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Local News

Landmark auto insurance overhaul the pathway forward for all Michigan drivers

"In the last several years, many improvements have been made to enhance opportunities for Michiganders, but one glaring exception lingered.  Michigan drivers have been asking for car insurance reform for decades.  It’s consistently been the number one concern that I have heard about from community members.

 

"When I was elected to represent you and your families in Lansing, I vowed to listen to and deliver on the priorities of communities in Barry and Ionia counties – including tackling car insurance reform.

 

"I made fixing our state’s broken car insurance system a top priority because it was important to so many, including seniors living on a fixed income, single parents trying to keep food on the table, and hard-working people merely trying to afford the expense of getting to work or school. These are the very people I had in mind when I cast my vote to make driving in our state more affordable.

 

"After open and inclusive deliberation and the willingness of the Legislature and the governor to work in a bipartisan fashion, we were able to craft a landmark overhaul – a long-lasting plan guaranteeing significant savings to every Michigan driver that I happily supported.

 

"The governor signed our reform plan, putting an end to partisan gridlock and delivering a huge win for the more than 7 million motorists across the state. Beginning in July 2020, drivers will finally have the freedom to select an insurance plan that best meets their families’ needs without draining their budgets.

 

"Seniors with retiree health coverage such as Medicare and those with health insurance policies that cover injuries suffered in car accidents are eligible to opt out of personal injury protection (PIP) altogether – saving them up to 50 percent on their annual premiums.

 

"Anyone who wants to continue purchasing unlimited PIP coverage in the future may do so, or choose coverage options of $500,000 or $250,000. A $50,000 option will be available only for those on Medicaid.

 

"Regardless of the coverage option they choose, all drivers are guaranteed lower rates on the PIP portion of their policies:

*100 percent reduction for drivers choosing to opt out of PIP coverage

*45 percent for drivers choosing the $50,000 coverage level

*35 percent for drivers choosing the $250,000 coverage level

*20 percent for drivers choosing the $500,000 coverage level

*10 percent for drivers choosing to continue receiving unlimited coverage.

 

"The new law also reins in the significantly higher fees charged by medical providers for auto accident claims. Those who have suffered injuries in an auto wreck will no longer be overcharged on their medical bills because a new fee schedule will be phased in to put reasonable caps on compensation for hospitals and other health care centers.

 

"Included in the solution are means for the Department of Insurance and Financial Services to fight abuse and fraud within the no-fault system. Combating frivolous lawsuits and fraudulent claims will help further drive down costs for every Michigander. Non-driving factors such as marital status, education levels and credit scores will also be banned from being used to determine drivers’ rates.

           

"These sweeping reforms – when in effect next summer – are components of the pathway forward motorists have wanted for so long. I have no doubt this new law will lead to a better future for every Michigan driver, and I cannot wait to see what this historic change will mean for our communities down the road."

 

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Hastings Papa Murphy's closes with no notice

Papa Murphy’s, a take ‘n’ bake pizza restaurant  in Hastings, closed  July 9 with no notice, leaving its surprised customers to find out they were no longer in business.

 

Customer Jim Gilbert said the only way he found out was from the manager of the store on Tuesday when he was picking up a pizza that he had ordered online. “It saddens me as they produced a quality product,” Gilbert said.

 

The business, at 1450 West M-43 Highway, specialized in pizzas home-made in the store and baked at home. They offered salads, appetizers and dozens of different pizza combinations and delivery to Hastings area customers.


Papa Murphy’s corporate headquarters in Vancouver Washington responded to an e-mail asking for comment, saying: “It's always a tough decision and a disappointment to close a store, but we hope to be open near you again in the future, serving up fresh pizza to our fans!”

 

According to its website, there are Papa Murphy stores in Plainwell, Jenison, Grand Rapids, Battle Creek, Holland, Kentwood, Kalamazoo and Walker and many more in more distant locations.

 

Papa Murphy’s, a take ‘n’ bake pizza restaurant chain, is the fifth-largest pizza chain in the United States, with more than 1,500 locations, its website said.

 

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UPDATE:Gun Lake drowning victim identified

UPDATE:The Barry County Sheriff's Office has identified Laura Smith,66, of Middleville, as the woman who drownd yesterday in Gun Lake. Smith was reported mising from a pontoon boat near MUrphy's Point and was later found floating near Hastings Point.

 

ORIGINAL STORY: A report of a person in the waters of Gun Lake at the day area of Yankee Springs State Park came into the Yankee Spring Township/Wayland Fire Department at 4:49 p.m. on Thursday, July 11, Deputy Chief Dan Miller reported.

 

Wayland Area EMS, Barry County and Allegan County dive teams, DNR Parks Division of Yankee Springs and Hastings Fire Department responded along with firefighters and EMR’s from the Yankee Springs Station.

 

At approximately 6:18 p.m. the body of a woman thought to be in her sixties was recovered. The Medical Examiner Investigator was there shortly and the Barry County Victim Services Unit was also at the scene, Miller said.

 

The woman’s name is not being released pending notification of family.

 

 

 

 

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Hastings hosts Gus Macker 3-on-3 this weekend

The Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament is in Hastings this weekend, July 13-14, bringing in hundreds of basketball lovers of all ages to compete for winner status and the famous Gus Macker Trophy.

 

The first Macker tournament was welcomed to Hastings by the Barry County Chamber of Commerce in 2012, attracting about 150 teams. It has returned every year since. By 2016, some 200 teams took part, with basketball courts expanding in the downtown area. This year, organizers expect more than 230 teams to play in front of their supporters, families and friends.

 

The original Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament was in 1974 in Lowell during March  Madness, when Scott McNeal, aka Gus Macker, brother Mitch and 18 kids each chipped in $1 and played for the first purse of $18 in the McNeal driveway, according to the tournament's website.

 

The tournament grew into a nationwide event for players of every age and skill levels. After 45 years and more than two million players, the tournaments are still designed for basketball players who love the driveway game. Barry County businesses sponsor courts and special events.

 

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Kalamazoo County Treasurer Warns of Fraudulent Currency

The Kalamazoo County Treasurer’s office is alerting residents of fraudulent currency circulating in the community, according to Deputy Treasurer Megan Buwalda.

 

Treasurer Mary Balkema reports the County has even been on the receiving end of this fraudulent currency.  The treasurer’s office detected a counterfeit $20 that had been presented for payment at the court. 

 

“If you or your employees handle cash, it’s important to be aware this is happening in the community, and to check bills you handle over $10,” Balkema warns.

A good resource is the Secret Service’s “Know Your Money” downloadable PDF which points out important characteristics in authenticating currency.

 

If you believe you have received a counterfeit bill, do not put your safety in danger, retain the bill in question and contact your local police department.

 

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NOTICE: Barry County July 16th committee of the whole meeting cancelled

The Barry County July 16th committee of the whole meeting has been cancelled due to lack of agenda items.

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Attracting volunteers to Barry County boards and committees discussed

Barry County Commissioners are still working on the best way to attract volunteers to serve on its various committees and boards. Several weeks ago, Commission Ben Geiger said he would develop a solution to the problem of not enough applicants to serve on the county boards.

 

Commissioners Tuesday agreed to use its advertising budget on traditional and other venues, including Facebook, and considered making the process as informal and relaxed as possible with a night committee of the whole meeting at the Tyden Center several times a year.

 

Also, commissioners would focus on finding the right fit for applicants, instead of just accepting or rejecting a person for a specific position. After meeting and talking with the available applicants, the commissioners would make recommendations to the full board.

 

Geiger said the approach was more efficient and less stressful for applicants. There is no streaming of Tyden Building meetings, but audio will be available, he said.

 

Commissioners serve on each board. If someone expressed an interest in animals, Commissioner David Jackson could talk to them about a board he sits on, the Animal Shelter Oversight Committee, tell of its goals and what they do.

 

The meeting could be formed as a workshop or if an official meeting, start with a short presentation at the beginning and agenda items taken care of before the discussions with each applicant.

Several details are still to be decided, but the commissioners seemed to agree with the idea of talking to all applicants in a night meeting, perhaps quarterly.

 

“Bottom line is, does it work?” said Commissioner Dan Parker said. “Two or three times a year, let’s do it.”

 

Also on Tuesday, Commissioner Heather Wing said traffic problems at the entrance of Walmart on M-37/M-43 may be eased next year by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

After an accident involving county employees in June, she said she inquired about the possibility and learned the MDOT had already made the decision to address the questionable area. They had considered lengthening the approach lane to the store, but decided it wouldn’t help much and are considering a traffic light at the entrance to the area, she said. The entrance has been the site of several accidents.

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Barry County Medical Examiner's annual report given to commissioners

Medical Examiner Joyce deJong gave her first annual ME’s report to Barry County Commissioners Tuesday prefacing it by saying:

 

“I recognize that this document is full of numbers, tables and charts. It is not lost on us that each number represents the death of a person, someone who was possibly a parent, grandparent, spouse, child, relative or friend to others. The deaths also represent a loss to the community as well, and we keep that in mind when dealing with the families.”

 

Barry County contracted with Western Michigan University Office of the Medical Examiner (commonly shortened to WMed) for medical examiner services in 2017 in what, “I think was a pretty smooth transition,” she said. “Things are going well with Barry County.”

 

The pathology staff at WMed includes deJong and deputy examiners; five medical doctors, a specialist in neuropathology and a forensic anthropologist. WMed serves a dozen counties including Barry and provides consulting services in forensic anthropology to other communities in Michigan and Indiana.

 

Accredited by the National Association of Medical Examiners, de Jong is proud to say they make their reports available to law enforcement, public health, families and others in an average of 30 days, when the accreditation call for reports in 60 days.

 

ME’s are called to investigate deaths due to violence, non-natural, unexpected or unexplained deaths, deaths of infants and children, due unusual or suspicious circumstances, a possible threat to public health, a person in a county or city jail, or those not under the care of a physician.

Generally, autopsies are conducted if it is necessary to determine cause, manner of death, to document injuries or disease or collect evidence.

 

Each county has several Medical Examiner Investigators who respond to nearly all deaths. The MEI is trained to recognize the vast majority of the deaths requiring postmortem examinations and, in those cases, immediately arranges for transport to WMed for a postmortem examination.

 

Homicides, infant deaths, and drug overdoses are examples of the deaths that are immediately sent. If it doesn’t appear to require for postmortem exam, the MEI contacts the on-call medical examiner to discuss the case before releasing the body to a funeral home. The MEI writes a report with photos that is reviewed by the ME or Deputy ME.

 

The statistics in the report are from the county where the person was pronounced dead, not necessarily where they lived, deJong said.

 

A total of 390 people died in Barry County in 2018; 67 percent were cremated.  One hundred forty six deaths were reported to an ME, 25 required a complete autopsy. Forty-four Gift of Life referrals were made. Nine people died from suicide in 2018, eight men and one woman; five were between 18-64 and three 65 or over.

 

There were two homicides by firearm last year and 21 died of accidental injuries. Of the five drug related deaths in 2018, four were accidental and one indeterminate, all males from 39 to 58 years old. Other counties have a larger problem with drug deaths, which doesn’t seem to be related to population size, deJong said.

 

The MEs office takes part in each county’s Child Death Review team meetings, issue cremation permits and has a high referral rate to the Gift of Life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pine Lake flooding solution estimated at $3 million, Barry County commissioners lift $10,000 spending limit

Barry County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull answered several questions from county commissioners Tuesday, but the main reason he was put on the agenda at the last minute was to ask them to approve an excess spending authorization for Pine Lake.

 

There is a $10,000 limit that can be spent on a drain project unless commissioners authorize extra spending. The commission approved lifting the $10,000 limit.

 

The level at Pine Lake was set by the court at 890.5 and is now at 894.1, Dull said.

“Houses are flooded, people are moving out…three county roads have water on them.”

But, he said, before they did anything, they held a public information meeting last week, “to get a feel if the people wanted something done,” or if they would end up in court like they did with Crooked Lake.

 

Dull said between 350 and 400 people attended the meeting, and most raised their hands when asked if they wanted something done.

 

When the crowd found the estimate to fix the flooding was $3 million dollars, Dull said, “one guy stood up and said, ‘660 homes, $3 million dollars, $5,000 each. Why ain’t it done?’ Everybody clapped, so I take that as they were on board.”

A study by ProgressiveAE in 1993 would be updated as well as a special assessment district from 1969.

 

The special assessment district would include lake front property, back lots, lake use and possibly public landings; anyone who benefits from the lake, he said. Allegan County Drain Commissioner Denise Medemar will ask the Allegan Commissioners to lift the limit on Thursday.

 

With approval from both counties, engineers Chad Marcarelli and Dan Fredericks will present three options to move the Pine Lake water and Dull will start talking to families about easements. Tentative plans are to move the water through a tributary to Gun Lake.

 

This is a lake level project, not a drain district petition project, which is a much longer process and more expensive than a lake level project, Dull said. Commissioner David Jackson asked if the project went from $3 million to $10 million, was there a way for residents in the special assessment district to stop it.

 

Dull said no. “To my knowledge that’s the way it works…going to court is possible, I don’t know.”

Jackson said his research showed the high water levels in the state will continue for a year or more. “It looks like there is no other solution.”

 

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Barry County will pay for emergency repair of COA leaking roof

Repairing the leaking roof on the Commission on Aging building for $25,750 by True Colors Industrial with payment from the Building Rehabilitation Fund was approved by Barry County Commissioners on a 4-2 vote Tuesday. The board voted for the emergency fix despite objections of Commissioners Jon Smelker and Howard “Hoot” Gibson, who both voted no.

 

Commissioner Vivian Conner, who submitted the agenda request for payment, was absent but sent a statement supporting the payment from county funds, noting that it was the board’s responsibility to get the new jail and COA building, “underway before we have major issues…it is appropriate for the county to pay for it because we have not moved forward yet…this board needs to move on these two buildings…”

 

When it was brought up at the committee of the whole last week, COA Executive Director Tammy Pennington said it was essential to repair the 18-year-old roof that leaks almost the entire length of the building.

 

Smelker said that the COA has voted millage and its own general fund as well as a building fund and asked if the county paid for the COA roof repairs, would they have to pay back other county agencies that had made repairs to their buildings from their general funds if they ask.

“We put roofs on Charlton Park, now the COA…(county entities) that get millage are not taking care of their buildings, not repairing roofs when they have a fund balance,” Smelker said.

 

He also questioned if COA had spent money on roof repairs in the past. Tuesday, Pennington said they looked up the figures and over the past 10 years, they had spent a total of $25,645 on roof repairs and clearing of snow off the roof.

 

The commission also addressed several recommendations from the committee of the whole meeting and approved:

 

*buying a 2020 Lund Model 1800 Alaskan with a 90 h.p. Mercury outboard motor and Trailmaster trailer for the Barry County Sheriff’s Office Marine Division for $25,128 to be paid from the Vehicle Fund.

 

*changes and additions to the Barry County Information Technology Security Policy, last updated in 2017.

 

*new office furniture for the Specialty Courts Office and office dividers for the Family Division clerical staff for $17,766.46 to come from the Capital Replacement Fund 2019 budget.

 

*the purchase of a 2019 GMC Terrain to replace a 2019 GVC Terrain totaled in an accident on June 20 through MiDeal purchasing program.

 

Also, the commission named Conner to attend the 73rd Michigan Employees Retirement System Conference as Officer Delegate and Commissioner Heather Wing as Officer Alternate.  

 

 

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Thornapple Kellogg student McKenna Nichols creates Heritage Days logo

Thornapple Kellogg junior McKenna Nichols was finished with her final exam when art teacher Barb Maring told the students they could enter a contest to create the official logo for Middleville’s Heritage Days theme for this year, “Remember When…”

 

McKenna had some extra time, so she let her mind wander about her past, her own “Remember When...”

“I was born in Middleville, lived all my life here,” she recalls thinking. “What memories do I have?” 

With some reflection, she realized her memories were linked with Middleville’s signature, an Old West Stagecoach.

 

“In all the good memories that happened growing up, the stagecoach always sticks out for me.”

Leafing through a book of stock photos, she knew the one she wanted as soon as she saw it; a stagecoach that exactly fit her vision of “Remember When...”

 

That’s what she settled on and her rendition was chosen to be the identifier for the three-day celebration of the village’s past this August 16-18.

 

McKenna will graduate from TK next year and hopes to attend MSU, and pursue a career in military law. “I’ve always had a passion for those who have no voice,” she said. “It’s highly competitive field, but it’s my dream job.”

McKenna, daughter of Jason and Lindsay Preslar, works at Hastings Four and also babysits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

McKenna Nichols

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Hastings fire gets new extrication equipment; police get two new patrol cars

Hastings City Manager Jerry Czarnecki’s first meeting in the position Monday went smoothly, with the City Council handling matters to do with running the city.

The council approved the Hastings Fire Department getting new rescue equipment and new asphalt in the parking lot. Replacement extrication equipment from MI Rescue Resources for $30,846.50 includes a Genesis C236 EForce Cutter, a Genesis EFORCE 2.0 Spreader, a 10 Genesis EFORCE Ram, a 12-inch ram extender and a Beluga Glass Cutter. Fire Chief Roger Caris said they receive just one bid and got $1,000 trade-in on an old set of hydraulic tools.

 

A-1 Asphalt was the only bidder for removing and replacing the asphalt in the parking lot for $25,622. The company will rotomill and remove 1.5 inches of asphalt, fill low areas where needed and install 1.5 inches of premium base asphalt and stripe seven stalls in latex traffic yellow paint. The bids on both projects are within the budgeted amounts for the fiscal year.

 

Deputy Police Chief Dale Boulter’s request was approved for the purchase of two 2020 Ford police interceptor utility AWD patrol cars for $73,724 ($36,862 each) from Signature Ford/Lincoln in Owasso, through MIDeal and also $10,018 for the changeover of patrol vehicles with new equipment and installation from C-Com of Kalamazoo. The vehicles and changeovers are in the 2019/2020 budget.

 

Matt Gergen, new director of the Department of Public Services, was not at the meeting because of a water main break on Market Street, but filed a report, Czarnecki said. The report said the plan for the city’s compost area on West State Road until fall is to supervise the gate into the area on Wednesdays from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m.to 11 a.m. The entrance gate has been vandalized twice since it was installed.

 

Czarnecki recommended and council approved a new position of Utility Billing Clerk. The AR-clerk is responsible the billing, reporting, and tracking of the water and sewer data, works with the DPS to schedule appointments for meter changes, creates shutoff lists and answers calls from customers regarding the water and sewer. The Utility Billing Clerk will monitor progress of readings, create the re-read list, and verify the hours worked by the meter reader, as well as monitor reading efficiency. There are two AR clerks.

 

Recently, directly supervising the meter reader was added to the position held by AR Clerk Kris Slagel. The position is given a new title, job description and a pay range of $14 to $19.50 to reflect the additional responsibility. Slagel, who will get no pay raise because she is already in that pay range, was appointed to the new position; her AR-clerk position will be eliminated.

 

The council also approved Czarnecki’s request for a joint workshop with the city planning commission July 22 at 6 p.m. with Attorney Jeff Sluggett for his advice on what should be changed or added to the city ordinance on DAS/small cell antenna in the city’s rights-of-way. Sluggett originally advised the city on the writing of its ordinance. Czarnecki asked the planning commission be at the meeting to better coordinate the needed changes or additions with the council.

 

In her Legislative Director’s report Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange said state regulators have come up with emergency rules regarding the licensing for recreational marijuana. “The rules are good for six months and can be extended an additional six months. That’s to get everything started so communities know… what rules they will be under when they finally get things settled,” she said. Licenses will not be issued before Nov. 1.

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Health department clears Tequila's Mexican Grill to reopen

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department has cleared Tequila’s Mexican Grill in Charlotte to reopen as of Monday evening, July 8. Tequila’s is following an approved food safety plan after undergoing an inspection Monday afternoon, a media release said.

 

The health department will continue to monitor the restaurant’s implementation of the plan to ensure food safety. The restaurant’s exact reopening date and time in not known. Investigation into the cause of the June outbreak is ongoing, and an exact cause has not been determined at this time. 

 

Updates on the investigation will be provided as information becomes available. To access the information, visit www.barryeatonhealth.org.

 

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Gun Lake Tribe offers free tire recycling July 17

The Gun Lake Tribe announced the date of its next tire recycling event on Wednesday July 17 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Tribe’s Government Campus headquarters near the Gun Lake Casino.

Tractor tires will not be accepted and there is a limit of 10 tires per household.

 

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Single vehicle crash at M-37 and M-79 intersection claims life of Hastings man

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office investigated a single vehicle fatal crash at M-37 and M-79 in Hastings Township at 12:53 a.m. Sunday, according to a sheriff’s media release.

 

Investigation showed a Chevrolet Silverado driven by Matthew Rick, 44, from Hastings, was traveling westbound on M-79 when he went through the stop sign, crossed M-37 and hit a pole in a marsh area on the side of the road.  

 

Rick, the only occupant in the pickup, was pronounced dead at the scene. It appears he was wearing his seatbelt and the side airbags were deployed. It also appears speed was a factor in the crash; it’s unknown if alcohol or drugs were involved. He was transported to WMED in Kalamazoo for an autopsy.

 

Deputies were assisted by Hastings Fire Department, Mercy Ambulance Service, MDOT and Barry County Central Dispatch. Deputy Elliot Hausler and Deputy Scott Ware are the investigators. The news release was sent out by Sergeant Rich Frazer.

 

The crash is still under investigation.

 

 

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167th Barry County Fair is July 13-20

The Barry County Fair, honoring the past and building the future, opens July 13 and continues until July 20. The fair centers as usual on 4-H members and their animals and wide range of projects with related events packed in every day, starting with Youth Dog judging Saturday and continuing every day, showcasing kids and their talents.

 

Special days are always part of the fair, Tuesday is Veterans and Senior Day with $2.50 admission all day and a Senior Day Program at 9:30 a.m.

Wednesday is Children’s Day; Thursday is Ladies Day with $250 admission until noon and a special ladies program in the community tent.

 

Friday, the livestock sale starts at 9 a.m. in the show arena, the small animal sale at 5:30 p.m.

Elliott’s Amusements provides rides afternoons and there are many food concessions and game booths to get some fair food and test your skills along the midway.

The Expo Center opens each day at 11 a.m. with arts and crafts, exhibits and much more.

 

Harness racing it available free Saturday and Sunday starting at noon. The grandstand evening shows this year include Heavyweight State Championship Draft Horse Pulling on Sunday,

Koi Drag Racing in Monday, Unique Motorsports Off Road Derby on Tuesday, Professional Rodeo Wednesday, Truck and Tractor Pulls on Thursday, Unique Motorsports Demolition Derby Friday and Michigan State Fair Super Cross Saturday.

 

Be sure to visit the birthing tent along with the exhibits in the barns and Expo Center. Golf carts and drivers are available for those who choose to ride to the various activities.

For a complete listing of events and times, visit www.barryexpocenter.com

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New shooting range being considered for Yankee Springs Township

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is inviting you to visit the Barry State Game Area during an open house Wednesday, July 10, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Game Area Headquarters, 1805 South Yankee Springs Road, Middleville

 

Area managers will discuss game area management activities, including updates on shooting range improvements and development. Handouts and maps with more information about the game area will be available.

 

The DNR is considering development of a new shooting range in the game area on Chief Noonday Road and is looking forward citizen input on range needs and design.

 

 

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UPDATE: Freeport woman dies from injuries in July 4 crash

UPDATE: Lori A. Russell, 52,  of Freeport, the driver of the Dodge Caravan in a crash yesterday, died today as a result of the injuries sustained in the crash. The investigation continues into the incident.

 

ORIGINAL STORY:

Barry County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a serious injury two-car crash on Eckert Road near Wood School Road on July 4 at 2:14 p.m., according to a sheriff’s news release.

 

The initial investigation shows a Dodge Caravan was traveling east on Eckert Road as a Dodge Journey was traveling north on Wood School Road. The driver of the Journey failed to stop at a stop sign, crashing into the Caravan occupied by a 52-year-old Freeport woman.

 

The Journey was occupied by a 55-year-old man and three women, ages 48, 53 and 54, all from Battle Creek. The Freeport woman was air lifted to an area hospital. The occupants of the Journey were all transported to area hospitals by ambulance. No names have been released by the sheriff’s office as yet.

 

Freeport Fire Department, Thornapple Township Emergency Services, Mercy Ambulance, Aero Med, Michigan State Police and Barry County Central Dispatch assisted deputies.

 

Deputies William Romph, Richelle Spencer, Scott Ware and Jeremiah Kimbel investigated the crash; Sgt. Thomas Heald issued the release.

 

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Heat buckles Highway

Westbound traffic leaving Hastings on Highway M-37 M-43 was interrupted Wednesday afternoon when temperatures reached into the upper 80s that may have caused a portion of the road to buckle in front of a Dollar store near Walmart.

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Area fireworks displays to celebrate America's independence

The Algonquin Lake Community Association will offer a fireworks show at dusk at Algonquin Lake on Wednesday, July 3.

 

The Hastings City Band will perform a Tribute to America on Wednesday evening, July 3 at 8pm at Thornapple Plaza in Hastings. The concert will be followed by fireworks.

 

On Thursday, July 4 in Middleville, family activities start at 6pm at the AYSO soccer fields followed by fireworks at dusk.

 

Gun Lake State Park will hold fireworks at around 10:20pm on Saturday, July 6.

 

Barlow Lake is having a fireworks show Saturday, July 6th.

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Jon Otis Burnett to get forensic diagnosis on competency to stand trial in double homicide

Jon Otis Burnett, 63, charged with a double homicide in June, made a brief court appearance in 56th District Court today (Wednesday).

 

Barry County Prosecutor Julie-Nakfoor Pratt asked Judge Michael Skipper for time to schedule a forensic diagnosis to determine if Burnett is competent to stand trial.

Pending the outcome of the examination, he is tentatively scheduled to go to trail the first week in September.

 

Nakfoor-Pratt also asked that the no-contact order between Burnett and his wife Lynn be amended to allow contact between the two if he wasn’t aggressive or coercive.

Lynn Burnett asked for the change so she could contact him about household matters that come up.

 

Schipper said since it would be to her benefit, he would allow contact by letter, phone or jail visit, but warned Jon Burnett if he showed any assaultive or intimidating behavior the contacts would stop immediately as well as all other jail privileges, except contact with his attorney.

 

Burnett was arrested in connection with a double homicide in Orangeville Township on June 21. He is accused of shooting his neighbor, Gary L. Peake, 73, and Bryce Nathan DeGood, 21, of Haslett, and assaulting his wife by strangulation earlier in the day.

 

Burnett, facing two open murder charges, assault by strangulation, felonious assault and felony firearm charges, is being held on $10 million bond. Open murder is a felony punishable by life in prison.

Nakfoor Pratt represents the State of Michigan; Attorney Steven Storrs is representing Burnett.

 

 

 

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Gun Lake Tribe hosts 5th Annual Sweet Grass Moon Pow Wow July 13-14

The Gun Lake Tribe of Pottawatomi Indians is inviting the public to the Sweet Grass Moon Pow Wow on Saturday July 13, from 1 p.m.to 10 p.m. and Sunday, July 14 from noon to 5:30 p.m.

 

The free event is at Jijak Camp, 2044 126th Avenue in Hopkins; take the entrance off 126th Avenue.

 

The Sweet Grass Moon Pow Wow is a cultural celebration of Pottawatomi traditions, dance and songs. Jijak Camp is a sprawling cultural center that features a beautiful pow wow arena, cabins, lakes, a community center and much more. Native American vendors from across the Great Lakes region will offer native foods, arts, and jewelry.

 

Pictures and video may be taken during the event unless otherwise announced by the emcee. Security at the alcohol and drug-free event is provided by the Gun Lake Tribe Public Safety Department.

No pets are allowed, unless they are service pets and parents or adults must accompany children under 12.

 

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Man dies in single vehicle, single occupant crash in Cheshire Township, Allegan County

A man in his 70’s died in a single car crash shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 1 in the area of 108th Avenue and 38th Street in Cheshire Township in Allegan County, according to an Allegan County Sheriff’s news release.

 

The victim’s name is not being released until next of kin are notified. According to a witness, the vehicle was traveling westbound on 108th  Avenue and crossed the center line, riding along the ditch on the south side of the roadway. 

 

The vehicle continued down the ditch into the wooded area striking several trees coming to a stop approximately 40 feet off the roadway. There was no braking throughout the incident, the release said.

 

The crash remains under investigation. Police say neither alcohol or speed appear to be a factor. Bloomingdale Fire Department and Life EMS assisted sheriff’s deputies on scene.

 

 

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Wayland police investigate suspected drug, sex trafficking ring

Monday, July 1, Wayland police executed a search and seizure warrant in the 600 block of East Maple Street in the city to obtain evidence of a suspected sex trafficking ring and drug crimes, according to a Wayland Police Department news release.

 

Officers seized suspected drug paraphernalia and drugs believed to be cocaine and heroin. 

Numerous electronic devices were seized that contain suspected evidence of drug and sex crime violations, as well as information on additional potential suspects.

 

The electronic devices will be sent to the MSP Computer Crimes Unit for examination.

The investigation has been on-going since October 2018, gathering evidence from as far back as 2017. As evidence of suspected crimes was collected, the Michigan State Police and FBI were brought in to assist Wayland police with the investigation, the news release said

 

The search warrant is not the end of the investigation as numerous other leads have been generated by the seized evidence; the investigation continues and charges are pending. The Wayland police thanked the MSP, the FBI and the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance. 

 

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Barry County Drain Commission limits its response to public's questions

At Tuesday’s Barry County Commission meeting, Drain Commissioner Jim Dull announced changes in the way the department will respond to questions from the public in the future.

 

He said questioners can file a Freedom of Information Act request for specific information and they will get an estimate of the cost for the documents. Or, they can pay engineer Brian Cenci or attorney Doug Kelly’s regular fees to talk to them.

However, his department will set up a webpage on the county website for frequently asked questions on drain projects,

 

“Because we’re at a point where because of legalities any questions we’re taking in, we have to answer them very specifically after that suit that we were filed against, so anything we do now is going through the attorney and engineers so we’re not going to answer any more public comments or questions.

 

“They have the choice of doing a FOIA request, we will give them a cost estimate and they will pay for this information or Doug Kelly and Brian Cenci have both agreed if some residents have questions, and they are willing to pay Doug and Brian’s hourly wage, they will drive down here and meet with them at their convenience.

 

“It’s not fiscally responsible for us to be answering public questions on district monies and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing and it’s gonna stop right here.

 

“So, if anyone has any other questions, either FOIA them or contact the commissioners to send them on. We don’t have a problem talking to commissioners because they weed out 90 percent of them.”

 

Dull also reported that in conjunction with MDOT and the EGLE, they are pumping water off M-43 into Cloverdale Lake and from there into Long Lake.

 

“Our pumps are set at 800 gallon a minute of M-43 and 900 gallons a minute out of Cloverdale Lake so we don’t add any problems to the people in Cloverdale Lake,” he said.

Also, he explained why the Crooked Lake project is a drain district project instead of a special assessment lake project. Lake levels are set by the courts and they are directed by them; drains are directed by petitions and they got a drain petition; not a lake level petition. “We have to follow the statuary obligations of the office,” he said.

 

Basic information on FOIA requests:

Written and e-mail FOIA requests go to the organization’s FOIA administrator. The request should be very specific to the information sought.

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government agency must answer the request within five business days, they may deny it, or ask for an additional 10 days to respond. Not answering is considered a denial and appealed as such.

 

Updated law limits the fee to 10 cents a page, with higher rates allowed on some records items like birth and death certificates, deeds and land records.

 

Employee labor fees, supposed to be the exception rather than the rule, should be set by the lowest paid employee who can do the work; for example a clerk in a law office should copy a paper instead of the lawyer.

 

A good faith deposit, generally 50 percent of the bill, may be asked. If a request is denied, the seeker can ask a judge to force the organization to hand over the public record requested.

For details on FOIA, visit

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/ag/FOIA_Pamphlet_380084_7.pdf

 

 

 

 

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