Local News Archives

Hilltop Repaving Work Set For this Year

Coming soon will be a resurfacing project for Hilltop Road in St. Joseph. It’s an effort  being taken on jointly by the city, the township, the road commission, and the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission. Project Engineer Alan Smaka, with Wightman and Associates, tells us they’re doing a variety of work on the road.... [Read Full Story]

Snyder Budget Proposal To Include $260 Million In Savings

From the Associated Press — As Republican lawmakers push for an income tax cut, Governor Rick Snyder instead will propose growing Michigan’s savings account to $1 billion. State budget director Al Pscholka told The Associated Press Tuesday that Snyder wants to add a “sizable” $260 million to the budget stabilization, or rainy day, fund in the next fiscal year. It would be the largest deposit since Snyder’s first year in office. The Republican will unveil his budget plan Wednesday. Pscholka says it’s smart to save money because of “one-time” tax revenues and looming budget pressures. Lawmakers voted to permanently shift general funds to road repairs starting in 2018. Other squeezes include Medicaid expansion costs and the phase-out of business equipment taxes. Snyder also will propose directing $1.2 billion to the Public School Employees Retirement System.... [Read Full Story]

Permanent Memorial Planned For Kalamazoo Massacre Victims

The six people killed in last February’s shootings in the Kalamazoo area will be honored with a permanent memorial. The idea is still in the planning stages, and fundraising is yet to begin. Last February 20, Uber driver Jason Dalton allegedly shot eight people and killed six in three separate shootings while still driving passengers around Kalamazoo in between the incidents. The first shooting injured Tianna Carruthers at an apartment complex northeast of Kalamazoo. In the second incident, Dalton allegedly killed 17-year-old Tyler and 53-year-old Richard Smith of Mattawan at a car dealership, and then gunned down four women in their cars outside a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Texas Township. That shooting injured then-14-year-old Abbie Kopf of Battle Creek and killed Mary Lou Nye of Baroda, and Mary Jo Nye, Barbara Hawthorne, and Dorothy Brown, all of Battle Creek. Dalton is still awaiting trial on 16 charges.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan Republican Condemned For Tweet About Democratic Protesters

From the Associated Press — Democratic and Republican party leaders in Michigan and Kent State University are condemning online comments from a county-level Republican that appeared to suggest shooting protesters. Dan Adamini, secretary of the Marquette County GOP, last week tweeted, “Violent protesters who shut down free speech? Time for another Kent State perhaps. One bullet stops a lot of thuggery.” In 1970, the Ohio National Guard fatally shot four Kent State students during Vietnam War protests. Adamini said Monday that he was calling for an end to violence after a demonstration last week at the University of California, Berkeley that stopped a speech by right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos. Some protesters broke windows and tossed smoke bombs. Kent State officials called Adamini’s posts “abhorrent.” Michigan Republican Party spokeswoman Sarah Anderson says Adamini was speaking for himself.... [Read Full Story]

Sentencing Held For Mother Of Murdered Infant

The mother of an 8-month-old boy who prosecutors say was murdered last year has been sentenced to 270 days in jail for her role in the case. Autumn Atchley was in Berrien County Court Monday for sentencing in the death of little Carter Donovan. Donovan died as a result of trauma to the head while in the care of an Atchley acquaintance, Brandon Beshires, nearly a year ago. Beshires has been sentenced to life in prison in the case. Prosecutors say Atchley initially lied to hospital staff about what had happened when she brought Donovan there. She was charged with being an accessory after the fact. She’ll also get 30 days credit for time served and two years of probation.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan Lawmaker Resigns To Resolve Criminal Charges

From the Associated Press — A Michigan lawmaker with a lengthy criminal record has resigned from office as part of a deal to resolve charges alleging he submitted fraudulent pay stubs to secure a $3,000 loan in 2010. Third-term Democratic state Representative Brian Banks of Harper Woods announced his resignation in a Wayne County courtroom Monday. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of filing false financial statements while three felony counts were dropped. He could face up to a year in prison. Sentencing is February 17. The 40-year-old was charged in June by state Attorney General Bill Schuette. Banks was previously convicted of writing bad checks and credit card fraud.... [Read Full Story]

Suspect Arraigned In Bangor Fatal Shooting

A 19-year-old Bangor man remains in the Van Buren County Jail following a fatal shooting Friday night. Michigan State Police tell us Thurman Fletcher is charged with open murder and felony firearm in the death of 28-year-old Eddie Holland, of Hartford. They say both suffered gunshot wounds in a drug deal gone wrong around 8 p.m. Friday at Lions Park in Bangor. Holland died at Lakeland Hospital in Watervliet, while Fletcher showed up at Bronson in South Haven with gunshot wounds to the leg and foot. Fletcher was arraigned on Monday and denied bond. He’s due back in court for a preliminary exam on February 22.... [Read Full Story]

Meteor Lands In Like Michigan

That green thing that shot across the Midwestern sky early Monday morning was a rock that crash landed into Lake Michigan from outer space. At least, that’s according to preliminary findings from the American Meteor Society. Mike Hankey is the society’s operations manager, and says the physical makeup of the flying rock is what makes it light up in different colors as it plunges through the Earth’s atmosphere.... [Read Full Story]

Hundreds Protest Trump In West Michigan

From the Associated Press — Hundreds of people took part in new western Michigan protests over the weekend of President Donald Trump’s attempt to ban refugees and travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the country. Crowds gathered Sunday at a Kalamazoo park and at the entrance to Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids. Kalamazoo resident Nancy Hammoudah said at the rally she believed it was dehumanizing to only talk about Muslims such as herself in terms of national security. Protesters lined the streets outside the Grand Rapids airport, chanting and holding signs with slogans such as “No Wall, Try Love.” At least one Trump supporter was at the demonstration, holding a sign that said “Clueless Demonstrators on Parade.”... [Read Full Story]

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]

United Way Offering Free Tax Preparation Service

Once again, the United Way of Southwest Michigan is offering to help you prepare your taxes this year. The United Way’s Jan Radde tells WSJM News the organization sponsors the VITA program locally. Anyone who makes less than $54,000 per year can get their taxes filed for free in Berrien and Cass counties. It can save you a lot.... [Read Full Story]

Dollar General Adding More Than 400 Jobs In Michigan

The Dollar General is planning a hiring blitz. The discount retailer announced on Friday it’s going to hire about 10,000 new employees in 2017 as it opens 1,000 new stores. In Michigan throughout the year, the Dollar General expects to hire about 420 people. The chain’s 2017 plans reflect a 9% growth in its workforce, which will be the largest single year increase the 78-year-old retailer has ever seen. The company hasn’t yet said where in Michigan it’s adding new stores, but you can apply with them at DollarGeneral.com. The chain has locations in Stevensville, Coloma, Watervliet, Bridgman, Buchanan, Eau Claire, New Buffalo, Hartford, Covert, South Haven, and Niles.... [Read Full Story]