Local News Archives

Man Suffers Graze Wounds In Blossom Acres Shooting

A 46-year-old Benton Harbor man is recovering at home after being treated and released from Spectrum Health Lakeland for a graze wound from a shooting at the Blossom Acres Housing Project in Benton Township. Police say the man was walking on Highland near Plum Court just before 9:30 p.m. Tuesday when a blue four-door Ford sedan drove past him, turned around, and someone inside the car fired a shot. The bullet grazed the victim’s right shin and ankle, and went through his shoe. The man was taken to the hospital by Medic 1 Ambulance, and police have not yet found the suspect. No other information on the suspect or the vehicle involved, including the license plate number, is available.. ...Read Full Story

Committee releases Recommendations For Benton Harbor Area Schools

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Community Engagement and Advisory Committee has released its list of recommendations for turning the district around. During a virtual meeting Tuesday, Michigan Deputy State Treasurer Joyce Parker read the state-created committee’s assessment of the district, which identified an average deficit of $14.7 million over the past ten years, a shortage of qualified teachers with classroom experience, the lowest teacher salaries in Berrien County, declining enrollment, and a graduation rate of 42%. Parker then laid out a long list of recommendations to turn all of that around, covering academics, facilities, and finances. Among them were the following:. ...Read Full Story

Rate Of Deaths, Illness Among Black Residents Alarms Cities

From the Associated Press — Chicago’s mayor pledged an aggressive public health campaign aimed at the city’s black and brown communities amid alarm that black residents make up an overwhelming number of those to die of COVID-19. Black residents accounted for 72% of deaths from COVID-19 complications in the city despite making up only 30% of the city’s population. Public health experts in Chicago said the trend was unsurprising to anyone familiar with decades-old barriers to health care here. The same conditions exists in other large cities with large black populations that are considered hot spots for the coronavirus, including New York, Detroit, Milwaukee and New Orleans.. ...Read Full Story

Two Area Nonprofits Get National Honor, Say COVID Crisis Amplifies Work Being Done

The Nonprofit Times is recognizing a pair of area organizations on their list of the 2020 Best Nonprofits to Work For. The United Way of Southwest Michigan is ranked fourth and Kinexus Group is 36th of the 50 on the list. Kinexus Group president and CEO Todd Gustafson says the two nonprofits work very well together with a lot of partnerships, but adds their work is even more vital now given the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis with thousands out of work and companies fighting to survive.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan COVID-19 Cases Nearing 19,000

Michigan’s COVID-19 cases are approaching 19,000. The latest figures from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services show an increase of 1,749 cases from Monday to 18,970 with 845 deaths statewide. The number of people who have died from coronavirus in metro Detroit is now 728, one more than the entire state had as of yesterday. In southwest Michigan, Berrien and Kalamazoo counties have the most cases with 64 each, with two deaths in Berrien County and four in Kalamazoo. Allegan County is up to 18 cases, while Van Buren County now has 17, St. Joseph County has 14, and Cass County has nine. There are a total of 176 cases in the six-county area, with eight total deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Lowe’s Closed Except For Online Order Pickup In Benton Township

The Benton Harbor Lowe’s store is now closed. According to MoodyOnTheMarket, the store is doing online sales for customers to pick up, but no one is allowed inside. The store received a cease-and-desist letter regarding its Garden Center over the weekend, with Benton Township and the Attorney General’s office ordering that part of the store closed because it was not essential and necessary to sustain life. Store management say there is no timetable to reopen Lowe’s to the public. The store had been keeping later hours than had Home Depot in Benton Township, which is closing daily at 6 p.m. for deep cleaning. That chain has been recognized by Attorney General Dana Nessel for its efforts to try to slow the spread of COVID-19.. ...Read Full Story

River Valley Wins Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament

River Valley High School is the winner of this year’s Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament, held by state Senator Kim LaSata. She hosts the contest each year, giving high schools throughout her legislative district a chance to submit photos displaying their spirit via social media. The schools are put into March Madness-like brackets and the tournament runs for six weeks. LaSata congratulated River Valley for coming out on top, saying with school now out due to COVID-19, “the tournament was a way for Southwest Michiganders to come together in a display of school and community spirit.” The Mustangs defeated Countryside Academy in the final round, which concluded April 3.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Whitmer: COVID-19 Fight Not Political

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is downplaying the political sparring that’s happened over the past few weeks with President Trump not remembering her name during press conferences when he’s said he’s told Vice President Pence to not call “that woman in Michigan.” Whitmer said Monday morning she spoke directly with the President on Thursday and talked with Pence both Saturday and Sunday.. ...Read Full Story

Detroit Zoo Taking New Measures To Protect Animals

The Detroit Zoo is taking precautions now that a tiger has tested positive for COVID-19 at the Bronx Zoo in New York. Detroit Zoo Director & CEO Ron Kagan says there are no coronavirus cases in animals or people at the Detroit Zoo, and the tiger testing positive at the Bronx Zoo came as a big surprise to the entire scientific community. He says they are taking extra measures.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers Ask Governor To Reconsider Request For 70 Day Extension Of Emergency

A group of Michigan House Republicans have sent a letter to Governor Gretchen Whitmer asking her to reconsider her request for the Legislature to extend her emergency powers for 70 days. Among those to sign the letter is state Representative Beth Griffin, who says the governor should instead extend measures like the stay home order a few weeks at a time so as to give struggling businesses a fighting chance of survival. She told WSJM News last week she wants to hear from business owners as she and others plan for what comes after the pandemic.. ...Read Full Story

Second State Representative Tests Positive For COVID-19

A second member of the Michigan House of Representatives has tested positive for COVID-19. Representative Karen Whitsett has been in self-quarantine since feeling ill in March. House Speaker Lee Chatfield has been notified of the illness for the Detroit Democrat, who was not in attendance at the last House session on March 17. On March 26, Representative Tyrone Carter of Detroit was the first state lawmaker to test positive, and Representative Isaac Robinson died in March from what his family believes was COVID-19, but he was not tested. An intern for Republican state Senator Peter Lucido of Macomb County, Ben Hirshmann, died March 31 from suspected COVID-19 complications.. ...Read Full Story

Grants Available To Hospitality Workers From Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association

The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association Educational Foundation is trying to help hospitality employees forced out of work due to coronavirus shutting down restaurants and hotels. They have a Michigan Hospitality Industry Employee Relief Fund now available, with grants of $500 to approved applicants. MRLA Educational Foundation executive director and MRLA vice president Amanda Smith says that help is badly needed.. ...Read Full Story

Herald-Palladium Temporarily Suspends Monday Publication

If you are looking for your newspaper today, stop. The St. Joseph Herald-Palladium has temporarily suspended publication on Monday starting today. If you get the digital edition, there is also not a full newspaper published online, though the newspaper’s website does have some new stories posted and the paywall has been dropped for stories related to coronavirus, as has been the case for other newspapers around the country. Monday comics and puzzles will be published on Tuesday. The HP ceased Sunday and holiday publication several months ago before the coronavirus pandemic when they switched delivery to the U.S. Postal Service.. ...Read Full Story

COVID-19 Cases Rise To 15,718

Michigan’s cases of COVID-19 are up to 15,718 as of Sunday afternoon, with 617 dead. In southwest Michigan, there are 18 new cases. Allegan County has 14, and increase of four; Berrien County has 58, up two from Saturday; Cass County is up one from Saturday to seven. Kalamazoo County has 53 cases, up eight from Saturday, while St. Joseph County’s 10 cases is up one from what the state posted Saturday, but the same as Friday, as that county’s number went down on Saturday. In Van Buren County, there are two new cases for a total of 14. In those six counties, six people have died from COVID-19. Those have been three in Kalamazoo County and one each in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan’s Record High Water Levels Collide With Coronavirus

From the Associated Press — Officials in Michigan are warning that efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic could have a serious impact on relief and repairs during what is expected to be another tumultuous spring flooding season. The Detroit Free Press reports that high water levels are expected to cause severe flooding, shoreline erosion, and road and infrastructure damage this spring. Providing shelter to those displaced by floods could be challenging when social distancing is advised. And some state agencies could find themselves unable to provide the usual level of assistance because they are financially stretched due to the coronavirus crisis.. ...Read Full Story

COVID-19 Cases Statewide At More Than 14,000

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has identified 1,481 additional COVID-19 cases around the state since Friday. Saturday’s report shows the total number of coronavirus cases in Michigan is now at 14,225. There have been a total of 540 deaths, with 61 of them since Friday. In Berrien County, the number of COVID-19 cases rose by four since Friday, now at 56. The Berrien County Health Department says 21 have recovered. Saturday’s report showed Cass County unchanged with six cases, and Van Buren County is also unchanged from Friday with 12 cases. Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties have each had one COVID-19 death. Metro Detroit remains the state’s hotbed for COVID-19. Detroit has 3,958 cases, Wayne County has 2,804, Oakland County has 2,785, and Macomb County has 1,838. You can learn more at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Gets Low-Interest Loan For Water System Improvements

The city of St. Joseph has been awarded a nearly $1.4 million low-interest loan for work on its water system. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, or EGLE, announced more than $45 million in Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and Clean Water State Revolving Fund loans on Friday. The projects covered by the loans will address updates to wastewater treatment plants, pump stations, and pipes, including the removal of lead pipes. In the case of St. Joe, about $18,000 of the loan will be forgiven.. ...Read Full Story

Distillery Sees Huge Demand For Hand Sanitizer

Distilleries around Michigan are stepping forward to produce hand sanitizer in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Among them is Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks, which started making the hot commodity last month. Journeyman accountant Ray Barskus tells WSJM News they’re in a good position to do so because distilleries produce ethanol, which is the primary ingredient in many hand sanitizers. Barskus says Journeyman started to produce its own sanitizer not long after the governor ordered restaurant dining areas closed.. ...Read Full Story

Attorney General Orders Car Wash To Close

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has ordered a Kalamazoo County car wash to close due to the COVID-19 disaster. She says a car wash is not an essential business allowed to remain open under Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay at home order. The State Emergency Operations Center has released the following statement:. ...Read Full Story

Michigan’s COVID-19 Cases Up By 1,953 To 12,744

There are 21 new coronavirus cases in the six counties of southwest Michigan, with Berrien County showing the largest increase and still the highest numbers in the area. Berrien’s count is now 52, up 12 from Thursday. Allegan County is up one to six, Cass County is unchanged at six, Kalamazoo County has six new cases to rise to 40, while St. Joseph County is up to 10 cases with two new positive tests. Van Buren County’s numbers are unchanged with 12 positive cases. Statewide, it was the largest day-to-day increase in new cases, rising by 1,953 to 12,744. The number of deaths in the state is up by 62 and now stands at 479. The city of Detroit has 692 new cases and is at 3,550 with 117 deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Signs Order Protecting Employees From Employer Retaliation If Sick Or Symptomatic With COVID-19

Michiganders who have to stay home from work if they or a close contact have tested positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms of the illness now have additional protection due to a new executive order from Governor Whitmer. The latest in a long string of moves she’s made in response to the pandemic bans employers from firing, disciplining, or retaliating in any other way against a worker who has to stay home. The new E.O. also declares it is now state public policy that everyone who tests positive or shows symptoms or lives with someone who is symptomatic or positive shall not leave home unless it’s absolutely necessary. That follows another order Thursday enacting a $1,000 civil fine that can be charged for people violating the Stay Home, Stay Safe order.. ...Read Full Story

Initial Unemployment Claims Set Weekly Record In Michigan

Claims for unemployment benefits continue to skyrocket in Michigan during the coronavirus pandemic. A record 311,000 people filed initial applications last week. That is more than double from the previous week – shattering the previous high of 128,000 that was set the week before. The system has been deluged. The website went down Tuesday before being restored. The state Unemployment Insurance Agency has implemented a schedule for people to apply based on their last name. It is urging patience and recommends that users apply online late at night or early in the morning. The high before what was set in March was 77,000 initial jobless claims in a week in January 2009 during the recession.. ...Read Full Story

Bridge Project Starts Next Week In Van Buren County

The Michigan Department of Transportation is advising drivers of a highway project to get started in Van Buren County on Monday. It says crews will be repairing the I-196 bridge over the Van Buren Trail. The work will include an epoxy overlay, bridge railing replacements, substructure patching, guardrail replacements, and approach repaving. One lane of I-196 will remain open in each direction while the project is done. It’s scheduled to be finished in mid-August.. ...Read Full Story

Liquor Control Commission Urges Restraint During Alcohol Awareness Month

Alcohol sales skyrocketed in the first days of the COVID-19 crisis, prompting the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to advise people to take it easy. According to data from the Nielsen Market Research Firm, national sales of alcoholic beverages spiked 55% in the week ending March 21, compared to the same time last year. Sales of spirits like tequila, gin, and pre-mixed cocktails jumped 75%compared to the same dates in 2019. Beer purchases were up by 66% while wine was up 42% year-on-year. With this being Alcohol Awareness Month, the commission reminds everyone excessive drinking can compromise a person’s immune system. Therefore, it recommends everyone follow safe consumption guidelines. They are one drink a day for women of all ages and men over age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men under age 65.. ...Read Full Story

Chickering Not Seeking Reelection

Berrien County Commissioner Bill Chickering is not seeking reelection. He represents the fifth district, which includes the city of St. Joseph, two precincts in St. Joseph Township, and the village of Shoreham. He told his fellow commissioners during Thursday’s virtual meeting he’s appreciated working with them.. ...Read Full Story

Wendzel, LaSata Oppose Governor’s Request To Extend Emergency Declaration For 70 Days

State Senator Kim LaSata and state Representative Pauline Wendzel both say they are “no” votes on a concurrent resolution to extend the current state of emergency and state of disaster by 70 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The two Republicans say in statements they agree that an extension is going to be needed, but both object to the length of time being requested by Governor Whitmer. The governor on Thursday called out legislative leaders for what she feels is an unsafe idea for voting on the resolution on April 7.. ...Read Full Story