Local News Archives

Betsy Devos Confirmation Hearing Tuesday

From the Associated Press — Betsy DeVos is widely expected to push for expanding school choice programs if confirmed as education secretary. Such a move is certain to bring pushback from teachers unions. Democrats and civil rights activists also are raising concerns about how her conservative Christian beliefs might impact minority and LGBT students. A Senate committee begins considering her nomination Tuesday. Her financial questionnaire shows DeVos has donated to the political campaigns of at least four committee members. The committee chairman, Senator Lamar Alexander, of Tennessee, says DeVos will work to ensure equal access to a high quality education. DeVos spent the past two decades advancing charter schools. She also has pushed for vouchers, which use public money to help low-income families send their kids to private and religious schools of their choice.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan Guide Helps You Pronounce 2,200 People, Places Or Things

From the Associated Press — The state of Michigan wants to help residents and visitors pronounce the names of 2,200 people, places and things in or connected to the Great Lakes State – from Aaliyah (uh-LEE’-uh) to Zilwaukee (zil-WAW’-kee). The Michigan Braille and Talking Book Library recently created the “You Say it How in Michigan?” guide, with audio and phonetic pronunciations. Officials say it was developed for audio book production for the blind and visually impaired but can benefit anyone.The guide can help newcomers sound like natives, such as when it advises accenting the second syllable of the Lansing-area community of Charlotte (shar-LOT). But in some cases the list recognizes residents are of two minds, such as when it allows for Michigan’s biggest city to be pronounced “DEE’-troit” or “de-TROIT’.”... [Read Full Story]

Car Hits Tree In Millberg

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tells us a car has hit a tree in Millberg at the intersection of South Street and North Highland. According to dispatchers, there are not believed to be any injuries. That said, roads are slick – drive safely!... [Read Full Story]

Thousands Show Up For Sanders Health Care Rally In Michigan

An estimated crowd of over 10,000 people showed up for a rally in suburban Detroit where U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders spoke in support of President Obama’s signature health care law. Sanders was joined by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Michigan’s two U.S. Senators, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters. It was one of several rallies around the country by Democrats yesterday ahead of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration. Trump has promised a speedy repeal and replacement of the law that was one of Obama’s proudest achievements.... [Read Full Story]

Gas Prices Down 18¢ Locally, Drop 10¢ Statewide

Gas prices in the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph area are down 18¢ in the past week according to Triple-A Michigan’s latest survey. The auto club says statewide, we’re down a dime to an average of $2.40 a gallon. Locally, they put the average at $2.31, but you can find gas as low as $2.15 in Benton Harbor and $2.17 in St. Joseph. Go a bit north, and GasBuddy says South Haven prices are as low as $2.10, which is the lowest in West Michigan. According to Triple-A, Flint has the state’s lowest prices at $2.30, while up in Marquette they’re shelling out $2.52 a gallon with the state’s highest prices. Statewide, our prices are up 61¢ from this time last year.... [Read Full Story]

Whirlpool Praises Trade Commission Ruling

Whirlpool Corporation’s chief executive says a recent decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission is a big win for workers at its washing machine factory in northern Ohio. The commission ruled last week that two foreign manufacturers made washing machines in China and then sold them in the United States at less than fair value. The ruling means the companies must start paying duties on washers made in China and imported to the United States. Both Samsung and LG say they disagree with the decision. Whirlpool chief executive Jeff Fettig says it’s a gratifying win for the 3,000 employees at the company’s factory in the Sandusky County city of Clyde. The appliance maker based in Benton Harbor also has Ohio operations in Marion, Findlay, Ottawa and Greenville.... [Read Full Story]

Upton Working To Help Protect St. Joseph Bluff

Congressman Fred Upton is hoping his office can help keep a rail line that runs along the bluff in St. Joseph safe. St. Joe City Commissioners have reached out to him, asking him to contact CSX Railroad about its property around 2405 Old Lakeshore Road. The sea wall down below the bluff has failed, and neighbors fear the bluff itself could collapse.... [Read Full Story]

“Great Kindness Challenge” Coming Up At SJ Schools

St. Joseph Public Schools is gearing up to celebrate kindness this month. The district has announced all five of its schools will take part in the Great Kindness Challenge the week of January 23. The challenge calls on students and staff alike to commit to doing something kind for someone else each day of the week. The acts could include complimenting someone or leaving them a thank you note. Kids for Peace created the Great Kindness Challenge in 2012 to encourage more positive learning environments. In 2016, more than 5 million kids took part, resulting in 250 million acts of kindness.... [Read Full Story]

Upton Foundation Taking Applications For Big Idea Grants

The Frederick S. Upton Foundation is seeking some big ideas for a grant. It says its BIG IDEA grant will go to a Berrien County non-profit that has an ambitious plan to improve the lives of others. It should also be something that can be sustained into the future. The Upton Foundation is giving out $50,000 with the grant. Any non-profits with ideas can find out more at BerrienCommunity.org/Upton. The deadline to apply is April 10.... [Read Full Story]

Survey Looks At The Most Annoying Phone Calls

A new survey takes a look at the top five most annoying phone calls. The poll from YouGov was done on behalf of CPR Call Blocker, and finds the number one most annoying nuisance calls are automated robocalls, with 66% of respondents citing it. Coming in second are credit card and loan offers, at 28%, followed by charitable causes, with 23%, long distance providers, at 11%, and lottery or sweepstakes offers at 10%. About a third of U.S. respondents reported getting 20 or more unwanted calls per month. Also, about 13% of Americans have fallen for a scam on the phone.... [Read Full Story]

OutCenter Open House Next Week

Next week will bring an open house at the OutCenter in Benton Harbor for everyone to come out and learn about the organization’s plans for 2017. OutCenter Board Chair Todd Dockerty tells WSJM News this is just kicking off what will be a busy year.... [Read Full Story]

Lake Michigan College Annual Martin Luther King Celebration Set For Monday

For the 22nd year, Lake Michigan College is planning to mark Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday with a breakfast and awards ceremony. The event will be at the Mendel Center starting at 7:45 a.m. and will culminate with the announcement of the 16th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Diversity Award. Speakers at the breakfast will include Congressman Fred Upton, and there will be music from the All God’s Children Community Choir and the LMC Concert Choir. The next day, LMC will also host its Race Relations Council Forum with a theme of “Promoting Racial Equality in Education.” It’ll be at the Brown Lecture Hall from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. It will feature four panelists and a question and answer period.... [Read Full Story]

Snyder Hoping Healthy Michigan Program Can Be Preserved

Governor Rick Snyder is sending a team to Washington with the hope that something can be done to salvage healthcare for about 613,000 Michigan residents. Michigan News Network reports Snyder has determined the state’s Healthy Michigan program is working, helping all of those Michiganders who weren’t previously insured get the care they need. With the Trump administration about to take office and Congress moving full speed ahead on an Affordable Care Act repeal, Snyder is dispatching Michigan Budget Director Al Pscholka to the capital to convince the Trump administration that Healthy Michigan and programs like it should be preserved. Congressional leaders have said they will consult with governors around the country as they come up with the promised Affordable Care Act replacement.... [Read Full Story]

Blossomland Learning Center Gets Arts Grant

Berrien RESA’s Blossomland Learning Center will be able to enhance its arts programming thanks to a grant from the Michigan Council of Arts and Cultural Affairs. The $1,500 Michigan Youth Arts Grant will be used to buy drums for the music therapy program. Blossomland Learning Center caters to the learning disabled, and it says group drumming is a great way to teach students about working in groups. In all, the new grant will enable the learning center to buy nine drums.... [Read Full Story]

Upton Talks Affordable Care Act Repeal

With a repeal of the Affordable Care Act already in motion, Congressman Fred Upton predicts many of its provisions will remain in place when Republicans come up with their replacement plan. He tells WSJM News there’s a lot of work ahead on the Obamacare alternative, but some of its more popular components should be salvaged.... [Read Full Story]

21 Street Signs Stolen In Sodus Township

The Berrien County Road Commission is dealing with a rash of sign thefts around Sodus Township. It says 21 street signs have gone missing, mostly on River Road between Naomi and Tabor Roads. The occurred on the night of January 10, or in the early morning hours of January 11. Some of the stolen signs are stop signs, along with large arrow signs and others. So far, no one has been hurt as a result of the thefts. Anyone who sees anything suspicious should contact the road commission or police.... [Read Full Story]

Women Sentenced To Prison For Welfare Fraud

A Michigan woman and her two daughters have been sentenced to prison for bilking the federal government out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The U.S. Attorney’s office said Friday that a judge sentenced Cruz Gonzalez to 33 months in prison and her daughter, Fabiola Garcia, to 20 months. Gonzalez’s other daughter, Gisela Mendoza, was sentenced in November to six
months in prison and two months home detention. The three were convicted on conspiracy charges. They have been ordered to pay more than $722,000 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Authorities say that between February 2008 and January 2014, they defrauded the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by exchanging benefits for cash, cellphones and other items at a Shelby store. Gonzalez owned that story and her daughters worked there.... [Read Full Story]

Takata To Pay $1 Billion For Hiding Airbag Problems

Takata Corporation has agreed to plead guilty to a single criminal charge and will pay $1 billion in fines and restitution for concealing a deadly defect in its air bag inflators. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit announced the plea deal on Friday.
Takata will pay a $25 million criminal fine, $125 million to individuals who were injured by the air bags and $850 million to automakers that purchased the inflators. The U.S. district court in Detroit has appointed attorney Kenneth Feinberg to distribute restitution payments. Payments to individuals must be made soon. Money due to automakers must be paid within five days of Takata’s anticipated sale or merger. Takata is expected to be sold to another auto supplier or investor sometime this year.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan Man Ticketed For Leaving Car Running In Driveway

A Detroit-area man has been ticketed for leaving a vehicle running unattended in his driveway as he warmed it up. Nick Taylor, of Roseville, says the incident happened on a chilly morning earlier this month. He says he went inside his home and left his car running for about 5 minutes. When he went back outside, he had received a $125 fine for a local ordinance violation of leaving a motor vehicle unattended. Taylor posted a photo of the ticket on Facebook. The post has been shared more than 6,000 times and garnered more than 5,000 comments. Roseville Police Chief James Berlin is standing by the officer who issued the ticket, saying it’s a public safety issue because a thief could have easily taken the car.... [Read Full Story]

Amtrak Sued Over 2014 Stabbing Attack In Niles

One of the people stabbed on an Amtrak train as it was pulling into the Niles depot in December 2014 is suing Amtrak. The lawsuit from Gayle VanVorst of Colon and her husband is the second against the rail service. She was stabbed in the chest by Michael Williams, who also stabbed three other people. In a lawsuit filed in St. Joseph, she argues Amtrak should have kicked Williams off the train at any stop between Chicago and Niles instead of just moving him to a new car when he started acting unruly. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity in October 2015.... [Read Full Story]