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Southwest Michigan Today: Wednesday July 24, 2019

Waldo Stadium - file photo. Photo by WMUK

Benton Harbor’s school board will send an improvement plan to the state. The state plans a health study for Parchment and Cooper Township residents affected by PFAS contamination. Incarceration rates have nearly tripled in Michigan since the late 1970s, even as crime has fallen. A Wisconsin tribe sues to shut down the Line 5 pipeline. WMU is picked to finish second in the MAC West for the upcoming football season. 

(WVPE) The Benton Harbor School board is sending a draft plan to the state that includes efforts to boost student outcomes and pay down the district’s debt without closing any schools. The plan includes specific benchmarks for student achievement in math and reading. The proposal also includes a debt elimination bond. That would be one mil levied on district property--if voters approve it to pay down part of Benton Harbor Schools’ debt. The board says after the plan is submitted to the state, the next step will be mediation to make changes. The interim superintendent says the board hopes to have a working plan in place by the time school starts in September.

(Michigan Radio) A tribe in northern Wisconsin is suing to try to make Enbridge Energy shut down Line 5. Part of the pipeline runs through the reservation of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. The tribe says Enbridge's easement has expired, and the pipeline is a threat to the local environment. Enbridge says it has been in good faith negotiations with the tribe since 2013. The pipeline company says most of its easements are perpetual ones on private land or an easement with the tribe that doesn't expire until 2043.

(Kalamazoo GazetteParchment and Cooper Township residents who have questions about their personal level of PFAS exposure might get some answers from the state. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports that Michigan’s Department of Health is planning a study that will focus on those communities. High levels of PFASes turned up in Parchment city water a year ago, and some private wells in Cooper Township have levels of PFAS compounds above the recommended cutoff. Researchers are expect to measure the amount of PFASes in participants’ blood. The study is also expected to assess residents’ health. The state says it hopes to start recruiting volunteers by the end of the year.

(WKAR) It could be at least two months before an Eaton County judge decides whether former Michigan State University president Lou Anna Simon will stand trial. Simon is accused of lying to investigators about when she first became aware of a sexual assault claim against former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar. The judge allowed up to nine weeks to review transcripts and legal briefs. Simon faces two felony and two misdemeanor counts. She could face four years in prison if she’s convicted on the felony charges.

(MLiveThe number of people incarcerated in Michigan jails has nearly tripled over 35 years, even as crime rates have plunged. That’s according to data under review by a state task force. And MLive reports that numbers compiled by the Pew Charitable Trusts show that rural jails have seen their inmate populations rise, from about 15 percent of the state’s total at the end of the 1970s to almost a quarter in 2013. The task force on jails appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer is expected to make policy suggestions early next year. Right now it’s still digging into the numbers.

(Politico) A Michigan Congressman will not run for re-election next year. Republican Paul Mitchell is in his second term representing part of Macomb County and the thumb area of the state. Mitchell told Politico that he wants to spend more time with his nine year old son, who has special needs. The Representative also says he’s tired of an institution that does nothing but bicker and rewards extremes.

Western Michigan University is picked to finish second in the Mid-American Conference West Division for the upcoming football season. The Broncos received five first place votes in the pre-season media poll released Tuesday, but Toledo was picked to finish first in the MAC West. Ohio received all 24 first place votes to win the Mid-American Conference East Division. Western opens the 2019 football season against Monmouth on August 31st.

In baseball, Kalamazoo won at Rockford Tuesday 4-3, while Battle Creek lost to Kenosha 9-2. The Growlers and the Bombers meet for a double header Wednesday. The two teams will play Wednesday morning at Homer Stryker Field in Kalamazoo and then again at C.O. Brown Stadium in Battle Creek for an evening game.