Local News Archives

Attorney For Gym Owners: Gyms Could Help People During Pandemic

Gym owners and patrons are not happy after the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled three to nothing this week to grant an emergency stay sought by the governor, deciding fitness centers cannot re-open. U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney said last week that gyms could reopen at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. However, the governor’s office filed an appeal. Attorney Scott Erskine, representing the gyms, said although he understands concerns, gyms are some of the cleanest places.. ...Read Full Story

353 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 Reported In Michigan Thursday

The number of newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Michigan went up by 353 on Thursday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 62,306 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported 19 additional deaths for Thursday, bringing that total to 5,887. Berrien County had four new cases of COVID-19 to report for the day, making the total 700 with 60 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Cass County had five new cases for Thursday, making its total 118 with four deaths. Van Buren County had three new cases for the day, making the county’s total 197 with six deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Seeks To Resolve Jobless Claims Filed Before May

From the Associated Press — The state of Michigan says it will soon resolve unemployment claims for about 11,800 people who filed before May. The Unemployment Insurance Agency said Tuesday its goal is to clear that backlog that resulted from the coronavirus pandemic and make a determination by the end of next week. The agency will soon announce a target date to resolve claims
filed in May or later. For those still awaiting a decision on their eligibility, the state will pay benefits, determine the claimant is ineligible and communicate why, or deem the person unreachable after multiple attempts to make contact.. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw Superintendent Discusses New Nickname

Paw Paw Public Schools Superintendent Rick Reo says he’s glad the community is moving forward with the proposal of a new team name following an extended period of controversy over the old one. The Paw Paw Public Schools Board of Education voted in March to drop the old Redskins nickname, and the Nickname Task Force this week announced it’s recommending the Red Wolves to be the new name. Reo tells WSJM News students led the process.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmakers React To GOP Return To School Plan

Michigan Republican lawmakers are out with their proposal to re-open schools in the fall, and the plan in part calls for a one-time $1.3 billion boost to K-12 funding. Matt Kolezar, a Democratic state Representative from Plymouth, told Micchigan News Network he’s concerned because the money can only be used toward upgrading technology.. ...Read Full Story

Coloma Township Homeowner Shoots Intruder

The Coloma Township Police Department is investigating after a homeowner shot an intruder overnight Thursday. It says officers were called to a home in the 5,500 block of Paw Paw Lake Road in Coloma Township just before 2:30 a.m. While on their way, the officers were told by dispatch the homeowner may have shot the intruder. Upon arrival, officers from the Coloma Township Police Department, Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, Watervliet City Police Department, and the Pokagon Tribal Police encountered the homeowner, who came out of the house with his hands in the air. Police secured the scene, and found the suspect, 47-year-old Kevin Cox, dead inside from a single gunshot wound. Police say the suspect and the homeowner did not know each other. Next of kin have been notified and an autopsy on Cox is being performed in Kalamazoo. The homeowner’s name has not been released. The case will be reviewed by the Berrien County Prosecutor’s office.. ...Read Full Story

Retailers Struggle With Unruly Shoppers

Now that employers that are reopening for business, they have a new concern during the pandemic — hostile and unruly customers. Paul Beasinger owns Keene Training and Consulting and says he’s been swamped with employers reaching out to ask for training and advice. Beasinger told Michigan News Network he teaches de-escalation, which involves having empathy for the customer who refuses to social distance or wear a mask.. ...Read Full Story

323 New Cases Of COVID-19 In Michigan For Wednesday

Michigan is reporting 323 new cases of COVID-19 for Wednesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 61,953 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported four additional deaths for Wednesday, bringing that total to 5,868. Berrien County had one new case of COVID-19 to report for the day, making the total at 696 with 60 deaths. Cass County had no new cases for Wednesday, keeping its total 113 with four deaths. Van Buren County had one new case for the day, making the county’s total 194 with six deaths.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Board Approves Budget Anticipating State Cuts

A budget for the next academic year has been approved by the Lake Michigan College Board of Trustees. LMC President Trevor Kubatzke tells WSJM News with major state cuts expected in the fall due to COVID-19, college leadership had to make cuts based on estimates. The budget started out with a $3.5 million deficit, and ended with a $1.6 million deficit.. ...Read Full Story

Motorcyclist Killed In Wednesday Crash

A South Bend man is dead following a motorcycle crash in Cass County on Wednesday. Michigan State Police from the Niles post say they were dispatched to the scene on Redfield Street near Carter Lane in Milton Township shortly after 10 a.m. They found the motorcycle had been westbound on Redfield when it struck a van that was stopped at a sign facing south on Carter. The impact caused the motorcyclist to be thrown from the machine and into a third vehicle that was stopped for a turn. Troopers gave first aid and CPR to the motorcyclist and he was taken to South Bend Memorial Hospital where he died from his injuries. He has been identified as Nicholas Allen Washburn of South Bend. He was wearing a helmet. Police say their investigation into the crash continues.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Board To Continue Virtual Meetings

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners will continue to hold virtual meetings as more parts of Michigan reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement on Wednesday, the county says while the governor has relaxed some of the restrictions on movement and workplaces, “what remains is the requirement that businesses, operations and government agencies adhere to sound social distancing practices and additional measures.” It says an order from the governor limits the number of people in a meeting to ten people, and the county board cannot hold a meeting in public and fall within that limit. Therefore, the online meetings will continue. They’re streamed on YouTube with most meetings starting at 10:30 a.m. on Thursdays. You can go to YouTube, and search for the account named “Berrien County, Michigan.”. ...Read Full Story

Bill Sent To Whitmer Requires Reports On Firefighting Foam

From the Associated Press — Fire departments that use a foam containing a group of chemicals known as PFAS would be required to report its use within 48 hours of ending a fire under legislation sent to Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The bill won unanimous approval from the Michigan House Tuesday. It would mandate that fire chiefs report incidents in which PFAS-containing firefighting foams are used to Michigan’s pollution emergency alert system. The state environmental department would have to accept the foam concentrate free of charge and properly dispose of it – contingent on the Legislature allocating money to cover program costs.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Early Morning Shooting In Benton Township

The Benton Township Police Department is investigating after a man was shot while sitting in his car outside of his home early on Wednesday. It says officers were called to the 1,300 block of Jennings Street shortly after 1 a.m. The 29-year-old victim had been hit in the right forearm and chest. He said he’d been sitting in his car when someone came up and shot him. He could not identify the shooter. The victim was taken to Spectrum Health Lakeland with non-life-threatening injuries. Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to contact the Benton Township Police Department.. ...Read Full Story

SWM Housing Market Down In May

Southwest Michigan’s housing market was hit hard in May. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors says the overall economic downturn caused by COVID-19 pushed local homes sales to their lowest level since 2006. Selling prices also dropped. However, association executive Alan Jeffries says, “Since our market has been robust for the last three years, we are expecting this to be a temporary disruption of home sales.” The realtors group says the number of houses sold in May dropped to 142, a 61% decline from May of last year. From April, it was a 27% drop. Year-to-date, the number of houses sold has fallen 27%. The average selling price in May was $240,000 compared to $264,000 in May of 2019 for a 9% reduction. With fewer houses sold, the total dollar volume fell 64% in May. The drop in southwest Michigan home sales happened as the national real estate market also saw a downturn.. ...Read Full Story

State Asks Residents To Watch Out For Invasive Insect

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is asking the public to be on the lookout for a new invasive insect that has the potential to devastate the state’s agriculture and natural resources. Spokesperson Jennifer Holton tells WSJM News the spotted lanternfly has not yet been found in Michigan, and the state wants to keep it that way.. ...Read Full Story

GOP Lawmakers Release Plan For Safe Start Of School

Michigan legislative Republicans have announced their proposal for getting students back in school. State Representative Pauline Wendzel tells WSJM New the House and Senate have jointly worked out a package of legislation called the Return to Learn plan. It allows districts to start whenever is best for them without obtaining a waiver.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigate Shots Fired Into South Haven Home

A Covert man is being held for an early Tuesday morning shooting in South Haven. The South Haven Police Department says officers were called out to a home in the 21,000 block of M-140 on a report of shots being fired into a home. No one inside was hurt, but the house was hit multiple times. A sergeant with the South Haven Police Department saw a vehicle speeding away from the area and was able to stop it a short distance away. In the vehicle, he found guns and ammo consistent with the spent casings found at the home. The 21-year-old driver is now being held pending charges from the Van Buren County Prosecutor.. ...Read Full Story

John James Touring Michigan

From the Associated Press — U.S. Senate candidate John James has begun an in-person tour of Michigan amid the pandemic, visiting a Jackson County farm to criticize the overregulation and overtaxation of farmers. Monday’s stop is believed to be the Republican’s first solo one, with reporters, outside of appearing with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. The challenger to Democratic Senator Gary Peters had been gearing up for a more visible public schedule when the coronavirus struck. He says small businesses need help and aren’t getting it from Peters. Democrats say James supports Trump’s agenda, including trade wars that have threatened farmers’ livelihoods.. ...Read Full Story

University Of Michigan Term To Start August 31, Online Classes Still Key

From the Associated Press — The fall term at the University of Michigan will open August 31 with a mix of remote learning and in-person classes at the Ann Arbor campus. The school announced its latest response to the coronavirus. Residence halls will be open, but there will be an emphasis on boxed meals and fewer people at one time in dining rooms. Large classes will be held online. Small
classes will meet in-person, and class sizes in the middle will be a mix of both. President Mark Schlissel is promising more details in the weeks ahead. Schlissel says there are few, if any, one-size-fits-all solutions.. ...Read Full Story

Paw Paw Public Schools Announces New Team Name

Paw Paw Public Schools has announced its new district team name. After the district dumped the Redskins in March, discussions started on what the new mascot will be. This week, the district announced it’s going to be the Red Wolves, assuming the name is approved by the board of education. The name will be officially presented by student members of the Nickname Task Force to the Board of Education for adoption on July 13, along with recommendations of images to be adopted. The district received more than 700 submissions and thousands of votes as a new team name was sought. It says the Nickname Task Force agreed the chosen nickname and imagery needed to be respectful, inclusive, and non-controversial, and also had to bring people together in a unique way. Paw Paw Superintendent Rick Reo says he’s pleased to support the recommendation of the Red Wolves to the board.. ...Read Full Story

Lawsuit Filed Over Death Of Teen In Detention Facility

A civil, wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court following the death of a 16-year-old alleges that video from a Michigan youth facility recorded the teen saying “I can’t breathe.” Attorney Jonathan Marko said Monday the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services investigation has revealed workers at Lakeside Academy sat on Cornelius Fredericks for up to ten minutes.. ...Read Full Story

School Leaders Warn About Danger Of State Cuts

School leaders across Michigan are warning lawmakers that districts are facing unknown costs related to the coronavirus and budget cuts will only add to the problem. Oakland Schools Superintendent Wanda Cook-Robinson is part of the School Finance Research Collaborative which is calling on lawmakers to look at research when determining funding. She spoke with Michigan News Network.. ...Read Full Story

St. Joseph Commission Honors March Organizers

The organizers of a unity march on June 13 have been honored by St. Joseph City Commissioners. During a Monday virtual meeting, Gwen Swanigan, Tiera Wallace, and Trenton Bowens were all given honorary St. Joseph street signs by the body. Swanigan said the success of the march shows it is time for the two communities to come together as one.. ...Read Full Story

Advocates Want E-Cigarette Bills To Be Stronger

A package of tobacco regulation bills is headed to the Michigan House, and some health organizations are concerned that it doesn’t go far enough to protect children. Senate Bills 781 and 786 passed the Senate last week, and include new regulations on the sale of e-cigarettes. Andrew Schepers with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in Michigan says they’re especially troubled by SB 781, which sets a tax rate for vaping products at 18%. He contends all e-cigarettes should be defined as a tobacco product and taxed at the same 32% rate.. ...Read Full Story

Advocates Want E-Cigarette Bills To Be Stronger

A package of tobacco regulation bills is headed to the Michigan House, and some health organizations are concerned that it doesn’t go far enough to protect children. Senate Bills 781 and 786 passed the Senate last week, and include new regulations on the sale of e-cigarettes. Andrew Schepers with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in Michigan says they’re especially troubled by SB 781, which sets a tax rate for vaping products at 18%. He contends all e-cigarettes should be defined as a tobacco product and taxed at the same 32% rate.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Reminds Residents Of Fireworks Rules

The South Haven Police Department is reminding residents of the rules surrounding fireworks as the Fourth of July approaches. It says state law allows Michiganders to use consumer grade fireworks, which means things like firecrackers, bottle rockets, and Roman candles. According to South Haven city rules, Fourth of July fireworks may only be used between 11 a.m. and 11:45 p.m. on June 29 through July 5 if that date is a Friday or Saturday. The police department says it’s illegal to discharge fireworks on public, school, church, or private property without permission of the owner. That includes all public parks and beaches in South Haven. The fines have also increased to a maximum of $1000. Finally, everyone is asked to be courteous.. ...Read Full Story

South Haven Reminds Residents Of Fireworks Rules

The South Haven Police Department is reminding residents of the rules surrounding fireworks as the Fourth of July approaches. It says state law allows Michiganders to use consumer grade fireworks, which means things like firecrackers, bottle rockets, and Roman candles. According to South Haven city rules, Fourth of July fireworks may only be used between 11 a.m. and 11:45 p.m. on June 29 through July 5 if that date is a Friday or Saturday. The police department says it’s illegal to discharge fireworks on public, school, church, or private property without permission of the owner. That includes all public parks and beaches in South Haven. The fines have also increased to a maximum of $1000. Finally, everyone is asked to be courteous.. ...Read Full Story

RESA Board Names New Superintendent

Berrien RESA has selected Eric Hoppstock to be the next district superintendent. Hoppstock is currently RESA’s assistant superintendent and chief academic officer, and he’ll take over his new role on July 1. The Berrien RESA Board of Education met on Monday morning to discuss its next steps after the board’s first choice for superintendent, Matthew Wandrie of Lapeer, backed out. Hoppstock has worked in education in Berrien County for more than 30 years, starting with RESA in 1987 as a school psychologist. Berrien RESA Board of Education President Cathy Bair says his “in-depth educational background, understanding of ISD-level operations, his management skills and his leadership abilities will serve our staff and constituents well.” Hoppstock will take over for RESA Superintendent Kevin Ivers when Ivers retires at the end of the month.. ...Read Full Story

Nonprofits Bail People Out Of Detroit Jails Amid Pandemic

From the Associated Press — Dozens of people in the Detroit area have been bailed out of jail during the coronavirus pandemic by nonprofits pushing to dismantle the cash bail system. The Detroit Free Press reports that roughly 55 people in the area have been bailed out of jail during the pandemic by Michigan Liberation and The Bail Project. The immediate release from jail before trial for low-income people grew urgent with the arrival of the coronavirus for these nonprofits advocating to transform the criminal justice system. Under Michigan law, cash bail can be used for any criminal offense.. ...Read Full Story

State Reports 179 New COVID Cases For Monday, One In Berrien

COVID-19 numbers in southwest Michigan continue to improve. After having no new cases of the illness to report for Sunday, Berrien County had one new case for Monday. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the county has had a cumulative total of 693 cases with 60 deaths. Cass County reported two new cases for Monday, now with a total of 111 and four deaths. Van Buren County had one additional case for the day, making the county’s total 193 with six deaths. Statewide, the number of new coronavirus cases for Monday was 179 with seven additional deaths. The state has had a total of 61,409 cases of the illness, and 5,853 patients have died since the start of the pandemic. As of Friday, the state had more than 49,000 recoveries.. ...Read Full Story

Benson: Voters Need Clear Choices Of How To Vote In Pandemic

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s chief election officer says she is cautiously optimistic about preparations for the 2020 elections amid the coronavirus outbreak, emphasizing the state can avoid failures seen elsewhere by giving people clear choices of how to vote absentee or in person. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said her office has recruited at least 2,000 workers for the August and November elections to address shortages due to veteran volunteers’ safety concerns and because local clerks will need extra staff to process a surge in absentee ballots. She said encouraging people to vote by mail will not limit the ability to vote in person.. ...Read Full Story

State Resumes Charging For Admission At Parks

Michigan state parks has resumed collecting admission fees after a three-month break because of the coronavirus. The recreation passport costs $12 when renewing a license plate registration through the secretary of state or $17 at park entrances. The cost is lower for motorcycles. The pass is valid for one year or until the current vehicle registration expires. The pass allows people to visit more than 100 state parks and recreation areas. Camping, overnight lodging facilities and day-use shelters in state parks also reopen Monday.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Medical Schools See Increase In Applications

From the Associated Press — Some medical schools in Michigan are increasing their class size because they’re receiving an influx of applicants during a time marked by a shortage of physicians. The Lansing State Journal reports that while some schools are taking steps to increase class sizes, the MSU College of Human Medicine says it’s not increasing its nearly 200-student per class capacity.
Joel Maurer, assistant dean of admissions for the college, says that would require the school to hire more faculty and expand at its East Lansing and Grand Rapids campuses to increase class sizes.. ...Read Full Story

State Ending Ties With Company After Teen’s Restraint, Death

From the Associated Press — Governor Gretchen Whitmer has ordered the state’s Department of Health and Human Services to no longer work with a company that provided staffing for a facility where a 16-year-old died earlier this year while being wrongly restrained. Whitmer said in a statement late Saturday that Sequel Youth and Family Services cannot provide services for facilities licensed by the state agency. Cornelius Frederick died May 1 after going into cardiac arrest April 29. At the time, authorities said he was being restrained by staff after throwing a sandwich. The state on Thursday terminated its contracts with Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo. The Associated Press left an email Sunday morning seeking comment from Sequel Family and Youth Services.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Announces Forest Cleanup Challenge For This Summer

Volunteers are being sought to help clean up Michigan’s forests this summer. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced the “100 in 100 Forest Challenge,” inviting residents to clean up 100 forests in 100 days. DNR program developer Conor Haenni tells WSJM News you’d be surprised at what needs to be hauled out of Michigan’s more than 600 state and federal forests.. ...Read Full Story

146 New Cases Of COVID-19 Reported In Michigan For Sunday

Michigan is reporting 146 new cases of COVID-19 for Sunday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 61,230 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported three additional deaths for Sunday, bringing that total to 5,846. As of Friday, the state has had 49,290 recoveries from COVID. Berrien County had no new cases of COVID-19 to report for the day, leaving the total at 692 with 60 deaths. Cass County had one new case for Sunday, making its total 109 with four deaths. Van Buren County also had one additional case for the day, making the county’s cumulative total 192 with six deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Property Tax Deadline Approaching

The property tax due date is fast approaching. Berrien County Treasurer Shelly Weich tells WSJM News due to COVID-19, Governor Gretchen Whitmer moved it back to June 29. If you still owe on your taxes, the treasurer’s office will work out a payment plan with you.. ...Read Full Story