Local News Archives

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]

Detroit Free Press Sports Columnist Dies

The Detroit Free Press says sports columnist Drew Sharp has died. He was 56. The newspaper says Sharp died at his home Friday in Bloomfield Hills, a Detroit suburb. The cause was hypertensive cardiovascular disease. Sharp spent decades at the Free Press, joining the paper as a sports writer in 1983. His wife, Karen Sharp says her husband “loved his job more than anything.” When he was named a columnist in 1999, Sharp told readers that his job wasn’t to “blindly lead cheers” or simply “slam” people from his perch. He said he had a responsibility to “raise questions and express doubts.” His last column this week was about Michigan State’s basketball team. Sharp covered the Detroit Pistons for years before becoming a columnist. The team expressed its condolences.... [Read Full Story]

Governor Declares Disaster In Upper Peninsula

Governor Rick Snyder has declared a state of disaster for Marquette County after heavy rains led to flooding that damaged several roads.
With the declaration Friday, Snyder has made available all state resources to assist local recovery efforts and allows the state to request emergency federal highway funding to repair damages. The governor’s office says the storms and flooding earlier this week caused  widespread damage to roads, bridges, culverts and other infrastructure.The National Weather Service says more than 3 inches of rainfall fell in some
areas Monday and Tuesday. Michigan Route 94 west of U.S. 41 was among the affected roads with a washout.... [Read Full Story]

Statewide Pet Adoption Event Saturday

The Bissell Pet Foundation is planning to hold yet another Empty the Shelters event this Saturday. The Grand Rapids-based animal welfare group will pay for the cost of adopting an animal at more than 50 shelters around Michigan. Spokesperson Holly Kroeze tells WSJM News that’s after a successful date back in May.... [Read Full Story]

Benton Harbor School Board Votes Not To Fire H.S. Principal

Suspended Benton Harbor High School Principal Rodger Tripplett remains employed with the district. After a more than seven hour hearing on Friday, the board of education voted 3-2 against a resolution that would have terminated Tripplett. He’s been suspended since June, and Friday’s hearing focused on a variety of accusations leveled against him. Among other things, he was accused of allowing dozens of students to graduate without meeting state requirements and possessing sexually abusive material involving children. However, a Michigan State Police investigation found he had committed no criminal wrongdoing. Tripplett’s attorney refuted each accusation during Friday’s hearing, and in the end, it was enough to convince a majority of the board’s voting members that he shouldn’t be let go. Tripplett gave a brief statement.... [Read Full Story]

Haven Harvest This Weekend In South Haven

The annual Haven Harvest Festival is this weekend in South Haven. The event rings in the fall with a variety of activities planned for Saturday. They’re set to include horse drawn hayrides, a scarecrow contest, a pie baking contest, beer and cider, and a Halloween costume contest. That’s not to mention the Haunted Asylum at the Michigan Maritime Museum in the evening. You can find the whole Haven harvest schedule at SouthHaven.org.... [Read Full Story]

$1 Billion Natural Gas Plant Planned In Niles

A $1 billion natural gas plant could be coming to the city of Niles. An Illinois company called Indeck Energy Services is planning the facility which it says would use combined-cycle technology to generate electricity. Indeck says it picked Niles for its location because it gives a “central access point to existing natural gas transmission lines and a distribution network throughout the Midwest.” Niles City Administrator Rick Huff tells WSJM News it would mean millions in tax revenue.... [Read Full Story]

Woman Pleads No Contest In Death Of Infant Son

A Hartford woman charged with being an accessory after the fact to the murder of her 8-month-old son has pleaded no contest in Berrien County Trial Court. Baby Carter Donovan died on February 19, when 31-year-old Autumn Atchley left him in the care of Brandon Beshires while she was at an appointment. Prosecutors say the baby died of blunt force trauma, and Beshires is charged with murder in the case. Atchley was charged with being an accessory after the fact because at first she lied to police about who had been with the baby at the time of his death. Now that she’s pleaded no contest, she’l; be sentenced on December 5, and could get up to five years in prison. Beshires, meanwhile, wil go to trial on February 14.... [Read Full Story]

University of Michigan Depression Center Gets $10.8M Boost

Officials say a nearly $10.8 million donation to the University of Michigan Depression Center will help accelerate development of personalized treatments. The gift announced Thursday by the Ann Arbor school is from alumni Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg of Bloomfield Hills and their family. The university says treatments being boosted are aimed at clinical depression, bipolar disorder and related illnesses.... [Read Full Story]

Watchdog Says EPA Delayed Flint Emergency Order

The Environmental Protection Agency’s internal watchdog says the EPA had the authority and enough information to issue an emergency order to protect residents of Flint from lead-contaminated water as early as June 2015 – seven months before it declared an emergency. Inspector General Arthur Elkins says the Flint crisis should have generated “a greater sense of urgency” at the EPA to “intervene when the safety of drinking water is compromised.”... [Read Full Story]

Lawmaker Holds Veterans Roundtable

The latest veterans roundtable organized by state Representative Aric Nesbitt has helped to connect southwest Michigan vets with state services and other benefits. Nesbitt tells WSJM News he held the event in Paw Paw last week. He says it’s always good to talk with veterans and hear about their concerns.... [Read Full Story]

Legislation Designed To Protect MI Wineries

Legislation designed to protect Michigan winemakers has been approved by the state Senate. Brett Visner, with the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association, tells us the plan requires carriers like UPS and FedEx to report to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission illegal shipments of wine into the state.... [Read Full Story]

West MI Candidate To Remain On Ballot Despite Death

A popular candidate for a local office in western Michigan will remain on the ballot despite her death. Sherry Yonkers was among six candidates to advance to the November 8 election for Fruitport Township trustee. Four will get seats on the township board. The 69-year-old Yonkers died Tuesday, weeks after finishing second in the August primary. Township Clerk Carol Hulka tells The Muskegon Chronicle that ballots with her name already have been prepared. Hulka says workers on election day can’t tell voters that Yonkers is dead. Write-in candidates have until October 28 to register.... [Read Full Story]

MI Senate Approves Bicycle Safety Legislation

The Michigan lawmakers are responding to a traffic crash that killed five bicyclists with the approval of legislation governing how drivers should pass cyclists on the road and requiring bike and motorcycle safety instruction in driver education classes. A bill passed 34-2 by the Senate Thursday would require drivers overtaking a bicycle to pass at least 5 feet to the left. They could pass a bicycle in a no-passing zone if it’s safe.
Another bill approved unanimously would require at least three hours of instruction pertaining to bicycles and motorcycles in driver education classes. The bills head to the House next. In June, five cyclists were killed and another four injured near Kalamazoo when a man allegedly plowed his pickup truck into the group.... [Read Full Story]

Watchdog Says EPA Delayed Flint Emergency Order

The Environmental Protection Agency’s internal watchdog says the EPA had the authority and enough information to issue an emergency order to protect residents of Flint from lead-contaminated water as early as June 2015, seven months before it declared an emergency.
Inspector General Arthur Elkins says the Flint crisis should have generated “a greater sense of urgency” at the EPA to “intervene when the safety of drinking water is compromised.” Flint’s drinking water became tainted when the city began drawing from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money. The impoverished city of 100,000 north of Detroit was under state control at the time. Regulators failed to ensure water was treated properly and lead from aging pipes leached into the water supply.... [Read Full Story]

Bill To Exempt Michigan’s Masonic Lodges From Taxes Advances

(Lansing, MI – AP) – A bill advancing in the Legislature would exempt Michigan’s 275 Masonic lodges from property taxes. Supporters of the legislation , which won Senate approval Wednesday, say funding has become an issue for the fraternal service associations because Masons don’t have many options to increase revenue. Michigan law already provides tax exemptions for property owned by nonprofit charitable institutions, but they have been inconsistently allowed for Masonic associations.... [Read Full Story]

Indiana Official Clarifies Voter Registration Fraud Probe

(Indianapolis, IN – AP) – Indiana’s secretary of state says many of the thousands of altered registration records she flagged might just be residents rushing to correct their names or birth dates ahead of the election. Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson’s acknowledgment Wednesday came
after she had warned of potential widespread voting fraud. She says she wanted Indiana State Police to investigate to ensure there was no widespread fraud after her office found a heavier than usual number of changes to voter registration records this election cycle.... [Read Full Story]

Report Recommends Changes To Emergency Manager System

Michigan should consider abandoning its one-person emergency management structure and instead install a team of three experts when
deficit-ridden municipalities and school districts fall under state control. That’s according to a report released Wednesday by a legislative committee that investigated Flint’s lead-tainted water crisis. Nine current or former government workers have been criminally charged since
medical experts detected elevated levels of lead in children due to the water supply in the impoverished city of nearly 100,000. The report makes a raft of recommendations intended to prevent a repeat of such a crisis in the state. It suggests replacing lead service pipes statewide, lifting emergency managers’ general immunity from civil lawsuits and prohibiting them from using cost as the primary factor in any decision that will affect public health and safety.... [Read Full Story]