Local News Archives

Battle Creek Considers Panhandling Ban

Battle Creek city commissioners are scheduled to cast final votes Tuesday on ordinances aimed to regulating panhandling and loitering. The Battle Creek Enquirer reports the proposals would outlaw remaining “idly” within 25 feet of an intersection and soliciting money from anyone waiting in line or near building entrances. Last month five commissioners voted in favor of the ordinances and four dissented. The proposals have led to debate about whether laws are needed to protect those who feel threatened by panhandlers and whether such laws are constitutional.
Federal court rulings have found bans on begging violate the First Amendment. The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan sent a letter to city officials arguing the proposals “would not survive constitutional scrutiny.” City attorneys say those issues have been addressed.... [Read Full Story]

EPA: Flint Water Needs More Testing

Federal officials say it will take at least three months of testing before Flint can distribute water from a new pipeline in the in the wake of its crisis with lead-tainted water. The Flint Journal reports Friday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency told city and state officials that Flint must
demonstrate its ability to treat water from the Karegnondi Water Authority. Flint switched from Detroit’s system to the Flint River in 2014 to save money, but the corrosive river water caused lead to leach from aging pipes into homes. Flint has switched back to Detroit water. It was done as a cost-saving measure in anticipation of eventually going with Karegnondi when it starts taking water from Lake Huron.... [Read Full Story]

Professor Installing Stress Sensors On Mackinac Bridge

A Michigan State University engineering professor plans to install sensors on the Mackinac Bridge to monitor stress on the aging structure.
Professor Nizar Lajnef tells the Lansing State Journal the stress sensors that will be placed on the bridge later this month are a test of a project he’s been working on for seven years with funding from the Federal Highway Administration. A recent grant of $1.5 million to MSU, Washington University at St. Louis and the University of Nevada-Reno will put sensor prototypes in place at several spots around the country. He says if it works, the stress sensors could become commonplace on structures around the country. The 5-mile-long Mackinac Bridge that connects Michigan’s two peninsulas is the third-longest suspension bridge in the world.... [Read Full Story]

Consumers Energy Rolling Out Smart Meters Statewide

Consumers Energy says its customers will be able to choose their own billing dates as the utility rolls out new smart meter technology statewide. The company says smart meters enable residents to check out how much power they’ve been using on a day to day level. The meters also make billing more accurate. As Consumers Energy gets more of the meters installed in homes, it says customers will be able to pick when they’re billed by logging into their accounts at the company’s website. The utility is now in the process of installing smart meters, and will roll them out in more cities throughout the fall.... [Read Full Story]

Group Puts Up Billboard Reminding GM Of Safety Promises

A group associated with victims of General Motors Company’s faulty ignition switches is putting up a billboard in Detroit aimed at reminding the
company about its promise to improve its safety record. The billboard paid for by GM Recall Survivors is scheduled to go up Monday along Interstate 75 and reads: “Let’s make sure they never forget.” The billboard shows six people who died in crashes. In 2014, GM recalled 2.6 million cars worldwide to replace the faulty switches and ordered a record 84 recalls. Last year it announced it had settled 1,385 death and injury cases for $275 million and a class-action shareholders’ lawsuit for $300 million. The company paid nearly $600 million to settle 399 claims made to a fund it established, covering 124 deaths and 275 injuries.... [Read Full Story]

State Legislature Returns To Work This Week

The Republican-led Michigan Legislature returns for voting this week after a three-month summer break, with plans for an abbreviated
calendar before the crucial November election determines which party controls the House. Both chambers will have three weeks in session before the election, or nine days. There could be a lot on the docket, but lawmakers may leave until the post-election “lame duck” period final resolution of high-priority items such as energy and criminal justice legislation. There is little, if anything, that absolutely must be passed now. But
legislators will want to make progress on some bills or risk them being crowded out by more pressing issues in November and December.
Bills related to autonomous vehicles, medical marijuana, public records requests and third-grade reading could be voted on this year.... [Read Full Story]

Apple Growers Enjoying Bumper Crop

Apple growers around southwest Michigan say they’re pleased with this year’s crop. The Michigan Apple Committee announced this week 2016’s harvest will be much larger than usual, and Sarah Jollay, with Jollay Orchards in Coloma, tells WSJM News that sounds right to her.... [Read Full Story]

150,000 Jobs Added In August

The latest numbers from the United States Labor Department show employers added 151,000 jobs in August. That may seem like a lot, but it’s about half of what was added in July and June. Michigan News Network business editor Murray Feldman says people were hired in food service and technology, while manufacturing and mining jobs went down.... [Read Full Story]

Ford Helps MI college Students Compete In Motor Sports

Michigan college students who compete in motor sports around the country have found a unique ally in Ford Motor Company. Since 2004, Ford has been allowing students at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Western Michigan University to test their vehicles in its wind tunnel. Ford’s Steve Wergryn tells WSJM News the automaker uses the tunnel to test for noise and other comfort factors for drivers. However, the college races are mostly interested in aerodynamics.... [Read Full Story]

Cass County GOP Headquarters To Open Wednesday

Republicans in Cass County are preparing to open a new headquarters as they work for victory in November. On Wednesday, September 7, state and local dignitaries will gather at 120 South Broad Street in Cassopolis as Republicans hold a grand opening for the new “Victory Headquarters.” Yard signs, campaign literature, and volunteer opportunities will be offered at the headquarters throughout September, October, and early November. Its hours will be Monday through Friday 5 to 9 p.m. and weekends from 9-11 a.m.... [Read Full Story]

70 Card Skimmers Found In MI Gas Pumps So Far

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is again warning drivers about gas pump skimming devices. The skimmers can be attached to a gas pump to steal your credit card information when you pay outside. Department spokesperson Jennifer Holton tells WSJM News about 70 of them have been found in the state.... [Read Full Story]

Protesters Greet Trump In Detroit

Area clergy and several hundred city residents have denounced a visit by Donald Trump to a Detroit church as the Republican presidential
candidate hopes to convince black voters to cast their ballots for him. Trump attended an attendance-by-ticket-only Saturday morning service inside Great Faith Ministries International as protesters picketed loudly outdoors. Chanting “No Trump!” and “Dump Trump,” some tried to push through barriers closing off the church parking lot, but were stopped by security guards and police officers. The Reverend Lawrence Glass said Trump represents “politics of fear and hate” and that “minorities of all kinds have much to lose taking a chance on someone like” Trump.
Bishop Wayne T. Jackson invited Trump to the church and was expected to interview him in private for the pastor’s Christian television network.... [Read Full Story]

Auto Sales Down In August

U.S. sales of new cars and trucks were expected to drop in August, ending summer on a low note for the auto industry. Ford’s sales were down 8 percent compared to last August. More automakers will report sales later Thursday. Overall industry sales were expected to slip 5 percent to 1.5 million vehicles, according to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. It would be the fourth month this year that sales have been flat or have declined on a year-over-year basis. This isn’t unexpected. After six straight years of growth – and record sales of 17.5 million new vehicles last year – the industry has been bracing for a plateau as consumer demand wanes. Total sales through August are now expected to be flat compared to a year ago.... [Read Full Story]

No Charges To Be Filed In Shooting By Muskegon Police Officer

No charges will be filed against a western Michigan police officer who shot and wounded a knife-wielding 15-year-old girl as she tried to attack a 16-year-old boy. MLive reports that Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson made the announcement earlier this week and said evidence showed the officer was justified in shooting the teenager to prevent her from assaulting the teen boy. According to Hilson, video from the police cruiser shows Officer Doug Conrad walking up to the apartment when the boy emerges fleeing from the pursuing girl. The officer repeatedly warned the girl before he fired four times. She was struck in the leg. Muskegon Police Chief Jeffrey Lewis says the officer will remain on
administrative leave until the city completes an internal review of the incident.... [Read Full Story]

Hiring Slows In August

The latest numbers from the United States Labor Department show employers added 151,000 jobs in August. That may seem like a lot, but it’s about half of what was added in July and June. Michigan News Network business editor Murray Feldman says people were hired in food service and technology, while manufacturing and mining jobs went down.... [Read Full Story]

Report Examines Payday Lending Abuses

A new report from the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan has taken a look at nearly 10,000 complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about payday lenders and found serious abuses. It’s recommending some changes to federal law to protect people. Kelly Griffith, with the Center for Economic Integrity, says they have to avoid a loophole that would allow companies to make up to six loans to each borrower per year before verifying income.... [Read Full Story]

Illinois Man Arrested After Chase In Stolen Van

Michigan State Police say an Illinois man is in the Van Buren County Jail following a chase on I-94 Friday. It started around 6:30 p.m. when troopers tried to pull over a mini van for speeding on the westbound side of the highway near Hartford. The driver took off with police in pursuit. He finally stopped around Coloma when he hit some stop sticks. It turned out the van the man was driving had been stolen out of Detroit earlier in the day, and a search of it turned up marijuana, a large amount of cash, and an assault rifle. The 19-year-old is now facing five felony charges. His name hasn’t yet been released.... [Read Full Story]

Plans For Closed Captioning At Celebration Cinema Years In The Making

A representative of Celebration Cinema says the theater chain’s decision to add closed captioning services to all of its locations had everything to do with a lawsuit filed against the company, and nothing to do with it. A St. Joseph man filed suit last month against Celebration for its lack of accommodations to the deaf. Celebration Cinema spokesperson Steve VanWagoner tells WSJM News the chain had been holding off on installing that technology, but realized it was time to act.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan AG Asks Supreme Court To Uphold Straight Party Voting Ban

Michigan’s attorney general is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene so a new ban on straight-party voting can take effect for the
November election. The emergency request filed Friday says a federal district judge and the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrongly blocked the law when “all Michigan has done is adopt an approach that 40 other states already follow.” The ban would prevent voters from supporting all candidates from one party with a single mark. Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette says a response from the justices is needed by next Thursday so election officials can start printing ballots. The lower courts ruled that the GOP-sponsored law – which is opposed by Democrats – would disproportionately burden black voters by creating longer lines.... [Read Full Story]

Arrest Made In Dowagiac Gas Station Robbery

A suspect has been arrested in the robbery of a Marathon station in Dowagiac this week. The Cass County Prosecutor’s office says 30-year-old Christopher Rhodes is charged with robbery, larceny, and felony firearm. Police say he walked into the Marathon station on Spruce Street Monday night flashing a handgun, and made off with the cash from the register and a customer’s wallet. Rhodes was tracked down with the help of a state parole officer, and arrested in Coloma. Police are looking into whether he was also responsible for a gas station robbery in South Haven Monday night. Rhodes was arraigned on Friday afternoon with bond set at $500,000.... [Read Full Story]

State Lists Worst Schools

Many of the schools on Michigan’s newest bottom 5% list are in Detroit and will not be closed by the state until 2019 at the earliest because of how the laws enacting a financial bailout of the district were written. Governor Rick Snyder’s administration on Thursday made public the lowest-performing schools across the state. 58 of the 116 open schools are in Detroit’s district or will be folded back into the district when a state-created turnaround entity dissolves next year. A Snyder spokeswoman says the state will not force the closure of Detroit schools for at least three years because of the legislation that created a new debt-free district. Also Thursday, Michigan’s School Reform Office released seven schools from “priority” status after students improved their test results. Among those is Decatur High School.... [Read Full Story]

State Warns About Gas Pump Skimmers

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is again warning drivers about gas pump skimming devices. The skimmers can be attached to a gas pump to steal your credit card information when you pay outside. Department spokesperson Jennifer Holton says about 70 of them have been found in the state.... [Read Full Story]

Nearly $10,000 Raised For United Way With Cardboard Boat Races

Nearly $10,000 has been raised for the United Way of Southwest Michigan, thanks to everyone who took part in the Whirlpool “Rock the Boat” cardboard boat races Thursday. The event featured seven entries, which were judged according to creativity, theme, and speed once the vessels were raced in the river outside the Inn at Harbor Shores. Ryan Cheevers braved the waters in the United Way’s Titanic-themed boat.... [Read Full Story]