Local News Archives

Berrien County Clerk Elected President Of Michigan Association of County Clerks

Berrien County Clerk Sharon Tyler has been elected to serve as the President of the Michigan Association of County Clerks for 2021 at a recent virtual Michigan Association of County Clerks Annual Meeting. Tyler is the first County Clerk from Berrien County to be elected as President of the Association. She has been on the Board of Directors for the last three years and has been actively involved since 2013 on the MACC Legislative Committee and Council of Election Officials Board, which is a combination of Michigan County Clerks and local clerks. The MACC Board of Directors is made up of County Clerks from five districts and covering all 83 Michigan counties. MACC brings about a closer networking relationship among the County Clerks throughout the state and takes pride in education, training and promoting growth within our County Clerks. Clerk Tyler has been the Berrien County Clerk since 2013. She was previously a Michigan State Representative for District 78 and was the Southwestern Michigan Economic Growth Alliance’s Executive Director for 11 years.. ...Read Full Story

Monday COVID-19 Numbers Released

The number of new COVID-19 cases in the state is higher by 868 to 97,660. The number of new deaths is holding steady for a second straight day at 4. That brings the total to 6,397. Berrien County has 1,369 cases, up by 32 from Sunday. Cass County is at 362, an increase of three, and Van Buren County is at 514, down one from Sunday. The number of deaths in southwest Michigan is unchanged from Sunday at 69 in Berrien County, 15 in Cass County, and 13 in Van Buren County.. ...Read Full Story

No Spectators For 2020 Four Winds Invitational

There will be no fans at Blackthorn Golf Club in South Bend from September 4th to the 6th, as the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi and Four Winds Casinos announced this year’s Four Winds Invitational will be without spectators. The event is in its ninth year and Pokagon Band Tribal Chairman Matthew Wesaw says “the decision to proceed without spectators is consistent with other Symetra Tour events.” It is part of the Symetra Tour – Road to the LPGA. Proceeds from the 2020 Four Winds Invitational will be donated to Beacon Health System to help purchase Centrella™ Smart+ Beds. The Smart Beds will be placed in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Beacon Children’s Hospital and will improve mobility and prevent pressure injuries, which can lead to infection and increased length of stay. More information on the Centralla Smart+ Bed can be found at www.centrallabed.com. Over the last nine years, Beacon Health System has received $672,500 from the Four Winds Invitational. In previous years, Beacon Health System has used funds from the Four Winds Invitational to help build a multi-story building above the Memorial Leighton Trauma Center for the General Pediatrics Unit, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Newborn Intensive Care unit, and Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic.. ...Read Full Story

SHAES Gets Bicycles

South Haven Area Emergency Services has something new for 2020 and beyond. The department has acquired bicycles for responders to use during busy times when high traffic areas are difficult to navigate. The idea predates the COVID-19 pandemic, which has reduced the number of traditional events and the acquisition of the bikes was slowed because of supply-chain issues. Chief Brandon Hinz says they will be used for the rest of the summer and “we’ll be ready for 2021 when things return to normal.” The bikes were funded by a grant from the Albemarle Corporation Foundation that came through its employee philanthropic initiative program. The grant also funded the purchase of water rescue equipment for the department’s paid-on-call staff. The bikes were acquired through Rock ‘N’ Road Cycle of South Haven, and are equipped with a jump kit that contains first aid equipment to be used until SHAES ambulance personnel arrive at the scene of the emergency.. ...Read Full Story

Schools In Northern Michigan OK For Soccer, Volleyball, Swim

From the Associated Press — High schools in the Upper Peninsula and much of the northern Lower Peninsula can compete in fall soccer, volleyball and swimming. But officials say schools in other regions of Michigan need to wait to hear more from Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Schools that have the green light are in regions 6 and 8, which cover the entire Upper Peninsula and nearly 20 counties in the northern Lower Peninsula. There will be limits on the number of people who can watch a contest. Football is being moved to spring from fall to reduce the risk of the coronavirus. Teams can have 16 contact practice days from August 24 through
October 31.. ...Read Full Story

City Moving Toward In-House Trash Collection

Benton Harbor City Commissioners are moving forward with bringing trash collection in-house. The city in the past has hired contractors to pick up trash, but this year the commission voted to make it a municipal operation. During a meeting this past week, commissioners approved the purchase of trash bins for residents at a cost of $142,000. This is the first step as the city establishes a Sanitation Division. Commissioner Mary Alice Adams was pleased to see the ball get rolling.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Adjusts Schedule To Account For COVID Possibilities

Leaders at Southwestern Michigan College are remaining flexible as they plan for the coming academic year. SMC President Joe Odenwald tells us the board of trustees this week approved moving the spring of 2021 semester back by two weeks to give the college time to make adjustments that may be needed due to COVID-19. He says this also gives SMC more time to allow for an in-person graduation ceremony.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Land Auctions Coming Up

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is getting ready to hold some property auctions. DNR resource specialist Michael Michalek tells WSJM News they sell off surplus properties each year. This fall, there will be 225 properties around Michigan to be available at ten separate auctions.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Students Receiving Coca Cola Scholarships

Three Lake Michigan College students have been named 2020 Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholars. They are among 207 Phi Theta Kappa members named for the distinction this week. Sophie Paar of Stevensville, Tamlin Le Roux of Niles, and Alexis Johnson of Martin each will receive a $1,000 scholarship. LMC says the Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholarship Program helps new Phi Theta Kappa members defray educational expenses while enrolled in associate degree programs. They’re encouraged to assume leadership roles and are picked based on their academic achievement, community service, and leadership potential. LMC professor and chapter advisor Jessica Beachy says she’s proud of the local Phi Theta Kappa students.. ...Read Full Story

Lawmaker: Return To Learn Plan Designed For Flexibility

A Return to Learn plan for Michigan schools this fall will allow for flexibility, both for parents and local health officials, according to state Senator Kim LaSata. The state Legislature approved the plan developed on a bipartisan basis with help from the governor’s office this past week, and it was signed by the governor. LaSata tells WSJM News most parents she speaks to want their kids to go back to school in person, but the state plan allows for online learning as well.. ...Read Full Story

Health Department: Berrien COVID Rate Holding Steady

The Berrien County Health Department says the county has been showing a steady rate of new COVID-19 cases of about eleven per day for the past two weeks with a 3% positivity rate on tests performed. In its weekly COVID update, the department reports low levels of hospitalizations in the county and “very few deaths over the last several weeks.” Additionally, the department says the “best available evidence indicates COVID-19 poses a relatively low risk to school-aged children.” It says it will continue to work with local school districts to plan for the academic year ahead. The goal is for in-person learning to be held with as many new safety protocols as possible. As of Thursday, Berrien County had had 1,311 cases of the illness and 69 deaths since the start of the pandemic.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Expands Enrollment For Nursing Program

Lake Michigan College will be able to enroll more students in its nursing program now that it’s adding a second entry point. LMC says the competitive RN program, which celebrated its 50th anniversary during the 2019-2020 academic year, is now accepting applications for the spring of 2021 semester, which begins in January. The deadline to apply for the new spring entry start is September 12. LMC Nursing Program Chair Dana Jenkins says when the college had once-a-year applications, it could accept 88 students for the given academic year. Now, they’re accepting 48 students twice a year to increase that number to 96 students. Prospective students interested in nursing should first apply to LMC and speak with an advisor.. ...Read Full Story

Police Investigating South Haven Murder

A South Haven man is charged with murder in the death of a woman this week. The South Haven Police Department says officers were called to a home on Pearl Street around 11 p.m. Wednesday. They found the woman’s body and determined foul play had been involved. On Thursday, 36-year-old Randy Halstead was arrested. He’s now in the Van Buren County Jail on charges of open murder and being a habitual offender. He has been denied bond, and police have released no additional information, including the name of the victim.. ...Read Full Story

GVSU Preparing For Student Move-In

Grand Valley State University is getting ready to welcome 5,000 new and returning students to the Allendale campus starting tomorrow. Greg Sanial is the Chief Financial Officer at Grand Valley and says this year’s move-in period has been extended to 7-days to allow social distancing.. ...Read Full Story

Mayor Talks Racial Equity With Governor

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is establishing a Black Advisory Leadership Council in Michigan, and southwest Michigan is “more than likely” to have representation on the body. So says Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad, who told city commissioners this week he recently spoke with the governor.. ...Read Full Story

Upton Holding Out Hope For COVID Relief Package

Congressman Fred Upton is still holding out hope leadership in Washington will return to the negotiating table for a new coronavirus relief package. The talks broke down this month over disagreements regarding unemployment benefits, sending Republicans and Democrats running home with no plan. Upton tells WSJM News they need to get it together and come up with something.. ...Read Full Story

County: Historical Association Event Must Be Online

The Berrien County Historical Association won’t be holding an in-person fundraiser next month after all. The group had been planning to welcome supporters to the museum grounds in Berrien Springs on September 17 with a celebration called “All That Jazz” and featuring a 1920s theme. There was also going to be a Zoom component for those who would rather celebrate from home. However, at a Thursday meeting of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners, the in-person aspect of the party was called into question. Commissioner Bill Chickering said the a committee has discussed the event with the Berrien County Parks Department.. ...Read Full Story

Nine Arrested In Van Buren Warrant Sweep

Nine people have been arrested in Van Buren County as part of a warrant sweep. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department says all were wanted for felony warrants and were picked up on Wednesday. During the sweep, eight felony arrests and two misdemeanor arrests were made, with all suspects taken to the Van Buren County Jail. COVID-19 precautions were followed for the safety of the inmates and personnel, and new criminal investigations related to the sweeps have been opened. Charges against those who were picked up include possession of meth, delivery of a controlled substance, and failure to appear in court.. ...Read Full Story

Berrien County Man Busted For Drugs In Van Buren County

A 27-year-old Berrien County man is in the Van Buren County Jail for meth possession, a concealed weapons charge, possession of a gun during a felony, and two outstanding Berrien County warrants. Deputies arrested Austin Haney on Wednesday night in the 29-thousand block of M-43 in Almena Township when they found him with a disabled motorcycle. They add he did not disclose he was carrying the loaded and unregistered 9mm pistol. The motorcycle was towed away.. ...Read Full Story

MI COVID Numbers For Thursday

Michigan is reporting 419 additional cases of COVID-19 for Thursday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says there have been a total of 94,697 cases of the illness in the state since the start of the pandemic. The state reports 19 additional deaths for Thursday, bringing that total to 6,368. However, eleven of those deaths were identified through a review of vital records. The state coronavirus website did not release county by county numbers for Thursday as of the late afternoon.. ...Read Full Story

TV Station Finds Mail Equipment Dismantled In Grand Rapids

From the Associated Press — A TV station says it found mail sorting equipment dismantled outside a U.S. Postal Service facility in the Grand Rapids area. The discovery occurred a day after the postmaster general said equipment would stay in place across the country. WOOD-TV posted video of the equipment and a full trash bin nearby. Amy Puhalski, president of a postal union in western Michigan,
said six of 35 machines have been dismantled in the Grand Rapids area. A Postal Service spokeswoman declined to comment and instead referred to a Tuesday statement from the postmaster general. Louis DeJoy says election mail will be delivered on time.. ...Read Full Story

Commission Moving Forward With Bringing Trash Collection In-House

Benton Harbor City Commissioners are moving forward with bringing trash collection in-house. The city in the past has hired contractors to pick up trash, but this year the commission voted to make it a municipal operation. During a Wednesday meeting, commissioners approved the purchase of trash bins for residents at a cost of $142,000. This is the first step as the city establishes a Sanitation Division. Commissioner Mary Alice Adams was pleased to see the ball get rolling.. ...Read Full Story

Whitmer Assessing If Businesses Can Open After Long Closures

From the Associated Press — Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she’s reassessing the risk of opening Michigan businesses that have been closed for months under her orders to curb the coronavirus. She’ll have more to say next week. Movie theaters, gyms and indoor pools are among places barred from operating amid the pandemic. The Democratic governor said Tuesday her office is working with the state health department to “drill down” into closed businesses and studying what’s happening in other states. She also announced Michigan will allocate $60 million in federal pandemic relief funds to school districts where more than half of the
students are economically disadvantaged.. ...Read Full Story

Groups Call For Racism To Be Declared A Public Health Crisis

Two weeks after Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared racism a public health crisis, there are calls for Michigan lawmakers to make it even more official. A concurrent resolution introduced in early June would make the same declaration, and commit the Legislature to work with the governor to promote racial equity and justice. Senator Erika Geiss, who co-sponsored the Senate version, notes the measures have since languished in committee.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan To Give Jobless Extra $300 Per Week Under Trump Plan

From the Associated Press — Michigan has applied for federal funding to provide an additional $300 a week in unemployment benefits. It’s less than the $600 boost that expired last month but still more than the maximum $362 weekly payment Michigan dispenses. President Donald Trump this month signed an order extending the added weekly benefit after he and Congress were unable to agree to a broader new coronavirus relief plan. Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer says the program will provide much-needed support but is a short-term “Band-Aid” that falls short of what’s needed.. ...Read Full Story

DNR Preparing For Land Auctions

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is getting ready to hold some property auctions. DNR resource specialist Michael Michalek tells WSJM News they sell off surplus properties each year. This fall, there will be 225 properties around Michigan to be available at ten separate auctions.. ...Read Full Story

SMC Adjusts Schedule For Spring Semester

Leaders at Southwestern Michigan College are remaining flexible as they plan for the coming academic year. SMC President Joe Odenwald tells us the board of trustees this week approved moving the spring of 2021 semester back by two weeks to give the college time to make adjustments that may be needed due to COVID-19. He says this also gives SMC more time to allow for an in-person graduation ceremony.. ...Read Full Story

State COVID-19 Numbers For Wednesday

Michigan is reporting 616 additional cases of COVID-19 for Wednesday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says there have been a total of 94,278 cases of the illness in the state since the start of the pandemic. The state reports nine additional deaths for Wednesday, bringing that total to 6,349. For the day, Berrien County reported 14 additional cases for a total of 1,305 and 69 deaths. Cass County reported seven additional cases of COVID for Wednesday, making for a total of 344 cases and 14 deaths. Van Buren County reported nine additional cases for Wednesday for a total of 472 cases and 12 deaths.. ...Read Full Story

90-Year-Old Woman Killed In Crash

A 90-year-old woman from Niles is dead following a crash in Cass County on Wednesday. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department says it happened on US-12 at the M-60 interchange in Milton Township around 10:20 a.m. A vehicle driven by Patricia McIntyre of Niles made a left turn on to US-12 and into the path of an eastbound vehicle. That vehicle, driven by 23-year-old Cody Cummings of Benton Harbor, struck the driver’s side door of McIntyre’s vehicle. The vehicle driven by Cummings caught fire and he and his passengers, a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old, were pulled out by bystanders. Cummings and his passengers were taken to South Bend Memorial Hospital. McIntyre was pronounced dead at the scene.. ...Read Full Story

Liquor Control Commission Urges Moderation

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found excessive use of alcohol is responsible for more than 93,000 deaths each year, and that Michigan is eighth highest in terms of total deaths among all 50 states. Michigan Liquor Control Commission Chair Pat Gagliardi calls the study “a huge wake-up call toward keeping alcohol consumption in check.” The Michigan Liquor Control Commission also notes there’s been an uptick in drinking during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some light to moderate drinkers are drinking more now than before the pandemic, according to a survey released by the American Addiction Centers. A similar percentage said that if they work from home, they’re more likely now to drink during working hours. The commission says everyone needs to avoid binge drinking, and urges those with a problem to seek help.. ...Read Full Story

One Arrested In Chikaming Township Drug Bust

A 71-year-old Chikaming Township man is facing a variety of charges after a drug bust last week. The Southwest Enforcement Team says its detectives and officers from the Chikaming Township Police Department, the Unites States Postal Inspection Service, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, and Michigan State Police raided a home on Friday. Michael Vernon McNair Junior was the target, and police say they found 60 grams of cocaine, around a half ounce of fentanyl, and several bags with unknown powder. They also found a stolen handgun. McNair was taken to the Berrien County Jail on charges including possession of cocaine with intent to deliver and possession of Fentanyl with intent to deliver.. ...Read Full Story

Michigan Joining Lawsuit Over Postal Service

From the Associated Press — The state of Michigan is joining other states in suing the U.S. Postal Service over service changes. Attorney General Dana Nessel says a lawsuit was is the works Tuesday in federal court in Washington state. But Postmaster General Louis DeJoy also says he’s suspending certain changes until after the fall election. DeJoy is pledging to deliver election mail on time.
Nessel and attorneys general in other states say significant changes must face a public comment period and go to the Postal Regulatory Commission.. ...Read Full Story

LMC Students Named Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholars

Three Lake Michigan College students have been named 2020 Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholars. They are among 207 Phi Theta Kappa members named for the distinction this week. Sophie Paar of Stevensville, Tamlin Le Roux of Niles, and Alexis Johnson of Martin each will receive a $1,000 scholarship. LMC says the Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholarship Program helps new Phi Theta Kappa members defray educational expenses while enrolled in associate degree programs. They’re encouraged to assume leadership roles and are picked based on their academic achievement, community service, and leadership potential. LMC professor and chapter advisor Jessica Beachy says she’s proud of the local Phi Theta Kappa students.. ...Read Full Story

New COVID-19 Figures Released

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says there are 476 new COVID-19 cases in the state and 15 new deaths. That brings the totals to 93,661 cases and 6,340 deaths since March. In Berrien County, there are five new cases to 1,291 with zero new deaths to keep that total at 69. Cass County has no new cases to keep that total at 337 and zero new deaths, remaining at 14. In Van Buren County there are a total of 463, with 12 deaths.. ...Read Full Story

Viewer Makes Weather Data Available To Michigan Farmers

From the Associated Press — Michigan’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is making data on programs related to weather conditions available to farmers. The Geographic Information System viewer allows the agency to take different types of data sets and turn them into easy-to-understand visuals like maps. The data is from resources like the Michigan State University Extension
and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The viewer will be updated as new information is identified. Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Gary McDowell said financial assistance programs can be critical for farmers as extreme weather conditions such as drought, deep freezes or flooding impacts their ability to plant, harvest or tend to their crops.. ...Read Full Story

United Way Promotes Equity Challenge

The United Way of Southwest Michigan says its upcoming 21 Day Equity Challenge will be an opportunity for the whole community to improve itself by coming to a better understanding of racism and how it affects everyday life. United Way spokesperson Jennifer Tomshack tells WSJM News it falls within the group’s mission to combat racism.. ...Read Full Story

Police Quickly Retrieve Missing Piece of Beach Sign

A good Samaritan was able to help Bridgman police locate a missing piece of the “I Love Weko” sign at Weko Beach that went missing over the weekend. The Bridgman Police Department posted to Facebook Sunday that the heart symbol representing love in the sign was stolen late Saturday. It asked for information regarding the heart’s whereabouts. It wasn’t long before a man walking along a trail at nearby Warren Dunes State Park found the heart. It was then retrieved by police.. ...Read Full Story

LaSata Discusses Return To Learn Plan

A Return to Learn plan for Michigan schools this fall will allow for flexibility, both for parents and local health officials, according to state Senator Kim LaSata. The state Senate approved the plan developed on a bipartisan basis with help from the governor’s office in a rare Saturday session. LaSata tells WSJM News most parents she speaks to want their kids to go back to school in person, but the state plan allows for online learning as well.. ...Read Full Story