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Local News Archives for 2017-09

Pedestrian struck by vehicle on M-89 in critical condition

A pedestrian was severely injured when he walked in front of a vehicle Saturday morning about 2 a.m. on M-89, west of 12th Street in Otsego Township. Allegan County Sheriff’s deputies, Otsego Police and a Plainwell Department of Public Safety officer all responded to the scene, according to the sheriff’s office.

 

Witnesses told officers they saw the man, dressed in dark clothing and difficult to see, walk in front of a westbound vehicle. He was treated by medical first responders and then transported to Borgess Hospital where he was listed as critical.

 

The driver of the vehicle was lodged at the Allegan County jail, charges pending.  Alcohol is believed to have been a factor in the crash, officials said. The name of the victim will not be released until family is notified. Information on the suspect will not be released until arraignment.    

 

The scene was processed by accident investigators from the sheriff’s office. The Plainwell Department of Public Safety, Otsego Police, Plainwell EMS, and Otsego Fire Department assisted at the scene.

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Vote on Michigan Dairy Market Program for Grade "A" milk ends Oct. 13

Michigan Grade “A” milk producers can vote on whether to continue the Michigan Dairy Market Program (For Grade “A” Milk) in a referendum that begins Monday, Oct. 2 and ends Friday, Oct.13.

Producers are eligible to vote if they produced Grade “A” milk for any market with a value at first point of sale of $800 in any of the last three years.

 

The Michigan Dairy Market Program was established in January 1983. By law, it must be resubmitted for producer approval every five years.  Currently, the assessment is $.10 per hundredweight of milk.

 

For the program to be renewed, more than 50 percent of the producer votes cast (representing more than 50 percent of the total unit of measure represented on the cast ballots) must approve it.

All ballots must be filled out completely, signed, and postmarked no later than Friday, October 13, 2017.

 

Eligible producers with questions, or those who have not received a ballot, should contact Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, toll-free at 800-292-3939.

Ballots were mailed to Michigan Grade “A” milk producers on Sept. 26.

 

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UPDATE: Former Hastings City employee arraigned on embezzlement , use of computer to commit a crime

UPDATE: Former Hastings City employee Tina Maurer, 46, was arraigned Friday, Sept. 29 on felony charges of embezzlement of over $50 by a public official and using a computer to commit a crime, according to the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office.  The possible sentence for conviction of the crimes is 10 years but less than 20 years in prison. A probable cause conference is scheduled for Oct. 11 in Barry County District Court.

 

 ORGINAL STORY:An ex-staff member of the City of Hastings has been charged with misappropriating an unspecified amount of money from the city, and the city is seeking full restitution from the woman, according to a news release from City Manager Jeff Mansfield.

 

The full news release:

“During a routine internal audit conducted this past summer, our staff noted that a relatively small amount of currency was missing from a secure area at City Hall. 

 

“We immediately reported the missing funds to Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt, and asked our police department to conduct an investigation into this matter.  We also immediately began review of other cash balances and of our accounting records to determine if any other discrepancies appeared to exist.

 

“In the interest of transparency and full accountability, we asked the Michigan State Police to assist us with the investigation into the missing funds.

 

“We also retained a private accounting firm specializing in corporate investigations to complete a thorough review of our accounting records and our financial reports for the past several years.  These agencies have been conducting their investigations into this matter for the last several months.

 

“These investigations are now complete. The Michigan State Police Department has submitted the report from their investigation with the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office, and charges have been filed against the former city employee.

 

“This former employee resigned from her position with the city shortly after the city discovered the missing funds. The city intends to seek full restitution for all funds taken or misappropriated by this employee.

“We also intend to work with our auditors and accountants to implement additional accounting controls to ensure that this situation does not arise again in the future.”

 

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Familiar topic brought up in Barry County Commission public comment

The public comment time at the beginning and end of each Barry County Commission meeting is to give citizens a place to make their views known. Almost every week for some time, the subject of TOST is brought up and it came up again Wednesday.

 

Bob Price, from Delton, said it is his opinion that the primary benefactors of the Barry Eaton District Health Department time of sale or transfer (TOST) regulation are the health department employees, and private contractors in the well and septic business. “The citizens see it as a detriment,” he said, pointing to a recent TOST listening session held by commissioners where 23 of the 25 speakers spoke against the rule.

 

Price said commissioners develop policy and they should develop a policy that reflects the will of the people and rescind TOST. He added if that means the Barry County will have to withdraw from the joint health department agreement with Eaton County, ”So be it.”

TOST mandates inspection of on-site wells and septic systems and repair or replacement if deemed failing before the sale or transfer of property in Barry and Eaton counties.

 

Sharon Zebrowski, Charlton Park board president,  chastised commissioners for saying park Director Dan Patton presented “an educated guess” on roof repairs for several park buildings during a budget appeal last week. Patton got estimates from local contractors and they went through the board, she said. To the suggestion that the park and Parks & Recreation boards merge to become one, she said they would still have to maintain separate records because the park operates on voter approved millage that, by law, can only be used for the park.

 

She said she learned that after operating as one board for 30 or 40 years, then-commissioners dissolved the board and created two because citizens were very unhappy with what was going on at the park, and they asked for two boards. “We came this close to losing the park; they pulled it out of the muck and we’re still fighting to keep it going,” she said.

 

Also in public comment, Drain Commissioner Jim Dull gave an update on the replacement of the Gun Lake Dam, reporting they have the DEQ permit, the engineers have provided the scope and plans. They expect to put out bids in about two weeks and get them back within another two weeks.

After a required public hearing, Dull estimated they could start work in December or January and hopefully complete the project by March of next year, in time for the summer boating season.

 

In other business, the commission approved:

 

* 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.

* the appointment of  former County Planning and Zoning board member Anthony Crosariol to the Zoning Board of Appeals for the remainder of a term that ends March 31, 2019.

* the appointment of Kristen Cove to a partial term as a citizen at large on the Barry Central Dispatch Administration Board until Dec. 31, 2018.

* 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.

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

 

 

 

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Barry County Sheriff's Office annual report given at Barry County Commission

The goal of the Barry County’s Sheriff’s Office is to insure its residents and visitors have a safe and secure place to live, work and visit.

In the annual statistics report on the law enforcement organization Wednesday,  Sheriff Dar Leaf said keeping Barry County a good place to live has 75 people and countless volunteers in the organization working on it every day.

 

This year the department had several replacements of worn out equipment including 22 new radios, camera and intercom system upgrades, two motors for marine boats, broken tables and chairs replaced, failing locks replaced, improved energy saving lighting, old flooring replaced and the jail’s kitchen equipment significantly upgraded, Leaf said.

 

Internally, deputies have taken training in using beanbag shotgun shells for another tool to use instead of deadly force, rewritten its policy procedures, bringing them up to date, completed a electronic warrant request system for faster response to situations in the field, issued Narcan kits to counteract opioid overdoses, provided corrections officers with training on a manikin named Rescue Randy and is in the process of transferring paper records onto CD’s.

 

The sheriff, undersheriff, administrative assistant, deputy clerk, the sheriff’s Posse, a law enforcement lieutenant, two detectives, a K-9 Unit, secondary road patrols, a Middleville Unit, a Marine Division, a deputy on the Southwest Enforcement Team, animal control, 14 corrections officers, cook and kitchen staff, a corrections clerk and a scanning clerk, Victims Services Unit and the Sheriff’s Auxiliary, are all part of the team. //

 

Weekend drug screenings, assigning not yet sentenced, non-violent offenders to community service, issuing pistol permits, taking fingerprints, incident reports, background checks and FOIA requests, are part of the routine business of the office.

 

Several programs are available for inmates physical and mental health while incarcerated, including Forgotten Man Ministries, church services, behavior therapy, medical treatment at the facility, Alcoholics Anonymous, 24-hour emergency mental health evaluations, treatment and referrals, he said.

Leaf said ongoing challenges for the department are lack of space for training, constant maintenance needs for the older facilities, hiring and keeping good candidates when nearby larger metropolitan areas offer higher pay, and lack of personnel that leaves a backlog of cold cases that Leaf wants to see solved.

 

Some random numbers for 2016:

*8,818 complaints were lodged in the jail

*kitchen staff prepared and served 88,237 meals at an average cost of $1.37 per person

*1,030 traffic accidents were investigated, 900 citations issued with 102 alcohol related.

*3,483 family and friends visited inmates

*1,185 drug screens were performed

*2,402 hours were donated by the Posse

*204 hours volunteered to 408 victims by the Victim’s Services Unit

*1,425 persons were fingerprinted for various reasons

*82 was the average number of inmates

*46 was the jail capacity when it was added to the sheriff’s office in 1976

*718 hours of training were taken by corrections officers

*2,560 persons were booked into jail

*6,760 hours were worked by staff

 

The Barry County Jail operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with a staff of a jail lieutenant, two sergeants and 14 corrections deputies who work 12 hour shifts.

For much more in the complete report visit the Barry County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, or at www.barrycounty.org. in the commissioner’s latest meeting packet.

 

The annual report was compiled by Administrative Aide Cheryl Hartman, Corrections Lieutenant Pete Nevins and Law Enforcement Lieutenant Jay Olejniczak.

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Fuller named APCO 2017 Communications Center Director of the Year

Barry Central Dispatch Director Phyllis Fuller has been named Public Safety Communications Center Director of the Year for 2017 by the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO). Interim director and then director of Barry Central Dispatch  since June of 2007, Fuller has been with the organization for 24 years.

 

Fuller said the APCO’s state awards are announced at an awards banquet in October,  so when she attended a regular meeting she was caught by surprise to hear she was chosen Director of the Year.

 

“I lost it; it was emotional for me. They knew I would be in Hawaii in October and they moved it up for me,” Fuller said. “This is a very special honor. It means even more to me because it came from the staff. They’re fantastic, and I’m proud to represent them and this organization.”

 

The nomination form lists the qualities the nominees must have to be considered for Director of the Year. The bar is set high to become a nominee, with eight areas where a director must excel to be considered.

The form lists what the director must be responsible for:

* maintaining appropriate contacts with the public, users and the media on the proper use of the emergency communications system

 

* planning and directing the daily operations of the communications center

 

* developing and monitoring the policies and procedures of the communications center

 

* serving on advisory boards and other professional organizations and fostering the professionalism of the agency

 

*maintaining active liaisons with all participants, customers, emergency service providers and other departments and local, state and federal agencies relative to the operations of the communications center

 

*preparing and submitting an annual plan, including budget preparation and administration, program goals and Capital Improvement Plan.

 

*employing, scheduling, counseling, disciplining, and evaluating the performance of communications center staff  

 

* performing a variety of functions as directed that could include accounts payable and employee payroll.

 

After winning the APCO Director of the Year in Michigan, Fuller's name is now entered in the nominations for the national honor. Fuller repeated her initial reaction: “I was just shocked; it’s a great honor.”                                                                                                                                     

 

Photo: Barry Central Dispatch 911 director and now APCO’s Public Safety Communications Director 2017, Phyllis Fuller.

 

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Orleans woman in serious condition after M-66 traffic crash

Ionia County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a car vs. semi crash on North State Road (M-66) near Dildine Road in Easton Township on Sept. 25, according to an Ionia County Sheriff’s Office  news release.

 

Deputies investigation found that a 23-year-old Orleans woman, driving a 2013 Ford C Max north bound on North State, crossed the centerline into the south bound lane where she struck a south bound semi truck.

 

The woman was transported to Sparrow Hospital in Ionia, then flown by AeroMed to Spectrum Butterworth in Grand Rapids where she is listed in serious condition. The driver of the semi, a 41-year-old man from Charlotte, was not injured.

 

Officials said the crash remains under investigation, however, speed and alcohol were not factors in the accident, and seatbelts were worn by both drivers. Assisting at the scene were several witnesses, Michigan State Police, Ionia Department of Public Safety,

Life Ambulance, AeroMed, and Ruehs Towing. 

 

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It's an exciting time to be in Hastings band

The Hastings High School Band will perform at Hastings Thornapple Plaza Friday night, performing a stand-still performance of the 2017 half time show "Saddle Up!" at 5:10 p.m. for Homecoming Week.

 

Following the performance, they will kick off the Homecoming Parade at 5:30 p.m.

Saddle Up! is a western themed show with show music including Home on the Range, Red River Valley, Oh! Susanna, The Magnificent Seven, The Good The Bad The Ugly, The Water Is Wide, The Devil Went Down To Georgia, and How the West Was Won.

 

The Hastings Marching Band competed at Rockford High School on Sept. 23. In Class B, they were up against Gull Lake, Wayland, Cedar Springs, Comstock Park, and Otsego.  With a membership of 138 students, Hastings was the largest Class B band in attendance.

The band performed extremely well and took home second place, with Otsego taking first. The band also win the caption of "Best Musical Performance."

 

Next week the band will perform in Exhibition at the 26th Annual Hastings Marching Band Festival. Other performances include MSBOA Marching Band Festival - East Kentwood High School - Tuesday, Oct 10 at 8 p.m.,  and Scholastic Competition - Dewitt High School – on Saturday, Oct. 14 with time to be determined. The final performance of the band's show will be a stand still on Sunday, Oct 15 at 3 p.m. in the Hastings High School gym.

 

Photos: (upper left) Drum Major Sam Waller conducts at an evening rehearsal.

 

 

 

 

(left) The 2017, 138-member Hastings Marching Band.

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Hastings City Council hears TOST overview in its 10th year

Regina Young, Environmental Health Director at the Barry Eaton District Health Department Monday gave the Hastings City Council highlights of the health department’s regulation called time of sale or transfer (TOST) now in its 10th year.

 

“This is a program you all may have heard about recently,” she said. TOST calls for individual properties that have an on-site well and sewer system to have the systems evauated at the time of sale or transfer of the property.

 

“If there are any challenges or environmental hazards that are high enough in a level threat to public health (it is) required that they be corrected,” Young said.

Barry County residents have criticized the administration, intent and cost of the program for years, and recently an Eaton County Commission committee authored a resolution to drop TOST to save money in a budget crisis.

 

“Obviously there is a discussion in the community… one of the problems we have had at the health department the last ten years is to get out into the community and share information about what the program is, as well as information and data of what we’re finding,” Young said.

 

Answering questions, Young explained the appeals system and options for property owners during the TOST process. Before TOST, testing of water and sewer systems was completely voluntary for property owners, which didn’t always protect ground and surface water and possible impacts on upstream and downstream neighbors, she said.

 

There is no way to measure, “here’s where we were, here’s where we are,” because there is no long term, on-going testing of the water supply, she said, however, they can tell by their records where they have found problems and corrected them.  //

 

The evaluation fee by health department registered, certified evaluators are in the $450-$500 range, and the evaluation is good for one year, she said.

 

Also, Young said the health department knows that the Thornapple River has areas of e-coli, which can come from mammals, sewer systems, natural wild life or agriculture. “We have work to do, to find it and correct it.”

 

When Councilman Bill Redman asked Young to comment on an Eaton County Board of Commissioners committee’s effort to cease participation in TOST, she said she was not the appropriate person to answer the question.

 

Council members were given a packet of information on the first 10 years of TOST.  Still being written, it will have more information, an overview and objectives and strategies regarding overall water quality.

 

Young also reported on progress in a rat infestation at an empty feed mill on Railroad Street, saying the Orkin Company employee hasn’t seen a live rat in over a week, but gnawing marks show they are still some there. The health department will continue to monitor the progress of the eradication, with reports to the city council and police department, until there is full closure of the rat problem, she said. Redman visited the mill last weekend and reported he saw just one rat.

 

 

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Six Days of Record Temperatures

***Summary of record breaking temperatures for September 2017 as recorded by the National Weather Service Hastings Climatological Station.

These Temperatures are reflective of the temperatures recorded on the same days in the 1930s.

 

93 degrees Thursday September 21st.   Previous record 91 degrees in 1931

95 degrees Friday      September 22nd.  Previous record 91 degrees in 1931

96 degrees Saturday  September 23rd.  Previous record 87 degrees in 1931

93 degrees Sunday    September 24th.   Previous record 88 degrees in 1937

91 degrees Monday   September 25th.   Previous record 88 degrees in 1937

91 degrees Tuesday  September 26th.   Previous record 89 degrees in 1933

 

A month to remember.

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New bike lanes on West State Road in Hastings protested

West State Road resident Mike Snyder spoke during public comment time at the Hastings City Council Monday, commenting on the new bike lanes.

“Don’t get me wrong. I’m a biker myself, I ride bike trails and I’ve ridden bikes to Chicago and Cleveland, all over the place.”

 

“The way the bike trails are laid out, especially on State Road, it’s very dangerous. I see the traffic go by there every day, I see the heavy trucks, I see stones pouring off the gravel trucks, I see limbs hanging on the side right next to where the bike paths are…and it’s a heavy traffic area. I think they should have taken a better look at that area before they put the lines down.”

 

Snyder said he routinely backed into his driveway when he needed to in the past, “now if I do that, I stop traffic. I’m getting a lot of birds, I’ll tell you that right now…maybe a couple of fists.”

 

It’s 97 feet across the road there, he said.  “The main lanes were way over 12 feet, they are now 9 ½ feet; the standard lane width is 12 feet…when I measured inside to inside, it was nine and a half feet…that’s not very much room when there’s a bike riding on the side there,” he said.

Also, he said the parking should be on the north side where there are twelve driveways, instead of the south side, which has two or three driveways.

 

He said if city officials had come and talked to the people who live on the street, they could have given them a better idea of what goes up and down the street. “I just with you would do something about it. I know it’s too late for this year, we’ve just got to live with it.”

 

Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange said bicyclists bear responsibility to operate a bike safely, citing recent instances where she saw two bikers disregarding the rules of the road.

 

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Day six of record breaking temperatures

Tuesday September 26, 2017 another record setting high temperature.

The National Weather Service Hastings Climatological Station recorded a 91 at 2:33 pm for a new record high, breaking the old record of 89 degrees set on this same day in 1933.

Wednesday we'll see much cooler  conditions as temperatures fall back into the 70s as the warm front moves out and high pressure moves in.

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Superintendent's Platform

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

 

During Monday’s meeting, the Hastings Area School System Board of Education learned that the 2017-18 school year is off to an amazing start! As we welcome our new and returning Saxons, we are happy to report that the current 2015 Bond projects are on schedule and on budget. Positive things are happening in Hastings Area Schools and we owe it all to the support from our community!

 

Our community’s support is having a positive impact on our students and attracting attention from visitors. Student participation in both middle school and high school sports are up by approximately 15% this fall—with increased numbers in every sport! The swim team hosted seven other teams for its home invitational. Their season is off to a great start with our amazing new scoreboard, which was purchased with donated funds from our many community sponsors. Thank you!

 

During the meeting Monday evening, the board approved and accepted with gratitude, a donation of $1,000 from the Richard B. Messer Trust for the high school drama department, another example of how our community supports our students!

In other business the board:

·       Approved, in principle, the proposed travel study trip to Washington D.C. for Hastings Middle School 8th grade, June 13 – 17, 2018

·       Accepted the personnel report which included 80 appointments, which included instructional assistants, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, marketing coordinator, extracurricular advisors, coaches, etc.

·       Approved the purchase and installation of heat reclaim coils and compressor from Hurst Mechanical.

·       Heard an update on the 2015 bond projects and the upcoming 2017 bond proposals.

Community support of the 2015 bond has allowed the school system to make renovations and upgrades to facilities throughout the district to provide a safer and more stimulating educational environment for all our students. In 2015 we eliminated $12,000,000 from the proposal which was earmarked for technology, transportation and athletics. In November, we hope our community will support the two new proposals.

 

Homecoming is Sept. 29, when we will be playing Marshall. Homecoming week activities and plans are already underway, including store front painting and the Homecoming parade going through downtown again this year. It’s wonderful to be downtown and see all the businesses, families and community at large show their Saxon pride and support for our students. We hope everyone joins us as we celebrate our students and the fact that it’s always, “A great day to be a Saxon!”

 

The next meeting of the board will be 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16 in the multi-purpose room of Central Elementary, 509 S. Broadway, Hastings.

 

 

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Number of dogs allowed per person at Hastings Dog Park lowered from three to two

Dog Park Companions asked the Hastings City Council Monday to amend it’s agreement with them to increase the three dog limit per person at the park up to four dogs per person.

 

Leslie Sitzer, representing the Companions, asked for a number of changes to the agreement with the city. There are other issues in the agreement for future changes; bringing its winter hours in line with the city, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., require harnesses and collars be fitted and tight, and require all dogs be vaccinated, but for now, the request was just for four dogs, she said.

 

“The key is responsibility and respect for other owners… we want support for all,” she said. The dog park is a place for socializing, meeting new people, getting the dogs needed exercise and it should be open for all, she said. It’s important, one supporter said, and in the worst case, the city should assume control of the park.

 

Those opposed to the increase from three dogs to four, including some council members, said handling more than two dogs that are being aggressive is impossible, even two dogs will pack up and challenge a new dog in its territory, causing problems for their handlers and possible injury to dogs and people.

 

After discussion about the difficulty one person would have controlling multiple dogs at the park, the council voted to reduce the number of dog a person can bring to the park to two.

 

Council members Bill Cusack, Brenda McNabb-Stange, Bill Redman, John Resseguie, Donald Bowers and David Tossava voted for allowing just two dogs per person at the park; Al Jarvis, Therese Maupin-Moore and Don Smith voted against reducing the number to two.

 

The discussion brought up a number of issues to be looked into by city staff including: A copy of the by-laws, if they do have them; do they, or should they, follow parliamentary procedures; information on when the group meets; who votes on rules changes for the park; how rules could be enforced; how an out of state visitor could be checked for vaccination of a dog; which dog should be segregated in a canine dispute and if the dog park is open to anyone or just Hastings citizens.

 

Jarvis suggested a look at the entire structure of the dog park agreement, saying the group’s structure seems, “a little “loose-y-goose-y.”

 

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Hastings council to have workshops on wide array of topics

To have more in-depth understanding of issues that they have to decide, the Hastings City Council agreed Monday to hold workshops once a month on specific topics. The suggestion for more council workshops on issues related to its work was made by Councilman Don Smith during a recent discussion where he said he needed more information.

 

City Manager Jeff Mansfield gave list of possible topics, with the first set for Hastings city finances.

Other topics for the lunch time meetings, set at one hour with the public invited and time for questions, were city parks capital improvement needs, introduction to water and wastewater facilities needs and financing, water and wastewater system operations, police and fire operations, the basis for TIF authorities, community development, bicycle master plan, local housing initiatives, asset management program for city streets and council, manager, staff relationships.

 

Each heading had several subheads, narrowing topics into more specific areas. Mansfield asked council members to add their ideas to the list.

Councilman Al Jarvis asked for a session on how members should follow through on constituents concerns. “I know usually we talk to you, but…” he said to Mansfield.

 

The meetings will be during lunch time on the second or fourth Monday of the month, the same day there is a council meeting.

 

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Distributed Antenna Systems company to come under new Hastings ordinance

Department of Public Services Director Lee Hayes Monday told the Hastings City Council  that ACD.net, a Lansing based broadband service, has agreed to sign an agreement with the city putting its pole antenna system under a new ordinance and to begin the monthly fee payments.

 

In 2014, ACD was the first company to install the Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS), pole antennas to boost cellular coverage and capacity, in Hastings street’s rights-of-way. The council approved the installation of eight pole antennas on the mistaken information that it was governed by the Metro Act and had to be allowed.

 

It was not covered by the Metro Act, and Hastings, working with other Grand Valley Metro Council members and attorneys, developed the new ordinance and fee schedule for companies that apply to install the new technology in Hastings. The monthly fee schedule ranges from Tier 1, at $25 in rural or low traffic areas; to Tier 2, at $75 in residential or moderate traffic areas; to Tier 3, $150 in a commercial or industrial corridor.

 

A DAS boosts cellular coverage and capacity with the smaller pole antennas and are cheaper than the macro towers used by giant telecommunications companies like AT&T and Verizon. The council expects more requests for the systems, since  telecommunication provider Sprint, has said it will deliver its services by using DAS instead of the large towers.

 

In other business, a request by Scott TenCate of Kisscross Events for city police help for the Fall Fondo was approved. The police normally use on-duty staff at the event so there are no additional costs to the city.

 

The council also voted unanimously that incumbents Jason Eppler, city manager of Ionia; Ken Hibl, city manager of the City of Clare; Sue Osborn, mayor of the City of Fenton and David Post, village manager of the Village of Hillman, return as board members of the Michigan Municipal League Liability and Property Pool.

 

Also, Mayor David Tossava’s recommendation of Tracy Baker as alternate on the Zoning Board of Appeals for a partial term ending Dec. 31, 2017 was approved.

 

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Five straight days of recording breaking temperatures

Monday September 25, 2017 was the fifth straight day Hastings was hit with record high temperatures.

At 4:25 pm this date the National Weather Service Hastings Climatological Station recorded a new record high of 91 degrees breaking the old record of 88 degrees on this same day in 1937.

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Domestic dispute leads to homicide, person of interest not held

A domestic dispute that led to the death of a 46-year-old Prairieville Township man Sept 23 is still under investigation, Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf said.

 

David Cooper, 69, and Carol Reed lived at 15069 Burchette Road home in the township. Reed’s son, Brian Douglas Reed, moved in with his mother two years ago, after being released from a lengthy term in a California prison, according to Leaf.

 

A domestic dispute developed late Friday/early Saturday morning between the two men, which resulted in Cooper shooting Brian Reed with a 12 gauge shotgun. Reed died at the scene despite lifesaving efforts by Barry County deputies and EMT’s.

 

As a person of interest, Cooper was taken into custody for questioning by investigators.  He was released from custody Sunday, Sept 24.

 

Leaf said there was not enough evidence to file criminal charges against Cooper, pending the results of an autopsy set for today, and further investigation.

 

Because it was a homicide, the report on the investigation will go to the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office for review Leaf said.

 

Deputies Scott Ware and Barry Brandt responded to the situation, Pride Care EMS assisted deputies. Detective Sgt. Janette Maki was the investigator. 

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Another Record High Temperature

Sunday September 24, 2017 was another hot day in  Hastings  and across Michigan.

The Hastings National Weather Service Climatological Station recorded a new record high temperature of 93 degrees, breaking an 80 year old record of 88 degrees for this day in 1937. The new record high  occured at 4:02 pm.

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Another Record High Temperature

It was another record setting Saturday September 23, 2017 as the temperature  hit 96 degrees at 5:29 pm.  This makes the third straight day the Hastings  National Weather Service Climatological Station recorded  record high temperatures that broke records set back in the 1930s.  

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UPDATE: Person of interest in Prairieville Township homicide released

UPDATE: A man who was a person of interest in a Sept. 23 homicide that occurred during a domestic situation in Prairieville Township, has been questioned by Barry County Sheriff’s detectives and released from custody.

David Cooper, 69, of 15069 Burchette Road, was released Sunday. Authorities brought Cooper in for questioning after the death of a 46-year-old man at the Burchette Road residence.

“Pending autopsy results and further investigation, there’s really not enough there to charge him with anything criminal,” Sheriff Dar Leaf said.

The deceased’s name is being withheld until notification of family, he said.

 

 

 

UPDATE: Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf provided more information on the homicide early this morning in Prairieville Township. Leaf said the investigation is still ongoing, but could release the information that a 69-year-old man fatally shot a 46-year -old man with a 12 gauge shotgun during a domestic situation. The man is being detained and has not been formally charged, Leaf said.

More updates will be posted when they are available.

 

ORIGINAL STORY: Fatal shooting in Prairieville Township being investigated

September 23, 2017

Barry County Sheriff’s deputies were called to 15069 Burchette Road in Prairieville Township at about 2 a.m. Saturday morning on the report of a man with a gunshot wound. Upon arrival Deputies and EMS provided lifesaving efforts, however the man died from his injuries, according to a sheriff’s office news release.

 

Officials said a man who is a person of interest is in custody and there is no threat to the community. An investigation is ongoing and no further information is available at this time.

The names of those involved are being withheld pending notification of relatives.  Pride Care EMS assisted the sheriff’s office personnel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Another Record Temperature Day

For the second day in a row mother nature turned up the heat in Hastings for this friday september 22nd at 4:05 pm to a record setting 95 degrees.  The old record for this same day was 91 degrees in 1931. Saturday may see another record setting day.

By thursday of next week temperatures will be in the high 60s.

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Barry County women re-appointed to Governor's Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect

Gov. Rick Snyder on Sept. 21 announced appointments to the Governor’s Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect, re-appointing Julie Nakfoor-Pratt and Lani Forbes, both from Barry County.

The task force promotes the health, safety and welfare of Michigan's children and families by funding local programs and services that prevent child abuse and neglect.

 

Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt of Hastings  serves on the advisory board of the Safe Harbor Children’s Advocacy Center of Barry County and Family Support Center of Barry County.

 

Nakfoor-Pratt holds a bachelor’s degree in foreign languages from Michigan State University and a degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School. She will represent judges and attorneys in a term expiring Dec. 31, 2017.

 

“ I began serving on the Governors task force in 2013. I am the only prosecutor that sits on it at this time, it is important that prosecutor's are represented on the task force,” Nakfoor-Pratt said.

 

“The task force is made up of people from many different walks of life, which is critical to it's success. My committee, the protocol committee, is working on revisions to the Michigan model protocols on investigation of child abuse and neglect.  I am excited to continue to serve, as we have much work to do!”

 

Lani Forbes, from Freeeport, is the executive director for Barry County United Way, and is a medical lieutenant for the Freeport Fire Department. She is involved in many local and regional boards and was re-appointed to a term expiring Dec.31, 2019.  She will continue to represent parents.

 

“Both Julie Nakfoor-Pratt and I were first appointed in February of 2013 to the 18 member task force. Since then, I have chaired the Budget and Funding Committee and serve on the Citizen Review Panel committee,” Forbes said.

“I am honored to have been chosen to serve in this capacity as we work toward a better outcome for the children that have entered into the foster care and adoption system.”

 

“I thank these task force members for their commitment to creating positive change in Michigan’s child welfare system and am confident their contributions will help enhance the state’s response to child abuse and neglect,” Snyder said.

 

(left) Barry County Prosecuutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt. 

 

 

 

 

 

(right) Barry Couty United Way Executive Director Lani Forbes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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:

 

 

 

 

 

2017 Fall High School Homecoming activities:

 

Theme: Seasons

Seniors - Fall

Juniors - Summer

Sophomores - Winter

Freshman - Spring

 

Class Colors

Seniors - Black & Gold

Juniors - Blue & Pink

Sophomores - Grey & Red

Freshman - Brown & Purple

 

Dress-Up Days - High School

Monday, 9/25 - 70’s or 80’s 

Tuesday, 9/26 - Nerd vs. Jock

Wednesday, 9/27 - Class Color

Thursday, 9/28 - Theme Day

Friday, 9/29- Spirit Day (blue/white)

 

Dress-Up Days - Junior High

Monday, 9/25 - Charity/Awareness Ribbon Day

Tuesday, 9/26 - 80's Day

Wednesday, 9/27 - Country Western Day

Thursday, 9/28 - Global Day (excluding USA)

Friday, 9/29- Spirit Day (blue/white)

 

Powder Puff Game

Seniors vs. Juniors

Wednesday, Sept. 27

7 p.m. at High School Football Field

 

Parade 

Friday, Sept. 29

5:30 p.m. on Main Street in Nashville

Line up at Nashville VFW in parking lot at 4:30 p.m.

 

Game vs. Leslie

Friday, Sept. 29 

7 p.m. at High School Football Field

 

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UPDATE: Alto man identified as victim in Caledonia Township fatal crash

UPDATE: The Kent County Sheriff's Office has released the names of two invoved in a fatal traffic crash on Sept. 21.  Lucas Peter Yonker, 21, of Alto, died in the crash.  Arthur Lloyd Nash, 50, was the driver of a Kenworth dump truck owned by Snyder Asphalt that was conducting operations in the area..

 

ORIGINAL STORY: At about 11:45 a.m. Thursday Kent County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a traffic crash at the intersection 68th Street and Cherry Valley Avenue SE in Caledonia Township, according to the sheriff’s office.

 

Officials said their investigation showed that a pickup truck driven by a 21-year-old Kent County man turned westbound onto 68th Street from northbound Cherry Valley Avenue. An eastbound dump truck, operated by a 50-year-old Lansing resident, crossed the center line and struck the pick up truck shortly after it made the turn.

 

The driver of the pickup truck, the sole occupant, died at the scene. The dump truck driver was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Alcohol is not believed to be a factor, officials said. The names of those involved in the crash were not released.

The crash remains under investigation.

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Alleged seller of drugs to high school students arrested, charged

A team of law enforcement agencies have arrested a Lowell area man for selling marijuana and Xanax and also selling drugs to high school students.

Cody Pierce, 22,  was arraigned for a probation violation, possession with intent to deliver marijuana, and possession with intent to deliver Xanax. Bond was set at $40,000.

 

The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office and Central Michigan Enforcement Team received information from the Kent Area Narcotics Enforcement Team on Sept. 19 that Pierce was reportedly selling marijuana and Xanax and also drugs to high school students. An investigation was started and multiple drug related items were located in a search of Pierce's residence. He was arrested and lodged that evening.

 

Agencies involved with the investigation included the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office, Central Michigan Enforcement Team, Kent Area Narcotics Enforcement Team, and Ionia County District Court Probation.

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New Record High Temp

The National Weather Service Hastings Climatological Station recorded and new record high temperature for Hastings thursday afternoon at 1:39-pm.

New record 92 degrees,  old record 91 degrees set in 1931 86 years ago. Then at 1:58-pm this date another new record of 93 degrees And there may be more records falling before the high pressure responsible for the record breaking temperatures moves away. 

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Eaton County telephone surcharge proposal to be on Nov. 7 ballot

The radio system used by first responders in Eaton County is obsolete and at the end of its useful life resulting in limited coverage, inability to communicate with nearby agencies and equipment no longer serviceable after April 2018, according to emergency services providers who serve Eaton County.

 

For more than two years, a working group of law enforcement, fire, and EMS officials reviewed options and visited other counties. They recommended the Michigan Public Safety Communications System to make upgrades to the county system.

 

A proposal for a telephone surcharge of up to $1.75 a month to pay for the upgrades to Eaton County emergency services will be on the ballot in the Nov. 7 election.  It will appear as a 911 surcharge and is worded specifically to solely fund the project to be paid off in 10 years.

 

The proposal includes additional radio towers, upgrading the system from a 400 MHz simulcast to a 700/800 MHz digital trunked system and providing all first responder agencies in the county new radios and pagers to improve coverage and allow first responders to communicate with surrounding agencies. officials said.

 

Two community forums in October will provide information and answer questions about the project and ballot question. They are:

 Delta Township District Library

Tuesday, Oct. 3, at 6:30 p.m.

5130 Davenport Drive, Lansing.

 

Charlotte Performing Arts Center

Monday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m.

378 State Street, Charlotte.

 

“Radio communication is the lifeline for all public safety first responders.  Our current system has served us well but it is now obsolete. The aging equipment is no longer serviceable and we are starting to see system failures,” Charlotte Police Chief Lisa Sherman said. //

 

“Currently Fire/EMS personnel in my agency have to carry multiple radios to communicate with our neighboring departments on emergency incidents,” according to Chief John Clark of Delta Township Fire/EMS.  “The proposed radio system would put all agencies on a common platform, providing for direct communication on the same channel/frequency.”

 

Cost efficiency was also considered in making the recommendation, 911 Director Michael Armitage said.

 “Joining MPSCS will allow Eaton County to use some of their existing towers for our coverage, which reduces the amount of towers Eaton County would need to provide coverage. The MPSCS also maintains key components of the system and provides work on county equipment at cost,” Armitage said.

 

For the first 10 years of use, the proposal includes a comprehensive warranty and battery replacement program and, “by including the warranty and battery replacements program, the liability of unforeseen costs would be reduced while the project is being paid off,” he added.

 

If approved, the Eaton County Board of Commissioners would be authorized to levy up to $1.75 a month on phone devices in Eaton County, with the exception of pre-paid wireless plans.

Currently, 69 counties in Michigan access a county 911 surcharge. The MPSCS is, or is in the process of being, the primary communications system for first responders in 62 counties in the state.

 

For more information visit facebook.com/EatonCounty911, e-mail radios@eatoncounty.org or call Armitage at 517-525-0313. Information is also on the county website, including the full recommendation and Frequently Asked Questions, at www.eatoncounty.org/departments/central-dispatch. 

 

 

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Request to rescind TOST dies in Eaton County Commission committee

A vote by the Eaton County Commission on if they should cease participation in the Barry Eaton District Health Department’s time of sale or transfer (TOST) regulation was put off in August until the Sept. 20 meeting. The issue, originally brought forth by the Health and Human Services Committee, was not on the Wednesday meeting agenda.

 

“It died in committee two weeks ago,” said Commissioner Brian Droscha, who sits on the Health and Human Services Committee.. “I’m sorely disappointed. The votes we had weren’t there.

“It’s not a done deal, by any means, we are reloading and will come right back at it,” he said.

 

TOST requires the seller of property to pay for a health department inspection of private water and sewer systems before the sale or transfer of property in both counties. If a system is deemed failed, it must be repaired or replaced before the sale. The mission of the regulation is to protect Barry County’s water supply, environment and public health assuring clean water and adequate septic systems, the health department said.

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Droscha said he is in favor of clean water and good septic systems, and he, "would not to object to a voluntary program with inspection by the health department, with them saying ‘this is what we found,’ and giving copies of their report and their recommendations to both the buyer and seller. It should be advisory only.”

 

“On paper it looks great, all fuzzy, but it’s just bad legislation and in its application…we’ve had a ton of problems with it in Eaton County.”

Droscha said the health department advertises they have an appeals process to its decisions.

“What they don’t say is it’s $350 up front. It’s no wonder they don’t have many appeals.”

“I’m all for clean water, but it shouldn’t be linked to the sale or transfer of property; don’t condemn the people and the county just so someone in the health department can lord it over people.”

 

“The Conservation District tests people’s water for free…why not let them do it?” he asked.

Droscha promised the issue will be brought up again. “We know the health department is loaded and ready, we will just have to come at it a different way.” //

 

Barry County residents have complained about the administration of the rule for the 10 years the regulation has been in effect. The Barry County Board of Commissioners is gathering public opinion on the regulation in an August public meeting, where it was overwhelmingly criticized, a telephone survey and an on-line poll on the county website that ends Sept. 30.

 

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

 

 

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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 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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

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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

 

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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 www.kubiakcook.com.

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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.

 

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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.    

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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.

 

 

 

 

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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.”

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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 JulieCalley@house.mi.gov or at 517-373-0842.

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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. 

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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. 

 

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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.

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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

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**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

effectively.

? 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 www.ready.gov 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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. 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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: facebook.com/EatonCounty911

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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)

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