Local News Archives

Federal Court Will Consider Michigan County’s Public Prayers

From the Associated Press — A full federal appeals court will consider whether a Michigan county’s tradition of Christian-only prayers at public meetings violates the U.S. Constitution. The order on Monday by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacates a ruling earlier this month by a three-judge panel of the court that said prayers by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners were unconstitutional. In that 2-1 decision, the court ruled in favor of a Jackson County resident who was offended after he began attending county commissioner meetings in 2013 to discuss environmental issues. Peter Bormuth said he felt compelled to stand and participate in religion in order to speak to public officials.The panel had overturned a lower court ruling in favor of the board.... [Read Full Story]

Honor Credit Union Forming Partnership With Post Community Credit Union

Honor Credit Union is about to get bigger. It’s announced a new partnership with Post Community Credit Union, which has branches around the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek areas. As part of the deal, Post will be renamed Honor Credit Union. The organizations tell us they’ll benefit from the mutual expertise, and their missions are already closely aligned. If they deal goes through, the bigger Honor Credit Union will have $800 million, 23 branches, and more than 75,000 members in Michigan. The Post Community Credit Union membership has to approve the change, which also depends on regulatory approval.... [Read Full Story]

St. Joseph Officials Move To Have Blighted Home Torn Down

A blighted home in St. Joseph could soon be demolished. For several months now, city officials have been pressuring the owner of multiple homes, all under different names, to fix up his properties. First, there was a public outcry over a home on Wayne Street which has since been fixed. Now, the problem is with a home at Niles Avenue and Hoyt Street, which has had a tarp on the roof since last spring. City Manager John Hodgson tells WSJM News the owner’s been told the city wants it gone.... [Read Full Story]

Police Investigating Van Buren County Business Break-Ins

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is looking for any information it can get on a rash of break-ins which occurred last week. It says there were break-ins at four businesses in the early morning hours of Monday. They were Glendale Forest Products in Waverly Township, CPS Welding and Dickinson Growers in Bloomingdale, and AmeriGas in Pinegrove Township. A variety of things were stolen, including a 2013 Suzuki Motorcycle which was later recovered following a high-speed chase in Berrien County. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is looking to piece together the whole story and seeking the public’s help. If you have any information on the crimes, just give them a call, or call Crimestoppers at 1-800-342-STOP.... [Read Full Story]

Attorneys: 5 Automakers Knew Takata Air Bags Were Dangerous

From the Associated Press — Attorneys for people suing air bag maker Takata and five automakers say the car companies knew that the company’s products were dangerous yet continued to use them for years because they were inexpensive. The allegations against Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Ford and BMW were made in a document filed Monday with a federal court in Miami. The court is handling pretrial evidence-gathering in dozens of lawsuits against Takata and the automakers. The document says the allegations are partly based on auto company documents.
Earlier, the automakers had contended that Takata was the problem because it admitted to covering up the defective inflators, which can blow apart and hurl shrapnel into drivers and passengers. Takata has pleaded guilty to a criminal charge and agreed to pay $1 billion for the scheme to cover up the air bag problems.... [Read Full Story]

Benton Harbor Man Sentenced To At Least 15 Years In Fatal Shooting

A Benton Harbor man will be spending the next 15 to 24 years in prison now that he’s been sentenced in a May fatal shooting. Prosecutors say 30-year-old Terrance Shelby shot 17-year-old Grady Manns near Shelby’s home in the area of Empire and McAllister Avenue on May 12. Shelby had caught Manns in his home with his 13-year-old step daughter, and chased Manns away. Then, he says he saw Manns near the home again several minutes later. Shelby told police he was trying to fire a warning shot, but it hit Manns. He was sentenced Monday to at least 15.5 years in prison on a second degree murder charge and for felony firearm.... [Read Full Story]

MDOT Auctioning Off Excess Properties

From the Associated Press — An office building and 21 parcels of vacant land owned by the Michigan Department of Transportation are scheduled for public auction. The excess property will be up for bid on March 20 at the agency’s Office of Aeronautics in Lansing. Officials say the excess properties are located in counties throughout the state and no longer are needed for transportation purposes. The properties include a small lot along the Thornapple River in Kent County’s Cascade Township, a more than 100-acre parcel in Gratiot County’s Washington
Township and a six-acre site in Macomb County’s Sterling Heights. Auction rules state that each property will be sold to the highest bidder and
for not less than the minimum bid price.... [Read Full Story]

Midwest, Wyoming Lawmakers Target Wolf Protections Again

From the Associated Press — Pressure is building in Congress to take gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region and Wyoming off the endangered list, which would allow farmers to kill the animals if they threaten their livestock. Representatives from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming have asked House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin for a fast floor vote before the season when most cows and sheep will be giving birth begins in earnest. That followed recent testimony before a Senate committee from a Wisconsin farm leader who said producers need to be able to defend their livestock and livelihoods. Meanwhile, both sides are waiting for a federal appeals court to decide whether to uphold lower court rulings that put wolves in the four states back on the list.... [Read Full Story]

MI Congressman Embraces Town Halls

From the Associated Press — Congressman Justin Amash, of Michigan, is embracing the town halls that many of his Republican counterparts in Congress have avoided as people lash out at President Donald Trump’s early actions and the planned repeal of the federal health care law.
He says he has a duty to attend. The events are earning the 36-year-old libertarian, who is among Trump’s most prominent critics in the GOP on immigration and other issues, some respect from angry Democrats who vehemently oppose many of Amash’s stances but credit him for not ducking his constituents and listening to them. The fourth-term congressman who has sparred with the Republican establishment is not immune to criticism from Trump loyalists, either. Amash says he is comfortable with town meetings because he has being hosting them for years.... [Read Full Story]

SMC Planning Big Expansion To Nursing Program

Southwestern Michigan College is planning to expand its Nursing and Health Education Building so more programs can be offered and more students trained. SMC President Dr. David Mathews tells WSJM News the $9.6 million project is intended to help SMC better serve the area, noting the nursing program has been a big success.... [Read Full Story]

Two Killed In Cass County Crash

A four-year-old boy and a 21-year-old man are dead after a car accident in Cass County. The sheriff’s department says Jordan White of Dowagiac lost control on School Street while in the oncoming lane, left the road and hit several trees. He was killed along with Wyatt Lister. The young boy’s mother, 20-year-old Allison Hurry of Dowagiac, was airlifted by Med Flight to South Bend Memorial Hospital for treatment... [Read Full Story]

Upton To Hold Tuesday Tele-Town Hall

Congressman Fred Upton is planning to hold a tele-town hall meeting next week. That’s as protesters demand he hold a physical town hall, which he has declined to do. Upton’s tele-town hall is set for Tuesday at 5 p.m. However, that will be dependent on the voting schedule of the House that day. During the last two tele-town halls that Upton has held, his office says about 3,000 people had a chance to dial in. The St. Joseph Republican tells us he wants to hear from constituents about whatever is on their minds. You can sign up to take part in next Tuesday’s call by going to Upton.House.Gov.... [Read Full Story]

Bill Would Let Drivers Leave Their Cars Running While Unattended

Legislation making its way through the Michigan House would allow drivers to leave their cars running on private property to warm them up. Leaving a car unattended while it’s running could currently get you a ticket in Michigan, as learned by a Roseville man this year who was fined $128 for warming his car. State Representative Holly Hughes told Michigan’s Big Show this week that whether or not it’s risky is something you should be allowed to decide for yourself.... [Read Full Story]

SWM Home Sales Remained Strong In January

The real estate market in southwest Michigan is showing no signs of slowing down. Phil Amodeo, executive with the Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors, tells WSJM News the number of homes sold in January was up 9% over January the year before. The one problem he sees is that inventory is starting to get tight.... [Read Full Story]

Benton Harbor Students Recognized For Entries Into VFW Essay Contest

Five Benton Harbor High School students have recognized by the Veterans of Foreign Wars for their essays on American democracy. Each year, the VFW holds the essay contest nationally, and this year, some Benton Harbor High School Library volunteers wanted to get local students involved. Volunteer Enid Goldstein tells WSJM News they reached out to the kids, almost at the last minute, to see who would want to enter.... [Read Full Story]

JC Penney Mum On Which Stores Will Close

It was once one of the largest department store chains in the country, but now JC Penney is shrinking its retail footprint, and thousands of employees are being asked to retire early. Michigan News Network Business Editor Murray Feldman tells us the closure of  about 140 stores nationwide will likely have an impact on Michigan.... [Read Full Story]

BH Superintendent Encouraged By Governor’s Delay On School Closure Decision

Benton Harbor Area Schools Superintendent Dr. Shelly Walker is pleased with Governor Rick Snyder’s move this week to delay the Michigan School Reform Office’s decision on possible school closures statewide. She tells us the governor’s delay of about two months indicates he is aware that closing schools would harm their students and communities. Walker is confident the three Benton Harbor Schools on the SRO’s list will be allowed to remain open.... [Read Full Story]

Orchards Mall Behind On Property Taxes, Water Bills

The Orchards Mall in Benton Township is a little more than a month away from foreclosure. The Berrien County Treasurer’s office tells WSJM News the mall still hasn’t paid its property taxes, and they’re due on March 31. If that day comes and goes, the treasurer will foreclose on the property, and he also tells us he will not offer the mall’s owners a payment plan due to their prior history of failing to pay bills. About $500,000 to $600,000 is owed by the mall in property taxes. However, the treasurer also wants its stores to know the building will not be closed if he pursues foreclosure. The stores will be allowed to stay open.... [Read Full Story]

LaSata: Closing Schools Will Put Hardships On Families

State Representative Kim LaSata is praising Governor Rick Snyder’s action to delay the Michigan School Reform Office’s decision on possible school closures across the state. This week, the governor gave the SRO until the end of May to make its decisions on the fate of 38 schools targeted for possible closure due to poor test scores. Three Benton Harbor schools — the Dream Academy, the STEAM Academy, and the International Academy — are on the list. LaSata says shutting the schools down would put “a significant hardship on families in our community.” She adds that she believes the delay given to the SRO by the governor will allow the state more time to look at ways of improving performance, as opposed to closing the buildings.... [Read Full Story]