Local News Archives

Red Cross Urging Blood Donations

The Red Cross says the current blood supply for this time of year is the lowest it’s been in more than a decade. Red Cross spokeswoman Kathy Anthofer-Fialon says the holiday season is a critical time for blood donations, and encourages everyone who can donate to do so, no matter what their blood type.. ...Read Full Story

Military To Help Michigan Cope With COVID-19 Patient Surge

From the Associated Press – The federal government is sending 44 military medical staffers to Michigan to help beleaguered hospitals treat COVID-19 patients amid a fourth surge that is the worst in the country. It also will open beds at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Detroit for transfers. Governor Gretchen Whitmer sought the assistance. The two teams of 22 physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists will arrive next week and care for patients for 30 days at Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn and Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids. As of Wednesday, more than 4,000 people were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases – near peak levels.. ...Read Full Story

Small Business Saturday Is Tomorrow

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has declared November 27th as Small Business Saturday in Michigan and urges Michiganders to buy locally this Saturday and throughout the year to support Michigan’s small businesses. Rob Fowler, CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan, says the pandemic caused people to change their shopping habits.. ...Read Full Story

One Killed In New Buffalo Crash

One person is dead and four others are hospitalized after a crash on I-94 near New Buffalo Thursday night. The person who died was pinned between the two vehicles. Police say a Ford Escape with four people inside lost control on the icy road and hit a guardrail, stopping on the shoulder. A backseat passenger got out and was tending to the passenger in the front seat when a Buick Lucerne also lost control and hit the Escape, pinning that person. The driver of the Escape was then tossed from the vehicle and was trapped under his car. He and his front seat passenger are hospitalized at South Bend Memorial Hospital and the Buick driver was airlifted to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, while the Buick’s front seat passenger was taken to the University of Chicago for treatment. One other passenger was treated and released from Spectrum Health Lakeland in St. Joseph. No names have yet been released.. ...Read Full Story

Ribbon Cutting Monday For New Boys And Girls Club Platform

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor and the Benton Harbor Sunrise Rotary will hold a celebration Monday to unveil the new STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) Learning Platform, a project funded by a challenge grant from Rotary International District 6360. The project expands the creation of an outdoor science and technology resource area surrounding the Club’s Fettig Youth Campus into the woodlands adjacent to Ox Creek. . ...Read Full Story

Extra Medical Staff To Arrive In Michigan Monday

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has announced the federal government is sending two medical teams to Michigan hospitals to help relieve the burden they are facing with increased COVID-19 patients. In total, the teams are bringing in 44 medical professionals to Detroit and Grand Rapids area hospitals. The state health department says the teams of registered nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists will arrive next week and begin treating patients immediately, staying in the state for the next 30 days. Department Director Elizabeth Hertel says hospitals are at capacity across the state, especially in metro Detroit and West Michigan. The vast majority of hospitalized COVID patients are unvaccinated. The state also announced Wednesday the feds are going to open beds at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Detroit for transfers.. ...Read Full Story

I&M Offers Energy Saving Tips For Holiday Decorating

With the big holiday season here, people will soon be putting up their holiday decorations, and Indiana Michigan Power is offering guidance for how to save energy when doing so. I&M recommends using LED and strand lights to decorate and to save energy. It says Energy STAR qualified LED lights use 90% less energy than traditional bulbs which means the cost to light a typical tree with LEDs is about $1 per season. I&M says you can save more energy by using smart power strips to corral extra cords. They can sense when a device is turned off or not being used and will shut off the power to it. Finally, I&M says automatic timers for the lights can help both at home or at work.. ...Read Full Story

Marijuana Testing Lab Sues State Over Recall

From the Associated Press — A marijuana testing lab has filed a lawsuit against Michigan regulators after a major product recall and allegations of unreliable results. Viridis Laboratories has operations in Lansing and Bay City. It says the recall last week was “unjustified” and caused an estimated $229 million disruption to the industry. The Marijuana Regulatory Agency declined to comment Tuesday. The state last week told dealers to destroy the product, have it retested or send it back. Consumers should also return it if they have still have some. The test dates by Viridis were August 10 to November 16. The state says consumers with weakened immune systems or lung disease are at the highest risk.. ...Read Full Story

State Seeking Funds To Turn Detroit Freeway Into Boulevard

From the Associated Press — Governor Gretchen Whitmer is asking the Biden administration for funding to replace Interstate 375, a 1-mile depressed freeway in Detroit that was built by demolishing Black neighborhoods 60 years ago. The state wants to convert the highway to a six-lane boulevard at street level. The $1 trillion U.S. infrastructure law enacted last week includes $1 billion to reconnect
communities that were divided to make room for freeways. Black Bottom and Paradise Valley, two predominantly African American neighborhoods, were razed in the late 1950s and early 1960s to build I-375. Whitmer has invited Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to tour the area.. ...Read Full Story

Extra Security Measures Being Taken For Detroit Thanksgiving Parade

The deadly crash during the Waukesha, Wisconsin parade has led to Detroit police making some security changes along the Thanksgiving Day Parade route along Woodward Avenue. While most security isn’t revealed due to safety reasons, city trucks are expected to be place to keep drivers away from the parade route. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says the Waukesha tragedy has led everyone to think more about security.. ...Read Full Story

Fourth Recall Petition Filed Against Benton Harbor Mayor

A fourth recall petition against Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad has been filed with the Berrien County Clerk’s office. The latest petition was filed on Monday by Benton Harbor resident Quacy Roberts, who also filed the previous three petitions. In this fourth filing, Roberts says Muhammad should be recalled “for voting yes to raise the residents of Benton Harbor water rate.” That’s similar to the reason Roberts cited in his second recall petition, which was rejected by the Berrien County Election Commission due to a legal issue. The commission has twice rejected recall petition language from Roberts, and has a hearing set for November 29 on his third petition, and now a hearing is set for December 6 on his fourth petition. The first one was rejected as factually untrue. The Berrien County Clerk’s office tells us there is no limit to how many times a resident can file recall language against a local elected official, although they cannot file during the official’s first or last year in office.. ...Read Full Story

Federal Government Providing Michigan Hospitals With Extra Staff

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has announced the federal government is sending two medical teams to Michigan hospitals to help relieve the burden they are facing with increased COVID-19 patients. In total, the teams are bringing in 44 medical professionals to Detroit and Grand Rapids area hospitals. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services tells us more:. ...Read Full Story

Three Rivers Teachers Told To Remove Pride Flags

Teachers in Three Rivers Community Schools are being told by officials to take down LGBTQ pride flags until further notice due to complaints by a few parents. Russell Ball quit his job as a middle school teacher after being told to remove the flag, saying it represents love and inclusion for everyone. Ball is gay and says losing his own representation in the classroom “really hurt.” He adds he also quit because he was burned out.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer: More COVID Guidance Could Come Today

Governor Whitmer says the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services could be issuing more COVID-19 guidelines as soon as today as the state now leads the nation in new cases. Whitmer says state officials know hospital workers are exhausted and understaffed, adding that makes getting vaccinated for the virus even more important. She has not had the same authority to issue mandates as she did in March 2020 due to a Michigan Supreme Court ruling, but says vaccines are now available and safe.. ...Read Full Story

MI Utility Using New Tech To Detect Leaky Gas Lines

Consumers Energy is launching a pilot program to reduce its methane emissions. Spokesperson Terry DeDoes says the enhanced Infrastructure Replacement Program will help to identify and replace underperforming natural gas pipelines, which emit methane when they are not working properly. The company has launched two new high tech vehicles that will help locate leaks. ...Read Full Story

Langley Avenue Reconstruction Project Wins Award

The city of St. Joseph’s recently completed Langley Avenue reconstruction project has received an award. St. Joe City Engineer Tim Zebell tells WSJM News the Michigan Chapter of the American Public Works Association has selected the project for its regional Project of the Year in the category of work over $5 million. Zebell says a main feature of the work was seeking public input. For example, people were asked if they would like the work to result in new bike lanes or a non-motorized path.. ...Read Full Story

Allegan County Man Facing Child Pornography Charges

Arraignment has been held for an Allegan County man accused of child molestation. The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department says Steven Lee Foupht was arrested on November 10 as a result of an investigation into the possession of child sexually abusive material. Deputies responded to a complaint in Otsego Township regarding information that Foupht had child pornography on his phone. Search warrants were executed and police say they found a large amount of child sexually abusive material Foupht had downloaded, as well as material he’s believed to have produced himself involving two minor children to whom he had access. He was arraigned Monday on a 30 count felony warrant for counts of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, aggravated child abusive sexual material, and using a computer to commit a crime.. ...Read Full Story

New Buffalo Church Offering Free Thanksgiving Meal

A New Buffalo church is offering a free, open door Thanksgiving meal on Thursday. Lighthouse Village Church of God says the meal will start at 12 p.m. and run as long as needed. They’ll have a traditional meal that includes turkey. The church is located at 18459 West US-12. Just look for a white cross a bit off the road. The church has offered the Thanksgiving meal each year going back several years but had to cancel last year. It says it’s excited to be able to hold the event again. Everyone is welcome. Anyone with questions can call the church at 269-469-3441 and leave a message.. ...Read Full Story

Buchanan Man Injured In Rollover Crash

A Buchanan man is recovering after his vehicle rolled over in a crash in Cass County Monday night. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department says officers were called to the area of Pokagon Highway and Anderson Road in Pokagon Township around 11 p.m. They learned 43-year-old Christopher Combs had swerved to avoid a deer when he lost control of his vehicle and its overturned, landing on its roof. He was taken to South Bend Memorial Hospital for injuries suffered in the crash. Police say alcohol and drugs do not appear to have been factors in the crash and the driver was wearing a seatbelt.. ...Read Full Story

Study: Warmer Summers Worsen Tick Infestations For US Moose

From the Associated Press — It’s a ghastly sight: ticks by tens of thousands burrowed into a moose’s broad body and sucking its lifeblood. Winter tick infestation is common with moose across the northern U.S. And a study released Monday says climate change may make it worse. It’s based on observation of moose at Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park. Scientists with Michigan Technological University say higher summer temperatures are quickening the development of tick eggs and boosting the number that hatch. Moose can lose much of their bristly fur rubbing against trees to get rid of ticks. Infestation also makes them anemic and less able to reproduce.. ...Read Full Story

AAA Offers Thanksgiving Travel Tips

Thanksgiving travel will kick into high gear Wednesday as there’s expected to be a 14% increase in travel over last year. Most of the 1.6 million Michigan residents who are traveling are driving, but for those who are flying. AAA of Michigan’s Adrienne Woodland told Michigan News Network she has some advice.. ...Read Full Story

Hartford Schools Dropping Indians

The Hartford Public Schools board of education is making the retirement of their Indians mascot official. The board voted to retire it last night after superintendent Kelly Millin told parents in a letter last month they were working on getting rid of it by the end of the school year. The decision came from information by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi through their Tribal Council. Board president Mike Banic says they have a great relationship with the Pokagons, and they need to honor their wishes to keep up the relationship.. ...Read Full Story

Businessman Rinke Launches Campaign For Michigan Governor

From the Associated Press — Republican Kevin Rinke, a former owner of Detroit-area car dealerships, has launched his campaign for Michigan governor with TV and digital ads touting himself as a conservative outsider and criticizing Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Rinke says he’s prepared to spend at least $10 million of his own money. The Republican primary winner will face the first-term Democratic governor in 2022. Rinke led Rinke Automotive Group after his grandfather had opened one of the state’s first General Motors franchises. Rinke later helmed a traumatic brain injury center, a health care company, and became a private investor. Democrats say Rinke’s views are extreme.. ...Read Full Story

City Of St. Joseph Bringing Back Independence Day Fireworks In 2022

Fireworks will come back to St. Joseph for the Fourth of July next year. The St. Joseph City Commission approved holding the Independence Day fireworks on July 3, 2022 during a Monday meeting. City Manager John Hodgson told commissioners the last time the city held Fourth of July fireworks was in 2019. That show was a bit smaller than in the years before it due to there being less support from donations.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Issues Order To Prepare Using Federal Infrastructure Funds To Replace Lead Water Lines

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed an executive directive to pave the way for Michigan to use federal infrastructure funds to replace lead water lines around the state. The order tells state departments to collaborate with the Michigan Legislature and begin preparing the state to replace lead services lines, build up water infrastructure, and continue prioritizing safe drinking water. Among other things, the order tells state agencies to prioritize hiring Michigan firms for the work, put communities with lead water lines first, and find opportunities to layer in flooding resiliency to water infrastructure. Under Michigan’s Lead and Copper Rule, every community in the state is required to replace 5% of its lead service lines each year, meaning 100% replacement in 20 years. However, any community experiencing an action level exceedance is required to replace their LSLs at a rate of 7% per year, meaning 100% completion in just under 15 years. The governor’s office says with additional federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan coming, Michigan will be able to speed up the timeline.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Police Investigating Fatal Shooting

The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety is investigating a fatal shooting early on Monday. It says officers were called to the area of 626 Highland Avenue around 1:50 a.m. on a report of a shooting. They found a 33-year-old man wounded by gunfire. He was taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland where he died from his injury. Police have identified a person of interest in the shooting. They’re looking for 31-year-old Ricky Bridgeman. Anyone with information on his location is asked to contact the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety. Police say they don’t yet know the motive for the shooting.. ...Read Full Story

Last KMart In Michigan Closes

From the Associated Press — The last Kmart in Michigan has closed in the state where the retail giant got its start. Sunday was the last day at a Kmart in Marshall, 100 miles west of Detroit. Marshall City Manager Tom Tarkiewicz says customers were still finding products on the shelves. The first Kmart store opened in Garden City, a Detroit suburb, in 1962. The chain grew to more than 2,000 stores across the U.S., but its fortunes changed as other big box retailers gained momentum. Kmart reorganized under bankruptcy protection in 2002-03 and began closing hundreds of stores before merging with Sears, Roebuck in 2004.. ...Read Full Story

Attorney General: Redistricting Commission Meeting Should Have Been Public

From the Associated Press — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says the state’s redistricting commission should not have held a private meeting to discuss memos related to racially polarized voting and the federal Voting Rights Act’s requirement that people be able to elect minority candidates. The panel called the controversial closed session with its lawyer October 27, after Detroit residents criticized the members for drawing no majority-Black districts. Nessel, in a legal opinion Monday, said the commission presumably was conducting business that should’ve been done in an open meeting. The panel’s spokesman says the commission respects her opinion and will discuss it transparently at the next meeting.. ...Read Full Story

Stores Gearing Up For Black Friday

Walmart is making Black Friday shopping more accessible this year. While there have been deals the entire month of November, Walmart’s Deals for Days event kicks off today for a final week of savings on everything from apparel to home goods and electronics. Communications Director Felicia McCraney told Michigan News Network she anticipates a lot of customers in-store.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Gas Prices Down 5¢ In Past Week

Triple-A Michigan says the state’s average gas price has fallen a nickel a gallon in the past week. The auto club says the price is now $3.35 per gallon, 6¢ higher than last month and $1.35 higher than last year. The most expensive gas is in Marquette at $3.40, and Grand Rapids has the lowest price at $3.31.. ...Read Full Story

Two Men Arrested After Police Chase In Van Buren County

Two men are in the Van Buren County Jail after leading sheriff’s deputies on a high-speed chase in Arlington Township around 11 p.m. Saturday. The deputy pulled over a vehicle without a license plate, and the two took off at up to 90-miles-an-hour after the deputy spoke with both men. The passenger exited the car after the driver stopped for a moment before driving into a field in Geneva Township where he then ran off. He was found hiding in nearby woods, and the passenger was also arrested. The driver is facing fleeing and eluding charges along with obstructing police. The passenger was found to be possessing meth and was also a parole absconder. No names have been released.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Unveils Cures 2.0

Congressman Fred Upton has officially unveiled his Cures 2.0 legislation. He and Congresswoman Diana DeGette introduced the bill this past Tuesday after more than two years of work. Upton tells WSJM News the plan is the follow up to 2016’s 21st Century Cures, which increased funding for research into new drugs. This new bill creates a new agency within the NIH to research less common illnesses.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Boil Water Advisory Over

The South Haven Water & Sewer Authority and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy are lifting the boil water advisory for South Haven. The advisory was listed Sunday after going into place Thursday evening due to a water main break at Phoenix Street and Blue Star Highway. The city says corrective measures have been taken and sampling has confirmed there is no coliform bacteria in the water supply. Water had to be boiled before drinking, cooking or using it. Lane closures remain in place at the intersection due to the repairs to the water main.. ...Read Full Story

Electric Customers Reminded How To Avoid Scams

Indiana Michigan Power is reminding customers how to protect themselves against utility scammers as the holidays approach. Wednesday was Utility Scam Awareness Day and I&M spokesperson Schnee Garrett tells WSJM News the most common scam is when someone calls a customer claiming to work for I&M and demanding immediate payment of a bill. They’ll threaten to shut off the would-be victim’s power. Garrett says if you get such a call, hang up.. ...Read Full Story

RESA To Host E Sports Championship

Set for December 2 at the Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College is the Southwest Michigan High School Esports League Fall Championship. Berrien RESA has been organizing E Sports leagues among southwest Michigan high schools for about three years now. RESA education technology consultant John Phillips tells WSJM News the students competed team style in Rocket League and chess this year.. ...Read Full Story

Nominations For LMC MLK Awards Being Taken

Lake Michigan College is taking submissions of artwork and nominations for awards as it prepares for its annual MLK Celebration Week in January. LMC Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Major Cooper tells WSJM News nominations for the Spirit of MLK Spotlight Awards will be taken through November 30.. ...Read Full Story

Inmate Found Dead At Berrien County Jail

The Berriens County Sheriff’s Department is investigating after an inmate was found dead at the Berrien County Jail. The department says the man was found dead shortly before 9 a.m. on Saturday. The inmate had previous medical conditions and was housed in a medical cell by himself. Michigan State Police were requested to conduct an investigation into the death in coordination with the WMed Medical Examiner’s Office. The deceased has been identified as 42-year-old David Cortez Wright of Benton Harbor. No additional information has been released.. ...Read Full Story

New Christmas Song Is All About Buchanan

Now online is a new Christmas song just for the community of Buchanan. Resident Dr. Greta Pope wrote “Christmas in Buchanan” to help the community gear up for the Small Town, Big Christmas celebration next week. The song is a take on “Christmas in Killarney.” Buchanan Area Chamber of Commerce Director Ashley Regal tells WSJM News Pope is a part time resident of Buchanan who is an internationally recognized, award-winning vocalist. She’s also published some self-help books. Regal’s glad to have a holiday tune with a Buchanan theme.. ...Read Full Story

Local Water Systems Receive Fluoridation Awards

89 water systems around Michigan have honored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with Water Fluoridation Quality Awards. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says a total of just under 1,300 water systems nationwide have received the honor for 2020. Southwest Michigan municipalities to be recognized are Benton Harbor, Benton Township, Bridgman, Buchanan, Cassopolis, New Buffalo, Niles, St. Joseph, and Hartford. The state health department says fluoridation is the addition of fluoride to the water to help prevent tooth decay. It’s been recognized by CDC as one of ten great public health achievements of the 20th century. It’s estimated municipalities save money as a result of fluoridation investment. The savings range from $1.10 to $135 for every $1 invested.. ...Read Full Story

Blossomland Learning Center Holiday Bazaar Set For December 3

Berrien RESA is planning a holiday bazaar for December. It says its Blossomland Learning Center will be the location for the event on Friday, December 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Blossomland Learning Center Holiday Bazaar will feature an assortment of items like jewelry, ceramic art, baked goods, ornaments, and more for sale. There will also be raffle items. The event will take place in the BLC gym with COVID mitigation practices followed like masking and a quick health screening at entry. Proceeds from the bazaar will benefit Blossomland Learning Center students.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren/Cass District Health Department Urges Caution Against Illness During The Holidays

With the holidays here, the Van Buren/Cass District Health Department is offering everyone some advice for staying safe. It’s been seeing an uptick in respiratory illnesses and says as people experience COVID-19 fatigue or denial, they may be less diligent. Testing for COVID-19 has decreased across Van Buren and Cass counties even though cases are on the rise, and the department says asymptomatic patients can still spread the illness. On Friday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a mask advisory recommending everyone over the age of two wear a mask at indoor gatherings regardless of their vaccination status. It also recommended businesses issue a mask requirement. The Van Buren/Cass District Health Department asks everyone to do their part by isolating if sick, wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and being vaccinated.. ...Read Full Story