Local News Archives

Health Department Aims To Expand COVID Vaccinations

The Berrien County Health Department is now scheduling COVID-19 vaccinations for those over the age of 65 and people who work in certain high-risk frontline professions. However, spokesperson Gillian Conrad tells WSJM News that doesn’t mean they have anywhere near an adequate supply to get the shots to everyone. The department is trying to prioritize those who were added to the state’s eligibility list this week.. ...Read Full Story

Just Under 2,000 Additional COVID Cases In Michigan For Tuesday

Michigan is reporting 1,994 additional cases of COVID-19 for Tuesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had a total of more than 525,000 cases since the pandemic started. Michigan reported 100 deaths for Tuesday, 50 of which were identified through a review of vital records. The state’s death total is now 13,501. For Tuesday, the state’s coronavirus website showed Berrien County with 59 additional cases over Monday for a total of 9,320 cases and 194 deaths, an increase of four for the day. Van Buren County was listed with 25 new cases for a total of 4,203 cases and 78 deaths.. ...Read Full Story

AP: Snyder To Be Charged In Flint Water Crisis

The Associated Press has learned that former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, his health director and other ex-officials have been told they’re being charged after a new investigation of the Flint water scandal. The city’s water system was contaminated with lead in 2014-15. It was also blamed for a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. Two people with knowledge of the planned prosecution said the attorney general’s office has informed defense lawyers about indictments in Flint and told them to expect initial court appearances soon. They spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.. ...Read Full Story

Enbridge Rejects Order To Shut Down Pipeline

From the Associated Press — Enbridge says it will defy Michigan’s demand to shut down an oil pipeline that runs through a channel linking two of the Great Lakes. Governor Gretchen Whitmer in November moved to revoke a 1953 state easement that allowed Enbridge’s Line 5 to be placed along the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac. The Democratic governor said the company had violated the terms and put Lake Michigan and Lake Huron at risk. In a letter Tuesday, officials with the Calgary, Alberta-based company said the issues that Whitmer raised have been fixed and the pipeline meets the easement requirements. Line 5 runs between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario, traversing parts of northern Michigan and Wisconsin.. ...Read Full Story

Man Charged With Strangling Pregnant Wife Who Was Teacher

From the Associated Press — Authorities say a Grand Rapids-area teacher pregnant with her third child was strangled by her husband. Richard Guichelaar appeared in Kentwood District Court in a murder charge Monday. Bond was set at $2 million. Police say 32-year-old Amber Guichelaar was killed at her home on November 16. She was a Kentwood teacher and the mother of two children. Investigators say her husband was only the person at home “physically capable” of causing the injuries. The Kentwood school district says the family remains in its “thoughts and prayers.”. ...Read Full Story

LMC To Hold MLK Celebration Week This Month

The 2021 MLK Celebration Week at Lake Michigan College will be all virtual. LMC President Trevor Kubatzke tells us MLK Week is all about marking the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and enlightening the community. Everything begins the morning of January 18 with the MLK Celebration Week Kickoff.. ...Read Full Story

State Police Warn About Scam That Ripped Off Local Couple

Everyone’s being reminded to be cautious when it comes to phone calls from someone seeking money. Michigan State Police out of the Paw Paw post say they have gotten word about a local couple who were scammed out of $12,000 by someone who called them pretending to be their granddaughter. She called them claiming to be in jail after a traffic crash. The couple then called a supposed lawyer who told them they would need to pay $12,000 to bail the false granddaughter out. They paid, and then were told they needed to pay another $14,000. At that point, the real granddaughter got in touch with them and confirmed the whole thing was fake. Reports of this same type of scam have also been made recently in Sault Ste. Marie and Grand Rapids area. Police remind everyone not to fall for these kinds of scams.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases COVID Numbers For Sunday And Monday

Michigan has reported 4,536 additional cases of COVID-19 for Sunday and Monday combined. The Michigan Deparment of Health and Human Services says that works out to an average of 2,268 cases per day. Since March, the state has reported a total of more than 523,000 cases of COVID. It recorded 47 additional deaths for Sunday and Monday combined, bringing the death total to 13,401. The state coronavirus website on Monday showed Berrien County with 82 more cases than on Saturday, with a pandemic total of 9,261 and 190 deaths, an increase of zero over Saturday. Van Buren County was listed with a total of 4,178 cases, an increase of 42 over Saturday, and 78 deaths, an increase of one.. ...Read Full Story

Judge Fines UP Cafe, Says Civil Disobedience ‘Not An Option’

From the Associated Press — An Upper Peninsula cafe has been found in contempt of court and fined $2,500 for continuing to serve indoor diners. It’s the latest turn in an effort to get Cafe Rosetta to comply with coronavirus restrictions. Judge Wanda Stokes says civil disobedience is “not an option.” Stokes held a hearing Friday involving the cafe, which serves soup, sandwiches and more in
Calumet in Houghton County. Co-owner Amy Heikkinen says she can’t afford to limit her business to carry-out orders. Hundreds of people rallied to support her on Jan. 2. The judge suspended the fine until Wednesday to allow the cafe’s attorney to file legal arguments against it.. ...Read Full Story

Police Look For Suspects In St. Joseph Theft

The St. Joseph Department of Public Safety is looking for a couple of thieves who stole cash from a resident’s home last week. It says the theft occurred around 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday, January 6 in the 900 block of Pleasant Street. The driver of a truck approached the homeowner claiming to be from a roofing company and asking for a bucket of water. While the driver of the truck had the homeowner distracted in the kitchen, a passenger from the truck got out of the vehicle and entered the home. He stole some envelopes full of cash from the homeowner’s purse before both men left the scene. The driver is described as a Hispanic man in his 40s. Both men are described as having medium builds. The vehicle is a newer model whiter Chevrolet Silverado Crew Cab. It had tinted windows and no plates and a black cover over the bed. Anyone with information on the suspects is asked to contact the St. Joseph Department of Public Safety.. ...Read Full Story

Elliott Remains Chair Of County Commission

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has held its organizational meeting for the year, laying out the framework for how it will conduct business in 2021. First up at this week’s meeting was the appointment of a chair for the board. Commissioner Jim Curran moved to name Mac Elliott the chair again. Curran was backed by Commissioner Mamie Yarbrough, and the vote was unanimous, with Chair Elliott himself abstaining. Commissioner Ezra Scott was unanimously voted in as vice chair. As the 2021 meeting schedule was laid out, Scott said he’d like to leave room for some meetings at night this year.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Announces New City Clerk

The city of South Haven has announced the hiring of a new city clerk. Nathan Slauer started on Monday. He previously served as an intern in the city manager’s office in Grand Haven, where he managed communications and special projects for various departments. He also assisted with elections and records management. Slaur has also worked as a coordinator for AmeriCorps, campaign manager for Tanya Cabala for State House Campaign, and as district organizer for the Michigan House of Representatives. He replaces Travis Sullivan, who left the clerk’s job last year to become a zoning administrator.. ...Read Full Story

Man Shot In Benton Township

Benton Township police are investigating the shooting of a 28-year-old Benton Harbor man early Sunday morning. Officers were called to the two-thousand block of East Empire for multiple shots being fired. Inside the home they found the victim. He had been shot in his legs and one hand, and was taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland for treatment. No suspects have been identified or arrested.. ...Read Full Story

Presentation To Look At Search For Life On Other Planets

The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College has announced a new partnership with National Geographic to host speaker presentations three times each year. Mendel Center Main Stage Director Grace Kelmer tells us first up in 2021 will be a virtual presentation by planetary scientist Kevin Peter Hand and engineer Kobie Boykins, both of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.. ...Read Full Story

Emergency Sirens Replaced With Mobile Alert System

The Cook nuclear power plant’s emergency siren system is being deactivated. That’s because the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division is switching over to two mobile device-based systems to alert people to emergencies and tests. Emergency Management Coordinator Rockey Adams tells WSJM News the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, or IPAWS, and B-WARN! will ensure more people will be directly notified of emergencies thanks to cell phones.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Hires New Assistant City Manager

South Haven will soon have a new assistant city manager. The city says Griffin Graham has accepted the position and will start on January 28. Graham is currently Saugatuck Township Manager. South Haven City Manager Kate Hosier says his experiences in that post “closely mirror the priorities and challenges that he will be tackling here at the city, such as high-water levels and erosion, water and wastewater issues, and capital improvement plans.” She says she’s excited to have him start. Graham is a graduate of South Haven High School who went on to Michigan State University and Indiana University.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Shooting In Benton Township

The Benton Township Police Department is investigating a shooting that occurred on Friday night. It says officers were called to 170 Concord Road just before 8 p.m. on a report of a shooting victim entering a home. Officers arrived to find the victim, a 23-year-old Benton Harbor man, with a gunshot wound in each leg. They learned the shooting had happened in a “common area” between Blossom Lane and Concord. The victim was taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland, and police say there is no suspect in custody at this time. Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to contact the Benton Township Police Department.. ...Read Full Story

State Capitols Reassess Safety After Violence At US Capitol

From the Associated Press — Some governors and state lawmakers are reassessing security at state capitols across the country after the violence that occurred this week at the U.S. Capitol. Like the nation’s capitol, many statehouses are regular targets for demonstrations. Many already have armed security personnel and metal detectors that screen visitors. But state security officials are
considering whether they need to do more. Officials in several states say security will be enhanced as their legislatures convene and governors are inaugurated this month.. ...Read Full Story

State’s COVID Cases Rise 3,625

Michigan added 3,625 new cases of COVID-19 for Friday. That’s according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services coronavirus website, which reports the state has had a total of 516,376 cases since March. Chief medical executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun says the numbers this week have been troubling.. ...Read Full Story

Two Arrested In South Bend For Dowagiac Murder

Two women are jailed in Indiana for the murder of a 43-year-old Dowagiac man Thursday. The Dowagiac Police Department says the 39-year-old from Dowagiac and 41-year-old from Mishawaka had been living with the victim, and one was his girlfriend. The two argued Monday and she shot him. The two women got help from another person to try to dispose of the body but were unable to, so they left him in the trash and took off. He wasn’t found until Thursday, and the women were arrested Friday in South Bend. They will be facing open murder charges in Cass County, with their names released when they are arraigned.. ...Read Full Story

Cash Advance Store Robbed In Niles

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the armed robbery of a Cash Advance store in Niles Township. It says the suspect walked into the store at 1250 Bell Road just before 6 p.m. Thursday with a hand gun and demanded money. He got away with an undisclosed amount of cash. He’s described as a Black male, about five foot nine inches, with a slim build. He had on a face covering. He fled in a black SUV westbound on Bell Road. Anyone with information on the robbery is asked to contact the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

Top Federal Prosecutor In Michigan Seeks Tips On Capitol Mob

From the Associated Press — A top federal prosecutor in Michigan is urging people to give tips to the FBI if they are aware of people who joined a violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overturn the presidential election. U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider’s jurisdiction covers a 34-county area including metropolitan Detroit. He says investigators will review video surveillance and other evidence. Six Michigan men ranging in age from 25 to 64 were arrested by D.C. police. For were arrested for curfew violations, one for unlawful entry and violating the curfew, and one on gun charges.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Commissioners Hold Organizational Meeting

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has held its organizational meeting for the year, laying out the framework for how it will conduct business in 2021. First up at Thursday’s meeting was the appointment of a chair for the board. Commissioner Jim Curran moved to name Mac Elliott the chair again. Curran was backed by Commissioner Mamie Yarbrough, and the vote was unanimous, with Chair Elliott himself abstaining. Commissioner Ezra Scott was unanimously voted in as vice chair. As the 2021 meeting schedule was laid out, Scott said he’d like to leave room for some meetings at night this year.. ...Read Full Story

Spectrum Health Lakeland, Van’s Medical Equipment End Joint Venture

The joint venture between Spectrum Health Lakeland and Van’s Medical Equipment is ending after 12 years. The two had partnered since 2008 to provide home medical equipment in southwest Michigan. Van’s Medical Equipment will continue to operate independently. Spectrum Health Lakeland’s vice president of continued care services Dr. Melinda Gruber says they both realized they could do more separately than combined given recent changes to the medical equipment industry, regulations, and payment structures. Van’s Medical Equipment owner Tim Van Antwerp added they will “continue our tradition of high-quality products and outstanding customer service that you have come to expect.”. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Supreme Court Hearing Slip-And-Fall Case

The Michigan Supreme Court is hearing arguments on a slip and fall case out of Oakland County that could impact future rulings across the state. Jennifer Buhl filed a lawsuit after twisting her ankle on a sidewalk outside Trend Express Market in Oak Park back in May 2016. While her case was pending, the state Legislature changed the law, saying basically that Buhl could not sue because the defect in the sidewalk was open and obvious. Attorney Ven Johnson says the Supreme Court should not retroactively apply the law.. ...Read Full Story

Mental Health Under COVID-19

As the world continues to battle the physical and financial impacts of the coronavirus, many are also dealing with the impact to their mental health. Psychiatrist Dr. Howard Belkin in Birmingham says the amount of anxiety and depression going around the country is truly unprecedented.. ...Read Full Story

State Supreme Court Welcomes New Justice

From the Associated Press — A new justice made her public debut as the Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments in five cases Wednesday. Election victories by Elizabeth Welch and Chief Justice Bridget McCormack give Democratic nominees a majority on the court for the first time since 2010. Because of coronavirus restrictions, the Supreme Court still is hearing cases by video conference and not in its Lansing courtroom. Welch, a Grand Rapids-area lawyer, took the seat of Stephen Markman. Markman was a conservative justice who served for 21 years but couldn’t seek re-election because of age.. ...Read Full Story

Cook Plant Sirens Being Deactivated, Replaced With Mobile Alerts

The Cook nuclear power plant’s emergency siren system is being deactivated. That’s because the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division is switching over to two mobile device-based systems to alert people to emergencies and tests. Emergency Management Coordinator Rockey Adams tells WSJM News the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, or IPAWS, and B-WARN! will ensure more people will be directly notified of emergencies thanks to cell phones.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Makes Statement On Capitol Chaos

As chaos took over the U.S. Capitol Wednesday with armed rioters storming the building to protest the loss of President Trump in November’s election, Congressman Fred Upton called for a restoration of order. He issued a statement on social media, saying “I am safe and sheltered in place. Horrified and shell-shocked by the violence of rioters trying to undo the constitutional transfer of power.” Upton closes by calling on the president to call off the insurrection. Upton wrote, “Donald J. Trump, for the sake of our nation and safety of our people, tell your supporters to stand down and leave town.” The president did issue a statement late Wednesday telling the protesters to go home.. ...Read Full Story

4,300 COVID Cases Added In Michigan Wednesday

Michigan is reporting 4,326 additional cases of COVID-19 for Wednesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had a total of more than 508,000 cases since the pandemic started. Michigan reported 51 deaths for Wednesday, bringing the death total up to 12,918. For Wednesday, the state’s coronavirus website showed Berrien County with a 51 additional cases for a total of 8,976 COVID cases and 189 deaths. Van Buren County was listed with 44 additional cases for a total of 4,045 cases and 74 deaths.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Hires New City Clerk

The city of South Haven has announced the hiring of a new city clerk. Nathan Slauer started on Monday. He previously served as an intern in the city manager’s office in Grand Haven, where he managed communications and special projects for various departments. He also assisted with elections and records management. Slaur has also worked as a coordinator for AmeriCorps, campaign manager for Tanya Cabala for State House Campaign, and as district organizer for the Michigan House of Representatives. He replaces Travis Sullivan, who left the clerk’s job last year to become a zoning administrator.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases COVID Numbers For Tuesday

Michigan is reporting 2,291 additional cases of COVID-19 for Tuesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had a total of more than 504,000 cases since the pandemic started. Michigan reported 189 deaths for Tuesday, 117 of which were identified through a review of vital records. The state’s death total is now 12,867. For Tuesday, the state’s coronavirus website showed Berrien County with 49 additional cases over Monday for a total of 8,925 cases and 188 deaths. Van Buren County was listed with 15 new cases for a total of 4,001 cases and 74 deaths.. ...Read Full Story