Local News Archives

543 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 In Michigan For Thursday

Michigan is reporting 543 additional cases of COVID-19 for Thursday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 64,675 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported 15 additional deaths for Thursday, although it notes 13 of those were identified via a vital records search. The state’s total number of COVID deaths is now 5,966. Berrien County had six new cases of COVID-19 to report for the day, making the total 742 with 60 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Cass County had three new cases for Thursday, making its total 137 with five deaths. Van Buren County had one new case for the day, making the county’s total 205 cases with seven deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Professor Discusses Renaming Of State Building

The former Lewis Cass state building in downtown Lansing has been renamed the Elliot Larsen Building following an executive order from the governor this week. The move honors the authors of the state’s landmark civil rights act, Daisy Elliot and Melvin Larsen. Professor Dewitt Dykes, Jr. from Oakland University reflected on the work done by the two.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Signs Wendzel Brewery Bill

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed legislation from state Representative Pauline Wendzel to increase the limit faced by breweries that self-distribute their beer. Right now, breweries are limited to 1,000 barrels per year when they self-distribute. Wendzel’s bill increases that to 2,000. Wendzel tells WSJM News it’s a good time to make things easier on those small businesses.. ...Read Full Story

Advisory Council Chair Talks Return To School Plan

Governor Gretchen Whitmer this week unveiled a plan to reopen K-12 schools this fall with extra safety precautions. Tonya Allen is the chair of the COVID-19 Return to Learn Advisory Council. She says students in grade six through twelve will have to wear face masks at all times, while younger students will not be wearing face masks in the classroom.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Announces In-Person Classes 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

262 News Cases Of COVID-19 In Michigan For Wednesday

Michigan is reporting 262 additional cases of COVID-19 for Wednesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 64,132 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported four additional deaths for Wednesday, bringing that total to 5,951. Berrien County had 15 new cases of COVID-19 to report for the day, making the total 736 with 60 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Cass County had four new cases for Wednesday, making its total 134 with five deaths. Van Buren County had four new cases for the day, making the county’s total 204. It also recorded its seventh death from COVID-19.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Closes Indoor Service At Bars

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is closing indoor seating in bars in parts of the state, including a city with a bar that has been linked to a rising number of infections. Whitmer on Wednesday also signed a bill allowing bars and restaurants to sell cocktails-to-go in an effort to help those businesses. Bars won’t have to close down completely, according to an new executive order. And the Upper Peninsula and much of northern Michigan are not subject to the order due to low numbers of reported COVID-19 virus cases. All bars may still keep open their outdoor patios. Below is the governor’s full executive order.. ...Read Full Story

Board Finds It Has Authority On Guns At Michigan Capitol

From the Associated Press — A board overseeing Michigan’s Capitol has determined that it has the legal authority to decide if guns will continue to be allowed in the Lansing building and on its grounds. The Michigan State Capitol Commission on Tuesday reviewed a formal legal opinion by Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel that said the board had the power to prohibit firearms at the Capitol. In April, a number of people carrying guns took part in a protest at the Capitol over Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s orders that closing businesses to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Commissioners are scheduled to meet again on July
13.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Census Video Top 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

Michigan Eases Restrictions On Long-Term Care Visits

From the Associated Press — Orders have been issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services that allow for expanded visitations at nursing and other residential facilities. Visits to the facilities have been restricted to slow the spread of COVID-19. The two orders signed Tuesday by MDHHS Director Robert Gordon allow exceptions to the restrictions as long as the facilities meet specific safety requirements, such as requiring masks during visits. Gordon noted the hardship residents of the facilities have faced because they have been unable to see loved ones because of the pandemic. He says while visits are now allowed in come circumstances, caution and safety precautions should remain in place.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Warns About Wildfire Risk With Fourth Of July 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

Health Officer Discusses Return To School Plan

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Safe Schools Roadmap has been released, directing school districts throughout the state to draw up their own back to school plans with local conditions and local health departments as their guide. She was joined by Berrien County Health Officer Nicole Britten, who was part of the state’s Return to School Advisory Council. Britten talked about the development of the return to school plan.. ...Read Full Story

373 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 Reported In Michigan Tuesday

Michigan is reporting 373 additional cases of COVID-19 for Tuesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 63,870 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported 32 additional deaths for Tuesday, bringing that total to 5,947. Berrien County had three new cases of COVID-19 to report for the day, making the total 721 with 60 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Cass County had six new cases for Tuesday, making its total 130 with five deaths. Van Buren County had no new cases for the day, keeping the county’s total 200 with six deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Regulators Deny Quick Approval Of New Great Lakes Pipeline

From the Associated Press — A Michigan regulatory agency has denied Enbridge’s request for quick approval of its plan to put a replacement oil pipeline beneath a Great Lakes channel. The state Public Service Commission on Tuesday voted to conduct a full review of Enbridge’s proposal. Enbridge wants to extend the pipeline through a tunnel that would be drilled beneath the Straits of Mackinac, connecting Lakes Huron and Michigan. It would replace dual Line 5 pipes that lie on the bottom of the straits. The company contends it doesn’t need the public service commission’s approval for the new line because the agency allowed the original pipes in 1953.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Renames State Building In Honor Of Legislators Behind MI Civil Rights Law

The former Lewis Cass Building in downtown Lansing has been renamed the Elliott-Larsen Building by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Her office announced on Tuesday the governor would honor the state legislators behind Michigan’s civil rights law, the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act, which was approved in 1976 and signed into law by Governor William Milliken in January of 1977. Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist says “Daisy Elliott and Mel Larson’s landmark legislation has removed barriers to equity, progress, and participation for Michiganders in every part of our state.” Regarding Lewis Cass, the governor’s office said, “No one can deny the important role that Lewis Cass played in Michigan’s and the nation’s early history. But Governor Whitmer recognizes that the names we elevate express our values,” noting that Cass owned a slave. Whitmer on Tuesday also called on the Michigan Legislature to expand the Elliott Larsen Act to protect LGBTQ Michiganders.. ...Read Full Story

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