of Proposal 1 last month. That said, Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller is cautioning people that using marijuana isn’t for everyone.. ...Read Full Story

Upton: Still Much To Do This Month

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, but lawmakers will be working quickly once they return. There’s plenty to do.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Looks To Boost Student Success

A study is underway at Lake Michigan College to determine how faculty and support staff could help ensure students adjust to college life in order to succeed. LMC VP of Student Services Barbara Craig tells WSJM News the college has a fall-to-fall retention rate of about 50%, and the goal is to get it to 63%. Retention is a problem for community colleges nationally, and LMC is using a federal Title III grant to examine the issue.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Advances Bills To Strip Power From Secretary Of State

From the Associated Press — Bills advancing in Michigan’s Republican-controlled Legislature would strip power from the incoming Democratic secretary of state. A state Senate panel voted 4-1, on party lines, Wednesday for bills to have a bipartisan commission oversee campaign finance instead of the secretary of state. Jocelyn Benson is poised to become the first Democratic secretary of state in 24 years when she takes office in January. Democrats say the move is a bid to limit their power after an election in which they made gains, while other critics say the commission would deadlock and ensure lax enforcement. Republicans say the concept is not new, and voters
recently showed their support for independent panels to be involved in elections by approving a redistricting ballot initiative.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Senate Votes To Deregulate Wetlands

From the Associated Press — The Republican-controlled Michigan Senate has approved hotly contested legislation that would ease landowners’ ability to fill in or build on wetlands. The bill, which won passage 23-14 along mostly party lines Tuesday, next goes to the GOP-led House. The sponsor, Republican Senator Tom Casperson, says he is trying to curb regulators who abuse their discretion to block landowners from filling in wetlands, removing soil or taking other actions. Environmental groups still oppose the legislation despite some changes being made to it. They say some 4,000 inland lakes would be unregulated or not protected under it.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Rotary Gives Grants

Two programs are getting a boost from the South Haven Rotary Club. This week, they gave a $675 grant to South Haven’s elementary schools to support the new “Reading to Succeed” program and also donated a $500 grant to Van Buren County Senior Services. That money will go toward the organization’s medical transportation program. Over the past year, South Haven Rotarians have donated $34,000 to initiatives in the area along with national and international causes. They will start raising money for the Salvation Army on December 22 for their next fundraiser, being bell ringers for the 36th straight year.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Addressing Erosion Control

South Haven’s Planning Commission is being asked to approve erosion control measures like armor stone at six properties on Monroe Boulevard. The Harbor Commission voted 4-to-2 Monday night to make the recommendation after homeowners and erosion experts said Lake Michigan is causing significant damage in the area. Brian deBest of deBest Incorporated told WSJM News seawalls help, but armor stone is now needed to better protect the properties.. ...Read Full Story

Mall Buyer Revealed; Treasurer Says Not So Fast

The buyer of the Orchards Mall has been identified as a developer out of Flint who also owns the Cherryland Center in Traverse City, an outdoor mall. According to Moody on the Market, Vijaya Kumar Vemulapalli along with Durga, LLC bid more than $2.5 million for the Orchards Mall in a June auction. However, Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News the taxes on the mall — some $435,000 — still had not been paid as of Tuesday, either by the old owner or the new one.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Adopts Short-Term Rental Rules

The city of South Haven has adopted its new short-term rental regulations. The rules cover those homes which are rented out to vacationers for short periods of time. The issue has been a hot button in South Haven due to concerns about the noise tourists can bring to neighborhoods, along with the effects short-term rentals have on maintaining a year-round community. The regulations, adopted after a seven month process, define two basic kinds of short-term rentals — personal STRs and business STRs. The personal STRs can be rented up to six terms per year for a total of 28 days, while business STRs can be rented an unlimited number of times per year. The two face different inspection requirements and fees. There are more inspections and higher fees for business STRs. The rules also set up the permitting process. South Haven City Manager Brian Dissette says the rules “will best serve our community and the short-term rental owners within South Haven.”. ...Read Full Story

LMC To Offer Truck Driving Program

Lake Michigan College is starting a truck driving program. At this 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

Upton Remembers George H.W. Bush

Congressman Fred Upton remembers former President George H.W. Bush as someone who could work with others and get things done. With Bush’s services this week, Upton tells WSJM News he knew the former POTUS well. When Upton worked in the Reagan White House, then-Vice President George Bush’s office was right around the corner from his.. ...Read Full Story

Legislature Guts Minimum Wage, Sick Time Laws

From the Associated Press — The Republican-led Michigan Legislature has passed bills that would delay a minimum wage hike and scale back paid sick leave requirements. It is an unprecedented lame-duck strategy that was endorsed legally by the state’s conservative attorney general Tuesday despite criticism that it is unconstitutional. The fast-tracked legislation was pushed through on largely party-line votes.
Changes were made at the request of Republican Governor Rick Snyder, who stayed mum on whether he will sign the measures but whose involvement was seen positively by their supporters. To prevent minimum wage and paid sick time ballot initiatives from going to the
electorate last month, after which they would have been much harder to change if voters had passed them, GOP legislators — at the behest of business groups — preemptively approved them in September so that they could alter them after the election with simple majority votes in each chamber. Democrats say the maneuver is unconstitutional.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Seeking Road Watchers

The Michigan Department of Transportation is looking for some help keeping an eye on the roads this winter. The agency says it’s seeking Road Watchers to report on conditions around west Michigan highways. 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. Specifically, MDOT needs those road watchers in Allegan, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon, and Ottawa counties to report on M, US, and I routes. Anyone who’s interested in signing up can go to Michigan.gov/RoadWatchers. Those who volunteer will be randomly polled throughout the winter.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Moving Up

Gas prices in the state stand at an average of $2.27 a gallon according to GasBuddy, with Triple-A Michigan noting it’s the lowest they’ve been for nearly a year and a half. However, those prices are on the rise this afternoon. Triple-A spokeswoman Nancy Cain says changes are on the horizon globally.. ...Read Full Story

Changes Possible To Michigan’s Fireworks Laws

There have been plenty of complaints from Michigan residents over the past seven years since the state expanded what fireworks are allowed, and state lawmakers have heard them. Representative Jim Lilly of Park Township, just outside Holland, has legislation he hopes to have approved during the last few weeks of the year to give local governments more authority and control over what is allowed and when they can be fired off.. ...Read Full Story

City Manager Signs New Contract

Benton Harbor City Manager Darwin Watson has a new contract in place. At this week’s Benton Harbor City Commission meeting, Mayor Marcus Muhammad said Watson signed the new employment agreement on November 28. That’s after city commissioners approved it in October, and then terminated Darwin’s old contract at a meeting last month. When asked if there are significant differences between the old contract and the new, Watson told us there are not.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Shop With A Cop Held

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department has wrapped up another Shop with a Cop event, taking ten kids from Marcellus Elementary School on a free shopping trip to Meijer for the holidays. The eighth trip also featured gifts of food baskets for the families of the children who took part. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department says it takes the efforts of volunteers, along with the Three Rivers Meijer and the Edward Lowe Foundation, to make the annual shopping trip possible. It has issued a thank you to all who contributed.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Asked To Support Ox Creek Clean-Up

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 Monday’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

Cass County Woman Wins Big In Lotto

A Cass County woman has won $300,000 in a Michigan Lottery game. The Lotto tells us the player, who has chosen to remain anonymous, struck gold with a 25th Anniversary Wild Time instant game ticket. The 53-year-old woman bought the ticket at the Edwardsburg Marathon on US-12. She says she was with her nephews when she got it, and scratched it off at home. She at first just tossed the ticket down on to the table after scratching it off, and it was her nephew who noticed it was a big winner. The woman plans to use her winnings to set up college funds for her grandkids.. ...Read Full Story

State Warns About Tax Scam

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

Sick Leave Advocates Gearing Up For New Ballot Proposal

From the Associated Press — Advocates of paid sick leave are planning to launch a 2020 ballot drive if a new law is gutted by Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature. MI Time to Care filed petition language Monday, days after the Senate voted to significantly scale back paid sick time requirements due to take effect in March. The GOP-led House will hold a hearing Tuesday. Majority Republicans approved sick leave and minimum wage ballot initiatives before the election to make it easier to change them. Critics say the move would be unconstitutional. It is unclear if Republican Governor Rick Snyder will OK the bills. But if he does and legal challenges are unsuccessful, sick leave advocates know that if they gather enough signatures for 2020, Democratic Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer will not join GOP legislators in gutting it.. ...Read Full Story