Local News

Woman drowns in Selkirk Lake in Wayland Township

Allegan County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a missing swimmer in Selkirk Lake at 11:54 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19. The caller reported that two older women were swimming in the lake when one did not come back to shore, according to a sheriff's office report.


Divers recovered the woman’s body near an anchored floating raft. EMS personnel attempts to revive her were unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead at the scene. She was missing for about 45 minutes and located in 10 feet of water. The woman was not from the area, but had friends who live at the lake.


A preliminary investigation indicates the drowning was accidental in nature and medical issues, along with alcohol, may have been contributing factors. The victim’s name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.


The Allegan County Sheriff’s Road and Marine Patrol and Dive/Rescue & Recovery Team responded to the call from the 800 block of 127th Avenue in Wayland Township. Wayland Fire Department and Wayland EMS assisted at the scene.


Gun Lake Tribe offers free electronic recycling Aug. 24

The Gun Lake Tribe hosts a free electronics recycling event Thursday Aug. 24 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the tribe’s government campus headquarters, 2872 Mission Drive, Shelbyville, near the Gun Lake Casino.


A $10 fee to recycle tube-style televisions and computer monitors will be paid for by the tribe for the first 200 units collected.  The tribe supports electronic waste recycling because of a growing concern to the environment.  Electronic waste in landfills can leak harmful toxins into the soil and groundwater.


Acceptable items include office and household electronics, cell phones, radios, microwaves, VCRs and TVs, computer laptops, computer monitors, keyboards and mice, printers, speakers and power cords.  Comprenew will erase or destroy all computer hard drives.


The public is urged to take advantage of the opportunity to properly dispose of obsolete electronic items.  Comprenew uses best practices in electronics recycling and data security; they do not ship electronic waste overseas, and the zero-landfill policy requires that all electronics are recycled, refurbished or reused.


Follow the signs to the area near the public works building.  



Stolen Property including a Tombstone

The Calhoun County Sheriff's Office on Thursday with assistance from Hastings State Police Troopers,  the Battle Creek Police Department and Emmitt Township Police through a search warrant recovered a number of stolen items. During two previous search warrants at the same residence police took methamphetamine, prescription pills,  marijuana, stolen property and recovered two stolen vehicles.  The home was condemned and a child was placed into a temporary foster care home.

One suspect is currently in jail and was arraigned for eight felony charges. Warrants for eight other suspects have been submitted for review for those who were part of this criminal enterprise.

New information has been obtained that led officers to the discovery of a stolen tombstone that belonged to a deceased child who had been laid to rest in Barry County in 1988.  The tombstone was buried in the backyard of the residence but had been desecreated by the suspects.

From additional information, four more suspects have been identified for crimes that involve theft, counterfeiting and illegal drug activity.





Barry County residents to give opinions on TOST at Aug. 22 meeting

The Barry County Board of Commissioner’s Aug. 22 meeting time and location have been changed to 7 p.m. at Star Elementary School, 1900 Star School Road, Hastings.  Officials moved the meeting in anticipation of a larger than usual audience, since it’s also a ‘listening to the public’ session on the controversial Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation, time of sale or transfer, or TOST.


The meeting is part of a 10-year review of the regulation that has been roundly criticized by Barry County residents since its inception. A public survey, available on the county website and ongoing until Sept. 30, is part of the review approved by the Barry County Commission in July at a cost of $6,500.


Meanwhile, on Aug. 16, Eaton County Commissioners discussed a resolution “strongly” recommending the commission “cease participation” in TOST to save staff and administrative costs.

The commissioners delayed a decision until Sept. 20 to allow time for “minor technical changes” in the proposal, according to sponsors of the resolution, the Health and Human Services Committee. Chair of the committee,  Commissioner Barbara Rogers said Aug. 17 that she is confident they have the votes to approve the resolution next month.


Barry County Commissioner Ben Geiger, commission chairman, said this Thursday: “Protecting public health, the environment, and the rights of homeowners is very important to the community, and requires leaders listen to all voices. Barry County's initiative is all about listening to our residents, and we will continue and complete this listening process regardless of what's going on in other counties.”



TOST mandates inspection of Barry and Eaton county on-site water and septic systems before the sale or transfer of property. If deemed failed by evaluators, repairs or replacement are ordered and must be completed before the sale or transfer occurs.

Critics say the administration of the regulation is arbitrary and capricious, public relations with the health department are strained and costs associated with TOST are a costly and unnecessary burden on residents.


Geiger’s stated goal of the review is to listen to Barry County residents and make recommendations to the BEDHD’s six-member Board of  Health, three Barry County and three Eaton County commissioners, on ways to improve the unpopular regulation.



Gun Lake Tribe's $93,040 gift to Hopkins Schools will fund technology

The Gun Lake Tribe has presented Hopkins Public Schools with a check for $93,040 for the purchase of computer technology for the advancement of student learning.  At a check presentation Aug. 16, the tribe’s tribal council was joined by Hopkins school administrators who remarked on the benefits the gift will provide for the district.   


“On behalf of the tribe, it is our pleasure to assist the students, families and faculty of Hopkins Public Schools by making a financial gift in the amount of $93,040,” said Scott Sprague, chairman of the tribe.  “With this gift, we build upon a great relationship with the school district that has been established over generations.”


“On behalf of Hopkins Public Schools, we would like to thank the Gun Lake Tribe for their partnership and financial generosity,” said Hopkins Elementary Principal Scott VanBonn.

“With this gift, Hopkins Public Schools will be purchasing 10 iPads for every Kindergarten, first and second grade classroom, as well as three mobile carts of Chromebooks for our third, fourth and fifth grade students.  This technology will help the students of Hopkins become better equipped to develop the necessary technology skills needed in today's highly technical society.”//


The tribe was represented by Chairman Scott Sprague; Vice Chairman Ed Pigeon and Secretary Jeff Martin, both graduates of Hopkins Schools, and tribal council members Bob Peters (Treasurer), Phyllis Davis, Jennie Heeren (Hopkins graduate), and Jody Palmer.  Principals Scott VanBonn and Amy Mielke and school board member Ben Brenner represented the school.


The gift from the tribe to the schools is not required as part of the tribal-state compact agreement and local revenue sharing distribution; the school does not receive funds from the local revenue sharing board.


(left) At the check presentation are (left to right) Ben Brenner, Hopkins Schools school board member; Scott VanBonn, Hopkins Elementary principal; Amy Mielke, Sycamore Elementary principal; Jeff Martin, tribal council secretary; Chairman Scott Sprague; Bob Peters, tribal council treasurer; Ed Pigeon, vice chairman; and tribal council members Phyllis Davis, Jody Palmer and Jennie Heeren.



New equipment offers Yankee Springs Township firefighters more range, flexibility

The Yankee Springs Township Fire Department has three new tools that will increase firefighter’s flexibility and help save precious seconds and lives when extrications are involved.


The new tools are battery operated and can be carried as far as needed to address a situation, unlike the similar equipment’s motor and hoses permanently mounted on  Engine 1  that extend just 75 feet from the truck.


“The tools are a great asset to the fire department in that we will now be able to respond to emergencies where we would not have been able to do so before because these tools are more portable and versatile,” said Wayland Deputy Fire Chief Dan Miller.  


Delivered on Aug. 8, firefighters have practiced with them since they were delivered. Steve Funk with Rescue Resources, will give final training on the new tools on Aug. 28, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.  “We urge anyone to stop by and view the tools as they are being used that evening,” Miller said.


The new EFORCE S53 Spreader spreads up to 31.5 inches, to open doors of vehicles that can’t be opened normally, as well as other uses, including lifting or spreading things should someone become entangled in a piece of machinery or farm implement, Miller said.

The AC236 NextGen Cutter with a blade opening of 7.9 inches will cut roofs and door hinges on vehicles.  The Ram has the capability to push things open and extends from 21 inches to 36 inches with a 12-inch extension, if needed, Miller said.  Each tool comes with two batteries and a charger, he said.


The Genesis Rescue Tools were purchased from Rescue Resources. The Yankee Springs Township Fire Committee approved the purchase with final approval given by the Yankee Springs Township Board.


Photos: (left) The S53 Spreader, AC236 NextGen Cutter and the Ram displayed with Engine 1 at the Yankee Springs Township Fire Station on Payne Lake Road.






lbelow) A close up of Yankee Springs Township firefighter’s newest life saving tools.





Eaton County Commission vote on rescinding TOST delayed until Sept.20

Many questions on a controversial Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation, some obvious and more likely unforeseen, will not become clearer for at least another month

The Eaton County Board of Commissioners discussed rescinding the combined health department’s 10-year-old TOST regulation, but put off a decision until the Sept. 20 meeting.

A resolution asking to drop the regulation was brought to the commission by its Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Commissioner Barbara Rogers.


“I do believe we have the votes to pass it then,” Rogers said Thursday.


Citing budget reductions in all Eaton County departments, and noting, “that this is only the beginning of such reductions,” the resolution made a “strong recommendation” to immediately cease participation in TOST to reduce the costs of staff and administration.


The vote was delayed for minor legal technicalities which will be corrected by the Sept. 5 Health and Hunan Services Committee meeting, Rogers said.

“We will then send it to the full board for approval. It will definitely be on the Sept. 20 agenda…we want to be sure we dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s.  I’m comfortable that we have the support to pass it,” she said.

County Controller John Fuentes is out of town at a seminar and Commissioner Blake Mulder, commission chair, was not immediately available for comment.


In July, the Barry County Board of Commissioners narrowly passed a proposal to review the regulation through a survey for Barry County residents and a public hearing to listen to residents comment on TOST. The goal of the review is to improve the regulation based on the public’s response, commission Chair Ben Geiger said.


The survey, on the county website at,  is available until Sept 30; the public hearing is Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. at Star Elementary School on Star School Road.


OST, for time of sale or transfer,  mandates inspection and replacement of on-site water and sewer systems deemed failed by inspectors certified by the heath department before a sale or transfer of property in both counties could be completed.


The health department said the rule was necessary to protect the environment, the county’s water supply and public health.

It was almost immediately a target for criticism by Barry County residents, who complained of a pattern of arbitrary and capricious enforcement, refusing to approve small diameter wells passed by private evaluators and bringing all systems up to current standards, which is prohibited in the regulation.



BEDHD budget, regulation, phone system decried at Barry County Commission meeting

Each Barry County Board of Commissioner’s meeting has a public comment time at the beginning and at the end of its business agenda. The commission’s policy is to provide time for citizens to talk, listen to their remarks, but not to respond. Tuesday, several county residents took the opportunity to be heard, and most complained about the Barry Eaton District Health Department.


Elden Shellenbarger reminded the audience of an Eaton County Board of Commissioners meeting on Aug. 16 when commissioners would consider a resolution rescinding the health department’s TOST regulation.

TOST calls for inspections of on-site water and sewer systems and replacement or repair to those deemed failing before the sale or transfer of properties in both Barry and Eaton counties. It has been the target of Barry County critics since it’s inception 10 years ago.


Sharri Philips said when trying to learn the health department’s progress in handling a rat infestation in her neighborhood, she spent two and a half hours trying to reach the right person in the health department. “The menu and phone system is horrible, she said. “…a person could die before they get to the right person. Three times I ended up talking to probate court…I think the system is designed to prevent people from reaching them.”


Jack Miner said the BEDHD ratifies it’s budget next week. “At least three executives of the BEDHD will get a 9.6 percent raise. 9.6 percent. Who is watching the store, men and ladies?”


Bob Vanderboegh said: “Beyond the increases in salary… the health department is asking for a 6 percent increase in the environmental permit fees,” after they asked for 6 to 8 percent increase a year or two ago. “It’s just a continuing flow of money for those folks.”


Bill Redman advised the commissioners to eliminate TOST and, “getting the BEDHD back where it belongs, in Barry County…it’s time to straighten this out.”


Larry Bass had a wider question. “Should a property owner be required to get government permission to sell his property?”



Maple Valley Schools Aug. 21 opening cut to half day

Maple Valley Schools opening day for the 2017-2018 school year has been cut to a half day because of concerns of students viewing the partial solar eclipse that will begin around 1 p.m. and end about 3:45 p.m.


The revised schedule:

Fuller Street Elementary School *8:20 a.m. to noon.          

Maplewood School *8 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.    

Jr./Sr. High School / Pathways *7:55 a.m. to 11:25 a.m.

Morning CTE/LCC students will be bused to campus, but students will be excused from afternoon CTE/LCC classes. Little Lions will be open and all children will remain indoors from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.; there will be no other activities on campus from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Superintendent Michelle Falcon said.


When the Aug. 21 day was set in the school calendar in January, it was not known that a solar eclipse would occur that day, Superintendent Michelle Falcon said,


“Our science teachers have been researching activities for our students surrounding this event. In doing so, we have discovered many warnings of the damage to a person’s vision without proper eye protection.


“Our number one priority is the safety of our students. When looking at something that is incredibly bright there is a chance of burning your retina which creates permanent damage. The eclipse would be at its peak around the time of dismissal in the afternoon,” she said.


“Although our teachers would supervise the students outside with their glasses (provided by the school that allows them to safely watch the eclipse), after they leave the building, we cannot ensure they will keep them on,” Falcon said.


Students will have a lesson on the eclipse in the morning and be served a free super snack before leaving. For more information on the solar eclipse, go to 





Barry County Road Commission Road work

Weather Permitting on Friday, August 18th, the Barry County Road Commission will be chip sealing Lakewood Drive off of M-50 and Heath road.


In the next 1 to 3 weeks Green Street off of M-37 will be shut down/closed.


Signs have been posted on Lawrence Road for Road closure from Sept. 1st to November 15th.


Extended hours at the Hastings compost drop off site announced

The City of Hastings is announcing extended hours one evening a week and Saturday morning at its compost drop off facility for city residents on West State Road.

Starting Wednesday, Aug. 16, the operating hours are:  Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Typical compostables include leaves, small brush and small limbs, grass clippings and garden waste such as flowers, stems and foliage.

The action follows an earlier city council decision to limit drop-offs to regular business hours daily, when city employees would be comng and going, because of the amount of non-compostable items coming into the facility, some from non-residents.

The extra hours are to accommodate residents who can’t deliver their compostable materials during regular hours.


UPDATE: Suspect in several crimes is in custody of Ionia County Sheriff's Office

UPDATE: Justin Wayne Rogers has been located and is in custody.


ORIGINAL STORY: Justin Wayne Rogers, 32, of Ionia, is wanted for questioning related to  multiple criminal investigations by the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office, according to a sheriff’s news release. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Rogers should contact the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office via Central Dispatch at 616-527-0400, or Silent Observer at 616-527-0107.



Barry County deputies administer Narcan, reverse heroin overdose

Barry County Sheriff’s Deputies Travis Cooper and  Travis Moore responded to a possible heroin overdose near Delton Tuesday at 8:18 p.m., according to Barry County Undersheriff Matt Houchlei. They found a 29-year-old man parked in a driveway at 869 Vickery Road unconscious and not breathing.


The deputies administered Narcan to the man, who regained consciousness a short time later. He was later transported to Bronson Hospital by LifeCare Ambulance, Houchlei said. No further details on the condition of the man are available at this time. LifeCare Ambulance and Barry Central Dispatch assisted deputies.


Middleville's Heritage Days are this weekend, and you're invited

Middleville Heritage Days Aug. 18-20 welcomes visitors to help celebrate the village's heritage with fun events, activities and lots of entertainment. A parade, car show, live concerts all three days, a food court and arts and crafts are all part of the events in the downtown.

Saturday, Aug. 19 starts at 11 a.m., with the dedication of the Middleville Veterans Memorial and don’t miss the Heritage Day Parade that steps off at 1 p.m.













The family-friendly event has its own KidzWorld next to the Village Hall. On Saturday, the kids will find inflatables, face painting, air brush tattoos, a back pack full of school supplies raffle and free drinks and snacks. It’s also the base for a family scavenger hunt in the downtown from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with prizes.


For a complete schedule, visit WBCH Community Events calendar. The event is sponsored by the Middleville Downtown Development Authority.


(upper left) The Battle Creek Mini-T’s perform at an earlier Heritage Day celebration.


(lower left) A file photo shows beautiful, handmade quilts displayed in the Middleville United Methodist Church during a Heritage Day.



Family friendly Summerfest has fun and entertainment for all ages

Visitors to Summerfest in Hastings on Aug. 25-27 will find something for everyone in the family. Arts & Craft vendors on the Barry County Courthouse lawn, softball and basketball tournaments, kids activities, a 10K/5K run/walk, free trolley rides, a car show on State Street, free live entertainment on the main stage and Thornapple Plaza, a motorcycle show, refreshment tent, all the favorite food carts and much more.


In honor of its 40th year, the event’s signature event, the Summerfest Grand Parade, will stroll “Through the Decades.” Parade entries are judged on overall excellence, originality and uniqueness of design during the line-up and parade.

First place wins $100 prize and the Summerfest Parade Trophy, first runner up wins $50 and a ribbon and second and third runners up will earn a ribbon.


In the parade this year in a Michigan Department of Transportation/Hastings Office entry; a snow plow, its big orange blade covered with signatures and hand prints from area residents from the first “Night Out” held in town on Aug. 2.

The annual celebration of summer is presented by the Barry County Chamber of Commerce Summerfest Committee.

For a complete schedule of the three days of events, visit



(upper left) This V plow will be attached to a MDOT truck for the Summerfest Grand Parade this year.


(middle left) The Summerfest Car Show fills State Street from the courthouse to city hall with al manner of vehicles to check out as this man is doing in a file photo from an earlier Summerfest.

(left) A file photo shows that even young shoppers find unique arts and crafts on the Barry County Courthouse lawn every year.




Items for Yankee Springs Veterans Memorial auction sought

The 52-foot-long semi trailer parked at the Yankee Springs Fire Station will be there until the first of September, accepting donations for an auction with proceeds to go to the township’s veterans memorial.

The auction, called by Kendall Tobias, is tentatively set for Saturday, Sept. 2.

Parked at the corner of Payne Lake Road and M-179, the trailer is easy to spot, it’s marked by a 6 foot by 24 foot banner.  Any and all auction-worthy items are being accepted for the fundraiser. For more information, call 795-4540 or 838-1289.



Hastings to accept compostables one evening a week, Saturday mornings

The Hastings City Council Tuesday reconsidered its limiting of hours at its facility where Hastings residents drop off compostable materials.

The area will be open one evening a week and Saturday mornings until noon. The new hours will be posted at the site on West State Road shortly, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.


In late July, because of the “unbelievable amount” of  non-compostable material being dropped off, much of it likely from non-residents and some from commercial businesses, the council agreed to limit the hours to 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, when city workers would be going in and out.


That brought a letter of protest from resident Elizabeth Forbes who pointed out the limited hours did not consider responsible residents who work past the closing time of the area, or can deliver their compostable yard waste only on Saturdays.


The council vote to add the hours was unanimous, with Mayor Dave Tossava saying he has been at the drop-off and the situation has already improved.




Residents ask for faster solution to rat problem at empty feed mill

Several Hastings residents are urging the Hastings City Council to work faster on ridding their neighborhood of rats living in an empty feed mill on Railroad Street, just off East State Street.

Speaking during public comment time  Monday, Sharri Phillips said her neighborhood smells and people walking the River Walk cross the street to avoid the area. She’s afraid of the rats migrating into the rest of the residential neighborhood and since rats are prolific breeders, the condition could continue or grow worse.


Phillips asked the council to have, “more of a sense of urgency to resolve this problem…when do professionals come in to take care of the problem?” Property values and city officials work on the image of Hastings as a “positive, pleasant and safe place to live,” will be damaged without getting rid of the rats, “in a timely manner,” she said.


The city has been working on the problem for several weeks with the Barry Eaton District Health Department, City Manager Jeff Mansfield responded. Normally the issue would be handled by code enforcement, but the steps in the enforcement process takes time, up to going to court. Since it is as health hazard involving public safety they went to the health department for a faster solution, he said.


The health department inspects the site to see the steps taken by the owner with weekly updates with the owner.  “There is progress,” he said. The owner is using poison and live traps, cleaning up and removing the food source.


Another resident, Michelle Went, worries about the health of her family. “This isn’t just one or two rats, it's thousands and thousands,” she said. "They will be looking for food and water…they could infest our home… I walk my dog…you see them crawling, they’re like molten lava under that place.”


Mansfield agreed the situation was urgent. “It’s up to us to work with them (the health department). They’re trying to figure out how to move forward.”


Hastings Police chief Jeff Pratt noted that the owner and residents have been very cooperative.


Richard Tinkler, resident in the area, suggested two quick ways to kill rats, saying if they take the food away at the mill, “the rats will go all over… I’m just one of the residents in that area. I know you’re working on it.”


Councilman Bill Redman said he is very concerned about the problem and assured the residents that the matter would be kept at a high priority for the council. Councilman John Resseguie said he is also very concerned: “We are on top of this; we will not let it slide.”


UPDATE: Driver, victim named in fatal U.S.131 crash

UPDATE: Allegan County Sheriff’s Office has updated information on an Aug. 13 crash that caused the death of Sean Michael Barone, 29, from the Wayland area, and sent another man, Alexander Madison Wieland, 22, from the Plainwell area, to the hospital with serious injuries.


The Barone vehicle was initially reported as facing the wrong way on the shoulder of the southbound lanes of U.S 131 Highway.  Prior to officers arriving on scene the vehicle was traveling the wrong way and several vehicles had to swerve to avoid the hitting it. 

Wieland was unable to avoid the Barone vehicle and struck it head on, causing severe damage which led to a fire in the engine compartment, the update said.


The fire was held at bay by responding officers using fire extinguishers until Wayland Fire Department arrived and extinguished it completely.  Wieland was transported to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital with a severe leg injury and concussion-like symptoms. Barone was transported to Metro Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. 

Both drivers were wearing seatbelts and alcohol is believed to be a factor in regard to Barone, the update said.



Allegan County Sheriff’s deputies and officers from the Gun Lake Tribal and Wayland police departments responded Sunday to U.S.131 on a report of a head-on crash, a vehicle on fire and a vehicle with no lights on, according to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office. 


Officers found a vehicle on fire with a person still trapped inside. Using fire extinguishers, officers were able to suppress the fire so other officers could extricate the 22 year old plainwell occupant, who was transported to Spectrum Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.


The driver of a second vehicle a 29 year old wayland man died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash.

Through witness statements and evidence on scene, it is believed that the deceased driver was travelling northbound in the southbound lanes of the expressway north of the Shelbyville exit when it struck the victim’s vehicle causing it to catch fire.


Victims names will be released after notification of family.




Rollover Crash Near Middleville

Two individuals were taken to area hospitals Sunday with serious injuries following a rollover crash south of Middleville. According to the police report the crash took place on M-37 near Fawn Avenue in Thornapple Township.

There were two individuals in the car and both suffered serious injuries, but none appeared to be life-threatening. The crash remains under investigation.


Is TOST over?

The Eaton County Board of Commissioners has on its Aug. 16 agenda a resolution “strongly recommending” they rescind its participation in the TOST regulation administered by the combined Barry Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD).


Depending on the votes of commissioners, dropping the controversial regulation will create many questions that will quickly demand answers.


Barry County residents have complained of the regulation mandating inspection of on-site septic and water systems and replacement of systems deemed failing before the sale or transfer of property in Barry and Eaton counties.


The resolution from Eaton County Commission’s Health and Human Services Committee and put on the agenda by its chair Barbara Rogers, first surfaced in late May, but did not appear on the county commission agenda until now.


Eaton County officials contacted the first week in June either did not know about the resolution or said they had heard some talk, but had seen nothing on paper.


Pointing to large budget deficits for 2018 and recognizing, “this is just the beginning of reductions by the county,” the committee’s resolution gave, “its strong recommendation that Eaton County immediately cease participation in the Time Of Sale or Transfer  (T.O.S.T) program, thereby eliminating its cost of staffing and other associated costs of implementation, management and operation.”


Meanwhile, in a move prompted by Barry County Commission Chairman Ben Geiger, a public survey, available until Sept. 30 and an Aug. 22  public meeting will let commissioners hear Barry County resident’s opinions on TOST. Geiger has said the views of constituents are expected to drive improvements in TOST when they are brought to the health board which oversees the combined health department.


The health board is made up of three commissioners from each county. Geiger, the health board chair, and Commissioners David Jackson and Dan Parker represent Barry County. Eaton County Commissioners Jane Whitacre, Vice Chair Blake Mulder and Joe Brehler serve their county on the board.


Some of the unanswered questions depending on which way the Eaton County commissioners vote:


If Eaton County does not rescind TOST:

* Will that impact Barry County’s participation and the plans already in motion?


If Eaton County does rescind its participation in TOST:

* Will approval ramp up calls to separate Barry County from the BEDHD and maintain its own health department?


* How will it affect the BEDHD operations? It’s budget?


* Can Eaton County legally drop TOST by simple resolution?


* How much money does Eaton County forecast they will save in a year?


* How much money will BEDHD lose in a year?


* Can/will the BEDHD administer the program in just Barry County?


* How will Barry County commissioners respond to certain renewed pressure to also rescind the regulation?


* How many wells and septic systems have been deemed failed during TOST in Barry County and Eaton County, and at how much cost to property owners in both counties?


* Is the upcoming change in the division of financial support by the counties of the combined departments a factor in the recommendation?


* Are there any estimates available on how much it would cost to have a separate Barry County Health Department? //



Vocal critics have been to Barry County Commission meetings repeatedly since the program’s inception 10 years ago complaining about the regulation that was meant to assure clean water and adequate septic service to county residents and protect the environment.


Many maintained that the regulation was being unevenly and arbitrarily enforced, that working systems that had adequate water and sewer were condemned and replacement forced, the fees charged are a burden for property owners, that a regulation with the force of law is unconstitutional and that the health department uses the regulation to bring all systems up to the present day codes, which is prohibited in the regulation.


When Barry County residents protested the health department’s administration of the regulation, they asked and, at times demanded, that Barry County commissioners rescind it. They were told the county attorney’s opinion was there was no legal mechanism to repeal it and so there was nothing they could do.


The Eaton County TOST resolution reads:

WHEREAS, Eaton County is facing a large budget deficit for fiscal year 2018 and;


WHEREAS, the Eaton County Board of Commissioners have tasked each committee, subcommittee and board with budget reductions and;


WHEREAS, the Health and Human Services committee also recognizes that this is only the beginning of such reductions and;


WHEREAS, the Health and Human Services committee recognizes the seriousness of this task and has given due diligence to this decision, therefore be it


RESOLVED, that the Health and Human Services Committee makes its strong recommendation that Eaton County immediately cease participation in the Time Of Sale or Transfer  (T.O.S.T) program thereby eliminating its cost of staffing and other associated costs of implementation, management and operation.




Treasury warning residents of state debt payment scam

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Treasury is asking residents to be alert for a new scam that implies the federal government will pay their outstanding state tax debts or other state debts.

Within the last month, the state Treasury Department has noticed an increase in cases where individuals are attempting to pay their outstanding state debts with routing numbers from two U.S. Department of Treasury Bureaus – the Financial Management Service (FMS) and the Bureau of the Public Debt (BPD). Individuals are using these federal routing numbers with their Social Security Number as the checking account number and listing the bank as either the FMS or the BPD. 

As a part of this scam, the U.S. Department of Treasury warns that groups are holding seminars throughout the United States that fraudulently teach attendees to use these federal routing numbers to resolve their outstanding government debts.

“Please do not fall for this scam,” said Deputy Treasurer Ann Good, head of Treasury’s Financial and Administrative Services Group. “Individuals who try to pay their state debts in this way will have their payment rejected. Treasury will work with you to resolve your outstanding debts.”

Individuals who think they may have an outstanding state tax debt or other state debt are encouraged to call state Treasury Department’s Office of Collections at 517-636-5265.

For more information about state tax debt or other state debt collections, go to


Three Car Crash

76 year old Ruth Prusinski of Ada died from injuries suffered in a three car crash on Wednesday.

The Kent County Sheriff's Office said the accident occured at the intersection of Byron Center Avenue and 76th street in Byron Township.

 A 2017 Cadillac SUV driven by 83 year old Bruce Fase of Ada traveling south on Byron Center Avenue struck a 1998 Dodge Durango driven by 61 year old Timothy Daymon of Bryon Center..  The Cadillac then struck a  northbound 2017 Jeep driven by 75 year old Gerrit Schoilten of Byron Center.

 All three driver were taken to nearby hospitals with non-life threatening injuries.

Alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the crash.



Barry County TOST review survey underway

The Barry County Board of Commissioners is offering residents multiple ways to share their thoughts and experiences on the Time of Sale or Transfer (TOST) program.


Buyers, sellers, industry professionals and interested residents can take a short survey at from now through September 30. Additionally, the county is holding a public listening session on Tuesday, August 22 at 7:00pm at Star Elementary School, 1900 Star School Rd, Hastings. After September 30, the Board of Commissioners will evaluate the feedback and offer recommendations for improvement.


"This initiative is all about listening. The feedback Commissioners receive on TOST experiences will show what's working, and what isn't working for our residents.” said Commissioner Ben Geiger. “While this regulation plays a role in protecting public health, we must listen and learn how it is impacting local residents."


Since 2007, the TOST program requires that private wells and on-site sewage systems be evaluated to make sure they are functioning adequately and safely before a sale or transfer of a property can occur.


Barry County Election Millage Results

Tuesdays election voter turnout was low as the numbers show.

Hastings Area School System Operating Millage Renewal.

952 Yes   834 No.

Barry Intermediate School District Special Education Millage Proposal.

1,263 Yes     1,467  No


Orangeville Township Fire Millage

174 Yes  121 No


Middleville Veterans Memorial to be dedicated Aug. 19

The public is invited to the dedication of Middleville’s Veterans Memorial on Aug. 19 at 11 a.m. presented by Friends of the Middleville Veterans Memorial.

The project has been in the works since 2010, when a small group met at the Middle Villa Inn and talked about ideas for a memorial, recalls past president of the group, Jerry Walsh.


Ideas were still being formed when the group learned about the 7 foot by 11’ foot granite walls salvaged from Upjohn headquarters; four of the slabs were purchased and the current layout was developed, with Middleville area veteran’s pavers on the inside.


“The large vertical wall will carry the names of those Killed in Action from WWI up to 2009. There is room to add more, unfortunately,” Walsh said.


Originally it was planned to pay for the $100,000 project by selling the pavers at $100, since there is a large number of veterans from the Middleville area, but it soon became apparent they needed to reach out for other donors, he said.

“While we have four partners at $10,000 each, more than 50 percent of the entire fund-raising came from donations of $1,000 or less,” he said.


The group petitioned the village council for the property and was granted the site for the memorial. Welsh has maintained a historical book and newspaper article collection for an eventual museum.

The memorial is just north of the Community Pavilion in the center of the village.











Photo: An artist’s rendering of the Middleville Veterans Memorial



Bicyclist hit by Car

68 year old Jim Steenwik of Zeeland was hit by car Sunday morning  around 8:45 while riding his bicycle on Wildwood road in Barry County's Orangeville township.

State Police Troopers from Hastings said a individual found Steenwik in a ditch along side  the road thinking he suffered a medical issure, only to learn he was struck by a car that failed to stop.

Steenwik was taken to a nearby hospital where he remains in stable condition.

Through their investigation Troopers identified a 40 year old Shelbyville woman as the driver of the vehicle.   Damage to her vehicle matched that of the bicycle.

Charges are pending at this time.




Update - Ionia County accident kills woman, injures three others

UPDATE: In reference to the fatal crash at M-21 and Johnson Road investigated by the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office on August 5, 2017 and the subject of any earlier press release, the decedent is identified as Tiffany Kreager-Sochor, 45 of Muir, MI.


The other occupants of the vehicle were transported and treated at Spectrum Butterworth in Grand Rapids, MI.  They are identified as:


Eric Sochor, 40 of Muir, MI

Jeffrey Miller, 47 of Muir, MI

Marlena Miller, 36 of Muir, MI


Alcohol was believed to be a contributing factor in this crash, however, the exact circumstances of this crash are still under investigation and further details are not being released at this time.   
ORIGINAL STORY:  On Saturday, August 5th, 2017, at 3:54 a.m. Deputies with the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office responded to a single car accident on W. Bluewater Hwy, west of Johnson road in Easton Township. 
Deputies said a 2014 Mazda was eastbound on Bluewater Hwy (M-21) when it left the south side of the road, drove through a yard and into a wooded area and collided with a tree.
A 45 year old woman from Fenwick was pronounced dead on the scene. Three occupants of the vehicle also sustained minor injuries and were transported to an area hospital for 
Alcohol is believed to be a factor in the accident. The incident is still under investigation at this time. Assisting at the scene were the Michigan State Police, Saranac Fire Department, Lehman Funeral home, Life Ambulance, and Reed & Hoppes Towing.


BCUW again heading drive for backpacks with school supplies for Barry County students

With school just around the corner and the list of needed school supplies weighing on families, Barry County United Way (BCUW) has once again partnered with many in the community to address the need by giving away backpacks filled with school supplies.


"Each year we see an increase in the number of families that need assistance purchasing school supplies so we are very thankful that Hastings City Bank and so many others are partnering with us on this project.  This program will allow families to focus on their basic needs instead of how to include this added expense in their monthly budget,”  BCUW Executive Director Lani Forbes said.


Distribution will take place the week of Aug. 21 to children living in homes at 200 percent of the poverty level or below. Those interested in receiving a backpack can determine eligibility by calling the BCUW at 269-945-4010.  Once eligibility is determined, a time will be scheduled for the child to “shop” for their supplies.


Those who wish to contribute school supplies are invited to drop them off at any Hastings City Bank branch in Bellevue, Caledonia, Hastings, Marshall, Middleville, Nashville and Wayland. Items may also be dropped off at Thornapple Credit Union, Walker, Fluke and Sheldon, Barry County United Way, Welcome Corners Church and Grace Lutheran Church this year.//


The lower level at Hastings City Bank will provide backpacks to Barry County children in Kindergarten to 12th grade who need additional support for the coming school year. Grace Lutheran Church will be providing the supplies and backpacks for Pre-K and Young 5’s.  “We are looking forward to providing our assistance to the youngest of those starting their education experience,” Pastor Paul Kuhlman said.


In addition to new backpacks without wheels, items needed for each backpack include:


Middle / High School Level                           Elementary School Level

5 – notebooks                                                 scissors

5 – pocket folders                                           pencils

calculators                                                      pencil box

pencils                                                            colored pencils

colored pencils                                               washable markers

colored markers                                              glue sticks

highlighters                                                      hand sanitizer

1" three ring binders                                       construction paper

dry erase markers and erasers                       

lined paper for three ring binder                       ruler

index cards                                                       crayons

pens                                                                  pencil sharpener with lid



computer mouse



Pre K and Young 5’s

a box of pencils                                              12-16 color crayons

highlighters (1-2)                                             2 glue sticks

pencil top erasers                                           2 cardboard pocket folder

2 dry erase markers                                        blunt tipped scissors

tissue boxes                                                    pencil box

water bottle                                                     hand sanitizer


Last year, 408 children received school supplies and a backpack.  “We are thankful for those in our community that choose to partner with us as well,” said Nancy Goodin, marketing director at Hastings City Bank. “Our employees are really excited about helping with this special project and we hope our friends and customers will join us in this project, as well,” she said.


“One of my favorite parts of this program is that the children get choices – they choose which backpack, pencil box, scissors, notebooks, etc.  It gives them a sense of ownership and they feel good heading off to school with their choice of school supplies,” she said.

Those with questions are asked to call the BCUW at 269-945-4010.




Planning for sewer service to Gilmore Car Museum moves ahead

Sewer service to Gilmore Car Museum and possibly Hickory Corners, is moving forward with the Southwest Barry County Sewer and Water Authority, Gilmore Car Museum and Fleis &Vandenbrink Engineering officials discussing preliminary plans on the projects, according to Scott Monroe, plant manager/interim general manager of the sewer and water authority.


F&V has submitted a proposal to the authority on the design and permitting of a sanitary force main extension. An option being considered for Gilmore is installing a sanitary pump station on the south side of West Hickory Road, going east on Hickory Road, north on Hallock Road, west on Osborne Road onto authority property, to connect directly to the wastewater treatment plant, Monroe said. 


Gilmore would abandon its present septic system in favor of new infrastructure going to the proposed pump station. The new station would be a solid-handling pumping system so wastewater would gravity flow to the pump station, and be moved through the force main to the treatment plant, he said.


Gilmore would be responsible for its gravity feed system, the authority would own, operate, maintain and replace the pump station and discharge force main.

Connecting to an existing force main on Osborne Road was considered but failed to meet state requirements.


Fleis & Vandenbrink’s proposed fee of $67,000 for the project would include field work and elevations along the proposed sewer route, locating existing utilities, preparing drawings based on an aerial map, completing design and technical specifications for the sewer and pump station, and preparing an easement for Gilmore’s signature for the pump station on museum property, the F&V proposal said.


The engineering firm would obtain all the permits required, and address all comments from permitting agencies, including the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Barry County offices, handle the bidding process for contractors and complete the engineering and construction, including a pump station startup, it said.


If the authority opts to continue with plans to also serve Hickory Corners, Fleis & Vandenbrink would do the engineering for $26,000.


Final numbers for the total projects are not yet available.



Superintendent's Platform

WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight news in their districts. This posting is from Maple Valley Superintendent Michelle Falcon:




“Maple Valley Schools Summer Events and School Plans

It is already August and planning for the 2017-18 school year is well underway.  We have been busy with professional learning, scheduling, and technology and facility maintenance. We are excited to begin another successful school year at Maple Valley Schools.


The summer has included:

*130+ students in summer school during the month of July

* 650+ PALM Bicyclers camping out on our high school campus

* 6000+ summer lunch meals served to date

*Hiring a new Principal and two teachers

* Kindergarten Camp – August 8-10

* Installing air conditioning at the elementary buildings

* Back to School Celebration at Thorn Apple Estates


Professional learning sessions in the areas of:

                        1.     Social Studies Curriculum

2.     Reading and Math Training

3.     Administration collaboration

4.     Assessment

5.     Instructional software preparation

6.     Third Grade Reading Law expectations


Future planning including:

Ø     Maple Valley Skilled Trades Education Programs

Ø     Expansion of Little Lions Daycare and Preschool Programs

Ø     Improved marketing materials of the district

Ø     International exchange student program exploration

Ø     Implementation of the SMART Boot security system


Our opening day for staff as well as our open houses will be held on August 17. If you have any questions about our district, please do not hesitate to visit our website, Facebook, or download our mobile application.  We value our school-family partnerships."



Eaton County alerts Delta Township to outdoor siren test

Eaton County Central Dispatch has issued a warning of testing of outdoor sirens for Delta Township on Saturday, Aug. 5 at 1 p.m.

If there is a threat of severe weather on the day of a test, it will be cancelled. The sirens are tested at 1 p.m. on the first Saturday of every month.


Except for scheduled testing, the sirens will be activated if:

* The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning.

* A trained spotter has sighted a tornado or funnel cloud.

* A hazardous materials accident requires immediate protective action by the public.

* An attack on the United States is imminent, underway or has recently occurred.


The warning siren is a signal for the public to immediately go indoors and monitor local Emergency Alert System media outlets for official information.

Residents can also sign-up for emergency notifications at or by texting the word EATON to 888777. The sirens are triggered when appropriate by central dispatch, but are maintained by local government.



Barry County Commissioners praised for "standing their ground"

Three Barry County Commissioners were complimented Tuesday by citizen Bob Vanderboegh for their demeanor at a Barry Eaton District Health Department health board meeting he attended last Thursday.


Vanderboegh said the reception by Eaton County commissioners to a planned Barry County Commission review of the department’s TOST regulation was, “less than positive. It was almost like our commissioners were being chastised as if they were children.

“I think it was very unprofessional and I commend our commissioners for standing their ground and holding to their guns.”


The health board oversees the combined health departments.It  is made up of three commissioners from each county. Commissioners Ben Geiger, who is board chair, David Jackson and Dan Parker represent Barry County on the BEDHD health board. Eaton County Commissioners Jane Whitacre, Vice Chair Blake Mulder and Joe Brehler serve their county on the board.

Backers say a survey of residents, a public meeting to take input and a telephone survey will lead to improvements in the 10-year old regulation.


TOST calls for inspection of on-site sewer and water systems and repair or replacement of systems deemed failing before the sale or transfer of property in both counties protects the environment.


Critics contend the regulation is too costly, administrated arbitrarily and unfairly, and brings exiting systems up to the present day codes, which is prohibited in the regulation.


In other matters Tuesday, Commissioners Geiger and Vivian Conner will visit Washington D.C. on Aug. 8 and attend a White House conference meant to develop a working relationship between

Michigan county commissioners and federal agencies. A tour of the White House is part of the day.


No taxpayer funds are involved, both intend to pay the full cost of their trips.


The invitation to each Michigan county commissioner came from Billy Kirkland, deputy director of intergovernmental affairs, the liaison between state and local governments and the White House.

Geiger called it, “a unique opportunity that doesn’t come along very often.”

Conner said she will never have a better chance to visit the nation’s capital. Geiger is flying in and out the same day; Conner is going to stay a few days and take in the sights.


Dr. Weatherhead receives Distinguished Physician Society Award

James Weatherhead, MD, retired family physician in Hastings, was recently recognized along with six others for his significant contributions to Spectrum Health, receiving the Distinguished Physician Society Award.

Weatherhead is one of only 82 physicians who have been recognized for their clinical practice and leadership since 1997.











Photo: James Weatherhead MD.



Nation's largest longbow-only event coming to Charlton Park

Archery enthusiasts looking for a weekend of fun and friendly competition are invited to the annual Great Lakes Longbow Invitational at Historic Charlton Park, Aug. 11-13. 


Admission is $6 for those 16 and up, gate fees and activities are free for children 15 and under.  


The event includes archery-related activities for all ages and skill levels, including tomahawk throwing, breaking clays at the ‘Ol Sagamore Turkey Shoot, and a chance to hear archery experts around the campfire.


A coached children’s range with bows and arrows provided is available for young archers beginning their longbow adventure. A nondenominational church service will be in the Carlton Center Church Sunday at 8 a.m. //


Archery vendors will sell custom made items and a trade blanket and barn raffle will be for those looking to barter or pick up archery odds and ends.  Demonstrations include bow building and flint knapping.//


The meet is hosted by the Michigan Longbow Association. The group, formed in 1983 by a small group of longbow enthusiasts, promotes using the longbow, and takes pleasure in the camaraderie of other traditional archers who enjoy the sport.   

“Our goal as MLA members is simple: teach people about the longbow and archery, and promote an appreciation of the outdoors.  There are few activities as inclusive and unifying as archery, and the longbow is a beacon for all of the above. We love nothing more than sharing it with folks," MLA President John Buchin, said.  For details, visit






Photos: (upper left) Competitions for all ages and skill levels dominate the Longbow event. This file photo shows just one of the contests.


(lower left) Children and youths practice their aim at set-ups especially for them at the Longbow days at Charlton Park. This one has a jurassic theme.


Night Out is a big hit with 1,500 to 2,000 Barry County area visitors

Hastings deputy Police Chief Dale Boulter, who is credited with the idea and putting together a committee to organize the national Night Out couldn’t be happier with the successful first-time event held Tuesday, especially with the “awesome” turnout, conservatively estimated at between 1,500 and 2,000 people.


The Night Out is to let the community get to know Barry County firefighters, Michigan State Police troopers, Barry County deputies, Hastings and other police officers, EMTs, Barry Central Dispatch 911, and ambulance personnel who protect and serve the community.


The emergency personnel brought their equipment, explained their jobs, and encouraged kids to climb into their fire trucks, cruisers and ambulances and try on their gear.

Barry Central Dispatch taught kids how to dial 911, the Barry County Road Commission offered a huge orange snow plow blade for everyone to autograph, an ongoing raffle gave away lots of prizes, and free hot dogs, chips and bottled water were just some of the attractions.


Boulter definitely plans to hold another Night Out next year, especially after all the good comments he’s getting about the first event in Hastings. The morning after, with all the planning, work and organizing over, Boulter said: “I’m ecstatic; this is like Christmas morning.”


“The main thing for me, is I’m super proud to be the host agency for all of Barry County. All of the agencies were great, and Barry County businesses contributions were great, too.”

“We’ll hold a post-event meeting to go over everything, but we definitely plan to do it again next year. It’s a lot of work but the community is certainly worth it.” 



Photos: left, top to bottom.
Parents line up so their kids can learn how to dial 911 for help.
Deputy Police Chief Dale Boulter talks with visitors to the first Night Out.
This lad hit the red button, and volunteer Judge Michael Schipper goes into the dunk tank again.
The Fire House has tours pointing out fire hazards and giving fire safety tips to kids.
Aiden Lilly, 4, signs the county snow plow blade while Kelly Concannon waits her turn.
Hundreds enjoyed a free hot dog at the first Night Out in Hastings.
Freeport firefighters help kids run the fire hose to knock the targets down.
Cameron VanderHuis shows 911 director Phyllis Fuller that he can call 911.
This little girl was content just to look at the python in the reptile tent. 
Photos: right, top to bottom.
Easton Carley will have to grow some before a firefighter's gear will fit. Volunteer Tammy Pennington helps with the gear.
Daddy touches the alligator in the reptile tent; she chooses to just watch.
Serenity Endres, 2, finds the Johnstown firefighter's  helmet is pretty heavy for a little girl..
Proper stance, right control of the hose; Dylan Krueger, 5, may be a future firefighter.


Decision on mini-excavator for Barry County drain work delayed

Several Barry County Commissioners praised Drain Commissioner Jim Dull for his enthusiasm, his working to save taxpayers money, looking at the big picture and the future of the drain system in the county, and generally moving the department in the right direction.


However, several commissioners had concerns enough that they tabled his request to get more definitive information on a request he made Tuesday. Dull asked to buy a mini-excavator for up to $42,000 to pull trees and limbs from county drains, improving their efficiency.


Dull said he and deputy Drain Commissioner Tammy Berdecia would remove debris from drains for four hours every other week, with him operating the excavator. Independent contractors have trouble finding  time to do such small projects, and it's not financially profitable for them, and renting equipment and hiring an operator is time consuming and about as expensive as a general contractor, he said.


An outside contractor charges $110 an hour for the machine, $35 an hour for labor, plus $300 or $400 mobilization costs. Renting would end up costing about $550 for the first hour, he said.

Cost to the county would be $290 an hour, if they had the equipment and they did the work, Dull said.


Questions on cost of the unit, who would do the maintenance, what effect it would have on the budget, the cost of training an operator, the effect on liability and workman’s compensation insurance, and how much time Dull would be taken away from his regular administration of the drain office were some of the concerns that led to the delay in a decision.


“I want you overseeing things…my concern is we’re leaping into something that we will find out quickly is something we never should have done,” said Commissioner Dan  Parker. “I love your exuberance, but what you are trying to do is not proper at this time.”

Commissioner Heather Wing said Dull was elected to administrate the drain office, not to be a laborer operating equipment.


Commissioner Ben Geiger told Dull he was asking for a shift in policy to a more government-centered organization, “where we do the work, and the private sector doesn’t...we haven’t gone through your first budget…show us the line items… show us at budget time where we can save money…”


Parker summed it up, saying they needed to learn more, that more information leads to better decisions. The issue will be brought up again no later than the Sept. 5 committee of the whole meeting, and possibly sooner.//


In other business, the commissioners recommended approval of the renewal of the Child Care Fund and budget to be submitted to the state by Aug. 15, and the purchase of new kitchen equipment for the Barry County Jail at a cost of up to $32,000, to be paid from the capital improvement fund. The recommendations will be considered at the regular board of commissioners meeting next week.



Some area schools to start classes before Labor Day

The usual before-school sales have already started and families are thinking about  gearing up for the 2017-2018 school year. Some parents will have less time to prepare if their school districts start classes before the Labor Day holiday.

Some 120 school districts have obtained waivers from the Michigan Department of Education to allow classes to begin before Labor Day. The following is a listing of area schools and their start dates, according to their websites.


*Hastings Area School System: Monday, Aug. 28


*Maple Valley Public Schools: Monday, Aug. 21


*Delton Kellogg Schools: Tuesday, Sept. 5


*Thornapple Kellogg Schools: Tuesday, Aug. 22


*Lakewood Public Schools: Wednesday, Aug. 23


*Caledonia Community Schools: Monday, Aug. 28


*Wayland Union Schools: Tuesday, Sept.5.


*Barry County Christian School, Tuesday, Sept. 5




Don't miss First Night Out Tuesday in Hastings

All Barry County residents are invited to the first Night Out celebration in Hastings at Tyden Park  today from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Hastings police, area law enforcement and emergency services will be there to meet and greet the public with free food, prizes, games, a dunk tank, a free raffle and a bounce house.


It’s all to recognize and build on the police-community partnership, and let the people get to know firefighters and police, deputies and troopers and EMTs, Barry Central Disatch911, ambulance personnel who protect and serve the community in a casual setting. 


Superintendent's Platform

WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight news in their districts. This posting is by Barry Intermediate School District Superintendent Richard Franklin:.




“Special Education millage proposal--restoration of Headlee reduction




Frequently Asked Questions:





What is the proposal?

The Barry Intermediate School District, on behalf of its constituent districts (Hastings

Area Schools and Delton Kellogg Schools) is asking voters to restore the special

education tax rate approved in 1996.


Why is the Barry ISD asking for an increase?

Our local boards of education work very hard to provide the best programs and services

to all of their students that they possibly can. They have asked their intermediate school

district to help them do just that, particularly for our most vulnerable students with

physical, cognitive, learning, or other disabilities.


When is the vote?

The proposal will appear on the August 8, 2017, regular primary election ballot.


How much of an increase is the Barry ISD seeking?

A restoration of the tax rate approved by voters would take 0.3631 mills, or about

$18.16 per year on a home or parcel with a taxable value of $50,000. The ballot

language will actually ask for more than that—about double—but no more than the

original rate approved by voters in 1996 can ever be levied.


Why ask for more than you can levy?

The way the Headlee Amendment works, tax rates approved by voters are

automatically scaled back, or eroded, as taxable values rise. By asking for 0.7 mills, a

buffer will be created that should mean we don’t have to ask taxpayers for another

restoration for the life of this approved increase.


How long does this increase, or restoration, last?

The Barry ISD is asking for a ten (10) year millage increase to restore the tax rate

approved by voters in 1996.


How much difference will the requested restoration make?

Based on a taxable value in Barry ISD of just over $1 billion, the increase (override)

of .3631 would yield about $363,000 in additional revenue to fund special education

programs and services in Delton and Hastings. (The actual projected amount is

$366,143.29 on a total taxable value of $1,008,381,414, based on 2016 figures.)


How will this new revenue be spent?

All special education funds from local tax dollars are spent according to the Barry ISD

Special Education Plan, which is developed in consultation with the local districts and

reviewed periodically. All special education funds come to the children in our local

districts, whether in the form of special programs, services, equipment, or other needs.


What does Barry ISD provide for students with special needs in Hastings and


The Barry ISD Special Education Department provides center-based programs and

classrooms for students with certain types and levels of disability. We provide

specialized staff like psychologists, social workers, speech and language pathologists,

physical and occupational therapists, hearing impairment teachers, transition planning,

and monitoring. We provide special transportation, summer jobs programs, and

contracted services for individuals over the age of 26. We flow special education

funding through to our constituent districts.


Whom can I contact with other questions?

Please feel free to call Barry ISD Superintendent Rich Franklin directly, at 269-945-

9545, ext. 111, or email him at; or talk with your local

superintendent’s office.”


Agnes M. Hollister Courtyard dedicated at Thornapple Manor

A garden party at Thornapple Manor, complete with ice cream and cake, was held after a ribbon cutting celebrating the naming of the new "Agnes M. Hollister Memorial Courtyard."

The Hollister family, represented by son David, daughter-in-law Martha and grandson John Hollister were joined by residents, staff and volunteers to commemorate the event.   


“Aggie called Thornapple Manor home for many years and was active in the Resident Council and the Helping Hands volunteer group,” said Director of Support Services Lyn Briel. “She loved that her room faced the beautiful West Courtyard, and enjoyed year-round pleasure from her view. Daughter Mary Hollister, who resides in Maine, spearheaded the drive to create a lasting memory of her mother by making a naming donation to Thornapple Manor,” Briel said.


"I made this gift to Thornapple Manor both in memory of my mother, Agnes M. Hollister, and as a tribute to the wonderful staff, nurses, nurses aids, and therapists who cared for her during her over fifteen-year stay there. The Manor was her second home,” Mary Hollister said. “My brother David, our families, and I are pleased that this gift will name her favorite place here ‘The Agnes M. Hollister Memorial Courtyard.’

“This courtyard was a place she could see from her room's window and enjoy the birds, flowers, trees and changing seasons and also spend time in during the warmer months. I hope others are encouraged to express their thanks to Thornapple Manor by this gift."


“The staff made it easier for us when mom needed extra help,” David Hollister said. “We all felt like we were part of a large extended family and appreciated so much the care and compassion mom experienced here.”


“With this gift we are able to provide extra staff development and purchase a few items that can enhance resident care, as directed by the donor,” Thornappple Manor

Administrator Don Haney said. “Aggie was a friend to all of us and by naming this courtyard ‘The Agnes M. Hollister Memorial Courtyard’ her memory, her name, will become a permanent feature here.


“We are grateful to receive this gift. Your family could have chosen so many different ways to memorialize your mother, that you chose Thornapple Manor is humbling,” Haney concluded.


Thornapple Manor, part of the Barry County community for more than 59 years, specializes in 24-hour, skilled long-term care, specialized dementia care and in-patient rehab services.


Photo: Representing the Hollister family during the celebration in the naming of the Agnes M. Hollister Memorial Courtyard are (left to right) Martha, John and David Hollister with Thornapple Manor Administrator Don Haney.


Barry Eaton District Health Department, pantries to offer more healthy food choices

The Hastings and Diamondale food pantries, working with the Barry Eaton District Heath department (BEDHD), have changed their policies to increase the health of its client by encouraging healthy food choices.


Offering healthful foods can help pantry clients eat more nutritious food than they might be able to afford, which can help decrease the number of people who have nutrition–related diseases or reduce the severity of the diseases in those who have them.


The changes are supported by a grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, working with local pantries to being healthful foods to low income residents.


The Hastings Pantry, at the First United Church, will provide fresh vegetables as seasonally available and provide information on healthy nutrition.


The Dimondale Pantry, at the First Presbyterian Church of Diamondale, will provide food from each food group, seek donations of fresh produce, and purchase low sodium, no-salt-added and processed foods from the Lansing Food Bank. They also purchase fresh product and dairy items from the Lansing Food Bank before each distribution day, when available, and encourage donations of whole grain products.


Cooking classes, ”Cooking Matters,” are being held at the both pantries. Taught by MSU Extension, the class teaches how to cook healthy foods in budget-friendly way.

For more information and to sign up for an upcoming class, call the Barry County MSU Extension office at 269-945-1388


Those who wish to donate to a pantry are encouraged to donate healthy foods, canned fruit in 100 percent fruit juice, whole wheat pasta, whole grain cereal and low sodium or water packed vegetables and meats. More helpful donation suggestions are at Feeding America’s Healthy Donation List at


Caledonia man victim of industrial accident

A Caledonia Farmers Elevator employee died in an industrial accident while at work Saturday, according to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department.

Deputies called to the scene learned that Daniel Hibma, 56, from Caledonia, was working at the Caledonia Farmers Elevator when another employee, who was not working, drove by at about 3:10 p.m. and saw that Hibma had not finished working.


Knowing that was unusual, the employee searched the buildings and found that Hibma had been involved in an accident, officials said.

Caledonia and Kentwood fire departments worked together using technical rescue equipment and recovered Hibma.


Life Ambulance personnel pronounced him deceased at the scene.  The investigation is ongoing. Additional details may be released later.



Superintendent's Platform

WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight news in their districts. This posting is from Hastings Area School System Superintendent Carrie Duits.


“In 2015 voters in the Hastings Area Schools System approved a bond proposal, which is providing our students with safer and updated learning facilities. These improvements are sure to enhance our students’ educational environment and opportunities. Now the Hastings Area School System Board of Education is asking voters to consider two proposals during a special school election in November.


The first proposal is a no mill increase from the current mills, and it uses capitalized interest for $10.5 million to remodel elementary schools, provide student technology devices, remodel the 1997 portion of the middle school, remodel locker rooms at the middle school and high school and provide new roofs on all schools.


The second proposal is a $19.5 million bond taking advantage of the State-offered School Bond Loan Fund. This second proposal is a 0.5 mill increase for remodeling major areas of the high school, providing increased technology for instruction and security, purchasing new school buses, constructing a new transportation office building, stadium concession building and bleachers and press box, and upgrading athletic fields, facilities and sites. If approved the bonds would further enhance the improvements made possible by the 2015 bond.


Taking advantage of the School Bond Loan Fund may or may not be available to us in the future. The total proposal (0.5) is 1/10 of the increase for the current projects (4.0 mills) and the sinking funds (1.0 mills) combined.


Students and families are already benefiting from improved entrances and reconfigured offices at each elementary building in the district as well as other structural updates and improvements. Phase 4 of the bond project is currently in the design phase and includes mechanical and heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) upgrades for all elementary schools as well as site and drainage work at Star Elementary. The work for Phase 4 will be in the summer of 2018.


When school resumes next month, 6th and 7th grade students will see some renovations to the 1954 portion of the middle school. The new addition is on schedule to be ready for use by spring 2018, while work continues on the construction of the performing arts center and classroom renovations at the high school, slated to be complete in 2018.

In other action the board approved:


• Authorized district administration to charge tuition and/or transportation fees to non-resident students during the 2017-2018 school year


• Authorized the superintendent to discipline students in accordance with provisions as described in current policies


• Approved making arrangements with First Agency, Inc. of Kalamazoo to provide student accident insurance coverage with Guarantee Trust Life Insurance Company for those parents and guardians who wish to purchase it during the 2017-2018 school year


• Approved the following personnel appointments


• Accepted an installment purchase agreement from Commercial Bank to finance the purchase of five school buses


• Set athletic activity admission process for the 2017-2018 school year—high school athletic activities, $5 for adults and students, middle school athletic activities, $3 for adults, $2 for students; passes (except for any tournament or invitational) for both middle and high school activities—Student Pass-- $40 for admission to all sporting events during a season, Adult Pass-- $80 for admission to all sporting events during a season, All-Season Family Pass-- $200 for admission for all immediate family members who are residents to all sporting events during all seasons


• Approved participation in the National School Lunch Program and related programs and provide a breakfast program during the 2017-2018 school year and the following cost schedule-- $1.60 for a full-price breakfast; $.30 for reduced-price breakfast; $2.80 for a full-price, type A student lunch; $.40 for a reduced-price, type A student lunch; and $3.75 for an adult lunch


• Accepted a bid from Hurst mechanical in the amount of $25,000 to complete control and mechanical work at the Community Education and Recreation Center (CERC)


• Announced its next regular meeting would be conducted at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21 in the multi-purpose room of Central Elementary, 509 S. Broadway, Hastings.


We are excited to share the progress of our facilities with students, families and the community.  Please remember schools starts on August 28th.”   



Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital Cancer Center dedicated

Spectrum Health Pennock President Sheryl Lewis Blake welcomed the audience at the Cancer Center Sanctuary and Healing Garden Dedication Wednesday to “an exciting day for Spectrum Health Pennock and a glorious day for our community, and specifically, for the patients we serve.”


Lewis-Blake recognized the leadership of the Community Board of Directors, the Pennock Foundation, Pennock Ventures Board and the staff, all “who moved the new service to reality.”

“The purpose of the Healing Garden and Sanctuary are to create an environment that cares for the whole person and demonstrates a commitment to the soul as well as the physical body….our new center will enable care close to home while maintaining connectivity of specialists and offering clinical trials,” she said.

Chief Operating Officer Carla Wilson-Neil followed Lewis Blake. “We are grateful to Spectrum Health Cancer Center and Spectrum Health System for collaborating with West Michigan Cancer and Hematology in advancing the services for cancer care available to patients here in Hastings,” she said.


“When we are caring for those we love who are battling cancer, it is more important than ever to stay close to home.  Treatment and recovery is easier when travel time and costs are reduced and family is nearby.”


Wilson-Neil recognized several people and groups whose efforts helped make the cancer center a reality, such as the Spectrum Health multidisciplinary team that met for a year, “addressing a multitude of complex issues and challenges necessary to implement a program that is now a partner of the region’s largest cancer care provider…we are truly living and delivering on our mission to improve the health of the community we serve.”


Two patients of the new center, Gene Greenfield, the first patient seen when the center opened on July 10, and Chris Bush, told their stories and attested to the exceptional care they are receiving at the third floor cancer center. //


The crowd met Dr. Judy Smith, MD, department chief of oncology at Spectrum Health, who said she came to Spectrum because of its network of hospitals and facilities and to “be able to bring that same level of care, where you have the absolute best…to bring it to the people, so the people didn’t have to travel as they started on their most difficult of journeys. I’m very, very proud that we are able to bring cancer services here to Pennock.”             


Pastor Michael Anton noted the level of care at the facility, “the treasure that is Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital… I’ve had a good sense of what we have here for a long time, since my first pastoral visit in 1969.” There is a growing awareness that, “total health is always, and always has been, integrated; mental, physical, spiritual."  The hospital now has an interfaith sanctuary, by design, a healing garden for individual meditation, and a cancer center. “Mental, physical, spiritual; the integrated approach to wholeness and health,” he said.


Pennock Foundation Executive Director Janine Dalman announced the foundation has pledged $200,000 this year and $200,000 over the next two years to support the cancer program.

A ribbon cutting was held and guided tours of the cancer center and pharmacy compounding room offered.



Photos: Upper left:The ribbon cutting Wednesday marks the official opening of the Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital Cancer Center.


Middle left: Pastor Michael Anton and Chief Operating Officer Carla Wilson-Neil share a hug after the dediction of the cancer center.


Middle right: The overflow crowd waits in the sanctuary for speakers at the cancer center dedication.


Lower left: Chief of the oncology department at Spectrum, Judy Smith, MD, tells how proud she is of the new Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital cancer center that provides close to home cancer care for Barry County residents.


Bottom left: Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital President Sheryl Lewis Blake speaks at the cancer center dedication Wednesday.















Three millage requests on Aug. 8 ballot.

Hastings Area School System and Barry Intermediate School District non-homestead millage renewals are on the Aug. 8 ballot, along with a request for millage for fire equipment in Orangeville Township.


Hastings Area School System:

Voters will decide a request for a 10-year renewal of the current 17.9262 mills ($17.9262 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation), reduced from 18 mills by the Headlee Amendment, on non-homestead property.


The non-homestead millage renewal is for industrial, commercial and ‘second homes,’ and does not include a family’s primary residence.

The renewal is required for the school district to receive its per pupil foundation allowance from the state and renews the millage that will expire with the 2017 tax levy.

 If approved, an estimated $3,044,300 will be collected by the district in 2018.


Barry Intermediate School District:

This proposal requests additional millage to permit the levy by the Intermediate School District of the maximum mills for special education previously approved by voters.


The ballot language:

“Shall the current limitation on the annual property tax rate for the education of students with a disability in Barry Intermediate School District, Michigan, be increased by .7 mill ($0.70 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a period of 10 years, 2017 to 2026, inclusive (.3631 mill of this increase will restore millage lost as a result of the reduction required by the Michigan Constitution of 1963, and will allow the intermediate school district to levy the maximum rate of 2.1875 mills previously approved by the electors; the remaining .3369 mill will only be levied to the extent necessary to restore a reduction required by the Michigan Constitution of 1963); the estimate of the revenue the intermediate school district will collect if the millage is approved and levied in 2017 is approximately $366,143.29?”


Also on the Aug. 8 ballot, Orangeville Township is asking an additional 0.75 mills for five years to purchase fire department equipment and apparatus raising an estimated $102,403 in the first year the millage is levied.




Eaton County deputy helps save 20-year-old woman's life

Eaton County Sheriff’s Deputy Pete Walter was in the area of the Citgo gas station on West Saginaw Highway about 2 p.m. yesterday when a 911 call came in of a woman possibly in cardiac arrest at the station, according to a sheriff’s office news release.


Walter responded and found a 20-year-old woman who did not appear to be breathing with a faint pulse, unconscious and turning blue. He administered a dose of Narcan to no effect, got two more does from his patrol car and gave her those, one in each nostril.


The woman was still unresponsive when EMS arrived and put her into an ambulance; eight minutes later, she was conscious and talking to medics.


“Sheriff (Tom) Reich praises Deputy Walter and Delta Fire EMS for their quick actions that helped save this young woman’s life,” the release said.


Hastings Country Club Being Sold

Members of the Hastings Country Club received word by letter Wednesday that Lynn and Norma Janson owners of the local golf course are selling the popular course.

Janson said "It's both with a heavy heart and great excitement at the same time that Norma and I are writing to let you know we are selling the Hastings Country Club." 

Lynn went on to say, "I plan on being the PGA Golf Professional at the club and running the PGA Junior League as well as helping with every aspect of the operation as requested by the new owners."

The New owners include;

Korin and Phil Ayers, Dave and Susie Baum, Ron and Nikki Kloosterman, Rick and Kris Reigler, Nathan and Becky Tag, and Tom and Beth Watson.


Hiring process for Barry County Animal Shelter director continues

The process for hiring a director for the Barry County Animal Shelter continues, with initial candidates being considered for interviews by the county commission.

County Administrator Michael Brown, who is also department head of the shelter, reported Tuesday he has received 23 applications for the post.


Brown has reviewed the applicants for educational experience and job duties required and said Tuesday that he will meet with Commissioner David Jackson for him to also review the candidates. Jackson represents the county commission on the Barry County Animal Shelter Oversight Board.


They will “determine a few quality applicants and recommend interviews with the board,” Brown said.

The shelter has been without director since the third week in April when Billie Jo Hartwell, director since July, 2015, was fired after being charged with acts of misconduct at the shelter.



Barry County Commissioners invited to the White House

Barry County Commissioners have been invited to a White House conference to develop a working relationship between Michigan county commissioners and federal agencies on Aug. 8. A tour of the White House is part of the day.

The invitation, received by each commissioner, came from Billy Kirkland, deputy director of intergovernmental affairs, the liaison between state and local governments and the White House.


“What a unique opportunity for county commissioners,” Chairman Ben Geiger said. “Regardless of how you feel about the current administration, it’s a great opportunity that doesn’t come along very often.”


Geiger said he is going; commissioners have until Friday to decide if they can attend.



August Fest rolls on at Charlton Park

The local classic car community will be showcased at Historic Charlton Park’s sixth annual August Fest Antique Car Show on Saturday, Aug. 5. Registration begins on the Village Green at 9 a.m. with numerous awards, trophies and door prizes awarded at 1 p.m.

Admission and parking are free. 


“This year’s show is supported by 35 sponsors, including local businesses, residents and county commissioners.  We are truly grateful to our generous donors who support the event,” said event coordinator Howard “Hoot” Gibson.


A county-wide yard sale will take place during August Fest, with vendors selling antiques, household items, tools, car parts, and crafts. The Historic Village and Museum will also be open for self-guided tours. Food and music will add to the festivities.  Vendor spaces for the yard sale are available for $15 on the day of show.  Vehicle registration is $10 per vehicle. 


Charlton Park also offers a beach and boat launch, fishing, picnicking and hiking on the grounds.




Clarification: Hours to drop off compostables in Hastings ends at 3 p.m.

Clarification: The hours to drop off compostables at the Hastings facility on West State Road ends at 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Originally announced as 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., it was decided to stop entry at 3 p.m. to have all drop offs complete, trucks gone and gates locked at 3:30 p.m.


Original story:The City of Hastings maintains a compostable material drop off site on West State Road for its citizens to use, but because of the “unbelievable amount” of compostable and especially non-compostable material being dropped off, the city council by consensus Monday agreed to limit hours the facility is open to the public.

“With the volume and type of material, we need more control,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said, setting the hours from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. “We realize it will be inconvenient for some…it’s less than ideal...the workers won’t be there all the time, but we have to do something, particularly about  the non-compostables. I strongly suspect some of it is not coming from city residents, especially after hours,” he said.

Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange suggested keeping the area open in the evening once a week or once  month,. “We need to try different things.”

“We should try this,” said Councilman Don Smith. “Guys will be going in and out. It’s a good idea.”

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Mansfield said.



Reaction to TOST review heard by Barry County Commissioners

Last week, Barry County Commissioners narrowly approved a review of the 10-year old TOST program. Tuesday, commissioners heard two views of the subject in public comment.


TOST, which stands for “Time of Sale or Transfer,” is a Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation that calls for a department-certified evaluator to inspect on-site water and septic systems at the time of sale or transfer of property in Eaton and Barry counties. The department orders corrections or replacement if a system is deemed failing, and systems out of compliance must be repaired or replaced before the sale can be completed.


Larry Bass, resident of Carlton Township, said the county commission did not consider withdrawing from TOST last year, citing excessive cost to taxpayers for legal counsel. “Just his year, the rural taxpayers of Barry County have endured 394 TOST evaluations at a cost of approximately $160,000.

"Since the regulation was adopted,  there have been 5,700 evaluations at a cost of approximately $2 million to the rural taxpayers. There doesn’t seem to be the same concern when the fees or taxes are paid directly by the property owners,” he said.


Noting Barry County already had a Sanitary and Nuisance codes in place before TOST, he said, “there is absolutely no evidence that the quality of drinking water has improved in Barry County since the inception of TOST.”


He suggested that the county, “is capable and has the ability to tell the health district that we will no longer participate in TOST…even though 70 percent of the county is rural and primarily served by on-site systems, we are in a minority in representation on the board of commissioners, and especially the health board. It is time we were given our due.”


Former Commissioner Jim Dull lauded Commissioner Ben Geiger for urging an open forum for public opinion, but he maintained that the since the health department gets paid for the TOST program, they should pay the anticipated $6,500 cost of the review.


Hastings Township Supervisor Jim Brown urged the commissioners "to be very careful not to throw the baby out with the wash water....keep the good parts and throw out the bad parts."




In other business, the commissioners:

* approved an excess spending authorization to allow spending more than $10,000 in one year for dredging at Crystal Lake Dam. The Barry County Drain Commission will spend $14,200 to dredge 300 yards of sand this year.


* authorized the drain commission to borrow $100,000 to pay for emergency repairs and other preliminary expenses of the Gun Lake Dam, to be paid back through a special assessment that will be set up to pay for the replacement of the dam.


* approved Commissioner David Jackson as officer delegate and Commissioner Ben Geiger alternate and Karen Barnes as employee delegate and Julie Ingle as alternate.

to attend the annual Municipal Employee Retirement System meeting Sept. 21-22 in Detroit.



First Night Out in Hastings is Tuesday, Aug.1

Hastings Deputy Police Chief Dale Boulter asks everyone who plans to attend the first Night Out Aug. 1 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Tyden Park to spread the word about the event, inviting everyone in the city and Barry County.


In planning since February, Boulter updated the Hastings City Council Monday, saying that the organizers are very excited about hosting the evening. Free food, 2,000 hot dogs have been purchased to hand out to visitors, prizes, games, a dunk tank, a free raffle and a bounce house are some of the attractions.


Hastings police officers, Barry County Sheriff’s deputies and Michigan State troopers, area fire department firefighters and ambulance service personnel will bring their equipment and demonstrate what they do. “The night is for them to show people the firefighters and police who are on call for them every day,” Boulter said. The “hopefully” annual event will build on the police-community partnership, and let the people meet and talk to emergency services personnel in a casual setting.


Bolter said he has several slots open in the dunk tank schedule and is looking for volunteers from the city council to take 10 minute turns in the tank to, so far, a lukewarm response from council members.

Parking will be eased by Barry County Transit buses that will shuttle people to and from various spots around town, including city parking lots.


Other community outreach organizations that provide resources for residents, like the Barry County United Way and Green Gables will also be there. Boulter is credited with the original idea; a committee made up of Boulter, Officer Kendra Backing and Sgt. Kris Miller, Secretary Anne Lockman and Chief Jeff Pratt did the planning.


On the national level, the event is always held the first Tuesday in August, promoting a sense of community, positive public relations, safety and trust.






Hastings Schools Board of Education approves two millage requests for Nov.7 ballot

The Hastings Area School System’s Board of Education unanimously approved two millage proposals for the Nov. 7 general election ballot at it’s semi-annual organizational and regular board meeting Monday. Trustee Robert Pohl was absent.


The first proposal asks for $10.5 million for remodeling, equipping, refurnishing school buildings, adding instructional technology to school buildings and improving the middle school site.

The school gave additional information on the request: The estimated millage levied for the proposed bonds in 2018 is 0.85 mill for a -0- mill net increase over the prior year’s levy. The request is for 15 years; the estimated annual millage is 1.53 mills.


The second proposal is $19.5 million for remodeling, equipping and refurnishing school buildings, adding instructional technology in school buildings, building a new transportation office building, stadium concession building and press box, purchasing buses and upgrading athletic fields, facilities and sites.


The additional information: The estimated millage is 1.35 mills, a 0.50 percent net increase over the prior year’s levy, for 25 years. The estimated simple average annual millage required to retire the bond debt is 1.87 mills.


The district expects to borrow from the State School Bond Qualification and Loan Program to pay debt service on those bonds; the estimated total principal amount is $1,620,726  with a total interest of $670,036. The estimated rate for such a levy is 7 mills for 13 years.


“I would just like to point out that the reason we are going back so quickly is because we promised our voters on the last campaign when we had to make several cuts, that when the timing was right and there was a good value for the  voters in the district, we would do so and in order to capitalize on the school bond loan fund, we have a window and we thought we needed to bring it back to our voters,” board President Luke Haywood said.


“I wanted to also point out that this is a November election, not to be confused with the August operating millage which generates three million to keep our doors open…a non-homestead tax, so what we’re talking about here is a special election in November,” he said.


Marijuana Card Holders in Barry County

More than 2-percent of Michigan residents have a medical marijuana card, according to the most recent state information.

The data shows there are 218,556 patients with a medical marijuana card as of september 2016, plus 38,057 caregivers with a card so they can obtain marijuana for a designated patient.

 The 2016 data show there are just over one thousand medical marijuana cardholders in Barry County.


Police Car hits Sign

A State Police Car heading to Nashville to assist a Nashville Police Officer lost control of his vehicle an hit a crosswalk sign and a no parking sign.  The trooper was on Apple Street in Hastings when he  turned on Broadway losing control of his patroll car and hit the signs.

no one was injured. The accident happened on July 1st.



Vehicle Crash Kills Middleville Couple

A Middleville Couple was killed saturday afternoon in a two vehicle crash in Wexford County. According to WPBN TV 59 year old Janice Verkerke failed to stop  at a stop sign traveled into the intersection where her vehicle was struck by a westbound vehicle driven by a Benzonia man. Wexford County Sheriff Deputies say Janice and her passenger, 64 year old Richard Verkerke were pronounced dead at the scene.. The driver of the other vehicle and a passenger were taken to Munson Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.


Middleville celebrates "Redevelopment Ready Community" status

The public is invited to Middleville Monday, July 31 from 11 a.m. to noon to join a celebration of the village being certified as a “Redevelopment Ready Community.”

Middleville is the 13th community, and the smallest in the state based on population, to be certified by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.


The accomplishment acknowledges that the village has removed barriers and streamlined processes to be more competitive in today’s economy. The village has worked toward certification since 2015.

The event will be in the Community Pavilion across from the village hall on Main Street.


“Join us to recognize the hard work of a village dedicated to having a vision for the future and the fundamental practices in place to get there,” a village news release said.



Seen at the Barry County Fair...











Loan to pay preliminary costs for Gun Lake Dam recommended

Barry County will likely back a loan to the County Drain Commission to pay costs incurred since an emergency effort saved the Gun Lake Dam in May of 2015. Despite the temporary repairs, engineers inspected it and advised that, given the condition of the dam, it be replaced.


The project now underway to replace it has wide support of the Gun Lake residents who will be in a special assessment district to pay the cost, but that has not been set yet, Drain Commissioner Jim Dull told commissioners.


Dull estimates they will need 18 months to determine the construction costs, “then we’ll go the regular route to pay it back,” he said. The committee of the whole moved the proposal to the next regular commission meeting with a recommendation for approval.

The Barry County Circuit Court will determine the normal lake level of Gun Lake and establish a special assessment district.


In other business Tuesday, Commissioner David Jackson was named officer delegate and Commissioner Ben Geiger the alternate, to the annual Municipal Employee Retirement System meeting Sept. 21-22 in Detroit. Karen Barnes was named employee delegate with Julie Ingle as alternate.


More Crystal Lake Dam dredging this year likely with more funding recommended

The Crystal Lake Improvement Board has petitioned the Barry County Drain Commission for dredging of sand that has accumulated over the past two years at the Upper Crystal Lake Dam sediment pond, County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull said at the Barry County Board’s committee of the whole meeting Tuesday.


A resolution, technically an excess spending authorization, was moved to the next regular commission meeting with a recommendation for approval.


The action is required to allow spending of more than $10,000 on dam maintenance or repair in one year. With approval, the drain commission will spend $14,200 to dredge sand in the dam area this year, Dull said. They will remove 300 yards of sand now; it’s part of a special assessment for the removal of 600 yards in five years, he said.





Safe Kids brings car seat safety check to Thornapple Township Emergency Services

Safe Kids Greater Grand Rapids, along with the Barry County United Way and Thornapple Township Emergency Services (TTES), will host a car seat safety check in Barry County  July 26 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the TTES station, 128 High Street in Middleville.


The inspections are free and replacement seats available for those who qualify, thanks to a grant from Priority Collision in Hastings.  For an appointment, call Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention Program at 616-391-7233.


The Safe Kids Greater Grand Rapids is part of the DeVos hospital program.


According to national statistics, three out of every four car seats are installed incorrectly.  “We are looking forward to bringing this event into Barry County for the first time,” said Captain Chad Klutman of TTES. “We see many accidents where children in properly installed car seats have saved a lot of injuries.”  Local, certified car seat technicians will help the parent or care giver find which seat is right for their child and work with them on the proper installation.


“Car seats can be difficult to properly install. Sometimes it’s just the tricks we have learned that help the parent or care giver install them correctly every single time they move them,” said Lani Forbes, executive director of Barry County United Way.

Helen Devos Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention program is dedicated to educating families about how to reduce unintentional injuries to children.












Photo: Car seat technicians Stacey Youngs, Community Education, Spectrum Health Pennock, front,  and Amanda Hoeksma, Family Support Center, ready to check child safety seats.



Car crashes into Yankee Springs Township house, breaks gas line

Wayland and Yankee Springs Township fire departments, Wayland Area EMS and Consumers Energy were called to a home on North Patterson Road in Yankee Springs Township on a report of a car striking a house July 17 at 5:55 p.m., according to a Yankee Springs Fire Department official.


The out-of-control vehicle crashed into the home, taking out the bay window and breaking the gas meter off the pipes,  allowing an uncontrolled flow of natural gas.
Firefighters cleared the scene after the gas company arrived to take care of the broken line and the wrecker hauled the vehicle away. The original call reported no injuries



Barry Eaton District Health Department offers free hearing and vision clinics

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department will host free hearing and vision clinics for school-age children in Barry County on Thursday, August 17  and in Eaton County on Friday, August 18.

Appointments are required. To schedule an appointment in Eaton County, call 517-541-2630. In Barry County, call 269-798-4133. Clinics are open from 8 a.m. to noon.


The clinics are at the health department offices in Barry County at 330 West Woodlawn Avenue in Hastings; in the Eaton County office at 1033 Health Care Drive in Charlotte.

For more information about hearing and vision screening at the health department, visit


Why should you get your child screened?

* All children must have a hearing and vision screen before entering kindergarten.

* More than one million children in Michigan will need eye care by the time they reach high school graduation age.

* Approximately 10,000 Michigan children begin each school year without adequate vision.

* Screening can help your child succeed in school. An undiagnosed hearing and vision problem can interfere with your child’s development.

* Five percent of children screened for hearing are referred to a specialist. Ten percent of children screened for vision are referred to a specialist.

* Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent temporary difficulties from becoming permanent problems.



Controversial Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation to be reviewed

A ten-year review of TOST with changes expected to be recommended based on citizen’s comments, was narrowly approved by a split Barry County Commission Tuesday.

Commission Chair Ben Geiger proposed the review at a cost of $6,500, saying their job as commissioners is to listen to the people’s experiences with TOST.


"This is not a referendum on the health department; this is not an initiative to put the health department on the hot seat, and it's not a referendum on the importance of protecting public health, it is just an exercise in good government, listening to the public,” Geiger said.


The recommendations would go to the Barry Eaton District Health Department’s six-member Board of  Health, (three Barry County commissioners, and three Eaton County commissioners) with ways they could improve the unpopular regulation.


Voting to approve the proposal, effective immediately, were Geiger and Commissioners Dan Parker, Heather Wing and David Jackson. Commissioners Jon Smelker, Howard Gibson and Vivian Conner voted “no.”

For the reasoning behind the commissioners votes, see the article: “Why Barry County Commissioners voted the way they did.”


Geiger’s plan, leading to specific recommendations to the health board, would allot Aug. 1 to Sept. 30 for public comment about TOST on a new portal on the county website, approve a public listening session on the evening of  Aug. 22 and a professional survey of randomly selected TOST participants.


Those making comments on the county web site can chose to keep their responses confidential.

The plan contains $5,229.69 for identified costs for the project and $ 1,250.31 for contingencies for up to $6,500 to pay for advertising, the survey, a facilitator at the public meeting, and refreshments at the meeting.


The responses would be evaluated in October and specific recommendations for changes in the TOST regulation will then be developed.//


Geiger, who is president of the health board, said he had informally talked to the rest of the board, but in response to commissioner’s comments, would ask them at their next meeting for consensus of support for the ten year review.



TOST, standing for “Time of Sale or Transfer,” is a Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation that calls for a department-certified evaluator to inspect on-site water and septic systems at the time of sale or transfer of property in Eaton and Barry counties. The department reviews the evaluations and orders corrections or replacement if a system is failing. Systems out of compliance must be repaired or replaced before the sale can be completed.


The TOST regulation is to identify and repair failing septic systems and defective water wells, protect the groundwater and the environment, acording to the health department.


Since shortly after it’s conception in 2007,  the commission has heard citizens complaining the program was arbitrary, unfair, unnecessarily costly and being used to bring systems up to present day codes, if they are failing or not, contrary to the wording of the regulation.


Information on the BEHD website, includes a list of evaluators, evaluation sites, exemption forms, escrow agreement forms and the TOST regulation.



Why Barry County Commissioners voted the way they did

Ten years ago, the Barry Eaton District Health Department set a regulation mandating inspection of on-site sewer and water systems and repair or replacing those deemed failing before selling or transferring property in Barry and Eaton counties.

It has drawn many complaints from the public since its inception.


A proposal from Barry County Commission Chair Ben Geiger to review the regulation at a cost of $6,500 for a public meeting, advertising and a survey to develop improvements, brought a response from every commissioner, a former commissioner and the public. What follows is a condensation of commissioner’s reasons for their votes, pro and con.


Commissioner Vivian Conner: “You want to spend money when we don’t know it we can do anything. We could do this and the board (of health) can say no. We’ve been listening for 10 years and they wanted it changed…things do need to be changed…I’m leaning toward a (separate) Barry County Health Department.”


Commissioner Dan Parker: “What we are saying is that the health department needs a Dale Carnegie course…but they have to see it needs to be changed… the money would be worth it to me to get the latest up-to-date information, conduct a professional survey with random sampling and some from the health department.”


Commissioner Heather Wing: “We need to have a system to what we’re doing to our lakes. The time of sale is the biggest problem. Houses are not being sold, houses are not being bought. They are manipulating the property owners rights. Our constituents are not being listened to…get the numbers--the health department runs on numbers. “


Commissioner Howard Gibson: “We’ve heard from the people; no one likes it. It’s a waste of money. It’s not a bad regulation, it’s bad how they administrated it. We should go out on our own, modify it and do what we want.”


Commissioner Jon Smelker: “I’m not fond of spending money…if we do it, we should ask, ‘Should we have a Barry County Health Department?’ We’ve lost control of our health department. Once we get one Barry County department, then we decide.”


Commissioner David Jackson: “Review is good, if spending money meets our end goals. I favor meeting to hear the public, so I’m in favor of going forward. I’m not sure a professional survey will get us the results we want; it’s important  to hear all sides. I’d like to limit the money somehow…is there an alternate plan?”


Commissioner Ben Geiger said after the meeting: "The plan approved today is all about listening. The feedback Commissioners receive on TOST experiences will show what's working, and what isn't working for our residents. While this regulation plays a role in protecting public health, we still have duty to listen, and to learn how it is impacting taxpayers." //


And, the public said:

Citizen Jack Miner: “Why would you spend money on what you already know, unless you want to make it look like you are fulfilling a campaign promise? Miner urged commissioner to consider a standalone health department for Barry County, discuss dropping TOST with Eaton County officials, develop a policy with mandatory guidelines of all aspects of TOST and insist health department enforcement match the policy.


Citizen Bob Vanderboegh said commissioners should compare TOST against other counties regulations, pointing out Barry County already has health and nuisance rules. He said TOST pits lake owners against rural residents and contended health department actions are based on faulty numbers. “They said it would create jobs. It has, and it has cost the public a lot of money.”


Former Commissioner Jim Dull: “I sat in the health board for two years; Ben said there were changes; they didn’t cure any problems. We had resolutions from the Farm Bureau and Barry County Veterans, all they got was lip service…it’s $6,500 on another study that goes nowhere.”












Traffic Death

Update: The person who died in the accident detailed below is identified as Daniel Russian,32, from Delta Township.

Original story: One person is dead following a crash on I-496 Tuesday morning in Eaton County. The Eaton County Sheriff's Office said a vehicle driven by a Delta Township resident rear-ended a truck stopped for a backup created by a construction zone.  The force of the of the impact pushed the truck into another stopped car in front of the truck. The lone male driver of the first car was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene. The occupants of the other vehicles were not injured.


Tuesday morning around 10:30 a.m. Grandville Police and Fire were called to Affordable Dentures and Implants on Canal Avenue on a vehicle that crashed into the building..  Two people were in the building at the time and were treated for injuries and taken to a nearby hospital.

The driver of the pickup truck, a 69-year-old male, refused medical treatment on the scene. Alcohol was not a factor in the crash.


Bowling will go to trial; charges include murder and attempted murder

Ralph Bowling III was bound over to circuit court for trial on nine counts involving the death of his estranged wife Cheyenne Bowling in the early morning hours of June 11. District Court Judge Michael Schipper set the Aug. 16 at 8:15 a.m. for Bowling’s next court appearance.


Bowling faces trial on counts of open murder, attempted murder, home invasion, 1st degree, second degree arson, carrying a weapon with unlawful intent and four counts of felony firearm violations during the commission of the crimes.


At the second part of the preliminary hearing, continued from June 28, forensic pathologist Patrick Hansma from Sparrow Hospital’s Forensic Pathology Department, testified that Cheyenne Bowling was shot in the left side of the face with a shotgun at close range. He determined the distance, from three inches to two feet, based on stippling, commonly called powder burns, around the wound.

Hansma said the gun likely was a .410 gauge shotgun.


Cheyenne Bowling’s body had several bruises and contusions from before her death in various stages of healing and newer abrasions on her head, neck and jaw. With the gunshot, her death would have been immediate, he said.


Barry County Sheriff’s Office Detective Janette Maki interviewed Bowling the morning after the death. He told her he had been  suspicious for six months that his wife was in an “inappropriate relationship” with co-worker Nathan Farrell, and put a tracking app on her phone that let him know where she was and also read her text messages.


Cheyenne left him and moved in with Melissa and Tim Wymer, her mother and step-father, when she discovered Bowling had put a camera covering her movements in her bedroom.

Bowling told Maki he followed Farrell and Cheyenne to the Wymer home on Bird Road home the night of the murder, and confronted them with a .410 shotgun. Bowling said he was upset, and angry and shot Farrell in the neck. Farrell fled and was later hospitalized.


Bowling changed his account of the night’s events and how Cheyenne died several times, “when I confronted him with inconsistencies,” Maki said. When Cheyenne fled the house, he found her where her body was later found between a vehicle and an outbuilding. Bowling first said they struggled for the gun, then later said when he went outside, he had his gun at shoulder level, “she stopped, and he discharged the shotgun,” Maki said. //


After the shooting, he went to his house on Coats Grove Road, intending to commit suicide, poured gasoline on the carpet and set it on fire. Changing his mind, he jumped out of a window and drove to Clarksville, then to Ionia County where he threw the shotgun in the woods alongside the road. The gun was recovered by police. Several hours later, he turned himself in to Barry Central Dispatch and was taken to Barry County Jail.


Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt asked Schipper to bind Bowling over to circuit court for trial. The murder was premeditated, he had six months to think about it, she said. Bowling clearly shot to kill Farrell and had to reload his gun to shoot Cheyenne, she added.

“It appears there were some injuries before she died. She was in the house, he chased her outside and he shot her in the face.”


Schipper said he found there was probable cause to believe that the nine counts were committed and they were committed by the defendant, “a pathetic man who murdered a defenseless woman.”


If convicted, open murder carries a life sentence, attempted murder can be life or any term of years, home invasion is 20 years, arson, a possible 20 years, carrying a weapon with unlawful intent, five years and felony gun charges an additional two years for each count. Bowling’s $1 million bond continues.




Thornapple Kitchen to reopen Thursday

The Thornapple Kitchen in Middleville plans to reopen today  July 20,  after a fire last Saturday destroyed the kitchen grill.

Unable to buy a replacement on the weekend, the restaurant  installed a new grill  and will be ready to serve customers again today.


Algal bloom at Thornapple Lake beach at Charlton Park not harmful to humans, pets

A suspicious looking algal bloom at the Thornapple Lake beach at Charlton Park, first thought to be harmful to people and pets, was later confirmed not to be at a level that would pose a threat to humans or animals, according to the Barry Eaton District Health Department.


An initial test by the DEQ on July 12 showed the toxin that often causes harmful algal blooms was probably present at the beach, but the levels of the toxin were unknown.


Out of caution and to protect the health of the public, the Barry-Eaton District Health Department issued a public health advisory for the swimming beach and recommended that people and pets not enter the water, especially where blue-green algae is visible.  


On July 14, the health department,  with guidance from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, sampled the water and updated the public health advisory, noting it is below the Environmental Protection Agency’s draft recreational criteria.


The health advisory was lifted July 14.


The health department strongly suggests that lake users still follow these recommendations:

*Avoid water that looks like spilled paint, has surface scum or films, is discolored or has colored streaks, and/or has green globs floating below the surface.

* Keep pets out of water with the above characteristics. If they come into contact with this water, rinse them off immediately. Do not let them drink the water or lick algae off their coats.

* Avoid swallowing water and rinse off with clean water after swimming.//


The public should also know that the amount of blue-green algae present in the lake could change quickly. A potential harmful algal bloom could occur at any time.

Awareness signs have been posted at various public access points to Thornapple Lake. While not all algal blooms produce toxins, to be safe, people and animals should avoid contact with very thick green scum in surface waters.


If you have concerns about algae in surface waters, contact MDEQ at For more information about harmful  algal blooms, see MDEQ’s information at For information on how they can affect health, visit




Two bicyclists struck by motorist; one dies, one seriously injured

One bicyclist died and the second suffered serious injuries after both were struck by a Caledonia motorist Saturday according to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. The bicyclist who died has been identified as Clarence Doornbos,76, of Caledonia. The second bicyclist, Claire Elgersma, 69, of Kentwood, sustained serious injuries.


A 2007 Jeep station wagon driven by Gerard Geerligs, 83, of Caledonia was southbound on Hanna Lake Avenue SE south of 92nd Street in Gaines Township when his vehicle struck the bicyclists who were also traveling southbound on Hanna Lake. Authorities say Geerligs was not wearing a seat belt and alcohol was not a factor in the crash.



Road Closure

Barry County Road  Commission would like to remind motorists to be aware of a road closure starting Monday July 17th at 7am, through Thursday, July 20th from Sisson Road at North Broadway to M-43 for culvert replacement.


Very Barry Family Event recognized by Hastings City Council

The City of Hastings Monday offered an Official Proclamation of Appreciation to the Very Barry Family Event coordinator, Daryl Waggoner. Mayor David Tossava read the proclamation, saying the event lets families with young children enjoy a free breakfast, learn about all the resources available to them in the county and meet and interact with emergency services workers.


Hearing and vision testing is available and kids enter a drawing for a new bike every other year.

“This event is thoroughly enjoyed by both the participants and those providing activities and sharing the information,” Tossava said. He named a dozen sponsors of the annual event, adding that there were many more.

“We really, really appreciate this, Waggoner said. “It’s a lot of work; it’s not just me, it’s certainly the committee. We were very successful this year; we gave out 384 bicycle helmets to 134 families.

“I want to thank the community partners who take part in the Very Barry Family Event.” 


Mass casualty training exercise will test Barry County emergency services response

Barry County Emergency Management will hold a full scale exercise of a mass casualty incident Saturday, August 19 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with approval of the Hastings City Council Monday.

Emergency Management Director Jim Yarger said personnel from Barry County emergency services, police, fire and ambulance, will respond, “stabilizing the situation, triaging and transporting ‘patients’ from the scene.”


The exercise will be held on South Church Street between South Broadway and West Court and West Center streets. West Center will be closed from South Broadway to the entrance to the Hastings City Bank parking lot during the exercise.


To have the last impact on the Saturday Hastings Farmer’s Market, all emergency vehicles will enter the scene from West Center, without lights or sirens, Yarger said.


The location will let responders use the Barry Enrichment Center parking lot and its building for pre-exercise orientation and post incident debriefing and lunch after the event. Responders will obey all traffic laws and an Exercise Safety Officer will oversee the exercise activities.








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