Local News Archives

Commissioners Talk Foreclosure Auction

Berrien County’s foreclosed properties auction is set for September 26, but some county commissioners have concerns about how it’s being handled. Due to COVID-19, Berrien County Treasurer Shelly Weich has announced the auction will be online only, through a vendor called Tax-Sale.info. Taking part will require a $1,000 deposit, something Commissioner Mamie Yarbrough questioned at a Thursday meeting. She said she’s heard complaints from Benton Harbor residents.... [Read Full Story]

Committee Approves Wendzel Child Care Bill

Legislation from state Representative Pauline Wendzel aimed at making child care more available to Michigan parents has been approved by a House committee. She tells WSJM News the bill would increase the number of children that a home-based child care operation could take. Right now, a private home is limited to seven to 12 children, depending on how many adults are present. Wendzel says her bill increases that by a few to make getting child care easier.... [Read Full Story]

Parks Department Told To Paint Over Pier Graffiti

Staff at the Berrien County Parks Department are working to eliminate profane graffiti painted on the south pier in St. Joseph this past weekend. During a Thursday meeting of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners, Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey said although the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns the pier, it’s been recommended the county remove the graffiti so it can be taken care of quickly. Parks staff were able to wash away graffiti also sprayed in one area of Silver Beach County Park, but dealing with the pier is a bit different.... [Read Full Story]

Whitmer: No Enforcement Of Virus Rules At Trump Rallies

From the Associated Press — Governor Gretchen Whitmer says it doesn’t make sense for Michigan to enforce coronavirus restrictions at President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign rallies and also points to people’s constitutional rights. The Democrat has expressed safety concerns with thousands attending a Trump rally last week, calling it a potential superspreader event. Her order restricts
outdoor gatherings to no more than 100, though there’s an exception for political speech. Her office say attendees still must keep 6 feet apart from non-household members and wear masks if distance can’t be maintained. But Whitmer says it practically doesn’t make sense to try to enforce the rules.... [Read Full Story]

Time Running Out To Apply For Home Heating Credit

Michigan homeowners and renters only have two weeks left to apply for the state’s Home Heating Credit. The Michigan Department of Treasury says the Home Heating Credit helps covers utility expenses, leaving more money available for other needs. It’s designed to aid senior citizens, low income residents, the disabled, and veterans. State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks says applications must be received by September 30. Recipients typically file a Home Heating Credit application when doing their tax return, but applicants don’t need to file an income tax return to get the assistance and can apply for it on its own. The Home Heating Credit application form can be found at Michigan.gov/Taxes.... [Read Full Story]

COVID-19 At GVSU Prompts “Stay In Place” Order

COVID-19 cases are spiking in Allendale Township on the campus of Grand Valley State University. The Ottawa County Health Department has issued a “Stay in Place” order for GVSU students as there have been more than 600 cases since August 23. However, students are expected in classes as administrator Greg Sanial says it’s believed going to class is safe.... [Read Full Story]

Fugitive Arrested In Van Buren County

A 28-year-old Bangor man is in the Kalamazoo County Jail after his arrest Tuesday night at his home. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department was called to County Road 215 to find the fugitive who was wanted for outstanding warrants. As deputies drove up, the man ran inside the house and barricaded himself in a bedroom with a shotgun. Police activated the SWAT team and the man surrendered after what’s described as a short standoff. The investigation continues, and deputies seized the shotgun. No one was hurt.... [Read Full Story]

Official Defends Handling Of Virus In Michigan Nursing Homes

From the Associated Press — A top health official is defending Michigan’s handling of nursing home residents infected with the coronavirus. Robert Gordon is director of the state Department of Health and Human Services. He told lawmakers Wednesday that Michigan’s performance is “strong” compared with other states. He dismissed Republicans’ call for facilities that house only coronavirus patients. Gordon said just two states, Florida and Massachusetts, tried the approach and abandoned it. He says using new facilities for only coronavirus patients would have “limited utility” in a state as large as Michigan. And, he says, “you still need to staff, provide equipment and license that facility.”... [Read Full Story]

Survey Looks At Concerns Of Older Voters

With the nation heading into an election, there are some key matters older Michiganders care about that transcend partisan politics. In a new AARP survey of Michigan voters age 50-plus, 54% said they support Joe Biden, and 40% support Donald Trump. However, they are united in some other areas. Mark Hornbeck with AARP Michigan tells us a majority of older voters would favor candidates who will protect Social Security, strengthen Medicare, and lower prescription drug prices. He adds a majority also say more needs to be done to protect the health of people living in nursing... [Read Full Story]

GVSU Students Ordered To Stay In Place For 2 Weeks

From the Associated Press — Students at Grand Valley State University have been ordered to hunker down for two weeks due to a spike in coronavirus cases linked to the western Michigan campus. There have been more than 600 cases of COVID-19 among students August 23, with the majority among students living off campus. Ottawa County says the stay-in-place order starts Thursday. Students must stick to their on-campus or off-campus residence unless attending classes, exercising, getting food, seeking health care or working at an essential job. Students cannot return to their home community unless there’s an emergency. The move comes a few days after a similar order was issued to students living in fraternities and sororities at Michigan State University.... [Read Full Story]

Hard Rock Cafe Exiting Four Winds New Buffalo

Anyone who was a fan of the Hard Rock Cafe at Four Winds New Buffalo has until Halloween to say goodbye to it. The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi and Four Winds are replacing it later this year with Kankakee Grille, which is already open in South Bend. Chief operating officer Frank Freedman thanked Hard Rock International for nine years of a “very positive working relationship.” He went on to say the Kankakee Grille has been successful in South Bend and they felt it was a natural progression to bring it to New Buffalo. The new restaurant is named for the Kankakee River, which begins in South Bend and was used by the Potawatomi for food, shelter, medicine, and clothing. It will be open by the end of the year.... [Read Full Story]

South Haven Schools To Resume In-Person K-5 Classes

South Haven Public Schools are reopening to in-person education next week. Kindergarten through 5th grades will be in their schools two days a week, staggered by group, and all will be virtual on Wednesdays. One group will be in class Monday and Thursday while the other group is in the building Tuesday and Friday. All K-5 students who enrolled in Ram Connection for 100% virtual learning will remain in that program. Wednesdays will be virtual to allow schools to be deep cleaned every week. The new schedule begins Monday.... [Read Full Story]

Big Ten Football Returns

Big Ten football is set to resume with games on the weekend of October 23 and 24. The Coucil of Presidents and Chancellors this morning adopted significant medical protocols that include daily testing, enhanced cardiac screening and a data-driven approach to decisions about practices and games. Each team will play an eight-game schedule. In addition to the medical protocols approved, the 14 Big Ten institutions will establish a cardiac registry in an effort to examine the effects on COVID-19 positive student-athletes. The registry and associated data will attempt to answer many of the unknowns regarding the cardiac manifestations in COVID-19 positive elite athletes.... [Read Full Story]

Man Aims To Reopen Deer Forest

Several years after it closed, Deer Forest in Coloma could find new life if one man’s fundraising campaign is successful. 36-year-old Blair Struble grew up in Coloma, and says he was heartbroken when he learned the attraction had closed and the property was for sale. He tells WSJM News he and other local kids spent a lot of time there growing up.... [Read Full Story]

South Haven Arcade Owner Protests In Lansing

The owner of Rocket Arcade in South Haven was in Lansing on Tuesday to stage a protest over the governor’s refusal to let businesses like his reopen. Ralph Lucius set up a pinball machine at the steps of the Michigan Capitol and questioned why other businesses were allowed to reopen for the summer, but others, like arcades, were forced to stay closed. State Representative Beth Griffin supports his cause.... [Read Full Story]

New Hartford Library Up And Running

Hartford Public Library staff are settling into their new home. After about a year of construction, the brand new Arthur and Bonna Vanderlyn Community Center and Hartford Public Library on Church Street is now open to the public. Library Director Stephanie Daniels tells WSJM News this is a big step up from the old location on Franklin.... [Read Full Story]

Upton, Colleagues Announce Blueprint For Coronavirus Relief Package

The U.S. House Problem Solvers Caucus has unveiled its blueprint for a new coronavirus stimulus and relief bill. The bipartisan group gathered in Washington Tuesday to announce the package, which includes COVID-19 testing, unemployment insurance, direct stimulus, small business and non-profit support, food security, schools and child care, housing, election support, and state and local aid. Congressman Fred Upton tells WSJM News there are a lot of priorities to address.... [Read Full Story]

Nursing Home Visits Now Allowed

Michigan residents are now allowed to visit their loved ones in nursing homes, but it will have to be outdoors for their own safety. Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon says you will have to wait a little while longer to hug anyone though.... [Read Full Story]

Geneva Township House Fire Under Investigation

The cause of a Geneva Township fire that badly damaged a home is not yet known. South Haven Area Emergency Services was called to the scene on County Road 681 just after 10 this morning and needed the help of Bangor Community Fire Department and Columbia Township Fire Department. The residents of the two-story home were not home, and no one was hurt. Firefighters had to shuttle in water to fight the flames as it was fully engulfed when they arrived.... [Read Full Story]

Lawmakers, Whitmer Reach Budget Framework With No K-12 Cuts

(Lansing, MI – AP) – Republican lawmakers and Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer have agreed to a budget framework, saying there will be no cuts to K-12 schools or municipalities despite the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on tax revenues.The deal announced Monday came 17 days before the start of the fiscal year. Few specifics were released, including whether spending will be reduced in some areas. The chairs of legislative budget subcommittee will now take their spending “target” levels and work to iron out bills. Legislators will take final votes next week. The agreement was announced three weeks after the state received a better-than-expected revenue forecast.... [Read Full Story]

New Buffalo Schools Getting Grant From Dollar General

Grants totaling nearly $70,000 are being given by the Dollar General Foundation to schools around Michigan, and among the recipients is New Buffalo Area Schools. The Dollar General says with the grants announced this week, educators at 25 schools and literacy organizations across the Michigan will have extra help to support youth literacy programs. New Buffalo Area Schools is getting a $2,000 grant.... [Read Full Story]

Michigan Works Opening New Offices In Cass County

Michigan Works is closing its office in Dowagiac and opening three new locations in Cass County. The agency says the move is being made to reach more people. Michigan Works has already opened an office inside the Niles Southwestern Michigan College Administration building, and says it will soon have staff at the Cass County Department of Health and Human Services building and the Dowagiac Public Library. The current office in Dowagiac will be shut down on October 1. Meanwhile, all Michigan Works sites in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties, including the offices in Benton Harbor, Paw Paw, and Niles, are closed for walk-in services and providing services remotely or by appointment only due to the pandemic.... [Read Full Story]