Local News Archives

MI Senate Approves Wendzel Brewery Legislation

The Michigan Senate has approved a package of legislation from state Representative Pauline Wendzel that will allow breweries in the state to self-distribute more of their products. Wendzel tells WSJM News current state law limits small breweries from self-distributing more than 1,000 barrels each year. If they go above that, they have to hire a distributor. Wendzel’s legislation doubles the limit to 2,000 barrels.. ...Read Full Story

MI House Approves $880 Million In Pandemic Spending

From the Associated Press — The Michigan House has approved spending $880 million in federal relief aid in response to the coronavirus pandemic, setting aside funding for frontline workers, municipalities and child care providers. The bill would allocate more than a quarter of the $3 billion sent to state government by Congress and President Donald Trump. The Senate planns to pass the legislation later Wednesday. It’s expected to be signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The legislation includes $220 million in pay raises to health workers and first responders; $200 million to reimburse local governments for virus-related spending; and $125 million to reduce child care costs.. ...Read Full Story

I-94 Lane Closures Tonight, Tomorrow Night

The Michigan Department of Transportation is advising drivers about some lane closures planned for I-94 in Van Buren County this week. MDOT says there will be single night time lane closures on eastbound I-94 for repaving from mile marker 47 to mile marker 48, or between the Hartford and Lawrence exits, starting Wednesday night. They’ll continue Thursday night. The repaving will be done between 9 p.m. and 6 p.m. You can stay on top of all MDOT projects at Michigan.gov/Drive.. ...Read Full Story

State Reports 204 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 For Wednesday

Michigan is reporting 204 new cases of COVID-19 for Wednesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 60,393 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported just two additional deaths for Wednesday, bringing that total to 5,792. Berrien County had one new case of COVID-19 to report for the day, bringing the total up to 677 with 57 deaths. Cass County had two new cases for Wednesday, bringing its total to 105 with four deaths. Van Buren County had three additional cases for the day, making the county’s cumulative total 186 with six deaths.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Seeks Volunteers To Clean Up Forests

Volunteers are being sought to help clean up Michigan’s forests this summer. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced the “100 in 100 Forest Challenge,” inviting residents to clean up 100 forests in 100 days. DNR program developer Conor Haenni tells WSJM News you’d be surprised at what needs to be hauled out of Michigan’s more than 600 state and federal forests.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Area Emergency Services Welcomes New Firefighters

South Haven Area Emergency Services has welcomed eight new citizen firefighters. A SHAES Fire Academy Graduation ceremony was held Monday, completing an eight month long process of training the volunteers and getting them certified. In addition to the SHAES group, there were firefighter candidates from Bangor, Lawrence and Paw Paw in the class. SHAES says citizen firefighters are part time, and part-paid.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Council Approves Measures To Address Street Flooding

The South Haven City Council has approved a short-term plan to address flooding near the intersection of Dunkley Avenue and East Wells Street, just to the east of the Black River. City Manager Brian Dissette tells WSJM News high water levels in Lake Michigan have created persistent problems there, and the council on Monday approved a plan from Department of Public Works to mitigate them.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Holds Virtual Commencement

Southwestern Michigan College has sent a new class of graduates off into the world with its first ever virtual commencement. SMC President Joe Odenwald tells us because of COVID-19, a normal graduation couldn’t be held this year. So, a video production company was hired to record a ceremony with the dignity of a traditional event. Odenwald says it was a success.. ...Read Full Story

State Reports 125 New COVID Cases For Tuesday

Michigan is reporting 125 new cases of COVID-19 for Tuesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 60,189 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported 18 additional deaths for Tuesday, bringing that total to 5,790. Berrien County had no new cases of COVID-19 to report for Tuesday, and the number of deaths remained at 57. The county’s had 676 total cases. Cass County had one new case for Tuesday, bringing it to 103 with four deaths. Van Buren County had one additional case for the day, making the county’s cumulative total 183 with six deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Attorney General Praises Supreme Court Decision, Says More Work Is Needed

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says the U.S. Supreme Court decision extending workplace protections to LGBTQ Americans is a “major victory for civil rights.” Following the Monday announcement, Nessel said the high court found that under federal law, “an employer cannot fire someone simply for being gay or transgender.” However, she says this leaves questions about Michigan law.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Declares Racism A Crisis

A couple of days after a massive racial equality march through Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, the Benton Harbor City Commission has approved a resolution declaring racism a mental health emergency. The move came during a Monday virtual meeting. Mayor Marcus Muhammad said the problem has been a scourge on the country for hundreds of years.. ...Read Full Story

More Beach Erosion Being Seen In Northern Michigan

From the Associated Press — Some beaches along Lake Michigan are taking a hit from high water levels. The Escanaba Daily Press reports the vegetation that protects sandy beach areas is eroding. City recreation director Kim Peterson says the water is practically running up to the berm at the Escanaba Municipal Beach in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Peterson said she’s spoken to several experts about potential methods to reinforce the beach and welcomes suggestions from people in the community. Escanaba plans to open the beach sometime in the middle of June. Gladstone Parks and Recreation Director Nicole Sanderson said their beach will open this summer without lifeguards or a concession stand.. ...Read Full Story

State Requires Testing, Finds Nearly 2K Nursing Home Deaths

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s health department is mandating coronavirus testing of all nursing home residents and staff after reporting the deaths of nearly 2,000 residents – about a third of all COVID-19 deaths across the state. Director Robert Gordon’s order, issued Monday, requires initial baseline testing. All new or returning residents must be tested, and there must be weekly
testing of residents and staff in a home with any cases until 14 days after the last positive result. Michigan for the first time released a firm overall death count for nursing home residents – 1,947. It’s more than 400 more than previously estimated.. ...Read Full Story

Property Tax Deadline This Month

The property tax due date is fast approaching. Berrien County Treasurer Shelly Weich tells WSJM News due to COVID-19, Governor Gretchen Whitmer moved it back to June 29. If you still owe on your taxes, the treasurer’s office will work out a payment plan with you.. ...Read Full Story

Wendzel Hopeful For Passage Of Expungement Legislation

State Representative Pauline Wendzel is hoping to see passage soon of legislation that would allow for the expungement of some criminal records in Michigan. She tells WSJM News a package of bills to expand the number of people who qualify for expungement and establish a process passed the state House last year but got held up in the Senate due to the pandemic.. ...Read Full Story

Ballot Drive Organizers Weigh Options Following Supreme Court Ruling

From the Associated Press — Organizers of a Michigan ballot drive to prohibit discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender people are evaluating whether to continue in the wake of a major victory in the U.S. Supreme Court. Fair and Equal Michigan launched the ballot effort after years of being unable to pass LGBT protections through the Republican-led Legislature. The proposal
would change Michigan’s 1976 civil rights law to ban ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations. The high court ruled Monday that a federal law that bars job discrimination because of sex encompasses bias against LGBT workers.. ...Read Full Story

Detroit Removes Bust Of Christopher Columbus

From the Associated Press — The city of Detroit has removed a bust of explorer Christopher Columbus from a downtown spot after 110 years. A spokesman for Mayor Mike Duggan says putting it in storage will give officials time to decide its future. The move comes while other cities and states have removed Confederate Civil War statues and other public monuments to people with a racist past. The Detroit Columbus bust was a gift from the readers of an Italian newspaper in honor of the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ death. By the 1990s, a new generation of Native American activists blamed Columbus for launching centuries of indigenous genocide.. ...Read Full Story

74 New Cases Of COVID-19 Reported For Michigan Monday

There were fewer than 100 new cases of COVID-19 reported around Michigan for Monday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says 74 new cases were identified, along with two additional deaths. Since the start of the pandemic, the state has had 60,064 confirmed cases, and just under 45,000 recovered as of Friday. There have been 5,772 deaths. For Monday, Berrien County had 676 cumulative cases since the start of the pandemic and 57 deaths. Cass County has had 102 cases and four deaths, and Van Buren County has had 182 cases and six deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Lawmaker Wants Database Of Disciplined Officers

From the Associated Press — A Michigan lawmaker is proposing legislation to create a central database of disciplined police officers to boost accountability and help departments vet prospective new hires. The Detroit News reported over the weekend that State Rep. Tyrone Carter is seeking support for the idea and is open to suggestions on provisions in the bill being drafted. Critics say what’s
needed is more and better training, as well as more staff to enforce current Michigan laws mandating information sharing about why officers left a department. The Police Officers Association of Michigan says one of its concerns is that a central database would maintain records about the discipline of officers for comparatively minor acts, such as calling in sick too often.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Drive By Shootings In Dowagiac

The Dowagiac Police Department is investigating two separate drive-by shootings that were reported over the weekend. It says officers were called to a home on James Street around 6:30 p.m. Saturday on a report of a shooting. Officers were told someone had driven by and fired several shots at the home. No one was hurt. Then on Sunday around 2:30 a.m., police were called to a home on Maple Street, also on a report of a shooting. Arriving officers learned someone had driven by and fired several shots at the home. Once again, no one was hurt. The shootings remain under investigation, and police ask anyone with information to contact them.. ...Read Full Story

Airport Traffic Increasing

Traffic at South Bend International Airport is starting to rebound after it dropped by a large amount when the COVID-19 pandemic started. Vice President of Marketing Julie Curtis told  WSJM News this week as destinations closed, travel plummeted.. ...Read Full Story

AAA Survey Finds Many Drivers Engage In Risky Behavior

They don’t think it’s safe, but they do it anyway. Those are the results of a survey released today by Triple Michigan on local drivers. Spokesperson Adrienne Woodland tells Michigan News Network the survey showed while 94% of drivers admitted it was dangerous, nearly 42% also said that they had read their cellphones behind the wheel. More than 30% admitted to texting. Woodland had more.. ...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

South Haven Splash Pad Nearing Completion

South Haven’s new splash pad is starting to take form. Originally scheduled to be completed by now but delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the pad will be similar to St. Joseph’s Whirlpool Centennial Fountain. The $612,000 attraction will resemble the tall ship, the Friend’s Good Will that’s featured at the Michigan Maritime Museum. Local elementary school students voted on the pad’s theme. With work now underway on the splash pad again, it’s expected to be finished in early July.. ...Read Full Story

Wendzel Hopes For Passage Of Brewery Legislation

The Michigan Senate is preparing to consider legislation from state Representative Pauline Wendzel designed to help breweries around the state. Wendzel tells WSJM News Michigan law currently limits the number of barrels breweries can distribute on their own to 1,000 per year. Her bill, which passed the state House in February, would double that to 2,000 barrels.. ...Read Full Story

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