Local News Archives

Virus Pandemic Spurring Rise In RV Sales In Northern Indiana

From the Associated Press — Dealerships in northern Indiana that sell recreational vehicles are seeing a surge in demand for RVs as people eye summer road trips with their families in place of air travel and cruises amid the coronavirus pandemic. Darryl Searer is president of the RV Museum and Hall of Fame. He says RV manufacturers in Elkhart southern Michigan have worked extensively to fulfill orders for customers tired of being stuck at home. He added that the RV industry saw record sales last month at dealerships in Wisconsin, Missouri, Colorado and Arizona.. ...Read Full Story

Drive Sober Or Get Pulled Over Campaign Planned For Fourth Of July

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is conducting a Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign for the Fourth of July. As the holiday approaches, it says you will see increased enforcement on the roads with zero tolerance for those who drive impaired. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, drunk driving accounted for 29% of crash deaths in 2018. With Fourth of July festivities wrapping up in the evening or late at night, more cars will be on the roads late. In 2018 alone, 193 people died in traffic crashes over the July 4 holiday period, and 40% of those involved alcohol. Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey warns, “If we catch you driving under the influence of alcohol, we will arrest you, and you’ll receive a DUI. That DUI will follow you throughout your life.” He urges those celebrating Independence Day to designate a sober driver before heading out for the day.. ...Read Full Story

Major Work Planned Around Red Arrow Highway In Union Pier

A major reconstruction and improvement project is underway on Red Arrow Highway in Union Pier. The Berrien County Board of Commissioners last week signed off on the county’s portion of the work, which will be repaving from Community Hall to Berrien Street. However, Chikaming Township Supervisor David Bunte tells WSJM News that’s just one phase of a bigger plan.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer: Contact Tracing Critical

Michigan’s response to the coronavirus pandemic seems to be going well as the numbers are staying relatively steady, but could we see a second spike like we have in other parts of our country? Governor Gretchen Whitmer says it’s possible, but it’s also crucial that health officials can trace the source of the disease.. ...Read Full Story

SJ Commissioners Seek Input On Promoting Social Justice

How can the city of St. Joseph fight institutional racism and promote social justice? That was the topic of discussion at a Monday meeting of the city commission and public. The meeting came as the city responds to the death of George Floyd and others at the hands of police. Among those to speak to commissioners was Rayone Bell, who said there’s a perception problem for St. Joseph across the river.. ...Read Full Story

Two Projects To Start On Napier Avenue Next Week

There’s a whole lot of work planned for Napier Avenue in the coming month. 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

Whirlpool Making Staff Cuts In U.S.

Whirlpool has announced layoffs as it works to weather the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The company said on Monday it’s previously offered employees a voluntary retirement program, and also reduced budgets, implemented furloughs, restricted travel, and took other steps to reduce costs. Now, a spokesperson says, it “is now also necessary to take additional action and reduce the number of people we employ in the U.S. All impacted employees are being offered a strong severance package to support them in their transition. Though these decisions are difficult, we believe they are necessary to adapt to the reality of an economic contraction and prepare us for new ways of working in the future.” Whirlpool is not releasing a number for the layoffs.. ...Read Full Story

SHAES Gets Grant To Enhance Water Rescue Response

A donation of equipment to South Haven Area Emergency Services will enable its on-call staff to respond more quickly to water rescue situations. SHAES says Albemarle Corporation of South Haven has given the agency a grant to equip each of its 19 responders with a personalized life jacket, helmet, and throw-bag containing 50 feet of rope they can keep in their vehicles. SHAES Chief Brandon Hinz notes the SHAES response vehicles all have those same things, but it’s sometimes the on-call staff who reach an emergency scene first after coming from their homes or jobs. Hinz says when seconds count having the equipment on the ready can save lives. He thanked Albemarle for the contribution.. ...Read Full Story

236 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 In Michigan Monday

Michigan is reporting 236 additional cases of COVID-19 for Monday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 63,497 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported four additional deaths for Monday, bringing that total to 5,915. Berrien County had nine new cases of COVID-19 to report for the day, making the total 718 with 60 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Cass County had three new cases for Monday, making its total 124. Cass County also had its fifth coronavirus death. Van Buren County had one new case for the day, making the county’s total 200 with six deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Drivers Face New Insurance Choice Starting Thursday

From the Associated Press — Michigan drivers who renew or buy car insurance face a choice starting this week: stick with unlimited medical coverage, go with less or — for seniors with Medicare — opt out entirely. The decision is a signature feature of a new law that will lower the cost of personal injury protection benefits. It boils down to people’s risk tolerance and desire for savings. But unlike with choosing a deductible, the selection can have long-term implications in the event of a serious crash. Insurance agents say many people whose policies are up for renewal are staying with unlimited medical for now.. ...Read Full Story

Students At Michigan Universities Turn To Summer Classes

From the Associated Press — Students at Michigan’s public universities are registering for summer courses online at record rates, marking an unexpected windfall for several schools strapped for cash due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to data shared with the Detroit Free Press, nine of 10 institutions projected a year-over-year growth in summer enrollment, with two-thirds of these schools anticipating a boost of at least 4% for one or more of their summer periods. Michigan Medicine statistician John Poe, who teaches graduate-oriented summer courses for the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, said he is “pleasantly surprised” by students’ engagement in the virtual. ...Read Full Story

252 New Cases Of COVID-19 Identified In Michigan For Sunday

The number of newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Michigan went up by 252 on Sunday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 63,261 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported four additional deaths for Sunday, bringing that total to 5,911. Berrien County had five new cases of COVID-19 to report for the day, making the total 709 with 60 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Cass County had one new case for Sunday, making its total 121 with four deaths. Van Buren County also had one new case for the day, making the county’s total 199 with six deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Superintendent Supporting New Mascot Name

Paw Paw Public Schools Superintendent Rick Reo says he’s glad the community is moving forward with the proposal of a new team name following an extended period of controversy over the old one. The Paw Paw Public Schools Board of Education voted in March to drop the old Redskins nickname, and the Nickname Task Force this week announced it’s recommending the Red Wolves to be the new name. Reo tells WSJM News students led the process.. ...Read Full Story

College Anticipating Cuts, Budgets For Them

A budget for the next academic year was approved by the Lake Michigan College Board of Trustees last week. LMC President Trevor Kubatzke tells WSJM News with major state cuts expected in the fall due to COVID-19, college leadership had to make cuts based on estimates. The budget started out with a $3.5 million deficit, and ended with a $1.6 million deficit.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers Discussing Return To School In The Fall

Michigan legislative Republicans have announced their proposal for getting students back in school. State Representative Pauline Wendzel tells WSJM New the House and Senate have jointly worked out a package of legislation called the Return to Learn plan. They released it last week. It allows districts to start whenever is best for them without obtaining a waiver.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Voters To Decide In November On Data Protections

From the Associated Press — A state constitutional amendment to designate electronic communication and data as personal property has made it onto the November ballot. If passed, the amendment would put the same protections given to “person, houses, papers and possessions” that are in the state constitution and the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution. Law enforcement would require a
warrant to access electronic data and communication. Michigan is not the first state to try to legislate for reasonable cause and a search warrant to obtain electronic data. Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire and more have also tried.. ...Read Full Story

314 New Cases Of COVID-19 In Michigan

The number of newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Michigan went up by 314 on Saturday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 63,009 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported 19 additional deaths for Saturday, bringing that total to 5,907. Berrien County had three new cases of COVID-19 to report for the day, making the total 704 with 60 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Cass County had no new cases for Saturday, keeping its total 120 with four deaths. Van Buren County also had no new cases for the day, making the county’s total 198 with six deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Sheriff Presents Scholarship To Coloma Grad

A 2020 graduate of Coloma High School has been presented with a $1,000 scholarship from the Michigan Sheriff’s Association. Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey and Michigan Sheriff’s Association Director Matt Saxton handed the certificate to Tony Craft on Friday. Craft has been a member of the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Explorer Post for four years and currently serves as captain. He plans to attend Lake Michigan College in the fall. Sheriff Bailey says the department is “proud of Tony for all his hard work and commitment. We wish him well in achieving his goal and dreams to become a police officer.”. ...Read Full Story

Peters Preparing For Next Wave Of COVID

With Coronavirus numbers on the rise, there is ongoing effort to make sure the government is better prepared if or when a second wave of the outbreak comes. Michigan U.S. Senator Gary Peters sits on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which overseas the National Stockpile of Emergency Supplies.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Holds Steady In Child Well-Being Rankings

Michigan is holding steady in an annual snapshot of how children are faring, ranking 32nd nationally for the second year in a row. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2020 Kids Count Data Book, Michigan placed 22nd in Health, 30th in both Economic Well-being and Family and Community and 40th in Education. Kids Count Director at the Michigan League for Public Policy Kelsey Perdue says these outcomes will be crucial to monitor given the COVID-19 crisis.. ...Read Full Story

MI Redistricting Commission Closer To Being Named

The final list of 200 applicants hoping to serve on the new Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, which will redraw Michigan’s district lines, is now heading to the Michigan Legislature. Jake Rollow, director of communications for the Department of State, says three new applications had to be redrawn Thursday to replace incomplete applications.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases Latest OK2SAY Report

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Michigan State Police have released the latest OK2SAY Annual Report. The report details use of the state’s tip line for students to report troubling situations in their schools. The attorney general says the student safety program received more than 5,700 tips in the last year with the two most reported incidents being suicide threats and bullying. The tips fell into 31 categories that also included drugs, depression, and self-harm. Michigan State Police Director Colonel Joel Gasper says students should know that even though they are not physically meeting in school buildings right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, OK2SAY technicians remain at work and stand ready to support students 24/7 in any way they can. You can reach the OK2SAY service by sending a text to OK2SAY, calling 8-555-OK2SAY, or going to Michigan.gov/ok2say.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Announces New Rental Assistance Program

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed an executive order extending the suspension of evictions until July 15 and creating a new Eviction Diversion Program. Her office says the program outlines a process for renters to get rental assistance or set up a payment plan to stay in their homes. Rental assistance under the Eviction Diversion Program will be available beginning July 16. The order sets aside $50 million for rental assistance to be made available in the form of lump sum payments to landlords in exchange for allowing tenants to remain in their homes and forgiving late fees and up to 10% of the amount due. Tenants whose back rent is not completely covered by the Eviction Diversion Program will be entered into payment plans facilitated by a Supreme Court administrative order. The program is the result of a Michigan Legislature vote this month to set aside $60 million of CARES Act money for rental assistance.. ...Read Full Story

Man Killed In Decatur Township Crash

Michigan State Police are investigating a fatal crash in Decatur Township on Thursday. They say it happened around 3:30 p.m. on County Road 352 near 41st Street. Troopers arrived at the scene to find the driver pinned under his vehicle. The investigation found the man had lost control of his GMC Pickup Truck and crashed. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Michigan State Police have not released additional details.. ...Read Full Story

Nesbitt Calls For Audit Of Unemployment Insurance Agency

The Michigan Senate has approved a resolution from state Senator Aric Nesbitt to request that the auditor general conduct a financial and performance audit of the Unemployment Insurance Agency. Nesbitt tells WSJM News there have been too many Michiganders who have been unable to collect unemployment after losing their jobs because of the pandemic, and the unemployment agency could have done a better job dealing with the flood of claims.. ...Read Full Story

389 New Cases Of COVID-19 In Michigan Friday

The number of newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Michigan went up by 389 on Friday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 62,695 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported two additional deaths for Friday, bringing that total to 5,889. Berrien County had one new case of COVID-19 to report for the day, making the total 701 with 60 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Cass County had two new cases for Friday, making its total 120 with four deaths. Van Buren County had one new case for the day, making the county’s total 198 with six deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Man Arrested After Disturbance At Stevensville Culver’s

A 35-year-old Florida man is in the Berrien County Jail after causing a disturbance at the Stevensville Culver’s and fleeing from police. The Lincoln Township Police Department says it was called to the restaurant on Red Arrow Highway on Thursday evening for a physical altercation. Arriving officers learned the suspect had been in the restaurant begging a couple for money and food. When they refused, the suspect grabbed some food from the woman and ate it. Police say the suspect then assaulted the man upon being confronted. He also picked up a chair and started swinging it around. When the suspect left the restaurant, he threw rocks, tried to get back in, and assaulted two more people. Police later found the suspect walking along I-94 and he was taken into custody.. ...Read Full Story

Cred Union Offering Free Document Shredding Days

Honor Credit Union is planning free community shred days to give everyone a chance to have documents shredded while also avoiding contact. There are several shred days planned throughout the summer in the various communities Honor Credit Union serves. The first one will be at the St. Joseph Member Center from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. this Saturday. Those who take part will be advised to drive up alongside the designated area, and then a staff member take the documents from the car straight to the shred truck on site. Everyone’s asked to limit their shredding to ten boxes or bags. They’ll run through September 19.. ...Read Full Story

Absentee Ballots Go Out For August Elections

Voters who requested absentee ballots can expect to receive them soon, as the Michigan Secretary of State’s office says clerks began mailing them on Thursday. Those absentee ballots are for the August 4 primary elections. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says to increase safety during the pandemic, the Michigan Bureau of Elections is providing local voting jurisdictions with personal protective equipment, ballot drop boxes, and matching grants to buy additional equipment. Benson says the absentee ballots went out this week to comply with the constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2018 that requires ballot mailing begin no later than 40 days prior to elections. Anyone who has not registered to vote absentee but wants to can go to Michigan.gov/Vote.. ...Read Full Story

Attorney For Gym Owners: Gyms Could Help People During Pandemic

Gym owners and patrons are not happy after the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled three to nothing this week to grant an emergency stay sought by the governor, deciding fitness centers cannot re-open. U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney said last week that gyms could reopen at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. However, the governor’s office filed an appeal. Attorney Scott Erskine, representing the gyms, said although he understands concerns, gyms are some of the cleanest places.. ...Read Full Story

353 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 Reported In Michigan Thursday

The number of newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Michigan went up by 353 on Thursday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 62,306 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported 19 additional deaths for Thursday, bringing that total to 5,887. Berrien County had four new cases of COVID-19 to report for the day, making the total 700 with 60 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Cass County had five new cases for Thursday, making its total 118 with four deaths. Van Buren County had three new cases for the day, making the county’s total 197 with six deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Seeks To Resolve Jobless Claims Filed Before May

From the Associated Press — The state of Michigan says it will soon resolve unemployment claims for about 11,800 people who filed before May. The Unemployment Insurance Agency said Tuesday its goal is to clear that backlog that resulted from the coronavirus pandemic and make a determination by the end of next week. The agency will soon announce a target date to resolve claims
filed in May or later. For those still awaiting a decision on their eligibility, the state will pay benefits, determine the claimant is ineligible and communicate why, or deem the person unreachable after multiple attempts to make contact.. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw Superintendent Discusses New Nickname

Paw Paw Public Schools Superintendent Rick Reo says he’s glad the community is moving forward with the proposal of a new team name following an extended period of controversy over the old one. The Paw Paw Public Schools Board of Education voted in March to drop the old Redskins nickname, and the Nickname Task Force this week announced it’s recommending the Red Wolves to be the new name. Reo tells WSJM News students led the process.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers React To GOP Return To School Plan

Michigan Republican lawmakers are out with their proposal to re-open schools in the fall, and the plan in part calls for a one-time $1.3 billion boost to K-12 funding. Matt Kolezar, a Democratic state Representative from Plymouth, told Micchigan News Network he’s concerned because the money can only be used toward upgrading technology.. ...Read Full Story

Coloma Township Homeowner Shoots Intruder

The Coloma Township Police Department is investigating after a homeowner shot an intruder overnight Thursday. It says officers were called to a home in the 5,500 block of Paw Paw Lake Road in Coloma Township just before 2:30 a.m. While on their way, the officers were told by dispatch the homeowner may have shot the intruder. Upon arrival, officers from the Coloma Township Police Department, Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, Watervliet City Police Department, and the Pokagon Tribal Police encountered the homeowner, who came out of the house with his hands in the air. Police secured the scene, and found the suspect, 47-year-old Kevin Cox, dead inside from a single gunshot wound. Police say the suspect and the homeowner did not know each other. Next of kin have been notified and an autopsy on Cox is being performed in Kalamazoo. The homeowner’s name has not been released. The case will be reviewed by the Berrien County Prosecutor’s office.. ...Read Full Story

Retailers Struggle With Unruly Shoppers

Now that employers that are reopening for business, they have a new concern during the pandemic — hostile and unruly customers. Paul Beasinger owns Keene Training and Consulting and says he’s been swamped with employers reaching out to ask for training and advice. Beasinger told Michigan News Network he teaches de-escalation, which involves having empathy for the customer who refuses to social distance or wear a mask.. ...Read Full Story