Local News Archives

Court Denies Request For Probe Of Snyder’s Flint Legal Bills

A Michigan court has rejected a request for a one-judge grand jury investigation of Governor Rick Snyder’s decision to use at least $2 million in state funds for his legal representation related to criminal probes of Flint’s water crisis. A city resident and her attorney said Tuesday that the Ingham County Circuit Court denied their petition. The judges did not state a reason in their ruling. The resident, Keri Webber, and lawyer Mark Brewer – former chairman of the state Democratic Party – filed a complaint Oct. 11 alleging the Republican governor broke the law by violating conflict-of-interest prohibitions and spending taxpayer money for personal benefit without proper authority. Snyder’s office has said the spending is “legally sound” because the fees are related to actions taken in his official capacity.... [Read Full Story]

Judge Blocks “Ballot Selfie” Ban

A judge has blocked Michigan law and policies that would prevent voters from taking photos of their ballot in the November 8 election. Joel Crookston of Portage sued in Grand Rapids federal court, saying his First Amendment right to free speech was violated. Judge Janet Neff issued a preliminary injunction Monday. State election officials had argued that the rules are intended to protect the integrity of the election. But the judge said it could be done without a sweeping prohibition. The secretary of state asked Neff to freeze her order so it can file an appeal.  Crookston filed a lawsuit after learning that a picture of a ballot could get him in trouble. He took a “ballot selfie” in 2012 while voting for a write-in candidate for Michigan State University trustee. No action was taken.... [Read Full Story]

St. Joseph Officials Seeking Action On Run-Down Homes

The city of St. Joseph will soon hire a new code enforcement officer, and officials hope that will make it easier to address the matter of blighted homes. Several weeks ago, a group of residents complained, in particular, about the home at 907 Wayne Street. The owner has been ticketed, and the city’s building inspector says he’s fixed some of the problems there. Mayor Mike Garey tells us the city has to respect property rights while ensuring standards are met in the community.... [Read Full Story]

MI Companies Building Parts For Mars Ship

Part of NASA’s first manned spaceship to Mars will be made in Michigan. The Detroit News reports the government agency’s new Space Launch System that’s being created to transport humans to Mars in the 2030s relies on dozens of Michigan suppliers that build everything from steering to components covers for harnesses and cables. Warren-based Futuramic Tool & Engineering is the most vital contributor from Michigan.
The company once made tooling that modeled metal for the body of every single car in Ford Motor Co.’s lineup. But the automaker outsourced that work to Mexico about 15 years ago, and the supplier was forced to diversify to the aerospace industry. Futuramic has manufacturing plants in Detroit and Warren that build the parts, which are shipped to NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, where the rocket is being built.... [Read Full Story]

Feds Recommend Automakers Focus On Cybersecurity

The government’s highway safety agency says automakers should make cybersecurity part of their product development process by assessing risks and designing in protections. Companies also should identify safety critical systems such as engine control computers and limit their exposure to attacks, under best practice guidelines released Monday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The agency also wants automakers to limit access to car owners’ personal data. The guidelines aren’t requirements but will go into effect after a 30-day
public comment period. The agency also wants automakers to make plans to detect cyberattacks and respond rapidly to limit them. The guidelines suggest closing off software developer access to firmware that controls cars. The industry already is doing most of the recommendations and has set up its own best practices and information-sharing methods.... [Read Full Story]

$1.5 Million Gift For MSU College Of Nursing

McLaren Greater Lansing has made a $1.5 million gift to Michigan State University to establish the College of Nursing’s first endowed
chair position. The East Lansing school said Monday that the donation to help create the Endowed Chair for Behavioral Mental Health Nursing Education is the second largest gift ever given to the nursing college. McLaren has been an active participant in the “Healthy! Capital Counties”
collaborative to conduct a community health needs assessment, which measures and prioritizes the region’s health care needs. Mental health care was identified as one of the area’s top priorities. The university notes that endowed chair and professorship positions provide scholars with stable support to actively engage in leading-edge work.... [Read Full Story]

Report Calls For Closing Youth Prisons

A new report suggests a new direction for the juvenile justice system in the US. The findings from the Annie E. Casey Foundation report, “The Future of Youth Justice” say youth prisons are not fit for kids and are associated with high costs and negative outcomes. Patrick McCarthy CEO of the foundation, says states pay on average about 90 thousand dollars a year for every youth in a juvenile facility.... [Read Full Story]

BC Sheriff Elected To Statewide Board

Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey is about to get another distinction. He’s going to serve as the vice president of the board of the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association next year. Bailey was elected VP of the group’s board at its fall conference. The sheriff’s association represents Michigan’s 83 sheriffs and is the oldest law enforcement organization in the state. Executive Director Terrence Jungel says that Sheriff Bailey has earned the respect of his fellow sheriffs. He takes his new post on January 1.... [Read Full Story]

SJ City Commission Approves B&B Regulations

The St. Joseph City Commission may be close to putting the issue of bed and breakfasts to bed. At Monday’s meeting, the commission unanimously approved a first reading for a B&B ordinance change that would ban them in areas zoned as R-1 and R-2. Those are typical single family home neighborhoods.... [Read Full Story]

State Offers Tips To Deer Hunters

Archery deer hunting season is underway in Michigan, and the department of natural resources is reminding everyone of some ways they can find good locations. Deer Management Specialist Chad Stewart says the MI-Hunt app can help hunters identify more than 7 million acres of land that can be hunted in the state.... [Read Full Story]

2 Aides Settle Whistleblower Suit Against MI House

A settlement has been reached between the Michigan House of Representatives and aides to two former state representatives who alleged
they were wrongfully fired after reporting their bosses’ extramarital affair and other misconduct. The Detroit News reports that the deal was reached last week and that the settlement was confirmed by Gideon D’Assandro, spokesman for House Speaker Kevin Cotter. Details were not immediately available. Keith Allard and Ben Graham sued the state House of Representatives in December 2015 in federal court. They were joint staffers for ex-Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat until July 2015. Gamrat was expelled from office, while Courser resigned rather than be
kicked out. Courser is facing criminal charges related to the scandal. He denies wrongdoing. Charges against Gamrat were dismissed by a judge.... [Read Full Story]

Small Plane Crashes At Muskegon County Airport

A small plane has crashed while landing at Muskegon County Airport in western Michigan. WOOD-TV reports that the four-seat plane was on a training flight from Purdue University in Indiana and was being flown by a student pilot when it crashed Sunday afternoon. The pilot was not injured, but the aircraft’s nose was ripped off as it skidded after touching down at the airport in Norton Shores, northwest of Grand Rapids.
Only the pilot was aboard the plane. The cause of the crash is under investigation.... [Read Full Story]

MI College Students Investigating Cold Case

Students in an Olivet College cold case homicide investigations class are searching for clues in the disappearance of a 21-year-old man who went missing more than a decade ago. The Battle Creek Enquirer reports that five members of the class helped search fields and woods Sunday in Augusta. Brandon Anderson of Battle Creek last was seen June 20, 2005 after a hit-and-run traffic accident on Interstate 94. He was a passenger in the vehicle and ran into nearby woods. The newspaper reports that police believe Anderson likely died in the woods. His body has not been found. Olivet associate professor Phil Reed said before Sunday’s search that Anderson’s family “never heard from him and he has to be here somewhere.” Community Emergency Response Team helped organize the search.... [Read Full Story]

Week Starts With Gas Prices Down

AAA Michigan says gas prices statewide have fallen by about 12 cents per gallon in the past week. The Dearborn-based auto club says early Monday that the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was about $2.12 per gallon. That’s about 19 cents less than it was at the same point last year. It’s the second week in a row that the statewide average decreased. The lowest average price was about $1.98 per gallon in the Flint area, while the highest average was about $2.23 per gallon in the Marquette area. AAA Michigan surveys daily fuel prices at 2,800 gas stations across the state.... [Read Full Story]

Partners Stocking MI Lake With Sturgeon

State officials continue to work with tribal and nonprofit partners on boosting Michigan’s lake sturgeon, an ancient and culturally significant fish species. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says together they released more than 7,800 juvenile lake sturgeon into public waters around the state this summer and fall. The young fish were collected from the wild last spring and reared in streamside facilities until they reached at least seven inches or larger. Most were tagged before being released, which will enable biologists to tell how well the stocking operations work. Among waterways stocked with juvenile sturgeon were Otsego Lake, Black Lake, the Lower Black River and Upper Black River, Burt Lake, Mullet Lake, the Cedar River, the Kalamazoo River, Whitefish River and Ontonagon River.... [Read Full Story]

Niles Could Get A $1 Billion Natural Gas Plant

An Illinois company is planning a $1 billion natural gas plant in the city of Niles. Indeck Energy Services says Niles will give it a good access point to the transmission grid and the Midwest distribution network. Niles City Administrator Rick Huff tells us this project would mean millions for the community.... [Read Full Story]

Big Plans For Development In Downtown Bridgman

There’s a big new development on the way for downtown Bridgman. The vacant buildings on the south side of Red Arrow Highway at Lake Street downtown will soon be the site of the Monogram Centre, a residential and commercial development planned by Marty and Chris Mason. Chris tells WSJM News his dad bought the property because he wants to see activity there.... [Read Full Story]

U Of M Research Complex Getting $78 Million Renovation

The final two reusable empty buildings on the site of a former Pfizer campus in Ann Arbor are in line for a $78.5 million renovation project.
The University of Michigan’s Board of Regents on Thursday approved plans to overhaul the buildings, which are called 20 East and 25 and are on what the school calls its North Campus Research Complex. The University of Michigan Medical School will use the space to create more
than 50 modern research laboratories for its faculty scientists and their teams. The university also will repurpose lab benches, cabinets and other materials from parts of the North Campus Research Complex. Other buildings at the former Pfizer campus already have been updated and converted for use as laboratories, offices and other spaces.... [Read Full Story]

Berrien Court Worker Facing Felony Charges

A coordinator for the Swift and Sure program of the Berrien County Trial Court is facing felony charges for allegedly having an affair with a probationer, providing him with drugs, and obstructing investigators. 35-year-old Jessica Holmes, of Eau Claire, is charged with delivery of a controlled substance, second degree criminal sexual conduct, and obstruction of justice. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office tells us Holmes is a 16-year veteran of the court who was recently promoted to be a Swift and Sure coordinator. Swift and Sure is an intensive probation program designed to help keep felons out of prison. The prosecutor’s office says Holmes developed a relationship with a probationer following the July 11 shootings at the courthouse in St. Joseph. It alleges she delivered a drug, Norco, to him to sell on her behalf, had a sexual relationship with him, and gave him information about when he was going to be tested for drugs and alcohol. Holmes will be arraigned on November 4, and could get up to 20 years in prison.... [Read Full Story]

State Recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness Month

The Michigan Department of Community Health is reminding all women of the importance of getting screened for breast cancer. It’s estimated that, this year alone, there will be more than 8,100 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed, and more than 1,400 deaths from the disease. The state health department says the best way to avoid breast cancer is healthy living and frequent screenings. It also notes African American women are more likely to be diagnosed at a younger age. This is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You can find out more about cancer prevention at the Michigan Department of Health and Human services website. ... [Read Full Story]

Drug Drop-Off Day Today

If you have a bunch of old, unneeded medications sitting around in your medicine cabinet, the DEA is giving you a chance to get rid of them today. Michigan State Police Lieutenant Mike Dawson tells WSJM News the posts in Niles and Paw Paw will be drop off sites. All you do is show up, and they’ll take pills, no questions asked.... [Read Full Story]