Local News Archives

Federal Judge Delays Filing Deadline For Michigan Candidates

From the Associated Press — A federal judge has delayed a deadline for Michigan candidates to file petitions to qualify for the ballot. U.S. District Judge Terrence Berg on Monday cited the state’s stay-at-home order that’s in place because of the coronavirus pandemic. The deadline was Tuesday, but it has been pushed back 17 days to May 8. Berg says candidates can collect half as many signatures as normal, and they can gather them by email instead of getting a physical signature. The ruling is a victory for Eric Esshaki, who is seeking the Republican nomination in Michigan’s 11th Congressional District in suburban Detroit.. ...Read Full Story

Van Buren Conservation District Gets $413,000 Grant To Reduce Runoff

The Van Buren Conservation District has been awarded a $413,000 grant to help prevent runoff into waterways. Watershed coordinator Erin Fuller tells WSJM News the funds from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative will be used to reduce nutrient and pathogen runoff in Pine and Mill Creeks, which are both tributaries of the Paw Paw River. The Van Buren Conservation District will work with farmers on methods of reducing the runoff.. ...Read Full Story

Some Need To Take Additional Action to Get Stimulus Payments

The federal government is distributing financial relief to Michiganders during the COVID-19 pandemic through stimulus checks. However, some people need to take action to ensure they get their payments. Households without a federal tax filing requirement will not automatically receive the payment unless they file a 2018 or 2019 tax return. At Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency, Kerry Lenaghan-Baughman says there are IRS-certified volunteers who can help with tax preparation virtually or over the phone, or answer questions about the stimulus checks.. ...Read Full Story

Meal Packages To Be Delivered To Seniors In SWM, Volunteers Sought

Boxes of food are being delivered to senior citizens around southwest Michigan thanks to a state program and the Region IV Area Agency on Aging. The agency’s Christine Vanlandingham tells WSJM News the state has bought 10,000 Quarantine Boxes, also known as Q Boxes, to get out to seniors who are sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each box contains non-perishable food that could be used to prepare 22 meals.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases COVID-19 Totals For Monday

The state of Michigan is reporting 576 new cases of COVID-19 for Monday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says there have been 77 additional deaths from Sunday to Monday. The total number of cases is now 32,000, and the total number of deaths from COVID-19 statewide is 2,468. Berrien County is reporting 164 cases, up six from Sunday. The county’s deaths remain at eight. Cass County’s COVID-19 case total has stayed at 22 since Friday. The county has had one death. Van Buren County is reporting 33 cases of COVID-19, up one from Sunday. Van Buren County has had two deaths from the coronavirus.. ...Read Full Story

State House Republicans Unveil “Michigan’s Comeback Roadmap”

Majority Republicans in the state House are out with their plan to start to reopen the state’s economy. Theirs is a three-step approach, a little different from the five-phase plan released last week by Senate Republicans. The House plan would start with a transition to “a risk-based, regional approach” with the metro Detroit areas of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties designated the highest risk. Those would remain under Governor Whitmer’s current “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order but without current restrictions on retailers above 50,000 square feet. Other counties would be designated as “heightened risk” and have the same restrictions as the high-risk areas with some exceptions. Those would be to relax travel restrictions between homes, but continue to urge people to eliminate non-essential travel; allow for remote and curbside sales by businesses; relax the ban on elective and outpatient healthcare procedures so long as there’s enough testing for COVID-19 and PPE for workers; and reduce restrictions on outdoor activities while still being in compliance with social distancing rules.. ...Read Full Story

Donate Convalescent Plasma

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 and have fully recovered, you may be able to help current patients with life-threatening COVID-19 infections by donating plasma.

As a result of your infection, your plasma now contains COVID-19 antibodies, which is one way your immune system fought the virus when you were sick. Your plasma is now known as convalescent plasma.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases COVID-19 Totals For Sunday

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is reporting an additional 633 cases of COVID-19 around the state for Sunday. It’s also reporting 83 additional deaths. In total, the state has recorded 31,424 coronavirus cases and 2,391 deaths. In southwest Michigan, Berrien County is reporting 158 cases of COVID-19, an increase of four from Saturday. The county has had eight deaths from the illness. The Berrien County Health Department says 83 patients have recovered. Cass County cases have remained at 22 since Friday. The county has had one COVID-19 death. Van Buren County is reporting 32 cases, an increase of one from Saturday. The county has had two deaths. The overall fatality rate for COVID-19 around Michigan is 8%.. ...Read Full Story

Man Killed While Working On Vehicle

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department says a Niles man is dead after an accident while he was working on a vehicle. Sheriff’s deputies were called to the 1,100 block of Huntly Road in Howard Township around 5 p.m. on Friday on a report of a person pinned on the ground. They learned 45-year-old Kenneth Charles Horner Jr. had been working on a vehicle when the jack supporting it failed and he was pinned. When people at the home found him, they lifted the vehicle, pulled him out, and performed CPR until EMS arrived. Horner was then taken to Lakeland Hospital in Niles where he died from his injuries. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department was assisted in the investigation by SMCAS Ambulance, the Howard Township Fire Department, and Michigan State Police.. ...Read Full Story

Highway Project To Start Monday Near New Buffalo

A highway project is scheduled to get started on Monday near New Buffalo. The Michigan Department of Transportation says crews will be completing the resurfacing of more than two miles of I-94 from the Michigan-Indiana state line to M-239. It’s a carry-over project from 2019. The $9.5 million investment includes guardrail, culvert repair and replacement, and reconstruction under the bridges. The project is intended to extend the life of the road and increase surface friction, making for a safer drive. During Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay at home order, there will be daytime double-lane closures. After the executive order is lifted, there will be daytime single-lane closures and nighttime double-lane closures. The project is slated to be finished in early June.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases COVID-19 Totals For Saturday

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is reporting 768 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 for Saturday, and 81 additional deaths. The total number of cases in Michigan is now 30,791 with a total of 2,308 deaths. Berrien County is reporting 154 cases of COVID-19, up ten from Friday, while the number of deaths in the county is unchanged from Friday at eight. The Berrien County Health Department says 76 have recovered. Cass County is unchanged from Friday with 22 cases and one death total. Van Buren County is reporting three new cases of coronavirus, bringing its total to 31. Van Buren County has had two COVID-19 deaths total. The overall COVID-19 fatality rate in Michigan remains 7%.. ...Read Full Story

$375,000 Grant To Help Improve Forests Going To SWM Land Conservancy

A grant of $375,000 has been awarded to the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy and four regional partners to help improve the health of damaged forests. The SWMLC, Ottawa County Parks, the Nature Conservancy of Michigan, Chikaming Open Lands, and the Shirley Heinze Land Trust were selected for the grant from the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Climate Adaptation Fund. The SWMLC says over the course of two years the group plans to plant more than 40,000 trees, using species and creating forest habitats that can better adapt to climate change and invasive species. Over the next two years, the partners will also work to improve forest health and plant new forests across nature preserves and county parks spanning over 70 miles from northwest Indiana to the Grand River in west Michigan. Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy Stewardship Director Mitch Lettow says weather and other conditions in recent years have damaged many forests. He pointed to the Wau-Ke-Na, William Erby Smith Preserve in Fennville, which has been hit hard by the Emerald ash borer and heavy spring rains.. ...Read Full Story

Drive Collecting Food For Seniors During Pandemic

The COVID-19 outbreak is amplifying the usual barriers to food access in Michigan, and older residents are especially vulnerable. That’s why the Food Bank Council of Michigan and Area Agencies on Aging are partnering to distribute “Quarantine Food Boxes” to food-insecure seniors who need to shelter in place to protect themselves from the coronavirus. Dr. Dawn Opel with the Food Bank Council of Michigan says older adults may not be able to rely on their traditional family support.. ...Read Full Story

Governor Whitmer Urging Michiganders To Seek Mental Health Help When Needed

The focus has been on physical and social distancing and flattening the curve regarding COVID-19, but Governor Gretchen Whitmer is acknowledging this is having an impact beyond that, and she knows people are struggling. In her briefing Friday, she announced the Stay Home, Stay Mindful website in partnership with Headspace, a global leader in mindfulness and meditation. Whitmer says people need to know that if they need help, it is available.. ...Read Full Story

Statewide COVID-19 Cases Rises Above 30,000

The number of COVID-19 cases to be confirmed in Michigan has risen above 30,000. The latest numbers from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services show 760 new cases statewide from Thursday to Friday. That brings the case total to 30,023. There have been 134 additional deaths, bringing that total to 2,227. Berrien County is reporting eleven new cases, bringing its total for Friday to 144. The county has also reported an additional death, bringing the total number of people to have died from COVID-19 in the county to eight. Cass County is reporting three new cases from Thursday to Friday, bringing its total to 22 with one death. Van Buren County is up to 28 cases from 26 on Thursday. Van Buren County has had two COVID-19 deaths. The statewide fatality rate from the coronavirus is 7%.. ...Read Full Story

County Commission Discusses COVID-19 Planning

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners is starting to think about how some aspects of life could return to semi-normal. At this week’s meeting, Board Chair Mac Elliott noted Oronoko Township has approved a resolution asking for some local discretion on the ability to follow CDC guidelines for COVID-19. Elliott wondered if the board thought some autonomy should be requested for the county as most COVID-19 cases are around Detroit. Commissioner Bob Harrison urged caution, talking about the number of local coronavirus cases.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Releases COVID-19 Demographics Info

The Berrien County Health Department is now sharing demographic information on the COVID-19 cases the county has had. It says due to the number of confirmed and presumed cases in Berrien County, it’s now able to share data broken down by zip code and other categories like age, gender, and race. It says the county as of Thursday had 133 confirmed cases and 162 presumed cases. The total number of recoveries is 71. 54% of the cases have been in women, and 43% in men. COVID-19 cases have been spread somewhat  evenly among people between the ages of 30 and 69. 37% of the cases have been in patients who are white, 23% in patients who are black, 5% Hispanic, and 2% Asian. The most heavily affected zip code is 49022, or Benton Harbor, while five zip codes in Berrien County have had no cases. You can see all of the information here.. ...Read Full Story

Upton, Others Seek Help For Hospitals

With hospitals around the country making COVID-19 their main focus and losing a massive amount of revenue, Congressman Fred Upton thinks emergency loans they got through the CARES Act should not have to be paid back. He tells WSJM News he and most of Michigan’s Congressional delegation have made that request to the House and Senate leadership.. ...Read Full Story

National Cherry Festival Canceled For 2020

One of the biggest summertime events in Michigan is the latest to fall victim to the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Cherry Festival in Traverse City is not going to be held this summer. Executive director Kat Paye  tells WSJM News this is the first time they’ve had to cancel the festival since 1947, and the decision wasn’t easy.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Coronavirus Deaths Top 2,000; Berrien County Has 10 New Cases

The number of deaths linked to COVID-19 in Michigan is now over 2,000. The state Department of Health and Human Services says 172 people have died from Wednesday to Thursday, bringing the total number to 2,093. There are just over 12-hundred new cases as well, with the state total up to 29,263. In southwest Michigan, there are 10 new cases in Berrien County to bring the case total to 133. The number of Berrien County deaths remains at 7, while Cass County has two new cases for a total of 19 with one death and Van Buren County’s numbers are unchanged with 26 cases and two deaths. The state has started to report the case fatality rate as of Thursday, with the statewide fatality rate at 7%.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan’s Chief Medical Officer Optimistic On Coronavirus Cases Peaking

Michigan’s coronavirus case total is up by 1,058 to 28,059. Dr. Joneigh Khaldun is the state’s chief medical officer and says officials are “very optimistic” that actions taken by the state are working, noting they’re seeing “continued slowing of cases and hospitalizations across Michigan. However, a plateau does not mean we are out of the woods,” Khaldun said. She adds more tests need to be done for COVID-19.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Backs MSU Proposal For PPE

Congressman Fred Upton is waiting on a decision from the FDA on a proposal from Michigan State University for the possible sanitation of personal protective equipment so it can be reused. He tells WSJM News the MSU idea involves using a commercial grade oven.. ...Read Full Story

State Launches Virtual Food Drive

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has announced a virtual food drive to help those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. It says its Aging and Adult Services Agency and the Food Bank Council of Michigan are raising money to provide food boxes to seniors who are staying home to protect themselves. They’re asking Michigan residents to make monetary donations on the virtual food drive website. One box is filled with 33 food items that provide for 22 meals. Each box contains breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes for seniors who are food insecure. A donation of $28 pays for an entire box containing canned chicken, green beans, peanut butter, and diced tomatoes. Boxes are distributed from local food banks through Area Agencies on Aging and delivered by volunteers. You can make a donation right here.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Records Two More COVID-19 Deaths, State Cases Rise To 28,059

There are more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 in the state. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the statewide total is up to 28,059 with 1,921 deaths. That’s an increase of 1,058 new cases and 153 deaths from Tuesday. In Berrien County, the number of deaths is up by two to seven, and cases rose by 22 to 123. Cass County has four new cases, rising to 17, with one death. Van Buren County also increased by four cases to 26, and remains at two deaths. The Berrien County Health Department is reporting at least 65 people have recovered in the county.. ...Read Full Story

Anti-LGBT Discrimination Ballot Drive Moves To E-Signatures

A group spearheading a ballot drive to add LGBTQ anti-discrimination protections to Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act is moving to collect voter signatures online because of the coronavirus pandemic. Fair and Equal Michigan says the electronic petition campaign is believed to be the first in state history. The group says the strategy is legal and secure. People who want to sign can go to a website with a two-factor authentication system and enter their driver’s license or state ID card number to be cross-checked against the voter file. The ballot committee has until late May to collect about 340,000 valid signatures.. ...Read Full Story

Beaumont Health Opens Huge Study Of Coronavirus Antibodies

Beaumont Health in the Detroit area is launching a new study using tens of thousands of people to test for the antibodies of COVID-19 to see if those can help develop a treatment. One of the 38,000 test subjects is a lab manager from the hospital system only identified by ABC News as Tyler, who was sick in February with what he now believes was COVID-19. He got word this week that he had tested positive for coronavirus antibodies. ...Read Full Story

State Working To Handle Over 1,000,000 Unemployment Claims

Over a million in Michigan have filed for unemployment, an unprecedented number that strangled the state’s unemployment claims system and caused to crash for hours on Monday. Aside from adding more servers and call centers, Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity director Jeff Donofrio says the system has to become more consistent with those in other states.. ...Read Full Story

Pole Barn Destroyed By Fire In Van Buren County

A pole barn in Van Buren County is a complete loss following a fire. Four fire departments were called in to battle the blaze in Arlington Township in the 49-thousand block of 38th Avenue around 10 p.m. Tuesday, and the roof had already collapsed by the time the first units from the Bangor Community Fire Department arrived. More help came from the Columbia Township, Lawrence Township, and South Haven Area Emergency Services fire departments. No one was hurt, and no cause has been identified yet. The pole barn contained farm equipment and hay.. ...Read Full Story

Upton, Other House Members Send Letter To Whitmer Expressing Concerns About Stay Home Order

Congressman Fred Upton has signed on to a letter from several Republican members of the U.S. House asking Governor Gretchen Whitmer to ease some of the restrictions in her recent expansion to the stay home order. The members write the governor was right to issue the initial stay home order, but question aspects of the extension. Upton tells WSJM News some businesses should be allowed to operate.. ...Read Full Story

Six New COVID-19 Cases In Berrien County, 1,366 New Cases Statewide

Michigan is reporting 1,366 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 for Tuesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reports 166 deaths from the illness since Monday, bringing the state’s total to 1,768. The state has had a total of 27,001 COVID-19 cases. In Berrien County, Tuesday brought six new COVID-19 confirmations, bringing the county’s total to 111 with five deaths. Cass County is reporting 13 cases, up by two with one death total. Van Buren County on Tuesday reported 22 cases of COVID-19, the same as the day before. However, the county also reported its second COVID-19 death.. ...Read Full Story

Intercare Operating COVID-19 Test Site

A new drive-thru COVID-19 testing site is now up and running at InterCare in Benton Harbor. CEO Velma Hendershott tells WSJM News it opened Friday with the help of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and took 13 tests on its first day. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you need to get an order from your doctor or InterCare to be tested.. ...Read Full Story