Local News Archives

Niles History Center Offering Virtual Tours

The Niles History Center is offering virtual tours while the COVID-19 crisis continues. It says it’s making the resource available so people can continue to learn about local history even while safe in their homes. The center has put up historical photos, videos, and other information on its Facebook page and is planning virtual tours of the historic Chapin Museum. During the closure of the Niles History Center, staff are working on collection inventory and updating the storage areas and first floor exhibits. Work at the Historic Chapin Mansion and Fort St. Joseph Museum is proceeding on schedule. The Niles History Center has put up videos of virtual field trips at its website and YouTube channel.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Suspending Burn Permits

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is suspending burn permits around the state. DNR fire supervisor Dan Laux says emergency response resources need to be kept available for other priorities at this time. He also says the order protects firefighters who often work closely together on scene and when traveling to and from incident locations. The decision to hold off on allowing burns has the support of the state fire marshal. Open burning in some parts of the state may still be allowed in areas where the ground is snow-covered.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Coronavirus Cases Up Sharply Again To 2,856

There are another 561 people in Michigan who have tested positive for COVID-19. The new number of cases in the state is now 2,856, with 60 deaths. Metro Detroit remains the state’s epicenter, with 2,404 cases total in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, including the city of Detroit. That region has also recorded 52 of the state’s COVID-19 deaths. Cass County is one of the new additions to the list, as that county’s first case has been confirmed. St. Joseph County is now the only area of southwest Michigan where no one has tested positive for the illness. Berrien County has 11 people who have tested positive, and Van Buren County has two. The state is again releasing the number of tests that have been done. As of Wednesday afternoon, which does not reflect today’s spike in cases, there had been 9,109 people tested with 6,550 of those coming back negative.. ...Read Full Story

Arson, Attempted Murder Charges Faced By Ohio Woman For Lincoln Twp Mobile Home Fire

An Ohio woman is in the Berrien County Jail, accused of setting a mobile home on fire in Lincoln Township. Firefighters and police were called to The Spring Lake Mobile Home Park on West John Beers Road around 10:30 Wednesday night. The fire had been put out by the time they arrived. The 28-year-old suspect had taken off before the officers and firefighters got to the scene, but she was found a short time later and arrested. Police say she’s related to the home’s occupants and had driven there due to a family dispute, which caused her to allegedly start the fire. No one was hurt, and damage is estimated at around $7,000.. ...Read Full Story

Hartford Strawberry Festival Canceled

The Hartford Strawberry Festival has been canceled for this year. The event at Ely Park in Hartford was slated for the second weekend in June, but due to the COVID-19 outbreak, organizers thought it best to take a year off. The Strawberry Festival Committee made the decision this week. If you’re looking to stay up to date on what’s planned for the future, you can check out the Facebook page of the Hartford Strawberry Festival.. ...Read Full Story

Cell Phone Data Shows Michiganders Are Social Distancing

Based on cellphone data, Michiganders are heeding the suggestions to keep away from each other and stay home. The Social Distancing Scorecard by the firm Unacast give the state a grade of “A” for following what we’re being asked as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Broken down by county, Cass and Kalamazoo counties are doing the best in southwest Michigan with an “A,” while Allegan and Berrien counties get a “B,” and St. Joseph and Van Buren counties look to have more work to do with “C” grades. Overall, the firm finds a 42% drop in distance traveled by Michigan residents since the coronavirus pandemic brought about the suggestions for social distancing that were later followed this week by Governor Whitmer’s stay-at-home order.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Public Schools Superintendent Expecting Extension Of School Closures Soon

The closure of all K-12 schools in Michigan is halfway through its second week, and there are starting to be expectations it will go on longer than first announced. Governor Whitmer ordered the schools closed for three weeks as part of her strategy for social distancing and to try to slow down the spread of coronavirus. In an automated phone call to district parents Wednesday, St. Joseph Public Schools superintendent Dr. Thomas Bruce says they will receive guidance soon from the governor’s office regarding the length of the shutdown, and he expects it will be extended. The governor was asked about the possibility of canceling the rest of the school year last week, but said it was too early to address that idea. Kansas has already ended the school year, and Detroit Public Schools Community District superintendent Nikolai Vitti sent a letter to the Michigan Department of Education this week urging the same action for this state.. ...Read Full Story

Coronavirus Cases In Michigan Rise To 2,295

The number of coronavirus cases in Michigan is now 2,295. The Department of Health and Human Services says 43 people have died, almost double the total from Tuesday. Berrien County now has 10 cases, up from 8. Van Buren County has two cases after reporting their first this morning. There are 5 in Kalamazoo County and one in Allegan County. No one has tested positive for COVID-19 as yet in Cass or St. Joseph counties. The vast majority of the cases are in the metro Detroit area.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Township Shooting Under Investigation

The Benton Township Police Department is investigating a shooting at a party store on Tuesday evening. It says the incident happened at the Quik Way Party Store at 105 South Fair Avenue around 8 p.m. Officers were called to Spectrum Health Lakeland hospital on a report of a man with a gunshot wound, and found the 22-year-old had been hit in the upper leg. He told police he was leaving the store when he saw some men arguing and then heard shots. The victim said he was hit with a bullet as he drove away from the scene. From there, he took himself to the hospital. Police found evidence of the shooting in the store parking lot, but have not yet located a suspect. The victim’s injury is non-life threatening. Anyone with information on the crime is asked to contact the Benton Township Police Department.. ...Read Full Story

Twin City Players Cancels Rest Of The Season

The Twin City Players have announced the cancellation of the remainder of their season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The players say the decision comes following federal, state and CDC recommendations to reduce social gatherings in an attempt to curb the spread of the illness. TCP Board President Kraig Kirkdorfer says it was a difficult decision, but the theater group must put the safety and health of patrons and members first. The cancellation affects two shows. They are The Women of Lockerbie, which had been set for March 20 through April 5, and Fun Home, which was to have taken place from June 5 through June 28. The Twin City Players are now working on reaching ticket holders and those with season passes. They’re hoping patrons will simple donate the cost of their ticket as the organization says it’s taken a significant financial hit as a result of the cancellations. Twin City Players say they continue to plan for the 2020-2021 season, which is slated to start in September.. ...Read Full Story

Dial A Ride Open, But Advises Only Necessary Travel

The Twin Cities Area Transportation Authority, or Dial A Ride, says it remains open, but it’s urging riders to only use the bus service when it’s absolutely necessary for trips to work for essential service providers, to pick up food or prescriptions, or to travel to emergency medical appointments not related to COVID-19. Dial A Ride offers three fixed routes as well as on demand response service in the Twin Cities area. Dial A Ride Director Paul Gillespie says the organization is committed to providing service as long as it’s safe for passengers and drivers. He says Dial A Ride urges people to stay at home and heed the warnings to avoid unnecessary travel. Anyone who is sick or showing signs of respiratory illness should not take the buses or any public transportation.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Coronavirus Cases At Nearly 1,800

There’s another sharp increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the state. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the number now stands at 1,791 with 24 deaths. In southwest Michigan, one case is in Allegan County, eight cases are in Berrien County, with three in Kalamazoo County. Cass, St. Joseph, and Van Buren counties remain without any confirmed COVID-19 cases. Kent and Ottawa counties numbers are up, with 31 in Kent and 15 in Ottawa.. ...Read Full Story

Detroit Schools Superintendent Wants School Year To End Now

End the school year now. That’s the plea from Detroit Public Schools Community District superintendent Nikolai Vitti to the Michigan Department of Education. In a letter, Vitti says there are too many questions about how things will proceed once the three-week shutdown of K-12 schools around the state is over in April. He wants measures put in place for seniors to be able to have enough credits to earn their diplomas and for 8th graders to have what they need to advance to high school in the fall.. ...Read Full Story

City Of Benton Harbor Buildings Now Closed To The Public

The city of Benton Harbor is the latest municipality in the area to close its offices to the public. The closure took effect today and will be in place until April 13. However, city staff remain on the job and things will be done. The Public Safety Department and Benton Harbor Water Plant are operating normally without interruption to services. Water payments can be made online at bhcity.org or by putting those in the payment drop box in front of city hall. The city commission approved a moratorium earlier this month on water shutoffs for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, and those who need water service turned on can get that scheduled through the city’s Water Payment Center. There will be no additional costs to turn on service. All other departments will service emergency calls only for the time being.. ...Read Full Story

Bottle, Can Returns On Hold Due To Coronavirus

Because the coronavirus can survive on surfaces for several days, stores in Michigan are no longer accepting bottle and can returns. That recommendation was made this week by the Michigan Retailers Association, the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association, and the Midwest Independent Retailers Association. Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Vermont have stopped taking in the returnables already. The move is meant to help stop the spread of coronavirus and protect the health of the retail workers who handle those returned cans and bottles.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County COVID-19 Cases Rise To 8

Berrien County’s COVID-19 cases are rising quickly. They were at 4 on Sunday, and have now doubled to 8 as of Tuesday morning. There have not been any deaths in southwest Michigan from the coronavirus outbreak, and the Berrien County Health Department has not released information on the three positive tests since Monday. Three of the first five were of two people who attended the Sandi Patty concert on March 8 at Andrews University, and the husband of one of those women. There are officially 15 people in the state who have died from the illness, but that number is expected to be increased this afternoon when the latest figures from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services are released, as a Detroit police officer has died from COVID-19.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Urged to Ensure Sanitation for All

Community leaders from Detroit and clean water organizations are calling on Governor Gretchen Whitmer to establish public hand-washing stations because of the slow pace of returning water service to households whose water has been cut off. Detroit resident Nicole Hill has experienced shutoffs several times in recent years, and says limited access to drinking water is impacting her family’s health as it makes eating adequately difficult. She adds more also needs to be done to inform residents about how to get water restored and protect themselves from the virus.. ...Read Full Story

Coronavirus KO’s First Antiques On The Bluff Of Year

Antiques on the Bluff is the latest event put on by St. Joseph Today that’s being impacted by coronavirus. Executive director Amy Zapal says they are canceling the first show of the year, which had been set for Saturday, May 3. As a result, this year’s Antiques on the Bluff season is set to start on Sunday, June 7, but that can also change depending on the latest developments with COVID-19.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Calls For Special Health Insurance Enrollment Period

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is urging the federal government to open a special enrollment period for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Last week, the governor and Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services Director Anita Fox issued a call for an extra enrollment period so people without coverage could get another chance to sign up. Whitmer reiterated her call this weekend, saying it “is more important than ever for Michiganders to know they have health insurance coverage that will pay for them to be tested and treated for COVID-19.” Her office says Michigan and 32 other states with federally-facilitated marketplaces need the Trump administration to allow the state to open enrollment. As of Saturday, nine states that operate state-based exchanges have opened special enrollment periods to allow people to sign up for health insurance coverage. The governor’s office says special enrollment periods have been allowed by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the past. For example, after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, they were allowed for residents affected.. ...Read Full Story

Cornerstone Alliance: Help Is Available For Businesses Amid “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Order

With many businesses now being forced to temporarily close due to Governor Whitmer’s “Stay Safe, Stay Home” order, she is acknowledging there will be pain felt in the economy. But, there is also help available. Cornerstone Alliance president and CEO Rob Cleveland is reminding businesses that they are the Small Business Administration provider for Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties.. ...Read Full Story

Bangor Police Looking For Missing 17-Year-Old

Bangor Police are teaming up with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to try to find 17-year-old Joanna Serrano. She was last seen on February 18, but her last known location has not been released. Serrano is multi-racial, 5’2″, 130 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. Bangor police say she is Asian, black, Hispanic, and white. She has been known to wear glasses and has pierced ears. Anyone who knows where she may be is urged to call 9-1-1.. ...Read Full Story

City Of South Haven Urging People To Stop Flushing Wipes Of All Sorts

People are using more disposable wipes in the last few weeks to clean surfaces in their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic, but a reminder is going out from the city of South Haven to only put those in the trash and don’t flush them in the toilet. Sure, there are some baby wipes and others that say on the packaging they’re “flushable,” but city officials say they’re anything but. Wipes don’t have the ability to break down like toilet paper, and wind up clogging home and municipal sewer pipes. They can get hung up on a root, or any imperfection in the pipe, and then start to collect everything else. They can also damage pumps at wastewater treatment plans. The city of South Haven concludes its reminder by saying they “realize everyone is concerned about disinfection, and using disinfection wipes, flushable wipes, and paper towels for this purpose are admirable. However, these items do not belong in the toilet.”. ...Read Full Story

COVID-19 Cases Up To 1,328 In Michigan

COVID-19 cases in Michigan are now up to 1,328 with 15 deaths. The latest figures from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services shows the virus remains concentrated in metro Detroit, but is spreading with five cases in Berrien County, one in Allegan County, and 3 in Kalamazoo County in southwest Michigan, all new since the end of last week. The city of Detroit has now overtaken Oakland County for the highest number of cases with 411, as Oakland has 329. The state is counting cases in Detroit separate from Wayne County, which has 227 cases of its own. Of the 15 deaths, six are in Detroit, one is in Kent County, two each are in Macomb and Wayne counties, and four have died in Oakland County.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Calls For Aggressive Use Of The Defense Production Act

Congressman Fred Upton has co-sponsored legislation urging President Trump to make effective use of the Defense Production Act in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Upton has joined colleagues in calling on the president to immediately share with Congress plans for the use of the Defense Production Act powers, including targets and timelines to produce supplies needed to address the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the results of the ongoing use of those authorities. The resolution also states the House stands ready to make additional appropriations available to meet the needs of Defense Production Act invocation. Upton says “we need all hands on deck, and the bipartisan resolution we introduced today urges the President to use the Defense Production Act to ensure we as a nation unleash the stockpile of supplies to help health care workers and save lives.”. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Coronavirus Cases Increase To Five

Berrien County is now up to 5 COVID-19 cases. The first two were announced Saturday and were women who had attended the March 8 Sandi Patty concert at Andrews University. Two more cases were announced on Sunday, and the fifth has been announced today. Of the three cases made public since Sunday, one is the spouse of one of the first to test positive who attended the concert, and another is a man over the age of 60 who had no link to the exposure site at the concert. The third new case announced this morning is a man over the age of 60 who is being treated at Spectrum Health Lakeland in St. Joseph, and the Berrien County Health Department does not know if he had any connection to the concert.. ...Read Full Story

Reports: Gov. Whitmer To Announce “Shelter At Home” Order This Morning

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is expected to announce a “stay at home” order during 11 a.m. press conference according to the Detroit Free Press and MIRS News. Illinois and Ohio have already done so. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations had opposed the shutdown, but Chamber CEO Rich Studley and the others spent time meeting with the governor over the weekend about the coronavirus pandemic.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Calls For National Strategy On COVID-19 Fight

From the Associated Press — Governor Gretchen Whitmer says Michigan needs the federal government to provide not only more test kits and masks but also clear guidance on how best to fight the spread of the coronavirus. Whitmer spoke Sunday on ABC’s “This
Week.”She says Michigan and others are doing the best they can, “but it would be nice to have a national strategy.” As it is, she says the states are “all building the airplane as we fly it.” She is criticizing the federal government for not focusing on the threat much earlier. Michigan has reported a total of 787 cases of COVID-19.. ...Read Full Story

State COVID-19 Cases Top 1,000

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan is now at least 1,035 with eight deaths. The latest figures from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services show the area of the state most affected by coronavirus remains southeast Michigan. Detroit has 325 cases with four deaths. Wayne County, which the state is counting separate from Detroit, has 152 cases with one death. Oakland County has 277 cases with one death. Macomb County has 140 cases with one death. The state has Berrien County listed with three cases, but the Berrien County Health Department is reporting there are four. There is an even 50% to 50% split by gender in the state, and 58% are over the age of 50.. ...Read Full Story

Two More COVID-19 Cases Confirmed In Berrien County

Berrien County now has four COVID-19 cases. According to a post on the Berrien County Health Department’s Facebook page, one is someone who attended the March 8 concert by Sandi Patty at Andrews University, but the other person was not at the show. Officials say that backs up the assumption under which they’re working that the virus “could be present in many public places in our community. That is why everyone should be taking prevention measures like practicing social distancing and heeding Executive Orders in place. If people are feeling sick, they need to stay home!”. ...Read Full Story

Bronson Healthcare Turning To Community For Personal Protective Equipment, Disinfecting Supplies

Bronson Healthcare is turning to the public to help meet its needs at its southwest Michigan hospitals and offices. Starting Monday, Bronson will be collecting items at five of its sites in Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Paw Paw, Portage, and South Haven. They are in need of disposable face masks; N95 masks, also called respirators; eye protection like safety goggles and face shields; disposable gowns, gloves, surgical caps, and foot covers; antimicrobial or bleach wipes; hand sanitizer, and bleach. Bronson is also accepting home-sewn face masks which will be used by staff in appropriate areas to conserve the supply of personal protective equipment. The donations will be accepted from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Bronson is not taking donations of medication, blankets, toys, clothes, or any other medical supplies.. ...Read Full Story