Local News Archives

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

State’s COVID-19 Cases Rise 430; 48.5% Now Recovered

Michigan’s overall COVID-19 case numbers are up by 430 for Saturday to 46,756 with 133 additional deaths for a total of 4,526. However, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says 22,686 have recovered, which is defined by surviving 30 days post-onset of the virus. The recovery number is updated every Saturday, and this week’s number represents 48.5% of all cases. The overall case fatality rate in the state is 10%.. ...Read Full Story

Lakeland, Health Department Give COVID Update

Testing capacity for COVID-19 is continually going up in Berrien County, but the supply is still too short. So says Spectrum Health Lakeland CEO Loren Hamel, who gave a coronavirus update with Berrien County officials Friday. Hamel said there are now more sites doing testing in the county with the opening of a drive-thru location at the Benton Harbor Walmart Friday. As for antibody testing, he said Lakeland has the equipment, just not the materials. They’re using what they do have to give plasma transfusions to the sick. He put out another call for donations from those who have recovered from the illness.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Calls On Congress To Help States

Congress is going to have to set aside partisan differences in order to help the nation through the COVID-19 crisis. That’s the message Congressman Fred Upton had for colleagues during a virtual House session this week. He said his Problem Solvers Caucus is calling for aid to states that have been hit hard by COVID-19.. ...Read Full Story

Fruit Growers Hoping For Best With Freeze Possible

Fruit growers in Michigan are bracing for the worst as freezing temperatures are expected to hit tonight. Michigan State University Extension’s Mark Longstroth in Van Buren County says peaches, cherries, and pears are already blooming in southwest Michigan and apples are starting to open up. He says projections are for 32 degrees along the lakeshore overnight and 26 to 28 degrees inland.. ...Read Full Story

Jobs For Michigan’s Graduates Gets $10,000 Donation

Jobs For Michigan’s Graduates has received a boost that will help nearly 800 youth in southwest Michigan and almost 33-hundred statewide. Lyons Industries president Lance Lyons awarded the program $10,000 to support vulnerable youth in the state, which is part of a larger fundraising effort called #ProjectMIYouth. That effort seeks to raise $100,000 in 90 days from May 5 to support at-risk teens, as they’ve been heavily impacted by the cumulative impacts of COVID-19. JMG participant Austin Kuhl of Dowagiac High School accepted the check from Lyons on Friday, while managing to keep themselves socially distanced as well as possible. JMG delivers employability and education services to over 3,200 young people across the state and has been largely state-funded since it began, but that funding source is at risk with a budget hole of at least $2.5 billion that needs to be addressed.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven High School Finishes Large Landscaping Project

A large landscaping project has been finished at South Haven High School, just days after landscaping businesses were allowed to reopen in Michigan. The new 300 foot berm sits on the east side of the school facing LaGrange street leading into the city. South Haven High School says it provides the property with “an impactful visual makeover.” South Haven Project CURB raised more than $10,000 to construct the project. The sound reduction berm is comprised of 1,000 cubic yards of dirt, 17 trees, and three types of shrubs. deBest, Incorporated designed and installed the project. It’s the first of eleven such projects planned for the high school. The majority of remaining projects in the high school landscape master plan are estimated to cost between $3,000 and $8,000 each. The high school is working with partners to raise the money.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County COVID-19 Cases Up By 22, Recoveries At 216

Berrien County’s coronavirus cases are higher by 22, rising from 354 on Thursday to 376 with 216 listed as having recovered by the Berrien County Health Department. The virus has claimed 22 lives in Berrien County, up one from Thursday. Cass County has 39 cases with two deaths as the number of new cases has risen by 3, and Van Buren County is up by eight to 81 cases with the number of deaths steady at 2. The Van Buren Cass District Health Department says 18 have recovered in Cass County and 26 have recovered in Van Buren County, Statewide, there are 650 news cases for Friday and 50 additional deaths to bring those totals to 46,326 and 4,393, respectively.. ...Read Full Story

Fire Destroys Barn In Bangor Township

A barn and a vehicle are total losses after a fire in Bangor Township on Friday morning. South Haven Area Emergency Services says firefighters from the Bangor Community Fire Department responded to a property at 38th Avenue near 69th Street around 10:40 a.m. and found the structure engaged. High winds caused the flames to spread to nearby woods, but firefighters were able to put that out quickly. The building was not occupied when the fire was discovered by its owner. Mutual aid was provided by Covert Township Fire Department and South Haven Area Emergency Services. There were no injuries.. ...Read Full Story

USDA Buys Cherries From Michigan Farmers To Help Communities

From the Associated Press — Some Michigan farmers say the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s plan to buy tart cherries to feed communities and support farmers will help the industry as cold weather threatens their crops. The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports that the department announced this week that it will buy $20 million worth of U.S. tart cherries. The Agricultural Marketing Service will purchase other fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy and seafood products to distribute to communities amid the coronavirus outbreak. A news release says the purchase is in response to changing market conditions brought on by the pandemic.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Possible Drowning In Weesaw Township

Michigan State Police are investigating a possible drowning in Weesaw Township. They say a trooper from the Niles post spotted an overturned boat on Rug Lake off Gardner Road around 2:15 p.m. on Thursday. The trooper found nearby residents who said a relative had recently been fishing using the same boat. The trooper used a canoe to get into the water and found an 82-year-old man deceased. The victim, who was from Kalamazoo, was not wearing a life jacket. Police say further investigation will be done at the medical examiner’s office at Western Michigan University Medical Center. The name of the victim has not been released.. ...Read Full Story

Guns Not Banned At Michigan Capitol Unless Lawmakers Act

From the Associated Press — Guns can’t be banned from Michigan’s Capitol building unless legislators change the law, says an official who helps oversee the building. John Truscott, vice chairman of the Michigan State Capitol Commission, spoke Wednesday – less than a week after some protesters armed with rifles shouted at lawmakers. Truscott says the panel doesn’t have jurisdiction to prohibit weapons and it’s a “legislative function.” It appears unlikely the Republican-led Legislature would restrict guns. The panel will still meet Monday to discuss the issue after getting questions following the protest by conservatives angry over Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s restrictions to curb the coronavirus.. ...Read Full Story

Farmers Market Still Planned For Benton Harbor This Year

Planning is still underway for the Benton Harbor Farmers Market this year. The Berrien County Board of Health this week accepted a $5,000 grant from the Spectrum Health Lakeland Community Health Endowment to run the market this summer. Berrien County Health Department spokesperson Gillian Conrad told the board the market is important to the health of Benton Harbor residents.. ...Read Full Story

Lyrics For Jeff Daniels’ Al Kaline Tribute Song Headed To Baseball Hall Of Fame

Actor Jeff Daniels is headed to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in a way. During a solo acoustic concert livestreamed from his Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, outside of Ann Arbor, Daniels said he’d had a lot of feedback to the tribute song he wrote for Detroit Tigers legend and his boyhood hero Al Kaline. There was one email, however, that really caught his eye.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department: Contact Tracing Remains Critical

Berrien County Health Officer Nicki Britten says contact tracing is a key way the area can stamp out lines of COVID-19 transmission. She gave an update to the Berrien County Board of Health this week, saying the local health department has made around 8,000 phone calls throughout the pandemic as it tracks down people who have had close contact with others who have COVID-19. She noted the stay home order has helped.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Encouraged By Vaccine Efforts

Congressman Fred Upton says work on a vaccine for COVID-19 can proceed faster than it would have just a few years ago because of legislation passed in 2016. He tells WSJM News his 21st Century Cures Act took down firewalls that used to separate researchers from different teams.. ...Read Full Story

Lake Michigan Sets Fourth Straight Monthly Water Level Record

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says Lake Michigan continues to get deeper. For the fourth straight month in April, Michigan and Huron, considered the same body of water, set a record for the water level and topped the 1986 record by 2.76 inches. The lake is 581.69 feet deep, up 13 inches in the past year and three-feet higher than the long-term average level. The Corps says Lake Erie also set a record for April, with the previous mark set in 1985. Compared to March, Lakes Michigan and Huron rose three inches, Lake Erie was up four inches, Lake Superior rose two inches, and Lake Ontario was up six inches. The new forecast from the Corps of Engineers predicts Lake Michigan to continue setting records until September or October.. ...Read Full Story

COVID-19 Numbers Released For Wednesday

New numbers from the state show a rise of 657 in new coronavirus cases in Michigan from Tuesday to bring the cumulative total to 45,054 with 4,250 deaths. The number of deaths from the virus is up by 71 from Tuesday. For southwest Michigan, Berrien County’s positive cases have shot up by 29 to 344, while Cass County is up one to 35 and Van Buren County’s total has been revised lower by one to 68. There are no new deaths reported in southwest Michigan from coronavirus, with Berrien County at 20 and Cass and Van Buren each with two. The Berrien County Health Department says the number of people in the county who have recovered is 206.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Police Assist Man After Crash Into Railroad Tracks

A 73-year-old man is unharmed after he accidentally crashed his vehicle onto some railroad tracks in Dowagiac on Tuesday. The Dowagiac Police Department says officers were called to some tracks adjacent to Depot Drive near Commercial Street shortly before 3:30 p.m. They were told a vehicle had driven through a fence and was now stuck on the tracks. The investigation revealed the man had been at an ATM at the First Source Bank when he accidentally accelerated his vehicle while leaning out of the window to make a transaction. The vehicle drove across the parking lot and through a fence by Depot Drive, coming to rest on the railroad tracks. The driver suffered minor injuries and was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Dowagiac police were assisted at the scene by Pride Care Ambulance, the Dowagiac Fire Department, and Michigan State Police.. ...Read Full Story

Library Works To Serve Customers Virtually

Even though it’s been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Van Buren District Library continues to serve residents via online programs. Director Dan Hutchins tells WSJM News they’ve been doing virtual story times and crafts, researchers can access the library edition of Ancestry.com from home, and students who need help with school work can reach tutors through the library’s website. The library has also increased the number of books and movies people can rent online through Hoopla, and extended the range of the WiFi to include the parking lots. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Today Cancels Summer Events

St. Joseph Today has canceled several summer events due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Director Amy Zapal tells WSJM News the cancellations extend through August. This means there will be no Lake Bluff Artisan Faire, Antiques on the Bluff, Wednesday Brown Bag Concerts, Friday Night Concert Series, or Chalk the Block this year. Zapal says the decision wasn’t made lightly.. ...Read Full Story

COVID-19 Cases Rise By 447 In Michigan

Even with a software glitch that resulted in lower numbers for new COVID-19 cases being reported on Monday, Tuesday’s statewide increase in new cases is just 447. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says that brings the total to 44,397 with 4,179 deaths. The number of people who have died from coronavirus is up by 44. In southwest Michigan, Berrien County now has 315 cases with 20 deaths, an increase of 12 cases and one death from Monday. In Cass County, there are 34 cases with two deaths and Van Buren County has 69 cases with two deaths. The Berrien County Health Department is reporting 204 recoveries from COVID-19 to date, up by 8 from Monday.. ...Read Full Story

Three Oaks Flag Day Parade Latest Event Canceled Due To COVID-19

The “World’s Largest Flag Day Parade” is another area event that won’t be held this year because of COVID-19. Organizers of the annual Flag Day Parade in Three Oaks have canceled the festivities set for June 14. Instead, they will hold a virtual tribute parade on Facebook. For that, they’re asking people to send photos of themselves, their family, military members, and essential workers to be part of a tribute video to show support of the flag, country, and community. The deadline is June 1, and the photos need to be family-friendly. They can be sent in a private message on Facebook to the Three Oaks Flag Day Weekend and Parade page or through email at threeoaksflagdaycommittee@gmail.com. On Friday, they announced the Three Oaks Flag Day 5K/10K was going virtual with people running between June 6 and 20th, and even allowed to do it on a treadmill.. ...Read Full Story