Local News Archives

Search On For New Berrien County Medical Director

There could be a new Berrien County Medical Director hired in May. Speaking to the Berrien County Board of Health Wednesday, Health Officer Nicki Britten said Dr. Rick Johansen is retiring and the county wants to find someone with local ties already established to take his place. A committee of seven members, including health board members and county commissioners, will review the applications once they’re done coming in next week. So far, Britten said the county’s gotten two. It’s hoped someone new can be picked in May so they can start soon after.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Health Officer Gives COVID Update

The increase in COVID-19 cases that has been seen around Michigan the past several weeks hasn’t necessarily meant cases are out of control in Berrien County. Speaking to the Berrien County Board of Health Wednesday, Berrien County Health Officer Nicki Britten said there was a rise in cases here in Berrien, but they could be trending back down.. ...Read Full Story

Four In Custody After Benton Harbor Shooting

Four people are in custody following a shooting in Benton Harbor Wednesday morning. Michigan State Police says police officers were in the area of a home on Brunson Avenue around 10 a.m. when they heard gunshots. They then found the victim, a man with a wound to his forehead. He is expected to recover. Two men and two women were later arrested and a standoff began outside the home with police not sure if another suspect was inside. The standoff ended hours later when police determined no one else was inside. Police say among the four arrested is the suspected shooter. Along with Michigan State Police at the scene were the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety and and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.. ...Read Full Story

More Than 8,000 New COVID Cases In Michigan For Wednesday

Michigan is reporting 8,015 additional COVID-19 cases around the state for Wednesday. That brings the total since the start of the pandemic to more than 715,000. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services dashboard shows 30 additional deaths for Wednesday, for a statewide pandemic total now of 16,327. The state reports 60 additional cases in Berrien County for Wednesday, for a total of 12,070 with 233 deaths, unchanged from Tuesday. Van Buren County had 22 additional cases for Wednesday for a total of 5,413 with 90 deaths, an increase of one from Tuesday. Cass County reported 22 additional cases for 4,196 and 64 deaths, unchanged.. ...Read Full Story

Niles Man Hurt In Motorcycle/SUV Crash

Michigan State Police say a 64-year-old Niles man is at South Bend Memorial Hospital in critical condition after a motorcycle crash Wednesday. He hit an SUV while going westbound on US-12 when the vehicle pulled onto the highway from West Chicago Road. The Niles man was wearing a helmet. The SUV driver was not hurt.. ...Read Full Story

Resurfacing Work Starts Monday On US-12 From Galien To Niles

Crews from the Michigan Department of Transportation will resurface 6.5 miles of US-12 from Galien to Niles. The work will be from the Galien and Bertrand township line to Mayflower Road. It begins on Monday and is expected to wrap up on August 30. The $3.7 million project will include asphalt resurfacing, joint repairs, rebuilt shoulders, and new pavement markings. MDOT says the work will extend the life of US-12 and improve the quality and safety of the highway.. ...Read Full Story

Blue Cows Back In Place At Sherman’s Dairy Bar

The iconic blue cows that for years have stood above Sherman’s Dairy Bar in South Haven are now back in place. You may recall the cows, Blue Moo and Baby Moo, were taken out of action last August when someone stole Baby Moo and Blue Moo was knocked over and damaged. The culprits of Baby Moo’s calf-napping were later identified and the statue returned. South Haven Area Emergency Services now says both cows were repaired over the winter and on Tuesday returned to their familiar rooftop spots at the dairy bar on Phoenix Road. The cows are named in honor of Sherman’s iconic Blue Moon ice cream. Sherman’s is scheduled to open for its 63rd season on May 1.. ...Read Full Story

Sheriff Salutes 911 Dispatchers

Next week is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, when the 911 dispatchers of the nation are honored for their work to protect the public. Van Buren County Sheriff Dan Abbott says 911 telecommunicators are the “first voice of calm that a person hears when calling for help, and their caring, compassion, and commitment to the citizens and visitors to Van Buren County is on display each day.” He adds 911 responders “may experience more stress and traumatic events in the course of 12 hours than the average person will endure for a lifetime.” Van Buren County 911 processes an annual average of 42,000 calls to 911. That works out to a phone call every 4 minutes around the clock.. ...Read Full Story

Former Grocery Store Being Turned Into Senior Center

The former Village Market store in South Haven won’t stand vacant thanks to plans from Senior Services of Van Buren County to turn it into a senior center. Director Diane Rigozzi tells WSJM News Senior Services was able to buy the $2.5 million building for $400,000 from the Murk family, amounting to a more than $2 million donation from the Murks. She says turning a grocery store into a senior center isn’t as difficult as you might imagine.. ...Read Full Story

Just Under 5,000 COVID Cases Identified In Michigan Tuesday

Michigan is reporting 4,964 new cases of COVID-19 for Tuesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services coronavirus dashboard shows Michigan has had a total of more than 707,000 COVID cases since the start of the pandemic and 16,297 deaths. There were 58 new deaths reported for Tuesday, 16 of which were identified through a review of vital records. Berrien County was listed with 41 new cases over Monday, now at a total of 12,010 cases since the pandemic began. The county has had 233 deaths, an increase of one. Van Buren County on Tuesday reported 9 new cases over Monday for a pandemic total of 5,391. The county has had 89 deaths, unchanged. Cass County listed ten new cases for Tuesday, with a total of 4,174 cases and 64 deaths, unchanged. The state’s vaccine dashboard shows 4.7 million doses have been administered in Michigan as of Monday. In Berrien County, there have been 72,000 shots given. In Van Buren County, there have been just under 35,000 doses administered. Cass County has administered 14,000 doses.. ...Read Full Story

Dan, Jennifer Gilbert Give $30M To Detroit-Area Art Academy

From the Associated Press — Billionaire businessman Dan Gilbert and his wife, Jennifer, have given $30 million to the Cranbrook Academy of Art in suburban Detroit to help accelerate the school’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. The Bloomfield Hills school says Tuesday that the funding also will help with long-term fiscal sustainability. Twenty full-tuition fellowships for students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups will be funded through the Gilbert Fellows program A permanent endowment to fund the fellowships also will be established. Tuition relief and general support for the academy’s existing scholarships and visiting faculty artists over the next five years will receive funding.. ...Read Full Story

Benton Harbor Mayor Speaks Out Against Election Legislation

Election legislation that’s been unveiled by legislative Republicans in Michigan will be the focus of a press conference in Lansing with Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad and other leaders from around the state. Muhammad said during a Monday city commission meeting the “so-called reforms” would increase ID requirements for voting and limit absentee voting options. He said the legislation would have a disproportionate effect on people in urban areas.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan’s Top Court Sides With Dad In Parental Rights Case

From the Associated Press — The Michigan Supreme Court has overturned the decisions of a Kalamazoo-area judge who terminated the parental rights of a poor couple after their two children had missed 25% of school. The absences in 2017-18 were higher than the school’s average. But the Supreme Court says there was no evidence of resulting harm or neglect. It’s a key threshold when a judge decides whether to take jurisdiction over children. The case was closely watched by advocates for poor families, especially during a pandemic when education has been significantly disrupted. The case now will return to Kalamazoo County court. The children’s mother did not appeal the termination of her parental rights at the Supreme Court.. ...Read Full Story

Two Killed In Benton Harbor Fire

Two people are dead after a house fire in Benton Harbor early on Tuesday. The Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety says it was called to 157 South Hull Street around 4:35 a.m. Firefighters arrived to find the structure fully engulfed with flames shooting out of the roof and the roof collapsed. A bystander told firefighters there may have been two people inside. Once the fire was under control, firefighters found the first victim in the front of the home. The second victim was found in the kitchen in the rear of the home. The cause of the fire remains unknown and the Michigan State Fire Marshal is investigating. The names of the victims have not yet been released. The St. Joseph Department of Public Safety assisted at the scene to protect neighboring properties.. ...Read Full Story

Dowagiac Man Caught Allegedly Burglarizing Home

A 57-year-old man is in the Cass County Jail after being caught in a barricaded basement room in Wayne Township trying to steal from the home. The sheriff’s department responded to an active alarm at the home on Lake Shore Drive and found all the doors were locked. When deputies saw movement in the home, they contacted the owner, who was out of town. The K9 Faust searched the home and found the Dowagiac man along with guns and chainsaws he was trying to take. He is facing charges of breaking and entering, larceny, resisting and obstructing deputies, and felon in possession of firearms.. ...Read Full Story

Detroit Suburb Plans Memorial, Vigil For COVID-19 Victims

From the Associated Press — A Detroit suburb plans to place memorial flags outside its municipal campus to remember residents and their loved ones who have died due to the COVID-19 virus. The memorial will be displayed from May 10-28 in Southfield. The city says names of the deceased will be read aloud during a May 11 candlelight vigil. Residents can submit by May 3 the names, brief biographies and photos of those they wish to be honored in an online memorial and at the vigil. The city says more than 260 Southfield residents have died from complications due to the coronavirus.. ...Read Full Story

Countryside Academy Wins LaSata’s Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament

Countryside Academy is the winner of state Senator Kim LaSata’s 2021 Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament. She holds the tournament each spring to let high schools in her district compete to show who has the most school spirit. It’s a March Madness-style bracket competition based on social media activity. Countryside Academy in Benton Harbor edged out Michigan Lutheran for the title this year. LaSata congratulated Countryside, saying southwest Michigan “came together more than ever to rally around our students and schools after what has been a difficult year spent largely apart from one another because of the pandemic.” She thanked schools for taking part. The spirit tournament started last month with 31 high schools competing in four brackets.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases COVID Numbers For Monday

Michigan is reporting 10,293 new cases of COVID-19 for Sunday and Monday combined. That works out to an average of 5,146 per day. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services coronavirus dashboard shows Michigan has had a total of more than 702,000 COVID cases since the start of the pandemic and 16,239 deaths. There were 21 new deaths reported for Sunday and Monday. Berrien County was listed with 94 new cases over Saturday, now at a total of 11,969 cases since the pandemic began. The county has had 232 deaths, unchanged from Saturday. Van Buren County on Monday reported 31 new cases over Saturday for a pandemic total of 5,382. The county has had 89 deaths, unchanged from Saturday. Cass County listed 23 new cases for Sunday and Monday, with a total of 4,164 cases and 64 deaths, an increase of one from Saturday. The state’s vaccine dashboard shows 4.7 million doses have been administered in Michigan as of Sunday. In Berrien County, there have been 72,000 shots given. In Van Buren County, there have been just under 35,000 doses administered. Cass County has administered 14,000 doses.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Gets Surge Of Calls From Domestic Violence Victims

From the Associated Press — Michigan is facing another public health threat on top of COVID-19 with soaring domestic violence cases. Advocates say an inability to fundraise during COVID-19, having limited shelter space available and a statewide effort to limit incarcerations because of COVID has created a perfect storm of need and danger for victims. The Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence represents 73 shelters across the state. In the year leading up to October, the coalition received 1,300 calls on its helpline. In the next two months it received 1,250 calls and then in January, it had 1,000 calls for domestic and sexual violence assistance. Its executive director, Sarah Prout Rennie, says she believes the biggest surge hasn’t arrived yet.. ...Read Full Story

LMC To Talk Historic Pandemics This Week

Set for this coming week at Lake Michigan College is a presentation on pandemics throughout history. History instructors Christopher Paine, Tim Moore, and Kristen Robinson will each cover a different pandemic. Paine tells WSJM News given the events of the last year or so, the discussion ought to be interesting.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Announces Small Business Awards

State Senator Kim LaSata has announced the new Small Business of the Month award to honor local businesses. She says it’s “one way that we can show our appreciation and highlight these hardworking and dedicated Southwest Michiganders” after a difficult year. Everyone’s invited to nominate businesses by filling out a form at LaSata’s website. You should include the nominee’s name and location and a description of why they deserve an award. LaSata says she looks forward to giving local businesses recognition each month.. ...Read Full Story

Neighborhood Watch Training Planned In Van Buren County

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department is inviting the public to a series of neighborhood watch meetings it’s planned for this year. There are several sessions set to take place at the Van Buren County Conference Center in Lawrence with each expected to take about an hour. The sheriff’s department says first up will be “Scams-Specifically targeting the elderly” on May 5 starting at 7 p.m. Next will be “Disaster Preparedness” on June 9, the National Night Out on August 3 at the park in Lawrence, “Internet Safety” on September 7, and “Reporting Suspicious Activity and Observation Skills” on October 6. The trainings are open to anyone from Van Buren County. Anyone with questions can contact the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department by phone or by e-mail.. ...Read Full Story

Commissioners Updated On Rural Broadband

Berrien County Commissioners on Thursday heard from Midwest Energy & Communications CEO Bob Hance, who told them about efforts to expand broadband internet in rural areas of southwest Michigan. Hance said his company took part in an FCC auction of money in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.. ...Read Full Story

More Than 8,400 Additional Cases Of COVID In Michigan For Saturday

Michigan is reporting 8,413 new cases of COVID-19 for Saturday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services coronavirus dashboard shows Michigan has had a total of more than 692,000 COVID cases since the start of the pandemic and 16,218 deaths. There were 57 new deaths reported for Saturday. Berrien County was listed with 62 new cases over Friday, now at a total of 11,875 cases since the pandemic began. The county has had 232 deaths. Van Buren County on Saturday reported a total of 5,351 cases during the pandemic. The county has had 89 deaths. Cass County listed 19 new cases for Saturday, with a total of 4,141 cases and 63 deaths.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Student Wins Michigan Miss Agriculture USA Title

A Southwestern Michigan College student has been named the 2021 Michigan Miss Agriculture USA. Shaelyn Bundy of Dowagiac was crowned this month and will now advance to the national competition in Ohio this June. Bundy is an agricultural business student whose ag interests include dairy feeder steers, market hogs, draft horses, and market chickens. She’s currently attending SMC and Michigan State University, for which she is fulfilling an internship with Watervliet Fruit Exchange, and she’ll walk in SMC’s 54th Commencement in May. Miss Agriculture USA is a non-profit organization focused on promoting agriculture through queens of all ages who “agvocate,” celebrate, and educate farming’s diverse aspects. Since Bundy competed virtually, her crown will be mailed to her.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien Springs Schools Seeking Assistant Superintendent, Interviews Set

Berrien Springs Public Schools will interview seven candidates for the position of assistant superintendent in April. The district board of education says it received 27 applications for the post and the interviews will be held on Wednesday, April 14 and Thursday, April 15 at the Berrien Springs Virtual Academy on Middle School Drive. The public is encouraged to attend. First up on the 14th will be Milan Middle School Principal Shanna Spickard at 4 p.m. followed by Battle Creek Pennfield Superintendent Kevin Simmons at 4:55. Assistant Vice President K-14 Initiatives for Ivy Tech Community College Cassandra Shipp will interview at 6, and then Eau Claire Superintendent Ann Marie Cluff at 6:55. The next day will bring former St. Joseph Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Bruce at 4 p.m. followed by St. Joe High School Principal Greg Blomgren at 4:55, and Glenpool Oklahoma Elementary Principal Deanna Dobbins at 5:50. Berrien Springs Public Schools aims to have someone start as assistant superintendent by July 1.. ...Read Full Story

Police Identify Drowning Victim

The St. Joseph Department of Public Safety says a man presumed drowned in Lake Michigan after falling off the south pier last Sunday was 27-year-old Dakota Yergeau of St. Joseph. The search for his body was called off this past week. He’d been walking on the pier with another man around 5:30 p.m. Sunday when he was washed off by a wave.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Holding Local Hours This Month

State Senator Kim LaSata will hold some office hours around her district in April so residents have a chance to talk with her about any issues of concern. LaSata’s office says the meetings will be both in person and virtual. First up will be an office hour at Brewsters Italian Cafe in New Buffalo from 11:30 to 12:30 on Monday, April 12. Subsequent hours will be held at the Railway Cafe in Dowagiac at 1p.m. on Friday, April 16, and over Zoom at 9 a.m. on Friday, April 23. You can register here. The events are open to southwest Michigan residents to express their opinions or concerns about state government or to ask for help with state issues.. ...Read Full Story

Children’s Advocacy Center Holding Hiking Challenge This Month

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, and the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan is inviting everyone to take to the outdoors to help it raise funds. It’s hosting Hike-4-Healing, a challenge in which participants are asked to keep track of the miles they hike each week. They submit them to the Children’s Advocacy Center each Monday and can enter weekly challenges as a way to double their miles. There’s also a leaderboard to follow. The person with the most miles walked or hiked at the end of the month wins. Hike 4 Healing will take place throughout April, and it’s $45 for an individual to register. Also this month, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan will hold educational events for participants to learn about warning signs of child abuse and how they can help prevent it.. ...Read Full Story

Boys & girls Club Of Benton Harbor Given Four Start Rating By Charity Organization

The Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor has been given a four star rating by Charity Navigator, a group that evaluates charities around the United States. Since 2002, it’s looked at the transparency of charitable organizations and how they use their money. About a quarter of charities get the four star rating. Charity Navigator CEO Michael Thatcher says the Boys and Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor’s rating “sets it apart from its peers and demonstrates its trustworthiness to the public.” This is the seventh year in a row the Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor has achieved that status.. ...Read Full Story

Ghostlight Theater Adding Outdoor Stage

With the pandemic still grinding along, the Ghostlight Theater in Benton Harbor is adding an outdoor stage so it can raise the curtain on schedule June 3 for opening night. The Ghosterlight says improvements to the property will begin later this month, and it has a large paved area out back. The theater is planning to build a stage, seating area, and security gates. It says the area is large enough to accommodate proper social distancing. Opening night will be with Small Mouth Sounds, a play by Bess Wohl. The show will be outdoors.. ...Read Full Story

More Than 5,400 New COVID Cases In Michigan For Friday

Michigan is reporting 5,498 new cases of COVID-19 for Friday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services coronavirus dashboard shows Michigan has had a total of more than 683,000 COVID cases since the start of the pandemic and 16,161 deaths. There were 20 new deaths reported for Friday. Berrien County was listed with 30 new cases over Thursday, now at a total of 11,813 cases since the pandemic began. The county has had 232 deaths. Van Buren County on Friday reported 28 new cases over Thursday for a pandemic total of 5,260. The county has had 89 deaths. Cass County listed 22 new cases for Friday, with a total of 4,122 cases and 63 deaths. The state’s vaccine dashboard shows 4.5 million doses have been administered in Michigan as of Thursday. In Berrien County, we’re up to 70,800 shots given. In Van Buren County, there have been 34,400 doses administered. Cass County has administered 13,700 doses.. ...Read Full Story

Officials: Quit Flushing Wipes

A southeast Michigan county is dealing with a troubling problem during the pandemic as the sewer system is being clogged by wipes. Macomb County Drain Commissioner Candace Miller says crews have cleaned out 270-tons of debris from the pumping station. That’s nearly four times the normal amount.. ...Read Full Story

University of Michigan Regents Want Weiser Gone

University of Michigan Regent and state Republican party chair Ron Weiser says he “will not be canceled” after his fellow regents today formally called for his resignation. Weiser has been in hot water after calling the governor, secretary of state and attorney general “three witches” and joking about assassinating Congressmen Fred Upton and Peter Meijer.. ...Read Full Story

County Board Hears About Broadband Plans

Berrien County Commissioners on Thursday heard from Midwest Energy & Communications CEO Bob Hance, who told them about efforts to expand broadband internet in rural areas of southwest Michigan. Hance said his company took part in an FCC auction of money in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.. ...Read Full Story

Pokagon Band Giving Out 1,000 Easter Baskets This Week

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi and its Four Winds Casinos have donated 1,000 Easter baskets to families around southwest Michigan and northern Indiana. Each Easter basket contains a ham, potatoes, green beans, canned corn, and orange bread. Distribution will be coordinated by the Food Bank of Northern Indiana, Feeding America Indiana, and Feeding America Michigan through 14 different food banks in the two states. Tribal Council Chair Matt Wesaw says the Pokagons are “very proud that we can continue our tradition of giving this Easter holiday, despite all of the challenges our community and businesses have faced during the past thirteen months of the pandemic.” The Pokagon Band and its Four Winds Casinos also donated 1,000 food boxes in November for Thanksgiving and in December for Christmas.. ...Read Full Story

New Berrien County Parks Director Hired

Jill Adams will be the new Berrien County Parks Director following a vote by the Berrien County Board of Commissioners Thursday. You may know Adams from the community recycling events the county holds each year. She’s run them for several years. Commissioner Bob Harrison said Thursday she was the unanimous choice of the interview team.. ...Read Full Story

State Releases Thursday COVID Numbers

Michigan is reporting 6,036 additional COVID-19 cases around the state for Thursday. That brings the total since the start of the pandemic to more than 678,000. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services dashboard shows 49 additional deaths for Thursday, 33 of which were identified through a review of vital records. The state’s COVID death total is now 16,141. The state reports 65 additional cases in Berrien County for Thursday, for a total of 11,783 with 232 deaths. Van Buren County had 23 additional cases for Thursday for a total of 5,232 with 89 deaths, an increase of one. Cass County reported 25 additional cases for 4,100 and 63 deaths, unchanged. The state’s vaccine dashboard shows just under 4.3 million doses have been administered in Michigan as of Wednesday. In Berrien County, there have been just under 69,000 shots given. In Van Buren County, there have been about 33,300 doses administered. Cass County has administered 13,100 doses.. ...Read Full Story

Panel Discussions Upcoming On Racial Inequities’ Historical Links

The city of St. Joseph is working with Spectrum Health Lakeland and Lake Michigan College to explore how laws, policies and practices over the past several hundred years have laid the foundation for racial inequities now. Mayor Mike Garey says there will be three forums on Zoom in April, May, and June with different topics. As to what led to it, he says that was last May with the Georgia jogger shooting, a woman in Central Park, and the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.. ...Read Full Story