Local News Archives

Saugatuck-Douglas In The Running For Title Of Best Midwestern Small Town

If you’re a fan of Saugatuck-Douglas, you can help it win an online contest. The area is in the running for the title of USA Today’s Best Midwestern Small Town. The poll is going on right now, and currently, Saugatuck-Douglas is ranked 5th. USA Today writes Saugatuck-Douglas is notable for its B&Bs, art galleries, and “stunning Lake Michigan shore.” Ahead of the area in the poll, as of Wednesday afternoon, were Grand Marais, Minnesota, Nashville, Indiana, Charlevoix, Michigan, and Chagrin Falls, Ohio. You can vote for Saugatuck-Douglas right here.... [Read Full Story]

First Draft Of BH Schools Partnership Agreement With The State Reached

Leaders at Benton Harbor Area Schools and the state are a step closer to reaching their partnership agreement. A lengthy meeting was held Wednesday for details of the deal to be hammered out between not only the state and the schools, but also local community partners that will be involved. Superintendent Dr. Shelly Walker tells WSJM News those partners include Whirlpool, Lakeland, Andrews University, and Riverwood. They’ll all work together to improve Benton Harbor Schools.... [Read Full Story]

House Approves Bill Allowing Minors To Refuse Breathalyzers

From the Associated Press — The Michigan House has passed legislation that would allow minors to refuse requests by police to submit to breathalyzers. Officers would be prohibited from administering the tests that measure a person’s blood-alcohol level without consent by the minor or a judge-signed court order. The bill also would eliminate tickets and fines and the two points tacked onto a minor’s driving record for refusing to submit to a breathalyzer. A minor still can be arrested for refusing to take a breathalyzer if an officer has probable cause that the minor was driving under the influence. The legislation is sponsored by state Representative Pete Lucido, a Republican from Macomb County’s Shelby Township. It passed 102-6 Wednesday and now heads to the state Senate for future consideration.... [Read Full Story]

MI Senate Approves Money To Repair Giant Sinkhole

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Senate has approved a $5 million state loan to help repair a sinkhole in suburban Detroit and has voted to allot $100 million in federal funding to address Flint’s water crisis. The mid-year budget bill cleared the Republican-controlled chamber 36-1 Wednesday. The House authorized a $3 million infrastructure grant for Macomb County to make sinkhole repairs. But Senate Republicans instead backed a $5 million interest-free loan, saying it’s up to local governments to maintain their infrastructure. Democrats and some Republicans opposed the switch.The House could take a final vote this week. The bill would formally allocate $100 million in Flint aid that Congress and former President Barack Obama enacted into law in December. It also includes $1 million for capital improvements to the Michigan Capitol building.... [Read Full Story]

MI Supreme Court Justice Robert Young To Retire

From the Associated Press — Michigan Supreme Court Justice Robert Young plans to retire and return to his former law firm. A statement from the court says Young announced his plans Wednesday during a meeting with fellow Michigan Supreme Court justices. The 65-year-old says his
retirement from the court is effective April 30 or earlier. He’s going back to the Dickinson Wright firm. Young served three years on the Michigan Court of Appeals and 18 years on Michigan’s highest court, including six years as chief justice. Young says he’s proud of his accomplishments, including helping to reduce acrimony among the court. He says in a statement “we proved that good people who may differ in their opinions can come together and accomplish important things for the people we serve – and we do it amicably.”... [Read Full Story]

Ford Investing $1.2 Billion In Three Michigan Plants

From the Associated Press — Ford Motor Co. is investing $1.2 billion in three Michigan facilities, including an engine plant where it plans to add 130 jobs. President Donald Trump applauded the move in an early morning tweet. Ford will spend $850 million to upgrade the Michigan Assembly Plant next year to build the Ford Ranger pickup and Ford Bronco SUV. The suburban Detroit plant currently makes small cars, which are moving to a plant in Mexico. Ford will spend $150 million to upgrade its Romeo Engine Plant outside Detroit. The company says it will create or retain 130 jobs at that plant. Ford is also spending $200 million on a data center that will store information collected from advanced vehicles.
Michigan is expected to approve $30 million in tax incentives for Ford on Tuesday.... [Read Full Story]

More SWM Communities Preparing To Allow Marijuana Dispensaries

Medical marijuana dispensaries are coming to southwest Michigan. This week, the Niles City Council approved a resolution stating the city intends to adopt three medical marijuana laws passed by the state last year. Plus, Buchanan leaders have held a similar vote, and plan further discussions on details April 11. Supporters are hoping medical marijuana dispensaries will lead to economic growth while helping patients of some chronic medical issues. However, some police agencies have their concerns. Niles Police Chief James Millin says the dispensaries could lead to theft. Michigan voters approved the use of marijuana for some medical conditions in 2008.... [Read Full Story]

Stabenow, Peters To Oppose Trump Supreme Court Nominee

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters are both opposing President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court. Each of Michigan’s senators, both Democrats, released statements Tuesday, saying Neil Gorsuch will get a vote of no from them when his appointment is finally brought to the Senate floor. Stabenow says a review of Gorsuch’s rulings shows “he has a long record of siding with special interests and institutions instead of hard-working Americans.” She says Gorsuch doesn’t meet standards of “balance and impartiality.” Peters, meanwhile, says “Judge Gorsuch’s previous rulings indicate he “believes that corporations have greater rights than individuals.” Gorsuch could get his vote next week.... [Read Full Story]

New LMC President To Start April 10

The new president at Lake Michigan College will start on April 10. That’s according to LMC Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Michael Lindley. He tells us Dr. Trevor Kubatzke, who’s coming to southwest Michigan from Milwaukee Area Technical College, has already moved to buy a house in the area. Lindley says Kubatzke is a good fit and has experience with a lot of the things LMC is doing.... [Read Full Story]

St. Joseph Today Has Busy First Quarter

It’s been a busy first quarter for St. Joseph Today. On Monday, Executive Director Amy Zapal gave her quarterly report to city commissioners, saying the St. Joe Welcome Center has had nearly 3,000 visitors this year. She also went over the events the organization’s had the past three months. Zapal tells WSJM News as more activities are held downtown, even in the winter, the area sees more visitors overall.... [Read Full Story]

Legislation Adding Technical Courses To Graduation Requirements Advances In State House

State Representative Beth Griffin, of Mattawan, is hailing a Michigan House committee’s passage Tuesday of legislation updating the state’s high school graduation standards. Griffin tells us the three-bill package includes a plan from her to boost technical education in the state by giving students options to have technical courses count toward graduation.... [Read Full Story]

Cass County Man Arraigned In Murder Of His Father

An Elkhart, Indiana man is charged with open murder in the death of his father in Cass County Monday night. Michigan State Police say they were called to a home in the 16,000 block of State Line Road in Mason Township about 8:30 p.m. There, they found a 59-year-old man dead from stab wounds. 32-year-old Joseph Allen Craigo was arrested in the death. He was arraigned Tuesday afternoon in Fourth District Court in Cassopolis. Police say the case remains under investigation.... [Read Full Story]

Berrien Co. Road Commission Managing Director Leaving

After about three and a half years on the job, Louis Csokasy is stepping down from the Berrien County Road Commission as its managing director. He tells WSJM News he’ll be 70 in July and the time is right to exit the position he’s held since being hired in October 2013. Csokasy was hired after the Berrien County Board of Commissioners removed several road commissioners and managers over allegations of a hostile work environment and fiscal mismanagement. The commission was also investigated by the U.S. Department of Transportation earlier in the decade. Csokasy says rumors that he’s being “forced out” are not true, and his contract runs through May 26. He adds he’s not aware of what plans the road commission may have to fill the post after he leaves this spring.... [Read Full Story]

Cass County Murder Investigation

A murder is under investigation by the Michigan State Police in Cass County. A 32-year-old Elkhart man is in custody and accused of stabbing a 59-year-old man to death in Mason Township last night. Troopers were sent to a home in the 16-thousand block of State Line Road just after 8:20 last night and found the victim dead. No details about what lead to the murder have been released. Authorities have also not released the names of the suspect or victim.... [Read Full Story]

SJ Building Officials Begin Property Inspections

Property inspections in the city of St. Joseph have begun for the year. City Chief Building Official Cecil Derringer says the staff is in place to go property by property looking for violations for their owners to address. They’ll check out each lot from the street or the adjacent property and look at everything from the roof down to the ground. Folks with violations will be notified, and they’ll have several weeks to address each matter. This season, the city is focusing on homes from about Old Lakeshore Road to the St. Joseph River, almost all of them west of Main Street. Then, they’ll do another area next year, and so on. It’s been about ten years since such inspections were conducted.... [Read Full Story]

Homeland Security Secretary Speaks In Detroit

From the Associated Press — Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly says he told members of the Detroit area’s Arab-American and Latino communities that he is committed to keeping the country safe without targeting anyone based on a person’s ethnicity or religious affiliation.
The retired Marine general spoke to reporters after the private meetings that took place Monday in Detroit’s suburbs. He also toured a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility in Detroit just across the river from Canada. President Donald Trump has focused on building a wall at the Mexico border in an effort to boost security. He also wants to restrict immigration from six majority-Muslim countries, but federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland blocked his revised executive order on the topic. Messages left with some people who attended the meeting were not immediately
returned.... [Read Full Story]

St. Joseph Officials Still Hope To See Blighted home Torn Down

The city of St. Joseph continues efforts to have a dilapidated house on Niles Avenue torn down. Last week, the city’s Property Maintenance Board of Appeals granted the owner of the home near the AT&T store a five week delay as part of his appeal of the demolition order. That was only because one of the board’s members wasn’t present, which St. Joe City Commissioner Jeff Richards tells WSJM will be fixed soon with more alternate appointees. He says the property’s owner has run out of time to do needed repairs.... [Read Full Story]

MI Truckers Helping Out In Kansas, Texas After Fires

A convoy of trucks has left Michigan for Kansas and Texas to help relief efforts following some devastating fires there. You may have spotted some of those trucks over the weekend after they left the Thumb region. Trucker Matt Schaller, with Hunt Farms, tells WKZO News it all started as a small thing on social media and just kept growing and growing.... [Read Full Story]

St. Joseph Could Get A Playground Accommodating Special Needs Children

St. Joseph could become just the second city in Michigan to have a playground that caters to special needs children. That’s after the city commission Monday night approved the concept for Riverview Park. They heard from Craig Carlson, of the Ray Carlson Memorial, a non-profit that operates under the umbrella of the Elks Lodge. He tells WSJM News he’s looking to raise money for a playground with a variety of features for kids with all sorts of disabilities.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan, Flint To Replace 18,000 Lead-Tainted Water Lines

From the Associated Press — Michigan and the city of Flint have agreed to replace thousands of home water lines under a sweeping deal to settle a lawsuit over lead-contaminated water in the troubled city. A court filing Monday says Flint will replace at least 18,000 lead or galvanized-steel water lines by 2020, and the state will pick up the bill with state and federal money. The state said it will pay $87 million and keep another
$10 million in reserve if necessary. The settlement will be presented to a federal judge in Detroit on Tuesday for approval. Flint’s water was tainted with lead for at least 18 months, as the city tapped the Flint River but didn’t treat the water to reduce corrosion. As a result, lead leached from old pipes and fixtures.... [Read Full Story]

Today Is Oberon Day

For many, summer has begun, and that’s because Monday was Oberon Day. That’s the day each spring when Kalamazoo’s Bell’s Brewery unleashes its latest batch of Oberon beer on to the world. Brewery Founder Larry Bell tells WSJM News folks get excited when the new batch of Oberon goes public.... [Read Full Story]

Homeland Security Secretary In Detroit Today

US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly will be visiting metro Detroit today. No official schedule yet has been released, but Kelly is expected to meet with Arab-American leaders, who say they plan to press him on President Trump’s proposed travel restrictions on visitors from majority-Muslim countries. The “Detroit Free Press” says Kelly will also sit down with Governor Rick Snyder, and with officials from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Detroit, regarding the Ambassador Bridge. He will be joined on the trip by U.S. Senator Gary Peters.... [Read Full Story]