Local News Archives

Rotary Mentor Program Making In Big Difference For Local Youths

A mentorship program started by the Rotary Club of St. Joseph-Benton Harbor has been such a success that it’s become a model for chapters all around the world. Jackie Huie, the CEO of Johnson Rauhoff, tells us she helped get the program rolling around 2007, when the Rotary started reaching out to professionals in all sorts fields to ask if they’d chat with high school students from St. Joseph. Since then, they’ve expanded to districts all over the area, and about 400 kids have taken part.... [Read Full Story]

LMC Holding Open House For New Maker Lab This Weekend

Lake Michigan College is anxious to show off its new Fab Lab this weekend. The Fab Lab is an open access digital fabrication studio and collaborative workshop featuring all sorts of state-of-the-art equipment for makers. Manager Andrea Oleniczak tells WSJM News you can sign up to use it. She wants folks to come out this weekend to see the Fab Lab for themselves.... [Read Full Story]

Bill Would Allow MI Residents To Warm Up Their Cars On Private Property

A bill moving through the Michigan House of Representatives would allow residents to warm up their cars while parked in private drive-ways unattended. Sponsor state Representative Holly Hughes tells Michigan News Network she’s heard from people statewide outraged to hear of a man who was ticketed for leaving his car running. The plan is designed to prevent situations like that.... [Read Full Story]

Lawyer Who Posted Anti-Gay Rants Loses MI Law License

From the Associated Press — A former lawyer with the state of Michigan has lost his law license in a misconduct case related to his public hostility for a gay student leader at the University of Michigan. Andrew Shirvell’s disbarment was ordered Thursday by a panel at the Attorney
Discipline Board. He can appeal to the full board. Shirvell was an assistant attorney general. He was fired in 2010 after criticizing Christopher Armstrong on an anti-gay blog, on Facebook and during visits to the Ann Arbor campus. Shirvell said he was exercising free-speech rights. But the panel at the discipline board says his motive was “dishonest or selfish,” not simply careless. A message seeking comment was left with his attorney. In a separate matter, a jury in 2012 ordered Shirvell to pay $4.5 million to Armstrong.... [Read Full Story]

Speedier Tax Cut For Car Buyers Approved By MI Senate

From the Associated Press — Michigan senators have voted to more quickly phase in a tax break for people who trade in their car for a new one.
A 2013 law lets buyers subtract some of the value of their trade-in from the purchase price of a new vehicle for tax purposes. The change is being phased in until 2039. The Republican-controlled Senate unanimously approved legislation Wednesday to accelerate the phase-in of the tax cut 10 years sooner, by 2029. Supporters say the law helped boost auto sales and buyers deserve a bigger tax break earlier. The nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency says Michigan could lose nearly $18 million in tax revenue in year two. Michigan has a 6 percent sales tax. The bill goes to the House.... [Read Full Story]

Infection From Local Water Park

A Mother is claiming her son developed a painful skin infection after visiting a popular indoor water park. Alexis McCalla has posted on Social Medea that her son caught a bacterial infection during a visit to Surfari Joe’s in Watervliet. McCalla says her son returned home with a suspicious rash. McCalla says doctors explained that her seven-year-old suffered a chemical burn that developed into a bacterial infection. McCalla shared the incident in a Facebook post that quickly went viral, prompting many others to share their concerns and describing similar illnesses they say occurred after visiting the water park. Surfari Joe’s says they are in accordance with state and health department laws and resources.... [Read Full Story]

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]