Local News Archives

Kinexus, Others Working To Prepare For Palisades Closure Next Year

Kinexus is working to set up a committee of community stakeholders in Van Buren County to prepare for the closure of the Palisades nuclear power plant next year. The agency’s Zachary Morris tells WSJM News the Van Buren County Commissioners this week voted to express its support of the new joint adjustment committee. Kinexus and Palisades owner Entergy will be partners in the committee.... [Read Full Story]

Former Coloma Cop Charged With Stealing Drugs

A police officer from Kalamazoo is charged with stealing drugs while working for the Coloma Police Department. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office tells our newsroom 33-year-old King Mitchell was a patrolman for the Coloma PD when he was found to be in possession of a heroin and fentanyl mix, along with codeine tablets. Prosecutors say he took them from the scene of an overdose death he helped investigate on January 10. Later that same day, they say Mitchell took codeine pills from the township’s MedReturn Box. He no longer works for the Coloma Police Department. Mitchell is charged with tampering with evidence, obstruction of justice, and a couple of possession offenses, and could get up to ten years in prison. He was arraigned Friday with bond set at $10,000.... [Read Full Story]

Commission: ‘Systemic Racism’ At Root Of Flint Water Crisis

From the Associated Press — Michigan civil rights officials say “systemic racism” going back decades is at the core of problems that caused a lead-contaminated water crisis in the majority black city of Flint. The Michigan Civil Rights Commission issued a 130-page report Friday following three public hearings and other meetings to determine whether residents faced discrimination or racial bias. The report says nobody “intended to poison Flint,” but concludes that decisions would have been different had they concerned wealthier, predominantly white communities. Recommendations include replacing or fixing the state’s emergency-manager law to analyze the root causes of a community’s financial problems. To save money while under state control, the city used water from the Flint River for 18 months without treatment to prevent pipe corrosion. The water caused toxic lead to leach from old pipes into homes.... [Read Full Story]

Ex-Lawrence 8th Grade Basketball Coach Charged

A former junior high school girls basketball coach is in the Van Buren County Jail on a $2-million bond. Twenty-year-old Tyler Norg is accused of having a sexual relationship with one of his players in 2016. Norg was a volunteer coach at Lawrence Junior High School, coaching the 8th grade girls squad starting in 2015. He is facing three charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and is due back in court April 5th. School district officials stress he was a volunteer and was never a paid employee.... [Read Full Story]

LaSata, Pagel To Hold Local Office Hours

If you’re a Berrien County resident interested in meeting your local Michigan House representative, you’ll have a few chances in the next month or so. Both state Representatives Kim LaSata and Dave Pagel are planning local office hours. LaSata, of the 79th District, has several sessions planned in St. Joseph, Benton Harbor, Watervliet, Bridgman, and Coloma. You can find the schedule below. Pagel, of the 78th District, also has a coffee hour planned for Saturday, February 25 at the Union Coffee House in Buchanan from 10 to 11:30 a.m. No appointment is needed to go to either’s event to chat with the representatives. Anyone looking for more information can call their offices.... [Read Full Story]

Y Country Radio Continues St. Jude Children’s Hospital Radiothon Friday

This Friday is the final day for the 2017 Y Country Radio St. Jude Children’s Hospital Radiothon at Silver Beach Center in St. Joseph. Y Country’s Matt Malone has been out there broadcasting live since Thursday, raising money for the hospital that treats kids with cancer free of charge. Malone tells WSJM News St. Jude doesn’t only treat the children, though. It’s also a premier researcher, always looking for a cure.... [Read Full Story]

Bangor Schools Notified Of State Penalty Over Administrator Certifications

Bangor Public Schools has been notified by the state it’s taking a hit in its monthly aid payment for February. Michigan Department of Education spokesperson Bill Disessa tells WSJM News they’ve been penalized $42,000 because a review late last year found former Superintendent Dennis Paquette and former high school assistant principal Mary Spade weren’t certified as administrators.... [Read Full Story]

Truancy Courts Being Tried In Two West Michigan Communities

From the Associated Press — A pilot project has been started to reduce student absenteeism in two western Michigan school districts. Kent County’s 17th Circuit Court in Grand Rapids says Thursday that its Truancy Court will provide up to 20 lawyers to work with students in Wyoming and Godwin Heights schools. The lawyers are providing their legal services free of charge. Students and their families also will have access to community services through the court’s crisis intervention program. The goal is to get students services they need to overcome attendance barriers and get them back in school. The project is based on a truancy court in Ingham County.... [Read Full Story]

State House Speaker Defends Income Tax Vote

From the Associated Press — A Republican legislative leader is defending a quick vote to gradually eliminate Michigan’s income tax after Governor Rick Snyder criticized the move. Speaker Tom Leonard said Thursday the measure isn’t a “difficult bill to understand” and it’s well known cutting taxes is a priority for the House GOP. When a committee advanced the tax cut Wednesday, the Republican governor – who
has concerns about the budget implications of a cut – issued a rare rebuke of lawmakers by questioning the vote after one 90-minute hearing.
Leonard says he’s “disappointed” by Snyder’s criticism. He says both sides of the legislation had their say in the “deliberative” meeting.
Leonard spoke after the House majority outlined guiding principles for the two-year term. Priorities include tackling auto insurance premiums and public employee retirement costs.... [Read Full Story]

State Regulators: Power Providers Hitting Renewable Standard

(Lansing, MI – AP) – Michigan regulators say all power providers met or exceeded a requirement to supply 10% of their electricity from renewable sources in 2015. The standard will increase to 12.5% in 2019 and to 15% in 2021. The Michigan Public Service Commission says the 10 percent standard has led to the development of more than 1,670 megawatts of new renewable energy projects, mostly wind farms. Chairwoman Sally Talberg said Wednesday the average price of renewable power is considerably less than was forecast in initial plans.... [Read Full Story]

Poll: Michigan Voters Don’t Want Income Tax Repeal

Michigan lawmakers looking to phase out the state’s income tax over time without a plan to replace it won’t find much support from their constituents, according to a new survey. The poll, commissioned by the Michigan League for Public Policy, found that nearly three-quarters of those surveyed oppose the plan – introduced in both the Michigan House and Senate – that would leave up to a $9 billion hole in the state’s general fund.... [Read Full Story]

Bangor Teacher Resigns After Duct Taping Student

A third Bangor teacher is out of a job this week. The latest to resign is a chemistry teacher who was recorded on video by a student duct taping another student in class. She claims his arm movements were distracting and added it was meant to be a joke. Images were posted online of the incident, and the 16-year-old student felt humiliated by what happened. The student that took the photo also showed it to police, and the Van Buren County Prosecutor’s Office is looking into the situation.... [Read Full Story]

Buyer Found For Vacant BH School Building

Benton Harbor Area Schools has found a buyer for another one of its vacant buildings. On Tuesday, the board of education approved a plan to sell the former Boynton school building on Britain Avenue to Tri County Head Start. The program has been leasing space from the school district for years, but has grown enough to the point where it wants its own facility. It’s offered Benton Harbor Schools $50,000 for Boynton. The building’s estimated value is about $70,000. The district has to sell off some of its vacant properties under its consent agreement with the state. Board Trustee Elnora Gavin voted against proceeding with the sale at this week’s meeting, while the rest voted yes, although Trustee Lisa Gulley was not present.... [Read Full Story]

St. Joseph City Leaders In Talks With Railroad About Strengthening The Bluff

CSX Railroad is planning to send an engineer to St. Joseph next month to talk with local officials about a section of the bluff that some fear is in danger of collapsing. Part of the bluff near 2405 Old Lakeshore looks like it could cave in, and St. Joe City Manager John Hodgson tells WSJM News he, the mayor, and representatives of Congressman Fred Upton met with CSX this month to talk about it.... [Read Full Story]

Man Acquitted In 1988 Van Buren County Murder

A man who was a witness for prosecutors and had immunity for his testimony about a 1988 southwestern Michigan slaying has been acquitted of murder in the case. A jury this week returned the verdict in the case of Guy Carl Simpson in Van Buren County Circuit Court. He was charged last year in the slaying of 22-year-old Charles Paul Miller, of Bangor. Authorities say Simpson was one of three men who lured Miller into a marijuana field in Allegan County’s Lee Township, shot him in the back of the head because of a drug debt, and buried his body. Arrests first were made in the case in 2000. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports another defendant, Junior Fred Backston, is awaiting sentencing February 22 after a plea agreement.... [Read Full Story]

Bill To Reduce MI Income Tax Moving Forward In State House

From the Associated Press — A Republican-led House panel has voted to cut Michigan’s income tax and eliminate it over a number of decades despite “serious concerns” lodged by Governor Rick Snyder. Supporters say the bill approved 7-4 Wednesday would fulfill a nearly
decade-old promise to reduce the 4.25% tax to 3.9% after it was raised to balance the budget. Opponents say the tax cut would cost the state
$680 million next budget year and $1.1 billion in the first full year at a time general funds are tightening. State Treasurer Nick Khouri, citing “serious concerns” with the bill, said business and other taxes have dropped $2.8 billion since the Republican governor took office. However, House Republicans countered average residents have not seen much relief and a tax cut would spur economic growth.... [Read Full Story]

Court: Jackson County Christian Prayer Is Illegal

From the Associated Press — A Michigan county’s practice of Christian-only prayers at public meetings has been declared unconstitutional by a federal appeals court. In a 2-1 decision Wednesday, 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. At one meeting, a commissioner turned his chair around when Bormuth complained about prayer.
The appeals court says prayer at public meetings can be legal. But in Jackson County, the court says only commissioners offered a prayer, not audience members, and the prayer was always Christian, not from other faiths. There was no immediate comment from the board chairman.... [Read Full Story]

Governor Sticks By Plan To End Flint Credits

Governor Rick Snyder is sticking by a decision to end state-funded credits on customers’ water bills in Flint. He says he and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver had a “constructive” meeting Tuesday, but he reaffirmed that the credits will last through February because the water’s lead level is no longer above a federal limit. Residents are still using filters.... [Read Full Story]

Kate Upton Lands Third SI Swimsuit Issue Cover

Make it three times for Kate Upton. The St. Joseph native is once again gracing the cover of the annual “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit issue, becoming only the fourth woman to do so three times. This year, she’s making the splash with three different covers. She’s previously been on the cover in 2012 and 2013, and she made the announcement Tuesday night on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” Other women who did the cover three times include Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum and Christie Brinkley, who also is featured in this year’s edition with her two daughters. Elle Macpherson holds the record with five cover appearances. Other notables in this year’s edition include former cover girl Chrissy Teigen, an expectant mother and athletes including tennis champ Serena Williams and Olympic gold medal gymnast Simone Biles.... [Read Full Story]

Bill Allowing Epileptics To Be Treated With Cannabis Oil Advances In Indiana

From the Associated Press — An Indiana measure that would allow some epileptic people to be treated with oil derived from cannabis plants has cleared the state Senate. Indiana is among the last states to forbid even the issue of marijuana extracts that are low in THC and high in cannabidiol, or CBD, the compound that studies suggest may help reduce epileptic seizures. The measure creates a registry for some physicians, nurses, individuals and caregivers to treat intractable epilepsy with cannabidiol and permits pharmacies to dispense it. The Senate has sent it to the House for consideration. An amendment to the bill replaced references to “hemp oil” with cannabidiol. The measure defines cannabidiol as a plant extract or mixture containing less than 0.3 percent THC, at least 5 percent CBD and no other controlled substance.... [Read Full Story]