Local News Archives

State Lawmakers Wrap Up Year With 22-Hour Session

Governor Snyder has over 300 pieces of legislation to go through between now and December 31 following the end of the legislative session Friday morning. The Senate adjourned for the year at 7 a.m., with the House wrapping up work an hour later. In the flurry of activity on the final day, they gave final approval to a bill that strips away some of the authority of Democratic Attorney General-elect Dana Nessel by allowing the Legislature to intervene in any lawsuit involving the state. She and fellow Democrats are calling that a power grab, and are calling on Governor Snyder to veto it. Also passed was a new supplemental $1.3 billion spending plan that shifts money from the School Aid Fund to the roads, puts more cash toward environmental cleanup, and would hire mental health counselors for schools. The bills also would allocate funding to hire more child protective services caseworkers following a scathing audit of the agency. The vote early Friday was the final chance for the Republican governor and many lawmakers to put their imprint on spending. WSJM News has reached out to Senator John Proos for his final thoughts on his last days in office.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Woman Freed After Nine Years For Husband’s Murder

A Van Buren County woman will be home for the holidays for the first time in 9 years after she was convicted of murdering her husband. Linda Stermer was released Thursday after a federal judge ruled that she did not get a fair trial, citing errors by prosecutors. She was charged with setting her house and her husband on fire, and then running him over with a truck after he emerged from the burning home. She has claimed all along that was not what happened. Stermer was convicted largely on circumstantial evidence. She was released on $10,000 bond, suggesting that the judge does not consider her to be a flight risk. The Attorney General’s office has some decisions to make and may appeal the ruling. If that fails, they will have to decide whether to retry the case or drop it. That decision is very likely to fall on Attorney General-elect Dana Nessel.. ...Read Full Story

Counselor Talks New Year’s Resolutions

Do you make a New Year’s resolution every year but find it difficult to stick with it? You’re not alone. A new survey from Wallet Hub shows that 92% of Americans say they fail at keeping their resolutions. Anahid Lisa Derbabian is a counselor in Troy who spoke with Michigan New Network about why that might be,. ...Read Full Story

Alliance For Great Lakes Thanks Volunteers

The Alliance for the Great Lakes is looking back at 2018 as a successful year when it comes to cleaning up pollution, and it’s thanking volunteers for that. Each year, the alliance works with tens of thousands of people to hold beach cleanup events. It tells us in 2018, 15,000 people mobilized in the eight Great Lakes states, picking up more than 37,000 pounds of trash. 85% of it was plastic. The alliance thanks all of those who came out, and notes it will continue to pick up along the lakes. You can go to GreatLakes.org and search for cleanup opportunities in your area.. ...Read Full Story

Commissioners Saluted As They Step Down

Two longtime Berrien County Commissioners have been honored as they step down from their posts. Commissioners Debra Panozzo and Jeanette Leahey have served on the board since 1997 and 2003, respectively. Resolutions were approved by the county commission at its Thursday meeting to thank them. Leahey told WSJM News it’s been a long, eventful ride.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Would Allow Mid-Level Dental Providers In MI

From the Associated Press — Legislation heading to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder would authorize midlevel dental providers to work in the state. Dental therapists could perform a variety of routine procedures now handled by dentists. They would need a license and could practice if they reach an agreement with a supervising dentist. Supporters say the bill that won final Senate approval 23-15 Wednesday would help ensure treatment for more patients in underserved populations, including in rural areas. They say Michigan has an uneven distribution of dentists, leaving people without access to basic care. Opponents, such as the Michigan Dental Association, say there is no shortage of dentists. They say dental therapists with less training than dentists should not perform irreversible procedures.. ...Read Full Story

Police Look For Missing Woman

Michigan State Police are looking for a woman missing out of Van Buren County. Troopers from the Paw Paw post say 41-year-old Natily Nacole Franklin of Decatur has been missing since November 2. She was last seen with friends in South Bend on that date. Her purse, clothing, money, and cellphone were all left behind, and she’s had no contact with family since. She’s known to have a small chihuahua dog with her most of the time. The dog is described as a red-brown dog. Natily is described as a white female, about five foot eight, 140 pounds, with curly brown hair that has highlights. She also has a sleeve tattoo on her right arm. Anyone with information on her location is asked to contact Michigan State Police.. ...Read Full Story

Medical Issue Causes Niles Man To Crash Into Building

A 37-year-old Niles man is being treated at St. Joseph Hospital in Mishawaka after crashing his car into the side of a building. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department tells us it happened due to a medical problem just after 8 pm Wednesday at US-12 and Beebe Road in Milton Township. Jerry Gross went off the road and slammed into the cinder block building. He complained of minor injuries when first responders arrived. Police say he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Corrections Bill Gets Final Approval

A state commission that studies possible corrections reforms in Michigan will continue its work for another year under legislation from state Senator John Proos that is now on its way to the governor. Proos tells us Senate Bill 844 extends the Criminal Justice Policy Commission’s deadline from December 31 of this year to September 30 of next year. He says the commission was created in 2014 and charged with collecting, analyzing, and compiling data on prisons, jails, sentencing guidelines, prison population trends, and the effects of efforts to reduce recidivism. Proos adds the governor last year signed restorative justice reforms that will result in better outcomes, and the commission should be allowed to complete its job.. ...Read Full Story

$90,000 Awarded To Be Healthy Berrien

The Be Healthy Berrien partnership has been awarded a $90,000 grant to continue work on some south Berrien County recreation and nutrition programs. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced the funds from the Michigan Health and Wellness 4×4 Grant Program, which aims to fight obesity. The $90,000 grant will be used by Be Healthy Berrien to work on exploring opportunities to extend the Indiana-Michigan River Valley trail, do a study on expanding Niles Dial-A-Ride, create a Niles historical bicycle tour, and to work with businesses to serve healthy foods. Be Healthy Berrien is a partnership between the Berrien County Health Department, the United Way, Lakeland, the YMCA, and the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission to reduce obesity in Berrien County.. ...Read Full Story

Survey Finds MI Business Leaders Optimistic

Business Leaders for Michigan is finding optimism in the state’s business community when it comes to the next year. Despite recent stock market setbacks and other controversies, the organization tells us more than 80% of Michigan’s largest companies forecast their employment and investment in Michigan will stay the same or increase in the next 6 to 12 months. Oddly enough, however, 90% of those same leaders believe the state and U.S. economies will stay the same or worsen during that time. Doug Rothwell, Business Leaders for Michigan president and CEO, says the results show “Michigan business leaders find the state a more attractive place to invest than the nation as a whole.” You can find the BLM survey right here.. ...Read Full Story

Grants To Fight Invasive Species

Two grants totaling $113,000 have been announced for agencies in southwest Michigan to fight against the spread of invasive species. Michigan Department of Natural Resources invasive species communications coordinator Joanne Foreman tells us the southwest corner of the state is viewed as key to preventing non-native species.. ...Read Full Story

Psychologist Talks Big Holiday Stressers

When families get together for the holidays it can mean eating, drinking, and arguing. The current political climate, family responsibilities, and relationships top the list of stressers between family members according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. Dr. Lynn Bufka is with the organization and spoke with Michigan News Network.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Bill To Expand OK2SAY Signed

Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation from state Representative Kim LaSata to expand Michigan’s OK2SAY hotline so sexual abuse and assault can now be reported through it. LaSata tells us her bill was inspired by the Larry Nassar situation. She adds OK2SAY is a natural fit for reporting sexual crimes.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph High School Lunch Fight Prompts Brief Lockdown

Two St. Joseph High School students are facing disciplinary action after a fight at lunch Thursday that resulted in police being called. Principal Greg Blomgren tells parents in a letter that the fight prompted a brief lockdown. Blomgren says it erupted with over 500 students witnessing it in the student center, and he says many of them were cheering, laughing, and recording the fight on their phones. He says he wants the student body to hold themselves to a higher standard and is asking parents to talk to their students about the fight and the response from onlookers. Blomgren says administrators and staffers acted quickly to separate the fighting students and “diffuse the situation.”. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Trial Court Issues Reminder About Marijuana Policy

The Berrien County Trial Court is putting out the warning that while possession of marijuana by anyone over the age of 21 is legal now in the state, you still can’t have any on you at the courthouses or on any property leased or managed by or on behalf of the court. Chief Judge Gary Bruce says the drug remains illegal and fully criminalized under federal law, and the court is subject to the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. Legal and disciplinary action will still be taken against any court employees, officials, contractors and court users who violate the policy by possessing or using marijuana on the property and court employees can expect to still be tested for drugs.. ...Read Full Story

One GOP Power-Grab Bill Dies In State House

Legislation that would strip campaign finance oversight from the incoming Democratic secretary of state and shift it to a new bipartisan commission is in trouble in Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature. The Senate-passed bill is not on the agenda for a Wednesday committee meeting, an indication that it is at serious risk of stalling in the final week of the contentious lame-duck session. Representative Aaron Miller of Sturgis says there aren’t enough votes to pass the bill, which is seen by critics as potentially the most egregious attempt by Republican lawmakers to dilute the authority of a Democrat. Jocelyn Benson was elected last month and in January will become the first Democratic secretary of state in 24 years. Other contentious bills that would empower the Legislature to intervene in lawsuits and make it harder to initiate ballot measures remain under consideration.. ...Read Full Story

High Marks For Bridgman Superintendent

The Bridgman Public Schools Board of Education has voted to extend the contract of Superintendent Shane Peters by three years. That’s after he got a positive yearly performance evaluation this month. The board rated Peters as highly effective, and praised him for helping Bridgman students exceed state and county averages in math and English. They also noted several new programs were added to the district during the most recent year, including reading programs at the elementary and middle school levels, and a fifth year Spanish class at the high school. The board said Peters is engaged with the public and it’s proud of the district and the community.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Shielding “Dark Money” Advances

From the Associated Press — Legislation nearing the desk of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder would make it a crime for government agencies to require the disclosure of nonprofits’ donors. Critics decry the move as shielding political “dark money” while supporters
defend it as protecting people’s right to freedom of association. The Republican-led House approved the bill Tuesday, meaning it will go to
Snyder after a final procedural step in the Senate in the final days of a frantic lame-duck session. The legislation is seen by some as a pre-emptive strike against the incoming Democratic secretary of state and attorney general, who will succeed term-limited Republicans.
Politically active nonprofits that spend big on elections and ballot initiatives already do not have to disclose the sources of their funding to the IRS. The legislation would prohibit governments in Michigan from making such information public or even collecting it in the first place _ unless there is a warrant or a request as part of litigation.. ...Read Full Story

City To Reimburse Some HUD Funds

The city of Benton Harbor has to reimburse some Community Development Block Grant money to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. At Monday’s meeting, they approved a reimbursement of just under $61,000 from 2013. City Manager Darwin Watson said HUD oversight determined there were issues with the CDBG program that year.. ...Read Full Story

Ludington Company Gives Workers $4 Million In Bonuses

What are you getting for Christmas from your employer? The owner of FloraCraft in Ludington is giving his 200 employees bonuses totaling $4-million. Each employee will get a share based on their years of service. 80% will go into their retirement accounts and the rest will be paid out in cash. Lee Schoenherr is the owner of the company and says the average gift is around $20,000.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Limo Service Owner Response To State Action

A St. Joseph company offering transportation to and from airports in Chicago, South Bend, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids expects to be operating again soon. The state’s Licensing and Regulatory Affiars department issued a cease and desist order on Saturday to Airport Connection, owned by Roger Reddel, because the company wasn’t properly licensed.. ...Read Full Story

Report Looks At Holiday Drinking And Parents

Taking care of your kids can be difficult this time of year with holiday parties, get-togethers, and alcohol. New research from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital shows about 64% of parents polled were very likely to make plans for someone to take care of their child the day after a holiday event. Sarah Clark is a co-director of the study and spoke with Michigan News Network about it.. ...Read Full Story

BH Commission Updates Rules

Come next year, Benton Harbor City Commissioners will be doing things a little bit differently. At their final regular meeting of 2018 on Monday, they voted to amend the council rules to allow members to suspend the rules at the will of the majority and to add resolutions from the floor. They also voted to change the position of committee vice chair to co-chair. Commissioner Mary Alice Adams said the rules they’d been operating under prevented the commission from taking quick action.. ...Read Full Story

$450 Million Health Campus For MSU

From the Associated Press — Plans are moving forward on a $450 million health care campus adjacent to Michigan State University. A ceremonial groundbreaking was held Monday at the University Corporate Research Park in Lansing with officials from McLaren Health Care and the East Lansing university. The event marked the beginning of construction on the acute care hospital portion of the project. Design and construction on the campus’s medical services building and cancer center will begin within the next year. The new South Lansing campus will be developed on land purchased from the Michigan State University Foundation in its University Corporate Research Park. It will house a 240-bed hospital, cancer center, medical services building and other facilities to support health care, education and research. The facilities are expected to open in early 2022.. ...Read Full Story

Four Winds Employees To Distribute Holiday Meal Baskets

Volunteers from Four Winds Casinos and The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi will be distributing 200 holiday meal baskets to those in need Tuesday. The band tells us the distribution is part of more than 1,000 holiday meals donated to regional agencies this Christmas season. Each basket contains all of the items needed to prepare a holiday meal, and the donations today are going to the Northern Indiana Food Bank in South Bend. Each holiday season, Four Winds employees contribute to help make the time a happier one for those who are less fortunate. For Thanksgiving, Four Winds staff handed out 1,000 baskets containing a turkey, potatoes, veggies, and dessert around northern Indiana and southwest Michigan. Tuesday’s distribution will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.. ...Read Full Story

After School Activities Canceled At BH High School

After school activities at Benton Harbor High School were canceled Monday due to a possible threat. Administration tells us the district heard from a third party about a statement regarding the school that could have been construed as a threat. The statement came in at the end of the school day, and was said to be vague. Still, the kids were sent home for the day at the normal time and the district is reviewing its protocols for such situations. The building is also being checked by police. Everything will return to normal on Tuesday.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven-Area Horse Euthanized After Falling Into Septic Tank

A 32-year-old Arabian horse has had to be euthanized after falling into an access hole for an old septic tank. South Haven Area Emergency Services, Harbor Towing, and the city of South Haven’s Public Works Department responded to a home on Blue Star Highway near 106th Avenue in Casco Township at 4 a.m. Monday to rescue the horse. Named Tea Cup, it was trapped in the sinkhole up to its head. The homeowners had just recently bought the property and were unaware of the septic tank in the area of the pasture. The horse had to be put down after being rescued when a veterinarian determined its heart was not strong enough to survive. It took nearly two hours to pull the horse out of the tank and another hour and a half to warm her up and dry her off. The homeowners were alerted to the problem by a dog and a donkey.. ...Read Full Story

Remains Found In Lawrence ID’d As Missing Lansing Man

Michigan State Police say skeletal human remains found near I-94 in Lawrence last Wednesday have been identified as those of 27-year-old Jerome Ezell of Lansing. He has been missing since November 2017 when his five-month-old son was found inside his SUV in the Lansing area, but he was nowhere to be found and there were no signs of a struggle. Family members tell WLNS-TV in Lansing that DNA was used to identify the man. Police don’t know yet how Ezell died or who may be involved in his disappearance and demise.. ...Read Full Story

Food Aid Groups Praise New Farm Bill

With the new federal Farm Bill now headed to President Trump for his signature, the Food Bank Council of Michigan is thanking the lawmakers who approved it without major changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Food Bank Council of Michigan Deputy Director Kait Skwir tells WSJM News the Farm Bill also preserves the Emergency Food Assistance Program, or TEFAP.. ...Read Full Story

Man Breaks Both Legs, One Arm In Forestry Mishap

Two broken legs and a broken arm are the result of a forestry accident in Bainbridge Township on Sunday. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says a 55-year-old South Haven man was cutting down a large tree in a wooded area in the 58-hundred block of Meadowbrook Road when he was hit by a limb he had cut down. He was flown by Air-Care to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo to be treated for two broken femur bones and the broken arm, but the injuries are not life threatening. Police say the man was using a harness and had to be freed from it after the accident. It happened around 3 Sunday afternoon.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Twp. Man Arrested After Second Standoff With Police

A 21-year-old Niles Township man is in the Berrien County Jail after an assault Friday that resulted in Merritt Elementary School being locked down. Police surrounded the suspect’s home in the 16-hundred block of Florence Avenue, only to find he had escaped by the time they burst inside. The man got into another disturbance at the home Sunday afternoon and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department responded a second time to a report the man had barricaded himself inside the home. This time, he was still there when deputies arrived and they negotiated his surrender after a second standoff. He will be charged with assault, unlawful imprisonment, interfering with communications, and possession of a controlled substance when he makes his first court appearance, but that has not yet been set.. ...Read Full Story

Drunk Driving Crackdown Underway

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department has kicked off another holiday Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. Chief Deputy Robert Boyce spoke with WSJM News and told us extra patrols started going out during specific times this past Thursday, and will run through December 31. Boyce says drunk driving arrests jump around the holidays with all of the people hitting up parties. However, he says there would be no need for that if everyone followed some simple advice before going out.. ...Read Full Story

State Offers Help To Problem Gamblers

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is reaching out to those with a gambling problem to let them know help is available with the holidays here. Spokesperson Lynn Sutfin tells WSJM News the stress of the holidays can make someone seek a release, which is dangerous for those with a gambling problem. Her advice?. ...Read Full Story

Environmentalists Not Pleased With Wetland Proposals

There’s been plenty of negative reaction from conservation groups was swift to a Trump Administration proposal to remove federal clean-water protections from many smaller streams and wetlands. On Tuesday, the EPA announced a replacement for the Waters of the United States Rule. It would lift federal protections from water sources that are seasonal, and wetlands that are not connected by a stream to a larger body of water. Jenifer Collins with the law firm Earthjustice tells us the proposal ignores basic hydrology.. ...Read Full Story

MSU Extension Answering Water Contamination Questions

Michigan State University Extension is working to answer the questions Michigan residents might have about PFAS, the water contaminant that rendered the water in Parchment undrinkable this past summer. MSU Extension water quality specialist Lois Wolfson tells WSJM News PFAS have been found in communities across Michigan this year, and MSU Extension has heard a lot of questions.. ...Read Full Story

Free Turkeys Being Given Away For Holidays

Once again, Benton Harbor and St. Joseph area residents can apply for the gift of a free turkey and holiday food basket thanks to the Holiday Food Sharing Program. It’s an effort of the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency, the city of Benton Harbor, Whirlpool, and the PGA. Now in its third year, the Holiday Food Sharing Program is giving away around 400 turkeys and food baskets season. The turkeys will be given away on December 21, and applications for them are being taken now. The deadline is Monday, December 17. Applications can be picked up at several local agencies, including the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency, the United Way, Benton Harbor City Hall, Michigan Works, and the Salvation Army. Below is a list of all the locations where applications can be picked up.. ...Read Full Story

Fire Chief: Avoid Holiday Fires

Live Christmas tree or artificial this year? That’s a question many families ask. If you choose to purchase a real tree, South Haven Emergency Services Chief Ron Wise spoke with WSJM News and suggests not keeping that live tree in the house for long.. ...Read Full Story

Trust Fund Board Announces $26 Million In Parks Grants

$26 million in recreation grants have been announced for the year by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board. The board each year selects parks projects around Michigan to receive grants taken from interest earned on funds from state-owned minerals like oil and natural gas. Among the grants announced on Thursday are $56,000 for the city of Dowagiac to acquire an easement for the Elks Trail, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has been approved for a $534,000 grant for land acquisition at the Cornish State Game Area. The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund has resulted in more than $1 billion in grants going out to park, trail, and playground projects throughout the state in the past 40 years.. ...Read Full Story

Police Respond To Report Of Assault In Niles Twp

Merritt Elementary School in Niles was placed on lockdown Friday as the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department responded to an assault nearby. The department tells us deputies were called out to a home in the 1,600 block of Florence Avenue in Niles Township around 2 p.m. on a report of a man who had threatened others with a knife. The home’s residents told police the 21-year-old man had barricaded himself inside, but when deputies entered the home, he was gone. The suspect, who lives at the residence where deputies were called, was not arrested at the scene. Police have not said if he was picked up elsewhere. The case is being referred on to the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office for charges that include assault with a dangerous weapon and unlawful imprisonment.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Gets $780,000 For Specialty Courts

State grants totaling more than $780,000 have been announced for Van Buren County’s specialty courts. The specialty courts are the Drug Treatment Court, the Family Reunification Court, the Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program, the Adult and Family Recovery Courts, and the Sobriety Court. They’re designed to help those who have found themselves in the criminal justice system turn things aroundwith intensive coaching and supervision. The State Court Administrative Office informed Van Buren County this week about the grants which will be used to continue operations of the specialty courts throughout 2019.. ...Read Full Story

No State Grant For Cherry Beach Project This Year

The Cherry Beach Project in Chikaming Township has suffered a blow. It was not included in this week’s announced Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grants. Chikaming Township Supervisor David Bunte tells WSJM News the effort to raise about $4 million to purchase three acres of private property adjacent to the public Cherry Beach partially depended on a Natural Resources Trust Fund grant. The Cherry Beach Project raised around $1 million in pledges from individuals and combined that with several other grants. With state support not happening this year, Bunte says it’s back to the drawing board.. ...Read Full Story

OutCenter Announces Program For College Students

A new effort to help LGBTQ+ high school and college students is being launched by the OutCenter in Benton Harbor. The OutCenter tells us “LGBTQ+ Journey to College” will hold several events in the coming months. Everything will kick off Tuesday, December 18 at 3 p.m. at the Phoenix Coffeeshop with “LGBTQ+ Journey to College: It Gets Better,” featuring a panel of five college students and recent grads who will present their thoughts. Going forward, the OutCenter will host Journey to College events including a Financial Aid presentation on January 31. The OutCenter tells us it’s started the new initiative because of the disparities it finds with LGBTQ+ youth attending college.. ...Read Full Story

AFM, A Polio-Like Illness, Shows Up In Michigan

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed a second case of Acute Flaccid Myelitis, or AFM, in a child from Oakland County. The first case was confirmed earlier this month in a child in Wayne County. AFM is a polio-like condition. It affects the nervous system and can cause muscles and reflexes in the body to become weak. The disease is rare. The exact cause isn’t know, but it often comes on after a respiratory illness. Lynn Sutfin is with the Michigan Department of Health. She spoke with Michigan News Network about AFM.. ...Read Full Story

Plea Deal Follows Hung Jury In Van Buren County Murder Case

A mistrial and a plea deal in a Van Buren County shooting death. Troy Taylor was facing a murder charge for shooting and killing his ex-wife’s new boyfriend, Tim Henley, earlier this year. The jury was unable to reach a verdict, and Taylor decided he didn’t want to put his children through another trial. He agreed to a guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter, which could send him to prison for up to seven years, and prosecutors dropped six other charges including second-degree murder. The shooting death happened when Taylor went to drop his son off at his ex-wife’s home near Gobles in June and his daughter caught the ex having sex nearby in a Jeep with Henley. In the anger that followed, police said Henley began punching the windows in Taylor’s BMW, shattering the driver’s side window. Taylor said he was defending himself and his kids when he pulled his gun and shot Henley three times, killing him. He will be sentenced February 4.. ...Read Full Story

GM’s Restructuring Plans Scaled Back

(Detroit, MI – AP) – The General Motors’ massive 14,000-person layoff announced last month might not be as bad as originally projected. The company said Friday that 2,700 out of the 3,300 factory jobs slated for elimination will now be saved by adding jobs at other U.S. factories. Blue-collar workers in many cities will still lose jobs when GM shutters four U.S. factories next year. But most could find employment at other GM plants. Some would have to relocate. GM still plans to lay off about 8,000 white-collar workers and another 2,600 factory workers in Canada. In November, GM announced plans to end production at the U.S. factories and one in Ontario as part of a restructuring. Lawmakers and President Donald Trump have hammered GM over the layoffs. GM says the factory hires were in the works before its announcement.. ...Read Full Story

Snyder’s Plan To Increase Trash Fees To Pay For Environmental Cleanup Dies

(Lansing, MI – AP) – Governor Rick Snyder’s proposal to increase trash fees to fund environmental cleanup is dead. The Republican-led Legislature did not act on the legislation this week, meaning it cannot be passed before the lame-duck session concludes. Snyder’s call to raise the landfill dumping fee had hit resistance from both Republicans and Democrats. He and legislative leaders are exploring other ways to replace the Clean Michigan Initiative, a 20-year-old voter-approved bond issue that is drying up.. ...Read Full Story

Hartford Public Schools Briefly Locked Down

An OK2Say tip has resulted in one person being taken into custody in Hartford. Hartford Public Schools were briefly under a soft lockdown this morning due to the tip and the investigation. The district tells our newsroom all students are safe and no one was hurt. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department confirms the suspect was taken into custody without incident. The nature of the threat has not been revealed, but students say it was a threat posted on a social media site.. ...Read Full Story

Treasurer Teams Up With United Way For New Fund

The Berrien County Treasurer’s Office has teamed up with the United Way of Southwest Michigan to set up a new fund to help people in danger of losing their homes due to unpaid taxes. Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells WSJM News the Hopeful Home Fund is inspired by the case of 88-year-old Mildred Gray of Niles. When a story circulated this year about her efforts to save her house, Witkowski says Berrien County came out to help her.. ...Read Full Story

Food Banks Pleased With New Farm Bill

With the new federal Farm Bill now headed to President Trump for his signature, the Food Bank Council of Michigan is thanking the lawmakers who approved it without major changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Food Bank Council of Michigan Deputy Director Kait Skwir tells WSJM News the Farm Bill also preserves the Emergency Food Assistance Program, or TEFAP.. ...Read Full Story