Local News Archives

Governor’s Aide: “No Way” All 38 Schools On SRO List Will Be Shut Down

The Michigan School Reform Office has 38 schools across the state targeted for possible closure at the end of this school year, but it doesn’t appear likely all will shut down. Rich Baird, a top aide to Governor Rick Snyder, says there is “no way 38 schools in the state will close.” He was at Detroit City Hall Monday for a town hall meeting on the issue. Sixteen of the schools are in Detroit. Three schools in Benton Harbor are also on the list. The SRO will decide by the end of the month which schools on its list will be shut down.. ...Read Full Story

Flint Mayor Meeting With Governor To Talk Water Assistance

From the Associated Press — The mayor of Flint is meeting with Michigan’s governor to discuss the state’s decision to no longer fund residential water bill credits or help the beleaguered city pay for water from a Detroit-area system. Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is expected to meet with Governor Rick Snyder in Lansing Tuesday. State officials announced January 24 that the financial assistance will stop at the end of February because the level of lead in Flint’s water no longer exceeds the federal limit. Michigan has partially covered customers’ bills dating back to April 2014. Snyder’s office estimates the state will have spent $41 million on that by the end of February. Snyder’s spokeswoman Anne Heaton said Monday that the elimination of credits and other payments isn’t a sign of Michigan abandoning Flint.. ...Read Full Story

Two Bangor Teachers Resign Over Controversial Video

Two teachers with Bangor Public Schools have resigned over their role in a video showing them having an inappropriate conversation at a bar. On Monday, the Bangor School Board accepted the resignation of a secretary for her role in the video, which has been spreading around the internet. The six teachers and secretary were playing a game in which they had to choose whether they’d rather have sex with, marry, or kill different individuals.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigating After Body Found In Berrien Springs

Police are investigating after a body was found in Berrien Springs over the weekend. The Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Police Department tells WSJM News 30-year-old Alexandra White was found in an apartment in the 4,500 block of Shawnee Road around noon Saturday. They say he’d been dead for an extended period of time. Berrien County Sheriff’s deputies helped local police process the scene, and an autopsy has been ordered. Police say they consider the death suspicious, but they believe it was an isolated incident, and that no one else is in any danger at this time.. ...Read Full Story

Flint Mayor Criticizes End To State Water Credit

From the Associated Press — Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is criticizing Michigan’s decision to stop providing a credit on customers’ water bills and to no longer help Flint pay for water from a Detroit-area system. Weaver said Monday she’ll soon meet with Gov. Rick Snyder to discuss the
issue.State officials announced January 24 the financial assistance will stop at the end of February because Flint’s system no longer has overall levels of lead exceeding the federal limit. A letter was sent to Flint last week. Michigan has partially covered customers’ bills retroactively to April 2014.Snyder’s spokeswoman says he’s happy to meet with Weaver, but the elimination of credits and other payments isn’t a sign of Michigan leaving Flint. She says Snyder’s asking lawmakers for another $49 million to help Flint in other ways.. ...Read Full Story

Bangor Schools Accepts Secretary Resignation, Reprimands Teachers Over Online Video

A secretary at Bangor Schools has resigned and some teachers have been reprimanded for their role in a video showing them having an inappropriate conversation at a local bar. At a meeting of the Bangor School Board Monday night, district attorney Robert Huber told WSJM News two teachers have been given formal reprimands, which puts them on administrative probation, and four more have been given verbal reprimands.. ...Read Full Story

Truck Driver Sentenced In May Police Chase

A truck driver from California who was charged in a high speed freeway chase through Berrien County last year has been sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. Ronald Jiles was sentenced on Monday in Berrien County Court. Prosecutors say he was on cocaine and meth when he led police on a several mile chase in the eastbound lanes of I-94 on May 26. He faced fleeing and eluding, drug, gun, and assault charges for the incident. Jiles was sentenced as a habitual offender.. ...Read Full Story

Standards Proposed For Attorneys Defending Poor Clients

From the Associated Press — A Michigan agency is seeking public comment on a proposed set of minimum standards for providing legal defense to people who can’t afford attorneys. The standards involve matters such as education and training for attorneys, the initial client interview, retaining experts and investigators, and the first appearance before a judge. The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission has submitted the proposals to the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. After the comment period, department Director Shelly Edgerton will review the information and decide whether to approve the standards. The Michigan Supreme Court conditionally approved them last year.
Every local system that provides attorneys for indigent defendants in Michigan is required to submit a plan for complying with the standards and a cost analysis to the commission.. ...Read Full Story

High Winds Blamed For Toppling Part Of Vacant Kalamazoo Building

From the Associated Press — Police say high winds are to blame for knocking down part of a vacant building in Kalamazoo. Officers responded Sunday evening to the building on the city’s north side and found that two walls of the building had collapsed. No one was injured. The
Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety says one of the collapsing walls knocked down a power line. The National Weather Service says winds were gusting above 45 mph at the time in the area. High winds moved across the state on Sunday night and into Monday morning, knocking out power to several thousand utility customers. Crews worked Monday to restore power.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Rise Again; New Buffalo Cheapest In State

AAA Michigan says gas prices statewide have risen by about 7 cents per gallon in the past week. The Dearborn-based auto club says late Sunday the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was about $2.31 per gallon. That’s about 80 cents more than it was at the same point last year. AAA says the lowest average price was about $2.26 per gallon in the Detroit area, where it is up about 3 cents from a week ago. The highest average was about $2.38 in the Marquette area. It was the fifth consecutive week that Marquette had the highest average price in the state. Our prices in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph jumped 13-cents in the past week to an average of $2.33, but you can find regular for under $2.20 in many areas. GasBuddy says the state’s lowest price is $1.91 in New Buffalo, and adds prices range from $2.13 to $2.22 in South Haven.. ...Read Full Story

Hilltop Road To Be Repaved

Coming soon will be a resurfacing project for Hilltop Road in St. Joseph. It’s an effort  being taken on jointly by the city, the township, the road commission, and the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission. Project Engineer Alan Smaka, with Wightman and Associates, tells us they’re doing a variety of work on the road.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Calls On Trump To Protect The Great Lakes

Congressman Fred Upton is calling on President Donald Trump to make protecting the Great Lakes a priority. Upton was joined this week by colleagues on the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force in signing a letter encouraging the new administration to work with the task force. The letter focuses on several initiatives it says will help keep the lakes clean and secure. They include funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, dealing with invasive species like the Asian carp, and improving water infrastructure. Congressman Upton says he appreciates “the new administration’s willingness to engage on these important issues and look forward to working with them to promote, strengthen, and preserve our Great Lakes.”. ...Read Full Story

Battle Creek Mother Speaks Out About Daughter’s Heroin Death

From the Associated Press — The mother of a Battle Creek woman who died from overdosing on heroin has created an obituary for her daughter that discussed drug overdose. The Battle Creek Enquirer reports 33-year-old Erin Carey lived at her parents’ home, where she died in September. Her obituary started out describing Carey’s hobbies and life achievements, but turned into talking about her heroin addiction. Erin’s mother, Sherida Carey, talked about her daughter with Michigan State Police Trooper Kristi Angelo on Friday at the Calhoun County chapter of Families
Against Narcotics. Carey said the obituary was written the way it was in hopes that it will raise awareness about the consequences of drug addiction. The Substance Abuse Council says Calhoun County had nearly 150 heroin overdoses and nearly 90 non-heroin opiate overdoses in 2016.. ...Read Full Story

Active Shooter Awareness Training Coming Up At LMC

Coming soon to Lake Michigan College in South Haven will be training on how to survive an active shooter situation. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department will handle the class, which is being offered to anyone free of charge this month. The department tells us it’s offered active shooter training to businesses and schools for the past five years or so, but this is the first time the course has been open to the public. The class will focus on the Avoid, Deny, and Defend strategy, which teaches awareness of one’s surroundings and how to escape dangerous situations. The class this month at LMC will be on Tuesday, February 21 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Earlier in the day, they’ll offer something similar to students and staff. If you’re interested, you can just show up to the South Haven campus that day.. ...Read Full Story

Tuesday Is Organ Donor Registry Day

Next Tuesday, or Valentine’s Day, has been declared Organ Donor Registry Day by the Michigan Senate. It’s intended to make the day serve as a reminder to everyone of the importance of signing up to be an organ donor. The state Senate notes in the resolution from Senator John Proos that organ and tissue donation from one person can save or enhance the lives of up to 75 people, and according to Donate Life America, more than 120,000 men, women, and children nationwide currently need an organ transplant. You can find out how to sign up to be on the organ donor registry at GiftOfLifeMichigan.org.. ...Read Full Story

Schuitmaker Co-Sponsors Bills To Better Prosecute Sex Assault Cases

State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker has signed on to some legislation designed to make it easier for authorities to prosecute sexual assault cases while better serving the victims of such crimes. She’s co-sponsored bills that would allow courts to consider prior bad acts in cases of sexual assault, increase reimbursements to medical providers who serve victims, and create consistency in how providers are compensated. Currently in cases involving sexual assaults of minors, courts are allowed to consider evidence that suspects may have committed a previous offense. Senator Schuitmaker says that should apply to all sex assaults. She also says it’s important the state makes sure victims get the best care possible.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Puts Weight Restrictions Into Effect

The Michigan Department of Transportation has put weight restriction into effect on several west Michigan highways. Spokesperson Dan Weingarten tells WSJM News the restrictions are placed on large trucks, ensuring they don’t exceed certain weights and cause major damage to the roads because the weather is warmer.. ...Read Full Story

BH School Leaders: We Have Already Budgeted For Tax Chargebacks

Leaders at Benton Harbor Area Schools say they have already budgeted for tax chargebacks the district is expected to face this year. A chargeback happens when a business successfully appeals its local tax assessment to the state and a local taxing entity has to pay back to the treasurer’s office what it’s already received in anticipation of those revenues. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowksi tells WSJM News, it’s a particular problem in the Benton Harbor area.. ...Read Full Story

Collapsed Territorial Culvert To Be Replaced This Summer

Set for this summer is the replacement of a collapsed culvert on Territorial Road in Bainbridge Township. The culvert, located on Territorial over Blue Creek near Millburg, fell apart in April of last year, and the road near it has been closed since. Representatives of the Berrien County Road Commission told residents this week that work on the $1 million replacement will start when all of the needed materials are available, and it’s expected the project will be finished by the Fourth of July. According to The Herald Palladium, most of the project is being paid for with federal funds, and the same contractor who worked on the replacement of an old culvert on Red Arrow Highway in Chikaming Township last year will do this one. The collapsed culvert was at least 70 years old.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Praises Bill To Encourage Investment In Border Communities

State Senator John Proos is praising legislation passed this week designed to help border communities in Michigan attract new businesses. The Senate bill expands the state’s definition of “qualified new jobs” when it comes to tax breaks. Under current law, companies that come to the state and create jobs only qualify for breaks when the workers they’re employing live in Michigan. Under the plan, they could still get state help, even if some employees lives across the state line. Proos tells WSJM News that’s good news for southwest Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

New LMC President Gearing Up To Get Started

The next president of Lake Michigan College says he hopes to be settled in and ready to get to work in April. On Friday, the LMC Board of Trustees selected Dr. Trevor Kubatzke, the current Vice President of Student Services at Milwaukee Area Technical College, to take over for the retiring Dr. Bob Harrison. Kubatzke tells WSJM News us he believes strongly in the mission of community colleges.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Announces Winners Of Berrien County Photography Contest

The winners of state Representative Kim LaSata’s Berrien County photography contest have been announced. LaSata started the contest to get some pictures of the area she represents to hang in her Lansing office. The top prize is going to Randy Willis, of Benton Harbor, for his picture of a rainbow over vineyards and barns. Second place goes to Mark Parren, of St. Joseph, for a photo of the sunset at the St. Joe Lighthouse, while third place goes to Jeff and Diane Binder, of St. Joseph, for a photo of waves crashing at the lighthouse. All three photos will now hang in LaSata’s office in different areas. You can see the winners below or, of course, you could check them out  in person at LaSata’s Lansing office.. ...Read Full Story

New State Police Troopers Coming To Paw Paw

More than two dozen recruits have graduated from the Michigan State Police Trooper Recruit School. The 28 new troopers were given their oaths Friday during a ceremony at the state police training academy in Lansing. The’re expected to start work next week and will join more than 1,000 other troopers at posts and other offices across the state. Their training started in August and included work with firearms, water safety, defensive tactics, ethics and criminal law. Among the graduating troopers are two that will be assigned to the Michigan State Police Paw Paw post. They are Jaboc Bailey, of Hastings, and Dustin Roesler, of Whitehall. Another trooper recruit school is slated to start in June.. ...Read Full Story

Lake Michigan College Selects New President

We now know who will be the next president of Lake Michigan College. The LMC Board of Trustees voted on Friday to hire Dr. Trevor Kubatzke to replace the retiring Dr. Bob Harrison. Kubatzke is currently the Vice President of Student Services at Milwaukee Area Technical College. He has two decades of experience in higher education, having previously worked at community colleges in Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Education Administration in Community College Leadership from Walden University, a Master of Science in Education Administration from Missouri State, and a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.. ...Read Full Story

Arrest Made In Benton Harbor Shooting

A Benton Harbor man is in the Berrien County Jail on charges of assault with intent to murder, home invasion and more. Police say Lamarcus Crayton is accused of shooting a 21-year-old man in the head late Wednesday night at a home in the 700 block of Mcallister Street. The victim is hospitalized at Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph with life-threatening injuries, and authorities have not released his name. State Police, the FBI, and Berrien County Sheriff’s deputies assisted in making the arrest.. ...Read Full Story

Three Busted For Meth At Paw Paw Motel

Two men are jailed and charges are being sought against a woman following a drug bust at a Van Buren County motel. Deputies were called to Red Arrow Motel in Paw Paw around 1 a.m. Friday for a loud party with possible drug use. All three in the room denied they were doing anything wrong, but a search of the room resulted in police finding three syringes, with one having suspected meth. The 38-year-old woman said it was hers, and she had recently shot up. Both men were on parole, and one told deputies he had also used the drug and would test positive. The two men are in jail, and deputies say the woman will be charged with meth possession once their investigation is done.. ...Read Full Story

High Speed Chase Starts In Niles, Ends In South Bend

Charges are pending against a man who led police on a high-speed chase in Niles and South Bend. Our partners at WNDU Newscenter 16 report it started when police learned of alleged threats the man had made, and tried to pull him over. He was believed to have a gun, though no shots were fired during the 20-minute chase. It ended when he crashed at the corner of Cleveland and Mayflower in South Bend around 10:30 last night. The suspect is hospitalized after being injured in the wreck. His name hasn’t been released.. ...Read Full Story

CMU Condemns Anti-Semitic Valentine’s Day Card

A Central Michigan University Republican student group is apologizing for a Valentine’s Day card that mocks Jews who died in the Holocaust. The College Republicans group handed out gift bags to students Wednesday night, including one with a card that said “My love 4 u burns like 6,000 Jews.” It had a photo of Adolf Hitler and was signed “XOXO, Courtney.” Dr. Carolyn Dunn is Associate Vice President with the Office for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, and told Michigan News Network the university condemns what was possibly a lone wolf’s stunt.. ...Read Full Story

Audit: Human Error Led To Detroit Recount Problems

The Michigan Bureau of Elections has conducted a review of 136 Detroit voting precincts to find out why there’s a discrepancy between the total number of recorded voters in November’s election and the number of ballots cast. Elections Director Chris Thomas told Michigan News Network they’ve learned a recount can’t be done when that happens.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Man To Receive Rotary International Award

A South Haven man will be receiving Rotary International’s highest award. Dr. Martin “Marty” Graber will be presented with the Rotary’s Service Above Self Award on May 13 at a district conference in Battle Creek. The award goes out to 150 Rotarians each year for their work in demonstrating the Rotary’s motto, “Service Above Self.” Dr. Graber has been a member of the South Haven Rotary since 2006, and he’s getting the honor for his work in Kenya. The Rotary tells us, since he and his wife started working with the Maasai Tribe, they’ve helped to develop clean water and energy sources, agriculture, hospitals, and schools there. Graber is the second South Haven Rotarian to win the Service Above Self Award. The other recipient was Robert Brickman in 1993.. ...Read Full Story

MI Senate Passes Bill To Attract Businesses To Border Communities

From the Associated Press — A bill passed by the Michigan Senate looks to attract new businesses and investment to border communities. Senator Dale Zorn’s bill would encourage businesses to set up in counties near the border instead of in other states that border Michigan such as Ohio, Indiana or Wisconsin. The state provides grants, loans and other economic assistance to qualified businesses that make investment in the state or who hire “qualified new jobs.” Zorn’s bill would expand the definition of “qualified new job” from a job done by somebody who lives in Michigan to include somebody who does not live in the state but is employed by a business on the Michigan side of the border. The bill passed on a 24 to 13 vote and has been sent to the House.. ...Read Full Story

U-Michigan Students Get Racist Forged Emails In Name Of Prof

From the Associated Press — The University of Michigan says someone sent racist and anti-Semitic emails to students under the name of a professor who has raised concerns about the integrity of the voting system in some states. J. Alex Halderman denies sending the messages and the school doesn’t believe Halderman’s email was hacked. Instead, spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said Wednesday that Halderman and the students are victims of “spoofing” or forged emails. Fitzgerald says campus police are investigating. Halderman calls the emails “contemptible.” They were sent mostly to engineering students and had subject lines such as “African American Student Diversity” and “Jewish Student Diversity.” Two
messages included the phrase “Heil Trump.” Halderman, a computer science professor, urged a recount of presidential election results in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to ensure that a cyberattack hadn’t manipulated totals.. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw Schools Keeping Redskins Moniker

The Paw Paw School Board has voted to keep the Redskins name and image as their mascot. The board voted 4-3 late Wednesday to keep the mascot, which has been a source of controversy for decades. Board member Renee Richardson voted to get rid of the Redskins name, saying she’s “sickened” by what’s been going on in the community, with residents arguing and saying “hateful words to one another.”. ...Read Full Story

Judge Ends Challenges To Parole Rules, Sentences For Teens

From the Associated Press — A judge has rejected constitutional challenges to how Michigan sentences teens convicted of first-degree murder, ending seven years of litigation. Since 2010, federal Judge John Corbett O’Meara has made a series of decisions, some favoring so-called juvenile lifers who were given no-parole sentences when they were under 18. But some rulings were stopped by an appeals court. O’Meara closed the case Tuesday, noting that Michigan law has greatly changed because of decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court. No-parole sentences for teenagers still are possible but they’re not mandatory. O’Meara says judges can consider the “factors of youth” when they sentence teens. Attorney Deborah LaBelle had urged O’Meara to strike the law as unconstitutional. She says no-parole sentences are supposed to be rare, but prosecutors still are trying to keep more than 200 inmates behind bars for life at new hearings.. ...Read Full Story

Blossomtime Pageant Tickets Go On Sale This Month

Tickets to this year’s Blossomtime Pageants will go on sale this month. The public sale begins on February 14. This year’s theme is “If it starts with B, it must be Blossomtime,” and the pageants will be held next month. Tickets are $20.00 and you can get them by calling the Blossomtime office or stopping there. The big event will be at Lake Michigan College’s Mendel Center.. ...Read Full Story