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Hastings City Council asked: What is the city's role in ice skating rink facility?

The Hastings City Council Monday was asked what they saw as the city’s role in a planned ice skating rink and community venue for family and business events.

 

Following the success of an ice skating rink at Tyden Park proposed and promoted by Councilman Bill Redman a few years ago, he researched permanent rinks and has put the wheels in motion for an ice skating rink on the basketball courts at Tyden Park that could also be used in the summer for weddings, reunions, birthday parties, business meetings and other group activities.

 

The total cost is an estimated $6 million, Redman said.  He has a pledge of $200,000 from a donor, “with the promise of $300,000 behind that.” After the facility is built, he said, there would “moderate fees to pay for expenses.” Every city he visited with a rink broke even on expenses, and the state may have grants available. He has asked the Barry Community Foundation to hold the funds, but hasn’t head back yet.

 

City Manager Jeff Mansfield said now that the group is raising money, the city needs well-documented concepts from anyone who builds on city land that the city will be able to legally defend. Does the city take ownership after it’s built and operate it on a break even basis?  he asked.

 

Council members agreed there was a lot of work to be done, and specific information was needed to get clear outlines of the city’s responsibilities, or even if they even wanted to commit to another entertainment venue in the city. Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange called for at least a business plan of sorts for the council to study. “Do they know what they will spend in the first year? Donors would like to know that, too.”

 

Councilman Don Bowers said he didn’t think the city had to money to support it, “I don’t think that it’s reasonable at this time, to keep it running year after year...”.  Councilman John Resseguie also wanted more information on the plans. “It’s kinda hard to come up with dollars and cents with just a little information.”  But he strongly supported the idea, saying the city needs to bring people in during the winter season too, otherwise the city will “dry up.”

 

If the city does not take over the facility, they will need documentation and those raising money will need to understand they need a well-documented agreement, an organizational setup with attorneys to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, Mansfield said.

 

“I’m not opposed, but I recommend extreme caution...this is a group with no legal underpinnings…we want to make sure we don’t replicate that situation (with a dog park committee),” he said.

The consensus was for Mansfield and city Attorney Stephanie Fekkes to work on an agreement and, “go from there.”  

 

 

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Hastings SanitarySewer and Stormwater projects move ahead

The Hastings City Council Monday awarded contracts to Hubbell Roth and Clark to provide design and construction engineering for Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrades and soil borings at the site.

 

Both projects are parts of extensive improvements of the Hastings sanitary and storm sewer system already underway, with the majority of funding from a Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater (SAW) Program grant.

 

The total SAW project amount is $791,820; the total SAW grant is $712,639, with a committed amount of $561,671. The City of Hastings match is $79,182, with the city committed amount of $58,880.

 

The grant, from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, was applied for in 2013, and granted in December, 2016. The grant requires the updates to the sanitary and storm sewer systems be completed by December, 2019.

 

Also Monday, a request to vacate a portion of the West Mill Street Right of Way (ROW) between Washington Street and the Thornapple River from Doug and Sharon Vickery was turned down by the council. A driveway and one or more one accessory buildings on their property, as well as a city storm sewer line, are inside the ROW.

City Manager Jeff Mansfield said the vacation request would likely have to go before the courts because it is so close to the Thornapple River and for other reasons.

Several council members said they did not want to give up the property because of the storm sewer in the ROW and proximity to Tyden Park. They agreed to consider leasing part of the ROW to the Vickerys.

 

In other business, the council:

 

*approved a grant agreement with the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs that will fund part of the community entertainment events next summer. Attendance at this year’s events is estimated at 10,000 and work has begun on Hastings Live, 2019.

 

*approved Girl’s Night Out on Oct. 4 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. requested by the Downtown Business Team, with a Scarecrow  Contest and sidewalk sales.

 

*approved the 18th annual roof sit on Oct. 13, requested by Sarah Alden, Youth Advisory Council director. The event is a fund raiser with a donation to different charity each year. This year, it is Habitat for Humanity. Alden said a smaller group of YAC was also holding the event in Middleville this year.

 

*appointed Mike Hamp to the Cable Access Committee, recommended by Councilman Bill Redman.

 

*appointed Tim Girrbach to the Board of Review to a term that expires in 2020.

 

*voted for Robert Clark, mayor of the City of Monroe and Paula Zelenko, mayor of the City of Burton for the Michigan Municipal League’s Liability and Property Pool Board.

 

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Reminder: Detour at Green/Market street intersection in Hastings

The Hastings Department of Public Services will be completing utility work at the Green/Market street intersection in the city starting at 5 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, Sept. 26.

The street will be closed there until 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, with traffic detoured to the south one block.

 

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Spirit's high for Hastings Homecoming activities

Hastings High School Homecoming Week featured a week of activities including the big Homecoming Parade with teacher Jeff Denny as Grand Marshal and the Homecoming football game against Parma Western High School. The week wound up with the Saturday night dance.

 

Activities during the week kept students spirits up and excited about the weekend. Hall and locker decorating, color day, a powder puff game, and beach day were some of the activities. 

 

The floats at the parade reflected styles and music over the decades. The freshmen class replicated 1980’s garb, sophomores copied 1920’s fashions, juniors looked like “the way we were” in the 1950’s and seniors copied 1970s fashions.

 

For parade photos visit 2018 Homecoming photo album

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Maple Valley Concrete Products Fire

The Nashville Fire Department with assistants from area fire departments battled a fire at Maple Valley Concrete Products around 5:00 o'clock Saturday aftrrnoon. Flames were seen coming out of the building as firefighters arrived on the scene at 725 Durkee road south east of Hastings. The fire closed a portion of M-66 for about four hours. No information at this time as to what started the fire.

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UPDATE:Police give timelines in homicides of two; suicide of their killer.

FINAL UPDATE:The Kent Conty Sheriff's Office has released information on the deaths of two people and the suicide of the man who killed them. Police on a well-check found the two dead.

 

The latest report reads: Based on the investigation, detectives determined that Bruce Edward Huntley, 33, and his wife, Samantha Lynn Huntley, 33, have a boy, 4 and a girl, 2. following a domestic about a week ago, Samantha went to stay with her mother, Lisa Bradley, 58, at 10036 Rooksby Street N.E. in Spencer Township. Bradley lived there with her long-time boyfriend, James Cole, 54.

 

The morning of Sept. 22, Bruce Huntley forced entry into the Bradley home and shot and killed Lisa Bradley and James Cole. Bruce Huntley then kidnapped his wife and two children and took them back to their apartment on Stonebridge Road in Wyoming.

 

When the Kent County Sheriff’s Office realized the wife and children were missing, they immediately contacted the Wyoming Department of Public Safety and asked them to check at the suspect’s apartment.

 

Bradley’s vehicle was located at the apartment and the Wyoming Department of Public Safety assembled its Tactical Team. Contact was made with Samantha Huntley who confirmed she was in the apartment with her husband and two children and was being held against her will.

 

Negotiators with the Wyoming Department of Public Safety, with assistance from the Grandville Police Department, negotiated the release of Samantha and the two children. Bruce Huntley had threated to commit suicide and refused to come out. After several hours, the tactical unit entered the apartment and confirmed he was dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

 

On Sept. 24, the Kent County Medical Examiner’s Officer conducted autopsies and determined Lisa Bradley and James Cole manner of death was homicide from a gunshot wound. Bruce Huntley’s death was ruled a suicide from a gunshot wound.

 

The sheriff’s office was assisted by the Wyoming Department of Public Safety, Grandville and Grand Rapids police departments and LIFE Tactical Medics.

UPDATE: A second joint release reports that despite extensive efforts to ensure a peaceful surrender, the man in question was found dead inside the apartment at approximately 12:15 a.m.  He has been identified by investigators as the primary suspect in the apparent homicide in Spencer Township on Saturday. 

 

UPDATE: A joint media release from the Wyoming Police Department and the Kent County Sheriff’s Office reported that  after  Wyoming police established communication with the possible suspect inside the apartment on Stonebridge S.W., they learned there were three hostages inside, the suspect’s wife and two children, ages 4 and 2.

The three hostages have been released and are speaking with investigators. The man remains inside the apartment and negotiations for a peaceful surrender are ongoing as of this release.

 

ORIGINAL STORY: A man and woman were found deceased inside their home in the 10000 block of Rooksby Street NE., according to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. At 11:37 a.m. Saturday, deputies responded to the residence on a well-being check after an acquaintance of the couple went to the house and received no response after knocking.

 

A search warrant for the residence was obtained and investigators are processing the scene. Shortly after the initial response to Rooksby Street N.E. investigators developed a possible suspect  believed to be inside an apartment in the 4200 Block of Stonebridge Avenue SW in the City of Wyoming.

 

The Wyoming Police Department attempted to make contact with the man, who refused to cooperate and would not come out of the apartment. WYPD is negotiating with the man at the time of this release, and Stonebridge Avenue remains an active scene. Additional updates will be forthcoming.

 

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Superintendent's Platform

WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight activities in their districts.

This posting is from Hastings Area Schools Superintendent Carrie Duits:

 

“It’s a great day to be a Saxon! What a fantastic week of school pride throughout the community! Students kicked off the week last Sunday with traditional hall decorating followed by painting windows in downtown Hastings. Many thanks to all the businesses who offered their windows for a display of Saxon pride."

 

The Homecoming parade and game were held Friday with community members encouraged to join the fun and festivities with a free tailgate party of hot dogs, chips and lemonade at Johnson Field.

 

"At our Board meeting, we thanked our Maintenance Department for all their hard work throughout the summer and into the fall. They are a small and mighty department, working across the district to mow lawns, prepare fields, make a variety of repairs, paint, move furniture and equipment, address leaks and respond to other emergencies.

 

"Our Maintenance Department does a fantastic job, and they respond at all hours and on the weekends to a variety of needs. They do all this with high-quality customer service. Dan Blair is one member of our Maintenance Department, and he built a Saxon display from “the old high school” just outside the Administration Office. Dan was given an idea of creating a display to incorporate artifacts saved from the old building, and he took the design and improved upon it ten-fold with lights and windows and refurbished doors.

 

"This unique showcase honors our Saxon history. The display will make its public debut at the Middle School Dedication Ceremony scheduled for Sunday, October 14, 2018, from 1:00 pm- 3:00 pm. During the September 17 meeting, the Board of Education accepted with great appreciation the donations of $2,000 from the Richard B. Messer Trust to the High School Drama department and a donation of $1,600 from the Hastings Community Diving Club for refinishing the diving board at the CERC.

 

"The Board of Education also voted to add bowling as a Varsity sport for Hastings Area Schools. We have a team of students eager for this new winter sport, and we are excited to offer this additional opportunity for our HS students.

 

The Board of Education’s next regular monthly meeting will be Tuesday, October 15, 2018, at 7:00 pm in the Hastings Middle School Commons.”

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Charlotte woman charged with multiple crimes against an Eaton County Sheriff's deputy

The Barry County Prosecutor’s Office has issued several criminal charges against Kellie Leigh Bartlett, of Charlotte, for allegedly making false allegations of criminal sexual conduct against an Eaton County Deputy, the office said Friday.

The charges stem from a lengthy investigation by Michigan State Police and a Mission Team consisting of detectives from the Allegan and Kent County Sheriff’s Offices.

 

Bartlett is charged with two felony counts of using a computer to commit a crime; two felony counts of identity theft; three felony counts of unauthorized access to a computer; one count of felony conspiracy; one count of false report of a felony; two counts of misdemeanor stalking; one count of intentional dissemination of sexually explicit visual material, and two misdemeanor counts of using a computer to commit a crime. 

 

Bartlett, a clerk, and the deputy were employees of the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office when they began a relationship in late 2015.  The relationship ended when the deputy, who is the alleged victim in several of the charges, ended the relationship in the spring of 2017 and requested that the Bartlett cease contact with him.

 

When Bartlett continued contact, the victim advised his superiors and a Mission Team was assigned to investigate Bartlett for stalking. As of December 2017, Bartlett no longer worked for the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office. In January 2018, she filed a complaint with the Michigan State Police alleging the deputy had sexually assaulted her in March, 2017.

 

Following an investigation, the Michigan State Police and Mission Team cases were turned over to the Eaton County Prosecutor, who recused their office due to a conflict of interest. The case was assigned to the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office in spring, 2018.

 

“My review of the evidence from both investigations raised suspicion that the allegation against the deputy could be false,” said Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt. “Considering that the rate of false reports of sexual assault is extremely rare, two to eight percent, a thorough investigation was necessary to ensure a fair and just outcome.

 

“The material in this case is voluminous and multifaceted and has taken months to review and analyze.  This office thoroughly reviews all allegations of sexual assault, as we do suspected false allegations,” Nakfoor-Pratt said.

 

Bartlett was arraigned Friday in Eaton County District Court, Bond set at $50,000.

 

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Delton man loses life in single car crash in Gun Plain Township

Allegan County Central Dispatch received a 911 call at about 4:30 a.m. Thursday morning from a motorist saying they had come upon a crash with a person lying outside of the vehicle.  A Plainwell Department of Public Safety Officer arrived on the scene and confirmed that it was a single vehicle fatal crash. 

 

Allegan County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived and conducted an investigation of the crash. The lone occupant, John Pluymers, 53, of Delton, was pronounced deceased at the scene.

 

Deputies report the Pluymers vehicle was west bound on 106th Avenue east of 4th street in Gun Plain Township when it left the roadway and crashed into a group of trees, overturning several times and coming to rest against a tree. The crash remains under investigation by the sheriff’s office.

Plainwell Department of Public Safety, Gun Plain Township Fire Department and Plainwell EMS assisted sheriff’s office deputies.

 

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UPDATE: Deadline for public written comment on Bradford White mixing zone is Sept.28

UPDATE: Friday, Sept. 28 is the deadline for written comments to be accepted on a Bradford White request for a groundwater-surface mixing zone discharge under the Environmental Remediation of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, according to a DEQ news release.

 

The location of the venting groundwater plume is 200 Lafayette Street in Middleville, the receiving surface water body in the Thornapple River.

Copies of the determination request may be obtained by calling or writing:

 

David Wierzbicki, DEQ Remediation and Redevelopment Division,

350 Ottawa Avenue, N.W. Unit 10,

Grand Rapids, MI, 49503.

 

Written comments should be submitted by the deadline to him at the above address.

For information, contact:

David Wierzbicki,

Remediation and Redevelopment Division

517-420-2605.

 

ORIGINAL STORY: Groundwater contamination with known carcinogenic chemicals is discharging into the Thornapple River and the responsible company in Middleville is asking state regulators to let dilution solve the problem according to an Mlive newspaper story.

 

Bradford White Corporation, a water-heater manufacturer in Middleville, wants the Michigan Department of Enviromental Quality to consider a pollution exemption that would allow continued discharge of groundwater plumes contaminated with chlorinated solvents into the Thornapple River.

 

Presently, the contaminant discharges are above the state's Part 201 enviromental cleanup criteria, but Bradford White is asking the DEQ to allow a "Mixing Zone" in the river that would dilute the contamination.

 

Village Manager Duane Weeks said he was unaware that Bradford White wanted to continue discharging contaminated water into the Thornapple River but knew the company was talking with state regulators about lowering levels of chlorinated solvents in the groundwater.

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Upcoming street projects in Hastings told

Supervisor of streets and construction at the Hasting DPS Jim James gave an update on upcoming projects in the city at the latest Coffee with the on Chief Wednesday, including:

 

*the DPS will be completing utility work at the Green/Market street intersection starting at 5 a.m. Sept. 26. The street will be closed at the intersection until 5 p.m. on Sept. 27, with traffic detoured to the south one block.

 

*hydrant flushing will be on Sept. 24-25-26. James asks that residents don’t put anything in the curb line during flushing, “especially Michigan Avenue. It makes problems.”

 

*the annual fall leaf pickup is tentatively set for Oct. 29 into November, depending on the weather.

 

Also of interest, a medicine take-back project and Household Hazardous Waste Collection (and free disposal of up to 10 household tires) will be at the Barry County Fairgrounds on Saturday, Sept. 22 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For specifics, call the Barry Eaton District Health Department, 269-945-9516.

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Hastings school's safety main topic at Coffee with the Chief

Coffee with the Chief, led by Hastings Deputy Chief Dale Boulter Wednesday, brought discussion about school safety, what to do about cars speeding around Hastings schools and improper parking.

 

School safety is a topic not just here, but across the country, Boulter said. It’s not simple and it’s not a task just for school administrators, but a task for every person involved in the community.

“It’s more than money… law enforcement and the schools have good communication, that’s a number one thing.”

 

Hastings Schools Superintendent Carrie Duits reported the recent installation of camera systems around the schools makes a difference. Incidents in the areas covered by cameras were solved right away; others without camera coverage took days, she said.

Access to the building is tightly controlled with staff more involved from school opening to closing.

An electronic card reader system does away with entry by key.

 

Building relationships with law enforcement is critical, enhanced by the liaison officer and the Hastings Police Cadets, Duits said. “The cadet program is growing; it’s a really clear piece evidence that it’s working,” she said.

 

“Times have changed,” Boulter said. “It’s amazing what they’ve done with the time and resources they have…the issue is at hand and will probably always be with us. We hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”

 

Also discussed:  

*speeding around school buildings: Police can increase patrols at certain times of day and use the sign trailer that shows the speed of motorists.

 

*cars parked on both sides of a street at a business that blocks larger vehicles: Boulter will “check it out,” and talk to the owner and customers about parking in permitted areas.

 

*drivers making so much noise they wake residents at 2 a.m.: residents should feel free to call Barry Central Dispatch and ask them to send a patrol car there.

 

Hastings Police Department averages four to six thousand complaints a year and the volume of calls to all law enforcement agencies across the county is up 33 percent, Boulter said.

“To date, we have taken 5,300 complaints, and will probably be well over 8,000 this year. Those making non-emergency calls may wait a little longer. We’re hiring new people and working overtime, making sure we’re still giving the best service possible,” he said.

 

Without a code enforcer since April, newly-hired code enforcer Frank Jesensek starts next week. Boulter said. James will be busy clearing up pending complaints, but residents should still call with problems: “We’ll get to them as soon as we can.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Barry, Eaton counties provide mental, substance abuse services

Mental health illnesses and substance use disorders affect all communities nationwide, but with commitment and support, those with the disorders can achieve healthy lifestyles and lead rewarding lives in recovery.

 

By seeking help, they can embark on a new path toward improved health and well-being. September, National Recovery Month, focuses on celebrating their journey with the theme Join the Voices for Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose and Community.

 

The impact of mental health illness is apparent in the local community.

A 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Survey data showed that 9.4 percent of Barry County adults reported poor mental health. Also concerning is that, according to the most recent (2017-2018) Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth data, 38.4 percent of 9th and 11th graders in Barry County had symptoms of depression  where they felt so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row that they stopped doing some usual activities in the past year.

 

Recovery Month spreads the message that behavioral health is essential to one’s health and overall wellness, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover, become more aware and able to recognize signs of mental and substance use disorders that can lead to needed treatment.

 

Managing the effects of these conditions can help people achieve healthy lifestyles, both physically and emotionally, improve the lives of those affected by educating communities of available prevention, treatment, and recovery resources.

 

In Barry County, Barry County Community Mental Health Authority provides mental health and substance abuse services to Barry County residents. For more information, call (269)948-8041 or visit www.barrycountyrecovery.com.  For those with insurance, contacting the insurance provider before the visit is advised. For more, visit www.recoverymonth.gov.

 

In Eaton County, Eaton Behavioral Health (EBH) provides outpatient care for substance use treatment and recovery at the BEDHD Charlotte office, serving both adolescent and adult clients. For information, call (517)543-2580.  For a list of resources available to help on a recovery journey, visit https://www.barryeatonhealth.org/health-services/substance-use-treatment-and-recovery. For more on recovery, visit www.recoverymonth.gov.

 

 

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Barry County taking next step toward new jail,COA

The Barry County Board of Commissioners is ready to take the next step in the planning for two major projects. Next Tuesday at 1 p.m. after the regular board meeting, Commissioners will meet at the Barry Central Dispatch community room to interview five consulting firms with experience in building jails and senior service type buildings, and possibly select one as a facilitator to advise them with all the aspects of planning for a new jail and COA.

 

In the week between, commissioner will decide specific questions they want to ask the firms and get them to Administrator Michael Brown.

Also, Brown will check with people who have employed the firms for their opinions on their work. Brown emphasized that all of the companies were highly qualified and reputable, and “all can do what you want,” so the commissioners need to look closely at the strengths of each firm and decide which best fits their needs.

 

One important item is how the plan to communicate with the community, “citizen engagement is critical,” Commissioner Ben Geiger said, and also what experience and ideas they have in local government financing of projects.

A tentative set of questions includes a firm’s experience with law enforcement and senior service facilities, local millage elections, its communication style with constituents, experience with moving departments around a campus or community and relevant construction experience.

 

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners recommended approval of:

*an amendment of a Barry County ordinance that allows Adult Care Foster Facilities in Rural Residential zones by special use permit. The change will allow Boulters Adult Foster Care Home on Kingsbury Road to grow from a specialized small family home of six to a specialized medium group home of 10. The planning commission has recommended approval.

 

*approval of a State of Michigan 2018 Emergency Management Performance Grant.

 

*entry into PA 116, by Richard and Pamela Palmer in section 29 of Irving Township.   

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Popular restaurant closing in Hastings

After more than 27 years Mills Landing Restaurant in Hastings will close its’ doors for the final time at the end of business Sunday, September 30th.

 

Andrea (Curtiss) Purdun, in announcing the imminent closing, posted “We sincerely have appreciated your patronage, the opportunity to have served you and your family, and most importantly your love, kindness, laughs, and tears over the years.  We have been extremely blessed over the years to have a staff that is beyond dedicated and loyal to our family and our business.”

 

Purdun is encouraging the restaurant’s long-time patrons, “lifers”, to visit one more time before they close.  If you have a Mill’s Landing gift certificate that you will be unable to use before September 30, Purdun requested you mail it to the restaurant with your name, address and phone number no later than October 31st.

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Barry County Officers Compensation Commissioners reappointed

When formed by the Barry County Board of Commissioners in June of 2017, the County Officers Compensation Commision members (COCC) were given staggered terms. Terri Enrietti and Steve Buehler, whose one year terms expire on Sept. 30 were reappointed to terms that now expire Sept. 30, 2023.

Members  Chris Lapins and Kim Dufresne’s  terms go to 2019,  Karen Zuver’s term is until 2020 and Brenda Schild’s  term expires in 2021. Tom Enslen has resigned.

 

Commissioners formed the COCC to decide salaries for elected county officials, other than judges. A seven-member independent body was appointed by the commission chair from a list of names submitted by the other commissioners.

 

Determinations by the COCC go into effect unless a super majority of the county commission votes against it. If county commissioners do not act, the salaries are effective in the first odd-numbered year after the committee’s determination. COCC members get mileage, not per diems, set their own time table for considering salary increases and their own criteria.

 

Elected county officials include commissioners, sheriff, clerk, treasurer, prosecutor, drain commissioner, register of deeds and surveyor.

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Barry County United Way 2018 officially underway

The Barry County United Way held its 2018 Campaign and Day of Caring kick-off last week, a rally filled with enthusiasm followed by volunteers fanning out across the county tackling all types of improvement projects and marking the official start of the year’s fund raising for the United Way.

 

 

 

BCUW executive director Lani Forbes, who has attended similar events for 20 years, emceed the event with the theme, Live United: Be the One. One person can change a life. She told the story of “Patricia” that showed how all-encompassing the United Way assistance can be and the way just one person can trigger help that changes lives.

 

“Please consider how you can be the one. It takes a little from all of us. One dollar can purchase six meals. Two dollars and 32 cents per month can place a book in the mailbox of a three-year-old.  “This year, based on the needs of the partner agencies and programs, the goal is $625,000. We have many that have stepped forward as pacesetters to kick this off. As of this morning these pacesetters are kicking us off with $123,979.89,” Forbes said.

 

“The 34- member board directors of the Barry County United Way work diligently to make sure the needs of the community are met and that we are living our mission of improving lives by mobilizing the caring power of Barry County communities.

 

“Last year contributions of $628,000 turned into $1.8 million invested back into the community through matching grants, volunteer hours and gifts in kind.

“We hit a milestone in August the BCUW reached a milestone of providing more than $1million dollars in utility assistance. The BCUW had more than 2,493 volunteers impacting every aspect of our community.

 

“Florence Tyden lives on in the administrative endowment fund at the Barry Community Foundation ensuring that 100 percent of contributions go directly to programming,” she said. The Andy and Kristen Cove family served as campaign chairs this year, the prayer was offered by Reverend Linnea Stifler and the Thornapple Kellogg High School Band kept an upbeat tempo to the kickoff.

 

 

Photos: The BCUW staff ffrom left,Courtney Ziny, Ally Owen, Emily Blocher, Morgan Johnson, June Behrendt, Lani Forbes, Devin Hamlin, Pattrick JansensCourtney Ziny, Ally Owen, Emily Blocher, Morgan Johnson, June Behrendt, Lani Forbes, Devin Hamlin and Pattrick Jansens  pose for a photo at the campaign and Day of Caring kickoff.

(photo by Lyn Briel)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volunteers Josh Wooden, (left) team leader, and Carl Swanson start the cement repairs to the Shack in Delton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volunteers Dave Hard (front) and Roy A. Stadel throw cement pieces into the truck. New cement blocks improved the Shack’s exterior during Day of Caring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Thornapple Kellogg High School volunteers,Kara Burbridge and Anna Benedict, clean up a landscape area for a homeowner. (photo by Lyn Briel)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carl Swanson, gets the metal saw to cut out an old air conditioner from the building in Delton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Patricia's story

At the Barry County United Way Campaign and Day of Caring Kickoff last week, Executive Director Lani Forbes told the story of a woman she called “Patricia.” The BCUW theme, “Live United Be the One” was illustrated perfectly by her story, how “one” after another “one” stepped up to help her become an independent woman succeeding on her own.

 

This is the story Forbes told:

A Hastings woman, Patricia was being shuttled from one family member or another for a time depending on who needed her Social Security Disability check. She has lived in Nevada, California, New Jersey and now Michigan.

 

Vern, who works for Hastings Department of Public Works, was the first one of many other ones who stepped up for Patricia. He saw her most valuable possessions on her front porch, then saw her take her items to the end of the road and wait for someone to pull up, load all of the items into the car and be driven away, only to return a few days later.

 

He saw the items would soon be back out on the porch and the cycle would start all over. Vern stopped Patricia and asked if he could help. He brought her to the United Way, where Emily became the one to find her shelter. The Hastings City Police became the one when they went to her former home, located her missing Bridge card and gathered the rest of her belongings for her.

 

The Salvation Army was the one who provided overnight housing at the Parkview Motel where Naynika and Victor became the ones.

At Green Gables Haven, Christy became the one, connecting Patricia with legal services, holistic counseling and the prosecutor’s office.

Sue at the Department of Health and Human Services became the next one, making sure Patricia had food and medical benefits.

 

Next, Courtney became the one, helping her figure out what she could afford for housing and utilities. Together, they figured out a stable plan for Patricia’s future based on her limited income and resources. //

 

Karri became the one from Barry County Mental Health that helped with underlying and current issue that any of us would face if we had lived the life of Patricia.

Barry County Transit becomes the one, when Patricia chooses to go to the Fresh Food Initiative.

 

The next one, Jenna of Pine Grove Housing, contacted Patricia to say she had a Housing Choice Voucher available. Patricia, armed with her budgeting plan, and helped by Jenna, searched and found an apartment that met requirements and was affordable. Habitat ReStore provided affordable items needed for her to move into her first apartment.

 

“What if Vern chose not to be the one?  What if Vern would have been too busy?  Thankfully, Vern chose to be the one,” Forbes said.

“Everyone advocated for Patricia, for her safety and well-being. She was an active participant in making herself successful.

 

“After her first payment to her landlord, she called Emily, she was so excited, she did it, she had made her rent payment and she said, ‘I feel like a real adult now!’” 

Patricia had not had this amount of outside support in her life. Because of the way those choosing to be the one were involved in her life, she began to believe in herself.

Today, Patricia is living on her own successfully for the first time in 57 years, Forbes said.

 

“The Barry County community allowed this to happen. Because you all chose to Be the One. Will you be the one?  The Patricia’s of this world thank you.”

 

 

 

 

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Coffee with Chief Pratt is Sept. 19 at Hastings Public Library

The next Coffee with the Chief, with Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt, is set for Wednesday, Sept. 19 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Community Room at the Hastings Public Library. The hour is for the public to bring questions and concerns to discuss with the chief.

Pratt said one of the topics will be school safety and he’s asking the public for input on the subject.

 

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Greenville man dies in motorcycle/car crash in Cascade Township

Kent County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a motorcyclist struck by a passenger car in the 5000 block of Kraft Avenue, S.E. near the airport viewing area Monday just after 7 a.m.,according to a KCSO news release.

 

The initial investigation revealed that a southbound motorcycle, operated by Michael Wilberding, 58, of Greenville, was struck head-on by a northbound sedan, driven by Andrijana Masnica, 48, also of Greenville.

 

Wilberding was pronounced dead at the scene; the cause of the accident remains under investigation.

 

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New chairman of Gun Lake Tribal Council named

Bob Peters has been sworn in as Chairman of the Tribal Council of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians (Gun Lake Tribe). The council selected Peters to serve as chairman Sept. 13.

 

Nicole Overbeck was also sworn in as a newly-elected Tribal Council member.  Peters, Overbeck, and incumbent Jennie Pearl Heeren were all elected as representatives of the Bradley voting district by tribal citizens on Aug. 28.  Each was elected to four-year terms.

 

“I am honored and humbled to have been chosen chairman by my fellow Tribal Council members,” said Peters.  “I want to thank our tribal citizens for their support in my re-election, and my mother and family for always being there to support me.” Peters values family above all else and is very close with his mother, two sisters and his nieces and nephews.  He is the grandson of the beloved and respected departed tribal elder, Joseph “Shine” Sprague. 

 

Peters has served on the Tribal Council since 2014, he became the treasurer in 2016.  He has nearly 20 years of experience in casino operations, gaming regulatory and tribal government employment.For the last four years he has been responsible for administering and monitoring all fiscal matters of the tribe, and is a board member of the tribe’s non-gaming economic development corporation, Gun Lake Investments.

 

Peters is enrolled at Western Michigan University, where he will complete his bachelor’s degree in business, and plans to continue his education by earning a Master of Business Administration.  In 2015, he became a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

 

Recently selected as one of the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s “40 Under 40 Business Leaders” in West Michigan. Peters will accept the award on Oct. 17 in Grand Rapids.  

Tribal Council members are Bob Peters, chairman; Ed Pigeon, vice chairman; Jennie Pearl Heeren, treasurer; Jeff Martin, secretary and Phyllis Davis, Jodie Palmer and Nicole Overbeck.

 

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Two area men die in two-car Eaton County crash

The Eaton County Sheriff’s Office is reporting a Saturday afternoon crash that claimed the lives of two area men.

Earl Richard Miller from Hastings and Eugene Dale Miller from Vermontville died at the scene at the intersection of West Five Point Highway and North Bradley Road.

 

Officials said it initially appears a brown sedan westbound on West Point Highway was struck by a blue SUV that was northbound on North Bradley Road and ran the stop sign.

Both vehicles ended up in the yard of a residence northwest of the intersection.

 

The sedan held the two men who died and a third passenger who was flown by helicopter to a Lansing hospital with serious injuries. The driver of the blue SUV, the only occupant, suffered non-life threatening injuries and was transported by ambulance to a Lansing area hospital.

 

Deputies responded to the crash at 1:44 p.m. Eaton Area EMS and the Charlotte Fire Department also responded. The intersection was shut down for about five hours.  The sheriff’s Accident Team and Detective Bureau continue to investigate.

 

 

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Home invasion in progress stopped by Allegan County Sheriff deputies

Allegan County Sheriff deputies were dispatched to a home invasion in progress in Monterey Township Sunday about 8:45 p.m. Officers arrived on the scene and found a female hiding in a suspect’s vehicle in the garage.  Another suspect was seen inside the residence.

 

The homeowner was not on scene, but a surveillance/alarm system alerted the call.  The owner told deputies he had numerous firearms in the residence. When the suspect did not comply when told to come out of the house, Allegan County SWAT was called to the scene. After several more commands, a man came out the home.

 

A thorough search of the residence found no one else inside. Both suspects were brought to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office for interviews and lodged for home invasion.

 

The incident occurred at a home on 28th Street north of 134th Avenue.

The deputies were assisted by Michigan State Police, Gun Lake Tribal Police and Wayland EMS.

 

If anyone who has any information about home invasion or similar incidents in the area, is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 269-67-0500 or silent observer, 1-800-554-3633

 

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Plainwell man dies in motorcycle crash in Yankee Springs Township

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate a fatal motorcycle crash on Briggs Road in Yankee Spring Township on Sunday about 11:30 a.m.

 

According to a sheriff’s news release, Dennis Corbin, 70, from Plainwell, was thrown from his motorcycle as a result of the crash; he was pronounced dead at the scene. Corbin was wearing a helmet and alcohol and speed do not appear to be factors.

 

Sheriff’s deputies were assisted by Wayland EMS, Yankee Springs Fire Department, Michigan Department of Transportation, and Barry County Central Dispatch.

 

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***Does Barry County want/need its own health department?

***During and after the contentious discussion and repeal of the Barry Eaton District Health Department Time of Sale or Transfer regulation (TOST), the possibility of Barry County breaking away and establishing its own health department was also promoted by some. The issue has not gone away.

 

What follows are the opinions of some who are for or against a Barry County Health Department, along with their reasoning.

 

Barry County Commissioner and Health Board member David Jackson:

“As a Commissioner for the past three years, there have periodically been individuals pushing the discussion on the possibility of a health department separate from Eaton County.   I think it’s my responsibility to be open minded about all ideas that represent the best interest of Barry County families.  With those discussions, I have yet to see a realistic plan than saves the tax payer’s money or provides better level of services for Barry County residents.

 

Currently we have a Health Department that is structured to share resources with Eaton County with cost allocated based on the population of the two counties.  This affords both counties a tremendous savings by sharing the cost for the health department and not having to pay for all the overhead, payroll and fringe benefits individually.

 

It’s rare to find effective, cost conscious collaboration between counties that provides a level of service to the tax payer that would be extremely expensive to be replicated by the counties individually.

 

Our health department is a nationally accredited organization staffed with professionals.  They provide a valuable service to our community protecting public health across many levels. The world continues to become a more dangerous place and the news has no shortage of PFAS water contamination, Hepatitis outbreaks, toxic algae blooms and other increasing health threats to our citizens. 

 

At this point, creating a separate health department would cost Barry County tax payers substantially more money or dramatically cut services or both. I don’t support putting our citizens at risk and cutting the needed services many of our residents depend on.”

 

 

Barry County Citizen Bob Schaffer, former environmental health director at BEDHD (1962 to 1988).

“I support a separate health department for Barry County. There is too much administrative overhead and there would be considerable cost savings if office staff didn’t have to travel to another county. I would be willing to work with anybody who thinks there should be changes; I have some background in that.

 

When I was there, there was a medical health officer, environmental officer and a director of nursing. They added another layer with a non-medical officer, sometime after I left in 1988.

I think the biggest thing is local control. Your board of health doesn’t need to be all commissioners. With Barry County alone, you could have two from the public and three commissioners for five people on the board.

 

That would save more money and not have just elected officials on the board; people would know what’s going on. There is so much talk about people unhappy with the health department; there’s this complaint, that complaint. I think the commissioners should appoint an ad hoc committee to study it and bring back a recommendation. I think that would get rid of complaints and people asking all these questions.”

 

Eaton County Commissioner and Health Board Member Blake Mulder:

“I find it very odd that any group of reasonable people would advocate for the dissolution of the Barry Eaton Health Dept.  First of all, the existence, functions and duties of the county health departments are mandated by State Law, so whether operated as a single county or multi-county district department is a matter of local preference.

 

As tax paying citizens we are demanding more efficient and cost effective government. Collaboration and shared services decrease administration overhead, information/technology costs, reporting and auditing fees, we are all saving money.

 

The current BEHD Chairman Ben Geiger has made sure each county is paying their appropriate portion of funding, albeit, that the majority of funds to run the Health Dept. are from the state and federal government.

 

As a unified health department, staff resources can be moved to the area of need, a Norovirus contamination in Hastings, or Hepatitis A virus outbreak in Eaton. Both countries benefit.

I don’t want to waste my tax dollars, but I do want to know that the restaurant I just had dinner in was inspected by a qualified county sanitarian and that the young, low income mother has nutritious food and vitamins for her baby.

Thank you Barry Eaton Health Dept.”

 

Barry County Citizen Jack Miner:

“I support Barry County establishing its own health department separate from Eaton County.

We can save between $350,000 and $400,000 annually by having an independent Health Department. The taxpayers of Barry County should not be burdened with the excessive costs of the BEDHD.

 

In the 2017-18 budget, salaries for five executives of the department were set at almost $750,000, including fringe benefits, in a fiscal year that there were less than 70 employees and a total budget of less than $7,000,000. The director was paid more than $150,000, including fringe benefits; more than Barry County’s administrator is paid. He is tasked with administration of over 250 employees, budgetary management of over $16 million and supervision of over $30 million additional pass thru funds.

 

The eight mandated public health services are food protection, private groundwater/public water supply, on-site sewage disposal, hearing screening, vision services, sexually transmitted disease control and prevention, immunization and infectious disease control. Cherry Health provides hearing, vision and immunization services locally. There are several other duplications of services and non-mandated services provided by the BEDHD. Dental care and mental health are provided only in Eaton County.  

 

BC has a world class mental health service that would handle these issues if we had a stand-alone health department. A BCHD could use Cherry Health for the mandated services passing along the funds from the state, saving staff, management and facilities costs.  The Hastings BEDHD building is too large for its present use, yet BC pays more than $130,000 annually for its operating costs. 

Give us a BCHD with local control over costs and three citizen members on its board to help three county commissioners oversee its operation.” 

 

Eaton County Commissioners and Health Board member Jane Whitacre:
“I think it is financially impractical for the two counties to split. I agree that the counties have their differences. Most of the BEDHD programs are required/ mandated. That infrastructure/ administrative cost is only affordable for us when supported by two counties. 

 

“The Barry commissioners would short change their county residents by splitting off. They’d have to spend a lot more local money too.  I think we have an excellent health dept. and staff.  They face life and death issues for the public and serve us well. They are the public health experts, not county commissioners.”

 

Barry County Citizen Larry Bass:

 “Is Barry County best served by continuing participation in the current Barry Eaton District Health Department? After my involvement in the repeal of the Time of Sale or Transfer Regulation (TOST) and attending Board of Health meeting for nearly five years, I believe that Barry County should initiate a comprehensive study to determine if a new direction needs to be forged.

 

The following questions need to be asked;

1. Are the demographics and needs between the counties still similar enough to continue the current format of the district?

2. Since Barry County’s population is 50 percent of Eaton Counties are the citizens of Barry County getting equal focus on health issues that may arise?

3. Are there programs that are not state mandated being offered by BEDHD and what are the cost associated with those programs? There have been prior requests for this information.

4. A Barry County commissioner has requested that a study be performed to insure that the BEDHD staffing is the right size for the scope of mandated programs. This still needs to be performed.

5. The budget and budgeting process needs to be more accessible to the public in terms of readily providing information without some elements being treated as a need to know basis and you don’t need to know. 

6. The Freedom of Information Act requests need to be treated in more customer friendly basis. Currently, it appears that the process in operated on a basis to discourage requests and add extremely high charges for requests.

7. Are the fees that Barry County residents are being charged in line with those fees in neighboring health departments?

8. Is it fiscally responsible to form an independent Barry County Health Department and would the residents lose health program access if separation occurs?”

 

Eaton County Commissioner Brian Droscha: “There was some talk last year among the commissioners, however informal, that we might consider separating from the Barry Eaton District Health Department, but that decision would have to be made within the health department; not at the commissioner’s level.”

 

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NOTICE: To those who attended the Michigan Renaissance Festival

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department has learned that visitors may have been exposed to Hepatitis A at the Michigan Renaissance Festival on September 1, 2, or 3.

 

Vaccination is recommended within 14 days of exposure; the BEDHD is offering walk-in vaccinations for Hepatitis A today, Saturday, September 15 at both locations from 10 am to 12 noon

 

Hastings: 330 West Woodlawn in Hastings from 10 a.m. to noon.

 

Charlotte: 1033 Health Care Drive in Charlotte from 10 a.m. to noon.

 

For more information about possible exposure, read Oakland County’s press release at https://www.oakgov.com/health/news/Pages/UPDATE---Hepatitis-A-Exposure-at-the-Michigan-Renaissance-Festival-.aspx

 

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Jordan Lake Improvement Board oversight questioned

David Fillion, a Jordon Lake resident, spoke at the Barry County Commissioner’s meeting Tuesday, challenging the Jordan Lake Improvement Board’s oversight. Lake residents deserve better representation than the board gives;  issues like sediment and nutrient loading and spraying herbicides during fish spawning are not discussed with residents, Fillion said.

 

There is one mandated meeting a year that is held during the daytime when most can’t attend, he said, and the board has created a hostile environment for residents, seeming to value power and control instead of recognizing the honor and privilege of serving its constituents.

 

Fillion said spraying of chemicals to control weeds in the lake has been done for years; he noticed about three years ago that bluegills were not spawning. He contacted the DEQ Fisheries Division and learned the spray being used by PLM Lake and Land Management Corp., chelated copper and copper sulfate, was toxic to fish, he said.

“I asked for a moratorium on the spraying, but they (the board) declined to do it,” Fillion said.

 

This year, spraying of chelated copper and copper sulfate on 18 acres of the lake took place on June 1.  On June 2, fish started dying, with a total of approximately 200 Bluegill, 50 Black Crappie and 50 Yellow Perch, all adults with no obvious signs of disease, Fillion said.

 

A field investigation report from the Department of Environmental Quality Fillion requested said the treatment locations were compared to the map of potential bluegill/bass spawning locations and showed “a lot” of overlap between the treatment areas and the active spawning beds.

 

DEQ permits mandate no spraying within 20 foot of active spawning beds. PLM denied violating the 20-foot setback, according to the report. “No DNR or DEQ staff were onsite to verify or refute this statement,” it said.  Fillion maintains PLM did spray within the setback, causing the fish kill.

 

The report noted water temperatures on the St. Joseph River at Niles increased 12 degree from May 24 to June 1 and rapidly increasing water temperatures and spawning activities stressed the fish.

That stress alone may have killed fish, but it is possible the shock from the herbicide treatments increased mortality rates for stressed adult fish, the report concluded.

 

Ben Geiger, chairman of the improvement board, said the board meets a few times a year to make adjustments to the treatment plan and listen to concerns of residents. “We hired a capable and professional to monitor and assess conditions on Jordan Lake. We rely on their expertise and will continue to do so. Anyone with concerns about the lake will have the opportunity to talk to PLM at the next meeting,” he said. The next meeting date has not been set, but will be announced in the Lakewood News.

 

About Jordan Lake: According to the DNR website, Jordan Lake is on the southern edge of the village of Lake Odessa. Straddling Barry County and Ionia County lines, it is a manmade lake where Tupper Creek flows into it from Tupper Lake.

 

Out of Jordan Lake, the Little Thornapple River flows thru Barry County. The lake is 430 acres with recorded depths of 58 feet.  Bullhead, Carp, Catfish, Crappie, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, Sunfish, Bluegill and Walleye inhabit the lake. The lake is animal friendly, with a beach and swimming area, playground and rustic restrooms. 

 

 

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Crooked Lake flooding comes up again at Barry County board

Crooked Lake resident Deb Englehardt again addressed Barry County Commissioners on the lake flooding, saying it seems that lake resident’s pleas for help have fallen on deaf ears. “What I have to say has not changed,” she said. For the last month the water has remained the same at five feet over the lake’s limit, she said.  “We are not moving fast enough. I urge you to help…”

 

On the same topic, Deputy Drain Commissioner Tammy Berdecia said Thursday she was scheduled to talk later in the day to property owners who may provide land that will bring a permanent solution to Crooked Lake flooding.

 

In other business at Tuesday's meeting, commissioners approved:

*buying a commercial dishwasher and convection oven for the county jail kitchen for $23,743.30.

*form 2018L-4029 to allow the collection of winter taxes

*transferring  the title of a 1989 truck utility/vehicle to Barry County at the request of the Law Enforcement Support Office, the agency that originally gave the vehicle to the county.

*an amendment to the airport budget that reduces expenditures by $6,300 to reflect the terms in the revised airport management service agreement.

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Attention hunters: Get ready for fall hunting season

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources wants you to know that Michigan is full of fall hunting opportunities, and  squirrel, rabbit, hare, ruffed grouse, woodcock, fall turkey and youth waterfowl hunting weekend all begin Sept. 15.

Small Game

Make sure you take advantage of your base license, which is valid for small game hunting in Michigan. Here are some upcoming seasons: 

Gray and fox squirrel:

Sept. 15 - March 31

Cottontail rabbit and snowshoe hare:

Sept. 15 - March 31

Ruffed grouse:

Sept.15 - Nov. 14 and Dec. 1 - Jan. 1

Woodcock:

Sept. 22 - Nov. 5

All woodcock hunters must obtain a free woodcock stamp, which includes registration with the federal Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP).

Sharp-tailed grouse:

Oct. 10 - 31 in Zone 1*  (*See Hunting Digest for details).

Sharp-tailed grouse requires a free sharp-tailed grouse stamp.

Be sure to check out GEMS locations for great hunting opportunities – visit michigan.gov/gems!

 

Fall Turkey

Don't miss out on fall turkey season, Sept. 15 - Nov. 14.

Hunters may purchase one license a day until quotas are met, and may harvest one turkey per license.

Hunters who did not apply for the drawing may purchase a leftover license, if available, beginning Aug. 27.

Learn more at michigan.gov/turkey.

 

Youth Hunting

  • The Mentored Youth Hunting Program allows youth hunters 9 years of age and younger to hunt with a mentor. The mentored youth license is a “package” license to hunt small game including waterfowl, turkey (spring and fall) and deer, trap furbearers, and fish for all species. See the Hunting Digest for more information. 
  • The Youth Waterfowl Hunting Weekend is Sept. 15-16. The Youth Waterfowl Hunting Weekend is statewide for properly licensed youth 16 years of age and younger. Ducks, mergansers, geese, coots and moorhens may be harvested. See the Waterfowl Digest for the details.
  • Youth Liberty Hunt will take place on private or public lands statewide in Michigan open to firearm deer hunting Sept. 22-23. Youth 16 years of age or younger may participate in this hunt. During this hunt, a deer or deer combo license may be used for an antlered or antlerless deer. Antler point restrictions do not apply. The bag limit for this season is one deer. All hunters participating in this season must wear hunter orange. See the Hunting Digest for more details.

Deer Hunting

   

See the 2018 Hunting Digest for:

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    Aerial Cover Crop Seeding field day set for Sept. 18

    The Barry Conservation District and Farm Bureau invites local farmers to a field day on Tuesday, Sept. 18, from 8:30 a.m. to noon at Wilson Farms, 9549 Thornapple Lake Road, Nashville.

     

    Those at the free event will hear about the latest innovations in cover crop seeding, including a live aerial cover crop seeding demonstration by Nick’s Flying Service, and have the chance to talk with other local farmers and industry professionals.

     

    Details on programs and opportunities for financial assistance through NRCS and the Conservation District will be available, and those who attend the event will fulfill their MAEAP Phase 1 credit.

    Coffee and doughnuts, door prizes and a free BBQ lunch are on tap for the day.

     

    RSVP to David Comeau at 269-908-4099 or e-mail david.cormeau @macd.org.

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    Barry County United Way kick-off, Day of Caring is Sept. 13

    One person can change a life. Live United: Be the One.

     

    That’s the message from the Barry County United Way for the 2018 campaign kick-off and Day of Caring Thursday, Sept. 13.

     

    The event begins at 8 a.m. at the Barry County Expo Center, 1350 North M-37 Highway, Hastings.

    You can expect a rousing send off for the Day of Caring, when teams of volunteers head out to community improvement projects all over the county.

     

    Volunteer Center Director Morgan Johnson said the BCUW faces hard issues, tackling objectives, joining forces and knocking down barriers. At last year’s kickoff, she said: “The Day of Caring with 50 projects throughout the county, the support of 16 local non-profits and the value of the volunteer’s time are examples of great things that happen when people work together. Volunteers can see the impact they make.”

     

    "What’s given to the United Way are really not donations, but investments in something more valuable than gold, the children and families in Barry County," said last year’s co-chair Gary Buckland. “Nothing is more important. The value of volunteers can be measured in dollars and cents, but, the return on that investment cannot be measured. There is no way of measuring the benefits. They are not donations, but investments to measure with the success of families and young people,” he said.

     

    Guest Speaker Gary Kimble gave four reasons to volunteer:

    One: Someone has to step up, why not you?

    Two: The feeling helping people gives you.

    Three: The personal pay-back to society. It’s your turn to give back.

    Four: It builds community pride and strength. All volunteers build a community.


     

     

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    September is suicide awareness, prevention month

    During September, organizations across the country will be calling attention to suicide prevention and awareness. Every year, 41,000 individuals die by suicide nationwide, representing the 10th leading cause of death. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10 and 34.

     

    Anyone can experience suicidal thoughts, regardless of gender, age, race, or background. However, suicide remains a stigmatized topic, which can prevent individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts from receiving the help they need.

     

    To recognize this preventable issue, September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, Sept. 9 through 15 is National Suicide Prevention Week, and Sept. 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide prevention aims to help those who are suffering by reaching out, listening, and ending the stigma surrounding suicide and mental illness so that everyone can get the help that they need.

     

    There are many signs that someone you know may be experiencing suicidal thoughts, but these include:

    ?  Talking about wanting to die

    ?  Feeling empty or shameful

    ?  Pulling away from family, friends, and the community

    ?   Giving away possessions/putting affairs in order

    ?   Mood changes (especially from despair to calm)

     

    Risk factors that make individuals more vulnerable to suicide include:

    ?  Depression, other mental disorders, or substance abuse disorder

    ?  Some chronic illnesses and chronic pain

    ?  Prior suicide attempt(s)

    ? Family history of mental disorders, substance abuse, violence, physical/sexual abuse, or suicide

    ?  Having guns or other firearms

    ? Recent release from prison or jail

    ?  Exposure to others’ suicidal behavior

     

    If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255). If there is an emergency, call 911 immediately. More information on suicide prevention can be found at https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Suicide-Prevention-Awareness-Month and https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/index.shtml.

     

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    Expedited Partner Therapy available at Ionia County Health Department

    Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are a significant public health problem. In Michigan reported cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia exceed 55,000 annually and numbers continue to increase.

     

    Rates of infection are highest in men and women under the age of 24, increasing the potential for negative outcomes such as infertility.

     

    To prevent further spread of chlamydia and gonorrhea, medical providers have an option to ensure that exposed individuals receive treatment. A recent amendment to the Michigan Public Health Code authorizes the use of Expedited Partner Therapy (EPT) for  medical providers to give a prescription or medication that one sex partner can deliver to another without a medical appointment.

     

    EPT is a useful alternative when a partner is unable or unlikely to seek care. It is a proven effective intervention that is highly recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    The Ionia County Health Department can provide medication to the partners of patients with a clinical or laboratory diagnosis of chlamydia or gonorrhea. The partners of infected clients from within the 60 days prior to client treatment are the best candidates for EPT as they are at the highest risk for infection.

     

    There is no limit to the number of partners that can be treated through the EPT process. If a partner is pregnant, every effort will be made to contact her for a referral to pregnancy services and/or pre-natal care.

     

    For more information about EPT or other issues pertaining to STDs or STIs, please contact the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services at www.michigan.gov/hivstd and the Ionia County Health Department at 616-527-5341. At the health department, treatment for gonorrhea or chlamydia does not require an appointment – people are seen on a first-come first-served basis by a specially trained professional nurse.

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    Barry County Commmissioners vote to move ahead with Transit renovations

    The Barry County Commissioner’s agenda item under unfinished business Tuesday read: “Approval to proceed with the attached addition and renovation project for the Barry County Transit building as proposed by Landmark Design.”

     

    A note on the agenda read: “This request was recommended for approval at the 5/18/18 Committee of the Whole meeting. It was postponed to the 6/12/18 Board of Commissioner’s meeting and postponed again awaiting completion of a property appraisal. It was postponed again on 8/28/18.”

     

    The main concern was putting $1 to $1.3 million from the transit’s general fund for renovations and repairs before they know what will be done with the jail and transit property.

    Counterpoint to that was that the county facilities study in 2015 called for a new jail and commissioners have started the planning, delayed long enough and need to go forward.

     

    Tuesday, after 90 minutes of exhaustive discussion by the commissioners, Transit Director Bill Voigt, Hastings city officials, some in the audience and in public comment, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve the request with a change modifying a proposed parking lot to gravel.

     

    With the vote, Voigt will start the bidding process on the renovations and repairs.

     

    “What came out of our discussion is a gentleman's agreement to work together, not independently. Over the next couple months, Transit leaders will move ahead with getting proposals for the proposed construction project. However, if the jail facilitator helps us find a better idea, the county board can still adjust course before construction starts,” Commissioner and Chair Ben Geiger said later.

     

    At the meeting, Hastings officials and J-Ad Graphics President Fred Jacobs pressed commissioners to delay a decision until they could get more information on the possibilities for development of the approximately 11 acres which now hold the jail and transit, which Jacobs said was the most valuable  piece of real estate in the city. “More cars pass by there than anywhere in Barry County.”

     

    The assessor’s figures that the market value of the Barry County Transit on 1.9 acres was $700,000 and the nine acres the Barry County Jail sits on is worth $1,150,000, “were far off,” Jacobs said. He advised the commission to get a real estate agent to put a price on the property. “You would be foolish to waste money before you have more information.”  He urged the commission to look at everything, be visionary and, “be a little more patient.”

     

    Other speakers favored waiting for a facilitator’s input, get more facts, wait until they find out where the new jail would go, and “make a study to make sure we get our money’s worth,” before spending any money.

     

    Geiger said they will hire a facilitator with expertise in building jails who will help them explore opportunities, and hold community discussions on where to put the jail and the cost.

    “All of this is dependent on informing the community on the cost and location (of the new jail). If taxpayers don’t approve a millage, this is all gone,” he said.

     

    Also discussed: Would the community vote for millage for a jail, if commissioners put money into the transit building and then moved it to a new location for more money?

    Would a developer pay enough for the property to cover the cost of a new transit somewhere else? Wouldn’t renovating the transit raise its value?

     

    Commissioner Heather Wing said Hastings and townships handle their own affairs without consulting the county. “Now they want to tell us how to vote to serve them…the ball has started rolling. I don’t think we should stop the ball.”

     

    Voigt said the transit’s service would not be diminished by waiting a year, but the price would go up.
    “Can it wait six months?” he was asked.

    “Sure,” Voight said. “But what controls are in place for the future (after the six months?). The time to do it is when you can…we can’t see the future.”

     

    Proposals to wait until after meetings with the facilitator and a 30 to 60 day delay were dropped as was a March 15, 2019 limit for ground breaking. They agreed the project would likely not get started before then anyway.

     

     

     

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    Hastings compost site security improvements underway

    The Hastings Department of Public Services has been working on the gate system that will control access to the compost site on State Road, Public Service Director Lee Hays said Monday.

    The city has been looking for months for a way to control the overuse of the site, to stop non-residents from dropping off materials and items being dropped off that far exceed the size of compostable yard waste.

     

    Availability during the day and the drop site being somewhat screened from the road added to the problem. The council looked at several options and in July, settled on adding gates and secure access to the site.

     

    The gate into the compost area will be opened by a code that Hastings residents get from city staff to enter the area and drop off yard waste. The new access gates and openers have been installed and Consumers Energy will install power for lighting and the gates, Hays said.  Total cost for the work, budgeted at $7,200, was $6,416.

     

    In an update on the former Moose property, Community Development Director Dan King said RFP’s for the site were delivered to a broad selection of recipients including the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan Economic Developers Association, but did not result in any RFP’s by the Aug. 31 deadline.

     

    The council approved King’s recommendation to issue RFP’s again, this time targeted to local realtors and area commercial real estate and construction companies such as Copperrock, Rockford Construction, CD Barnes, and Pinnacle Construction, and making the price “negotiable” instead of an asking price of $135,000.

     

    In other business, the council approved:

    *local volunteers with the Michigan Ovarian Cancer Alliance  tying teal ribbons on lamp posts downtown and giving out information to businesses during the National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month of September, as requested by Maggie Isenhoff

     

    *Ordinance 554 that allows tax exempt churches, synagogues and other places of worship with regular assemblies for religious worship or services along with accessory uses, in the B-1 Central Business District and B-5, Mixed Use District by special use.

     

    *an airport budget amendment that reduces expenditures by $6,300 to reflect the terms in the revised airport management service agreement. The Airport Commission and Barry County have approved the amendment.

     

    *the appointment of Tracy Baker to a partial term on the Downtown Development Authority expiring Dec. 31.

     

    * contracts to Dixon Engineering for $9,312.50 for water tower inspections, to Franklin Holwerda Company for $65,700 to install the volute press at the wastewater treatment plant, and $31,000 to H.J. Umbaugh for a SAW financial analysis.

     

    *set a workshop for Sept. 24 at 6 pm. to discuss the SAW analysis and upcoming major water and wastewater projects.

     

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    Rep. Julie Calley holds office hours in Middleville, Hastings Sept. 24

    87th District State Rep. Julie Calley, Portland, will hold office hours in two area communities on Sept. 24.

    Calley will present a legislative update and then meet with residents one-on-one if they have individual concerns at the Village of Middleville Hall, 100 East Main from 11 a.m. to noon, and the City of Hastings at Hastings City Hall, 201 East State Street from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

     

    "I value feedback from residents, along with the opportunity to address their questions or concerns. Together, we will strive to make government more effective, efficient, and accountable," Calley said.

     

    No appointment is necessary. Residents unable to attend scheduled office hours may send their questions and ideas to Calley via email at JulieCalley@house.mi.gov or by calling her at 517-373-0842.

     

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    Charlton Park filled with kids and outdoor activities at 2018 Youth Day

    The Barry County Outdoor Recreation Youth at Charlton Park Saturday lived up to its billing, with kids going from one outdoor experience to another, trying their hands at familiar things and confidently facing new challenges.

     

    The free event, including a free lunch for kids, offered a day of fun where kids experienced many different activities, displays, demonstrations, door prizes and giveaways.

     

    Archery, camping, fishing, target shooting, hiking, trapping, sled dogs, a rock wall, fly fishing, an obstacle course and sporting dog demonstrations were some of the activities.

     

    Click here for the 2018 Youth Day photo gallery

     

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    Wayland wins $200,000 MEDC façade grant

    The City fo Wayland’s DDA has been awarded a $200,000 grant through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Façade Restoration Initiative pilot program to be presented Monday, Sept. 10 at 10 a.m. at 120 South Main Street, Wayland.

     

    “The City of Wayland is extremely pleased to be selected for this grant,” City Manager Josh Eggleston said. "The City of Wayland and the greater West Michigan region is in the midst of some amazing things from an economic sense. The improvements to our Main Street properties that this grant provides will only help to sustain and enhance the city’s economic vitality, curb appeal, and ultimately its quality of life.”

     

    Wayland has a waiting list of eight owner-occupied projects needing façade repairs, including some buildings that require historic restoration.  The grant will allow the DDA to increase the number of historic properties that will help the community toward its goal of designation on the National Register of Historic Places as a Historic District.

     

    “We are honored to have been chosen from the many communities that responded to the Request for Information,” said Wayland Main Street/DDA Executive Director Ingrid Miller.

    “Not only does being awarded this opportunity recognize the positive impact of our program to date, it gives us the boost we need to move forward on many projects. The face of our downtown will be radically changed in a relatively short period of time. We are grateful to have been selected.” 

     

    The $1.5 million Façade Restoration Initiative expands state support for façade improvement projects in Michigan communities by matching funds of up to 50 percent of façade restoration costs to local downtown development authorities, Main Street organizations, principal shopping districts or local authorities.

    To be eligible, communities must have an existing and a locally administered façade improvement program in place.

     

     

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    Osceola County juvenile detention facility escapees suspects in gun thefts

    The Kent County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate a Sept. 2 breaking and entering where several suspects broke into and stole multiple hand guns from Repocast,  601 Gordon Industrial Court SW in Byron Township.

     

    Detectives identified two juvenile suspects who had escaped from a juvenile detention facility in Osceola County.  A search warrant executed on a residence in the 900 block of Kalamazoo Avenue SE resulted in a 16-year-old suspect being taken into custody there.

     

    Another 16-year-old and a 23-year-old man were taken into custody on firearms related charges with a second search warrant on Grand Rapids southeast side Thursday. The second 15-year-old escapee from the detention center is still at large and is believed to be in the Grand Rapids area.

    A small number of the guns have been recovered.

     

    Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the sheriff’s office or Silent Observer.

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    Barry County Jail to get new kitchen equipment

    The Barry County committee of the whole Tuesday recommended several items for consideration at the regular board meeting next week.

    The Barry County Jail was recommended to get a new Hobart Dishwasher and Vulcan Convection oven for the jail kitchen staff who prepares some 9,000 meals a month.

     

    In August, commissioners approved the sheriff’s office asking for bids for a new convection oven, gas range, dishwasher and three-sink wash station not to exceed $32,000. Lt. Peter Nevins said extensive plumbing upgrades would have to be done before the sink could be installed and the project was put on hold.

     

    There are no plans to go ahead with the sink or gas range, however the oven and dishwasher are failing and need to replaced, Nevins said. The two units, including installation, from low bidder HPS Great Lakes Food Service Equipment Specialist in Middleville, totals $23,743.30. The equipment has a one-year warranty; funding will come from the building rehabilitation fund.

     

    Also, to do with the sheriff’s office, the title of a 1989 truck/utility vehicle or Humvee the sheriff office has will be transferred to the sheriff’s office at the request of the federal government.  Undersheriff Matt Houchlei said it’s paperwork the federal government requires of law enforcement agencies that were given equipment through the Law Enforcement Support Office.

     

    Houchlei said the government is asking for the transfer so they can take an accurate inventory of what they own. The office uses the vehicle as a personnel carrier when a tactical team is needed to respond to a situation, he said. There is a $15 transfer fee that goes to the State of Michigan.

     

    Also, a budget amendment recommended by the Hastings City Barry County Airport Commission reduces expenditures in the budget by $6,300 reflecting changes in a revised management service agreement. Because of a Joint Operating Agreement, the City of Hastings must also approve the amendment.

     

    And, Equalization Director Tim Vandermark asked approval of form 2018 L-4029 that allows the collection of winter taxes. The form must be sent to the State of Michigan by the end of September.

     

     

     

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    Allegan County fatal fire under investigation by fire marshal

    Despite efforts of an Allegan County Sheriff’s deputy and a neighbor of a resident in a house fire in the 4800 block of 46th Street in Allegan County, the lone occupant died in the fire.

     

    Allegan County Central 911 dispatched deputies Thursday at 10:13 a.m. on a call of the house on fire, with further information that there was a resident inside the home who was unable to get out.

    The sheriff’s department arrived on the scene to the home fully involved.  Deputy Rob Flokstra and a neighbor attempted to go into the home to aid the lone occupant but the fire and smoke prevented them from entering the house.  

      

    The occupant was found deceased inside the home after the fire was extinguished. Police did not immediately release the identity of the victim. The fire is under investigation by the Michigan State Police Fire Marshal’s Division and the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office.

     

    Overisel and Salem township fire departments and Hamilton, Zeeland, and Holland fire departments assisted at the scene.

     

     

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    Richard DeVos

    One of Grand Rapids' biggest philanthropists, Richard DeVos, died Thursday at the age of 92.

     

    A spokesperson said DeVos passed away from complications caused by an infection.  He was surrounded by family as he died peacefully at his home in Ada.

     

    Rich DeVos along with his partner Jay Van Andel co-founded Amway. 

     

    The DeVos Family's contributions led to the creation of the DeVos Performance Hall in 1980 and the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in 1993 as part of Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital.  Helen DeVos died in 2017.

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    More Matters encourages eating more fruits and vegetables

     

    Fruits & Veggies—More Matters® is a national public health initiative created to encourage Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables—fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and 100 percent  juice.

     

    More than 90 percent of Americans eat fewer fruits and vegetables than the daily amount recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which ranges from 2 to 6 ½ cups, according to a Barry Eaton District Health Department news release.

     

    The health department encourages Barry and Eaton county families to increase the daily amount of fruits and vegetables they eat every day as a great way to get the recommended daily value of essential vitamins, minerals and fiber, reducing the chance of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, some cancers, and becoming overweight.

     

    An easy rule to follow to be sure of getting enough nutrients is to fill half of the plate with fruits and veggies for each meal. In Barry County, the B. Healthy Coalition supports More Matters® by encouraging eating local, fresh, and whole foods as part of a healthy lifestyle and is actively working to ensure healthy choices for all its residents.

     

    Barry County families can visit www.bhealthybarrycounty.com for resources and recipes that add more fruits and vegetables to family meals.  A local resource to make sure families in both counties are getting enough nutrients is the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. Qualified individuals have access to Registered Dietitians, nutrition education and meal planning, supplemental foods, breastfeeding support, and referrals to health care.

     

    During the initial visit, staff will explain how the program works. Those pregnant, breastfeeding, or with an infant or child under five may qualify. To see if you qualify, call the WIC office in Barry County at (269) 945-9516 or the WIC office in Eaton County at (517) 541-2630.

     

    For more nutrition tips and tricks, visit the More Matters interactive website at www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org. a helpful, practical, easy to use resource to help families add fruits and vegetables to their plates. The website offers Get Smart! tips, recipes, serving ideas, fruit and vegetable storage suggestions and shopping advice.

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    UPDATE: Son-in-law charged with murder of inlaws

    FURTHER UPDATE: On Friday, Sept. 7,  the Kent County Prosecutor's Office issued two counts of open murder and two counts of felony murder against Nathan Board, 33, in the deaths of his in-laws, Patty and Theodore Syrek. Board was to be arraigned in 63rd District Count Friday afternoon.

     

    UPDATE:On the evening of Sept. 5, the Kent County Sheriff’s Department arrested Nathan Board, 33, of Caledonia Township in connection with the murders of Patty and Theodore Syrek. Board is a son-in-law of the couple. Board is held at the Kent County Correctional Facility without bond awaiting review by the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office.

     

    UPDATE: The Kent County Sheriff’s Office has identified the couple found dead in their Bowne

    Township home Sept. 4 as Patty Syrek, 62, and Theodore Syrek, 66, of Caledonia.

    Autopsies were conducted Wednesday that gave the manner of death of both as cranial cerebrial trauma-assaulted by other individual(s). The manner of death was homicide.

     

    The investigation is ongoing and active; no arrests have been made at this time.

    Community members are asked to remain vigilant and to call 911 in case of an emergency or to report suspicious activity.

    Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to call 616-632-6125 or Silent Observer anonymously at 616-774-2345.

     

    ORIGINAL STORY:

    The Kent County Sheriff’s Office is reporting finding a married couple deceased in their Bowne Township home Tuesday morning around 11 a.m.  

     

    Police were called to the home in the 9000 block of Jordan River Drive, S.E., for a wellness check at the request of a family member. The death of the couple, said to be in their 60’s, is being investigated as suspicious and detectives remain on the scene in the very early stages of the investigation.  

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    Barry CountyTransit improvements to be decided next Tuesday

    The Barry County Commission last week discussed a request from the Barry County Transit for a $ 1 to $1.3 million improvement to the facility first brought to them in May, but delayed to wait for an appraisal of the value of the jail and transit property, the first step in planning for a new jail.

     

    John A. Meyers appraised the property at 1212 West State Street and said the market value of the Barry County Transit on its 1.9 acres, is $700,000 and the nine acres the Barry County Jail sits on is valued at $1,150,000 assuming the jail is gone and the land vacant.

    Meyers’ recommendation was that the highest and best use for the site was to keep the transit and bring commercial development to the rest of the property.

     

    The transit decision was again delayed last week when Commissioner Ben Geiger asked the panel to consider hiring a master planner to determine if there were better options for the property after some questions were raised by Hastings officials at a meeting updating them on the process.

    Meyers attended Tuesday’s meeting and repeated his recommendation after a brief review of his assessment.

     

    After discussion, Geiger summed up. “The most profitable use is with the transit building…it will be even more valuable with the additions… if there is a better use down the road and someone wants to buy the whole parcel, this board would be open to it.”

    The transit improvements are on next week’s regular board meeting agenda for a decision.

     

    Hastings official's comments:

    David Hatfield, chair of the city planning commission, with a background in commercial banking, said it would be difficult to find comparables for the property which brings an “air of uncertainty” in the figures. The appraisal would be extraordinarily difficult, and Meyers did an excellent job, he said. The city wants to participate in discussions and he urged commissioners to, “take the time needed to fully explore all the opportunities.”

     

    Mayor David Tossava said he supported the city’s land use plans, and wanted commissioners to know “the city is not throwing up roadblocks…we will work with you however we can.”

     

    The State Street corridor has undergone big changes in the last 55 to 60 years, said Dan King, director of the city’s Community Development Department. “We need to look ahead 55 or 60 years…we don’t know what will happen, but we need to step back, take some time when making these decisions.”  He also noted the good working partnership between the city and county.

     

    Commissioner’s comments:

    Jon Smelker said if they razed everything in the parcel, they still wouldn’t make enough money to replace the transit. Later, he thanked the Hastings officials for taking an interest and attending the meeting.

     

    Howard “Hoot” Gibson: “I echo what Jon said.”

     

    David Jackson said it would be very expensive to move the transit and he would like to see a cost-effective solution to move the building.

     

    Vivian Conner wondered about the amount of time spent looking for alternate sites. “I can’t see tearing it down and building another.”

     

    Dan Parker appreciated the city’s view; he served on Middleville planning and zoning for many years. “If it’s important to the city, they can make an offer.  Any other option is not practical…the transit is forward looking; they have a plan…the transit is important to the people of Barry County and will be in the future…I think we should go ahead…” If Meijer came in and wanted it all for commercial use, they would get it, he added.

     

    Geiger: “We’re considering an investment in the transit property…”you’re saying the most appropriate use is having this building…”

    “Purely economic, yes… that’s all I can say,” Meyers said.

     

    Hastings Township Supervisor Jim Brown advised the commission to…“look at it from 10,000 feet up. Money is not always the value of what you get.”

     

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    Alto man seriously injured in Morse Lake crash

    A traffic crash Sunday at Morse Lake Avenue and 52nd Street in Lowell Township injured an area man, according to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office.

     

    The preliminary investigation revealed that a 1987 Suzuki Samurai driven by Tom Burger, 78, from Alto, failed to yield the right of way at the intersection to a 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer driven by Anna Christine Hutchinson, 43, from Caledonia.

     

    Burger was transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital by Rockford Ambulance with serious injuries. Hutchinson was not injured. The 12:40 p.m. crash remains under investigation.

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    Severe Weather

    Strong winds and reports of funnel clouds in southern Barry County and Kalamazoo County Saturday knocked down trees and power lines putting a number of consumers Energy customers out of electric service.  The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids confirmed Sunday that an EF-0 Tornado with 75 mile an hour winds swept through Little Long Lake in Southern Barry County. The Tornado traveled  point 4 miles and was a hundred yards wide.

    There were no reported major injuries.  And most of Consumers Energy Customers are back in service.

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    First human case of West Nile virus in Ottawa County

    Last week, the Allegan County Health Department identified a case of probable non-neuroinvasive West Nile virus in an Allegan County resident.

     

    This week, the Ottawa County Department of Public Health has confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) for 2018 in Ottawa County.

    Health officials urge residents to protect themselves against mosquito bites to reduce their risk for the virus.

     

    West Nile is most commonly spread to people by mosquito bites. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds and spread the virus to people and other animals by biting them.

     In North America, cases of WNV occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through fall.

     

    There are no human vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV. Fortunately, most infected people do not have symptoms of illness. About one-in-five infected people will have mild illness which may include fever, headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea or rash.

     

    About one in 150 infected people will become severely ill and may experience symptoms such as a stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness, convulsions or paralysis. People 60 and older and those with other health conditions are more likely to have severe complications such as meningitis and encephalitis. 

    The best way to reduce your risk of West Nile virus is to prevent mosquito bites.

     

    Prevent mosquito bites

    • Use insect repellent that contains DEET. 
    • Wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
    • Dress children in clothing that covers arms and legs.
    • Cover crib, stroller and baby carrier with mosquito netting.

    Control mosquitoes inside and outside your home

    • Use screens on windows and doors. Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
    • Use air conditioning when available.
    • Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas. 
    • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air-conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.
    • Empty and scrub, turn over, cover or throw out items that hold water such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots or trash containers. Check inside and outside your home. Mosquitoes lay eggs near water.

    Be aware of sick-acting or dead birds, especially crows and blue jays, as it may indicate WNV in a community. Residents can report sick-acting or dead wildlife to the DNR by submitting an online report here. 

     

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    Car Crashes into House

    Barry County Sheriff Deputies arrested an individual shortly after midnight Saturday morning after he led them on a high speed chase into Freeport and back into Hastings where he crashed his vehicle into his former girl friends house on East Walnut Street. Hastings Police assisting deputies went to the house  and got everyone out and to safety before the individual crashed his vehicle into the front porch and front door.  The driver of the vehicle was taken to the Hospital  for treatment of injuries and then taken to jail.

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    A free day of outdoor recreation for kids offered Sept. 8

    Barry County Outdoor Recreation Youth Day is Sept. 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Historic Charlton Park. The free event offers a day of fun where kids can get hands-on experience in many different outdoor activities and features a free lunch for kids, displays, demonstrations, door prizes and giveaways.

     

    A partial list of activities includes archery, camping fishing, target shooting, hiking, trapping, sled dogs, a rock wall, fly fishing, sporting dog demonstrations and much more.

    The kids will learn from local experts, and meet local recreation groups.

     

    For details, visit www.facebook.com/bcyouthday

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    Take advantage of the Gun Lake Tribe's electronic recycling event Sept.5

    The Gun Lake Tribe’s next electronics recycling event will be Wednesday, Sept. 5 from 10 a.m. to 1p.m. at the Tribe’s Government Campus near Gun Lake Casino at 2872 Mission Drive, Shelbyville. Follow signs to the area near the public works building. 

     

    The tribe supports electronic waste recycling because it is a growing concern to our environment.  Electronic waste can leak harmful toxins into landfills, soil and groundwater.

    Acceptable items include office and household electronics, cell phones, radios, microwaves, VCRs and TVs, computer laptops, computer monitors, keyboards and mice, printers, speakers and power cords. 

     

    Comprenew uses best practices in electronics recycling and data security and will erase or destroy all computer hard drives. They do not ship electronic waste overseas and the zero-landfill policy requires that all electronics are recycled, refurbished or reused.

    The public is encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to properly dispose of obsolete electronic items. 

     

     

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    Extra patrols planned this holiday weekend

    Law enforcement officers from police departments, sheriff’s offices and the Michigan State Police will be on the lookout for impaired drivers during the Labor Day holiday weekend, the unofficial end of summer. The federally funded extra patrols are part of the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign, which began Aug. 17 and will last through Monday.

     

    “The Labor Day holiday weekend is a time for many families to travel one last time before the summer ends,” said Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) Director Michael L. Prince. “This traffic safety campaign generates thousands of additional hours of police patrols with a focus on reducing traffic crashes, fatalities, and injuries. Motorists are advised to drive sober as officers will be conducting strict, stepped up enforcement.”

     

    Over the 2017 Labor Day holiday period, in Michigan, 15 people died in traffic crashes. Of the 15 people killed, more than a quarter, 26.6 percent, involved alcohol.

     

    In Michigan, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, although motorists can be arrested at any BAC level if an officer believes they are impaired.  Motorists face enhanced penalties if arrested for a first-time drunk driving offense with a .17 BAC or higher.

    In addition, anyone that refuses a breath test for the first time is given a one-year driver’s license suspension. For a second refusal within seven years, it is a two-year suspension.

     

    The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is supported with federal traffic safety funds provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and coordinated by the OHSP. 

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    Storm Update

    53,000 Consumers Energy home and business customers  remain out of power as a result of the storms.  Barry County 8, Ionia County 87, Kent County 208, Allegan County 703. 

    By late Friday  power should be restored.

     

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    West Nile Virus in Allegan County

    A case of probable non-neuroinvasive West Nile virus (WNV) has been identified in an Allegan County resident.

    The Allegan County Health Department is reminding residents to protect against mosquito bites; the best way to protect against West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses is to prevent mosquito bites.

     

    Michigan has a total of 10 confirmed and six probable reported cases of WNV as of Aug. 28. Four of the 16 cases have been non-neuroinvasive or WNV fever cases.  West Nile virus is an arbovirus transmitted by the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus by feeding on infected birds and can transmit the virus to other animals, birds, and humans.

     

    Most birds show no symptoms of infection, but certain bird species, such as crows, blue jays and ravens, are more sensitive to the virus. Consequently, these types of birds are more likely to become sick and die when they become infected with the virus.

    The peak risk period is late summer and early fall.

     

    Most people who become infected with WNV will not develop any symptoms of illness.  However, some become sick three to 15 days after exposure. About one in five infected persons will have a mild illness with fever, and about one in 150 infected people will become severely ill.

     

    Mild illness may include headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash.

    Severe symptoms of neuroinvasive WNV are associated with encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) acute flaccid paralysis, or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord).

     

    "Simple, effective strategies can protect residents:

    * eliminate water collecting outside your home in containers and tires that hold stagnant water.

    * apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other EPA approved product, following the manufacturer’s directions.

    * wear long sleeves and pants outdoors when mosquitoes are most active – from dusk until dawn,” said Allegan County Public Health Officer, Angelique Joynes, MPH, RN.

     

    For more information about West Nile virus activity in Michigan, and how to report a dead or sick-acting bird in your area, visit www.michigan.gov/westnile. Additional information on the West Nile virus can be found at www.cdc.gov/westnile.

     

     

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    Decision on Barry County Transit improvements moved back two weeks

    Barry County Commissioners were decidedly cool to a proposal to wait another six weeks before deciding on a million dollar improvement project at the Barry County Transit.

     

    Transit Manager Bill Voigt asked approval of expansion plans to be paid for by transit funds in May. The commission wanted an appraisal first, part of the process of deciding on where to put a new county jail, and tabled the request.

     

    On Monday, Barry County Commissioners Ben Geiger and Howard “Hoot” Gibson and County Administrator Michael Brown, met with County Sheriff Dar Leaf, County Transit Manager Bill Voigt, Hastings City Manager Jeff Mansfield, Mayor Davie Tossava and Clerk/Treasurer Jerry Czarnecki to update them on the progress on the planning for a new county jail.

     

    “The process has been moving at a rapid pace; the meeting was to let us know what they’re doing,” Mansfield said. “This isn’t new; we’ve been involved all along, talking about commercial development along the State Street corridor.

     

    “State Street goes beyond the city limits; we’ve talked many, many times with the county and neighboring townships about zoning issues, infrastructure needs, our master plan and the impact on the community of all commercial development. We just want to stay involved.”

     

    Mansfield served on the steering committee for the county’s 2015 Facilities Plan. He expects to serve on a future committee when the county develops a new plan.

     

    Geiger asked for the delay Tuesday, saying Hastings officials had concerns about the extent of the appraisal of the transit and jail property that was delivered by appraiser John Meyers last week.

     

    Meyer’s recommendation was the highest and best use for the property at 1212 West State Street was to keep the transit, valued at $700,000, at its present location, demolish the present jail and sell the then-vacant nine acres, valued at $1,150,000, for commercial development.

    Geiger said the property is a key piece of real estate and what they do is a, “100 year decision.” His concern is that commissioners “might miss an opportunity or move in a way that closed doors.”

     

    He suggested an analysis by a master planner who could tell them if they should go ahead with Meyer’s assessment, or take another look at what they were committing to. “One thing we can’t do is move ahead, making a mistake,” he said.

     

    Each commissioner had reservations about waiting any longer to move ahead; that the appraiser told them it was the best and highest use of the property, the delay of the transit proposal since May, why Hastings officials brought it up, “after all this time,” that there was no need to hold it up for more opinions after working on it for a year, putting it off would affect construction timelines for the transit with the cost going up, and why they would need another evaluation.

     

    Commissioners agreed Hastings is an important governmental partner, but their main concern is Barry County taxpayers. The discussion continued with more reservations being brought up until Commissioner Dan Parker suggested a one week delay to let Hastings and county officials, and possibly the appraiser by phone, meet to clarify the situation.

     

    Geiger said he liked the idea; commissioners will talk about it again at the committee of the whole Sept. 4, with no action taken until the regular board meeting on Sept. 11. Geiger will try to get the meeting scheduled in the first week.

     

     

     

     

     

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    Are you prepared for an emergency?

    September, National Preparedness Month, encourages the public to prepare now and throughout the year for any future emergencies and disasters with a focus on a different way each week to get ready for emergencies.

    This year's theme is Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How. Each week in September will focus on a different way to prepare for emergencies:

    Week 1: September 1-8: Make and Practice Your Plan.

    1.  How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?

    2.  What is my shelter plan?

    3.  What is my evacuation route?

    4. What is my family/household communication plan?

    Discuss medical needs, pets, and the ages of the members of your household. Family Emergency Plans are available at: https://bit.ly/2JdbzPW. Plan templates can also be found here: https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan.

    Week 2: September 9-15: Learn Life Saving Skills

    Learn basic maintenance skills to stay safe. Take measures to protect homes from flood damage; check and install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, and prepare an emergency supply kit. Suggested emergency supply kit items and tips can be found here: https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit.

    Week 3: September 16-22: Check Your Insurance Coverage

    Take time to understand insurance coverage against flood damage and more, and consider buying insurance, if possible. Information about insurance can be found at https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/94715 under “Be Smart. Take Part. Document and Insure Your Property.”

    Week 4: September 23-29: Save for an Emergency

    Recovering from an emergency may be expensive. Plan ahead by saving money in case of disaster.  Collect important personal, household, medical, and financial information. Consider opening an emergency savings account. More tips can be found at: https://www.ready.gov/financial-preparedness.

    It is important for individuals, families, organizations, and businesses to always be prepared for an emergency. The Barry-Eaton District Health Department suggests that all of these groups have an emergency plan in place. For more information, visit https://www.ready.gov/, https://emergency.cdc.gov/preparedness/, or https://www.barryeatonhealth.org/community-health/emergency-preparedness.

     

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    Coffee with the Chief is Sept. 19 at Hastings Public Library

    The next Coffee with the Chief, with Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt, is set for Wednesday, Sept. 19 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Community Room at the Hastings Public Library. The hour is for the public to bring questions and concerns to discuss with the chief.Pratt said one of the topics will be school safety and he’s asking the public for input on the subject.

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    September is Library Card Sign Up month

    “A library card is the smartest card of all,” Hastings Mayor David Tossava said as he proclaimed September Library Card Sign Up Month on Monday.

    The Hastings City Council joined the Hastings Public Library in encouraging everyone to sign up for their own library card in September.

    Tossava listed the many assets of the library; the roles they play in education and development of children, serving people of all ages from early literacy to homework help to lifelong learning, and empowering people to pursue their interests, discover their passions and achieve their highest potential as learners and citizens.

    “Libraries bring communities together, creating welcoming and inclusive places for people of all backgrounds to learn together; and libraries are constantly transforming and expanding their services to meet the needs of the communities they serve libraries promote equity, making digital technology and information easily accessible to all,” Tossava said.

    Library Director Peggy Hemerling thanked the council for the proclamation, adding an invitation to the council and the public to an Open House Wednesday Sept. 5 at 6 p.m. Visitors will learn about all the library programs, activities, events and groups of people with like interests.  A recent grant allowed the library to purchase some unusual items not usually found being loaned out at a library, including a metal detector, snowshoes, a paper shredder, drill tool bag and even a sewing machine.

     

    In other business, the council approved a Hastings High School request to hold its Homecoming Parade Sept. 21. The line-up for parade marchers and the step off point has been changed to East State Street and school groups and others have been asked to not congregate in the Ace Hardware parking lot. In the past, the large crowds getting ready for the parade have been disruptive for shoppers at the store, and the city has asked them not to stage the parade there.

    The council also approved a request by Pastor Randall Bertrand to hold the first skateboard competition at First Ward Park on Oct. 6. The judged event is to reward skate boarders who are truly athletes, but get no All-Star game or Homecoming Parade, to recognize their efforts, athleticism and dedication to the sport,” Bertrand said.

     

    Mayor David Tossava presents Hastings Public Library Director Peggy Hemerling with a proclamation that September is Library Card Sign Up month.

     

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    WBCH radio recognized for 60 years of commitment to Hastings, area citizens

    Radio station WBCH, established in August of 1958, was purchased by Ken and Marjorie Radant in 1969.

    Since its founding, the station has provided daily, local, state and national news, reported council meetings, church services, parades, high school sports and concerts and public service announcements for non-profits and community organizations, the Hastings City Council noted in an official proclamation Monday.

    Reading from the proclamation, Mayor David Tossava said: “Dave McIntyre, who has informed and entertained audiences on WBCH AM&FM since 1959, reports the news, weather and sports on the radio each morning. News specialist Jean Gallup accurately reports news for listeners and on-line viewers. Several radio personalities, including Chad Henry, entertain WBCH listeners, while the station advertising sales and marketing staff connects advertisers to consumers.”

    WBCH has become a vital element in helping Hastings and Barry County grow and adapt in commerce and all aspects of life, he added. The station has maintained competiveness in a time when many radio stations face challenges by its commitment to the local economy, embracing the changing technology with listener texting, internet streaming, mobile and  telephone apps, smart speaker delivery and social media, Tossava said.

    The council congratulated the station on its 60 anniversary for, “its unwavering and dedicated commitment to bringing news and music to the citizen of Hastings and surrounding areas.” Today, Barry Broadcasting Company is run by Steve Radant, president and general manager, and wife Sue, executive administrator and traffic director.

    Radant said the station and staff are proud of being part of the city and county. “Thank you for recognizing and celebrating with us on this milestone,” he said.

    In other business, the council approved:

    * the Founders Fall Fondo Ride on Oct. 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with about 350 bicyclists. The event is a fundraiser for the Barry County Animal Shelter for the fourth year, and will receive a police escort from Green Street to Cook Road.

    * Carla Rizor’s resignation with regret from the Downtown Development Authority.

    * the revised final assessment roll for the West State Street Sidewalk District. An extension of the culvert instead of building a bridge over a creek lowered the cost of the project, which is reflected in the final roll.

    * adoption of Ordinance 560, applying regulations on outdoor vending operations and material collection bins. City Manager Jeff Mansfield said the operations were regulated at site plan review; the change will give the city more regulatory tools on the operations and facilities.

     

     

     

     

     

    Accepting the proclamation from Mayor David Tossava (left) are Dave McIntyre, Marge Radant, Sue Radant and Steve Radant. Chad Henry and Jean Gallup were not available for the photo.

     

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    County Seat Restaurant closes its doors

    After more than 35 years the County Seat Restaurant has closed its doors. Owners Gary and Carla Rizor have decided to retire. " We sincerely have appreciated your patronage and the opportunity to have served you. Hastings has been our home for the past 35 years and we have been proud to have been part of the downtown and will miss this community".  Congratulations to Gary and Carla and best of luck in your retirement.

    Seasonal Grille will generously honor County Seat gift certificates until November 1st, 2018

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    2018 Hastings Summerfest bigger, better than ever

    The City of Hastings was filled with residents and visitors for the annual salute to summer over last weekend. This year’s event was dedicated to the late Mike Hallifax, a volunteer who was a guiding force for the activities and events for 40 years. Arts and Crafts sales, live entertainment, Farmers Market, all kinds of food, a parade and activities for every age group and activity level were features of this year’s unofficial farewell to summer.

     

    Click here for the 2018 Summerfest photo album

     

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    Summerfest Parade Winners

    Here are the Summerfest parade winners in each category.

     

    Float Category:

    1st Place: At Home Real Estate

    2nd Place: St. Rose School

    3rd Place: Creekside Vision & Hearing

     

    Marching/Walker Category:

    1st Place: Hastings High School Band

    2nd Place: Athletic Sensations Baton Twirling

    3rd Place: Barry County Grapplers Club

     

    Mobile/Car Category:

    1st Place: Battle Creek Shriners Club

    2nd Place: Dad's Little Rascal

    3rd Place: Thornapple Manor

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    Superintendent's Platform

    WBCH offers area superintendent's this space to highlight activities in their districts.

    This posting is from Hastigs Area School System Superintendent Carrie Duits.

     

    The Hastings Area School System is grateful for the outstanding turnout for the 3rd annual Welcome Back  Teacher Parade. The event was a huge success with parents, students, and community members lining  the streets. The Hastings Marching Band played the school’s fight song while school busses drove teachers  through the welcoming crowd of Saxon Supporters. 

     

    We would like to thank everyone who participated in  supporting the school system and our teachers. This amazing tradition brings an energizing jolt of Saxon  Pride to the beginning of the school year.

     

    We  would  also  like  to  thank  the  many members across the district  spent much of their own time and resources  preparing for the 2018-2019
    school year. Teachers have been involved in training sessions and workshops. 

     

    Some teachers participated in training at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute and at various conferences. Several  Several teachers recently participated in a Tech Camp held at  the Hastings Middle School.

     

    In August, Building  Leadership Teams, worked to gear up and fine-tune our district’s support system for all students, with a  focus on literacy and behavior. We  have  approximately  250 high  school  students  involved  in  Fall sports.  Additionally, there  are  136  students who will participate in the Hastings Marching Band. 

    Approximately 80 marching band students participate in sports at some point during the school year.Hastings Middle School sports will begin August 27, 2018, during the first week of 

    school.  

     

    Additional events and dates to look forward to this fall:

    *September 17-21, 2018 Homecoming Week 

    *October 14, 2018 Hastings Middles School Dedication

    *October 20, 2018 Dynamic Planning Retreat

    If you are interested in participating in this all-day event, please contact the Hastings Area School System Administration Office at (269)948?4400.

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    Just an Observation...

    This started out as an article on a $2,000 grant to the Hastings Public Library to buy things not normally associated with a library; metal detectors, snowshoes, a paper shredder, drill tool bag and even a sewing machine. After talking to three of the library staff, I found it couldn’t be about everything the library offers, there's just too much going on there, with many, many programs, activities and opportunities.

     

    So, it turned into my observations, which are just my opinions. And, it is my opinion that “Amazing Things Happen at the Library” is a fact. If you haven’t been to the library recently, it’s not your grandparent’s library any more. It isn’t even your parent’s library any more, either.

     

    At 227 East State Street in Hastings for 10 years, the Hastings Public Library has celebrated its one millionth visitor. You don’t attract a million visitors without planning and working for it. The library’s leadership and staff embrace the latest technology available, evolving with the internet, using electronic innovations and the latest technology.

     

    Books, magazines, EBooks, Audiobooks, DVDs and CDs. Wi-Fi and places to work, computers, free photo images, clubs with specific interests to join, programs and activities from babies to seniors and everywhere in between are available.

     

    A library hand-out lists 21 current classes and programs and 10 clubs. The variety of special events the library hosts needs a spread sheet to track all of the events, times and spaces going on at the library. The community room is used by many non-profit groups and rented to the general public for events.

     

    Some programs will let you download items to your electronic mobile device without going to the library. The age span of patrons ranges from assisted-living residents to babies. Women sign up for the program of reading books to their babies when they are pregnant.

     

    A part of your parent’s library was the stress-free atmosphere and that is still prominent today. Along with those with heads bowed reading a book, library-goers are working on computers.

     

    The library feels comfortable and safe, and is actually called “the third place,” after home and school, where children, and everyone else, can always find a new interest, learn a new skill or refresh an old one, explore new hobbies, or just enjoy escapist entertainment in a quiet space.

    Those without library cards are welcome to join clubs and use the computers.

     

    A firsthand story of the Dutch Resistance of the Nazi’s in WWII is featured on Oct. 3, and a 12-hour gaming event, featuring all types of games, is on Nov.10. Staying up with the times, the library hosts its second annual electric car event Sept. 15 with drivers of electric vehicles offering information and rides.

     

    Wi-Fi is available in many places and now there is a device that lets you get Wi-Fi wherever you are. That’s the next thing the library is going to get.

    You’re invited to stop in to learn much more about the Hastings Public Library.

     

    My thanks to Barbara Haywood, adult services and marketing, Paige Brandli, youth services and David Edelnan, circulation supervisor, for their time and for sharing information on what "Amazing Things Happen at the Library."

     

     

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    Barry County Transit manager looks forward to improving the facility

    In May, Barry County Transit Manager Bill Voigt asked the Barry County Commissioners for permission for improvements to the transit facility. He told of plans for a 2,950 square foot addition to the bus garage, a 1,160 square foot addition to the dispatch center and renovation of existing office space for a total cost of $1 million, all to come from transit funds.

     

    However, the commission had just started planning for a new jail and needed an appraisal of the property the transit shares with the jail before they could move ahead, and tabled his request.

     

    Appraiser John A. Meyers Wednesday recommended the county keep the transit where it is, provide it with more parking space and demolish the jail and sell that property for commercial development.

    "I am very impressed with the comprehensive appraisal done by John A. Meyer Appraisal Company,” Voigt said. “We agree with his finding as to the value of the transit property and his recommendation to the Barry County Board of Commissioners that our facility remain here.  Mr. Meyer's assertion that our facility is a desirable utilization of the property has us looking to future facility improvements. 

     

    “Special recognition goes to our County Administrator Michael Brown for guiding Mr. Meyer through the process.  I speak for all transit employees in thanking Transportation Board members Hoot Gibson, Jon Smelker and Shawn Winters for their vision and insight. 

     

    “We hope to gain approval of the commission to begin renovations to our facility at no additional cost to our taxpayers."  Commissioner Smelker asked the commission for immediate consideration of the transit planned improvements.

     

     

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    Barry Eaton District Health Department employee salaries questioned

    Last week, at the Barry Cuonty Commission meeting, citizen Jack Miner said that the Barry Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) 2019 draft budget hides all employee expenses from the public. He alleged that $4.25 million dollars is being hidden from the taxpayers for fiscal year 2019 and told commissioners that it is time for them to, “start asking some questions.” 

     

    This week, Miner said during public comment that the lack of transparency on budget figures, “is the result of Commissioner (Ben) Geiger’s arbitrary decision to change the health department budgeting process, apparently without consulting with other commissioners or the health board.”

    Miner said he has asked repeatedly to be put on a county commission committee of the whole meeting agenda to discuss the topic, and has been denied.

     

    According to Miner, the average wage for a health department employee 2017 was $70,665; in 2018 it was $70,255 and in the 2019 draft budget, it is $76,265 for each employee.

    “That’s a year over year increase of $6,010 dollars for each employee a total of over $335,000 next year,” he said.

     

    Commissioner Jon Smelker said he submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the BEDHD for the employee’s salary schedule and got hourly information.

    “I get the feeling that I’m being snowballed on this…If you changed something, I’m going to be very upset,” he said to Geiger, “I’m going to be extremely upset.”

    Smelker later said he has received a schedule of current salaries from the BEDHD.

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    "Welcome Back" parade held for Hastings Teachers and Staff

    The band played, the public lined State Street and cheered, the horns honked, and all shared Saxon pride as the teachers and staff of Hastings Area Schools rode school buses through downtown Hastings on Wednesday morning.

     

    The third annual 'Welcome Back Teacher' parade included chinese fire drills,  signs and posters with messages of thanks and encouragement, balloons, and noisemakers that made for a fun show of community support. 

     

    Afterward, the annual BIE luncheon was held at Hastings Middle School.

     

     

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    Appraiser recommends demolishing Barry County Jail, keeping Transit

    Barry County Commissioners have committed to replacing the aging Barry County Jail. One of the first steps was to find the market value of the jail and Barry County Transit property. 

     

    Appraiser John A. Meyers, from the John A. Meyers Appraisal Company in Grand Rapids, gave a report on his inspection and appraisal of the property at 1212 West State Street Wednesday.  He said the market value of the Barry County Transit on 1.9 acres, is $700,000 and the nine acres the Barry County Jail sits on is valued at $1,150,000. That figure assumes the jail building is gone and the land vacant.

     

    Meyers recommendation for the highest and best use for the properties was to keep the transit, demolish the present jail and bring commercial develop to everything east of the transit building.

    During discussion, making the street into a cul-de-sac and keeping as much frontage as possible to add viability for commercial development, was talked about.

     

    Meyers said there are no significant environmental concerns with the property and the site has a good location. His fee for the appraisal and presentation was $3,450. The recommendation will likely be appreciated by transit Manager Bill Voigt.

     

    In May, he requested approval of a 2,950 square foot addition to the bus garage, a 1,160 square foot addition to the dispatch center and renovation of existing office space for a total cost of $1 million, to come from transit funds. His proposal was tabled pending an appraisal. It will be brought up or consideration again at Commissioner Jon Smelker’s request.

    The commission will continue planning for a new jail, using the committee of the whole format.

     

     

     

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    Progress being made on Crooked Lake flooding, more help asked

    Barry County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull gave an update on the Crooked Lake flooding at the Barry County Commission Meeting Wednesday. DeWitt Dewatering has been removing water from the lake at a rate of 6,000 gallons a minute since Aug. 16 and, “everything worked just fine…the goal is for six inches of water, and more,” from the lake, he said.

     

    Blocking the culvert on M-43 and backing water into 300 acres of wetlands has raised it by 12 inches, and the water is killing an invasive species of weed, “which is a plus,” Dull said.

    He thanked several people and agencies for their response and stepping up and helping, including the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Barry County Road Commission, Michigan Department of Transportation and 87th District Rep. Julie Calley

     

    “That’s not the only thing we’re doing, we’ve got other things going forward. We’ll keep plugging along and keep you updated,” he said.

     

    Lake resident Sharon Ritchie thanked everyone for the progress being made in the short term, saying they are very grateful, but asked commissioners to find more help for Dull, deputy Drain Commissioner Tammy Berdecia and engineer Brian Cenci in finding a long-term solution before winter so the flooding doesn‘t happen again next spring.

    “They seem to be doing most of the work; they need more help…this journey’s not over,” she said.

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    August primary election official, changes do not affect outcomes

    With the Board of Canvassers validating the results, the August 7 primary election is official.

    Less than a half-dozen totals changed from the unofficial numbers, but none of the changes altered the outcomes.

     

    The results:

    Barry County Commission:

    District 1: City of Hastings, part of Hastings Charter Township

    (I)Howard “Hoot” Gibson, 1,170

    He will face Democrat Cathy Young Gramze in November.

     

    District 2: Thornapple Township precincts 1 & 3; Yankee Springs Township, precinct 1

    (I)Dan Parker, 1,112 …unopposed.

     

    District 3: Barry, Hope townships and Precinct 1 Rutland Charter Township

    (I)David Jackson, 817

    Joyce Snow, 597

     

    District 4: Irving Township, parts of Carlton, Thornapple, Rutland townships

    (I)Jon Smelker, 1,394

    He will face Democrat Samantha L. Jones in November.

     

    District 5: Castleton, Woodland townships, Village of Nashville, parts of Hastings Charter, Carlton townships.

    (I)Ben Geiger, 957

    Sharon Zebrowski, 282

    Geiger will face Democrat Ben Eastman in November.

     

     

    District 6: Prairieville, Orangeville townships, precinct 2 in Yankee Springs Township

    (I)Vivian Lee Conner, 748

    Mark Doster, 532

    Conner will face Democrat Tonya DeVore Foreman in November.

     

    District 7: Assyria, Johnstown, Baltimore townships, Maple Grove Township, excluding the Village of Nashville.

    (I)Heather Wing, 1,245…unopposed.

     

    Townships issues:

    Hastings Charter Township: one trustee’s seat: Timothy McNally, 513… unopposed.

     

    Rutland Charter Township, one trustee’s seat:  Curt Cybulski, 158, Gene D. Hall, 223,   Matt Spencer, 317.

     

    Thornapple Township, Curtis Campbell for trustee, 957, unopposed:

     

    Yankee Springs Township, one trustee seat: Michael Boysen, 405, Larry Knowles, 493 

     

    Millages:

    Barry Intermediate School District: an increase of 0.3785 mills for 10 years: yes, 3,736, no 3,543.

     

    Hastings Area School System: a request for .85 mills for 15 years for $11.1 million in bonds: yes, 2,343, no, 2,562.

     

    Penfield School District: a request for 18 mills on non-homestead property for six years: yes, 24, no, 16.

    Penfield School District: an additional 1 mill to the 18 mills for six years: yes, 14, no, 28.

     

    Johnstown Township: renewal and increase for a total of 0.50 mills for roads projects: yes, 465, no, 315

    Johnstown Township: renewal and increase for a total of 1 mill for fire protection: yes, 494, no, 283.

     

    Hastings Charter Township: renewal and increase for a total of 1.6 mills for 10 years to fund the Hastings Public Library. Yes, 438, no, 451.

     

    Rutland Charter Township renewal and increase totaling 1.6 mills for 10 years to fund the Hastings Public Library: yes, 599, no, 481.

    Rutland Charter Township: renewal of the decreased rate of 1.25 mills for fire protection for 10 years: yes, 803, no, 273.

     

    Woodland Township: three millage proposals:

    Proposal one, renewal of 2 mills for four years for village operations: yes 55, no 22. Proposal two, renewal of 2 mills for four years for special village operations: yes 59, no 18.

    Proposal three, renewal of 2 mills for four years for park operations: yes, 55, no 23.

     

    Yankee Springs Township: a request for 0.75 mills for five years for township fire operations and emergency services: yes, 571, no, 471.

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Barry County Board of Commissioners to meet Wednesday

    The Barry County Board of Commissioners regular third Tuesday Commision committee of the whole meeting was moved back one day to Wednesday, Aug. 22 to allow commissioners to attend the Michigan Association of Counties Conference in Frankenmuth on Aug. 19-21. More than 300 county leaders were expected to attend the event.

     

    The Michigan Association of Counties is an alliance of Michigan counties working to enhance county government through advocacy, shared services and education, according to its website.

    Founded on Feb. 1, 1898, it is the only statewide organization dedicated to the representation of all county commissioners in Michigan.  

     

    Community and Collaboration" is the theme of the 2018 conference held in partnership with the Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council. MAC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advances education, communication and cooperation among county government officials in Michigan. It is the counties’ voice at the state and federal level, providing legislative support on key issues affecting counties, the website said.

     

     

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    Suicide in Barry County Sheriff's Office parking lot being probed

    The Barry County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the suicide of an elderly man in the sheriff’s office parking lot Tuesday morning at 9:50 a.m.

     

    The unidentified man, thought to be in his late 80’s, has no connection with the sheriff’s office that deputies have been able to find  and there were no threats of any kind before the suicide, Undersheriff Matt Houchlei said.

     

    Updates are anticipated as investigators learn more about the man and possibly the reason for taking his life at the sheriff’s office.

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    You are invited to Hastings Summerfest this weekend

    Hastings Summerfest is an all-out celebration of summer held annually in the city’s downtown. Set for Aug. 24-25-26, this is the 41st year of the festival. Visitors from near and far come to Hastings every year to shop the huge arts and crafts show on the Barry County Courthouse lawn, sample a wide variety of food, take in the Farmers Market, concessions, special events and activities for kids and free trolley rides to enjoy the atmosphere around town.

     

    For the more active, there are athletic events; a triathlon, softball tournament, 3-on-3 basketball, Summerfest 10K/5K run and a weight lifting contest.

     

    Grand Marshal David Solmes will lead the Summerfest Grand Parade Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Look for the children's parade, the Hastings Car Club car show and listen to live entertainment, thanks to Hastings Live at Summerfest. The Elks Lodge refreshment tent will be open to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

     

    Details of activities and a full event schedule can be found on the Hastings Summerfest Facebook page. The chamber’s Summerfest Committee is the event’s sponsor.

     

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    New Barry County Jail planning moves ahead (corrected)

    Barry County Commissioners committed to moving forward on how to replace the Barry County Jail and the Commission on Aging building earlier this spring. Now they have some basic information they need to continue discussion on the steps to take for a new jail.

     

    An appraisal on how much the jail property and the Barry Coutny Transit  has been received by County Administrator Michael Brown.

     

    In the summary of his report on his inspection and appraisal of the property at 1212 West State Street,  John A. Meyers,  from the John. A. Meyers Appraisal Company in Grand Rapids, said the market value of the transit and its 1.9 acres, is $700,000 and the nine acres the jail sits on is valued at $1,150,000.

     

    The extremely detailed 82-page report covers 30 different areas that went into the assessment, including description, analysis and supportive data for the conclusions, final estimates of value, photographs, limiting conditions and appropriate certifications. The commissioners said they needed the appraisal as the first step in planning for a jail before they could ask for architect’s drawings, prices or even what the jail would look like.

     

    Other county-owned spaces will be considered, if they might be used, if other offices could or should be moved or if should some be sold.

    Commissioners will consider a facilities plan from 2015 and use government organizations that can supply valuable knowledge on what other municipalities have done, or are doing, with replacing jails.

     

    They plan to hire a consulting company with experience in building jails and COA-type buildings, to explain issues with those facilities, but not constructing them. Commissioners agreed they will need a professional facilitator to learn much more and to make recommendations, with them making final decisions on each step of the process.

     

    They are working on the project as a committee of the whole and will not use a steering committee or sub-committee approach. 

     

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    Schoolcraft man injured, wife dies in one-vehicle crash (updated)

    Thomas Bural Phelps, 71, from Schoolcraft, was injured and his wife, LuAnn Phleps,63, died in a one-vehicle crash in Lowell Township at 2:33 p.m. Sunday. The Kent County Sheriff’s Office reports that Phelps was driving a 2014 Ford Edge southbound on Alden Nash Avenue north of 36th Street when he fell asleep at the wheel, ran off the roadway and struck a tree on the passenger’s side.

     

    LuAnn Phelps, a front seat passenger, was pronounced dead at the scene; Thomas Phelps was transported to Butterworth Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, officials said. The couple’s grand daughters, 6 and 3 years old, rear seat passengers, were transported to Devos Children’s Hospital also with non-life threatening injuries.

     

    The crash remains under investigation.

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