Local News Archives

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

Highway Litter Pick Ups This Month

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’s Dan Weingarten tells WSJM News the agency calls on all sorts of groups to step forward and volunteer.. ...Read Full Story

Couple Renovates Historic Building In Lawton

Work to renovate a historic building in downtown Lawton is finished, and the new owners plan to rent the place out for events. Rene Rodriguez is a representative for Jessica and Jeff Michael, who bought Red Brick Hall on Main Street and fixed it up. Rodriguez tells WSJM News the building was constructed in 1880 and played a role in local affairs.. ...Read Full Story

Tax Filing Deadline Quickly Approaching

The clock is ticking if you’ve yet to start or file your taxes with the deadline looming Monday night. IRS spokesman Luis Garcia works in the Detroit office and says if you haven’t started and normally prepare your returns yourself, the forms are a little different this year. However, he says they should be more simple to do and adds a lot of people who normally itemize could find it’s easier to take the larger standard deduction and not have to be bothered by all the other details they’ve kept track of.. ...Read Full Story

Food For Fines This Week At Niles District Library

If you’ve got overdue fines at the Niles District Library, they’re offering a chance to wipe those out and help those in need in south county. Library director Nancy Studebaker tells our news partners at WSBT-22 they are taking food donations for the food pantry at St. Mary’s Christian Services, and they started doing it about 15 years ago.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Humane Society Caring For Beagles From Mattawan Lab

Beagles who were being force-fed agricultural chemicals in testing at a lab in Mattawan are now in the care of the Michigan Humane Society. Charles River Laboratories was doing the testing of pesticides for the Brazilian market for Dow Agrosciences’ Corteva Agriscience division, and received plenty of public criticism when an undercover video was released in March. That video was put out by the Humane Society of the U.S. to put pressure on Charles River and Corteva to end the testing. The Humane Society says each dog is being evaluated to determine optimal placement, and they expect that to take several weeks.. ...Read Full Story

MI Senate Backs Tougher Penalties For Child Abusers

From the Associated Press — Legislation advancing in Michigan would prescribe longer sentences for certain repeat child abusers. Bills approved unanimously by the state Senate on Tuesday would set new maximum prison terms for people convicted of third- or fourth-degree child abuse following a prior conviction. The max for third-degree child abuse currently is two years. It would rise to five years for a second offense. The max for fourth-degree child abuse is a one-year misdemeanor. The legislation would increase the punishment to two years imprisonment for a second offense. Sentencing guidelines are advisory, so the tougher sentences would not be compulsory for judges.
The bills head to the House next.. ...Read Full Story

Bridgman Police Receive Report Of Attempted Abduction

A case of attempted child abduction is under investigation by the Bridgman Police Department. It says on its Facebook page the incident allegedly occurred on Tuesday around 4:30 p.m. in the area of Toth Park. The department says a pre-teen girl reported a man in a black car pulled up and asked her if she wanted a ride. When she said no, he allegedly got out and grabbed her by the arm. The girl says she managed to get free and run. The suspect is described as a white male wearing a ski-mask, in his 40s, about 5’9, and slim. The car is described as black, possibly a Volkswagen, with Florida plates and tinted windows. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact the Bridgman Police Department.. ...Read Full Story

Memorial For Crime Victims Planned For This Week

The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office will hold a memorial this week in honor of those who have lost their lives as a result of crime. This is Crime Victim’s Rights Week, and Friday’s memorial will be held at the Berrien County Courthouse in St. Joseph at noon. It will feature a balloon launch in honor of the victims. The prosecutor’s office says the stories about some of the crime victims will be posted to the Berrien County website, and staff from Lory’s Place will share information about the organization’s services at the memorial. It’s hoped the event will serve as a reminder of the suffering victims and their families endure as a result of crimes in the community.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Facing Animal Cruelty Charges In Cass County

Several charges have been filed against a Flint area woman after she allegedly left her dogs in a hot car on Sunday while she was at the Four Winds Casino in Dowagiac. The Cass County Prosecutor’s office tells us 50-year-old Sherill Langford faces three counts of animal killing/torturing, three counts of animal abandoning/cruelty causing death, and a count of lying to police. Two of the dogs died, and one is recovering. The Pokagon Tribal Police Department handled the investigation. Langford is now free on bond and due back in court on April 17.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Road Department Receives Awards

The County Road Association of Michigan has given awards to the Berrien County Road Department for three of its projects in 2018. Berrien County Road Department Managing Director Jason Latham tells WSJM News one of the IMPRESS Awards is for the department’s response to flooding last spring. He says staff worked 24-7 to keep drivers safe.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Approves Two Medical Marijuana Businesses

Medical marijuana businesses are coming to Niles. The Niles City Council passed a measure to allow two businesses to open up if they’re able to obtain licenses from the state. Our partners at WSBT-22 report council members Georgia Boggs and Daniel Vandenheede voted against the measure, based on a presentation from Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz. He provided information regarding crime increases in places like Colorado, much like he did trying to convince voters to reject the legalization of recreational marijuana last year in the state. Medicinal marijuana was approved by Michigan voters a decade ago, but the system has only recently started to be fully implemented after years of challenges by former Attorney General Bill Schuette.. ...Read Full Story

Adopt A Highway Events Start This Weekend

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

LECO Gets Tax Break On Expansion Of Headquarters

LECO Corporation is set to move ahead on an expansion in St. Joseph. The city commission gave the approval for an Industrial Facilities Tax Exemption Certificate on Monday, providing the company with a 50% property tax break for the next dozen years on the $7.2 million in improvements, with construction starting next Monday. Cornerstone Alliance business development manager Cathy Tilley explained.. ...Read Full Story