Local News Archives

State Launches Hotline For People Accused Of Unemployment Fraud

New measures are being taken to help those who were wrongly accused by the state of Michigan of stealing from the unemployment system. Michigan Talent Agency Director Wanda Stokes tells WSJM News between 2013 and 2015, around 19,000 people were identified by a state computer system of defrauding the Unemployment Insurance Agency. Now they can call a hotline to possibly get reimbursed for whatever they had to pay back.... [Read Full Story]

MI Immigrants On Edge Following Trump Executive Order

A weekend of chaos has given way to a new week of confusion following President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees. Experts say it will have an impact on virtually every Michigan community. Christine Sauve, with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, tells us while Trump has said the order is necessary to ensure those entering the country do not pose a threat, Sauve argues that it only serves to tear at the fabric of the nation and put all immigrants on edge.... [Read Full Story]

Magical Ice Festival This Weekend In St. Joseph

Crowds will line the streets of downtown St. Joseph starting this Friday for the 13th annual Magical Ice Festival. The event attracts ice artists from all over the country who carve out sculptures right on the side of State Street. St. Joe Today’s Daniel Crevier tells WSJM News they’ll compete on Saturday.... [Read Full Story]

54 Deer Sterilized In Ann Arbor To Help Decrease Population

From the Associated Press — Dozens of female deer have been sterilized in Ann Arbor as part of the nonlethal phase of the city’s winter 2017 deer management plan. The Ann Arbor News reports that veterinarians performed surgeries on 54 does
over the last week at a makeshift operating room at the Huron Hills Golf Course. Veterinarian and lead surgeon Dr. Steve Timm says the effort is expected to decrease the local deer population about 20% a year. The city-funded deer management plan is expected to move into the lethal phase on Monday. Sharpshooters plan to go to city parks and nature areas, as well as some University of Michigan properties. The city council voted in November to team up with a Connecticut nonprofit to
carry out the management plan.... [Read Full Story]

Man Sentenced To Life In Prison For Death Of 8-Month-Old Boy

Life in prison with no parole. That’s the sentence handed down Monday to Brandon Beshires, a Benton Harbor man convicted of first degree premeditated murder in the death of an 8-month-old boy from Hartford early last year. Berrien County Judge Arthur Cotter told Beshires during Monday’s sentencing that after 30 years in criminal justice, the autopsy photo of little Carter Donovan would always haunt him. Prosecutors say Donovan died as a result of trauma to the head while he was in the care of Beshires, who pleaded guilty last month. Donovan’s mother, Autumn Atchley is also charged in the case for being an accessory after the fact. That’s after police say she initially lied about the death. She was scheduled for sentencing Monday, but it’s now been delayed.... [Read Full Story]

Upton: Trump Should Scale Back Executive Order On Immigration

Congressman Fred Upton has weighed in on President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel into the United States for citizens from seven Muslim majority countries. The St. Joseph Republican says the Trump administration should scale back the order. In a statement, Upton adds he’s “heard from a number of local folks with valid concerns for themselves or loved ones, as well from global companies that have legitimate worries relating to the international travel of their employees.” He says the executive order has created confusion for travelers and businesses, and that the Trump administration should work with Congress on finding ways to strengthen the border. In 2015, Upton rejected calls for a travel ban based on religion.... [Read Full Story]

Gas Prices Down Slightly

From the Associated Press — AAA Michigan says gas prices statewide have fallen by about 9 cents per gallon in the past week.
The Dearborn-based auto club says Monday the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was about $2.19 per gallon. That’s about 50 cents more than it was at the same point last year. It’s the third consecutive week the statewide average price has declined. AAA says the lowest average price was about $2.05 per gallon in the Flint area, while the highest average was about $2.48 in the Marquette area. It was the fourth week in a row Flint had the lowest average and the third consecutive
week that Marquette had the highest.AAA Michigan surveys daily fuel prices at 2,800 gas stations across the state.... [Read Full Story]

Supreme Court Justice To Speak At University Of Michigan

From the Associated Press — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and a judge from Germany’s highest court will speak at the University of Michigan on diversity, higher education and the role of history in their work. Sotomayor’s appearance Monday in Ann Arbor with Justice Susanne Baer of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany comes as President Donald Trump is about to announce his Supreme Court nominee. He has said he intends to name the pick on Thursday to fill the lifetime seat held by the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. Sotomayor and Baer will speak at morning and evening events as part of the university’s commemoration of its bicentennial. Sotomayor is the first Hispanic to serve on the Supreme Court. Baer is the first openly gay woman to serve on Germany’s high court.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan Parks To Offer Refuge From July 4 Fireworks Racket

From the Associated Press — Tired of all the rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air around the Fourth of July? You’re not alone. Eleven of Michigan’s state parks and recreation areas are offering fireworks-free camping from July 1-4. Participating campgrounds are located a good distance away from traditional community fireworks displays. DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson says the quiet alternatives were designed especially with veterans and pet owners in mind. Fireworks and other loud, unexpected noises can trigger intense discomfort for former military personnel dealing with post-traumatic stress. They can cause misery for sensitive animals as well. Camping reservations for the no-fireworks period can be made up to six months in advance by calling 1-800-447-2757.... [Read Full Story]

Edwardsburg Woman Killed In Crash

A 30-year-old Edwardsburg woman is dead after crashing her car while trying to outrun a Cass County Sheriff’s deputy. Michigan State Police are investigating the Saturday night crash in Mason Township. Police say Amanda Bowers drove off as a deputy was called to a single-vehicle accident and found her stopped with her lights off in the road at Old M-205 and Redfield Street. After a roughly three-mile chase, she crashed, rolling her car. Bowers was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle. She was pronounced dead at the scene, and the crash remains under investigation.... [Read Full Story]

BH High School Students To Talk Safe Driving

Benton Harbor and South Haven High Schools are on the list of schools to be selected for this year’s Strive for a Safer Drive program. The program is a partnership between Ford Motor Company and the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, and office spokesperson Kristin Allen tells WSJM News the students at each building decide how to preach safe driving to their classmates.... [Read Full Story]

Executive Order On Refugees Met With Silence From Upton, Huizenga

Silence is the reaction from a pair of members of Congress from West Michigan over the weekend to the controversy brewing after the President issued the order late Friday afternoon. Our newsroom tried unsuccessfully several times to get comment from Congressman Fred Upton of St. Joseph, while Congressman Bill Huizenga of Zeeland also issued no statement. When WSJM News called Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad on Sunday, he simply said quote, “I have no comment.” The order bans citizens of seven countries – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and Sudan – from entering the U.S. for 90 days, but does allow for reviewing things on a case-by-case basis. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg joined protests of the order in Houston on Saturday, where he was lobbying to become the next leader of the Democratic National Committee... [Read Full Story]

SWM Gravel Roads Hit Hard By Recent Rains

Gravel roads around southwest Michigan are in bad shape right now because of the recent warm weather. Van Buren County Road Commission Superintendent Brian Cornish tells WSJM News the weather has thawed some of the underground frost, leading to a muddy mess up above. There’s not much crews can do to help right now.... [Read Full Story]

Berrien Sheriff’s Department Offering Defense Classes To Women

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is once again signing women up for its Rape Aggression Defense class. The classes are designed to teach women of any strength or age how to defend themselves in an assault situation, and they’re offered each year by the sheriff’s department. This year’s RAD classes come in three four hour sessions that take place between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m. There are sessions planned for Harbert, Coloma, Lincoln Township, and Berrien Springs from March through May. To find out about signing up just call the Berrien County Sheriff’s DepartmentDeputy Kelly Laesch at 269-983-7141, extension 7221.... [Read Full Story]

Federal Numbers: Union Membership Declined In 2016

From the Associated Press — Federal figures say union membership in Michigan declined in 2016. The Detroit News reports the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics said the number of union members in Michigan dropped from 621,000 in 2015 to 606,000 last year, going from 15.2 percent to 14.4%. The Michigan decrease was part of a 0.4% drop in national union membership that saw the number of labor-affiliated workers in the U.S. drop from more than 14.8 million in 2015 to 14.6 million in 2016. The Labor Department said this week that there were 7.1 million public-sector employees that belonged to a union in 2016, compared with 7.4 million unionized workers in the private sector. The agency said the union membership rate for public-sector workers last year was 34.4 percent.... [Read Full Story]

Benton Harbor Power Outage

The power is out for a little more than 1,000 Indiana Michigan Power customers in Benton Township and Benton Harbor. The utility company is estimating the power will be restored by around 8:30 Sunday morning. An equipment failure is blamed. The outage includes areas around the intersection of M-139 and Pipestone, extending along Pipestone to nearly Main Street. The power is out on M-139 from just south of Main Street to Fairplain Drive.... [Read Full Story]

Home Damaged In Benton Township Fire

A kerosene heater and a can of gasoline are to blame for a house fire in Benton Township Saturday evening. The fire department tells WSJM News the call about a home in the 1,200 block of Rose Avenue came in about 5:30 p.m. The family had been using the heater in their garage, too close to the can of gas. When the fire broke out, they managed to escape unharmed. Firefighters from BentonTownship kept the  flames from spreading to the rest of the house, but the garage is a total loss. So is a Chevy Trailblazer. The rest of the home suffered smoke damage, while a neighbor’s house suffered some minor damage. Firefighters cleared the scene by 8 p.m. and Indiana Michigan Power was called in due to some lines being burned.... [Read Full Story]

MI Treasury Warns Of New E-Mail Tax Scam

A new scam targeting tax preparers has been noticed by the Michigan Department of Treasury. Spokesperson Ron Leix tells WSJM News, in this one, a tax preparer will get an e-mail from someone seeking their services. From there, they may be taken to a website where their system can get compromised.... [Read Full Story]

Four SJ Schools Recognized As Reward Schools

Four St. Joseph schools have been named Reward Schools by the Michigan Department of Education. E.P. Clarke Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, Upton Middle School, and St. Joseph High School got the designation. St. Joseph Public Schools Curriculum Director Kelly Gaideski tells WSJM News it’s all based on the student test scores.... [Read Full Story]

Study Says Grass Carp Have Invaded The Great Lakes

From the Associated Press — Scientists say grass carp have invaded three of the Great Lakes and pose a significant environmental risk. However, they add there’s still time to prevent them from becoming established. Grass carp are among four Asian carp species threatening to reach the lakes, where they could upend ecological systems and compete with native fish for food. A U.S. and Canadian assessment released Friday says grass carp have been found in Lakes Erie, Michigan, and Ontario. At least some are reproducing, although most are believed to be sterile. It’s uncertain how many are in the lakes or how far they’ve spread. Grass carp eat huge amounts of aquatic plants that provide habitat and spawning grounds for other fish. Study leaders say both nations should quickly develop strategies for halting the invasion.... [Read Full Story]

GM Planning Jobs Cuts At Canadian Plant

Canadian auto workers are shocked at a General Motors decision to cut 600 jobs at a plant near London, Ontario. GM recently invested $600 million to retool the plant to build the new Chevy equinox. However, at the same time, it’s moving production of the GMC Terrain to Mexico. Jerry Dias, President of the Canadian auto workers union, told Michigan News Network he blames NAFTA.... [Read Full Story]

Groups Call For Expansion Of State Earned Income Tax Credit

Nearly 500,000 Michigan residents are ineligible for a tax credit that is meant to help keep people out of poverty. Friday was National EITC Awareness Day, and some groups are hopeful congressional leaders will expand the Earned Income Tax Credit to include workers who aren’t raising children. Kyle DuBuc, with the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, tells us the EITC helps families in need keep more of their earnings to pay for necessities, like food, housing, and transportation.... [Read Full Story]

Snyder Signs Pagel Parole Hearing Legislation

Legislation from state Representative Dave Pagel designed to make Michigan’s parole system more fair has been signed by the governor. Pagel tells WSJM News under the current system, when someone sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole is up for a parole hearing, the original judge who sentenced them has the power to veto the hearing. However, so does any judge who succeeded that original sentencing judge, even if said second judge isn’t familiar with the case.... [Read Full Story]

MI World War II Veteran Honored On Holocaust Remembrance Day

On the 72nd anniversary of Auschwitz Liberation Day Friday, a Michigan World War Two veteran was honored for his role in helping defeat the Nazis. Dr. Guy Stern grew up in Germany, but his parents sent him to the United States  as a teen to avoid Jewish persecution. A few years later, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and led a special unit that perfected interrogation techniques. Friday, the 95-year old received the French Knight of the Legion of Honor Medal at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills. He told Michigan News Network he does research there.... [Read Full Story]