Local News Archives

COVID Totals For Tuesday

Michigan is reporting 199 additional cases of COVID-19 for Tuesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says that brings the state’s total to 57,731 since the start of the pandemic. There are 37 additional deaths to report around the state for Monday, making that total 5,553. In southwest Michigan, the Berrien County Health Department reports seven additional cases of the illness for Tuesday, making the county’s total 636. There has been one additional death, making Berrien County’s total 53. 517 patients have recovered from the illness in the county. Cass County is reporting one additional cases, now at a total of 83. Van Buren County is reporting three new cases for Tuesday for a total of 147. Cass County has had three COVID-19 deaths, and Van Buren County has had six.. ...Read Full Story

State Analyzing Nursing Home Deaths

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is defending the state’s action in keeping nursing homes safe during the coronavirus. A final report on how many people in nursing homes have died from the virus is due in the coming weeks. The governor said this week it is taking longer because the state is analyzing each death.. ...Read Full Story

Mackinac Bridge Stickers Available Through July 1

The Mackinac Bridge Mac Pass toll system windshield stickers that allow for quicker, touch-free crossing are still free to account holders, but only until July 1. The Mackinac Bridge Authority says the stickers will cost $1 each starting July 1. Passenger vehicle MacPass accounts require an initial deposit of $80 and a $7 one-time set-up fee, while commercial accounts require a $200 deposit and the same $7 one-time set-up fee. Mackinac Bridge Authority Executive Secretary Kim Nowack says the authority has heard from many drivers who appreciate the sticker program, noting it offers the quickest transaction time and a touch-free toll paying experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Until further notice, due to the pandemic, Mackinac Bridge customers will need to pay with a credit or debit card, or use a MacPass card or windshield sticker.. ...Read Full Story

City Commissioners Talk About Weekend Demonstration

Benton Harbor City Commissioners are thanking the community for helping to make a weekend demonstration peaceful. The Sunday march and rally in response to police violence against black Americans was held without incident, and City Commissioner Ron Singleton said during a Monday meeting there is still much work to do. He talked about a recent conversation with his daughter that he found striking.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Seeks Answers Regarding Midland County Dam

Congressman Fred Upton has signed on to a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission seeking more information about a dam in Midland County has breached and caused massive flooding. Upton, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, and the leadership of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are asking the commission about safety concerns and non-compliance of the Edenville Dam before it breached. The commission revoked Boyce Hydro Power’s license in September of 2018. The lawmakers also wrote to the Michigan Department of Energy, Great Lakes, and Environment as the state of Michigan maintained primary jurisdiction over the dam since 2018. Upton says the letters ask questions to better understand what happened as part of Congressional oversight responsibilities. Upton and Dingell write that their “inquiry is critical to ensuring this never happens again in any city in America with a high hazard dam.”. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Rotary Announces Scholarships

The South Haven Rotary has announced the creation of four new scholarships for students at South Haven High School. Rotary President Mark Odland says the organization has supported education in the community for many years, and for these new scholarships, the Rotary “looked beyond academic achievement in reviewing applications and considered ways in which the students have applied Rotary’s Four Way Test to their lives.” The Four Way Test is used by Rotarians worldwide as a moral code for personal and business relationships, and can be applied to almost any aspect of life. The recipient of the Pietenpol Scholarship is Sierra Garber. She plans to attend Lake Michigan College and then pursue a nursing degree at Western Michigan University. The Don Hixson Scholarship is being presented to Opal Eddy, who will attend the University of Michigan. The third Rotary Club scholarship is presented to Victoria Loikitis who plans to attend Western Michigan University. Katherine Schooley is the recipient of the fourth scholarship. She also plans to attend Western Michigan University. Since 2004 the South Haven Rotary has donated nearly $200,000 to the Rotary Scholarship Fund held at Lake Michigan College and to the South Haven Schools Fund.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Addresses Weekend Violence, Talks Trump

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is urging those who organize protests following the killing of George Floyd to make sure the demonstrations will be safe. Speaking Monday after a weekend of protests and riots in some cities, the governor said she can’t begin to understand the level of exhaustion black Americans feel when it comes to unfair treatment by the justice system. She noted most protesters were peaceful.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases COVID-19 Totals For Monday

Michigan is reporting 135 additional cases of COVID-19 for Monday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says that brings the state’s total to 57,532 since the start of the pandemic. There are 25 additional deaths to report around the state for Monday, making that total 5,516. As of Friday, the state says more than 38,000 patients have recovered. In southwest Michigan, the Berrien County Health Department reports three additional cases of the illness for Monday, making the county’s total 629. There have been three additional deaths, making Berrien County’s total 52. The patients were a male in his 90s, a female in her 70s, and a male in his 40s. 483 patients have recovered from the illness. Cass County is reporting a decrease in cases by one, now at a total of 82. Van Buren County is reporting no additional cases for Monday. Cass County has had three COVID-19 deaths, and Van Buren County has had six.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Lifts Stay Home Order

From the Associated Press — Governor Gretchen Whitmer has lifted Michigan’s coronavirus stay-at-home order. Whitmer said Monday that restaurants can reopen to dine-in customers next week and she has eased limits on gatherings. Some businesses where close contact is necessary, including gyms, hair salons, indoor theaters and casinos, will remain closed for now. Day camps for children and pools can open June 8. Groups of up to 100 people can gather outside as long as they practice social distancing. Gyms and fitness centers can offer outdoor activities such as classes, practices, training sessions and games as long as participants, coaches and spectators stay 6 feet apart.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Public Schools Taking School Of Choice Applications

St. Joseph Public Schools is now accepting Schools of Choice applications for the next academic year. The district says the applications will be taken through June 30. Parents can fill out and submit their student applications online, or they can print an application out and mail it into the district administration office. Applications can also be emailed or faxed into the district. To apply online, click here. To get a printable form, click here.. ...Read Full Story

Man Arrested After Breaking Into Home, Falling Asleep

A 20-year-old man from the Lawton area is facing charges after he broke into a home while intoxicated and fell asleep on Monday morning. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says deputies were called to the home in the 39,000 block of County Road 669 in Decatur Township around 2:30 a.m. The homeowner had called to report a man had come into the home, gone into a bedroom, and then passed out. The homeowner did not know the intruder, and did not give him permission to come inside. A relative was able to detain the suspect until police arrived. On investigation, sheriff’s deputies learned the man was drunk, had crashed his car, and then had walked to the victim’s home. He was arrested and taken to the Van Buren County Jail on charges of breaking and entering, drunk driving, not having insurance, and leaving the scene of crash.. ...Read Full Story

New Chief Starts At South Haven Area Emergency Services

South Haven Emergency Services has a new executive director. Brandon Hinz is taking over for Ron Wise, who is retiring in September but remains on staff as an advisor until then. Hinz has been a firefighter and paramedic with SHAES since 1999. Hinz is a lifelong South Haven resident and in 2012 he was presented the SHAES Leadership Award. Ron Wise has been with SHAES since 1989 and has been chief since 2008. SHAES provides fire and rmergency medical services to the city of South Haven, South Haven Township, Casco Township, Geneva Township, and South Haven Township.. ...Read Full Story

Demonstration Against Police Brutality Held In Benton Harbor

A demonstration against police brutality following the killing of George Floyd was held Sunday afternoon in Benton Harbor. It began with a march from First Congregational Church on Bellview Street to Dwight P. Mitchell City Center Park, where around 300 people gathered. Local pastors, activists, and Mayor Marcus Muhammad addressed the crowd with Muhammad saying he is both sad and angry about the deaths of black men at the hands of police. However, he urged everyone not to let that anger become a danger.. ...Read Full Story

Sunday COVID-19 Cases Up 513 Statewide

There are eight more people in Berrien County who have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the county’s total to 626 with 49 deaths and 476 recoveries. In Cass County, the number of cases is up one from Saturday to 83 with three deaths and Van Buren County on Sunday had four more cases for a total of 144 with six deaths. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says there are 513 new cases statewide and 28 additional deaths reported on Sunday compared to Saturday. Since the pandemic began, the state has had 57,397 cases with 5,491 lives lost to the virus.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Fatal Crash In Cass County

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a fatal crash that occurred on Saturday in Volinia Township. It says deputies were called to the scene on Church Street east of Lawrence Road around 6:20 a.m. They learned an eastbound vehicle lost control on Church Street and flipped into a tree. The driver has been identified as 21-year-old Austin Price of Dowagiac. His passengers were 22-year-old Nicholas Carey of Dowagiac and 21-year-old Michael Mortimore of Dowagiac. Mortimore was pronounced dead at the scene, while Price was airlifted to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo and Carey was taken by ambulance to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo. All three were trapped in the vehicle when police arrived at the scene. The crash remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases COVID-19 Totals For Saturday

Michigan is reporting 263 additional cases of COVID-19 for Saturday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the total number of cases around the state since the start of the pandemic is now 56,884. 57 additional deaths are being reported for Saturday, bringing that total up to 5,463. The state health department says 38,099 patients have recovered from the illness as of Friday. In southwest Michigan, the Berrien County Health Department is reporting five new cases of COVID-19 for Saturday, bringing the county’s total to 618. Berrien County has had 49 deaths from coronavirus, and 483 patients have recovered. Cass County is reporting two additional cases of COVID-19 for Saturday, bringing the total to 82. Cass County has had three COVID-19 deaths. Van Buren County is reporting four new cases, now at a total of 140 with six deaths.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Graduates Celebrated With Dream Parade

With normal graduation celebrations on hold this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, communities around southwest Michigan are saluting their grads in new ways. That’s what happened on Friday night in South Haven as a “2020 Dream Parade” proceeded through town. South Haven Area Emergency Services was on hand to document the proceeding. This year’s graduating class at South Haven High School numbers 125.
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Governor Whitmer Says More Of Michigan To Reopen In Days

(Lansing, MI – AP) – Governor Gretchen Whitmer is hinting she will soon reopen more regions of Michigan, expressing optimism as long as the rate of new coronavirus cases continues downward and testing increases. She didn’t specify Friday when she may act, alluding to an announcement in “coming days.” The governor’s stay-at-home order remains in effect at least two more weeks, as does a measure keeping closed theaters, hair salons and other places. Six of eight regions are in phase 3. Two in northern Michigan are in phase 4, where restaurants can serve dine-in customers and people can go to retail shops without an appointment.. ...Read Full Story

Palisades Nuclear Plant Gets New Resident Inspector

The Paliades nuclear power plant has a new resident inspector. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says Courtney St. Peters is now on the job along with Senior Resident Inspector Paul LaFlamme. The two are responsible for monitoring the day-to-day operations at the plant and are the NRC’s “eyes and ears at the facility.” St. Peters joined the NRC in 2010 while studying nuclear engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology. The NRC says all resident inspectors are working remotely, but are still making regular visits to plants and following appropriate guidelines.. ...Read Full Story

State COVID-19 Cases Rise By 607

COVID-19 cases in Michigan are up by 607 on Friday to a total of 56,621 with 34 new deaths as that figure has risen to 5,406. Southwest Michigan’s cases are up slightly. Berrien County has seven new cases, bringing the figure to 613 with 49 deaths. Cass County has recorded its first COVID-19 death in quite a while, rising by one to three while the positive cases are unchanged from Thursday at 80. In Van Buren County, two more people have tested positive for coronavirus to bring that total to 136 with a total of six deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Tulip Time Needs $1M To Survive

Holland’s Tulip time Festival is in dire financial straits and needs to come up with $1 million in order to return in 2021. Executive director Gwen Auerda says they had to refund $400,000 in tickets after this year’s festival was scrapped by coronavirus. She says a recent study found Tulip Time generates $48 million for the Holland area.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph To Hold Rare Sunday City Commission Meeting

The St. Joseph City Commission will hold a rare Sunday meeting this weekend. The reason for the meeting is to review and vote on changes to the dredging plan by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps told city officials this week that they were wanting to choose a different specification for the dredging, meaning there could be more sand that would be removed and available to be placed on the shoreline if the city was willing, but they needed to know before getting started. The dredging could begin as soon as early next week, while the city commission wasn’t set to meet until June 8. City Manager John Hodgson tells WSJM News the earliest they could have all five commissioners available to meet over Zoom was 1 p.m. Sunday.. ...Read Full Story

SHOUT For South Haven Postpones Flower Planting Set For Friday

SHOUT for South Haven has indefinitely postponed the planting of flowers set for Friday along the Dyckman Avenue bridge due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It says it’s been told by its supplier the flowers are not ready because the supplier was closed. The new date for the flower planting has not yet been established. Everyone’s encouraged to follow SHOUT for South Haven online to keep themselves informed about the latest developments.. ...Read Full Story

Faith Leaders Promoting Census

Faith leaders around Michigan have joined the 2020 Census Be Counted campaign. Pastor Rodney Gulley with New Covenant Community Baptist Church in Benton Harbor tells WSJM News he’s part of the effort because he knows the census will affect programs right in his community.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Talks COVID-19 Testing

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced this week essential workers can now be tested for COVID-19 even without a doctor’s note. Berrien County Health Department spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News that’s mostly true here in our area. It depends on which testing site you want to visit.. ...Read Full Story

Secretary Of State Branch Offices Reopening By Appointment Only

(Lansing, MI – AP)  —  Michigan Secretary of State branch offices will reopen Monday by appointment only for essential transactions not available online. An announcement Thursday said that beginning next week, all 131 branch offices in Michigan will be open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., for certain transactions. Those include including driver licenses and state ID transactions that must be done in-person; title transfers; operator, commercial drivers license, chauffeur, mechanic and motorcycle testing; and seasonal commercial vehicle renewal. Branch staff will follow strict health and safety protocols, including wearing masks, standing 6 feet apart, using desk shields, and continuously disinfecting shared or common surfaces.. ...Read Full Story

Congressmen Upton, Clyburn Collaborating On Rural Broadband Expansion

Rural America could be in line for a big boost with more broadband internet being made available. Congressman Fred Upton is joining with House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina to sponsor the “Rural Broadband Acceleration Act” to speed up the rollout of high speed internet to areas where it does not exist nationwide. Upton says the goal is to get it passed quickly and have work underway this summer.. ...Read Full Story

Governor, Budget Director: States Need Federal Help

Calling it a 50-state problem in need of federal help for the solution, Governor Gretchen Whitmer is urging the U.S. Senate and President Trump to act to help states fill massive budget holes created by COVID-19. Whitmer also laid out her budget priorities Thursday afternoon, with education funding at the top of the list along with funding for public safety and worker protection as more of the economy opens up.. ...Read Full Story

County Board Meeting Cancelled

Technical problems forced the Berrien County Board of Commissioners to cancel its Thursday morning meeting this week. The body was all set to meet over Zoom as it has been during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the tech team was unable to stream the Zoom session over to YouTube. As a result, the public could not have watched the meeting and it had to be canceled after about an hour of trying. County administration now says this week’s agenda items will be added on to next Thursday’s agenda.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Youth Fair Canceled Due To COVID-19

For the first time since World War Two, there will not be a Van Buren Youth Fair this summer. It had been scheduled for July 20-25. The fair’s board of directors says they’ve had to make the decision to call it off because of the coronavirus pandemic after talks with the Van Buren/Cass District Health Department and weighing several other considerations. The board felt after reviewing the MI Safe Start Plan from the governor to re-start the state’s economy that it “is not logistically feasible to host a fair this year,” given social distancing that would have to take place throughout the fairgrounds along with other restrictions. They are researching and considering all virtual options for the fair. All activities at the fairgrounds through the end of August have also been canceled.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien, Cass County Residents To Benefit From Broadband Grant

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget has announced a grant to expand broadband access in parts of Berrien and Cass counties. State Representative Brad Paquette says Mercury Wireless has been approved for a proposed project rolling out high speed wireless internet to areas including Baroda, Berrien Springs, Buchanan, Dowagiac, Eau Claire, and Niles. According to its grant application, Mercury would offer download speeds of up to 100 megabytes per second and upload speeds of up to 20 megabytes per second by the summer of 2023. It is seeking to service 754 unserved households, 90 businesses, and 4 community anchor institutions. The total project cost is expected to be $600,000, and Mercury Wireless had applied for a grant of $450,000.. ...Read Full Story

Twin Cities Area Transportation Authority Getting $2.4 Million Grant

The Twin Cities Area Transportation Authority in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph is receiving a $2.4 million federal grant. The office of Senator Gary Peters announced this week the funds from the Federal Transit Administration will help ensure transit services remain operational during the coronavirus pandemic. They were included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act. Peters says many Michiganders are still relying on public transit during the pandemic, and the funds going to TCATA will help it continue functioning.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County COVID-19 Cases Hit 600, Recoveries At 434

There are 504 new cases of COVID-19 recorded in the state as of Wednesday, with 68 new deaths as a result of the illness. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says those 68 include 14 that were identified in the three-times-a-week vital records review. Overall, the state has had 55,608 coronavirus cases with 5,334 deaths. In southwest Michigan, Berrien County’s overall case number rose by five to an even 600 with one additional death for a total of 48. The Berrien County Health Department says 434 people in the county have recovered, up 28 from Tuesday. In Cass County, the number of cases is up by one to 79, and Van Buren County is up by five to 131. There have not been any deaths in Cass or Van Buren counties from COVID-19 for several days.. ...Read Full Story

Inadvertent Sounding Of Emergency Sirens In Berrien County Explained

If you thought you heard emergency sirens Wednesday morning in Berrien County, your ears were not playing tricks on you. Berrien County’s Emergency Siren System went off inadvertently for 10 to 15 seconds during what was supposed to have been a routine “silent” test of the system. In a statement, Berrien County Emergency Management and Homeland Security Captain Rockey Adams says the system is checked weekly using a silent electrical pulse, but during that test, the audible alarm was accidentally activated. Adams says while it was unfortunate, he is “encouraged that people were paying attention to the system and appreciate that they called to let us know they heard the short sounding so we could evaluate the issue.” While regular monthly audible tests last about one minute, the sirens would sound for three to five minutes or longer in the event of a real emergency.. ...Read Full Story

One Stabbed In Allegan County’s Lee Township

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a stabbing in Lee Township, northeast of South Haven. Deputies were called to a home around 10 p.m. Tuesday by a man in his 50s who said he’d been stabbed by an acquaintance who he had confronted about being in his vehicle. The victim’s wounds are not life threatening. Deputies arrested 61-year-old Paris Sylvester Covington Jr. of Lee Township, on a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon.. ...Read Full Story

State Unveils New COVID-19 Dashboard

There is a new tool for Michiganders to use to track what’s going on with COVID-19. University of Michigan associate professor of epidemiology Dr. Emily Martin says the MI Safe Start Map is an interactive dashboard with “real-time regional and county-specific data on the coronavirus epidemic.”. ...Read Full Story

Gyms Sue Over Governor’s Stay Home Order

Several independently-owned gyms and fitness centers are suing Governor Gretchen Whitmer to overturn the state’s stay-at-home order and allow them to reopen. Attorney Scott Erskine is representing more than 120 gyms in Michigan and filed the lawsuit on Friday. He spoke with the Michigan News Network.. ...Read Full Story

One Killed In Covert Township Crash

The Covert Township Police Department is investigating a fatal crash crash on Saturday. It says officers were called to the 41,000 block of M-140 around 3 p.m. They found the driver in the vehicle and the vehicle pinned up against a tree. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene. The vehicle had been southbound when it crossed into the northbound lane, went off the road, and hit the tree. Nearby residents said they heard the crash and then found the wrecked vehicle. The driver has been identified as 59-year-old Ronald Edward Gilliland. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.. ...Read Full Story