Local News Archives

AAA Expecting Busy Holiday Travel In Michigan

There will be a lot of us traveling for year-end holidays in Michigan according to Triple-A’s latest travel forecast. The auto club is projecting nearly 3.5 million people in the state will venture at least 50 miles from home, up 2.5% from last year. It’s the highest total volume since Triple-A began tracking holiday travel data in 2001. Low gas prices and increased consumer optimism are factors in the increase.... [Read Full Story]

GM Testing Autonomous Vehicles In SE Michigan

General Motors plans to begin immediately testing autonomous cars on public roads in Michigan. The announcement comes one week after Governor Snyder signed legislation that allows the cars to be tested on public roads without a driver or a steering wheel. The automaker says that for now it will have a human driver as a backup in the Chevrolet Bolts it will use for the tests.... [Read Full Story]

House To MPSC: Deny Palisades Closure

As one of its last pieces of business this session, the state House is calling on the Michigan Public Service Commission to reject Entergy’s proposal to close the Palisades nuclear power plant. The company says it cannot compete with low natural gas prices with nuclear energy and announced plans last Friday to shutter the facility in 2018. The MPSC and federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission still need to approve the shutdown. If that green light is given, the NRC says Entergy will have 60 years to completely decommission the plant and remove all nuclear fuel. If Palisades closes, over 600 jobs will be lost in Van Buren County, though people will continue to work there for years to get it mothballed.... [Read Full Story]

New Energy Policy Bills Sent To Governor Snyder

The Michigan House and Senate have approved a rewrite of state energy laws on the final day of voting for the House during the two-year term. The Republican-led chamber voted Thursday to boost the required use of renewable sources of power and to keep intact some competition in the electricity market on the final day of the two-year term.... [Read Full Story]

Van Buren County Commission Fighting Palisades Closure

The Van Buren County Commission has added its voice to the chorus of those trying to keep the Palisades nuclear power plant open. This week, commissioners approved a resolution asking the Michigan Public Service Commission to reject Consumers Energy’s request to get out of a contract to buy power from the Covert Township facility by the end of 2018. Commissioners cite the economic importance of Palisades to the region, saying it means $1.8 million for the township, $4.4 million for Covert Schools, and $1.6 million for the county. Commissioners also note the Consumers Energy contract was supposed to go through 2022, adding ending the contract sooner leaves too little time to prepare.... [Read Full Story]

3.5 Million Michiganders Expected To Travel This Month

Estimates from AAA say nearly 3.5 million people from Michigan will travel for the year-end holidays, up 2.5 percent from last year. The auto club says Thursday it’s the highest total volume of people going 50 miles or more from the state since AAA began tracking holiday travel data in 2001. Most will drive. AAA says the increase in holiday travel is being boosted by additional consumer spending, a result of improvements in the labor market and rising wages. Additionally, relatively low gas prices and increased consumer optimism are seen as factors. The year-end holiday travel period is defined as December 23 to January 2, one day fewer than last year’s holiday period. It includes Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Day.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan Unemployment Goes Up

Michigan’s unemployment rate rose to 4.9% in November, marking the first month this year the state’s jobless rate was above
the national rate. The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget said Wednesday the rate was up from 4.7% in October and above the national November rate of  4.6%. Michigan seasonally adjusted jobless rate increased for the third time in three months in November, but was below November 2015’s rate of 5.1%. Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives Director Jason Palmer says the unemployment increase is due to a “sizeable entry” of people into the workforce. He says most have found jobs. From November 2015 to this November, total employment rose in Michigan by 2.5% while the state’s workforce grew by 2.3%.... [Read Full Story]

Trump Adviser Speaking In Lansing

Michigan is on the mind of economist Stephen Moore today. Moore, who’s also an economic adviser to president-elect Donald Trump, will be the keynote speaker at the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce today. Lansing Chamber CEO Tim Daman says more than 500 people from across the state will be on hand, many of them from the manufacturing sector.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan City Sued For Blocking Mosque

Federal prosecutors are suing a Detroit suburb after a religious organization’s proposal for a mosque in a residential neighborhood was denied.
The U.S. Attorney’s office filed the suit Thursday in federal court against Sterling Heights. Planning commissioners voted in 2015 against a special land agreement sought by the American Islamic Community Center. Some residents protested the plan, citing traffic congestion and other concerns. Mosque supporters said the issue was anti-Muslim bias. The lawsuit says the denial constitutes discrimination on the basis of
religion and imposed a “burden on the religious exercise” of the center. Sterling Heights says Thursday that the center’s application denial was not based on “emotional feelings tied to religious beliefs either for or against the applicant.” The Associated Press left a message seeking comment from the center.... [Read Full Story]

Detroit Red Wings To Honor Berrien County Bailiffs Killed On Duty

The Detroit Red Wings are honoring law enforcers, especially five Michigan officers killed in the line of duty this year. The Red Wings play the Los Angeles Kings at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday. The team says the opening ceremony will be dedicated to the fallen officers – three from Detroit and two from Berrien County. They are Wayne State University Sergeant Collin Rose, Detroit Sergeant Ken Steil, Detroit Officer Myron Jarrett and Berrien County courthouse officers Ron Kienzle and Joe Zangaro. You’ll remember Kienzle and Zangaro were killed in a shootout with a man who tried to escape from the courthouse on July 11. The Red Wings say more than 1,100 police officers and their families will attend the game.... [Read Full Story]

Pokagon Fund Helping Harbor Country Kids For Christmas

As Christmas approaches, the Pokagon Fund is stepping up donations to groups that can help kids have a good holiday. It’s given $9,000 to Toys for Tots to provide more than 400 kids in Harbor Country with presents this year. Also, the fund is helping out the Harbor Country Rotary Club’s Hats and Mittens project with a donation of $3,000, and backing Operation Good Cheer. That’s a department of human services program that gives holiday presents to foster kids. Pokagon Fund leaders tell us they want to make sure every child in Harbor Country has a good Christmas.... [Read Full Story]

Fire Chief Talks Christmas Tree Safety

With Christmas just about here, many families have their trees up, and fire officials want to remind them to be safe. St. Joseph Director of Public Safety Brian Uridge tells WSJM News the biggest fire safety tip involving a Christmas tree has to do with where it’s placed.... [Read Full Story]

UPDATE — Sheriff’s Department Sergeant In Hospital After I-94 Crash Near Watervliet

Michigan State Police are investigating a crash on I-94 Wednesday that closed the highway for a few hours. It happened shortly after 1 p.m. on eastbound I-94 near M-140 in Watervliet. Troopers say a Berrien County Sheriff’s Department patrol car was escorting a slower moving semi off the road when a pick-up driven by a 32-year-old Hartford man crashed into the back of the patrol car. That caused the patrol car to crash into the semi in front of it, and then into another semi to the side. The sergeant in the patrol car was taken by ambulance to Lakeland Hospital and the driver of the pick-up was taken to a hospital in Kalamazoo. The crash caused traffic on eastbound 94 in the area to be rerouted on to I-196. The road was back open around 4 p.m.... [Read Full Story]

Vigil Calls For Electors To “Vote Their Conscience”

A group of southwest Michigan residents concerned about the result of the presidential election are braving the cold each evening until the Electoral College meets to hold vigils in front of St. Joseph City Hall. They’re asking electors to vote their conscience. Katie Kwon is one of them who told WSJM News the electors have the power to stop Donald Trump.... [Read Full Story]

Auto Insurance, Energy Policy On MI Legislative Agenda

Michigan lawmakers are continuing talks on energy policy and changes to the state’s auto insurance system. Legislators now have two days left in the two-year session. They voted Tuesday for higher speed limits on rural highways and to give schools more flexibility on “zero-tolerance” expulsion and suspension requirements. But some major items, including a rewrite of 2008 energy laws, remain bottled up. Majority Republicans also have proposed a scaled-back plan to rein in medical costs for people seriously injured in car crashes.... [Read Full Story]

Snyder Asks For Study On Municipal Retiree Health Benefits

Gov. Rick Snyder says he wants municipalities and labor unions to jointly study how best to tackle retiree health care costs after Republican lawmakers removed a contentious proposal to aggressively curb the benefits from the post-election agenda. The governor told The Associated Press on Wednesday that unfunded liabilities remain as an “important issue,” and he plans to create a broad task force to “put the facts on the table.” The group could be formed in early January and be given three or four months to work, with legislation to follow. Snyder had questioned quickly passing bills in the lame-duck session, but the problem is still a priority for him in 2017. He says the recent legislative debate was “too general” and there are several dimensions to the issue.... [Read Full Story]

Dowagiac Buys New Utility Truck

The city of Dowagiac has taken a step to ensure reliable electric service to residents. The city runs its own utilities, and so is responsible for keeping the lights on in town and this week, the city council approved buying a new line truck. The 2015 model replaces a 28-year-old truck that had been deemed unfit for use. It’ll be brought to town this week at a cost of $186,000. The line truck will be used to fix downed power poles and lines, and also to set street lights. The city gets about 10 to 15 power poles knocked down per year, mostly due to weather or car crashes. Just last year, they replaced 30 poles.... [Read Full Story]