Local News Archives

Rock Alliance 3 Day Ride This Week

This Thursday is the departure day for this year’s Rock Alliance 3 Day Ride. Motorcyclists from all over will leave from the St. Joseph Holiday Inn Express for a ride throughout the northern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Tom Woltman, with the Berrien Riders tells WSJM News it’s always a great experience.... [Read Full Story]

Lobbyist Backs Away From Claims About Pscholka, Kahn

A story that a former lobbyist paid the bar tab for state Representative Al Pscholka and was pressured to buy alcohol for the wedding of former state Senator Dr. Roger Kahn’s daughter turns out to be just that – a story. Steve Marino is running for the state House in Macomb County and admitted to the “Detroit Free Press” he made up the story after a recording of him bragging about it was released by Michigan Democrats. Pscholka says he’s never met the guy, and it’s become par for the course in politics.... [Read Full Story]

Minor-In-Possession Changes Considered

State Senator Rick Jones has proposed a couple of bills that might just get him invited to some fraternity parties. A bill due up for a vote today in a House committee would turn the first arrest for being a minor in possession of alcohol from a criminal violation to a civil infraction. Jones says it’s just not right that some young lives are ruined because they have a beer. Jones, a Republican from Grand Ledge and former Eaton County sheriff, has also just proposed new legislation that would allow stores in Ann Arbor to ignore a new city ordinance that changes the legal age for purchasing cigarettes from 18 to 21. Jones thinks it will hurt mom and pop stores in the city, driving business to the burbs.... [Read Full Story]

Harbaugh Denies Eating Booger During Michigan Game

Video seems to show Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh picking and eating a booger during the Wolverines’ game against Central Florida on Saturday. The Internet has lit up with comments about it, but Harbaugh says it’s not what it appears. On his weekly radio show Monday night, which is heard on 95.7 and 1400 WSJM Sports, the coach denied eating a booger.... [Read Full Story]

Legislature Poised To Approve Medical Marijuana Regulations

Michigan lawmakers are poised to give final approval to a new regulatory structure for medical marijuana. Voters legalized the drug for medical use in 2008. But there have been conflicts in the courts, particularly over the legality of dispensaries where patients can buy the drug and whether non-smokable forms are legal. Legislation up for a vote Tuesday in the Republican-controlled House would create a tiered regulatory system. A state license would be required to grow, process, sell, transport and test marijuana. Dispensaries would pay a 3% tax on their gross retail income. Allowable marijuana could include infused, non-smokable forms such as lotions and edible products. More than 211,000 qualifying patients now grow their own marijuana plants or obtain the drug from nearly 37,000 registered caregivers under the 2008 law.... [Read Full Story]

Northern Michigan State Rep Killed In Crash

A three-term state lawmaker has died in a motorcycle accident in northern Michigan. Republican state Representative. Peter Pettalia was killed Monday evening in an accident on M-33 South. No further details were immediately available. A Montmorency County sheriff’s dispatcher and Michigan State Police told The Associated Press a statement would be issued later. Pettalia was elected to his first term in 2010. Governor Snyder issued a statement offering condolences to Pettalia’s family and saying flags will be lowered in his honor. GOP House Speaker Kevin Cotter called Pettalia a dear friend and longtime colleague well known for his expertise, hard work and love for the outdoors. Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Dillon also issued a statement, saying his party’s “deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences go out to the family, friends, and colleagues of Representative Peter Pettalia.” Pettalia was 61 and had lived in Presque Isle since 1977.... [Read Full Story]

Report Recommends Eliminating Court Fees For Juveniles

A new report from the Juvenile Law Center shows many juvenile offenders who wind up in the court system are being hurt by the fines and fees given to them. The center’s Jessica Feierman says that includes the cost of tests and evaluations, rehabilitation, and court operation. She says court costs can put families in stressful situations where they face difficult choices.... [Read Full Story]

WMU Southwest Location Reaching Out To ITT Tech Students

Another southwest Michigan college has stepped forward to offer help to displaced students of ITT Technical Institute. Western Michigan University’s Southwest location in Benton Harbor is offering to enroll ITT Tech students for the fall while having application and late-registration fees waived. It’s also set up a team of admissions and financial personnel to help ITT students transfer, as well as a website. WMU is urging any ITT Tech students looking for a place to go to give them a call. Last week, Southwestern Michigan College extended a similar offer.... [Read Full Story]

SMC Students Working To Verify World Record Attempt

It will take about 12 weeks for organizers of the record attempt at Southwestern Michigan College over the weekend to find out if they succeeded, but they’re pretty sure they did. On Saturday, more than 100 students worked to build the biggest blanket fort ever. SMC’s Branden Pompey tells WSJM News they have to send proof to Guinness World Records.... [Read Full Story]

Appeals Court Upholds Emergency Manager Law

An appeals court has ruled in favor of Governor Rick Snyder in a challenge to Michigan’s emergency manager law, which was passed by Republicans. The appeals court on Monday upheld a decision by a federal judge, who swept aside much of the lawsuit in 2014. Emergency managers have exceptional power to run local governments and school districts, while elected officials typically are pushed aside for 18 months or more. Critics sued, arguing that the law violated many of their constitutional rights. The appeals court says the law might not be the “perfect remedy” but it’s “rationally related” to fixing distressed local governments. Michigan voters overturned Snyder’s first emergency manager law in 2012. But he and lawmakers quickly returned with another.... [Read Full Story]

Upton: Congress Is Seeking Answers On EpiPen Costs

Congressman Fred Upton says the House is working to find help for those who use EpiPens after the company that makes them jacked up the price. The life-saving devices are used to treat severe allergic reactions, and they’ve gone up in price from about $100 in 2007 to $600 today. Upton says the House is seeking answers from the FDA.... [Read Full Story]

Crash Badly Injures Three Teens

Three teenagers are hospitalized with serious injuries following a crash in Cass County. It happened just before 9 p.m. Sunday in Porter Township when 17-year-old Nicholas Meuzelaar of Edwardsburg lost control going around a curve and slammed into a tree. He and 16-year-old Jacob Cronin and 17-year-old Tyler Hairell were badly hurt. All three are at Elkhart General Hospital. Meuzelaar had to be airlifted to the hospital, and was trapped in the vehicle when first responders arrived. His passengers were rushed to Elkhart General by ambulance. The crash remains under investigation, and the Cass County Sheriff’s Department says all three were buckled up.... [Read Full Story]

Gas Prices Down For Second Straight Week

Despite a prediction from GasBuddy last week that prices would be jumping anywhere from a dime to a quarter per gallon, gas prices in Michigan are down to start the week once again. Triple-A Michigan puts the average at $2.20, with the lowest average at an even $2 per gallon in Lansing to $2.35 in Marquette. While a good number of stations in our area are under $2 per gallon, the Benton Harbor/St. Joseph average is $2.05, a drop of almost 16¢ from Labor Day. Indiana’s prices were the biggest drop in the country, falling 11¢, followed by Michigan’s plunge of 9.8¢. Despite the drop, our state’s prices are still the 23rd most expensive in the country.... [Read Full Story]

CPR Training Could Become School Requirement In Michigan

(Lansing, MI – AP) – Health advocates are pushing what’s billed as a simple way to have more CPR-trained lifesavers in Michigan: requiring the instruction in school. The legislation easily cleared the Senate in the spring and is pending in the House. Supporters hope the chamber will vote this month before members breaks again to focus on the November election.... [Read Full Story]

State, Foundation Partner On Mental Health, Suicide Campaign

(Lansing, MI – AP) – The state of Michigan and a foundation are working together on a campaign to raise awareness of mental illness and combat suicide. The Opening Minds Ending Stigma campaign began over the weekend with the airing of a 30-minute documentary in the Detroit and Grand Rapids TV markets. The documentary can be seen for free at www.endingstigma.org. Internet and social media campaigns, including public service announcements, also are planned.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan State Police To Offer Citizens Academy

If you’re interested in law enforcement, the Michigan State Police post in Paw Paw may have the right class for you. It’s offering a citizen’s academy set to start this month. Post Lieutenant Dale Hinz tells WSJM News, for eight weeks, troopers will teach their students all about the tools of their trade.... [Read Full Story]

Audit Finds MI School Bus Inspections Inadequate

An audit says the Michigan State Police division that inspects school buses is understaffed and has failed to ensure problems are fixed. The Michigan Office of the Auditor General looked at the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, which keeps tabs on the condition of thousands of buses. The audit found initial inspections were done, but inspectors relied too heavily on the word of school districts that problems were fixed. The audit found that 30 to 40 percent of repairs were certified by state employees between 2013 and 2015. Randy Coplin, assistant commander for the division, tells WOOD-TV staffing and funding have been cut, but the inspection program is “one of the best in the country.” He says a school bus “is the safest form of transportation to and from school.”... [Read Full Story]

Ride To Remember Honors Fallen Berrien County Deputies

Remembering the Americans who lost there lives in the 911 attacks was evident Sunday as hundreds gathered for the 16th Ride to Remember in Southwest Michigan. The annual motorcycle ride is to raise money for the American Red Cross. The event was also in honor of the two Berrien County Deputies who lost their lives on July 11th. Berrien County Sheriff Bailey told the crowd, that as Americans, we stand together.... [Read Full Story]

Lawmakers Seeking To Close Failing Detroit Schools

Republican legislative leaders are asking Michigan’s attorney general to issue an opinion on the state’s authority to close persistently low-performing public schools in Detroit as soon as the end of this academic year. The letter released Friday was written by Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and House Speaker Kevin Cotter. They want Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette to weigh in because Republican Governor Rick Snyder interprets a law  rescuing the Detroit district from debt to mean the State School Reform/Redesign Officer cannot close any district school until 2019. The top lawmakers say the law’s “plain language” authorizes Detroit school closures by the end of this school year and to say otherwise ignores legislative intent. Attorney general opinions are legally binding on state agencies and officers unless reversed by a court.... [Read Full Story]

Courser, Gamrat Suing Over Scandal Investigation

Two Republicans who were forced out of the Michigan Legislature in a sex scandal have filed lawsuits, claiming their rights were violated during the investigation by their House colleagues. Todd Courser of Lapeer County is seeking millions of dollars. Cindy Gamrat of Allegan County is seeking at least $25,000. They filed separate lawsuits this week in federal court in western Michigan. Gamrat is serving as her own lawyer.
Courser quit the House last year while Gamrat was expelled by lawmakers. Courser was accused of soliciting an aide to send a phony email to cover up an affair with Gamrat. Separately, Courser is facing criminal charges related to the scandal. He denies wrongdoing. Charges against Gamrat were dismissed by a judge.... [Read Full Story]

“Ride To Remember” Tomorrow

The terror attacks of September 11, 2001 will be remembered this weekend with a special motorcycle ride through southwest Michigan. Berrien Riders President Todd Kimball tells WSJM News the 16th Ride to Remember leaves from the Berrien County Courthouse at noon Sunday. He says hundreds of riders show up.... [Read Full Story]

Chemical, Tire Recycling Event Coming Up In Van Buren County

Residents of Van Buren County who are looking to get rid of old tires or household chemicals will have a chance to do so this month with some help from the Van Buren Conservation District. It’s holding a recycling event on Saturday, September 17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the South Haven Public Works building on 8th Avenue. You can drop off passenger tires there for free, and they’ll take latex paint for $2 per gallon and household chemicals for $1.10 per pound. Also, they’ll take hearing aids, eye glasses, walking canes, American flags which will be donated to the local Lions Club and VFW. You can find out more at VanBurenCD.org/recycling.... [Read Full Story]