Local News Archives

MI Schools Involved In Teen Safe Driving Program

From the Associated Press — Students at 62 Michigan high schools are participating in a program that’s designed to make teenagers safer drivers. They were selected to participate in the peer-led Strive For a Safer Drive program that seeks to reduce traffic crashes involving teens. The program is a partnership between Ford Driving Skills for Life and the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning. You can find out more right here. Schools get $1,000 for students to create a traffic safety campaign to educate their classmates about distracted driving, seat belt use, speeding, underage drinking, impaired driving or winter driving. The top five get a cash prize ranging from $500 to $1,500. Schools also can send students to a free driving clinic with professional instructors. Among the schools taking part this year is Benton Harbor High School.. ...Read Full Story

Report Examines Detroit Water Issues

New research is intensifying calls to stop water shutoffs in Detroit and for the city to adopt a sensible water affordability plan. A 100 page report released by faith leaders and academics suggests the aging water and sewer infrastructure, increasing bills, shutoffs and service interruptions experienced in Detroit could possibly play out in other Michigan communities. Jennifer Fassbender [[ foss-bender ]] with Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation says it’s immoral for people to live without water.. ...Read Full Story

One Dead, One Critical After Being Found In Stuck Vehicle

A Florida man is dead and another in critical condition after sheriff’s deputies found them in a vehicle stuck in a field in Van Buren County on Monday. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department tells us deputies found the vehicle in the 8,000 block of County Road 215 in Grand Junction around 11:30 a.m. The 22 year-old driver was dead, and his 22-year-old passenger was unresponsive but breathing. Both were from Wimauma, Florida. The passenger was taken by Bronson Air Care to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo, where he was listed in critical condition. Police believe the two men were in the area visiting friends and drove into the field where their vehicle got stuck. There were signs the two had tried to get the vehicle unstuck, but weren’t successful. Deputies say they aren’t sure why the two men didn’t walk for help, but it’s believed alcohol was involved. While police wait for the medical report, they believe the extreme cold played a role in the death of the driver.. ...Read Full Story

OutCenter, 100 Women Strong Receive MLK Diversity Award

100 Women Strong and the OutCenter are this year’s recipients of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Diversity Award from Lake Michigan College. Each year, LMC gives the Diversity Award to a person or an entity that has made a positive difference in southwest Michigan. Speaking at Monday’s MLK breakfast, 100 Woman Strong’s Lynne Christiano quoted Dr. King.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Weekend Fatal Crash In Chikaming Twp

Police are investigating a fatal crash in Chikaming Township on Saturday. The Chikaming Township Police Department says it happened around 10 p.m. on the south side of of Browntown Road just east of South Hildebrandt Road. A vehicle driven by a 44-year-old man had been eastbound on Browntown when the driver lost control. The vehicle left the road and hit a tree. The driver, who was the only occupant of the vehicle, was unresponsive when police arrived. Lifesaving measures were not successful, and he was pronounced dead at the scene. The Chikaming Township Police Department is getting help in the investigation from the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department. The name of the driver has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

Contractor Offers Tips To Prevent Frozen Pipes

Subzero and single-digit temperatures can cause big problems inside your house by freezing your pipes. While the forecast is calling for a warm-up over the next few days, frigid overnight lows are still in the forecast for the end of the week. Todd Faxy is the founder of Zolman Restoration in suburban Detroit and suggests keeping the doors of your kitchen cabinet open under the sink to allow warm air in to the pipes.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Calls For Ouster Of Iowa Congressman Steve King

The country needs to do better on race relations. That’s the message from Congressman Fred Upton on Martin Luther King Jr. Day during a speech at Lake Michigan College. He called for the removal of Iowa Congressman Steve King from office over long-standing allegations that he is a white supremacist who questioned when the term became offensive last week.. ...Read Full Story

ATF Offering Reward In Niles Gun Shop Burglary

Agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have joined the investigation into the smash-and-grab robbery of a Niles gun store. Along with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, they have put up a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrests of the suspects. Police say the suspects crashed their way into The Firing Pin Gun Shop on 5th Street early last Tuesday. Investigators say they used a stolen vehicle and crashed through a wall. Security video shows four people were involved and the got away with more than ten guns. They believe the group may be responsible for other burglaries in the area.. ...Read Full Story

Treasurer To Meet With Property Owners Behind On Taxes

A series of three meetings is planned over the next couple of months for Berrien County property owners who are behind on their taxes to get signed up on a payment plan. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News letters have gone out to the folks who still owe for 2016 and 2017. He says he’s bringing staff to meetings around the county to talk with those who are behind.. ...Read Full Story

Road Priorities For Niles, Buchanan

The Niles-Buchanan-Cass Cities Area Transportation Study has compiled a list of road projects that should be a priority in the next four years around southern Berrien County and Cass County. Southwest Michigan Planning Commission Associate Planner Brandon Kovnat tells WSJM News the list of recommendations comes out of a December 18 meeting of several municipalities and road departments.. ...Read Full Story

School Board To Work More With District CEO

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has begun a new year with a clearer idea of its role in the district. On Tuesday of this past week, the board met with district CEO Robert Herrera and agreed to hold its regular meetings each month on the Thursday before Herrera’s CEO meeting the following Tuesday. This way, the board can advise the CEO on any action he might take. New board President Steven Mitchell told WSJM News having more input will be a benefit.. ...Read Full Story

Ambulance Crash Leads To Highway Closure

Westbound I-94 in Watervliet Township had to be shut down for about an hour on Saturday due to an ambulance crash. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us the crash happened just before 4:50 p.m. at mile 39. A Pride Care ambulance was transporting a patient to Spectrum Health Lakeland in St. Joseph when the driver lost control in slush and snow on the shoulder. The ambulance then rolled over. Medic Andrew Sack, a 22-year-old Battle Creek resident, sustained lacerations to his head during the crash. The patient was a 69-year-old Watervliet woman. Police have not said if she was injured in the crash. The ambulance driver, 21-year-old Kyle Robertson of Bangor, reported being shaken up, but did not sustain any apparent injuries. A second Pride Care Ambulance was dispatched to the scene and transported the patient and the two medics to Spectrum Health Lakeland in St. Joseph. Police say all injuries in the crash are believed to be non-life-threatening.. ...Read Full Story

BH School Board Prepares To Work With CEO

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has begun a new year with a clearer idea of its role in the district. On Tuesdayof this past week, the board met with district CEO Robert Herrera and agreed to hold its regular meetings each month on the Thursday before Herrera’s CEO meeting the following Tuesday. This way, the board can advise the CEO on any action he might take. New board President Steven Mitchell told WSJM News having more input will be a benefit.. ...Read Full Story

Applications Being Taken For Marine Deputies

The deadline to apply to be a deputy in the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Marine Division has been extended to February 15. Each boating season, the sheriff’s department has its marine deputies enforce the Marine Safety Act on Lake Michigan and inland lakes and rivers around Berrien County. The new deputies will begin training on the weekends in April, while patrols will begin with Memorial Day weekend and end with Labor Day. To be a marine deputy, one must be at least 18 years old, have a clean record, and pass a swim test. Boating knowledge and a mechanical aptitude also help. The applications for the Marine Division are on the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department website. You can find the applications right here.. ...Read Full Story

Women’s Marches Planned For Saturday

Women’s marches will take place in ten Michigan cities Saturday. The third annual event began as a protest against administration policies on the day after President Donald Trump took office two years ago. The events in Adrian, Ann Arbor, Benton Harbor, Detroit, Douglas, East Lansing, Grand Rapids, Holland, Marquette, and Traverse City are sister marches to a large event in the nation’s capital. Randy Block, with the Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network, says he hopes Michigan will turn a corner now that Democratic women have been elected to the three top positions in the state executive branch.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Courts Conduct User Survey

The Van Buren County Courts have received high marks from users in their latest survey. Using a survey that was administered in courts statewide, the court tells us it asked users questions about whether the system in Van Buren County was accessible, timely, and fair, and if customers were treated with courtesy and respect by judges and court staff in 2018. The survey found 95% of court users said they were treated with courtesy and respect by staff, 85% of users said the way the judge or magistrate handled their case was fair, and 89% of users were able to get their business done in a reasonable amount of time. Chief Judge Kathleen M. Brickley says she’s “very proud of the hard work put in by our team at Van Buren County Courts.” Developed with input from judges and court administrators statewide and tabulated by the State Court Administrative Office, the survey enables courts to identify strengths, provide feedback to employees, and target areas for improvement. The survey was completed by a range of court users, including parties to cases, attorneys, jurors, and others.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Planning Martin Luther King Day Of Service

The United Way of Southwest Michigan is planning to be out in the community volunteering for Martin Luther King Day on Monday. The United Way’s Julee Laurent told WSJM News on Friday they’re working with a variety of local non-profits, faith-based organizations, schools, and businesses to serve southwest Michigan in the spirit of the civil rights legend. Some planned projects include a food drive for area pantries.. ...Read Full Story

Governors Seek Guidance On Unemployment For Federal Workers

From the Associated Press — The governors of Michigan, New York and Washington are asking the Trump administration for guidance on whether states can provide unemployment benefits to federal employees who are working without pay during the shutdown. Govs. Gretchen Whitmer, Andrew Cuomo and Jay Inslee – all Democrats – issued a joint statement Friday. They say their states are providing unemployment benefits to furloughed federal workers, but federal regulations prevent them from giving the same assistance to those who continue to work without pay. They are calling on the U.S. Department of Labor to provide “clear, unambiguous guidance” on whether the rules can be waived. They say there is no “rational justification” to deny workers the same short-term relief that furloughed employees can receive. The shutdown, the longest ever, entered its 28th day Friday.. ...Read Full Story

Parks Department taking Input On Master Plan

The first meetings for the public to offer its thoughts on plans for Berrien County’s parks over the next five years have been held. Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey tells WSJM News two sessions were held on Wednesday in St. Joseph. They’re part of the process to draft a new five year parks master plan, and more meetings are coming.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Court Conducts Satisfaction Survey

A survey conducted by the Berrien County Trial Court has found users overall satisfied with its services. The court tells us it used a survey administered in courts statewide, asking people questions about whether the court was accessible, timely, and fair, and if they were treated with courtesy and respect by judges and court staff. Created by the State Court Administrative Office to ensure accuracy, the survey is designed to help courts identify strengths, weaknesses, and to give feedback to employees. The Berrien County Trail Court says it found 93% of court users said they were treated with courtesy and respect by staff, 80% of court users said the way the judge or magistrate handled their case was fair, and 82% of were able to get their business done in a reasonable amount of time. Court Administrator Carrie Smietanka-Haney says the goal is to “make each member of the public’s court experience as positive as it can be.”. ...Read Full Story

Federal Employees Plan Protest

Federal employees fed up with the government shutdown are planning to brave the cold and rally in front of the Federal Building in Detroit Friday. About 2,000 Michiganders work for federal agencies, and a little more than half are working without pay. The rest are locked out of their jobs until the shutdown is resolved. Mark Coryell, president of the union that represents local employees of the EPA, tells us the families are really starting to feel the pinch.. ...Read Full Story