Local News Archives

$753,000 Grant Going To Niles Dial A Ride

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced a grant of more than $753,000 for the city of Niles as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act. The money will be used to support operations, maintenance, and capital expenses at Niles Dial a Ride during the COVID-19 pandemic. In all, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao says $25 billion is going to public transportation systems around the country. She says the funds will enable those systems to continue operating for those who rely on them. In addition to the CARES Act funding, the Transportation Administration has issued a safety advisory for transit agencies to develop policies regarding face coverings and Personal Protective Equipment, cleaning, physical separation, and hand hygiene.... [Read Full Story]

Cass County Joins Kinexus

Now working with Kinexus and Market Van Buren is Cass County. Market Van Buren Director Zachary Morris tells WSJM News it’s forming a partnership with Cass County to help raise the area’s economic development profile. The process is in its very early stages.... [Read Full Story]

South Haven Taking Input On Playground Improvements

Public comment is still being taken by the city of South Haven on its plans to improve the Kids Corner Playground and the restrooms at South Beach. The city this week held a public visioning session to get the thoughts of residents. South Haven Public Works Director Bill Hunter told WSJM News the city got a grant of $275,000 to replace the playset at the playground. The city will match that to build a new playset.... [Read Full Story]

Van Buren Road Commission To Do Herbicide Spraying

The Van Buren County Road Commission will be spraying herbicides along roads this fall. It says it’s hired The Daltons out of North Webster, Indiana to perform custom chemical vegetation control services along the road right-of-way on various roadways throughout Van Buren County. The spraying will start on September 8 and should be finished by October 15. Locations to be sprayed include identified invasive species areas, as well as brush control at intersections and other selected areas within the county. They will not be spraying urban areas, orchards and grape vineyards and certified organic farms that have been registered on the Michigan Specialty Crop Site Registry. The road commission says property owners can ask to be excluded from the program by filling out an application and agreeing to accept the responsibility for maintaining the roadside area by the cutting of weeds, brush, and low hanging limbs. To get the application, call the Van Buren County Road Commission.... [Read Full Story]

Benton Harbor Steak n Shake Up For Auction

The fast food chain Steak n Shake has announced it will auction off 15 of its locations in August, including the Steak n Shake in Benton Harbor. In all, three locations in Michigan will be up for grabs for minimum bids of $367,000 each. The Benton Harbor Steak n Shake closed last year, along with all of the 15 locations being auctioned off. The Benton Harbor location had struggled with poor service for years prior to being shuttered. Keen-Summit Capital Partners and NAI Global will run the sale of the Steak n Shake locations, according to MLive. They told the outlet many of the locations being auctioned off are “virtually turn-key with much of the restaurant equipment available within the building.” The deadline for bids on the properties is August 31, and the auction will be held on September 4. When all is said and done, Benton Harbor could wind up with a Steak n Shake again.... [Read Full Story]

National Blueberry Festival This Weekend

The National Blueberry Festival in South Haven is set for this weekend, although it will be different due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Festival organizers say there will not be live music or pie eating contests. There will be an emphasis on local growers as many will set up under the Huron Street Pavilion on Saturday, along with several hosts for Farm Day. In addition, there will be online and virtual events that will allow anyone to participate with the festival. All live events will be outside and organizers request that visitors follow Michigan’s protocols including handwashing and sanitization, social distancing, and face coverings. The list of all that’s planned can be found at BlueberryFestival.com or at the National Blueberry Festival’s Facebook page. Activities that are still planned include a kid’s scavenger hunt and virtual races.... [Read Full Story]

Krasl Planning Social Justice Policy Meeting

The Krasl Art Center is planning a meeting to discuss social justice policies. The St. Joseph City Commission has been holding meetings to talk about what it could do to improve racial equity and to fight racism in recent months, and the Krasl says it wants to follow suit. To that end, it says with the support of St. Joe City Commissioner Peggy Getty, it’s inviting the community to “participate in a focused dialogue around the arts and culture in the Twin Cities, and the role this sector can play in supporting, advocating, and being a resource for social justice movement and action.” There will be two meetings this month, both virtually. The first is set for August 13 at 4:30 p.m. and the other will be August 27 at 4:30 p.m.... [Read Full Story]

Fatal Shooting Under Investigation In Allegan County

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a Thursday fatal shooting in Lee Township. It says deputies responded to the scene near the 500 block of 55th Street around 6:15 p.m. and found a 50-year-old man dead. A 62-year-old man was still at the home, and was taken into custody. He’s now being held at the Allegan County Jail on a charge of open murder. The name of the victim and the name of the suspect have not been released, not have police revealed what led to the shooting.... [Read Full Story]

State Reports 762 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 For Friday, No Additional Deaths

Michigan is reporting 762 additional cases of COVID-19 for Friday. The state also says it’s had zero new deaths for the day. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services puts the total number of COVID cases since the start of the pandemic at 86,191 with 6,247 deaths. While the state coronavirus website as of Friday afternoon hadn’t updated the county totals, the Berrien County Health Department says the county did have fewer new confirmed COVID-19 cases than were recorded in each of the previous four weeks. However, it says “the majority of our new cases are from widespread community transmission across the entire county,” while it is seeing new clusters of the illness appear. Berrien County reported one additional death from COVID-19 this week.... [Read Full Story]

Governor Extends Emergency Declaration

From the Associated Press — Governor Gretchen Whitmer has extended Michigan’s coronavirus emergency through September 4, enabling her to keep in place restrictions designed to curb COVID-19. The Democratic governor on Friday pointed to an uptick in
cases. Since nearly two months ago, the seven-day statewide average is up six-fold, to about 700, per an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. The rate of positive tests also has trended higher since early June. Whitmer has used the emergency declaration to issue orders to close certain businesses, limit gathering sizes and require masks in enclosed public spaces and crowded outdoor places.... [Read Full Story]

University Of Michigan Getting $6 Million To Engage More Business Students

From the Associated Press — Two successful graduates are committing $6 million to help the University of Michigan expand opportunities for students in real estate and investing. Stephen Ross and Jeff Blau say they want to help minorities as well as students from low-income backgrounds. Their goals include getting students interested in business even before attending U of M, making school more affordable and offering internships. Ross is chairman and founder of Related Companies, which has more than $60 billion in real estate assets, and owner of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. Blau is chief executive officer of Related Companies.... [Read Full Story]

Senator Launching Investigation Into Postal Service Delays

From the Associated Press — A Democratic senator says he is launching an investigation into changes at the U.S. Postal Service that are causing delays in deliveries across the country. Democrats say the delays will be especially bad because of an expected big volume increase for mail-in ballots ahead of the November election. A plan imposed by Louis DeJoy, a Republican fundraiser who took over
the top job at the Postal Service in June, eliminates overtime for hundreds of thousands of postal workers and orders that mail be kept until the next day if distribution centers are running late. Michigan Senator Gary Peters says delays “are preventing Americans from critical mail on-time, including prescription drugs, business mail and mail-in ballots.”... [Read Full Story]

Veggie Van Coming To Benton Harbor

Coming to Benton Harbor this month will be the famous Veggie Van. It’s a mobile food pantry that distributes fresh fruits and vegetables to anyone who wants them, and it’s offered thanks to a partnership between Spectrum Health and the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids. Spectrum Health Lakeland tells us the van will be at the Benton Harbor Public Library on East Wall Street on Thursday, August 20 from noon to 4 p.m. Those who stop by are asked to stay in their vehicle as the service is drive-thru. The goal of the program is to ensure fruits and vegetables are available to people who otherwise have limited access to fresh produce.... [Read Full Story]

Commission Signs Off On Watervliet Drainage Project

A major drainage project will be done in Watervliet this year in tandem with water system improvements. The Berrien County Board of Commissioners signed off on the $2.6 million South Watervliet Drainage District project Thursday. Watervliet City Manager Tyler Dotson told the board the drain work by the Berrien County Drain Commissioner will take place at the same time as water main improvements and the replacement of lead and copper intakes in the southwest corner of the city.... [Read Full Story]

Record Number Of Primary Ballots Cast

A record 2.5 million votes were cast in Michigan’s primary, as people took advantage of no-excuse absentee voting amid the coronavirus pandemic. The count released Thursday surpassed the previous record of 2.2 million from 2018, when – unlike Tuesday – there were contested statewide contests for governor and U.S. Senate. Nearly one-third of the state’s voting-age population participated. About 1.6 million ballots were absentee, returned by mail or at drop boxes – topping the record of 1.3 million from November 2016. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says the turnout proves people want to vote despite the pandemic.... [Read Full Story]

New COVID-19 Cases Up

The state has 722 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, putting the overall number at 85,429 since March. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is reporting 26 new COVID-19 deaths as of Thursday for a total of 6,247. In southwest Michigan, Berrien County is at 1,155 up by 20 and the number of deaths remains at 65. Cass County is up 11 cases to 294 and with two additional deaths to bring that total to 13. In Van Buren County, there are three new coronavirus cases to bring that count to 389 cases and ten people dead.... [Read Full Story]

Another Record Month For Home Sales

Another month means another record for selling prices of existing homes in southwest Michigan. The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors says key to that is 24% fewer homes on the market from July 2019 in Allegan, Berrien, Cass, and the western 2/3 of Van Buren counties. The average sales price was $337,697, 12% higher than June’s $300,418 while the median selling price dropped 2% from the month before to $230,000. The number of houses sold increased 51% from June 2020 and July 2019. At 479 houses, July 2020 set a staggering record in the year-over-year comparison. The second best year was July 2018, with 390 homes sold.... [Read Full Story]