Local News Archives

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

323 New Cases Of COVID-19 In Michigan For Wednesday

Michigan is reporting 323 new cases of COVID-19 for Wednesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 61,953 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported four additional deaths for Wednesday, bringing that total to 5,868. Berrien County had one new case of COVID-19 to report for the day, making the total at 696 with 60 deaths. Cass County had no new cases for Wednesday, keeping its total 113 with four deaths. Van Buren County had one new case for the day, making the county’s total 194 with six deaths.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Board Approves Budget Anticipating State Cuts

A budget for the next academic year has been approved by the Lake Michigan College Board of Trustees. 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

Motorcyclist Killed In Wednesday Crash

A South Bend man is dead following a motorcycle crash in Cass County on Wednesday. Michigan State Police from the Niles post say they were dispatched to the scene on Redfield Street near Carter Lane in Milton Township shortly after 10 a.m. They found the motorcycle had been westbound on Redfield when it struck a van that was stopped at a sign facing south on Carter. The impact caused the motorcyclist to be thrown from the machine and into a third vehicle that was stopped for a turn. Troopers gave first aid and CPR to the motorcyclist and he was taken to South Bend Memorial Hospital where he died from his injuries. He has been identified as Nicholas Allen Washburn of South Bend. He was wearing a helmet. Police say their investigation into the crash continues.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Board To Continue Virtual Meetings

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners will continue to hold virtual meetings as more parts of Michigan reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement on Wednesday, the county says while the governor has relaxed some of the restrictions on movement and workplaces, “what remains is the requirement that businesses, operations and government agencies adhere to sound social distancing practices and additional measures.” It says an order from the governor limits the number of people in a meeting to ten people, and the county board cannot hold a meeting in public and fall within that limit. Therefore, the online meetings will continue. They’re streamed on YouTube with most meetings starting at 10:30 a.m. on Thursdays. You can go to YouTube, and search for the account named “Berrien County, Michigan.”. ...Read Full Story

Bill Sent To Whitmer Requires Reports On Firefighting Foam

From the Associated Press — Fire departments that use a foam containing a group of chemicals known as PFAS would be required to report its use within 48 hours of ending a fire under legislation sent to Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The bill won unanimous approval from the Michigan House Tuesday. It would mandate that fire chiefs report incidents in which PFAS-containing firefighting foams are used to Michigan’s pollution emergency alert system. The state environmental department would have to accept the foam concentrate free of charge and properly dispose of it – contingent on the Legislature allocating money to cover program costs.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Early Morning Shooting In Benton Township

The Benton Township Police Department is investigating after a man was shot while sitting in his car outside of his home early on Wednesday. It says officers were called to the 1,300 block of Jennings Street shortly after 1 a.m. The 29-year-old victim had been hit in the right forearm and chest. He said he’d been sitting in his car when someone came up and shot him. He could not identify the shooter. The victim was taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland with non-life-threatening injuries. Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to contact the Benton Township Police Department.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Housing Market Down In May

Southwest Michigan’s housing market was hit hard in May. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors says the overall economic downturn caused by COVID-19 pushed local homes sales to their lowest level since 2006. Selling prices also dropped. However, association executive Alan Jeffries says, “Since our market has been robust for the last three years, we are expecting this to be a temporary disruption of home sales.” The realtors group says the number of houses sold in May dropped to 142, a 61% decline from May of last year. From April, it was a 27% drop. Year-to-date, the number of houses sold has fallen 27%. The average selling price in May was $240,000 compared to $264,000 in May of 2019 for a 9% reduction. With fewer houses sold, the total dollar volume fell 64% in May. The drop in southwest Michigan home sales happened as the national real estate market also saw a downturn.. ...Read Full Story

State Asks Residents To Watch Out For Invasive Insect

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is asking the public to be on the lookout for a new invasive insect that has the potential to devastate the state’s agriculture and natural resources. Spokesperson Jennifer Holton tells WSJM News the spotted lanternfly has not yet been found in Michigan, and the state wants to keep it that way.. ...Read Full Story

GOP Lawmakers Release Plan For Safe Start Of School

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. It allows districts to start whenever is best for them without obtaining a waiver.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Shots Fired Into South Haven Home

A Covert man is being held for an early Tuesday morning shooting in South Haven. The South Haven Police Department says officers were called out to a home in the 21,000 block of M-140 on a report of shots being fired into a home. No one inside was hurt, but the house was hit multiple times. A sergeant with the South Haven Police Department saw a vehicle speeding away from the area and was able to stop it a short distance away. In the vehicle, he found guns and ammo consistent with the spent casings found at the home. The 21-year-old driver is now being held pending charges from the Van Buren County Prosecutor.. ...Read Full Story

John James Touring Michigan

From the Associated Press — U.S. Senate candidate John James has begun an in-person tour of Michigan amid the pandemic, visiting a Jackson County farm to criticize the overregulation and overtaxation of farmers. Monday’s stop is believed to be the Republican’s first solo one, with reporters, outside of appearing with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. The challenger to Democratic Senator Gary Peters had been gearing up for a more visible public schedule when the coronavirus struck. He says small businesses need help and aren’t getting it from Peters. Democrats say James supports Trump’s agenda, including trade wars that have threatened farmers’ livelihoods.. ...Read Full Story

University Of Michigan Term To Start August 31, Online Classes Still Key

From the Associated Press — The fall term at the University of Michigan will open August 31 with a mix of remote learning and in-person classes at the Ann Arbor campus. The school announced its latest response to the coronavirus. Residence halls will be open, but there will be an emphasis on boxed meals and fewer people at one time in dining rooms. Large classes will be held online. Small
classes will meet in-person, and class sizes in the middle will be a mix of both. President Mark Schlissel is promising more details in the weeks ahead. Schlissel says there are few, if any, one-size-fits-all solutions.. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw Public Schools Announces New Team Name

Paw Paw Public Schools has announced its new district team name. After the district dumped the Redskins in March, discussions started on what the new mascot will be. This week, the district announced it’s going to be the Red Wolves, assuming the name is approved by the board of education. The name will be officially presented by student members of the Nickname Task Force to the Board of Education for adoption on July 13, along with recommendations of images to be adopted. The district received more than 700 submissions and thousands of votes as a new team name was sought. It says the Nickname Task Force agreed the chosen nickname and imagery needed to be respectful, inclusive, and non-controversial, and also had to bring people together in a unique way. Paw Paw Superintendent Rick Reo says he’s pleased to support the recommendation of the Red Wolves to the board.. ...Read Full Story

Lawsuit Filed Over Death Of Teen In Detention Facility

A civil, wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court following the death of a 16-year-old alleges that video from a Michigan youth facility recorded the teen saying “I can’t breathe.” Attorney Jonathan Marko said Monday the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services investigation has revealed workers at Lakeside Academy sat on Cornelius Fredericks for up to ten minutes.. ...Read Full Story

School Leaders Warn About Danger Of State Cuts

School leaders across Michigan are warning lawmakers that districts are facing unknown costs related to the coronavirus and budget cuts will only add to the problem. Oakland Schools Superintendent Wanda Cook-Robinson is part of the School Finance Research Collaborative which is calling on lawmakers to look at research when determining funding. She spoke with Michigan News Network.. ...Read Full Story