Local News

Questions raised for Barry County Commissioners

Two Barry County citizens used public comment time Tuesday to question Barry County Commissioners, one on the flooding at Crooked Lake and the other on the Barry Eaton District Health Department budget.

Deb Englehardt, who is emerging as a spokeswoman for residents of the Crooked Lake flooding, said she hoped the commissioners would find their questions important enough to find answers for them before the end of the day.


She asked that they put fellow lake resident Sharon Ritchie on a proposed committee to address the flooding; what steps they are going to take to prevent the same type of flooding next spring; if there is any discussion considering on the future of the watershed; and if any short term solution to the flooding has been found.


She said she had heard there is a plan to drain six inches of water from the lake.

“That’s not nearly enough…when this started, we were told it would be a minimum of 24 inches.” If the situation continues as it has, if nothing is done, the flooding will go on into next year, Englehardt said. “That cannot happen.”


Jack Miner asked commissioners what they would do with $4 million dollars.

“What would you do if (Barry County Commission Chair) Ben Geiger told you that 64 percent of the county budget would be hidden from the public?  That is what has happened.

“The Barry Eaton District Health Department draft budget hides all employee expenses from the public. $4.25 million dollars is being hidden from the taxpayers.  It is time for you commissioners to start asking some questions,” he said. //


In county business, commissioners approved:

* accepting a $6,000 grant from the Bissell Pet Foundation to continue the trap, neuter and release (TNR) program.


* contracting with Lansing Tile and Mosaic for $17,700 to replace carpeting in several areas in the courthouse.


* a contract for natural gas from Volunteer Energy for several county buildings at three cents under what Consumers Energy charges its customers.


* temporary MDOT ownership for part of the Paul Henry Thornapple Trail near Nashville in exchange for improving that part of the trail.


* a deficit elimination plan for the drain maintenance fund and submit it to the state.


* an Agriculture Farmland and Open Space Preservation application for Buehler Brothers Beef in sections 5, 9 and 11 in Carlton Township.





Barry County Sheriff reports on managing the Barry County Jail in 2017

Barry County Sheriff  Dar Leaf presented the sheriff’s 2017 year-end report to the Barry County Commission Tuesday, highlighting the people and programs necessary to run the Barry County Jail.


The office has several divisions of trained personnel,  including administrative personnel in the Law Enforcement and Corrections divisions, a Secondary Road Patrol, a K-9 Unit, a Marine Division, a Middleville Unit, Victim Service Unit, a records unit, Reserves and the Sheriff’s Posse, Leaf said.


Accomplishments in 2017 include installing kiosks in housing units, Taser and gun replacements, Corrections Officers training implemented, break away shower curtains installed, handguns replaced and new uniforms purchased.


Leaf said the sheriff’s office officers and employees are amazing, recognizing corrections officers at the jail. The inmate population has increased over the last several years; they were handling about 60 inmates, now they are working with up to 90 to 100.


“They are doing an awesome job…we’ve been sued only four times in the last 10 years and we won them all in the first step. That’s remarkable for a jail,” he said.


Some Enforcement Division statistics from 2017:

*9,027 complaints handled

*1,000 accidents investigated, 973 citations issues

*108 OWI/OWPD arrests

*326 animal control complaints investigated

*547 home checks

*999 sex offender registrations (some multiple times a year)

*71 vehicle inspections.


There were also figures on larcenies (179), retail fraud (17), home invasions (82), controlled substance violations (78), sexual assault (58), suicidal subjects, most asking for help (98), homicides (3), deaths-suicide (6), drug OD (5), and death investigations (42).

Leaf also told of warrants issued, stolen guns, stolen vehicles and “other.”


There was a total of 3,469 inmate admissions in 2017 with 2,956 men and 513 women, and an average daily population of 90. Finger printing, drug screens, visitors and meals served are also duties at the jail. Inmates also have programs available, including medical and mental health care, Forgotten Man Ministries, substance abuse education, community service, cognitive behavior and moral reconation therapy and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.


Tentative timeline, process for Hastings clerk/treasurer to replace city manager approved

The Hastings City Council Monday approved letters of understanding between the City of Hastings and City Manager Jeff Mansfield and Clerk/Treasures/Financial Director Jerry Czarnecki that suggests a timeline and an outline on how Mansfield will be replaced by Czarnecki next year.


Mansfield is retiring June 30, 2019 and recommended Czarnecki for the post. The vote was 7-2 with Councilwomen Brenda McNabb-Stange and Therese Maupin-Moore voting no.

“It is not proper just to hand someone the job. Everybody likes Jerry, he’s a great guy, but it’s too early for him,” McNabb-Stange said, echoing an earlier statement. Maupin-Moore said she has heard from constituents who don’t like the move and she would like to see it opened it up for more applicants.


At a previous meeting, the council interviewed Czarnecki and voted to make him the only candidate for the job. A motion by Councilman Bill Redman to appoint a three-person committee to negotiate conditions of employment with letters of agreement, and come back to a closed session and act on the agreement was defeated by a 4-4 tie, with Councilman Don Smith absent.


Members Redman, John Resseguie, Bill Cusack, and Mayor Dave Tossava voted yes;  McNabb-Stange, Don Bowers, Al Jarvis and Maupin-Moore voted no.  McNabb-Stange said they were rushing the process when there was no reason to, and Czarnecki lacks experience as a city manager, especially in laws and legal matters to do with city affairs.


Maupin-Moore said Smith should be present at a vote that important and a new job description should be in place before they fill the position.  Bowers said the opening should be advertised.  “I like Jerry, but this is not the proper way to do it,” he said. Jarvis said he voted no because he didn’t like the three person committee idea.


A second motion by Redman to name Czarnecki as the sole candidate for city manager passed 5-3, with Redman, Resseguie, Cusack, Jarvis and Tossava voting yes, Bowers, McNabb-Stange and Maupin-Moore voting no.  


When Mansfield first brought up the idea, he said Czarnecki adapted quickly to his duties, assumed leadership positions and has a very positive relationship with the staff, council, regulatory and funding agencies and the community. “Jerry has done a truly outstanding job during his time with the city,” he said.


Czarnecki has been with the city approximately 1 ½ years. Previously, he spent 25 years with Kelloggsville schools as a math teacher and department head. He was community development director in Hastings before taking his current position.


Mansfield said the letters of understanding were chosen instead of a formal contract to provide flexibility if the process turns out differently than their expectations and to assure that everyone has an understanding of how they expect the process to unfold.

The letters, developed by City Attorney Stephanie Fekkes, call for beginning the process to find a clerk/treasurer/financial director immediately, with the goal to fill the position by November.


From November to mid-January 2019, Czarnecki will train the new hire and that person should be formally approved as the clerk/treasurer/financial director on Jan. 14, 2019.

At the same time Czarnecki will be appointed deputy city manager and special projects coordinator while continuing working with the new hire.


Mansfield listed seven special city related projects he and Czarnecki will be working on around the end of this year, and the beginning of next.

Some of the projects are new, some are the result of changes to state requirements and others have fallen behind due to numerous changes in the clerk’s position, Mansfield said.


In January, 2019, Mansfield is to be reappointed as city manager until June 30, 2019, when he will officially retire and Czarnecki will be appointed city manager. The terms of his employment are to be agreed on before July 1, 2019.


Fekkes said the letters are not binding, either side can back out at any time, and nothing is final until the contracts are signed.


Delton Founders Festival was the place to be

The Delton Founders Festival, promoted as a family oriented event, lived up to its promise, not only with rides, games and activities for the kids, but plenty for adults to see and do over the past weekend that celebrated the Delton area community.


Just some of the events were a book sale, scavenger hunt, Boy Scout craft sale, pig roast, karaoke contest, carnival rides, food wagons, live entertainment, a 5K run, pancake breakfast, horseshoes, Barry County Brewfest, magic shows, the traditional parade and fireworks.


Click here for some sights at the Festival



Great Lakes Invitational longbow event is largest in the country

Archery enthusiasts looking for a weekend of fun and friendly competition came to the “greatest longbow-only rendezvous in the country,” the annual Great Lakes Longbow Invitational at Historic Charlton Park, Aug. 10-12.


The event included archery-related activities for all ages and skill levels, including tomahawk throwing, Silver Arrow Shoot, the ‘Ol Sagamore Turkey Shoot, Maid Marion, Sherwood Challenge and a Commemorative Arrow Shoot, and a chance to hear archery experts around the campfire.


A coached children’s range with bows and arrows provided was available for young archers beginning their longbow adventure.


Archery vendors offered custom made items and a trade blanket and barn raffle was held for those looking to barter or pick up archery odds and ends.  Demonstrations include bow building and flint knapping.//

The meet is hosted by the Michigan Longbow Association. 


Click here to see the photo gallery of the 2018 Great Lakes Invitational




Public asked for help locating parole absconder

The Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office is asking for the public’s help in locating Daniel Richard Lee, who has a warrant out for his arrest for being a parole absconder, according to a sheriff’s news release.


Lee is white, born April 21, 1976, is 6 feet tall, weighs 190 pounds and has reddish-blonde hair and blue eyes. He is on parole for a 2009 bank robbery in Kalamazoo, and is a person of interest that law enforcement wishes to speak with regarding two recent bank robberies.


The first was on July 27 at Comerica Bank on East Columbia in Battle Creek and the second was July 31 at the Chemical Bank on West Main St in Oshtemo Township.


A reward of $5,000 is offered for information that leads to the arrest of Lee for his parole absconding warrant. Anyone with information may call the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office or Silent Observer.


Two men shot, one fatally, in Grattan Township

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office responded to the report of a shooting in Grattan Township Sunday and found two men with gunshot wounds, according to a sheriff’s news release.


Robert Morgan, 44, from Belding, was transported to the hospital where he later died from his injuries.

Jacob Vanenk, 22, from Lowell, was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.


The person responsible for firing the gun is known

and is cooperating with police, authorities said.


The incident remains under investigation; however, there is not a threat to the public, the release said.

The shooting occurred near Parle Avenue N.E. and Woodland Park Drive N.E. at 1:32 a.m.

No additional information will be released until the investigation is complete and reviewed by the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office. Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s office or Silent Observer.



Beer truck involved in crash on I-96

On Thursday, August 9, 2018 at approximately 5:17 PM, deputies from the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to a personal injury accident on westbound I-96 Highway near Morrison Lake Road, where a flat-bed semi-truck was broken down on the side of the expressway. A white ford pick-up was stopped to assist with getting the semi back on the road. A beer delivery truck driven by a 40 year old man from Zeeland crossed the fog line striking the pick-up truck. The pick-up truck was pushed into the semi-truck. This caused the beer truck to go over the guardrail into the ditch.


The drivers from the two vehicles were outside of their vehicles and were able to move out of the way of the oncoming vehicle. They received minor injuries.


Assisting the sheriff’s office on scene were Saranac Fire Department, Life EMS, Ionia Central Dispatch and Reed and Hoppes Towing.




National Night Out helps community meet emergency services personnel

The Barry County community took advantage of the second National Night Out in Hastings Tuesday, taking in emergency services equipment, demonstrations, watching kid’s activities, picking up free food and prizes and talking to police, firefighters and ambulance personnel who serve them twenty four hours a day, seven days a week during the year.


Chief organizer Hastings Deputy Chief Dale Boulter said they gave away 1,300 to 1,400 hot dogs, along with chips and bottled water. Two new events, a photo booth and firefighters using jaws to take a car apart were especially popular.


Boulter said he was pleased with the participation by area residents and especially that it brought the emergency services people together in a casual setting too. All the agencies personnel respond when called for mutual aid, but they don’t have a chance to interact in a low pressure setting very often.


“We had the Hastings Reserve Officers and the Barry County Posse members both directing traffic at the entrance to Tyden Park. It was awesome to see.”


What started out nationally as a chance to improve relationships between the public and the police has evolved into all emergency services building relationships with the community and also between agencies, Boulter said.


He credited the success of the event to the emergency services agencies that responded with their equipment and time and people like Barry County Jail corrections Deputy Amber Jansens who pitched in and helped organize this year’s event.

“We’ll be holding a post-event meeting to see what worked and what didn’t. Yes, there will definitely be a third National Night Out and we’ll keep adding new things.”


Click here for a photo album of 2018 National Night Out



Barry County Jail near overcrowding emergency

Official overcrowding of the Barry County Jail is five days with 95 or more inmates at a time, triggering emergency status.

When an emergency is declared by Sheriff Dar Leaf, the procedure calls for a meeting with him, Chief Judge William Doherty and chairman of the Barry County Commission Ben Geiger to come up with a solution, he said.

“We have options. We’ve been down this path before, so we know how to do it.”


Reconfiguring bonds conditions, releasing low-level offenders who have served 90 to 95 percent of their time, or housing inmates in neighboring jails, which has been done in the past, are some options.


“I don’t want to house them outside; it costs $30 to $35 a day plus possible medical costs,” he said. “We’re at 99 inmates right now; two inmates are on parole, they could be sent to prison, two more are sentenced to prison, so that would get us under the 95 again, and the count starts over,” he said.

“We’re at 99, the rule is 95 inmates a day for five days. We’re trying to prevent that…I want a game plan before it gets to an emergency,” he said. “It’s getting close.”



Winners and losers in August Primary

Barry County voters had their say in the August Primary election Tuesday, making decisions that will affect the residents in the county, some for years to come.


County voters supported Lt. Governor Brian Calley 4,421 to 3,655 for Attorney General Bill Schuette, but Schuette won the state-wide nod to run against Democrat Gretchen Whitmer in November.

Third District Congressional incumbent Justin Amash and incumbent 87th District State Representative Julie Calley had no Republican opposition. Democratic U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow will go against Republican John James in November.


Dr. John Bizon will be the nominee in the 19th State Senate seat, defeating former state representative Mike Callton, with nearly 59 percent of the votes. Current Senator Mike Nofs is term limited this year.


At the local level, an $11 million millage request from Hastings schools was defeated, while a renewal and increase asked by the Barry Intermediate School District was approved. There were no upsets of incumbent Barry County Commissioners. The most watched was District 3, where former commissioner Joyce Snow challenged incumbent David Jackson for the seat, with Jackson elected to go on to the November election.


Township voters generally approved new and renewal millages. Rutland Township okayed millage for the Hastings Public Library and fire protection.  Woodland Township voters approved three identical proposals for village and park operations,


Yankee Springs Township voters approved 0.75 mills for five years for fire protection and emergency services. Johnstown Township voters approved millages for fire protection and road repairs. Hastings Township voters were an exception when they turned down the Hastings library millage.



Hastings Schools millage bid fails by 219 votes

The Hastings Schools $11 million millage request failed in yesterday's election by a narrow margin, while the The Barry ISD millage passed. The most watched County Commissiners race, in District 3,  went to incumbent David Jackson who turned back challenger Joyce Snow.


Barry County Commission: For Republicans with another Republican challenger, the top vote getter, goes on to Nov. 6, where some face Democratic opponents.

Those with no opposition will go on the November ballot, as will those districts with one Democrat and one Republican.


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

(I)Howard “Hoot” Gibson, 1,170

He will face Democrat Cathy Young Gramze in November.


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

(I)Dan Parker, 1,112, unopposed.


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

(I)David Jackson, 707

Joyce Snow, 469


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

(I)Jon Smelker, 1,382

He will face Democrat Samantha L. Jones in November.


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

(I)Ben Geiger, 957

Sharon Zebrowski, 282

Geiger will face Democrat Ben Eastman in November.



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

(I)Vivian Lee Conner, 748

Mark Doster, 532

Conner will face Democrat Tonya DeVore Foreman in November.


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

(I)Heather Wing, 1,187 unopposed.



Townships issues:

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


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


Thornapple Township, one trustee's seat. Curtis Campbell, 957, unopposed:


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




Barry Intermediate School District: an increase of 0.3785 mills for 10 years: yes, 3,696, no 3,502.


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


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

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


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

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


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


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

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


Woodland Township: three millage proposals:

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

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



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


All results are unofficial until certified by the board of canvassers.







UPDATE: Police say someone may have tried to help man who died along highway in Byron Township

UPDATE: During the investigation of the Aug. 6 suspicious death, detectives learned of man who may have stopped to help the victim, according to a Kent County Sheriff’s news release.

The man, driving a pickup truck, is a white male, mid-to-late 20s, wearing blue jeans and a T-shirt. The truck, an unknown make and model, may be gray with a dark or dark paint stripe along the bottom.

The sheriff’s office is requesting any information from witnesses who may have seen the victim or the vehicle during this time. Anyone with information is asked to call the Kent County Sheriff’s Office at 616-632-6357 or Silent Observer at 616-774-2345.



The Kent County Sheriff’s Office reports they are investigating a suspicious death on 68th Street near Burlingame that was reported Monday about 6 p.m. The 911 caller said a man was lying near a gray GMC Envoy on the side of the road with an apparent gunshot wound. The vehicle had a tire jack under the car and appeared as if the victim was working on it.


The deceased, a 66-year-old Byron Center man, was found next to his vehicle. Results are pending from an autopsy completed by the Kent County Medical Examiner’s Office Tuesday, officials said. The sheriff’s office is requesting any information from witnesses who may have seen the victim or the vehicle during this time.  


The man may have been seen near his vehicle or walking on the side of the road. He’s described as a white male, medium to heavy build, wearing bright teal gym shorts and a gray T-shirt.

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 616-632-6357 or Silent Observer at 616-774-2345.



Long-time volunteer, recreation and trail advocate leaving Barry County

Patricia Johns, Irving Township, Parks & Recreation Board member and long-time volunteer in Barry County, told the Barry County Commission during public comment Tuesday that she and her husband were moving to Colorado and she was resigning from the board.

Johns said it was her honor to serve on the board, helping and encouraging the commission to develop recreational activities to make Barry County a “recreation destination.”


“You have been relentless in making this county a better place,” Commissioner and Chair Ben Geiger said. He added that she was always pushing for recreation, “sometimes, three minutes at a time…You can leave knowing you will leave this county a better place.” Johns assured Geiger that, “there are more people willing to work to make this a better place to live.”


In other public comment, Charles Krammin and Sharon Ritchie both requested the commission appoint a Blue Ribbon Committee to investigate the Crooked Lake/Watson Drain problems and find temporary and permanent solutions to flooding.


Also, commissioners recommended approving:

* accepting a $6,000 grant from the Bissell Pet Foundation to continue the trap, neuter and release (TNR) program. Director Ken Kirsch the grant allows splitting it up with $4,000 going to TNR for cats and $2,000 used to spay and neuter dogs and cats of those with low income, one pet per family, Kirsch said


* contracting with the only bidder for carpet replacement to Lansing Tile and Mosaic for $17,700. The areas to be replaced are planning and zoning, clerk, accounting, register of deeds and treasurer, all 16 or 17 years old. The first floor hallway is still in serviceable condition. Funds will come from the $20,000 capital budget in the Building Rehabilitation fund, Building and Maintenance Director Tim Neeb said.


* signing a month to month contract for natural gas from Volunteer Energy for three cents under what Consumers Energy offers to its customers. Neeb said they have contracted with Volunteer Energy since 2014; that contract is expired in July. Neeb said either side in the agreement can leave the contract at any time.


*allowing David Shinavier to auction off a 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe with 200,000 miles and a 2007 Dodge Charger with109,535 miles by sealed bids to the highest bidder. They can be seen at the Barry County Sheriff’s office.


* approving Administrator Michael Brown to sign an agreement with the MDOT to allow temporary ownership of a portion of the Paul Henry Thornapple Trail near Nashville in exchange for paving and grading of the trail to be used as a pedestrian walkway while the MDOT replaces the Quaker brook in Nashville.


* submitting a deficit elimination plan required by the state for any fund that shows a deficit. Brown said that fund accounting on the $43,000 price of a mini-grader purchased for the drain commission to be paid off over seven years was recorded entirely in the 2017 year, resulting in a deficit fund balance. Brown said he will submit a plan to the state, taking care of the technicality.


* approving Agriculture Farmland and Open Space Preservation (PA 116) for Buehler Brothers Beef in sections 5, 9 and 11 in Carlton Township.




Second National Night Out in Hastings this evening

Today from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. is the second National Night Out in Hastings at Tyden Park.


Hastings Deputy Police Chief Dale Boulter, who is credited with organizing the national observance locally, said the event is a great way for the public to meet and get to know the people in Barry County who respond to their friends and neighbors during an emergency.


The first night out that attracted between 1,500 and 2,000 people and the second of the hopefully annual event has more participation and longer hours than last year, Boulter said.

Barry Central 911, Hastings and other police departments, Barry County Sheriff’s deputies, Michigan State troopers, area fire department firefighters and ambulance service personnel will bring their equipment and explain what they do in emergency response.


“The event promotes a sense of community, positive public relations, safety and trust between the public and emergency services personnel that serve them,” Boulter said.


Look for special events, displays, prizes, free hot dogs, chips and bottled water.


Photo: Freeport Firefighter Lani Forbes helps a possible future firefighter Dylan Krueger manage a fire hose to knock down the target at last year's National Night Out.



Middleville man dies in motorcycle/vehicle crash

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office reports that deputies were dispatched Saturday at 8:45 p.m. to a personal injury accident involving a car and  motorcycle on Patterson Road near Windy Ridge Court in Thornapple Township.


The initial investigation showed a motorcycle was stopped in the northbound lane of Patterson Road, waiting to turn into a private drive. A northbound vehicle, driven by a 22-year-old Kentwood woman, struck the motorcycle from behind.


The motorcycle operator, a 68-year-old Middleville man, was flown to a local hospital where he later died from his injuries. He was not wearing a helmet, officials said.


The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan State Police, Thornapple Township Emergency Services, Aero Med, Barry County Central Dispatch, and Allegan County Central Dispatch assisted deputies Thomas Heald and Jeremiah Kimbel.



Update - Hastings Police find three persons dead from gunshot wounds

Hastings City Police are investigating the deaths of three familiy members whose bodies were discovered Sunday morning around 8:43am near the 1600 block of Lavender drive in Hastings.


According to Chief of Police Jeff Pratt, police believe that 77 year old Judith Wilson and her 79 year old husband Robert Wilson died due to gunshot wounds that they had received. The 3rd body of Richard Garrett Wilson, who is the son of Judith and Robert, was found deceased due to a self- inflicted gunshot wound. All three of the family members lived at the residence.


Police were originally notified when a family friend went to the residence to check on the Wilson’s when they did not arrive at Church.



Superintendent's Platform

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


The Hastings Board of Education heard how the Barry Career Access Network benefitted students at its semiannual organizational meeting. Many community leaders and employers support BCAN with time, talent and resources with a goal to increase the number of students with post-high school degrees or certificates. The program, working through a BCAN grant with matching local dollars, is making a measurable difference for students, the board heard.


Several actions were taken by the board Monday:

*Teacher Ed Domke was thanked for his dedication, spending countless volunteer hours getting the new CTE lab ready for fall. Domke also refurbished old cupboards and shelves for storage in the new room. The computer lab has all new computers purchased with CTE funds.


*Spectrum Health Pennock has launched a school-based nurse program with the schools to help keep kids healthy and in school while addressing health and medication concerns.


*a series of organizational rules, including meeting calendars, retainer agreements, memberships, tuition charges, accident insurance and meeting minutes were approved.


*the prices for athletic admission passes for 2018-2019 were approved.  Athletic event passes are $40 for students, $80 for adults and $200 for families, available at the athletic office at the high school. Seniors are eligible for a free pass. Individual tickets are $5 for high school sports, $3 for middle school events for adults and $2 for students. Children five and under are free at all events.


*the school offers breakfast during the next year for $1.70 for a full-price breakfast and 30 cents for a reduced-price breakfast. The cost for a full-price, type "A" student lunch is $2.90, a reduced-price for the same lunch is 40 cents and an adult lunch is $4.


*the board accepted a donation of four scoreboards from the Athletic Boosters to be placed in the high school and middle school’s main gymnasiums in September. Other locations and uses are being sought for the old scoreboards.


*Also, the school has a bond proposal on Aug. 7 election ballot addressing concerns raised at a community meeting on safety and security. The bond proposal application was developed using the survey results to ensure it included the wishes of the community. The proposal does not increase school taxes and continues the school tax rate for four more years.




Eaton County launches major public safety radio project

Eaton County officials broke ground Aug.1 for the start of a public safety radio project upgrade that includes four new towers, upgrades to three existing towers, new communications systems for all outdoor warning sirens in the county and new radios for all first responders in the county.


The new system’s cost is $12.8 million with a 10-year warranty on equipment and a 10-year battery replacement program. The project is funded by a 911 surcharge passed by voters in 2017, that specifically funds the radio system and not the general operations of the 911 center.


Tower construction will begin in August at sites located in Sunfield, Delta and Walton townships; a fourth tower is expected to be constructed in Charlotte in October. Equipment will be placed on existing MPSCS towers in Windsor Township and Nashville, and on a privately owned tower in Hamlin Township.


The new project adds infrastructure to the Michigan Public Safety Communications System (MPSCS), a partnership that allows better communication with agencies outside the county and also saves cost as the county is benefiting from existing infrastructure already in place by the MPSCS, including two of its radio towers.


The system is expected to be live in the third quarter of 2019, and will provide reliable communication for first responders for decades to come, officials said.

Motorola Solutions, the company that built and maintains the MPSCS network, was awarded the project.

Several officials gave their full support to the upgrades.//


911 Director Michael Armitage: “The current radio system uses outdated technology and was at the end of life.”


Sheriff Tom Reich: “Anytime we can improve the safety of my deputies and the community with projects like this, it will always have my support.”


Bellevue Fire Chief Mark Jordan: “The new radio system will provide Bellevue with a single solution to communicate with the three countries we operate in. This upgrade will allow for the communication of accurate information in a timely manner, when it matters the most.”


Grand Ledge Police Chief Marin Underhill:  "We believe that communications is the lifeline of emergency services. Our new radio system will strengthen the power of that life line, increasing the levels of safety and service delivered by our first responders,"


Eaton Rapids Police Chief Larry Weeks: “I am excited to be transitioning to a system that will allow police, fire and EMS to communicate more efficiently and enhance the safety of our first responders.”


MPSCS Director Brad Stoddard: “The Office of Michigan’s Public Safety Communications System (MPSCS) is proud of the continued and expanded partnership with Eaton County ensuring the most reliable, secure and interoperable communications for the first responders across the county…”




WBCH's Dave McIntyre Interviews Ginger Zee From ABC's Good Morning America

Dave McIntyre attending the monthly Meteorological Society meeting in Grand Rapids Tuesday evening had the opportunity to speak with and interview Ginger Zee, Chief Meteorologist for ABC's Good Morning America. Ginger was the guest speaker at the Tuesday meeting.

Ginger grew up and went to school in Rockford north of Grand Rapids.  Ginger was also on ABC's Dancing with the Stars in 2016.


American Cancer Society Relay for Life is Aug. 4

Hundreds are expected to participate in the American Cancer Society for Life of Barry County Aug. 4 at Tyden Park in Hastings to, “help attack cancer from every angle,” according to a Relay for Life spokesman.


The Relay, held from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, has been shortened to a 12-hour event this year.


Participants of the event unite to celebrate people who have been touched by cancer, remember loved ones lost and take action for lifesaving change.

The Relay for Life movement is the world’s largest peer-to-peer fundraising event to save lives from cancer. /


The American Cancer Society:

*provides free transportation to and from treatment.

*offers a free place for patient and caregiver to stay while they travel for treatment in any of 30 Hope Lodge Facilities, including one in Grand Rapids.

*offers a free class to help women deal with appearance related side effects.

*offers Personal Health Manager Kit to ease the burden, and empower and assist patients and their caregivers in navigating the cancer journey.


In Barry County, 60 patients were provided with 157 services in 2017.



Freeport celebrates 140 years of Homecomings

Freeport has had annual festivities in the small village for more than 140 years, with various names through the decades. In 2012 the celebration returned its heritage and to its original name, Freeport Homecoming. The commemorative day, held this year July 28, was filled with music, entertainment, a car show, a parade, kid’s games, food and “something for everybody."




Hastings police officer's civil rights lawsuit settled with mediated agreement

The Hastings City Council has approved a mediated settlement agreement to resolve Hastings Police Officer Cleon Brown’s federal civil rights lawsuit against the city. 


In May of 2017, Brown sued the City of Hastings for up to $500,000 alleging fellow officers and the mayor at the time violated his civil rights by making insensitive remarks about African Americans after he learned through an DNA search that he was 18 percent sub-Saharan African.


In the settlement, Brown was paid $65,000 by the city’s insurance company for emotional distress caused by physical sickness and is payment for any and all claims, damages and attorney fees.


Claims against all of the individuals originally named in the suit, City Manager Jeff Mansfield, Police Chief Jeff Pratt, Deputy Chief Dale Boulter, former Mayor Frank Campbell, Sgt. Kris Miller and Officer Josh Sensiba were dismissed. 


Brown will be on paid administrative leave from the police department with full benefits until Oct. 31, or until he finds full-time employment with benefits, whichever comes first.  He will resign his position with the city on Oct. 31, or when he gets full-time employment with benefits, whichever comes first, according to the agreement signed July 26.

Brown also agreed not to seek or apply for a position with the City of Hastings at any time in the future.


“This agreement is not an admission of liability by the released parties and is being undertaken solely to avoid the cost and uncertainty of litigation,” the agreement reads.


Brown, who was with the department for 20 years,  said after he told the officers he worked with that he was part African American, they taunted him, calling him “Kunta” and saying “Black Lives Matter” when passing him in the hall, causing him humiliation and distress.

In its response, the city alleged that in the past, Brown himself often made derogatory comments about African Americans, joked about his race and brought up the topic to other officers.


“Suffice it to say that the process to resolve these matters is less than perfect, so the outcome of the process is less than ideal,” Mansfield said. “But, the City Council agreed that entering into this mediated settlement agreement would allow the City to focus its efforts and resources on more productive endeavors in the days ahead.”


Photo: Hastings Police Officer Cleon Brown, shown in a file photo.












Bring on the car shows!

Summer is car show season, and it’s well under way with many shows already held and more coming up. Friday at Thornapple Manor, residents were treated to a picnic lunch and a line-up of cars from 1935 and newer. Barry County folks never seem to tire of looking, remembering and discussing classic and antique cars.


For photos of the picnic and car show, click here to visit our photo gallery Car Show at Thornapple Manor.



Fatal Crash Barry County

Michigan State Police Troopers from Hastings were called to a fatal car crash involving a car that had been stolen in Battle Creek.

Troopers said the crash occured  near Anders road in Hope Township shortly before 4:00-pm where they found a 58 year old man dead in a chevy Impala.

The driver lost control, went through a hay field and crashed in some trees.

Battle Creek Police reported the car stolen from a gas station on North Avenue around 11:30 Sunday morning.


Stanley Cup makes an appearance at Lake-O Dairy Queen

Lakewood High School alumnus Mike Booi was in town Friday afternoon and brought with him a big surprise… the Stanley Cup!  Booi is now the assistant athletic trainer for the Washington Capitals, who won their first NHL championship a month ago.




It is traditional for each team member and employee of the winning franchise to get a day with the trophy, and Booi could think of no better way to celebrate his turn than with his family, sharing soft serve ice cream from Dairy Queen.




Turns out, when was younger, Mike Booi’s first job was working at the Dairy Queen in Lake Odessa. So Friday afternoon he brought the cup to Dairy Queen 

in Lake-O, filled it with ice cream, and shared it with his wife and their 18 month old daughter.

Definitely a summer treat to remember!



(pictures courtesy of DQ owner Tyler Guernsey)



Legal gun owner accidentally shoots himself in the leg

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office responded to an accidental shooting today at Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park in Bowne Township where a Concealed Pistol License holder accidentally discharged a pistol striking himself in the leg.


According to a sheriff’s news release, the incident was isolated to a single victim and no additional injuries were reported. The man, who was not identified, was transported to Butterworth Hospital by ambulance for treatment and his condition is unknown at the time of this release.


The sheriff’s office will forward the information to the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office for review upon completion of the investigation.


Grace Lutheran Church car show is Sunday

The 4th annual Car, Truck & Motorcycle Show is this Sunday, July 29, at Grace Lutheran Church, 239 East North Street in Hastings. The 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. event features classic and antique vehicles, food and beverages from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and a 10 a.m. church service under the tent.


World Hepatitis Day theme: Find the Missing Millions.

July 28 is World Hepatitis Day. This year’s theme, Find the Missing Millions, aims to raise awareness of viral hepatitis, as nine out of 10 people who have hepatitis are unaware they have it, according to a Barry Eaton District Health Deparfrtment news release. The disease affects more that 400 million people worldwide. Each year, 1.4 million people die from the infection, making it the 7th biggest killer in the world.


Globally, 90 percent  of those living with hepatitis B and 80 percent  living with hepatitis C are unaware they have  the disease which can result in developing fatal liver disease or liver cancer at some point in their lives. In some cases, those with hepatitis unknowingly transmit the infection to others.


There are five types of viral Hepatitis: A, B, C, D, and E. Types B and C are most common, and are spread through bodily fluids like blood. Factors that increase you risk for getting hepatitis B and C include: sharing needles, sharing toothbrushes, coming into contact with someone else’s blood, and having unprotected sex.


The BEDHD has walk-in clinic hours for hepatitis A vaccinations at its Charlotte office Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5p.m. and Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Hepatitis A vaccinations are available by appointment at the Hastings office.


The release said Hepatitis A is not as common, but 11 states are currently in an outbreak; hepatitis A is spread through the feces of an infected person, and can be spread easily from person to person.  Hepatitis D and E are least common, and most often found in countries with poor sanitary conditions.


There are highly-effective vaccines and treatments for hepatitis B and a cure for hepatitis C but only 10 percent of people globally have access to them. The World Hepatitis Alliance aims to increase access to and awareness of vaccines and treatments to prevent and stop all infections by 2030. //

A national campaign is urging Baby Boomers to get tested for hepatitis C, which they are more likely to have than other age group because universal precautions and infection control procedures were not adopted until the 1980s. People born between 1945 and 1965 should ask their doctors about getting tested for hepatitis C. Hepatitis B is largely prevented in the United States as the hepatitis B vaccine series are routine in children.


Locally, Michigan is in the midst of a hepatitis A outbreak. Over 850 people have been infected with hepatitis A since the outbreak began in August, 2016. Hepatitis A is spread easily from person to person, however, it can be prevented by vaccine and washing your hands often.   




Gun Lake Casino steps up to save Imagination Library

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a program that provides free, high-quality books to children from birth until their fifth birthday, regardless of a family’s income. The Allegan County United Way and the Allegan Area Educational Service Agency (AAESA) partnered in 2005 to bring the library to children in Allegan County, according to a United Way news release.


For the past 13 years, United Way has funded the program, and last year, AAESA provided staff to manage registrations and maintain the data base in true collaborative spirit, the release said. Over time, the program has grown beyond all expectations, serving more than 50 percent of all Allegan children under five years old.


The cost to provide this program grew to outweigh United Way’s ability to financially support all of the agencies that rely on annual United Way funds and the Imagination Library. So, the search began for ways to continue the program by reaching out to potential sponsors and supporters.


After several meetings and discussions, the Gun Lake Casino stepped in as the title sponsor to keep library available for all kids in our community.  Without their support, the library would not have been able to continue operating. The sponsorship begins with a one-year $100,000 commitment and has potential to continue in the future.


“Gun Lake Casino strives to be an active partner in the community,” said Sal Semola, president and chief operating officer for the casino. “We are proud to begin in this partnership with the United Way and Imagination Library to promote literacy and ensure all children in Allegan County have access to this beneficial program.”


 “To have kids reading at the appropriate level by the end of third grade must be a priority for our community,” said Bill Brown, superintendent of AAESA. “This sets our students on a pathway that leads to successful school progression and leads to the ability to complete post-secondary experiences that lead to family sustaining jobs. The Imagination Library is an early childhood literacy program that gives our kids a chance to start school ready and hit that third grade goal.”


To learn more about the program, visit



Free HPV documentary screening, discussion set for July 30

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department, (BEDHD) in partnership with AL!VE, is hosting a free panel discussion and screening of the documentary, “Someone You Love” at 5:30  p.m. Monday, July 30, at AL!VE, 800 West Lawrence Avenue, in Charlotte. Attendees will learn the causes and prevention of the human papillomavirus (HPV). 


Mike Megyesi from the American Cancer Society and BEDHD officials will speak, along with Dr. Robert Seiler from A New Beginning Obstetrics and Gynecology and Hayes Green Beach Memorial Hospital. The event provides a platform for parents to have their questions about HPV and the HPV vaccine answered.


"Cervical cancer kills over 4,000 women in the U.S. each year. Every one of these deaths is easily preventable with proper medical care that includes the HPV vaccination,” Seiler said. “Your doctor is trained to treat disease, but it is much better to prevent diseases in the first place. The HPV vaccine is safe and protects both girls and boys from cancer."


Although not required, registration is recommended by calling AL!VE at (517) 541-5800, option 2. For more, contact Lauren Cibor at (517) 541-2624 or  Light refreshments will be provided.


Also, the BEDHD is announcing the grand opening of the first Barry County Baby Café at the Hastings Public Library Thursday, July 26 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., immediately following the regularly scheduled Baby Café meetup. Moms, their families, local physicians and supporters of breastfeeding are encouraged to attend.


One-on-one help from trained health professionals is available, including professional lactation support and peer counselors from the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program.  The Barry County Baby Café meets weekly at the Hastings Public Library from 10 a.m. to noon. Older siblings are welcome. Light refreshments are provided.



Dense fog believed a factor in Odessa Township personal injury crash

The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office reports deputies were dispatched to the intersection of Jordan Lake and West Clarksville roads for a personal injury crash Wednesday morning at 6:58 a.m.


Deputies determined that an eastbound sedan driven by a 19-year-old woman from Ionia County ran the stop sign and collided with a northbound pickup truck driven by a 53-year-old Barry County man. 


The pickup truck rolled over multiple times and items from the truck were embedded in the side of a nearby residence.  The woman driver was transported to Grand Rapids for non-life threatening injuries.  Officials did not release names of those involved.


Dense fog in the area is believed to have been a factor in the crash; seatbelts were used and alcohol is not believed to be a factor. The sheriff’s office was assisted at the scene by the Michigan State Police, Lake Odessa Fire Department, Life Ambulance, Ionia County Central Dispatch, and Reed and Hoppes Towing. 

The Hastings man’s pickup shows the results of the roll-over crash.












Things flying out of the pickup truck were embedded in the side of this house.





Grant will extend Barry County Transit non-emergency medical trips

The Barry County Transit has received supplemental grant funding from Carewell Services and the Region 3B Area Agency on Aging. The $2,500 grant will help pay for non- emergency medical transportation for Barry County Seniors who cannot afford the transportation, Transit Director Bill Voigt said.

“For our seniors in financial difficulty, this grant will pay 50 percent of the transportation cost for rides to medical appointments both in and out of area - Grand Rapids for example,” Voigt said.


Due to overwhelming demand, the original $7,500  grant was exhausted within six months, providing 52 round trip rides for Barry County Seniors in need, he said. In the same period, Barry County Transit also provided 95 additional non-emergency medical trips for seniors who did not require the financial assistance. 


“I think we were all surprised by the demand for this special brand of transportation. In addition to the primary benefit in getting our seniors to their out-of-area medical appointments, this grant allowed us to put numbers to a previously unidentified need. 


“Our sincere appreciation goes out to Carewell Services for their understanding of our communities need for this non-emergency medical transportation,” Voigt said. “We will put the additional $2,500 grant funding to very good use.”



"This program is not just a promise, it's a success"... Travis Alden, Barry County Chamber of Commerce

The Kellogg Advanced Manufacturing Assembly Program is a success, said Mike Schneiderhan, coordinator at the Barry County Economic Development Alliance. He brought along two successful students to the Barry County of Commission meeting to tell about it. Schneiderhan said 50 percent of students do not want to go on to college. This program centers on industry and manufacturing, providing jobs for citizens and good employees for businesses, he said.


This is the first time they have had duel enrollment with students from Thornapple Kellogg, Delton and Barry County Christian School, Schneiderhan said, and of the 16 who enrolled, 15 completed the course. He listed a dozen businesses that are part of the program.


During interview day with local manufacturers, all the students had job offers, some multiple offers. A job in Barry County industry will lead to more schooling and higher income, and give back to the community, he said. Eleven of the 15 are now working.

One went into the military, one went into auto body work and two are just 17 and aren’t able to work yet, Schneiderhan said.


Jacob Christensen, from Thornapple Kellogg, said, “I really didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I learned so much overall about the scope of being a good employee. I was offered multiple jobs; I had to turn some down. I applied at Hastings Fiberglass, I interviewed, and it went well.

“The head of Human Resources wanted me to work four days a week, 10 hours a day at $15.40 an hour and benefits…I wouldn’t have done anything without the program.”


Chase Fitzpatrick, also from TK, said he was headed the wrong way. In Alternative Education, he didn’t like school and didn’t like being there. He went into the program not knowing what to expect.


“I found the knowledge they gave me and how to apply those skills. Math, reading and being a good overall person in the workplace. I got to interview...talking to employers, getting details. Without that, it would have limited my options. It’s important stuff. It did a lot for me…I was not doing well in school, getting into trouble…that all went away when I learned what I could do.”


Both young men recommend the program and talked about it to any interested students. Lots more kids would join if the students heard about it, Fitzpatrick said.

Travis Alden, director of the Barry County Chamber of Commerce thinks all school classes should hear about the program.

“This is not just a promise; it is a success; all the students wanted to spread the word,” he said. Alden said he is proud of the program and appreciates the support from the Barry County Board of Commissioners.//

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners approved:


*Dan Parker as officer delegate and Vivian Conner as officer alternate to the Municipal Employees Retirement System (MERS) annual meeting and Karen Barnes as employee delegate and Aaron Stains as employee alternate to the MERS event on Oct. 4-5 in Grand Rapids.


*the 2018-2019 implementation plan for Region 3B Area Agency on Aging.


*spending $9,840 a Tridium-based graphics-driven Building Management System at the Barry Eaton District Health Department.


*the 2018-2019 Child Care Fund plan and budget.


*an amendment to the City of Hastings Barry County Airport, requested by the Airport Commission.



Plan to lower Crooked Lake level suffers setback

Plans to lower the Crooked Lake level to ease the flooding on homes on the lake were dealt a setback when a plan already approved by the DEQ was abandoned. Draining the lake waters directly into two area farmer’s irrigation systems, along with other measures, was seen as a viable way to lower the waters and help the beleaguered property owners.


Hours after receiving approval from the DEQ late last week, Barry County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull was told by the farmers that their crops had matured earlier than expected and if they accepted the water, it would ruin their crops.


“We were pretty devastated,” Dull said. “It took the wind out of our sails.”

But saying “It is what it is,” Dull and engineer Brian Cenci are, “back at it, chasing a solution.”


The flow out of Mud Lake was stopped in June and the M-43 culvert will be blocked to back that water into 330 acres of wetlands. Since Mud Lake’s level is low, they’re asking the Mud Lake Association if they can accept some of the Crooked Lake water, he said.

Dull said he has looked at several places to put the excess water, but they are too small. They are investigating another plan that is pending DEQ approval.


The county commission on June 16 authorized an emergency $500,000 loan to address the lake basin flooding and pay for the preliminary design of the Watson Drain project to be repaid to the drain district with the final bonding of the project.


The property owners who have complained to county commissioners for several weeks are still asking for help; Deb Englehardt, Sharon Ritchie, Cathy Mutchler and Cheryl Reda spoke Tuesday, saying the problem they have told about for weeks are as bad, or worse, than ever and they want a solution now. Adding to their present problems is the possibility that freezing may come before a solution is found and foundations would be damaged, causing even more problems, they said.










(left) Crooked Lake resident Deb Englehardt speaks about living with lake flooding at an earlier BarryCounty Commission meeting.





Barry County goes ahead with training for elected and appointed officials

The Barry County Commission’s committee of the whole last week recommended approval of a plan to contract with Leadership Barry County to hold training sessions for elected officials and those appointed to various positions on county boards and committees.


The commission brought it up and approved it Tuesday. The agreement covers costs, liability insurance, workers compensation insurance, compliance with laws and non-discrimination, among other legal issues. The cost is $700 for the annual orientation workshop, $500 for each additional workshop and $200 for each quarterly leadership development workshop.


Barry County Commissioner Vivian Conner opposed the proposal last week and again this week. Other commissioners had some misgivings, but on balance thought it was a good idea. Conner said the committee heads should give any training needed to new members to fit the individual board’s needs, with materials and training supplied by the Michigan Association of Counties at no charge.


It was the consensus of the board that it not be mandatory, but Commissioner/Chairman Ben Geiger wanted to make it clear that the board would appoint who would take the training.


Former commissioner Craig Stolsonburg sent a letter to the commissioners with several reasons why the training would “blow up in your faces.” When he was on the board, they had a hard time finding volunteers for positions, he said.

“Now you are considering adding additional burden to volunteers.  This action will further thin the pool of willing/able volunteers to serve at the pleasure of the county board of commissioners… not to mention, you are spending valuable county resources to do so.”

Geiger said Stolsonburg brought up some good points and agreed with one of them; that it didn’t make sense to require training for someone on a small board that meets once a year. Michelle Skedgell spoke in support of the training. “Training is not a burden.”  No matter your age or occupation, you can always learn, she said. “The people involved with boards will appreciate it. Leadership Barry County fits in perfectly with your strategic plan and your vision.”


Several commissioners noted that the program wouldn’t start until 2019, giving them time to develop criteria on who would be asked to take training. The vote to approve was 6-1 with Conner voting no.


Adding to her angst, Geiger didn’t see Conner raise her hand when he asked for comment and then called for a vote on purchasing Granious software for $2,250 and a $7,200 annual fee that would expedite the process of committee assignments.

Geiger apologized and Conner gave some of her questions, but there was no further comment and the 6-1 vote, with Conner dissenting, stood.


New police officers welcomed to Hastings by City Council

Hastings police chief Jeff Pratt introduced three new officers to the City Council Monday. They are Alan Klein, James Mead and Scott Tenney.

Another new officer, Nate Pickett, will be at the next council meeting, Pratt said.


“I enjoy watching the enthusiasm that our new hires bring to our police department and their willingness to be a part of, and to give back to, our community,” Pratt said.


Klein is from Hastings, has served on the city council and as Community Development director and was a reserve officer for the department.

Klein left city employment and went through the police academy, sponsored by Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety. After about a year of service for KDPS, Klein came back to work for the city and the chance to give back to the community where he lives, Pratt said.


James Mead was a reserve officer in Hastings for about a year and a half before he attended the police academy. Shortly after his graduation, there was an opening at HPD, he was hired and is in his training program at the department.


Scott Tenney attended the same police academy as Klein and also worked for KDPS. With a little recruiting help from Klein, Tenney joined HPD about a month ago. He is also in his training program.


Nate Pickett came from the Ionia County Sheriff’s office where he was a corrections officer. He joined the department in February and is assigned to the 4 p.m. to midnight shift. He is also a captain at an Ionia County township fire department, Pratt said.


Pratt also suggested with National Night Out ready to go on Aug. 7, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., organizers are urging people to stop by the Hastings Police Department, Hastings Public Library or the Barry County Sheriff’s Office before the event to pick up bracelets used to select winners of raffle prizes and avoid the long lines when entering Tyden Park for the event.


Hastings police officers, Barry County Sheriff’s deputies and Michigan State troopers, area fire department firefighters and ambulance service personnel will bring their equipment and demonstrate what they do in emergency response. The event promotes a sense of community, positive public relations, safety and trust between the public and emergency services personnel who serve them 


In other business Monday, the council approved two ordinances as recommended by the Planning Commission. Ordinance 558 rezones a number of properties along East Thorn Street from D-1 or D-2 industrial to R-2 residential.  Ordinance 559 changes the zoning classification of a parcel in the northeast quadrant of the West Woodlawn Avenue-County Club Drive intersection from A-1 apartment to R-R rural residential.


New Hastings Police officers  Alan Klein, James Mead and Scott Tenney listen as (from left) Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt introduces them to the Hastings City Council.



Hastings council hears reports on the COA, recycling

The Hastings City Council heard the COA annual report from Executive Director Tammy Pennington and a progress report from Iris Waste Diversion Specialist Sarah Archer on the state of recycling in the city Monday.


The overriding goal for council members to take away from her report is to feel comfortable recommending the COA to older adults as they face the challenges of getting older, Pennington said at the beginning of the report . She also urged the council to remember the COA has a visiting nurse who will work in the home, one-on-one, with seniors.


The focus of the COA for an aging population is decreasing isolation and loneliness, improving health and wellness, increasing support to caregivers and supporting financial stability. Pennington said things have changed financially for older adults in the 30 years since she came to the COA, so older adults financial stability is getting more attention now.  


Pennington’s handout listed the services the agency offers: in-home services, senior nutrition programs, adult day care services, Medicare/Medicaid assistance programs, community-based services, fund raising, and more.  All of the headings have several subheadings with its programs listed; for example, in-home services have five programs within it; community-based services provide seven separate programs.


The COA relies heavily on its 230 to 250 volunteers a year, she said. The agency’s official mission statement is: “To provide independence, dignity and quality of life to the aging population and their families.”


Some statistics from 2017:

*1,743 older adults served

*58,387 meals provided

*12,177 in-home care hours provided

*8,422 day services hours provided

*206 community volunteers

*$379,894 grants written and received

*$14,234 in emergency funding for utility shut off notices, prescription, ramps and other necessities and,

*100 percent of Barry County townships and municipalities served. //


Archer was hired as a part-time recycling coordinator last July by the Barry County Solid Waste Oversight Committee to find ways to boost recycling in the county. She has spent several months researching the issue, reporting on the first phase of her Recycling Assessment.


Hastings residents can recycle through Padnos, Waste Management or their trash hauler of choice, she said.  Les’s Sanitary Service offers curb-side recycling and has 350 customers, while Waste Management has 17. Waste Management has 3,100 customers at the Hastings landfill, charging non-Hastings residents for its use.. Some 465 tons of Barry County waste went into the Kent County landfill in 2017, she said.


The national average of recycling is 30 percent, Michigan and Barry County’s recycle rate is 15 percent. Governor Rick Snyder has set a goal of upping Michigan’s recycling rate from 15 to 45 percent by setting up a panel to evaluate current solid waste laws and find ways for sustainable management of solid waste to avoid sending it to a landfill, Archer said in her report.


She will now look into more specific ways to increase recycling in the county, including Hastings, with more education of the public and more inter-local opportunities developed.  Middleville has gone to a single waste hauler and other governmental units are looking at doing more projects together, she said.


Phase two of her analysis, which she will present in October,  will be a comprehensive look at all recycling, with a strong focus on communication and education of county residents and more specific recommendations to officials. A county website, a phone line to answer questions, a recycling guide and eliminating barriers to recycling are some ways that will increase the recycling participation rate, she said.






Hastings compost site to have gate with code available to residents only

The Hastings City Council voted Monday to try securing the city’s compost facility to solve the overburdening of the West State Road site. Department of Public Services Director Lee Hays listed several reasons for the problem; non-residents dropping off materials, availability during the day and the drop site being somewhat screened from the road.


Officials have also complained that much of the materials being dropped off far exceeds the size for compostable yard waste materials. Hays offered several options to solve the problem; the council unanimously agreed to try adding gates and secure the access to the site. The gate the compost area would be opened by a code that Hastings residents would get from city staff to enter the area and drop off their yard waste.


The code number would be changed once a week and residents would give their address to verify that they live in the city to get the code. The total cost to the city will be $7,200. One other option discussed was weekly pickups at resident’s homes by Les’s Sanitary Service (April-November) for a fee of no more than $14 a month, more likely $8 a month, Hays said, added to the resident’s monthly bill. The service would be voluntary, Les’s would supply the recycle bin and the city would keep the spring and fall cleanups.


Questions about those who would only want to use the service once or twice a year, if Les’s would ask for a multi-year contract and if a minimum number of customers would be required.

“There is never going to be a perfect solution,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said. He agreed they should try the gate with a code first and if it was abused, they could go with  curbside pickups.


The other options were:

* DPS monthly pickups at residents homes (seven pickups a year) for $2,080 a month or $14,560 a year cost to the city.


* Residents dropping material behind DPS garage, with the DPS moving it to the State Road site for $600 a week or $18,480 a year cost to the city.


* Continue staffing the site every other Saturday (14 days a year) for $540 a Saturday or $7,560 a year cost to the city.


Hays said they have a proposal to process the existing material at the site for $30,000, grinding the material into mulch sized particles and putting it in rows to begin composting, which will take five to 10 years to become viable compost material.

“With the rate the material is coming into the site currently, we will have issues processing all of the material into compost and maintaining compliance with our DEQ guidelines,” he said in his report to the council.



Aug.7 primary ballot offers Barry County voters choices for county commission, millages

The Aug. 7 primary election this year has several choices for voters to make.

The county commission has two Republcans running in three of the seven districts, so voters will pick who will go on to the November ballot. There are also several millage issues to be decided.

Information on county,the City of Hastings and township offices, as well as the millage proposals, supplied by Barry County Clerk Pam Palmer, shows:


Barry County Commission

Of the seven county districts, 3, 5 and 6 have more than one candidate in the same party, so they will face off to determine who goes on the Nov. 6 ballot.


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

(I)Howard “Hoot” Gibson R

Cathy Young Gramze D


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

(I)Dan Parker


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

(I)David Jackson R

Joyce Snow R


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

(I)Jon Smelker R

Samantha L. Jones D


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

(I)Ben Geiger R

Ben Eastman D

Sharon Zebrowski R


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

(I)Vivian Lee Conner R

Tonya DeVore Foreman D

Mark Doster R


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

(I)Heather Wing


Townships issues:

Hastings Charter Township, Timothy B. McNally is running for trustee.


Rutland Charter Township, Republicans Curt Cybulski, Gene D. Hall, and Matt Spencer are running for trustee.


Thornapple Township, Curtis Campbell is running for trustee.


Yankee Springs Township, Republicans Michael Boysen and Larry Knowles are running for trustee. 


The City of Hastings:

First Ward:

(I)Theresa Maupin-Moore


Second Ward:

(I)Brenda McNabb Stange

Terry Stenzelbarton


Third Ward:

 (I)Don Smith 


Fourth Ward:

Jim Cary

Jordan Brehm



Barry Intermediate School District seeks an increase of 0.3785 mills for 10 years to permit continued levy of the maximum rate of 2.1875 mills for special education, estimated to raise $390,812.


Hastings Area School System requests .85 mills for 15 years for an $11.1 million bond request to pay for roofs, buses, and improvements in safety and security, technology, and athletic facilities.


Penfield School District asks approval of 18 mills on all property, except a principal residence,  required for the school district to receive its per pupil foundation allowance from the state for six years for operations.


Penfield School District asks an additional 1 mill to the 18 mills for six years. The estimated revenue from the increase is zero. The mill is to restore millage that may be lost by a reduction required by the state Constitution and would be levied only to restore such a reduction.


Johnstown Township requests the renewal of 0.4967 mills for the years 2018-2021 and an increase of 0.0033mills to restore reductions under the Headlee amendment for a total of 0.50 mills for road projects in the township, raising an estimated $52,248 in the first year.


Johnstown Township asks for the renewal of 0.9933 mills for the years 2018-2021 and an increase of 0.0067 mills to restore reductions under the Headlee amendment for a total of 1 mill for fire protection in the township, raising an estimated $104,497 in the first year.


Hastings Charter Township seeks renewal of 1.5739 mills and an increase of .0261 mills for a total of 1.6 mills for 10 years to fund the Hastings Public Library. The millage is estimated to collect $135,000 in the first year.


Rutland Charter Township seeks 1.6 mills; renewal of 1.5480 mills, and new, additional millage of .0520, for 10 years to fund the Hastings Public Library, estimated to collect $231,233 in the first year.


Rutland Charter Township asks renewal of the decreased rate of 1.25 mills for fire protection for 10 years, raising an estimated $184,580.98 the first year.


Woodland Township seeks three millage proposals:

Proposal one is renewal of 2 mills for four years for village operations, raising an estimated $13,733.25, the first year;

Proposal two is renewal of 2 mills for four years for special village operations, raising an estimated $13,733.25 the first year

Proposal three is renewal of 2 mills for four years for park operations, raising an estimated $13,733.25 in the first year.



Yankee Springs Township asks voters to approve 0.75 mills for five years for township fire operations and emergency services, which would raise an estimated $252,893 in the first year.








Two Allegan County armed robberies this morning may be related

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office is working jointly with Holland Police Department on similar robberies this morning; the first at the Holland Mobile Mart, 1122 Lincoln Avenue in Holland followed by a  6:45 a.m. robbery at the Hamilton Mobil Mart, 3604 M-40.


A weapon was used in each incident, according to a sheriff’s office news release.


The Hamilton suspect is described as a dark-skinned individual, 5’6” to 5’7” tall, 140 pounds. wearing a dark jacket, blue jeans, face mask, Converse Chuck Taylor tennis shoes. The vehicle involved is a four-door silver car with maroon hood, of unknown make and model, that last seen heading northbound from Hamilton on a side street.


Police expect to provide more information later. Anyone with information on the vehicle or the incident in Hamilton is asked to contact Detective C. Haverdink at  or 269.673.0500 Ext. 4452, or Silent Observer at 1.800.554.3633.




Barry Central Dispatch

Barry County Central Dispatch is still having problems with their telephone lines. If you need to reach Central Dispatch call 269 948-4800. Telephone circuits went down on Sunday for a while and seem to be corrected but the problem came up again. The number again is 269-948-4800.


Barry County's 166th annual Fair celebrates and continues traditions

This year’s Barry County Fair had it all; 4-H kids with their animals and exhibits for judging, talent shows, Ladies Day, the birthing tent, the midway rides, Veterans and Seniors Day, harness racing and midway food booths with a wide variety of carnival eats, moto cross and demolition derby, tractor parades, horse racing and much more.


Every day was kid’s day and family day for area youngsters and adults. The Photo Gallery shows just a glimpse of the doings that hundreds work to make the Barry County Fair an event to remember.





135 acres in Baltimore Township latest Michigan's Agricultural Conservation Easement

Since the 1800’s, the Tobias family has owned a farm in Baltimore Township, Barry County, homesteading the farmland through the federal government.

Tuesday, July 24 at 10 a.m., 135 acres of the Tobias farmland at 440 Pritchardville Road will be celebrated as Michigan’s 50th donated Agricultural Conservation Easement.

George Cullers made the donation. His late wife Donna’s family was the fourth generation of the Tobias family to own the property.


“The number one reason I donated the development rights was because this was purchased from the federal government in the 1800’s by my wife’s ancestors.

“Also, I know we are losing farmland in Michigan and all across the country. This is one way to prevent the loss of agriculture land; this is a permanent easement and cannot be broken,” he said.

“Years ago, you could sell development rights, so we signed up for that, but there was no funding mechanism for it. When my wife passed, I decided to donate it.”


Cullers said protecting farmland also protects habitat for wildlife, “they work hand in hand,” and a conservation easement actually increases its value. His property is next to the Ken and Alice Jones property, which is next to Pierce Cedar Creek Institute land, both in conservancy.


Cullers hopes others will consider entering into permanent easements, too. “I’d like to see that happen. It’s important.”


The Michigan Department of Agricultural and Rural Development hosts the recognition of the 50th donated Agricultural Conservation Easement and “thank you” to Cullers.


Barry Commissioners should think twice about requiring training, former commissioner says

Former Barry County Commissioner who also served as chairman, Craig Stolsonburg, is offering the commission advice on a proposed agreement to provide Leadership Barry County training to elected officials and volunteers appointed to serve on various county boards and committees.

In a letter to the commission, Stolsonburg asked commissioners to think again before they vote July 24 to approve a plan that will ultimately “blow up in your faces.”


“Please do your due diligence before passing another political nightmare that will, ultimately, blow up in your faces. Think Mute Swans, ORV ordinances, animal shelter or elimination of MSU extension funding before voting ‘yes’ on this poorly planned idea,” Stolsonburg said in his letter.

The committee of the whole recommended the training at the July 17 meeting 5-2, with commissioners Vivian Conner and Jon Smelker voting no. The issue in on the July 24 agenda for action. Smelker said he voted no because he didn’t want the training to be mandatory.

“I don’t believe it will be, after discussing it with Ben,” he said Friday.


Conner said the agreement language calls for it to be mandatory, which she opposes. She contacted the Michigan Association of Counties and they sent her power point demonstrations, a catalogue of different talking points and other materials that cover several areas for new board members.

The Michigan State University Extension also has similar materials on the topic they can use, if needed, at little or no cost, Conner said.


She thinks a once a year, one day “nuts and bolts” training session is a good idea.


 “As you consider this proposal,” Stolsonburg said, “keep in mind that you were elected to serve at the pleasure of the citizens who voted you into office, not the other way around.  The people of this county are not your subjects, who you should dictate duties to make your lives easier.”

Asked for comment, Commission Chair Ben Geiger said he would wait until Tuesday to address it.


Stolsonburg suggested the individual board/committee can train each new appointee as they see fit. Most of them, Charlton Park, 911, COA, Board of Health, Planning and Zoning, have paid personnel who can train volunteers on the ins and outs of each committee function and organization.Those without paid staff can ask the county for assistance or offer a class at that time.

“When I was on the board, we had a very difficult time finding people to serve on these committees.  Most of the time, we had to re-appoint people who we didn't agree with just because they were the only ones who applied. 


“Now you are considering adding additional burden to volunteers.  This action will further thin the pool of willing/able volunteers to serve at the pleasure of the county board of commissioners… not to mention, you are spending valuable county resources to do so. “A lot of the people who serve on these boards work full time jobs.  You are asking people to take an unpaid day off work or vacation day so they can serve you and your committees.


Stolsonburg apologized for not attending the commission meeting; he said he is at football camp working with 50 kids on football fundamentals.



Moto Cross Cancelled for Tonight at the Barry Co. Fair

The Moto Cross scheduled for tonight at the Barry County fair has been cancelled due to the muddy conditions. 


Victim seriously burned in pole barn fire

Firemen and emergency responders were called out at 4:23pm Thursday to a pole barn fire at 3493 Wood School Road in Irving Township.  One man, who’s name has not been released, was badly burned and was taken by ambulance to the Hastings-Barry County Airport, then flown by Aeromed to Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids. According to the Hastings Fire Department report, the victim was burned over 60% of his body.  The pole barn was a total loss.  The condition of the victim and cause of the fire has not been released.  The Barry County Sheriffs office, Freeport, Alto, and Thornapple Township Emergency Services assisted Hastings Fire Department.



No Family Left Indoors is Tuesday, July 24

The Barry County Parks and Recreation Board is hosting No Family Left Indoors on Tuesday, July 24 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 pm.

Smokey the Bear will be there and  bird feeder making and a nature walk are planned.


"The Parks and Recreation Board welcomes area families to discover and explore McKeown Bridge Park,” Vice Chairperson Patricia Johns said. “Meeting Smokey the Bear, finding minnows in the river or just enjoying the historic bridge Tuesday will be fun for everyone."


This is also an opportunity for people to meet the new administrator of the Parks and Recreation Board, she said.



Barry Commissioners move ahead with training for volunteers for committees

The Barry County Commissioners committee of the whole Tuesday recommended an agreement for training elected and appointed officials who serve on county boards and committees to be provided as an independent contractor by  Leadership Barry County/Barry County Foundation, the oldest such organization in the state.


The agreement covers costs, liability insurance, workers compensation insurance, compliance with laws and non-discrimination, among other legal issues. The cost is $700 for the annual orientation workshop, $500 for each additional workshop, $200 for each quarterly leadership development workshop.


The commission also recommended Granicus Boards and Commissions software for $2,250 for training and set up and $7,200 for annual fee to clerks to manage all of the information covering the entire committee appointment process.


Commissioner Ben Geiger said applicants could go on line for information, the openings available and could apply on line. “Clerks could help track what vacancies are opening up and make administration’s life a little easier,” Geiger said.


Administrator Michael Brown said the automation process would be easier and more effective for those looking for information than the current manual system.  It will not replace the paper application for those who do not go on line. //


Sarah Alden, director of Leadership Barry County, gave a detailed history of the agency and its mission to develop and link leaders for stronger communities through instruction, workshops and written materials.The organization has more than 500 alumni.


In addition to an orientation workshop, some of the areas LBC will provide training include leadership style self-assessment, leadership and teambuilding, how to navigate difficult conversations, team work and collaboration, engaging constituents and community demographics and trends. Written materials include quick guides on parliamentary procedure, the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings act.


Alden stressed the flexibly of the LBC to meet the needs of the persons to take training.

Commissioner Jon Smelker asked if they were overburdening volunteers, putting up obstacles. Alden said the orientation is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., less than a full day, and they could have smaller training classes with flexible hours, nights or Saturdays. Smelker said later that some volunteers might not come forward for lack of knowing what it was all about; with the training offered, he thought they would be more inclined to volunteer.


Commissioner Dan Parker said it would help the whole community in the long run, but they had to be careful and upfront, “telling them the training is available and the commission recommends it, but they don’t necessarily have to have it.”


Other commissioners agreed it should be not be required, but it would increase professionalism on boards and committees and benefit the county. The agreement was approved to send to the full board with recommendation of approval 5-2.


Conner voted no because she still had too many questions about some details, Smelker voted no without an explanation.

Geiger called the agreement with LBC “a truly transformational partnership.”


Young newlyweds die in three-car crash in Allegan County

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate a three-car traffic crash that caused the death of a young Holland man and his wife of two weeks, according to a sheriff’s new release.


Deputies and Medical First Responders report the newlywed couple, Logan Thunderland Allbaugh 24, from Holland, and his wife, Hannah Mae Kwekel 22, from Zeeland, were pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of another car suffered minor injuries, the third driver was uninjured.


Through witness statements and preliminary reconstruction, officials learned that a single occupant vehicle westbound on 128th Avenue failed to yield for the stop sign striking the northbound vehicle with the young couple, sending it into the southbound lane of Lincoln Road, where it was struck by another vehicle. 


The crash occurred Tuesday at 3:45 p.m. at the intersection of 128th Avenue and Lincoln Road (M-40) in Heath Township in Allegan County.

Michigan State Police, Hamilton and Saugatuck fire departments, AMR, Ottawa and Eaton County sheriff’s offices and the Holland City Police Department assisted deputies.



Dementia, self-management of chronic disease new initiatives of Area Agency on Aging

Chief Executive Officer Karla Fales of the Region 3B Area Agency on Aging presented the agency’s annual implementation plan to Barry County Commissioners Tuesday. The committee of the whole sent the request to the full board with a recommendation to approve. Fales noted it was the third year of a three-year contract, so highlighted just the changes from previous years.


Barry County has the advantage of the strong presence of the Commission on Aging which AAA supports by funding several programs in cooperation with the agency, Fales said. The agency’s services which cover both Barry and Calhoun counties, is open to those over 60 and is not income based.


If someone with a healthy income and one with lesser assets came in at the same time, the one most in need would be served first, with isolation a top criteria, she said. Two new initiatives were launched this year; programs that raise awareness of dementia in Barry County, which does not get enough attention in the community,  and self-managing of chronic disease with education and exercise programs.  Also, in-home medication management help is needed for some, who find it a challenge, she added.


Before the new three-year contract is offered next year, Fales will send the commissioners a survey asking them what they see as needs for the new plan and urged them to respond to help with planning.


The agency has a $1.1 million budget with allocation  generally a 70-30 split with Calhoun and Barry counties based on population.

The Older Americans Act of 1965 created Region 3B Area Agency on Aging at the federal, state, and local level to administer programs that help older adults maintain their health and independence in their homes and communities.


The board also recommended approval of new control system for heating/air conditioning at the Health Department building. Building and Grounds Director Tim Neeb said the current system is losing communication with its input device and display. The controls to be installed from Control Resources for $9,840 can be worked on by multiple vendors and the program can be used through computers, tablets and cell phones, allowing Neeb to make changes to the system from his cell phone no matter where he is.


Also recommended for approval was the Child Care Fund Plan and Budget for 2018/2019 for the Barry County Trial Court-Family Division, requested by Court Administrator Ines Straube.


Commissioners approved an agreement with the University of Cincinnati Research Institute for training of probation and case management staff in Risk Assessment Systems/Case Planning for $8,500, to be transferred from the Trial Court budget to Employee Training budget.


Non-swimmer drowns in Eagle Lake Monday

Allegan County Sheriff deputies were dispatched to Eagle Lake off 102nd Avenue in Cheshire Township Monday evening for a man who was drowning, according to a sheriff’s new release.


A 32-year-old man, who did not know how to swim, was with family at Eagle Lake next to a dock when he apparently went too far out in the lake and could not touch bottom. Family members lost sight of him, but were able to locate him and bring him to shore, witnesses told deputies.


Allegan Life EMS and several deputies performed CPR until a pulse was found.  He was transported to a Kalamazoo area hospital where he was later pronounced deceased.

A part-time resident of the Bloomingdale area, his name is being withheld pending notification of family. No foul play is suspected, the release said.

Allegan Life EMS and Michigan State Police assisted sheriff’s deputies.




Barry Commissioners okay emergency funding to address Crooked Lake flooding

At a special meeting Monday, the Barry County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to advance emergency funding for a proposed short term solution to the weeks long flooding of homes on Crooked Lake. Lake residents have been at several county commission meetings and talking to their commissioners about fighting off the flooding that was causing them severe hardships and possible loss of their homes.


The resolution, the only item on the agenda, committed the county to advance $500,000 to the Watson Drain District to immediately address the flooding in the lake basin and fund the preliminary design of the Watson Drain project to be repaid by the drainage district with the final bonding of the Watson Drain project.


The short term fix includes draining water from Crooked Lake into present irrigation systems on two area farms by renting pumps, other equipment and using the expertise of a pump company. Stopping the flow out of Mud Lake was already done in June. Also, they will stop the flow in the culvert on M-43, backing the water into 300 acres of wetlands.


Drain Commissioner Jim Dull said hopefully, the $500,000 would carry them through the engineering design and short term fix costs to the construction loan for the long term fix for the Watson Drain.

Engineer Brian Cenci, who has worked for the county on drain issues since 2009, said Crooked Lake was an unusual situation with no natural outlet, so no place for the water to go. He cautioned they still need DEQ permits, so it is still technically a proposal and not a project, though he said the DEQ has been, “very responsive” in their dealings with them.


He and Dull developed 15 plans to handle lowering the lake level, with all but nine rejected for a variety of reasons. The nine were sent to the DEQ, some combinations of short and later long term solutions. “This proposal is worthwhile…talking with the DEQ and landowners, I think we can get there,” Cenci said.

He sympathized with lake property owners not getting information on progress, but said the situation could, and sometimes did, change daily. “I would propose something and the next day it’s gone... It’s very difficult.”


The option of interim financing as too expensive and at four to six weeks, too long to get, was considered and rejected, attorney Doug Kelly said. Kelly, with 30 years’ experience specializing in all aspects of water issues, including funding, said there is grant money available for water projects, but none they pursued were for short term solutions, he said.


Commissioner David Jackson offered any help the county could give. He said he hears lake residents who are frustrated by lack of information and the process taking so long.

“We have to move them from the frustration to the hope stage. We’ve got to get the water out of there now. We’ve got to figure out how to move this in the right direction,” he said to applause from the crowd gathered at the Tyden Center.


The proposal forwarded to commissioners is the most feasible in terms of cost, time and permitting, Kelly said. The goal is to withdraw a total of 300 million gallons of water out of the lakes, estimating Crooked Lake would be one foot lower by Sept. 1.


Cenci said the DEQ has been working with them, noting the short term fix has less impact on the DEQ, so permits are easier to get. He is confident they can get the project done within a 90-day special DEQ exemption on the amount of water that can be diverted.


The Watson Drain District encompasses 7,000 acres and notices of a May Board of Determination meeting to permit a long term fix were sent to 1,200 residents of the district, Dull said.

“Trying to do three to five years’ work in three to five weeks puts a lot of pressure on us and on the land owners, but they understand,” Cenci said.




Grand Rapids man drowns in Dumont Lake

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate a fatal boating accident involving a personal watercraft on Dumont Lake, according to a sheriff’s news release.

The Allegan County Sheriff's Office Marine Division & Dive / Rescue & Recovery Team responded for search and rescue efforts after a 911 caller on Sunday afternoon reported that two men were on the watercraft and one had gone missing under the water.


Witnesses said a man and his son were riding the craft when it flipped over after hitting a wake created by another vessel.  After flipping over, they tried to swim to a sunken island in the middle of the lake. The operator of the craft could not see his son, Gregory Troy Williams of Grand Rapids, and waved down another vessel that came to help.


The rescue team determined Williams had presumably drowned and began underwater search and recovery efforts while the marine patrol searched the area with on-board sonar. At 7:53 p.m. after about four hours of searching, divers located Williams in approximately 35 feet of water in the middle of the lake.  He was pronounced deceased at the scene.


Williams was not wearing a life jacket at the time of the incident, officials said./

Divers searched an area approximately 350 yards long and 200 yards wide.  Water temperatures varied from 85 degrees on the surface to approximately 41 degrees on bottom and with zero visibility.


Michigan law requires all persons on board or being towed by a personal watercraft to wear a life jacket (Personal Flotation Device or PFD).

The law also requires every vessel have a PFD for each person on board or while being towed when on the water.


The Allegan City Police Department, Wayland EMS, Hopkins and Allegan Township fire departments, Red Cross Canteen, the sheriff’s Victim’s Services Unit and the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team assisted the sheriff’s office.


Fun and Games in Hastings

The weather may have been hot but that didn't stop folks from participating this past weekend in the Gus Macker Basketball Tournament where large crowds packed downtown Hastings Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday the Hastings Barry County Airport held their annual fly-in Dawn Patrol and Charlton Park held their 47th annual Gas and Steam Engine Show Friday and Saturday.


Another scam in the area

If you have received a call from an individual stating they are with the Internal Revenue Service telling you that you will be arrested in 24 hours if you do not call the telephone number they give you.  This is a scam do not respond to the call. The Internal Revenue Service does not call  an individual about an issue they send a formal letter in the mail.  Police have been notified and are telling individuals, just hangup. All they want is your money.


Hastings Macker Tournament Kicks off July 14th & 15th

The Hastings Macker 3-on-3 tournament, brought to you by the Barry County Chamber of Commerce, rolls into downtown Hastings on July 14 & 15!  Over 230 teams will descend on downtown for a weekend of basketball and fun.  This will be the largest Hastings Macker tournament to date, with nearly 18% more teams playing this year than in 2017!


Make sure to check out the slew of events taking place during the tournament. Our Special Needs Court returns on Saturday, July 14 from 9:00am-10:00am at the Dream Court.  The Special Needs Court is designated for people of all ages with special needs and is wheelchair accessible.  Next, join us for the Free Throw Contest, hosted by Portland Federal Credit Union - our 2018 MVP sponsor- near Dream Court from 10:00am-2:00pm.  On Sunday, show off your skills at the Dream Court for Tom’s Market “Trick Shot Challenge” from 11:00am-Noon. 


Don’t forget to visit the Garden Thyme Market on Saturday, hosted by the Thornapple Garden Club.  Between games, stop downtown and check out the Hastings Downtown Business Team “Sidewalk Sales”.  Sidewalk Sales start on Friday, July 13 and go through the end of the day on Saturday!


Special thanks to our MVP Sponsor, Portland Federal Credit Union, and our Official Sponsors:  Hastings DDA, Murray’s Asphalt, J-Ad Graphics, Spectrum Health-Pennock, WBCH Radio, Munn Manufacturing, Murray’s Asphalt, and Flexfab.  We would also like to thank our Alley-Oop Sponsors, Bay to Bay Building Concepts and Broadmoor Motor Group, our All-Star Sponsors, Court Sponsors, volunteers, and our Macker Committee.  We couldn’t do it without the continued support of these businesses and organizations!


The Hastings Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament is proudly brought to you by the Barry County Chamber of Commerce.


New Troopers assigned to the Wayland Post

Michigan's newest State Police Troopers will soon be heading to work at Michigan State Police Post across the state after graduating from the 134th Trooper recruit school  Thursday afternoon. The new Troopers spent 26 weeks at the State Police academy before taking the oath of office  from the State Police Director.


New Troopers David Brelinski the 3rd and William Smalldon  were assigned to the Wayland post and Corey Kilmartin of Caledonia was assigned to the Niles Post.


Wayland man dies in Kalamazoo Drive/142nd Street crash

The Michigan State Police/Wayland Post continues to investigate a fatal accident that occurred Thursday at about 4:15 p.m., according to a state police news release.


A straight truck was traveling westbound on 142ndth Avenue approaching Kalamazoo Drive when a utility van southbound on Kalamazoo Drive failed to stop at the stop sign, striking the right side of the straight truck, officials said.


The driver of the utility van, Lucas Miner, 30, of Wayland, was pronounced dead at the scene.


The driver of the straight truck was transported to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo with minor injuries.

State Police troopers were assisted by the Allegan County Sheriff Department, Leighton and Wayland township fire departments and Wayland EMS.



Possible solution to Crooked Lake flooding only agenda item at special meeting

A proposed solution to the weeks long flooding at Crooked Lake that “looks promising” and the funding needed to put the plan into action will be discussed at a special Barry County Commission meeting Monday July 16 at 9 a.m. in the Tyden building.

Barry County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull has identified several potential solutions to reduce the water level in the lake. He will request an emergency loan from the commission so they can begin work immediately.



Crooked Lake residents again seek help from Barry County officials to stop flooding

Deb Englehardt and other Crooked Lake residents spoke in public comment times at the Tuesday Barry County Board of Commissioners meeting, telling commissioners what their lives are like now with the flooding that has plagued them for weeks and asking for solutions.


Sharon Ritchie said they have to use bottled water, and are fighting muck, blood suckers, sickness, sand coming up toilets and black mold, besides pumps and sandbags, the fear of a power outage, pump failure or possible electrocution.  “People are losing their homes, she said. “The clock is ticking.”


Cheryl Reda gave the panel a petition and asked that Barry County officials “get out there and help us…we need immediate action to save our foundations.”


Cathy Mutschler said, “Someone I know needs to do something to help the people of Crooked Lake…not one person knew this was going to happen, not one person deserves this.”


But, Englehardt was clearly the most frustrated, near tears, as she pleaded for help. Everyone else seems to be going on with their normal lives, she said, while “our lives are not even remotely close,” to being normal, “our lives suck!”

She said they deal with flooded basements, being up all night, sandbags, and sump pumps and going door to door to help others. “You don’t understand,” she said. “We need help!”


“I don’t know whose fault it is, and at this point, I don’t even care. There are 280 residents on the lake; 256 are adversely affected; 193 have their beaches gone and piers underwater, 63 of us are at crisis; we are going to lose our property. It’s hundreds of thousands of dollars.”


Englehardt said she is unable to find who or what is responsible for the continued flooding. “Everybody said, ‘go to this person, go to that person’…I’ve talked to senators, congressmen, I’ve gone to the newspapers, I’ve been on TV. I don’t know what else to do.”


Barry County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull said Wednesday he and engineer Brian Cenci, from ENG Inc., Lansing, are working on the problem every day.


“We plan to go to special the Barry County Commission meeting next Monday at 9 a.m. at the Tyden building to ask for funds for a solution that we think will solve the water problem.”

He said he wasn’t free to discuss the plan yet. “We have a few more pieces to put together, but this looks promising.”


Hastings City police warn of counterfeit $100 bills in the city

The Hastings Police Department is cautioning Hastings area merchants to watch out for counterfeit $100 bills.


“We have been finding some counterfeit money coming in to local businesses in the form of $100 bills,” said Deputy Chief Dale Boulter.  “The department has taken in at least four complaints of fake money, just in the city.”


The city staff has been notified to be on the lookout for the bogus bills and Community Development Director Dan King and the Downtown Development Authority members have been asked to spread the word to business owners.



Hastings schools voters to decide $11million bond request Aug. 7

The Hastings Area School System has an $11 million bond request on the Aug. 7 primary ballot which would pay for roof replacements, safety and security improvements, technology, buses and improving athletic facilities.


The estimated millage for the proposed bonds in 2018 is .85 mills (85 cents on each $1,000 of taxable value of property) for 15 years, with no mill net increase over the prior year’s levy.  

“The estimated simple average annual millage anticipated to be required to retire this bond debt is 1.54 mills ($1.54 on each $1,000 taxable value of property), the ballot reads.


“This proposal is .85 mills, and it requires no increase in the current levy to our taxpayers,” Superintendent Carrie Duits said.

“The current levy would extend for an additional four years, and then begin to decrease. As other issues fall off and decrease, this mill would go up so that over the course of the 15 years, the average would be 1.54 mills. The total with this bond would not go above the current levy,” she said.


“We also wanted to find an opportunity for our public to not have an increase in their taxes. After this election window, to repair our roofs and increase safety and security, we will be required to ask for an increase. The timing of this bond was strategic to address our needs and to minimize the impact on taxpayers with a no-mill increase from the current levy,” Duits said.


The millage proposal is in direct response to needs brought up by the community and the areas to be addressed are the top requests from a community meeting and parent and community surveys, she said.



Patterson Avenue/52nd Street crash claims life of Grand Rapids woman

Kent County Sheriff's deputies responded to a serious injury accident at 52nd Street and Patterson Avenue in Cascade Township this (Wednesday) morning at 5:55 a.m. according to a sheriff’s media release.


A 1999 Chevy Blazer driven by Katherine Elizabeth Mead, 25, of Grand Rapids, was travelling northbound on Patterson Avenue and collided with a southbound 2103 Chevy Cruze driven by Mnasse Testfai Tekle, 33, also from Grand Rapids, who was making a left turn onto 52nd Street, the report said.


Mead’s vehicle overturned and she was pinned underneath. First responders were able to extricate her and she was transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital where she later died from her injuries.


Tekle and Matthew William Staal, 28, Hastings, a passenger in the Mead vehicle, sustained minor injuries and were treated at the scene. The crash  remains under investigation.


Kentwood Police, Cascade and Kentwood fire departments and Life Ambulance assisted at the scene.



Barry County employees earn awards for outstanding service

Six employees of Barry County were presented with Barry County Employee Service Awards Tuesday. Introduced by their department heads, all employees were credited for being outstanding employees, with many attributes that made them valuable to the county.


Employees honored are:

*Kent VanBuren makes minor home repairs for the community and handles custodial duties at the COA. The five year employee of the county, he was credited for being hard working and caring by Executive Director Tammy Pennington.


*Deputy Rich Frazer, night supervisor at the Barry County Sheriff’s Office, contributes in a multitude of ways, leading by example and dedicated in his five years with the office, said Undersheriff Matt Houchlei.


*Cindy Miller, a five-year employee of the county. Now in the treasurer’s office, she has been deputy treasurer for two years. Miller has a good work ethic and is dedicated and smart, Treasurer Susan VandeCar said.                               


*Stephanie Lehman, 10-year employee of Barry Central Dispatch 911 and now its director, is credited by Lani Forbes, chairperson of the 911 Administrative Board, for going above and beyond in her duties, being positive, engaging and trustworthy.


*Sarah VanDenburg in the clerk’s office, handles circuit court cases, documents, filing and preparing reports and is known as the problem solver on hard cases. She is knowledgeable and detail oriented, Clerk Pam Palmer said. She is a 10-year employee.


*Jim McManus, planning and zoning director, treats people with respect, is dedicated, personable, respected and lends knowledge to any other department that needs it, County Administrator Michael Brown said. McManus has been with the county for 25 years.









Photo: Barry County Service Award winners are (left to right) Kent VanBuren, Cindy Miller, Stephanie Lehman, Rich Frazer, Sarah VanDenburg and Jim McManus.


Barry Eaton District Health Department hears public's suggestions for its future plans

A Barry Eaton District Health Department open house recently  invited the public to offer opinions on what the department was doing right, what needed work and what should be in its next five year strategic plan.


Health department officials said the meeting was an informal conclusion of a five year strategic plan, with highlights and examples and a time for the public to give its input and suggestions to the department for the next five.

“It’s a chance to see who we are and what we’re doing,” BEDHD Health Officer Colette Scrimger said.


“We had a good turnout of people and our community partnerships.”  Visitors walked around the room at the health department looking at displays about the agency’s programs, talking with staff and putting their suggestions on small slips of paper on a wall on where the department adds value to the community, what the department could do better and what they want to see in the five year strategic plan.


“Our timeline for completing the strategic plan extends into October,” Scrimger said.

“We will be having internal discussions between now and September when a draft plan will be submitted to the Board of Health.  The internal discussions will include a review of the input we received at the open houses along with other sources of information like our community health assessments, community health improvement plans, and program performance data, she said.


“The open houses were important to us so that we can gather input from our community on the areas they believe need to be addressed in our community. 

“We had a good turnout in both counties and received many responses to our questions of how the health department adds value in the community, what the health department could do better, and what should the health department focus on in the next five years. 


“As I have reviewed the comments made by individuals some common themes emerge,” she said.

Respondents said the health department has been a leader in the protection of public health and the promotion of a safe and healthy community and collaborates with many community partners to improve health in the community.


Also, they said the department should expand its relationships in the community to identify new opportunities for improving health, continue to expand its outreach efforts to assure all residents are aware of the services available and build on its expertise and resources to find ways to foster health improvement.


“Several individuals shared with me their surprise at the variety of services we provide and they were unaware of the resources we have available.  Others were able to learn about the behind the scenes work we do in the community to protect public health,” Scrimger said.


“This served as a good reminder that we need to continue to seek ways to educate the community about public health and the many ways public health makes a difference in the community,” she said. //


Some of the areas where the joint health department has programs are education, health care coverage, breast and cervical issues, children’s special heath care services, immunizations, dental health clinic in Charlotte, WIC Program, lead screening, Eaton behavioral health, communicable diseases, vision and hearing and environmental health. Each area has several programs inside each heading.


The seven goals in the 2013-2018 Strategic Planning Final

Report, were:

1) assure that all community members have a healthy successful start in life;

2) access to quality health care across the continuum of care;

3) safe and healthy food, water and air.

4) empowering the community and individuals to take an active role in their health;

5) protecting the community from potential health hazards.

6) advocating for community condition that prolong health and support quality of life for all community members and,

7) providing BEDHD management and staff with the appropriate data tools and other resources to protect and enhance health.


In a 2016-2018 Community Health Improvement Plan, priorities identified were chronic disease, mental health, obesity, smoking and tobacco use and opportunities for physical activity and goals and objectives were developed by community organizations, agencies and stakeholders to address the priorities.


A nationally accredited Public Health Department by the Public Health Accreditation Board since 2016, BEDHD’s motto reads: “Our motto is to protect and enhance health by promoting and providing innovative community-based programs and initiatives.”



Four receive awards for saving injured boater's life in Gun Lake

At a ceremony at the Barry County Commissioners meeting Tuesday, Barry County Undersheriff Matt Houchlei honored four people who helped save the life of Cameron Cichosz after he was struck by a boat on Gun Lake. Houchlei released this statement after the awards: “Today, the Barry County Sheriff’s Office and the County of Barry are honored to be able to present very special citizen awards to Dr. Lauren Azevedo, Dr. Ryan Keating, Orangeville Fire Chief Matt Ribble, and Captain Mike Swift.


“Many of us will at some point in our lives encounter a moment where a crisis is unfolding. Each of us may choose to respond differently to that crisis, depending on our training, abilities and experience. “On June 17, 2018, a chain of events occurred on Gun Lake that saw Dr. Azevedo, Dr. Keating, Chief Ribble and Captain Swift take action when needed. Today, we wish to honor these four citizens who intervened in an unfortunate situation that literally was unfolding in front of them by jumping from their boat and personal watercraft to render first aid to an injured boater.


“By doing so, these individuals in front of you today saved the life of Cameron Cichosz.

The awards are on behalf of Sheriff Leaf, myself, the Barry County Sheriff’s Office and the County of Barry,” Houchlei said. “I am pleased to congratulate each of them for their actions that day, and present them with the Citizen’s Life Saving Award.”



Photos (upper left) Dr. Lauren Azevedo and Dr. Ryan Keating stand with Cameron Cichosz after receiving Barry County Sheriff’s Citizen Life Saving Awards. Orangeville Fire Chief Matt Ribble and Captain Mike Swift were unavailable for photos.


(middle right) Cameron Cichosz thanks Drs. Ryan Keating and Lauren Azevedo for helping save his life.


(left) Barry County Undersheriff Matt Houchlei reads the Citizen Life Saving Awards to Dr. Lauren Azevedo and Dr. Ryan Keating (far right) awarded for saving the life of Cameron Cichosz (behind Houchlei).




Czarnecki named sole candidate for Hastings city manager post

Hastings City Manager Jeff Mansfield will be “moving on to other things,” on July 1, 2019.  Along with his resignation, he offered to help in any way he could for a smooth and efficient transition.


Jerry Czarnecki, city clerk/treasurer/finance director, wanted to be considered for the city manager’s position, Mansfield said.  Czarnecki has been with the city almost 18 months, first as Community Development director before taking his current position six months ago.


Mansfield recommended Czarnecki, saying he adapted quickly to both roles, assumed leadership and has a very positive relationship with the staff, council, regulatory and funding agencies and the community.  “Jerry has done a truly outstanding job during his time with the city,” he said.

At his suggestion, the Hastings City Council set Monday to interview Czarnecki and possibly offer him the position.


The panel formally interviewed Czarnecki for the position yesterday, but stopped short of offering him the job.  A motion by Councilman Bill Redman to appoint a three-person committee to negotiate conditions of employment with letters of agreement, and come back to a closed session and act on the agreement was defeated by a 4-4 tie, with Councilman Don Smith absent.


Members Redman, John Resseguie, Bill Cusack, and Mayor Dave Tossava voted yes; Brenda McNabb-Stange, Don Bowers, Al Jarvis and Therese Maupin-Moore voted no. McNabb Stange said they were rushing the process when there was no reason to, and Czarnecki lacks experience as a city manager, especially in laws and legal matters to do with cities.


Maupin-Moore said Smith should be present at a vote that important and a new job description should be in place before they fill the position; Bowers thought the opening should be advertised.  “I like Jerry, but this is not the proper way to do it,” he said.

Jarvis said he voted no because he didn’t like the three person committee idea.


A second motion by Redman to name Czarnecki as the sole candidate for city manager passed 5-3, with Redman, Resseguie, Cusack, Jarvis and Tossava voting yes, Bowers, McNabb-Stange and Maupin-Moore voting no. //


Council members did not challenge Czarnecki’s resume or his answers to questions during the interview. The lack of experience was mentioned but several on the council weren’t concerned, saying Mansfield started out with less experience than Czarnecki has.


Mansfield and city Attorney Stephanie Fekkes will develop letters of agreement and job description for the first council meeting in August when Smith will be back on the council.


Czarnecki promised if hired, he would work hard, be honest and demand accountability from those who work for the city. His goal would be to get good department heads and work to remove obstacles to help them become successful. He said his background in education was non-traditional, but it prepared him to handle a variety of unpredictable situations and he noted the structure of education is similar to a city’s, with a board of education and superintendent not unlike a city council and city manager.


Again, he promised hard work and a positive attitude for the next 15 years, if hired.

“I want to be part of the solution when I can be of benefit the most…If not me, I’ll stay anyway. I’m not going anywhere.”


His background includes 25 years at Kelloggsville Schools and math teacher, head of the math department and boys and girls basketball coach. He holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from GVSU, and Bachelor of Science degree from Alma College.

He has developed knowledge of the city while in community development, working with the downtown development authority, local finance development authority, chamber of commerce and business owners in the city, he said.


As clerk/finance director, he worked on budgets, elections, human resources, employee benefits, with the cemetery committee and the department of public services.

If given the job, Czarnecki would work with a new clerk/finance director/treasurer, and then work with Mansfield for several months before his departure. 




Hastings Green Street will stay closed for trick-or-treaters on Halloween

Resident Emily Jasperse asked the Hastings City Council to stop closing Green Street to traffic for several hours on Halloween while treat or treaters to visit houses asking for treats.

The council voted to keep the street closed to traffic for Halloween, 6-2 with Councilman Don Smith absent.


In a letter to the council, Jasperse said she has lived on Green Street for 39 years and handed out flags and Band aids to some 2,000 children every Halloween. She noted there has not been an accident on Green Street in the years she has lived there. ‘I don’t see a reason for it to be closed,” she said. “It’s not necessary.”


Some people on other streets feel the closing of Green Street creates an unfair advantage when it comes to the streets in their wards and diminishes their trick or treat visits, she added. Jasperse said the cost to taxpayers for city workers to provide barricades, with figures from Department of Public Services Director Lee Hays, at three hours for three staff is $50 x 9 man hours or $350, and three trucks for three hours at $25 x 9 man hours equals $225.


During discussion, Councilman Don Bowers asked since there were no accidents on the street in 37 years, “why are we legislating something that doesn’t need to be legislated?” Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange said other groups of residents were being shut out of the activities of the evening with the closing.


Asked for his opinion, Deputy Police Chief Dale Boulter said if he had a vote he would vote for it. “It’s safer to have it that way…we stick to the times,” but he would not support doing it in several areas of the city. McNabb Stange and Bowers were the two no votes.//


Also, the council approved a cemetery ordinance change that now reads: Only one person may be buried in a burial space except for a parent and infant or two minor children buried at the same time. Burial boxes or caskets over four feet in length will be classifies as adult size.


Two cremains, or one cremains and one casket/vault, may be buried in the same burial plot. City Manager Jeff Mansfield said the Riverside Cemetery Preservation Advisory Board will be taking a look at the overall cemetery ordinances and will likely amend other sections later.


Two other ordinances, both recommended by the planning commission, had first readings. Ordinance 558 would rezone a number of properties along East Thorn Street from D-1 or D-2 industrial to R-2 residential.


Ordinance 559 would change the zoning classification of a parcel in the northeast quadrant of the West Woodlawn Avenue - County Club Drive intersection from A-1 apartment to R-R rural residential. Action is taken at the second reading, usually the next council meeting.


Also, Larry Warren was appointed as an alternate member to the Zoning Board of Appeals, and also to the Nature Area Board, with both appointments partial terms ending in December 2020.


And, the council approved spending $48,830 for repairs on about three quarters of the fire station roof by Quality Roofing & Construction, recommended by Fire Chief Roger Caris.

Council members went into closed session to receive privileged attorney-client communication and strategy in connect with the Cleon Brown litigation.




It's a birthday party for all Barry County centenarians at Thornapple Manor

What happens in a Century? What stories can be told about the world they grew up in, the families they had, the work they did and the changes that happened around them? We would like to celebrate the wisdom, knowledge and accomplishments that happen over a lifetime. And when someone turns 100 years old it’s time for a celebration!


To honor those turning 100 years old this year, and those that have reached the milestone already, we are inviting them to come to Thornapple Manor for a birthday party on Thursday, July 12 at 2 p.m. There will be cake, ice cream and a special gift for each centenarian.

We will have a few other surprises for those that attend the two hour event.


The Gilmore Care Museum will have a motor car made in 1918. They will also have a 1958 vehicle in honor of Thornapple Manor’s year-long 60th anniversary celebration.

We invite all Centenarians and their families to join us in the Agnes M. Hollister Courtyard on Thursday, July 12 at 2 p.m.


Parking will be in the South (back) parking lot with signs leading to the courtyard. Look for the antique cars!



Wayland five-year-old dies after being struck by vehicle

The Wayland Police Department reports officers were dispatched to a car/pedestrian crash on Friday, July 6, at about 7:30 p.m. in Windsor Woods Estates in Wayland. Officers discovered a five year old boy had been hit by a car while riding his bicycle as he rode out of his family’s drive way.  EMS responded, however the child was pronounced dead at the scene.


The driver of the vehicle, employed by Jimmy John’s, is a 33- year old woman. 

Names of those involved are not being released.  Officers from the Wayland Police Department are continuing their investigation.


Wayland Police were assisted at the scene by the Wayland Fire Department, Wayland Area EMS, the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department and the Gun Lake Tribal Police.




Ionia County man dies trying to help stranded motorist

Friday, July 6, at about 10 p.m. deputies from the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to North State and Woods roads in Ronald Township for a vehicle crash involving a pedestrian, according to a sheriff’s news release.


An area resident, a 61 year old man, was struck by a northbound vehicle as he was attempting to cross the road to assist a stranded motorist.  The man was pronounced deceased at the scene.  The traffic crash is still under investigation, officials said. 


Ronald Township Fire, Life Ambulance, Lehman’s Funeral Home, Ionia County Central Dispatch, and the Ionia County Road Commission assisted the sheriff’s office at the scene.




Hudsonville man dies in ORV crash in Allegan State Game Area

Saturday night Allegan County Sheriff Deputies, Michigan State Police, and Hamilton Fire Department responded to the Allegan State Game on a report of an ORV crash where a man was injured by a fallen tree, the sheriff’s office reports.


Approximately a half mile into the state game area first responders found an ORV that had collided with a fallen tree on a trail.  A passenger on the ORV, a 27-year-old Hudsonville man, was pronounced dead at the scene.   Alcohol was found to be a contributor to the incident, officials said.


The crash occurred at 10:13 p.m. in the Allegan State Game Area off 47th Street in Heath Township, Allegan County. 


The names of the victim and the people involved were not released pending contact with next of kin and further investigation. The investigation will be turned over to the Allegan County Prosecutor’s Office for review.


The sheriff’s office was assisted by Michigan State Police, Hamilton and Graafschap fire departments and Holland AMR.




Sweet Grass Moon Pow Wow is July 14-15

The Sweet Grass Moon Pow Wow, a celebration of Pottawatomi culture, dance and songs will be held at Jijak Camp on July Saturday July 14 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, July 15 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.


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.


In lieu of an admission fee, attendees are asked to bring one canned good or dried food item. All donations will go to the Annetta Jensen Food Pantry in Dorr.

Pictures and video may be taken during the event unless otherwise announced by the emcee.


The camp is located at 2044 126th Avenue, Hopkins with the entrance near the farmhouse.


Speed a factor in fatal Hopkins Township crash

A personal injury crash in front of 3573 20th Street in Hopkins Township a little after noon Friday resulted in the death of a minor female, the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office reports. The caller to Central Dispatch reported that a female had been ejected from the vehicle during the crash and was severely injured.


Firemen and deputies began resuscitation on the victim but were unsuccessful.  EMS personnel arrived and tried advanced life support but were also unsuccessful and the victim was declared deceased at the scene.


The initial investigation revealed that the two minor females in the vehicle had taken the older female’s mother’s vehicle to teach the younger female how to drive before she started driver’s education soon.


At some point during their trip, the older female let the younger female take over as the driver. The younger female was travelling south on 20th St. driving too fast for conditions and lost control of the vehicle, which left the roadway and rolled over, partially ejecting the older female causing the fatal injuries.


The younger female driver suffered minor injuries and was transported to the hospital for observation. Names will not be released since both subjects involved are minors. Both were from the immediate area; neither was using a seatbelt.


 At this point in the investigation speed is a factor considering the gravel roadway conditions, officials said. The sheriff’s office would like to remind drivers that rural gravel roadways are in poor condition due to the hot and dry conditions and drivers should travel slower than usual on these roadways. We would suggest 35 miles per hour.


The sheriff’s office was assisted at the scene by the Michigan State Police, the Hopkins Fire Dept. and Wayland Area EMS.














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