Local News Archives

Saturday’s New COVID-19 Cases At 388

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Michigan were 388 for Saturday. That brings the pandemic total to 890,345. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says there were 72 deaths from the virus, with 66 being from vital records reviews. A total of 19,365 Michiganders have died of COVID-19.. ...Read Full Story

$375,000 Water Grant Going To Hartford

Hartford is receiving a $375,000 state grant to improve its water quality. The office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer has announced more than $5 million in grants statewide as part of the MI Clean Water plan. The grants are intended to help Michigan communities strengthen drinking water infrastructure and better ensure safe, affordable tap water across the state. Recipients will use the funds to do things like replace lead service lines, enhance water affordability plans, and connect homes with contaminated drinking water wells to safe community water supplies. In addition to drinking water investments announced this week, Whitmer called on the Michigan Legislature to approve MI Clean Water funds for community wastewater treatment improvements. Also receiving a grant as part of this round is Sturgis, which has been awarded $283,000.. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw Schools Seeking $54 Million Bond

Paw Paw Public Schools will place a bond proposal on the August ballot. Superintendent Rick Reo tells WSJM News the district has been studying its needs for a few years now, and conducted community forums and surveys as it planned for the bond. It’s seeking $54.6 million for a variety of work throughout its buildings.. ...Read Full Story

JD’s Marina Wins LaSata Small Business Award

State Senator Kim LaSata’s Small Business of the Month award for June has gone to JD’s Marina of Watervliet and Sister Lakes. LaSata launched the Small Business of the Month Award this year to highlight those small businesses in southwest Michigan that make a difference. Anyone can make a nomination, and those who nominated JD’s Marina said it provides excellent service and respect for customers. LaSata says “owners Jim and Donna Vollmer, who have worked incredibly hard over three decades to turn their garage-based repair shop into an award winning, full service, inland lake marina, watercraft dealer, and job provider.” You can nominate a business for the award at LaSata’s website.. ...Read Full Story

Indiana Man Gets 60 Years In Woman’s 2019 Torture-Slaying

From the Associated Press — A northern Indiana man has been sentenced to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty for his role in the 2019 torture-slaying of a woman whose body was dumped in southern Michigan. An Elkhart County judge sentenced 25-year-old Matthew Murzynski of Elkhart on Thursday and ordered that he be incarcerated, for his own safety, in a different prison from two other men awaiting sentencing in the killing of 31-year-old Kimberly Dyer. The Elkhart Truth reports that the Columbia City woman was brutally abused and killed in the basement of an Elkhart home in October 2019. Her body was dumped inside a trash bin near Constantine, Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Grant Will Help Benton Harbor Arts Association Paint Arts District Mural

The Benton Harbor Arts Association has been awarded a grant of $4,000 from the state of Michigan’s Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo for a mural project in the Benton Harbor Arts District. Southwest Michigan artists Dorothy Jean-Carter, Megan Cannon, and Dean Campillo are working together along with a team of community advisors. The mural will be featured on two buildings that are part of the Livery. The artists are planning to draw on the idea of the history and knowledge of Benton Harbor being passed from one generation to another in the mural. It’s expected to be finished mid-summer, and at that time a celebration will be held to mark the occasion.. ...Read Full Story

$150,000 Donation Made To Boys And Girls Clubs Of Benton Harbor

The Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor has been awarded a $150,000 donation by Indiana Michigan Power so the club can continue having an Academic Success Coach at the Fettig Youth Campus. The donation will support the full-time coach for three years. Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor CEO Mackenzie Kastl tells WSJM News the coach works with kids to help them excel academically.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Requests Continued Dredging For Southwest Michigan Harbors

Congressman Fred Upton is calling on the federal government to commit to continued harbor dredging around southwest Michigan. He’s sent a letter to the leaders of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development asking them to support President Biden’s 2022 Budget Request for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ operations and maintenance budget. It includes funds for beach nourishment at seven harbors across Michigan. Among them are St. Joseph, Holland, and South Haven. In particular, the Biden administration plan sets aside more than $108 million for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ operations and maintenance program. That includes $516,000 for dredging in Holland, $500,000 for dredging in South Haven, and more than $1 million for dredging in St. Joseph. Upton is also asking that New Buffalo be added to the list.. ...Read Full Story

GM Lifts Forecast As Chip Shortage Eases, Stock Hits Record

From the Associated Press — Shares of General Motors Co. closed at a record high Thursday after the company said its efforts to manage the global computer chip shortage have worked better than expected, so it’s financial results will improve. The automaker says it has made engineering changes, prioritized semiconductor use and pulled some potential deliveries into the second quarter. So now first-half earnings will be significantly better than forecasts it issued earlier in the year. GM is optimistic about the full year, but gave no further details. In May, GM had predicted a pretax profit of around $5.5 billion for the first half of 2021. In the first quarter the company turned a $2.98 billion net profit as strong U.S. consumer demand and higher prices offset production cuts due to the
chip shortage.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Vetoes Bill To Exempt Graduations From Crowd Limits

From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has vetoed Republican-sponsored legislation that would have exempted high school graduation ceremonies from COVID-19 restrictions on crowd sizes, calling it “half-baked and punchless.” Thursday’s veto came two days after her administration’s order was loosened to end outdoor capacity limits and cap indoor gatherings at 50% occupancy. Whitmer also vetoed a bill that would have prohibited a governor from issuing an emergency order extending response times for public-records requests or otherwise limiting a public body’s duties under the Freedom of Information Act. She did so for two months early in the pandemic.. ...Read Full Story

Man Charged In Shooting At Benton Township Apartment Complex

A man who was shot in the hip during a Wednesday night incident at the Briarwood Apartments in Benton Township is now charged with murder. The Benton Township Police Department says officers responded to the apartment complex on Union Street around 11:30 p.m. to find 18-year-old James Parker-Hersey with a gunshot wound to the hip. They also learned 20-year-old Miquan Davis had suffered a gunshot wound to the chest. Davis was taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland hospital by private vehicle and died at the hospital from his injuries. The department now says an arrest warrant with charges of felony murder, armed robbery, and felony firearms has been issued for James Parker-Hersey. He was arrested Thursday without incident. Police have not released further details, but say they are still looking for additional suspects. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact the Benton Township Police Department.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer: Spend $300M Of Virus Aid To Hike Hourly Wage To $15

From the Associated Press — Governor Gretchen Whitmer has proposed spending $300 million in federal COVID-19 funding to help businesses pay workers $15 an hour. State grants would cover the difference between an employee’s current hourly wage and $15 for three months, as long as the business commits to continuing the $15 wage for at least three additional months. The Democratic governor’s office isn’t immediately saying how many people would see bigger paychecks under the program, which would need approval from the Republican-controlled Legislature. Negotiations over allocating billions in coronavirus aid are ongoing. Employers
have been unable to add as many workers as they need.. ...Read Full Story

County Commission Opposed To Short-Term Rental Legislation

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has sent word to local state lawmakers that it’s opposed to legislation that would prevent local governments from having restrictions on short-term rental properties. Speaking at Thursday’s meeting, Chair Mac Elliott said House Bill 4722 would strip local control. He reflected on the joys of homeownership and how that could conflict with having a short-term rental next door.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Holding 21-Day Equity Challenge

The United Way of Southwest Michigan is gearing up for its next 21-Day Equity Challenge, which starts on June 14. The 21-Day Equity Challenge is designed to be an opportunity for the whole community to improve itself by coming to a better understanding of racism and how it affects everyday life. The United Way says it hopes people all over southwest Michigan will participate in the Equity Challenge to raise awareness, shift attitudes, and change outcomes. For 21 days, participants receive an e-mail prompt with a short reading or video or audio file. They’re encouraged to take about 10 to 15 minutes each day considering the material in the prompt. Extra resources are provided in case they want to dig further into the day’s topic. The daily prompts will explore many different facets of racism and how they intersect with other social and economic issues. To join the challenge, you just have to sign up at the United Way of Southwest Michigan’s website.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan State House Passes Vaccine Passport Ban

From the Associated Press — Republicans and some Democrats in the Michigan House have passed a bill that would ban government-required COVID-19 vaccine passports, even though they do not exist and no legislative effort is being made to utilize them. The bills wording says it would ban vaccine passports or any other system where individuals’ civil rights are diminished by their COVID-19 vaccination status. The measure must first be approved by the Senate and signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Whitmer spokesman Bobby Leddy says that instead of collaborating on methods to promote vaccines and save lives, Republicans are wasting time trying to ban something that doesn’t exist. Supporters of the bill say they are concerned that one day the governor may consider vaccine mandates.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigating Benton Township Shooting

Police are investigating a murder in Benton Township on Wednesday night. The Benton Township Police Department says it happened at Briarwood Apartments on Union Street shortly after 11:30 p.m. Officers arrived at 1885 Union to find 18-year-old James Parker-Hersey with a gunshot wound to the hip. They also found 20-year-old Miquan Davis with a gunshot wound to the chest. He had been a passenger in a vehicle when shot. Both men were taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland hospital. Davis died from his injury, while Hersey is recovering. Witnesses reported the shootings occurred as a result of an attempted robbery. They reported two suspects had run from the scene to a black sedan that was waiting on Union. The suspects are described as Black males. Parker-Hersey told police he had been standing outside when he heard gun shots and then realized he was shot. The suspects remain at large and anyone with information is asked to contact the Benton Township Police Department.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Deputy, K9 Receive Award

A Berrien County Sheriff’s deputy and a department K9 have been honored for their part in catching a suspect who fled from police with his 1-year-old daughter in the vehicle last year. The sheriff’s department says Brandon Crosby and K9 Blek, pronounced “Blue,” have been honored with an Exceptional Service Award from the North American Police Work Dog Association. In March 25 of 2020, the two tracked down the suspect, a 29-year-old Portage man who was believed to be armed and dangerous. He got away from police in chase, but his vehicle was later found in Benton Harbor. Once a perimeter was set up, Deputy Crosby and Blek found the suspect hiding in a shed and brought him into custody. The 1-year-old daughter was found unharmed not far away. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says it’s very proud of the deputy and K9.. ...Read Full Story

Hartford Gets $375,00 Water Grant

Hartford is receiving a $375,000 state grant to improve its water quality. The office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer has announced more than $5 million in grants statewide as part of the MI Clean Water plan. The grants are intended to help Michigan communities strengthen drinking water infrastructure and better ensure safe, affordable tap water across the state. Recipients will use the funds to do things like replace lead service lines, enhance water affordability plans, and connect homes with contaminated drinking water wells to safe community water supplies. In addition to drinking water investments announced this week, Whitmer called on the Michigan Legislature to approve MI Clean Water funds for community wastewater treatment improvements. Also receiving a grant as part of this round is Sturgis, which has been awarded $283,000.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Nursing Home Closes Due To Staffing, Financial Issues

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs says Countryside Nursing Home in South Haven closed last week due to financial and staffing difficulties faced by its owner. The facility, which housed 40 residents, was shut down by ACM Senior Living on Thursday. LARA says “the residents were transferred to other facilities for their safety and care.” It says several organizations were involved with making sure the transfer of residents was safe and orderly. They included LARA, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Adult Protective Services, and the State Long Term Care Ombudsman’s office.. ...Read Full Story

Bills Nearing Whitmer Exempt Businesses From Taxes On PPE

From the Associated Press — Michigan businesses with COVID-19 safety protocols could retroactively seek a refund for sales taxes paid on personal protective equipment, disinfecting products and plexiglass barriers under bills nearing the desk of Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The Senate unanimously approved the Republican-sponsored legislation Wednesday. It previously cleared the House but goes back for a final vote because changes were made. The sponsor has said the cost of protective equipment is among the challenges businesses have faced in the coronavirus pandemic. It’s not clear if the Democratic governor will sign the tax break, which would reduce revenue by an unknown amount.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Senate: Lawmakers Should Know When Gov Leaves State

From the Associated Press — Senate Republicans have voted to require the lieutenant governor to make a “good-faith effort” to notify legislative leaders when the governor has left Michigan and he or she has assumed gubernatorial powers and duties. The legislation appears destined for a veto from Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer if it advances. Under the state constitution, the governor
temporarily relinquishes power when departing the state. The bill would force the governor to inform the lieutenant governor, or whoever is next in the line of succession, before leaving and when returning. That official would then have to try to give written notice to legislative leaders within 12 hours of taking over and include the expected length of the governor’s absence.. ...Read Full Story

Housing Market Still Red Hot

The housing market in southwest Michigan remains red-hot. For April, the average selling price hit $335,767, up 25% from March and up 51% from a year ago.. The median sales price was 12% higher than a year ago at $242,500. With 296 homes sold, that was 53% higher than last year and a record 1,044 homes have been sold in the first four months of the year. The previous high was in 2018 at 965. There were just 680 homes on the market, a 2.5 month supply. In April 2009, there was a 15.6 month supply with 3,452 homes on the market.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Finalizes Bias Training Rule For All Health Workers

From the Associated Press — Michigan has finalized a requirement that all 440,000 licensed or registered health workers in the state undergo annual hidden bias training to help address disparities in how patients are treated. The rule will take effect on June 1, 2022. Health workers renewing their license or registration will have to complete at least one hour of training each year. New applicants will be required to receive at least two hours. Only those in veterinary medicine will be exempt. Governor Gretchen Whitmer says the requirement will help lessen unconscious biases and improve health outcomes.. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw Public Schools Seeking Bond Proposal

Paw Paw Public Schools will place a bond proposal on the August ballot. Superintendent Rick Reo tells WSJM News the district has been studying its needs for a few years now, and conducted community forums and surveys as it planned for the bond. It’s seeking $54.6 million for a variety of work throughout its buildings.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Announces Winner Of Small Business Award

State Senator Kim LaSata’s Small Business of the Month award for June has gone to JD’s Marina of Watervliet and Sister Lakes. LaSata launched the Small Business of the Month Award this year to highlight those small businesses in southwest Michigan that make a difference. Anyone can make a nomination, and those who nominated JD’s Marina said it provides excellent service and respect for customers. LaSata says “owners Jim and Donna Vollmer, who have worked incredibly hard over three decades to turn their garage-based repair shop into an award winning, full service, inland lake marina, watercraft dealer, and job provider.” You can nominate a business for the award at LaSata’s website.. ...Read Full Story

Benson, Democrats Unveil Bills To Increase Branch Office Capacity

Increasing hours and adding staff to branch offices for the Secretary of State are the goals of two bills in the state House. Both would be in effect until September 30 and result in the ability to add 500,000 appointments to clear the COVID-19 backlog. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says they will not be returning to the take-a-number and wait system and will stick to next-day appointments.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan’s COVID-19 Orders Relaxed

As part of new health orders taking effect today in Michigan, there will no longer be capacity limits outdoors or for residential gatherings. Venues holding things like weddings can set their own pandemic rules. It seems like a return almost to normal, but Congresswoman Debbie Dingell says that as things lighten up, it’s important not to act like the pandemic is over.. ...Read Full Story

Police Remind Niles Residents To Lock Their Cars

The Niles Police Department is urging everyone to remember to lock their vehicle doors. It says locking your car door is the easiest way to limit theft opportunities and ensure the safety of yourself, your family, and your belongings. Changes in the weather usually cause an uptick in theft. However, thieves are still looking for easy targets. Niles Public Safety Director Jim Millin says they have yet to see anyone breaking a vehicle window to gain entry, showing the thieves are looking for quick access. He says the same applies to garage doors, and asks that everyone “don’t give thieves that access, even during a quick trip to the grocery store.”. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Student Among Top Artists In Poster Contest

A fifth grade student from Michigan has come in second place in the 2021 National Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest. The Michigan State Police Missing Persons Coordination Unit’s Jolene Hardesty told WSJM News last year a statewide contest seeking posters bringing attention to the issue of missing children is held each year. She said the entries sent in by kids statewide are rewarding to see.. ...Read Full Story

Utility Introducing Peak Rates For Summer

Consumers Energy is implementing a new peak summer rate starting June 1. Spokesperson Brian Wheeler tells WSJM News the company worked with the Michigan Public Service Commission to come up with a plan to give customers an incentive to reduce electricity usage during the peak summer hours of 2 to 7 p.m. on weekdays.. ...Read Full Story