Local News

Parents look for answers on favorite Hastings teacher's future

The Hastings Schools Board of Education meeting Jan. 15 in the High School Media Center, packed with kids, parents and teachers, became a show of strong support for a Central Elementary teacher.


The comments from more than a dozen people praised Young 5’s teacher Emily Hoke, who some feared might be fired by the board. A little girl who spoke up and said Hoke was the best teacher she ever had, it brought tears to the eyes of many in the crowd.


Public comments, some very emotional, were closed after 30 minutes by the board, leaving unanswered questions, including Hoke’s future with the school, why they weren’t informed of the situation, and if the board could legally limit the time for the public to speak.


Responding to a request for comment, Superintendent Carrie Duits said the matter is, “a personnel situation that we can’t discuss at this time. It’s to protect the employee’s rights. We are addressing the matter following state law and complying with notices from the Michigan Department of Education.”  She said board President Luke Haywood told the audience that the board’s bylaws allow just 30 minutes total of public comment.


Elizabeth Lonergan, a parent at the meeting, said she thought something was amiss at the beginning of school last September, when she was told the school couldn’t say who her 5-year-old’s teacher would be in the new school year. She thought that odd since Hoke is the only Young 5’s teacher at Central. She described Hoke as “a perfect fit” for her active daughter, and if Hoke can’t be her teacher, she will consider leaving the district.


Lonergan said parents learned Hoke had not renewed her teaching certificate on time at the beginning of the school year, but was allowed to teach until Nov. 15. A state audit discovered it and fined the school $24,081, to come from its state aid, or $248 for each day Hoke was in the classroom without being certified, she said.


“She didn’t get it in on time, but it was pending all that time,” Lonergan said. “She offered to pay the fine and take a sub’s pay.”  Hoke was recertified on Nov. 16, and turned it into the school the same day.


Just before Christmas break in December, parents heard that Hoke was asked to resign her position by Dec. 22 or be terminated. “She didn’t resign; she said she didn’t do anything wrong,” Lonergan said. Hoke was notified the day before school resumed that she was to return to her classroom, she said.


Many parents were upset that they were not told of the matter when it was ongoing. “We got a letter saying that they wouldn’t talk about it; that letter came from the superintendent’s office, not one board member knew about it when we talked to them,” she said.


Now the parents wait for what comes next.  Lonergan has heard there will be a tenure hearing for Hoke, and also that an official in the system is not certified. Upset that public comment was cut off at 30 minutes, she is considering filing an Open Meetings Act complaint with the Barry County Sheriff’s Office.


Hoke did not return a voice mail message asking for comment.



Rack Pack attracts a dozen youth to its first meeting

The Barry County Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association, (QDMA) has started a youth program for girls and boys ages 10 to 16. Named the Rack Pack, it’s the first pack to hold official meetings in an area spanning upper Indiana and Ohio and all of the state of Michigan, said spokesman Rob Miller.


The grass-roots program intends to create and enrich future hunters and leaders in conservation.

In its first meeting, two girls and 10 boys and their parents, heard speaker  Mike Flohr explain the Quality Management Program, what it’s about, its functions and procedures, Miller said.


Two more volunteers were introduced; Rob’s dad Walt Miller and Leo Hendershot.

Their first activity was identifying animal tracks, “quite a challenge for the kids and parents,” he said.


The group will learn fire arms safety and shot placement from Hendershot, using air guns and indoor targets for practice. “Leo is a hunter safety instructor,” Miller explained.

The kids have varying levels of experience, but all will have the right level training of before they go into the field, “likely for a squirrel or rabbit hunt later this year,” he said,


Miller is pleased with the initial turnout of a dozen kids for its first meeting; he’s hoping to get more youth for the club at the annual QDMA banquet Jan. 20 at the Barry County Expo at 5 p.m. The event will feature games, gun drawings, raffles, live and silent auctions.


To join the group, or for more information, contact Rob Miller at 269-838-6184.

The Rack Pack will meet the third Wednesdays of the month, at 7 p.m. at the Elks Lodge in Hastings on Woodlawn Avenue.//


More about QDMA from its webpage:

 Because of its growth and strong support from the professional wildlife community, QDMA is considered the most respected and influential whitetail organization in North America.


As a result, QDMA serves as the leading advocate for the wise management of deer and the protection of our deer-hunting heritage.


The organization maintains strong ties with its members, other conservation organizations, state and federal agencies, and other groups with an interest in deer hunting. Since 2006, QDMA has engaged on nearly 800 state, federal and provincial management and policy issues impacting wildlife, habitat and our hunting heritage.



Michigan State Police Trooper of the Year, Civilian of the Year both from Wayland Post

Michigan State Police Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue announced the 2017 recipients of the Dr. Carl A. Gerstacker Trooper of the Year, Motor Carrier Officer of the Year and Floyd R. Bell Jr. Civilian of the Year Awards in Lansing on Jan. 18.


Trooper Blaine Bachman, of the Wayland Post, was named Trooper of the Year and Connie VanHouten, also of the Wayland Post, was named Citizen of the Year.

The Trooper of the Year Award recognizes the MSP trooper or sergeant who symbolizes outstanding professional ethics, dedication to duty and a concern for giving back to their community.


Bachman is a recipient of the Cpl. Samuel A. Mapes Criminal Patrol and Investigation Award, recognized for excelling in looking past the traffic stop to identify serious crimes and close investigations with felony arrests.


A mentor to younger troopers as a field training officer, he has become someone to turn to for assistance with criminal investigations. He also coordinates the post’s Explorers program, a career-oriented program that gives young adults the opportunity to explore a career in law enforcement.

“Trooper Bachman rarely does only what is expected. His exemplary work performance, extensive community involvement and leadership skills make him an excellent choice for Trooper of the Year,” said Etue.


“He is keenly aware of the needs of his fellow troopers and also works hard to make a positive difference in his community.” Bachman participates in MSP community programs, such as Stuff the Turkey and Shop with a Cop. He mentored a child during the DNR’s youth hunt and, like others in the department, has taken the frigid polar plunge to raise money for Special Olympics.Bachman enlisted with the MSP in 2014, graduating from the 126th Trooper Recruit School.


Civilian of the Year VanHouten, “is the go-to person at the Wayland Post for just about everything,” said Etue. “Her positive attitude and comforting presence make an impact not just at work, but also in her hometown. Her commitment to bettering the lives of those around her makes her an obvious choice for the Civilian of the Year Award.”


VanHouten is the primary organizer and fundraiser for at the Wayland Post for many events that benefit the less fortunate. Thanks to her commitment, the events are always a great success resulting in the collection of thousands of pounds of food or monetary donations.

Though invaluable at work, what she does at home and for the children in her community is what makes VanHouten really remarkable.


A strong advocate of foster parenting and adoption, VanHouten has adopted eight children, including two groups of siblings, into her family.

Sharing her story to help others understand what a rewarding experience fostering and adoption can be has become her mission. As a result, 20 children have been adopted by her friends. VanHouten is active in a number of programs that help provide food, clothing and school supplies to low income families. A secretary at the Wayland Post, she joined the MSP in 1997.


Christopher Russo of the Jackson Post was named Motor Carrier Officer of the Year, recognized as the MSP motor carrier officer who symbolizes outstanding professional ethics, dedication to duty and concern for giving back to their community.


The Trooper of the Year Award was created in 1061 by Dr. Carl A. Gerstacker, former chairman of Dow Chemical Company. The Civilian of the Year Award is named in honor of the late Floyd R. Bell Jr., a 42-year employee of the MSP, who continuously demonstrated commitment and dedication to the department and his community.



















Hastings cops, cadets go at it again, this time in basketball

The Hastings Police Department will field a squad of its officers to take on the Hastings Police Cadets team in a Cops vs Cadets basketball game at the Hastings Middle School on Sunday, Jan. 28 at 5 p.m.

From tip off, the cadets will be trying to make good on their goal to boost their record to 2-0 (they did, after all, defeat the cops in football) and the officers will strive to even the score.

Fans are invited to cheer for their favorite cop or cadet at the free, just for fun event.


TOST controversy continues in Barry County...

Barry County resident Larry Bass, frequent critic of the Barry Eaton District Health Department time of sale or transfer (TOST) regulation, read a statement on the topic during public comment time at Tuesday’s Barry County Board of Commissioner’s meeting.


Bass said it has become apparent that the leadership of the Barry Eaton District Health Department believes that the Board of Health has little or no institutional control over the BEDHD.

 “In spite of the board of health engaging in a process of radically modifying the TOST regulation to a minimum of a voluntary process between buyer, seller and the lending institution, the leadership of the health department has chosen to engage in a massive public relations campaign to ‘Save Our TOST,’” he said.


The campaign included “a carefully constructed television news segment” on WLNS Jan. 9, two articles in the County Journal in Eaton County and one in the Hastings Banner, he said, adding that the news releases made it appear that Barry and Eaton County would be on the edge of both a health and environmental disaster if not for the existence of TOST.


The articles focused on a TOST 10-year-report from last August and early September that was published at that time, he said. “It is being presented again now because after three BOH meetings and other sessions between principal individuals, the health department leadership is aware of the direction the modifications are going and is refusing to accept that direction in spite of minor concessions,” he said.


“The attitude borders on insubordination and should be addressed as soon as possible in a manner that makes expectations clear to all.

“It also demonstrates the little regard the health department has for the board of health and the respective county boards of commissioners,” he said, asking Barry County Commissioners “why do we go through the exercise of pretending to have any oversight and control of the BEDHD?”


Colette Scrimger, Health Officer at BEDHD responded: “The health department sends press releases on various health topics on a weekly basis,” she said. “This helps to fulfill our role in providing information on public health topics.”  Scrimger supplied a list of news releases and their topics for the last three months:


Open Enrollment

Winter Weather Hazard Awareness

National/American Diabetes Month

Healthy! Capital Counties Kick-Off

Eating Healthy During the Holidays / Food Safety / Hand Washing



Holiday Safety

National Influenza Vaccination Week

Confirmed Hep A Case in Eaton County

December Board of Health Summary (TOST, CD)

World AIDS Day



Cervical Health Awareness Month/HPV Immunization

National Radon Action Month

Eaton Hepatitis A Case Linked to Statewide Outbreak

Illicit Discharges




Spectrum Health Pennock gives precautions to take with flu, how and when to seek care

 Spectrum Health Pennock has recently seen a marked increase in the number of people coming to the emergency department with flu and flu-like symptoms. In response, they are advising stepping up precautions to prevent spreading the virus to others.


Influenza is a respiratory illness that is especially harmful to children, people over 65, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems or chronic conditions.

Those conditions include asthma, COPD, CHF, severe kidney disease, diabetes, cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis, sickle cell disease, seizure disorder, dementia, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries or morbid obesity.


Common flu symptoms include fever and chills, intense body aches, marked fatigue, headache, cough, sore throat and runny nose. Vomiting and diarrhea are not usual symptoms for adults and occur in less than 25 percent of children with influenza. Symptoms may be more subtle in the advanced aged.


Paul DeWitt, MD, chairperson of Spectrum Health Pennock Infection Control Committee recommends the following steps to avoid flu.


“First off, it is not too late to get the flu shot, which may help lessen the severity of the flu if you are to catch it, DeWitt said. “Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub, cover coughs and sneezes and if you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your symptoms are gone and you have stopped taking fever reducing medication.” 


“The virus is spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing. People may also become infected by touching surfaces contaminated with the virus then touching their mouth, nose or eyes,” DeWitt said.


“It is important if you do have symptoms of flu to stay home and rest, drink plenty of fluids and ease fever and body aches with fever-reducing medication.

“Medical treatment is not necessary in most cases; however, anyone experiencing difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest, dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting or symptoms that have improved, but return or worsen within a few days should seek emergency medical treatment,” he said.//


Those experiencing shortness of breath, numbness, facial or arm paralysis, slurred speech or other heart attack or stroke symptoms, call 9-1-1 for immediate medical care.

When feeling flu-like symptoms, extra precautions should be taken to stay away from children, people over 65 years of age, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems or chronic conditions.


Treat the illness at home with over-the-counter fever and pain reducers, cough medicine and other products. Those in a high risk group or who cannot control symptoms should seek non-emergency care through one of the following:

*Primary care provider office

*Urgent care

*MedNow, Spectrum Health’s telemedicine option.

Simply download the free MedNow app or learn more at


Also, Spectrum Health Pennock reminds the community that those with symptoms of influenza should postpone visiting patients in the hospital until they are well. They also encourage those with children not to bring them to the hospital unless they need medical attention. 



Child safety product recalls since summer of 2017 announced

Michigan’s Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a list of recalled products, not including toys, since the last list was released in the summer of 2017. The list is of interest to parents, day care providers and others who care for children.


The list includes:

· The Land of Nod recalls toddler beds due to entrapment hazard.

· Squatty Potty recalls children’s toilet step stools due to injury and fall hazards.

· Dream On Me recalls crib and toddler bed mattresses due to violation of Federal mattress flammability standard.

· Toys “R” Us recalls clay craft kits due to risk of mold exposure.

· Kidde recalls fire extinguishers with plastic handles due to failure to discharge and nozzle detachment.

· IKEA announces recall of MALM and other models of chests and dressers due to serious tip-over hazard.

· Plan toys recalls baby gyms due to strangulation hazard.

· Fisher Price recalls infant motion seats due to fire hazard.

· Target recalls leather pouf ottoman due to suffocation and choking hazards.

· Playtex recalls children’s plates and bowls due to choking hazard.

· Target recalls room essentials 4-drawer dressers due to tip-over and entrapment hazards.

· Ameriwood Home recalls chests of drawers due to tip over and entrapment hazards.


Family Support Center Family Workshop Series

The Family Support Center of Barry County Family Workshop Series began January 15th and will be held Monthly through April.  The topic this month is Developemental Stages of your Child. In the workshop will be a panel of speakers, including a local pediatrician and community health worker. The Workshops are held in Hastings and Middleville.  The next workshop is Monday January 29th in Hastings.  Free Dinner with registration at 5:30pm and the Free Workshop at 6pm with free childcare with registration.  Contact the Family Support Center of Barry County/ 269-945-5439 or visit for questions and pre-registration.


Spectrum Health Pennock limiting visitations in response to recent increase of influenza

For the safety of patients and staff, Spectrum Health Pennock is limiting visitation to its hospital during the CDC-declared flu epidemic. In addition, they are asking patients to limit the number of people who accompany them to office and clinic visits. The flu can be especially dangerous to the young, frail or elderly 


One of the most important tools in fighting the transmission of flu is limiting exposure.

Visitors are asked to respect the following restrictions: If you are ill or have been exposed to someone who is ill, please refrain from visiting the hospital. All visitors are expected to be healthy and the hospitals are taking active steps to protect patients, staff and visitors.


A healthy visitor is someone who does not have the following symptoms:

  • Fever, greater than 100.4 F
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose or congestion
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Rash or draining sores
  • Only healthy visitors should visit patients in the hospitals or outpatient clinics
  • Hospitals strongly recommend only two visitors or family members visit a patient at a time in order to limit exposure to patients, visitors and family members

These measures are designed to protect vulnerable patients and apply to visitors at Spectrum Health Pennock and all Spectrum Health Grand Rapids area hospitals and are effective until further notice.

To avoid getting influenza, Hastings area physicians recommend:

  • Get your seasonal influenza vaccine
  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly
  • Avoid contact with people who have flu-like symptoms
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet

Influenza Facts

  • Most symptoms can and should be treated at home. Only the most severe illnesses require a visit to an urgent care location or emergency department
  • It will take anywhere from five to 10 days for the illness to run its course
  • Most people who contract influenza should try to stay home, rest, drink plenty of liquids and take acetaminophen or an anti-inflammatory medicine



Barry County Compensation Commission holds first session

A Barry County Compensation Committee, approved by county commissioners last May, held its first meeting Jan. 9. An introduction and presentation of the responsibilities of a compensation commission was given by Commissioner Ben Geiger, County Administrator Michael Brown gave commission members a review of the Open Meetings Act, discussed the county’s 2015 classification and compensation study and reviewed data on commissioners from several other counties.


Compensation Commission members approved for four year terms by county commissioners in June, 2017 are:


Teri Enrietti, Delton; retired enrollment consultant, Delton Schools

Chris Lapins, Hastings; owner of Beauland, Inc.

Steve Buehler, Freeport; president of Munn Manufacturing

Kim Dufrense, Hastings; retired Michigan forest fire officer

Tom Enslen, Middleville, superintendent of Thornapple Kellogg Schools

Karen Zuver, Woodland; field agronomist at Dupont Pioneer

Brenda Schild, Hastings; human resources generalist at Spectrum Health Pennock.

Enslen and Zuver were absent.


Enrietti was elected chair of the new seven member board,  Lapins was elected vice-chair.

Also, a meeting schedule was set for Jan. 28, Feb. 1, 15 and 22, all at 6:30 p.m., in the Barry County Courthouse Mezzanine.


John Amrhein, Michigan State University Extension, said the book, Guide to Michigan County Government written by Ken Verburg, MSU professor emeritus, is a great source of detailed information about counties in the state.


What follows comes from a post where Amrhein used Verburg's guide to explain county officer’s compensation commissions:


A compensation commission’s only responsibility is to set the rate of compensation for county commissioners, the board chair, and other elected county officers. (Compensation for judges is not included.) The statute requires the compensation commission to meet in even-numbered years for not more than 15 “session” days, and complete its work within 45 days of its first session.


A majority of the members must approve any action. The final decision on any decisions remains a county board responsibility because it has the authority to overturn a compensation board’s action by a two-thirds vote. The county board only considers the compensation commission actions upon a motion to reject.


If the county board takes no action, the pay board’s decision takes effect with the beginning of the next odd-numbered year. If the county commission rejects the action, the previous compensation remains in effect. A person employed by any level of government or a member of that person’s immediate family is ineligible to serve on the commission.



Taxpayers urged to watch for phone scams and phishing schemes at income tax time

As the state of Michigan begins a new year and the state income tax filing season approaches, the Michigan Department of Treasury is asking taxpayers to be ready for tax scams in 2018.Cybercriminals typically increase their activity in the first part of the year through phone scams and email phishing schemes. These scammers try to obtain personal information using different tricks and tactics so they can file income tax returns and claim refunds on behalf of unsuspecting taxpayers. 


Some scammers may tell a taxpayer they owes taxes and aggressively demand payment for a quick payout. “Taxpayers need to be extra alert for possible scams and schemes during this time of year and throughout the income tax filing season,” said Deputy State Treasurer Glenn White, head of Treasury’s Tax Administration Group. “When taxpayers proactively look for scams, they are less likely to be a victim of a tax-related identity theft and other cybercriminal activities.”


The Treasury Department will never:

*Use a phone call or email to ask for personal information.

*Call or email to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, Treasury will first send a bill through the U.S. mail to any taxpayer who owes taxes.

*Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.

*Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.

*Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.//


Cybercriminals often alter caller ID numbers and emails to make it look like the state Treasury Department, the Internal Revenue Service or another official agency is contacting a taxpayer. Scammers may use employee titles, a person’s name, address and other personal information to sound official.


Taxpayers who are contacted by a scammer should immediately cease the call or delete the email.

In 2017, the state Treasury Department’s increased security measures protected more than 4,000 taxpayers who confirmed their identity was stolen and used to request state of Michigan income tax refunds. This prevented more than $16 million from being distributed to scammers.


Taxpayers who get a call or email from a scammer should report the case to the IRS through the web or by calling 800-366-4484. For more on tax-related identity theft, go to



Have you gotten your HPV vaccine yet?

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month and there is a lot both men and women can do to prevent cervical cancer, according to the Barry Eaton District Health Department (BDHD).


HPV (human papilloma virus) is a very common virus that spreads through sexual activity. It’s also a major cause of cervical cancer and can also cause anal cancer, throat cancer and genital warts in both men and women.


About 14 million Americans, including teens, become infected with HPV each year, but many people with HPV don’t know they are infected.

The HPV vaccine for men and women, a series of 2 or 3 shots, can prevent HPV and cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular Pap screening tests and follow up care. 


Most health insurances pay for the HPV vaccine, including Medicaid. If you or your child’s insurance doesn’t cover the vaccines, contact the Barry-Eaton District Health Department at 517-541-2630 for low-cost vaccine options. For more information, visit or visit us on Facebook @BarryEatonHealth.


For women who cannot afford or need assistance in scheduling cervical cancer screening, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Navigation Program may be able to help. For more about the BCCCNP, call toll free 844-446-8727. //


During National Cervical Health Awareness month of January, BEDHD encourages individuals to talk with their health care provider and stay current on cervical cancer screening.

Also, women are urged to get regular Pap tests starting at 21 and all individuals should check to see if they are eligible for the HPV vaccine.


According to the CDC, nationwide, six out of 10 parents are choosing to get the HPV vaccine for their children. In Barry County, 46.9 percent of females are vaccinated and 41.1 percent of males. 

HPV vaccines have been studied very carefully and showed no serious safety concerns, according to the BEDHD.

Common, mild side effects reported include pain in the arm where the shot was given, fever, dizziness and nausea. 


The vaccine is most effective when given at the recommended age of 11-12 years so they are protected before being exposed to the virus; however, it can be given to women up to age 26 and men up to age 21.






Seniors, others, get financial help using Barry County Transit for medical needs in neighboring counties

Barry County seniors and those with disabilities can get financial aid for Barry County Transit fares when they have non-emergency medical needs in neighboring counties, Director Bill Voigt announced Tuesday.


A grant from Area Agency on Aging and Carewell Services will pay the $45 an hour transit fare for trips to Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, Voigt said. The grant does not apply to the reduced $1 to $1.50 fares for seniors.


No financial disclosures or vetting is required, so the use of the funds by seniors is on the honor system. The grant is intended to help only those who truly cannot afford the higher fares.


Using the new program is as simple as calling the transit to arrange it, Voigt said.


The transit provides transportation to seniors and those with disabilities at a 50 percent discount. Coming soon, the transit will offer a Universal Reduced Fare Card to seniors and those with disabilities that lets them ride in transits in neighboring counties, with the discounts they offer, without having to apply at each of the other transits, he  said. The area covered by the universal card includes transits in Ionia, Allegan, Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Kent counties; they will be available soon at the transit office.


Also, Barry County Commissioners recommended approval by the full board of Voigt’s intent to apply for state, federal and local funds for transportation services by the transit for fiscal 2019.

Federal government funding is estimated at $290,879 and estimated state funds of $616,319. Local funds will be $754,945, with total estimated expenses of $1,576, 818, Voigt said.


Voigt will also apply for $1,673,000 in federal and state capital assistance funds to replace 14 eligible buses, although it is not likely that that many replacements will be funded. Replacing buses is done using age of the vehicle, miles driven and percentage of the bus fleet eligible for replacement, he said. Total amounts of all requested grants will be $2,580, 218.



















































"Handle With Care" begins today in Ionia County

The entire law enforcement community, every school district, fire department and EMS in Ionia County are now part of a program called Handle With Care.  

Starting today, children and youth in the county will be “handled with care” in their schools if the child is present at a distressing event that requires intervention from local law enforcement officers and personnel, according to the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office.


Handle With Care provides the school with a “heads up” when a child has been at the scene of a traumatic event such as a house fire, a domestic violence situation, a shooting, an arrest of a family member, a drug raid or a motor vehicle accident, the sheriff’s release said.


Police officers will look around for children when they are on scene and get their name and where they go to school.  Before school starts the next day, they will make sure the school is sent a note that simply says to handle that particular child with care.


“Our children experience traumatic events in their lives and then have to report to school the next day and perform as though nothing happened,” said Sheriff Dale Miller.  “The Handle With Care” program supports the child and schools in protecting their students and helping them be successful in the midst of the everyday chaos and trauma that so many of us experience.” 


The program is designed to help children struggling with the effects of trauma by allowing their teachers just that bit of insight into the child’s previous day to be able to better address issues in the classroom and provide needed support for students experiencing trauma.

If the child needs more extensive help in working through what they saw happen, the school will work with the parents to provide a trauma informed response by counselors, social workers and local mental health providers onsite at the school. //


Michigan State Police Lakeview Post Lieutenant Robert Davis:

 “This program helps bridge a gap between what’s happening in a child’s home life and their time at school, and will give educators context when dealing with behavioral issues.”


Director of Special Education at Ionia Intermediate School District Cindi Geiger: “Nationally, research shows that approximately 60 to 70 percent of our children experience a traumatic event. Of those, 40 to 50 percent are direct victims of two or more acts of violence.

“These traumatic events may result in mild to significant social, emotional, behavioral and learning difficulties. By partnering together to bring awareness when events occur, we will be more proactive in supporting these children and creating better outcomes now and throughout their life span."


Lake Odessa Police Sergeant Brent Listerman: “The Handle With Care Program will guide public safety staff in helping school faculty better understand the behaviors they’ve already detected in their student. This program will be monumental in leading our children to success by ensuring their needs are being met.”


Sheriff  Miller: “Handle with Care is a great opportunity to work together to help Ionia County children be safe and achieve success in school at their highest levels despite any traumatic circumstances they may be experiencing.”




Barry County Sheriff's Office handled 9,027 complaints in 2017

Statistics given by Barry County Dar Leaf in his report to Barry County Commissioners Tuesday showed 2,329 more complaints were handled by uniformed patrol in 2017 than in 2012. Incidents numbered 9,027 last year, versus 6,698 five years ago.


Last December’s monthly figures show of 68 arrests, 19 were felonies, 65 misdemeanors. In 2012, of the 55 arrests, 21 were felonies, 50 misdemeanors. One hundred thirty nine accidents were handled (61 versus deer) this year compared to 108 (64 with deer) in December, 2012. Alcohol arrests were the same at five for both years.


The K-9 unit was called seven times and officers made 56 home checks, assisting the Swift and Sure, Sobriety and Drug Courts. Criminal histories were run for warrant entry and/or requests 382 times.


At the jail, staff booked and processed 249 persons (as opposed to 158 in December, 2013) released 179 (166 in 2013) and held 77 “weekenders.”   Deputies escorted 48 persons to court, processed 150 weekend drug screens to probationers and fingerprinted 94 (44 in 2013).

Inmates were served 7,966 meals at a cost of $1.53 a meal.  No repairs were done in December.


In other business, commissioners approved a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the Command Officers Association of Michigan/Sheriff’s Command Unit representing Barry County Sheriff’s command officers.                                            


Tyden Park Skating Rink is open for aspiring Olympic skaters, and you, too.


Whether you can pull off a double axel with a triple toe loop, or just barely keep your feet under you, there is a rink in Hastings for you to enjoy your ice skating. With the frigid sub-zero temperatures this winter, the Tyden Park Ice Rink in Hastings is open from now until spring, with ice perfect for skating. The rink is available to skaters 24 hours a day.



“The ice is in great shape. There are people down there skating all the time. It’s good to see,” Hastings City Councilman Bill Redman said.


The park doors are closed at 9 p.m. but if it’s a good moonlit night, skaters can park on the hill above the park and walk to the rink in the soccer field area to skate.

The skating rink is a welcome addition to Hastings for area skaters, but Redman, the driving force behind the first rink, has a larger dream, that he and others are now working toward.


Their goal is a 120 foot long, 90 foot wide covered skating rink with four poles on each side, and an accessory building with a warming room, skates to rent, a Zamboni and other equipment ready for skaters in the winter of 2019-2020.


“Very, very” preliminary plans include the rink where the Tyden Park basketball courts are, but that could change, Redman said. In the warm months, the facility will be rented for weddings, reunions, birthday parties and other group activities.“There will be moderate fees to raise enough to pay for maintenance,” Redman said.


“There's a lot of planning and a lot of work ahead of us,” he said of the as-yet unnamed facility. The challenge is even bigger because Redman and his supporters are raising private funds for the project and will not use any taxpayer dollars. Ironically, Redman doesn’t skate, but his grandkids do. Granddaughter Nicole Olsen skates at the park with a brand new pair of skates.












Photos: (upper left) The Tyden Park Skating Rink in use.

(lower left) A concept drawing of the future skating rink.

(photos provided)


Treasury: New tax laws don't affect 2017 tax returns

With the passage of the federal tax laws, the Michigan Department of Treasury reminds taxpayers that the 2017 tax year will not be affected when tax season begins later this month. Taxpayers should file their taxes like they have in previous years when the state treasury department begins accepting 2017 state income tax returns on Jan. 29.


Any changes to tax laws will be experienced during the 2018 tax year and next year’s state income tax filing season. Income tax filing season begins on Jan. 29, tax returns are due April 17. “The new federal tax law does not affect the 2017 tax year,” said Deputy State Treasurer Glenn White, head of Treasury’s Tax Administration Group. “Please continue to file your income tax returns as you have in previous years.”


Taxpayers are encouraged to gather tax-related documents and update their home addresses with current and former employers so W-2s and other financial documents can be mailed to the correct address. Incorrect addresses typically lead to information being mailed to the wrong location and could cause delays when filing tax returns.


When tax season opens, taxpayers can e-file their state tax returns instead of mailing a paper return. To learn more, go to Later this month, forms and instructions may be viewed and downloaded from


In addition, commonly used forms will continue to be available at Treasury offices, most public libraries, northern Michigan post offices and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services county offices.


All state income tax returns must be e-filed or postmarked by April 17, 2018. For the benefit and convenience of taxpayers, both the beginning and end of the state income tax filing season are the same as the Internal Revenue Service. To learn more about the state of Michigan’s state income tax, go to Federal tax information is available at




Mayor says 2017 was a "great" year for Hastings, 2018 will be"fantastic"

In the annual report of the State of the City, Hastings Mayor David Tossava painted a picture of a vibrant city with city employees, volunteers and generous donors striving to make Hastings a special place to live by creating events and an atmosphere for its residents that also attracts more visitors to the city.


Tossava highlighted several things that makes Hastings unique before, during and beyond 2017.

The Barry Roubaix bicycle race, that had 3,000 entrants; the annual Jazz Festival featuring 4,000 students from 70 schools treating 10,000 people to music all over the city for three days in April, and Hastings Live! hosting 50 entertainment performances and events at three locations to 8,000 people were some at the top of his list.


“This isn’t just local people attending; it’s people from all over the state.  Every one of these events was free to attend,” he said.


Tossava noted that thanks to its staff, the city had another successful audit this year. “The State of the City isn’t just about it financial status, it’s also about quality of life for its residents. It is our responsibility to attract new business and housing opportunities for our residents and city officials will continue to do this.


“It is fitting that our city logo says, ‘We treasure the old and progress with new.’  We will cherish our past and embrace our future! The state of the city is great and 2018 will be fantastic,” he predicted. //


Tossava highlighted some other notable events in 2017. The Veteran’s Memorial was dedicated before a huge crowd at the Veterans Plaza after the Memorial Day Parade.  “I am very proud of the donations of money and labor that were given to complete this project to honor our veterans,” he  said.  Another successful Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament attracted 200 teams and hundreds of supporters, Jingle and Mingle’s Christmas Parade drew 6,000 people to view the 70 parade entries.


The police department sponsored National Night Out in August, with Barry County law enforcement, fire departments, EMS and first responders gathered to meet and greet thousands of people from the communities they serve. HPD graduated the third Hastings Police Cadet class and held a Cops vs. Teachers basketball game fundraiser for Star Elementary student Leo Loeks.


It took just 22 minutes for police cadets, reserves, ambassadors and officers to pump $400 worth of gas from donated gas cards to customers at the Green Street Shell Station just before Christmas; they also distributed 20 turkey dinners for families in need at Christmas.


All of the events held in Hastings take a lot of work by volunteers and staff that help coordinate events along with their regular duties, he said. The biggest is the Barry-Roubaix, with meetings to set up race routes, street closures, detours and to assign areas for volunteers to help direct traffic.  The average race day starts at 4 a.m.


The police department, the Michigan Department of Transportation, and the Hastings Department of Public Works coordinate all their efforts to make sure the race runs smoothly and the public is kept safe. After the race, everything has to be taken down, removed and taken care of.  The day usually ends around 5 p.m. 


“Without the leadership of Jim James and the dedication of his crew at the Department of Public Works and their coordination with other departments, none of these events would have been successful.  Our hats are off to Jim and his crew,” Tossava said.


Looking ahead, Tossava said in 2018, the Safe Routes to School sidewalk construction will begin and more marking of bicycle lanes on city streets will be done in the second phase of the Bicycle Master Plan.  Improving the infrastructure, sidewalks, roads, water and sewer will continue, with improvements to city parks a priority in 2018.


Three departments, police, fire, and the DPW, are responsible for Hastings residents safety 24 hours a day, seven days a week, he said.








Record High Temp

The Hastings Climatological Weather Station set two new record high temperatures for Thursday

01-11-2018 The first occured at 5:47 am when the temperature reached 52 degrees breaking the old record of 51 degrees set this same day in 1981.  The second record breaking themperature occured at  12:28 pm when the temperature reached 57 degrees.


Dollar General issues voluntary recall of Clover Valley® Iced Oatmeal Cookies

Dollar General Corporation has announced a voluntary recall of its 12-ounce packages of Clover Valley® Iced Oatmeal Cookies with lot # L46217 30 with a best-by date of Aug. 18, 2018 over concerns of undeclared milk and tree nuts, according to a news release from the Michigan Agriculture and Rural Development Department.


Consumers with a milk and/or nut allergy or sensitivity to these items should not consume these products due to a possible health risk or serious allergic reaction.  No illnesses or reactions have been reported at this time


Dollar General initially learned of a potential issue based upon information received from a store level employee. The Company promptly contacted the product’s manufacturer who confirmed a production facility labeling error in which Clover Valley® Coconut Macaroons were inadvertently placed in Clover Valley® Iced Oatmeal Cookie packaging.


Dollar General then contacted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to initiate the voluntary product recall. The affected product package image is below:

12-Ounce Clover Valley® Iced Oatmeal Cookies Package UPC: 0 86106 03201 5 
SKU: 14878301 
Lot: L46217 30 
Best by Date: 08/18/18


Milk and nut allergens present in the Clover Valley® Coconut Macaroon Cookies, which are not disclosed on the Clover Valley® Iced Oatmeal Cookie packaging, may pose a health risk to consumers if consumed.


Customers are encouraged to discard the product or return to their local Dollar General store to exchange the product for a like item. Those with questions can  contact Dollar General’s Customer Service Department at 1-800-678-9258 seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST or by emailing


Dollar General is working in partnership with the product manufacturer and the FDA to fully investigate the matter and comply with all necessary recall procedures as well as  taking the necessary steps to address the issue and apologize for any inconvenience caused by the issue.



Superintendent's Platform

WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight activities in their districts. This post is from Richard Franklin, superintendent of Barry Intermediate School District.

Recognition for Hastings, Delton, and Barry ISD School Board Members:


“As citizen leaders, individual school board members face complex and demanding challenges. They are alternately described as having the most important volunteer jobs in the country and facing the toughest challenge in elected American government. Yet school board members are just ordinary citizens with extraordinary dedication to our nation’s public schools.


All Michigan citizens should recognize the vital contributions of these men and women and the crucial role they play in the education of our children. Public education is the backbone of American society, and local school boards are deeply rooted in U.S. tradition. It’s the foundation on which our democracy was built. Today local school boards continue to do the most important work of their communities—that of educating our youth.


Their job is to establish a vision for the education program, design a structure to achieve that vision, ensure schools are accountable to the community and strongly advocate for continuous improvement in student learning. The job of a school board member is tough, the hours long and the thanks few and far between. Too often we’re quick to criticize school board members without really understanding the complex nature of their decisions.


Now’s the time to thank them for their untiring efforts.

School board members come from a variety of backgrounds, yet they share a common goal—helping students achieve in school and life. As a state, Michigan has faced many challenges, but the key to a brighter future is a strong public education system. We often forget about the personal sacrifices school board members make.


Board members contribute hundreds and hundreds of hours each year leading their districts. The time spent in board meetings represents just a small fraction of the hours school board members spend leading their districts. Collectively, they spend more than 7,500 hours on professional development to keep abreast of the latest trends in educational leadership, are deeply involved in community activities and spend many hours at extracurricular events.


They continually advocate for the children of our state, and in the past year school board members made more than 1,100 passionate pleas to legislators, speaking out against budget cuts and pushing for smart reforms. The month of January marks the annual observance of School Board Recognition Month.


This is a time to show our appreciation and begin to better understand how local trustees work together to prepare today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders. In January, please join with me to salute the men and women in Hastings Area Schools, Delton Kellogg Schools, and Barry ISD who provide grassroots governance of our public schools.”


Hastings City Council workshops go in-depth on city government

Hastings City Council members have added another meeting to their schedules of regular meetings and special meetings on budgets and on other topics; workshops to learn more about the workings of city government that effect their roles as stewards of the city.


Credit definitely goes to Councilman Don Smith and Mayor David Tossava for suggesting the meetings to make sure the council is well educated and informed on various topics, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.


“I applaud the council’s willingness to take the time to attend the sessions and become more fully informed. A full understanding of issues by all involved leads to an improved decision making process and better outcomes,” he said.


The meetings always open to the public, are at 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month, followed at 7 p.m. by the first monthly council meeting. The council has had three sessions so far. Last November’s meeting was a general review of the city’s annual budget, audit and financial reports and a discussion of “fund accounting” facilitated by Mansfield.


In December, the council learned more about winter season maintenance activities from Department Public Services Director Lee Hays and Superintendent of Streets and Construction Jim James.


The Jan. 8 workshop was on the current strategic vision for the clerk/treasurer/finance and Community Development Departments, as Clerk/Treasurer Dan King and Community Development Director Jerry Czarnecki switched positions. Mansfield and King explained the transition of King to community development director and Czarnecki to clerk/treasurer. Czarnecki was not available for the meeting due to a family emergency.


“We have not yet landed on a topic for February, but we have a couple in mind at this point,” Mansfield said. 



Hastings City Council commits to keeping popular dog park open

The agreement between the City of Hastings and the Hastings Dog Park Companions to maintain the city’s only dog park ends Jan. 16. The city has been providing maintenance for the park for some time; the council agreed unanimously Monday to keep the park open after the termination.


City Manager Jeff Mansfield said he and city Attorney Stephanie Fekkes are talking to a Companion representative about the transfer of equipment that was donated or purchased for the park. The Companions intend to develop another dog park in the city later this year, and wants to take the materials that were donated to the dog park, or bought with money donated to them, to the new park, he said.


Mansfield said they need the donors to contact the city to identify which items were donated to the park and which were given to the committee. “We need the donor’s intent to get a better understanding of what is specific to the dog park or to the committee."

They will follow the donor’s intent in the disposition of the equipment, and possibly buy some items from the Companions.


Fekkes asked that donors, “put their intent in writing; we both want to honor donor’s wishes.” The majority, if not all of the larger items, will stay with the park, she said.


Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange thought that many people interested in helping with the dog park, “stepped back to let the Hastings Dog Park Companions run its course.” She predicted they would come forward as the city determines how they will run the park in the future.


An oversight committee or an advisory board like they have for Riverside Cemetery will be considered. “There will be other decisions down the road,” Mansfield said. “We’ll look at options we can address later.”  For now, nothing is being moved. The dog park is open and will stay open, he said.



Speakers at public hearing like Hastings' revised dog ordinance

The Hastings City Council held a public hearing Monday to take public comments on a revised dog ordinance involving pit bull dogs.


Four people spoke during the public hearing, several more during public comment, and three letters were sent to the council, all supporting the revised ordinance that removed any mention of the specific breeds of pit bulls as dangerous dogs, changed to define dangerous actions by any dog. Several thanked the council for its attention to their comments and its work to change the ordinance.


The council had several options; leave the ordinance as it is; schedule a first reading of the ordinance, send the ordinance back to the police chief and attorney for further revisions, or take more time to consider the next steps.


They opted to send the ordinance back to Police Chief Jeff Pratt and Attorney Stephanie Fekkes to include two language changes. Councilwoman Theresa Maupin-Moore asked for clarification on working dogs, such as law enforcement K-9s and Councilman Don Smith asked that if a dog harmed a person or another animal, the owner must buy insurance with a certificate of insurance going to the city to assure they continue to have coverage.


The motion made by Brenda McNabb-Stange called for the revisions and a first reading of the ordinance at the next meeting, which triggers a second reading at the following meeting and action by the council.


The meeting was quiet in contrast to previous city council meetings during discussions by strong advocates for pit bulls and mixed pit bull breeds, and those as just as adamantly opposed to them.

While speakers were unanimous in their support of the breed Monday, some on the council had reservations.


Councilman Don Bowers told of deaths of humans and animals by pit bulls and told supporters, “You ignore the other point of view that say it is a problem,” cautioning they should recognize the other side of the argument. Councilman Bill Cusack pointed out pit bulls have killed people in other parts of the country, but also as close as Kalamazoo. “People should be aware of these things so close to home.”


Mayor Dave Tossava said the council is responsible for the safety of citizens and his concern was that an ordinance has “teeth” for enforcement.


Asked for statistics, Pratt said in the city between 2011 and 2015, 48.5 percent of dog bites were by pit bulls; in 2016-2017, the number was 46.5 percent.


Councilman John Resseguie said the ordinance change could, “come back to bite us… if your dog bites someone, just remember, you wanted this new ordinance.”




Hastings organizational meeting goes smoothly

The Hastings City Council held its annual organizational meeting Monday, approving the rules that govern the staff and procedures that affect the city every day.

In short, it’s approving the rules that cover the business of doing business.


The list of approvals by the council includes:

Regular council meetings will be the second and fourth Monday of the month at 7 p.m., except for accommodations for some holidays that fall on Mondays.  Roberts Rules of Order was adopted for council meetings,


Bill Redman re-elected mayor pro-tem, and the Barry Eaton District Health Department was approved as its health officer. Jeff Mansfield will remain as city manager and Stephanie Fekkes, and Varnum Attorneys at Law as city attorney. Mansfield’s salary is $94,056, the same as last year. Fekkes will receive a retainer of $14,500 a year, the same as last year, and $200 an hour for general legal advice and $250 an hour for negotiations, financial and tax matters, up about $15 from last year.


A list of city officials offered by Mansfield and Mayor David Tossava were approved for 2018. They are:

Jeff Pratt, deputy city manager/police chief/emergency management coordinator,

Roger Caris, fire chief/fire marshal/ADA coordinator,

Jerry Czarnecki, clerk/treasurer/finance director,

Dan King, community development director,

Jackie Timmerman, city assessor,

Lee Hays, director of public services and,

Mansfield, zoning administrator.


Annual salaries for the council, the same as last year, are mayor, $7,800; mayor pro-tem, $2,500; council member, $2,300 and board of review members, $115 per meeting.


Eligible depositories for city funds with no additions or deletions from last year are: CIBC (Formerly The Private Bank), Birmingham; Chemical Bank, Midland, (Hastings);  Comerica Bank, Detroit;  Commercial Bank, Alma (Hastings);  Flagstar Bank, Troy;  Hastings City Bank, Hastings; Horizon Bank(Formerly Wolverine Bank), Grand Rapids;  Huntington National Bank, Grand Rapids;  Macatawa Bank, Holland;  Mercantile Bank, Grand Rapids and Union Bank, Hastings, all in Michigan.


The Michigan CLASS Investment Pool/Grand Haven was designated an approved depository as an intergovernmental pool, and  Comerica Securities, Detroit;  Huntington Investment Company, Grand Rapids; and Michigan Vining Sparks, Memphis, Tennessee were approved as security broker/dealers to advise and assist Czarnecki.


Meeting dates and times for various city commissions, committees and boards, its members and lengths of terms, were also approved. Details are available on the city’s website, in the city council’s Jan. 8 packet.



UPDATE: Deaths on I-96 in Ionia County were apparent murder/suicide

UPDATE: The Ionia County Sheriff's Office has issued the following update on the deaths on I-96 last night:


Further investigation at the scene determined that this was a case of an apparent murder/suicide.  The decedents are identified as David Somers, 51, and Lisa Somers, 51, both of Kaleva, MI.  Both died of gunshot wounds at the scene.  A loaded shotgun was found at the scene directly underneath David Somers body. 


The living victim found in the car by police is identified as Amedy Dewey, 18, also of Kaleva, the daughter of Lisa Somers.  Dewey was treated at the scene by Life EMS and the Saranac Fire Department before being transported by ambulance to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids.  Dewey remains in critical, but stable condition at this time.


The Michigan State Police Lakeview Post assisted at the scene, and also helped close a portion of eastbound I-96 near mile marker 59 as sheriff’s detectives investigated the shooting and collected evidence.  The highway reopened at 1:40 a.m. 


There is no clear motive at this time of what prompted this homicide, and sheriff’s detectives will continue to investigate the case.  More information may be released in the future as it becomes available. 


oRIGINAL STORY: The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a double homicide discovered when a deputy was dispatched to a motorist assist on I-96 near Nash Highway in Boston Township about 9:38 p.m. Saturday night.


A sheriff’s news release said the deputy arrived at the scene and found two deceased individuals off the roadway, and a third person still alive inside a vehicle with an apparent gunshot wound. The deputy rendered aid to the victim in the vehicle until other officers and first responders arrived.


Two persons were pronounced dead at the scene; the third was transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital and is in critical condition.  No names or genders have been released.

The  release said the sheriff’s office is conducting a homicide investigation and there is no danger to the public.


Eaton County confirms hepatitis A case linked to Southeast Michigan outbreak

Based on Jan. 5 laboratory results, the Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) has confirmed that the hepatitis A case reported in December of 2017 is linked to the statewide Southeast Michigan hepatitis A outbreak, the first case of the disease in the county linked to the outbreak.


A second case of hepatitis, confirmed on Jan. 5, will have additional lab testing to confirm or disprove if it is related to the outbreak. The person is not considered at high risk of spreading the disease and is undergoing appropriate treatment.


Hepatitis A is vaccine preventable. The best ways to help prevent infection is getting vaccinated and practicing good hand hygiene. The vaccine is recommended in routine childhood vaccinations; however, most adults have not been vaccinated.


 “We recommend that everyone be vaccinated against Hepatitis A,” said Colette Scrimger, BEDHD’s health officer. “Outside of vaccination, handwashing is the most important step that everyone can take to protect themselves.”  Individuals should always wash their hands after going to the bathroom or changing diapers and before eating or preparing meals for themselves and others.


Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease often spread by consuming food or water contaminated with infected feces or by oral contact with contaminated objects. Transmission can occur easily among people who live together and between sexual partners. Homelessness, use of transient housing, illicit drug use, incarceration and men who have sex with men and sex workers and their clients are at a higher risk for getting the disease.//


Hepatitis A generally occurs two to six weeks after exposure to the virus and can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting several months. Symptoms include fatigue, abdominal pain, yellow skin (jaundice), dark urine, and pale stool. Some people have no symptoms. 


Anyone who believes they have been exposed to hepatitis A or has symptoms should contact their healthcare provider immediately. Those who want to be vaccinated should contact their healthcare provider or BEDHD’s Eaton County office at (517) 541-2630.


As of Jan. 5, 630 other individuals in the state have had the illness linked to the outbreak; 82 percent of ill individuals have been hospitalized and 20 deaths have been reported, with the majority of the cases in metro Detroit. For more information, visit

For more about the Southeast Michigan outbreak, visit



Record Low Temp Hastings

The Hastings National Weather Service Climatological Station recorded a new record low temperature

for this January 6th.  At 7- am the temperature was minus 12. 

The old record was minus 9 on this day in 1924.


Barry County Commissioners hear the public

The Barry County Commission offers the public a chance to speak at the beginning and end of each meeting; to state their opinions, ask questions, make suggestions, even issue invitations. Tuesday’s meeting had all four.


Sharon Zebrowski, Charlton Park Board chair, asked commissioners when the empty seats on the board would be filled. There were supposed to be ads out for the positions two weeks ago and it has not been done, she said. “We’re getting questions now…we have to make decisions. We’ll get started...see what you can do about getting us more members.”  


Jim Dull, drain commissioner and former commissioner, suggested commissioners change the rule allowing chairpersons to hold the position for one year instead of the present two years. Incoming commissioners don’t know anything, he said, but after a year, they have a handle on the job and the board as well.

“I’d like this board to look at reversing it back to one year. If they do well, they will be reelected; if not, they won’t be reelected.”  


Bob Vanderboegh gave his opinion on the ongoing negotiations by the Barry Eaton District Health Department’s Health Board to make the TOST regulation voluntary instead of mandatory.

“It is apparent they are only interested in shuffling the cards and continue the tail wagging the dog…certainly, they put a lot of effort into changing the words without changing the meaning," he said.

On the partnership with BEDHD, he said it appears Barry County is not respected as such when a resolution unanimously supporting a voluntary TOST by the Barry County Commission is not honored.  “We are not little brother, so why do we continue the partnership?”


Patricia Johns, member of the Parks & Recreation board, invited commissioners to offer their suggestions for what they would like to see in the future of the county’s  recreation program as the board develops its next five-year recreation plan.



DNR offers special winter hunting, fishing programs

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced programs that may interest area deer and turkey hunters and anglers.

Hunters in several townships in Ionia County will have an additional firearm only deer hunt Jan. 11-14. Hunters are required to submit the head of harvested deer within 72 hours for disease testing. The hunt includes Easton, Ionia, Keene, Lyons, North Plains, Orleans, Otisco and Ronald townships in Ionia County.

Go to for a list of available check stations and self-service drop boxes. For details on licenses, visit Michigan Hunting and Trapping Digest.


During the 2018 Winter Free Fishing weekend, Saturday and Sunday, February 17-18, residents and nonresidents can fish without a license, and the weekend includes free entry into Michigan’s 103 state parks and recreation areas. The event promotes awareness of the state’s vast water resources. Many locations will host weekend events for the whole family. For a full list of events, visit


For turkey hunters, the 2018 spring turkey hunting applications can be purchased from now through Feb.11. Licenses are available on line at E-license or wherever hunting licenses are sold. The spring turkey hunt runs from April 23 through May 31, with several hunting periods to choose from.

For details on spring turkey hunting, visit


Barry Central Dispatch Director's Last Day

Friday was Barry Central Dispatch Director Phyllis Fullers' last day at Barry Central Dispatch.

Fuller joined Central Dispatch as a telecommunicator 25 years ago. 

Fuller was honored in December at a Barry County Commissioners meeting recognizing her contribution to the county and its residents.


Man dies in Wayland Township mobile home fire

A man who died in a mobile home fire in Rabbit River Estates, believed to be 44 years old, has not been officially identified, according to Wayland Fire Chief Joe Miller.


Miller said the structure was well involved when they arrived at the scene in the 3400 block of Dale Drive Tuesday at 9:40 a.m. The fire started in the living room/kitchen area, but what caused it is undetermined, Miller said.


The man was found in the kitchen area in a room by room search. “We knocked it down pretty fast, about an hour,” he said. Investigators are working to find the cause of the fire.



Hastings City Bank Offers Education Scholarship

Hastings City Bank has developed a scholarship program to award a high school senior accepted into a post-secondary education program in finance and a finance related field.


The amount is $1,000 dollars per year up to four years.

Requirements for scholarship consideration include the applicant must be a full-time student, a Michigan resident and attend a Michigan or out of state community college or University providing a certificate, two year or four year degree.

The degree must be finance-related; business administration, economic, and accounting.

The student must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3-point zero or better.

Applications must be received by Friday April 13, 2018.


Participating schools include:

Hastings area Schools

Maple Valley Schools

Thornapple Kellogg Schools

Bellevue Community Schools

Caledonia Community Schools

Marshall Public Schools

Wayland Union Schools


Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender


Area health departments give out free Radon test kits in January

The Barry Eaton District Health Department and the Ionia County Health Department are giving away free radon testing kits during January, Radon Action Month. During the month, the easy, do-it-yourself radon test kits are available first come, first served to Barry and Eaton County residents. There is a one kit per address and supplies are limited.


The Ionia Department asks for the donation of a non-perishable food item in return for a kit.

Kits are available at the BEDHD, 330 West Woodlawn Avenue, Hastings and 1033 Healthcare Drive in Charlotte, or at Delta Township Hall (assessing department), 7710 West Saginaw Highway, Lansing.


Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas found naturally in the environment. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers, and the second leading cause of lung cancer overall. It is released from rock or soil and may seep into homes through the foundation, cracks in floors and walls, or gaps around service pipes.


A high level of radon in a home increases the risk of exposure to radiation which increases the risk for lung cancer—it is the second leading cause of lung cancer (smoking is the first), but it is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.


It is very important for residents to know their home’s radon level and to take action to lower it if it’s too high. Testing your home is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk since there are no warning signs or symptoms of exposure. The EPA recommended action level (4 pCi/L). The EPA estimates one out of 15 homes in the US has elevated radon levels.  Radon-related lung cancer is preventable, but you can reduce the risk.


For more information about radon call Hastings, 269-845-9516, visit or call Charlotte, 517-541-2615.

In Ionia County, call the health department at 616- 527-5341.



Snow Update

The seasonal snow total for Hastings to date as recorded by the Hastings National Weather Service Climatological Station is 31.8 inches. No snow in October  or November 2017. For December 2017 29.5 inches. January 2018  2.2 inch to date.


Thornapple Manor celebrates 60 years of service to Barry County, looks forward to 60 more

The front lobby and hallway of Thornapple Manor was crowded with well-wishers Tuesday as Administrator Don Haney unveiled the logo that celebrates the county assisted living facility’s 60th anniversary. Residents, members of the public and state, city and county officials heard Haney share the history of the facility that dates back to the 1830’s as the County Poor Farm.


“Thornappple Manor has experienced many changes from 1958 to today,” Haney said. “Through all those changes, one thing has remained consistent and that is our commitment to care for those in our community who need our services regardless of their ability to pay.


“The staff, from day one to today, provides compassion, love and support while caring for the emotional social and medical needs of our residents. “Our staff today certainly embodies those qualities and it is an honor and privilege to work with such an amazing team.”//


Around the turn of the century, a building to care for those with tuberculosis was built, called the Thornapple Valley Home, Haney said. In 1954 that building was found to be unfit for occupancy.

A millage was passed in1956, construction began in 1957 and in May of 1958, the first resident moved into the Thornapple Valley Home and Medical Care Facility.


In a 1986 addition and renovation project, residents voted to change the name to Thornapple Manor. In June 2006, an expansion and renovation project that ended in August of 2009, doubled the footprint of the building by creating private rooms and more gathering spaces throughout the building. The Cottage was added in July of 2013 to care for those with dementia.


“Today, we unveil our 60th anniversary logo to celebrate the history of our contribution to Barry County. We do so with our eye toward the rapidly changing world of healthcare and in a position to provide another 60 years of service to the Barry County community,” Haney concluded. Thornapple Manor residents and guests were offered a slice of the 60th anniversary cake and punch.











Photo: Thornapple Manor Administrator Don Haney with the 60th anniversary logo.



Barry County Commission approves organization rules with split vote

The board rules covering county operations were approved by commissioners Tuesday on a split vote after rewording of one amendment. The organization rules cover commission meetings, officer elections, board successions, open meetings, quorums, rules of general conduct and procedures, reimbursement for expenditures, mileage, board committees and administration.


Commissioner Ben Geiger, commission chair,  said there were no large changes to the rules this year, offering “small tweaks on the way we do business.”

Commissioner Vivian Conner objected to a proposal to allow the chair to postpone a commissioner’s committee of the whole agenda request for two committee meetings.

She said his request was too controlling, the issue of delaying an agenda item has never been a problem. “Things come up all the time…so why delay it?”


Geiger said it is his responsibility to set the agenda, with advice from Administrator Michael Brown, to space out items to prevent three-hour meetings and the change would give him more flexibility. Also, he said the chair has the ability to say no to an agenda request. “With this, the chair can only postpone it…I wouldn’t delay something that needed to be approved,” he said.


Commissioner Heather Wing said she tended to agree with Conner, that  it was too restrictive for them, “that things do come up” and they needed flexibility “when time is of the essence,” to respond to grants, meeting deadlines, and, “things that need to be done this week.”


Commissioners Jon Smelker, Dan Parker and Howard “Hoot” Gibson had questions on the wording. Smelker asked how long the two committee of the whole meetings would delay an item and was told about a month. Commissioner David Jackson said if they changed the language, he could support it.

During a five minute break the language was changed to read:


Before: Any Commissioner may place an item on a future Committee of the Whole agenda. 

After: Any Commissioner may place an item on a future Committee of the Whole agenda. The Chairperson may postpone such items for not more than two (2) Committee meetings, or until the last Committee meeting of the term, whichever is sooner. The Chairperson shall not postpone requests if postponement would result in failure to meet deadlines related to the request, or result in serious financial consequences for the county government. //



The vote for the amended rules was 5-2, with Conner and Gibson voting “no.” Gibson said in his 16 years on the commission delaying an item had never come up and he saw no reason to change it. “We are all commissioners. We’re peers,” Conner said. “I don’t know why you are doing this


The other changes to the rules are:

*Add “Report from State and County Officers” to the board agenda; remove “Legislative Update.”

*Clarify that special mileage reimbursements are allowed only if approved by the committee of the whole or board of commissioners or if the chair requests they represent the commission at an official meeting or event.


Also, the committee of the whole meetings are typically the first and third Tuesdays of the month and regular board meetings the second and fourth Tuesdays. Both are at 9 a.m. in the Mezzanine in the Barry County Courthouse.  The Aug. 21 committee of the whole was moved to Aug. 22; the Dec. 25 regular board meeting was moved to the Dec. 16 committee of the whole meeting of at 4 p.m., and the March 27 regular board meeting was moved to March 26. The meetings were moved for a holiday or state events like Michigan Association of Counties meetings.


Geiger issued a statement later: "I’m pleased the board approved some common-sense tweaks to our bylaws. Today’s action ensures any commissioner can bring an issue to the board, while giving me flexibility to set the agenda in a smart, effective manner."


And, appointments of commissioners as liaison on 38 various committees, boards and authorities are made by the chair. This year’s list of appointments is the same as last year’s, Geiger said.

The first committee of the whole meeting in 2018 followed with one agenda item, a resolution approving a tentative two-year collective bargaining agreement with the Command Officers Association of Michigan/Barry County Sheriff’s Office Command Officers Unit.


Details were given by Brown: “Two percent wage increase in 2018, 2019 and 2020, plus differential increase for sergeants and sergeant detective (positions) in 2018 to 10 percent, in 2019 to 11 percent, and in 2020 to 12 percent above road deputy. and differential increase for lieutenant’s (position) in 2018 to 2.5 percent, 2019 to 3.5 percent, and 2020 to 4.5 percent above sergeant’s (position).”




Fun In The Snow

Pictures of Saturday's Cabin Fever CX & Fat Bike Event at Fish Hatchery Park

in Hastings. 
































The Event went from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Photos Courtesy of Mark Anderson.


Welcome to Barry County's newest citizen, Reid Michael Wallace

Amy and Ryan Wallace of Hastings are the parents of Barry County’s New Year’s baby.

The first baby born in the county in 2018, Reid Michael Wallace, 9 pounds, 4 ounces made his debut at 1:33 p.m. January 1 at Spectrum Health Pennock.


Mom says the baby boy is “awesome” and dad is “pretty excited.” Reid is the couple’s second child; he has an older sister Avery, who will be two and a half the last of this month.  


Amy’s due date was Jan. 10.  Reid was born by C-section, so she will be in the hospital at least a few days. The couple both work in Kalamazoo.


Congratulations from WBCH to the new mom and dad.


Possible attempted Carlton Township break-in still being investigated

Barry County Sheriff’s deputies continue to investigate a suspicious situation from Dec. 29 in Carlton Township.

Sheriff Dar Leaf said it was reported that three white men, thought to be in their 20’s, came to rear of a residence on Farrel Road off M-43 and entered the back area through a slider.


Leaf said it was a suspicious situation; the suspects may have attempted entry. One of the men wore a safety vest with Wolverine on his shirt; deputies checked with officials from Wolverine Water Company who said their employees do not wear safety vests and none were in that area. Also the white Dodge the men were in didn’t match the description of their vehicles.


As a precaution, Leaf put an alert on the department’s Facebook page, reminding residents to keep their doors and windows locked and be aware of any suspicious vehicles.

If they see such a vehicle, they should call 911 and try to get a number or photo of the license plate with their cell phones, but only if is safe for them to do so, he said.



MPSC orders utilities to report on savings from new federal tax law

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) on Dec. 27 ordered all rate-regulated utilities to report to the commission on the impact passage of the new federal tax law will have on their customers. The new law, signed by President Donald Trump on Dec. 22, is expected to reduce the amount utilities will pay in federal taxes.


Utilities have until Jan. 19 to file their comments with the Commission (Case No. U-18494) on how they propose to return savings to ratepayers. Other interested parties will have until Feb. 2 to respond to utility proposals.


The special meeting was called to make sure the savings are calculated from the effective day of the federal legislation, which is Jan. 1, 2018, Commission Chairman Sally Talberg said.


The commission will then determine how and when the savings will flow back to ratepayers.


“While regulatory accounting isn’t always the most headline-grabbing topic, the guidance the Commission is providing in today’s order is important because it maximizes our future options as we sort through the totality of impacts the new federal tax law will have when it takes effect Jan. 1,” Commissioner Rachael Eubanks said.


“The information we receive in this docket will be incredibly useful in understanding the magnitude of the expected reduction in federal taxes that the utilities pay, which is likely to be significant. It will also provide broader input regarding the appropriate avenue for how to extend benefits to customers.”


The order applies to Alpena Power Co.; Consumers Energy Co.; Detroit Thermal, LLC; DTE Electric Co.; DTE Gas Co.; Indiana Michigan Power Co.; Northern States Power Co.; Upper Peninsula Power Co.; Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp.; Wisconsin Electric Power Co.; Presque Isle Electric and Gas Co-Op; Michigan Gas Utilities Corp.; and SEMCO Energy Gas Co.




Gun Lake Tribe donates $5,000 to Safe Harbor

The Gun Lake Tribe has announced a $5,000 donation to Allegan-based Safe Harbor Children’s Advocacy Center.

“The Tribe and its citizens are very pleased to help further the cause of charitable organizations during this holiday season,” said, Senior Director John Shagonaby.  “Groups like Safe Harbor are a real blessing to our community so we’re happy to assist them with this donation.”


“On behalf of Safe Harbor, we want to give a big thanks to the Gun Lake Tribe for this generous donation,” said Executive Director Lori Antkoviak.  “As a non-profit organization we depend on donations to carry out our mission of protecting children and educating the public about the community-wide impacts of child abuse.”


The tribe also awarded a $10,000 donation to the National Indian Child Welfare Association and $5,000 to the Native American Rights Fund. The donations were made through a legal agreement to put unclaimed or forfeited funds left at the Gun Lake Casino into a special account to go to non-profit organizations or charities that the tribe selects.


Last fall, when the tribe announced the details of its fall revenue sharing payments, they noted it was a very special distribution because of the significant increase in revenues due to the recent expansion, and because they surpassed the $100 million milestone.



Pure Michigan $5 Hunt license deadline is Dec. 31

Time is running out to buy your Pure Michigan Hunt applications! Buy $5 Pure Michigan Hunt applications anywhere hunting licenses are sold or buy online at e-License. There is no limit to the number of applications you can purchase, but the deadline is Dec. 31, 2017.


Don’t miss out on your chance to win once-in-a-lifetime hunting opportunities and more than $4,000 in prizes from Michigan-based businesses. And remember, Pure Michigan Hunt winners can transfer one or all of their licenses to another eligible hunter.


The Pure Michigan Hunt licenses will be valid for the 2018 hunting season. Visit to learn more, to apply and to view the entire hunter’s prize package donated by Michigan organizations and businesses.



Dispose of or recycle your Christmas Tree

If you are a Hastings resident with a Christmas tree to dispose of, Public Service Department Director Lee Hays said the State Road site will remain open through Jan. 12, 2018 for Christmas tree drop-off. 

Hours for the site are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.;

Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.


No matter where you live you can recycle the trees, but first there is a best way to get the tree out of the house. To avoid a mess, place a plastic tree bag, available at hardware stores, underneath the stand when you set the tree up, or when you remove it, if necessary. When the holidays are over, pull the bag up around the tree, stand and all, and carry it outside. Remove the stand before recycling the tree, of course. If some needles do scatter inside, it is better to sweep them up; needles can clog vacuum cleaners.


Some suggestions for recycling from the National Christmas Tree Association:

* Sink them in private fish ponds for an excellent refuge and feeding area for fish.


* Set the tree in the garden or backyard as a bird feeder and sanctuary. Fresh orange slices or strung popcorn will attract birds and they can sit on the branches for shelter. Be sure to remove all hooks, garlands and tinsel strands. Within a year, the branches will become brittle and you can break the tree apart by hand or chip it in the chipper.


* If there is a wildlife rehabilitation site nearby, the trees will provide cover for birds, chipmunks, raccoons and other small wild animals, protecting them from predators as well as shielding them in harsh weather.

* Christmas trees are biodegradable, so you can remove the branches, chip them and use as mulch in the garden.  


* Some communities use shredded trees as a free, renewable and natural path material that fits both the environment and the needs of hikers.



Residents urged to take extra precautions with extreme cold

As the cold reaches down into Michigan this week wind chills are dropping down into the -20’s. Residents should take extra precautions over the coming days to ensure they are prepared for and protected from this cold snap.


What follows is an alert from the Ionia County Health Department: It is important to be aware of any changes in exposed skin during cold weather periods. Frostbite and hypothermia are very serious conditions that can be lessened by early recognition and treatment. Shivering can be a good indicator that it’s time to go in, as it is the first sign that the body is losing heat.


"If you are going to be doing outdoor activities for an extended period of time it is vital to be observant for signs of frostbite. These include numbness, and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If you think you have frostbite you should go indoors immediately and submerse the extremity in warm (not hot) water for 20-30 minutes until sensation returns. If it does not return in that time you should call your doctor,” Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Chad Shaw said.


While inside, monitor the indoor temperature carefully. Because they lose body heat much faster than adults, infants should never sleep in a cold room. It is also necessary for older adults to take extra home heating precautions, as they tend to have slower metabolisms and so make and retain less heat than other adults.


If you are caring for an infant or senior citizen, be sure to frequently check that their homes are adequately heated. If heating is not at a safe level, making alternative housing arrangements is recommended. When the weather is extremely cold, and especially if there are high winds, try to stay indoors. Making trips outside as brief as possible can help to reduce the potential dangers associated with cold weather.//


To remain healthy and safe this winter, please follow these cold-weather tips while outdoors:


?Dress warmly and stay dry: Be sure to dress in layers in wind resistant clothing. Wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers will hold more body heat than cotton. If your clothing is wet, go inside as soon as possible. When inside, remove the wet clothing as soon as possible.

?Avoid exertion: Cold weather can put extra strain on the heart. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s advice about shoveling snow or other hard work in the cold. The body is already working hard to stay warm, so extra work can cause an overload.

?Cover exposed skin: Always wear a warm hat that covers ears, gloves or mittens that cover the full wrist, and a scarf or ski mask to protect face and neck.

?Be Safe during recreation. Notify friends and family where you will be before you go hiking, camping, or skiing. Avoid perspiring or becoming overtired. Be prepared to take emergency shelter. Pack dry clothing, a two-way radio, waterproof matches, and paraffin fire starters with you. Do not use alcohol or other mood altering substances, and avoid caffeinated beverages.


Thornapple Manor celebrates 60 years of serving Barry County

Thornapple Manor will mark an historic occasion Jan. 2, 2018, with the unveiling of its 60th Anniversary logo.  Administrator Don Haney will start the festivities at 2 p.m. with a short presentation in the main lobby, followed by a cake and punch reception. The event is open to the community. Many community leaders will be on hand to help usher in the New Year as well as a year-long reflection of the past 60 years.


“Although the people, buildings and equipment have changed over the years, the heart of those that work and support Thornapple Manor has not. It is truly an inspiration to be surrounded by so many giving, talented and loving individuals. This is their celebration, we want to tell their stories,” Haney said.


Thornapple Manor will host many different activities throughout 2018 to acknowledge residents, family members, staff, volunteers and community members. Since 1958, Thornapple Manor has been delivering quality skilled nursing care, continually providing unrivaled patient care in an ever-changing environment while growing, developing and enhancing its services to adapt to needs within the community.


Over the years, Thornapple Manor has grown from a 105 bed facility to today’s 161 bed campus, providing long-term care services, specialized dementia/Alzheimer care and a rehab center.  


The event is open to the community.



Public hearing set for Hastings dog ordinance revision

 Revision of the city’s animal/dog ordinance was on the Hastings City Council agenda Tuesday. Before acting on it, the council opted to set a public hearing to listen to the public at the next council meeting in two weeks.


Supporters of pit bulls had asked the council to remove the language in the ordinance specifying the breed as vicious or dangerous two years ago and had asked for the results of the revision of the ordinance again in November. They were told it would be available before the end of the year.

A copy of the ordinance can be found on the city’s website in the Dec. 26 council meeting packet.


The council approved an MDOT performance resolution, one they sign every year that allows the city, or its contactors, to work in the MDOT rights of way.  “They’re not asking for anything they haven’t in the past…we still have to get permits for special projects,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.


An ordinance to change various regulations applying to parking of vehicles was unanimously approved, however, an ordinance extending the length of time a temporary storage units is allowed in the city as long as they are kept in good repair was sent back to the Planning Commission for clarification of what a storage unit is, how many are allowed on one property, the time limit and where they can be located.


Mansfield reported on his annual evaluation, saying he was pleased with the results, which had 94 percent of responses “excellent” or “good,” five percent “satisfactory,” one percent “no opinion,” and no “needs improvement.”  He said he would gladly share the results on his performance as city manager, but some of the comments were clearly not meant to be made public, so he would talk to council members individually about the results. He added none of those comments were about him.


Also, Councilman Bill Redman, responding to a letter to the editor protesting the use of taxpayer money for a proposed city skating rink, said the project he is working on will not get any city, county or state funding.  “I thought I made that clear, it will all be private money.”



BEDHD reports confirmed hepatitis A case in Eaton County

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) is reporting a confirmed case of hepatitis A in an Eaton County resident, the first during 2017. It is unknown if the case is related to an ongoing hepatitis A outbreak in southeast Michigan; laboratory testing to confirm or disprove such a link is underway.

The individual is not considered to be at high risk of spreading hepatitis A to others and is undergoing appropriate treatment.


Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, contagious liver disease often spread by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with infected feces or by oral contact with contaminated objects. Transmission can occur easily among household contacts and sexual partners.

Risk factors for getting hepatitis A include homelessness or use of transient housing, illicit drug use, and incarceration. Men who have sex with men and sex workers and their clients are also at high risk.

While the risk is higher among these specific populations, BEDHD recommends that all individuals be vaccinated against the disease.


Hepatitis A can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting several months. Illness generally occurs two to six weeks after exposure to the hepatitis A virus. Symptoms include fatigue, abdominal pain, yellow skin (jaundice), dark urine, and pale stool. Some people have no symptoms. Vaccination against hepatitis A and thorough hand washing can prevent infection. //


“Outside of vaccination, handwashing is the most important step that everyone can take to protect themselves from hepatitis A,” said Dr. J. Daniel Woodall, BEDHD medical director.

“With other contagious diseases like the flu, whooping cough, and gastrointestinal illnesses currently in our area, proper handwashing is the key, everyday action that people can take to keep healthy this holiday season.”


People who believe they have been exposed to hepatitis A or who have symptoms should contact their healthcare provider immediately. Those who want to be vaccinated should contact their healthcare provider or BEDHD’s Eaton County office at (517) 541-2630.

For more information, visit



River Valley Rail Trail recommended for $290,000 expansion

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board has recommended funding for expansion of the River Valley Trail in Ionia County, according to a press release from 87th District Rep. Julie Calley.


The $290,000 project would involve construction of 14.5 miles of non-motorized trail from the Ionia-Kent County line to the north city limits of Lowell, then south from Lowell to Saranac, where it will connect to the existing Fred Meijer Grand River Valley Trail. The new pathway would further develop an existing corridor, which connects the Ionia River Trail to the Clinton-Ionia-Shiawassee Trail and contributes to the planned 125-mile trail system between Alma and Owosso.


“Ionia County is an ideal destination for people seeking to take advantage of our abundant natural resources,” Calley said. “Expanding this trail system will give local families and visitors more opportunities to go outside and play and enjoy the scenery.

“This project is a perfect example of how local and state governments can work together and improve the quality of life for Michigan families.”


Funding for the project comes from the lease of state land and is designated on an annual basis in partnership with local governments. The legislature will consider the recommendation in 2018.



Barry-Eaton Board of Health continues discussing changes to TOST

At the Dec. 21 Barry-Eaton District Health Department’s Board of Health meeting, the board continued its discussions on revising the time of sale or transfer (TOST) program in response to constituent feedback, according to a health department news release update.


Barry County Commissioners Ben Geiger, David Jackson and Dan Parker and Eaton County Commissioners Joe Brehler, Blake Mulder, and Jane Whitacre are Board of Health members.


The board has been working with health department staff to make changes to the regulation since November. While progress is being made to address many of the key concerns about the program, Health Officer Colette Scrimger reviewed the existing state laws applicable to onsite septic and water systems that require local health department action, the update read.


“Everyone has to have an approved system, and while state and local laws are set up that way, there are no state laws that provide a method to find critical problems,” she said. “For example, if the health department discovers that a sewage system doesn’t exist, and a residence is discharging sewage illegally, the health department takes action to assure the sewage system is installed,” Scrimger said.


“However, many counties who do not have a TOST program do not have a process to find out if the system that was originally installed is still functional, or even if there is one there at all.”

According to the TOST 10-year report, the percentage of wells with problems requiring correction was about two in 10 sites, and about 2.5 sites out of 10 sites had problems requiring correction in their sewage system, she said.


Scrimger reviewed the key objectives that a public health-based sewage and water program is addressing:

1) Assure that state and local laws relating to sewage and water systems are being followed,

2) have a process in place to evaluate aging infrastructure,

3) assure that systems continue to function as intended,

4) standardize evaluations, so that buyers and sellers can be assured that they receive accurate information about their systems and,

5) education on the importance of maintaining on-site sewage and water systems.


The TOST program’s overall purpose is to protect public health and the environment. There was general consensus from the board members that these were important goals that should be retained, Scrimger said. She recommended that changes to the regulation be evaluated to see if they would be supportive of those goals, the update read. //


Board members reviewed and discussed potential changes to the regulation and will continue their discussions about a revised regulation at the next meeting in January, according to the news release. “As we continue to evaluate changes to the TOST program, it’s important that we assure that we are still protecting the public health and the environment of our counties,” Geiger said.


“I think it’s critical to know that Eaton County is willing to work on this, and it’s important,” Mulder said. “It should not detract from the relationship between our two counties, and the rest of the important work that the health department is doing.”


“Recent work on TOST is in addition to the continual response of the health department to public concerns. In September 2015, TOST improvements were made in several program areas, including communications, the decision appeal process, correction options, evaluation criteria, and evaluation categories,”  the update continued. “Further, in September 2017, the health department released the TOST 10-Year Report, which outlines the purpose of the program, its successes (including data analyses), and changes made to it since its inception,” it concluded.


TOST reports are available at

Board of Health meeting minutes and agendas are available at



Barry County Chamber of Commerce announces Athena awards

Strong and meaningful leadership is crucial to any community’s success, which is why the Barry County Chamber of Commerce serves as the host organization for the ATHENA program.


“The ATHENA program and awards are a way that we are able to bring acknowledgement of internationally recognized female leadership traits here to Barry County,” said Megan Lavell, past-chair of the Barry County Chamber and a 2012 ATHENA honoree.


The 2017 ATHENA Leadership Award recipient is Nancy Goodin, assistant vice president and marketing director at Hastings City Bank. 

“I am honored and humbled to be included in this group of accomplished women in Barry County. I am an example that one person, through their community involvement, can make a difference in Barry County,” Goodin said. “I hope that encourages other women and men as well, to realize they, too, can make a difference by finding initiatives they are passionate about and contributing their time and talents to those efforts.”


The 2017 ATHENA Young Professional Award recipient is Kristen Cove.

Cove said she was “in shock" when she was told. “It is humbling to be nominated by women that I consider to be my mentors. When you look at the list of past recipients it is overwhelming to consider myself as a fellow ATHENA.  I appreciate the Barry County Chamber of Commerce, the ATHENA Committee, as well as the local businesses that have sponsored the ATHENA Award in Barry County.”


The ATHENA awards will be presented at the Barry County Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 20 at Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners. For details, call 269-945-2454 or visit //


The daughter of a U.S. Navy officer, Goodin spent her formative years in San Diego, Panama, South Carolina and Puerto Rico before returning to her parent’s hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. She attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and lived there for 12 years before relocating to West Michigan.


At Hastings City Bank, Goodin spearheaded development of financial literacy programs for Barry County youth, and was instrumental in the launch of the Kickstart To Careers program with the Barry Community Foundation.


She was the driving inspiration and key organizer of the Women’s Giving Circle of Barry County; with more than 125 members, the giving circle gives over $30,000 annually to various charitable causes throughout the area. Goodin has served on the Thornapple-Kellogg School Board, and Pennock Hospital Board.  A loyal member of Hastings Rotary, she co-chairs the Barry Career Access Network’s “Affordability Team.”


“We are lucky to have her in our community in the role she plays to improve the lives of children and their families through financial independence,” said Bonnie Gettys, CEO of the Barry Community Foundation and past ATHENA honoree.

“There’s no denying that we are a much better community because of Nancy Goodin,” said, CEO of Hastings City Bank Mark Kolanowski.


Goodin’s family includes her daughter Lana, an architect; son-in-law Luke, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a new grandson named Jack.  Her son Chase is an automotive engineer in Hartland, Michigan.


Cove  is Thornapple-Kellogg Board of Education secretary, chair of the Thornapple Area Enrichment Foundation, chair of the Thornapple Area Parks and Recreation Commission, president of TK PTO, president of Page Elementary PTO, co-founder of Parents for TK Schools, Citizen Representative on the Barry County 911 Administrative Board, member of the Middleville ‘80 Acre Project’ committee, and serves on numerous sub-committees.


Cove is described by many involved with TK schools as giving, dedicated, tireless, amazing, and inspiring. “Kristen has truly embraced community leadership as a full-time job, dedicating herself to serving each organization with all she has,” said Catherine Getty, program director for Thornapple Area Parks and Recreation.


“Kristen is one of the few people I know who will walk toward a problem, taking personal initiative and willingly owning challenges as opportunities where others can’t or won’t,” said co-nominator Jessica Phillips. “Her  leadership style is “organic and humble, drawing people to her creative ideas by helping everyone involved imagine what the best-case scenario could look like. She is ‘in it’ with both feet, for the good of our schools, our kids and our community.” 


Cove and her husband Andy, both lifelong Barry County residents, live in Middleville with their four boys, Damon, David, Jack, and Erik. 


The ATHENA Leadership Model identifies eight distinct attributes that are reflective of women’s contributions to leadership: living authentically, learning constantly, advocating fiercely, acting courageously, fostering collaboration, building relationships, giving back and celebrating.


These personal traits that are more intuitive to women combined with the strongest aspects of traditional leadership, taking risks, assertiveness and hard work, prepares women to be successful leaders in the 21st century.


“These awards continue to be a prestigious honor for recipients of both ATHENA awards,” Lavell said. “These are the women who continue to do the work that needs to be done in our community to make Barry County a better place. More important than the outcome of their own efforts, is the inspiration they provide for other women to be leaders.”




Senate Bill 637 would take away city's control of its rights-of-way, Hastings councilwoman says

A bill introduced by Senator Joe Hune (22nd district) and co-sponsored by Mike Nofs (24th district) for the regulation by local authorities of wireless services providers and infrastructure will, “basically take away municipalities rights to control their own rights-of way,” Hastings City Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange said.

Senate Bill 637, introduced in October, would regulate rates and fees to the providers, collocation of wireless facilities and pole attachments, uses of rights-of-way, permitting and zoning reviews, and prohibit commercially discriminatory actions by local authorities and electric utilities as well as prohibiting certain insurance requirements.


The bill, if enacted, would be the "Small Wireless Communications Facilities Deployment Act,” with the purpose to increase investment in wireless networks for better access to emergency services, advanced technology and information and increase investment in wireless networks to enhance competitiveness in the global economy.


It is expected to streamline operations of wireless services in the public rights-of- way, enhance networks services, provide next generation services, and ensure reasonable and fair control of rights-of-ways by governmental units in the state. It is also intended to avoid interference with right-of-way use by existing public utilities and cable communications providers.


The systems are poles of varying heights with an antenna that looks like a garbage can mounted on the top, McNabb-Stange said.


Several years ago the city joined other municipalities, and with advice from the METRO Council, hired a law firm to develop guidelines for wireless providers  that they expected would come into the city. If SB 637 becomes law, it will nullify their work, McNabb-Stange said. “We would have to delay projects; all of our rights of way could be riddled with poles.” 


The Hastings ordinance calls for a 40 foot limit for poles, however, “one company wants a 120 foot pole. There are a certain number of feet you have to go down to support a standalone pole and that could interfere with our things in the rights of way,” she said.


Large telecommunication companies like AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint are going to smaller antenna along rights of way to do away with larger antennas on water towers and other city structures. The city would be able to charge “very, very little money; a $100 fee and no monthly charges,” she said.


“Telecommunication companies are right to want to improve service to their customers, but they are looking to do it for free.  The first place they go to is business areas because they go by the number of customers. The rural areas are always overlooked. The county and townships won’t get this kind of service; they’re few and far between.”


“It isn’t law yet, and now the FCC is getting involved,” McNabb-Stange said.  “The Metro Council is working with the legislature, they will send us a notice, especially if problems come up, telling us to contact our legislators.”//



A senate fiscal agency analysis said the bill would prohibit, among other things:

* A local authority from entering into an exclusive agreement for use of a right-of-way for work on utility poles or the collocation of small cell wireless facilities

* Charging a wireless provider a rate or fee for the use of a ROW

* Prohibiting, regulating or charging for the changing of collocation of small cell wireless facilities

* Deny an application unless there was a reasonable basis for the denial, and require a denial be supported by substantial evidence.


The bill would permit, among other things:

* A wireless provider to collocate small wireless facilities and work on utility poles in, along, across, upon, and under an ROW, subject to height limitations

* An authority to require a wireless provider to repair any damage to an ROW caused by the provider

* An authority to require an application for a permit, with work to begin within one year after granting a permit.

* Require an application and an application fee for a permit with requirements a zoning approval would have to meet.

* Establish requirements that a rate or fee to collocate a small cell wireless facility on a pole would have to meet.







Barry County Administrator earns near perfect evaluation

A total average score of 4.8 out of a possible 5 in his annual evaluation gives Barry County Administrator Michael Brown the same kind of validation he has earned from every Barry County Commission he has worked with.


Brown got 54 top of the chart 5’s. The remaining scores were either 4 or 4.5, with the exception of one 3. Two commissioners gave Brown 5’s across all twelve categories in the evaluation.

In both financial management and interaction, he was given a 5 by all the commissioners.


Comments from commissioners in the evaluation include praise for his leadership, providing consistent, informed and accurate judgements, always providing help and answers and as an outstanding ambassador for Barry County statewide.


His leadership in finances, reducing county liabilities by millions and saving for the future was noted, along with his ability to stay calm and not be coerced to speak in the heat of the moment and treating others with dignity and respect.

“Michael is someone that raises the bar, and someone we just like working with,” Commissioner Ben Geiger said.


“Thank you. I deeply appreciate the opportunity to do the work I do… and in the confidence you have in me,” Brown said. “Most importantly, I’m certain you all realize there is quite a depth behind me,” he said. “I try to advocate for you and I hope the commissioners are all comfortable, if you have a question, reaching out to department heads…when I don’t have the answer, I’m reaching out to those individuals…of course, Luella in my office… so, I thank them for all they do, and acknowledge that, that wisdom doesn’t just come from me…thank you.”


The 12 areas rated were leadership, financial management, motivation, professional development, communication, delegation, planning, prioritizing, employee relations, initiative, interaction and coordination with other units.


Yet another scam alert

Different ways criminals use to steal money from their victims come up all the time. This alert involving iTunes gift cards comes from the Michigan Attorney General’s office.


The iTunes scam is a demand for you to pay right away for taxes, hospital or utility bills, bail money, or to settle a debt. Scammers make up all kinds of reasons for why you owe money. The goal is the same: to steal from you.


When someone catches you off guard and hits your panic button, it’s hard to think straight. Criminals know this, and hope you will focus on the worse-case scenario they are painting and not on your common sense.


Con artists ask for an untraceable form of payment. The iTunes gift card is the payment method of choice right now. A gift card is like cash. It is a quick, convenient, and untraceable. Even when victims realize they’ve been scammed, there’s usually no way to reverse the transaction or return the funds.


Don’t pay anyone with a gift card. If you’re not shopping at the iTunes store, you should not be paying with an iTunes gift card. Never give the numbers on the back of your iTunes gift card to someone you do not know. If anyone asks you to pay with an iTunes gift card, report them to Apple 800-275-2273, or contact Apple Support online, and the Federal Trade Commission Complaint Assistant.


To report a scam, file a complaint, or for additional information, contact the Michigan Department of Attorney General: Consumer Protection Division P.O. Box 30213 Lansing, MI 48909 or call 517-373-1140, fax: 517-241-3771, toll free: 877-765-8388.


Barry County Commission handles two meetings in one day

The Barry County Board of Commissioners had a busy day Tuesday, with the committee of the whole in the morning and the regular board meeting in the afternoon. The morning session started with the delaying of a decision on TOST (see related story) but the commissioners still had more than a dozen other items to consider in the afternoon.


The board approved committee of the whole recommendations to:

*re-appoint Candice Stowe and Patricia Robinson to the Animal Shelter Advisory Board for one year terms.

*re-appoint Sager Miller, Marlin Walters, Carole Wiggs, David Tossava to three year terms to the COA board and appoint Sally Schuster Shoff for the remainder of a three-year term that expires on Dec 31, 2108.


*approve the total cost of $270,700 and the special assessment tax roll to pay for the replacement of the Gun Lake Dam. Allegan County has also approved it, so contracts will be let, and work can begin.

*approve a $10,000 grant from Two Seven Oh to continue the trap, neuter and release program of about another 100 to 150 free roaming cats in the county at the request of Animal Shelter Director Kenneth Kirsch, Jr. //


*re-appoint Joan L. Bosserd Schroeder to the Agriculture Promotion Board as agricultural education representative and Bob Baker as agribusiness representative for three year terms as recommended by Barry Conservation Director Sarah Nelson. The commission also approved changing the board’s bylaws to allow a quorum of half of the present members instead of the five members to avoid cancelling a meeting for a lack of quorum.


*appoint Joyce Snow to the Parks and Recreation Board for a three year term. In the morning meeting, commissioners directed Administrator Michael Brown to research and report on ways Charlton Park and the Parks and Recreation Board can collaborate to find potential cost savings and achieve county wide goals.


*a resolution recognizing Michigan State University Extension District Coordinator Don Lehman for his long service to the county through his involvement in Extension services. He will be at the next board meeting to accept the resolution.


*a collective bargaining agreement with the Governmental Employees Labor Council, Corrections Officers Division.

*an employee appreciation program that awards certificates and a traveling trophy to county employees for outstanding contributions and significant anniversaries with the county. Details will be finalized before the program premiers in March, 2018.


Brown had several requests that were also approved, including:

*a new ten-year agreement of the Barry County Solid Waste HOST agreement with Waste Management through 2027 and re-appoint Tom Rook to the solid waste committee for a three year term as representative of townships.


*transferring the general fund surplus to four specialty funds; building rehabilitation, capitol replacement, data processing and vehicle replacement,  


*authorizing auditors to make final year-end transfers to several court programs from the general fund and,

*budget amendment D-17, the final adjustment of the fiscal year.


TOST repeal discussion delayed until Feb. 6

First on the long list of items on the Barry County Commission’s committee of the whole agenda Tuesday was a resolution to rescind the TOST regulation by the end of 2017. After thorough discussion, the board voted to move consideration of the resolution to the committee of the whole meeting on Feb. 6.


The Barry Eaton District Health Department’s TOST regulation mandates inspection and, if deemed failing, repairs or replacement before the sale or transfer of property can be completed in Barry and Eaton counties.


Commissioner Vivian Conner explained her resolution to repeal, saying the commission voted in October to make the program voluntary and despite two months of negotiating by Barry and Eaton county and BEDHD officials, she saw little or no progress in changing the mandatory rule to voluntary.


She pointed to requests for repeal from individuals for years and more recently, in a town hall meeting, an on-line survey and resolutions offered by several groups.


Commissioner Jon Smelker made the motion to delay consideration on the matter to give the negotiators more time to work out a replacement program that would protect the environment and still allow county residents to freely buy or sell their homes.


The vote to delay the resolution was unanimous, however, Commissioner Heather Wing said there should be a tentative agreement by the February meeting, and Commissioner Howard “Hoot” Gibson said he was at the latest negotiating meeting and he didn’t see any progress.


In public comment, 11 (10 speakers and one in a letter) gave their opinions; nine wanted to repeal TOST, two spoke in favor of keeping it.


Commissioners Ben Geiger, Dan Parker and David Jackson and three Eaton County commissioners, Jane Whitacre, Blake Mulder and Joseph Brehler, make up the Health Board; they are talking to BEDHD officials, trying to reach agreement on changes to TOST.


Geiger, Parker and Jackson all asked for more time.


“A goal delayed, is not a goal denied,” Jackson said. Geiger likened the talks to a football game. “Progress is being made…we’re moving the ball down the field.”


“We’re still working on it; we need some time,” Parker said.


Icy Roads and Accidents

As the result of icy conditions there were a number of vehicle accidents Tuesday morning in Barry County.

 State Police Troopers in Hastings investigated vehicle accidents on Patterson road and M-179. The Barry County Sheriff's office also policed vehicle accidents.

Motorist are advised to use extreme caution especially entering  intersections.


Opioid Addiction Assistance Program now available at all Michigan State Police Posts

The Michigan State Police (MSP) Angel Program, a pre-arrest diversion program for those struggling with drug addiction, is now active and operational at all 30 MSP posts statewide.

Those seeking treatment can go to any MSP post during business hours, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.


The Angel Program, allows someone with a drug addiction to walk into a state police post to seek help for their addiction, without the fear of arrest or investigation. If accepted into the program, the individual is guided through a professional substance abuse assessment and intake process to ensure proper treatment placement.


An “Angel” volunteer, who is a member of the local community, is present to support the individual during the process and to provide transportation to the identified treatment facility. “The opioid epidemic is real and we all need to do our part to stop it,” said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the MSP.

“More people in Michigan die from drug overdoses than car crashes, and the Angel Program is one way the Michigan State Police is helping to reduce drug demand and serve those struggling with this deadly addiction.”


The program was first launched in October, 2016 at the MSP Gaylord Post and has since expanded across the state. To date, 37 people have been admitted to treatment through the program.


The Angel Program, modeled after a similar initiative developed in 2015 by the Gloucester, Massachusetts Police Department, is a partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Prepaid Inpatient Health Plans, private donations and a grant from P.A.A.R.I. (the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative. For more information, or to become an Angel volunteer or to make a donation to support the initiative, visit



Barry County Commissioners to vote Tuesday on rescinding TOST

The Barry County Board of Commissioners will vote Tuesday on a resolution to rescind the Barry Eaton District Health Department’s time of sale or transfer regulation, or TOST.

Commissioner Vivian Conner brought the resolution forward. “I want to send a clear message. I want to rescind TOST by Dec. 31, and then sit down and come up with a voluntary system,” she said. She noted a different, voluntary program would be in addition to the safeguards already in place that protect the county’s water supply.


“In October we (the county commission) had a consensus to make TOST voluntary that didn’t change anything,” she said.Despite data collected by the county commission in a public meeting in August and an online poll that showed the residents overwhelmingly wanted the regulation revoked, and after two months of talks between the health board and BEDHD officials, the health department will not agree to give up the time of sale and transfer provision that triggers the initial inspection, she said.


“They don’t write the laws; we are the legislative body in Barry County. It’s been ten years…it’s time.  I’m sure the health department will argue it’s a district, and you may hear some commissioners ask to go our separate ways. It may just stop enforcement in Barry County,” she said.


Conner said that their constituents have been asking, pleading and even demanding that the commission to do away with TOST since it went into effect.

“I want to start fresh in 2018 and know that it has been repealed based on our constituents requests. I don’t know how we can sit by and not do anything…we should listen to our people and do away with TOST.”


The regulation mandates inspection of on-site water and sewer systems in Barry and Eaton counties and, if deemed failing, replacement or repair before the sale or transfer of a property can be finalized.

Complaints in the past have included arbitrary and capricious decisions, the costs of inspection, autocratic management of the program by staff, an appeal that costs $350, too many delays, failing working systems and ordering them up to present day codes and violating property owner’s rights.





Shop with a Cop delights young Christmas shoppers

There were the usual amount of kids at Wal-Mart over the last few days, but instead of parents, many of the children were with a law enforcement officer.


The area school students were part of the “Shop with a Cop” program, armed with gift certificates from Wal-Mart, going up and down aisles and buying Christmas gifts for family members. Hastings Police officers, Barry County Sheriff’s deputies and some 25 kids were delivered to the store Tuesday by the Holly Trolley after enjoying snacks and crafts at the Community Center.


The officers and deputies were watching, answering questions, and keeping a running total of the cost of gifts as the kids made their selections. Some knew exactly what they wanted; others took a little longer to decide. All were serious shoppers.


After choosing the gifts and “paying” for them, Wal-Mart supplied the gift wrapping and the kids wrapped them, with help from officers if needed.

Children with Michigan State Troopers and DNR Conservation Officers were seen at Wal-Mart on Wednesday.





















Photos: (upper left) Sara Snider, 10, from Page Elementary, spots the toy pointed out by Barry County Deputy Rose O’Grady who notes it only cost $9.87 and is as great as one that costs $20.


(upper right) “What do you think?” Hastings Police Officer Dennis Lajcak asks Jayden Kikendall, 10, from Maple Valley School.


(lower left) Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf’s charge Kim Avery, 9, from Maplewood Elementary shows her excitement as they enter Wal-Mart to “Shop with a Cop.”


(lower right) Christmas gifts selected, the children wrap their gifts or get help from their “cop.”


Stats given on Barry County Sheriff's Office November activity

Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf gave the November uniformed patrol/jail activity report to County Commissioners Tuesday, with some comparisons from other years.


The uniformed patrol figures compared to those from five years ago showed 643 complaints were handled in 2017 and 426 in 2012. Accidents handed totaled 118 this year, with 98 in 2012; car/deer crashes were 80 this November, 103 in 2012.


Last month, 78 persons were arrested, 48 for felonies and 84 for misdemeanors. In 2012, 58 were arrested on 22 felony charges and 52 for misdemeanors. Eleven alcohol arrests were made in this report, versus 9 in 2012.


Activity at the jail included booking and processing 276 persons in November; it was 206 in 2013. Two hundred and four persons were released back into the community in November; 179 in 2013. Seventy-one public prints were taken last month, compared to 85 in 2013.


Figures for November with no data available for 2013 include 136 drug screens, 80 court transports, and 8,119 meals served to inmates at a cost of $1.42 a meal.

Repairs at the facility during the month cost $4,244.47 for plumbing, $1,878.94 for HVAC and $275 for security.


Outgoing Barry Central Dispatch director honored

Phyllis Fuller, director of Barry Central Dispatch 911, is leaving the post after 24 years with the organization, beginning as a telecommunicator. In addition to a resolution from Barry County recognizing her contribution to the county and its residents, several people also spoke of her at the Tuesday Board of Commissioners meeting.


The resolution centered on her accomplishments, with extensive professional affiliations and as an active member in many community organizations and builder of positive improvements at Central Dispatch.


Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf remembers Fuller as a rookie telecommunicator. When a situation, “went south on a hot call,” he said, Fuller’s calm voice gave them one less stressor to deal with.

Interim director Stephanie Lehman, in a quavering voice, held back tears, saying she was the first person Fuller hired as director and she was honored and blessed to have worked with her. “She’s amazing and I’ll never be able to fill her shoes,” she said.


Lani Forbes, chair of the administration board, recognized Fuller’s dedication, service and leadership. “Not just about 911. Her involvement is a blessing to our community,” she said.

“She was absolutely excellent with the employees,” 911 administrative board member Bill Redman said. “We have the best people at the center.”


Keith Murphy, also a board member, said Fuller was a quiet, hard worker for many years. “Behind the scenes, she was always the one to go to community events.” Others who spoke remembered Fuller’s dignity, leadership and professionalism, ability to handle complaints and always working to make the employees and organization the best it could be.  All said she would be truly missed.


Fuller said she was humbled by the recognition. “I have mixed feelings; I’ve given my adulthood to Barry County, and I truly love it.” While she appreciated the support of the commissioners, “I most appreciate my incredible staff. They are amazing dedicated people who are there for you 24/7.”


She received a standing ovation from the audience.


A telecommunicator in 1993, Fuller was promoted to supervisor in 2005, then to interim director in 2007 and director in 2008. She leaves 911 on Jan. 5 to become the Next Generation 911 Program Coordinator for Peninsula Fiber Network.




City will continue to maintain Hastings Dog Park

Hastings City Council members made no comment last night after a long list of complaints by the chairman of the Hastings Dog Park Companions (HDPC), mainly about the ongoing months-long turmoil inside the dog park committee. The controversy has caused concern by some that with the bad feelings in the committee and the termination of the agreement between the city and the HDPC, the park might close, with many dog owners asking the city to find a way to keep it.


City Manager Jeff Mansfield explained what is going on now and the future of the dog park after the city ends its agreement Jan. 16. The city expects to continue maintaining the park following the termination.


“Staff has been providing maintenance at the dog park for some time now, and things are going very well, so continuing to do so is certainly not a problem,” he said.

“Our staff has lots of experience doing so and is very skilled at those types of operations … based on reports from a variety of folks, the dog park is seeing more use than ever.”


Mansfield said the council will work with the HDPC and their attorney to amicably determine the appropriate transfer or distribution of assets at the site – both those that are affixed to the property and those that are not. The city council will consider a variety of ways to solicit the assistance and input of dog owners and users of the park as it continues in operation, he said.


They will also consider alternate forms of governance for the dog park in the coming months, including the possible formation of an advisory committee, such as they have with Riverside Cemetery and the Hastings Outdoor Nature Area, or even the possibility of contracting for certain operations at the dog park, he said.


“I believe everyone involved in this matter views the dog park as a wonderful asset in the Hastings community. And, I think the city council wants to find a way to operate the park in a manner that maximizes its value for the users and for the entire community.” 



Barry County Commissioners to hold two meetings in one day

Barry County Commissioners will hold two meetings on Tuesday, Dec. 19, and none on Dec. 26, making allowances for Christmas. The committee of the whole meeting will be at 9 a.m., and the regular board’s second meeting of the month will follow at 3:30 p.m.


In Tuesday business, the commissioners approved a collective bargaining agreement with the Police Officers Labor Council, Corrections Supervisors Unit for a three-year contract at a cost of $12,555 in 2018.

The agreement calls for a two percent raise in each of the three years plus a differential increase of 10 percent for corrections sergeants above officers in 2018, 11 percent above officers in 2019 and 12 percent above officers in 2020.


In other action, commissioners:

* will receive Administrator Michael Brown’s annual evaluation form either by computer or hard copy. Commission Chairman Ben Geiger asked the evaluations be completed by next week.

* approved the 2018 agreement between the county and Michigan State University Extension to provide MSUE programs

* reappointed Regina Young to serve on the Barry County Solid Waste Oversight Committee for a three-year term

* approved an agreement with VARIPRO for third party administration of the county’s short term liability claims




Another scam


The Michigan State Police are advising individuals to beware of another scam in the area.

The most recent scam comes with the caller telling the individual it's an emergency situation concerning their brother-in-law. Of couse the bottom line is they need money to help the brother-in-law, which as it turned out was not having any problems. It was all about getting money from an individual who was led to believe their was a serious problem.

The State Police advise. Do not giving any personal information over the phone, these people will use any means to get your money.


State Police collect food and gifts

Michigan State Police Troopers from Hastings and Wayland spent sunday at the Hastings Walmart  accepting food and gift items from shoppers in their annual Stuff the Blue goose Christmas program. Three of the patrol cars were used to collect the items that  individuals donated as they were doing their shopping.


Trooper Brian Roderick said, "we were overwhelmed by the generosity of giving by the local shoppers and spending time visiting with the troopers. It was a wonderful day!  Many thanks for stuffing the Blue Goose."


Hastings Dog Park agreement termination hotly protested

The Hastings City Council and city staff were both complimented and condemned Monday.


“I just want come out tonight to commend all members of the council and city staff for the job that was done this year; it was a tremendous, great year,” Hastings resident Mike Snyder said.

"The Christmas parade was something unbelievable, and all the activities, I know there’s  been a lot of hard work and dedication and a lot of challenges for all of you, and I definitely want to thank you for all you’ve done, and I look forward to 2018.”


Christopher Geisert, chairman of the Hastings Dog Park Committee, was not there to praise the council. He charged dog park companions were “under attack” after the city manager and council inserted themselves into a dispute between the dog park and one individual who was making untrue accusations and bent on making trouble for the organization.


The council’s involving itself in the conflict has allowed one individual to bully and run roughshod over the committee, Geisert said. Several attempts to resolve the conflict with the woman in question resulted only in screaming, cursing and verbal abuse, he said.


Geisert said he was told the committee’s request for a change in the agreement with the city would not be a problem, but once in the meeting they were, “ambushed and hung out to dry,” by the council, and left with no chance for rebuttal of its decision to change the agreement without both sides agreeing to it.


So far, no council member has contacted any committee member to talk about the matter, he said.

“Reportedly, a Hastings Council member has been on social media telling people not to donate at the dog park, volunteer at dog park events or help the with the park in any way,” Geisert said. “This is all on social media.”


He detailed several accusations against the disaffected woman, including ignoring a cease and desist order and the possibility of defamation, among other charges, against her.

Outright lies, misinformation, false accusations of mismanagement and personal attacks are preventing the smooth operation of the dog park and causing people to avoid the park, he said.


There were no questions or comments from council members. Mayor Dave Tossava said the city served the required 90-day notice of termination of the agreement with the dog park committee in October, and on recommendation of city Attorney Stephanie Fekkes, will allow the termination to become effective on Jan. 16, 2018.


Fekkes said she would not go over the reasons for the termination previously aired in October, only that the city’s action is appropriate and, “in the best interest of city.”


Infrastructure dominates Hastings City Council meeting

Water for the new Hastings Fiberglass Products facility in Rutland Township will be delivered by the City of Hastings, likely by Thursday, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said Monday.

The request by Rutland Township to accept the water main extension along West Green Street was approved by the council with the condition that the necessary legal paperwork be completed. The township board is expected to approve final easements Wednesday.


The extension of Hastings city water and sewer service into the township is part of an urban services agreement between the city and the township. Providing the service starts the process of withdrawing the Urban Services and Economic Development Agreement from escrow for execution, which could take up to a year.


The council approved an agreement with the MDOT for funding for sidewalks, sidewalk ramps, signs and pavement marking for the Safe Routes to School project. The grant will pay for nine segments in the area of the Hastings Middle School, Central Elementary, and Northeastern Elementary.


The federal funds will be administered by the MDOT and pay 100 percent of the project. The city will pay for design and construction engineering and materials testing. Those costs are covered in this year’s budget, Mansfield said.The project cost was originally set at $689,900, but came in at $706,000. However, Mansfield said there is a provision in the contract that allows for adjusting the figures up or down. In the worst case, the city would have to pay the difference, he said.


In other infrastructure matters, a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Storm, Asset Management, Wastewater (SAW) program grant will pay low bidder Perceptive Services $196,962.96 for cleaning and televising 30,000 feet of storm and 90,000 feet of sanitary sewer lines as part of the infrastructure evaluation process of the program.


Department of Public Services Director Lee Hays said the winning bid was considerably lower than the $350,000 expected to be asked for the work and they may be able to add more lines to the list. They also got bids of $317,675.50 and $339, 925.45 from out of state companies.

Also, two ordinances had first readings; one would change various regulations applying to parking of vehicles, the other would allow temporary storage units in the city as long as they are kept in good repair. Now they are allowed only for an initial 90 days with a 90-day extension. The planning commission has recommended approval of both amendments. Action will be taken at the next council meeting.


In other council business:

*The form for Mansfield’s annual evaluation was passed out with a request they be tuned in to Rusty Dowling who will tabulate the results for the next meeting.


*Mayor Pro-tem Bill Redman was reappointed to the administrative board of Barry Central Dispatch 911.


*The council approved and placed on file the 2015-2017 audit report from Rehmann.


*NOTE: The Dec. 25 the Hastings City Council meeting has been moved to Dec. 26.





Lake Odessa couple injured in rollover accident

On 12-9-17 deputies from the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office responded to a rollover accident involving one vehicle. While responding to the scene the deputies were advised there were two occupants and one occupant was trapped under the vehicle.


Through investigation it was determined that a Chrysler Town and Country van, driven by a 79 year old woman from Lake Odessa, had lost control of her vehicle while maneuvering the corner on Tupper Lake Rd at Jackson Rd. While trying to correct her vehicle, the driver slid onto the south shoulder of the road before over correcting and sliding sideways across the center of the road. The van then struck the ditch on the north side of the road and overturned onto the passenger side.


As a result of the collision the passenger, her 80 year old husband, was partially trapped under the passenger side door. Both parties were extricated and transported to Spectrum Butterworth hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.


Assisting on scene by Lake Odessa Police Department, Lake Odessa Fire Department, Clarksville Fire Department, Reed and Hoppes Towing, Life EMS, and Ionia County Central Dispatch.  Speed was a factor. 


Winter weather a factor in several accidents on I-96

During Monday morning’s snow fall, there were more than 15 accidents on I-96.  Most of them were property damage accidents and slide offs due to the weather.  There was a large back up due to this accident west bound on I-96 just west of Sunfield Hwy.


While traveling west bound, the driver of a tractor trailer lost control of their vehicle.  The truck sideswiped a pick up before going into the median and overturning.  The driver was hauling 3000 lbs. reams of paper that were thrown from the truck upon it over turning.  Several of these landed in the expressway causing other vehicles to have to swerve to avoid hitting them.  Five vehicles ended up hitting the papers or other vehicles during the evasive maneuvers.  There were no injuries to parties involved. 


The expressway was down to one lane for the next five hours while efforts were taken to upright the truck and clean up the papers.  Reed and Hoppes, Berlin/Orange fire department, life EMS, and Ionia County Central Dispatch assisted on scene. 



Suspect arrested for felony home invasion in Mulliken

Eaton County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a home in the village of Mulliken on a report that a man with a gun had broken down the door to the house, held a female victim at gunpoint, and had fired off a round in the house.


According to an Eaton County Sheriff news release, the 40 year old suspect then left the victim’s house and went back to his own residence  on Shilton Road in Ionia County. His wife and daughter saw him with the gun and left the house.


The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office and Michigan State Police assisted in securing the suspect’s home while a search warrant was obtained. The suspect, who’s name has not yet been released, was eventually called out of the house and taken into custody.


He was transported to the Eaton County Jail on charges of Home Invasion 1st degree and felonious assault. Additional charges may be issued following review by the Eaton County Prosecutor’s office.


State House bill to ban taxes on Groceries

State Representative Jullie Calley who represents Barry County cosponsored legislation to prohibit local governments from imposing taxes on the manufacture, distribution and sale of food and beverages.

Calley pointed out that purchasing groceries can represent a large portion of a family's monthly budget.

Calley said, "Our house bill prevents local communities from placing an undue burden on families and farmers.

Taxes on groceries would have a tremendously negitive impact on families who are living from paycheck to paycheck and seniors living on fixed incomes."


Lawrence Road residents thanked for patience during road work

In a letter from the Barry County Road Commission, Lawrence Road residents were recognized for their patience during the heavy construction work done on the road during the fall season.


“I personally would like to personally thank you all for your patience and kindness,” wrote Jacob Welch, director of operations. “I have been onsite daily and from my experience, and from the experience of our contractor, everyone has been patient, kind and welcoming.”


Welch said in the month of October, the area had 11.25 inches of rainfall. “This didn’t lend itself to road construction,” he said.


Much of the work has been done, but there is more to do. When weather allows in the spring, traffic control will go back in place and the rest of the work will be completed with additional grading and spreading topsoil and seeding. After restoration is complete the final coat of asphalt will be placed and the road fully open to traffic, he said. He estimated the work would take a few weeks.


In the meantime, the road is open with advisory signs as the final cost of asphalt is not completed.

 “As the road sits is how the road will remain through the winter. We will monitor the site regularly and address any issues that arise.”


“We certainly realize this was horribly inconvenient and it was handled by everyone involved very well. This is what we truly appreciate about being part of the Barry County community. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free  to give me a call at 269-945-3449. We will see you in the spring!”


Lt. Governor Brian Calley officially running for governor

Lt. Governor Brian Calley formally launched his campaign for governor this week with vows to “Continue the Comeback” and “Make Michigan the Most Prosperous State in the Nation”

In a new release announcing his intention, Calley outlined his reasons for running for the highest political post in the state.


“Not long ago, Michigan’s biggest problem was a lack of jobs. Seven years and more than 500,000 new jobs later, our economy has outgrown our workforce and our future is bright,” Calley said.

“I am proud to have been an integral part of Michigan’s extraordinary rise from the recession that plagued our state during the ‘Lost Decade.’ We set out to make Michigan the comeback state and that’s exactly what we did. I am running for Governor to build on this strong foundation and make Michigan the most prosperous state in the nation,” he said.


Calley is known for redefining the role of Lieutenant Governor in Michigan, played an integral role in the state’s comeback, and is passionate about building a state where any person willing to work hard has an opportunity to succeed, the release read.


uring the Snyder/Calley administration, Michigan’s business climate ranking climbed from 40th to 12th and the corporate tax ranking from 49th to eighth, according to the release. //


The deciding vote to balance the budget, Calley led the effort to eliminate thousands of rules and regulations. More than 500,000 jobs have been created since December 2010, Michigan’s unemployment rate is at a 17-year low and outpacing the nation in the workforce growth rate, the release continued.


Michigan is the number one Great Lakes state for job creation and sixth in the country; the state is number one in America for creating new manufacturing jobs and in the top 10 in population growth among 25 to 34 year olds, it read.


A nationally recognized Autism advocate, Calley has substantially increased access to autism services, improving the lives of thousands of families in Michigan.

He is also heavily engaged in increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities through the bipartisan “MI Hidden Talent” initiative, the news release read.


Calley led the Mental Health and Wellness Commission, the Special Education Task Force, the Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force, the Child Lead Poisoning Elimination Board and the Mental Health Diversion Council.


A community banker for more than 10 years, he worked his way from the mailroom to vice president. He was elected twice to the Ionia County Board of Commissioners and elected state representative, also for two terms.


Calley earned degrees from Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He and his wife Julie live in Portland with their three children: Collin, Reagan and Karagan.


Photo: Lt. Governor Brian Calley



Celebrate "Of Christmas Past" at Historic Charlton Park this weekend

Children and the young at heart will delight in the holidays of yesteryear during “ Of Christmas Past" at Historic Charlton Park Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 9 and 10 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

The park’s turn-of-the-century village and museum will be staffed by volunteers and adorned with festive decorations, a train display and fresh evergreens.


Take a wagon ride, and visit with St. Nicholas who has plenty of candy canes for good boys and girls.

Guests are encouraged to make holiday crafts, including a candle and yarn doll. Traditional food and drink samples will be available in the village, with wassail, roasted chestnuts, cinnamon and sugar apples and popcorn, and coffee and cookies are served at the Sixberry House.


The Thornapple Wind Band and the Thornapple Valley Dulcimer Society will provide live holiday music at the Carlton Center Church. The park gift shop will also be open.

Daily admission is $6 for those 13 and up, $4 for ages five to 12 and children four and under are free. 


Local citizens interested in donating items to a “wish list” of packaged cookies, popcorn kernels, chestnuts and apples to help the park offset event costs, are encouraged to contact park staff. 

For additional information, visit  The park is located southeast of Hastings, north of M-79, at 2545 South Charlton Park Road.


Photo: The Charlton Park Christmas tree being decorate for an earlier "Of Christmas Past."










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