Local News Archives

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

Congressman Upton Asked About Possibility Of Trump Impeachment


Democrats will take over control of the U.S. House in January, and that could mean trouble for President Trump. Several members of the Democratic Party have recently raised the possibility of impeaching the President again after it was alleged he directed former lawyer Michael Cohen to violate campaign finance laws to buy the silence of several women with whom he has reportedly had extramarital affairs. Congressman Fred Upton says any movement on impeachment needs to wait until special prosecutor Robert Mueller wraps up his investigation into Trump and his entire organization.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Would Prohibit Sterilization Of Deer


From the Associated Press — Legislation heading to Governor Rick Snyder would prohibit the sterilization of deer but let Ann Arbor proceed with its program to control what city officials say is an overpopulation problem. The House voted 67-42 for the bill early Thursday. It would bar the state Department of Natural Resources from issuing any permit for the sterilization of game until April 2022 while allowing Ann Arbor’s research to continue via a permit that was granted to White Buffalo, a company contracted to remove deer ovaries. The measure would let the state establish special zones in or near to urban areas where a higher number of deer could be hunted. Local governments also could allow hunters to shoot deer closer than 150 yards away under certain circumstances.. ...Read Full Story

Farm House Destroyed By Fire


A home is a total loss following a fire at a farm just south of Berrien Springs this week. The fire was overnight Thursday at the house at the corner of Old U.S. 31 and Fairland Road in Berrien Township, near Villwock’s Farm Market. The market posted to its Facebook page Thursday morning to say the house was vacant, and the cause of the blaze remains under investigation. The market was not damaged. Same goes for the chickens and chicken coop. The home had most recently been occupied by Dorothy Villwock, one of the founders of Villwock’s Farm Market. The market’s Facebook post says she passed away in June. The post says “Now the house is gone too, along with everything inside.”. ...Read Full Story

State Police: Give The Gift Of Preparedness


When you’re buying gifts for loved ones this holiday season, Michigan State Police suggest you consider the gift of preparedness. Spokesperson Dale George tells WSJM News everyone should have an emergency kit in their home to make it through a disaster. The kit should include a gallon of water per person per day for three days, a weather radio, flashlights and batteries, and a first aid kit. George says you should also have an emergency kit in your car.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Getting MDOT Money For Work On Grant, Wayne Streets


The city of Niles is receiving just over $312,000 from the Michigan Department of Transportation for work to improve Grant and Wayne streets. Grant will be repaved between Grand Avenue and M-139, while the work on Wayne Street will be from M-139 to M-51. MDOT notes both are important stretches of the Niles commercial truck network. The grant from the Transportation Economic Development Fund is one of 10 announced statewide on Thursday. MDOT has not indicated when the work will begin.. ...Read Full Story

AAA Michigan Projecting Record Holiday Travel


A lot of us will be on the road over the upcoming Christmas and New Year’s holiday season. Triple-A Michigan is projecting nearly 3.6 million in the state will go at least 50 miles from home, which is the highest since the auto club began tracking holiday travel and up by 4% from last year. While the vast majority will drive, AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins says a lot of people will take to the air.. ...Read Full Story

Holiday Food Sharing Program Taking Applications


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

Fatal Crash In Weesaw Township


The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a fatal crash in Weesaw Township on Wednesday. It tells us first responders were sent to the scene at Elm Valley Road near Boyle Lake Road shortly after 5 p.m. Officers found a Jeep station wagon had driven off the road and into a tree. The driver was deceased and identified as 84-year-old Jack Lee Phillippi of Galien. He was wearing a seat belt. The Weesaw Township Fire Department and Buchanan Township Fire Departments assisted at the scene, and police say weather does not appear to have been a factor in the crash. The Berrien County Crash Reconstruction Team has been called in to help with the investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Proos Reflects On Time In Office


State Senator John Proos has less than a month left of being a Michigan lawmaker as term limits will prevent him from continuing to serve when the year ends. WSJM News caught up with him to ask about highlights of his 14 years in office, both as a state representative and senator. Proos tells us he’s proud of his 2009 cottage kitchen legislation, designed to help start-up food producers.. ...Read Full Story

House Panel Advances Bill To Restrict Ballot Drives


From the Associated Press — A lame-duck bill advancing in Michigan’s Republican-controlled Legislature would make it harder to organize ballot drives. The House Elections and Ethics Committee passed the legislation on a 6-3 party-line vote Wednesday. It would impose a geographic threshold for groups proposing constitutional amendments, initiated bills, and referendums. They would be limited to collecting no more than 10 percent of their signatures from a single congressional district. Groups across the political spectrum – such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Right to Life – oppose the bill as unconstitutionally hampering their ability to pursue ballot drives. But business groups supporting the legislation say it is needed. The full House may vote later Wednesday.. ...Read Full Story

Human Remains Found In Van Buren County


Michigan State Police out of the Paw Paw post are investigating after human remains were found near I-94 in Lawrence on Wednesday afternoon. An employee of a local business was walking in some woods when they noticed the remains and called police. Troopers responded to the 900 block of Crandall Parkway to investigate. They also called in the Michigan State Police Crime Lab to help. Police are working to identify the remains and ask anyone with information to contact them.. ...Read Full Story

Stabenow Hails Senate Passage Of New Farm Bill


A new Farm Bill is expected to become law soon. The version passed by the House and Senate conference committee, based mostly on the Senate version, was easily passed by the Senate with bipartisan support on Tuesday, 87-13. That vote came less than one day after the House and Senate reached an agreement on the bill, which for months had been caught up in tense negotiations over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan is the Ranking Member of the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and had a big hand in crafting the legislation with Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren County Murder Trial Underway


A Van Buren County man is now on trial for the shooting death of his ex-wife’s new boyfriend. It happened in June when Troy Taylor tried to drop off his son at his ex-wife’s house in Gobles and she wasn’t there. Her daughter found her nearby having sex with Tim Henley in his Jeep. In the anger that followed, police said Henley began punching the windows in Taylor’s BMW, shattering the driver’s side window. Taylor’s son, who was sitting in the backseat, testified Tuesday that he was scared and that’s when his father pulled out a gun and fired three times at Henley, who would die from the wounds. Taylor claims it was self-defense, and may take the stand to testify. The prosecution claims it was second degree murder.. ...Read Full Story

Partnership To Curb Opioid Crisis Launches In Michigan


(Lansing, MI – AP) – A public-private effort has launched in Michigan that aims to curb opioid overdoses and deaths. Officials on Wednesday announced the creation of the Michigan Opioid Partnership. It plans to distribute $2.6 million in grants focusing on medication-assisted treatment, which experts say is an effective approach combining medication and behavioral therapy. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which is part of the collaborative, says about 1,900 of the nearly 2,700 drug overdose deaths in the state last year have been attributed to opioids. Organizers say the funding will pay for planning, training and treatment coordination. Grant recipients will be announced early next year. The partnership also includes the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and several foundations.. ...Read Full Story

BHAS Lead Testing Results Revealed


Work will be done over the next month to replace five water fixtures in Benton Harbor Area Schools. Those came back with lead levels above a more strict 5-parts-per-billion for lead adopted by the district, which CEO Robert Herrera says is well below the federal standard of 15-ppb.. ...Read Full Story

Registrations Being Taken For Fishing Events


From the Associated Press — Bass and walleye fishing tournaments in Michigan, and competitive fishing events targeting muskellunge, have to register with the state starting January 1. Michigan’s Natural Resources department says the events must register in the state’s Fishing Tournament Information System. Results also must be reported. Statewide registration and reporting requirements for bass fishing tournaments have been in place since 2016. More than 2,000 bass tournament registrations and reports have been received.
DNR tournament fishing specialist Tom Goniea says the requirements are important to “gaining a better understanding of what competitive walleye and muskellunge fishing means to angling, conservation and Michigan’s economy.”. ...Read Full Story

Charges Dropped Against Benton Harbor Charter Schools Academy Admins


The charges against Benton Harbor Charter Schools Academy Principal Tim Harris and Assistant Principal Ashley Smith for not reporting a classroom incident immediately to the Department of Health and Human Services are being dismissed. Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic has dropped the charges against the two after they both took part in training in the Detroit suburb of Troy and at the school last week regarding proper reporting of child abuse. Former teacher Thomas Barnes of St. Joseph pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to nine months probation after he threw a chair in anger in an attempt to get control of his classroom. The chair hit an 11-year-old girl and caused her to suffer a concussion. In addition to the recent training for Harris and Smith, Choice Schools has committed to holding similar training sessions for all staff at the start of the school year from now on.. ...Read Full Story