Local News Archives

343 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 Reported In Michigan For Sunday, No Additional Deaths

Michigan is reporting 343 additional cases of COVID-19 for Sunday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 65,876 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported no additional deaths for Sunday, leaving that total 5,972. Berrien County reported seven additional cases of coronavirus for Sunday, making its total since the start of the pandemic 766 with 60 deaths. Cass County reported four new cases, making its total 149 with six deaths. Van Buren County listed one new case of COVID-19 for Sunday, now with a total of 209 cases and seven deaths. Statewide, there have been 52,841 recoveries from COVID-19.... [Read Full Story]

Secretary Of State Reports More Than 3 Million Requests For Absentee Ballots

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says requests for absentee ballots have increased by 350% this year when compared to the same time ahead of the 2016 state primary. During this pandemic, Benson says “voters have embraced their right to vote from home with enormous enthusiasm.” The absentee requests are up by more than 1 million from the 2016 primary, and there have been more than 1.3 million requests overall. The Secretary of State says when a voter receives their absentee ballot, they should fill it out carefully, noting in state primary elections they can only vote for one party. Once completed, they should place the ballot into the secrecy sleeve and then into the return envelope. Once the envelope is sealed, the voter must sign the back of the envelope, and their signature will be compared to the one election officials have on file. Voters are encouraged to return their ballots as soon as possible... [Read Full Story]

Motorcyclist Killed In Crash

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a fatal crash involving a motorcycle and a car on Saturday. Deputies were sent to the scene at the intersection of Red Arrow Hwy and Community Hall Road in New Buffalo Township around 6:45 p.m. They found a woman lying unresponsive in the road. She was taken by ambulance to Franciscan
Hospital in Michigan City, Indiana, where she was pronounced dead. She has been identified as 23-year-old Stacy Johnson of Illinois. Deputies say she’d been riding her motorcycle north past a restaurant when a vehicle driven by a Three Oaks woman drove crossed into her path as it turned into the establishment. The crash remains under investigation.... [Read Full Story]

Work On Napier Slated To Start Tomorrow

There’s a whole lot of work planned for Napier Avenue starting this week. Berrien County Road Department Director Jason Latham tells WSJM News there will be two projects starting Monday. The first is the long-awaited reconstruction of Napier from the St. Joseph River to Colfax. The work will have the road reduced to one lane in each direction for about a month. Latham says when the road is reopened, it will have been placed on a diet, reduced to three lanes.... [Read Full Story]

Rotary Picks New Leaders

The Rotary Club of St. Joseph-Benton Harbor has kicked off its 2020-2021 year with the induction of a new president and board of directors. The new president is Matt Hanley. He replaces Brandi Smith, who says she has enjoyed her year at the helm of the organization. She says the “connections I’ve made with the community mean so much to me. I’m also grateful to the club’s board for all of their support through what was an unpredictable year with the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced us to pivot in terms of how we gather and serve.”... [Read Full Story]

398 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 In Michigan Saturday

Michigan is reporting 398 additional cases of COVID-19 for Saturday. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state has had 65,533 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic. It reported three additional deaths for Saturday, making that total 5,972. The state’s coronavirus website did not update county data on Friday. For Saturday, it had Berrien County listed with 759 cases and 60 deaths from COVID since the start of the pandemic. Cass County was listed as having 145 cases and six deaths since the start of the pandemic. Van Buren County is listed as having 208 cases with seven deaths. Statewide, there have been 52,841 recoveries from COVID-19.... [Read Full Story]

Allegan County Fair Canceled

The Allegan County Fair has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Allegan County Fair Board of Directors says the decision has been one of the toughest it’s ever faced, but it had to make the health and safety of visitors, vendors, and employees the top priority. The board will work on details for the 4H animal displays with MSU Extension, and those who bought tickets to a Jeff Dunham show planned for September 11 can receive refunds. This is only the second time the Allegan County Fair has been canceled. The first time was during World War II.... [Read Full Story]

Upton Backs Bill To Support Researchers

Legislation from Congressman Fred Upton would provide funding to research labs that have not been much of a focus during the COVID-19 pandemic. He tells WSJM News the Research Investment to Secure the Economy, or RISE, Act would set aside $26 billion in emergency relief for federal science agencies to award to research universities, independent institutions, and national labs.... [Read Full Story]

DNR Urges Caution When Setting Off Fireworks

Those who plan to set off fireworks as they celebrate the nation’s independence this Fourth of July are being asked to take care not to start wildfires. Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildfire prevention specialist Paul Rogers tells WSJM News hot and dry conditions in some parts of the state increase the risk. That’s not so much the case around southwest Michigan, but he has some general safety tips.... [Read Full Story]

New Auto Insurance Options Available

Legislation approved last year to reform Michigan’s auto insurance system is now in effect. State Representative Pauline Wendzel tells us Michigan drivers are no longer required to have unlimited injury protection in their policies. However, she notes the situation isn’t exactly simple.... [Read Full Story]

BH Commission Appoints Ellis Mitchell City Manager

It’s official. Ellis Mitchell has been appointed the city manager of Benton Harbor. At a meeting on Wednesday night, the Benton Harbor City Commission interviewed Mitchell. He’s been serving as interim city manager since July. During his interview, Mitchell said he moved to Benton Harbor before even getting the interim job as he values the community. He also said it’s important to delegate, evaluate staff, and train staff.... [Read Full Story]

Eau Claire Farmer Dies As A Result Of EEE

An Eau Claire farmer who was stricken this summer with Eastern Equine Encephalitis, a rare mosquito-borne illness, has died. Jim Whitright, otherwise known as Tiny, died Saturday from apparent EEE complications. This brings the total deaths in Michigan to six out of the 10 confirmed human cases this year. The St. Joseph County, Indiana Coroner’s Office, along with a family friend, confimed the death. EEE has a 33% fatality rate and first appears as a high fever, quickly becoming worse. Whitright became sick on August 19, and spent four weeks in the intensive care unit at Spectrum Health Lakeland before being transferred to long-term care. He died at Memorial Hospital in South Bend. Meanwhile, state health officials say the risk for EEE is now gone for the year as the weather has gotten cold enough.... [Read Full Story]

MDOT: I-196 Work Wraps Up

Drivers on I-196 who put up with seven miles of one traffic between Benton Harbor and the Hagar Shore Road exit will be glad to hear the construction is done for the year. Removal of traffic cones and barrels should happen soon, according to MDOT’s Nick Schirripa.... [Read Full Story]

Buttigieg Surges To Lead Among Democrats In Iowa

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is surging in Iowa among the Democratic presidential hopefuls. In the latest Monmouth University poll, Buttigieg is on top with 22% support of likely caucus goers in Iowa, up 14 points from August. In second is former Vice President Joe Biden at 19% and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts with 18% support. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is in fourth at 13%, and is the only other candidate with double-digit support in Iowa. The Iowa caucuses will be February 3rd and are the first contests of the primary season. The New Hampshire primary will be the next week on February 11.... [Read Full Story]

Attorney General Intervening In Utility Rate Increase Requests

A proposed rate increase from Indiana Michigan Power is getting pushback from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. Her office says Nessel last week filed a notice of intervention as I&M seeks to raise electric rates by 18.9% in order to generate $58.5 million. I&M filed a request for the rate increase with the Michigan Public Service Commission after announcing its plans last month. Nessel issued a statement Wednesday, saying “On the heels of a 20-percent rate increase for customers just last year, I&M has no business looking for another exorbitant rate hike on the backs of our residents. This increase is simply unsupportable and unreasonable on its face.” Nessel is also intervening, or planning to intervene, in rate increase attempts being made by Consumers Energy, SEMCO, and DTE Electric Company.... [Read Full Story]

Governor Meets Again With BH School Leaders

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has met once again with members of the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education. Her office says a meeting took place between the administration and school trustees Tuesday. A joint statement was then issued by Whitmer Administration Press Secretary Tiffany Brown and local school board President Steve Mitchell. It says “Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist and Benton Harbor Area School Board leadership met to discuss next steps regarding the district. The lines of communication are open among all parties and we look forward to future discussions to identify a solution that puts Benton Harbor students first.” The statement could indicate the board and the administration are making up after local trustees last week slammed the administration’s proposed turnaround plan for the school district.... [Read Full Story]

Big Expansion Could Be Coming To Park

Paw Paw River County Park in Watervliet could be getting a substantial expansion. The Berrien County Board of Commissioners on Thursday approved the purchase of 63 acres of property adjacent to the park. Berrien County Parks Director Brian Bailey tells WSJM News the parcel owned by the Enders family is across the river from the island that makes up a large part of the current park. He’s been working with the Enders family to acquire it.... [Read Full Story]

Two Arrested In Cass County Burglaries

Two people are facing charges after police say they were found to be in possession of a large amount of stolen property in Cass County. The Cass County Sheriff’s Department tells us an investigation into several burglaries took deputies to a home on Brownsville Road in Calvin Township last Wednesday. They searched the place and say it was full of stolen property from burglaries and larcenies throughout Southwest Michigan and Elkhart County, Indiana. They say they also found meth. It took police two and a half days to process all of the evidence. Arrested were 32-year-old Sunny Fogg and 35-year-old Amber Biggs, both from Cassopolis. They’re charged with burglary, possession of stolen property, and criminal enterprise. Fogg is being held on $70,000 bond and Biggs is being held on $60,000 bond. Police ask anyone who knows of additional burglaries in the area to contact them.... [Read Full Story]

State Mandates BH Water Plant Work

The city of Benton Harbor has to make some improvements to its water plant as part of a new agreement with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. At this week’s city commission meeting, the relocation of an aluminum sulfate line at the plant was approved following a DEQ order. The work is needed to help maintain water quality and it comes with a price tag of $10,900. Mayor Marcus Muhammad said this project is related to a consent agreement with the DEQ regarding the water plant after the DEQ noticed some issues there.... [Read Full Story]

Humane Society Triples Donation

The Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan has received a donation from the Benton Harbor-Fairplain Lions Club that now has triple its original value because of the ongoing capital building fund. Humane Society General Operating Manager Alissa Saul tells WSJM News the Lions Club gave $5,000, and then it turned into $15,000.... [Read Full Story]