Local News Archives

Officials Close Lot At Michigan State Park To Deter Guests

From the Associated Press — Officials have closed a parking lot at a Michigan state park after crowds of visitors ignored social distancing guidelines designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Grand Haven State Park’s parking lot was shut down on Sunday. Mayor Robert Monetza says the city reached an agreement with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to leave the park open but to deter crowds by closing the lots. Monetza says fewer visitors came and the beaches were much better on Sunday. He says he understands that people want to visit but that the priority is public health and safety.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan: Doctors Have Discretion On Nonessential Procedures

From the Associated Press — Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration says hospitals and physicians have “broad discretion” to decide whether to delay nonessential procedures during the pandemic. The state issued new guidance Sunday amid pressure to let providers do more as the curve of coronavirus cases flattens. Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive, says Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s orders remain in effect but is intended to be flexible and preserve clinician judgment. In-person contact should be limited as much as possible. But if physicians determine it is necessary, they should take steps such as asking patients to wait in their car until their appointment and requiring masks.. ...Read Full Story

Summer Events At Jean Klock Park Canceled

All concerts, festivals, and other events that had been scheduled for this summer at Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad has issued a statement saying although the COVID-19 curve is flattening in the southeast area of the state, it’s seen increased cases in west Michigan, which directly affects the Benton Harbor area. Muhammad goes on to write the decision to cancel summer events at Jean Klock Park came “with serious contemplation and the public health being given due consideration.” He says the city looks forward to resuming its summer events at the park in the future.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Releases Monday COVID-19 Report, State Numbers Delayed

Berrien County is reporting three new cases of COVID-19 for Monday. The Berrien County Health Department also says the county has had its 19th death from the illness. The patient was a man over the age of 75 who had underlying health conditions. To date, Berrien County has had 303 cases of COVID-19 and 176 presumed positive cases. The health department says 196 patients have recovered. Meanwhile, state numbers for the day have been delayed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services due to a software issue. The State Emergency Operations Center has released the following statement:. ...Read Full Story

Gas Prices In Michigan Rise For First Time In Nine Weeks

Gas prices are going higher. For the first time in nine weeks, Triple-A Michigan says the statewide average per gallon has risen, up 11¢ to $1.53. The price is still $1.40 less than what we were paying a year ago, and lower than this time last month by 12¢. Of the areas surveyed by the auto club, Flint and Grand Rapids have the lowest prices at $1.49, while Marquette is the most expensive at $1.69. The St. Joseph/Benton Harbor area’s prices are up by 13¢ from last week at $1.50. While not included in the Triple-A survey, South Haven’s prices had been among the lowest in the state. That’s long gone now, going from 97¢ a gallon last Monday to an average of $1.48 according to GasBuddy.. ...Read Full Story

MDOT To Begin M-51 Repaving Work May 11

Work will start next Monday on a resurfacing project on M-51 in Berrien and Cass counties. The Michigan Department of Transportation will be working on 11.4 miles of the highway between Peavine and 9th streets. Along with resurfacing the road, crews will also be doing joint repairs, concrete curb and gutter replacement, and upgrading sidewalks and sidewalk ramps. The $3.4 million project is scheduled to go from May 11 until July 24. MDOT says there will be single-lane closures during the work.. ...Read Full Story

Coloma Men Arrested For Early Sunday Morning Break-Ins

Two Coloma men are in the Van Buren County Jail waiting to be arraigned after being caught allegedly stealing tools, lawn equipment, and fishing equipment from two sheds in Hamilton Township near Decatur. Police were called to the 46-thousand block of West Drive on Lake of the Woods just after 4 a.m. Sunday on a report of a vehicle revving its engine at a vacant home and possibly being stuck. The men were found trying to hide in the channel behind the home. After being ordered out of the water, they were cleared by EMS and taken to jail. The stolen items were found stashed nearby and recovered by sheriff’s deputies. The men are 27 and 28 years old, and their names have not been released.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases COVID-19 Totals For Saturday

Michigan is reporting 851 additional cases of COVID-19 around the state for Saturday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the total number of cases in the state since the start of the pandemic is now up to 43,207. 154 additional deaths were reported for Saturday, bringing that total statewide up to 4,020. The state says there have been 15,659 recoveries from COVID-19.. ...Read Full Story

Lake Michigan Waves Wash Away Pavement In NW Indiana Town

From the Associated Press — Waves from Lake Michigan have washed away a section of pavement in a Northwest Indiana town, threatening utility lines and nearby homes. Rangers with the Indiana Dunes National Park stood guard Thursday at a sharp cliff overlooking Lake Michigan that was once parking for Lakeview Beach in the town of Beverly Shores, about 40 miles east of Chicago. Beverly Shores Town Council President Geof Benson told The Northwest Indiana Times a section of roadway near that location has been closed for the past month. Bruce Rowe, the park’s supervisory ranger, says a “significant piece of pavement was lost.”. ...Read Full Story

Pure Michigan, Others Team Up For Virtual Concert Series

Pure Michigan and MLive have announced a new partnership to keep people entertained while they’re sheltering in place and social distancing. They’re working with Under the Radar Michigan to host a new virtual concert and entertainment series to benefit the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Michigan Hospitality Industry Employee Relief Fund. The fund has been established to benefit hospitality workers who find themselves struggling during the COVID-19 shutdown. “Come Together: A Relief Effort for Tourism Workers” will stream live from Monday, May 4 through Friday, May 8. The shows will each run from 7 to 8 p.m. They’ll be streamed on the Facebook pages of MLive and Pure Michigan. The shows will include performances by Michigan musicians, food and beverage demonstrations, and surprise features. People who watch can make donations to the relief fund.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases COVID-19 Totals For Friday

Michigan is reporting 977 new cases of COVID-19 around the state for Friday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says that brings the state’s total up to 42,356 since the pandemic started. There have been 77 additional deaths from COVID-19 as of Friday, bringing that total up to 3,866. The Berrien County Health Department reports 15 new cases of coronavirus for Friday, bringing the county’s total for the outbreak up to 263. The health department says the county has also had 173 presumed positive cases, which are cases where the patient had the COVID-19 symptoms but wasn’t tested. The county has had 15 coronavirus deaths and 183 recoveries. Cass County’s case total for Friday has gone down by one from the day before, now standing at 30. Van Buren County is reporting five new cases for Friday, bringing its total to 54. Cass and Van Buren counties have each had two deaths from COVID-19.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Hears Report On Economic Recovery

How will the economy of the nation, the state, and Berrien County recover following the COVID-19 shutdown? Berrien County Community Development Director Dan Fette told the county board of commissioners this week he has some thoughts. Fette said this current recession is a lot different from other recessions.. ...Read Full Story

Pick Up, Drop Off Locations For Masks Available In Van Buren, Cass Counties

Health officials in Cass and Van Buren counties are urging everyone to wear a face covering when out at an enclosed public space, and they’re also asking those who make cloth masks to donate them. The Van Buren-Cass District Health Department has put up a list of “locate and donate” sites for masks at its website. You can find the page right here. Fabric face coverings are an additional measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but health officials say they should not replace social distancing measures.. ...Read Full Story

House Doesn’t Extend Virus Emergency, Moves To Sue Whitmer

From the Associated Press — The Republican-led Michigan House has refused to extend the state’s coronavirus emergency declaration. It also voted Thursday to authorize a lawsuit challenging Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s authority and actions to combat the pandemic. The step came as hundreds of conservative activists returned to the Capitol to denounce Whitmer’s stay-at-home measure. Whitmer wanted lawmakers to extend her emergency declaration by 28 days. It expires late Thursday. But at the same time, she has said the state of emergency will continue regardless because of another law giving her broad powers to act.. ...Read Full Story

Fire Destroys Van Buren County Home; Cause Under Investigation

The cause of a fire that destroyed a Van Buren County home is under investigation. The Columbia Township fire department was called to the home in the 22-thousand-500 block of 48th Street just before noon Thursday, and it was fully engulfed. No one was inside the house at the time, and there are no reported injuries. Bangor and Bloomingdale sent mutual aid along with South Haven Area Emergency Services. Water had to be brought to the house fire by tankers due to its location.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases Thursday COVID-19 Totals

Berrien County has six new confirmed COVID-19 cases to bring the county’s total to 248, while the number of people who have died from the virus remains at 15. The Berrien County Health Department is reporting 179 recoveries, up eight from Wednesday. In Cass County, the number is up by two to 31 with two deaths. Van Buren County has three new cases for the second straight day for a total of 49 with two deaths. Statewide, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says there are 980 new confirmed cases for a total of 41,379 and 119 additional deaths, bringing that count to 3,789. To date, 91% who have tested positive have survived in Michigan.. ...Read Full Story

Two Hurt In Overnight Crash In Lane Automotive Parking Lot

Michigan State Police are investigating a crash with injuries in the parking lot of Lane Automotive in Watervliet Township. Troopers were called to the scene around 11:40 Wednesday night after a vehicle had turned from M-140 into the private drive to the lot, and they believe the woman likely thought she was getting onto I-94, as she had reached 50 to 60 miles an hour before slamming head-on into a parked semi. Her passenger suffered critical injuries and had to be freed using JAWS by the Watervliet Fire Department. Both the driver and passenger are hospitalized at Spectrum Health Lakeland in St. Joseph, while the occupant of the semi was not hurt and had been sleeping at the time of the crash. Troopers say alcohol appears to have factored into the crash, and they don’t know if seat belts were worn.. ...Read Full Story

New Nursing Scholarship To Be Available At SMC Next Year

Southwestern Michigan College plans to start awarding a new nursing scholarship in the fall of 2021. The college says it’s the McLoughlin Family Scholarship, which was created with an endowment of $50,000 from the McLoughlin Family Foundation in 2017. The endowment came after the foundation made a previous gift of $50,000 for a nursing classroom in the newly expanded SMC nursing building. The $9.6 million project more than doubled SMC’s nursing program’s capacity. In selecting scholarship recipients, preference will be given to spouses or children of employees of K&M Machine Fabricating in Cassopolis. SMC Foundation President Carole Schmidt says the McLoughlin Foundation’s donation is “extremely generous,” and will “provide long-term assistance for numerous students.”. ...Read Full Story

Upton Expects More Bipartisanship In Washington

With COVID-19 forcing everyone to practice social distancing, Congressman Fred Upton thinks the way things are done in Washington is going to have to change. He tells us the House vote on the most recent coronavirus relief package took hours because of the safety measures being taken. If it’s going to be that way for months, Upton says everyone’s going to need to get more coordinated.. ...Read Full Story

YMCA Teams Up With Spectrum Health Lakeland For Child Care

The YMCA of Greater Michiana has teamed up with Spectrum Health Lakeland to take care of the children of frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. YMCA Director of Youth Programs Zechariah Hoyt tells WSJM News while the Y’s facilities closed for normal activities, they’re being used as daycares for the kids of doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff.. ...Read Full Story

Suspicious Package Found Not To Be A Threat

A situation involving a suspicious package has been resolved safely in Cass County. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department says police were called around 8:40 a.m. on Wednesday about a package found sitting on a bench outside of Hale’s Hardware in Dowagiac. Due to it being considered suspicious, the area was evacuated and sealed off and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad was called in. The bomb squad x-rayed the package and found it to be empty. The area was then re-opened for business. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department was assisted at the scene by the Dowagiac Police Department, the Dowagiac Fire Department, and Michigan State Police. The case remains under investigation.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases COVID-19 Totals For Wednesday

Michigan is reporting 1,137 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 for Wednesday. Since the start of the pandemic, the state has had a total of 40,399 cases of the illness. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reports an additional 103 deaths around the state from coronavirus for Wednesday, bringing that total up to 3,670. The total of COVID-19 recoveries in Michigan, as of last Friday, is 8,342. Locally, the Berrien County Health Department is reporting ten new cases of COVID-19 for Wednesday with the cumulative total of confirmed cases for the county now at 242 with 15 deaths. The department says 171 have recovered, and there have also been 169 presumed positive cases. Cass County is reporting two new cases for Wednesday, bringing its total to 29 with two deaths. Van Buren County is reporting three new cases, bringing its total to 46 with two deaths. Statewide, the fatality rate for COVID-19 is 9%.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Whitmer To Give COVID-19 Response Update At 3 PM

Governor Whitmer will be giving an update this afternoon regarding the reopening of Michigan’s economy and possibly on the negotiations with the Republican legislative leaders regarding her request to extend the current state of emergency that expires tomorrow by another 28 days. We will carry her briefing live on News/Talk 94.9 WSJM and on our Facebook page at 3 p.m. Whitmer will be joined by Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Director Jeff Donofrio, and Michigan AFL-CIO president Ron Bieber. Following that update, Whitmer will be joining former Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley for a Disability Tele-Town Hall on Zoom that will be streamed over the Small Business Association of Michigan’s Facebook page.. ...Read Full Story

Ford Burns Up Billions Of Dollars In First Quarter With $2 Billion Net Loss

Ford Motor Company is burning through cash at an alarming rate due to the coronavirus crisis. But its chief financial officer says there’s enough money to get through the year even if U.S. factories aren’t restarted. The automaker posted a $2 billion first-quarter net loss Tuesday that it blamed on the virus. It used roughly $2.4 billion to get from January through March. But the cash burn accelerated to $7.7 billion during the first 24 days of April when nearly all of Ford’s factories were shut down and little revenue was coming in. All automakers are struggling with the crisis because they book revenue when vehicles are shipped from factories to dealers. Ford is warning the second quarter loss will be around $5 billion.. ...Read Full Story

YMCA Offering Child Care To Front Line Workers

With its facilities now closed due to COVID-19, the YMCA of Greater Michiana is offering child care services to first responders and other professionals at Spectrum Health Lakeland and other essential operations. It says it’s caring for the kids of doctors, nurses, technicians, and medical staff, and taking several steps to be sure they’re kept safe. The kids are evaluated each day with temperature checks, and their activities are limited to small groups that are rotated to different areas with sanitation in between. The facility is also being deep cleaned each night. The care services are being offered Mondays through Fridays from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. They may be expanded to other YMCA locations if needed.. ...Read Full Story

Comcast Extends Programs To Help During COVID-19 Pandemic

Comcast has announced it will extend through June 30 some special programs it launched to help customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s so students can finish out the school year from home and remain connected to the internet. When the outbreak began, Comcast started offering its Internet Essentials broadband plan for free. Initially, the offer was for 60 days. Internet Essentials is normally available to qualified low-income households for $10 per month. Also, Comcast says the suspension of its normal data caps will continue, it has halted disconnects, and it will continue offering its Xfinity WiFi hotspots for free. Comcast CEO Dave Watson says the extended measures will “continue to keep Americans safe and ensure that households are equipped for students to learn and stay informed at home as the nation copes with this unprecedented disruption to our daily lives.”. ...Read Full Story

GasBuddy Analyst Says Gas Prices Under $1 Could Be Gone Soon

As more of us keep the cars and trucks parked and work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for gasoline has continued to plummet and take prices with it. However, GasBuddy.com analyst Patrick DeHaan says while prices nationally will still fall a little more, the 95¢ per gallon price in South Haven and $1.12 in Watervliet aren’t going to last much longer.. ...Read Full Story

COVID-19 Cases Surge In Michigan, Up By 1,052

After a few days of the number of new cases of COVID-19 in Michigan being under 600, they’ve jumped by 1,052 to 39,262 as of Tuesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says 160 new deaths have been linked to the virus, for a total of 3,567 since the pandemic began to hit the state roughly six weeks ago. In southwest Michigan, there are 22 new cases, with 15 in Berrien County for a cumulative total of 232 and seven in Van Buren County, rising there to 43. Berrien County has also recorded another death, rising to 15, while there are no new deaths in Cass or Van Buren counties. Cass County’s number of COVID-19 cases remains 27, the same as it’s been since Sunday. The Berrien County Health Department says 163 people in the county have recovered.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Today Cancels Memorial Day Parade

St. Joseph Today has announced the cancellation of the Memorial Day Parade that had been set for May 22. The organization says the decision is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it was not made lightly. Director Amy Zapal says St. Joe Today will “continue to monitor the situation regarding coronavirus and other upcoming SJT events.” She says the health of residents and visitors are the top concern. St. Joseph Today urges everyone to follow the CDC guidelines for staying protected from COVID-19.. ...Read Full Story

Outer Harbor To Be Dredged This Spring In St. Joseph

Despite what’s expected to be a record high level this summer for Lake Michigan, the outer harbor in St. Joseph will be dredged by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with the work expected to start next month. During this week’s city commission meeting, St. Joseph City Manager John Hodgson said they’ve asked the Corps to place dredged material as far to the north as possible, starting at Park Street and moving south.. ...Read Full Story

No Productions, No Problem: Twin City Players Switches Gears To Make Face Masks For Senior Citizens

Twin City Players is switching gears and is now making face masks for the Area Agency on Aging. The theater company was forced to cancel the last two productions of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and recently received the request for face masks by the Berrien Community Foundation. The agency asked for the help of the BCF in obtaining 1,400 masks for seniors and others who didn’t have the ability to make their own or were unable to find them to purchase. The foundation provided a grant through the Frederick S. Upton Foundation to cover the supplies, and lead costumer Julie Smiy immediately assembled a team of 14 volunteers.. ...Read Full Story

AARP Works To Help Seniors During Pandemic

Organizations throughout the state are trying to ensure that no senior goes without food as the world fights the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended Michigan’s stay-at-home order through May 15, a move of special importance to older adults who are at higher risk of complications should they contract the coronavirus. Lisa Dedden Cooper with the AARP of Michigan says there’s a one-stop phone number to call for seniors who might be struggling during this time.. ...Read Full Story