Local News Archives

Paw Paw Man Dies Following Crash Last Week

Michigan State Police say an 81-year-old Paw Paw man is dead following a crash that occurred last Thursday. Troopers were called to the scene at Red Arrow Highway near 41st Street in Paw Paw Township around 11:30 a.m. They learned two vehicles were eastbound on Red Arrow Highway when the lead vehicle, a silver passenger car, attempted to make a U-turn in the middle of the road and was struck on the driver’s side front door by a trailing black passenger car. The driver of the silver car was Thomas Makowski, who later died from his injuries. The driver of the black car was a 44-year-old man from Kalamazoo. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

New COVID-19 Cases At 939

Michigan reported 939 new cases of COVID-19 for Wednesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services coronavirus dashboard shows Michigan has had a total of 577,203 COVID cases since the start of the pandemic and 15,188 deaths. There were 11 deaths reported for Wednesday.. ...Read Full Story

City Approves Plan For Grant Funds

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have approved some adjustments to the community and economic development department’s budget in order to address some HUD concerns. During a Tuesday meeting, director Alex Little said some funds from 2018 that haven’t been spent will have to be used to remove the “high risk” designation that HUD applies to Benton Harbor’s Community Development Block Grant program.. ...Read Full Story

Tigers Open Spring Training

Here’s something to think about to get your mind off the cold and snow. The Detroit Tigers have opened Spring Training in Lakeland, Florida today. Despite the coronavirus, Tigers general manager Al Avila says some fans will be able to watch the spring training games.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Man Shot; Hospitalized At Spectrum Health Lakeland

A 34-year-old Benton Harbor man is hospitalized at Spectrum Health Lakeland after being shot twice in the back late Tuesday night. Benton Township Police were called to a home in the 19-hundred block of Britian just before midnight for the shooting. The victim’s injuries are life-threatening. The suspect is only described as a black man with dreadlocks. Police have no additional information.. ...Read Full Story

Enrollment Period For Health Insurance Market Place Open Through May 15

Health insurance shoppers stuck in a bad plan or unable to find coverage have a new option for help. A sign-up window is now open for the Affordable Care Act insurance markets. The open enrollment period is available for those who don’t have coverage through work, as well as those who lost their insurance during the pandemic. Senator Gary Peters says the open enrollment period is a lifeline for those struggling.. ...Read Full Story

Police Urge Caution In Frigid Conditions

In frigid weather like we’re having this week, everyone is reminded to take steps to ensure their own safety. Michigan State Police spokesperson Dale George tells WSJM News it’s important to be bundled up in layers if you’re outside. And know the signs of cold injury like frostbite or hypothermia.. ...Read Full Story

775 Additional COVID Cases In Michigan For Tuesday

Michigan reported 775 new cases of COVID-19 for Tuesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services coronavirus dashboard shows Michigan has had a total of more than 576,000 COVID cases since the start of the pandemic and 15,177 deaths. There were 19 deaths reported for Tuesday. Berrien County was listed with 10,441 cases and 216 deaths, an increase of one over Monday. Van Buren County on Tuesday reported just nine new cases over Monday for a pandemic total of 4,633. The county has had 84 deaths, the same as Monday.. ...Read Full Story

Ice On Lake Superior Up Nearly 25% Amid Subfreezing Temps

From the Associated Press — Ice coverage on Lake Superior has increased by nearly 25% over the past week thanks to the long stretch of subfreezing temperatures. The lake was experiencing historically low percentages of ice in January. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, that changed Monday when nearly 32% of the lake had ice. That’s a rapid increase from 7% just a week ago. The Star Tribune reports that the expansion of ice coverage is good news for ice anglers, aquatic life that depend on ice cover and shorelines. Ice could cover 44% of the lake by the end of this week.. ...Read Full Story

Bodies Found In Woods Identified As Missing Couple

From the Associated Press — Bodies found in a wooded area in western Michigan have been identified as a couple who went missing earlier this month. Authorities said Monday that the deaths of Gary and Laura Johnson will be listed as homicides. Their bodies were unearthed Friday at Gourdneck State Game Area in Portage, about three miles from their home. Portage Public Safety Director Nick
Armold said last week that police entered the home Tuesday and found signs of violence after Gary’s employer said he had not logged on for work. The couple’s 27-year-old son is in custody on other charges. Police said he was found in a storage unit at an apartment building and had his parents’ car.. ...Read Full Story

Beaumont Says Vaccinations Canceled Due To Vaccine Shortage

From the Associated Press — A Detroit-area hospital system has canceled 1,884 appointments for second doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine because it didn’t receive enough from the state. Beaumont Health says Monday that it learned Friday of a significant reduction in its vaccine allocation. The appointments had been scheduled for Thursday. Beaumont Health said it was working to
automatically reschedule them to a week later at the previous times if it receives enough vaccines. Michigan has reported more than 575,400 virus cases and 15,158 deaths since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Eight deaths and 1,265 newly confirmed cases were reported Sunday and Monday.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Prepared For Heavy Snow

With lots of snow falling this week, the Michigan Department of Transportation’s fleet of plows has been plenty busy. MDOT spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News when storms are approaching, they’re already making preparations, moving plows around the service region.. ...Read Full Story

Decatur Woman Busted For Suspected Meth

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says a Decatur woman is facing a variety of charges after she was found in possession of meth. Sheriff’s deputies pulled over the 42-year-old woman in the 42,000 block of County Road 352 in Decatur Township around 7:40 a.m. after getting an anonymous tip the woman was delivering meth. A search of the vehicle turned up what police say was drug paraphernalia and the woman was taken to the Van Buren County Jail. That’s where staff found drugs. The sheriff’s department says the woman also tried to destroy several bags of presumed meth and flush it down the toilet. Deputies were able to recover 12 baggies and about seven grams of suspected meth. The woman is now charged with possession of meth and smuggling contraband into the jail, among other things.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Budgets For Firearm Ban At State Capitol

From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer included funds to implement a complete firearms ban in the state Capitol in her state budget proposal, one month after open carry was banned. The budget proposal and a concealed carry ban would have to be passed by the Republican-led Legislature whose leaders have expressed opposition to such a ban. Whitmer’s proposed $67
billion state budget proposes a $5 million allocation for improving Capitol security. The plan would finance security staffing and equipment like metal detectors needed to implement a weapons ban, including a ban on concealed pistols.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases COVID Numbers For Sunday, Monday

Michigan has started off the new week with relatively low COVID-19 numbers. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says Sunday and Monday brought 1,265 new cases of COVID. That works out to an average of 632 per each day. The state also reported just eight COVID deaths for Sunday and Monday combined, making for a pandemic total of 15,158. Michigan’s had a total more than 575,000 cases of the illness since last March. The state’s coronavirus website shows Berrien County with 26 more cases than on Saturday. Berrien County has had 215 deaths, the same as on Saturday. Van Buren County on Monday reported just six new cases over Saturday for a pandemic total of 4,624. The county has had 84 deaths, the same as Saturday. The state’s COVID vaccine dashboard shows 1.5 million vaccine doses administered statewide as of last Thursday with more than 24,200 in Berrien County and 9,700 in Van Buren County as of the same day.. ...Read Full Story

Loans Available For Businesses, Others Damaged By Fall Rain

From the Associated Press — Michigan small businesses, agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and private nonprofit organizations damaged by excessive rain September 30 can apply for federal loans. The U.S. Small Business Administration says the low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans are available in Alger, Cheboygan, Chippewa, Emmet, Luce, Mackinac and Schoolcraft counties. Loan amounts can be up to $2 million with 3% interest rates for small businesses and 2.75% for private nonprofit organizations of all sizes. The loans are not intended to replace lost sales or profits.. ...Read Full Story

Budget Proposal Includes $300 For Bridge Work

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has allocated $300 million to repair and replace 129 local bridges in her latest budget proposal. Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association Vice President of Government Relations Lance Binoniem tells Michigan News Network he supports Whitmer’s efforts and is calling on lawmakers to address the issue of road funding more broadly.. ...Read Full Story

Kent County No Longer Paying $12,000 A Day For DeVos Place For Vaccinations

Kent County no longer has to pay $12,000 to rent DeVos Place as a COVID-19 vaccination clinic. Administrator Wayman Britt says part of the reason for redoing the contract with SMG was public outcry when it was learned how much was being paid and the county commission also didn’t think it should be that much. The new deal is through March 31st and is also retroactive to January 18th. The county will pay for security, EMA, maintenance, and utilities.. ...Read Full Story

President Biden To Tour Pfizer In Portage

President Biden will make his first visit to Michigan Thursday since being elected. He will tour the Pfizer plant where they’re making COVID-19 vaccinations and meet with employees. Pfizer said last week they will be able to have the amount of vaccines promised to the U.S. done early. Between them and Moderna, Biden says the US will have enough to vaccinate 300-million people by July.. ...Read Full Story

County Broadband Survey About To Launch

A survey to learn detailed information regarding the availability of broadband internet around Berrien County will officially launch next week, but you can take it now. During this week’s Berrien County Board of Commissioners meeting, Commissioner Teri Freehling said the broadband survey will start out by asking you if you have a fixed internet connection at your home.. ...Read Full Story

Saturday COVID Cases Up 852

Michigan is reporting 852 new cases of COVID-19 for Saturday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says that brings the state’s total to 574,224 since the pandemic started in March. There were 88 additional deaths to report for Saturday, with 84 being from vital records reviews. The state has had a total of 15,150 COVID deaths. The state coronavirus website on Saturday showed Berrien County with 14 more cases than Friday, with a pandemic total of 10,396 and 215 deaths, an increase of one. Van Buren County was listed with a total of 4,618 cases, an increase of eight from Friday, and 84 deaths.. ...Read Full Story

I&M Previews Transmission Line Project

Indiana Michigan Power has launched a virtual open house for a transmission line project it has planned for the Benton Harbor area. It says the Benton Harbor-Fair Plain Transmission Line Rebuild Project is designed to ensure customers in Benton Harbor and Fair Plain have reliable electric service, and part of it will involve the upgrade of wooden power poles to steel monopoles. Other parts of the project will include upgrading about seven miles of transmission line and rebuilding some sections of the high voltage transmission line. The $17 million project is presented in detail with the virtual open house at IndianaMichiganPower.com/BentonHarbor. The work is scheduled to start in the fall of 2022 and conclude in the fall of 2023.. ...Read Full Story

Road Agency Reminds Drivers To Give Plows Plenty Of Room

The Van Buren County Road Commission is reminding everyone of some safety tips with all of this snow on the ground. The agency says it’s important for everyone to do what they can to give snow plow operators a break. For the kids, the agency asks they don’t make snow forts or tunnels next to roads. It also reminds the kids not to play in or next to the road. Homeowners are reminded to keep garbage cans in the driveway or garage and not on the side of the road if it’s not collection day and to stay away from the end of the driveway when plows are out. Drivers are reminded to wear seat belts, give themselves plenty of time, and to never pass a plow. Also, the road department reiterates its winter time slogan, “Don’t crowd the plow.” It says plow drivers have limited visibility so it is best not to drive next to them.. ...Read Full Story

Tuition Going Up Slightly At SMC

Tuition at Southwestern Michigan College is going up slightly. During Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday, a tuition hike of 1%, or $1.25 per contact hour, for in-district students was approved. There will also be increases of $1.75, or 1.1%, for in-state students, and 1% for out of state or international students. SMC President Joe Odenwald said the increases will be offset by significantly-increased scholarship offerings. Odenwald noted enrollment for spring is up by 180 students, partly due to new students enrolled in the Futures for Frontliners program. He also said plans are being made for in-person commencement ceremonies this May. They would be held outdoors.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Aims To Help Human Trafficking Victims

A bipartisan package of legislation has been introduced in the Michigan House to fight human trafficking. State Representative Pauline Wendzel tells WSJM News the 23 bill package aims to help victims by clearing their records of crimes they may have committed because they were trafficked and letting them use that as a defense. She says there have been more than 7,000 human trafficking victims identified in the state in the last ten years, which is why reforms are needed.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Could Get A Social District

The city of South Haven is looking at the possibility of establishing a social district. Legislation signed last year by Governor Gretchen Whitmer allows communities to set them up as common drinking areas. South Haven City Manager Kate Hosier tells WSJM News something like that could be a boost to outdoor dining.. ...Read Full Story

Bill Aims To Prevent Domestic Terrorism

Congressman Fred Upton has signed on as a supporter of the newly re-introduced Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act. He told WSJM News the act passed the House last year but got caught up in the Senate. It’s designed to bolster the government’s ability to prevent acts of domestic terrorism by authorizing offices dedicated to fighting the threat, requiring them to assess threats, and providing training and resources to police agencies.. ...Read Full Story

State: Multiple Options For Vaccine Sign-Up

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is urging everyone to get themselves signed up for a COVID-19 vaccine as we wait for more doses to be available. Kerry Ebersole is a special advisor for the Protect Michigan Commission, and tells WSJM News local health departments are signing people up, and there are other avenues for getting on a waiting list.. ...Read Full Story

20th Anniversary Of Steven Kraft Jr Disappearance On Monday

Monday marks 20 years since 12-year-old Steven Kraft went missing in Benton Township, and it’s a case police are still working on. On February 16 of 2001, the Benton Township Police Department took a report that Steven had gone missing while walking his two dogs between 7 and 8 p.m. in the 2100 block of Holly near his home. In the following days, there was a search that included the use of dogs, helicopters, police, and volunteers. Kraft’s dogs were found days after his disappearance, and police have gotten hundreds of tips in the case. Benton Township Police Chief Brian Smit tells WSJM News they still have an active tip line for the case, and he wants anyone with any information to call it.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases COVID Numbers For Friday

Michigan is reporting 1,193 new cases of COVID-19 for Friday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says that brings the state’s total to more than 573,000 since the pandemic started in March. There were ten additional deaths to report for Friday, while the state has had a total of 15,062 COVID deaths. The state coronavirus website on Friday showed Berrien County with 26 more cases than on Thursday, with a pandemic total of 10,382 and 214 deaths, an increase of one. Van Buren County was listed with a total of 4,610 cases, an increase of just seven over Thursday, and 84 deaths, a decrease of one. The state’s vaccine dashboard shows Michigan has administered more than 1.4 million doses as of Wednesday. Berrien County has administered 23,600 doses and Van Buren has administered just under 9,100.. ...Read Full Story

Court Rejects Restriction On Use Of Medical Marijuana

From the Associated Press — Judges can’t prevent people from using medical marijuana while on probation for a crime. The Michigan appeals court ruled in the case of a man who was barred from using medical marijuana for a year despite having a state-issued card. The appeals court says Michigan’s medical marijuana law can trump other laws that conflict with it. The case involved Michael Thue,
who was serving a year of probation for a road rage incident in the Traverse City area. Thue’s probation ended in December, making the result moot for him. But the appeals court says the issue needed clarity for any future cases.. ...Read Full Story

Blossomtime Festival Pageants Postponed Until September

Community Blossomtime Festival pageants are on hold until September. The board of directors has decided due to COVID-19 it is “the most responsible and respectful action we can take at this time.” Festival officials say they are using the down time for a reset and say they still want to be able to continue several spring traditions, including the Blessing of the Blossoms. They area also expanding the age limit for the 2021-2022 pageant season and will allow those between 17 and 20 to take part for just this season. The Blossomtime Festival is the oldest, largest, multi-community Festival in Michigan, celebrating 115 years this year.. ...Read Full Story

County Commissioner Previews Broadband Survey

A survey to learn detailed information regarding the availability of broadband internet around Berrien County will officially launch next week, but you can take it now. During Thursday’s Berrien County Board of Commissioners meeting, Commissioner Teri Freehling said the broadband survey will start out by asking you if you have a fixed internet connection at your home.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Board Approves Slight Tuition Increase

Tuition at Southwestern Michigan College is going up slightly. During Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday, a tuition hike of 1%, or $1.25 per contact hour, for in-district students was approved. There will also be increases of $1.75, or 1.1%, for in-state students, and 1% for out of state or international students. SMC President Joe Odenwald said the increases will be offset by significantly-increased scholarship offerings. Odenwald noted enrollment for spring is up by 180 students, partly due to new students enrolled in the Futures for Frontliners program. He also said plans are being made for in-person commencement ceremonies this May. They would be held outdoors.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases COVID Numbers For Thursday

Michigan is reporting 1,284 new cases of COVID-19 for Thursday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says that brings the state’s total to more than 572,000 since the pandemic started in March. There were 75 additional deaths to report for Thursday, 55 of which were identified through a review of vital records. The state has had a total of 15,052 COVID deaths. The state coronavirus website on Thursday showed Berrien County with just 15 more cases than on Wednesday, with a pandemic total of 10,356 and 213 deaths, an increase of four. Van Buren County was listed with a total of 4,603 cases, an increase of twelve over Wednesday, and 85 deaths, an increase of one. The state’s vaccine dashboard shows Michigan has administered just under 1.4 million doses as of Tuesday. Berrien County has administered 22,100 doses and Van Buren has administered 8,600.. ...Read Full Story

Five To Be Interviewed For St. Joseph City Commission

Five people will be interviewed Monday evening by the St. Joseph City Commission to fill the seat vacated by Commissioner Peggy Getty. Of the 14 applicants, the commission selected Anthony Pastrick, Brook Thomas, Jason Vetne, Michael Sarola, and Michele Turner-Binkley. Commissioner Jeff Richards responded to a question if a choice was to be made Monday.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer: Delayed Aid May Slow Vaccines; Senate Has $2B Plan

From the Associated Press — Governor Gretchen Whitmer is pressing state lawmakers to allocate billions in federal COVID-19 aid, warning that a delay could slow Michigan’s vaccination rate and efforts to reopen schools and help ailing businesses. The push Tuesday coincided with Senate Republicans’ release of a $2.2 billion coronavirus relief plan, less than half of what the Democratic
governor proposed. Six weeks after Congress and then-President Donald Trump enacted the most recent round of funding, the GOP-led Legislature and governor have not agreed to disburse the aid – for vaccine distribution and virus testing, K-12 schools, businesses, emergency rental assistance and other priorities.. ...Read Full Story

County Mobile Alert System Tested Successfully

A test of Berrien County’s emergency alert systems was done this past Friday, although some residents have been wondering why they didn’t receive it. The county switched from the emergency sirens to the mobile device-based Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, or IPAWS, system this year. Berrien County Emergency Management Coordinator Rockey Adams tells WSJM News for people to receive the tests of the system, they need to set up their phone to receive them.. ...Read Full Story

Wendzel Introduces Human Trafficking Legislation

A bipartisan package of legislation has been introduced in the Michigan House to fight human trafficking. State Representative Pauline Wendzel tells WSJM News the 23 bill package aims to help victims by clearing their records of crimes they may have committed because they were trafficked and letting them use that as a defense. She says there have been more than 7,000 human trafficking victims identified in the state in the last ten years, which is why reforms are needed.. ...Read Full Story

915 New Cases Of COVID In Michigan Wednesday

Michigan is reporting 915 new cases of COVID-19 for Wednesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says that brings the state’s total to more than 570,000 since the pandemic started in March. There were 12 additional deaths to report for Wednesday, making the state’s death total 14,704. The state coronavirus website on Wednesday showed Berrien County with 22 more cases than on Tuesday, with a pandemic total of 10,341 and 209 deaths, an increase of zero. Van Buren County was listed with a total of 4,591 cases, an increase of eleven over Tuesday, and 84 deaths, the same as the day before. The state’s vaccine dashboard shows 1.3 million doses administered so far as of Monday. Berrien County has more than 20,700 administered and Van Buren has had a little more than 8,000.. ...Read Full Story

Couple In Their 60s Missing From Kalamazoo-Area Home

From the Associated Press — Police checking on a Kalamazoo-area man who didn’t report to work online put yellow tape around the property. Officers also brought shovels to the backyard. Gary and Laura Johnson, both in their mid-60s, were not at their Portage home, but officers found “signs of violence.” Public Safety Director Nick Armold says there’s no “rational explanation” for their
disappearance. Police arrived at the home Tuesday and remained there Wednesday morning. One vehicle was found at the house while another was discovered at a different location.. ...Read Full Story