Local News Archives

Michigan Leading The Way On Shifting Public Workers Away From Pensions

From the Associated Press — Michigan lawmakers appear ready to take another whack at public employee benefits as the state struggles under the weight of pension and health care obligations. The move reflects renewed determination to shift workers to 401(k)-style retirement systems, even if it happens in baby steps. Other states have made more modest changes, but the latest push shows that conservatives want to approve big reforms 20 years after Michigan became the first state to close pensions to future state workers. Republican Governor Rick Snyder is pressing to address $14 billion in unfunded liabilities spread across more than 330 communities. Michigan is taking a leading role because of its size and the fact that GOP legislators and Snyder turned what was once a stronghold of organized labor into a right-to-work state.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Up, But Down 30¢ In Past Month

We’re paying a little more at the gas pump than last Monday. Triple-A Michigan says our statewide average is up by 4¢ to $2.24 a gallon. Locally, Benton Harbor and St. Joseph prices average less at $2.20, up nearly a dime from a week ago. The auto club says Traverse City has the state’s lowest average price at $2.19, while Marquette drivers are paying the most at $2.39. This is the fourth straight week that the Upper Peninsula has the state’s highest prices. Triple-A says low demand and a healthy supply of gasoline in the Great Lakes region should pressure prices lower for “a while,” and they also note suppliers are offering steep discounts to clear out product. Despite the uptick in prices this week, Michigan’s prices are down 30¢ per gallon in the last month, which is the steepest drop in the country.. ...Read Full Story

Unemployment Agency Private Data May Have Been Breached

From the Associated Press — Michigan says nearly 1.9 million residents may be at risk after the potential release of their Social Security numbers and names as part of a software update to the state’s unemployment benefits system. State officials made the announcement Friday.
They say the total number of people affected will not be known until an investigation is finished. People potentially at risk include those whose
payroll is processed by one of 31 third-party vendors that works with the Unemployment Insurance Agency. The software update was done in October. The state says it identified a “vulnerability” on January 30 and blocked further unauthorized access that day. Users of the Michigan Data Automated System who potentially had access include employers and human resources professionals, not unemployment claimants or the
general public.. ...Read Full Story

Bangor Man Charged With Murder

A 19-year-old Bangor man is facing a charge of open murder following a shooting on Friday night. Michigan State Police say a 29-year-old Hartford man was killed. MSP and the Bangor Village Police Department arrested the suspect around 9:30 p.m. Saturday. He’s now in the Van Buren County Jail. In addition to open murder, the suspect is charged with felony firearm. Police say they aren’t releasing any additional information at this time.. ...Read Full Story

State School Reform Office To Review Benton Harbor Schools This Week

The Michigan School Reform Office will be visiting Benton Harbor Area Schools this coming week to review three district buildings for possible closure. At a town hall this past week, Superintendent Dr. Shelly Walker said she’s aiming to convince the SRO changes made since she came on board will turn those buildings around. She tells WSJM News if the district loses the 1,200 students affected, mostly elementary kids, then it won’t be able to function.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Treasurer To Hold Tax Payment Plan Meetings

Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski is hoping taxpayers who are behind on their bill will come to a meeting this month where they could work out a payment plan. Witkowski’s taking the show on the road with meetings planned in Niles, Coloma, and Benton Harbor. He tells WSJM News taxpayers who owe 2014 or before taxes are invited.. ...Read Full Story

Governor To Speak At Cornerstone Business Recognition Breakfast

Governor Snyder will deliver the keynote address next week at the Business Recognition Breakfast of Cornerstone Alliance and Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce. He is expected to talk about the benefits of doing business in Michigan during his speech. In a statement, Cornerstone Alliance President Rob Cleveland says Michigan has become a top state for attracting and expanding businesses thanks to Snyder, and adds they welcome him to the area “as we celebrate the innovation, growth, and success of Berrien County businesses who produce world-class products and services.. ...Read Full Story

Hold It Or Don’t Flush: Super Bowl Could Harm Sinkhole Mess

From the Associated Press — A giant sinkhole in suburban Detroit is being threatened by the Super Bowl. Macomb County public works chief Candice Miller is worried that thousands of football fans will flush toilets at halftime Sunday night. She tells radio station WWJ that it could overwhelm a broken sewer line blamed for the sinkhole. Miller says her bathroom advice “sounds crazy.” But she fears trouble unless people are willing to hold it – or at least not immediately flush. Crews are building a bypass to get around the broken sewer line in Fraser, but it’s not ready yet. The line affects more than 300,000 people in 11 communities. Meanwhile, Governor Rick Snyder announced grants of up to $100,000 for local governments affected by the sinkhole, which was discovered on Dec. 24.. ...Read Full Story