Local News Archives

Fatal Shooting Under Investigation In Allegan County

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a Thursday fatal shooting in Lee Township. It says deputies responded to the scene near the 500 block of 55th Street around 6:15 p.m. and found a 50-year-old man dead. A 62-year-old man was still at the home, and was taken into custody. He’s now being held at the Allegan County Jail on a charge of open murder. The name of the victim and the name of the suspect have not been released, not have police revealed what led to the shooting.. ...Read Full Story

State Reports 762 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 For Friday, No Additional Deaths

Michigan is reporting 762 additional cases of COVID-19 for Friday. The state also says it’s had zero new deaths for the day. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services puts the total number of COVID cases since the start of the pandemic at 86,191 with 6,247 deaths. While the state coronavirus website as of Friday afternoon hadn’t updated the county totals, the Berrien County Health Department says the county did have fewer new confirmed COVID-19 cases than were recorded in each of the previous four weeks. However, it says “the majority of our new cases are from widespread community transmission across the entire county,” while it is seeing new clusters of the illness appear. Berrien County reported one additional death from COVID-19 this week.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Extends Emergency Declaration

From the Associated Press — Governor Gretchen Whitmer has extended Michigan’s coronavirus emergency through September 4, enabling her to keep in place restrictions designed to curb COVID-19. The Democratic governor on Friday pointed to an uptick in
cases. Since nearly two months ago, the seven-day statewide average is up six-fold, to about 700, per an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. The rate of positive tests also has trended higher since early June. Whitmer has used the emergency declaration to issue orders to close certain businesses, limit gathering sizes and require masks in enclosed public spaces and crowded outdoor places.. ...Read Full Story

University Of Michigan Getting $6 Million To Engage More Business Students

From the Associated Press — Two successful graduates are committing $6 million to help the University of Michigan expand opportunities for students in real estate and investing. Stephen Ross and Jeff Blau say they want to help minorities as well as students from low-income backgrounds. Their goals include getting students interested in business even before attending U of M, making school more affordable and offering internships. Ross is chairman and founder of Related Companies, which has more than $60 billion in real estate assets, and owner of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. Blau is chief executive officer of Related Companies.. ...Read Full Story

Senator Launching Investigation Into Postal Service Delays

From the Associated Press — A Democratic senator says he is launching an investigation into changes at the U.S. Postal Service that are causing delays in deliveries across the country. Democrats say the delays will be especially bad because of an expected big volume increase for mail-in ballots ahead of the November election. A plan imposed by Louis DeJoy, a Republican fundraiser who took over
the top job at the Postal Service in June, eliminates overtime for hundreds of thousands of postal workers and orders that mail be kept until the next day if distribution centers are running late. Michigan Senator Gary Peters says delays “are preventing Americans from critical mail on-time, including prescription drugs, business mail and mail-in ballots.”. ...Read Full Story

Veggie Van Coming To Benton Harbor

Coming to Benton Harbor this month will be the famous Veggie Van. It’s a mobile food pantry that distributes fresh fruits and vegetables to anyone who wants them, and it’s offered thanks to a partnership between Spectrum Health and the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids. Spectrum Health Lakeland tells us the van will be at the Benton Harbor Public Library on East Wall Street on Thursday, August 20 from noon to 4 p.m. Those who stop by are asked to stay in their vehicle as the service is drive-thru. The goal of the program is to ensure fruits and vegetables are available to people who otherwise have limited access to fresh produce.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Signs Off On Watervliet Drainage Project

A major drainage project will be done in Watervliet this year in tandem with water system improvements. The Berrien County Board of Commissioners signed off on the $2.6 million South Watervliet Drainage District project Thursday. Watervliet City Manager Tyler Dotson told the board the drain work by the Berrien County Drain Commissioner will take place at the same time as water main improvements and the replacement of lead and copper intakes in the southwest corner of the city.. ...Read Full Story

Record Number Of Primary Ballots Cast

A record 2.5 million votes were cast in Michigan’s primary, as people took advantage of no-excuse absentee voting amid the coronavirus pandemic. The count released Thursday surpassed the previous record of 2.2 million from 2018, when – unlike Tuesday – there were contested statewide contests for governor and U.S. Senate. Nearly one-third of the state’s voting-age population participated. About 1.6 million ballots were absentee, returned by mail or at drop boxes – topping the record of 1.3 million from November 2016. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says the turnout proves people want to vote despite the pandemic.. ...Read Full Story

New COVID-19 Cases Up

The state has 722 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, putting the overall number at 85,429 since March. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is reporting 26 new COVID-19 deaths as of Thursday for a total of 6,247. In southwest Michigan, Berrien County is at 1,155 up by 20 and the number of deaths remains at 65. Cass County is up 11 cases to 294 and with two additional deaths to bring that total to 13. In Van Buren County, there are three new coronavirus cases to bring that count to 389 cases and ten people dead.. ...Read Full Story

Another Record Month For Home Sales

Another month means another record for selling prices of existing homes in southwest Michigan. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors says key to that is 24% fewer homes on the market from July 2019 in Allegan, Berrien, Cass, and the western 2/3 of Van Buren counties. The average sales price was $337,697, 12% higher than June’s $300,418 while the median selling price dropped 2% from the month before to $230,000. The number of houses sold increased 51% from June 2020 and July 2019. At 479 houses, July 2020 set a staggering record in the year-over-year comparison. The second best year was July 2018, with 390 homes sold.. ...Read Full Story

New COVID-19 Cases Remain High

The state has more than 100 fewer new COVID-19 cases than it did on Wednesday, but the number remains high at 542. That brings the total cases since March to 86,249. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is reporting 26 new COVID-19 deaths as of Thursday for a total of 6,247. In southwest Michigan, Berrien County is at 1,155 up by 20 and the number of deaths remains at 65. Cass County is up 11 cases to 294 and with two additional deaths to bring that total to 13. In Van Buren County, there are three new coronavirus cases to bring that count to 389 cases and ten people dead.. ...Read Full Story

Dice Game Argument Leads To Shooting

An argument during a dice game on Agard in Benton Township last night has resulted in a 33-year-old white man being hospitalized at Spectrum Health Lakeland with a gunshot wound. Witnesses tell township police the victim was shot by a black man with a semi-automatic handgun. He fired at the ground near his victim’s feet, another that hit him in the midsection, and several more as he ran off. Police have not identified the man yet, and are asking anyone with information to call their detective bureau at 269-925-1135 or Crime Stoppers at 574-288-STOP. We have both numbers on our website.. ...Read Full Story

Semi Crash Causes One Death On I-94

Baroda-Lake Township Police are investigating a deadly crash on I-94 Wednesday night that shut down the westbound lanes for about 5 hours. Just before 7:30, an eastbound semi went off the road, through the cable barrier, and crashed into a westbound semi. That truck then hit a Mercedes-Benz SUV. All three vehicles caught on fire, and the Illinois man driving the SUV was killed at the scene. Both semi drivers are at Spectrum Health Lakeland in St. Joseph, and no names have yet been released. The eastbound truck that caused the crash was driven by a 63-year-old man from Wisconsin, while the westbound semi was driven by a 50-year-old from Illinois.. ...Read Full Story

Couple In Confederate Flag Flap Finds Scandinavian Solution

From the Associated Press — A Michigan couple who came under attack for displaying the Norwegian flag because some observers mistook it for a Confederate flag have found another way to show their Scandinavian pride. Greg and Kjersten Offenbecker took Norway’s flag down from their inn near Lansing last month after being accused of promoting racism. The Norwegian and Confederate flags have similar color schemes, but the patterns and symbols are different. The Lansing State Journal reports the couple is replacing the flag with a vimple, which is a long, pennant-shaped flag, in the colors of the Norwegian flag. Kjersten Offenbecker’s grandfather was born in Norway.. ...Read Full Story

Road Tax Fails In 110-110 Tie In Western Michigan Township

From the Associated Press — A tax proposed to repair roads in a western Michigan township ended up in an election tie. In Ionia County’s North Plains Township, the millage result was 110 in favor and 110 opposed Tuesday. There’s a possibility that the ballots will be counted again, but a tie means the tax was defeated. The tax would have provided around $28,000 a year to maintain 40 miles
of gravel roads. Township Supervisor William Kruger says the money would have helped in case of a “major road disaster.”. ...Read Full Story

Police Respond To Crash, Semi Fire On I-94

The Baroda-Lake Township Police Department is among agencies that responded to a fatal crash involving two semis and one other vehicle on I-94 Wednesday evening. It says the incident happened around 7:25 on westbound I-94 near the 13 mile marker. The crash closed the westbound side of the highway from Bridgman to Sawyer for hours. No additional details have yet been released.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Benton Township Shooting

The Benton Township Police Department is investigating a shooting that occurred on Wednesday evening along Agard Street. It says officers were sent to the scene in the 1,300 block of Agard around 7:15. They found the victim lying on the ground with a gunshot wound to the abdomen and learned there had been a dice game taking place in a driveway when a dispute broke out. The suspect pulled out a handgun and fired a shot at the ground near the victim’s feet. He then fired another shot, hitting the victim in the abdomen. The suspect then ran off while firing additional shots. The victim, a 33-year-old white male, was taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland hospital in St. Joseph for treatment. The suspect, described as a black male, has not been found. Police ask anyone with information on the incident to contact them.. ...Read Full Story

With Primary Over, Attention Shifts To Michigan’s Fall Races

From the Associated Press — With the primary complete, Michigan candidates are quickly turning their focus to November. That’s when voters in the presidential battleground will also decide a competitive U.S. Senate race, several House contests and which party controls a legislative chamber. Tuesday’s election was marked by a record number of absentee ballots that is only expected to grow in
three months amid the coronavirus pandemic. Both first-term Democratic Senator Gary Peters and Republican challenger John James were unopposed in the primary but now are ramping up their campaigns in a race that Peters has led.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Assign Six Troopers To Patrol Benton Harbor

Six Michigan State Police troopers are now assigned to the city of Benton Harbor to help keep the peace this summer. The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety announced on Tuesday it’s invoking the governor’s Secure Cities Initiative to request extra state police help. The department says there “has been an influx of public disorder in the form of large gatherings and incessant speeding and racing in the city of Benton Harbor,” adding “young adults gather in large crowds all over the city, with groups sometimes into the hundreds. They play loud music, twerk on top of cars, shoot guns in the air, and are a general menace to the peace and tranquility of the residential neighborhoods.” To help combat the problem, Michigan State Police will be assiting in patrolling the community for the next several weeks. Benton Harbor City Commissioners and residents in recent weeks have been asking the public safety department to do something about the summer disturbances.. ...Read Full Story

657 New COVID-19 Cases Statewide

Michigan has 657 new cases of COVID-19 to bring the total to 84,707. The state on Wednesday reported two more deaths for a total of 6,221. Locally, Berrien County has 15 new cases for a total of 1,135 with no deaths to leave that total at 65. Six more people have fallen ill in Cass County putting that number at 283 with 11 dead. Van Buren County has nine new cases to bring that count up to 386, with ten dead.. ...Read Full Story

Triple Shooting In Benton Harbor On Tuesday

Two people are in critical condition while a third is listed as stabled after a triple shooting in Benton Harbor on Tuesday. The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety says officers were called to the scene of a two vehicle crash in the 1100 block of McAlister around 5 p.m. They found two gunshot victims. They were transported to Spectrum Health Lakeland hospital in St. Joseph. Officers then learned a third victim had already driven to the hospital. The investigation revealed that the shootings had occurred prior to the crash, and that the suspect’s vehicle had gotten away. Police have not yet identified suspects, and ask anyone with information to contact them. The Michigan State Police and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office responded to assist with processing the crime scenes.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Primary Results

Berrien County voters headed to the polls for primaries on Tuesday, although most votes were submitted via absentee ballots. Looking at key races, state Representative Pauline Wendzel will have a shot at another term in the Michigan House. In the words of Wendzel’s campaign, she “brushed aside” a challenge in the Republican primary by Jacquie Gnodtke Blackwell for a win. Wendzel will face Democrat Chokwe Pitchford in November. . ...Read Full Story

Wendzel Claims Victory In Primary

State Representative Pauline Wendzel’s campaign is claiming victory in Tuesday’s 79th state House District Republican primary. As of 10 p.m., Berrien County was reporting results from 28% of its precincts, and Wendzel had a lead over primary opponent Jacquie Gnodtke Blackwell of 3,884 to 764. The Wendzel campaign has released the following statement:. ...Read Full Story

Coloma Township Gets $2.5 Million For Sewer Work

Coloma Township is getting a $2.5 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make improvements to its sewer system. USDA Rural Development Michigan Director Jason Allen tells WSJM News the agency is investing $462 million nationwide to modernize drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in rural towns and cities. It’s awarding about $25 million for Michigan. Coloma Township will use the $2.5 million to line manholes, install full pipe lining, do spot line repairs, replace six lift stations, and install a flow meter at a mobile home park. Allen says this work protects the environment.. ...Read Full Story

Upton: Stimulus Package Will Have To Be Bipartisan

Congressman Fred Upton is back in Michigan this week as he waits to see if the U.S. Senate can come up with a coronavirus relief package that has a chance of passing in the House. Upton tells WSJM News the sticking points are how expensive the legislation should be and whether it should extend a $600 per week bonus included in unemployment benefits.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Preparing To Follow Order Regarding Migrant Workers

The Berrien County Health Department is working to follow an order from the state that agricultural and food processing employees be tested for COVID-19 more often. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on Monday ordered that farm workers, like migrants, be tested for coronavirus upon arrival and then be tested again 14 days later. It also ordered separate housing for newly arriving migrants for 14 days. Berrien County Health Department spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News the department has been working with farms since April, and there are some concerns about the feasibility of the new state order.. ...Read Full Story

Utah Woman Charged After Crash Kills Michigan Trooper

From the Associated Press — A Utah woman has been charged with second-degree murder after a state trooper died, three weeks after a crash in western Michigan. Caleb Starr’s death was announced Friday night. He was driving in Ionia County’s Boston Township on July 10 when a vehicle crossed the center line and smashed into his patrol car. The other driver, Thomasina Jones, was charged with
second-degree murder and other offenses related to drinking and driving. She’s from the Four Corners region in southern Utah. Jones appeared in court and was ordered to jail without bond. Starr was 33 years old. He graduated from trooper school in 2019.. ...Read Full Story

Utah Woman Charged After Crash Kills Michigan Trooper

From the Associated Press — A Utah woman has been charged with second-degree murder after a state trooper died, three weeks after a crash in western Michigan. Caleb Starr’s death was announced Friday night. He was driving in Ionia County’s Boston Township on July 10 when a vehicle crossed the center line and smashed into his patrol car. The other driver, Thomasina Jones, was charged with
second-degree murder and other offenses related to drinking and driving. She’s from the Four Corners region in southern Utah. Jones appeared in court and was ordered to jail without bond. Starr was 33 years old. He graduated from trooper school in 2019.. ...Read Full Story

AARP Holding Online Events For Seniors

With COVID-19 unlikely to disappear anytime soon, the state’s leading advocate for older adults is taking advantage of technology to keep folks informed and connected. AARP of Michigan hosts dozens of educational and social events throughout the state every year. In order to ensure its members are not exposed to the coronavirus, Careena Eggleston of AARP says all its events will be held virtually for the remainder of the year. While it’s not the same as face-to-face contact, she says online platforms are expanding opportunities and opening up new worlds for some people.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Area Schools Forms Back To School Plan

Benton Harbor Area Schools is out with a plan for a return to the classroom this fall. Superintendent Andrae Townsel tells WSJM News  they’re taking different approaches depending on the age of the students. Benton Harbor High School will resume classes entirely online for the first quarter of the new academic year. As for the K through eight students, Townsel says parents have a choice.. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool Helps Residents Affected By Midland County Floods

From the Associated Press — People waited for hours to get a chance to buy hundreds of new appliances sold at deep discounts in the flood-damaged Midland area over the weekend. Washers, dryers, refrigerators, and more were donated Saturday by Whirlpool Corporation. Buyers got good deals, and the money went to the United Way of Midland County. One woman told reporters she lost her home in Sanford and said the money she saved on appliances can be used for new drywall and insulation. More than 40 volunteers handled purchases, loaded appliances into vehicles, and ensured that visitors followed coronavirus rules.. ...Read Full Story

Authorities See Decline In Reports Of Child Abuse

The Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office and the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan are sounding the alarm about child abuse cases during the COVID-19 pandemic. The center’s Allie Kibler-Campbell tells WSJM News there has been a substantial decrease in reports of child abuse since the pandemic started and schools closed.. ...Read Full Story

New COVID-19 Results Released

The state Department of Health and Human Services is reporting 604 new COVID-19 cases in Michigan. Six more have died, but none in Berrien, Cass, or Van Buren counties. In all, 83,386 people have been diagnosed with the illness and 6,212 have died. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older people and the infirm, it can cause severe symptoms and lead to death. In Berrien County there are two new cases to bring that total to 1,115 and 65 deaths. Cass County’s numbers are unchanged from Sunday at 273 cases and 10 deaths, while five more have tested positive in Van Buren County for a total of 377. Ten have also died there.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT Looks To Inform Public About US-31 Project

A meeting will be held next week for Berrien County residents to learn about a major Michigan Department of Transportation project that’s about to start. MDOT spokesperson Nick Schirripa tells WSJM News they’re going to get started this summer on the completion of US-31 to I-94. This multi-year project will involve a lot.. ...Read Full Story

State Gas Prices Down; BH & SJ Have Michigan’s 2nd Lowest Prices

Gas prices in the state are down 2¢ compared to last week according to the latest survey from Triple-A Michigan. Prices are $2.13 a gallon, which is also 65¢ lower than last year. Marquette continues to have the most expensive fuel in the state at $2.27 while Traverse City is at an even $2 a gallon for the lowest price. St. Joseph and Benton Harbor’s $2.02 is tied for second-lowest in Michigan along with Lansing. Detroit’s price of $2.22 is 3¢ less than a week ago and the state’s second-highest price. As for South Haven, GasBuddy puts that price at $2.11 with nearby areas like Gobles and Bloomingdale under $1.90.. ...Read Full Story

Gyms Anxiously Wait To Reopen

Gym owners in Michigan are getting desperate to reopen as their state-mandated COVID-19 shutdown nears five months. Michigan Fitness Club Association Vice Chair Alyssa Tushman runs three gyms in metro Detroit, and tells WSJM News Michigan last week is one of the few states that’s forcing gyms to remain closed. It’s looking like many will stay that way forever.. ...Read Full Story

State Starts Partnership To Help Find Adoptive Homes For Foster Kids

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has announced a new partnership with the Dave Thomas Foundation to help find adoptive homes for young people in the state’s foster care system. Department spokesperson Bob Wheaton tells WSJM News the Dave Thomas Foundation’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program has shown success in other states, locating adoptive homes for more than 9,500 children to date.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Sees Increase In Opioid Overdoes

Hospitals in Michigan have been seeing a substantial increase in opioid overdoses since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Lynn Sutfin tells WSJM News the agency looked at records from emergency medical services and emergency departments.. ...Read Full Story

Gradual Rebound Of Employment Market Predicted

Southwest Michigan economic experts are predicting a long haul before the employment market is back to where it was before the start of the pandemic. Kinexus Group held a roundtable to talk about the state of the economy and its possible turnaround this past week. Chief Operating Officer Jake Gustafson said employment will not jump back up, but crawl back up.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Designed To Expedite Small Business Loan Foregiveness

Congressman Fred Upton has introduced legislation that would enable the recipients of Paycheck Protection Program loans to have their debts forgiven by the federal government in a streamlined way. He tells WSJM News the Paycheck Protection Small Business Forgiveness Act would speed up the process of certifying compliance with PPP requirements to expedite the loan forgiveness process up to $150,000.. ...Read Full Story

Ten Rescued From Boat After Being Sickened By Carbon Monoxide

Ten people are hospitalized after they were overcome by carbon monoxide on a boat in Lake Michigan between St. Joseph and South Haven on Saturday. South Haven Area Emergency Services says it responded to the report of a medical emergency around 2:45 p.m. The 32 foot pleasure boat was about a mile south of the South Haven pier heads and 1,000 yards offshore when it gave out a distress call. The captain of the boat was unable to  continue operating it. The Coast Guard from St. Joseph responded along with the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department Marine Unit and South Haven Area Emergency Services. Some of the people aboard were reported to have passed out. They were transferred to the Coast Guard boat and taken to South Haven for treatment by SHAES personnel in three ambulances. All ten people were taken to Bronson-South Haven Hospital for evaluation and treatment. The boat was brought into South Haven by a commercial towing service.. ...Read Full Story

MI Wolf Population Holding Steady

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says the state’s wolf population has remained stable over the past nine years. Cody Norton is a large carnivore specialist for the DNR. He told Michigan News Network this past week the latest survey found 695 wolves among 143 packs across the Upper Peninsula.. ...Read Full Story

Outdoor Shows A Go This Month In St. Joe

A downtown St. Joseph business owner will be allowed to hold four outdoor musical performances in August following action this past week by the St. Joseph City Commission. Tom Jennings with the Sand Bar Grille asked that a local rule limiting outdoor amplified music to no later than 10 p.m. be waived so he can hold four outdoor shows to raise money for charity. He told city commissioners it would also help musicians who are hurting.. ...Read Full Story