Local News Archives

Black Friday Deals Help Lift November Auto Sales

Black Friday deals were expected to pull November U.S. auto sales out of their recent slump. General Motors’ sales jumped 10 percent over last November, while Toyota’s sales were up 4 percent. Nissan’s sales rose 7.5%. Total sales of new cars and trucks were expected to rise 4 percent for the month to 1.37 million units, according to Kelley Blue Book. That would be the highest November on record, beating the previous record of 1.32 million set in 2001. Higher incentives enticed buyers who sat out much of the fall. July was the last month that sales increased year-over-year.Barclay’s analyst Brian Johnson said incentives were averaging 12% of the price paid for new vehicles, which is one of the highest percentages in recent years.... [Read Full Story]

Bills Would Require Voters Without Photo ID To Return Later

Michigan Republicans are considering new legislation to change the procedure for voters who don’t show a photo ID at their polling place.
A bill up for a potential vote Thursday in the House Elections Committee would require those casting a provisional ballot to visit their clerk’s office no later than 10 days after the election to ensure it’s counted. They would have to present a photo ID with their current address or other documentation establishing their residency. Under current law, voters without a photo ID must sign a brief affidavit before voting. A hearing on the legislation was held Wednesday. The liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan says it’s a “voter suppression” bill. The sponsor, Republican Representative Lisa Posthumus Lyons, of Alto, says the measure would protect the integrity of elections.... [Read Full Story]

Legislation Prohibits Plastic Bag Bans In Michigan

Efforts to rid Michigan communities of plastic shopping bags would be banned under legislation headed to Governor Rick Snyder. The Republican-controlled House approved the bill on a mostly party-line 62-46 vote Thursday. The measure won Senate passage in May. The bill would prohibit local governments from regulating, prohibiting or imposing a fee on the use or sale of “auxiliary containers’,’ which are
defined as reusable or single-use bags, cups, bottles or other packaging from stores and restaurants. More than 150 municipalities across the country have banned the environmentally unfriendly plastic bags or charged a fee. None are in Michigan, though at least two counties — Washtenaw and Muskegon — have considered whether to limit the bags. Democrats said the state should not strip local communities of decision-making.... [Read Full Story]

One Dead in Benton Township Robbery

Benton Township Police Department is asking for your help in finding a suspect in the shooting death of a man who was killed Wednesday night. Police were called to the 1900 block of East Empire Avenue around 9:15 p.m. in reference to a man who had been shot. When officers arrived they found 43-year-old Kenneth William Martin Junior just off the roadway and was shot in the chest. He was transported to Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph where he was pronounced dead. According to Officers, they learned that Martin was walking with a female companion when they were approached by an unknown male. The suspect demanded property from the two and during the robbery the suspect shot Martin. The female who was with Martin was not injured. Police say the suspect ran off in a northwestern direction. Police did used a K-9 unit to try to track the suspect but had no luck. The suspect remains at large and has not yet been identified. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Benton Township Police Department or Crimestoppers.... [Read Full Story]

Group Wants Debate Over Pure Michigan Cmpaign

There’s been some back and forth the past month between the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation about whether the Pure Michigan tourism ad campaign really works, and now the Mackinac Center wants a debate. Researcher Michael LaFaive tells WSJM News they should lay out the facts.... [Read Full Story]

County Clerks Prepare For Recount

It looks like a recount of this year’s presidential election is happening in Michigan, and county clerks across the state are preparing. Van Buren County Clerk Tina Leary tells WSJM News it’s going to be a hand recount, and as soon as she finds out what day it’s happening, she’ll assemble staff.... [Read Full Story]

LMC: On-Campus Security Always A Priority

With violent incidents now seeming to happen on a regular basis at college campuses around the U.S. you may be wondering if local institutions have taken steps to be prepared. Lake Michigan College President Dr. Bob Harrison tells WSJM News they have. At LMC, they’re constantly sensitive to security issues and how to respond.... [Read Full Story]

MI Panel Votes To Close Pensions To New Teachers

A legislative committee has voted to close the pension system to newly hired school employees in Michigan and instead provide them solely a 401(k) in retirement. The Republican-controlled Senate could pass the legislation later Wednesday and send it to the House. The bills would apply to school workers hired on or after July 1, 2017. Republicans say the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System is “unsustainable” and won’t be able to finance pension benefits because of a $26.7 billion unfunded liability. Since mid-2010, new hires have qualified for a “hybrid” plan, with a blending of a traditional pension and a 401(k). Older teachers receive a pension. Democrats say they’re unified against the measure. Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich says people “want more economic security, not less.”... [Read Full Story]

State Announces New Rules For Receiving Food Assistance

Michigan officials say able-bodied adults without dependents in four counties must meet work requirements to continue receiving food assistance after January 1. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday it’s notifying about 14,000 people in Kent, Oakland, Ottawa and Washtenaw counties this week of the change. Recipients ages 18-49 without disabilities that prevent them from working must spend an average of 20 hours per week each month in unsubsidized employment, job training, or volunteering at a nonprofit. The federal government waived work requirements in 2002 because of high unemployment, but lower joblessness means Michigan no longer is eligible for the waiver. The agency said it expects the waiver to be phased out statewide by October 2018. The four counties are going first because of low unemployment rates.... [Read Full Story]

Legislation Limits Fundraising License Plates

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation to limit the number of state-sponsored license plates used to raise money for groups and
causes. Wednesday’s signing came after legislation was approved Tuesday by the Senate and House to cap the number at 20, not including university plates. Michigan has 15 university plates and 14 specialty fundraising plates, not including military plates. The legislation also revises the startup fee that groups must pay Michigan to develop a new fundraising plate. The bill was sponsored by former Representative Peter Pettalia, a Republican from Presque Isle who was killed in a motorcycle crash in September. In a statement, Snyder says the bill reflects Pettalia’s “common-sense approach to creating new laws and policies.”... [Read Full Story]

House Passes Pscholka Rainy Day Fund Bill

State Representative Al Pscholka’s legislation to protect the state’s Rainy Day Fund has been approved by the Michigan House. The fund was set up as a resource for lawmakers to use when the state’s facing a fiscal emergency, but it has been depleted in recent years. Pscholka WSJM News its use would be restricted under his bill.... [Read Full Story]

Dozens Arrested In Minimum Wage Protest

Detroit police say they arrested about 40 protesters who blocked traffic during a rally for union rights and an hourly wage of $15. Officer Jennifer Moreno says about 200 people protested early Tuesday outside a McDonald’s restaurant on the city’s west side and those who wouldn’t get out
of a street were arrested. WWJ-AM reports some locked arms and sat in the middle of the roadway. The crowd chanted “We work, we sweat. Put 15 on our check.” A protest also took place outside a McDonald’s in Flint. The protests are part of a nationwide campaign for higher hourly wages, including for workers at airports and fast-food restaurants. The campaign has included several rounds of actions, including multiple Michigan protests, since the efforts began in 2012.... [Read Full Story]

MI Senate Approves New Business Incentives

Michigan would provide up to $250 million in tax breaks a year to attract larger-scale business expansions under legislation advancing in
the legislature. A Senate committee quickly and unanimously approved bipartisan bills Tuesday that supporters say are needed to compete with other states. They say Michigan is among two states with a corporate income tax and no tax credits, and Ohio and Indiana offer incentives worth seven times more than Michigan’s. The legislation, which the Senate plans to pass Tuesday, would authorize the Michigan Strategic Fund to strike 10-year deals with companies so they could keep income tax withholdings. Business could qualify if they create at least 250 jobs that pay 125% or more of the average wage in the county, or if they create at least 500 jobs.... [Read Full Story]

Kellogg Pulls Advertisements From Breitbart

Kellogg says it will no longer advertise on Breitbart.com, the website formerly run by one of President-elect Donald Trump’s top aides, Steve Bannon. Kellogg Company  spokeswoman Kris Charles says the food company regularly works with media buyers to ensure its ads “do not appear on sites that aren’t aligned with our values as a company.” She says “occasionally something is inadvertently missed,” and Kellogg decided to “discontinue” advertising on Breitbart after learning its ads were on the site. Breitbart is the target of a concerted effort on social media that calls on companies to cease advertising on the site, which has been condemned as racist, sexist and anti-Semitic. The site called Kellogg’s decision “economic censorship” and “un-American,” saying Kellogg was denigrating “to its own detriment” the consumers who
elected Trump.... [Read Full Story]

Workers At O’Hare Airport Expected To Strike Over Wages

(Chicago, IL – AP) – Workers at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport are expected to walk off the job over union rights and an hourly wage of $15. About 500 workers have committed to the strike on Tuesday. They include cabin cleaners, janitors, wheelchair attendants and baggage handlers. The workers are employed by private contractors. Strike organizers say many work for minimum wage. They’re trying to unionize with the help of Service Employees International Union Local 1.... [Read Full Story]

Detroit Police Arrest About 40 During Union, Wage Protest

Detroit police say they arrested about 40 protesters who blocked traffic during a rally for union rights and an hourly wage of $15. Officer Jennifer Moreno says about 200 people protested early Tuesday outside a McDonald’s restaurant on the city’s west side and those who wouldn’t get out of a street were arrested. Some locked arms and sat in the middle of the roadway. The crowd chanted “We work, we sweat. Put 15 on our check.” The protest is part of a nationwide campaign for higher hourly wages, including for workers at airports and fast-food restaurants. The campaign has included several rounds of actions, including multiple Michigan protests, since the
efforts began in 2012.... [Read Full Story]

More MI Kmart Stores Closing Next Month

Several Kmart stores in Michigan are preparing to close next month, following dozens of others that have shuttered in the state since the
company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection nearly 15 years ago. The Detroit News reports nearly two-thirds of the 2,165 Kmart stores that were operating in the U.S. have closed since 2000. More than 130 nationwide closures have been announced this year. Seven stores in the state are slated to close December 11, including locations in Jackson and Fenton. Some defunct Kmarts in Bloomfield Hills, Woodhaven and other Metro Detroit cities have been resurrected as new enterprises, but vacant Kmart buildings are still scattered throughout the region.
The nature of the aging buildings makes them difficult to fill with other retail as they’re often massive structures tailored to house Kmarts.... [Read Full Story]

MI GOP Preparing For Possible Recount

After raising more than five-million dollars for election recount efforts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has set her sights on Michigan. Ronna Romney McDaniel, Chair of the Michigan Republican Party, says this is all a waste of time.... [Read Full Story]

Honor Credit Union Announces Teacher Award Winners

Honor Credit Union has announced the winners of its seventh annual teacher awards. In all, 30 teachers from areas served by the credit union were picked to receive special accolades, as well as $100 to use in their classroom or school. In the St. Joseph area, the winning teachers were Renee Carle and Mary LoPresti, while Dawn Luckritz was the Lakeshore winner. For South Haven, the honored teachers were Cheri Stein and Linda Brzezinski. Honor Credit Union took submissions for teacher awards from more than 300 schools. Entrants had to submit a short description of how they would use the money to better educate their students if they won. You can see the full list of winning teachers below.... [Read Full Story]