Local News Archives

Pilot Killed In Northern Indiana Small Plane Crash

Authorities say a pilot has died after a small plane hit power lines and crashed in a farm field in northern Indiana. The plane crashed Thursday night about 2 miles east of Goshen Municipal Airport. Elkhart County Sheriff Jeff Siegel says the pilot was believed to be the only one aboard. Witnesses reported seeing the plane dive into the field, hitting the power lines on the way down. Emergency crews at the crash site had to use extreme caution because of high-voltage lines on the ground. Siegel says his office was handling the crash as a death investigation and awaited investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct a review.. ...Read Full Story

SWMI Housing Market Cools Off In January

2019 is starting off a little quieter than the past few years for sales of existing homes in the area. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors says sales fell 8% last month compared to 2018. Association Executive Alan Jeffries says a drop in January numbers is not unusual given the normal push to close by the end of December for both buyers and sellers. Prices are also down, with the average sales price slipping 6% from January 2018 to just over $199,000 and the median price falling 8% compared to last year to $137,500. Jeffries notes the inventory of available homes on the market fell 4% last month year-over-year, and there is just a 4.9 month supply.. ...Read Full Story

Ford Investigating Whether Gas Mileage Was Overstated

From the Associated Press — Ford says it has launched an investigation into whether a flawed mathematical model caused it to overstate gas mileage and understate pollution from a wide range of vehicles. The company says a group of employees reported possible problems with the model in September. It has hired an outside firm to test the 2019 Ford Ranger. If problems are found, then Ford will start looking at models going back to 2017. Ford says it has no evidence yet that mileage or pollution numbers are wrong, but the investigation has just started. The company says it’s too early to tell how many and which models might be involved. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California regulators have been informed about the situation, according to the automaker.. ...Read Full Story

No-Reason Absentee Voting Now Allowed

From the Associated Press — Michigan voters can start casting an absentee ballot without giving a reason. Thursday is the first day residents can request to vote by mail in the May election. It is the first election since voters last fall approved no-reason absentee voting as part of a ballot initiative. Previously, absentee voters had to be at least 60 years old, be out of town when the polls are open or be unable to vote on Election Day due to a physical disability, religious tenets or incarceration. Requests for an absent voter ballot can be submitted in writing to the local city or township clerk. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Flint Township Clerk Kathy Funk are holding a news conference Thursday to welcome the new era of no-reason absentee voting.. ...Read Full Story

County To Seek Waterway Grant For St. Joseph River

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has agreed to pursue a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Waterways Grant to develop four public access points along the St. Joseph River in St. Joe and Benton Harbor. Cornerstone Alliance President Rob Cleveland tells WSJM News the idea is to spend about $350,000 on new infrastructure so the river can be used for travel by anyone.. ...Read Full Story

Cassopolis Residents Charged In Death Of Girl

Two Cassopolis residents are facing charges in the meth-related death of a 10-year-old girl in northern Indiana. Prosecutors say the girl and her 9-year-old sibling were taken to an Elkhart home last June by 34-year-old Brandon Hobbs and his 30-year-old girlfriend, Erica Reschke. Hobbs is the father of the children. The 10-year-old girl died at the home as a result of methamphetamine ingestion. Toxicology tests revealed high levels of the drug in her body. Hobbs and Reschke are now charged with neglect of a dependent, and Reschke is also charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death. Their trial is scheduled to start May 6 in Goshen.. ...Read Full Story

Attorney General: Church Sex Abuse Investigation Could Take Years

From the Associated Press — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says an investigation into possible sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in Michigan may last two years, and she has asked the state’s seven dioceses to suspend their own internal review processes until the probe is complete. She said Thursday there ultimately could be more than 1,000 victims, and there are hundreds of thousands of pages of documents to review. Nessel’s predecessor last year opened an investigation after a Pennsylvania grand jury report said more than 1,000 children had been molested there since the 1940s. The Archdiocese of Detroit says Nessel has not asked it to stop its internal review process, which it says is used to restrict or remove from ministry anyone who has committed sex abuse.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Waives Old Property Fees

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have opted to give a break to some property owners, along with the city’s own assessment department. At Tuesday’s meeting, the commission narrowly approved a request from City Manager Darwin Watson to waive some old fees faced by property owners who did not file paperwork with the assessor in a timely fashion when their property changed hands. Watson said there are a large number of fees going back years in those cases.. ...Read Full Story

Trial Date Set In Murder Of Army Sgt In St. Joseph Township

The murder trial for the widow of US Army Sergeant Tyrone Hassel III and her lover will start April 30 in St. Joseph. Kemia Hassel is accused of using Snapchat to plan her husband’s murder and sending boyfriend Jeremy Cuellar to St. Joseph Township while they were all on leave over the New Year’s holiday to carry out the killing. Army Specialist Jaquan Hamilton testified yesterday that Cuellar admitted to the crime.. ...Read Full Story

Vail Rubber Works Announces Royalton Township Expansion

Vail Rubber Works is set for an expansion in Royalton Township. The St. Joseph manufacturing firm is planning to build a 58,000 square foot production facility on 30-acres it owns at the southwest corner of Hollywood Road and Glenlord Avenue near Rogers Foodland. Pearson Construction will handle the build, and Vail is partnering with Abonmarche for the development. Construction will start this spring and is expected to be complete early next year. The expansion will create about 10 new jobs, and Vail will continue to operate its facility on Langley Avenue near downtown St. Joseph along with another near Mobile, Alabama. The family-owned company was founded in 1892.. ...Read Full Story

Democratic Group Put Upton On Retirement List

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has placed Congressman Fred Upton on its retirement watch list for 2020. The committee, which bills itself as “the official campaign arm of the Democrats in the House of Representatives,” said Tuesday many House Republicans “are slowly coming to the realization that life in the minority, with no end in sight, just isn’t worth the hassle.” It says it won’t be surprised if Upton winds up among them. WSJM News asked Congressman Upton if he had a comment.. ...Read Full Story

Cornerstone Announces Facade Grants

A new grant program at Cornerstone Alliance aims to help St. Joseph and Benton Harbor area businesses save energy and spruce up their facades. The Small Business Facade Grant program will provide funds for the repair, maintenance, or rehabilitation of exterior faces on commercial buildings. Additionally, Cornerstone tells us combining facade enhancements with I&M’s energy efficiency upgrades will ensure a “universal approach to business improvement.” By implementing energy saving proposals, businesses can then become eligible for up to $100,000 in rebates through I&M’s Prescriptive and Custom programs. The facade grants are targeted at downtown Benton Harbor, the Arts District, Niles Road between Napier Avenue and Hilltop Road in St. Joe, and the M-139 Corridor in Benton Township. Grant applications can be found on the website of Cornerstone Alliance.. ...Read Full Story

Petition Deadlines For BH Elections Announced

Anyone interested in running for elected office in the city of Benton Harbor can now submit nominating petitions to the city clerk’s office. The clerk says primaries for five positions will be held on August 6. The offices to appear on the ballot will be mayor, two commissioner at-large seats, and the seats for city commission in Wards 1 and 2. All of the positions have four-year terms. The clerk says those who submit petitions need at least 25 valid signatures from residents within the relevant jurisdiction. The deadline to turn in petitions is 4 p.m. on April 23.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Blocks Plans For Immigration Detention Center

From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has blocked the sale of a former Michigan prison that was proposed as the site of a privately operated federal immigration detention center. Immigration Centers of America was the sole bidder for the former Deerfield Correctional Facility in Ionia, which closed in 2009. A spokeswoman for the Democratic governor says concerns included whether
adults who had been separated from their children might be held there. Plans for the facility had moved forward last year under then-Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican. The $35 million facility was proposed to house adult immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement who hadn’t been charged with or convicted of criminal offenses. Immigration Centers of America had planned to house 500 to 600 detainees and employ more than 250 workers.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Township Man Convicted Of Wife’s Murder

He tried to blame his wife’s murder on two men who broke into their Niles Township home, but a jury wasn’t buying it. John Lewis has been found guilty of killing his wife, Carla Lewis, in 2017. Jurors returned with the conviction Tuesday after starting deliberations last Friday. She was shot and killed inside a marijuana grow room in their home. Lewis called 9-1-1 after the shooting to report two suspects had broken in, shot her, and left in her car. The vehicle was found a few days later in a Cass County cornfield. He will be sentenced to life in prison without parole on March 25.. ...Read Full Story

March Madness At Van Buren District Library

The Van Buren District Library is putting a different spin on March Madness with a bracket competition called March Book Madness. The library’s Kay McAdam tells us they’re putting 64 works of literature up against each other, and the theme is old versus new. For example, the public can vote on things like The Lord of the Rings versus Game of Thrones or Fahrenheit 451 versus The Hunger Games. McAdam says this is the first time they’ve tried such an event.. ...Read Full Story

City Officials Talk Street Work

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have heard plenty from residents frustrated with the state of local streets, and they say some relief will come but patience is needed. At a Tuesday meeting, City Manager Darwin Watson said some work has been underway to address potholes.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Aims For Reauthorization Of Violence Against Women Act

When President Trump last week signed a funding package to avoid another partial government shutdown, one thing that was not included was a re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Congressman Fred Upton, a longtime supporter of the act, tells WSJM News it was removed last minute from the deal. Now, he expects action on just that issue. He says there is time.. ...Read Full Story

Movement Of House To Result In Traffic Disruptions

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is advising drivers of a traffic disruption to occur this week due to the movement of a house. It tells us the house move will begin on Main Street in Mattawan just south of the Shell station Thursday. The route will be north on Main Street, over the I-94 overpass to Red Arrow Highway. From there, the route will be Red Arrow Highway into Paw Paw, then north on Hazen Street to just north of Paw Paw on County Road 665. Due to the size of the house being moved, the entire road will be inaccessible while it’s going by. The move will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday and is expected to take about an hour. Drivers who take part of the affected route during that time are advised to pick a different route.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Working To Prevent Shore Erosion

High lake levels and winds along with constant wave action within the Black River Channel in South Haven have caused increased erosion between the channel and the north parking area at South Beach. South Haven Director of Public Works Bill Hunter told WSJM News what is happening and what the city is doing about it.. ...Read Full Story

Headliner Announced For BBQ, Blues and Bluegrass Festival

St. Joseph Today has announced rhythm, blues, and rock singer JD McPherson will be the headliner for this year’s BBQ, Blues and Bluegrass Festival. To be held at Whirlpool Centennial Park in St. Joseph on May 18, the festival will be a chance for anyone to take in live music with Lake Michigan serving as the backdrop. St. Joe Today’s Amy Zapal tells WSJM News McPherson is a retro rocker.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Trooper Facing Embezzlement Charge

A Michigan State Police trooper assigned to the Niles post is facing a felony charge of embezzlement. Michigan State Police tell us Jesse Binns was arraigned in the Cass County District Court on a charge of embezzlement between $1,000 and $20,000 from a non-profit or charitable organization on Tuesday. The charge was authorized by a special prosecutor assigned out of Kalamazoo County. The criminal charge results from Binns’ employment as the assistant chief at Cass Central Fire Department. However, state police suspended Binns without pay in September of 2018. In a statement, Michigan State Police say the department has a “long-standing tradition of demanding the highest possible standards of professional conduct from its enforcement and civilian members.” Binns will remain on suspension pending the outcome of the case.. ...Read Full Story

Consumers Energy Announces Natural Resources Grants

The Consumers Energy Foundation has announced it’s providing $1.5 million to non-profits around Michigan this year for projects aiming to preserve, restore, and protect natural resources. Consumers spokesperson Brian Wheeler tells WSJM News the first Planet Awards will go to two or more Michigan non-profits looking to make a positive impact on the state’s land, water, or air.. ...Read Full Story

ABC News’ “20/20” To Air Two-Hour Documentary On Kalamazoo Massacre

A two-hour documentary will air on ABC TV stations Friday night diving deeper into the mass shooting that shattered Kalamazoo and other southwest Michigan communities three years ago tomorrow. ABC News has released a preview of the “20/20” program called “The Deadly Ride” about convicted killer Jason Dalton’s murderous spree during which he killed six people and injured two while still picking up fares for Uber.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Looking For Missing SWM Man

Michigan State Police are looking for a man missing out of Allegan County. They say Todd Lilge was last seen Monday around 10 a.m. at the Plainwell Police Department. His vehicle was later found in Allegan County at a state gaming area on 125th Avenue near 43rd Street. Lilge is described as a white male, about 5 foot 11 inches and 240 pounds. He has gray and brown hair and brown eyes. Anyone who knows where he is should contact Michigan State Police at the Paw Paw post.. ...Read Full Story

Possible Triple Murder-Suicide Under Investigation In Kent County

The Kent County Sheriff’s Department is investigating what has the looks of a triple-murder-suicide that has left 3 young children and an adult woman dead in a home near Cedar Springs in northern Kent County. Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young says it’s believed the children were killed somewhere else and then taken to a home on 19 Mile Road, where the woman took her own life.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Enacts Six-Month Pause On Recreational Marijuana

No recreational marijuana businesses will be allowed in the city of South Haven for at least six months following the adoption of a placeholder ordinance. The ordinance gives the Planning Commission six months to work out local regulations, and Mayor Scott Smith says they want a full study on the who, what, and where of weed businesses. He talked to our newsroom about what would have happened had the city council not hit the brakes on the issue Monday.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Performance Series Schedule

The South Haven Performance Series has announced its 2019 lineup. The series began in 2010 as a way to bring quality music to the residents of South Haven, and it’s all non-profit and volunteer-based. The series will kick off this year on June 28 with the Chicago-based Lincoln Trio, a Grammy-nominated chamber ensemble. On July 26, they’ll welcome the Alliance Brass from Chicago, followed by opera singer Meredith Arwady on August 30. October 4 will bring the Lang Lang International Music Foundation Young Scholars to the community, and the South Bend Chamber Singers will perform a holiday concert on December 17. The venues vary from engagement to engagement. You can find out more at SouthHavenPerformanceSeries.org.. ...Read Full Story

OutCenter Forums At LMC

A new series of forums intended to spread awareness about the southwest Michigan transgender community and related issues will begin this week at Lake Michigan College. The OutCenter in Benton Harbor tells us “Southwest Michigan VOICES: Real Stories of Transgender Life” will explore things like coming out to friends and family, public acceptance, what religion says, and wellness services. Thursday’s forum will feature teacher and scholar Jamie Wagman from St. Mary’s College in South Bend. The topic will be a transgender oral history project. Those who attend are welcome to take part in the discussions. The forum will be Thursday in room B-309 at Lake Michigan College in Benton Township from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Anyone with questions can contact the OutCenter in Benton Harbor.. ...Read Full Story

State May Forgive Extra Snow Days

From the Associated Press — Michigan lawmakers are considering whether to cut schools some slack after frigid temperatures and other weather caused a high number of snow days. State law forgives schools from making up six days that have been canceled, and schools can get a waiver for three additional days. Some legislators from both parties say the wintry weather has been so extreme that the law should be
loosened. Many districts have already reached or exceeded nine snow days. Some are up to 15 or 16. Newly introduced legislation would exclude days that are canceled during state-declared emergencies from counting as snow days. If enacted, the five-day period from January 28 through February 1 – when an arctic deep freeze shut down many normal activities, including school – would be forgiven statewide.. ...Read Full Story

Anti-Bullying Tour Coming To St. Joseph

Former Michigan State University basketball player Anthony Ianni will make a stop in St. Joseph Tuesday as part of his anti-bullying Relentless tour. Started by Ianni in 2013, Relentless is intended to raise awareness of autism and the problem of bullying. Ianna tells WSJM News he wants young people to be inspired.. ...Read Full Story

Florida Company May Open Eel Farm In Michigan

From the Associated Press — A Florida-based company may build a $30 million commercial eel farm in Michigan. The Lansing State Journal reports that Aqua Vida Aquaculture is considering land in an industrial park in St. Johns, near Lansing. The facility would occupy
up to 2 acres and could create about 25 jobs. Company founder Kit Munday says the facility would raise African longfin eel and American eel. He says the fish are a source of “high quality protein” and are often grilled, stewed or roasted. Stephen Hussey is the aquaculture and poultry program manager for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. He says the facility would be the state’s first commercial farm that raises eel for food. Hussey says the company must acquire an aquaculture research permit to move forward.. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices Make Sharp Jump To $2.55

Gas prices have made a huge jump around the area to $2.55 a gallon. GasBuddy analyst Patrick DeHaan put out the warning about the unexpected increase late this morning, and prices started moving higher a short time later. Triple A Michigan had put the statewide average at $2.37 before the jump, which was an 8¢ increase from a week ago. Crude oil prices have hit three-month highs. The increase is a 20¢ jump in pump prices in the St. Joseph-Benton Harbor area since this morning. The national average as of this morning according to AAA was $2.31 a gallon.. ...Read Full Story

Teens Arrested For Stealing Car In Dowagiac

Charges are pending against several teenagers accused of stealing a car outside the Northside Liquor store in Dowagiac. A woman told police she left the car running while she went inside to make a purchase, and when she came out a few minutes later, it was gone. A Cass County Sheriff’s deputy spotted the car about five miles away a few minutes later and pulled it over after a short chase near the intersection of M-51 North and Elm Street. Two 17-year-old boys from Benton Harbor were sent to the Cass County Jail on charges of receiving and concealing a stolen car and the 15-year-old from Dowagiac who was driving was also arrested. Two other juveniles were released to their parents. The car wasn’t damaged and was given back to the victim.. ...Read Full Story

Several Arrested Following Cass County Standoff

The arrest of an Elkhart man by Cass County Sheriff’s deputies after a nearly hour-long standoff on Sunday is also resulting in drug charges for three people at the house near Edwardsburg where he sought shelter. That 34-year-old man led police in Elkhart and Cass counties on a chase yesterday in a stolen car and has been sent back to Indiana. During a search of the home, police found a gallon-size Ziploc bag full of marijuana, another bag full of cocaine, $4,000 cash, over an ounce of meth, and two vehicles reported stolen in Indiana. Police arrested two women, 30 and 18-years-old, and a 40-year-old man. A third woman at the home was questioned but not arrested.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Looks To Increase Broadband Access

A plan to help with the expansion of broadband internet in rural areas of Michigan is being worked on by state Representative Beth Griffin and state Senator Aric Nesbitt. Griffin tells WSJM News she’s reintroducing the legislation that would create a property tax exemption for companies that roll out broadband infrastructure.. ...Read Full Story

Donation Supports Dental Program For Kids

A donation of $200,000 is being made to a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services dental program this year by the Delta Dental Foundation. The foundation is the charitable arm of the non-profit insurer, Delta Dental. Executive Director Teri Battaglieri tells WSJM News the money will be used to provide sealants to elementary and middle school students through the state Oral Health Program’s SEAL Michigan initiative.. ...Read Full Story

State Clarification Sought Regarding BH Schools Agreement

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

Latest Land Bank Report

2018 was a busy year for the Berrien County Land Bank. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski tells us the entity manages foreclosed properties that can’t be sold at auction. He notes a big deal in 2018 was the sale of the former Alreco property in Benton Harbor, which is going to a medical marijuana producer.. ...Read Full Story

Deficit Plan For Schools Being Revised

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

Federal Support Announced For YouthBuild

The YouthBuild program in Benton Harbor is receiving a grant of nearly $1 million 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

It’s A Free Fishing Weekend

This weekend features free fishing all across Michigan. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources tells us Saturday and Sunday are a chance for anyone to go fishing without a license. Also, throughout the weekend, state parks will waive the Recreation Passport entry fee normally required for vehicle access. The DNR says there are also several organized events planned in the spirit of outdoor recreation. You can find out about them at Michigan.gov/FreeFishing. The DNR notes all other fishing regulations will remain in place this weekend.. ...Read Full Story

State Issuing Food Aid Early

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has announced it will issue March and April food assistance benefits early to reduce the gap between benefits payments that resulted from the partial federal government shutdown. The department tells us food assistance recipients can expect to get next month’s benefits on March 3, 4, or 5. April benefits will be issued between April 3 and 12, and May payments will be issued as normally scheduled. The department made the changes so families don’t have to go more than 45 days without food assistance. The department issued February benefits early beginning in January at the direction of the federal government due to the shutdown that was happening at the time. About 1.2 million Michiganders receive food assistance through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program administered by the state health department. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Sports Groups Back Asian Carp Plan

From the Associated Press — Hunting and fishing groups have teamed up to support a plan for preventing Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes. They have formed the Great Lakes Conservation Coalition, which will push for funding of a strategy proposed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The $778 million plan calls for installing technologies such as noisemakers and a water-flushing lock at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Illinois, to prevent the carp from migrating upstream to Lake Michigan. Scientists say the invasive fish could out-compete native species if they become established in the lake. The Michigan United Conservation Clubs is a member of the new coalition. Director Amy Trotter says a carp invasion could harm an outdoor sports industry that pumps $11.2 billion into the state’s economy annually.. ...Read Full Story

Peters Pushes Great Lakes Legislation

New legislation from Senator Gary Peters is aimed at boosting protections for the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization Act would give the U.S. Geological Survey the authority to support the Great Lakes Science Center with funding. Peters tells WSJM News Great Lakes research does not receive regular funding renewals.. ...Read Full Story

Mims Found Guilty On All Counts

A man charged with two murders in Benton Harbor has been found guilty on all charges. Antwan Mims of Benton Harbor was on the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives list at one point for the shooting deaths of Cortez Miller and Michael Johnson in front of about 100 witnesses in March of last year. Police say Mims shot the two at a party and then fled to Georgia where he was eventually apprehended. Mims claimed self-defense in court, but the jury came back with guilty verdicts on charges that include two counts of first-degree murder Friday afternoon. Sentencing will be March 18, according to WNDU.. ...Read Full Story

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