The Gun Lake Tribe and Gun Lake Investments (GLI) held a ceremonial grand opening Monday to celebrate its first-ever non-gaming economic development project. Noonday Market, a $4.4 million fuel and convenience store located south of Gun Lake Casino’s main entrance.
Noonday Market opens for business to the public at noon on Tuesday Feb. 21.
The 6,800 square foot facility is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with 12 regular fueling stations and two high-flow diesel pumps. It will house a SUBWAY® Restaurant featuring indoor and outdoor seating. The operation will employ 22 positions and generate over $1 million annually in local and state taxes.
“This is a special milestone because we are celebrating the opening of our first non-gaming business,” said Chairman Scott Sprague. “My hope is many years from now our people will see this as the beginning of a new journey towards economic diversification that played a key role in securing the health and well-being of our Tribe.” //
The Tribe formed GLI as an independent economic development company tasked with pursuing business opportunities outside of casino gaming.
“I am very thankful that we have forward looking tribal leadership that devoted resources necessary for us to pursue real economic development projects,” said GLI Chief Operating Officer Kurt Trevan “Noonday Market’s development, construction and operation will be the first of many successful ventures for GLI and the Tribe.”
Rockford Construction was the construction manager of Noonday Market. R.W. Mercer and Seven Generations A&E were among other partners involved in the construction process. Ninety-eight construction jobs were created in concrete, electrical, mechanical, stone masonry, ironworkers, plumbers, pipefitters, roofing and carpenters. J&H Family Stores was hired to help manage the day-to-day operations. Nearly all of the $4.4 million cost in materials and services were purchased from Michigan companies.
Nothing wrong with planning for your future and working toward a goal. That’s what Ryan Appel is doing. Vacuuming interiors and washing windows of vehicles at Lincoln Meadows this week, he also mows lawns in the summer. He’s planning on going to college and becoming a doctor.
Don’t discount his dreams, he’s only 10 years old, but he’s already going in the right direction.
The family has a farm and he does lots of chores there. Sister Abbie, 13, is also an entrepreneur; she babysits dogs.
Ryan doesn’t work all the time; he said when he is not busy, he spends his time hanging out with dad, playing on his I Pad and riding his quad.
Dad is Brian Appel, a local contractor and owner of Brian Appel Builders in Middleville, Mom Courtney handles the office work for the business.
Photo 1: Ryan Appel,10, of Middleville.
Photo 2: Ryan Appel vacuums the interior of an SUV. He also cleaned vehicle windows as part of his cleaning package.
An unidentified 20-year-old Wyoming woman died in a one-vehicle roll over crash Sunday at about 2 p.m., according to the Ionia County Sheriff's Office. The crash occurred on the west bound side of I-96, west of Jordan Lake Road.
A 2003 Jeep Liberty was west bound on I-96 at a high rate of speed and lost control, ran off the right side of the roadway and struck a tree, the sheriff’s news release said.
According to witness statements, there may have been a white Honda Accord involved in a form of road rage with the woman. Those with any information on the crash are asked to contact the Ionia County Sheriff's Office at 616-527-5737 or Silent Observer at 616-527-0107.
Berlin/Orange Fire Department, Reed & Hoppes Towing, Ionia Road Commission, and Lake Funeral Home also responded and assisted deputies.
Sunday February 19th saw another record setting high temperatures for the day at 3:45 pm when it reach 64 degrees. The old record for February 19, 1994 was 59 degrees. This makes three straight days when new record high temperatures were set in Hastings.
The Barry County Board of Commissioners invites all public officials and local citizens to an open house Tuesday, Feb. 21, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. to tour the recently renovated Cabinet Building.
On February 14, commissioners approved naming the county owned building at 121 South Church Street in Hastings as the “Cabinet Building” in honor of William T. Barry and in recognition of the United States federal cabinet’s influence on Barry County’s name and facilities. Commissioners will hold their regularly scheduled committee of the whole meeting in the community meeting room at the Cabinet Building beginning at 9 a.m. The public is invited to attend, and tours and light refreshments will be available beginning at 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Questions regarding the open house may be directed to the Barry County Administrator’s office at 269-945-1284.
***WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight news in their districts. This posting submitted by superintendent Michelle Falcon, is from Tracy George, director of technology at Maple Valley.
Maple Valley Schools will be celebrating Digital Learning Days on Feb. 23 and 24 at Maple Valley Jr./Sr. High School. All students and teachers will have the opportunity to participate in this event which is intended to highlight the effective use of modern day tools to improve the learning experience in K-12 public schools. Maplewood students and teachers will attend the event on Thursday, Feb. 23. Fuller students and teachers will attend Friday, Feb. 24. This event has been made possible by a generous donation from the DeCamp Foundation.
We have tried to set this day up conference style. There are many sessions for the students to attend, an exhibit hall to walk through, and prizes to be given away. In order to facilitate travel around the building, we are using a buddy system between the younger students and the Jr./Sr. High students. Maplewood students will be having 10th, 11th, and 12th graders as buddies. Fuller will have 7th, 8th, and 9th grade buddies. We will be sharing more specific information on these assignments at your staff meetings next week.
The general schedule is as follows:
All students will participate in a virtual field trip in the auditorium for about one hour
All students will have a 30 minute lunch and 30 minutes of gym time (recess)
All students will have the opportunity to go to classrooms for participation in sessions.
The amount of time is flexible, but students will have between an hour (Fuller) and two hours (Maplewood) to visit both the sessions and the exhibit hall with their buddies.
3D Printing and Physics Technology
CNC Shopbot/Laser Carving and Engraving
All students will have the opportunity to go to the Exhibit Hall in the main gym where there will be over 20 booths set up with additional hands on technology related fun!
Concussion Sensing Helmets
Chrome Apps and Extensions
Shop Class Display
Virtual Reality Goggles
Sock Puppet app
Digital Avatar Creation Station
Math/ELA/Science/Social Studies Learning Games
And much, much more!
Students and staff will be provided with a Digital Learning Day t-shirt and a bag containing a #DLDay pencil, bracelet, and set of earbuds. There will be additional items to collect in the exhibit hall and at some of the sessions. Additionally, drawings will be held at the end of the day on Friday for a great selection of prizes! Those prizes will be distributed to the buildings the following week. We are really hoping that this will be a great success and that we will be able to make it an annual event. Thank you for all of your support and flexibility!
UPDATE: The Eaton County Sheriff’s Office has released the names of the three victims of the Saturday crash near I-69. They are all family members, and were in the single vehicle involved. They are: Kevin Haas, 63, from Linden; Kimberly Trasciatti, 66, from Howell; and Lorraine Haas, 88, from Hartland. The cause of the crash is still under investigation by the sheriff’s office.
ORIGINAL STORY: A pickup crash in Eaton County claimed the lives of three people Saturday morning at 7:26 a.m.
The Eaton County Sheriff’s Office is not releasing names of the victims until families have been notified. The sheriff’s report said a Ford pickup left the roadway while exiting the off-ramp from southbound I-69 to Ainger Road and crashed into a swampy area.
Two of the three occupants in the pickup were thrown from the vehicle and pronounced deceased at the scene. The third was taken to a hospital and later died. The sheriff’s Accident Team and Detective Bureau is investigating.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is looking for volunteers throughout the state to help with its annual frog and toad survey.
The surveys are conducted by volunteer observers along a statewide system of permanent survey routes, each consisting of 10 wetland sites. The sites are visited three times during spring, when frogs and toads are actively breeding.
Observers listen for calling frogs and toads at each site, identify the species present, and make an estimate of abundance.
New volunteers are needed in all parts of the state. If interested, contact Lori Sargent at 517-284-6216 or SargentL@michigan.gov. More information on the frog and toad survey is available at mi.gov/wildlife.
The National Weather Service Hastings Climatological Station recorded a new record high temperature for Hastings for February 17th. It was 57 degrees on Friday breaking the old record of 53 degrees set on February 17, 2011.
The PennNook gift shop recently made a $15,000 donation to the Doris I. Cappon Scholarship Fund.
“The Doris I. Cappon Scholarship originated from the legacy of a generous $1.4 million gift from a truly dedicated and faithful volunteer, who was a member of the Spectrum Health Pennock Auxiliary Board for many years,” said Janine Dalman, executive director of Spectrum Health Foundation Pennock.
“This generous support from the PennNook gift shop would not be possible without the continued support of Spectrum Health Pennock employees and volunteers,” she said.
The donation will help fund ongoing educational endeavors at the foundation. For more information on the foundation or scholarship fund, contact Dalman at 269-945-3651.
Pictured with $15,000 check are (from left) Martha Edger, Donna Mathews, Jeanne McFadden and Janine Dalman.
Lake Odessa’s Joyce Brinningstaull works five days a week; not bad for someone born on Aug. 9, 1931.
Brinningstaull has worked hard all her life. She grew up on a farm, married and worked alongside her husband Alden, a truck driver, and today works five days a week as a dishwasher at the McDonald’s in her hometown. A 17plus-year employee at the restaurant, Joyce isn’t unlike most of her fellow crew members, except at 85, she ranks as the eldest.
Well known among the customers, Brinningstaull has had various responsibilities throughout her 20-year career, including working at the front counter, the grill and in the lobby. She began working at the Lake Odessa location in 1997, which was then owned and operated by McDonald’s Corp. and is now owned by Keith Berg.
“Joyce is a very hard worker, spending four hours a day, five days a week washing dishes and always willing and asking if there is anything else she can do to help out,” Berg said. And the restaurant benefits from more than her work ethic, he added.
“Our McFamily is made up of a diverse group of people, and to have Joyce share her experiences with her fellow crew members, it just makes our restaurant a unique place in the community,” Berg said. “The kids here learn a lot from her, and I think she learns from them as well.”
For Joyce, a mother of two sons – Alden Jr. and Alan, two granddaughters and nine great grandchildren, her colleagues are like extended family.
“We are always treated like family here,” she said. “I enjoy being around the people I work with and the customers; it’s a small community and everyone knows everyone.”
In addition to working five days a week, Brinningstaull volunteers at the local VFW on bingo night and has helped lead charitable fund-raising programs for special education students in nearby Ionia. She is a loyal Lakewood High School Vikings fan and is a diehard Michigan State University basketball and football fan, and is also a big fan of the Detroit Tigers.
As she ended her shift, getting ready to head out and drive back home after another day at work, Brinningstaull remarked she doesn’t have plans to retire anytime soon.
“I’ll keep working as long as I can,” she said with a smile.
Committed to providing compassionate and skilled care, noted senior care providers Holland Home, Resthaven and Clark are partnering to launch Atrio Home Care to serve West Michigan.
This new nonprofit joint venture will employ 225 nurses, therapists, aids and other clinicians to deliver a broad range of skilled and private duty services. Based in Grand Rapids and Holland, Atrio expects to serve more than 3,000 seniors and their families in Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, and Ottawa counties in the coming year.
Atrio Home Care is a new joint venture between Holland Home, Resthaven and Clark that provides Home Health and Help at Home services to seniors in West Michigan.
In an effort to protect Michigan taxpayers, the Michigan Department of Treasury continues to implement security measures to stop tax-related identity theft.
If an individual income tax return has been selected for identity confirmation, the taxpayer will receive a letter from Treasury asking them to confirm their identity by completing a short online quiz.
After confirmation of passing the quiz, tax refunds will be issued between 14 and 21 days. Some taxpayers may be asked to submit paperwork to confirm their identity.
For the 2015 tax year, over 33,000 returns were stopped that prevented more than $70 million in potentially fraudulent refunds being issued by the state of Michigan.
“Our priority is to protect Michigan taxpayers from cybercriminals,” Michigan Treasurer Nick Khouri said. “As treasury makes progress in the fight against tax-related identify theft, cybercriminals are getting more sophisticated when impersonating taxpayers and filing fraudulent returns. This additional layer of security helps ensure the appropriate person receives their much-deserved refund.”
Michigan taxpayers who suspect they may have been a target of tax-related identity theft should call the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at 1-800-829-0433.
Last year, the treasury processed more than 5 million individual income tax returns, with 3.7 million receiving more than $1.8 billion in refunds.
Michigan taxpayers can check the status of their refund online by going to www.michigan.gov/wheresmyrefund. For more information about Michigan’s individual income tax, go to www.michigan.gov/incometax.
New technology brings new challenges. Citizens, including those in Hastings, want maximum capabilities for their data devices and city officials want to provide it, but at the same time, that leads to differences in the methods used to get the increased services when cities have no controls in place for its installation.
Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) is new way of boosting cellular coverage and capacity and cheaper than the macro towers used by giant telecommunications companies like AT&T and Verizon. The antennas, with different styles, are mounted on new poles or existing utility poles, street lights and traffic lights in public rights-of-way bring more service to nearby areas.
Companies plans for DAS sometimes conflict with municipal officials who want to make sure that permitting the technology doesn’t interfere with what city officials and residents want and need for their communities.
Hastings and other municipalities are anticipating future requests from companies to install equipment in their rights-of-way by developing guidelines to control what the infrastructure will look like, how much there will be and where it will go.
Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange, who represents Hastings at the Grand Valley Metropolitan Council, reported Feb. 13 that the Mobilitie Company has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission for an interpretation and a ruling on 253c of the Communications Act of 1939.
Hastings and other municipalities, with the Metro Council acting as fiduciary, will each contribute $300 for an attorney to develop a response to the petition going to the FCC, encouraging federal officials to “protect local communities independent control over our rights-of-way,” McNabb-Stange said.
“We are banding together to do the right thing…we’re trying to be fair… but we oppose any effort to restrict our rights…it’s a service we feel our citizens want, and the taxpayers have the right to control their rights-of-way,” she said.//
The city of Hastings granted one request for antennas in its rights-of-way a few years ago based on mistaken information that it was governed by the Metro Act and had to be allowed. The city later found that the Metro Act does not authorize installation of antenna, but officials realized they had no rules in place to address future requests sure to come.
In January, 2016 Hastings City Council voted to contribute financially to a similar consortium of both Metro Council members and non-members to retain an attorney to develop guidelines for companies to follow when applying for infrastructure or space to increase high speed internet capability in cities rights-of-way.
What resulted was a packet with a cover letter, a sample license/franchise, a Metro Act permit applicaton and zoning checklist to give companies that apply to use cities rights-of-ways. Attorney Jeff Sluggett told the city council in August, 2016, that the law is “crystal clear.” Hastings has control of its rights-of-way… and can deny applicants access to its rights-of-way. They don’t have to allow them at all.” he said.
City officials say they recognize that it is a valuable service for its residents and the demand is greatly expanding with the ever increasing use of mobile data. But, each municipality must have the right to decide how to best fit their city’s needs, McNabb-Stange said.
Pole heights, a new ordinance, zoning issues, liability, application, license and monthly fees, co-locations, site plan reviews, performance bonds, safety issues, site design and much more will have to be decided by individual cities.
Mobilitie, a large international company provides the foundation for carriers to offer wireless communications in difficult to cover areas, including DAS that provides improved coverage and capacity for all wireless carriers at the largest venues and most challenging locations in the country, according to its website.
“Our complete wireless infrastructure solutions include funding, designing, building, operating and maintaining neutral host outdoor and indoor DAS networks, Small Cells, Wi-Fi networks and communication towers,” its website said. The company headquarters are in Newport Beach, California, with offices in Panama City, Panama, Tokyo, Japan and London in the United Kingdom.
The Hastings High School Band Drumline was named the 2017 West Michigan Drumline of the year! Maranda from WOOD-TV was at Hastings High School Wednesday to honor the drumline. The segment will air Thursday February 16th at 4:30PM on WOTV.
Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf reported activity at the sheriff’s department for the month of January at the Barry County Commissioner’s meeting Tuesday.
Barry County uniformed patrol logged 691 complaints with 69 arrests which brought 22 felony and 71 misdemeanor charges. Forty nine citations were issued and eight persons were arrested for alcohol related driving offenses. Deputies responded to 101 accidents, 45 involving car/deer; four were alcohol related with one fatality.
The K-09 Unit was activated 10 times, resulting in quantities of drugs recovered during the month, he said.
Leaf said in activity at the jail in January, 296 people were booked and processed into jail, with 235 subsequently released back into the community. Eighty one people were booked as “weekenders,” . Thirty-eight persons were transported to court, 108 sets of fingerprints taken and 120 weekend drug screens given to probationers. The kitchen staff served 6,955 meals to inmates at a cost of $1.49 per meal.
Gaines Township Community Policing Deputy Eric Brunner is cautioning residents to be extra aware and take steps to assure that they are not a victim of thefts from vehicles.
Since January 1st, 2017 almost a dozen Gaines Township residents have had property stolen from their vehicles, Brunner said in a Community Alert.
Numerous other vehicles have been rummaged through, but no property taken. Some of the stolen property includes prescription medications and firearms from two separate vehicles, he said. “It’s a warmer weekend coming up, please be vigilant. Saturdays and Sundays are the (Kent County) Sheriff’s Office highest call volume days,” he said.
*Lock your vehicles, especially when parked outside.
*Keep valuables out of sight.
*Close garage doors and lock service doors.
*If you have a concealed pistol license or own a firearm, do not leave it in your vehicle.
Barry County Commissioners Monday officially named the building at 121 Court Street that was the city’s post office and later, its library, and for a time, was just called the community building.
It is now the Cabinet Building.
In discussing what to name the refurbished structure, Commissioner Vivian Conner suggested the name because Barry County is one of 10 “cabinet” counties in Southwest Michigan named after members of then-President Andrew Jackson’s cabinet. Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Eaton, Ingram, Jackson, Livingston and Van Buren are the “cabinet” counties.
The commission will hold its committee of the whole meeting in the Cabinet Building on Feb. 21 from 9 to 10 a.m. An open house with light refreshments will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The renovated building now holds the Michigan State University Extension offices, the county IT Department and its equipment and features a large community meeting room.
Also Tuesday, the commission approved the rezoning of property in Section 20 of Hastings Charter Township from Rural Residential to High Density Residential, and appointed Commissioners Dan Parker and Conner to attend Southwest Michigan Region Three meetings.
On February 3rd of this year Jacob Bailey, son of Mr. & Mrs. James Bailey of Hastings graduated from the Michigan State Police Training Acadamy in Lansing. Trooper Bailey spent 23 weeks at the Acadamy in training in the 132 recruit school.
in order to be selected to attend either a trooper recruit school or a motor carrier recruit school candidates had to pass a stringent selection process that included a physical fitness test, background investigation and hiring interviews.
Trooper Jacob Bailey was assigned to the Paw Paw Post in Van Buren County.
The Hastings City Council Monday voted 6 to 3 to solicit proposals for the redevelopment of the former Hastings Moose building rather than demolishing it. The majority of the council said they would rather get proposals for redevelopment and keep the building at Michigan Avenue and Apple Street on the tax rolls, if possible. If it didn’t work out, they agreed they could always demolish the building later.
The city has had prospects look at the building which would require extensive work, but no bids.
Marvin Helder, owner of Helder Construction, specializes in residential development and redevelopment. He came to the Jan. 9 council meeting to say he was interested in redeveloping the building, following one of the council’s original ideas; demolishing the back portion of the building to replace city parking lot 3 spaces that will be lost with the building of a new emergency services building, have a retail business on the side fronting Michigan Avenue and apartments on the second floor.
“I would like to partner with the city in order to see another beautiful downtown building redeveloped rather than demolished,” Helder said at that meeting. It is expected that he will offer a proposal.
In other business, the council:
*approved the WBCH-sponsored Saint Patrick’s Day Parade for Friday, March 17 at 4 p.m. The parade route will be the same as past years for the biggest little community parade.
* awarded a contract to Slagel Construction for $8,200 to replace a section of the Riverwalk Trail sidewalk which will be moved 10 to 15 feet to accomodate the new Veterans monument. The work will be paid for by donations.
* awarded a contract to the only bidder, Pure Fence, Battle Creek, for $5,850 to install 500 feet of black vinyl coated four foot high chain link fencing that will mark the northern border of Riverside Cemetery.
* approved the YMCA, SCMYB and the Hastings Area Church Softball League to use the city's ball fields again this year, with staff working with the groups to resolve a few conflicting dates.
* formally approved the city’s Goals and Objectives for 2017-2018 budget development. Councilman Don Smith asked Mansfield to keep track of the work on the goals with monthly updates, “to make sure we are on track.”
* set a workshop on Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. to discuss the Municipal Employees Retirement System pension and health care. A representative of MERS will attend.
Following the recommendation of Hastings City Manager Jeff Mansfield, the City Council Monday unanimously approved Jerry Czarnecki as the new Community Development Director, to replace Alan Klein who resigned to pursue a career in law enforcement.
Czarnecki served as Supervisor of the Mathematics Department with Kelloggsville Public Schools in Grand Rapids, and had an extended term as a high school mathematics and science teacher.
“Jerry admittedly has limited prior experience in community development, but I think you will find that his passion, energy and enthusiasm will serve the City of Hastings well as we work as a team to make our community a better place to live, work and play,” Mansfield said in a memo to the council.
Asked by Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange why they hired someone with no experience in community development, Mansfield said Czarnecki has held leadership positions, has been a department head and, “he will fit into the pattern quite well. He’s very well qualified…I look forward to working with him.”
Czarnecki has a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from Alma College and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Grand Valley State University. He will begin work Feb. 27.
Also Monday, the council approved licensed contract operator services for the water and wastewater treatment plants until the end of the fiscal year the last of June to Wade Trim at a cost of $46,150. Wade Trim replaces Mead & Hunt, who recently terminated its agreement with the city.
Mansfield said they met with several firms, and believe Wade Trim “is best able to meet our needs.” The company intends to use George Holzworth, a former Mead & Hunt employee, who was previously the city’s operator for two years. The long term goal is to be able train one of the city’s own employees to become the operator and Wade Trim will help them with that, Mansfield said.
In other business, the council:
*approved the American Cancer Society holding its Barry County Relay for Life at Tyden Park this year, along with the staying of ordinances to accommodate the event, approval of fundraising and waiving the fee for reserving the pavilion
* heard Tom Thompson, of PCI, give a report on construction permits in the city. In the first quarter, 11 permits were issued with a construction valued at $209, 319; in the second quarter, 27 permits for work worth $4,482,423; the third quarter, 16 permits with construction valued at $2,666,880, and the fourth quarter 15 permits for a value of $137,947 for a total for the year of $7,496,389. PCI also inspected 316 rental units out of the 882 units registered in the city.
Heating systems have been working continuously all winter and as the heating season draws toward a close, a late-winter check of safety issues is in order for homeowners and local fire departments can help. Free smoke and carbon monoxide detectoor are available from all fire departments in Barry County, as well as those in Lake Odessa, Bellevue, Caledonia and Clarksville. Yankee Springs Township and Wayland fire departments also provide the free alarms and installation.
Applications for the detectors are available at each fire department and the Barry County United Way website at www.bcunitedway.org. Fax the filled out application to 269-945-4536, drop it off at your fire department or mail to Barry County United Way, 231 South Broadway, Hastings. 49058.
The responding fire department will call to set a time to come to the residence and install the units to National Fire Protection Association recommendations and manufacturer’s instructions.
The firefighter will also check the batteries in other devices and recommend the number of detectors needed in a home.
The Yankee Springs Township/Wayland Fire Department responded to two chimney fires in one week, pointing up the need for regular inspections of woodburners for creosote buildup.
The program is sponsored by Spectrum Health Pennock, Southside Pediatrics, Hastings Kiwanis and Barry County United Way. Those outside of the Barry County coverage area can contact the Red Cross in Grand Rapids, which has a similar program.
The second mediation session with Barry County and the Barry County Courthouse Employees Association produced results, moving the negotiating process forward, County Administrator Michael Brown said.
“I would consider our last mediation session productive as the bargaining teams came to a tentative agreement through the mediator. The attorneys are working on drafting an update to the current collective bargaining agreement language for review,” Brown said.
Currently the Association is meeting with its membership to explain it “so that they can hold full membership ratification vote to see if it will be accepted,” he said. If the Association approves it, the Barry County Board of Commissioners will take it up for consideration and approval also.
Under a provision to re-open the contract in 2016 to address wages, the two sides held one negotiation session and then went to mediation in December. The cause of the stalemate in the negotiations is the implementation of a pay study contracted for by commissioners.
The pay study recommended, among other things, a 13 percent pay raise across the board to put Barry County employees in line with surrounding entities that were used for comparison.
Firefighters from Hopkins, Martin, Orangeville, Wayland and Yankee Springs Township fire departments have attended and completed two-day classroom/hands on training in ice rescue, according to Wayland Deputy Fire Chief Dan Miller.
Miller, who administers the Yankee Springs Fire Station, said with the large number of lakes in the area it is very valuable that firefighters to get the training so that they can assist those in need should an incident arise.
“We would hope that it will not be needed however, in the event it is, firefighters are properly trained and ready for the call,” he said.
Winterfest will again celebrate winter in 2017 starting Friday, Feb. 17 and with most of the events Saturday Feb. 18 at Yankee Springs State Park.
The event features family-friendly events and excitement for all ages. The whole family can have fun at no cost while enjoying the season.
With the weather always a factor, be sure to check on the latest plans at the Gun Lake Business Association’s website, gunlakewinterfest.com/schedule/ for latest information and updates.
Some of the planned highlights: Fireman’s breakfast starting at 8 a.m. Saturday morning at Gun Lake Community Church. Check out the Yankee Springs Fire Station right next door on Payne Lake Road. The doors will be open to view the new facility and equipment.
A Lil’ Miss Gun Lake contest will be held at Long Lake Campground, Mary’s Country Critters at Winterfest with their petting zoo and the Kalamazoo Huskie Club will give dog sled rides for a $5 donation.
Many Winterfest favorites are back; the Gun Lake Mayor contest, beer tent, Chili cook-off, archery tournament, disc golf, euchre tournament, Polar Dip and snowmobile drag races, with several events scheduled for the days leading up to the big day. //
Doug’s Backyard Bar-B-Que and Mitten Pizza are two vendors ready to go; more are expected to be announced. Various Entertainment, LLC, will be the DJ entertaining during the day.
Some dates to remember:
*Thursday, Feb. 16, the Gun Lake mayor contest, 7 p.m. at the Sand Bar & Grill.
*Friday, Feb. 17, a euchre tournament at Yankee Springs Clubhouse, register at 6:30 p.m.
*An archery tournament at 6:30 p.m. at the Sportsman’s Attic.
Watch for details on the Battle of the Beards and snowmobile drag races.
For more specific information and updates, visit gunlake winterfest.com/schedule/. or text WINTER to WBCH 269-945-3414 for a schedule of events.
A Barry County Road Commission employee working in a construction zone in Prairieville Township was hospitalized for treatment of non-life threatening injuries today after being struck by a vehicle driven by an 80-year-old Plainwell man.
Barry County deputies investigation showed that while workers were repairing a guardrail, numerous construction zone signs were posted in both directions prior to the work zone. Vehicles with flashing yellow lights and flaggers were at the north and south ends, directing traffic on the one-lane roadway.
Deputies reported the Plainwell man, the only occupant in the car, was traveling northbound on Doster Road near Merlau Avenue when he continued through the construction zone and struck the flag man and the construction vehicle on the north end.
Pride Care Ambulance transported the unidentified road commission employee to Borgess Hospital for treatment. Alcohol was not a factor and seatbelts were used. The incident remains under investigation and will be reviewed by the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office.
A free electronics recycling event is offered to the public by the Gun Lake Tribe and Gun Lake Casino with the cooperation of electronic recycler Comprenew on Monday, Feb. 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Tribe’s Government Campus headquarters. The campus is at 2872 Mission Drive, Shelbyville, across the road from the casino. Follow the signs to the area near the “Public Works” building.
A $10 fee to recycle tube-style television and computer monitors will be sponsored by the tribe for the first 200 units. 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 invited to take advantage of the free opportunity to properly dispose of obsolete electronic items. Comprenew uses best practices in electronics recycling and data security. Comprenew does not ship electronic waste overseas, and the zero-landfill policy requires that all electronics are recycled, refurbished or reused.
The tribe and casino support electronic waste recycling because of a growing concern to the environment. Electronic waste in landfills can leak harmful toxins into the soil and groundwater.
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.
“2017 off to a great start for Hastings Area School System
The year has just started and already great things are happening throughout the district.
Here are just a few of highlights:
Northeastern Elementary recognized by Michigan Department of Education
Northeastern is no longer a “Focus school!” Northeastern originally received this label based on a need to close the gap between the high and low achievers. Last week, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) reported, "hard work and an emphasis on data-driven decisions," are making the difference in closing the achievement gap at Northeastern. Michigan accountability for schools requires a focus on effective teaching to increase in student achievement for all, and Northeastern is viewed as "on its way" and making great strides.
As a Focus School, Principal Eric Heide has been required to give quarterly reports to the Board of Education, submit additional plans to MDE, meet regularly with a consultant from MDE, and create plans for summer and school-year professional development. Throughout this process, the feedback has been very positive.
Northeastern teachers have worked hard to try new ideas, participate in additional professional development, analyze their data, and collaborate with each other. The result has been student success. Great job, NE staff and students!
Bond Update: The walls of Hastings Middle School begin to take shape
Thanks to teachers William Renner and Natasha Offerman, we have a time lapse video on YouTube of the demolition of the 1917 portion of Hastings Middle School (HMS). Like many in our community, I was a student in the 1917 portion of the building years ago, so it was a little hard to watch. The promise of a new facility that is safe and updated for students brings hope. https://youtu.be/XfYVFlqnNi8
If you haven’t been by the construction area in a while, the new building is taking shape. The footings are in, and the walls are going up. It’s also interesting to watch the new section fit between the boiler room of the past and the 1954 and 1997 sections of the building. Soon our view from Broadway will include a school!
HMS Pride Activities
HMS students in sixth and seventh grade participate in monthly pride activities for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS). In January, students chose activities and were awarded the opportunity to participate through their positive behavior choices. Data is shared monthly with students for ownership and goal setting of the initiative.
In January, 16 out of 414 students were in the "planning room" to plan for a better month. This means 96.2 percent of the student body made great behavior decisions. Their goal was 95 percent so they accomplished their goal for January and have their sights on a positive February for all students.”
The Delton Kellogg Board of Education has voted to enter into a contract with Hartman Consulting, based in Haslett, to conduct a superintendent search to find a replacement for interim Superintendent Carl Schoessel.
Schoessel, who took the position July 7, 2014, is stepping down June 31.
The next step in the process will be for board members to begin working with the consultant to approve a timeline for the search and develop a candidate profile.
The boaard's decision came following discussion on presentations from Hartman Consulting and the Michigan Association of School Boards from Lansing at a special Feb. 6 meeting.
An informational meeting on the medical marijuana law in Michigan was held Monday at the Yankee Springs Township Hall. Former 87th District State Representative Mike Callton, who wrote the present medical marijuana law, Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt and Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf all spoke on the subject, as seen from their perspectives.
Yankee Springs Supervisor Mark Englerth stressed it was not a pro or anti marijuana discussion, with no debating, just information.
Callton explained the law he wrote, starting by saying when the medical marijuana bill passed in Michigan, he voted against it. He gave the reasons he got involved with the marijuana issue.
Back in the 60’s marijuana was used for recreation, but a shift occurred; it could be used possibly as a medicine.
He told of a man he came to him for chiropractic treatment who was dying of cancer and losing weight. He wanted to live to see his son born. But, he was losing weight rapidly, common to cancer patients. His doctor was trying different drugs, but they weren’t working. The man asked for marijuana three times before he was prescribed the drug. It worked, the man gained weight and lived long enough to see his son born, Callton said.
“It took me aback. I usually don’t see patients like that in my practice. I believe it helps cancer patients who can’t eat,” he said.
He told of a child who was having up to 200 seizures a week; treatment with marijuana oil reduced the seizures to less than a dozen a week and they were much less severe, he said.
“In my mind, it helps as a antidote to chronic pain, problems sleeping, and certain illnesses… “
The Journal of American Medicine reported states where medical marijuana is legalized have 24.8 fewer opioids deaths than states without the laws, he said.
Ann Arbor, Detroit and Flint have medical marijuana dispensaries that are not in operation, waiting for clarification of the law Callton authored.
Still, the law prevents sale of marijuana to non-patients, the sale of overage and dispensaries.
Callton’s bill requires municipal approval to get a license for a dispensary. It’s likely those with a felony conviction, prior drug problems and little financing to run a business would not be considered for a license by the state licensing agency, LARA.
Clear policies by all municipalities are needed to prevent arbitrary enforcement; “to clearly state why they want this or do not want it,” he said.
His law covers five types of licenses; growers, transporters, testing labs, processing centers and provision centers.
Callton said despite the growing number of states approving marijuana for recreational use, it isn’t likely Michigan will approve it in the next few years, but might around 2020. //
Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt has been an attorney for 29 years, 24 in prosecuting. She stressed her opinion on any issue does not matter; her job is to see justice is done, to enforce the laws, not make them. If someone breaks the law they will be in court, she said.
Dispensaries are against the law, even those not open while waiting for clarification of the law.
“If Barry County has a dispensary, we have a problem with that.”
Most people want to follow the law, she said. “Our police are exemplary and they will work with people with minor violations who just don’t understand.”
However, if they are repeat offenders, or those who will take a mile when given an inch, “they will talk to the judge.” If people call to ask questions because they don’t want to make a mistake, she said, that’s fine with her.
She urged parents and other caregivers to make sure the young and the elderly are kept safe with regard to guns, registered or not, or any drug, be it alcohol or marijuana, to help her in her job of “keeping our most vulnerable citizens safe.”
Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf said in his entire career in law enforcement, marijuana use ha been against the law.
“It’s a new thing,” for all law enforcement and all must adapt to the change, the rookies and especially the older officers.
There are 19 amendments to the medical marijuana law that they must learn to conduct, “a fair and impartial investigation,” he said. Barry County is watching what is happening in other states that have legalized marijuana, he said. The federal government holds that any use of marijuana is against the law, the state now says it’s not in some cases, creating another concern. “It’s a change, and we have to change,” he said.
The first project to be completed in a comprehensive Barry County facility improvement plan is the former U.S. Post Office/Hastings Library/community building at 121 Court Street in the city.
Barry County Commissioners are inviting the public to an Open House Feb. 21 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to showcase the successful renovation project.
The refurbished building now holds the Michigan State University Extension offices, the county IT Department and its equipment and features a large community meeting room. The commission will hold its committee of the whole meeting before the open house from 9 to 10 a.m. There will be light refreshments.
The commission has tentatively named the former library the Cabinet Building. Barry County is one of 10 “Cabinet Counties" in Southwest Michigan named after members of then-President Andrew Jackson’s cabinet.
The former U.S. Post Office/Hastings Library is tentatively named the Cabinet Building.
After months of working with Streamside Ecological Service on a remediation plan for the 14-mile-long Little Thornapple River Drain, negotiating reached an impasse, according to Luis Saldivia, supervisor of the Water Resources Division of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in Grand Rapids.
Saldivia said the DEQ has been in ongoing consultations with the Michigan Attorney General’s office since last fall to see what they need to do to get the restoration done. The next step could include civil action. He discounted any criminal action as, “a last resort,” and a “drastic step.”
“We want to get an agreement and get to work,” he said. “Having three new commissioners on the board presents a challenge and also an opportunity to see new energies devoted to see if we can solve the issues.”
The intercounty drain board is made up of the drain commissioners from Barry County, Jim Dull; Ionia County, Robert Rose; and Kent County, Ken Yonker. Brady Harrington, from the Michigan Agriculture Department and Rural Development Board, chairs the intercounty drain board meetings. The board has not met since August, 2016.
Streamside Ecological Services co-founder Aaron Snell was hired by the intercounty drain board to develop a remediation plan that was agreeable to the DEQ. Snell submitted two plans to the DEQ, the first was returned for revision, the second is the one now stalled. Streamside said the DEQ was asking for things they couldn’t do, and negotiations broke down last fall, Saldivia said on Jan. 26. He said the restoration will be a multi-year project
Attorney Stacy Hissong with the Fahey, Schultz, Burzych and Rhodes law firm, represents the drain board. She said according to the drain code, they need a petition from a government entity or a court order to move forward on the drain. “Without a petition, we have no plan to move forward,” she said. Streamside’s work is not in question and the drain board is pleased with its work, she said. Streamside has to find a remediation plan that would meet the drain code in the most cost effective way possible, she added. Streamside is “very close” to having such a plan.//
August, 2014: To correct flooding problems along the 14-mile-length of the Little Thornapple Drain,(part of the Thornapple River) the intercounty board voted unanimously to do the work. With a proposal for bids with specifications adopted by all on the board, notices were sent to property owners along the river to make them aware of the coming work, according to drain commission records.
September, 2014: Geiger Excavating won the contract for $139,840 to be spread over the 2014-2015 budget years.
November, 2014: The board paid Geiger $24,000 and voted to borrow $135,000 to pay him the full amount.
Meanwhile, property owners along the drain and trout stream were complaining in public meetings of trees being cut and left lay, bank erosion, loss of ground cover along the river’s banks, lowered property values and general devastation of the river and their property.
With ongoing complaints from the public and the Coldwater River Watershed Council, the board voted to suspend Geiger’s work and find a plan to fix the damage. Aaron Snell, co-owner of Streamside, was hired by the drain board to provide a reconstruction plan for review by the DEQ. Other than seeding and initial work to stabilize the river banks, no further remediation has been done since then.
May, 2015: the Barry County Commission hired attorney Doug Kelly, with the Clark Hill law firm, to defend the county and its then Drain Commissioner Russ Yarger.
An original assessment and stabilization report was discussed by Streamside and the DEQ.
October, 2015: the first report from Streamside went to the DEQ, with follow-up meetings later in October and in November. It was reviewed by the DEQ and sent back with changes requested.
On the legal advice of Hissong, who represents the drain board, the second remediation plan developed by Snell, was sent back to him by the intercounty board for more work before it was submitted to the DEQ for approval and work could continue on the drain.
“We’re in a standby mode,” Saldivia said then. “We would like to see a plan. We’re encouraged, we do like to work with the people on the board…there is a lot of common agreement in several areas; with an updated plan, the board will look at it, we will review it, and hopefully get it done in 2016.”
March, 2016: The second, revised report was submitted to the DEQ by Streamside. Saldivia said then that DEQ staff was doing field work on the plan to determine it will approve the plans, or suggest improvements to Streamside.
June and July, 2016: Saldivia said the DEQ field work was completed and they were “discerning what areas they have agreement with the submitted remediation plan from Streamside.”
Billings for 2015-2016 legal work from Clark Hill, P.C. totaled $84,247.05, Barry County Administrator’s office figures show.
Billings from Fahey, Schultz, Burzych and Rhodes total $91,828, including $6,210.98 waiting for board approval of invoices, according to Hissong.
Billings from Streamside has been $85,315.23, with the first invoice in May, 2015, Snell said.
Special assessments on parcel owners to pay for improvements along the drain from Jordan Lake to Freeport are assessed on winter tax bills only. Special assessments are for one year, and must be re-approved every year.
In 2015, 2,190 parcels in the special assessment district were assessed, with Barry County parcel owners assessed $154,000, Ionia County owners $66,000 and Kent County owners, $0, according to drain department records.
In 2016, 2,191 parcels were assessed, with Barry County owners for $77,000, Ionia County assessed $33,000 and Kent County, $0, for a total of $330,000 over the two years, drain commission records show.
On Jan 26, Saldivia offered to supply a contact number of the Attorney General’s lawyer who is conferring with the DEQ. As of Feb. 7, no contact information has been forthcoming.
What to name a Barry County building was discussed by County Commissioners Tuesday. The building, acquired by the county in a land swap with the City of Hastings several years ago and renovated for county offices, is being called by some of its past uses; the old library building, the old post office, the community building.
Commissioner Ben Geiger suggested the Mellon Building after Andrew Mellon, the name is on the cornerstone. Commissioner Dan Parker suggested the People’s Building because the taxpayers paid for it and it is their building. Commissioner Jon Smelker didn’t support the Mellon name, saying Kim Sigler, the 40th Governor of Michigan and Hastings resident was better, but he leaned toward the People’s Building. In the end, the commission voted unanimously to send Vivian Conner’s choice, The Cabinet Building, to the full board for approval.
Smelker noted it was a recommendation to the full board and they might hear from the public on names over the next week.
Conner said several Southwest Michigan counties were named after men who were in President Andrew Jackson’s cabinet, with Barry already one of 10 “Cabinet Counties” in Southwest Michigan, so the name would be a good fit. Barry County came from William T. Barry, then U. S. Postmaster General.
Other counties got their names from cabinet members; John M. Berrien, John Branch, John C. Calhoun, Lewis Cass, John Eaton, Samuel D. Ingham, Edward Livingston, Martin Van Buren, and newly-elected President Andrew Jackson.
The story goes that the mass naming of the counties for Jackson’s cabinet was to curry favor with the federal government in a dispute over 468 square miles along the Ohio border. Eventually, the federal government gave the property to Ohio and Michigan get a large piece of the Upper Peninsula.
In public comment, Sharon Zebrowski said she was disappointed the commission did not allow time for the public to submit names for the building before they made a decision. The name should be serious and reflect Barry County, Zebrowski said. “If the taxpayers paid for the building, we have the right to at least submit names.”
Hastings Township Supervisor Jim Brown agreed, although he did say it didn’t matter what they named it, people would still call it the old library building. //
In other business, the commission recommended rezoning property in Section 20 of Hastings Township from Rural Residential to High Density Residential. The change has been approved by the Planning Commission; state law requires commission approval of all rezoning requests.
The commission also recommended Conner and Parker to represent Barry County on the Southwest Michigan Region 3 SMART Committee. The purpose of the SMART committee is to hare information, learn from each other and build unity among the 14 counties in Region 3.
(For more on Michigan history, read Forgotten Tales of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula by Alan Naldrett.)
Riston Holley, a senior at Barry County Christian School, has been extended a congressional appointment to a U.S. military academy of his choosing from Justin Amash, U.S. Congressman from Michigan’s 3rd District.
The youngest son of Ron and Mary Holley of Hastings, Riston’s academic achievement, proven leadership qualities and community service highlight Congressman Amash's appointment, BCCS Administrator Brandon Strong said.
“It’s nice to have something we know about a student confirmed by Congressman Amash. Riston is a tremendous leader, has a strong personal commitment to patriotism, and is from an exceptional family. It’s been an absolute pleasure to watch the growth of young people; to watch one receive an honor like this is certainly a highlight.”
Holley is the grandson of Lyle Holley, a World War II veteran and an influence on his decision to serve. “Grandpa served in the Army and has always lived his life with integrity, I hope to be able to live life similarly, as it is very important to serve my country.”
To earn nomination, an applicant must prove their leadership capability, have strong academic records, and be interviewed by a panel from the congressman’s office. Now that he has completed that hurdle, the next step is to receive an appointment from an academy, Strong said.
Holley has not determined which academy he will attend, but his top three choices are West Point, U.S. Air Force Academy, and U.S. Naval Academy.
Upon graduation, he will be appointed an officer in the corresponding branch of the military, where he will serve for a minimum of five years.
Upon nomination from an academy, he will receive 100 percent free tuition, housing, meals, books, health insurance and a small stipend with the appointment. With graduation, he will become an officer in the United States military, Strong said.//
“I am very thankful for the opportunity to get a great education and then have the opportunity to go on and serve my country,” Holley said. He is the first student in Barry County Christian School’s 45-year history to earn the honor.
Military academies receive approximately 8,000 nominations yearly, and accept only 1,200. Holley has attended Barry County Christian School for 13 years.
His education and scholarships are valued at more than $350,000 to date
Last year, the Michigan Department of Treasury declared potential financial stress in the Delton Kellogg School District. A Kent Intermediate School District (KISD) administrative review recommended the district restore it’s fund balance to five percent of revenue by the end of the 2017-2918 school year.
Based on the district’s 2015 financial audit, the DK District met the recommendation by ending the fiscal year with a 5.2 percent general fund balance as a percent of total revenue. In December, 2016, the KISD recommended Delton be removed from the review process. The state treasurer agreed and determined that the potential stress no longer exists.
Delton Kellogg Interim Superintendent Carl Schoessel said the goal was accomplished a year and a half early mainly by two things; a dramatic increase in student enrollment and a “wonderful staff” that agreed to a budget modification that included a wage freeze. “There were other things, but those are the two major reasons,” he said. “We have a good team here, and this was definitely a team effort.”
The Barry Intermediate School District helped the Delton Kellogg District by agreeing to contract with KISD Business Manager Mike Haggarty to work with school officials. “Mike was very helpful to us,” Schoessel said.
Board of Education President Jim McManus added his thoughts: “The Board of Education is thrilled that we are no longer on the Financial Stress List and very thankful to the administration, teachers and staff for working together to help resolve the issue.”
This space is devoted to area school superintendents for them to highlight news in their districts. This posting is from Maple Valley’s Superintendent Michelle Falcon
“Attendance Critical for Academic Success
The importance of being a high school graduate in today’s society becomes more apparent every year. It is our goal at Maple Valley Schools that every student who enters our doors will earn a diploma. Unfortunately, we have some students who slip away from us before we even know it has happened.
Based on research from the University of Chicago, we now have some tools to help us identify students before they even know they are on track to dropout. These tools are called Early Warning Indicators and they are as easy as knowing your ABC’s.
A. Attendance (Miss more than 10 percent in a semester)
B. Behavior (Out of school suspensions or expulsion)
C. Course Proficiency (Grade point average and failure in English or Math)
The University of Chicago found that students in grade 9 who had all three of these indicators present were 75 percent likely to not finish high school and earn their diploma. Possessing two indicators, regardless of which indicators they were, half of those students dropped out. Our school district is currently using these early warning signs to identify students who need the most supplemental support. We believe attendance is a primary area to focus on.
Attending school can be one of the most important life skills that families and school systems instill in our children. Every employer in this country desires reliable employees who come to work and are prepared for the work. School districts feel the same way and have the same expectations. Maple Valley schools is asking for a call to action. As a community, we need to get our students to school and decrease the amount of instructional time missed. Each month we review our attendance data by grade level.
The missed days from September 7, 2016 through January 13, 2017 is 78 school days.
Nearly 30 percent of our students have already missed more than one week of school. This is a major concern for our staff. In order to improve our student achievement, we must have our students in class to receive the necessary instruction.
Our school improvement action plans now include strategies to target those students who have attendance issues.
It is our goal to improve our daily attendance so we can increase student learning. Please help us lower this number by persuading family and friends to attend school. We need your support to ensure Maple Valley students become successful, productive citizens.”
Former Hastings Mayor Frank Campbell was honored for his 55 years of service to the community in an official State of Michigan Special Tribute from 87th District Rep. Julie Calley.
Barry County Commissioner Ben Geiger, speaking for Calley, presented the certificate to Campbell as he and his wife Linda attended the Wednesday Kiwanis meeting.
Campbell was praised for his hard work, dedication and professionalism on behalf of the people of the community. “As the people of Hastings recognize the loyalty and devotion to public service of this conscientious individual, we add our sentiments of gratitude for a job well done,” the Special Tribute read.
A U.S. Army veteran, his 55 years of service to the city includes as a Hastings police officer, manager of the Barry County/City of Hastings Airport, multiple terms on the city council and as its mayor twice.
Congratulating Campbell on his personal milestone, the tribute wished him "the happiest of retirements."
The document, signed by Calley, 19th State District Senator Mike Nofs and Governor Rick Snyder, is the first legislative recognition authored by new representative Calley, Geiger said.
Photo: Barry County Commissioner Ben Geiger, left, and former Hastings Mayor Frank Campbell show Campbell's Special Tribute from the State of Michigan.
The pubic is invited to a forum on medical marijuana law in Michigan, what it is and what it is not, on Monday Feb. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at the Yankee Springs Township Hall, 284 North Briggs Road.
Former 87th District Rep. Mike Callton, Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf and Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt will attend. Yankee Springs Supervisor Mark Englerth said he expects good discussion on the topic. “I don’t care if you are for or against, just speak the truth,” he said.
With Hastings school officials following protocols and working with Hastings Police, it was quickly determined Wednesday morning that an e-mail sent to 7th grade teachers that read “Bomb” was a false threat, a prank.
With the determination that it was a low level threat, they did not need to evacuate the middle school building.
Superintendent Carrie Duits said they did not call off a Michigan State Police handler and his K-9 who were enroute, but kept students in their classrooms while “the dog performed a walkthrough as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of our students.”
Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt credited Duits, Business Manager Tim Berlin and Director of Curriculum Matt Goebel for their cooperation and taking all the right measures early on.
“If they hadn’t taken the proper steps, it would have been different,” he said. The police report will be sent to the prosecutor for possible charges against the student.
Allegan County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a Dorr Township residence around 4 a.m. Wednesday on a call of a domestic violence situation involving family members that escalated to a shooting and an apparent suicide.
As an active investigation, all the details are not yet available for release. Details could change as all the evidence is collected and the Medical Examiner’s Office completes their portion of the investigation, an Allegan County Sheriff’s Office news release said.
The initial investigation and interviews indicate there was a domestic violence argument between brothers in their 20’s, and a step-father in his mid 40’s, officials said.
The argument escalated when one of the brothers went to an separate upstairs residence and got a rifle.
He returned to the downstairs residence and shot the stepfather, causing a non-life threatening injury, then turned the weapon on himself. According to the witnesses and the initial scene investigation, the suspect died as the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Deputies and investigators are still interviewing witnesses and processing the scene for evidence.
The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office assured the public Tuesday that it was safe to go about their business after the arrest of a suspect was made by several law enforcement officers in a public place.
A 25-year-old Lee Township man, with an outstanding warrant for assault and believed to be armed with handgun, was taken into custody during the noon hour in the parking lot of an Allegan business. The unnamed suspect, being held in the Correctional Center, is believed to be involved in a stabbing of a 28-year-old Lee Township man on Jan. 13.
The stabbing is still under investigation, however, an assault and battery warrant was initially issued as the investigation continues. Detectives are in the process of obtaining search warrants and will be meeting with the prosecutor’s office regarding additional charges.
Sheriff’s office deputies were assisted in the arrest by Allegan City Police Department officers.
Looking for a Fourth of July camping experience with a little less noise? Check out Fireworks-Free Fourth of July for veterans, pet owners and other visitors looking for a quieter holiday this year.
Several Michigan state parks and recreation areas that are situated farther away from traditional community firework displays will participate July 1-4.
The Michigan DNR and the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency worked together, for the third straight year to bring this opportunity to the public. It's not too early to book your favorite spot either, since camping reservations can be made up to six months in advance.
The DNR is inviting residents and non-residents of all ages to take advantage of the first of two Free Fishing Weekends on Feb. 18-19. Everyone can enjoy two days of back-to-back fishing without a license. All other fishing regulations apply.
Additionally, the DNR will waive the regular Recreation Passport entry fee to get into Michigan’s 103 state parks and recreation areas. Several of these locations will be hosting official free fishing events that are perfect for the whole family!
Technological advances in medicine are occurring at a rapid pace, with more and more electronic devices to access almost any location and perform many functions once impossible to do.
One of the latest advances is MedNow, from Spectrum Health.
Spectrum Health’s Stacee English, gave a presentation at a TechTalk program sponsored by the Barry County Chamber of Commerce at Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital Tuesday.
There are two pieces to MedNow, English said. E-Visits and Video Visits.
E-visits are done through a secure online messaging exchange with a medical provider who gives medical advice through a My Health account after completing a questionnaire describing your symptoms. E-visits are not for emergencies, urgent conditions or questions needing an immediate response. An e-visit will never cost more than $25.
A Video Visit provides direct, real time visits to a Grand Rapids-based Spectrum specialist for low acuity conditions. It can be accomplished with a webcam and smart phone, I-Pod, or computers anywhere there is a strong internet connection, and requires an e-mail address.
Using special equipment, a doctor can take vital signs and other tests with a patient and show the results to a specialist in Grand Rapids with images of good clarity that can be enlarged and sound that can be turned up. A Video Visit will never cost more than $45.
Online primary care with a doctor 24/7 includes allergies, bites and stings, colds, cough and flu, heartburn, nausea/vomiting pink eye, rash and hives sinus problems, sprains and strains, fever and headache and more. A report of every MedNow visit is sent to the person’s primary care physician as part of their medical history and so the physician can follow up if necessary. //
Director of the MedNow program, Jeremy Bainbridge, said the first use of telemedicine was on July 14, 2014. “It’s a very exciting opportunity,” he said.
There is no difference in quality of care with other state using the technology, and tracking use of antibiotics shows physicians prescribe less when using technology than during face to face visits, he added.
To a question about making mistakes without touching patients, Bainbridge said: “We try very hard to make sure we can triage and send them to the appropriate place. We’re looking for the right people to see.” If a referral is needed, to an emergency room for example, the specialist will help smooth the way for that visit, he said.
“We do robust tracking on all sorts of information, English said. Eighty percent are comfortable with the technology.”
Currently, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan and Priority Health offer coverage of e-Visit and Video visits, Medicare does not. The Spectrum telemedicine service is for any Michigan resident over the age of three. For much more information and complete lists of problems cared for by E-Visit or Video Visit, go to mednow.specturmhealth.org.
Every year on her birthday, Gloriana Elston, 12, from Hastings, finds a project to pay it forward. Her parents, Anne and Shannon Elston, always support her efforts. This year, they are holding a series of fundraisers for her “honorary Uncle” Curt Pavlik.
Pavlik, 39, also from Hastings, graduated from Hastings High and is works full time in town. He was badly injured on April 1, 2006 from an accidental gunshot wound to his face. Operations to correct the damage followed, but he has exhausted his insurance. However, he still needs facial reconstruction of his jaw. Since regular dentures won't work in the reconstrucion, he also needs teeth implants.
“My family loves him and wants to see the best for him. We want to help him move on, eat real food again, meet the women of his dreams, get married, to just let his dreams come true. He has a heart of gold and compassion for others.
“I know we can do this; we live in an amazing small town,” Gloriana said.
Update: Thursday, January 26, Paul Christopher Howard, 23, was arrested in Lansing by the Michigan State Police First District Fugitive Team. Howard, a suspect in an October, 2016 incident where shots were fired in the dormitory area of Davenport University in Caledonia, is lodged in the Ingham County Correctional Facility and will eventually be transported to the Kent County Correctional Facility, according to the Kent County Sheriff's Office.
Background: On Oct. 23, 2016, at 2:30 a.m., Kent County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of shots fired in a dorm area at Davenport University in Caledonia Township. Deputies determined that four nonstudents were involved in an altercation with two students. One of the nonstudents discharged a gun; no one was shot, however a bullet penetrated a wall and hit a student who was not involved. The student was treated and released from a hospital.
After an extensive investigation, detectives were able to develop Howard as a suspect in the incident. On October 25, 2016 the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office authorized a four count warrant for Howard: discharging a firearm in a building, carrying a concealed weapon, carrying a weapon with unlawful intent and felony firearm, 2nd.
A 38-year-old Delton woman was seriously injured and her passenger, a 17-year-old girl, suffered minor injuries in a traffic crash Thursday.
The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office reports the woman was southbound in the 10900 block of M-43 in Richland Township at about 4:30 p.m. when she lost control of her car, left the roadway and struck a tree. The unidentified woman and the teen were transported to an area hospital, where the driver is listed in serious/stable condition.
The crash remains under investigation; speed and wet road conditions appear to be factors.
After months of disagreements and delay, the Southwest Barry County Sewer and Water Authority board moved to put the past in the rear view mirror and move forward with the possibility of a sewer district in the Hickory Corners area to include Gilmore Car Museum.
Tuesday, authority members agreed a feasibility study already commissioned from Prein & Newhof on a sewer district and service to Gilmore’s is the next step needed to decide if the project can become a reality.
The board took several steps in the effort to resolve past differences and move the initiative forward, including:
*to expedite authority business, the board will meet monthly instead of every other month,
*as an expression of good faith, the board waives payment for an invoice for out-of-pocket expenses made in response to a 2011 sewer service request by Gilmore.
*directed authority Manager Mark Doster to cooperate with Gilmore staff and associates with regard to the feasibility study.
*directed authority staff and engineer to comply with reasonable requests for information for Prein & Newhof’s feasibility study before an escrow account is used.
*instead of accessing $10,000 in escrow from Gilmore up front, the authority will wait until the feasibility study is completed and use the funds for engineering and legal expenses when the project gets underway.
*send a letter to Barry County Commissioner David Jackson and Gilmore outlining the changes they are making.
“This letter will move us off dead center,” Prairieville Supervisor Jim Stoneburner said. Hope Township representative David Messelink agreed: “This has been dragging on too long.”
The board’s moves were encouraged by Jackson, who has been pushing for action on the authority’s latest request for sewer service. He said was “fairly discouraged” in his past dealings with the board, feeling that Doster was giving them incorrect information and the board was too quick to defend him.
He urged the board to put a poor relationship (with former longtime director Michael Spezia) aside, “and show Gilmore we’re ready to roll out the red carpet.” He proposed an oversight committee to follow each development in the Hickory Corners/Gilmore project and provide timely updates to the full board. He suggested putting off buying property in favor of investing it for the people by creating more sewer customers and also develop a budget for long-term infrastructure maintenance.
Jackson also asked the board to do a comprehensive compensation study of Doster’s salary in the near future. Doster started out part time for $25,000 a year, he said, and was given a 64 percent increase for being a project manager while working eight to 15 hours a week.
“If it was full time, it would not be an issue; but for 10 hours a week, it’s outrageous.” //
“The issue with Gilmore has been going now for six years,” Doster said. In 2011, Gilmore had asked for sewer service but was not in a sewer district. The authority had run up a legal bill of $2,500 in the process. Doster said Gilmore was billed for the costs, but they chose not to pay it and put in their own system.
When Gilmore again said they wanted to hook up Doster said, “this board and others pay on the sewer system; we thought it would be unfair to add that burden. To make a request, they would have to put money into escrow. We felt to go forward, they needed to comply with the money and escrow and we would not to entertain requests until they did.”
During the course of the meeting, Doster was pressed by Messelink on the clear direction for Doster to cooperate with Gilmore that was missing in the October meeting minutes. To Doster’s concern that system capacity might not be enough for the proposed project, Messelink said when Pennock Hospital was going to build a new hospital, Doster said they could supply that.
“You were willing to go to Hastings. If you can go there, you can go here…are we incurring expense just to answer questions? My answer is not,” Messelink said.
Barry Township Supervisor Wes Kahler said they should be looking at requests from townships. “It’s a cost of doing business, as far as I can see; any and all projects. …we've never asked any other township projects for money in escrow.”
Authority board members:
Barbara Earl, supervisor of Johnstown Township
Jim Stoneburner, supervisor of Prairieville Township (chair)
WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight news in their districts. This posting is from Delton Kellogg Schools Superintendent Carl Schoessel (left).
"The January meeting of the Delton Kellogg Board of Education was an exciting one. Re-elected Board members Marsha Bassett, Kelli Martin, and Jim McManus took the oath of office, as did newly elected Board member Jessica Brandli.
As part of the annual organizational meeting, Jim McManus was elected as President of the Board, Kelli Martin as Vice-President, Marsha Bassett as Secretary and Andy Stoneburner as Treasurer. In addition, all Board members received special gifts of appreciation from students and staff members in observance of “School Board Recognition Month.”
It was announced that 36 new students have enrolled in the Delton Kellogg Schools since the fall count day in October, the DK High School will host a regional wrestling tournament on February 18, and that the Delton Kellogg Education Foundation will be awarding $1,000 scholarships to graduating seniors who qualify for the awards."
A widespread outage with ISERV, a phone system that serves the area occurred around 7:45 Tuesday night. WBCH notified their center by cell phone where engineers said they were working on the problem. Sometime during the night service was restored, but no word on what caused the outage.
The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, with the motto “Protect, Serve, Uphold and Defend,” named Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf “2016 Sheriff of the Year” at its national conference in Maryland Jan. 21.
Undersheriff Matt Houchlei told the Barry County Commission of the national award for Leaf.
“I think the award is very important for its significance for the residents of Barry County and the fact that we have Sheriff Leaf
representing us in this office,” he said. The award reads: “For his unwavering courage in standing for American liberty and the United States Constitution.” “It is an awesome award and I was glad to see him receive it,” Houchlei said.
Leaf said he was quite surprised to receive the honor. “It was toward the end of a long day; these are training conferences, this was a long one.…I was kinda listening like you do at the end of the day, when I heard my name. It’s quite an honor, something I will treasure forever.”
“There are a lot of sheriffs in this country. It is a testament to your leadership that you were recognized for what you’ve done here in Barry County,” Commissioner Ben Geiger said. “Thank you for your service Dar,” Commissioner Jon Smelker said.
In other business Tuesday, the commission:
*approved bids for the renovations of the Barry County Courthouse totaling $342,404.
*appointed incumbent Charles Pullen for a four-year term on the Barry County Veterans Committee, and to increase the three person committee to five, effective immediately. With a new relaxed requirement that now allows veterans who did not serve in wartime to serve on the committee, the commission will advertise the two additional positions.
* approved a resolution of intent for Barry County Transit Director William Voigt to apply for state and federal funds for transit operations and appoint him the transportation coordinator.
Hastings City Manager Jeff Mansfield will invite the WOW cable service representative to a council meeting to explain questions of inappropriate behavior by its employees, and the perception that they may be treating their the elderly clients poorly.
Councilwoman Theresa Maupin-Moore said Monday a Hastings resident’s daughter called her, and told her that her mother had trouble with WOW when she tried to change the status of her programming after her husband died.
A WOW representative told the woman her husband had signed a binding contract and she had to adhere to that contract. She was told they had recently talked to her husband, however, her husband had been deceased for some time before the contact was supposed to have been made.
WOW dropped her mother’s telephone service and then charged her to hook her back up, the daughter said. Maupin-Moore said she was concerned that WOW may be “honing in on other older adults” for poor treatment.
The city has a non-exclusive, open-ended franchise agreement with WOW allowing the use of the city rights of way, but residents sign individual contracts, Mansfield said. “I don’t know how much leverage we have in that…” He said he was sure the representative would come to a meeting, and suggested the city attorney look into options available to the city regarding the franchise.
City Attorney Stefanie Fekkes said she will look into the matter before anyone takes any action, “to provide them the opportunity to handle it themselves,” if it is an employee problem they weren’t aware of. Saying a person made contact with someone had been deceased for months would be “egregious and deceitful….obviously, that conversation could not have taken place,” she said.
Councilman Willard Redman said he had so much trouble with WOW he told them “to get the heck out,” and advised “getting rid of them.” Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange called on the council to hold WOW accountable; “call them on the carpet…let them know that we’re keeping an eye on them….it could affect their franchise, should this type of thing continue…”
City Manager Jeff Mansfield’s recommendation for Dan King as the city’s clerk/treasurer/finance director was unanimously approved by the Hastings City Council Monday. King is well known in the community for his many years of service in financial institutions and service on several committees and boards. “I believe Dan will do an absolutely fantastic job for the City of Hastings,” Mansfield said. King replaces Tom Emery, who retired earlier this month.
The council also approved retaining Rehmann as independent auditors for an additional year. A three-year contract with the company expired with the 2016 audit. Mansfield recommended extending the existing contract, noting that Rehmann has served in the capacity for a number of years, “is very familiar with the city’s financial processes and practices” and will provide stability as King takes over as clerk/treasurer.
The cost for the 2017 audit is $9,500, up $500 from 2016. If the city receives $750,000 in federal awards during the year, that requires a separate audit that would cost an additional $350.
In other business, Mead & Hunt has provided the required 30-day written notice that they are terminating its agreement for operation services at the city water and wastewater plants, City Manager Jeff Mansfield told the Hasting City Council Monday. They will provide service until Feb. 8.
“Unfortunately, the relationship was not working well for either party,” Mansfield said. “We have several options available for short and long term agreements with other organizations for operations services, and we are exploring these options at this time to see what makes the most sense,” he said. He likened the situation to a “marriage,” where the operator must maintain a good relationship with the staff, but it has been a continuing problematic arrangement for many years.
They are leaning toward a company that is open to what is in the best interest of Hastings, he said. “We expect to have a recommendation for interim services of an operator at the next council meeting.”
The city hall elevator failed several times in the past week and replacement of the obsolete door operator board and motor was initiated with a $5,626.42 emergency purchase order. However, since the repair exceeded the $5,000 limit on expenditures that can be authorized by staff, it was reported to comply with the city purchasing policy. The replacement parts are in and repairs are scheduled to begin Tuesday at 9 a.m. //
In other business, the council:
*approved adding a small section of Taffee Drive to Act 51 local streets. The section was inadvertently left off the official street inventory after its construction years ago.
*appointed Councilman Don Smith to the Joint Planning Alliance replacing Alan Klein.
*set a special meeting Monday, Jan 30 at 7 p.m. to discuss, among other things, the possible sale or demolition of the Moose building.
* heard Mansfield say there would be more special and work shop meetings in the coming year, with new council members and city staff, he said they want to make sure everyone is fully informed before making decisions.
After the regular meeting adjourned, the council returned to complete a work shop started at 6 p.m. on goals and policy issues to be considered in the budget preparation for 2017-2018 fiscal years.
Eaton County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a car/ bicycle accident just outside the village of Bellevue Saturday, Jan. 21 about 2:50 p.m.
Richard Pulliam, 66, and Shelly Pulliam, 65, were riding a tandem bicycle northbound on Battle Creek Road, when they were hit from behind by a car also traveling northbound. Shelley Pulliam died at the scene and Richard Pulliam was transported to Sparrow Hospital in critical condition.
Battle Creek Road was shut down until 7 p.m. while deputies processed the scene. The accident is still under investigation.
The following blood drives are scheduled by Michigan Blood in the Barry County area during February. There is critical need for O-negative blood, officials of the organization say.
Feb. 2-Hastings High School, auxiliary gym, 520 West South Street., Hastings, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Feb. 3-Hastings area donor site at Spectrum Health Pennock, Conference Center, 1009 West Green Street, Hastings, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Feb.13-Hickory Corners Bible Church, gym, 13720 Kellogg School Road, Delton, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Feb. 28-Gun Lake Casino, blood bus, 1123 129th Avenue, Wayland, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. //
Michigan Blood is a nonprofit blood bank serving Michigan hospitals since 1955.
In the Southwest Michigan area, they supply blood to Spectrum Health Butterworth and Blodgett hospitals, Mercy Health, Metro Hospital and Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Spectrum Health Pennock in Hastings, Borgess Medical Center and Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo and Bronson Battle Creek Hospital, Battle Creek VA Medical Center and Southwest Regional Rehabilitation Center in Battle Creek.
The National Weather Service Hastings Climatological Station recorded a new record high 60 degrees for January 21, 2017 at 2:00 pm. The old record of 59 degrees was set in 1906, 111 years ago today Saturday.
WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents for them to highlight news in their districts. This posting is from Hastings Area School System’s Superintendent Carrie Duits.
January is School Board Appreciation Month. During the board’s regular monthly meeting the board received certificates of appreciation, and they were honored for their hard work and dedication to the students of the Hastings Area School System.
Our board members include: Jennifer Eastman, Luke Haywood, Mike Nickels, Dan Patton, Rob Pohl, Valerie Slaughter, and Louis Wierenga, Jr. If you see them at a school function or out in the community, please take a moment to let them know you appreciate their service to our students!
Many great things are happening for the students, staff and community of HASS. Here are a few highlights:
A new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) after-school program is starting Jan. 25 at the middle school.
Our Varsity Girls and Boys Basketball teams had the unique opportunity/experience to play at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
The board has approved the addition of three new classes at the high school for the 2017 -18 school year: Anatomy and Physiology II, Marketing 100, and Marketing 200
We recently hired two new social workers for the elementary, with one social worker at each building. Please join me in welcoming Leah Lucas at Central and Cathy Engle at Northeastern. Leah and Cathy will join the team of Megan VanWyk at Star and Dawn Coltson at Southeastern. This amazing group will support students, families, and staff. We're very excited to have both become members of our world class staff!
The district is in the process of finding a full-time administrative intern for the middle school.
We’ve established regularly scheduled meetings with the City of Hastings to share and discuss our construction progress. An additional topic of discussion is the progress of the Safe Routes to School Grant, which will provide additional sidewalks and marked walkways for our students.
Monday the board accepted with great appreciation donations from the community totaling $20,356!
Douglas and Margaret DeCamp, $750 for the High School Choral Music Program
Jeffrey and Danielle Storrs, $5,000 for new basketball backboards and rims at the high school
Family Tree Medical Associates, $1,000 to purchase an ultrasound for use in high school sport rehabilitation
Hastings Athletic Booster Club, $13,000 to support Fall and Winter Sports Programs
Hastings Education Enrichment Foundation, $606 to defray expenses for projects, activities, trips and materials for students
Thank you to everyone who supports the students of the Hastings Area School System!
Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich has announced the promotions of
Timothy Jungel to chief deputy and Adam Morris to captain.
Chief Deputy Jungel has served with the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office since January 1993 in the Field Services Division. He is also a member of the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team and Marine Patrol Unit.
Captain Morris has served with the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office since December 1997 in the Field Services Division. Morris is assigned to the Administrative Services Division of the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office.
Brandy Casey, Office Coordinator for the Barry County Road Commission, told WBCH Wednesday afternoon "Our gravel roads have gone from solid ice to not so solid mud. With the frost coming out of the ground coupled with the ice melting and the amount of rain we have had our gravel roads are sure to be a mess for the foreseeable future. The amount of moisture in the road bed will not allow us to scrape the roads as they will turn to a soupy mess. Please be patient, we will be on them as soon as moisture levels drop" .
Weight restrictions go into effect at 6AM Thursday, January 19th on county roads.
Anyone with questions about the restrictions may contact the Road Commission office.
Barry County Commissioners Tuesday recommended approval of a resolution of intent for Barry County Transit Director William Voigt to apply for state and federal funds for transit operations and appoint him transportation coordinator. During the routine annual request, Voigt gave an overview of the past year.
“The transit had a great 2016,” he said. The transit provided 107,000 rides, earned $258,000 in fares in the past year and won the 2016 Federal Transportation Administrator's award for ”Outstanding Rural Transit System.” Building on a 30 percent increase in ridership in 2015, Voigt announced two changes in the transit services in January of 2016.
Instead of assigning a bus to a specific village or area on certain days of the week, transit buses covered all of the county. Hours were extended from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on weekdays to “provide more hours for those people coming home from work, after school activities and later doctor visits,” Voigt said at the time.
A new software system is working well and the department recently completed installation of cameras on all transit buses, he said. Some buses have three cameras, some four, giving complete coverage of buses, drivers and passengers. Voigt is currently working on ways to coordinate transit coverage with systems in neighboring counties.
On the grants, he estimated the transit would receive $253,421 in federal funds, $524,739 in state funds, $507,538 in local funds, fare box totals of $250,000 and other funds of $90,550 with expenses of $1,374,344. //
The commission also recommended Incumbent Charles Pullen for a four-year term on the Barry County Veterans Committee. The commission recommended increasing the three-person committee to five and will likely re-advertise the two additional seats and invite Douglas Eugene Lindsey, who interviewed, to re-apply, and interview Shannon Alexander Szukala, who applied but could not be at Tuesday’s meeting.
The committee of the whole recommendations will be acted on at the next regular board meeting. The board went into closed session to discuss ongoing negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement.
Barry County Commissioners Tuesday reviewed and recommended bids for the renovations of the Barry County Courthouse totaling $342,404, which includes $20,000 for contingencies.
The vote was 5-2 with commissioners Vivian Conner and Heather Wing dissenting.
Dave Beckering, Beckering Construction, Inc. and Bob Van Putten, Landmark Design Group, explained the bids and answered questions.
In addition to the bid work mentioned, flooring, painting, fire suppression, plumbing and electrical, the renovations include two holding cells, one for women, another for men; separate corridors to keep judges and prisoners apart and increased soundproofing in the jury room.
There will be improved separation between prisoners, jurors and the judicial staff; limited access to judicial areas with a window between staff and public; an attorney/prisoner conference room; a private entrance to the judge’s bathroom, moving the jury box across the room and a new judge’s bench.
During discussion,Commissioner Dan Parker asked why a railing separating the jury from the audience cost $14,700, and was told the rail was more like a wall, extra sturdy with metal anchors and intricate designs to match the existing historical details. Commissioner David Jackson asked if Barry County Sheriff’s Deputy Gary Pearson, court security, endorsed the plans for the railing and flow of the people, and was told Pearson was very involved with the planning and was happy with it.
To a question on a charge for cell phones, Beckering said all construction sites now have employees carrying “smart” cell phones to upload drawings, get the latest architect’s bulletins, and keep up with changes. “In this age of technology, information is so fast, our guys have to have them…they seldom talk on them.”
Beckering also explained carpeting for the courtroom and acoustical and circulation improvements in the jury room. "I'm pleased Commissioners took decisive action in addressing this county's biggest facility problem. By taking a hard look at the cost of replacing our county jail, we're making progress and respecting our hardworking taxpayers,” Commissioner Ben Geiger said later.
The Barry County Jail, built in 1970, is outdated and with “significant security and safety issues,” according to a 2015 report. Replacing the aging jail has come up many times at the Barry County Commission, most recently in 2014, but has always been pushed to the background because of economic pressures and/or the uncertainty of a millage proposal being approved by voters.
Tuesday, commissioners voted unanimously for Administrator Michael Brown to pursue a financial analysis and architectural renderings for a replacement jail, as described in the Barry County Master facilities plan from Tower Pinkster.
However, commissioners said they wanted several things discussed.
Commissioner Dan Parker and others, said everything should be on the table, including the location. The first several meetings with the results of the RFP should be held at committee of the whole meetings since the initial meetings would be pointing in the direction the commission would take. Later meetings, when more narrow things would be considered, could be at committee meetings, he added.
Commissioner Vivian Conner suggested collaborating with the City of Hastings and considering a facility for a jail, fire department and other emergency services all in one location.
Commissioners David Jackson, Ben Geiger and Heather Wing called for being very careful when considering funding options.
“We want the best estimates on what it could cost; we owe it to the taxpayers,” Geigert said.
Jackson advised being very careful with funding options. He was concerned about millage, adding, “we need to be mindful as we go forward.”
Wing noted the report recommended trying to provide millage funding for all three projects at once. “If we go back repeatedly, the voters are not going to be happy with five different millages. Maybe we should consider (the jail) the COA and Courts & Law all in one,” she said.
Commissioner Jon Smelker, after confirming that the RFPs would cost nothing said, “This will answer a lot of questions.”//
The April, 2015 study said the jail, at 1212 West State Street, was deficient in many areas of security and safety; building systems beyond their useful life, antiquated security systems and hardware that are difficult to maintain, poor air and daylight quality, line of sight issues, limited effectiveness of processing inmates in and out and limited capacity for female inmates. The offices are undersized for the staff and the IT servers are inside a closet with limited ventilation.
The study included a dozen Barry County buildings and the jail. It recommended upgrading the community building, the county courthouse and animal shelter, to be paid from existing county funds.
It also reported on the need for three considerably larger projects; replacement of the 28,000 square foot, 97-bed jail at an estimated cost of $24.95 million, a new COA building for $4.55 million and Courts & Law building expansion for $6.21 million for estimated total of $35.71 million that would require voters to approve millage to pay for them.
“The three projects total almost $36 million and require an estimated average millage rate of just over one mill (1.0653 mills) over 25 years. It is the steering committee’s recommendation, to the extent possible, to seek approval as a single ballot issue,” the report read.
The target date for a millage election was May 2016 or at the latest, November 2016, “to allow the community to understand the proposal and have time to become comfortable with the millage package before heading to the polls.”
**WBCH provides this space for area school superintendents to highlight news in their districts. This posting is from Maple Valley Public Schools Superintendent Michelle Falcon.
School Board Appreciation Month: “School Boards Lead”
January is School Board Recognition Month and Maple Valley is joining 541 local and 56 intermediate school districts across the state to thank these community volunteers for their untiring dedication to public education.
Our boards of education, and the hundreds like it across the state, preserve the core of our democracy—public education. They ensure that people we’ve elected to represent our community’s values, culture and circumstances make decisions on school programming.
Showing appreciation for the important work of school boards should be a year-round process, but too often we neglect to recognize the dedication and hard work of these men and women who represent us. This January, the staff and students of our district are asking all members of the community to take a moment and thank a school board member.
It’s an exciting and challenging time in public education. School board members in Maple Valley Schools develop policies and make tough decisions that help shape the future of our education system.
They bear responsibility for an annual budget of $10.7 million, 1,020 students, and 110 employees. They are citizens whose decisions affect our children and build our communities.
In 2015, this Board of Education has demonstrated tremendous courage in supporting and cultivating the education of our young people. Collaborating with stakeholders, the board developed and implemented a strategic plan including a mission and vision statement along with four goal areas:
Maple Valley Schools will provide a nurturing environment that creates productive citizens with lifelong learning skills.
Maple Valley Schools will provide learning through innovative opportunities while nurturing for success.
Some offices and businesses are closed for Martin Luther King Day, a national holiday on Monday, Jan.16. It is advised to call ahead if you aren’t sure your destination is open. Below is a sample of places that are open and others that are closed.
Closed on MLK Day
All Secretary of State offices (DMV)
County Offices (Barry County Courthouse)
Chemical Bank (Middleville and Hastings)
PNC Bank (Delton)
Open on MLK Day
Hastings City offices
Village of Middleville offices
Village of Nashville offices
Eaton Federal Savings (Nashville)
United Bank of Michigan (Clarksville and Shelbyville)
Following Tuesdays powerful windstorm Consumers Energy is reporting most of the electric service to their customers, with the exception of Allegan, Hillsdale, Lenawee, Newago and Arenac counties has been restored.
Barry Township has issued 48-hour boil water advisory starting at 2 p.m. today, Wednesday, for those on the Delton Public Water System after water service was interrupted earlier and then restored at 2 p.m.
Bottled water for customers will be available at the township hall between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
A generator in the water system’s well house at Pleasant Lake failed sometime during Tuesday night, Barry Township Supervisor Wes Kahler said. He was notified at 5 a.m. A replacement part was installed in the generator and the water was flowing again this afternoon.
The proper authorities, including the DEQ, were notified. The water system has about 100 customers, Kahler said.
Those with questions are asked to call the township hall at 269-623-5171.