Local News Archives

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

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