Local News Archives

Recycling Event In Berrien County August 12

The Berrien County Parks Department will hold a recycling event in August. It says residents can properly recycle household chemicals, electronics, and foam on Wednesday, August 12 at Love Creek County Park in Berrien Center. The event will be drive-thru only and those who stop by should stay in their vehicles the entire time. The county says it will take oils, chemicals and cleaners, yard and garden chemicals, oil-based paint, home medical waste like pills and needles, batteries, and lightbulbs in addition to anything with an electrical cord or that runs on batteries. Everything will be free to drop off, except computer monitors and televisions, which will cost $10 and $20, respectively. The recycling event will be open to Berrien County residents from 3 to 7 p.m.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Hails Passage Of National Parks Legislation

Congressman Fred Upton says national parks in the United States will get a much-needed funding boost thanks to legislation approved by the House and Senate. He tells WSJM News the Great American Outdoors Act will mean permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund at a level of $900 million every year for maintenance work at the parks.. ...Read Full Story

734 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 Reported For Michigan On Friday

Michigan is reporting 734 additional cases of COVID-19 for Friday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 81,621 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported eight additional deaths for Friday, making that total 6,199. Berrien County reported five additional cases of the illness for Friday, now at a total of 1,092 cases with 64 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Cass County had twelve new cases for the day, now with a total of 266 cases and nine deaths. Van Buren County had eight new cases to report for Friday, bringing its total to 358 cases and ten deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Warns About Delayed Results Next Week

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s secretary of state says a sharp increase in the number of people voting by mail because of the pandemic could slow vote counting in the August primary and November general election. Jocelyn Benson said Wednesday that nearly 2 million registered voters have requested a mail-in ballot for the August 4 primary. Just over a million people cast ballots by mail in the 2016 general election. She says local election clerks are asking for more time to process what they expect will be a large influx of absentee ballots. Currently, clerks cannot begin counting absentee ballots until 7 a.m. on Election Day.. ...Read Full Story

13-Year-Old Girl Drowns At Warren Dunes

A 13-year-old girl from Otsego, Michigan has died after being overcome in Lake Michigan at Warren Dunes State Park in Lake Township on Thursday. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says responders were called to the park shortly before 9 p.m. for a water rescue. The girl had gone missing after last being seen in the water. First responders and the U.S. Coast Guard conducted a search, but were unable to find the girl. They suspended the search at dark, but resumed it on Friday morning with the help of the Lake Township Fire Department and Great Lakes Drone Company. At around 12:30 p.m. the Chikaming Township Police Department got a report of a body that had washed up along the shore near Pier Street beach in Lakeside. Responders were able to confirm it was the missing 13-year-old. Her name is not being released.. ...Read Full Story

Economists React To News Of Shrinking Economy

The news on the economy couldn’t be much worse. The Gross Domestic Product — the monetary measure of total value of goods and services during one year — fell by 33% in 2020. David Sowerby, Managing Director and Portfolio Manager of Ancora of Bloomfield Hills, told Michigan News Network this week it’s an accurate snapshot for what’s happening on the ground.. ...Read Full Story

Man Drowns In Lake Michigan While Trying To Save His Children

An Indiana man is dead after trying to rescue his children in Lake Michigan off St. Joseph on Thursday. The St. Joseph Department of Public Safety says officers were called to Lions Park Beach shortly after 8 p.m. on a report of a water rescue. They found four people had been struggling in the water. A bystander, Fabian Weber, was able to help two of the swimmers using a surfboard. Meanwhile, a 44-year-old man from Lakeville, Indiana was attempting to save his two children, ages 12 and 17, from an undertow when he drowned. St. Joseph Reserve Officer Everett Gaston was able to save the 12-year-old and the 17-year-old. The name of the man who drowned has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

Bars Struggle To Follow New Rules

There’s a lot of frustration among Michigan bar owners as Governor Gretchen Whitmer has tightened rules on bars in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula because of the coronavirus. Michigan Licensed Beverage Association Director Scott Ellis told Michigan News Network this week some bars have to close indoor service again. He explained the rule.. ...Read Full Story

Violations Of Latest Orders Could Mean $1,000 Fines

Fines of up to $1,000 could be issued to those who violate Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s latest emergency orders. So says Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon, who on Thursday announced the penalty. The governor on Wednesday shut down bars across the state due to coronavirus numbers, and also banned indoor social gatherings of more than ten people. Gordon said the following day, “We must remain vigilant in our response to this ongoing threat and take all appropriate measures to reduce its impact.” The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says violations could result in the fine, and that businesses regulated by a licensing agency could find themselves referred to that licensing agency should they violate the rules.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Seeks To Increase Voter Turnout

The United Way of Southwest Michigan is looking to increase voter participation this year. It announced on Thursday it’s teamed up with When We All Vote, a non-profit voter engagement organization, to get more people registered to vote. The United Way is referring people to WhenWeAllVote.org/UWW. United Way of Southwest Michigan Director of Advocacy Heather Cole tells us the site can help with several voter needs.. ...Read Full Story

Gym Owners Anxious 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 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

715 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 In Michigan For Thursday

Michigan is reporting 715 additional cases of COVID-19 for Thursday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 80,887 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported 19 additional deaths for Thursday, although 14 of them were identified through a review of vital records around the state. The total number of COVID deaths statewide is now 6,191. Berrien County reported nine additional cases of the illness for Thursday, now at a total of 1,087 cases with 64 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Cass County had four new cases for the day, now with a total of 254 cases and nine deaths. Van Buren County had eleven new cases to report for Thursday, bringing its total to 350 cases and ten deaths.. ...Read Full Story

GM Beats Low Expectations

General Motors took a beating from the pandemic with an $800 million dollar loss for the second quarter, but still beat Wall Street’s expectations. Auto analyst John McElroy told Michigan News Network this week the second half of the year looks more promising with their hot-selling pickups and a new line of large SUVs on their way to showrooms.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Calls For Legislation Ahead Of November Election

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is calling on the Michigan Legislature to take steps to ensure November’s election goes smoothly as more people vote absentee. She says the state’s elections system is safe and secure ahead of a primary next week, noting her office has been able to implement automatic voter registration and online voter registration while informing all voters of the no-reason absentee option. However, Benson says state lawmakers need to pass laws allowing ballots postmarked by Election Day to be counted, requiring clerks to contact voters if their mailed in ballot envelope signature does not match their signature on file, and enabling clerks to begin processing ballots cast through the mail prior to Election Day. She says everything that could be done to prepare for absentee voting next Tuesday has been done, but time is running out for the big election in November.. ...Read Full Story

MHSAA Waits To Start Football, Soccer, Volleyball Games

From the Associated Press — The Michigan High School Athletic Association says competition can begin August 19 and 21 for golf, tennis and cross country, but it has held off on allowing the start of football, volleyball and soccer games during the coronavirus pandemic. The group said Wednesday it will make decisions about competition timelines for football, volleyball and soccer by August 20. The MHSAA’s representative council voted to cancel scrimmages in all fall sports and limited the number of teams that can compete in regular-season tournaments, invitationals and other multi-team events.. ...Read Full Story

State Working With Dave Thomas Foundation To 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

Upton Pushes For Federal Aid To States, Counties

With Governor Gretchen Whitmer calling on Congress this week to approve aid to states facing financial shortfalls due to COVID-19, Congressman Fred Upton says that’s just what he’s pushing for. As the Senate works on a coronavirus relief bill, Upton tells WSJM News the SMART Act would provide $500 billion in emergency support to every state, county, and community in the country.. ...Read Full Story

Kinexus Predicts Gradual Rebound Of Economy

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 on Wednesday. Chief Operating Officer Jake Gustafson said employment will not jump back up, but crawl back up.. ...Read Full Story

Gym Owners Testify In Lansing

Allow gyms to reopen in southern lower Michigan. That’s what some gym owners told the Michigan Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 pandemic Wednesday in Lansing. Burn Fitness co-owner Alyssa Tushman said they have safety protocols and can’t wait to reopen.
“We’re spread thin with three locations at this point,” Tushman said. “We owe back rent. Two of our landlordds are working with us. One is suing us. I just ant people to understand the hardship, both emotionally and financially that these businesses are going through.”
Some of the gyms have submitted reopening plans to the Whitmer administration. It says it has concerns about heavy breathing and sweating in the gyms, but will re-evaluate the situation.

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State COVID-19 Numbers For Wednesday

Michigan is reporting 996 additional cases of COVID-19 for Wednesday. However, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says about 300 of them are attributable to older lab results. The department says the state identified two additional COVID deaths on Wednesday. The total number of cases statewide since the start of the pandemic is now 80,172, and the total number of deaths is 6,172. Berrien County reported 13 new cases of coronavirus for Wednesday for a total of 1,078 and 64 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Cass County reported three new cases for a total of 250 and nine deaths. Van Buren County reported five new cases for Wednesday for a total of 339 cases and ten deaths since the start of the pandemic.. ...Read Full Story

Ann Arbor To Put Tax On Ballot to Build Affordable Housing

From the Associated Press — Ann Arbor voters will decide whether to raise millions of dollars through a new property tax to build or acquire housing for people with certain incomes. The 1-mill tax would cost $125 per year for a home with a $125,000 taxable value. City commissioners voted unanimously Monday to put the question on the November ballot. Ann Arbor, the home of the University of
Michigan, has one of the strongest economies in Michigan, although that also means higher housing costs compared to other communities. Council member Zachary Ackerman, a Democrat, said the millage could keep service workers and public employees in Ann Arbor.. ...Read Full Story

Campaign Seeks Equitable School Policies

A new campaign is calling on state leaders to invest in Michigan’s students and adopt fair and equitable school funding policies. Education Trust Midwest Executive Director Amber Arellano says a cross section of business and civic leaders support the effort. She spoke about the campaign during a zoom meeting on Monday.. ...Read Full Story

Detroit Hospital System Part Of Vaccine Trial

Just one Michigan health system will take part in the next phase of a COVID vaccine study now in its third phase. The National Institutes of Health is tapping Henry Ford Health systems to be among 87 trial sites with up to 30,000 volunteers for the double blind study of the Moderna vaccine. Dr. Marcus Zervos is the Division Chief of Infectious Disease for Henry Ford. He spoke with Michigan News Network this week about the work being done.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Introduces Legislation To Speed Up Forgiveness Of Small Business Loans

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

State Budget Director Talks About Need For Federal Aid

The state of Michigan, like many states, is going to need major help from the federal government if it’s going to weather a budget storm headed its way in the next couple of months. So says Michigan Budget Director Chris Kolb, who spoke with Governor Gretchen Whitmer Tuesday about current needs. Kolb noted state lawmakers managed to resolve a more than $2 billion shortfall on the current year’s budget by the skin of their teeth.. ...Read Full Story

Camping Sites Near Lake Michigan Reopen At State Park

From the Associated Press — A Lake Michigan state park near the tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula is making campsites available after a project was put on hold for 2020. Reservations can be made online starting Wednesday for the East Lakeshore Campground at Wilderness State Park. The campsites open Monday. Wilderness State Park has more than 10,000 acres and includes 26 miles of Lake Michigan shore and a dog beach. The park is less than 30 minutes from the Mackinac Bridge.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Calls For New Connections For Pere Marquette Line

The St. Joseph City Commission is calling for Amtrak’s Pere Marquette line to be connected to the Blue Water and Wolverine lines. The body approved a resolution Monday to “strongly endorse and support the ultimate building of a rail connection in New Buffalo to link the Pere Marquette and the Wolverine/Blue Water services.” The resolution notes the Pere Marquette passes through New Buffalo on the way between Grand Rapids and Chicago but doesn’t stop there. However, other Amtrak trains, the Wolverine and the Blue Water, also pass through New Buffalo, but don’t share a connection with the Pere Marquette. The St. Joseph City Commission says a shared stop in New Buffalo would allow for the Pere Marquette to be more connected to other Amtrak lines and destinations. The resolution says Mayor Mike Garey has been discussing the idea with the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, and that it should be studied. The commission’s vote on Monday was unanimous.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Residents Can Participate In COVID-19 Vaccine Study

From the Associated Press — A hospital system in southeastern Michigan is looking for up to 5,000 volunteers for a COVID-19 vaccine study. Henry Ford Health System is working with the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., which want 30,000 people in the U.S. Volunteers won’t know if they’re getting the real shot or a dummy version. After two doses, scientists will closely track which group experiences more infections as they go about their daily routines. People who want to volunteer or learn more about the vaccine trial can visit www.henryford.com/ModernaVaccine.. ...Read Full Story

669 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 In Michigan For Tuesday

Michigan is reporting 669 additional cases of COVID-19 for Tuesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had a total of 79,176 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported 16 additional deaths for Tuesday, with that total now 6,170, although eleven of those new deaths were the result of a review of vital records. Michigan Chief Medical Executive Joneigh Khaldun said Tuesday the picture isn’t all bad.. ...Read Full Story

Detroit Seeking Photos Of City’s COVID-19 Victims For Event

From the Associated Press — Friday is the deadline for people to submit photos of Detroit residents who died from COVID-19 for a unique public memorial. City officials are planning a memorial at Belle Isle State Park on August 31 for those who have died during the pandemic. Detroit will enlarge the photos and display them at Belle Isle, where people will be able to see them during an all-day memorial drive. More than 1,400 people in Detroit have died from COVID-19 complications, or roughly 24% of all deaths in Michigan. Photos can be sent by email to detroitmemorial2020@gmail.com, by regular mail or online.. ...Read Full Story

Colleges Plan For Reopening In Fall

We’re just about six weeks away from students returning to college campuses. The ongoing pandemic is raising concern for students with pre-existing conditions who are considered high risk. Nancy Jansen, director of Oakland University’s Graham Health Center, told Michigan News Network this week returning to campus is a personal decision.. ...Read Full Story

Upper Peninsula Wolf Population 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 week the latest survey found 695 wolves among 143 packs across the Upper Peninsula.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Allows Four Outdoor Performances

A downtown St. Joseph business owner will be allowed to hold four outdoor musical performances in August following action Monday 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 said it would also help musicians who are hurting.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County To Hold Recycling Event August 12

The Berrien County Parks Department will hold a recycling event in August. It says residents can properly recycle household chemicals, electronics, and foam on Wednesday, August 12 at Love Creek County Park in Berrien Center. The event will be drive-thru only and those who stop by should stay in their vehicles the entire time. The county says it will take oils, chemicals and cleaners, yard and garden chemicals, oil-based paint, home medical waste like pills and needles, batteries, and lightbulbs in addition to anything with an electrical cord or that runs on batteries. Everything will be free to drop off, except computer monitors and televisions, which will cost $10 and $20, respectively. The recycling event will be open to Berrien County residents from 3 to 7 p.m.. ...Read Full Story

County Health Officer Talks Recent COVID Trends

The Berrien County Health Department has been noting increased COVID-19 activity over the past several weeks. It says since the beginning of July, the county has seen an increase in new cases, as well as an increase in the percent of COVID-19 test results that are positive, indicating that the recent uptick in cases is likely not just do to more testing. Speaking Monday, Berrien County Health Officer Nicki Britten says the cases are trending younger.. ...Read Full Story

488 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 In Michigan For Monday

Michigan is reporting 488 additional cases of COVID-19 for Monday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had a total of 78,507 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported five additional deaths for Monday, with that total now 6,154. As of Friday, the state said there have been more than 57,500 recoveries from COVID-19. Berrien County reported six new cases of coronavirus for Monday for a total of 1,057 and 63 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Cass County reported two new cases for a total of 245 and eight deaths. Van Buren County reported two new cases for Monday for a total of 329 cases and ten deaths since the start of the pandemic.. ...Read Full Story

Strong Turnaround For SWM Homes Sales In June

The real estate market in southwest Michigan was substantially up in June when compared to May. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors tells us sales were up 124% for the month. That’s after home sales slowed during May due to the pandemic shutdown, with only 142 houses sold the whole time. That number was back up to 318 for June, which is 13% less than June of 2019. Year to date, the number of houses sold in the region is down 24% so far. The association also notes “sky-rocketing average and median sales prices that shattered all selling prices in any month in any year going back to 2006.” The average selling price for June was $300,000, 14% higher than June of 2019. The median selling price of $235,000 was up 26% over June of the previous year. The surge in June’s activity caused the number of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a percentage of all transactions to drop to 1% in June, the lowest percentage reached since 2009.. ...Read Full Story

Cross-Country Coming Back To SMC

Southwestern Michigan College is bringing back some athletics. The SMC Board of Trustees voted last week 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