Local News Archives

Extension Running Out For Secretary Of State Renewals

Michigan residents have been getting a break on renewing their vehicles, driver’s licenses and state ID cards due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s about to end next week. The Secretary of State says at 7 p.m. on September 30, that extension is over and you can again be pulled over for not having a valid sticker on your license plate. Late fees will also be charged after October 1. If you are still one of those people, make an appointment ASAP if you will need attention at a bureau, or renew and print your vehicle registration tabs at more than 120 self-service stations in the state. You can also simply mail in your renewal.. ...Read Full Story

Search Now Statewide For Saginaw-Area Man

Michigan State Police have expanded their search for an 87-year-old Saginaw area man to the entire state. Karl Marker missed his 65th wedding anniversary on Tuesday. State Police Sergeant Joseph Rowley says Marker was last seen heading to the Fashion Square Mall to walk and suffers from dementia.. ...Read Full Story

Indiana Governor Keeps Mask Order, Drops Other Virus Limits

From the Associated Press — Indiana’s statewide mask order will continue for another three weeks under a new order the governor announced even as he has faced public discontent over coronavirus restrictions amid his reelection campaign. Republican Governor Eric Holcomb said Wednesday he would be dropping most other limits on businesses and crowd sizes as of Saturday. The mask order will be extended until October 17. Holcomb said those restrictions could be removed because the state has seen progress in recent weeks in slowing the coronavirus spread. His action lifts statewide capacity limits for restaurants and bars and crowd limits for social events.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Lawmakers Unveil, Start Passing $62.7B State Budget

From the Associated Press — Michigan lawmakers are moving to pass a $62.7 billion spending plan about a week before the deadline to enact the next state budget. Bills were made public Wednesday and are expected to win final legislative approval later in the day before going to Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The budget process has been delayed due to uncertainty over tax revenues amid the
coronavirus pandemic. Legislators are skipping the usual process of holding committee hearings and passing competing House and Senate plans. Thanks to a federal bailout, spending will generally stay flat in the fiscal year starting October 1. Cuts are planned, too.. ...Read Full Story

Republicans Want To Appeal Major Michigan Ballot Decision

From the Associated Press Republican lawmakers are seeking to intervene in a major court decision that will allow Michigan absentee ballots to be counted days after the election. The House and Senate want to join the case and appeal the decision. Absentee ballots postmarked by Nov. 2 are eligible to be counted if they arrive within 14 days after the November 3 election. Judge Cynthia Stephens noted chronic delays with mail during the coronavirus pandemic. Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, both Democrats, say they won’t appeal. The House and Senate say Nessel and Benson have “abdicated their duty” to defend
state law.. ...Read Full Story

Police Warn Of Thefts From Vehicles In Royalton Township

Several vehicles were broken into in Royalton Township this week, prompting the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department to issue a reminder to everyone about the importance of locking vehicles. The department says all of the vehicles broken into on Monday night were unlocked, and items that were stolen include money, jewelry, electronics, and weapons. The department also says the thieves will most likely be back, given how many vehicles they were able to get into. Police say not only should vehicles be kept locked, but valuable items should not be left in them, or should at least kept out of view. Anyone who sees anything suspicious is asked to call police quickly.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Fall Enrollment Beats Expectations

Enrollment at Southwestern Michigan College is a bit higher this year than had been expected. SMC President Joe Odenwald told the SMC Board of Trustees this week fall enrollment finished at 1,800 students, 88 higher better than budgeted. Odenwald had expected enrollment to be down due to COVID-19. He told the board he had predicted winding up between 1,650 and 1,700 by the time classes started September 8. The college this week also received some good news that aid from the state could be restored to the previous fiscal year level after a recent cut of $830,000. That will allow for a surplus to apply to the budget stabilization fund. Odenwald noted that unlike the situation many universities are facing, SMC has seen just four positive coronavirus cases since August 31. They were in three students and one staff member. He said he’d like to tell the Higher Learning Commission this coming April “we’ve increased our reserves because we’ve recognized how fragile the overall economy is right now, we’ve cut spending, and we’ve not laid anyone off.” He said he’s optimistic SMC can achieve that goal.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT To Hold Virtual Career Fair

A virtual career fair will be held by the Michigan Department of Transportation next month. MDOT Recruitment Unit Manager James Fults tells WSJM News they’re looking to hire more than 100 winter plow drivers, as well as engineers, planners, and maintenance workers.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Area Community Foundation Pushing For $25 Donations For Splash Pad

The South Haven Area Community Foundation is making a final push for donations for the city’s upcoming splash pad. The “Twenty-Five Reasons to Give $25” donation drive is now underway with the money going to the Splash Pad Matching Fund. The donations will be used to assist the city of South Haven with the public funding portion requested by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant. The Foundation will match all public donations to the Splash Pad Matching Fund, up to $25,000 towards the $50,000 project goal. Donations to the $25 Donation Drive can be made online at www.southhavencf.org or by sending to Greater South Haven Area Community Foundation, P.O. Box 507, South Haven, MI 49090. Please note Splash Pad Matching Fund.. ...Read Full Story

Peters: Election Should Decide Supreme Court Vacancy

From the Associated Press — Democratic Senator Gary Peters and Republican challenger John James have staked out differing stances on the fight over President Donald Trump’s pending Supreme Court pick. Peters says given the stakes involved, “voters should have their voices heard” in the fall presidential election, and no nomination to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should be made until the next presidential term begins. James said Peters should “fairly and honestly evaluate the nominee on his or her merits,” regardless of when one is put forward, “not on the basis of party politics.” His campaign declined to address the timing of the vote.. ...Read Full Story

New Benton Harbor COVID-19 Testing Site Opens

A new Neighborhood Testing Site in Benton Harbor opens today, bringing the total number of community sites offering COVID-19 testing to 20. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the location is Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church at 1105 East Main Street. It offers testing on Tuesday and Thursday from 10 am to 5 pm and Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm. Testing sites are offering saliva tests, which are less invasive than nasal swabs and may make the testing process more tolerable for some people.. ...Read Full Story

State Grant To Help Struggling Restaurant, Hospitality Workers

The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association has received a $2.5 million grant from the Michigan Department of Treasury to support restaurant and lodging industry workers who were financially hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. The association’s Amanda Smith tells WSJM News this has been a very rough year for those who work at restaurants, and more bad times could be coming.. ...Read Full Story

Adopt A Highway Clean-Up This Weekend

It’s almost time for the next Adopt A Highway clean-up in Michigan. Dan Weingarten with the Michigan Department of Transportation tells WSJM News the final clean-up of the year starts this Saturday with a wide variety of community groups picking up trash along the sections of road they’ve adopted.. ...Read Full Story

Aerial Spraying For Mosquitoes In Allegan County Tonight

Aerial spraying for mosquitoes is being done around Michigan as more cases of eastern equine encephalitis are discovered. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Lynn Sutfin tells WSJM News there has been one case of EEE in a person in the state this year, and several in horses. A deer in Allegan County was also found to be infected with EEE last week. With the cooler weather arriving, Sutfin tells us there’s good news and bad news.. ...Read Full Story

Blossomtime Pageants This Weekend On Radio, Social Media

COVID-19 doesn’t mean there won’t be Blossomtime pageants this year. Organizers say the pageants originally slated for March will instead happen this coming Saturday in a closed venue. However, you’ll still be able to follow the developments here on News/Talk/Sports 94.9 WSJM. We’re airing the exclusive live radio coverage and also streaming the event on Facebook Live. Everything starts at 1 p.m. with the King ceremony. The Queen ceremony starts at 3:30. That’s this Saturday on News/Talk/Sports 94.9 WSJM.. ...Read Full Story

Firefighter Walking Across State For Fundraiser

Cancer is the leading cause of death in firemen. That’s why Macomb Township firefighter Joe Warne is walking 140 miles beginning this Thursday from Macomb Township to the Grand Rapids area to raise money for firefighters fighting cancer and their families. This will be the second year for the Walk for the Red 140 fundraiser.. ...Read Full Story

Murder Conviction Set Aside; Man Was Shackled At Trial

From the Associated Press — A man who admits he strangled a woman in Kalamazoo has successfully challenged his murder conviction after arguing that his rights were violated when jurors saw him shackled at trial. A federal appeals panel says Ervine Davenport is entitled to a new trial, 12 years after his conviction in Kalamazoo County. The attorney general’s office asked the full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to set the decision aside and hear the case again. But the request was rejected Tuesday, 8-7, in 28 pages of agreement and dissent. There was no dispute at trial that Davenport choked Annette White in 2007 after they had used alcohol and drugs. He insisted he acted in self-defense.. ...Read Full Story

Cops In A Tesla? Holland Goes Electric For Detectives

From the Associated Press — A police department in western Michigan will be solving crimes with a Tesla. Detectives at the Holland Department of Public Safety will be driving a $49,000 Tesla Model 3 after the city compared it to the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Bolt. The cost of the Tesla includes a long-lasting battery pack, enabling the car to travel about 300 miles on a full charge. Holland
finance director Tim Vagle says the car will mostly be used to drive to crime scenes or conduct interviews. He said test drives, warranty and resale value put the Model 3 ahead of other electric car options.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Announces Public Safety Grants For Berrien County, City Of Kalamazoo

Berrien County is receiving just over $28,000 in a federal grant for public safety. Congressman Fred Upton says the money is through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program and he’s also announcing nearly $87,500 for the city of Kalamazoo. The U.S. Department of Justice administers the program and says the funded programs or initiatives may include multijurisdictional drug and gang task forces, crime prevention and domestic violence programs, courts, corrections, treatment, justice information sharing initiatives, or other programs aimed at reducing crime and/or enhancing safety. The program is named for a New York City police officer ambushed and killed in 1988 at the age of 22.. ...Read Full Story

Deadline Approaching For Home Heating Credit

Michigan homeowners and renters only have two weeks left to apply for the state’s Home Heating Credit. The Michigan Department of Treasury says the Home Heating Credit helps covers utility expenses, leaving more money available for other needs. It’s designed to aid senior citizens, low income residents, the disabled, and veterans. State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks says applications must be received by September 30. Recipients typically file a Home Heating Credit application when doing their tax return, but applicants don’t need to file an income tax return to get the assistance and can apply for it on its own. The Home Heating Credit application form can be found at Michigan.gov/Taxes.. ...Read Full Story

Fall Colors Just Around The Corner

The fall is about here, and that will mean opportunities for color tours. County Road Association of Michigan spokesperson Dustin Earley tells WSJM News they survey the individual road departments and commissions in Michigan’s 83 counties to get a list of the best roads to see fall colors.. ...Read Full Story

State Reporting School COVID Numbers

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is now reporting the number of COVID-19 cases that appear in school outbreaks. Spokesperson Lynn Sutfin tells WSJM News they launched a page at the state’s coronavirus website on Monday. It will be updated weekly to show what schools have had outbreaks.. ...Read Full Story

Staff Settling Into New Hartford Library

Hartford Public Library staff are settling into their new home. After about a year of construction, the brand new Arthur and Bonna Vanderlyn Community Center and Hartford Public Library on Church Street is now open to the public. Library Director Stephanie Daniels tells WSJM News this is a big step up from the old location on Franklin.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Works Opening New Cass County Locations

Michigan Works is closing its office in Dowagiac and opening three new locations in Cass County. The agency says the move is being made to reach more people. Michigan Works has already opened an office inside the Niles Southwestern Michigan College Administration building, and says it will soon have staff at the Cass County Department of Health and Human Services building and the Dowagiac Public Library. The current office in Dowagiac will be shut down on October 1. Meanwhile, all Michigan Works sites in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties, including the offices in Benton Harbor, Paw Paw, and Niles, are closed for walk-in services and providing services remotely or by appointment only due to the pandemic.. ...Read Full Story

Cadillac Destroyed By Amtrak In Hager Township

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is looking for the owner of a Cadillac that was destroyed by an Amtrak train Friday night. It was on the tracks in Hager Township in the 3400 block of Pier Road when the Grand Rapids-bound train hit it around 9:30 p.m. The driver had gotten it stuck and was able to get out of the vehicle before the train hit it. Witnesses say they saw that person running away after the crash.. ...Read Full Story

Extra Police Patrols Continue In Benton Harbor

Michigan State Police are continuing their enhanced patrols in the city of Benton Harbor through October 3. The agency says six troopers and one sergeant were assigned to the community this summer through the Secure Cities Partnership as the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety sought assistance in dealing with disturbances. The MSP staff had been assigned to Benton Harbor through September 18, but now that’s been extended. Michigan State Police say the move is “in response to the positive impact on the community of Benton Harbor and its ongoing public safety challenges.” The agency notes during the fifth and six weeks of additional resources, nine handguns were seized during traffic stops in which individuals were also found to be in possession of cocaine, ecstasy, and more. The stops have also resulted in the seizure of $6,000 in suspected drug money, and arrests have been made for outstanding warrants and other offenses.. ...Read Full Story

State Marking Michigan Trails Week

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is inviting everyone to head to the great outdoors in the next week as it marks Michigan Trails Week from September 20 through September 27. The DNR’s Dakota Hewlett tells WSJM News hiking, biking, or riding through the state’s trail system is a safe way to occupy oneself during the pandemic.. ...Read Full Story

MI Health Insurers Agree Waive Costs For COVID Testing, Treatments

Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services have announced a deal between the state and several health insurance companies to continue waiving all out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 testing and treatments through the end of 2020. That includes copays, deductibles, and coinsurance. The agreements cover more than 92% of the commercial health insurance market in Michigan. The governor says ensuring access to “appropriate testing and medical treatment without financial concern is an important part of fighting this virus.” At least through the end of the year, Michiganders who have insurance through the companies included will not be charged for things like primary care visits, diagnostic testing, emergency room visits, ambulance services, and FDA-approved medications and vaccines. The insurers who have agreed to the arrangement include Blue Cross, Humana, Priority, McLaren, and HAP.. ...Read Full Story

Mackinac Island Wants You To Visit

If you’re working from home and you’re kids are learning from home, why not take it on the road? That’s what officials on Mackinac Island suggest, saying you can do your work and studying on the island. Tim Hygh is the executive director of Mackinac Island Tourism & says the Grand Hotel and Mission Point Resort are providing downloadable lesson plans and executive office spaces.. ...Read Full Story

Trump: Michigan Election Official A ‘Hater’ In Ballot Snafu

From the Associated Press — President Donald Trump is calling Michigan’s top election official a “Democrat Trump Hater” after the state mistakenly created overseas absentee ballots that didn’t list Vice President Mike Pence. The ballots instead paired Trump, a Republican, with Jeremy “Spike” Cohen of the Libertarian Party. The Michigan secretary of state office acknowledged that as many as 400 ballots downloaded by local election clerks may have been erroneous. But the state said the problem was fixed within 90 minutes Tuesday. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says the “computer glitch” was solved.. ...Read Full Story

Fall Weather, Aerial Treatment Could Fight Mosquito Disease

From the Associated Press — Michigan authorities say cooler temperatures expected this weekend should help control the spread of a mosquito-borne virus that has infected one person and 22 horses in 10 counties. Horses can be vaccinated for the disease, known as eastern equine encephalitis, but there is no equivalent for humans. Authorities said reducing exposure to mosquitoes is the best way of preventing human infection, including insect repellent and wearing long sleeves or pants outdoors. Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services also has used aerial spray treatment across more than 226,000 acres to help prevent spread of the disease, including 69,000 acres treated on Thursday.. ...Read Full Story

Judge: Michigan Must Count Absentee Ballots That Arrive Late

From the Associated Press — A judge has cleared the way for more absentee ballots to be counted in Michigan. Envelopes postmarked by the eve of the November 3 election are eligible even if they show up days later. Michigan is anticipating waves of absentee ballots this fall: about 2.3 million have already been requested. Michigan law requires absentee ballots to be received by the time polls close on Election Day to be counted. Judge Cynthia Stephens said Friday that flexibility is crucial in 2020 because of the coronavirus and chronic mail delays. Separately, another judge blocked Michigan’s longstanding ban on transporting voters to the polls.. ...Read Full Story

Commissioners Talk Foreclosure Auction

Berrien County’s foreclosed properties auction is set for September 26, but some county commissioners have concerns about how it’s being handled. Due to COVID-19, Berrien County Treasurer Shelly Weich has announced the auction will be online only, through a vendor called Tax-Sale.info. Taking part will require a $1,000 deposit, something Commissioner Mamie Yarbrough questioned at a Thursday meeting. She said she’s heard complaints from Benton Harbor residents.. ...Read Full Story

Committee Approves Wendzel Child Care Bill

Legislation from state Representative Pauline Wendzel aimed at making child care more available to Michigan parents has been approved by a House committee. She tells WSJM News the bill would increase the number of children that a home-based child care operation could take. Right now, a private home is limited to seven to 12 children, depending on how many adults are present. Wendzel says her bill increases that by a few to make getting child care easier.. ...Read Full Story

Parks Department Told To Paint Over Pier Graffiti

Staff at the Berrien County Parks Department are working to eliminate profane graffiti painted on the south pier in St. Joseph this past weekend. During a Thursday meeting of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners, Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey said although the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns the pier, it’s been recommended the county remove the graffiti so it can be taken care of quickly. Parks staff were able to wash away graffiti also sprayed in one area of Silver Beach County Park, but dealing with the pier is a bit different.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer: No Enforcement Of Virus Rules At Trump Rallies

From the Associated Press — Governor Gretchen Whitmer says it doesn’t make sense for Michigan to enforce coronavirus restrictions at President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign rallies and also points to people’s constitutional rights. The Democrat has expressed safety concerns with thousands attending a Trump rally last week, calling it a potential superspreader event. Her order restricts
outdoor gatherings to no more than 100, though there’s an exception for political speech. Her office say attendees still must keep 6 feet apart from non-household members and wear masks if distance can’t be maintained. But Whitmer says it practically doesn’t make sense to try to enforce the rules.. ...Read Full Story

Time Running Out To Apply For Home Heating Credit

Michigan homeowners and renters only have two weeks left to apply for the state’s Home Heating Credit. The Michigan Department of Treasury says the Home Heating Credit helps covers utility expenses, leaving more money available for other needs. It’s designed to aid senior citizens, low income residents, the disabled, and veterans. State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks says applications must be received by September 30. Recipients typically file a Home Heating Credit application when doing their tax return, but applicants don’t need to file an income tax return to get the assistance and can apply for it on its own. The Home Heating Credit application form can be found at Michigan.gov/Taxes.. ...Read Full Story

COVID-19 At GVSU Prompts “Stay In Place” Order

COVID-19 cases are spiking in Allendale Township on the campus of Grand Valley State University. The Ottawa County Health Department has issued a “Stay in Place” order for GVSU students as there have been more than 600 cases since August 23. However, students are expected in classes as administrator Greg Sanial says it’s believed going to class is safe.. ...Read Full Story

Fugitive Arrested In Van Buren County

A 28-year-old Bangor man is in the Kalamazoo County Jail after his arrest Tuesday night at his home. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department was called to County Road 215 to find the fugitive who was wanted for outstanding warrants. As deputies drove up, the man ran inside the house and barricaded himself in a bedroom with a shotgun. Police activated the SWAT team and the man surrendered after what’s described as a short standoff. The investigation continues, and deputies seized the shotgun. No one was hurt.. ...Read Full Story

Official Defends Handling Of Virus In Michigan Nursing Homes

From the Associated Press — A top health official is defending Michigan’s handling of nursing home residents infected with the coronavirus. Robert Gordon is director of the state Department of Health and Human Services. He told lawmakers Wednesday that Michigan’s performance is “strong” compared with other states. He dismissed Republicans’ call for facilities that house only coronavirus patients. Gordon said just two states, Florida and Massachusetts, tried the approach and abandoned it. He says using new facilities for only coronavirus patients would have “limited utility” in a state as large as Michigan. And, he says, “you still need to staff, provide equipment and license that facility.”. ...Read Full Story

Survey Looks At Concerns Of Older Voters

With the nation heading into an election, there are some key matters older Michiganders care about that transcend partisan politics. In a new AARP survey of Michigan voters age 50-plus, 54% said they support Joe Biden, and 40% support Donald Trump. However, they are united in some other areas. Mark Hornbeck with AARP Michigan tells us a majority of older voters would favor candidates who will protect Social Security, strengthen Medicare, and lower prescription drug prices. He adds a majority also say more needs to be done to protect the health of people living in nursing. ...Read Full Story

GVSU Students Ordered To Stay In Place For 2 Weeks

From the Associated Press — Students at Grand Valley State University have been ordered to hunker down for two weeks due to a spike in coronavirus cases linked to the western Michigan campus. There have been more than 600 cases of COVID-19 among students August 23, with the majority among students living off campus. Ottawa County says the stay-in-place order starts Thursday. Students must stick to their on-campus or off-campus residence unless attending classes, exercising, getting food, seeking health care or working at an essential job. Students cannot return to their home community unless there’s an emergency. The move comes a few days after a similar order was issued to students living in fraternities and sororities at Michigan State University.. ...Read Full Story