Local News Archives

Fire Chief Talks Christmas Tree Safety

With Christmas just about here, many families have their trees up, and fire officials want to remind them to be safe. St. Joseph Director of Public Safety Brian Uridge tells WSJM News the biggest fire safety tip involving a Christmas tree has to do with where it’s placed.... [Read Full Story]

UPDATE — Sheriff’s Department Sergeant In Hospital After I-94 Crash Near Watervliet

Michigan State Police are investigating a crash on I-94 Wednesday that closed the highway for a few hours. It happened shortly after 1 p.m. on eastbound I-94 near M-140 in Watervliet. Troopers say a Berrien County Sheriff’s Department patrol car was escorting a slower moving semi off the road when a pick-up driven by a 32-year-old Hartford man crashed into the back of the patrol car. That caused the patrol car to crash into the semi in front of it, and then into another semi to the side. The sergeant in the patrol car was taken by ambulance to Lakeland Hospital and the driver of the pick-up was taken to a hospital in Kalamazoo. The crash caused traffic on eastbound 94 in the area to be rerouted on to I-196. The road was back open around 4 p.m.... [Read Full Story]

Vigil Calls For Electors To “Vote Their Conscience”

A group of southwest Michigan residents concerned about the result of the presidential election are braving the cold each evening until the Electoral College meets to hold vigils in front of St. Joseph City Hall. They’re asking electors to vote their conscience. Katie Kwon is one of them who told WSJM News the electors have the power to stop Donald Trump.... [Read Full Story]

Auto Insurance, Energy Policy On MI Legislative Agenda

Michigan lawmakers are continuing talks on energy policy and changes to the state’s auto insurance system. Legislators now have two days left in the two-year session. They voted Tuesday for higher speed limits on rural highways and to give schools more flexibility on “zero-tolerance” expulsion and suspension requirements. But some major items, including a rewrite of 2008 energy laws, remain bottled up. Majority Republicans also have proposed a scaled-back plan to rein in medical costs for people seriously injured in car crashes.... [Read Full Story]

Snyder Asks For Study On Municipal Retiree Health Benefits

Gov. Rick Snyder says he wants municipalities and labor unions to jointly study how best to tackle retiree health care costs after Republican lawmakers removed a contentious proposal to aggressively curb the benefits from the post-election agenda. The governor told The Associated Press on Wednesday that unfunded liabilities remain as an “important issue,” and he plans to create a broad task force to “put the facts on the table.” The group could be formed in early January and be given three or four months to work, with legislation to follow. Snyder had questioned quickly passing bills in the lame-duck session, but the problem is still a priority for him in 2017. He says the recent legislative debate was “too general” and there are several dimensions to the issue.... [Read Full Story]

Dowagiac Buys New Utility Truck

The city of Dowagiac has taken a step to ensure reliable electric service to residents. The city runs its own utilities, and so is responsible for keeping the lights on in town and this week, the city council approved buying a new line truck. The 2015 model replaces a 28-year-old truck that had been deemed unfit for use. It’ll be brought to town this week at a cost of $186,000. The line truck will be used to fix downed power poles and lines, and also to set street lights. The city gets about 10 to 15 power poles knocked down per year, mostly due to weather or car crashes. Just last year, they replaced 30 poles.... [Read Full Story]

Crash Injures Berrien Deputy Sheriff

Michigan State Police are investigating a crash on eastbound I-94 Wednesday afternoon that closed the highway for a few hours. They say a Berrien County Sheriff’s Department patrol car was hit from behind by a pickup on the highway near M-140 in Watervliet shortly after 1 p.m. The officer in the patrol car was taken to Lakeland Hospital to be treated for injuries, while the driver of the pickup was airlifted to a hospital. More information on the crash will be released later.... [Read Full Story]

MI Lawmakers Ease School Expulsion And Suspension Rules

Michigan lawmakers have given final approval to legislation that would soften “zero-tolerance” expulsion and suspension requirements by inserting what backers say is some common sense into the process. Bills approved overwhelmingly by the House Wednesday would require school officials to consider certain factors before expelling or suspending students. They include the pupil’s age, disciplinary history and whether the misconduct threatened the safety of others. Other factors would include whether the student has a disability, if a lesser punishment could address the violation and whether “restorative” meetings between the offender and a victim could help. Bringing a gun to school would remain an automatic expulsion. Backers say too many kids are being harshly disciplined for inadvertently bringing weapons to school. The legislation goes to Governor Rick Snyder for his expected signature.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan Cities Invited To Seek “Tree City” Designation

Michigan communities, college campuses and utilities can seek a state designation honoring their commitment to high-quality tree care.
Applications for certification as a Tree City, Tree Campus or Tree Line USA must be submitted to the Department of Natural Resources by January 16. The Arbor Day Foundation sponsors the annual programs, which state forestry agencies administer. Successful applicants must meet foundation criteria. The Tree City program began in 1976 as a bicentennial project promoting tree planting in urban areas. It recognizes the economic, health and aesthetic benefits trees provide. The DNR says 123 communities, two utilities and four campuses won designations
last year. Michigan ranks ninth among states in the number of communities certified. They range in size from the city of Detroit to the village of Richland.... [Read Full Story]

Snowmobiles To Cross Mackinac Bridge Saturday

Vintage snowmobiles will be allowed to cross the Mackinac Bridge during a special event. The Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum in Naubinway and the St. Ignace Visitor’s Bureau are teaming up to host the ride Saturday. MLive.com reports only snowmobiles at those least 25 years old can participate. They must be outfitted with wheel kits, and the wheels must be at least 2 inches wide without studs or cleats. There’s a fee of $35 per snowmobile. Participants will leave their machines in Mackinaw City and drive their trailers to the north end of the bridge in St. Ignace. A shuttle will return participants to their snowmobiles. It’s believed this will be the first time snowmobiles will be allowed to cross
the bridge linking the Lower and Upper Peninsulas.... [Read Full Story]

LMC Identifies Four Finalists For President

Lake Michigan College has released the names of its four finalists for president. The LMC Board of Trustees plans to bring in the four for in-person interviews next month. In no order, the first candidate is Dr. Trevor Kubatzke, Vice President of Milwaukee Area Technical College. Up next is Dr. Jon Mandrell, VP of Academic Services at Sauk Valley Community College in Dixon, Illinois. Next is Dr. Orinthia Montague, VP of Student Affairs at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minnesota, and finally, there’s Dr. Dr. Rebekah Woods, Provost of Jackson College in Jackson, Michigan. The board of trustees hopes to have the new president on board in March. In the meantime, Dr. Bob Harrison continues to serve as interim president.... [Read Full Story]

MI Democrats Question Some Trump Appointments

Michigan Democrats are expressing their reservations about Exon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson becoming the next secretary of state. Flint Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee tells us Tillerson has questionable ties to Russia. Kildee also worries about Trump’s EPA choice, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.... [Read Full Story]

Toys For Tots Donation Jar Stolen In Dowagiac

Police could use your help in finding the Grinch who stole a Toys for Tots donation jar from a gas station in Dowagiac. The department of public safety tells our newsroom it happened at the Shell Mart on North Front Street late Sunday. Police have released photos of the suspect, who’s a white man wearing a dark coat. He was driving a white car. Anyone who can identify the man is asked to call Dowagiac Public Safety. You can see surveillance pictures below.... [Read Full Story]

Experts Urge Holiday Shoppers To Avoid Going Into Debt

The average American will spend $936 on holiday gifts this year. That the second highest amount on record, according to the National Retail Federation. Kathryn Greiner, with University of Michigan Credit Union, tells us the pressure to provide this time of year can lead people to take extreme measures, including turning to payday lenders.... [Read Full Story]

MI Lawmakers Approve Greater Access To Overdose Drug

Pharmacists across Michigan could dispense, without a prescription, a drug that reverses the effects of an overdose under legislation going to Governor Rick Snyder. The state House unanimously approved the bill Tuesday. The sponsor, Republican Representative Anthony Forlini of Harrison Township, says the measure would help stem rising opioid overdose deaths. He says the bill would put the antidote in the hands of more people who might be present when someone overdoses.... [Read Full Story]

Benton Harbor Man Pleads Guilty In Death Of 8-Month-Old Boy

A Benton Harbor man has pleaded guilty for the death of an eight-month-old boy. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s office tells us Brandon Beshires pleaded guilty Monday to first degree premeditated murder in the death of Carter Donovan back in February. Beshires was supposed to be caring for the boy while his mother was at an appointment, but instead, the baby died from trauma to the head. Prosecutor Michael Sepic says Beshires was in court for an evidence hearing Monday, but instead entered the plea. A charge of child abuse and a charge of felony murder have been dropped in the case, but it won’t make any difference at sentencing. Beshires will be sentenced to life in prison on January 30. Also that day, the baby’s mother, Autumn Atchley, will be sentenced for being an accessory after the fact in the case.... [Read Full Story]

Report: Michigan Stands To Lose With ACA Repeal

With Congress poised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, about 887,000 people in Michigan stand to lose their health insurance. That’s according to a report from the Urban Institute. Joan Alker, with the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, tells us the folks who lose out aren’t just low income.... [Read Full Story]

GPS Technology Helps MDOT Better Track Plows

Thanks to GPS and other technology, the Michigan Department of Transportation is able to better coordinate and supply its snow plows this winter. Spokesperson Nick Schirripa tell us they put automatic vehicle location devices in all the plows in 2013, and drivers can also check in on where plows are located.... [Read Full Story]

Cornerstone Alliance Unveils Five Year Plan

Cornerstone Alliance has completed its five year plan for the economic development of Berrien County. President Rob Cleveland tells WSJM News it comes after six months of working with businesses and communities to find out what Cornerstone can improve. One thing it calls for is telling the southwest Michigan story.... [Read Full Story]

LaSata To Hold Local Swearing In Ceremony This Week

Southwest Michigan’s newest elected officials are being sworn in over the next week. A ceremony is planned for this Thursday at the Berrien County Courthouse to swear in state Representative-election Kim LaSata. Her husband, Judge Charles LaSata, will preside as she takes the oath. The ceremony will be Thursday at 4 p.m. Meanwhile, there’s a swearing in ceremony planned for next week in Van Buren County for a variety of elected officials there. On Monday, the county commission, clerk, treasurer, drain commissioner, state rep, and anyone else you can name will be sworn in at the courthouse. It’ll be at 4 p.m. with special guest Congressman Fred Upton on hand.... [Read Full Story]