Local News Archives

Mackinac Center Seeks To Undo Emergency Orders

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is asking the Michigan Supreme Court to strike down Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency actions, arguing any such orders she issued after April 30 were illegal. Center Vice President for Legal Affairs Patrick Wright tells WSJM News there are two state laws that the governor has been using to keep parts of the state shut down.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Seeking input On Improvements To Kids Corner, South Beach

A public visioning session is being planned by the city of South Haven as it prepares to begin an improvement project at the Kid’s Corner Playground and at the restrooms at South Beach Park. The city says the Zoom meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, August 5. Residents are encouraged to share their vision and help the city create concept plan alternatives for both projects. Anyone who wants to take part can find out how at the city of South Haven’s website. We also have a link at WSJM.com.. ...Read Full Story

Study Considers Mental Health Effects Of COVID-19

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

Meeting To Address Paw Paw Road 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

Fatal House Fire In Bangor

One person is dead following a house fire in the city of Bangor on Sunday. South Haven Area Emergency Services says it was one of several fire departments called to the scene at 20 Cass Street after the Bangor Fire Department responded at 5:10 p.m. and requested aid. The resident of the home was trapped inside and pronounced dead at the scene. The Michigan State Fire Marshal and Van Buren County Medical Examiner were also called to  investigate. SHAES says the temperature at the time was 94 degrees, causing the firefighters to be rotated in and out of the fire. Providing mutual aid were firefighters from Columbia Township, Covert, Hartford, Lawrence, Watervliet, and South Haven. The Bangor Police Department and Michigan State Police were also called to the scene.. ...Read Full Story

State COVID-19 Numbers For Sunday

Michigan is reporting 1,041 additional cases of COVID-19 for Sunday. However, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says some of those additional cases are due to a problem with the reporting system that occurred Friday evening through Saturday morning. Cases that would have been reported during that time were not, and some of Sunday’s new cases are a result. In total, the state has had 78,019 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported zero additional deaths for Sunday, with that total remaining 6,149. As of Friday, the state said there have been more than 57,500 recoveries from COVID-19. Berrien County has had 1,051 cases of coronavirus and 63 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Cass County has had 243 cases and eight deaths. Van Buren County has had 327 cases and nine deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Driver Strikes Horses, Killing One Rider

A Schoolcraft woman is dead after the horse she was riding was stuck by a car in Allegan County on Friday. The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department says deputies were sent to the scene at 146 Avenue near 9th Street in Leighton Township around 9:30 p.m. They found three horses, each with a rider, had been westbound on 146th when a westbound car hit two of the horses. 26-year-old Brittany Fender of Schoolcraft was taken to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead. The other rider of a struck horse suffered minor injuries. The driver of the car, a 22-year-old woman from Byron Center, was not hurt. The crash remains under investigation. Police have not released the condition of the horses.. ...Read Full Story

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

LMC Fab Lab Holding Summer Camps, Workshops

Lake Michigan College’s Fab Lab is up and running for the summer. LMC says it’s offering several summer camps and workshops for kids and adults at the lab. There will be digital art camps featuring laser engravers, 3D printing, and more. You can also us the Fab Lab’s laser cutters and sewing machines to make your own masks and other PPE, there will be sessions related to video games, and courses on YouTube content creation. The Fab Lab is Lake Michigan College’s maker space. Information on all of the programs they’re offering there this summer can be found on LMC’s website.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Bringing Trash Collection In-House

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have opted to bring trash collection in-house. After years of problems with contracted trash collecting services, the idea of bringing the entire thing in-house was floated at a meeting last month. During a Monday virtual meeting, the city commission formally approved the idea. Commissioner Ron Singleton was part of the study that determined the move is feasible.. ...Read Full Story

Red Cross Seeking Blood Donations

The American Red Cross is teaming up with Wonder Woman, sort of, to get more people to donate blood this summer. The Red Cross says blood donations are down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and there’s an urgent need to get more people to give. As a special thank you, those who give blood in July will automatically be entered for a chance to win a Wonder Woman 1984 movie prop replica package. Plus, those who give between now and this Wednesday will receive a Wonder Woman 1984 T-shirt, while the supplies last. Wonder Woman 1984 was supposed to be released into theaters in June, but got delayed through October due to the pandemic. The Red Cross says there will be several blood drives in southwest Michigan in the coming month.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigating Crowded Lake Party In Cass County

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is looking at possible charges that could be filed over a Fourth of July party on the Diamond Lake sandbar that attracted hundreds of people who made little effort to social distance. A video of the Independence Day bash has more than 10 million views on social media. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department says it has never been in support of the sandbar party because of problems with partiers cutting through private property to reach it. Prior to this year’s event, the department says it reached out to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to ask about controlling it with a permitting process, but was told the DNR “did not see the need for a permit for the sandbar event.” The sheriff’s office also reached out to the party’s organizers and was told steps would be taken to enforce social distancing. The department writes, “The sheriff’s department cannot keep events like this from happening on the lake” and that it never worked in conjunction with the organizers. It’s now investigating, and says the “Cass County Prosecutor will be forwarded any and all possible criminal charges involved to be reviewed.”. ...Read Full Story

Four Flags Area Apple Festival Canceled

The Four Flags Area Apple Festival in Niles has been canceled for the year. Organizers of the event released a statement Monday, saying the 48th annual festival has been moved to September 30 through October 3 of next year. The board adds it is working on a plan to “provide a few events on the festival grounds which we will be able to host safely under state guidelines.” The board says the decision to cancel this year was extremely difficult, and “one that was made for us due to state restrictions.” Any vendors that would like to work with the apple festival for alternative plans this year are asked to send a message to the festival’s Facebook page.. ...Read Full Story

SMC President Discusses Plan For Fall

Southwestern Michigan College has announced in-person classes will resume this fall, while on-campus residence halls will be open as the institution operates as normally as possible while staying safe. SMC President Joe Odenwald tells WSJM News the faculty spent the past month going around campus and assessing options for a return to classes. They have a social distancing plan.. ...Read Full Story

Census Video Produced In Benton Harbor A Finalist In National Competition

A music video produced in Benton Harbor and highlighting the importance of filling out the census is among the finalists in a national competition. The U.S. Census Bureau’s the Get Out the Count Video Prize Competition received 750 submissions from around the country, including the Be Counted Berrien video produced by Traci Burton, the community engagement specialist for Benton Harbor Area Schools.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Shooting In Hartford Township

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a Saturday shooting in Hartford Township. It says sheriff’s deputies were sent to a home in the 62,000 block of 66th Avenue in Hartford Township shortly after 7 p.m. on a report of someone shot in the stomach. When they arrived, they found a man laying on the porch with an apparent gun shot would to his abdomen. The suspect, a 36-year-old woman, arrested at the scene, and first aid given to the victim, a 34-year-old man. He was airlifted to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo for further treatment. The suspect was taken to the Van Buren County Jail. Police say the victim is in critical condition. No further details have been released.. ...Read Full Story

343 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 Reported In Michigan For Sunday, No Additional Deaths

Michigan is reporting 343 additional cases of COVID-19 for Sunday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 65,876 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported no additional deaths for Sunday, leaving that total 5,972. Berrien County reported seven additional cases of coronavirus for Sunday, making its total since the start of the pandemic 766 with 60 deaths. Cass County reported four new cases, making its total 149 with six deaths. Van Buren County listed one new case of COVID-19 for Sunday, now with a total of 209 cases and seven deaths. Statewide, there have been 52,841 recoveries from COVID-19.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Reports More Than 3 Million Requests For Absentee Ballots

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says requests for absentee ballots have increased by 350% this year when compared to the same time ahead of the 2016 state primary. During this pandemic, Benson says “voters have embraced their right to vote from home with enormous enthusiasm.” The absentee requests are up by more than 1 million from the 2016 primary, and there have been more than 1.3 million requests overall. The Secretary of State says when a voter receives their absentee ballot, they should fill it out carefully, noting in state primary elections they can only vote for one party. Once completed, they should place the ballot into the secrecy sleeve and then into the return envelope. Once the envelope is sealed, the voter must sign the back of the envelope, and their signature will be compared to the one election officials have on file. Voters are encouraged to return their ballots as soon as possible. ...Read Full Story

Motorcyclist Killed In Crash

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a fatal crash involving a motorcycle and a car on Saturday. Deputies were sent to the scene at the intersection of Red Arrow Hwy and Community Hall Road in New Buffalo Township around 6:45 p.m. They found a woman lying unresponsive in the road. She was taken by ambulance to Franciscan
Hospital in Michigan City, Indiana, where she was pronounced dead. She has been identified as 23-year-old Stacy Johnson of Illinois. Deputies say she’d been riding her motorcycle north past a restaurant when a vehicle driven by a Three Oaks woman drove crossed into her path as it turned into the establishment. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Work On Napier Slated To Start Tomorrow

There’s a whole lot of work planned for Napier Avenue starting this week. Berrien County Road Department Director Jason Latham tells WSJM News there will be two projects starting Monday. The first is the long-awaited reconstruction of Napier from the St. Joseph River to Colfax. The work will have the road reduced to one lane in each direction for about a month. Latham says when the road is reopened, it will have been placed on a diet, reduced to three lanes.. ...Read Full Story

Rotary Picks New Leaders

The Rotary Club of St. Joseph-Benton Harbor has kicked off its 2020-2021 year with the induction of a new president and board of directors. The new president is Matt Hanley. He replaces Brandi Smith, who says she has enjoyed her year at the helm of the organization. She says the “connections I’ve made with the community mean so much to me. I’m also grateful to the club’s board for all of their support through what was an unpredictable year with the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced us to pivot in terms of how we gather and serve.”. ...Read Full Story

398 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 In Michigan Saturday

Michigan is reporting 398 additional cases of COVID-19 for Saturday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 65,533 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported three additional deaths for Saturday, making that total 5,972. The state’s coronavirus website did not update county data on Friday. For Saturday, it had Berrien County listed with 759 cases and 60 deaths from COVID since the start of the pandemic. Cass County was listed as having 145 cases and six deaths since the start of the pandemic. Van Buren County is listed as having 208 cases with seven deaths. Statewide, there have been 52,841 recoveries from COVID-19.. ...Read Full Story

Allegan County Fair Canceled

The Allegan County Fair has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Allegan County Fair Board of Directors says the decision has been one of the toughest it’s ever faced, but it had to make the health and safety of visitors, vendors, and employees the top priority. The board will work on details for the 4H animal displays with MSU Extension, and those who bought tickets to a Jeff Dunham show planned for September 11 can receive refunds. This is only the second time the Allegan County Fair has been canceled. The first time was during World War II.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Backs Bill To Support Researchers

Legislation from Congressman Fred Upton would provide funding to research labs that have not been much of a focus during the COVID-19 pandemic. He tells WSJM News the Research Investment to Secure the Economy, or RISE, Act would set aside $26 billion in emergency relief for federal science agencies to award to research universities, independent institutions, and national labs.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Urges Caution When Setting Off Fireworks

Those who plan to set off fireworks as they celebrate the nation’s independence this Fourth of July are being asked to take care not to start wildfires. Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildfire prevention specialist Paul Rogers tells WSJM News hot and dry conditions in some parts of the state increase the risk. That’s not so much the case around southwest Michigan, but he has some general safety tips.. ...Read Full Story

New Auto Insurance Options Available

Legislation approved last year to reform Michigan’s auto insurance system is now in effect. State Representative Pauline Wendzel tells us Michigan drivers are no longer required to have unlimited injury protection in their policies. However, she notes the situation isn’t exactly simple.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Plan For Fall Designed To Be Flexible

Lake Michigan College’s fall reopening plan was drafted with flexibility in mind. So says LMC Vice President of Academic Affairs Leslie Kellogg. She tells WSJM News the college will have five class types when the fall semester begins. They are flexible learning, all online, remote courses via webcam, hybrid remote and online, and hybrid face to face with some on-campus work in small groups and more online.. ...Read Full Story

MI Garage Sale May Have Exposed Customers To Coronavirus

From the Associated Press — Health officials in Michigan are telling people who attended a weekend garage sale near the community of Charlotte that a person working at the sale has reported having symptoms of the coronavirus. The Barry-Eaton Health District also says that people who bought or handled items at the sale should monitor themselves for symptoms such as a fever, fatigue, and loss of a sense of smell or taste. The district also urges people to sanitize anything they may have bought with a disinfectant. The sale was at 1748 West Kalamo Highway.. ...Read Full Story