Local News Archives

$160 Million Expansion Planned At Lakeland Medical Center

A $160 million expansion for Lakeland Medical Center has been announced. The Lakeland Health Board of Directors this week voted to proceed with the new Lakeland Medical Center Pavilion at the facility on Napier Avenue in St. Joseph. The five-story pavilion will feature medical and surgical suites, a short stay unit, imaging centers, an intensive care unit, and education and community rooms. It will also include a new main entrance to the facility with a focus on amenities for visitors. Lakeland Health President Dr. Loren Hamel says the project comes from the organization’s long-term capital facility plan, and is intended to equip the hospital to continue providing for the needs of local patients into the future. A ground breaking ceremony for the pavilion will be held in October, and it’s expected to be completed in 2020. You can find out more at www.lakelandhealth.org/pavilion.... [Read Full Story]

Professional Wrestler Wins MI Primary

Unofficial returns show professional wrestler “Rhyno” edging two other candidates in the Republican primary for a Michigan legislative seat.
Terrance Gerin of Dearborn led by just 54 votes out of more than 2,700 cast in Tuesday’s election. As the ballots were counted, Gerin, known as “Rhyno” or “Rhino,” was at a World Wrestling Entertainment event in Tennessee, according to the WWE website. The 40-year-old says on his campaign website that he attends Dearborn City Council meetings and is concerned about public pools closing. He wants local businesses to sponsor the pools so they stay open. Gerin faces an uphill climb in November’s general election against health care consultant Abdullah Hammoud because the district favors Democrats. Democratic Representtaive George Darany could not run again under term limits.... [Read Full Story]

[VIDEO] National Night Out Celebrated in Berrien County

Residents of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor get together with local law enforcement for an evening of food and fun. The thirty-third Annual National Night Out was held Tuesday, and law enforcement agencies from all over Berrien County celebrated with residents in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor. St. Joseph has been observing National Night Out for at least thirty years, according to Rick Knapp of the St. Joseph Township Police Department.... [Read Full Story]

Conservative Outsiders Win MI Congressional Primaries

Republican voters have backed conservative outsiders to advance in Michigan’s open U.S. House primaries. Little-known retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Jack Bergman upset two politically experienced candidates in northern Michigan’s Republican primary. He faces ex-state Democratic Party Chairman Lon Johnson in a competitive race in November. In the Thumb, victorious retired vocational school company CEO Paul Mitchell,
a Republican, will be favored in the fall general election over former Democratic state Rep. Frank Accavitti Jr. Mitchell spent millions of his own money to win the GOP primary that is open due to a retirement. In Detroit, Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving member of the House, won
the primary in his heavily Democratic district.... [Read Full Story]

Berrien County Voters In A Mood To Say “Yes” Tuesday

Berrien County voters were feeling generous Tuesday.  They approved almost all of the ballot proposals before them in primary voting. The only things to go down were Southwest Michigan Regional Airport millages in Bridgman and Lake Township, but millages for the airport passed in the communities most closely surrounding it. Elsewhere, voters said yes to local ballot proposals in Bridgman, Eau Claire, New Buffalo, Watervliet, Coloma, New Buffalo Township, Royalton Township, Sodus Township, Watervliet Township, St. Joseph Township, and Baroda Township. As of late Tuesday, some results were still not yet available for some proposals in Buchanan Schools and Niles Township. ... [Read Full Story]

LaSata Claims Victory In 79th District State House Primary

Kim LaSata’s campaign is calling it a victory in the GOP primary for state House in the 79th District. With most Berrien County precincts reporting, LaSata has a healthy lead over closest primary rival Ryan Arnt. She says she now knows what it’s like to feel humbled by winning an election. LaSata added voters can expect her to represent them well if she makes it to Lansing in November.... [Read Full Story]

Van Buren County Election Results

The race for state House in the 66th District is shaping up in Van Buren County following Tuesday’s primaries. Republicans picked Beth Griffin to run as their candidate in November to replace outgoing state Representative Aric Nesbitt. She beat out Matthew T. Nilson, and will face Democrat Annie Brown. The GOP primary for sheriff, meanwhile, resulted in a win for Daniel Abbot over closest challenger David Walker. A variety of ballot proposals also passed in Van Buren County Tuesday night. Voters countywide approved proposals for roads and for the Van Buren Conservation District. Locally, voters were in a mood to say yes in Arlington Township, Bloomingdale Township, Decatur Township, Porter Township, South Haven Township, Hamilton Township, Hartford Schools, and Lawrence Schools.... [Read Full Story]

Upton Expects Zika Funding Next Month

Congress could approve funding to fight the Zika virus as soon as next month. Congressman Fred Upton says a previous House effort to approve about $600 million in spending while allowing another $385 million earmarked for other priorities to be reprogrammed was rejected by the Senate. He says the two chambers will be negotiating.... [Read Full Story]

Berrien Officials: Demand To Pay Back Federal Funds “Unacceptable”

Berrien County officials say a demand from the Federal Economic Development Administration to pay back more than $783,000 the county gave to Whirlpool in 2001 is unacceptable. A press release issued Tuesday says the county used $610,000 of EDA money to help Whirlpool move its technology center from Dayton to Benton Township, requiring Whirlpool to guarantee it would maintain its employment levels in the area for at least ten years. In 2011, after Whirlpool had met the loan’s terms, the loan was forgiven. Then, in a letter dated June 30 of this year, the county was ordered by the EDA to pay back the $610,000, plus interest. County officials say the EDA was told several times about the loan and its terms, and never objected. The county now says “it is unacceptable for EDA staff to demand repayment of these funds 15 years after this venture was initiated, nine years after the EDA was notified of the very loan structure to which it now objects, and 5 years after the terms of this loan were fully satisfied.” The press release goes on to say Berrien County “is not inclined to submit to the EDA’s recent demands” to pay the money back.... [Read Full Story]

Money Raised For Berrien County Foster Children

Money has been raised to buy gifts for children in Berrien County’s foster care system, thanks to an event held Tuesday at Slumberland Furniture in Benton Township. “Christmas in August” featured games, a dunk tank, a bounce house, and food and refreshments. Heather Hoffman, with the Berrien County Department of Health and Human Services, says the money goes to its Operation Good Cheer program.... [Read Full Story]

Benton Harbor Birthday Celebration This Week

Benton Harbor’s 150th birthday is coming up, and a celebration is planned for this Thursday to mark the occasion. The Morton House Museum on Territorial Road will hold a party starting at 7 p.m. It’s to feature a birthday cake for the city, tours of the house, refreshments, and local speakers who will talk of their experiences in Benton Harbor since the 1950s. They’re set to include Mamie Yarbrough and Janet Dasse Frazier. There will also be an exhibit called “150 Years of Benton Harbor History,” featuring historic photos of the community, artifacts from as far back as 1866, and information on the House of David. Everyone is welcome to the party, and if you can’t make it, the Morton House notes that the exhibit on the city’s history will be up through October 29 every Saturday. You can find out more at www.facebook.com/MortonHouseMuseum.... [Read Full Story]

LMC To Pursue Facilities Improvement Millage

Lake Michigan College will ask voters for a new millage to pay for a variety of facility improvements come November. At a Tuesday meeting, the board of trustees approved moving forward with the ballot question. LMC President Dr. Bob Harrison says the roughly $4 million per year raised by the millage would make many things possible.... [Read Full Story]

Auto Sales Down In July

U.S. auto sales were expected to drop slightly in July as unusually hot weather kept buyers indoors. Kelley Blue Book predicted a 1 percent decline from last July to about 1.5 million vehicles, while auto pricing site TrueCar.com expected sales to be flat for the month. TrueCar said some automakers offered big discounts to help beat the heat. General Motors’ sales fell 2% while Ford’s U.S. sales fell 3%. Both automakers reported declines in pickup truck sales, their best-sellers, but strong sales of big SUVs. Sales of the Ford Expedition more than doubled, while sales of the GMC Yukon were up 32%. Other automakers will report sales later Tuesday.... [Read Full Story]

AM General To Get $356M To Build Humvees For Afghanistan

AM General has been awarded a $356 million contract to make more than 1,600 Humvees for the Afghanistan national army and police at its factory in northern Indiana. The company said in a news release the work to make the 1,673 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles will be done at its plant in Mishawaka. The work is scheduled to begin this month and is expected to be completed in a year.... [Read Full Story]

Judge: Lawsuit Linked To House Sex Scandal Can Go Forward

A federal judge has ruled in favor of two former Michigan House aides who say they were illegally fired before a sex scandal broke in the Capitol. Judge Gordon Quist says Keith Allard and Ben Graham were engaged in protected activity under a whistleblower law when they reported wrongdoing by lawmakers Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat. Their lawsuit against the House can go forward. The aides were fired last July, shortly before an affair by Courser and Gamrat became public. Courser and Gamrat were accused of trying to cover up the affair. One quit the House, and the other was expelled. The Detroit News says the House had asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit. But Quist says Allard and Graham “spoke out on matters of public concern.”... [Read Full Story]

Report Examines Income Disparities In Michigan

A new analysis shows Michigan’s top 1% of earners continue to see their incomes rise while everyone else is not. The findings from the Michigan League for Public Policy show that the state is 11th worst nationally for income inequality, which spans gender, race and ethnicity and educational level. Rachel Richards, with the Michigan League for Public Policy, says the organization will be diving deeper into these income inequality issues with a series of fact sheets.... [Read Full Story]

BH City Commissioners Approve Facade Work For City Hall

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have approved a renovation project for city hall. At Monday’s meeting, they voted to proceed with most of the work planned, tabling only one of the contracts dealing with masonry and roof work, partly due to concerns enough wasn’t done to hire local minorities. Mayor Marcus Muhammad says he’s glad to see city hall’s facade getting a variety of improvements.... [Read Full Story]

Lakeland Health Recognized For Stroke Treatment

Lakeland Health has been honored for the care it provides to stroke patients. It’s received the American Heart Association and Stroke Association’s “Get With The Guidelines” Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. In order to get the award, hospitals have to achieve 85% or higher adherence to all “Get With The Guidelines” indicators for two or more consecutive years. They also have to meet quality measures developed to reduce the time between the patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment. Lakeland Health Director of Patient Care Services Chris Fox says he’s proud of the team which he says provides exemplary care. You can find out about stroke warning signs and what to do at LakelandHealth.org/Stroke.... [Read Full Story]

Chalk The Block Coming Up In Downtown St. Joseph

It’s almost time once again for the annual Chalk the Block event in downtown St. Joseph. The 20th Chalk the Block kicks off this Friday when more than 30 artists from around the country will be welcomed to town, preparing to cover the sidewalks with chalk art. St. Joe Today’s Whitney Behnke says thousands come down to check out their work.... [Read Full Story]

Museum Exhibit Honoring First Responders To Open In Lansing

A museum in Lansing has opened a first responders exhibit that highlights the work of police officers and firefighters over the years. The Lansing State Journal reports that the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum exhibit includes a shiny red 1938 Reo Speed Wagon as well as a Gold Crown fire
truck that sold for more than $1,300 back then and served the Bainbridge Fire Company in Pennsylvania until 1972. Museum director Bill Adcock says the exhibit is intended to show kids that emergency responders don’t hurt the public, they save the public. Adcock describes the exhibit, which opened in July, as a working and living display that’ll be added to over time. Adcock says the idea for the museum grew after the death of firefighter Dennis Rodeman, who was hit by a vehicle in 2015.... [Read Full Story]

SUV Sales Soaring

With gasoline hovering closer to $2 per gallon these days, it seems like a no-brainer that SUVs are once again hot sellers. However, Ford Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks says SUVs are not the gas-guzzlers of old.... [Read Full Story]

Western Michigan University President Stepping Down

Western Michigan University President John Dunn is stepping down after ten years on the job. Dunn announced Monday he will serve through June of 2017, and then become president emeritus for one year. He said he was announcing his retirement well ahead of time so the university trustees would have plenty of time to find his successor. After ten years on the job as WMU president, Dunn has awarded 50,000 degrees to the school’s graduates. Kenneth Miller, chairman of WMU’s governing board, says the Kalamazoo school is “markedly different and stronger” than when Dunn became president in 2007. Dunn previously had leadership roles at Southern Illinois University, the University of Utah, and Oregon State University.... [Read Full Story]