Local News

Michigan Masters Swimming Competition

Hastings resident Bobby Taffee who is a member of the Battle Creek YMCA Swimming Team recently competed in the Michigan Masters Swimming Competition at Eastern Michigan University.

 In seven events Taffee came away with all seconds and thirds in the 60 to 64 age group.


Former Barry County commissioner to run again

Joyce Snow, Barry County Commissioner in the 3rd District from January 2013 to June 2015, announced Tuesday she will again run for the post. Snow resigned from the commission in June 2015 to accept a position as director of Human Resources in the City of Battle Creek.

“I accomplished what I was hired to do, and due to some personal family losses and the need to take care of that business, I left the city last June,” she said.  She discovered her true passion was back home working for the community, she said.


"I have been honored to have many community members ask me to run again and am at a point in my life where I can devote the time necessary to serve,” she said later. “I have a thorough understanding of how the county budget, departments, and committees function and am eager to again work for and with the community.”


While she was chairperson, the commission, with involvement from all county departments and the community, developed the first 5-year Strategic Plan and the Master Facilities Plan, she said.  “I look forward to working with fellow commissioners in advancing these two major projects through the next 5 years.”


Commissioner David Jackson was appointed to the 3rd District seat to complete Snow’s term in June, 2015; in November, 2016 he won election to the seat.  Both republicans, Jackson and Snow will meet in the Aug. 7 primary when voters will select who goes on the Nov. 6 election ballot.


Jackson filed petitions to run again in early March.  He has put his 30 years of business experience and conservative values to work for the people he represents in the 3rd District, he said.

“I led the charge to remove the unpopular and expensive TOST regulation, worked to pay down millions in debt and stood up for our hunters, sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts in the successful push for an ORV ordinance.


“I'm honored to serve, grateful for the tremendous support my campaign has received, and proud to be endorsed by the majority of county commissioners and township officials,” Jackson said.


The 3rd District covers Hope, Barry and Precinct 1 of Rutland Township.


Thornapple River

The Thornapple River continues to go down after reaching its crest Thursday of 6.02 feet. The river is now at 5.08 feet.  This is the last update unless condition change. 



UPDATE: Missing Baltimore Township man located

UPDATE:The Barry County Sheriff's Offce reports that Chad Pell, missing since April 8 has been located and no further help is needed.


ORIGINAL STORY: The Barry County Sheriff’s Office is requesting the public’s help in locating a missing/endangered person. Chad Pell, 46, left his residence in Dowling in Baltimore Township on April 8.  Pell has a mental condition, and has been off his medication for about a year.


He was last seen driving a black Dodge Ram 1500 crew cab, Michigan registration 3LMM93. Pell may be trying to get to California. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the Barry County Sheriff’s Office (269-948-4801) or Barry County Central Dispatch (269-948-4800).




April 21–28 is National Infant Immunization Week

The annual observance of National Infant Imunization Week is to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and celebrate the achievements of immunization. The Barry-Eaton District Health Department and communities around the nation are recognizing the week and recognize the critical role vaccination plays in protecting the health of children, families, and communities.


Infants in the United States are protected against 14 preventable diseases when fully immunized. Vaccines for infants are especially important because some of the diseases they protect against can be especially dangerous for children under the age of two.

It is important to follow the recommended immunization schedule to protect infants and children by providing immunity early in life, before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among children born during 1994–2013, vaccination will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes.


Vaccine-prevented diseases may seem like threats from the past, however children can still get and spread the diseases. The United States is seeing the return of vaccine-preventable diseases—such as measles, whooping cough, and mumps—that had once been considered eliminated.  It is extremely important that all infants are vaccinated on time.


It is the responsibility of parents, physicians, and public health providers to make sure that all children are up to date on vaccinations. Parents should talk with their child’s health care provider to ensure that their baby is up-to-date on vaccinations.


If parents cannot afford immunizations for their child or have further questions, they can call the BEDHD Immunization clinic at 269-798-4133 in Barry County or 517-541-2630 in Eaton County.

More information on vaccinations can be found at



Barry County Commision hears from director of Michigan Association of Counties

Stephan Currie, executive director of the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC), Tuesday updated Barry County Commissioners on several matters important to county officials.

Currie spoke of many legislative issues that affect counties; proper funding of the courts, improving the delivery of child care funds that are sometimes slow.


Michigan’s infrastructure has an additional $178 million in 2018 to add to the gas tax and fee increases approved in 2015 that go into effect in the next few years, he said. Proper funding for Next Gen 911 centers with a fee at the state level passed this year.


MAC continues to work on more stable financing for county government, reform of the tax tribunal, adequate funding in community mental health programs, and managing foster care appeals, calling for more collaboration with courts, not less, Currie said.


Other issues include addressing legislative unfunded mandates and the cost of bills before passing them.

The state budget is still under construction and Currie talked of some proposals, but there are no final figures yet.

Also, broadband internet access, bills triggered by the MSU/Dr. Larry Nasser scandal and asset management of infrastructure with tools to assure better coordination of assets are being worked on, he said.


Currie doesn’t see a state wide program of septic system examination and management, “getting a lot of traction. I just wanted to put it on your radar.” He talked about the functions of county governments and programs offered to counties by the association. They are collecting “best practices” examples for the MAC website and invited the commission to submit some examples from Barry County.

Also, he asked for support for the MAC Pac of $18 from each commissioner in 2018.


In other business Tuesday commissioners approved the 2018 Equalization Values Report given by County Equalization Director Timothy Vandermark and the reappointment of Jodi Trantham to the Barry County Solid Waste Oversight Committee for the position of health associate/environmental professional to a term that expires Oct. 31, 2020.


New framework for citizens to volunteer for Barry County committees told

Barry County Commissioners Tuesday discussed progress in its renewed effort to attract more citizen volunteers to sit on county oversight committees and boards.


The Appointments Reform Plan goals are to provide more information about the different boards and develop better ways to train candidates so they are more comfortable with procedures.

The plan is divided into three sections, research, writing and recruitment. Each commissioner focuses on one area and all commissioners will be recruiting.


Researching the matter with Michigan State University Extension, the Barry County Chamber of Commerce and County Administrator Michael Brown, Commissioner Jon Smelker said they all advised training for new members and guidelines or bylaws for each committee. “MSU has all the tools,” he said.


In her research, Commissioner Vivian Conner contacted the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) and Allegan and Mecosta counties for information.  MAC sent her papers on basic procedures.


Allegan County advertises positions and a human resources person holds a brief interview them, and sets up interviews with county commissioners, she said. Mecosta County keeps a file on each applicant for one year and contacts them when there is an opening. “Lack of training seems to be an issue statewide,” she said. She suggested the county needs a human resources director.


“We agree we’re heading in the right direction, but we don’t want to overburden applicants,” Smelker said.


Commissioners Ben Geiger and Heather Wing have written a draft of a new “more user-friendly, streamlined,” applicant questionnaire for the county website with an introduction and descriptions of advisory boards and committees. They are working on a handout for commissioners to take to meetings they attend that will stimulate interest.


Work continues on the writing of the forms, research into training and recruitment and possibly software to manage the program. “The next step is to put together all we have to assess where we are and determine the next steps.” Geiger said.

“We could be a trendsetter for other counties with this,” Wing said.




Cable Access Committee plans greatly expanded programming

Programming available on the local cable access channel will be significantly increased according to the plans of the Cable Access Committee. In response to Hastings City Council asking about a request for camera equipment, Councilman Bill Redman, spokesman for the committee and its secretary, outlined the plans at a recent council meeting.


To take cable to the next level, the committee requires a professional camera set up, and have a quote for a Panasonic premium professional camcorder and its accompanying equipment, hard drive, tripod, case, memory card, battery and shoulder rig support, for a total of $5,476.84.


Redman said some 20 Barry County businesses have already agreed to have their operations videotaped for a cable show, and more are being contacted.

The committee envisions streaming a wide variety of programs on the city’s website and possibly You Tube, he said.


School athletic contests and play-offs, entertainment events like performances at Thornapple Plaza and by the City Band, school’s extra-curricular activities like plays, village and township board meetings, school concerts, historic society meetings, and almost any non-profit venture are candidates for the cable channel. “Your imagination is your only limitation,” he said.


The cable committee has been working of the idea for about a year, but it will still “take some time to pull this together,” he said. They will need lots of ideas and volunteers for running programming, taping events and on the access committee itself. Area high school media class members may be interested, he said. There will be no selling of ads for space; they will seek donations for sponsorships.

The access committee is made up of Redman, Chair Randall Schaefer, Vice Chair Dan LaClair, John Clemence, Tom Huis, Jon Hook, and advisor Tony Clark.


Those interested in volunteering for any part of the committee’s effort can contact Redman at 269-838-0893.


Barry County offers many programs to aid its veterans

Barry County veterans may have problems they don’t know how to resolve, but they also have a network of services that can help them that they may not even know about.


Finding a solution to a problem for a veteran starts by contacting with the Barry County Veteran’s Affairs Office, located in the Barry County Enrichment Center,  at 231 South Broadway in Hastings.

Veterans and their families receive the support they have earned by leveraging community resources coordinated through Barry County's Mission United Program and other veteran’s services. 


Mission United is the only veterans’s affairs agency in the state affiliated with a United Way, which immediately opens up many resources that are available to all Barry County residents.

Add to that, state and federal program for veterans, and it gives the Mission United paid staff of six many more options to help the veterans, as well as emergency services.  And, services centered in one location make it easier to take care of needs.


Pattrick Jansens, Mission United program director, said veterans can always call, but he prefers to talk to the vet and their family personally rather than on the telephone because it promotes clarity and easier understanding.

Often the vet’s original problem is one of several, and solutions may involve more than one programs, Jansens said. “It all depends on their needs; everyone is different.”

Many times everything develops by conversation. “We ask a lot of questions to get to know how to line up help; we try to eliminate barriers.”

Benefits for veteran can get complicated, and it is not surprising that help is needed to get through a maze of unfamiliar requirements and policies, he said.


The VA also helps veterans, but offices are in Grand Rapids or Battle Creek. The VA is a massive organization divided into three entities, veteran’s benefits, the health association and national cemeteries

Some agencies have office hours one day a week at Misson United which means they don’t have to send a veteran to other locations.

The Salvation Army, Michigan Veteran’s Affair Agency, Department of Health and Human Services are there now, and Michigan Works! will begin hours in May. Jansens schedules appointments, replacing the old method of showing up and sitting waiting for a turn to talk to someone about a need.

Barry County Cares, The Family Support Center, CASA and Community Action Agency all work to help veterans. Housing, rental, mortgage and property tax help, transportation, home repairs, utility and food assistance are just some of the resources available.


“We provide guidance and resources; at the end of the day they make the decisions.” Jansens said. “We do our best to help in any way we can. I can’t do it alone, but we can do it together.”


In 181 general cases in 2016, 400 veterans received medical benefits assistance, $19,248 in housing and utility assistance and $8,918 in emergency aid from the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Fund.

For help call 250-945-1296, or visit www/ or  www.bcunited


Ionia County two-car crash sends three to hospitals

A two-car crash on Morris Lake Road south of West Grand River Avenue about 5 p.m. Sunday resulted in two men being transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries. A third man was taken to Sparrow Ionia by family for a precautionary evaluation.


A sheriff’s news release reports a Chevy Malibu was southbound when the driver lost control, crossed the centerline and collided with a northbound GMC Sierra pickup truck.


The driver and passenger of the Malibu, males aged 28 and 32, were transported to the Grand Rapids hospital; the driver of GMC pickup, a 37-year-old man, was taken to Sparrow.

Assisting on scene were Saranac Fire Department, Life EMS and Reed and Hoppes.



UPDATE: Suspects in multiple malicious destruction cases in Ionia, Barry counties identified

UPDATE: The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office reports that Nathaniel Brooks, 17, and Michael Dulyea, 23, of Saranac, have been arrested and charged with multiple destruction of property-$200 to $1000. Brooks is being held on $5,000 bond and Dulyea on a $20,000 bond.

The third person involved in the incident is not being named because he was 14 at the time of the incident; charges are being sought on him through the juvenile courts.The investigation is ongoing.

The sheriff’s office thanked everyone who called with information regarding the case.



Michigan State Police troopers from the Barry County Post and Ionia County Sheriff’s deputies responded to multiple malicious destruction of property complaints in northern Barry and southern Ionia counties on April 11 and 12. The suspects were using a slingshot to launch marbles into victim’s windows.


The multi-agency investigation identified one of the suspects from video footage as a Saranac resident. A vehicle matching the description from the video was located at the suspect’s residence in Saranac and a search warrant was served at the residence as he, and two other suspects, were in the vehicle trying to leave.


Two of the suspects were arrested for the malicious destruction incidents and the third, a juvenile, was released to their parents. Charges are being sought on the juvenile. The suspects were not identified by authorities.




78th Vermontville Syrup Festival is April 27-29

A sure sign spring is here is the annual Vermontville Syrup Festival every year, always held the last full week of April.


Vermontville, the home of the original Maple Syrup Festival in Michigan, starts Friday, April 27, continues on the 28th and 29th  with a full schedule of things to do, see and sample:

Two parades, Mid-America rides, craft shows, flea market, talent show, petting zoo, princess pageant, displays, games, free entertainment, pancake derby, arm wrestling and, of course everything maple syrup, candies, crème, cotton candy and pancakes with the real thing.


For a complete schedule and all the details, visit


Michigan ranks fifth in the nation for maple syrup production. You can find producers staying with the most traditional methods as well as modern facilities using the latest refinement techniques. All maple trees produce sap, with sugar maples the highest sugar content of two percent, followed by black, red silver and ash- leafed maple with a sugar content of about one percent. It takes 40 gallons of syrup to produce one gallon of maple syrup.



Photo: Vermontville Maple Syrup Queen Alaura Reist, (top, center) and her Court, (left to right) Brenna Simpson, Gracie Fisher, and Grace Guernsey.



The Founder's Barry Roubaix Killer Gravel Road Race is April 21

Registration for the Barry Roubaix Killer Gravel Road Race in Hastings is still open until noon on April 18, or until the 3,500 racer cap is met.


Serious bike racers as well as those in it for exercise and fun, will be tested by rolling gravel roads, pavement, a mile of rough two tracks, rocks, sand, mud, and possibly snow and ice as they traverse the scenic roads of Barry County.


Rain or shine, snow or fog, the largest gravel road race in the world starts in waves at 10 a.m. on Green Street on Saturday, April 21. Cyclocross, mountain, road, single speed, fixed gear, fat bikes and tandem bicycles are welcome in any category.


Four race lengths challenge riders of all abilities; The 22-mile “Chiller,” 36-mile “Thriller,” 62-mile “Killer” and the 100-mile “Psycho-Killer.” The Fat Bikes have specific categories in 22 and 36-mile races. A Team Competition option is sponsored by


Hastings Police Department Ambassadors will be on hand to welcome riders and offer general information, like where to park. City officials have said they enjoy working with the sponsors of the race, calling the bikers as a group the most polite people who are part of an event that brings thousands of people to Hastings.


There are $34,000 in cash and prizes; a huge after party and an awards ceremony for top finishers. Founder's beer and food vendors are available inside the awards party.


The Barry-Roubaix is a participating race in the Michigan Gravel Race Series.



Hastings teachers take on local law enforcement on the basketball court April 25

The cops vs teachers basketball game is a really fun for everyone, but it also has a serious purpose. This year’s contest between the teachers in the Hastings Area School System and the local law enforcement (aka cops)  will be Wednesday, April 25 at 6 p.m. at Hastings High School.


The event will benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. This year’s game is staged for Karrigan Williams, daughter of Brooke and Brett Williams of Hastings, who has Cystic Fibrosis, Hastings police Sgt. Kris Miller said.


The money raised will go to the Williams family, to be forwarded to the foundation for research in Karrigan’s name. Mom said the Karrigan, 8, is really excited about the evening, and she and Brett are happy about the awareness being raised. The idea came from the first grader’s school, Star Elementary.


“Her school usually does something like this for a child in need, so it all started with the school.”

Sometime during the event, Karrigan will be introduced to the crowd, mom said. She’s pretty shy sometimes so probably won’t make a speech.


While the oldsters catch their breath at half time, the kids will take the floor to shoot baskets and play a version of musical chairs involving successfully shooting a basket, and a three-point shooting contest. There is also a chance to win a kayak, and other giveaways.


Sports announcer Todd Possett promises to keep the game reporting lively, with play by play along with comments and analysis of the local talent. The concession stand will have refreshments available.


"It’s just for fun. It brings the community together, and will raise awareness of Cystic Fibrosis. It gives the families a break, a chance to think about something else, and it’s fun working with the teachers,” Miller said.


He confesses to some angst when he looks at the pool of talent the teachers have to draw from to build a team. “They’ve got some really tall teachers up there. We’ve just got our officers and reserves, Barry County Sheriff’s deputies and Michigan State Police troopers.”

Sports buffs will recognize this as the opposite of trash talk; trying to buy the game by making the teachers overconfident, and then overpowering them.


There is no reward for the players other than bragging rights, at least until the next game, but they all enjoy working for the local community and rising awareness of good cause and neither side will give an inch on the court. Never mind the score; it will be a good game for a good cause and a fun evening.


The cost is $5 at the door, which opens at 5:30 p.m., tip-off is at 6 p.m.


Sponsors of the event include Southside Pediatrics, Total Health Center, Wal-Mart, Miller Real Estate, Bailtek, and Farmers Insurance. “We have 25 donors all told,” Miller said.

Organizers have already raised $1,000 selling t-shirt from Courtside Screen, and $848.54 in a penny war coordinated by Courtney Coats at the Hastings Middle School.

(left) Last year's participants line up for a photo. The game was played for Leo Loeks,  who stands in front of the teams.




(below) This file photo shows the intensity of a cop vs teachers  basketball game. Look for more excitement at this year's game April 25.


15th Jazz Festival coming to Hastings April 26-28

During Jazz Festival April 26-28, Hastings will host thousands of student musicians from 90 schools all over Michigan, all performing jazz in a dozen venues in the downtown area for all three days. Some 10,000 people are expected to take part in the annual celebration of jazz music.


The festival is the largest non-competitive jazz festival in the state, with student and professional musicians in performances and clinics bringing entertainment to the community and jazz education to the students.


The event is free this year, thanks to sponsorships and community support, encouraging as many people as possible to enjoy both professional and student musicians. Headliners this year include The Thornapple Jazz Orchestra, WSC Edye Evans-Hyde, WMU Gold Company and the Michigan Jazz Trail Big Band.

To download a complete schedule of events, visit


Know what to do in severe weather


Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness Week is April 8–14.  It is also when thunderstorms and tornadoes become more common, so everyone should make sure they know what to do to stay safe during severe weather, according to the Barry Eaton District Health Department.


Knowing what to do before severe weather happens is key to safety. “Having an emergency plan and an emergency kit for your household can help you be prepared for and know what to do in severe weather. This can help you get to safety more quickly,” said Clarissa Boggs-Blake, emergency preparedness coordinator at the Barry-Eaton District Health Department.


Residents should sign up to receive text or e-mail weather alerts from local media, a weather provider, or through an app and know the difference between a weather “watch” and “warning.” A watch means that conditions are right for severe weather to possibly occur; a warning means that severe weather has happened or will happen very soon.


When there is a watch or a warning, residents should turn on the weather or a local news radio or TV station a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials to keep up to date on storm information. Residents should follow these tips:


Thunderstorm Warning:

Unplug electronics before the storm arrives. During the storm, do not touch anything plugged or wired into the wall, including telephones.


Avoid using household plumbing, sinks, showers, toilets, washers or lying or leaning on concrete floors or walls, as these can conduct electricity.


When thunder roars, go indoors. Take shelter right away inside a sturdy building, away from windows and doors. If there are no buildings nearby, shelter in a hard-topped vehicle. Stay inside for 30 minutes after the last thunder or lightning.


Do not touch metal objects like farm equipment, golf carts, golf clubs, bicycles, etc.


If outside during a storm with no nearby shelter, avoid hilltops, open fields, the beach, and boats on the water. Avoid natural lightning rods like tall, isolated trees in open areas. For more information on how to help stay safe from lightning while outside, see


If driving, find a safe spot to park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers if there is heavy rain. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.


           Tornado Warning:


If a tornado is around, get low to the ground. Right away, go inside the nearest sturdy building, not a trailer or mobile home. Go to a small, windowless interior room in the lowest area of the building, preferably in a basement; put as many walls as possible between you and the tornado.


Get under a sturdy table and cover your head and neck with your arms and your body as best as you can, with a heavy coat, blankets, pillows.


If in a car or outside with no nearby shelter; there is no best answer for how to take shelter outside of a sturdy building. Options can include: buckle up and drive to the nearest shelter if it is safe.


If there’s no nearby shelter, buckle up in a parked vehicle and cover your head with your arms, cushions, and/or a blanket. Avoid going under overpasses and bridges. Low, flat locations are best.


            After a severe weather event:


Avoid downed power lines, utility poles, and trees or coming into contact with standing water—it could be electrically charged or carry harmful germs.


If power is lost, never use a charcoal grill or a generator indoors or in a garage. The carbon monoxide given off can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.


If power is lost, follow the FDA’s instructions to ensure food safety:


For more information on preparing for and staying safe during severe weather events, including thunderstorms, floods, windstorms, and tornadoes, visit In Michigan, two of the biggest non–winter weather threats are thunderstorms and tornadoes. Between 1959 and 2015, there were 108 deaths caused by lightning in Michigan. On average, Michigan has 15 tornadoes per year. Since 1950, tornadoes have caused 243 deaths in Michigan.





Kent County Sheriff: Use caution when wire transferring large dollar amounts

The Kent County Sheriff Office is reporting a fraud involving a large dollar amount wire transaction and added a caution urging citizens to use caution and make multiple inquiries, either in person or by telephone, before making large value wire transactions.


The victims in this case were in the process of purchasing a new home and were scheduled to close on the home in the upcoming days.  They received an email which appeared to be from their bank and one from their builder requesting their down payment be sent by wire rather than bringing a cashier’s check with them to closing. The email appeared to be legitimate and included information such as the address of the home they were purchasing, file number, and their builder’s information.


The victims wired approximately $180,000 to what they believed was the title office. The receiving bank of the wired funds fortunately felt the wire transfer was suspicious and contacted the victim to question it. After realizing the wire transfer destination was fraudulent, the victim contacted the sheriff’s office for help.


Make every effort to contact your builder, realtor, Title Company, and closing office prior to engaging in any transactions not made in person. The stress of purchasing new homes and wanting transactions to go smoothly can make people more susceptible to these scams.


If you feel you have become a victim, it is important to contact law enforcement as soon as possible because there are times the wire transfers can be stopped.

If you have any information regarding this incident, please contact the sheriff’s office at 616-632-6100.


Conagra Brands Salisbury Steak recalled

Conagra Brands, Inc., in Russellville, Ark. is recalling approximately 135,159 pounds of Salisbury steak products (poultry, pork, and beef) that may be contaminated with foreign materials, specifically bone, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The family-style, heat treated, not shelf stable Salisbury steak and brown gravy products were produced on March 10.  The following products are subject to recall:

  •  27-oz. carton containing plastic shrink-wrapped packages containing six pieces of “Banquet Family size, six salisbury steaks & brown gravy made with chicken, pork and beef – grill marks added” with lot code 5006 8069 10 05and a ‘best buy’ date of SEP 01 2019 printed on the package. 

The products subject to recall bear the USDA mark of inspection with establishment number “P-115” located on the side panel of the package and were shipped to retail locations nationwide. The problem was discovered after the firm received several consumer complaints and three reports of minor oral injury associated with consumption of the product. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.  


FSIS is concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.


FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers.  When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at


Consumers with questions about the recall can contact Conagra Brands Consumer Affairs at (800) 289-6014.  Those with food safety questions can "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at or via smartphone at


The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. eastern time, Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. The online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at:




City of Hastings Overnight Parking Ordinance lifted

Jeff Pratt, Chief of Police in the City of Hastings, reports that effective immediately, Hastings Police will not be enforcing the 2am to 6am parking ordinance.  But if Mother Nature happens and throw us another surprise, he asks residents to please be courteous to the plows overnight by parking in your driveway and not on the street.




Allegan County Sheriff's K9 to get protective vest

Allegan County Sheriff’s Office K9 Luca will receive a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from the non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.  Luca’s vest is sponsored by Sharon Peters of Gross Pointe Shores, and will be embroidered with the sentiment “In memory of Det. Lt. Richard J. Scott.” Delivery is expected within eight to ten weeks.


The vests assist law enforcement agencies with the potentially lifesaving body armor for four-legged K9 officers. The company has given more than 2,800 vests in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a cost of more than $2.4 million.


“The Sheriff’s Office is ever grateful to receive this gift from Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.," said Luca’s partner,  Deputy Ryan Rewa. “This will provide needed protection for Luca as he performs his patrol duties.”

Rewa has been with the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office for three and a half years; Luca joined him on patrol six months ago. Rewa and Luca, a 20-month-old German Shepard imported from Poland, went through a five -week training course together before going on patrol and they continue to train on a regular basis to maintain and hone their skills.


Luca is trained in drug detection, tracking, suspect apprehension and handler protection.  Along with their duties, Luca and Rewa make regular visits to classrooms and community events to interact with our citizens.


The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies that are certified and at least 20 months of age. New K9 graduates, as well as K9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate.


The donation to provide one protective vest for law enforcement K9 is $950. Each vest has a value between $1,744 – $2,283 and a five-year warranty, with average weight of four to five pounds. There are an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s in the United States.


Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c (3) charity established in 2009, located in East Taunton, MA that provides bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs in law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States.


For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, call 508-824-6978. The company accepts tax-deductible donations of any denomination at, or mailed to P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718.







Biking for Bravery registration is open

Biking for Bravery, a community event featuring short and long distance bike rides for families and athletes, isn’t until June16, but registration is now open, giving riders a little time to build up endurance for the rides,


The event is held at Littlejohn Lake County Park in Allegan and benefits Safe Harbor, a Child Advocacy Center in Allegan and Barry counties.


All funds raised will help the agency continue to provide awareness, support and hope and healing to child abuse victims in both communities.  For more information, visit


UPDATE: Hope Township teen located, no longer listed as missing

UPDATE: Mercaydes Overbeek, 16, earlier reported to be voluntarily missing, has been located and is no longer considered missing, according to a news update from Barry County Sheriff’s Detective/Sgt. Janette Maki.


ORIGINAL STORY: The Barry County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a missing 16 year old.

Mercaydes Overbeek, 16, who left her Hope Township home voluntarily on the third or fourth of April, indicated she may be suicidal.  Mercaydes is believed to be in the Lansing area and in the presence of another teenage female. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Barry County Sheriff’s Office at 269-948-4801.



Barry County employees earn awards for service

Seven employees of Barry County were recognized with the first Barry County Employee Service Awards Tuesday. Two more employees were named but were unable to be at the award presentation held during the Barry County Commission meeting.


ntroduced by their department heads, all of employees were credited for being outstanding employees, with many attributes that made them valuable to the county; professional, empathic, mentors to new employees, caring, helpful to co-workers, hardworking, resourceful and committed to public service.


The first employees to earn the awards are:

*Susanne Huebner, planning assistant in the Planning Department,

*Bill Romph, Barry County Sheriff’s deputy,

*Amber Jansens, corrections deputy at the Barry County Jail,

*Karolyn Brower, administrative assistant with the drug court,

*Cece Weatherly, COA office manager,

*Judy Hoolsema, legal secretary in the court system,

*Laurie Krol, senior probation officer.

Barry County Sheriff’s Lt. Jay Olejneczak and Deputy Steve Lehman were unavailable for the ceremony.


In other business Tuesday, the commission appointed Robert Carr, Michael Pratt, Ken Vierzen, Steven Koerber, Randall Jonker and John Bueche to the Barry County Remonumentation Peer Review Board and also approved the Monumentation Surveyor agreements between Barry County and Reynolds Land Surveying & Mapping, P.C. Arrow Land Survey, Pathfinder Engineering, Inc. Crane Land Survey, Carr & Associates, LLC, Exxel Engineering and Jonker Land Surveys PC for 2018. The agreement is the fourth year of a five-year contract with the same language as the previous contracts, according to Rose Anger, mapping technician in the Information Services Department.


Photo: The Barry County Employee Service Award winners and the number of years employed by the county are (from left) Bill Romph, 10 years; Laurie Krol, 25 years; Amber Jansens, 10 years; Judy Hoolsma, 15 years; Cece Weatherly, 15 years; Karolyn Brower, 15 years and Susanne Huebner, 5 years.



Fourth Yankee Springs Township cleanup set for April 21

Saturday, April 21, Yankee Springs Township will get a spring cleanup for the fourth time by a group of volunteers.


Yankee Springs Supervisor Mark Englerth, with co-organizer John Norris, will meet volunteers at 9 a.m. at the Yankee Springs Fire Station to start the effort.

Norris, and other Dauntless Jeepers members, will meet at Curly Cone for breakfast at 8 a.m. before the event.


“The Barry County Sheriff’s Auxiliary will be there and township trustees Shane Vandenberg and Mike Boysen.  I’ve contacted a couple of school districts and everyday citizens from six to 70 will be there, too. Bring gloves, garbage bags, whatever you think will be needed,” Englerth said.

The cleanup will likely last until 1 p.m. or so, and light refreshments will be available, he said.


Child Abuse Prevention month recognized by Hastings City Council

Mayor David Tossava Monday presented an official proclamation from the City of Hastings to Executive Director of the Family Support Center of Barry County Karen Jousma recognizing Child Abuse Prevention Month


“Child abuse and neglect is a serious problem, ranking as one of the greatest risks to the health and well-being of Barry County children,” Tossava read from the proclamation.

Child abuse and neglect may be the result of various social problems such as inadequate parenting skills, family violence, poverty, family dysfunction, mental health problems, homelessness and crime," he continued.


In Barry County in 2016, 148 children between the ages of 0-17 were confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect by Child Protective Services. The Family Support Center has been designated by Michigan's Children's Trust Fund to lead, with local community based programs, to assist in expediting efforts to prevent child abuse now and in future generations through joint interagency prevention efforts.


“The most precious and valuable asset of our county is our children, and we must dedicate ourselves, our energy and our resources to the nurturing and protection of these most vulnerable individuals,” Tossava said.

“Protecting children and strengthening Barry County families is a shared community responsibility; and community action is needed to help families break the cycle of abuse with small or simple gestures-just by reaching out and showing you care about children in your family and neighborhood demonstrates that we value our children.”


“We know that child abuse and neglect make a difference, and we also know it takes a village to raise a child,” Jousma said.

We can’t turn a blind eye to what’s going on. We need to be supportive of our parents who, out of ignorance, substance abuse or domestic violence, are unable to parent their children. They need mentors, they need support…”


“So, I thank you for this opportunity for this proclamation and to acknowledge that it takes everyone to make a difference in the lives of children.” A Pinwheels for Prevention Garden with 75 to 100 pinwheels will be installed Tuesday outside City Hall to raise awareness of child abuse and neglect.


In other business:

*The city facility on West State Road that accepts compostable materials from city residents is now open and city crews will start the Spring Cleanup, picking up resident’s yard waste placed at curbside, starting Monday, April 16.


* Fire chief Roger Caris encouraged residents to go to the Barry County United Way website,, fill out the application there, and drop it off at the Hastings Fire Station. A firefighter will be scheduled to visit the home and install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide testers free of charge.


*City Manager Jeff Mansfield was authorized to apply for a PA 202 waiver application that would let the city avoid the reporting requirements all local units of government that offer defined benefits or post-employment benefits typically file. Units like Hastings that have underfunded status may apply for a waiver, as long as they have a payment plan.



New sidewalk, small bridge in Hastings will get further study (amended)

A public hearing on a final assessment roll for a Special Assessment  District (SAD) to pay for a sidewalk and bridge over a stream  on West State Street in front of The Dollar Tree and Holiday Express Hotel was discussed by the Hastings City Council Monday, with no action taken.


City Manager Jeff Mansfield  asked to the council to delay a decision to give him time to work with the Barry County Drain Commissioner, Rutland Township officials and others to lower the cost of the crossing of the stream by changing its basic design and possibly eliminating a clear span bridge required by the MDEQ.


When Mike Moyles, owner of the hotel, listed some concerns he had with the plan.

Mansfield assured him they are looking at several options that would change the original plan,  including making the stream a county drain. There are no county drains in the city now, and they want to look at the ramifications and cost to other people that would be brought into a drain district. He said he will meet with Drain Commissioner Jim Dull Tuesday afternoon “to see what that entails.”


As it stands now, the Dollar Tree and Holiday Express Hotel are the only entities on the assessment roll, and each would pay half of the estimated cost of $54,000 for the 2,025 linear feet of sidewalk and $60,000 for the pedestrian bridge crossing the creek, for a total of $114,000.

Mansfield said if the two businesses want to develop their own plan for sidewalks and the shared steam crossing, the city is willing to work with them. The council referred the matter back to Mansfield for further study.



Also Monday, the council:

* named Norma Jean Acker to the Hastings Public Library Board for a partial term ending Dec. 31. She replaces Bob Becker who resigned.


* extended its audit contract with Rehmann Robson auditors for an additional three years. Because Jerry Czarnecki is relatively new as city clerk/treasurer, having Rehmann for the next few years would give him continunity working with the same auditors, he said. “After three years, we will seek bids from other companies.”


* set a public hearing for April 23 on the need for a Special Assessment District in the downtown area to pay for some maintenance costs for city parking lots. Mansfield said there would be some changes this year. The DDA, which has paid the cost increases in the assessments for the last five years, thinks the business owners should pay more, he said. A total of $3,000 increase in costs this year will be spread over all the business owners in the special assessment district.


*approved the low $45,700 bid from Pitsch Companies to demolish the former Moose building at 128 North Michigan Avenue. The Downtown Development Authority has agreed to pay up to $50,000 for the work, with the city paying them back for the demolition if the property is sold. There were six other bids for the work, ranging from $54,200 to $129,996.


*scheduled a workshop for 6 p.m. before the April 23 meeting to discuss the 2018-2019 budget.




Safe Routes to School construction begins this month in Hastings

Safe Routes to School is a federal program to make it safe, convenient, and fun for children, including those with disabilities, to bicycle and walk to school. When routes are safe, walking or biking to and from school is an easy way for children to get regular physical activity.


Hastings children will benefit from construction planned for this summer, with areas improved to create corridors for safe travel to Northeastern Elementary on East Grant Street, Central Elementary and the Hastings Middle School in the Grand Street/Broadway street area.


Normally cities are awarded funding for two schools, but since Central is adjacent to the middle school, Hastings was allowed three projects, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.


Outdoor work schedules always depend on the weather. The projected schedule is below:


The work will be done in three stages; first at Woodlawn and Michigan avenues and Charles Street with traffic control, soil erosion and sediment control, earth work and storm sewer installation from April 16 until April 23. Curb, gutter, and sidewalk installation and hand patching follows, scheduled to be done by May 3.


The second stage begins May 4 at Grant, Hanover and Wilson streets, with traffic control, soil erosion and sediment control, earthwork, and a retaining wall forecast to be finished by May 10. Curb, gutter, sidewalks and hand patching will be complete by May 22.


The final stage at Bond, Madison and Church streets starts on May 23 with traffic control, soil erosion and sediment control and earthwork to be done by May 30. Curb, gutter and hand patching should be completed by June 7.


Restoration, permanent signs and markings will be completed by June 14.


Safe Routes to School funding is 100 percent paid by the Federal Highway Transportation, with no local match required. The MDOT administers the federally-legislated program that pays for educational programs, infrastructure improvements and encouragement activities to help children safely walk and bike to school and increase their physical activity. 



Michigan's Emergency Telecommunicators recognized

In Michigan, the State 911 Committee is privileged to honor the men and women who serve to protect the citizens of our Great Lakes State, paying tribute to telecommunicators and their vital contributions to public safety.


“This is the week we take time to highlight the important role that telecommunicators have in facilitating emergency services and say thank you,” Harriet Miller-Brown, State 911 administrator said.


“It is an honor to celebrate these exemplary individuals who demonstrate the highest levels of professional conduct and extraordinary performance. Their dedication and hard work touches the lives of countless people daily.” 911 centers serve as the primary point for dispatching police, fire, and EMS responses in Michigan.


In addition to answering and dispatching emergency calls, telecommunicators also provide medical pre-arrival instructions, activate weather alerts, additional incident scene response such as Child Protective Service, hospitals, road commission, utility, and public works department notifications; and handle the call-outs for specialized response teams such as search and rescue, activating medical examiners, and hazmat response teams.//

Telecommunicators receive calls through many different 911 dialing systems including wireless, traditional telephones, Voice Over the Internet Protocol, and in some counties, via texts.


 “911 is the gateway to emergency services for residents and visitors during their time of need,” State 911 committee Chair Jeff Troyer said. “Our well-trained 911 professionals in the State of Michigan answer this need more than six million times each year. I commend these individuals for their exemplary service.”


Quick Facts about 911 in Michigan:

  • 911 is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. On February 16, 1968, Alabama Speaker of the House, Rankin Fite, made the first 911 call from the Haleyville City Hall.
  • Today there are 142 Public Safety Answering Points in Michigan.
  • According to the 2017 annual report, of the counties and service districts that reported, the telecommunicators in Michigan answered: 6,382,487 calls to 911, 4,733 Texts-to-911, and 7,109,529 calls from non-911 lines.
  • There are approximately 2,000 telecommunicators in Michigan.
  • In becoming a telecommunicator, individuals first participate in 80 hours of basic and advanced dispatch training within their first 24 months of employment.
  • Michigan designated telecommunicators maintain continuing education requirements by participating in approved courses and accumulating at least 24 continuing education hours every 24 months.
  • Forty counties and one Wayne County Service District presently accept Text-to-911 calls which represents 54.92 percent of the population; many other counties are working toward accepting Text-to-911. For a map of current text-to-911 deployments, please visit the SNC website at under “Emerging Technology.”


In 1991, the United States Congress designated the second week in April, this year April 8-14, as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.


The State 911 Committee was established in accordance with Public Act 79 of 1999. It is a 21 member organization that works together to promote the successful development, implementation, and operation of 911 systems across the State of Michigan.





Hastings street improvements underway

Jefferson, Boltwood and Michigan streets in Hastings will get structural improvements this construction season, the next phase of a four-year capital improvement plan begun last year with the upgrading of Court and Church streets.

Jefferson from Apple to Green, Michigan from Apple to Court and Boltwood from State to Green are the areas to be improved.


Department of Public Services Director Lee Hays said work has already begun on projects scheduled from now until June 30. Earthwork, curb gutter and sidewalk work on all three streets is expected to be completed by early June. Milling 1 ½ inches of surface from the streets and resurfacing is set for the last three weeks of June, according to the schedule submitted to the Michigan Department of Transportation.  


“The milling and resurfacing will extend the life of the streets and maximize the impact of the money,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said. “The best way is to reconstruct them, but unfortunately, that’s too expensive.”


Funding for the four year improvements comes from Michigan Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration grants, with matching funds from the city.


“With the proposed MDOT grant through 2020, the City of Hastings is scheduled to receive $612,496 in federal grants. With our local match for the projects, engineering (design and construction) and three years of downtown resurfacings, the City will have a total of $427,946 invested into the improvements,” Hays said.


He is working with Consumers Energy to assure needed replacements of utilities will be done before any resurfacing. Consumers is now replacing an aging gas main on Boltwood and Michigan ahead of the MDOT project, he said.


Mansfield said residents may wonder why crews are tearing up curbs that look fine. “A requirement of the federal grant is making curbs and gutters conform to the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), so crews will be reworking several curbs, with widening and sloping ramps for ease of maneuvering and improved painting for the visually impaired.” ADA ramp improvements will be at Jefferson, Michigan and Boltwood streets.


Also this year, crack sealing will be applied to Court and Church streets between Broadway and Jefferson, and State and Center.

“The crack sealing will cure for around a year, and then next year we will chip and fog seal the streets. The end result will be a street that looks freshly paved and the fog seal greatly extends the life of the street and chip seal,” Hays said.


During the annual Jazz Festival April 26-29, work will be done only north of the bridge on Michigan and during the Barry Roubaix bike race April 21 there will be no work on Boltwood.



Make sure your child entering kindergarten has required immunizations

Is your child ready for kindergarten? April is here, and that means it’s Kindergarten Round Up time. Families who will be enrolling their children for school in the fall are encouraged to attend.


An important part of preparing for kindergarten is making sure kids are up to date on their immunizations. The Ionia County Health Department wants to make sure that every child is protected before entering school in the fall.

Immunization is the single most important way parents can protect their children from serious disease.


If your child has not yet received all of the immunizations required for school entry, don’t wait. Take action now to get them protected before school begins. Make an appointment with your child’s doctor, or call the health department’s immunization clinic at 616-527-5341.


If you are not sure if your child is up to date, contact their doctor or the ICHD immunization clinic to review their records. A child who is fully immunized and ready to start kindergarten in the fall will have had these vaccinations:

· 4 doses of DTap (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis)

· 3 doses of Hepatitis B

· 2 doses of MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella)

· 4 doses of Polio

· 2 doses of Chickenpox (Varicella)


The following immunizations are highly recommended, though not required, for a child ready to start kindergarten in the fall:

· Influenza (flu)

· 2 doses of Hepatitis A


Hastings City Police enforcing no parking rule from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.

It may say spring on the calendar, but there is still the possibility of snow for a while yet, so Hastings police officers continue to enforce the no-parking ordinance on city streets from 2 a.m. until 6 a.m. to accommodate snow removal.

“I would love to be able to give a definite date, as far as not enforcing this year-round ordinance, however, this is dependent on Mother Nature and there is snow in the forecast for the next week,” Police Chief Jeff Pratt said.




Tornado Siren

Barry County Central Dispatch will test the tornado siren this saturday april 7th at 1:00 pm and the first saturday of every month  through september. If Barry County is under a tornado watch or warning the siren will not be tested.


BDEDHD offers off-site clinics for hepatitis A vaccinations

In response to Eaton County’s status as a hepatitis A outbreak county, the Barry-Eaton District Health Department is adding off-site clinics where those at high risk can come to get vaccinated against hepatitis A.


Two off-site clinics have been scheduled for April:

April 5 at 6 p.m. at Real Life Church - 1848 South Cochran Road, Charlotte,

before the Families Against Narcotics (FAN) monthly meeting and April 12 at 10 a.m. at Eaton Clothing and Furniture Center - 135 South Washington Street in Charlotte, at the Eaton Clothing and Furniture Center’s Food Distribution Day


More off-site clinics may be added in Eaton County in April. Information about upcoming clinics can be found at



Safe Harbor marks five years of "Letting Kids be Kids"

Safe Harbor, a children’s advocacy center based in Allegan County with a satellite center in Barry County, offers a lifeline to kids who have been abused or neglected. Safe Harbor just celebrated its fifth anniversary in Barry County, helping those children toward the ultimate goal, “Every child deserves to be safe.”


Many people worked for some time to bring Safe Harbor to Barry County before it became a reality. Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt was instrumental in the effort. An assistant prosecuting attorney in Allegan County before she ran for prosecutor in Barry County, she worked with the child advocacy center there. When elected prosecutor in 2012,  she made it her first priority to help bring a satellite center here.


“Jeanette Maki, Jay Olejniczak, Jeff Pratt, Chris Koster, Dale Boulter, and the late Ray Hoffman; we were all were working for it, Jay the most, I think,” she said. All of those she named are members of county police agencies.


At the sheriff’s office, a child to be interviewed about abuse or neglect would sit in the waiting room and could be sitting next to a sex offender or would be interviewed amid the confusion of a parade of offenders and officers walking by. Being interviewed in the basement of Hastings City Hall also was unpleasant for children.


Now, if it is suspected that a child has been a victim of abuse or neglect, the child meets a forensic interviewer in a quiet room at Safe Harbor with wall murals of deer in a forest and video cameras that look like light switches. The goal is to learn the circumstances and facts in the child’s situation in a friendly, non-threatening atmosphere. Physicals can be scheduled for the children later, if it is indicated.


The interviews are watched in another room by law enforcement officials, prosecutors and mental health professionals, so the re-telling of any abuse by the child is kept to a minimum.

The video goes only to law enforcement; it will go to the prosecutor’s office as part of the law enforcement report. The prosecutor may show it to a defendant and their attorney. Seeing the interview sometimes results in a plea before trail, so the child may never have to go to court.


“A change that I have experienced is that the use of Safe Harbor has greatly improved and organized the investigation of child abuse and neglect cases here with a more team approach.

“We have several agencies with expertise and knowledge, not just in bringing charges, but also eliminating some cases that shouldn’t be bought,” Nakfoor-Pratt said. The Family Support Center of Barry County also collaborates with Safe Harbor on certain projects.


Non-suspect family members and other caregivers are included in the process, kept aware of everything that is going on and what will likely come next, making the process easier for families.

“If charges can’t be brought, for any number of reasons, Safe Harbor continues to help the family, with counseling and other on-going services, which is huge,” Nakfoor-Pratt said.

The center has also worked with some adults with special needs with interviews.


Nakfoor-Pratt makes sure a prosecutor is at the interviews to watch the video to put the department in at the very beginning. “Our team can provide guidance and input. It’s important; we’ve actually seen the results. We also do a monthly case review so nothing slips through the cracks. I think the team approach is key.”


Lori Antkoviak has been executive director of Safe Harbor in Allegan since 2007 and led the expansion into Barry County. “The bad news is that the service is even needed; the good news is that the children are coming and there is a place for them to come,” she said.


She credited Barry County Safe Harbor’s success to the good relationships and strong support from several Barry County agencies; the United Way, Community Foundation, prosecutor’s office, Mental Health Authority, Social Services and local law enforcement. “Many private services also help, assuring all kids get help,” she said. Hopefully, they will soon have a full-time advocate to serve both counties..


Antkoviak gave some statistics:

Allegan County Safe Harbor treated 176 children in 2017; 173 in 2016; 176 in 2015; 177 in 2014 and 156 in 2013.

Barry County treated 129 children in 2017; 132 in 2016; 134 in 2015; and 127 in 2014 and 12 in the two weeks it was open in December of 2013.


Formerly the Child Abuse and Neglect Council in Allegan County, it became Safe Harbor in the early 2000s and was established in Barry County in 2013. Since then, the two offices have made lives of almost 1,400 children safer and helped kids just be kids.

Allegan County had 111,530 residents, Barry County 59,080, according to the 2010 census.


The Allegan Center is at 402 Trowbridge Street in Allegan, 269-673-3791, and in Barry County at 1127 West State Street, Hastings, 269-948-3617.

Nationally, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by the time they reach 18. Safe Harbor is working to stop the cycle.



UPDATE: Suspect with Airsoft pistol shot by state trooper while resisting arrest

UPDATE; Michigan State Police today issued this update to Monday's incident:


"The Michigan State Police continue to investigate the details surrounding the officer involved shooting that occurred monday night.  The subject involved in the incident is a 36-year-old, white male, from the Middleville area.  He is currently still hospitalized but will be lodged on the four felony warrants once he is released from the hospital.  The Barry County Prosecutor’s Office will be reviewing the investigation."


ORIGINAL STORY: The Michigan State Police (MSP) is confirming that a suspect who displayed an Airsoft pistol during his arrest was shot by a trooper from the MSP Wayland Post, an MSP news release reports.

Troopers had received information that the suspect, who was wanted on four felony warrants, was in the parking lot of the Thornapple Valley Church at approximately 6:30 p.m. Monday evening.


When the trooper drove into the parking lot to make contact with the suspect, the suspect attempted to leave in his vehicle. The trooper blocked the suspect vehicle with his patrol car at which time the suspect exited his vehicle and displayed

a pistol, the release said.


The suspect ignored repeated commands from the trooper to drop the pistol before he was shot. After being taken into custody, it was learned that the pistol displayed by the suspect was an Airsoft pistol, the release continued.


The suspect is being treated at Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo for non-life threatening injuries. The trooper was not injured in the incident. The names of the suspect and trooper were not released.

The investigation into the incident is being conducted by the Sixth District Investigative Response Team.


Two injured in Cloverdale Road crash after fleeing police

Barry County Sheriff’s Office deputies were assisting Michigan State Police with an unrelated incident Monday about 7 p.m. when a vehicle drove past a road block on M-43 and Podunk Road and was subsequently stopped by a deputy, a sheriff’s news release said.


When the unidentified person fled the scene, deputies initiated a pursuit.

The driver ended up crashing the vehicle on Cloverdale Road, east of Kingsbury Road. Both the driver and passenger of the vehicle were transported to local hospitals with non-life threatening injuries. The incident remains under investigation.


Deputies Scott Ware and Barry Brandt are the investigators;

Michigan State Police, Mercy EMS, Delton Fire Department and, Barry County Central Dispatch assisted deputies.




Shots fired by Wyoming police were not cause of Wayland man's death

On March 30 the Wyoming Department of Public Safety requested the Kent County Sheriff’s Office investigate a shooting involving an officer from its department, a Kent County Sheriff’s Office news release reports.


Based on the preliminary investigation, it was determined that Joel Thomas Peloquin, 52, from Wayland, was at Resurrection Cemetery, 4100 Clyde Park S.W., threatening suicide.


When the Wyoming officers made contact with Peloquin, he brandished a firearm and two officers fired at him. Peloquin brought the gun to his head and fired a shot. He died later at a hospital.

Three independent witnesses saw the incident, the release said. .


The Kent County Medical Examiner’s Office performed an autopsy on March 31 and determined Peloquin’s cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head and the manner of death was suicide. The three shots from Wyoming officers that struck him were not fatal.


Officials do not expect any further media releases about the on-going investigation until the incident is reviewed by the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office.


Michigan State police encourage preparedness before severe weather strikes

Severe Weather Awareness Week is April 8-14 and the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division are encouraging Michigan residents to prepare before severe weather strikes this spring and summer.


“Severe Weather Awareness Week is the time of year to learn what to do before, during and after severe weather occurs,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, deputy state director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division. “In Michigan, severe weather can include flooding, thunderstorms and tornadoes. By taking the initiative to learn about possible hazards and what to do until help arrives, you and your family will be better prepared when an emergency or disaster happens.”


Spring and summer frequently bring fast-changing weather conditions that increase the potential for severe weather. Steps can be taken to prepare before severe weather strikes to minimize damage and ensure safe evacuation or shelter, such as understanding severe weather warnings and terms, preparing an emergency supply kit, making an emergency plan and creating an emergency contact list.


Last year, the state of Michigan experienced thunderstorms and flooding in Bay, Gladwin, Isabella and Midland counties that was severe enough to result in a federal disaster declaration due to the magnitude of the damage.


*Statewide Tornado Drill on April 11
A voluntary statewide tornado drill is scheduled to occur at 1 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 11. Businesses, organizations, families and individuals are encouraged to engage in this statewide preparedness activity, but are not required to do so. Nearly all state of Michigan facilities will participate.


*About Severe Weather Awareness Week
Severe Weather Awareness Week is sponsored by the MSP/Emergency Management Homeland Security Division and Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness to educate the public about the dangers of tornadoes and other severe weather events, including the precautions that can be taken to save lives and protect families.


For more information about what to do before, during and after an emergency or disaster, go to or follow the agency on Twitter at @MichEMHS.

Be a part of the severe weather awareness conversation by using the hashtags #miseverewxweek and #mitornadoready.



Rep. Calley's local office hours in April

87th District State Rep. Julie Calley, of Portland, will hold office hours in three communities in April. Calley will give a legislative update and then talk with residents about their concerns at:


*Monday, April 16, from 11 a.m. to noon at the Village of Lake Odessa, Page Memorial Building, 839 Fourth Ave., Lake Odessa;


*Monday, April 16, from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Barry County Courthouse, Commissioners’ Chambers, 220 West State Street, Hastings and,


*Monday, April 30, noon to 1 p.m. at the Village of Middleville, 100 East Main St., Middleville.


“Accountable representation requires consistent feedback,” Calley said.  “Office hours present an opportunity for productive dialogue with those whom I serve.”


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



Because hunger doesn't take a summer vacation

After you have your bowl of cereal Wednesday morning, or when on your lunch hour, why not pick up a couple of boxes of cereal and bring them to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office.


Wednesday, April 4, from 11a.m. to 2 p.m., the Allegan County Sheriff officers will be collecting cereal at their office for the annual Allegan County Community Foundation's Cereal Drive.


With more than 7,000 kids in Allegan County receiving free or reduced lunch during the school year, the sheriff’s office is helping the Community Foundation provide a summer full of breakfast.


Bring a box, or two, or more, of cereal and get a hot dog lunch and an opportunity to see officers, K-9's, SWAT and marine and dive equipment. Also, you can get your picture taken with deputies.



Allegan County Sheriff's Office offers boat safety classes

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office offers several boater safety courses throughout the county again this spring and summer to help the public be ready for the upcoming boating season, according to a sheriff’s news release.


Boater safety classes are taught annually by marine deputies allowing students to earn their Boating Safety Certificate. Upon the successful completion of this class, attendees receiving their Boater's Safety Certificate will be able to operate a motorboat or personal watercraft (PWC) in the State of Michigan. Boater safety is not only a good idea but is a legal requirement for almost everyone, the release said.


All classes are free of charge and only require little time to complete.  Classroom learning has the benefits of live instructor based learning, one-on-one assistance with an instructor and the ability for students to ask questions and seek clarification on various topics and boating laws.


Upon the successful completion of the boater safety course, attendees will receive their Boater Safety Certificate. Courses are open to those 12 or older. Those under 12 are required to have a parent or adult with them. All course materials are provided and attendees need only to attend and complete one of these courses to receive their Certificate. Upcoming classes are listed below and can also be found on the sheriff’s office website at: //


Class Schedules:

Saturday, April 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Plainwell Middle School, 720 Brigham Street, Plainwell.  Bring a #2 pencil and a sack lunch.  No fees or costs. Register online at or call Kari at 269-673-0500 ext. 4234.


Saturday, April 28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Allegan High School, 1560 M-40 Highway, Allegan. Bring a #2 pencil and a sack lunch.  No fees or costs. Register online at or call Kari at 269-673-0500 ext. 4234


Tuesday, May 1 and Wednesday, May 2 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Wayland Union School’s transportation building, 851 Wildcat Drive, Wayland.  Registration is required. Contact Tammy Kohtz at (269) 792-9153 to register.  Participants must attend both classes to complete the course.  Bring a #2 pencil.  There is a fee of $10 payable to Wayland Schools for use of their facility. Additional information can be found online at


Saturday, June 2 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Green Lake Calvary Church, 608 145th Avenue, Caledonia (Leighton Township), sponsored by the A-Round Green Lake Association. Bring a #2 pencil and a sack lunch.  No fees or costs. Register online at or by calling Kari at 269-673-0500 ext. 4234


Wednesday, June 13 and Thursday, June 14 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Saugatuck Yacht Club. Registration is required. Bring a #2 pencil. No fees or costs. Register online at or call Kari at 269-673-0500 ext. 4234.  Attendees must attend both classes to complete the course. 


Saturday, June 16 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Gun Plain Township Hall, 381 8th Street, Plainwell.  Class is sponsored by the Lake Doster Association. Bring a #2 pencil and a sack lunch.  No fees or costs. Register online at or call Kari at 269-673-0500 ext. 4234


Tuesday, July 10 and Wednesday July 11 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Saugatuck Yacht Club.  Registration is required.  Bring a #2 pencil.  No fees or costs. Attendees must attend both classes to complete the course. Register online at or call Kari at 269-673-0500 ext. 4234.




BEDHD Board of Health discusses maternal health

Barry Eaton District Health Department Health staff reported on the progress of strategic plans in building parent’s skills and involvement to its Board of Health at the March meeting, acccording to a BEDHD news release.


Nurse Kindra Reeser-Smith explained how the health department will be improving involvement of families of children with specialty health care enrolled in the Children’s Special Health Care Services program.


Laurel McCamman, WIC Coordinator, reported that the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program now offers access to an international board certified lactation consultant for breastfeeding moms who need additional support. 


In early 2017, the Barry County Baby Café breastfeeding club kicked off at the Hastings Public Library where it meets every Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon.  The Baby Café is an informal, comfortable place where breastfeeding moms meet to offer support and advice on common infant feeding issues.


WIC, the nutrition-support program for pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under 5, is seeing a decline in enrollment and utilization, which is a pattern seen across the state.

Also, in response to Eaton County’s hepatitis A outbreak, the department has offered several clinics to vaccinate high-risk populations, including Eaton County jail inmates.



Hollard area woman dies in M-40/140th Avenue crash

Allegan County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a two-vehicle crash on M-40 at 140th Avenue in Fillmore Township at 4:12 a.m. Thursday morning. 


Julie Ann Shaffer, 30, from the Holland area, died as a result of the crash. The driver of other vehicle involved in the crash, a 60-year-old man from the South Haven area, suffered non-life threatening injuries.


The crash occurred in the intersection and involved a semi-truck and trailer combination and a Ford Escape.  The semi-truck, southbound on M-40, struck Shaffer’s Ford, westbound on 140th Avenue, in the passenger’s side.


The semi-truck and trailer ended up in a field southwest of the intersection and the Ford ended up on the east side shoulder of the roadway.  Initial investigation indicates the Ford may have failed to stop at the intersection of 140th Ave and M-40.

The crash is still under investigation. AMR ambulance and the Overisel Township and Hamilton fire departments assisted at the scene






Superintendent's Platform

WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight activities in their districts. This posting is from Rich Franklin, BISD superintendent.


“Hastings Middle School eighth grader Matthew Pattok competed in the Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee Tuesday night, in a long bee that featured several entertaining moments.  A number of Mexican-style foods came up in the word list, including chimichanga, quesadilla, tortilla, and mole. Pattok had the ironic experience of being asked to spell "paddock," which he did correctly!


Another student, in separate rounds, drew the words "taj" and "mahal." The grueling contest was won by Jack Lado, a seventh grader from East Grand Rapids, who correctly spelled “typhlology” and “bollo” to win after last year’s winner, eighth grader Aashray Mandala from Grand Haven, stumbled on “myringitis.”  


See if you could have spelled some of the other words that students went out on: flexure, chalupa, unmelodious, shirring, wineskin, bequeath (vocabulary round), bevel (vocabulary), wikiwiki, chronic, centrality, pfeffernuss, entomologist, worrisome, indescribable, graffiti, hibachi (vocabulary), and schadenfreude.


The Barry ISD hosted the regional spelling bee in February which Pattok won to go on to the national-qualifying bee in Grand Rapids. The winner of the Greater Grand Rapids bee will now compete at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., May 27-June 2.”



BEDHD environmental health staff wins state awards

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) announces that two of its staff last week received high recognition at the Michigan Environmental Health Association’s (MEHA’s) annual conference.


Regina Young, R.S., BEDHD’s environmental health director, was awarded the LaRue L. Miller Life Achievement Award and Kasey Swanson, an environmental health sanitarian, was awarded the David H. McMullen Young Professional of the Year Award.


Young’s award, the most prestigious granted by MEHA, is for exceptional contribution(s) to MEHA and to the environmental health profession over the course of their career, with special attention given to their activities and service which bring meritorious recognition to the environmental health profession, highly beneficial contributions and commitment on behalf of MEHA, and professional involvement and contribution to community health.

Young, a Ferris State University graduate and Barry County resident, is a 30-year veteran of environmental health.


She has served as a MEHA representative on several committees, including wastewater conference planning, the Technical Advisory Council for on-site wastewater treatment (TAC), and the MDEQ groundwater permits improvement process. She also has served as the Secretary for the Michigan Association of Local Environmental Health Administrators, is a member of the Barry County Solid Waste Oversight Committee and served many years as a board member on the Charlton Park Historic Village, Museum, & Recreation Area.  


Young’s skills and contributions were recognized in 2008 by the Barry County Conservation District’s Award for Service and Leadership in Natural Resource Conservation. In 2010, she was awarded the Samuel M. Stephenson Sanitarian of the Year Award by MEHA.

She believes that the cause of public health and of environmental health must be furthered through education and a common future direction.


Young and her husband, George and daughters, Rachel and Mikayla, enjoy the natural beauty and the water environment that abounds in southern Michigan and enjoys hiking, biking, caring for her family, and gardening.


Swanson’s award recognizes the recipient’s “outstanding accomplishment(s) to the environmental health profession within the first five years of employment and demonstrated quality work, dedication, innovation and potential leadership abilities.


Swanson was born in Alaska and, after her family moved to Michigan, attended Grand Ledge public schools. She received a degree in biology from Northern Michigan University and earned a degree in environmental law.

Kasey works on the Water Protection Team at BEDHD because she wants to use her interest in science to give back to her community. In her free time, Kasey enjoys spending time with her husband and year-old son.




Barry State Game Area introduces new Turkey Tract kiosk

The National Wild Turkey Federation and Michigan Department of Natural Resources will introduce the third Turkey Tract in southern Michigan at the Barry State Game Area in Barry County on Friday, April 13.


The event will be at 1:30 p.m. at the new Turkey Tract location, off M-179 (north side) just west of Yankee Springs Road, at 8386 M-179, Middleville.

“We are excited to share this hunting opportunity with everyone,” said Randy Heinze, DNR wildlife biologist for Barry, Eaton and Calhoun counties.


“The partnership between NWTF and the local businesses is extremely important, and we are happy to be working with them.”

A large kiosk, giving hunters area information and local business discounts, will be unveiled at the new Turkey Tract site. Surrounding businesses provide a discount when hunters take a “selfie” with the kiosk. 


“Turkey Tracts are designed to promote and highlight public access to quality turkey hunting, educate the public of ongoing habitat management and the impacts on wildlife and people, and build a connection with the users of these Turkey Tracts and local community businesses,” said Ryan Boyer, district biologist for the National Wild Turkey Federation.


Wild turkeys are found in all 68 counties of the Lower Peninsula and most counties in the Upper Peninsula, where the species has continued to expand its range. In 1977, only 400 turkeys were taken during the Michigan hunting season. However, by 2014, annual numbers of turkeys taken had reached 30,000 birds. Michigan is now ranked eighth in the nation for number of turkeys taken by hunters.//


“We’ve had hunters from all over the country and many international hunters come to Michigan to hunt turkeys,” said Al Stewart, DNR upland game bird specialist “The comeback of the wild turkey is one of the greatest wildlife conservation stories, and we are happy to share our success with others!”


Boyer will give a tour of the new Turkey Tracts area, describing habitat management practices that benefit turkeys and other wildlife within the game area. Management practices include timber cutting, selective use of herbicides, invasive species treatment and removal, selective annual and perennial plantings, and prescribed burns.


Boyer will also speak on the importance of partnerships.

“Because of the partnership NWTF has with the DNR and local supporting businesses, we are able to make these Turkey Tracts happen which allows hunters to experience turkey hunting in a way they may not have been able to in the past,” he said.


NWTF CEO Becky Humphries said, “Habitat work is so important to the success of these Turkey Tracts. This work parallels with NWTF’s Save the Habitat Save the Hunt initiative.”



Safe Harbor's 10th Lifeline Event is April 26

The Gilmore Car Museum will be the location of the 10th Annual Lifeline Event to benefit Safe Harbor Children’s Advocacy Center on Thursday, April 26 at 6 p.m.


Safe Harbor provides a lifeline to neglected and abused children in Allegan and Barry counties.


The evening has a Roaring 20’s theme, with 20’s attire optional, and an evening full of fun and great food. The free occasion has a limit of the first 160 guests who RSVP before April 5


To reserve a spot, call 1-269-673-3791; e-mail; or visit

Gilmore’s is at 6865 Hickory Corners Road, Hickory Corners.


Structure fire destroys garage

Hastings Fire Department, with assistance from Freeport and Woodland, was called to a  structure fire at 2340 East State Road Tuesday afternoon.  A detached garage, owned by Barb Haywood was destroyed in the fire, there were no injuries.



Thornapple Manor residents, Pennock Spectrum benefit with shared patients

Having Spectrum Health Pennock as its medical director providing medical services in a win-win for Thornapple Manor residents, the hospital and the community, Executive Director Don Haney told the Hasting City Council Monday.


There were inherent problems with the former provider, located on the east side of the state, with patients being admitted to the emergency room at Pennock for treatment and then readmitted to Thornapple Manor, Haney said.


Although the premier medical provider in the state, they didn’t know the Hastings facility or its residents. If a resident was in distress or with symptoms after 5 p.m., the call would go to an on-call doctor who didn’t know the resident or have enough information to suggest treatment, so they would say, “send them to emergency, which we did,” Haney said. It became almost automatic, he said.


Four years ago, after research and reviewing independent data on readmissions, they switched to Pennock Spectrum. With Pennock doctors coming in and providing services and mid-level practioners in the building five days a week, they get to know the patients and reduce trips to the ER when it isn’t really necessary, Haney said.


“During a test period, readmissions were cut by 90.6 percent, which is substantial. This is very, very unique. To our knowledge, this is the first in the state, let alone the whole country.”

An article on the arrangement published in the national Healthcare Financial Management Association magazine has generated favorable publicity.


Both facilities benefit financially from shared patients; Pennock by providing and expanding its health services, Thornapple Manor by keeping its occupancy rate up and its residents getting treatment at the facility.


The cost of an ambulance ride to and from the hospital, emergency room care, three to five days admission costs are all cut, Haney said. "The patient stays at home, gets the same quality care as in the hospital and that’s good for the residents. It’s all centered on the residents.”


Keep yourself and your family healthy around animals this spring

Do you plan on getting baby animals for Easter or to raise for the upcoming fair season? Are you thinking of taking some spring family photos that include animals?

If so, it is important to remember that many different types of animals, including small mammals such as mice, rabbits, and rats, backyard birds such as chickens, ducks and turkeys, and various livestock animals including cows and pigs, can potentially carry bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli.


People can catch these diseases from animals, and unfortunately these diseases can cause people to become seriously ill.

Here are a few steps that can help you protect yourself and your family from some of the germs that animals can carry.


Keeping our hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick from animals and spreading germs to others. How should you wash your hands? Follow these steps: · Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap

· Lather the soap in your hands by rubbing them together, making sure to rub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails

· Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds or as long it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice

· Rinse your hands well under clean, running water

· Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.


Here are some other important steps to remember:

· Don’t snuggle, kiss, or touch your mouth to small mammals, chicks, or ducklings

· Children under 5 years of age should avoid touching baby chicks and ducklings completely

· Don’t give live baby chicks and ducklings to young children as gifts

· Do not bring baby chicks or ducklings into schools, childcare centers, or nursing homes

· Do not keep baby chicks or ducklings inside the house where people live, eat, or sleep

· Keep animals away from areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored

· Pregnant women, immune-compromised persons, and persons with HIV/AIDS should take extra precautions when choosing and handling pets.


For more information on how to safely keep and interact with animals, please visit the following CDC websites:

· Farm animals:

· Poultry:

· Small mammals:


Eaton County in top 25 percent of County Health Rankings

The 2018 County Health Rankings, released March 14, showed Eaton County ranking high on overall health, coming in 16th out of 83 Michigan counties for health factors and 21st for health outcomes, in the top 25 percent of all counties.


Rankings are based on a model of population health that focuses on factors that, if improved, can help make communities healthier. Health outcomes are based on sickness and death in a county, while health factors are based on measures that can affect future health outcomes.


Rankings show where Eaton County is doing well and provides information about what is working.

The county is strong in the areas of clinical care and social and economic factors, where it ranked 11th and 12th, respectively, in the rankings.


The report can be used to build on successes and encourage community leaders to take action and create programs and policy changes in areas to be improved. 

For example, the Eaton County Great Start Collaborative is working to increase social support to parents, reduce child poverty, and increase school readiness to improve educational outcomes.  For more, visit //


The rankings also show factors that are making residents unhealthy and what more can be done to make the county a healthier place:


*Eaton County is at risk for poor health when it comes to behaviors that affect health; smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity, where it ranked 34th out of 83 counties.


*Rankings show the county needs to do more to improve health behaviors and parts of the physical environment that discourage physical activity. Potential action steps include stepping up efforts for substance abuse prevention and obesity prevention and increasing the number of sidewalks so people have more options for physical activity.


The rankings also highlight the importance of physical environment to health:

*Eaton County ranked poorly at 73rd in the state for the physical environment, with scores that include measures of air pollution, drinking water violations, severe housing problems and motor vehicle driving commutes.


The ranking was partly driven by municipal drinking water system violations, which were appropriately reported and addressed which shows why water providers and regulatory agencies monitor and oversee municipal drinking water systems.


Rankings help the community learn about steps being taken to improve resident’s health in the county:

*Eaton Rapids Health Alliance, an Eaton Rapids based coalition has a focus on increasing physical activity, access to healthy foods, improving access to mental health resources, and decreasing smoking and substance use. For more, visit


*The Eaton County Substance Awareness Advisory Group focuses on improving health by reducing the negative effects of alcohol and substance misuse, tobacco use, and prescription drug misuse. For more, visit


Everyone in the community has a stake in being healthy. Working together, county residents can make the community a healthier place to live, learn, work, and play. Learn more about the 2018 County Health Rankings at




Michigan's 2018 fishing license season kicks off April 1

For those interested in going fishing in Michigan, a new license is required starting Sunday, April 1. That day is the kickoff to the state’s 2018 fishing license season, as well as the new fishing regulation cycle.

All 2018 fishing licenses are good through March 31, 2019.

Anglers have eight options to choose from when making their purchase. All fishing licenses are good for all species.

  • Resident annual - $26
  • Nonresident annual - $76
  • Senior annual (for residents age 65 or older) - $11
  • 24-hour (resident or nonresident) - $10
  • 72-hour (resident or nonresident) - $30
  • Resident combo hunt/fish (base, annual fishing, two deer) - $76
  • Senior resident combo hunt/fish (base, annual fishing, two deer) - $43
  • Nonresident combo hunt/fish (base, annual fishing, two deer) - $266


Several regulation changes also go into effect April 1. For more information on licenses and regulation changes, see the 2018 Michigan Fishing Guide at license retailers or at


To buy a fishing license, visit a local license retailer or DNR Customer Service Center in person or use the E-License system to buy a license online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Visit on your computer, smartphone or tablet to get started.




Spring is here, Hastings compost facility opens

The city-owned compostable material drop-off site has Hastings staff, “tearing their hair out,” trying to find for a good plan for the facility, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.

The sheer volume to be treated, things left in the wrong place, items that aren’t compostable, oversized compostables and non- residents using the West State Road facility, are the problems.


City staff is looking for solutions; changing the hours, moving it back behind the city garage or a different location and having city police swing by at random times have been discussed, and they’re looking for more suggestions, Mansfield said.


As it opens in the spring, operating hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. when an operator will be there.


“We’ll give it a try to see if it works, if it doesn’t, we’ll come back,” Mansfield said.

Typical compostables include leaves, small brush and small limbs, grass clippings and garden waste such as flowers, stems and foliage.


Also on Monday, the council sent a revised agreement between Hastings City Barry County Airport Manager Mark Noteboom and the Airport Authority back to the authority, “to look at it.” The contract clarified Noteboom’s status as an independent contractor, and had been approved by the authority. As co-owner of the airport by a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA), Barry County and the city both have to approve the contract. The county commission tabled it Monday to give Hastings Mayor Dave Tossava time to address his concerns.


Tossava said the council had asked for a “clean up” of the language in the agreement, such as spelling and double negatives, but had added changes, which could change the meaning of the whole agreement. “I can’t understand the rewording” after the contract

was cleaned up, Tossava said. Councilman Bill Redman’s motion that an attorney also clarify some unclear language in the city/county JOA was approved.


The council also approved Spectrum Health Pennock CEO Sheryl Lewis Blake’s request for the use of up to 50 parking spaces at Fish Hatchery Park from April 30 to May 14 for out of town guests during training on new multi-million dollar computer conversion of its medical information system. Lewis Blake said the facility would celebrate its 95th anniversary in June with special events. //


Other approvals:

*the YMCA’s use of the city’s two sand volley ball courts and skate park this summer,


*a mountain bike team relay race at Hammond Hills Trail Aug. 25, during Summerfest. Staff will work with organizers on additional parking for the event.


*voting to approve amending the Grand Valley Metro Council’s articles of corporation to allow Caledonia to become a member. All GVMC members must vote for applicants to become members.



Superintendent's Platform

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


Academic Top Honors:

Monday evening our Board of Education honored eleven students with Academic Top Honors from the Class of 2018. While being involved in many activities inside and outside of school, all of these outstanding students earned a cumulative GPA of 4.0 or higher. Listed below are the names of the students and their parents.


Academic Top Honors Students                         Parents


Abby J. Burroughs                                              Louis Burroughs and Nancy Cotant

Kayla A. Carlson                                                 Dr. Troy Carlson and Kathleen Carlson

Zoe C. Engle                                                       Mike and Cathy Engle

Shayli R. Hinkle                                                  John and Petra Hinkle            

August A. Miller                                                 Tony and Alicia Miller           

Sydney N. Nemetz                                              John and Tammy Nemetz

Aaron M. Newberry                                            Aaron and Kelli Newberry

Emma A. Post                                                     Joseph and Susan Post

Aubree R. Shumway                                           Aaron Shumway and Kelly Voshell

Eliza J. Tolles                                                       Brad and Jacquelyn Tolles

Lillian A. Wierenga                                             Louis and Mary Wierenga


The school system is very proud of these students, and we know that the entire community benefits from their leadership. Hastings Area Schools would like to thank each of them for all of their hard work and dedication over the duration of their school careers.


MTSS Report from Northeastern:  Eric Heide, Principal of Northeastern, shared outstanding results from the implementation of the MTSS (Multi-Tier System of Supports). The reading scores at Northeastern are commendable:


  • In literacy Northeastern has increased student proficiency from 66% this past fall to 73% this winter!
  • Most outstanding were the kindergarten results with an assessment goal of 80%, and a result of 94% of students meeting the benchmark in reading.
  • Student behavior was also highlighted with a school-wide focus on building relationships with all students.


Bond Proposal:  The Board of Education approved the Preliminary Qualification Application for an August 2018 bond issue. This proposal would be a no-mill increase (no tax increase from the current tax levy) addressing critical facility needs such as roofs and increasing safety and security. This no-mill increase is an opportunity for $11,100,000. The District used input from several meetings, the community forum, and surveys to identify critical needs that should be included on the application. A survey is still available on the school's website and Facebook page, and we look forward to additional feedback and input.


Donation of $1000:  Advance Packaging Corporation donated $1,000 to the Hastings Middle School track program. The award was given through a program offered by the company allowing employees to apply for high school sports donations. Andrew Miller, parent of two middle school students, applied for and received this sponsorship. 


HEEF Donation:  The Hastings Education Enrichment Foundation’s Board of Directors donated funds totally $4381 to help defray the cost of several enrichment programs and activities for students in the Hastings Area School System. HEEF makes a donation quarterly to the school district.


Dynamic Plan 2.0:  Mark Dobias, from the MASB, is facilitating the development of a new three to five-year strategic plan for Hastings Area Schools. The purpose of the process is to develop goals and strategies to help the school system continue to offer an excellent education for students while using scarce public education resources, most effectively and efficiently. There is a survey on the District website and Facebook page for community input. The community is also invited to participate at one of two meetings:

  • 6:30 pm on April 17 in the Hastings Middle School Commons, or
  • 6:30 pm on April 25 in the Hastings Middle School Commons



Barry County first in state with jail diversion program for mentally ill

The Barry County Board of Commissioners today approved the establishment of the Barry County Stepping Up Task Force, a jail diversion program for individuals with mental illness, intellectual disabilities and substance addiction to lower their involvement with the criminal justice system and reduce recidivism.


Ashley James, jail diversion services manager and Richard Thiemky, executive director of the Barry County Community Mental Health Authority presented the concept to commissioners on March 20.


The authority was awarded a Jail Diversion Pilot Program grant in December of 2013, Thiemky said. “One of the benefits of the grant is the enhanced collaboration between Barry County Community Mental Health, local law enforcement and jail providers. The statistics prove that the pilot program is benefiting Barry County residents.”


A study conducted by Michigan State University indicated  BCCMHA has seen a 17 percent increase in treatment engagement, meaning more people are receiving treatment for their mental health needs. The increased treatment led to 38 percent of the individuals in the Jail Diversion Pilot Program never returning to jail or prison, James said. 


The Barry County Stepping Up Task Force, with 13 members from eight county agencies, will coordinate a county-wide strategy with existing personnel. The group will review current practices and adopt policies, programs and practices that will reduce the number of people with mental illness booked into jail, increase connections to treatment, reduce the length of time spent in jail and reduce recidivism.


Barry County is already known as a model for other counties in the state for streamlining and unifying its court system and initiating an Adult Drug Court, Sobriety Court and Swift & Sure Sanctions Probation program.


Task force members will be representatives from the Barry County Board of Commissioners, Barry County courts, Barry County Sheriff’s Office and Jail, Barry County Community Mental Health Authority, Barry Central Dispatch, Hastings Police Department, Michigan State Police, Barry County office of Michigan Health and Human Services, Barry County United Way, Child Protective Services, and consumers, or their advocates.//


Nationwide, an estimated two million people with mental illness, three quarters of those with substance abuse disorders, are booked into county jails. They tend to stay longer, have a higher rate of returning, and jail administrators spend two to three times more on those with mental illness, according to the national organization, StepUpTogether.


“Federal and state policy and funding barriers, along with limited opportunities for law enforcement training and arrest alternatives in many communities have made community and other local jails the de facto mental health hospitals for people who cannot access appropriate community based  mental health treatment and services,” the national StepUpTogether organization said.


The Barry County task force will use resources from StepUpTogether, including monthly webinars and networking calls, education workshops, a project coordinator handbook, guidance on measuring the number of people with mental illness in jails, and more.

“There will be fewer people with mental illness in our jails tomorrow than there were today,” is their goal.


Barry County commissioners hear drain commissioner's annual report

The Barry County Commission Tuesday heard Drain Commissioner Jim Dull’s annual report of activities in his department, with photos of completed drain projects..

The department received four petitions for drain extensions in the year and inspected 32 drains. Smaller obstructions were cleared by using chain saws and the mini-excavator, and larger jobs “were subbed out,” Dull said.


An administrative contract order that must be approved by the DEQ and the Attorney General’s Office on the Little Thornapple Drain, is 90 percent complete and at the attorney general’s office. It is expected back next week, Dull said.


Jobs using the mini-excavator is saving the department money he said, with the jobs using the recently purchased equipment costing under $1,000. Outside bids are typically $3 a foot, plus a mobilization fees of $1,000, so just a 1,500 foot section means substantial savings for the county by using the mini-excavator.Dull said he is finding many good people to work with and cooperation among neighboring counties is also good.


In a drain related issue, the commission approved the purchase of a new tracked Case loader for $29,500. Dull said it would be paid for by $15,000 from department funds, $7,000 to $8000 from the sale of a John Deere 625i Gator and a loan from the capital purchase fund for the rest.


The commission tabled Hastings City Barry County Airport Manager Mark Noteboom’s proposed three-year agreement with the Airport Commission that clarifies his status as an independent contractor.  The Airport Commision has approved the agreement, but the Hastings City Council, as part of a Joint Operating Agreement with the county, must also approve the contract and said they wanted some minor changes in the language. The council will review the matter at tonight’s meeting.


The commission acted on several recommendations from the committee of the whole meeting on March 20, and approved:


*Re-appointing Craig Stolsonburg to a one-year term on the Tax Allocation Board, with Commissioner David Jackson as the commission representative,


*Re-appointing Bob Becker, Deborah Hyatt, Linda Maupin and Gerald Pattock for three-year terms on the Community Health Authority Board,


*Appointing Frank Jesensek to the remainder of a three-year term on the Parks & Recreation Board,


*Appointing Joyce Snow to the Planning Commission for a three-year term,  


*Re-appointing Pam Strode to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a three-year term.


*applications for PA-116 for Jeffrey and Stacey Morton for property in Section 2 of Hastings Township and Robin Flessner in Sections 15 and 16 in Woodland Township,


 *a three-year contract for broadband internet and telecom services for the county with MEI Telecommunications, Inc. of Delton, and also the purchase of a 2018 Ford Escape for $19, 209.90 through MiDeal for the IT department.


The commission meeting was held Monday instead of Tuesday to allow commissioners to attend the Michigan Association of Counties Conference.





Yankee Springs Inn Historic marker to be re-dedicated April 7

In its history, the Yankee Springs Inn Historic marker was stolen, returned, lost and found again. On April 7, it will be rededicated at 11 a.m. on the North Country Trail trailhead on South Yankee Springs Road, just south of Gun Lake Road. A hike on the old stagecoach road (Norris Road) will leave from the trailhead at 9 a.m., followed by a reception at Long Lake Recreational Center, 10370 Gun Lake Road featuring author Carolyn Strite and artist Gus Swenson.



Community turns out for Freeport firefighter's pancake breakfast

The Freeport firefighters hosted its annual spring pancake breakfast this weekend, serving pancakes, eggs, sausage, orange juice, coffee and milk to a full house of area residents.  They raised $3,000 that will go toward a new brush/grass truck for the department, replacing one that is more than 15 years old.


Next up:  Freeport firefighters will host their annual Easter Egg Hunt for kids up to 10 years old at the Freeport Community Center Saturday on March 31 beginning at 10 a.m...


Here are some photos of the pancake breakfast.



Fom top: Joe Thompson, who says he will be 85 in June, gives volunteer pancake-server Lyn Briel a hug.


KyliJo Godfrey, 2, left, and brother Prestyn Joe Godfrey, 6, tackle sausage at the Freeport Fire Department breakfast.


Aaron Buehler handles the  sausage detail at the pancake breakfast.


The Freeport Fire Station is filled Saturday morning with families ready for the annual firefighters breakfast of pancakes, sausage and eggs.


Volunteer firefighter Lani Forbes visits with likely future firefighter Larsen Welker, 10 months, while mom and dad, Layn and Emily, fix their plates for breakfast. Layn is a firefighter with the Freeport Department.


The serving line was busy all morning at the annual pancake breakfast put on by an all-volunteer crew.


Head pancake flipper, volunteer J. D. Forbes, provides plenty of  the pancakes for the crowd that came for breakfast at the Freeport Fire Station.




17-year-old student charged in Hastings High School bomb threat

The Barry County Prosecutor’s  Office on March 22 issued charges against a Hastings High School student in connection with a false bomb threat at the high school, according to a news release from the prosecutor’s office.


The 17 year, whose name is being withheld pending his arraignment, is charged as follows:

Count I:  False report or threat of terrorism, a felony carrying a maximum of 20 years in prison,

Count II:  False report or threat of bomb/harmful device, a felony carrying a maximum of four years in prison,

Count III:  False report or threat of bomb/harmful device, a felony carrying a maximum of four years in prison

The charges stem from an incident on Feb. 28, when the student allegedly made a threat in writing on a bathroom wall at the school.  The threat gave a specific date, which eventually resulted in the decision to close the Hastings Area Schools on March 5.

Hastings city police has been investigating the case for the past several weeks, interviewing witnesses and submitting handwriting samples to the Michigan State Police crime lab for analysis. 

“The prosecutor’s office is working closely with law enforcement to address each report and/or threat received by the schools,” the release said.

“This type of behavior is dangerous, disruptive and unacceptable.  We recognize that a person charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty,” it said.

“Our goal is to ensure the safety of the students and staff at our schools. Our intention, upon a conviction, is to request that the student reimburse Hastings Area Schools for the day officials closed the schools as well as other expenses incurred in the case,” it concluded.



*Just an observation

**In its 10 years in existence, the arguments to keep or do away with TOST never changed.

The Barry Eaton District Health Department said the regulation discovered and required repairs on thousands of failing water wells and septic systems, keeping ground water clean and the environment safer for current and future county residents.


Critics, especially in Barry County, said administration of the rule was capricious, arbitrary, an unconstitutional taking of individual’s rights, used to bring all systems up to present day codes with costs that were a way for the health department to increase its income.


That’s all history as the regulation is no more, with the Eaton County Commissioners taking the final step and voting Wednesday for its repeal. But, water quality and the efficiency of sewer systems in both counties still must be monitored and maintained.


What comes next will not be easy. With assurances from officials who voted against it, the communities wait to see what will replace the unpopular rule.


The point is valid that those buying or selling homes, by requirements of lending institutions, Realtors or buyer/seller agreements, will have inspections of the systems.

However, so is Barry County Commissioner David Jackson’s comment that with limited house sales in Barry County, overall compliance would be a multigenerational effort for the needed environmental protections for the county.


A task force that would hold public hearings, with residents encouraged to contribute ideas, should be formed immediately with accompanying transparency, and interim reports on progress, posted on the counties and health department websites in separate sections, and also other places, even if they have to pay for the exposure.  


A contact person or website should also be available to the public to direct questions and make comments.

And, yes, it might be uncomfortable and more work, but the public has a right to see and have input in any plan to protect our water and other resources that they will have to live with.


Also, a step by step progress report lets the people know what’s coming up and minimizes problems and questions when the future plan is ready to be put in place. Lack of public support for TOST is what eventually brought it down. Officials said to be effective, a regulation must have public support; that should be a goal of the new program.


It’s up to the Health Board to lead the effort, to set up a diverse group of residents and county and health department officials from both counties, to devise a replacement for TOST and show the community they can develop a better, more acceptable program  and let the Barry Eaton District Health Department get back to its mission.



Barry County in top 15 percent in health rankings

The 2018 County Health Rankings shows Barry County ranking 10th out of Michigan’s 83 counties in overall health, and 15th for health factors, putting the county in the top 15 percent of counties, according to a Barry Eaton District Health Department news release.


Rankings are based on population health that focuses on many factors that, if improved, can help make communities healthier.

Health outcomes are based on the sickness and death in a county; health factors are based on measures that can affect future health. The report can be used to build on successes and encourage community leaders to create programs and policy changes in areas that need improvement.


The county ranked 6th in the area of social and economic factors; education, income and poverty, household and social structures, crime, and injuries.


The Barry County Great Start Collaborative is working to increase social support to parents, reduce child poverty and increase school readiness to improve educational outcomes. Visit for more information.


The county ranked 27th, or at medium risk for poor health in areas of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity, showing that more needs to be done to improve health behaviors and physical environment. Potential ways to do this are by stepping up efforts to help residents quit tobacco; prevent obesity; improve access to dentists, mental health, primary care providers and increase opportunities for physical activity.


At 61st, the county ranked poorly for physical environment, which includes measures of air pollution, drinking water violations, severe housing problems, and motor vehicle driving commutes. It was partly driven by below average measures of air pollution and the percentage of commuters who drive alone and who have a long commute.


Steps are being taken to improve the health of county residents. The B. Healthy Coalition is working to prevent and control obesity and chronic disease through policy and environmental change and to increase awareness of healthy lifestyles.

For more, visit


The Barry County Tobacco Reduction Coalition has a strategic plan to improve the health of Barry County by reducing exposure to tobacco, cigarettes, and environmental tobacco smoke.  For more, contact Lauren Cibor at (517) 541-2624.


The Barry County Substance Abuse Task Force is focused on improving health by reducing the negative effects of alcohol and substance misuse and prescription drug misuse. For more, visit


Everyone in the community has a stake in being healthy. Working together, Barry County residents can make their community a healthier place to live, learn, work, and play. For more on the rankings, visit



Eaton County votes to repeal; TOST is over

After 10 years of controversy, a Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation mandating inspection of on-site water and sewer systems and repair or replacement  if it is deemed failing before property can be sold or transferred is officially over.


The last step in the repeal of the time of sale or transfer or TOST was approved Wednesday by the Eaton County Board of Commissioners in a nine to 6 vote. With public hearings and votes to repeal by both county commissions done, the repeal becomes effective in 45 days.


Chairman of the Barry County Commission and also the Health Board, Commissioner Ben Geiger issued this statement:

"A long, dramatic chapter of our history is over. With the repeal of TOST now official, we can finally come together and seek out new and better ways to protect our environment without rehashing the fights of the past.


“This decade-long controversy was never about the quality of our natural resources. It was about the quality of our public policies.

“May county leaders, today and in the future, never forget the lessons made clear today - strong public policy requires strong public support, and when we demand higher standards of our residents, we must demand higher standards of our leaders.


“I applaud the Eaton County Board of Commissioners for taking action and putting this saga behind us. Together we can find a strategy for protecting public health, the landscapes we all love, and the rights we all cherish.”


Hastings schools to decide on bond proposal in April

The Hastings Board of Education approved to submit an application for a no-mill increase bond proposal, Superintendent Carrie Duits has confirmed.

'In April, the Board will vote on whether or not it goes on the ballot,” Duits said. “The application includes roofs and safety/security improvements throughout the district."

More information will be in an upcoming Superintendent’s Platform, Duits said.



Coalition of law enforcement, education professionals support school safety proposal

A coalition of Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, the Prosecuting Attorney Association of Michigan and the professional educational community have agreed to move its proposal for school safety forward to the state legislature, according to Blaine Koops,  former sheriff of Allegan County.


“Currently, there are 32 pieces of legislation on guns/safety in school. Rather than confronting all 32 pieces of legislation, our coalition of law enforcement, school officials and school mental health professionals have agreed on the legislation we will support,” Koops said.  


“School shootings and bomb threats dominate the headlines. Violence is followed by mourning, outrage, and calls for reform–time and again, the cycle repeats itself without any meaningful change.

“Michigan sheriffs, police, prosecutors, and school leaders agree– enough is enough. It’s time for change. The Michigan School Safety Reform Plan protects Michigan students and makes our schools safer,” Koops said.


The following is from a news release explaining the coalition’s school safety reform plan:


More “School Resource Officers” – sheriffs and police – in our schools. Michigan’s men and women in uniform dedicate their lives to keeping our communities safe. In an emergency or a shooting situation they’re our children’s best hope. It’s time to give schools increased protection by police.


• The Michigan Student Safety Reform Plan creates a grant program to empower school districts to contract with local sheriff or police agencies for new and additional school resource

officers (SROs).


• Putting more sheriffs and police on school property and in school buildings will keep our children safer – and help prevent tragedies before they happen.


More school mental health professionals to identify problems early. School shooters often show signs of trouble long before an attack. School counselors and mental health professionals are the first line of aid and defense.


• Placing additional counselors and mental health professionals in our schools is a critical step in identifying and helping troubled students before it’s too late.


• The Michigan Student Safety Reform Plan gives school districts access to funding to hire additional school mental health professionals increasing the ratio of mental health professionals to students in districts statewide.


Safer Buildings for Students and Teachers.

Protecting students requires being proactive in securing school buildings.


• The reform plan requires a walk through by law enforcement officers of every school building in the state to identify safety issues and opportunities to harden schools against threats.


• Schools can use the results to apply for emergency funding to address safety liabilities.


Mandatory reporting, tougher penalties to stop shootings

before they happen. Reporting threats to law enforcement can stop tragedies before they happen, but too often threats and troubled students fall through the cracks.


• It’s time for mandatory reporting of threats against schools to law enforcement.


• A new graduated penalty range is needed for those who threaten schools and students to make reporting more likely and effective.


• Finally, let’s provide the ability to mandate mental health evaluations for every individual making a threat to better provide options for intervention and treatment.


Barry County man killed in crash

Michigan State Police say 62 year old Fred Barry, a resident of Barry County, died from injuries resulting from a crash that happened around 8:45pm Tuesday night on East State Road near Becker Road east of Hastings.


Barry was driving westbound on State Road when his Ford pickup truck left the roadway and struck a tree. He was pronounced dead at the scene. There were no other occupants in the truck. The cause of the crash remains undetermined.


State Police were assisted at the scene by the Barry County Sheriff’s office and the Hastings Fire Department. The crash remains under investigation.



Improving health and well-being of Barry County residents topic at free forum

Barry County residents are invited to join a discussion on the state of health in Barry County and how to improve the health and well-being of its residents and employees.


A Leadership Forum, sponsored by the Barry County Chamber of Commerce and B. Healthy Coalition on Friday, March 23 begins at 8 a.m. with breakfast, followed by a program and question and answer period from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.


The forum will discuss the possibly of Barry County becoming a Blue Zone; a systemic approach to improving well-being based on principles identified  during a 10-year, worldwide study by National Geographic and detailed in Dan Buettner’s book titled “Blue Zones.”


Tony Buettner, senior vice president of Blue Zone, is keynote speaker.

The mission of B. Healthy coalition is to foster an active, healthy community with policies and environmental changes that make the healthy choice the easy choice for all Barry County residents.


The event at the Barry County Enrichment Center, at 231, South Broadway in Hastings is free, however there is limited seating. Register at For more, visit


Barry County citizen's committee and board positions filled; airport manager's contract amended

The Barry County Commission Tuesday recommended amending Hastings City Barry County Airport Manager Mark Noteboom’s three year agreement with the Airport Commission to clarify his status as an independent contractor in matters to do with local, state and federal law.


The airport board has approved the agreement, which provides for management services at the airport. County Commissioners who sit on the board, Jon Smelker and Vivian Conner, stressed that the $79,000 Noteboom will get annually is not a raise in salary becasue Noteboom will pay for gas, oil and insurance as an independent contractor.


With the modification of the agreement, it fully meets the IRS requirements for Noteboom's  independent contractor status, which Noteboom requested, County Administrator Michael Brown said.

The Hastings City Council, as part of a Joint Operating Agreement of the airport with the county, must also approve the amended contract.


In other business, several citizens for positions on county boards and committees were recommended which includes:


*reappointing Craig Stolsonburg to a one-year term on the Tax Allocation Board, with Commissioner David Jackson as commission representative.


*reappointing Bob Becker, Deborah Hyatt, Linda Maupin and  Gerald Pattock for three-year terms on the Community Health Authority Board.


*appointing Frank Jesenek to the remainder of a three-year term on the Parks & Recreation Board that ends 12/31/2018, filling one of two empty seats.


*appointing Joyce Snow to the Planning Commission for a three-year term. Michael Barney withdrew his application for the second open seat.


Other recommendations for approvals include:

*applications for the Michigan Department of Agricultural Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program (PA-116) for Jeffrey and Stacey Morton for property in Section 2 of Hastings Township and Robin Flessner in Sections 15 and 18 in Woodland Township, recommended by Planning Director James McManus.


 *a new three-year contract for broadband internet and telecom services with MEI Telecommunications, Inc. of Delton for a one-time $5,000 payment and $1,177.75 monthly service charge. The $5,000 initial startup and hardware fee would be waived if the internet and telephone service is bundled and a contract signed within 30 days of March 13.  IT Director David Shinavier said going with MEI will result in speeds up to 10 times faster and improved stability and reliability than from the previous provider iserv.


*permission to purchase a 2018 Ford Escape for $19, 209.90 through MiDeal for the IT department, paid for by the vehicle fund, also requested by Shinavier.

The board will act on the committee of the whole’s recommendations at the March 27 regular board meeting




Freeport firefighters are flipping pancakes Saturday

The public is invited to join the Freeport firefighters at the fire station this Saturday, March 24 from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. for their annual spring breakfast featuring pancakes, eggs, sausage, orange juice, coffee and milk. A free will donation will be taken at the door


“The funds raised from this breakfast will go toward a new brush/grass truck we are currently building” said Fire Chief Jim Yarger. “Our previous truck has served us well for over 15 years but, it’s time to replace it.”

Smoke detector and carbon monoxide applications will be available at the breakfast.

“This has been a very successful program that makes our community safer,” Yarger said.

“To date, the Freeport Firefighters have installed over 200 smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the Freeport area.”


When an application is complete and returned, the fire department will set up a time with the homeowner to inspect the current smoke detectors in the home, replace any old detectors and install any additional detectors that are needed. Also, Freeport firefighters will host their annual Easter Egg Hunt at the Freeport Community Center Saturday, March 31 beginning at 10 a.m. for kids ages 0 to 10.


Freeport Volunteer Fire Department has 24 firefighters and Medical First Responders who cover territory in four townships; Bowne in Kent County, Campbell in Ionia County, Carlton and Irving in Barry County.




Superintendent's Platform

WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight activities in their districts. This post is from Michelle Falcon, superintendent of Maple Valley Schools.


“Beginning in mid-April, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) will administer the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP). Like last year, the M-STEP will be given online and will measure current student knowledge on Michigan’s standards in English language arts (ELA), mathematics, science, and social studies.


“This year, based on feedback from students, parents, and educators, we have made several enhancements to M-STEP:

  • The test is now shorter for most students, who will spend no more than 3-6 hours total on 2018 state assessments.


  • The PSAT is being offered to high school students in grades 9 and 10. The PSAT prepares students for the SAT taken in grade 11.


  • High school students in grade 11 will take the SAT, which will serve as both a college entrance and the state English language arts (ELA) and mathematics assessment.



  • Schools will have flexibility in scheduling the amount of time students spend in a single test session.


  • Schools will have access to preliminary student test results within a few days after testing is complete. This preliminary data is a first look for school use only until final results are available.


  • Final results should be available to schools prior to the beginning of the next school year. This will include M-STEP parent reports to be distributed by districts.


“We want your child’s experience to be relaxed, healthy, enjoyable, and stress-free. Your positive outlook and supportive manner going into these assessments will also influence your child’s experience. Content areas tested and grade levels are listed below:



Content Area


Grade 3

Mathematics, English Language Arts (ELA)


Grade 4

ELA, Mathematics


Grade 5

ELA, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science


Grade 6

ELA, Mathematics


Grade 7

ELA, Mathematics


Grade 8

ELA, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science 


Grade 11

SAT with essay – Serves as both a college entrance and


Michigan’s English language arts and mathematics assessment;



M-STEP science; M-STEP social studies; ACT WorkKeys™















M-STEP online tests anytime within a four-week time frame for each grade level. Schools will administer the subject area tests described above during the following windows:


Grades 5, 8, 11:

    April 10 – May 4

Grades 3,4,6,7:

    May 4 – May 25


Grades 9, 10 (PSAT):

April 11

Grade 11


April 10

Grade 11


April 11




Barry Central Dispatch 911 is 85 percent converted to NG-911

Stephanie Lehman, new director of Barry Central Dispatch 911, attended a recent Hastings City Council meeting to give the panel an update on the progress on the increased capabilities of the dispatch service that began in 1992.



Barry Central Dispatch is about 85 percent converted to the next generation 911 phone system, replacing the copper wire system from the 1960s with digital, and shared with Calhoun and Lenawee counties. Kalamazoo and Hillsdale counties expected to join the three counties this year.


With technology improving, “We need to respond with technology for more user friendly and responder safety,” Lehman said.


NG-911 has many advantages, including the efficiencies in 911  technology, meeting changing consumer habits and expectations, increased safety for first responders with enhanced data access, and boosting the resiliency, reliability, survivability and flexibility for the system, she said.

Improvements in transferring misrouted calls, location delivery with calls, text/multimedia, data sharing across regions and back up capabilities also will come with NG-911, Lehman said.



Lehman suggested Barry County residents sign up for Smart 911, a free service of Central Dispatch. The program has  a secure, private website with a user-provided Safety Profile with information they want first responders to know; if there are handicapped in the home, the number of children, where they sleep, how many dogs and cats should be in the house, and anything else they think would help firefighters or ambulance personnel help them.


The profile comes up only when the Smart 911 user calls 911, is relayed to emergency personal and accessible to dispatchers for one hour before it disappears.



A Rave Facility is a program similar to Smart 911, but for businesses and campuses. Information provided by users is securely stored by Rave Mobile Solutions and never sold or given to any second parties, Lehman said.



During 2017, Barry County Central Dispatch handled a total of 36,731 calls for service; 22, 360 calls for police, 1,627 for fire, 1,757 for medical first responders, 6,792 for emergency medical service and 4,195 non-emergency calls.




John Calgaro sentenced to 25 to 75 years in prison for murder

On Friday, March 16, 2018,  John Joseph Calgaro was sentenced Barry County Circuit Court to 25 to 75 years in prison for Second Degree Murder in the death of Matthew Morin.  His sentence is to run consecutively to the sentence he received for a probation violation in Van Buren County in 2016. 


Last week Calgaro pled no contest to Second Degree Murder in the death of Morin, of South Haven. Morin went missing in early July 2016.  His body was discovered by Michigan State Police in a remote area of Pine Lake Road in Barry County. 


Calgaro later admitted to running over Morin twice with his vehicle on July 5, 2016, claiming it was an accident.  However, the investigation revealed that Calgaro returned to the scene to bury Morin’s body and stole Morin’s identity, leading to a charge of Open Murder.


In exchange for Calgaro’s plea to Second Degree murder, Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor Pratt dismissed the less serious charges of Unlawfully Driving Away of a Motor Vehicle, Identity Theft and Possession of a Financial Transaction Device, as well as the Habitual Offender notice.


State House approves Calley bill to protect election integrity


Legislation sponsored by state Representatvie Julie Calley to protect the integrity of elections in Michigan was overwhelmingly approved Thursday in the Michigan House.


House Bill 5646 requires the Secretary of State to keep the list of people who are registered and qualified to vote in Michigan up to date by checking it against U.S. Social Security Administration’s death records. The legislation also requires continued participation in a multi-state program through which information is shared about the current address and registration status of voters.


“People are more concerned than ever about the security of our elections,” said Calley, of Portland. “We must do everything we can to ensure them that our qualified voter file is being held to the highest standard possible. When someone passes away or moves to another state, it’s important to update our voter rolls in a prompt and efficient manner to eliminate the possibility of voter fraud.”


While the Secretary of State currently utilizes these resources to update the qualified voter file, Calley said it is not required under current law. Her legislation ensures the practice continues in the future.


In addition to Calley’s bill, the House also approved two other bills clarifying current practices of the Secretary of State. House Bill 5644, sponsored by Rep. Tom Barrett, spells out the procedure by which absentee voters can change their mind and spoil their absentee ballot. House Bill 5669, sponsored by Rep. Aaron Miller, clarifies the current list of acceptable forms of identification for election purposes.


“Establishing these current practices as law ensures the Secretary of State and local election officials are all on the same page, and provides residents with confidence in the database of qualified voters,” said Calley, who serves as vice chair of the House Elections and Ethics Committee.


House Bills 5644, 5646 and 5669 now move to the Senate for consideration.



Stephanie Lehman chosen for 911 Central Dispatch Director

The Barry County Central Dispatch Administrative Board has named Stephanie Lehman as the new director.  “After a nationwide application process, we ended up finding a great fit in our own backyard.”  Personnel Committee Chairperson, Cindy Vujea, said.


Lehman becomes the third director since the creation of Barry County Central Dispatch in 1991. “I am very honored and humbled to be given this opportunity.  As 911 technology continues to grow and evolve, I look forward to continuing with the tradition of being on the front end of these advancements" Lehman said.


Stephanie joined Barry County Central Dispatch 911 as a dispatcher in June of 2008. From 2009 through 2013 she was elected by her fellow employees to serve as the union steward. In 2013 she became a Dispatch Supervisor which included oversight of the Communications Training Officer Program. Stephanie was named Interim Director in November of 2017.


Stephanie holds a Bachelor’s of Applied Science, Occupational studies degree from Siena Heights University and an Associate’s Degree in criminal justice from Delta College. She currently serves as the secretary of the Michigan Chapter of National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and is a member of Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO).

Stephanie and her family reside in the Middleville area.



Private Property accident at TK Middle School

The Barry County Sheriff's Office is investigating a private property accident that occurred Thursday between a car and a student who was walking in the parking lot at Thornapple Kellogg Middle School.


Undersheriff Matt Houchlei said the student was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. No other details were available.


Survey damage in Eight lower Michigan Counties including Barry

The U.S. Small Business Administration is working with Michigan State Police and local emergency managers to conduct damage assessments over the next week in eight lower michigan counties including Barry County affected by flooding from February 19th to the 21st.


This is a necessary step to receive SBA assistance, according to Michigan State Police Captain Chris Kelenski Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

If approved the Small Business Administration disaster assistance program would make low-interest loans available to eligible residences and businesses affected by heavy rainfall and snow that resulted in widespread flooding.


The SBA disaster assistance program provides low-interest loans for homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinary and equipment.

For more additional information contact 517-284-3962.










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