Local News Archives

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

Free Naloxone Training Next Week

A free training session in the use of anti-overdose drug naloxone will be held next week in St. Joseph. Michigan State Police tell us the Southwest Michigan Families Against Narcotics chapter, the Community Healing Center, and the Voice Change Hope Alliance will hold the event at Carol’s Hope on M-139 next Thursday. Those who attend will learn how to administer the nasal spray that gets someone breathing again when they’re having an opioid overdose. Those who complete 90 minute the training will receive a free naloxone kit. It’s recommended you make a reservation for next Thursday’s training by calling Families Against Narcotics. The number is 269-580-8290.. ...Read Full Story

Rash Of Thefts In Cass County

Residents of Cass County are being warned about a rash of recent home and car break-ins. Cass County Sheriff Richard Behnke says from December 25 through January 15, there have been 20 burglaries and 23 larcenies reported to his office. There’s been a particular spike in activity this week, and police believe there are still some cases that haven’t been reported. Many of the crimes have been around Cassopolis and to the southeast. The sheriff’s department says the suspects are usually breaking into unlocked cars and garages to get property from vehicles and buildings. They’re also breaking into unoccupied homes. Police remind everyone to lock their vehicles and homes. They also say you should let your neighbors know if you’re going to be out of town. Anyone with information on the crimes is asked to contact the Cass County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Hunter Ice Fest In Niles This Weekend

More than 30 tons of ice are slated to be carved into works of art this weekend in downtown Niles as the community holds its 15th annual Hunter Ice Festival. Ice carvers come from all over to turn the downtown area into its own gallery of ice sculptures. There will also be the always-popular Hunter festival ice cream, which is sold out of a booth carved of ice on site. Other features will include a run, chili, and warming centers. The Hunter Ice Festival was started as a way to celebrate the Hunter Brothers Ice and Ice Cream Company, which was a commercial ice harvesting business that operated in the area in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Hunter Ice Festival kicks off Friday and runs through Sunday in downtown Niles. The events are weather-permitting.. ...Read Full Story

February Food Benefits Going Out Saturday

Due to the partial federal government shutdown, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is planning to issue Food Assistance Program benefits early for February. Department spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News the Bridge Card payments for next month will go out this Saturday and into next week. Recipients should know there will be no additional payment for next month even if the shutdown ends.. ...Read Full Story

Blue Wave Leads To Big Change For Green-And-White

Interim Michigan State University president John Engler is resigning effective next Wednesday, January 23, at 9 a.m. In an 11-page letter to the MSU Board of Trustees, he outlines the accomplishments of his tenure but notes he will leave the office at the request of the new Democratic majority of the board. The former Michigan governor says he believes he’s leaving his alma matter in a better condition than when he took over following the resignation of Lou Anna Simon as president. She is now facing criminal charges for allegedly helping to cover up the sexual abuses of former MSU and USA Gymnastics sports doctor Larry Nassar.. ...Read Full Story

Police Polar Plunge Next Weekend

Donations are being taken now as southwest Michigan police and fire agencies prepare for their annual Polar Plunge to support the Special Olympics. Andrew West with Special Olympics Michigan tells WSJM News more than 75 officers and firefighters are scheduled to take the plunge next Saturday.. ...Read Full Story

Upton, Other Lawmakers Seek New PFAS Designation

From the Associated Press — Three members of Congress from Michigan want to make federal funds more readily available to clean up public water supplies contaminated with a group of toxic chemicals. The lawmakers have introduced a bill that would classify the substances known as PFAS as hazardous substances under the federal Superfund law. The designation would require the Environmental Protection Agency to report releases of the chemicals into the environment and clean up tainted sites. It also allows the government to sue polluters to recoup cleanup costs. EPA tests have found pollution from PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, in public water supplies for 16 million Americans in 33 states, including Michigan. Democratic Reps. Debbie Dingell and Dan Kildee and Republican Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan are sponsoring the legislation.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Martin Luther King Celebrations Next Week

Lake Michigan College will kick off a week of activities to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. on Monday with its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Celebration and Diversity Award ceremony. Event planner Angela Kurtz tells WSJM News they’ll have guest speakers and announce the winner of this year’s Diversity Award.. ...Read Full Story

Deadline For Marine Deputies Next Month

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

Report: Engler Resigning As MSU President

John Engler is out as the interim president of Michigan State University. The “Detroit Free Press” says multiple sources have confirmed the former governor will resign before the MSU Board of Trustees meeting Thursday morning, which was called with the intent to ask for his resignation or to fire him if he did not step down.. ...Read Full Story

Federal Shutdown Won’t Impact Lakeview Terrace For Months

Lakeview Terrace in St. Joseph has a new executive director. The downtown high-rise operated by the Housing Commission is now in the hands of Nicol Brown, who was introduced to the city commission this week. The facility gets its funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Brown said they have enough funding through HUD to last until the end of February. She says if the partial federal government shutdown continues past the end of next month, they’ll still be ok for a short time.. ...Read Full Story

Senator Nesbitt Talks Auto Insurance Reform

Senate Bill 1 for the new legislative session is signaling the intent of majority Republicans to go after the high costs of auto insurance in Michigan. The bill, introduced this week by Senator Aric Nesbitt of Lawton, would allow drivers 62 and older to opt-out of the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association lifetime medical benefit coverage by using Medicare or other health insurance, and also lets younger drivers opt out and chose less coverage. Nesbitt tells WSJM News it’s time to shut the lobbyists that have blocked reforms for years out.. ...Read Full Story

Engler Could Be Ousted As Interim MSU President

It looks like the end is looming for John Engler’s tenure as interim president of Michigan State University. Following recent comments in which the ex-governor said some of the survivors of sexual abuse by former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar are enjoying the spotlight, the university’s Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting Thursday morning at 8 in East Lansing. Trustee Brian Mosallam, who has been trying to get Engler out as president for almost a year, tells the Detroit Free Press, “John Engler’s reign of terror is over.” Board chair Dianne Byrum has confirmed to Crain’s Detroit Business that the meeting is to be solely focused on the future of Engler’s employment. He took over after Lou Anna Simon resigned due to the Nassar scandal, and she is facing criminal charges related to the university’s cover-up.. ...Read Full Story

Niles-Buchanan-Cass Cities Area Transportation Study Lists Road Priorities

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