Local News Archives

Former School Employee Pleads Guilty To Embezzlement

A former employee of the Village Adventist Elementary School in Berrien Springs is admitting stealing thousands of dollars. Our partners at WSBT 22 report 50-year-old Sarah Kurtz pleaded guilty today to embezzling up to $100,000 from the school. She will have to pay $272,000 in restitution, but the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office is not recommending a sentence any longer than a year. If the judge agrees, that would keep Kurtz out of prison, but she could still be sentenced to up to a year in the Berrien County Jail. Kurtz will be sentenced in June.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Man Sentenced For Daughter’s Death

The father of a three-year-old Almena Township girl will spend at least the next 22 and a half years locked up for her murder. A Van Buren County judge has sentenced Corey Kucsera to 22.5 to 50 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his daughter, Sophia. The little girl’s stepmother, Kate George, also pleaded guilty to child abuse and second-degree murder and was sent away for 31 to 50 years. The little girl was found unresponsive in their home last September, bound to a car seat with a sock taped into her mouth for 24 hours. Authorities removed two other children from the home, and say Sophia had been abused for some time before her death.. ...Read Full Story

Credit Card Fraud Ringleader Sentenced To Federal Prison

The leader of a multi-state fraud ring that stole credit cards from the mail and used them at retailers throughout Michigan last year is headed to prison for nearly five years. 29-year-old Travis Rolle of Miami, Florida was sentenced in federal court in Grand Rapids and ordered to pay over $311,000 in restitution to the three financial institutions that suffered losses. His crime ring hit Berrien County along with Calhoun, Eaton, Kalamazoo and Kent according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Rolle and six others were charged by a federal grand jury in a 18-count indictment last September, with the crimes happening between March and mid-July of 2018. All but one have so far pleaded guilty and have been sentenced, with the seventh to be back in court to be sentenced in July. All seven worked together to steal and use credit cards and gift cards.. ...Read Full Story

City Commission Approves Water, Sewer System Applications

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have approved applications to the Michigan Drinking Water Revolving Fund and the State Revolving Loan Fund for loans to pay for water system and sewer work. After an April 15 public hearing where they learned about the affected areas, which are all over the city, the body met Monday to approve the applications. Commissioner Sharon Henderson noted a failure in the past to maintain infrastructure leaves current leaders with the need to take action.. ...Read Full Story

Cherry Beach Project Trying Again

Organizers of the Cherry Beach Project are hoping the second time will be the charm. After last year’s failed effort to raise enough money to qualify for a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant to buy four acres of beachfront property in Chikaming Township, the project is giving it another go. Chikaming Township Supervisor David Bunte tells WSJM News the land directly next to the public Cherry Beach is up for grabs.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Looking To Fill Some Board Vacancies

Berrien County is looking to fill some board vacancies. Administration says there are vacancies on the Community Corrections Advisory Board, the Public Works Board, the -1-1 Advisory Board, and the Land Bank Authority. Anyone interested in serving on any of those boards cab contact the Berrien County Administration office for an application, or you can find the applications at BerrienCounty.org. You can also find descriptions of each board. The deadline to apply is May 10.. ...Read Full Story

Forum On Civil Discourse Set For May 15

Coming up in May in Berrien Springs will be a forum on civil public discourse. Put together by the League of Women Voters of Berrien and Cass Counties, the OutCenter, and the Three Oaks Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the event will feature a panel of local leaders and candidates, and a moderator from the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. League of Women Voters President Marilyn Klawiter tells WSJM News many people these days seem to have forgotten how to disagree without being disagreeable.. ...Read Full Story

Illinois Governor OKs First Steps To Block Asian Carp

From the Associated Press — The governor of Illinois is authorizing steps toward the installation of technologies in a Chicago-area waterway to prevent Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan. Democrat J.B. Pritzker told the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers he’s willing to move ahead with preconstruction, engineering and design work for the project at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam on the Des Plaines River near Joliet, Illinois. The location is considered a crucial choke point where the invasive carp could be prevented from migrating upstream toward the lake. Illinois officials previously have agreed to work with the Army Corps and other Great Lakes states on the project while raising concerns about its cost and potential harm to commercial shipping. Pritzker said in a letter to the Corps Friday that he wants discussions about reducing the project’s price tag, estimated at $778 million.. ...Read Full Story

Runaway Teen With Autism Found Safe In Van Buren County

A 14-year-old boy is safe and back with his family after running away for a bit Sunday night. The boy has autism and was reported missing from a home in the 28-thousand block of County Road 388 in Pine Grove Township just after 7 p.m. Police learned the last sighting of the teen was about 40 minutes prior to him being reported missing when he was outside the home. The boy was found walking along southbound M-40 near 26th Avenue by a passerby, who called police. The search involved the Van Buren County Sheriff’s office and K-9 teams from both that department and South Haven Police, and Michigan State Police troopers also worked to try to find the teen.. ...Read Full Story