The Three Rivers City Commission Tuesday held the first of two scheduled public hearings to discuss proposed amendments to the city code that would allow marijuana facilities within city limits as special exception uses, and get further public input on the matter. Following a lengthy discussion and public comments from a handful of citizens, a thin majority of commissioners expressed support for the proposed changes.

WSV’s Beca Welty writes, “If Bird Dog isn’t already on your list of Southwest Michigan restaurants to frequent, make note now. This establishment is busier than ever with their tantalizing brunch, lunch, and dinner menu and their options of dine-in or reservations for an igloo. Their dessert menu is also constantly updating and their social media presence is an excellent place to stay well informed on all new additions to their offerings. Pack up your appetite and head to Bird Dog in Mattawan for an unforgettable dining experience!”

Watershed Voice set out to find how this pandemic is affecting young people in southwest Michigan, speaking to local mental health experts and teens alike. Throughout the past year, the coronavirus pandemic has drastically altered lives across the world; people have lost their jobs, lost loved ones, and had to put their lives on hold. That feeling of going on pause has especially affected young people, who feel removed from some of the most formative years of their lives. It’s no wonder these feelings of isolation and helplessness have taken a toll on child and adolescent mental health.

In March 2020, the pandemic hit Michigan, bringing upheaval to schools. When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer closed schools buildings that month due to the climbing number of COVID-19 cases, districts across the state scrambled to craft a plan to meet students’ needs virtually. Over the last year, the pandemic has highlighted the inequities the struggling, underfunded Partnership schools face while they work to make ends meet during this current school year.

The Kalamazoo City Commission voted unanimously Monday to withdraw from Southwest Michigan First’s “Council of 100” partnership, before City Commissioner Erin Knott passed a motion to also withdraw $10,000 in annual funding to the agency over former state House Speaker Lee Chatfield’s anti-LGBTQ views. Chatfield was recently named CEO of the Kalamazoo-based economic development agency.

The U.S. had a mental health professional shortage before the pandemic, and Southwest Michigan was no exception. Every county in Southwest Michigan had been designated as a mental health professionals shortage area by the Healthcare Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

WSV’s Beca Welty writes, “February in southwest Michigan might seem like an impossible time to enjoy your favorite meal on the deck of your ideal restaurant, but Martell’s in Kalamazoo has transformed that dream into a reality. Like a few of their sister restaurants in the Millennium group, Martell’s has installed cozy igloos for outdoor dining, and I was one of the lucky few to indulge in the experience.”

I don’t know about you, but I love listening to other peoples’ holiday traditions. Many people think that their traditions might not be very special or unique, but I’ve found that every family has a different twist on the holidays. This year, in addition to my own family’s traditions, I reached out to gather 50 traditions around Southwest Michigan. The holidays might look different for a lot of people this year, but our memories can never be taken from us.