05-07-2020 Governor relaxes some rules, extends other COVID-19 restrictions; Keeler Township offici

QUARNTINO 2020…Cinco de Mayo parade, Tuesday night, May 5 in Watervliet brought some much need smiles to the neighborhoods it passed through. (TCR Photo by Karlianne Loshbough)

Governor relaxes some rules, extends other COVID-19 restrictions

By Jon Bisnett Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer initially declared a state of emergency on March 10 in response to the coronavirus infiltrating Michigan. Since then, as of Monday, May 4, she’s signed a total of 69 executive orders, including the stay-at-home order, orders to close bars and theaters, orders to close schools and many, many more. While over a dozen states will have begun to loosen restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus, Whitmer reinstated the state of emergency last Thursday. Even as protesters gathered at the State Capitol in Lansing and the Michigan Legislature moved to limit her powers. With Executive Order 2020-69 the Governor has now extended her previous order that closed places such as theaters, bars, casinos, and more. In order to maintain social distancing, the order continues to limit restaurants to carry-out and delivery orders only through May 28. “Extending this order is vital to the health and safety of every Michigander. If we work together and do our part, we can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” Whitmer said in a statement. “By refusing to extend the emergency and disaster declaration, Republican lawmakers are putting their heads in the sand and putting more lives and livelihoods at risk. I’m not going to let that happen.” Recent changes allow construction workers to go back to work as of May 7. Golfers may walk only. Garden Centers are now open just in time for Mother’s Day. Retail stores can now open areas previously sanctioned but must perform curbside delivery. Retailers previously deemed non-essential may open, but again must operate curbside only. The current Stay Home order runs through May 15. At the moment salons, theaters, dine-in restaurants, libraries, gyms and casinos and the like are still shut down until May 28, with DNR campgrounds shut down until June 21. Area school administrators wrestle with options to graduate the Class of 2020 Our Tri-City schools are now several weeks into their remote learning programs. Options are in the works for Graduation 2020, be it on time and virtual as is the case with Hartford Public Schools or an actual live ceremony as Coloma High School has vowed to do, with a half-dozen backup dates. A chat with Watervliet Superintendent Ric Seager indicates they are still sorting it out with hopes of a traditional ceremony and a decision expected following their upcoming school board meeting, all of course pending further actions by the Governor’s office. Area food service staffers continue to champion the cause of getting thousands of free meals out to Tri-City students each and every week, continuing through June 9 along with additional Bridge Card benefits. Summer School is still a mystery pending. More SW Michigan cancellations; include the Watervliet Independence Weekend Celebration … see the WBA letter on Page 3 The Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph announced the cancellation of the 59th Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff scheduled for July 11-12 in a press release last Thursday morning. The Smooth Jazz at Sunset and SummerJam Concerts slated for Silver Beach County Park in July & August are looking at rescheduling dates pending the lifting of restrictions for large events.

St. Joseph Today has cancelled the following events: Lake Bluff Artisan Faire (May 30), Antiques on the Bluff – June, July & August shows (June 7, July 5, & August 2), Wednesday Brown Bag Concerts (June 24 – August 26), Friday Night Concert Series (June 19 – September 4), and Chalk the Block (July 31 – August 2).

Founded in 2006, Lest We Forget has hosted an annual summer military reenactment event, most recently held along the river near Upton Drive in St. Joseph. However, organizers have announced that to ensure the safety and health of the community and of the many volunteers, Korea: The Forgotten War, the theme originally scheduled for this June, will now be held next year on June 19 and 20, 2021.

All concerts, festivals, and other events that had been scheduled for this summer at Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad said the decision to cancel events at Jean Klock Park came “with serious contemplation and the public health being given due consideration.” He says they look forward to resuming park events in the future. The Michigan Flywheelers Museum in South Haven has canceled their Swap Meet/Flea Market scheduled for June 12 & 13.

CELEBRATING BLOSSOMS… Due to Covid-19, many events have been cancelled; including the very popular Blossomtime Festival week. Blossomtime week kicks off with the Blessing of the Blossoms and ends with the Grand Floral Parade (traditionally held the first Saturday in May). It is a tradition that has been celebrated for many years in Michi