Local News Archives

House Approves COVID-19 Aid Bill

The U.S. House on Friday approved a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill. Introduced by Democrats, the House bill has almost no chance of passing the Republican Senate. In the House, Congressman Fred Upton voted against it. He has released the following statement:. ...Read Full Story

Land Conservancy Volunteers To Remove Invasive Plant From Preserves

The Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy will have volunteers out in force this weekend ridding area preserves of the invasive garlic mustard. It says they have been at it for weeks, but the operation set for this Saturday and Sunday will be one final push before the plant sets seed, and the organization has received four matching donation opportunities for every bag of garlic mustard pulled. The goal is to pull 100 bags of mustard seed from the preserves. Anonymous donors are offering $6 per large rubbish bag up to 100 bags of garlic mustard pulled from any Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy preserve this weekend. Those who help can just email the conservancy a photo of the bags they’ve pulled, along with the number of bags, and which preserve they pulled from. The conservancy has instructions for identifying and removing the mustard seed at its website. The preserves where volunteers are invited to work include Black River Preserve in Van Buren County, Hickory Creek Preserve in Berrien County, and Kesling Nature Preserve in Berrien County. You can find out more right here.. ...Read Full Story

Troy Rolling Announces Candidacy For Berrien County Treasurer

A candidate has thrown his hat into the race for Berrien County Treasurer. Troy Rolling of Benton Township is seeking to replace former Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski. Witkowski stepped down last month, and former Chief Deputy Treasurer Shelly Weich was named the new treasurer by a county committee. She’ll serve in the post through at least the end of the year. Rolling says he is running for the Republican nomination for the job in the August primary. He tells us the economy is in turmoil because of the pandemic, and this is an “important time for bold and innovative leadership from our next county treasurer, especially when it comes to helping households and entrepreneurs who face challenges with their property taxes.” He says he’ll work with property owners to prevent a rash of foreclosures. Rolling says he has the know-how to be treasurer due to his experience as a business owner. He’s previously run for the GOP nomination for state representative in the 79th District.. ...Read Full Story

Charges Filed In Allegan County Cold Case Murder

Prosecutors in Allegan County say charges have been filed in a 31-year-old cold case murder. 14-year-old Aundria Michelle Bowman was reported missing as a runaway from her home in Fillmore Township on March 11, 1989. Several police agencies have worked since then to find her. Allegan County Prosecutor Myrene Koch said Friday a break came in the fall of last year when Dennis Lee Bowman, Aundria’s adoptive father, was taken into custody in Michigan for a murder in Virginia in 1980. He was extradited from Michigan to that state, and then new information regarding Aundria Bowman came in this year.. ...Read Full Story

Process Underway To Determine Safest Way To Reopen Michigan Schools

A new panel of students, parents, teachers, public health officials, and school administrators will be formed by Governor Whitmer to formalize the process for determining how schools might be able to reopen this fall. The new panel will send its recommendations to the COVID-19 Task Force on Education which is part of the State Emergency Operations Center and was formed a few months ago.. ...Read Full Story

Man Charged Over Threat To Governor, Attorney General

From the Associated Press — Prosecutors say a 32-year-old man has been charged with terrorism for making credible death threats against Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel. Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy said Friday that Robert Tesh made the threats via social media to an acquaintance on April 14. She says authorities concluded the message amounted to “credible threats to kill.” She hasn’t provided any detail about the threats or how they were determined to be credible. Tesh was arraigned April 22 on a threat of terrorism charge. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan’s COVID-19 Cases Rise Over 50,000

Berrien County’s COVID-19 cases are now up to 485, higher by 15 on Friday with one additional death to bring that total to 28. The Berrien County Health Department says there have been 16 more people who have recovered from coronavirus for a total of 300. In Van Buren County, the number of cases is up by six to 106, and Cass County has recorded four new cases to reach 50. The number of deaths in Van Buren and Cass counties remain unchanged at five and two, respectively. Statewide, the number of positive cases is now over 50,000. Those have risen by 497 to 50,079 with 38 new deaths linked to the virus. To date, 4,825 have lost their lives in Michigan from COVID-19.. ...Read Full Story

State To Face Major Budget Shortfall

From the Associated Press — Michigan will confront multibillion-dollar declines in tax revenue combined with record-high enrollment in government health insurance programs. It’s a double whammy from the coronavirus pandemic that may lead to major service cuts. Legislative experts and top officials in Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration agreed to revised budget estimates Friday. The steep downward revision from revenue estimates issued just four months ago – nearly $6.3 billion this combined fiscal year and next – is unprecedented. The Whitmer administration is calling on Congress to send aid to the state, noting it happened during the Great Recession.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Public Schools Names New Principal For E.P. Clarke Elementary

There will be a new principal leading St. Joseph Public School’s E.P. Clarke Elementary in the fall. Current principal Michelle Allen is retiring, and the district has selected Jesseca LaFayette for the job. LaFayette has been in the district for the past six years and earned her Bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University and a Master of Arts degree in Education Leadership from Eastern Michigan University. Superintendent Dr. Thomas Bruce says they enticed candidates “from all over Michigan and one from out of state,” and decided to promote from within after two comprehensive interviews with the finalists.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Lowers Flags To Mark Peace Officers Memorial Day

The city of South Haven has lowered U.S. and Michigan flags to half-staff today to mark Peace Officers Memorial Day in honor of officers killed or disabled in the line of duty. In particular, the city says it honors the memory of Patrolman Michael McAllister who was killed in the line of duty on January 9, 1976. The South Haven Police Memorial is located on the front lawn of city hall. Peace Officers Memorial Day falls within National Police Week, which was established by Congress in 1962 to recognize law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Approves Napier Work

Napier Avenue in St. Joseph Township and Benton Township will finally be getting that road diet this year. The Berrien County Board of Commissioners on Thursday approved moving forward with an $873,000 project that will result in Napier being a three lane road from Colfax Avenue to just before M-139. County Administrator Bill Wolf said this will not alter the fundamental structure of the road.. ...Read Full Story

Parks Director Honored

Outgoing Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey has been honored by the Berrien County Board of Commissioners. Bailey retires this week, and during a Thursday meeting, the county board approved a resolution thanking him for his service and commending the difference he has made. Commissioner Bill Chickering said during Bailey’s time as parks director, the county system has been greatly improved.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Looks To Address Racial Disparity In COVID Deaths

A state task force is working to come up with solutions to address long-standing health disparities among black Michiganders, who make up a disproportionate number of COVID-19 deaths. While African Americans make up just 14% of the state’s population, as of mid-April they accounted for more than 40% of coronavirus deaths. Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist says the state has boosted testing efforts in Detroit and other areas, and notes Michigan is one of the first states to appoint a team focused specifically on racial health inequities.. ...Read Full Story

Beach Safety Flags Return To South Haven Beaches For Summer On Friday

A sign of summer is returning to South Haven Friday for a summer that will be anything but normal. South Haven Area Emergency Services will start its program of flying safety flags at city beaches between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. every day. The flags are either green, yellow, or red based on conditions in Lake Michigan and are changed during the day if things change. SHAES keeps up to speed on the lake conditions for the city’s seven public beaches by monitoring data from the National Weather Service. City Manager Brian Dissette says the public beaches are open and there are “social distance” signs posted at all of them along with city parks and public spaces “to encourage the public to make smart choices.”. ...Read Full Story

Whirlpool, Dow, Reynolds Team Up To Make New PPE For Hospitals

Whirlpool and Dow are teaming up with Reynolds Consumer Products to manufacture and donate 2,000 respirators to healthcare facilities in Michigan, Louisiana, and Texas. The joint project is a protective piece of headgear and respirator system that will be manufactured and sold through WIN Health Labs, LLC, in addition to an initial donation to hospitals. Whirlpool designed, manufactured and assembled the headset. Dow provided the polyethylene resin for the hoods, and Reynolds, makers of Hefty brand products, designed and produced the disposable hood. Volkswagen brokered connections with materials and supply chain partners to source critical components. Spectrum Health Lakeland president Dr. Loren Hamel said in a statement they’re using N95 and respirators at a rate ten-times higher than normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two thousand units are being produced in the first phase for donation to hospitals located in regions where Whirlpool and Dow have operations, as well as other hospitals in need of PPE.. ...Read Full Story

Backlog Of Tests From Labs Cited As Part Of Reason For 1,191 New COVID-19 Cases In Michigan

Berrien County’s COVID-19 cases are up by 45 to 470, with one additional death to bring that total to 27. The Berrien County Health Department says the number who have recovered from coronavirus in the county is now 284. In Cass County, there are two new cases for a total of 46 with two deaths, while in Van Buren County there are now an even 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19, up six, with one additional death for a total of five.. Statewide, there are 1,191 new cases as of Thursday afternoon for a total of 49,582 with 73 new deaths for a total of 4,787. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the increase in new cases is sharply higher than previous days because of backlogged reports now being entered electronically from three private labs. Nearly half of the new deaths reported statewide are due to a Vital Records review of death certificates, which is done three times per week.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases COVID-19 Totals For Wednesday

Michigan is reporting 370 additional cases of COVID-19 around the state for Wednesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the statewide total since the start of the pandemic is now 48,391. There are 40 additional COVID-19 deaths to report for Wednesday, bringing that total up to 4,714. Locally, the Berrien County Health Department reports 14 new cases of coronavirus for the day, bringing the county’s total cases up to 425. There has been an additional COVID-19 death in the county, bringing the total to 26. The health department says the patient was a woman over the age of 90 who had underlying health conditions. It also says 272 patients have recovered from the illness since it was found in Berrien County. Cass County is reporting one new case for Wednesday, making the county’s total 44 with two deaths. Van Buren County is reporting no new cases of COVID-19 for Wednesday, with its total remaining 94 cases and four deaths.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph High School Sets July 26 For Commencement With Three Options

There will be a commencement ceremony for the class of 2020 at St. Joseph High School on Sunday, July 26, but it’s still not known exactly what it will look like. The high school’s latest blog post announced the ceremony with three different options. The first is the most optimistic and most hoped-for, being a full on face-to-face graduation ceremony at Steve Upton Field at Dickinson Stadium without any restrictions. The second option would be a hybrid graduation with either a parade or drive option or scheduled appointment times for students and parents to arrive at the stadium to individually receive diplomas. The school calls that one “not ideal but we can make it work.” The third and “least favorite” according to the high school would be an all virtual graduation ceremony. Bottom line, though, is a commencement ceremony of some sort will be held by St. Joseph High School on July 26.. ...Read Full Story

School Board Approves Turnaround Plan

The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education has approved a turnaround plan drafted for the district by its Community Engagement and Advisory Committee. During a virtual meeting Tuesday night, Superintendent Andrae Townsel read from the resolution noting his team is confident in the final turnaround plan that was drafted.. ...Read Full Story

Senator Warns Of Potential 25% Cut In Michigan School Funds

From the Associated Press — A lawmaker is warning of a potential 25% cut in state funding for K-12 schools due to economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Republican Senator Wayne Schmidt, who chairs the Senate’s education budget subcommittee, said Tuesday that 25% is “certainly the high end,” but schools should brace for the worst. There is uncertainty over whether federal rescue aid can be used to help balance the budget. About 40% of the $14 billion in state revenues for the school aid fund comes from sales taxes. Schmidt says “there’s no way around” cuts to base funding that districts get from the state.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Pushes Government To Support Automakers, Suppliers

Congressman Fred Upton is calling on the Trump administration to work with the auto industry to make sure it can meet its supply chain needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the pandemic, auto sales are projected to drop as much as 30% for the year, from more 17 million cars sold in 2019. Upton tells WSJM News funds must be targeted to the purchase of raw materials by suppliers and other critical costs due to the way turnaround works in the auto industry. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Installing Barriers To Protect Infrastructure From Coastal Flooding

The city of South Haven is installing some barriers to protect high priority infrastructure from coastal flooding. It says its new HESCO barriers are being installed at the waste water treatment plant and at the water treatment plant near South Beach. The city plans to leave the barriers in place for as long as the water level in Lake Michigan is near its current high. South Haven has struggled with Lake Michigan flooding along its shore for much of the past year.. ...Read Full Story

Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra Cancels Performances

The Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra has cancelled all of its performances through the end of August. The SMSO says due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it felt the health and safety of the community should be the top priority. In the meantime, it says it’s working with its four music director candidates to establish a timeline for the orchestra’s return. It also says having “been an integral part of the cultural fabric of our community since 1951, we look forward to the time when we can safely return to enrich and unite our community through shared musical experiences.” The SMSO adds it appreciates any donations supporters might want to make at this time.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases COVID-19 Numbers For Tuesday

Michigan is reporting 469 additional cases of COVID-19 around the state for Tuesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the statewide total since the start of the pandemic is 48,021. There are 90 additional COVID-19 deaths to report for Tuesday, bringing that total up to 4,674. The Berrien County Health Department is reporting ten new cases of coronavirus for the day, bringing the county’s total cases up to 411. The number of COVID-19 deaths in Berrien County remains 25. Cass County is reporting one new case for Tuesday, making the county’s total 43 with two deaths. Van Buren County is reporting one additional case of COVID-19, bring the county’s total to 94 with four deaths.. ...Read Full Story

High Lake Levels Expected Through Summer

Lakes Michigan, Huron, Erie and St. Clair all hit record high water levels in April and they are expected to rise through the end of summer. Drew Gronewald is an associate professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Environment and Sustainability. He told Michigan News Network the past ten years have been the wettest decade in U.S. history, coupled with less evaporation and climate change.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer: Goal Is To Test 450,000 Residents For Virus In May

From the Associated Press — Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she wants 450,000 Michiganders to be tested for the coronavirus this month, an average of nearly 15,000 a day. She said Monday the goal is critical because social-distancing measures cannot go on indefinitely until a vaccine is developed. The state wants to have 30,000 tests a day in June and beyond. Deaths from COVID-19 increased by 33 to nearly 4,600. A top state physician says there are signs Michigan may have children with a mysterious illness possibly associated with COVID-19. Symptoms are similar to Kawasaki disease, a rare multi-system inflammatory disease in
children.. ...Read Full Story

Road Agencies Hope For Stimulus Funds

Should the next federal coronavirus stimulus package contain funding for transportation agencies? The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials thinks so. It sent a letter to both chambers of Congress asking that $50 billion be set aside for state transportation agencies. Speaking on MDOT’s “Talking Transportation” podcast, group spokesperson Lloyd Brown said funding to keep roads and bridges functional has dropped.. ...Read Full Story

Project Starts On Napier Avenue

A maintenance project on part of Napier Avenue in Benton Township and Bainbridge Township is now underway. The Berrien County Road Department says the project involves the application of an HMA overlay from Blue Creek Road to Morgan Road. The work will mean some lane closures to be controlled by flaggers. Drivers are asked to slow down and be extra cautious. The work started Monday and should be finished on May 22.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Briefing Takes Somber Tone Over Threats, Next Protest

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s briefing on the state’s response to COVID-19 took on a more somber tone than previous sessions toward the end during the question and answer period. Right out of the gate came a question on the pledge by the Michigan Militia to help keep a Shiawassee County barber shop open, despite those businesses not yet being include in what can open up. Whitmer says she understands the frustration.. ...Read Full Story

Annual Berrien County Peace Officer’s Memorial Day Service Canceled

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will not be a Berrien County Peace Officer’s Memorial Day Service this year. It had been scheduled for noon on Friday. The Blossomland Lodge #100 Fraternal Order of Police says the decision was not taken lightly, but calling it off “was in the best interest of the families of our fallen officers, the first responders and all of those who attend the annual event. The service honors the officers who have died in the line of duty, dating back to August 1907 for Niles City Patrolman Clarence Shockley and most recently Berrien County Courthouse Security Supervisor Joseph Zangaro and courthouse security officer Ronald Kienzle. There are 17 Berrien County officers honored every year along with three others who are former residents killed in the line of duty elsewhere in the country.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases COVID-19 Totals For Monday

Michigan is reporting 414 additional cases of COVID-19 around the state for Monday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the statewide total since the start of the pandemic is 47,552. There are 33 additional COVID-19 deaths to report for Monday, bringing that total up to 4,584. The Berrien County Health Department is reporting 10 new cases of coronavirus for the day, bringing the county’s total cases up to 401. There have been three additional deaths from the illness, making the total 25. The patients included two males over the age of 80 and one female over the age of 90, all of whom had underlying medical conditions. Cass County is reporting one new case for Monday, making the county’s total 42 with two deaths. Van Buren County is reporting five additional cases of COVID-19, bring the county’s total to 93 with four deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Unit 2 At Cook Nuclear Plant Back In Service

Unit 2 of the Cook Nuclear Plant is now back in service. Indiana Michigan Power says repairs have been completed to the unit’s pressurizer system and it was safely returned to service on May 11 at 1:07 a.m. It was removed from service just before 11 a.m. on May 1 when a small leak was discovered on a pipe in the unit’s pressurizer spray system.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases COVID-19 Totals For Sunday

Michigan is reporting 382 additional cases of COVID-19 around the state for Sunday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the statewide total since the start of the pandemic is now 47,138. There are 25 additional coronavirus deaths in the state to report for Sunday, bringing that total up to 4,551. The Berrien County Health Department is reporting seven new cases of COVID-19 for Sunday, bringing the county’s total up to 391. Berrien County has had 22 COVID-19 deaths, and 228 patients have recovered. Cass County is reporting 41 total cases for Sunday, the same total as Saturday. Van Buren County is reporting four new cases of the illness, bringing the county’s total to 88. Van Buren County has now had four COVID-19 deaths, while Cass County has had two.. ...Read Full Story

Woman Seriously Injured In Weesaw Township Crash

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a single vehicle crash on Saturday that injured a Three Oaks woman. It says deputies were called to the scene at South Pardee Road near Sawyer Road in Weesaw Township shortly before 7 a.m. They learned a 20-year-old woman had been driving a 2012 Nissan Maxima when she lost control and the vehicle left the road and hit a tree. The driver was trapped in the vehicle and had to be freed by the Weesaw Township Fire Department and Lake Township Fire Department using the Jaws of Life. She was taken by ambulance to Spectrum Health Lakeland hospital in St. Joseph, and then later airlifted to a hospital in Kalamazoo. The crash remains under investigation by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story