Local News Archives

Murder Charges In Fatal Crash

A Benton Harbor man is charged with murder in the deaths of a 6-year-old girl and 73-year-old woman in a January crash. It happened on January 12 in Hartford Township. Police say a vehicle driven by 23-year-old Jose Canedo crossed the center line on Red Arrow Highway and struck another vehicle head-on. Killed were 73-year-old Mary Ann Fender of Paw Paw and 6-year-old Skylinn Salinas of Coloma. Canedo was found to be intoxicated at the time. He was arraigned on Friday on a variety of charges that include two counts of second degree murder, drunk driving causing death with a prior conviction, and driving on a suspended license causing death. Bond has been denied. Also injured in the crash were a 1-year-old Benton Harbor boy and a 57-year-old Paw Paw woman.. ...Read Full Story

Cornerstone Business Awards Held

Cornerstone Alliance and Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce have held their annual Business Recognition Breakfast, saluting businesses around Berrien County who have made a difference. At the ceremony on Thursday, Red Rabbit Automation received the Manufacturing Large Business Award. Cornerstone says it specializes in automation integration solutions for small and medium sized manufacturers. Getting the Economic Growth Award was DeGroot out of Coloma. Cornerstone says it’s one of the largest packaged plant suppliers in the country. The Microenterprise Award went to Lazy Ballerina Winery, which produces wine in St. Joseph, and the always prestigious Pat Moody Award went to Anna Murphy, the president of United Way of Southwest Michigan. The Small Business Award went to Competetive Edge, the Excellence in Customer Service Award went to Starks Family Funeral Home, the Economic Impact Award went to Pearson Construction, the Green Business of the Year is Michigan Energy Business solutions, and Bob Rogers of Servpro was named Ambassador of the Year.. ...Read Full Story

Sensible Bond Project Coming To Five MI Courts

From the Associated Press — Five Michigan courts, from the Detroit area to the Upper Peninsula, will participate in a program to try to reduce jail costs by setting reasonable bonds for people awaiting trial. Chief Justice Bridget McCormack says no one should sit in jail just because they can’t afford to pay bail. She wants judges to set bail amounts that protect rights and public safety as well as save money for local governments. Courts in Hamtramck, Clinton Township, Mount Pleasant, Flint and Escanaba will participate in the program. Judges will set bonds based on statistical models of risk. The state Supreme Court says more than 7,500 jail inmates are awaiting trial, and many have been charged with non-violent crimes.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Opposes Snow Day Bill

Many school districts around the state have used up all 6 of their allowable snow days for the year and have gone over due to some nasty weather the past month and a half. 175 have so far requested a waiver from the Michigan Department of Education for three additional days that don’t have to be made up, and legislation is being proposed at the Capitol to forgive a total of five days. However, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey doesn’t like it, saying more school days shouldn’t be taken away from kids.. ...Read Full Story

Positive Evaluation For County Admin

A one-year contract extension and a 2% raise will be going to Berrien County Administrator Bill Wolf following his annual performance evaluation by the Berrien County Board of Commissioners. Personnel Committee Chair Bill Chickering said at this week’s meeting Wolf was given a score of 3.7 out of 5 when rated by the 12 commissioners in several different categories.. ...Read Full Story

$250,000 Grant For Water Filters

The Berrien County Health Department is receiving a state grant of $250,000 to pay for the water filters it’s giving out to residents of Benton Harbor. Following the discovery of elevated lead levels in some homes last year, health department spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News the filters for lead are now available to all city residents for free. The grant program was made available by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services following the Flint water crisis.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Criticizes TV Station Story Featuring Comments About Her During Speech

From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is criticizing a Detroit TV station’s decision to broadcast a segment and publish an online story that features people’s unflattering and sexist comments on social media about her dress and body during the State of the State speech. Whitmer tweeted Thursday that the story “was way out of line,” before adding “I’m tough, I can take it.” Fox 2 (WJBK-TV) aired the story Wednesday night about reaction to Whitmer’s blue dress. The Democrat says boys have teased her “about my curves” since fifth grade. She says at a time when women are leading, she hopes people “focus on our ideas and accomplishments instead of our appearance.” The station is defending the story. News director Kevin Roseborough says the station was “taken aback” by the number and nature of many inappropriate Facebook comments on Whitmer’s appearance during the speech and decided to “examine them through person-on-the-street interviews and an expert’s opinion on the double standard faced by female leaders.”. ...Read Full Story

BH School Leader Looking To Save On Contracts

Leaders at Benton Harbor Area Schools are seeking to switch out some contracts to reduce costs. At this week’s CEO meeting, the district CFO said bids are being put out for both transportation and food services. Currently, the district contracts with First Student for buses. With the transportation costs around $1.4 million per year, the district will seek bids this month to see what comes in. It’s doing the same for food service, which is currently provided by Sudexo. It was also noted this wek the district currently has about $500,000 in excess food funds in the budget, and that will be put into equipment upgrades for the kitchen. Finally, CEO Robert Herrera said the contract with Berrien RESA for a technology director was terminated last month. The district has now moved that position in-house.. ...Read Full Story

Senate Votes To Limit Forfeitures In Drug Cases

From the Associated Press — Legislation advancing in Michigan would limit law enforcement’s ability to take ownership of cash and other property in drug cases that don’t result in convictions. The Senate voted 36-2 Wednesday, sending the bill to the House. It was the first vote on a bill by either chamber this year, though the Republican-led House last week passed a resolution rejecting an environmental order issued by Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The Senate measure would prohibit prosecutors from permanently confiscating
assets thought to be associated with drug crimes unless a defendant is convicted, has entered into a plea agreement, no one claims any interest in the property or the owner relinquishes it. The measure would not apply in seizures of property and currency worth more than $50,000, excluding the value of contraband.. ...Read Full Story

Former Major League Pitcher At Weekend Clinic

Student athletes who would like to improve their throwing technique with the help of a former Major League pitcher will have a chance to do so this weekend in Paw Paw. Tom House was a pitcher for the Braves, the Red Sox, and the Mariners throughout the 1970s and also worked as a college coach. He’ll lead a three-day super camp at Performance FieldHouse starting Friday. The fieldhouse’s Mark Lipson told WSJM News more.. ...Read Full Story

Federal Grant Announced For YouthBuild Program

The YouthBuild program in Benton Harbor is receiving a grant of nearly $100,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor. Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News YouthBuild is a chance for at-risk young people to earn their high school diploma or GED while also learning construction trade skills through the rebuilding of houses, playgrounds, and community centers. It’s run by Kinexus.. ...Read Full Story

BHAS CEO Waiting On Direction From The State

Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO Robert Herrera is waiting on word from the Michigan Attorney General’s Office on what’s next for the district following a legal change last year that may eliminate its cooperative agreement with the state. Last week, Herrera told trustees the change may mean a restoration of school board control to the district come July. The Michigan Department of Education has told him to wait for those AG instructions. He can’t really answer anything until that’s ironed out.. ...Read Full Story

Ford Recalling 1.5M F-150 Trucks

(Dearborn, MI – AP) – Ford Motor Company is recalling nearly 1.5 million pickup trucks in North America because the transmissions can suddenly downshift into first gear. The recall covers F-150 trucks from the 2011 through 2013 model years with six-speed automatic transmissions.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Endorses Hands-Free Driving Law

From the Associated Press — Gretchen Whitmer wants Michigan to be the 17th state to adopt a hands-free driving law that restricts the use of mobile devices while driving. The Democrat got behind the newly introduced legislation in her State of the State speech Tuesday night. Texting while driving is prohibited, but other uses of phones are allowed. Whitmer says “you cannot navigate the road if you are looking at your phone.”. ...Read Full Story

Kalamazoo Woman Accused Of Stealing Mail In Van Buren County

A 24-year-old Kalamazoo woman is in the Van Buren County Jail for allegedly stealing mail from more than a dozen homes in Columbia and Geneva townships. The sheriff’s department thinks she likely has more victims, and they’re asking anyone who thinks they’re missing items to call. The woman was arrested Monday after someone spotted her going from mailbox to mailbox in a white Cadillac and taking things out. The thefts happened along County Roads 215 and 384 along with 59th Street. The woman’s name hasn’t yet been released.. ...Read Full Story

Coastal Management Seminar In South Haven This Week

A discussion on coastal management will take place in South Haven this week. “Planning for Resilient Coastal Communities” is is set for Thursday at South Haven High School. The presenters will focus on the Great Lakes and the adjoining shorelines, and how to plan for changes of living along the shorelines. The seminar will teach the history of the Great Lakes and how communities can plan for changes. Representatives from Casco, Covert, and South Haven townships and the city of South Haven will be attending. The public is also invited to attend the seminar at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Listiak Auditorium at the high school.. ...Read Full Story

BHAS Officials Working On Deficit Plan

The five-year deficit elimination plan for Benton Harbor Area Schools is being reworked by district officials with the Michigan Department of Treasury. Following a meeting this week, district CEO Robert Herrera told WSJM News the preliminary deficit plan proved to be unworkable on a year-by-year basis.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Confident About Avoiding Shutdown Friday

The deadline to avoid another partial shutdown of the federal government is fast approaching, and Congressman Fred Upton tells us he’s encouraged about the chances of beating it. He says a verbal agreement to allow for a spending resolution to keep the government open for the rest of the year was reached late Monday. He says all responsible parties in Congress are anxious to avoid putting the nation through another shutdown, and he thinks the agreement will be approved.. ...Read Full Story