Local News Archives

Upton Praises Changes To PPP Rules

Congressman Fred Upton says small businesses hit by COVID-19 will get a break now that Congress has updated the rules of the federal Paycheck Protection Program. He was a champion of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, which extended the amount of time allowed for small businesses to meet certain criteria for their loans to be converted into grants.. ...Read Full Story

AAA Urges Caution As Traffic Increases

AAA of Michigan is urging everyone to avoid falling back into dangerous driving habits as they leave their homes and return to the road during the COVID-19 pandemic. Spokesperson Adrienne Woodland says the “pandemic has highlighted the extent to which individual decisions and behaviors can impact the health and safety of others,” adding “we’re all in it together” when it comes to safety on the road. AAA has identified the most common risky driving behaviors with its annual Traffic Safety Culture Index. It says the report shows a significant gap between what drivers consider dangerous and what they report themselves doing. Top risky activities include typing on a cell phone, talking on a hand-held phone, going too fast, and driving while tired. AAA recommends putting your phone out of sight when behind the wheel and slowing down.. ...Read Full Story

County Road Association: $53 Million Needed For Threatened Coastal Roads

The County Road Association of Michigan is warning that roads along the Great Lakes shoreline around the state will require $53.4 million in immediate fixes to remain functional in the coming year. That’s due to shoreline erosion and high water levels in the lakes. The association says part of the solution will have to be “rocks the size of a Volkswagen” to be placed along the shore. As tourist season begins and people venture out of their homes during the pandemic, eroding shorelines and damaged roads are becoming an even bigger problem. The County Road Association says in Ontonagon County, for example, high water levels are threatening the east entrance of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Michigan’s largest state park. The group is hoping Congress and the state can find a way to help protect threatened roads by getting the materials and equipment needed to strengthen coastal areas. The issue is the cover story in the latest edition of Crossroads, the quarterly journal of the County Road Association of Michigan. ...Read Full Story

Spectrum Health Lakeland Sets Aside $50 Million To Help Address Racial Equity

Spectrum Health Lakeland has announced a new strategy to address racial and ethnic health equity in southwest Michigan. President Loren Hamel says the Spectrum Health Lakeland Board of Directors met this week and approved a capital fund of $50 million for equity work in the communities served by the system. He noted racial inequity in healthcare has been highlighted by the pandemic.. ...Read Full Story

Data Protection Measure Could End Up On Michigan Ballot

From the Associated Press — A proposed constitutional amendment to consider electronic communication and data as personal property has unanimously passed the Michigan Senate. If it passes the state House, voters would decide in November whether or
not to amend the Michigan Constitution to require law enforcement to obtain a warrant to search emails and cellphones seized during an arrest. Sponsor Senator Jim Runestad says the change is essential to preserve personal privacy now that smartphones and other technologies are an integral part of daily life. He says “Americans shouldn’t be forced to choose between using new technologies and
protecting their privacy from authority.”. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Flower Planting Event Rescheduled

SHOUT for South Haven has rescheduled a flower planting event it had to put off due to COVID-19. The organization says volunteers will now be filling planters with soil and planting flowers along the Dyckman Avenue bridge on Monday and Tuesday of next week. Monday will be the day to fill the planters, and the flowers will go out on Tuesday. SHOUT for South Haven is seeking social distancing volunteers for the effort. They’ll start at 9 a.m. both days. Those who take part are advised to bring gloves, glasses, and masks. You can find out more at ShoutForSouthHaven.org.. ...Read Full Story

LARA Head Grilled About State Shutdown

The state Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 pandemic is discussing efforts to reopen Michigan’s economy. Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Orlene Hawks was asked about working with various industries in working groups to get ready to reopen businesses. State Representative Matt Hall says some businesses expressed frustration it took so long to reopen.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Fireworks Show Canceled

There won’t be a Fourth of July fireworks show in Niles this year. Despite the city council approving the event this week, organizers quickly found it wasn’t feasible. The Niles Daily Star reports vendors were difficult to secure with too much uncertainty because of the pandemic. Also, the governor’s orders limiting crowd sizes made planning difficult. As a result, the fireworks show planned for the Applefest grounds will not be happening. Organizers will instead focus on next year.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Hires Security Firm For Health Department

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has approved a contract with a security firm in case the Berrien County Health Department has to set up a COVID-19 isolation and quarantine facility. The contract with Lange Investigation and Consultation Service came up at Thursday’s meeting of the board. Commissioner Mamie Yarbrough asked Chair Mac Elliott to explain.. ...Read Full Story

Budget Chairs: Lift July Deadline, Senate Wants Federal Help

From the Associated Press — Michigan lawmakers are backing legislation that would waive a requirement that they pass the next state budget in less than three weeks, citing uncertainty over a major shortfall caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas, a Republican, said Thursday he’ll push for passage of the Democratic-sponsored bill. It would,
for one year, lift the new July 1 deadline by which legislators must send Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer a spending plan for the fiscal year starting October 1. The Republican-led Senate also urged Congress to give the state flexibility to use federal relief aid to fill budget holes.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Talks Possibility Of State Bailouts

With school districts around Michigan looking at massive budget cuts due to COVID-caused shortfalls on the state level, will the federal government take action to bail them out? Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News there is legislation in Washington that would allocate funds to states, counties, and local governments.. ...Read Full Story

218 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 In Michigan For Thursday

218 additional cases of COVID-19 have been identified around Michigan for Thursday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says that brings the total since the start of the pandemic to 59,496. There are 26 additional coronavirus deaths to report for Thursday with the state total now at 5,737. The state is reporting 668 total cases for Berrien County, an increase of five from Wednesday. The number of COVID-19 deaths in Berrien County remains 57. Cass County was at 99 cases for Thursday, an increase of two, while Van Buren County had 174 confirmed cases, the same as the day before. Van Buren County has had one additional COVID-19 death, bringing the county’s total to seven, while Cass County remains at four.. ...Read Full Story

Nursing Homes Eye Visitors If Virus Testing Is Expanded

From the Associated Press — The leader of a nursing home group says expanded coronavirus testing is crucial to reopening the facilities to visitors, saying Michigan may be close to relaxing restrictions in a phased way. Melissa Samuel, president and CEO of the Health Care Association of Michigan, told lawmakers Tuesday that some initial “baseline” testing of all residents and staff is underway with help from the Michigan National Guard. But it is not complete, and there is not yet resolution on how to pay for ongoing testing or its frequency. Samuel says nursing homes recognize the difficulties of visitation prohibitions for family and residents.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Senate OKs Cocktails To Go, Cut In Liquor Prices

From the Associated Press — Michigan restaurants and bars could sell cocktails and other liquor for pickup or delivery and would see a temporary cut in state liquor prices under legislation overwhelmingly approved by state Senate. Supporters say the bill passed Wednesday would help bars and restaurants amid the coronavirus pandemic. They note that some restaurants already can sell  unopened beer and wine to go if they have a certain license. Under the legislation, local governments could designate a “social district” where people could drink alcohol outside. The bill goes to the House, which is considering similar measures.. ...Read Full Story

Southwestern Michigan Association Of Realtors Holding Blood Drive

The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors will host a blood drive next month. It says the drive will be on Wednesday, July 29 from noon to 5:45 p.m. at Hidden Pointe Hall on Nickerson Avenue in Benton Harbor. With blood donations down this year due to COVID-19, the association hopes people will come out to help stock up local hospitals. Appointments can be made at RedCrossBlood.org with the sponsor code SWMAR. According to the American Red Cross, donors with all blood types are needed, especially those with types O negative, A negative and B negative.. ...Read Full Story

Free Fishing This Weekend

This weekend will be a free fishing weekend in Michigan. Suzanne Stone with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division tells WSJM News events that are normally scheduled during the state’s two free fishing weekends per year have been canceled due to COVID-19, but there ought to be a lot of people hitting up state parks.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Reopening By Appointment

Southwestern Michigan College is gradually reopening its campus, announcing appointments will be available during limited hours starting on Monday, June 15. SMC tells us all services are still available remotely, but if someone prefers to visit campus to take placement tests, register for classes, take a campus tour, or conduct other business, they can do so by making an appointment. The Fred L. Mathews Library, the Zollar Cafe, the Birdfeeder Cafe, and the Student Activity Center on the Dowagiac campus remain closed until further notice. Those who go to campus for an appointment can be provided a mask if they don’t have one. Anyone interested can call the SMC main number. Southwestern Michigan College has been closed since March 23 due to COVID-19.. ...Read Full Story

Federal Court Upholds Enbridge Great Lakes Spill Plan

From the Associated Press — A federal court has sided with pipeline company Enbridge in a dispute over plans to deal with a potential oil spill in Michigan’s Straits of Mackinac. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week overruled a judge who had found that a federal agency wrongly approved Enbridge’s plans. The judge agreed with the National Wildlife Federation that the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration should have considered risks to endangered species and required an environmental impact statement. But in a 2-1 ruling, the appeals panel said the agency had correctly based its approval of the plans on criteria in the Clean Water Act.. ...Read Full Story

State Supreme Court Asked To Hear Catholic School Sex Abuse Case

A motion has been filed for the Michigan Supreme Court to hear an appeal in a negligence lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids. The high court had decided not to hear the case. The suit accuses the diocese of negligence in the sexual abuse of then 15-year-old Brendan Boman by a tutor at Catholic Central High School in Grand Rapids. Boman’s attorney, Ven Johnson, spoke with Michigan News Network.. ...Read Full Story

GOP Lawmakers Slam Whitmer Over Nursing Home Policy

Michigan House Republicans are raising concern over what they say is Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s flawed policy of placing recovered COVID-19 nursing home patients back into the facilities from which they came. Among a group of six representatives speaking out Monday was state Representative Bronna Kahle of Livingston County, who spoke with Michigan News Network.. ...Read Full Story

Auto Reforms Coming July 1

Some long-awaited rate relief is in store for Michigan drivers, as the state’s new no-fault auto insurance law is set to take effect next month. Among the changes — no longer will drivers be required to carry unlimited lifetime medical coverage, or personal injury protection. Anita Fox is the director of Michigan’s Department of Insurance and Financial Services. She spoke with Michigan News Network about the reforms.. ...Read Full Story

Teen Injured After Crash Into Home

A 17-year-old from Niles was taken to a hospital to be treated for injuries after he crashed a vehicle into a Cass County home Monday. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department says deputies were called to the scene at Thomson Street and Dick Street in Howard Township around 1:15 p.m. The teen had been eastbound on Thomson Road when he lost control of his vehicle and drove into the house. The homeowner had been standing outside when the crash happened and was not hurt. The driver was taken to Lakeland Niles Hospital for his injuries. Four minor passengers also had minor injuries and were taken by ambulance to Lakeland. No drugs or alcohol were suspected to be contributing factors to the crash, which remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Expects Legislation On Police To Come Soon

Congressman Fred Upton and his Problem Solvers Caucus are looking to craft legislation to help fight police brutality. He tells WSJM News in the weeks that have followed the death of George Floyd, he and others in the U.S. House see the problem and want to help. Upton notes there is already a bill on police conduct making its way through the House.. ...Read Full Story

108 News Cases Of COVID-19 In Michigan On Tuesday

The number of new COVID-19 cases around Michigan was up by just 108 on Tuesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the total is now at 59,107 since the start of the pandemic. There were 25 additional deaths to report for Tuesday, making that total 5,698. Now that the state is reporting county totals again, Berrien County had 663 total cases and 57 deaths as of Monday. Cass County was at 95 cases and four deaths. Van Buren County was at 156 cases and six deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Killed In Casco Township Crash

One person is dead after a crash in Casco Township on Tuesday morning. The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department and South Haven Area Emergency Services were called to the scene on 62nd Street south of 109th Avenue around 5:40 a.m. They learned a northbound pickup had left the road, rolled over, and hit some trees. A 39-year-old woman from the Fennville area was driving, and she was thrown from the truck in the crash. She was dead at the scene. A passenger was injured. The crash remains under investigation by the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Fire Department: Fire Caused By Child Playing With Lighter

No one is hurt after a house fire in Dowagiac on Monday that was started by a child playing with a lighter. The Dowagiac Fire Department says it was called to the fire at 318 East Division Street just before 4:20 p.m. Arriving firefighters found smoke coming from the upper floor and everyone out of the building. The Dowagiac Fire Department and Wayne Township Fire Department made quick work of the blaze, and it was extinguished after about eleven minutes. There was fire and smoke damage to the upper floor bedroom. Firefighters learned a small child had been upstairs playing with a lighter when a pile of clothing caught fire. The child ran downstairs and the owner of the home heard a smoke alarm, smelled smoke, and got everyone out. The fire department reminds everyone to keep matches and lighters out of the hands of children and to talk fire safety with them.. ...Read Full Story

Two Rescued From Lake Michigan

Two people were rescued from Lake Michigan off South Haven on Tuesday after they ran into some trouble while kayaking. South Haven Area Emergency Services tells us responders were dispatched to Packard Park around 2 p.m. The distressed kayakers were spotted by SHAES personnel from shore as they were being driven further out on the lake by steady winds. A SHAES responder commandeered a jet ski and headed out about a mile to help the kayakers. One person was in the water, and both were wearing life jackets. The SHAES fireboat arrived on scene and brought the kayakers back to shore. A Coast Guard helicopter arrived as the rescue was being completed. Neither kayaker was injured.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Police Investigate Monday Shooting

The South Haven Police Department is investigating a shooting incident late Monday. It says officers in the afternoon were notified of a large number of visitors in town for a beach party that had been advertised on Facebook. They responded to reports of large groups several times throughout the day at North Beach and South Beach, along with two assaults. Throughout the evening, the department handled complaints at other locations around the city with help from the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department, Michigan State Police, and Pokagon Tribal Police. Just before midnight, residents along Fruit Street were helping officers clear the area when some gunshots were reported. Police found two vehicles that had been hit, although they did not find the shooters. There have been no reports of injuries. The South Haven Police Department continues to investigate the incident, and asks anyone with information to contact them.. ...Read Full Story

Canada Eases Border Restriction, Allows Immediate Family In

From the Associated Press — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government will allow immediate family members of citizens or permanent residents to come to Canada. It’s a slight easing of border restrictions enacted due to the coronarivus pandemic. Trudeau says anyone entering the country will be required to quarantine for 14 days or face serious penalties. Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino says the limited exception will apply to spouses, common law partners, dependent children, parents and legal guardians. He says they will have have to say in Canada for at least 15 days.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph School Board Presented With Budget Road Map

The St. Joseph Public Schools Board of Education has been presented with a budget road map as schools in Michigan are expected to face major funding challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The board says health, safety and robust learning continue to be district priorities amid anticipated State budget shortfall. St. Joseph Public Schools has released the following statement:. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph City Commission Makes Statement Committing To Racial Justice

The St. Joseph City Commission has issued a statement calling for a commitment to racial justice and healing as protests continue around the nation following the killing of George Floyd. Speaking during a Monday virtual meeting, St. Joe Mayor Mike Garey said as he sees citizens take to the streets to protest systemic racism, he believes all must take an active role in change.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Reminds Campers Not To Transport Firewood

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is reminding the public about the risk of accidentally spreading invasive species while moving firewood. Invasive insects that are a threat to trees can be easily transported into new areas via firewood. Infestations can destroy forests, lower property values, and cost huge amounts of money to control. DNR chief of resource protection and promotion Jason Fleming says as camping reopens around the state, it’s important for those making trips to buy their firewood in the area where they’re camping and not to bring it from home. He recommends buying it at your campground. Also remember to burn all of your firewood on site, and don’t bring it home with you.. ...Read Full Story

129 New Cases Of COVID-19 Identified In Michigan For Monday

The number of new COVID-19 cases being reported around Michigan for Monday is 129. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says there are 17 additional coronavirus deaths to report for Monday. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 58,999 cases confirmed in Michigan and 5,673 deaths. The state has not released county by county numbers for Monday as its website is being updated.. ...Read Full Story

Libraries Reopening With Curbside Pickup

As Michigan begins to reopen, libraries are calling back staff who haven’t been to work in 13 weeks. Van Buren District Library Director Dan Hutchins tells WSJM News library directors across the state have been in contact regarding a reopening plan, and you’ll see the same strategy pretty much everywhere. For VBDL, it starts Thursday with Phase 1, offering curbside pickup. If that goes well, they’ll proceed.. ...Read Full Story