Local News Archives

Brothers Electrocuted While Moving Boat

Two brothers are recovering after they were electrocuted in Cass County over the weekend. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department says deputies were called to the scene in the 61,000 block of Daily Road in LaGrange Township shortly before 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. They learned 31-year-old Austin Francis of Kalamazoo and Cassopolis and 19-year-old Lane Francis of Cassopolis had been moving a sailboat when the mast struck a power line running to the house. Both brothers were electrocuted and moved away from the lines by rescuers. They were treated at the scene with AEDs and then taken to South Bend Memorial Hospital. They’ve since been transferred to a hospital in Fort Wayne and are listed in stable condition.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Woman Killed When Hit By Golf Cart

A Dowagiac woman is dead after being struck by a golf cart on Friday afternoon. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department says it happened at her home in the 25,000 block of 67th Street in Wayne Township around 1:30. First responders arrived at the scene to learn the 79-year-old Patricia Corbidge was in her yard when she was hit by a golf cart driven by her 82-year-old husband. First responders tried to revive her without success. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Seeks To Share Its COVID Story

The United Way of Southwest Michigan is teaming up with other United Way organizations from around the state for a campaign to tell the story about what they’ve been doing to help their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. United Way of Southwest Michigan President Anna Murphy tells WSJM News “United We Will” shares 19 response stories.. ...Read Full Story

MSU Football Suspends Workouts Due To Virus Infections

From the Associated Press — The Michigan State University football team has suspended workouts and its players will quarantine for 14 days after a second staff member and a player tested positive for the coronavirus. Meanwhile, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has extended a ban on family visitors at nursing homes and congregate care sites through August 31. There’s an exception for people who want to see someone in serious or critical condition or in hospice care. Facilities must make “best efforts” to help residents communicate with people by phone or electronic devices. The state health department reported 594 new cases and three
additional deaths Friday. About 3.7% of tests have been positive this week.. ...Read Full Story

Cherry Beach Gets New Staircase

There’s a new staircase now installed at Cherry Beach in Chikaming Township. The old staircase was destroyed by high water levels and wild conditions on Lake Michigan back in January. Chikaming Township Supervisor David Bunte tells us the township was going to wait to replace the stairs until the lake level went down, but then some residents started a crowdfunding effort for a new staircase. They managed to raise more than $7,000, and the stairs got the approval of the township inspector this week. The stairs were officially reopened on Friday. Meanwhile, the planned expansion of Cherry Beach got a major boost this week when the Michigan Legislature approved the next round of Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grants. They included more than $2 million for Chikaming Township to buy property adjacent to the beach.. ...Read Full Story

Grant To Mean Expansion Of Berrien Park

Berrien County will expand Paw Paw River County Park in Watervliet thanks to a state grant. The Michigan Legislature this week signed off a list of Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund projects for 2020. Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey tells WSJM News that includes $80,000 to purchase land next to Paw Paw River County Park.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Would Exempt PPE From Sales Tax

Legislation has been introduced in Lansing to eliminate the sales tax on purchases of personal protective equipment in Michigan. State Senator Aric Nesbitt introduced the bill as a way to help residents and businesses as they try to fight the coronavirus. Nesbitt says his bill would apply to masks, face shields, respirators, gloves, safety glasses, disinfectant, hand sanitizer, and soap. Nesbitt says everyone is seeing costs go up due to COVID-19, and his plan would “provide some relief to those who are already struggling and encourage people to follow safety protocols.” Nesbitt’s bills to eliminate sales and use taxes on PPE have been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.. ...Read Full Story

594 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 In Michigan For Friday

Michigan is reporting 594 additional cases of COVID-19 for Friday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 76,541 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported three additional deaths for Friday. The total number of deaths statewide is now 6,151. Berrien County reported 13 additional cases of the illness for Friday, now at a total of 1,029 cases with 63 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Cass County had four new cases for the day, now with a total of 231 cases and eight deaths. Van Buren County had twelve new cases to report for Friday, bringing its total to 315 cases and nine deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Extends Ban On Visitors At Nursing Homes

From the Associated Press — Governor Gretchen Whitmer has extended a ban on family visitors at nursing homes and congregate care sites through August 31. There’s an exception for people who want to see someone in serious or critical condition or in hospice care. Whitmer’s office announced an extension of her previous order Thursday night. Facilities must make “best efforts” to help residents communicate with people by phone or electronic devices. Some people in nursing homes and assisted-living centers have only seen visitors through their window.. ...Read Full Story

State Education Official Slams Lawmakers Over Back To School Plans

The vice president of the Michigan Board of Education is taking aim at legislators, accusing them of placing the economy above the health of the state’s children in the push to reopen in the fall. Pamela Pugh says she fears school buildings and their ventilation systems have been so neglected that they will hasten the airborne spread of COVID 19. Especially, Pugh says, in hard hit areas like Detroit, where officials were willing to spend money on the new Little Caesar’s Arena.. ...Read Full Story

Groups Call for Stronger Response In Enbridge Line 5 Saga

Some water quality groups say Michigan needs to take a stronger stance against Enbridge for its refusal to assume responsibility for losses related to a potential Line 5 oil pipeline failure in the Great Lakes. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced on Wednesday the pipeline company has not agreed to provide a minimum of $900 million in liability insurance to cover all damages and losses caused to property or individuals due to the operation of the pipelines through the Straits of Mackinac. Liz Kirkwood with advocacy group FLOW says that while financial assurances are nice, they can’t keep the Great Lakes whole.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers Seek Reforms With MI Jails, Courts

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers is highlighting a package of bills on jail and pretrial reforms. They say the bills address factors which contribute to Michigan’s county jail populations while balancing the goals of protecting the public and safeguarding the rights of everyone. State Representative Tenisha Yancey, a Democrat, supports the plan.. ...Read Full Story

Senate Approves Several Parks Projects In Southwest Michigan

The Michigan Senate has approved a list of Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund projects for 2020, including three development projects and two acquisition projects in Berrien and Cass counties. The office of State Senator Kim LaSata says the Natural Resources Trust Fund uses money from the development of state-owned mineral rights to pay for parks and recreation projects all over the state. Included in this year’s list is more than $2.4 million for Chikaming Township for its Cherry Beach Project. That will enable the township to buy land next to the current Cherry Beach to expand it. Also approved is $300,000 for the Range Line Trailhead Development project in Berrien Township, $300,000 for the village of Cassopolis Connector Development Project, and $80,000 to expand the Paw Paw River County Park in Berrien County. The bill approved by the Senate includes a total of $28.7 million to support 18 acquisition projects and 60 recreational development projects throughout the state.. ...Read Full Story

Court Decision Could Mean No Demolition Fund For Berrien County

A decision from the Michigan Supreme Court is having major implications for Berrien County. During a Thursday meeting of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners, Community Development Director Dan Fette said the state court recently ruled that when a county sells a foreclosed property, any money it makes off that sale beyond the property’s value should be given back to the former, or foreclosed, owner of the property. In Berrien County, funds from the sale of foreclosed properties go into the foreclosure fund, which pays for demolitions of blighted properties. With the new court decision, Fette says that’s out.. ...Read Full Story

State House Approves Return To Learn Plan

The Michigan House has approved a plan for getting students back to school this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic. State Representative Beth Griffin tells WSJM News the Return to Learn plan empowers local school districts and health departments to work together to develop health and safety standards that are best for their unique areas. She says lawmakers talked with local education leaders while crafting the package.. ...Read Full Story

699 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 In Michigan For Thursday

Michigan is reporting 699 additional cases of COVID-19 for Thursday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 75,947 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported seven additional deaths for Thursday, although six of them were identified through a review of vital records around the state. The total number of deaths statewide is now 6,148. Berrien County reported 30 additional cases of the illness for Thursday, now at a total of 1,016 cases with 63 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Cass County had nine new cases for the day, now with a total of 227 cases and eight deaths. Van Buren County had twelve new cases to report for Thursday, bringing its total to 303 cases and nine deaths.. ...Read Full Story

MSU Will Set Aside Dorm For Students Who Have Virus

From the Associated Press — Michigan State University says it will take a residence hall out of regular service and use it for students who test positive for the coronavirus. Students who signed up to live on campus can move to Akers Hall or return home for a certain period if they become infected. The dorm can hold roughly 500 people. Housing spokeswoman Kat Cooper says the Akers strategy
could create a housing shortage, although it’s not seen as likely at this time. MSU students, staff and visitors are required to wear masks on campus. The fall term starts September 2.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker Wants More Transparency With Drug Prices

State Representative Hank Vaupel, chair of the Michigan House Health Policy Committee, introduced a plan in Lansing on Tuesday to improve prescription drug price transparency in Michigan. The bipartisan proposal requires drug manufacturers to submit information about how their products are priced to the Michigan Department of Information and Financial Services. Vaupel told Michigan News Network the comprehensive plan is encompassed in nine bills.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer: Enbridge Dodging Responsibility For Potential Spill

From the Associated Press — Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer says Enbridge is falling short of a clear pledge to pay for any spill from its oil pipeline in a Great Lakes channel. Whitmer’s administration is pushing the Canadian company for an airtight, written promise to cover any costs of a spill from Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac. Enbridge says it already provided such assurances under
a 2018 deal with former Governor Rick Snyder to build a tunnel that would house a new pipeline in the straits. Whitmer says that agreement was signed by subsidiaries but not by Enbridge Inc., their parent company. Enbridge says the parent company is bound by the same deal.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Sees Huge Absentee Turnout

The Michigan Secretary of State reports absentee ballot numbers continue to grow steadily ahead of the August 4 state primary, with more than 1.8 million requested and more than 600,000 already returned. The total number of absentee ballots cast in the August 2016 state primary was just 484,000. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says the volume of ballots they’re seeing this year “underscores the near universal enthusiasm Michigan voters share for casting their ballot in a way that is safe, secure, and convenient.” Voters in 2018 amended the state constitution to allow all Michigan voters to cast ballots from home. The first statewide election after that amendment passed was the March 10, 2020, presidential primary, which occurred before there were any known cases of COVID-19 in Michigan. In that primary, one million absent-voter ballots were issued, compared to the 1.8 million already issued for August 4 now the COVID is here.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Bringing Back Competitive Cross Country

Southwestern Michigan College is bringing back some athletics. The SMC Board of Trustees voted on Wednesday for the return of men’s and women’s cross-country for the fall of 2021. Board Chair Thomas Jerdon tells WSJM News that’s 25 years after the college dropped sports. He says he asked SMC President Joe Odenwald to study the idea of bringing back cross-country.. ...Read Full Story

523 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 In Michigan For Wednesday

Michigan is reporting 523 additional cases of COVID-19 for Wednesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 75,248 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported six additional deaths for Wednesday, bringing that total to 6,141. Berrien County reported eight additional cases of the illness for Wednesday, now at a total of 986 cases with 61 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Cass County had seven new cases for the day, now with a total of 218 cases and eight deaths. Van Buren County had twelve new cases to report for Wednesday, bringing its total to 291 cases and eight deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Man Who Painted Native American School Mural In 1975 Offers To Cover It

From the Associated Press — The man who painted a mural of an American Indian at a school gym in 1975 says he’s willing to cover it up if the western Michigan district drops the Indians nickname. The superintendent and school board president in Saugatuck say it’s time to reexamine it. The 800-student district discussed the issue Monday during a school board meeting held by video conference. John Fox, a member of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, painted the mural decades ago. He says he’d paint a new logo at no charge. The board didn’t take a vote Monday. Meanwhile, the Clinton district is dropping the Redskins nickname after the NFL’s Washington Redskins did the same.. ...Read Full Story

MI Real Estate Market Seeing Rebound

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the Michigan real estate industry is experiencing a strong sellers market. Inventory is extremely low and home prices are on the rise. Frank Tarala, president of Realcomp, told Michigan News Network this week the inventory is especially low when it comes to entry-level single-family homes.. ...Read Full Story

One Dead After Wrong-Way Crash In Niles Township

A Benton Harbor man is dead following a crash in Niles Township early Wednesday morning. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says deputies were sent to St. Joseph Valley Parkway shortly before 3 a.m. on a report of an SUV driving north in the southbound lane around mile marker 6. While on their way, they were told of a head-on crash at mile marker 9. Officers from the Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Police Department and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department arrived at the scene to find a 29-year-old woman outside of her SUV and refusing medical treatment. They also found the driver of a car who had been thrown from his vehicle in the crash. That driver has been identified as 28-year-old Darnell Johnson of Benton Harbor. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police say the 29-year-old woman who was driving the SUV was taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland to be treated for her injuries. Police believe she had been drinking prior to the crash, and they will seek charges of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and causing death.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Fatal Shooting At Gas Station

The Benton Township Police Department is investigating a murder at a gas station late on Tuesday. It says officers were called to the Phillips 66 gas station at 1117 Pipestone shortly after 11 p.m. on a report of a shooting. When they arrived, they learned the victim had already been taken by a good Samaritan to Spectrum Health Lakeland in St. Joseph. However, the victim was pronounced dead at the hospital. The victim has been identified as 19-year-old Taj Carter of Benton Township. Police say Carter was shot in the parking lot of the gas station by someone in a red four door sedan. It’s not known how many people were in that vehicle. It sped off after the shooting. Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to contact the Benton Township Police Department.. ...Read Full Story

Realtors Association Holding Blood Drive Today

The Southwestern Michigan Association of realtors is hosting a community blood drive this week with the American Red Cross. Set for Wednesday, the event is intended to help the Red Cross overcome a massive drop in blood donations. The drive on Wednesday will be held from noon to 5:45 p.m. at Hidden Pointe Hall on Nickerson Avenue in Benton Harbor. The realtors association says there’ an urgent need for blood in the area, and the drive is “our way of allowing staff, colleagues, and neighbors an opportunity to help save lives.” You can make an appointment to help. Just go to RedCrossBlood.org and use the sponsor code SWMAR.. ...Read Full Story

Report Looks At Possible Mental Health Effects Of Pandemic

A new report looks at the mental health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, predicting a 32% increase in suicides in the coming year if something isn’t done to help those who are struggling. Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, based in Grand Rapids, commissioned the report. Co-author Scott Halstead tells WSJM News it shows those who are the most at risk include healthcare professionals.. ...Read Full Story

Three Oaks Bank Robber Sentenced To 18 Years

A man who robbed a bank in Three Oaks last year has been sentenced to 18 years in prison. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Grand Rapids says David Wilson Floyd, formerly of Michigan City, Indiana, went into the New Buffalo Savings Bank in Three Oaks on September 9 of 2019 with a bag on his head. He flashed a gun at the teller and said, “Get your money out.” He then made off with more than $11,000. The U.S Attorney says Floyd is also responsible for several convenience store and gas station robberies around northern Indiana and southwest Michigan between June and September of 2019. As part of Floyd’s sentence, he will also have to pay restitution.. ...Read Full Story

Large Equipment Moves Through Area, More To Come Wednesday

If you were anywhere along John Beers Road on Tuesday afternoon, you may have seen a “super load,” as it’s being called, transported through the area. The Berrien County Road Department says large pieces of equipment bound for a Cass County gas plant were moved from I-94 to Jon Beers to M-139. That caused traffic to be closed to other vehicles. The road department now tells us the next shipment of that kind is expected Wednesday of this week. It’s expected to disrupt traffic along John Beers between around noon and 2 p.m.. ...Read Full Story

Abortion Foes Drop Petition Drive

From the Associated Press — Abortion opponents say they’re dropping a petition drive to prohibit a second-trimester procedure in Michigan. State election officials said the campaign didn’t produce enough valid signatures. Right to Life of Michigan says it won’t contest the conclusion when the Board of State Canvassers meets Friday. Abortion opponents want to outlaw dilation and evacuation in most instances, a procedure in which a fetus is removed in pieces with a surgical instrument. Under Michigan law, an initiative goes to the Legislature if advocates submit at least 340,000 valid signatures. But in this case, the state elections bureau said many signatures were disqualified.. ...Read Full Story

Gyms Closed For Months Hold Protest Workout

From the Associated Press — Dozens of people squatted, thrusted and lunged on the lawn of the Michigan Capitol. It was a workout intended to highlight the plight of gyms that have been closed for months under Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus orders. Alyssa Tushman, vice chair of the Michigan Fitness Club Association, says gyms are “desperately in need of help.” Whitmer in March
ordered gyms closed, along with casinos and theaters, in an effort to slow down the rate of coronavirus infection. Gyms in the northern Michigan were allowed to open with restrictions on June 10. A judge had ordered other gyms to open on June 25, but an appeals court blocked it when Whitmer objected.. ...Read Full Story

No One Hurt In House Fire Near South Haven

No one is hurt following a house fire in Allegan County’s Casco Township on Monday. South Haven Area Emergency Services says it responded to the blaze at 143 Blue Star Highway around 8:45 p.m. The homeowner had been trying to start a generator when it burst into flames. Unable to call for help, the homeowner drove about a mile to a SHAES fire station on Blue Star Highway. By the time firefighters got to the property, the fire had spread into the house and through the attic. The home received extensive damage. On the plus side, the homeowner’s cat, originally feared dead in the fire, was later found safe.. ...Read Full Story

573 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 In Michigan For Tuesday

Michigan is reporting 573 additional cases of COVID-19 for Tuesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 74,725 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported nine additional deaths for Tuesday, bringing that total to 6,135. Four of those deaths were the result of a regular review of vital records from around the state. Berrien County reported 20 additional cases of the illness for Tuesday, now at a total of 978 cases with 61 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Cass County had one new case for the day, now with a total of 211 cases and eight deaths. Van Buren County had two new cases to report for Tuesday, bringing its total to 279 cases and eight deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Bicycling Sees Jump In Popularity

A lot of things have seen a spike in popularity in recent months because of COVID-19 as people are kept from doing their usual activities. For example, more people are riding bicycles than ever. Matt Penniman is with the League of Michigan Bicyclists, which promotes bicycling in Michigan. He spoke with Michigan News Network about what’s been going on with biking.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Youth Fair To Bring Back Grandstand Shows Planned For 2020 Next Year

The Berrien County Youth Fair may not be happening this year, but you’ll still be able to see the grandstand shows that had been planned, only in 2021. The youth fair says after the decision to postpone the 75th annual Berrien County Youth Fair, leadership got to work trying to secure the same grandstand acts for next year, and they have been successful. Therefore, the 2021 schedule will be the same as what was planned for 2020. That means the tractor pull will be on Monday, August 16 of 2021, followed by Circus Continental on Tuesday, the Oak Ridge Boys on Wednesday, Granger Smith on Thursday, the Demolition Derby on Friday, and Bullmania on Saturday. Those who already purchased tickets for the 2020 BCYF grandstand show can either have their ticket rolled over for 2021 or get a refund.. ...Read Full Story

Railroad Crossings To Be Closed For Maintenance In Galien Area

Maintenance work on some Amtrak railroad crossings will begin this week in the Galien area, meaning those crossings will be closed to traffic. The Berrien County Road Department says the Cleveland Avenue Amtrak railroad crossing in the village of Galien and Smith Road Amtrak railroad crossing in Galien Township will be affected starting this Thursday. There will be detours posted. The maintenance work is expected to continue through August 7.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT To Hold Meeting On Paw Paw Construction Project

The Michigan Department of Transportation is inviting Paw Paw area residents to an online discussion it’s going to host about an upcoming road project. It’s reconstructing the I-94 interchange at M-40 in Paw Paw. MDOT is seeking the input of local businesses, residents, and community leaders before the work starts. The meeting will take place on July 30 at 4 p.m. You can register in advance right here.. ...Read Full Story