Local News Archives

State Releases COVID-19 Totals For Wednesday


Michigan is reporting 659 additional cases of COVID-19 around the state for Wednesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says there have been 43 additional deaths for the day. Since the start of the pandemic, the state has had 53,009 cases of coronavirus and 5,060 people have died from the illness. The Berrien County Health Department reports 14 new cases for Wednesday and one additional death. It says the patient was a man in his 50s who had underlying medical conditions. Berrien County has had 552 cases of COVID-19, 34 deaths, and 345 recoveries. Cass County reports five new cases for Wednesday with a total of 66, and Van Buren County reports no additional cases for the day. Van Buren County has had six COVID-19 deaths and Cass has had two.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven City Manager To Be Interviewed For Position Of Berrien County Administrator


The Berrien County Board of Commissioners will interview South Haven City Manager Brian Dissette for the position of county administrator on Thursday. The county board is looking to replace current Administrator Bill Wolf, who retires next month. Berrien County Board of Commissioners Chair Mac Elliott tells WSJM News Dissette is the only county admin candidate currently set to be interviewed, and it’s possible the board could make its hiring decision the same day. At that point, contract negotiations would begin with a goal of having Dissette start by July 1. Elliott says the final decision will be made by the board, but he’s confident Dissette is a “good fit” for Berrien County. The interview will take place during the regular meeting of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners. It starts at 10:30 a.m.. ...Read Full Story

President Tweets Untrue Allegations About Michigan Absentee Voter Applications, Gets Response From Benson


President Trump is taking aim at Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Twitter, but his criticism posted Wednesday morning isn’t factual. In the tweet, Trump said Michigan has sent “absentee ballots to 7.7 million people” ahead of the August primary and November general election. Without mentioning her name, he then said “this was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State.” Benson responded by introducing herself and saying her office mailed out applications to vote by mail, not ballots, and pointed out her Republican colleagues in Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska, and West Virginia have done the same. The Associated Press reports Trump is now seeking to withhold COVID-19 aid from Michigan as he accused Benson of voter fraud.. ...Read Full Story

Hospital Talks Financial Aid During Pandemic


Spectrum Health Lakeland is reminding everyone of its financial aid options during the COVID-19 pandemic. Treatment for coronavirus is not free, and Lakeland Manager of Patient Access Jenna Howard tells us insurance companies are treating cases like any other illness. Spectrum Health Lakeland has a team of financial advocates who can work with patients.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren-Cass District Health Department Launches Business Reopening Website


The Van Buren/Cass District Health Department has announced the launch of a new COVID-19 reopening website. It’s intended to help business owners plan their reopening as safely as possible. The site contains guidance from public health officials, along with state and national COVID-19 guidelines. Topics covered include where to find personal protective equipment, cleaning and disinfectant guides, signs for the workplace, and more. The health department says its goal is to help employers open businesses in a way that best protects employees and customers from exposure to COVID-19 and helps prevent the spread of the virus. You can find the page at VBCassHD.org.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Preparing To Tackle Flooding Issues Around Dunkley Ave, North Shore Dr


South Haven City Manager Brian Dissette says he’s again reminding city council members about the warnings coming from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that Lake Michigan flooding will remain a problem for months. Dissette says the water levels are predicted to keep going up through July, and the piers are already underwater some days and flooding is impacting property owners along Dunkley Avenue and North Shore Drive. Dissette says the council is prepared to spend money to combat the high water issue in those spots.. ...Read Full Story

Tuesday’s COVID-19 Numbers Released


Berrien County’s COVID-19 cases are up by 10 from Monday to 538, with deaths in the county higher by three to 33. The Berrien County Health Department says recoveries are now up to 336. In Van Buren County, there is one additional case as of Tuesday for a total of 116, while Cass County is also up by one to 61 cases. Both counties are not reporting any new deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Water, Sewer Rates Going Up In Benton Harbor


Benton Harbor City Commissioners have approved some increases to the water and sewer rates. During a Monday virtual meeting, they were told the increases will be needed to properly support the utility fund as a variety of infrastructure improvements are made throughout the community. The rate hike will be 9.95% for water and 7% for sewers each year for the next five years. Mayor Pro Tem Duane Seats questioned if now is a good time to raise costs for residents, and proposed the matter be tabled.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Approves One Permit For Marijuana Dispensary, Tables Another


Another medical marijuana outfit has been granted a special use permit by the city of Benton Harbor to open a dispensary in the community. During a Monday virtual meeting, the Benton Harbor City Commission gave the green light to the Harvest Group to set up shop at 218 Water Street. However, the commission tabled a special use permit for Red Bud Roots to open a dispensary at 241 East Main Street. Mayor Marcus Muhammad said there’s a pending appeal of that permit.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Farmers Market To Return Starting June 6


There is at least one summer event from St. Joseph Today that will go on. The St. Joseph City Commission approved a revised plan for the Farmers Market to run every Saturday from June 6 through October 10. St. Joseph Today director Amy Zapal says over the last few years, vendors have been on both the east and west side of the sidewalk in Lake Bluff Park. That is changing due to social distancing.. ...Read Full Story

Baroda Cancels July Fireworks Show


The July 3 fireworks show in Baroda has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Baroda Fire Department announced on Monday the township board opted to cancel out of concern for the health of the public and first responders. It decided social distancing could not be maintained at the event. The decision was made with the help of the Baroda Fire Department, Baroda-Lake Police Department and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department. Fire Chief Larry Klug says he’s disappointment and he’s sure many others will feel the same way.. ...Read Full Story

Advocates Warn About Need For Rent, Mortgage Assistance


Affordable housing groups are pressing the state to come up with a program to help people unable to pay their rent or mortgage. Jeremy DeRoo, the director of LINC UP, a neighborhood revitalization nonprofit in the Grand Rapids area, says his agency has already given out $50,000 in rental assistance, but the remaining need among those out of work is immense.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Backing Legislation To Send Aid To State, Local Governments


Legislation to provide aid to states left financially drained by the COVID-19 pandemic is being introduced in the U.S. House. Congressman Fred Upton says the State and Municipal Assistance for Recovery and Transition, or SMART, Fund will provide $500 billion in emergency support to every state, county, and community in the country, while prioritizing assistance to the areas with the greatest need. It’s intended to enhance the $150 billion Congress already provided to state and local governments in the CARES Act. Upton says he’s been in contact with state and local leaders throughout the coronavirus crisis, and they are all in need of help. The funds included in the SMART Act will be divided according to population size, infection rates, and the amount of revenue lost by each area. Upton says the act will help to avoid mass layoffs, steep tax hikes, and a breakdown of essential services.. ...Read Full Story

COVID-19 Testing Hits Record High In Michigan As Numbers Continue To Flatten


More testing is being done around the state for COVID-19, and things are improving in a few of Michigan’s hotspots like metro Detroit and Grand Rapids. The state now has 51.915 cases of COVID-19, up by 773 on Monday with the number of deaths higher by 24 to 4,915. Michigan’s chief medical officer, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, says case and death trends continue to improve.. ...Read Full Story

Repaving Project On East Main Street In Benton Harbor To Start Next Week


A resurfacing project is about to start on East Main Street in Benton Harbor. The Michigan Department of Transportation says it’s working on two miles of the road from the St. Joseph River to Fair Avenue. The work will involve crack filling, joint repairs, and new pavement markings in addition to the paving work to extend the life of the road. The project will start on Monday and will mean lane closures. It’s expected to continue through late June. You can find details about all MDOT projects at Michigan.gov/Drive.. ...Read Full Story

Boy Rescued From Dowagiac River


An 8-year-old boy is recovering from minor injuries after he was rescued from the Dowagiac River by police on Saturday. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department says deputies responded to a rescue call near Arthur Dodd Memorial Park shortly before 4:30 p.m. They found the boy about 20 feet from the shore hanging on to a submerged tree in fast-moving water. Sheriff’s deputies and firefighters entered the water and pulled the boy out. He had been kayaking with his mother when high water levels and fast currents caused his kayak to overturn. The boy was wearing a proper life jacket. He was taken by ambulance to Lakeland Niles Hospital for minor injuries. Assisting at the scene were Pokagon Tribal Police, Michigan State Police, the Pokagon Fire Department, Sister Lakes Water Rescue Team, Indian Lake Water Rescue Team, SMCAS Ambulance, and True’s Towing & Recovery Service.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases Saturday COVID-19 Totals


Michigan is reporting 425 additional cases of COVID-19 around the state for Saturday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the statewide total since the start of the pandemic is now 50,504. There are 55 additional COVID-19 deaths to report for Saturday, bringing that total up to 4,880. 28,234 patients have recovered statewide.. ...Read Full Story

Fire Damages Bangor Township Home

A home in Bangor Township suffered heavy damage in a fire on Friday afternoon. South Haven Area Emergency Services says the Bangor Community Fire Department responded to the scene on 70th Street near 39th Avenue around 4:40 p.m. The fire had started in the kitchen when some cooking oil overheated. The residents escaped unharmed, but a family cat was killed in the fire. Bangor firefighters were assisted by firefighters from Covert Township and South Haven Area Emergency Services.
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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