Local News Archives

Lawmakers Close To Deal On Third Grade Reading Bill

Michigan lawmakers are nearing a deal on legislation designed to improve third-graders’ reading but that has been caught up in a dispute over making students repeat a grade if they lag too far behind. A conference committee is scheduled to meet late Tuesday afternoon. The bill has been pending with the panel since March after the House and Senate passed different versions. Compromise legislation, which is still subject to revisions, would keep intact many exemptions under which kids could still advance to fourth grade for “good cause” even if they have reading difficulties. The new bill would exempt newer students who did not receive an appropriate individualized reading intervention in their old district or if the superintendent determines that an exemption is in a student’s “best interests.”... [Read Full Story]

Murder Charges Filed In Jessica Heeringa Case

Authorities have charged a man with murder in the 2013 disappearance of a gas station clerk in western Michigan. Jessica Heeringa disappeared from the gas station where she worked in Norton Shores, near Muskegon. The body of the 25-year-old woman hasn’t been found. Investigators weren’t able to break the mystery until Jeffrey Willis was arrested in May in a different case. Willis was charged Tuesday with kidnapping and murder. He’s already awaiting trial in two more cases in Muskegon County: the fatal shooting of a 36-year-old female jogger in 2014 and the attempted abduction of a teenage girl in April. The Associated Press has left a message seeking comment from his lawyer. Police said they found rope, handcuffs and syringes in Willis’ van when they arrested him in the spring.... [Read Full Story]

Southeastern US Gas Problems Not Likely To Impact SWMI

North Carolina has declared a state of emergency after a pipeline burst in Alabama, spilling 300,000 gallons of gasoline In Shelby County. It’s one of a number of east coast states that could see fuel shortages and higher gas prices as a result. GasBuddy’s Patrick DeHaan says it shouldn’t impact fuel prices here in the Midwest, and he expects prices to slowly fall through the week.... [Read Full Story]

Bill To Ban Local Regulation Of Plastic Bags Set To Advance

(Lansing, MI – AP) – Efforts to rid Michigan communities of plastic shopping bags would be banned under a bill set to advance in the Republican-led Legislature. The House Commerce and Trade Committee could vote on the legislation Tuesday. The measure won Senate approval in May. The bill would prohibit local governments from enacting ordinances that regulate, prohibit or impose a fee on the use or sale of “auxiliary containers” – which is defined as reusable or single-use bags, cups, bottles or other packaging from stores and restaurants. More than 150 municipalities across the country have passed ordinances either to ban the environmentally unfriendly plastic bags or to charge a fee for them. None are in Michigan, though at least two counties – Washtenaw and Muskegon – have considered whether to limit the bags.... [Read Full Story]

Politico: Bush 41 To Vote For Clinton

We’ve known for months that former President George H.W. Bush wasn’t planning to vote for Donald Trump. Now, a member of the Kennedy family says Bush has told her he will be voting for Democrat Hillary Clinton for President. Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Hartington Kennedy Townsend, the daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy, tells Politico Bush made his choice known to her yesterday. She also put up a photo of herself with the former President with the caption “The President told me he’s voting for Hillary!!” You’ll recall Clinton’s husband defeated Bush in the 1992 presidential election.... [Read Full Story]

BH Commissioners Approve Jean Klock Park Boulevard Work

$18,000 in repairs will be made to the boulevard at Jean Klock Park following a lengthy discussion by Benton Harbor City Commissioners Monday. The vote came after some debate about whether Harbor Shores should pay for the repaving under its lease agreement. City Manager Darwin Watson said Harbor Shores is only responsible for day to day maintenance, and not repairs.... [Read Full Story]

This Is Child Passenger Safety Week

This is Child Passenger Safety Week, and safety experts are spreading the word about the importance of proper use of car seats, boosters and seat belts. Kendell Wingrove, with the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, says despite a parent’s best efforts, many car seats are not properly installed.... [Read Full Story]

Upton, Others Call For Installation Of Missile Interceptor In Michigan

Members of Michigan’s congressional delegation are pushing to get a new missile defense interceptor site installed in the state. This week, the delegation sent a letter to the director of the Missile Defense Agency voicing their support for the Fort Custer Training Center to be picked for the interceptor. Among those to sign were Congressman Fred Upton and Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, along with 12 other members of Congress. They say putting the interceptor at Fort Custer, near Battle Creek, would have a $3.2 billion economic impact, leading to the direct creation of 300 jobs.... [Read Full Story]

MI Death Linked To Elephant Tranquilizer

Michigan health and law enforcement officials say they have identified what could be the state’s first death related to carfentanil, a deadly painkiller used to tranquilize elephants. The Michigan State Police and Health and Human Services Department said Monday they are investigating one suspected case in Kent County. Officials say testing of powder seized during an investigation found it has the same ingredients as carfentanil. The drug is mixed with heroin and sometimes sold in pill form. It’s been linked to fatal overdoses in Ohio. Health department spokeswoman Angela Minicuci says given carfentanil’s likely circulation in the state and extreme potency, investigators anticipate they will
see more overdoses related to the drug. Officials say the Michigan Poison Control Center hasn’t reported a rise in calls related to drug overdoses.... [Read Full Story]

Snyder Helping Republicans In Six House Races

Republican Governor Rick Snyder is using his political action committee and a nonprofit fund to help six Republican legislative candidates in
the November election. Snyder’s Making Government Accountable group, which he created to tell of Michigan’s rebound as he considered a presidential run, launched an “issue” advertising campaign Monday. His Relentless Positive Action PAC also announced a digital and mail campaign. Republicans hope to keep control of the House, which they’ve led since 2011. Snyder says the six candidates will “continue the Michigan comeback.” The spending will aid two incumbents, Representatives Klint Kesto in Oakland County and Brandt Iden in Kalamazoo County, along with four candidates vying for House seats where Republicans can’t run again because of term limits. Those seats are in Macomb, Lenawee, Jackson and Van Buren counties.... [Read Full Story]

Motorcyclist Facing Charges After Highway Shooting

An Indiana man is in the Berrien County Jail after police say he pulled a gun and fired shots at a semi on I-94. The Lincoln Township Police Department says it happened Friday shortly before 8 a.m. in the eastbound lanes near mile marker 24. The driver of the semi told police he came across a motorcyclist who got angry and started waving a handgun around. He then fired some shots at the semi. Police found a bullet hole in the truck’s radiator, but the driver was fine. Not long after, the motorcyclist was spotted on the highway near Coloma and pulled over. 34-year-old Trenton Norris, from Porter, Indiana, admitted to the shooting and said the truck had cut him off in the construction zone. He was arrested on charges including assault to do great bodily harm and assault with a dangerous weapon. Police say there was one additional report of the motorcyclist flashing a gun on the highway between Stevensville and Watervliet, but in that incident, no shots were fired.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan’s Average Gas Price Up 4¢

AAA Michigan says gas prices statewide have risen by about 4¢ per gallon in the past week. The Dearborn-based auto club says the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was about $2.24 per gallon on Sunday. That’s about 10¢ less than it was at the same point last year. The lowest average price was about $2.12 per gallon in the Traverse City area, while the highest average was about $2.30 per gallon in the Marquette area. We’re paying $2.16 on average in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, up 9¢ from last week. South Haven’s average is also $2.16 according to GasBuddy.... [Read Full Story]

Gas Leak Shuts Down Van Buren Co. Admin Bldg

A gas leak has shut down the Van Buren County Administration and Land Services Building. The building will be closed until noon. Services for Van Buren County Friend of the Court, Register of Deeds, County Treasurer and Michigan State University Extension are also affected. The county says no additional information is being released at this time.... [Read Full Story]

Upton Pushes Rural Phone Service Legislation

Legislation designed to improve phone service in rural areas is making its way through Congress. The House Energy and Commerce Committee held discussions this week on the Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act of 2015. Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News it would add new requirements on carriers.... [Read Full Story]

Iconic Kalamazoo Smokestack Coming Down

A landmark smokestack that’s among the last signs of Kalamazoo’s Gibson guitar-making history is coming down for possible preservation and inclusion in a redevelopment plan on the property. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports Thursday crews expect to finish dismantling the top of the white-lettered brick smokestack within about a week. Officials say they are removing 30 feet of the 85-foot stack and will determine if more needs to go. The top was deemed unstable. The building is getting a $12 million renovation, and the plan includes observation areas to view the smokestack through lights. A fundraising campaign is planned to preserve and reconstruct the stack. Although Gibson Guitar Co. decamped for Nashville in 1984, Heritage Guitar Co. was started by some ex-Gibson employees and makes instruments on the site.... [Read Full Story]

Fatal Crash Victim Identified

The man killed in an early Sunday morning car accident in Royalton Township has been identified as 36-year-old Jason Ransom of Niles. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says the driver who ran off from the scene of the crash on Scottdale Road near Rockey Weed Road has also been identified, and a report is being sent to the prosecutor’s office for review. It’s not clear if that person has been arrested as yet.... [Read Full Story]

MI Communities To Qualify For Assistance Under State Water Plan

Low interest loans will be awarded to Michigan communities for infrastructure improvements as part of a 30-year plan to manage, protect and improve the state’s water resources. The $158 million in loans was announced Friday by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of the Great Lakes. It is part of the third phase of the state’s Water Strategy which also defines goals and actions for the protection of water quality and the restoration of areas impacted by legacy pollution. The initial phase was announced in June and included educating citizens about
the importance of healthy waters while nurturing and restoring aquatic ecosystems. Increased focus on sustainable expansion of water recreation and water-based business was part of the second phase released in July.... [Read Full Story]

One Killed In Early Sunday Morning Crash

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a crash that killed the driver of a 1998 Buick on Scottdale Road near Rockey Weed Road in Royalton Township early Sunday morning. Deputies tell our newsroom the driver of a 1999 Honda involved in the crash ran off and has not yet been found. The two passengers in the Honda stayed at the crash scene, and police have not said if they were hurt. Alcohol is believed to have been a factor in the accident, which happened just before 3:30 a.m. Authorities are withholding the name of the driver who was killed until the victim’s family has been notified.... [Read Full Story]

Muhammad Discusses Meeting With Snyder

Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad has met with Governor Rick Snyder to discuss the future of the city and its relationship with the state. The meeting on Tuesday took place at the Romney Building in Lansing, and Muhammad tells WSJM News he talked to the governor about the city’s needs.... [Read Full Story]

Red Cross Offering Disaster Training

The American Red Cross of Southwest Michigan is offering everyone a chance to learn about how to respond to disasters with a training day this month. On Monday, September 26, the session will be held at the Red Cross St. Joseph office, and folks can get information on how to become a disaster services volunteer. Those trained volunteers are sent into disaster areas to provide recovery services, shelter, and food, and also to conduct assessments of the damage. To find out about signing up, call the American Red Cross of Southwest Michigan at 556-9619 and ask for the training coordinator.... [Read Full Story]

Rock Alliance 3 Day Ride Returns To Southwest Michigan

More than $2,500 has been raised for the Bohn-Stewart Children’s Education Fund by the Rock Alliance with its annual 3 Day Ride. A caravan of 16 motorcycles left St. Joseph on Thursday, returning to Stevensville on Saturday for a party at Coach’s Bar and Grill. The ride, organized by Rock 107 WIRX, took riders throughout the northern part of the lower Peninsula. One rider told us it was the best 3 Day Ride he’s taken.... [Read Full Story]