Local News Archives

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]

Bill Introduced To Keep Ibrahim Parlak In U.S.

Legislation to prevent Ibrahim Parlak from getting deported has once again been introduced in the U.S. House. The private bill submitted by Congressman Fred Upton aims to provide the Harbert restaurant owner with permanent legal residency status so he doesn’t get sent back to his native Turkey. The bill is intended as a preventive measure to stop Parlak’s deportation until his case is re-examined by an immigration judge. Upton has introduced the same bill in every Congress since 2005. Parlak was granted political asylum in the U.S. in the 1990s, but things changed when the U.S. State Department declared a group he was affiliated with in Turkey, the PKK, to be a terrorist organization. He’s been fighting to stay in the U.S. ever since.... [Read Full Story]

SWM Schools Do Well In Mackinac Center Rankings

A new report card from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy has been released, ranking 639 high schools in Michigan. Education Policy Director Ben Degrow tells WSJM News the Mackinac Center rankings are based on 11th grade test scores and are adjusted to account for the poverty level in the area each school serves.... [Read Full Story]

St. Joseph Schools To Take Part In The Great Kindness Challenge

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]

Suspect Arraigned In Fatal Cass County Stabbing

An Elkhart man arrested this week in the stabbing death of a coworker in Cass County has been arraigned on a charge of open murder. The Cass County Prosecutor’s office says 23-year-old William Henderson was denied bond at Thursday’s hearing in district court. Police arrested Henderson early Wednesday after he allegedly stabbed a co-worker in the neck during a fight at the Ameri-Kart factory in Mason Township. The victim has been identified as 23-year-old Jan Mendez, of Elkhart. Henderson could get life in prison if convicted.... [Read Full Story]

New Lawmaker From South Haven Gets To Work

State Representative Mary Whiteford of South Haven is now in her first full term in the House after winning a special election to replace the expelled Representative Cindy Gamrat. Whiteford talked on the first day of session Wednesday about what she wants to be sure gets done over the next two years.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan Economy, Tax Revenues Projected To Grow Modestly

Continued economic growth will ease the ability of Governor Rick Snyder and lawmakers to enact a new state spending plan.
The administration and legislative experts agreed Thursday that tax revenues in Michigan’s two biggest accounts will grow by about 2.8 percent this fiscal year and 2.5 percent the next budget year. That is about $144 million more combined than projected at the last revenue-estimating meeting eight months ago. The figures are being welcomed as positive news. But officials also are cautioning that job gains – which have occurred for seven straight years – will slow and there is uncertainty over what policy changes could be coming under President-elect Donald Trump. The consensus figures will be used by Snyder to propose his next budget in February.... [Read Full Story]

Audit: State Not Doing Enough To Collect Unemployment Taxes

(Lansing, MI – AP) – Michigan’s auditor is again finding fault with the state Unemployment Insurance Agency, finding that it has only partially complied with a past audit that criticized efforts to collect delinquent taxes employers pay into the system. The audit released Wednesday is a follow-up to an audit done five years ago. It also comes after the state last week reassigned the agency’s director due to thousands of jobless people being wrongfully accused of fraud by a computer-based unemployment benefits system.... [Read Full Story]