Local News Archives

Health Department Urges Alcohol Education

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and the Berrien County Health Department is urging parents to keep an open dialogue with their kids about the dangers of underage alcohol abuse. Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist Lisa Peeples-Hurst tells WSJM News alcohol is harmful to developing brains, adding the drinking age of 21 is based on science.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Planning Pop Up Giving Event

Coming up next month will be the third Pop Up Giving event to be held by the United Way of Southwest Michigan. The United Way’s Jennifer Tomshack tells WSJM News Pop Up Giving events allow attendees the chance to vote for one of three non-profits who will make a presentation on planned projects.. ...Read Full Story

Adopt A Highway Events Underway

Starting this Saturday, hundreds of volunteers will take to the highways across Michigan to pick up litter as part of the annual Adopt a Highway spring clean-up. The Michigan Department of Transportation says the clean-ups will run through April 21. Businesses, churches, non-profits, and families adopt stretches of highway around Michigan to clean up trash each year. MDOT tells us there are 59 active Adopt a Highway clean-up groups in Berrien County, and last year they picked up more than 1,600 bags of trash. Two Berrien County landfills — Orchard Hill and the Southeast Berrien County Landfill — also take the material free of charge. When the volunteers take to the roads this Saturday, drivers are urged to give them plenty of space. MDOT says it could also use some more help picking up litter along more rural stretches of I-94. Anyone interested in creating an Adopt a Highway volunteer group should check MDOT’s website.. ...Read Full Story

Report Finds Michigan Making Progress On Foster Kids

Michigan is making an effort to keep foster kids in family settings, with a 9% improvement over a 10 year period, according to a new report. Michigan is home to almost 12,000 foster children, and researchers from the Annie E. Casey Foundation found the percentage being placed with families increased from 80% in 2007 to 89% in 2017. Rob Geen with the Casey Foundation tells us while the overall trend is positive, the numbers are still stubbornly low for teens and children of color.. ...Read Full Story

Senior Legislative Forum Held Friday

State Representative Beth Griffin of Mattawan is hoping to boost state support for in-home programs for seniors. The Mattawan Republican attended the Area Agency on Aging’s legislative forum in St. Joseph Friday, and tells WSJM News the need for the home care program was the biggest thing she came away with.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Talks Branch Office Improvements

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says you should be able to do more things with her department’s website and also with the self-service kiosks in its branch offices. Benson this week released a list of recommendations for how services at branch offices could be improved. She tells WSJM News she thinks the kiosks should be revamped so they break down less often, and she wants more of them.. ...Read Full Story

Jobs For Michigan’s Graduates Mock Interview Day Next Week

Thursday will bring the ninth annual Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates Mock Interview Day at the Riverview campus of Whirlpool in Benton Harbor. Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates Deputy Director Mollie Waller tells WSJM News Mock Interview Day will give 50 JMG students a chance to learn some of the soft skills that it takes to land a job. The students will take part in job interviews led by Whirlpool volunteers focusing on multiple positions.. ...Read Full Story

More Information Released On Overnight Shooting

The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety says an overnight shooting that caused Benton Harbor Area Schools to be shut down for the day may have been gang-related. The department tells us officers were dispatched to the 300 block of Colby Avenue shortly after midnight. They found several rounds had been fired in the direction of a home. A 60-year-old man who had been sitting on a couch and watching TV was hit. He was taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland for treatment, and is in stable condition. The shooting remains under investigation, and anyone with information is asked to contact police. The Benton Harbor tip line is 269-934-0293. Assisting the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety in the investigation are the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department and Michigan State Police.. ...Read Full Story

Senator LaSata On Email Allegations: “Fake News”

WSJM News is continuing to try to unearth emails allegedly sent from the county work email account of Judge Charlie LaSata that are connected to the campaign of his wife, Senator Kim LaSata. We caught up with her briefly Friday morning at the Area Agency On Aging Legislative forum. She was running about 20 minutes late, and when asked for comment about the reports, she responded “Fake news” as her staffer told her the panel was waiting for her inside.. ...Read Full Story

Hoadley To Launch Listening Tour

State Representative Jon Hoadley of Kalamazoo is launching a listening tour of southwest Michigan to find out about the concerns of voters. Hoadley this week announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination to take on Congressman Fred Upton. He spoke with Michigan News Network.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers Talk Juvenile Justice Reforms

A group of Michigan lawmakers has been hearing from judges and other court officials as they consider legislation that would raise the age of those tried as adults to 18 years old. The Michigan Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee heard from supporters Thursday morning. They said the legislation is needed to keep those under 18 from going into adult prisons. Judge Dorene Allen with the Michigan Probate Judges Association was the first to testify.. ...Read Full Story

Commissioner Hopes To Pursue Broadband Grant

Berrien County Commissioner Ezra Scott is continuing to push for the pursuit of a grant to expand broadband internet around the county. Last week, he told us about a USDA grant program that could allow the county to apply for $25 million. At this week’s meeting of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners, Scott said the discussion shouldn’t be dropped. He told WSJM News Berrien County could get an early jump on the program.. ...Read Full Story

Fire Marshal Distributing Smoke Detectors

Michigan State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer has announced a statewide campaign to put more smoke detectors into homes. A FEMA grant of $525,000 is helping to fund MI Prevention, the statewide campaign to promote the alarms and fire safety awareness. Sehlmeyer spoke with WSJM News about the effort.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Releases List Of Recommended Improvements

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has released a report on how to improve service at branch offices around the state. Benson completed a tour of all 131 SoS branch offices and talked with employees and customers to gather information for her recommendations. Among the items on her list are upgrading online services, providing targeted support to the highest-volume customers, revamping the self-service kiosks, creating a supportive culture for employees, and improving the physical environment of the offices. You can find Benson’s full report here.. ...Read Full Story

Protests This Week Over Sanctuary Cities Legislation

People fanned out across the Michigan Capitol on Tuesday to protest two bills that would prevent Michigan cities and counties from passing ordinances that limit cooperation with federal immigration agents. House Bills 4083 and 4090 would ban sanctuary city policies that instruct police agencies or jails not to detain people solely for being undocumented, or hold people for ICE agents to pick up. Diego Bonesatti with the group Michigan United tells us the bills would invite abuse.. ...Read Full Story

Reports: Sale Of Palace Of Auburn Hills Imminent

The old home of the Detroit Pistons is reportedly about to change hands. Crain’s Detroit Business and The Detroit News report Livonia-based developers Schostak Brothers & Company has a contract to buy the vacant Auburn Hills arena and the land it’s on. Auburn Hills Mayor Kevin McDaniel says the property was rezoned for research and development.. ...Read Full Story

Snow Day Forgiveness Bill Advancing In House

A bill allowing schools to waive three more snow days is now before the state House after being passed up the chain by the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday. Those are the three days during the state of emergency declared by Governor Whitmer due to extreme cold at the end of January. Committee Chair Brandt Iden of Kalamazoo County says they had to act if they are going to get this to the governor’s desk in time for the districts to change their calendars.. ...Read Full Story

Notre Dame Adding Metal Detectors For Sports Venues This Fall

Notre Dame fans will need to allow extra time to get inside all football, hockey, and men’s and women’s basketball games starting in the fall. The university says metal detectors will be installed at Notre Dame Stadium, Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center and the Compton Family Ice Arena. The use of those will begin with the first home football game for the Irish on September 14. Notre Dame vice president for campus safety and university operations says in a statement that most fans have likely already experienced the added safety measures on other college campuses or professional stadiums, and the technology align’s Notre Dame’s fan safety procedures with industry best practices.. ...Read Full Story

Boater Safety Classes Being Offered In Allegan County

With spring here, the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department is once again offering a free boater safety class. In order to legally operate motorized watercraft in Michigan, state law requires those born after July 1, 1996 to complete a boating safety course and also have a valid boating safety certificate. The class being offered by the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department helps someone meet those requirements. It goes over safety and boating law. You can register online. The first class is April 20.. ...Read Full Story

Flagpole Ceremony In Cassopolis Thursday

The Cass County Prosecutor’s office will hold a ceremony to honor the victims of crime on Thursday. This is Crime Victim’s Rights Week, and law enforcement agencies all over Michigan are taking the time to highlight the pain endured by the victims of crime and their families. On Thursday at noon, Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz will host the annual Flagpole Ceremony at the Law and Courts Building in Cassopolis. He says anyone who wants to honor the memories of those who have lost their lives to crime is welcome to attend.. ...Read Full Story

Cass County Meth Conviction

It took a Cass County jury 35 minutes to convict a Dowagiac man of drug possession charges in a repeat offender case this week. The Cass County Prosecutor’s office tells us Jai Villalobos was paroled in February of last year after serving about four years in prison for delivery and manufacture of methamphetamine. In September, a parole search of his home turned up more meth. On Wednesday of this week, the jury found Villalobos guilty on two counts of possession. During the trial, they heard from Department of Corrections parole officers, a laboratory scientist, and a Cass County Drug Enforcement Team deputy. Those who testified said the drugs had been found in a trash can in the defendant’s bedroom. Villalobos now faces up to life in prison for possession of methamphetamine and up to 15 years in prison for possession of an opioid derivative as a habitual offender with three or more prior felonies. He’ll be sentenced on May 17.. ...Read Full Story