Local News Archives

LaSata To Host Outdoor Office Hours

State Senator Kim LaSata is planning to hold open office hours this month, but with a twist due to COVID-19. LaSata will host sessions with the public outdoors. 21st District residents will have three times to ask questions and express concerns to LaSata. First up will be outdoor office hours at Milo Barnes Park in Vandalia on Friday, June 12. LaSata will be there from 9 to 10 a.m. The same day, LaSata will be at Free Church Park in Sturgis from 11 a.m. to noon. On Monday, June 15, she will be at Oronoko Township Park in Berroen Springs from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Everyone who attends is asked to follow social distancing guidelines and to wear a mask.. ...Read Full Story

Governor: Still A While Before Full Reopening

Restaurants and bars in Michigan are the latest businesses to reopen this week as the recovery from the coronavirus moves forward. There are safety protocols that business owners have to follow in order to re-open and there will be limited capacity. Governor Gretchen Whitmer says it will be a while before restaurants will be able to have full crowds.. ...Read Full Story

Upper Peninsula Council Member Apologies For Remarks About Demonstrators

From the Associated Press — A city council member in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has apologized for jokingly suggesting shooting demonstrators who commit violence or vandalism during a July 4th celebration. Escanaba Council Member Ralph Blasier made the remarks during a Thursday council meeting, reading from a statement saying those who threw objects at police, shot anyone or set fires “will be shot in both legs and be left lying there till dawn” when they’ll “need to crawl to the hospital.” The Escanaba Daily Press reports Blasier apologized Friday calling it a “failed attempt at humor.” The comment comes amidst demonstrations after George Floyd’s death.. ...Read Full Story

Survey Finds Teachers Want Smaller Class Sizes

A new survey of teachers from across the state of Michigan shows the vast majority have many concerns over what a return to school might look like this fall. Paula Herbart is President of the Michigan Education Association, which commissioned the survey of more than 15,000 educators statewide. She spoke with Michigan News Network.. ...Read Full Story

State Reports 121 New Cases Of COVID-19 For Sunday

Michigan is reporting 121 additional cases of COVID-19 around the state for Sunday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says that brings the total up to 58,870 since the start of the pandemic. There were four deaths reported for Sunday, making the total 5,656. The state reported a total of 656 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Berrien County for Sunday, which was an increase of five cases from Saturday. There was one additional death reported for the county, making that total 54. Cass County reported two additional cases, bringing the total to 93 with three deaths. Van Burn County reported one new case for Sunday, with a total of 155 and six deaths since the start of the pandemic.. ...Read Full Story

Major Theater Chain May Not Reopen

Things are starting to reopen in Michigan, but one very big chain, AMC, says they may not make it if this lasts much longer. Cory Jacobson, is the owner of Phoenix Theatres based in Southeast Michigan. He spoke with Michigan News Network about the difficulty of running a movie theater in times like these.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Fatal Shooting In Benton Township

The Benton Township Police Department is investigating a fatal shooting that occurred overnight on Sunday. It says officers were called to the Orchards Mall shortly before 2 a.m. on a report of a shooting. Upon arrival, they were told several people had been shot and were at Spectrum Health Lakeland. Police found there were three victims at the hospital, all males, aged 18, and 19, and 20. The 18-year-old victim was pronounced dead at the hospital, while the 19-year-old had serious injuries and the 20-year-old had non life threatening injuries. Police learned the shootings occurred during a large gathering at the mall, although they don’t know what led to shots being fired. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact the Benton Township Police Department. Assisting at the scene were Michigan State Police, the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety, and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State To Hold Listening Sessions Around Michigan

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Assistant Secretary of State Heaster Wheeler have announced they will participate in conversations and listening sessions in the months ahead regarding the disenfranchised Michigan communities that typically have low turnout in elections. Benson says the killing of George Floyd and many others, the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, and inequities in the education, healthcare, and criminal justice systems underscore the work that must be done. Her administration is reaching out to community leaders around the state to organize events. Those who would like to set up a virtual conversation with Benson and Wheeler are encouraged to contact the Michigan Secretary of State’s office by emailing Zaineb A. Hussein at HusseinZ3@Michigan.gov. Benson says many of the voting precincts with the lowest turnout are located in Detroit, Flint, Ypsilanti, Pontiac, Warren, Grand Rapids, and the Benton Harbor areas.. ...Read Full Story

March Held In South Haven

An estimated 400 to 500 people took part in a march against racial injustice in South Haven on Saturday. The march started at Elkenburg park with speakers from the community and proceeded to the South Haven Pavilion. There, Mayor Scott Smith, members of the South Haven City Council, the police chief, and some pastors spoke. The march then continued through the downtown area and back to Elkenburg Park. The peaceful event was planned with help of local officials.
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Ford Keeps Salaried Workers Home

Ford is delaying the return of most of it’s salaried workers. Some workers, who needed to be on site, have already returned. Ford telling the others Friday they won’t be coming back until at least September. No surprise to AutoTrader analyst Michelle Krebs, who spoke with the Michigan News Network.. ...Read Full Story

COVID-19 Totals For Saturday

Michigan is reporting 224 additional cases of COVID-19 for Saturday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says that brings the total since the start of the pandemic to 58,749. The state reports 36 additional coronavirus deaths for Saturday, making the total 5,652. For southwest Michigan, the state is reporting a total of 651 COVID-19 cases in Berrien County since the start of the pandemic. Berrien County has had 53 deaths. Van Buren County reports a total of 154 cases and six deaths. Cass County reports 91 confirmed cases and three deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Honor Credit Union Releases COVID-19 Community Impact Numbers

Honor Credit Union has released some numbers regarding how it’s been affected by COVID-19. At the start of the pandemic, it announced the Honor Financial Relief Package to help out members. It included things like an option to skip a payment on loans without any fees. Honor Credit Union says across the board, members saved $366,000 in fees waived, and $491,000 was disbursed in Financial Relief Loans to 352 members. The Paycheck Protection Program additionally provided funding for 441 loans, totaling more than $30 million for small businesses. Honor says the feedback from the financial package has been “remarkable,” and has spread to an outpouring of community support.. ...Read Full Story

Economist Talks West MI Recovery

The worst of the recession driven by the coronavirus in west Michigan is over. That’s according to Brian Long with the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University. He says many of our supply chains have been shaken, and restarting production will not be easy.. ...Read Full Story

First 2020 Case Of West Nile Virus Found In Michigan

West Nile virus has been detected in Michigan for the first time this year. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says it’s been reported in a captive hawk from Lapeer County. Everyone is being reminded the best way to protect themselves against West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses, like Eastern Equine Encephalitis, is to prevent mosquito bites. Last year, West Nile virus sickened 12 Michiganders, along with 20 animals and birds in the state. Additionally, Michigan in 2019 experienced its worst outbreak of EEE virus ever recorded. There was EEE activity reported in 20 counties, with 50 cases in animals and 10 people infected with EEE, including six deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Appoints Director Of COVID-19 Workplace Safety

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has appointed Deputy Director for Labor at the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Sean Egan as her new Director of COVID-19 Workplace Safety. Egan says he’ll be overseeing the state’s re-engagement so employers and employees know what they need to do to be safe. The state is launching a website with guidelines.. ...Read Full Story

Undersheriff Talks Protests

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department stands with the Michigan Sheriff’s Association as it condemns the actions of Minneapolis police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd. The association has called the actions of the officers bad policing, and Berrien County Undersheriff Chuck Heit agrees.. ...Read Full Story

Summer Jam, Smooth Jazz At Sunset Canceled For This Year

97.5 Y Country radio’s Summer Jam concert, along with 98.3 the Coast’s Smooth Jazz at Sunset concert, both planned for this summer, have been canceled. Organizers say uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic are the reason. However, both will be back in 2021. Summer Jam founder and producer Gayle Olson says the “uncertainty surrounding public health requirements going forward simply preclude organizing a quality concert event for several thousand Y-Country listeners this year,” but he stressed Summer Jam will be back in 2021. He also praised the event’s sponsor since the beginning in 1998, Your Neighborhood Michigan Ford Dealers, noting they helped Y Country “bring some of Country Music’s biggest names to Southwest Michigan early in their careers.” Those names included Toby Keith, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan and Little Big Town. Meanwhile, Smooth Jazz at Sunset is a production of 98.3 The Coast, the Adult Contemporary radio station of Mid-West Family. It began in 2003 and has grown to be a major music event of summer in St. Joseph, headlined by many of the biggest names in the Smooth Jazz music genre. Olson said he has already had several conversations about Smooth Jazz at Sunset 2021, planned for Saturday, July 10.. ...Read Full Story

Study: Autonomous Vehicles Won’t Make Roads Completely Safe

From the Associated Press — A new study says that while autonomous vehicle technology has great promise to reduce crashes, it may not be able to prevent all crashes caused by humans. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study questions whether self-driving cars will be able to prevent all crashes now blamed on human error. It says that while autonomous vehicles eventually will identify
hazards and react faster than humans, and they won’t get distracted, that’s only enough to prevent about one-third of roadway crashes. The rest of the crashes are a lot harder. Auto safety experts say 94% of crashes are caused by humans.. ...Read Full Story

284 News Cases Of COVID-19 Identified Statewide Friday

Michigan is reporting 284 additional cases of COVID-19 for Friday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says that brings the state’s total to 58,525 since the start of the pandemic. There are 20 additional deaths to report around the state for Friday, making that total 5,615. Michigan Medical Executive Joneigh Khaldun says this is encouraging.. ...Read Full Story

Board Names Interim County Administrator

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has named former Berrien County Coordinator Mike Henry the interim county administrator while it waits for Brian Dissette to take over the position next month. During a Thursday meeting, the board voted to move Henry into the post for about two weeks, the period between the retirement of current Berrien County Administrator Bill Wolf and when Dissette will start. Board Chair Mac Elliot said Henry is a good fit to hold the wheel.. ...Read Full Story

One Arrested Following Drug Investigation

Police have made an arrest following a four month investigation into the sale of crack cocaine in Benton Township. The Southwest Enforcement Team says officers on Tuesday arrested 46-year-old William Henry Harden in the Benton Township business district for selling crack. He tried to run, but officers quickly caught him. Police say they found a quarter ounce of crack and more than an ounce of crystal meth on him. They add they found more drugs in his hotel room. Harden was taken to the Berrien County Jail on charges of delivery of crack cocaine, possession of crystal meth, and resisting and obstructing police.. ...Read Full Story

Business Pays Off School Lunch Bills In Bridgman

A Berrien County business has stepped forward to cover unpaid school lunch bills for families and students in Bridgman. Bridgman Public Schools Superintendent Shane Peters tells WSJM News Mead & White Electrical Contractors has paid $587.96 to cover school lunches that could not be paid during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company had reached out to the school to ask how it could help.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Hears Testimony On Effects Of State Shutdown

State Senator Kim LaSata is back at work in Lansing, and tells us she spent part of the week hearing testimony about how the COVID-19 shutdown has affected businesses. She listened Tuesday as the Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic heard from the owner of the Coloma-St. Joseph KOA campground. He didn’t understand why a campground, of all places, would be ordered closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Joins Unity March in Detroit

Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist took part in a civil rights march in Detroit on Thursday. The moves came a day after Whitmer announced her support for a series of policy plans for police reform in Michigan, calling on Michigan law enforcement agencies to enhance their training and policies to help create a police culture where all Michiganders are treated with dignity and respect under the law. The Michigan Senate on Thursday unanimously approved legislation that would require police to be trained on implicit bias and de-escalation techniques to minimize the use of force. Thursday’s vote came more than a week after the
death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which has sparked nationwide protests. The legislation would also mandate, starting in 2022, that officers complete annual continuing education. Michigan is among six states without such a requirement, according to a 2017 report. The measure, which was passed just a week after its introduction, was sent to the House for further consideration.
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County Moves To Continue Operations Of Berrien Bus

Berrien County is taking on some of the functions of a private company that handled operations of Berrien Bus as that company shuts down. The Berrien County Board of Commissioners was told last month Transportation Management Incorporated is closing at the end of June. That would have left the county with no staff to run Berrien Bus. So, the board voted on Thursday to create some new employee classifications to bring in drivers, dispatchers, and maintenance technicians so Berrien Bus can continue operations. Commissioner Teri Freehling noted the move is temporary.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Updates County Board On COVID-19

Berrien County is in a relatively good position when it comes to COVID-19 as the state starts to reopen. That’s the view of Berrien County Health Officer Nicki Britten, who presented a weekly COVID update to the Berrien County Board of Commissioners on Thursday. She says while tests are still not unlimited in the area, the capacity has greatly improved.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Senate: Train Police On Bias, Reduced Use Of Force

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Senate has unanimously approved a bill that would require police to be trained on implicit bias and de-escalation techniques to minimize the use of force. Thursday’s vote came more than a week after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which has sparked nationwide protests. The legislation would also mandate, starting in 2022, that officers complete annual continuing education. Michigan is among six states without such a requirement, according to a 2017 report. The measure, which was passed just a week after its introduction, was sent to the House for further consideration.. ...Read Full Story

Legislation Would Loosen Some Alcohol Restrictions

It may not be long before you can buy booze to go in Michigan and have a cocktail in a social district. Two bills passed out of the Michigan House Regulatory Reform Committee and have been referred to another committee. Mark Sellers of Barfly Ventures, which owns Hopcat restaurants, testified they need all the help they can get because of the pandemic.. ...Read Full Story

Coloma Campground Owner Testifies About Shutdown In MI Senate

The Michigan Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic took testimony from small businesses from throughout the state this week on how they have been affected by the coronavirus shutdown. Among others, lawmakers heard from Riverside’s Mark Lemoine, the owner of the Coloma-St. Joseph KOA campground. He said the way in which the governor’s shutdown order was handled created a great deal of confusion in his industry.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Backs Police Changes After Deaths Of Floyd, Others

From the Associated Press — Governor Gretchen Whitmer is calling for changes to prevent police abuses following the killings of George Floyd and other black people. She said Wednesday she’s backing continuing education for officers in Michigan and legislation that would require training on implicit bias and deescalation techniques. She also wants law enforcement agencies to implement policies so officers intervene if they see a colleague doing something inappropriate or illegal. She says the deaths of Floyd and others “were a result of hundreds of years of inequity and institutional racism against black Americans.” Whitmer isn’t immediately pushing for changes on the use of force.. ...Read Full Story

Sheriff’s Association Condemns George Floyd Killing, Local Sheriff Comments

The Michigan Sheriff’s Association has released a statement condemning the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. The association that represents all 83 elected county sheriffs in the state says the officers involved in Floyd’s death “have degraded, disparaged, and discredited our profession, and broken trust with those we serve — residents and communities.” Van Buren County Sheriff Daniel Abbott agrees, telling WSJM News the actions of the officers in Minnesota were “way out of line.”. ...Read Full Story

Upton Hails EPA Decision To Change Berrien County’s Air Quality Classification

Congressman Fred Upton is hailing a decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to remove Berrien County from its list of non-attainment areas for air quality. A geographic area that meets or does better than the EPA’s primary air quality standard is called an attainment area, while an area that does worse than the standard is considered a non-attainment area. Upton tells WSJM News Berrien County has fallen into that second category for a long time, much to his frustration.. ...Read Full Story

COVID-19 Totals For Wednesday

Michigan is reporting 304 new cases of COVID-19 for Wednesday, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 58,035. There were 17 additional deaths to report on Wednesday, making that total 5,570. Berrien County reported 12 new cases and no additional deaths, standing at 53. Cass County is reporting one new cases for a total of 84. Van Buren County is reporting two new cases for a total of 149. Cass County has had three deaths and Van Buren County has had six.. ...Read Full Story

FCC Awards $351,000 Grant To Lakeland Health System

The Lakeland Regional Health System has been awarded a $351,000 grant by the FCC to support telehealth services. The office of Congressman Fred Upton has announced the grant will pay for things including telemedicine carts, tablets, telehealth and remote monitoring equipment, and telehealth software licenses, and the expansion of telehealth infrastructure to allow all 350 healthcare providers in the system to see patients virtually. Spectrum Lakeland Health President Loren Hamel says the grant “will help us expand access, improve the virtual care experience, and keep patients and their providers even safer.” Upton says the money was included in the federal CARES Act.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Trial Court Announces Jury Trial Schedule

The Berrien County Trial Court is making some changes to services now that the state’s stay home order for COVID-19 has been lifted. It’s released a reopening schedule for proceedings that have been delayed due to the coronavirus. The Trial Court says the Michigan State Court Administrative Office is now working on a report regarding jury trials, but it’s not expected to be released until late June. In order to handle cases effectively, the Berrien County Trial Court says jury trials for misdemeanors will resume the week of August 17, and jury trials for felony offenses will resume the week of September 22. The presiding judge of the criminal division will limit the number of trials taking place each day in order to make social distancing possible.. ...Read Full Story

State Reminds Patients COVID Testing Should Be Free

The state of Michigan is working to ensure anyone who needs a COVID-19 test can get one. Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services say they’re alerting Michiganders diagnostic COVID-19 testing for those who meet the testing criteria should be covered by most health insurance plans without any out-of-pocket cost. As of March of this year, federal law requires most insurance plans to cover the COVID test at no out of pocket cost to their patients. The state says consumers with health insurance seeking COVID-19 testing should contact their insurance company to find out what is covered if they plan to be tested at a site that requires payment up front or indicates they’ll be billed. Some insurance companies could be required to reimburse those patients. You can look for a testing site at Michigan.gov/CoronavirusTest.. ...Read Full Story

Jeff Daniels To Perform For LMC Concert Series

Michigan actor Jeff Daniels is bringing a live performance to Lake Michigan College…sort of. LMC says as part of its Remotely Interested online concert series, Daniels will be a guest on Friday, June 19. LMC says Jeff Daniels in 1976 bought a guitar from Herb David’s Guitar Studio in Ann Arbor, threw it in the back of his old Buick, and moved to New York City. That guitar led to a creative outlet, became a solace, and a road into the artist that he didn’t know existed. Now, over 40 years later, Daniels is still writing songs, singing them, and playing. That’s what Daniels will do for an online audience on the 19th. The cost to attend the virtual show will be $15. You can register right here.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Proceeding With Development Of Overton Site

Movement could be coming soon with the redevelopment of the former Overton factory site in South Haven. City Manager Brian Dissette tells WSJM News the six acre, city owned property off Indiana Avenue and Elkenburg Street has been eyed by the city council as a location for affordable housing. The body this week authorized Ryan Kilpatrick with Housing Next to issue a Request for Qualifications from developers for the property.. ...Read Full Story

City Accepts Grants For Public Safety Department

Benton Harbor City Commissioners have accepted a couple of grants for the public safety department. During a Monday meeting, they were told the department has been approved for more than $53,000 from the U.S. Justice Department as part of the federal CARES Act. Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis said the money will help offset pandemic-related costs like the purchase of personal protective equipment and training needed to avoid coronavirus transmission. Also accepted Monday was a grant from the state’s Financially Distressed Cities, Villages, and Townships program for the public safety department to purchase new self-contained breathing apparatus for firefighters. The grant totals nearly $264,000. McGinnis said the current breathing equipment is nearing the end of its life. The grant will also pay for a new machine to fill air canisters. McGinnis said the old machine no longer works, and the department has had to fill its air bottles at the St. Joseph Department of Public Safety.. ...Read Full Story