Local News

Barry County to consider merging Parks & Rec, Charlton Park

Several Barry County departments Tuesday appealed their budget appropriations in the 2018 budget proposed by County Administrator Michael Brown (see related story).

The ability to appeal is one of several steps in the budget process, including public hearings, that lead up to final approval in October.


A request by Charlton Park Director Dan Patton for one-time funding for sewer pumps and roof repairs at the park was delayed, but commissioners were willing to take roof replacement bids, individually and all at one time, to consider, indicating they would use funding from a county account.


That prompted Commission Chairman Ben Geiger to say that Charlton Park is funded by millage, and if the county approved the request for money for operating the park, it would be a change in county policy. “It is really changing the relationship between the commission and Charlton Park.”


Some commissioners said millage or building and grounds, capital improvement or general fund, it was all taxpayer money and they couldn’t let the park fall into disrepair or lose any of its priceless collection to leaky roofs.


With Parks & Recreation also seeking an increase, Geiger suggested looking into consolidating the two boards into one group for efficiencies and the benefits of joint assets.


If the Parks & Rec has a five-year recreation plan, it could be used by Charlton Park to apply for different grants; if Charlton Park has a grant writer, they could write grant requests for Parks & Rec projects were given as examples.


“Charlton Park has historically been funded by millage; because of what the voters did and did not do, this board is going to be responsible for these buildings…if we are going down that road and invest general fund money into Charlton Park and Parks & Rec, we need to do it in a coordinated way,” Geiger said.


“As we invest into our Parks & Rec department, or two departments, or however, we do need to look at efficiencies of having one department…that that can oversee everyone,” Commissioner Heather Wing said.


When discussion brought different opinions on how long it would take to meld the two boards into one, Geiger said he will put the topic for discussion on a future committee of the whole agenda.

“They existed 30-40 years by being under one, it’s just been ten years they’ve been separate,” Commissioner Dan Parker said.







Extension cords responsible for Fire

The Hastings fire department was called to a house fire tuesday afternoon at 4:45 at 1195 Barber road. The fire started in the attic where it was contained, but still caused around $45,000 damage to the house and contents.

The fire report said there were a lot of extension cords all through the house  and one of them in the attic caused the fire. The fire started under the boards where there were several extension cords according to fire officials.

No reports of injuries.


Barry County Commissioners hear budget appeals

A Barry County Commissions committee of the whole special meeting Tuesday was held to hear appeals of the amounts in the proposed 2018 draft budget by Administrator Michael Brown.

The Barry Eaton District Health Department, Charlton Park, Barry Conservation District, Drain Commission, Parks & Recreation Board and Agricultural Preservation Board all sought increases in their budgets.


When reviewing the proposed the health department budget appropriation of $449,580, the commissioners heard a letter from Eaton County Board of Commission Chair Blake Mulder saying they have to cut their appropriation, and asked Barry County to leave the its budget level were it is for now.


Mulder asked to give them time to work their way out of a financial crisis. When Barry County had economic downturns in the past, Eaton County kept their funding where is was when Barry County cut theirs, he said.


There was a difference of opinion on the amount of reduction and number of years it occurred by Barry County, based mostly on the difference in the counties differing fiscal years.

However, after discussion, with BEDHD Health Officer Collette Scrimger answering questions, they agreed by consensus that it was the right thing to do, and left the budget recommendation where it is.


Charlton Park asked for a one time appropriation of $139,350 from the county to fund sewer pumps and roofs on park buildings. Commissioners agreed the park is owned by the county, and so the buildings are county property and they are obligated to maintain them,but would not commit funding until they get bids on replacing four roofs, with bids for doing one roof at a time and bids do all in the same time frame.


What follows are the department making the appeal, its budget proposed for 2018, the increase requested and the recommendation by the commissioners.

* Parks & Recreation: proposed, $34,175; increase requested $58,140, increase recommended, $15,000. The funds requested would pay a professional to write a five year recreation plan necessary to apply for grants from the MDOT and DNR, and general maintenance, according to member Patricia Johns.


* Barry Conservation District: proposed, $15,500; increase requested, $45,000, increase recommended, $15,500.  Director Sarah Nelson said they need a full time staff member who can write and administer grant requests to make up for no state funding, which would benefit the residents of Barry County.


* Ag Preservation Board: proposed, $2,950, increase requested $7,200, increase recommended, $2,953 that would go to general expenses.


* Drain Commission: proposed, $184,261, increase requested $12,096, increase recommended, $12,096. Commissioner Jim Dull wants a part-time employee to work for $10 to $12 dollars an hour for eight to 18 hours a week to help maintain drains. The arrangement is cost neutral to the county; the wages will be reimbursed to the county from the drain department.


* Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf withdrew an appeal, pending the outcome of ongoing negotiations with police unions.




Parks & Rec grants awarded, committee positions filled by Barry County Commissioners

The Barry County Commission committee of the whole Tuesday recommended several items for action by the board at its Sept. 26 meeting.


Recommendations included:

*awarding mini-grants from the Parks & Recreation Board totaling $5,000 to: the City of Hastings, $1,000; Orangeville Township, $1,000; Village of Middleville, $1,000; Yankee Springs Township, $1,000 and Prairieville township and Thornapple Kellogg School district $500 each. Requested by Patricia Johns, from the P&R, all of the awards are for new projects.


* appointing former County Planning and Zoning board member Anthony Crosariol to serve on the Zoning Board of Appeals for the remainder of a term that ends March 31, 2019. filling the vacancy that occurred when member Jim Carr resigned due to moving out of the county.


* appointing Kristen Cove to serve a partial term as a citizen at large on the Barry Central Dispatch Administration Board until Dec. 31, 2018, replacing the late Douglas Hartough.


* supporting the Southcentral Michigan Planning Council as the District Organization for the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration Economic Development District for Michigan State Planning and Development Region 3.


* approval of budget amendment B17, as prepared by Deputy County Administrator Luella Dennison.


Another scam

Beware  another scam is circulating throughout the Hastings Barry County area.

The scammers will tell the individual answering the phone they are a relative like a brother, sister, grandson, or grandaughter that was in a vehicle stopped by police and police found drugs in the vehicle. All were arrested and they need money to post bond. Do not give out credit or debit card numbers or any information. Hangup the telerphone and contact the police. 


Clarification: American Legion Post #45, Hastings, has first woman commander in its history

Clarification: It appears that Melanie Richards, the Post Commander of  American Legion Post # 45 in Hastings who was elected in May, is the first woman commander of the post.

When researching the story, the post history listed Shirley B. Henry as the commander in 1944-45. It was assumed that Shirley was a woman, making Melanie the second woman to lead the post.

Wrong. Back in the day, Shirley was more commonly a man's name, and a caller to the station this morning verified that Shirley B. Henry was a male.

So, Richards, a Viet Nam Era veteran who served in the U.S. Navy, would be the first woman commander of the post. Richards and her husband John, a U.S. Army veteran also in the Viet Nam Era, are Michigan natives who moved to Hastings in 2013. During the 2014 American Legion Auxiliary Poppy Day, when the Legion’s memorial flowers are distributed to the public, Richards decided to get involved at the post.


She and John both like to travel, so visiting and attending meetings as post commander are not a problem. They include visits to the other posts in the county, Post #484 in Hickory Corners and Post #140 in Middleville, the 4th District, which covers much of Southwest Michigan, and two meetings a year at the state level, the most recent in Flint.


The post maintains a combination of new and traditional duties, Richards said. The post, 2160 South M-37 in Hastings, meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. The second meeting “has a less formal feel,” with guest speakers invited to talk about topics of interest to veterans, she said.


A Disabled Veterans unit for Barry County is being developed with election of officers and work on bylaws and a mission statement in October. The new unit will hold its meetings at the post.

“The Honor Guard will always lead area parades and are honored to attend military funeral services for veterans,” Richards said. The American Legion Riders also take part in parades, many veterans activities and some funerals with the Honor Guard, she said.


Riders from the Hastings post and American Legion Post # 298 in Battle Creek recently held a fundraiser for a former marine to help pay for specialized medical treatment, raising $35,000.

Part of the event was raffling off a Harley Davidson “Wide Glide” motorcycle. The winner donated the motorcycle to another fundraiser where it was raffled it off again.

“I hope it’s still being raffled off somewhere,” she said.


The post women’s auxiliary hosts events for members and guests is the recently refurbished lounge. Special events for the public are advertised as they occur. Wednesday night bingo continues, with snacks, coffee and water. Bingo starts at 5 p.m. and lasts until 10 p.m. Richards advises getting there around 4:30 p.m. to get your place set up.


Currently being planned is a bean soup and cornbread supper, a traditional meal for soldiers that goes back to the Civil War, to be hosted on Veterans Day, Saturday, Nov. 11.


Photo: American Legion Post #45 Commander Melanie Richards.


Cabela's Robbed

Several juveniles have been lodged in relation to a breaking and entering and larceny from the Grandville Cabela Sporting goods store Saturday night.

The Grandville Police Department after arriving at the store  found that an undisclosed number of weapons had been stolen.

Several of the firearms have now been recovered. 

The Bureau of Alcohol,Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives along with the Grand Rapids Police and Kent County Sheriff are assisting in the investigation.


House Fire

Fire Saturday morning  destroyed a house two miles west of Hastings on M-43. The vacant house known to many longtime area residents as the bottle house went up in flames around 2:32  am.

The Hastings fire department said the fire is of suspicious nature.

Before siding was added years ago the house was covered with beer and soft drink bottles where it got its name from.


Public Health Advisory issued on toxic algae on Long Lake in Orleans

Residents and visitors are being advised to avoid touching algae or scum on Long Lake in Orleans, in Ionia County.

The Ionia County Health Department, in consultation with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, has issued a Public Health Advisory about toxic algae identified in Long Lake.

People and pets should avoid direct body contact with scummy water in the lake, with water that looks like spilled paint, and water that has a green sheen to it. These scums may contain flecks, foam, or clumps. People and pets should also avoid swallowing lake water.

Based on current information, Ionia County Health Department is not advising that people or pets avoid normal lake recreation activities including boating, fishing, and swimming, which are currently considered safe.


The advisory is being issued out of an abundance of caution to help people avoid any algal blooms in the lake. The cautionary advice is based on water samples taken Sept. 11. Advice may change when more information becomes available. Also, the amount of algae present in the lake could change quickly. //


Although most algal blooms are not harmful, there are some that are a type of cyanobacteria that produce toxins – and can result in a harmful algal blooms (HAB). These toxins can affect the liver, nervous system, and/or skin. The type of toxin that can produce a HAB was detected in two of four samples from Long Lake taken on Sept. 11.


The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) intends to take additional samples later this week. Residents should remain cautious about contacting algae or potential HABs until at least two additional samples of the lake test clear of algal toxins.


Some factors that can contribute to HABs include sunlight, low-water or low-flow conditions, calm water, warmer temperatures, and excess nutrients (phosphorus or nitrogen). The primary sources of nutrient pollution are runoff of fertilizers, animal manure, sewage treatment plant discharges, storm water runoff, car and power plant emissions, and failing septic tanks.


If you touch HABs, swallow water with HAB toxins, or breathe in water droplets, you could get a rash, have an allergic reaction, a stomach ache, or feel dizzy or light-headed. HABs also are toxic to pets.


Always look for HABs before going in the water. Check for any posted HAB advisories. Stay out of water that might have a HAB, do not let your children or pets play in HAB debris on the shore. After swimming or wading in lake water, even where no HABs are visible, rinse off with fresh water as soon as possible.


Never swallow any lake or river water, whether you see HABs or not, do not let pets lick HAB material from their fur or eat HAB material, do not drink or cook with lake water and see a doctor if you or your children might be ill from HAB toxins. If your pet appears ill, contact your veterinarian.


UPDATE: Victims named in fatal Gun Plain Township crash

UPDATE: The Allegan County Sherifff's Office has identified the victims of the Sept. 14 traffic crash in Gun Plains Township.  They are the deceased, Theodore Michael Cole, 34, from the Kalamazoo area; Caleb Allen Hawkins, 20, with serious injuries, also from the Kalamazoo area and Matthew Ryan Madill, 20, from the Delton area, with minor injuries. The suspect driver and his passengers will not be identified until after the Allegan County Prosecutor’s Office has reviewed the case.


ORIGINAL STORY:Allegan County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a traffic crash about 9:30 p.m. Thursday on 10th Street near 110th Avenue in Gun Plain Township where they found one severely injured person and another person who had died at the scene. Several family members of the victims were on scene and witnessed the crash, according to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office.


The crash remains under investigation, but officials said at this point it is apparent that a vehicle was disabled on the side of 10th Street and two persons were working on it and an attached heavy flatbed trailer.  A second vehicle traveling northbound did not see the vehicle and trailer and clipped the back of the trailer, causing fatal injuries to one person and severe injuries to the other. That person was transported to a hospital.


The occupants of the second vehicle were wearing seatbelts and suffered only minor injuries. Alcohol does not appear to be a factor, officials said. The question of visibility is still being investigated. Names of those involved will be released later. Michigan State Police troopers, Gun Plain Township Fire Department and Wayland EMS assisted deputies.


Michigan Trails Week, Sept. 23-30, a great time to discover an outdoor adventure

When it comes to trails, there’s no place like Michigan. With trails that cater to a variety of passions – from biking, hiking and snowmobiling to off-roading, paddling and horseback riding – Michigan has a trail for you. Michigan Trails Week, Sept. 23-30, is the perfect time to hit the trails for the first time or try your hand (or feet) at a new trail adventure, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.


“If you want to get out and really enjoy the great outdoors, Michigan is the place to be,” said Paul Yauk, statewide trails coordinator for the DNR. “Our trails take you to every corner of the state, with stops at some of the most picturesque locations in the country, a number of fascinating historical sites and attractions, and more than 100 state parks.”


Michigan has more than 12,500 miles of designated state trails that connect communities and provide real health and economic benefits. No matter where in Michigan you are, chances are you can find hiking and biking trails, equestrian trails, snowmobile trails, off-road vehicle trails and even water trails that will link you to many areas of the state.


Giving to the Barry County United Way invests in the future of Barry County children and families

The message was clear, from the welcome to the standing room only crowd at the Expo Center by BCUW Executive Director Lani Forbes  to the rousing send off by the Delton Kellogg High School Band an hour later: the United Way is ready, willing and able to work their hearts out to improve life for the people of Barry County for the 83rd year, “Tackling the problems most people shy away from.”


The 2017-2018 Campaign United Way kickoff Thursday was followed by the Day of Caring, with volunteers fanning out across the county to tackle community improvement projects Thursday and again Saturday. “I love Day of Caring.” Forbes said. “It is so awesome to drive throughout Barry County and see so many people coming together to change something, to do something.”


Guest Speaker Gary Kimble, Woodland native and retired after 41 years in education, came from a family that volunteered. He was four or five years old when he realized that some people needed help. When no one else stepped up, his mother took a group of children swimming two or three times a week. “That’s what started it for me,” he said.


He has been “trying to give back to the community” since, with students in his teaching career, serving on the YMCA board, youth mission trips for 25 years, and most recently, a driver for the Commission on Aging’s Meals on Wheels program. He delivers to 20 to 30 homes in Hastings every other week, on a 2 1/5 hour route. “But, I go out almost every day as a sub for a someone who can’t make it,” he said.


Most of the clients are elderly, some home bound, and the drivers are often the only persons they see. “There is a big turnover, but you get attached to them,” Kimble said. They build relationships and can spot problems, and get them help from the COA and other resources. They also serve as monitors of the old folks, in some cases addressing critical situations, even saving lives.


Why volunteer? Kimble has four good reasons. Because:  

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

Two: The feeling helping people gives you. Some of the people on the Meals on Wheels route should be in nursing homes, but they are not. The COA fills that gap.

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

Four: It builds community pride and strength. Virtually all communities in Barry County host hometown celebrations entirely with volunteers. All volunteers build a community.


Volunteer Center Director Morgan Johnson said the BCUW faces hard issues, tackling objectives, joining forces and knocking down barriers. 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.”


The Over the Hill Gang, campaign Co-Chairs led by Gary Buckland, with David Hatfield and Keith Murphy, had some fun with the crowd. They argued about who really is over the hill; one said he is not at all, one is teetering on the edge and Buckland admitted he is, “really over.” He confessed they contemplated robbing banks, the way the original gang did to raise money, but after some advice from law enforcement, decided to ask for donations to the United Way instead.


But, Buckland also delivered a serious message: 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. 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.


Forbes said last year, residents of the community used the services of the 34 United Way programs more than 60,000 times.  She thanked the volunteers, staff, sponsors and the pacesetter companies and organizations for their hard work.


“Where last year we were at 16.3 percent of the campaign goal, thanks to the pacesetters…we are beginning this campaign at $125,726 or 20 percent of the goal!” she said to loud applause.

“This is people coming together to change something, they make a difference. Who will tackle the problem that most shy away from? We will! You tackle the issues with your contributions.”


One hundred percent of United Way donations stay in Barry County and 100 percent is directly invested in programs, thanks to the Florence Tyden Groos Endowment fund held by the Barry Community Foundation.














Photos: (upper left) Co-Chair of the BCUW campaign Gary Buckland and BCUW Executive Director Lani Forbes share a laugh during the kickoff.


(upper right) Guest Speaker Gary Kimble, a volunteer Meals on Wheels driver for the COA, tells why he began volunteering and why you should. too.


(lower left) At the head table at the kickoff of the Barry County United Way 2017-2018 campaign are, from left, Co-Chairs David Hatfield, Keith Murphy and Gary Buckland; Executive Director Lani Forbes; Volunteer Center Director Morgan Johnson; Guest Speaker Gary Kimble and Pastor Bryce Feighner from Hastings First United Methodist Church.






Driver fleeing from deputy dies in U.S. 131 roll-over crash

UPDATE: The driver who died in the Sept. 13 crash has been identified by the Allegan County Sheriff's Office as Lloyd Dale Jackson, 45, from Newport, Arkansas. 


ORIGINAL STORY: The driver of a vehicle involved in an attempted traffic stop died last night (Sept.13) about 10:30 p.m. on U.S. 131 near 142nd Avenue, according to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office. Officials said an Allegan County deputy northbound on the expressway observed a vehicle coming up behind him swerving in the roadway and attempted a traffic stop near 135th Avenue.


The driver pulled over on the shoulder of the road once, but when the deputy approached the vehicle, again fled. As the deputy attempted to catch up with the vehicle, the driver turned off the headlights, then lost control and struck cable barriers, causing the vehicle to overturn several times. He was pronounced dead at the scene.  His name is not being released pending notification of family. The man was not wearing a seatbelt and alcohol is believe to be a factor in the crash.


Dorr Fire Department, Wayland EMS, Michigan State Police and the Wayland City Police Department assisted at the scene.


Gas Leak

A natural gas line was accidentally hit during road construction on west Green Street at Cook Road in Hastings around 12:30pm Thursday, resulting in a massive gas leak. Police responded quickly and closed the area to traffic and on-lookers while utility workers made emergency repairs. The gas leak was resolved and the street re-opened around 4pm.





Couple in prison for assault with intent to murder seeking new trials

A couple sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to assault with intent to murder the man’s mother were sentenced last year to prison. Tiffany Chanthavong, 23, was sentenced in October, 2016  to 23.3 to 40 years in prison. Two weeks later, her boyfriend Cory Wagner, 28, was sentenced to prison for 15 to 35 years.

Both have been allowed to withdraw their pleas on legal technicalities to do with plea taking procedures, and both were back in court Sept. 8 seeking new trials, according to the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office.



Chanthavong and Wagner waived preliminary exams. Wagner’s pre-trial hearing is set for Oct. 12, 

Chanthavong’s for Oct. 26. On July 4, 2016, the couple were at Wagner’s mother’s house on Huff Road in Assyria Township asking for money to leave the state for him to get away from problems with the law in Michigan.


When Diane Wagner refused, the pair severely beat her, threatened her with a knife, bound her with duct tape, tied her to a chair, locked her in a bathroom, took her credit card and her car and fled.

They were arrested in Illinois the next day and brought back to Barry County for trial.



Photos: (top) Tiffany Chanthavong

             (bottom) Cory Wagner



Gun Lake Tribe mourns passing of former Chair, Sprague-Fodor

The Gun Lake Tribe Wednesday announced the passing of former Chairperson Leah Sprague-Fodor on Sept 10 at her home in Dorr.


She is survived by husband, Bill Fodor, who was Leah’s faithful companion for 23 years; her son Brice; her father DK Sprague; her siblings Frank (Tami) Sprague, Virginia (David) Vanderband and Ryan Sprague; her nieces and nephews, Jason, Desirae, Gena Sprague, Ciara, Reece, Grace Jacobs, Mason Sprague; many extended family and special friends, including Stephanie Rahn and Jennifer Palmer.


Leah held a special place in the hearts of each and every person who knew her. She devoted her life to serving the Gun Lake Tribe with an emphasis on caring for the elders and tribal youth.

Prior to her years on Tribal Council, and as chairperson, she was the Member Services Director, and one of the first two employees hired by the Tribe.


She was a lifelong member of the Bradley Indian Mission Methodist Church where generations of her family worshiped and resided nearby.


Funeral services will be held 11 a.m. Friday at the Gun Lake Community Church, 12200 West M-179 Highway, Wayland. The family will receive relatives and friends Thursday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Kubiak-Cook Funeral Services Dorr Chapel, 4330 18th Street, Dorr and from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Friday at the Church.


Online condolences can be left at


Barry County Animal Shelter director candidate's request approved

Kenneth Kirsch, likely the new Barry County Animal Shelter director, asked for an addition of one week’s vacation to the contract he is being offered by the county. Commissioners Tuesday officially approved him as director, pending agreement of a contract, with the week’s vacation and a salary of $49,108.80, one step above starting wage, because of his vast experience.


During discussions at the committee of the whole meeting last week when Kirsch was recommended for the position, he was strongly favored by County Administrator Michael Brown, County Commissioner David Jackson and Animal Shelter Oversight Board member Tami Dickinson.

The three made up a committee that reviewed 25 applications and held telephone and personal interviews. Jackson said they focused on education and experience and Kirsch impressed them with wide experience in both. Now in the process of moving to Barry County, Kirsch will be ready to go to work around the first of October.


Commissioners Tuesday also approved spending up to $43,000 for a mini-excavator for the county drain commission’s use. With several of their concerns answered after Drain Commissioner Jim Dull’s first request on Aug. 1, they approved his plan for him and Deputy Drain Commissioner Tammy Berdecia  to remove trees and branches from county drains to improve drain efficiency and save costs. Also approved was a policy covering the use and transport of the new equipment.


The largest objection was that a drain commissioner is elected to administer work by others on county drains, not take time from administration to do the work themselves. Many counties have mini-excavators and do the work, Dull said, with one drain commissioner doing the work himself.

Dull and Deputy Drain Commissioner Tammy Berdecia will remove debris from drains for four hours every other week.


That will not affect the administration of the drain commission, he said. “We have four hour blocks of time to do other things; we can use that.” Dull has experience with heavy equipment as a contractor; he will be the only operator of the machine.



Celebrate autumn at Charlton Park Sept. 22-23-24

The Barry County Steam, Gas & Antique Machinery Association and Charlton Park Gas & Steam Engine Club hosts the 4th annual Fall Harvest Festival Sept. 22-23-24.

Admission is $6 for ages 13 and up, $4 for children 5 to 12 and children 4 and under are free. Spectators should bring lawn chairs and blankets for seating.


Event activities are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 22 and 23 and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 24.  Tractor and farm machinery displays, a tractor parade every day, pancake breakfast, a transfer sled tractor pull, quilt show,  food vendors and a swap meet are some of the activities. Volunteers will offer pumpkin painting, corn shelling, apple cider and steamed apple samples, as well as rope and broom making, and the village will be partially staffed on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.


“We’ve intentionally designed this event with families in mind, carefully creating various activities to promote having fun while observing our rural heritage,” Charlton Park Gas & Steam Engine Club President Daryl Cheeseman said.   


Photo: Look for the tractor parade all three days of the Fall Harvest  Festival.    


Barry County elected officials to get raises, but not commissioners

Barry County Commissioners Tuesday approved a recommendation by its committee of the whole last week to raise all county elected officials salaries two percent. However, state law prohibits commissioners from giving themselves raises during their terms of office, so their names were removed from the proposal.


The other elected officials salaries, with two percent raises:

Sheriff: $76,867.27

Register of Deeds: $60,414.52

County Clerk: $65,317.79

Treasurer: $61,390.73

Surveyor: $8,763.76

Drain Commissioner: $60,414,52

Prosecutor: $99,291.14

The increases are effective Jan, 1, 2018, and will cost $12, 736.11.


Commissioner Vivian Conner was the sole “no” vote, as she was last week, because of a concern on the legality of the commission giving the raises when the wording says the County Compensation Commission “shall” give elected officials raises. Commissioner Chairman Ben Geiger told Conner a county attorney said they could legally give raises to other officials, but not themselves.


Conner also said the law says the drain commissioner’s raises are given by a compensation commission, if there is one, but by the county commissioners if there is not. When she questioned the legality of them raising the drain commissioner’s salary, Conner was told it has not been the subject of case law.//


In other business, the commissioners approved:

* Form L-4229, allowing collection of winter taxes, requested by Equalization Director Timothy Vandermark.


* a budget amendment from Barry County Courts Special Revenue Accounts to accurately reflect expenses  and income of it’s specialty programs and line item changes to the Child Care Fund.


* selling three surplus vehicles by sealed bid. A 1986 Chevrolet bus, and 2006 and 2007 Chevy Tahoes can be seen at the Barry County Sheriff’s Office.


* a request from MSU Extension to pay $40,982 from the Cooperative Extension Grant Fund to fund a quarter-time 4-H program coordinator for three years.


* renewal of a three year contract between the Southwest Behavioral Health Regional Entity and Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and VanBuren counties to establish a Substance Use Disorder Oversight Policy Board to administer state block grants and local funding for the eight county region.






Barry County Commissioners urged to control some parts of fracking operations

Nine people opposed to fracking spoke to the Barry County Commissioners during public comment time Tuesday encouraging them write county ordinances to control some aspects of the gas recovery process.


Fracking is the process of deep-shale natural gas drilling using high-pressure injection of water, sand, and chemicals to release trapped gas reserves in rocks deep below the earth’s surface.

Critics say the fluids and chemicals will likely migrate out of the original area into a water aquifer and  pollute the ground water supply and harm the environment.

They believe the toxic chemicals used in the process are a danger to humans, animals and plant life that will be a legacy for future generations.


Most who spoke conceded that the commissioners may not be able to stop fracking in Barry County like one proposed in Carlton Township, but there are things they could control, like hours of operation to avoid light pollution and noise 24 hours a day, exposure to toxins and unlimited hours of heavy truck traffic damaging county roads.


The speakers said Barry County is a beautiful place with water, land and animals and the  environment and residents should be protected. They urged commissioners to “fight the state” on fracking.


Jackie Schmitz, an anti-fracking activist, said other entities control parts of fracking by ordinance and there are several organizations that will help them develop sound ordinances. “There is plenty of room in the legal aspects of fracking,” she said.


David Stager told the commissioners if their hands were tied in one way, they should find another. “These are critical issues for our children and grandchildren…I think you should consider resigning if your hands are tied and you can’t find another way…I’m sure you care about this issue. Do the best you can.”

“I’m trying to understand why we’re not in this together,” another speaker said. “Why are we not all together on this? We’re your fellow citizens.”


Rep. Calley to have office hours in Hastings, Lake Odessa

87th District State Rep. Julie Calley, (R) Portland, will hold office hours in Hastings and Lake Odessa on Monday, Sept. 25.


Calley will offer legislative updates to constituents at Page Memorial Building at 839 Fourth Avenue in Lake Odessa from 11 a.m. to noon, and the mezzanine in the Barry County Courthouse in Hastings from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.


If residents have individual concerns, she will meet with them one on one. No appointment is necessary.  Those unable to attend office hours may contact her at or at 517-373-0842.


Parking on the south side of West State Road debated

During Director of Public Services Lee Hays report to the Hastings City Council Monday, the initial work on a city network of bike lanes in the city came up. Mayor Dave Tossava said when driving on West State Road, he noticed DPS workers had ground out the center lane marking on West State Road.


“They are not going to put parking in there are they?” he asked. “They are putting parking on the south side, yes.” Hays said.

“We’ve never had parking there. The concern I have is because of all the big trucks," Tossava said.

'That’s a main truck route of Bradford White, a lot of big trucks come through there, do we want the bike lanes that close to the traffic lane? We’ve never had a parking lane there, is there a need for it?”


Hays said he and Jim James had that discussion with the contractor Monday. “There are actually a lot of houses along State Road there, so we determined that  …if they need roadside parking, they need somewhere to park…so that road is wide enough to have an eight foot parking stall, four and half foot bike lane, two 11 foot driving lanes.”


“I still think it going to be dangerous out there…” Tossava insisted. “I really don’t think we need to put a parking lane on the south side of State Road…with the new bike trail there will be more bicycles and especially on weekends…I  think it’s just dangerous…you should think about it again before you put a parking lane on the south side of that road.”

“Okay, I’ll look into it for sure,” Hays said.


Councilwoman Brenda McNabb Stange objected to moving ahead with striping before they discussed the master plan covering the bike lanes.

 “Because there are issue like that that come up, the striping calls for parking on one side; we didn’t discuss what side it would be on…as well as the residents not being notified that there’s no longer going to be parking allowed on one side of the street. Michigan does have parking on both sides of the street and one of those is going away and we never let anybody know that that was going to happen.”


"The master plan calls for ordinances prohibiting parking and signage and other things that were supposed to be done before we did the striping, and we’ve done none of that yet…"

She named other streets that would have changes done without discussion, or public input. “We should follow the master plan…if we’re going to deviate, we need to talk about it, this is putting the cart before the horse.”

“You’re exactly right,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said. “We should have had this conversation with property owners and made them aware of that, and we take full responsibility for that…we will do that.”

Councilman Don Smith suggested since the plan would be done in a couple of phases they have a workshop for council members before the next phases begin.//

Mansfield agreed, noting there are challenges with developing bike lanes; the plans have streets sharing all forms of traffic, and some streets are not wide enough to do that. 


Barry County United Way Campaign kick-off is Thursday

You are invited to the join the fight at the Barry County United Way 2017-2018 Campaign & Day of Caring on Thursday, Sept. 14, at 8 a.m. at the Barry County Expo Center, 1350 North M-37 Highway, midway between Hastings and Middleville. The theme this year is United We Fight, United We Win.

RSVP by calling 269-945-4010 or the same number if you have not registered to volunteer for the Day of Caring, and would like to. 



Good Samaritan, Eaton County deputies, Delta EMS team up to save man's life

Monday around 4 p.m. Eaton County Sheriff’s Office Delta Patrol units were sent out to a report of a man lying in a driveway of a residence on Creyts north of Saginaw Highway.


Responding Deputies Dan Anderson, Tim Daust and Heather Stefan, found a woman performing CPR on the man; the Good Samaritan was passing by and noticed the man was down.


Daust, Anderson and Stefan applied an AED and the man began breathing.  Delta EMS continued his care and he was transported to a local hospital.


“We want to thank the Good Samaritan along with Eaton County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Delta Fire personnel for their actions that saved a life today,” a sheriff’s office representative said.


Public notice ordinance change first reading held

The Hastings City Council Monday had the first reading of an amendment of the ordinance dealing with required public notices by the city. The change would align the ordinance with state requirements and, at the same time, save money and staff time.


During routine zoning business earlier this year, the staff found that if an ordinance change affects the entire city, the city has to send notifications to every resident in the city by first class mail or personal delivery. That’s about 3,000 notifications, plus one for every one who lives within 300 feet of the city.


The state law says if more than 11 parcels are involved, the city shall publish a notice in a general circulation newspaper. City Manager Jeff Mansfield said in July the council should change the code to match the state rules. To do that, they must notify all the residents of the change, at least this one time.


“We will still make notifications in the paper and also to those within 300 feet of the city after the change,” he said then. “Just one zoning district change still involves hundreds…even if it’s just the B-1 zoning, that’s 300 mailings.”


The planning commission recommended amending the ordinance earlier, however, Mansfield asked the council to put off acting on it for a month to let citizens know what was going to happen.  The council will act on the ordinance after a second reading at its next meeting.


The council also approved:

Hastings Central Elementary School students holding the walk-a-thon fundraiser STOMP Sept. 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.


Thornapple River Watershed Council staging a clean up of the Thornapple River on Sept. 16, from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s the 22nd  year of the annual cleanup effort.


The request by the Jingle and Mingle Committee and the Downtown Business Team to hold its third annual Christmas activities on Dec. 1-3.




Barry County Commissioner impressed by visit to Washington D.C.

If you are ever invited to travel to Washington, D.C. and tour the White House, take it.

When Barry County Commissioners Vivian Conner got that invitation, she wanted to, but was undecided; it was very short notice and she would pay her own way.

“Go,” her daughter Amanda said. “I don’t care what it costs you. When are you ever going to get a chance to see the White House again?”


Conner went, is glad she did, and would happily do it again. Next time she would stay longer and see much more of the nation’s capital.


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

Commissioner Ben Geiger also went to Washington; he too paid his own way.


The one day conference was to develop a working relationship between Michigan county commissioners and federal agencies on Aug. 8. A tour of the White House was part of the day.

It was a long day, with a ride on the Metro, a tour of the East Wing, orientation, a buffet, presentations by representatives of a dozen federal agencies with familiar acronyms like FEMA,NASA, HUD, and EPA at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.


After the meeting, Conner visited the Washington Monument before going back to her hotel. On her own the next day, Conner visited Michigan’s 3rd District Congressman Justin Amash’s office to talk with his staff about her concerns about federal programs for seniors, and drug and insurance companies practices.


A visit to the National Building Museum was impressive, she said. Built in 1887, it was the Pension Building to pay the pensions for Union soldiers after the Civil War, it is now a museum of architecture, design, engineering, construction and urban planning displays.  “The displays change; now there’s a display for Frank Lloyd Wright,” she said. That building has hosted more presidential inaugural balls than any other building in the city, she said.


She saw lots of well-managed security, there was plenty of traffic, and she did a lot of walking, but the overwhelming impression she got of Washington was the friendliness and helpfulness of everyone she met. Several asked her if she needed help. “They probably figured out I was a tourist,” she said.


One gentleman, who didn’t speak English, through sign language offered to take a photo of her in front of the Capitol Building with her camera.

When she got caught in a building after hours when all the exits were blocked, the maintenance staff showed her to their exit.

Prices at restaurants near her hotel were about the same as in Barry County and the food is excellent,  she said.


The most important “take away” from her visit for her, was the interest and responsiveness of federal officials. “They were very engaged with us,” she said.

Berrien County Commissioner Ezra Scott asked for help from one federal agency representative with a Lake Michigan shoreline erosion situation. Within a week, he  received calls from two more federal agencies with offers of help, Conner said.


Michigan was the third state for county commissioners to be invited to the information sessions, following Florida and Pennsylvania.


Photos: (upper left) Barry County Commissioner Vivian Conner stands in front of the east side of the Capitol Building.

(lower right) Barry Commissioner Vivian Conner at the East Wing exit of the White House.



Teddy bears for others instead of gifts for Plainwell six year old's birthday

Isabella Rose Miller’s 6th birthday party was held Saturday at MOO-Ville in its play area and petting zoo. A large festive birthday cake with best wishes for a happy birthday and two kinds of ice cream waited on the table to be served when the kids had tried out the playground equipment and talked to the animals.


The gift table was full with teddy bears and stuffed animals, large and small, some colorful, others the traditional teddy bear brown. They weren’t for the birthday girl. Isabella had asked the children who attended her party not to bring her gifts, but to bring a stuffed animal to donate to the Barry County Sheriff’s Office, Plainwell EMS Ambulance and Prairieville and Plainwell fire departments.


The daughter of Bud and Kimberly Miller from Plainwell, and first grader at Delton Kellogg Elementary, Isabella said she got the idea when riding in the car and talking with her mother.


“We’re giving them to the police and ambulances and fire departments to give to kids when they are in danger. Kids are scared then, and they need a bear to snuggle,” she said.

“She loves the idea of giving back to the community,” mom said.

Before the cake was cut and ice cream served, EMT Susan Brunsink thanked Isabelle and the children for the animals that would comfort kids in trauma, gave her a stuffed animal and invited her to ride in their ambulance during the next community parade. Mom and dad did put in a few regular gifts for Isabella. “She has to have something to open,” dad said.

Photos: (upper left) Isabelle Miller shows one of the teddy bears that will be given to a child in distress.


(middle right) Susan Brunsink, EMT with Plainwell Area EMT, thanks Isabella Miller for giving up birthday gifts for stuffed animals for emergency services workers to give to children.


(middle left) Isabella Miller gets a kiss from mom Kimberly Miller at Isabella’s 6th  birthday party.









(right) The stuffed animals will be given to children to snuggle when they are frightened.


Update on Middle and High School Construction in Pictures

When completed in 2018 the Hastings Area Middle and High School  buildings will bring  to the community a modern and up to date learning facility for years to come.

In taking a tour of the project WBCH  learned that there are over fifty trade skill workers on the middle school project and over 75 skilled trade workers on the high school project, with many of the workers  coming from the Hastings area.  Construction on the project started in 2016.


Click Here to view Pictures


**Prepare your family for any disaster

**Disasters can happen at any time. Severe weather, disease outbreaks and pandemics, or hazardous materials accidents are just a few of the potential disasters that could affect Michigan residents.


Families can - and do - cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Knowing what to do is both your best protection and your responsibility. The Ionia County Health Department is working to protect the community in the event an emergency, and health officials are urging everyone to take responsibility for the safety of their families and be prepared for all emergencies.


Some things that families can do to prepare for a potential emergency:

? Be proactive. Create a family emergency plan and talk about it ahead of time. Taking action

before an emergency occurs helps people to deal with disasters of all sorts much more


? Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes, so plan how you will contact one

another and review what you will do in different situations.

? Plan to have two means of communication (e.g. email, cell phone, phone, two-way radio)

? If you are like millions of animal owners nationwide, your pet is an important member of your

household. Your family emergency plan must include your pets. Being prepared can save their lives.

? You might not have access to food, water, or electricity for several days. You may need to survive on your own after a disaster. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies to last for at least three days.

? Store at least one to two  gallons of water per person for each day for drinking and sanitation.

? Keep a battery operated radio on hand and tune to your local radio station for information.

? For more information visit online.


It is recommended that families have a 3-7 day disaster supply kit prepared before an emergency happens. Supplies can be stored together in a large plastic bin that every family member knows where to find.


Perishable supplies and water should be replaced every six months. The best way to be prepared for an emergency situation is to get prepared now. Take some time to discuss with your family how you will function during an emergency situation.


Reminder: Electric car event is at Hastings Public Library Saturday

On Saturday, Sept. 9 members of the Southwest Michigan Group and the Kalamazoo Electric Vehicle Association will be at the Hastings Public Library to introduce you to what it means to drive electric and then give you the opportunity to experience what it is like to drive or ride in an electric car. Look for a special demonstration at 10 a.m. From then until 2 p.m., there will be demonstration rides of cars and motorcycles.


Rep. Calley hosts special guests at 9/11 Memorial

87th State Rep. Julie Calley, of Portland, today hosted Barry County Central Dispatch Director Phyllis Fuller and Clarksville Fire Chief Robert “Bob” Cronk as her special guests for the Michigan House’s annual Sept. 11 Memorial Service at the Capitol.


“I invited Director Fuller and Chief Cronk in order to highlight the extraordinary importance of emergency dispatchers and volunteer-based fire departments,” said Calley. The ceremony remembers first responders and members of the military from Michigan who died in the line of duty in the past year.


(left) State Rep Julie Calley, center, with Barry Central Dispatch 911 Director Phyllis Fuller and Clarksville Fire Chief Robert "Bob" Cronk at the Capitol in Lansing.


18-year-old Lake Odessa man suspected of several burglaries

Over the course of several weeks, the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office investigated a series of burglaries in Odessa and Sebewa Townships where cash, small electronics, and firearms were stolen. 


On Sept. 6, the sheriff’s office received information from the Hastings Police Department and Kent County Sheriff’s Office of a suspect in the thefts and the possible recovery of some of the stolen items.

Detectives from ICSO worked with detectives from Hastings and Kent County interviewing the suspect and recovering the stolen property.


The suspect, an 18-year-old Lake Odessa man, confessed to committing multiple burglaries and was arrested on charges of home invasion,1st degree. A shotgun, two rifles, three handguns, a large amount of ammunition, a GPS unit and high-end binoculars were recovered from a Caledonia home. 


The Ionia County Prosecutor’s Office is considering additional charges, including larceny from a building, larceny from an automobile and possession of a short barreled shotgun. The suspect is not being identified pending arraignment and the review of additional charges. 


The ICSO reminds citizens to be vigilant and to report any suspicious individuals or activity in their neighborhoods.

(left) A photo shows some of the  stolen property recovered from Sebewa and Odessa township buglaries.


Photo provided.


House Fire

Several fire departments were called to a house fire near Wayland in Allegan County this Thursday Morninig.

The house is located in the 4400 block of Camellia Court.

Everyone in the house got out safely.

No information on what caused the fire.


Kalamazoo County Sheriff names new undersheriff

Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard C. Fuller, III has announced his appointment of Operations Division Captain James Vandyken as undersheriff, effective immediately, to replace retiring Undersheriff Paul Matyas.

Vandyken, 47, has lived in the Schoolcraft area his entire life, graduating from Schoolcraft High School before attending Grand Valley State University, where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice.


He graduated from the KVCC Police Academy in 1991 and graduated from the 252 FBI Academy in 2013. Vandyken began his career at the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office in Jan. 1991 as a corrections deputy assigned to the Jail Division until 1995 when he began an assignment as a patrol deputy where he served as an evidence technician and field training officer.


In 2001, Vandyken was promoted to detective sergeant; in 2008, he was promoted to lieutenant of the Investigations Section, and in 2009 was assigned lieutenant of the Field Operations Division when the sheriff’s office restructured.  In April 2016, he was named captain of the Field Operations Division where he served until this appointment.


Vandyken’s parents are James and Jan Vandyken from Schoolcraft. His father is a retired captain with the KCSO. Vandyken has two children, Jason and Justin, both attending college. He will work on transition with Undersheriff Paul Matyas until Matyas' retirement on Oct. 6.


Barry County Drain Commission to get a mini-excavator

Barry County Commissioners has approved a second request from Drain Commissioner Jim Dull to purchase a mini-excavator for up to $43,000. With several of their concerns answered after his first request on Aug. 1, commissioners Tuesday approved his plan to use a mini-excavator to remove trees and branches from county drains to improve drain efficiency and save costs .


A major objection was that a drain commissioner is elected to administer work by others on county drains, not to take time from administration to do the work themselves.


Dull said when talking to other county drain commissioners, he found many counties have mini-excavators, and one drain commissioner is doing the work. He and Deputy Drain Commissioner Tammy Berdecia would remove debris from drains for about four hours every other week.


The work will not affect administration of the drain commission, he said. “We have four hour blocks of time to do other things; we can use that…people like to see you out and doing things.”//


Dull, who has experience with heavy equipment as a contractor, will be the only operator of the machine. In his first request, Dull told commissioners that it is not profitable for independent contractors to do such small projects, and renting equipment and hiring an operator is time consuming and almost as expensive a general contractor.


An outside contractor charges $110 an hour for the machine, $35 an hour for labor, plus $300 or $400 mobilization costs. Renting would cost about $550 for the first hour. Cost to the county would be $290 an hour, if they had the equipment and they did the work, he said,estimating his plan would save $12,000 a year. The savings would go to pay for the machine.


Policies will be developed to clarify who will operate the excavator and rental and transporting of the unit. The only entity that might want to use the machine is the Barry County Road Commission, Dull said.


In other business Tuesday, the committee of the whole recommended the full board:

* approve Form L-4229, to allow collection of winter taxes requested by Equalization Director Timothy Vandermark. The State Tax Commission requires the form be approved by Sept. 31.


*approve a budget amendment from Barry County Courts Special Revenue Accounts to accurately reflect expenses  and income of it’s specialty programs, and line item changes to the Child Care Fund.


* approve moving a 2009 Dodge Caravan from Family Court to Building and Grounds and sell three surplus vehicles. A 1986 Chevrolet bus, and 2006 and 2007 Chevy Tahoes will be sold by sealed bid and can be seen at the Barry County Sheriff’s Office.


* approve a request from MSU Extension to pay $40,982 from the Cooperative Extension Grant Fund to fund a quarter-time 4-H program coordinator for three years. Extension now has one full-time and one three quarter-time program coordinators.


* approve renewal of a three year contract between the Southwest Behavioral Health Regional Entity and Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and VanBuren counties to establish a Substance Use Disorder Oversight Policy Board to administer state block grants and local funding for the eight county region.





Animal Shelter Director position to be offered to Kenneth Kirsch

After a lengthy interview by teleconference, the Barry County Commissioners Tuesday agreed to offer the position of Barry County Animal Shelter Director to Kenneth Kirsch, and directed Administrator Michael Brown to offer him a salary of $49,108.80, one step above starting wage, because of his vast experience.


The current beginning salary is $46,945.60, but by 2020 it will be $74,006.40, dictated by a recent classification/compensation study.


Kirsch, who lives in New York, owns a home in Barry County and will complete the process of moving here in about two weeks. Kirsch was strongly recommended by County Administrator Michael Brown, County Commissioner David Jackson and Animal Shelter Oversight Board member Tami Dickinson.


The trio reviewed about 25 applications and held telephone and personal interviews. Jackson said they focused on education and experience and Kirsch impressed them with both attributes.


Kirsch visited Hastings, toured the animal shelter, and attended a meet and greet with shelter staff, volunteers and animal shelter oversight board members, asking and answering questions.

Kirsch has 30 years experience in hands-on and management positions with America’s VetDogs in New York, Paws with a Cause in Wayland, Canine Companions for Independence, Woodland Veterinary Clinic in Grand Rapids, and as a kennel master/canine instructor while in the Military Police in the U.S. Army. He has traveled extensively across the country and internationally for his work.

He answered commissioners questions including how he would handle budgets, adoptions, promotion of adoption of cats and dogs, personnel, volunteers, euthanasia, and relations with the commission.


Kirsch has developed $2 million budgets, worked with 700 volunteers at a time, trained, judged the temperament of hundreds of dogs and developed, implemented and successfully maintained several programs during his career. He said communication, both up and down the chain of command, is essential to the success of any program.


When Jackson asked Kirsch if he is ready to go from being a world traveler and hundreds of dogs and volunteers to a shelter which holds about 25 dogs at a time, he said he was.


“I wouldn’t have wasted your time, or mine. I am absolutely dead serious about taking this role. I’m ready to come back to the community my wife and I love dearly…I’m very excited.”


Motorcyclist killed in Gaines Township crash identified

UPDATE:the Kent County Sheriff's Office has identified the Caledonia motorcyclist who died earlier today as Codi Chandler. The driver of the car involved,who suffered minor injuries, is Kalrissa Everest, of Sparta.

ORGINAL STORY:A 28-year-old Caledonia man died while riding his motorcycle westbound on 68th S.E. Street when he struck a vehicle driven by a 29-year-old woman from Sparta turning north onto Hanna Lake Avenue S.E. The crash occurred today at the Gaines Township intersection at 8:48 a.m., according to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office.

The investigation is continuing.


Barry County elected officials may see a two percent raise next year

The Barry County Board of Commissioners Tuesday recommended a two percent salary increase for Barry County elected officials beginning Jan. 1, 2018, to be acted on at the Sept. 12 commission meeting.

Commissioner Dan Parker proposed the raises. A recent Elected Official Compensation Commission (EOCC) will meet and recommend salaries for those elected by the people, but raises would not be effective until 2019, he said.


That leaves elected officials without a raise for at least two years, he said. He proposed a two percent raise across the board for all elected officials, including county commissioners.


That mirrors the raises for other county employees that followed a comprehensive classification and compensation study resulting in two percent raises to Barry County Courthouse employees, non-represented employees and department heads, effective in May.


A motion by Commissioner David Jackson to remove the commissioners from the list of proposed raised failed, with commissioner’s noting how small the raise is, the difficulty of catching up later if a step up is denied now and the unfairness of excluding them.


Voting to remove them were commissioners Geiger, Jackson and Jon Smelker. Commissioners Howard Gibson, Heather Wing, Dan Parker and Vivian Conner voted to keep them on the list.


On the main motion to recommend the raise,  commissioners Parker, Jackson, Smelker, Wing and Gibson voted yes, Conner and Geiger voted no.


Conner vote against the proposal was because she said she won’t vote for anything she is not sure is legal. She read the criteria for forming a compensation commission, which said that the commission “shall” set compensation for elected officials. “Can we can even really do this?” she asked.

A county attorney will be asked to determine if the proposal is legal before next week’s board meeting.


Elected Barry County officials and their proposed salaries:

Sheriff: $76,867.27

Register of Deeds: $60,414.52

County Clerk: $65,317.79

Treasurer: $61,390.73

Surveyor: $8,763.76

Drain Commissioner: $60,414,52

Prosecutor: $99,291.14

County Commissioner: $9,786.90

County Commission Chair $10,817.10.

The salaries would increase salaries on Jan, 1, 2018.

The raises would cost $12, 736.11.


Kent County Sheriff's Office investigating car/pedestrian death

Kent County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a car versus pedestrian accident in the 7000 Block of Mindew Drive S.W. in Byron Township just after  2 p.m. on Sept. 2, according to a KCSO news release.


The deputies investigation showed a 9-year-old boy was sitting in the driver seat of his great aunt’s 2015 Toyota parked in the driveway of the home with the engine running. The boy’s sister,7, was sitting in the front passenger seat.


The children were in the car waiting for their great-aunt, Jan Marie Junewick, 56, from Caledonia Township, to come out of the house to go out to eat. Witnesses said that Junewick was standing next to the open driver’s side door of the Toyota when it suddenly accelerated in reverse, knocking her to the ground.


The vehicle continued to accelerate in reverse and struck an unoccupied vehicle parked in the street. Junewick was transported to Butterworth Hospital where she later died from her injuries. The children, who are not being identified, were not injured.


Byron Fire Department and AMR Ambulance assisted deputies. The accident remains under investigation. 



Congressman Justin Amash responds to questions at Hastings town hall meeting

Michigan’s 3rd District Congressman Justin Amash held a town hall meeting Friday in Hastings, answering questions from the crowd well past the allotted time of noon to 1 p.m.

Here are some of Amash’s thoughts and beliefs in response to questions.


The effort to replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obama care, and the American Health Care Act, the republican version, will take more time and will have to be done one piece at a time. The republican revision was a marginal improvement, chipping away at the basic premise, he said, but that and other legislation that needs improvements will have to be done incrementally. “I have to operate every day as if almost every piece of legislation is done in increments.” He suggested starting over with states having their own ACA programs but, if it’s still going to be a federal program, “it should be a very different model.”


The Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the last election should continue to its conclusion. “It should proceed. There's no reason to stop it…No one knows the outcome. If the president is not guilty, we can more forward,” he said.


He has sponsored a federal law to do away with asset forfeiture allowing the government to take a person’s property without them being arrested or charged. It violates the due process clause in the U.S. Constitution, he said.


The Import Export Board that uses taxpayer money to back loans for huge companies, “which is cronyism and corporate welfare...should be done away with.” He supports reviewing all government agencies with the intent to cut them if they aren’t effective.


Amash supports work for welfare programs. As for subsides, “I would do away with all of them if I could.”


Condemning the KKK, white supremacist and Nazis, he said everyone should work to put an end to it, including the Department of Justice, but he supported free speech. “We have freedom of speech and all speech has to be allowed. Even hateful and evil speech has to be resolved peacefully.” Also, he said, racism is a societal problem that won’t be solved by government. “The government can’t stop the hate in their hearts.” It will be ended by the people speaking out against it, he said.


He would prohibit selling “cluster” weapons to foreign countries. “We need to watch the sales of arms to places like Saudi Arabia.”


Better information is needed on biometrics before it goes into effect; how they would use and keep the data learned by using face recognition on American citizens at airports, he said.


When Republicans took over congress and presidency, he thought that spending would go down; it has gone up. And, it is no better with House Speaker Paul Ryan as leader, he said. Amash pointed to a part of the political system that should be changed; the house of representative leadership passing legislation by trickery and manipulation instead of following procedures to respond to the will of the people, not fellow politicians or parties.

The only cure for that is replacing the leadership positions with those who would follow procedures.

Asked if he would run for speaker, Amash smiled and said he wasn’t making an announcement but, “I think I would make a good speaker.”


Amash warned of severe changes in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits later if congress doesn’t make changes to the programs now. People are living longer, having fewer children and the programs are “not sustainable.”

It is also critical that the federal debt, interest on the debt and military spending be trimmed, he said.

“These are the most important issues for the overall, long term health of our country…we should work together as Republicans and Democrats; there are no guarantees on the outcomes, but it will more closely reflect the will of the people.”



Photos: (upper left) 3rd District Congressman Justin Amash represents residents in all or parts of Barry, Calhoun, Kent, Ionia and Montcalm counties.


(left) Congressman Justin Amash talks to residents after a town hall meeting in Hastings Friday.



Erratic driver crashes twice on U.S. 131 in Martin Township

Allegan County Central Dispatch took numerous calls about a traffic crash on U.S.131 near 116th Avenue Friday evening shortly after 8 p.m., the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office reports.


The suspect, driving a blue Dodge Durango, left the scene, however, dispatch soon received a call that the Dodge had collided with a semi-tractor trailer. The vehicle was lodged under the semi trailer. The driver was extricated and transported to a Kalamazoo area hospital with serious but non-threatening injuries, deputies said. No one else involved in the crashes was injured. 


Witnesses from the scene said the driver had been driving in an erratic and reckless manner before the crashes. The gender and identity of the driver have not been released. The expressway was shut down for a significant amount of time while first responders worked the scene, officials said. The sheriff’s office was assisted by Martin Fire/Rescue, Wayland EMS, and Michigan State Police.



First outdoor siren test for Olivet is 1 p.m. Saturday

On Saturday, Sept. 2 at 1 p.m., Eaton County Central Dispatch will conduct its first test of activating the outdoor warning siren in Olivet. It will then continue on the first Saturdays of the month at 1 p.m. unless severe weather is expected in the area. Delta Township sirens will also be tested at that time.

Sign up for emergency and public safety messages from Eaton County 911 by texting EATON to 888777. For more information, visit our Facebook page:


Rep. Calley honors World War II veterans at state capitol

State Rep. Julie Calley honored Roscoe Hires and Donald Eckman, two World War II veterans, at the state capitol on Aug. 30.


“As Americans, we have an obligation to revere and elevate those who have defended the freedoms we so often take for granted,” said Calley, of Portland. “These two veterans not only showed tremendous courage and selflessness, but after they returned home, they chose to mentor and support other servicemen and women. They are superb examples of the Greatest Generation.”


Hires was drafted into the Army and became a member of the 101st Airborne division. He received his Purple Heart when he was hit by shrapnel in Neff, Belgium during the Siege of Bastogne. Later in the war, a German sniper killed four members of Hires’ squad four days after they landed in Holland.  A bullet from the sniper ricocheted off Hires’ helmet grazing his head. After the war, Hires worked for Clark Equipment. He now resides in Ionia.


Eckman was drafted into the Army in 1944 and served with Company B 3rd Infantry Division. He received two Purple Hearts, most notably during the battle near Holtzwhir when his platoon moved forward to a wooded area to observe a German tank division near a small town.


With only 25 to 30 men in their company, they moved forward to the edge of the wood line. His platoon leader, Audie Murphy,  along with Eckman and a few other soldiers snuck closer to see what they were facing. The next morning, they discovered a German tank regiment across the road from them. Eckman was wounded and honorably discharged. Following the war, he returned to Lake Odessa.


The ceremony in Lansing was arranged by Doug Pickel, president of We the People Giving Back, and the organization’s vice president Eric Calley. The goal of the nonprofit organization is to honor the sacrifice of veterans, their families and those in public service.


Photo: State Rep. Julie Calley of Portland and her husband, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, stand behind World War II veterans Donald Eckman (left) and Roscoe Hires, after Rep. Calley presented each with a legislative tribute for their service. The veterans were presented hand-crafted plaques to commemorate their being awarded the Purple Heart for being wounded in battle.

(photo provided)


Superintendent's Platform

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


“It has taken our district a few years, but Maple Valley Schools has expanded educational programming in many areas. Our students who are at or above grade level have different opportunities to expand their knowledge at all buildings. Our elementary schools utilize online learning programs such as Moby Max and Khan Academy to individualize instruction for each student.


These programs prescribe assignments at or above their level to challenge the child. Students have enrichment classes to further academics in areas such as: creative writing, Lego robotics, and project based learning.

Elementary students are invited to participate in Odyssey of the Mind or Mathletes. These academic clubs are offered to enrich Science and Mathematics after school hours.

Students in grades 5 – 12 are placed in advanced English and Mathematics courses based on assessment data.


At our secondary building, we offer advanced classes such as Honors: Physics, Calculus, Anatomy, Chemistry and this year we have added Honors English 10 and Honors Geometry to our curriculum for underclassmen. For upperclassmen we offer two Advanced Placement (AP) English classes, AP Biology, and AP US History.


We also allow students to take college level classes through Davenport, Lansing Community College, or Kellogg Community College. For those students who qualify, we offer independent study courses as well. After school hours we have a plethora of academic and fine arts clubs such as: chess, DECA, musical programs, PALs, student council, National Honor Society, jazz band, and De Capo. For our students who are identified as at-risk by state qualifications, we have worked diligently to improve our intervention classes in all buildings to support these students who need additional academic instruction.


We do this by offering a tier support system where the students get 1, 2, or 3 blocks of instruction on important core content standards.  We are proud of student achievement improvements that we are making. Our state and local assessment data show steady increases in all content areas. The following points of pride are additions to our instructional programming:

·       Caring Student-Centered Teachers

·       Updated Curriculum: Elementary & Social Studies

·       Little Lions Preschool and Child Care

·       Online Learning Opportunities

·       Specials Courses

o      Physical and Health Education

o      Library and Computers

o      Music and Band (Grades 5  - 12)

o      Fine Arts Education

·       Career Technology Education

o      Award winning Agriculture program

o      Comprehensive Business and Marketing programs

o      Woods/Manufacturing/Sawmill (operations)

o      COMING SOON! MV Works Skilled Trades Education

·       Maple Valley Pathways High School (Alternative/Adult/Virtual)

·       Multi-Tier System of Support (MTSS)

o      Positive Behavior Interventions

o      Comprehensive Assessment Plan

o      Intervention Classes

·       Special Education Supports

·       Counseling Services

·       District-Wide School Nurse





Here's how to help disaster survivors in Texas

The compassion and generosity of the American people is never more evident than during and after a Disaster, according to a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) news release.

It is individuals, non-profits, faith- and community-based organizations, private sector partners, and

governmental agencies working together that will most effectively and efficiently help survivors cope with the impacts of Tropical Storm Harvey. FEMA asks those who want to help to please follow a few important guidelines below to ensure your support can be the most helpful for tropical storm Harvey disaster survivors.


To donate to relief efforts:

The most effective way to support disaster survivors in their recovery is to donate money and time to trusted, reputable, voluntary or charitable organizations.


Cash donations offer voluntary agencies and faith-based organizations the most flexibility to address urgently developing needs. With cash in hand, these organizations can obtain needed resources nearer to the disaster location.The inflow of cash also pumps money back into the local economy and helps local businesses recover faster.


Please do not donate unsolicited goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, medicine, or perishable foodstuffs at this time. When used personal items are donated, the helping agencies must redirect their staff away from providing direct services to survivors in order to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.


Donate through a trusted organization.

At the national level, many voluntary-, faith- and community-based organizations are active in disasters, and are trusted ways to donate to disaster survivors.

Individuals, corporations and volunteers, can learn more about how to help on the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) website. In addition to the national members, The Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (Texas VOAD) has a

list of vetted disaster relief organizations providing services to survivors. Texas VOAD represents more than three dozen faith-based, community, nonprofit and non-governmental organizations.


To personally volunteer in the disaster areas:

The State of Texas is asking volunteers to not self-deploy, as unexpectedly showing up to any of the communities that have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey will create an additional burden for first

responders. The National VOAD has also noted the situation may not be conducive to volunteers entering the impacted zone and individuals may find themselves turned away by law enforcement.


To ensure volunteer safety, as well as the safety of disaster survivors, volunteers should only go into affected areas with a specific volunteer assignment, proper safety gear and valid identification. At this time, potential volunteers are asked to register with a voluntary or charitable organization of their choice, many of which are already in Texas and supporting survivors on the ground.

The National and Texas VOAD websites are offering links to those who wish to register to volunteer with community and faith-based organizations working in the field.


Most importantly, please be patient:

Although the need is great, and desire to help strong, it is important to avoid donating material goods or self-deploying to help until communities are safe and public officials and disaster relief organizations have had an opportunity to assess the damage and identify what the specific unmet needs are. Volunteer generosity helps impacted communities heal from the tragic consequences of disasters, but recovery lasts much longer than today.


There will be volunteer needs for many months, and years, after the disaster, so sign up now.// Tropical Storm Harvey is still dangerous, with the potential to impact additional areas of Texas and Louisiana. As the situation changes, needs may also change in these areas. Continue monitoring traditional and social media channels to learn more.


FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards. Follow FEMA online at,,, and Also, follow Administrator Brock Long’s activities at


The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.


Kellogg's to cut jobs

The worlds largest cereal maker, Kellogg's with world headquarters in Battle Creek called their workforce into a special Thursday morning meeting to inform them that some 200 jobs would be eliminated at their Battle Creek plant.  This includes both hourly and salaried employees.

Sources told WBCH News the job eliminations would begin in the first quarter of 2018.


Amash hosting Town Hall Meeting in Hastings

Congressman Justin Amash will hold a town hall meeting this friday September 1st at the Barry Community Enrichment Center, Leason Sharp Hall 231 South Broadway.  The Meeting open to the public runs from 12:00-pm to 1:00-pm.


Attorney General Warns Against Price Gouging Gas

As a result of Hurricane Harvey, the nation's largest oil refinery, in addition to many smaller refineries, have been shut down and it is possible Michigan drivers may see a slight spike in gas prices. In light of this, Michigan Attorney General Bill Shuette issued a warning to gas stations against any attempt to take advantage of consumers by price gouging or price fixing.

To report gas gouging or price fixing call 1-877-765-8388.



Barry County prosecutor settles case against Lowell police chief

Barry County Prosecuting Attorney Julie Nakfoor-Pratt said that Steven Bukala, City of Lowell police chief, today entered a plea to willful neglect of duty by a police officer in Allegan District Court, a misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of one year in jail. The remaining charges, all misdemeanors carrying lesser penalties, are being dismissed.


The prosecution requested probation, and that Bukala receive and benefit from retraining in the proper use of the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN).


“I wanted to ensure that Chief Bukala takes responsibility for what he did without losing his ability to work as a police officer. From this point on, whether Chief Bukala succeeds in maintaining his career and improving his integrity is up to him,” Nakfoor-Pratt said.


Also sentenced today, Bukula received a total of $1,425 in fees and fines and as part of the sentence, must also complete LEIN re-training within 90 days.


Nakfoor Pratt was appointed special prosecutor for the Kent County prosecutor, who recused himself due to a conflict.




Spectrum Health Pennock seeking Compassion Award nominees

Spectrum Health Pennock is seeking nominations from the community of an outstanding caregiver to receive the  Compassion Award at its 10th annual Quality & Culture Awards.


Now in its fifth year, the award is for a special caregiver who consistently communicates in a sensitive manner, listens carefully, displays empathy, instills a sense of hope, and moves the patient experience from good to extraordinary.


Send nominations to: with the name of the Spectrum Health Pennock colleague or care provider, a detailed description of why you are nominating the individual, your name, telephone number and e-mail address. Nominations are accepted until Sept. 9. For questions or to have a nomination form mailed to you, call 269-945-1753. 


Yankee Springs Fire Department adds LUCAS Chest Compression System

The Yankee Springs Fire Department continues to add equipment that makes its staff more efficient, more effective and saves lives. Recently they added battery-powered tools to cut open car doors and roofs that can be carried to someone trapped in a vehicle if the fire truck is not close enough to use equipment tethered to the truck.


Now, they have the Lucas Chest Compression System that first responders and paramedics will use to give effective and uninterrupted chest compressions to sudden cardiac arrest patients, while at the scene, getting into an ambulance, in transit and into the hospital.

With automated CPR, the fatigue and individual variations are removed from CPR, and there is no longer the need for shifting CPR providers every two minutes, said Wayland Deputy Fire Chief Dan Miller.


“Rescuers are freed up to focus on other critical life saving tasks, such as ventilation, medication and defibrillation, which leads to increased attention on the cardiac arrest,” Miller said.

Performing CPR in a moving ambulance is known to be very difficult to achieve manually and may compromise a first responder’s safety if they are doing compressions during transportation.


“With the Lucas consistently performing the compressions in transport, rescuers work in a more secure setting while on the road,” he said.

The Lucas was delivered last week, and after departmental training, was put into service this week.


“The firefighters and MFR’s are very happy and want to thank the Yankee Springs Township Fire Committee, township board and taxpayers for allowing us to the purchase of this piece of lifesaving equipment,” Miller said.


Photo: (upper left) The LUCAS Chest Compression System.


(left) The LUCAS Chest Compression System at work was demonstrated at the recent first Night Out in Hastings. This little girl pats the manikin’s face, comforting it while it gets compressions.




Bonoloto is a Scam

The Michigan State Police is warning the public to beware of the Bonoloto lottery that appears to be from Spain. It is a scam.  Every month the scammers send out thousands of emails telling the recipients they have won the lottery worth millions of dollars.  The email looks very authentic, cleverly worded with telephone numbers and a Madrid email address. The bottom line is,  the scammers are out to get your personal information, bank account numbers, credit card numbers any way they can to steal your money.  The State Police again are warning the public beware of the Bonoloto lottery. It is a scam.




Hasting City Council consensus: Summerfest was great, thanks to city staff

Summerfest 2017 drew huge crowds to Hastings during the annual celebration of the season. Staging the event, with hundreds of people attending craft sales, hundreds more watching the parade, kids running around, more activities, athletic contests for kids and adults, and street detours and closings, could lead to problems.


At Monday’s council meeting. members noted that Summerfest was very successful this year, and they wanted to recognize and thank the city staff for the extra effort in setting up before, helping out during and cleaning up after, the event again this year.


Councilman Bill Cusack singled out Department of Pubic Works crews and Jim James for their hard work, saying driving through town early Monday morning and “was amazed the way things were back in order…also to express my appreciation for the job our local police department did, it’s rewarding. I observed a lot of friendliness going on…its an asset to our community,  the DW and Jim. He’s a very friendly young man and it’s going to pay dividends, I’m sure about that. I just want to thank them.”


City Manager Jeff Mansfield added Chuck Tefft to the list, noting he is with the police as well as the DPW.

Councilman John Resseguie said the DPW crews were so effective, there was not a trace of the event by Monday morning. “Without them, it certainly never would have happened.” Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange saw many positive comments about Summerfest on social media, Facebook and different websites. “People are already looking forward to next year,” she said.


Police Chief Jeff Pratt said the Police Cadets worked at the event, and the Police Reserve Officers “worked an amazing amount of hours from Thursday through Sunday.” The City Ambassadors spent  35 hours welcoming visitors, and there were few problems related to the police department.

“It was great, everybody was having a good time,” he said.


Hastings is a "B.Healthy Community"

The Hastings City Council Monday passed a resolution declaring it a “B. Healthy Community.”

Lauran Cibor, co-leader of the coalition, said obesity is not only an issue in the state, but also in Barry County, as detailed in a Community Health Needs Study.


B. Healthy is “looking for more traction in the community” as a resource to encourage healthy eating and more physical activities and promote programs to help fight the overweight and obesity issue in the county, Cibor said. They are working with area restaurants and their patrons to encourage healthy eating choices.


The city already has many programs in place and others planned activities for a healthy lifestyle; promoting the Farmers Market and the use of financial assistance for patrons, the Riverwalk with mile markers, development of 1, 2 and 3 mile walking loops in the city, a master bike plan for more accessibility to non-motorized transportation, the Hammond Hill multi-use trail, and a planned fall walking contest for city staff and others.


“The city has already accomplished all of the requirements, we just need the support of the city (with the adoption of the resolution),” Cibor said.


Formed in 2012, “The mission of the B. Healthy Coalition is to foster an active, healthy community by creating policy and environmental changes that make the healthy choice the easy choice for all Barry County residents.”


Cibor said their vision is to make Barry County the healthiest county in Michigan. 


Trucks, road salt, trees, new roof on Hastings City Council agenda

Following the City of Hastings policy of replacing work trucks every year to eliminate maintenance costs and maintain a fleet of new trucks, Department of Public Services Director Lee Hays submitted a chart to the council with the purchase and sale prices of trucks purchased in 2013, 2015, 2016 and the proposed purchase in 2017.


Hays said they have added $2,637.34 to the equipment fund when selling the year-old trucks, with the exception of a $155.69 loss with truck 20 in 2016. “In addition, we have not incurred maintenance costs,” he said. He will sell two half-ton Sierras and two three-quarter-ton Sierras on if they meet the minimum reserve prices. They will sell a truck as they get a replacement truck, Hays said.


He listed the trucks to be purchased at MiDeal pricing from Todd Wenzel GMC as four 2018 GMC Sierra 2500 HD trucks, three at the price of $44,520.85, one for $44,880.30, for  total of $178,422.85. Expenditure of  $180,000 was approved in the capital improvement plan of 2017-2018, he said. About $175,000 will be left in the equipment fund, not including the revenue that will come from selling the current trucks, he said.


In other DPW activity, the council approved:

* Street line painting to PK Contracting for $29,031.60 to come from the major street fund. Included in the bid is striping for bike lanes, including Michigan Avenue from State Street to Woodlawn and on West State Road to the city limits. The routes were determined by the Hastings Police Department and the DPS.


* Replacement of wastewater treatment facility piping by Advantage Plumbing and Drain for $17, 878, with costs to come from the water and sewer fund.


* A new roof and other repairs to the Arts building in Fish Hatchery Park. Affordable Metal, LLC from Hastings, will do the work for $29,700. With the repairs, maintenance will not be needed for the next 50 years. Funding will come from the capital improvement fund and is less than the $30,000 budgeted for the work.


* Hometown Tree Service, in Hastings, will trim and remove trees in 2017-2018 for $25,500. The only other bid was from Procare Tree Service, LLC, in Wyoming, with a quote of $50,400.


* Detroit Salt Company will supply salt for city streets with a unit price of $40.92 a ton for the seasonal fill for the total of $32,736. The city uses about 800 tons a season. The contract through the MDOT guarantees more salt if the city needs it, and they can accept only 70 percent of the seasonal backup commitment, Hays said. Last year’s price was $43.40 a ton, he noted.


Former Moose building to be replaced by new, three story mixed-use building

The former Moose building will be razed after a structural engineer’s report, the Hastings City Council learned Monday. Community Development Director Jerry Czarnecki told the council Smith Equities has revised its plans for the building at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Apple Street.


Structural engineers have found it will cost too much to save the original portion of the building, so it will be demolished and replaced with a three story mixed-use building with about 20 apartments on the upper floors. Hooker DeJong Inc. will develop a new concept plan to eliminate apartments on the ground floor and use building designs to match the original façade design, Czarnecki said.


Nederveld will do the civil engineering and SME the environmental assessment. A development agreement with the city is pending, waiting for comments from Hooker DeJong.

Smith Equities had previously agreed to the city’s plan to demolish the added-on portion on the back of the building and use the space for parking.


In other business, the council approved amending two zoning ordinances:

Before the vote to approve to change ordinance 548, Czarnecki explained the change eliminates the minimum size requirements for dwelling units in the central business district (B-1). The trend is toward smaller dwelling units because of lifestyle changes, affordability and development costs and several developers have asked for smaller units than are allowed under the city code. However, developers must provide living space, bathrooms, kitchens and bedrooms in the apartments, Czarnecki said. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority has eliminated dwelling unit sizes in its programs.


Ordinance 547 amends the zoning map to change the B-6 zoning district near and along South Hanover Street near the south city limits. Several properties in the area are split by the B-6 zoning line, with portions of the lots falling in the B-6 zone and other portions in a residential zone (R-S) or (R-R), City Manager Jeff Mansfield said. The split zone caused problems for property owners with what they can do with their properties and the city staff in administering the code.



Professionals brought in to address rat problem at Hastings feed mill

Greg Cabose, environmental health director of the Barry Eaton District Health Department gave an update of the rat infestation in a shuttered feed mill on Railroad Street to the Hastings City Council Monday. Cabose said the department first became involved Aug 2, with a site visit to the mill where they saw rats and grain that could feed them. The same day, they talked to the owner, who told of his efforts to rid the area of rats.

Cabose said the owner was completely cooperative, but after two weeks, and complaints from residents, there were still too many rats and he agreed to hire a professional firm to handle the problem.


The Orkin Company from Kalamazoo was hired, gave the health department its plans and began working on the problem about a week ago. They are focusing control of the rats in the building next to the silo, using baits and traps to get the rats and take them off site. Asked about long term control, the exterminator said the rat population will spike before it goes down; typically it is 30 days to knock the population down and 60 to 90 days to eliminate the rats, he said.


Orkin is disposing of the rats before they remove the grain. If they take the food source away, the rats will go elsewhere looking for food, spreading the problem. The exterminators visit the mill once a day and sometimes twice a day, Cabose said, and the department will make weekly checks on the status and provides a report to the Hastings Police Department.


Councilman Bill Redman asked for an ongoing count of the number of rats disposed of; Cabose will get the information from the exterminator and pass it on to Redman and the police department.


“It didn’t happen overnight and it won’t be cured overnight, either,” Cabose said.

He urged residents with questions to call or visit the health department offices at 330 West Woodlawn Street to get answers. "We’re open all day…We have nothing to hide, we’re here to help,” he said.




Antlerless deer license application results now available

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters that antlerless deer application results are available beginning today. Application results and leftover license availability can be found at


Any leftover antlerless deer licenses not issued in this drawing will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis beginning Tuesday, Sept. 5, at 10 a.m. EDT until license quotas are met.

The 2017 antlerless deer license quotas for each DMU also can be found at Please note, DMU 333 has unlimited antlerless licenses that may be purchased without application beginning Sept. 5 at 10 a.m.


For additional information, the 2017 Michigan Antlerless Deer Digest is available online at


Hastings Summfest Parade Entry Winners

The Hastings Summerfest Parade announces the winners of the parade "Through the Decades"contest.


1st place At Home Real Estate-The Jetson's- Fly with us, your future is waiting!

2nd place Hastings City Bank in business since 1886, representing all decades through music In tune with you through the decades..

3rd place Thornapple Players celebratting the 1950's with the birth of Rock N Roll, soda fountains and poodle skirts.



1st place Athletic Sensations Baton twirling

2nd place Champion Force Gold Team Cheerleading of Middleville

3rd place Barry County Animal Shelter



1st place Higgen's Freedom Ford

2nd place 1962 Corvette," the General"  has been with Bion & Vicky Eye 45 years

3rd place The 1928 Doodle Bug driven by Harold Root


Lake Odessa Man found Dead in a Ditch

A 59 year old Lake Odessa Man was found dead in a ditch around 9:30 Saturday  night.

According to the Ionia County Sheriff the victim was found by a family member in a drainage ditch near the 300 block of West Henderson road. The tractor driver was operating the tractor on private property when the accident occured.

The  accident remains under investigation.


Motorcyclist Killed In Yankee Springs

39 year old Shane Doorn of Hastings was killed Sunday afternoon when he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed.

The Michigan State Police said the accident happened around 4:20 pm on Briggs road near Chief noonday in Yankee spring west of Hastings in Barry County. Troopers said the motorcycle was traveling north when Doorn lost control on a curve and was thrown into the path of a pickup truck where he was struck by the truck and killed.


Eaton County 911 asks for help naming rescued kitten

The Delta Township Fire Department rescued a kitten from a storm drain on Aug. 14. After being cared for by animal control, the kitten was adopted by a member of the dispatch team, Deputy Director Lara O'Brien.

The kitten has a new home, but she doesn’t have a name. So, O'Brien and Eaton County 911 are asking the public to help name the lucky kitten. What should the kitten's name be? Vote by Sept. 5 to help make the decision before her next veterinarian visit.

The public can comment on the post with the following options:

A) Poppy B) Stormy C) Hope D) Delta.




Photos: (above) Eaton County Dispatch 911 Deputy Director Lara O’Brien with her new kitten.


(left) The so-far-unnamed kitten with Delta Fire Department firefighter/paramedic Reader after her rescue from a storm drain.








(photos supplied)


Barry Eaton District Health Department budget adopted amid TOST concerns

Barry Eaton District Health Department leaders adopted a 2017-2018 budget Thursday while unsure of the future of one of its regulations that affects both Barry and Eaton county residents.

With expected income of $6,613,816 and anticipated expenses of $6,613,816,  this year’s budget is slightly leaner than last year.


“Today Barry and Eaton County leaders came together and adopted a balanced budget for the Health Department. It sure wasn’t easy, but we got the job done,” said chairman of the health board, Barry County Commissioner Ben Geiger.


A proposed six percent increase in environmental health services fees was reduced to three percent. In addition to public questioning of the increase, Geiger supported the rollback. “Back to back increases of six percent two years in a row is too tough on our constituents, so we cut it in half,” he said later.


Anticipated appropriation amounts from Eaton and Barry counties, a total $1.81 million, are not finalized since the commissioners have yet to set their budgets. The board went into a brief closed session to do with contract negotiations; wages were not discussed at the meeting because they are part of current negotiations. 


The health department budget could be impacted by the results of two things already in motion. Because of the need to cut costs, Eaton County Commissioners will vote Sept 20 on whether to end its participation in TOST.


The regulation mandates on-site well and septic systems inspections and repair or replacement if needed, before the time of sale or transfer of property in both counties.


Also, Barry County commissioners are in the middle of a review of the 10-year-old regulation with the goal of improving the system based on responses from the public in a survey and a listening session. At the Tuesday listening session, 20 of the 25 speakers asked for TOST to be rescinded. 


Middleville woman will go to trial in bicyclist's death

Kelleigh Linae Hobbs, of Middleville, charged with in connection with the alleged hit and run crash that caused bicyclist Carla Reiffer’s death, waived her preliminary hearing today and will go to trial.

Reiffer, 40, also from Middleville, was struck near the intersection of Whitneyville and Parmalee roads while riding her bike on June 23.

Hobbs is charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in serious impairment or death, a felony carrying a maximum of 15 years in prison. She is also charged with a moving violation causing death, and possession of marijuana, both misdemeanors carrying a maximum of one year in jail. The date for a pretrial conference has not been announced.




Hastings Summerfest Parking lot and Street Closures


Parking Lots 4 and 5 and Church Street between State and Center will be closed after 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24. and will remain in effect until the evening of Sunday, Aug. 27.

Those with over-night/resident parking permits may use Lots 3 and 8

Expect street closures before and during the 11:30 a.m. parade Saturday.




Green Street lane Shift

The Barry County Road Commission will begin a Lane Shift on West Green Street from M-37 to Cook Road.  Beginning Monday August 28th for about a month.  Drivers should plan to take an alternate route.


*School bus safety alert: stopping for school buses and other safety tips

**With schools starting across Michigan, the Barry County Sheriff’s Office is reminding the public of the laws for school buses.


Passing a school bus that is loading or unloading students is prohibited under any circumstance. The law requires motorists to come to a complete stop at least 20 feet from a school bus whenever a bus is stopped and using its two red flashing signals. The driver may proceed once the bus resumes motion.


Tips for motorists:

•Never pass a school bus when children are loading or unloading. That is the Law!

•Slow down and prepare to stop whenever you see yellow school bus lights flashing.

•Motorists must come to a complete stop at least 20 feet from a school bus whenever a bus is stopped and using its two red flashing signals. The driver may proceed once the bus resumes motion.

•Remember that children are unpredictable in their actions.  Take extreme caution when traveling in a school zone.

•Those who live in an area where there are no sidewalks, should drive cautiously.  Be more alert to the possibility of children walking in the road.

•Be more aware of children playing near school bus stops.

•Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.

•Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully

•Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings. 

•Put down the telephone – don’t talk or text while driving!


Tips for students:

•Always arrive at the bus stop early.

•Wait until the bus has some to a complete stop, the door is opened and the bus driver says that it’s OK before boarding the bus.

•Once on board, proceed quickly to your seat and stay sitting until the bus arrives at your school or other drop off location.

•Do not move around on the bus. 

•Always walk on the sidewalk when preparing to cross the street near a bus.  Make eye contact with the driver so that you are sure he or she sees you.

•Never walk behind the bus.

•If you are walking beside the bus, make sure you are at least 10 feet (10 “giant” steps) away.

•Take extra precaution to make sure that clothing with drawstrings and book bags do not get caught in the hand rail or door.

•Never stop to pick something up you have dropped while the bus is stopped.  Wait until the bus has driven off to avoid not being seen by the driver.


Traveling to and from school:

•Plan a walking route to school or the bus stop.  Choose the most direct way with the fewest street crossings and, if possible, with intersections that have crossing guards.

•Walk the route with your child beforehand.  Tell him or her to stay away from parks, vacant lots, fields and other places where there aren’t many people around.

•Teach your child never to talk to, accept rides from, or accept gifts from strangers.  Remember, a stranger is anyone you or your children don’t know well or don’t trust.

•Be sure your child walks to and from school or the bus stop with a sibling, friend or neighbor.

•Teach your kids – whether walking, biking or riding the bus to school – to obey all traffic signals, signs and traffic officers.  Remind them to be extra careful in bad weather.

•When driving kids, deliver and pick them up as close to the school as possible.  Don’t leave until they are in the schoolyard or building.

•If your child bikes to school make sure he/she wears a helmet that meets safety standards.  Research indicates that a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by up to 85 percent.

•If your child rides a scooter to school, make sure he/she wears sturdy shoes, a helmet, knee pads and elbow pads.  Children under 12 should not ride motorized scooters.

•Be sure your child knows his or her home (or parents’ cellular) phone number(s) and address.  They should also know where you work, your work phone number, the phone number of another trusted adult and how to call 911 for emergencies.




Scott Monroe named GM of Southwest Barry County Sewer and Water

Scott Monroe has been appointed general manager of Southwest Barry County Sewer and Water, David Messelink, chairman and CEO of the sewer authority board announced Wednesday.


A 23-year employee of the authority, Monroe has served as interim manager since the termination of former administrator Mark Doster in May.  Monroe was unanimously awarded the permanent title for the full time job by the authority board on Aug. 22. His salary is $88,775 a year.


Messelink said Monroe has proven himself a dedicated, hard-working, knowledgeable and valued team member during his years at the authority. He has continued his education and developed exceptional managerial skills, always staying focused on providing customers with outstanding service and responsiveness.


“Since the changes in management were made in May of this year, we have already witnessed significant improvements in employee morale and, as a result, increased productivity. SWBCSWA is a happier workplace environment,” he said.


“Our board of directors congratulates Scott Monroe on his promotion to general manager,” Messelink said. “We are confident in his leadership skills, work ethic, and on-going commitment to the authority and all the customers we serve. We look forward to building on that success together in the years ahead.”



Barry County Commissioners hear calls to rescind TOST

A listening session, part of a review of a 10-year-old Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation was held Tuesday, with Barry County Commissioner’s hearing mostly unfavorable remarks about the time of sale or transfer or TOST. The second part of the review is a survey at, open until Sept.30.


About 65 people attended the board meeting, with 25 signing up to speak for three minutes each in the 90 minute session. Of those who gave their opinions, four or five supported the regulation or wanted to keep it with improvements, the rest had complaints and told the commissioners to rescind the time of sale or transfer (TOST) regulation.


TOST calls for on-site water and sewer system inspection by health department evaluators in both counties at the time of the sale or transfer of property and repair or replacements ordered if a system is deemed failing.


The Eaton County Board of Commissioners is also concerned with the regulation; they will vote Sept. 20 on rescinding TOST to save money at the request of its Health and Human Services Committee.

The rule has been criticized at Barry County commission meetings by members of the public since it’s inception, with resolutions calling for rescinding it from the Barry County Farm Bureau, the Republican Party and a veteran’s group.


The main criticisms are that TOST takes away property owners rights, punishes rural residents, its costs are a financial burden, it gives unlawful authority to the health department, enforcement is uneven and arbitrary, the appeal process does not work, and health department administrators are arrogant and lack professionalism and common sense.


Many said TOST violates and erodes citizens rights, violates the constitution, and is unlawful search and seizure. Several said they didn’t think they should have to get government approval sell their property, summed up by one who said: “We don’t need your help.” //


Mark Hewitt, associate broker and co-owner of Miller Real Estate, said he helped shape TOST when it was written, asked to give the views of those in real estate. The original intent to protect the environment and water supply was fine, Hewitt said, but now, “TOST sucks and you can put that in the paper.”


The regulation  has also been losing support from commissioners. When Commissioner Joyce Snow resigned in 2015, she suggested a review of the rule, saying she had seen no data that TOST had achieved its goal of improving the county’s water supply.

Last Year, then Commissioner Jim Dull tried and failed to get the commission to find a way to rescind TOST and withdraw from the joint health department.


Last month, Commissioner Jon Smelker said he favored separating the joint health department.

Last year, when running for a seventh term on the commission, Howard Gibson said he would work on improving TOST. The last commissioner left who voted for TOST eight (now 10) years ago, he said, “I don’t feel right leaving when people are not satisfied with something I had something to do with.”


Nancy Ohle, consultant and organizational development leader, facilitated the meeting. She encouraged the audience and speakers who felt they had more to say to fill out comment cards with their opinions for commissioners to review. She thanked the audience for its civil approach and being respectful of others time.




Little Thornapple River Drain assessment district, methodology to be reviewed, updated

The Little Thornapple River Drain has been in the news for a couple of years, and most area residents are familiar with the issue.  However, it likely will bring more surprises and comments, more likely howls, in early 2018.


The boundaries of the assessment district itself and the methodology for calculating who pays assessments for the drain and how much, will be reviewed and updated, a project expected to be completed by late winter 2017 or early spring, 2018.


The record of properties in the assessment district dates as far back  as 1929 and has not be reviewed since then.  It is not uncommon for some drain assessment districts to be unchanged since first drawn in the late 1880s.


A consulting engineer will be hired by the Little Thornapple River Drainage Board to determine the district’s boundaries and methods to use to assess property owners in the new district and handle required public hearings. Stacy Hissong, attorney from Fahey, Schultz, Burzych and Rhodes, and the drain board’s legal counsel, said there will be changes.


Some who have paid since the beginning of the restoration project may find they won’t be assessed for the work for the next two or three years, or even longer, Hissong said.

Conversely, others may find themselves added to the assessment roll.


The assessments on this year’s winter property tax bills are calculated on the present formula.

2018 winter taxes will be determined by the updated assessment district boundaries and methodology on figuring the cost, she said.


The review will also solve the mystery of why Kent County’s Drain Commissioner Ken Yonker sits on the board with Barry and Ionia county drain commissioners, Jim Dull and Robert Rose.

No Kent County residents pay assessments and it is debatable if the river flows into that county, but history does not reveal why a Kent County representative is on the board at all.


Yonker would like know if he will continue.

“It’s not right….it’s not fair for me to vote to levy taxes when we have no skin in the game,” he said.

If Kent County is found to have no land in the assessment district, there are legal mechanisms to remove Yonker, Hissong said. The board will ask for requests for proposals from several consulting engineers, with the provision that the work be done no later than January, 2018.












FEMA Great Lakes coastal Flood Risk Review is Aug. 29

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region V Office is encouraging staff and officials of villages, cities, townships, and county government, regional organizations, non-governmental bodies, neighborhood associations and harbor and shoreline protection engineers to attend a meeting Tuesday, Aug. 29.  At the gathering, FEMA will showcase the new draft hazard work maps for the Lake Michigan shoreline in Allegan County .


The meeting is from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Herrick District Library, 300 River Street, in Holland; it is intended to solicit comments from community officials and embodies a process FEMA refers to as Flood Risk Review. 


Areas include Laketown, Saugatuck, Ganges and Casco Townships, and the cities/villages of Saugatuck, Douglas, Glen and South Haven.

An access work map viewer is at

The link to map viewer user document is at

Officials can RSVP by contacting Brett Holthaus at or calling 240-264-8028.


One dead, four injured in Eaton County rollover crash

Four passengers in a SUV that rolled over multiple times in a traffic crash in Eaton County were transported to area hospitals and the driver, who was ejected, was pronounced dead at the scene, the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office reports.

The crash happened at Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the area of South Ionia Road and Stoney Point Highway. The SUV was traveling northbound on South Ionia Road when it left the roadway and rolled over several times.

Five people were in the vehicle; four were ejected and one was pinned in. It is believed that no one was wearing a seatbelt and speed was most likely a factor, officials said. Names have not yet been released. The crash is still under investigation.



Four injured in Shaw Lake, M-37 crash Monday

Yankee Springs and Wayland firefighters, Medical First Responders and Wayland Area EMS were dispatched to a crash at about 4:35 p.m. today at the intersection of M-37 and Shaw Lake Road south of Middleville.


According to Wayland’s Deputy Fire Chief Dan Miller, a caller reported two children and one adult were injured. Upon arrival, responders found three injured from one vehicle and one injured from another car. Mutual aid was requested from Thornapple Township Emergency Services and Mercy Ambulance answered an EMS call for a second ambulance. 

EMS reported all of the injured were taken to Grand Rapids hospitals, Miller said. The victim's conditions were not immediately available. The direction the vehicles in the crash was not clear, but it was a rear-end collision, Miller said.



M-37 was shut down between Shaw Lake Road and the north end of Yankee Springs Road until the incident was cleared and traffic rerouted around the scene. The incident was investigated by the Barry County Sheriff's Office. 


Photos: Cars at the crash scene Monday at Shaw Lake Road/M-37.


Possible abduction being investigated in Eaton County

A kidnapping incident that originated in Eaton County today is still under investigation by detectives from the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office.  At about 12:45 p.m., police received information from the mother of a 19-year-old woman of a possible abduction, according to a sheriff's news release. 


The woman was able to send her mother messages saying she was being held by a man against her will, and provide a description of the vehicle they were in.

The mother reported the information to 911, and minutes later, at about12:58 p.m., Lansing Township Police had located and stopped the suspect at Saginaw Highway and Waverly Road.


The 20-year-old suspect is in the custody of the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office. The woman was found to be physically unharmed. No further details will be released at this time.


Spectrum Health Pennock earns two awards for improving healthcare quality and patient safety

Spectrum Health Pennock was recently recognized for two significant achievements in health care quality by MPRO (Michigan Peer Review Organization) and Governor Rick Snyder at the 2017 Governor’s Award of Excellence ceremony. The awards, achieved through continuing improving in specific and rigorous milestones, included Lowering Risk of Infection and Effective Reporting and Measurement.


The two awards recognize Spectrum Health Pennock’s efforts toward becoming a High Reliability Organization (HRO). Leading organizations that commit to achieving high reliability have a preoccupation with avoiding failure and its employees learn to anticipate, respond and prevent risk or injury before it happens.


Jen Grile, infection preventionist, Spectrum Health Pennock, was instrumental in developing a Clostridium Difficile infection protocol designed to reduce the number of related infections. The protocol and successful outcomes resulted in the Governor’s Award achievement.


“The road to high reliability is an ongoing journey. Pennock leadership and the board of trustees are committed to implementing best practices and involving our employees in this journey that leads to improved patient safety outcomes and high quality care for our community,” stated Kim Norris, MD, trustee and chair, board quality and patient safety committee. “These two awards recognize the hard work, dedication and drive that the entire Spectrum Health Pennock team puts forth daily to ensure the safety of patients.”


Governor Rick Snyder distributed more than 150 awards to hospitals, physician practices, nursing homes, inpatient psychiatric facilities, ambulatory surgery centers, home health agencies and community-based organizations statewide.


“MPRO is tasked with improving the health care of Michigan’s residents,” said MPRO’s President and CEO, Dr. Leland Babitch. “But these are the folks who actually bring those changes to life. It was my distinct honor to recognize all of those from around the state who have shown such a huge commitment to quality improvement.”






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