Local News Archives

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

Health Officials Discuss First Berrien Cases Of COVID-19

The Berrien County Health Department is working to prevent further transmission of COVID-19 after the county’s first two cases were identified on Saturday. The first two positives are adult women under the age of 60 who attended a concert at Andrews University on March 8. The performer, singer Sandi Patty, announced this week she’s been diagnosed with COVID-19. At a press conference on Saturday, Berrien County Medical Director Rick Johansen said things moved quickly from there.. ...Read Full Story

Man Arrested Following Police Chase In Van Buren, Allegan Counties

A Pullman man is in the Van Buren County Jail on multiple charges after trying to run away from sheriff’s deputies around 11:30 Friday morning when they spotted his vehicle and realized it matched one reported stolen out of Allegan County. The chase started in Bloomingdale Township and ended in Allegan County when the suspect ditched the vehicle near 110th Avenue and 49th Street and ran into the woods. An Allegan County Sheriff’s Department K-9 officer tracked the 22-year-old man and he was arrested. He’s facing charges of fleeing and eluding, possession of a stolen vehicle, resisting and obstructing police, driving with a suspended license, possession of meth, and for being a fugitive.. ...Read Full Story

Two Arrested For Berrien County Break-Ins

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department says two Kalamazoo residents are facing charges over two church break-ins on Saturday morning. Deputies were called  out to the Chapel Hill Church at 4071 Naomi Road in Sodus Township shortly before 6 a.m. when the alarm went off. They found a smashed window on the north side of the building. While they were still at the scene, the deputies were told of another business alarm that had gone off at the Eau Claire Seventh Day Adventist Church at 6562 Naomi Road. Arriving officers found a window on the east side of the building had been smashed. While checking the area, officers found a vehicle sitting on the side of the road with a woman in it. They also found a man walking down the road, and determined the man and woman had been involved in the two break-ins. They were arrested and taken to the Berrien County Jail on charges of breaking and entering, possession of burglary tools, and possession of meth. The names of the suspects have not yet been released.. ...Read Full Story

Shooting At Blossom Acres Friday Night

The Benton Township Police Department is investigating a shooting at the Blossom Acres housing development on Friday night. It says officers were called to the area of Blossom Lane and Concord around 11:40 p.m. on a report of two men in a shootout. The officers arrived to find a 23-year-old Ohio man with a gunshot wound to the shoulder. He was taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland to be treated for non life-threatening injuries. Police say they collected a large number of shell casings from the scene and are continuing to investigate. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact the Benton Township Police Department.. ...Read Full Story

Body Found In Lake Michigan At Holland State Park Confirmed To Be Missing Flint-Area Teen

A body found in Lake Michigan late Thursday at Holland State Park is that of missing 16-year-old Eliza Trainer of Flushing. The Flint-area teen had been missing since being swept off the pier around 11:30 p.m. on New Year’s Day while visiting the lake with a friend for the first time. Trainer’s body was identified through an autopsy Friday in Grand Rapids. Her 19-year-old friend survived and tried to pull her on shore after he was able to get to some rocks, but another wave hit and pulled her away from him. Trainer’s body was found wedged in rocks along the side of the pier.. ...Read Full Story

State Working With Newly-Unemployed On Tax Issues

The Michigan Department of Treasury is telling those who owe taxes to the state to reach out to make arrangements during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Specifically, it’s offering collections assistance to newly-unemployed Michiganders paying on past-due state tax debts or other state debts. Treasury says effective immediately, individuals who have been laid off or had their place of employment closed due to COVID-19 should contact them to see what options are available. To get assistance, people are encouraged to call Treasury’s Collections Service Center at 517-636-5265. Michigan Treasurer Rachael Eubanks says the department’s “first and foremost priority is the health and safety of Michiganders.”. ...Read Full Story

COVID-19 Cases Rise To 549 In Michigan; No Positive Cases In Southwest Michigan

Michigan’s COVID-19 positive cases now stand at 549, a jump of 225 from Thursday. There remain none in southwest Michigan – Allegan, Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, and Van Buren counties. Oakland County has 184, followed by 149 in the city of Detroit. Two have died in Detroit, and one has died in Wayne County. The state is separating the numbers from Detroit and Wayne County. Macomb County has 86 cases, followed by 67 in Wayne County and 16 in Washtenaw County. In west Michigan, Kent County’s positive cases have gone from 7 to 12, while Ottawa County remains at one. The Ottawa County patient is a woman who had been treated at Holland Hospital, but has since been discharged. Most of the cases, 55%, are of people 50 and older, while 21% are in their 40s.. ...Read Full Story

Amid Backdrop Of COVID-19, Census Count Continues

Michigan households now are receiving 2020 census forms in the mail – and while the goal is to count everyone, there is concern that some children may be overlooked. Millions of federal dollars are at risk if every child isn’t counted, and nearly two million kids age five and younger were missed in the 2010 census. Children of color and Latinos are especially vulnerable to under-counting. Christine Suave with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Coalition notes there is some distrust in the immigrant community about the use of census data, but she says the benefits are too great to not be counted.. ...Read Full Story

County To Seek Parks Grants

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners has voted to proceed with applying for some grants to expand two county parks. At a Thursday meeting, it authorized the Berrien County Parks Department to put in for a $300,000 grant for Paw Paw River County Park and a $300,000 grant for Madeline Bertrand County Park with the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund. In the case of Paw Paw River, the money would be used to purchase 63 acres, and in the case of Madeline Bertrand, the purchase would be 33 acres. In each case, the county would have to make a $100,000 match. If approved by the state, the Madeline Bertrand expansion could allow for new hiking trails, biking areas, cross-country skiing, and turkey and deer hunting opportunities. With Paw Paw River County Park, the expansion would allow for more hard surface trails, overlook decks, and fishing. The county won’t hear back from the state about the grant applications until later this year.. ...Read Full Story

County Board Remaining Flexible As COVID Response Continues

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners is remaining flexible when it comes to the COVID-19 outbreak. At this week’s meeting, Chair Mac Elliott said the nation’s response to the crisis has once again shown that “when we get focused, when we get purposeful, when we get geared up, we get things done.” He told WSJM News on the county level, the Emergency Operations Center has been partially activated, and responders are adjusting to a dynamic situation.. ...Read Full Story

COVID-19 Cases Skyrocket In Michigan To 336

The number of coronavirus cases in Michigan is now 336, with three deaths. All three deaths have been in metro Detroit, which has been the hardest hit with positive cases so far. There are no cases in the southwest Michigan counties of Allegan, Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, and Van Buren. Oakland County has the most cases at 105, followed by the city of Detroit with 75 and Macomb County with 55. The new numbers include the results of 148 tests run by commercial labs, 744 done by hospitals, and 1,557 done by the state Department of Health and Human Services laboratory. The ages of those with the illness are starting to even out, with 18% being between 30 and 39, 19% between 40 and 49, 19% between 50 and 59, and 18% between 60 and 69. Just 10% of the cases are people in their 20s, only 1% are infants to 19-year-olds, and those in their 70s make up 8% of the cases. People 80 and older are 5% of the positive cases in the state.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Waiving Passport Requirement For Entry To State Parks

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is waiving the need for a state Recreation Passport for entry at state parks and other destinations for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. The DNR says state parks are a good place to pass some time while avoiding a dense crowd. If you’re headed to a state recreation area, the DNR says you should remember to keep six feet of distance between yourself and others, minimize sun exposure with a broad-spectrum sunscreen, keep your vehicle windows slightly open to provide air flow, and wash your hands thoroughly when done. The DNR also says you should only visit Mother Nature if you’re not feeling sick. While the DNR has closed contact areas like restroom buildings, shooting ranges, and visitor centers, the state parks themselves remain open.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagons Donate More Than 7,000 Pounds Of Food

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi has donated nine pallets of food from its Four Winds Casino locations to food banks as the COVID-19 outbreak continues. The Pokagons shut down all of their casinos in Michigan and Indiana this week, leaving them with a large amount of food to give away. In all, the donation announced on Thursday amounts to more than 7,400 pounds of food that includes dairy products, fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, baked goods, and fresh fish. The donations are going to be distributed to those in need throughout southwest Michigan and northern Indiana by Feeding America and Cultivate. Pokagon Tribal Chair Matt Wesaw says they “felt compelled to donate these unused foods items as soon as possible so they could be used by community members in need.”. ...Read Full Story

Three Michiganders Have Died From COVID-19

Three lives have been lost in Michigan from the COVID-19 outbreak. The first was a man in his 50s at a Beaumont Health hospital in Wayne County early Wednesday. The two latest deaths are of a woman who was at an Oakland County hospital and an 81-year-old patient who was being treated at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Health officials in southeast Michigan say all three who have died had other underlying health conditions. No names have been released. An update from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on the number of positive coronavirus cases is set to be released at 2 p.m.. ...Read Full Story

Blossomtime Grand Floral Parade Canceled

There will not be a Blossomtime Grand Floral Parade this year. The annual event in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor is being canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak, and had been scheduled for May 2nd. The Blossomtime board of directors says the decision to call off the parade was not taken lightly, and they’ve also canceled six other related events, including Blessing of the Blossoms and Dinner with the Queens.. ...Read Full Story

Automakers Temporarily Shutting Down Factories

From the Associated Press — Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Honda and Toyota confirm they will temporarily shut down all of their North American factories due to the coronavirus threat. Ford said its plants will close after Thursday evening shifts, through March 30, while GM’s closures will start today and take several days to finish. Closures also will last through March 30. Honda plants will close for about a week starting Monday, while Toyota will close for two days next week. The move by Detroit’s three automakers will idle about 150,000 workers. They likely will receive supplemental pay in addition to state unemployment benefits. The two checks combined will about equal what the workers normally make.. ...Read Full Story

Hartford Police Warn Of Thefts From Vehicles

A rash of car break-ins has been seen in Hartford lately. The Hartford Police Department put out word on Wednesday it’s handled 16 larceny from vehicle cases in the past five days. 13 of them were in one night. And that’s not counting the car break-ins that haven’t been reported. The department tells everyone to lock their vehicles. Police say that’s the single biggest step you could take to protect yourself from those crimes. In all 16 of Hartford’s cases, the vehicles were left unlocked.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department Investigating Possible COVID-19 Exposure At Andrews University Concert

The Berrien County Health Department is investigating a case of possible COVID-19 exposure at a concert at Andrews University in Berrien Springs. The concert artist, singer Sandi Patty, announced on her Facebook page on Tuesday she had tested positive for COVID-19. She performed a concert at Andrews University Howard Performing Arts Center on the evening of March 8 and hosted several individuals for a special in-person experience after the concert. The Berrien County Health Department has issued the following statement:. ...Read Full Story