Local News

Two Hastings Schools community forums set for Tuesday, Feb. 19 (corrected)

The Hastings Area Schiool System is hosting two  forums asking for community input on the qualities, experiences and skills that a new superintendent needs. There are two, forums; both on Tuesday, Feb 19;  one at 10:30 a.m. in the middle school library and the other at 6:30 p.m. in the middle school commons area.



PFAS found at Viking Corporation in Hastings; not found in any drinking water source

A Barry Eaton District Health Department media release is reporting the Michigan DEQ has found the Viking Corporation in Hastings has high levels of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).


The PFAS were found in shallow groundwater environmental monitoring wells, not in a drinking water source, the release said. Currently, there are no known drinking water sources in the flow of the groundwater found to contain PFAS.


The Viking site as well as nearby properties use the City of Hastings municipal water as their drinking water source. Municipal water from the City of Hastings was tested for PFAS in April of 2018, and PFAS were not found.


“We’re aware of the situation and are staying in close contact with both MDEQ and the Barry-Eaton District Health Department,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said. “We have no reason to believe this poses any threat at all to the city’s water supply system.  On the contrary, we’re fortunate to have a public water system serving this area.”


Colette Scrimger, Health Officer at BEDHD said: “At this time, we do not believe that the drinking water in this area is affected by this area of PFAS contamination, and the risk to the public is very, very low,”  


 PFAS were detected on the Viking property, and in lower concentrations in neighboring properties. The corporation is currently working with MDEQ to further investigate PFAS contamination and determine the next steps. Some types of PFAS such as perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) may be harmful to human health when ingested (eaten or drank), the release said.


The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) is a multi-agency action team to investigate and address PFAS contamination in Michigan. To see the results of local PFAS testing, visit MPART’s website at For those with a private well who are interested in testing their water for PFAS, information on sampling and testing can be found at the MPART’s website at


PFAS are thought to be harmful to health only when ingested. Although more research is needed, some PFAS may lower the chance of getting pregnant, increase the chance of high blood pressure during pregnancy, and increase the chance of thyroid disease, increase cholesterol levels, change immune response, and increase the chance of cancer, especially kidney and testicular cancers.


PFAS have many industrial applications, including waterproofing and firefighting foam. The source of PFAS for this site is firefighting foam used between 1998 or 1999 through 2001.


The Viking site manufactured and tested fire suppression equipment, which involved the use of fire-fighting foam containing PFAS from the late 1990’s through 2001. Most companies have stopped using PFOS and PFOA.


For more information on PFAS, visit MPART’s website at  The Barry-Eaton District Health Department can be reached at (269) 945-9516, select 3, and then 5.




Charlotte native newest Hastings Police Officer

Kaitlin Stults comes from Charlotte. The newest hire in the Hastings Police Department came on board Feb. 8 and will be learning Hastings department’s procedures and policies in 14 weeks of field training with another certified officer before she goes out on her own.



Eventually, she would like to be a detective. She’s a community policing advocate, “loves kids,” has been a school liaison officer and would do it again.

A former Gratiot County Sheriff’s deputy, she served as a court bailiff for nine months before coming to Hastings, where she has cousins who live in the area.


Stults applied to the Hastings police because she was familiar with Barry County, “Hastings is a nice little town,” and she wanted full time work. Her family, mom Karen, dad Brian and sister MacKenzie approve of her choice of careers and is excited for her, she said. She said the best part of police work is being able to help people, and contrary to how most officers feel said: “I love to write reports.”


Stults earned her certification as a police officer from MidMichigan Police Academy-Lansing Community College.


Photo: HPD Officer Kaitlin Stults




Barry County Church Safety Conference is Saturday

Safety and security in places of worship has become an area of concern nationally in recent years.

A church safety conference hosted by the Barry County Sheriff’s Office is designed for church administrators and members with a focus on those who will be, or are, directly involved with security planning.


The conference is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16 at the First Baptist Church in Middleville.


It will provide guidance in the development of strategy in several areas including, first aid, CPR &AED, legal, Smart  911, active shooter, severe weather, insurance, team building and violence/intruder response/non-lethal.


“We help prepare churches for unexpected events. You don’t know when a tornado is coming, but you can be prepared for it,” Sheriff Dar Leaf said. “I’m pleased all of the classes are full; we’ll have another conference in the near future.”


The sheriff’s office gives the presentations as a public service, mostly with volunteers. They have hosted the conferences at several churches in Barry and surrounding counties.





Hastings students may be part of a "Walking School Bus"

Tim Newsted, retired longtime teacher and coach in the Hastings Schools, is in charge of a new program for students in Northeastern and Central Elementary and the Middle School. Its students can be part of a Walking School Bus.


Newsted told the Hastings City Council Monday that as soon as the weather is better, likely after spring break, the kids from Central and Middle schools will be invited meet him at Johnson Field on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and make up a Walking School Bus, walking in a group from there to school.


“It will help reduce traffic problems, hopefully a little bit, and help get the kid’s minds active before school starts...It’s a mini-field trip for the kids before school… anyone can join in,” he said. Elementary students will be awarded charms for a bracelet; middle schoolers will get a snack.

“It’s exciting. I think the kids will like it.” 


Newsted plans other activities, supporting the National Bike to School Day in May and a bike rodeo at a Very Barry Family Event in June, with plans to restart the program in the fall.

“The whole idea is to get some exercise and have fun walking and biking,” he said.


A grant from the Michigan Fitness Foundation, to promote healthy activities for students, was awarded for two Hastings schools. Northeastern; and because they are so close in proximity, the Middle school and Central Elementary are counted as one.


The walking bus program is part of Safe Routes to School, a federal program to make it safe, convenient, and fun for children, including those with disabilities, to bicycle, walk or roll to school, and an easy way for children to get regular physical activity.

Its initiatives also help ease traffic jams and air pollution, unite neighborhoods and contribute to students' readiness to learn in school, according to a Safe Routes to School website.


Hastings received a grant more than a year ago and began improvements to create corridors for safe travel to the city schools.


Bank changes name, services remain the same

Hastings City Bank became Highpoint Community Bank recently and President and CEO Mark Kolanowski came to the Barry County Commission meeting Tuesday with answers to questions about the change.


Kolanowski stressed the things important to customers had not changed; All of the account numbers are good, checks with the HCB logo should be used until they run out and debit and credit cards are still valid.


Also, direct deposits and outside transfers are the same as before the name change. Debit cards and SecurLock on smartphones will automatically update. Coupon books are the same, as are the banks e-mail address and telephone banking.


“It’s the same bank with a new name,” he said.

There are address changes in a few bank programs. To find them and for a full list of frequently asked questions and much more information, visit


Hastings City Bank was formed in 1886, before the state chartered banks.  When that started in 1889, HCB was the second bank chartered by the State of Michigan. The bank now has seven branches in five counties.


Kolanowski said they began the name change process in 2015. “We approach our future with a name that is more reflective and inclusive of all the communities we have grown to serve, one that speaks positively to the type of bank we will be as we move forward, and one that also reminds us pf the rich traditions bound by service to customer and community that brought us to where we are today,” he said.


In other business, the commission approved:

*a grant agreement with the Two Seven Oh, Inc. Foundation for $2,500 to fund spaying and neutering of animals at the Animal Shelter before adoption.


*an Indigent Defense Fund budget for revenue and expenditure line items.

*the purchase of a 2019 Tahoe for the sheriff’s office to replace a vehicle totaled in a car/deer collision.


*re-appointing Cindy Vujea to the Parks & Recreation board for a three year term.


*changes in Community Corrections Advisory Board bylaws.


Split Barry County Commission approves indigent defense attorneys

Barry County Commissioners all had opinions on the staff of 10 attorneys proposed for the new Barry County Indigent Defense Council by Chief Public Defender Kerri Selleck. The commissioners who approved outnumbered those opposed and the list was approved Tuesday, 4-3.


An earlier vote to approve the attorneys failed on a 3-3 vote with one member absent, the panel agreed to take another vote when all commissioners were present.


Commissioners Vivian Conner, Jon Smelker and Howard “Hoot” Gibson all disapproved of attorney Gordon Shane McNeill as a member. Conner said she remembered the turmoil when McNeill served as county prosecutor and resigned under threat of recall, saying  she, “did not want to go down that path again.” Gibson said two constituents had contacted him with objections to McNeill.


Smelker did not go into specific complaints against McNeill, but said he has talked to Selleck, judges, the bar association, attorneys and commissioners from other counties and had not made his decision without considerable thought. He said it is not micromanaging; it is oversight which is a commissioner’s job.


Commissioners David Jackson, Dan Parker and Ben Geiger supported Selleck’s right to select her own panel. “It’s not my job to do your job,” Jackson said to Selleck. To his questions, she verified all attorneys were in good standing with the Barry County Bar Association and judges said when the attorneys were in court they were timely, prepared and serving their clients to the best of their abilities..

The attorneys have one year contracts and have to reapply for the position every year, she said.


Parker said he talked to all three judges and they are in a position to see any shenanigans by attorneys. “I felt strongly that I don’t want to micromanage. She has the ability to give a pass or fail, we don’t have to.”


Geiger noted that the 10 selected are all qualified attorneys who have experience and have been evaluated.  “This isn’t approving 10 people, it’s approving an Indigent Defense Council…the thing to do is pass this unanimously.”


Two citizens in public comment time threatened legal action if McNeill was approved.

George Hubka challenged the selection process, lack of information available and complained commissioners were approving a $300,000 program for 10 people with less interviewing than when appointing members of the Agricultural  Board.


He wanted to know why Attorney James Goulooze was not put back on as an indigent defense attorney. Goulooze has appealed to commissioners to reverse Selleck’s decision and put him on the panel. Hubka gave Selleck a Freedom of Information request for copies of the applications of the 11 attorneys who applied.


Elden Shellenbarger, who spoke against McNeill on Jan.22, said he would file complaints with either the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission or the Michigan Attorney Grievance Board and it would, “cost you money to have you look at this.”


Hastings encouraging more use of city parks by YMCA

Hastings area residents and visitors will likely see more use of city parks in the near future Department of Public Services Lee Hays told the Hastings City Council Monday.


“I have been working with Jon Sporer from the YMCA with regard to getting more utilization of the city park system from the local YMCA,” Hays said in his monthly report. “For the last several years, the YMCA has been utilizing fields at the elementary schools for their youth sports. Recently, the schools instituted a fee for rental of the fields. This makes the use of the city facilities a more prominent issue at this time.”


The list of fields and areas needed by the YMCA for area youth, adults and church leagues total more than a dozen recreation activities at different fields for soccer, softball/baseball, sand volleyball, T-ball and flag football. “I would like to see more use of our parks,” Hays said.


At Fish Hatchery Park, the older of two restrooms, the one nearest the parking lot, will be demolished and a new structure put in its place using the existing utility leads. The restroom replacement is budgeted as part of the city’s capital improvement plan.


The tennis courts at the park have not been usable for some time and will be removed by public works staff and replaced with grass for six-different sized soccer fields, making a total of seven fields for soccer in the park/ The YMCA will stripe and maintain the fields, Hays said.


The council also approved Ordinance 563 concerning Riverside Cemetery on its second reading. Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange was the only no vote, saying she disagreed with a change that lets residents buy several burial lots that may eventually go to non-residents.


Some changes include:

*each burial space may contain one vault and one cremains, or two cremains.


*Opening or closing a burial space is controlled by the city clerk unless it is ordered by the proper authorities, instead of the local health department.


*Several clerical responsibilities were moved from the director of public services to the city clerk.


*Demonstrations of any kind are prohibited unless authorized by the city clerk.


*Correction of an error will be taken after the burial rights owner has been notified and given 30 days to appeal the action to the city clerk.


For details on all the changes, go to the city website and click on the city council packet for Feb. 11.




Thornapple Plaza will again have beer and wine for sale during entertainment events

The Hastings City Council approved the Hastings Rotary and Kiwanis clubs selling beer and wine again this year at Thornapple Plaza events. The request is now part of the food vending/ concession stand agreement approved by the council at its last meeting.

However, the selling of beer and wine was a request and not part of the agreement, and was amended to become part the legal agreement at the request of Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange.


Changes in the beer and wine sales from last year include selling beer and wine later during the entertainment and removing the two drink limit. Council members and Solmes say there have been no problems with alcohol consumption at any of the events.


The clubs will provide insurance coverage recommended by the city’s insurance carrier.

McNabb-Stange and Councilmen Bill Redman and Donald Bowers voted no. Redman cited a survey question in the Banner showing the majority of people who responded said it should not be sold and approving was “going against the public.” McNabb-Stange again objected to the non-legal drafting of the agreement and Bowers did not give a reason for his vote.


The council also approved a request from the Thornapple Arts Council to solicit donations at the Spray Plaza and the Thornapple Plaza during its 2019 entertainment events.

An announcement is made during performances and a donation can is passed around the crowd. “The amounts are not insignificant,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said. “It’s more than I thought.” The money raised goes back into future programs.


Tom Thompson, from Professional Code Inspectors (PCI), gave the city building report; 88 permits issued worth $8,680,666 in 2018.  In 2017, the numbers were 82 permits, valued at $5,414,617.  PCI inspected 329 rental units. As of Dec. 31, 2018, there were 872 rental units registered in the city. Thompson also provided the names of the permit holders, the type of project and the cost.


Mansfield gave the council the year end city assessment report from Assessing Assistant KristaTietz.  He confirmed that City Assessor Jackie Timmerman, who is recovering from an illness, has retired. It is possible she will come back later, he said. 


Mansfield said he will meet with temporary City Assessor Dan Kirwin, to talk about extending his contract past March Board of Review. An independent contractor, Kirwin is well respected in the assessing community and has been filling in since the absence of Timmerman, who recommended him.


In other business:


*The 15th St. Patrick’s Day Parade which travels down South Jefferson Street, was approved for Saturday, March 16 at 1 p.m. as requested by Steve Radant from WBCH Radio.


*a revised joint Hastings Public Library Board agreement, making it more flexible, had the first reading.  The Library Board will have representatives from the city and Rutland Township. Hastings Township voters turned down a millage request for library services; the agreement makes it easier for Hastings Township to come back in if they pass a millage in the future, Attorney Stephanie Fekkes said.


*Clerk Jane Saurman administered the Oath of Office to Councilman Don Smith, who was reelected to the Third Ward





2019 Winterfest, a celebration of winter not to be missed

Winterfest is packed with things to do and see this Saturday at Yankee Springs State Park with activities for everyone of any age or athletic ability. The family friendly event, set to go, snow or no snow, features familiar favorites of the past and some new events that likely will become old favorites.


Kids and adult games, a Gun Lake Idol contest, magic show, bean bag toss, petting zoo, disc golf challenge, horse drawn wagon rides, chili cook off, raffle drawing and the ever popular Polar Dip are set along with many other attractions for Saturday, Feb. 16.


Stop by for the pancake breakfast hosted by firefighters at Gun Lake Community Church at 8 a.m. before the 9:45 a.m. Opening Ceremonies and flag raising by the Forgotten Eagles and the Gun Lake Tribe at 10 a.m. at the State Park.


Be sure to get a schedule to see what’s happening in the lead-up to Saturday:

*Tuesday, Feb.12 at 6 p.m., Justin Star Legacy vs. Andru at 5 Lakes Brewing, and at 8 p.m. at Red Sports Bar & Grill.

*Wednesday, Feb. 13, Gun Lake Idol semi-finals at Gun Lake Casino Stage 131.

*Thursday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. a Euchre tournament at the Wayland VFW Hall.


The Yankee Springs Recreation Area is at 2104 South Briggs Road, Middleville. There is free parking. For more on Winterfest, go to


Photo: Kaelyn Steenwyk, 12, created the winning logo for Winterfest 2019.
































































Michigan State Police::Be cautious with e-mails with "invoice" or "receipt" in subject line

The Michigan State Police (MSP), Michigan Cyber Command Center (MC3) is alerting the public to an increase in fraudulent emails containing malicious links or attachments sent to businesses and individuals across Michigan, according to an MSP media release.


Recent emails have subject lines that include word like “Invoice” or “Receipt” and contain an attachment or link to download a PDF, MS Word or Excel document that contains malware.


Recent infections have been a result of the Emotet virus known to steal contact information from any email address book that the user maintains, which allows the scammer to send spoofed emails to the user’s contacts. Other side effects of the malware include stealing passwords or banking information, encryption of user files and spreading of the virus to other computers that may be connected to the user’s network.


The MC3 recommends carefully screening all emails prior to clicking on links or opening any attachments. Any email with attachments or embedded web links should be handled with care until the recipient can verify the authenticity of the email. Users should consider if they are expecting an email or document from the “sender” prior to opening any attachments or clicking on any links.


Additional information about the virus can be found at



Hastings School Board seeks public opinion on qualities a new superintendent needs

The Hastings Area School System’s Board of Education is beginning the process of hiring a new superintendent following Dr. Carrie Duits retirement June 30.

They are starting by asking for community input on the qualities, experiences and skills that a new superintendent needs, a school media release said.


All interested parties are encouraged to participate in the process. The board is being assisted in its search by the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB), a service organization that supports the work of school boards throughout Michigan.  Donna Oser, CAE, is facilitating the search on behalf of MASB by conversations in the district to give the community opportunity for input.


Parents, community members and interested parties are invited to share their perspectives at meetings on:


*Tuesday, Feb. 12, Cancelled due to Weather Conditions.

*Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 6:30 p.m. in the Middle School Commons Area, 232 West Grand Street.


Input may also be shared via an online survey, available at


The survey, administered by the MASB Executive Search Service, takes about ten minutes to complete. Anonymous individual responses will be combined with those from the face-to-face meetings with stakeholders to provide important community input as the board of education develops its superintendent selection criteria.

The survey will close Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 5 p.m. The new superintendent is expected to assume the position July 1.




Kent County Animal Shelter and partners offer free pet boarding services to shelter occupants

The Kent County Animal Shelter is providing a free-of-charge pet boarding service for residents with pets who are seeking shelter from the winter storm, according to a Kent County media release.. The service is only available only to residents seeking shelter at the four emergency shelters listed below.


Qualifying locations:

*Ottawa Hills High School, 2055 Rosewood Avenue S.E., Grand Rapids.


*Union High School 1800 Tremont Boulevard N.W., Grand Rapids.  *Residents who are oxygen-dependent should go to Union High School.


*North Rockford Middle School 397 East Division Street N.E., Rockford.  *Please note: pets will shelter in place with their owners at this facility.


* Walker Fire Department 1470 3-Mile Road N.W., Walker.


Residents are encouraged to seek other pet boarding options first, as space at these emergency animal shelters is limited. Please note: once residents register at the shelter, animals will be transported to a safe, secure and warm animal boarding facility.


When arriving at one of these facilities with a pet, owners will register their animal with the Kent County Animal Shelter and it will then be transported to a safe and warm boarding facility. Pets will be kept at the animal boarding facility throughout the weekend while owners remain at the emergency shelter.


Pet owners are encouraged to bring identification, vaccination records and any medication the animal is currently taking. Pet owners will also need to sign a release of liability form.


Kent County Emergency Management reports on operations and resources

As a result of this winter storm, Kent County Emergency Management activated its Emergency Operations Center on Thursday, Feb. 7, and as of 7 p.m. gave updated information via a media release on the current situation because of the significant weather event.


Power Outages:

Kent County residents are continuing to experience unprecedented power outages primarily in the north and east areas of the county. Consumers Energy has reported 112,000 people are still without power and they have 366 crews addressing the current outages.

Emergency Management staff remains in contact with the National Weather Service, Consumers Energy, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and several private sector partners.


Emergency Shelter Operations:

Arrangements have been made with the American Red Cross and Salvation Army to address the staffing and operation concerns at four emergency shelters - Ottawa Hills High School, Union High School, Walker Fire Department, and North Rockford Middle School.

The four locations offer free pet boarding by the Kent County Animal Shelter for those with pets. Residents are encouraged to seek other boarding options first, as space at these emergency animal shelters is limited. Please visit for complete details on the boarding process.


Dispatch Center:

Call volumes at the Kent County Sheriff’s Office dispatch center are currently stable. Please do not call 911 to report that your power is out or to see when it is coming back on. Visit for a complete outage map.


Kent County Road Commission:

According to the Kent County Road Commission, most roadways are clear, however many remain snow and ice covered with challenging conditions. Repeat applications of sand/salt deicing mix has been applied to state and primary roads, but the ongoing snowfall and low temps minimize effectiveness. Motorists should call 911 if they encounter an obstruction or emergency while driving.

Please do not report travel emergencies via social media as it may not receive an expedited response.


Portland city manager updates Grand River ice jams, flooding situation

Today, Portland City Manager S. Tutt Gorman provided an update on the ice jams and flooding in the area.

According to his media release, at about 10:22 a.m. Friday,  ice jams on the Grand River broke up and caused additional flash flooding. In collaboration with emergency services personnel and city engineers, the decision was made to close the Grand River Avenue Bridge, the Bridge Street Bridge and the River Trail Pedestrian Bridge.


Several residents were immediately evacuated from affected areas with no injuries reported. Portland City Hall has been designated as a temporary shelter until a permanent shelter is established.


The Grand River continues to flood upstream and evacuations continue. The electric grid is in stable condition, but we may be disconnecting power in the affected areas.


The Wastewater Treatment Plant has been operating at levels far exceeding its design due to excessive storm water that has entered the system.


In order to protect the health and safety of our residents, partially treated or untreated wastewater has been discharged into the Grand River during this event. The city has provided notice to all required agencies.


The city’s water system is fully operational with no issues reported.

City officials have been in further discussion with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who restated that using explosives or other means to break the ice is not effective and problematic under these conditions.


The city, along with county and state agencies, continues to monitor this active situation and will provide more information as the event progresses.



No body contact with the Grand River downstream of Portland wastewater treatment plant

On Friday, Feb. 8, the City of Portland experienced a sewage overflow into the Grand River, according to a press release from the Ionia County Health Department.


The Health Department has issued a Public Health Advisory recommending no body contact with the Grand River downstream of the City of Portland Wastewater Treatment Plant. Testing will take place when conditions allow.


Questions regarding the details of the overflow should be directed to F&V Operations at 616-588-2900.


Questions regarding the Public Health Advisory should be directed to the Ionia County Health Department.


For more information on E. coli in surface water, visit


For more information on sewage overflows in Michigan, visit:


If your home has been flooded, visit


Eaton County Dispatch: Slow down on dangerous roads, give first responders room to work

Michael Armitage, director of Eaton County Dispatch 911, said there are hazardous conditions on the roadways and is asking motorists to slow down. “We’re seeing numerous accidents across Eaton County,” Armitage said in a news release,


“More specifically, there are extremely hazardous road conditions and a significant accident involving multiple vehicles in Delta Township on I-69 near Saginaw Highway (M-43),” he said.


“First responders are reporting numerous issues with cars continuing to travel at 70 miles per hour despite the hazardous conditions as they try to remedy the situation. Please slow down!  First responders need room to work in order to tend to patients and get the roads back open for travel.”





Hastings Area Schools System Make Up Days

Due to the number of cancelled school days, Hastings Area School's System will start making up days this month. February 18, 2019 was originally scheduled as a day off in honor of President's Day. Instead, we will have school on February 18, 2019. 

posting from Hastings Area Schools System Facebook page.


Frito-Lay recalls some Stacy's Simply Naked Pita Chips

Frito-Lay has announced a limited voluntary recall of a very small number of 7 1/3 ounce bags of Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips because they may contain undeclared milk ingredients, according to a media release from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.


People with an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk run the risk of a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume the recalled pita chips.One consumer allergic reaction related to this matter has been reported to date.


The recalled chips were distributed nationwide with a “Use By” date of 23 APR 2019 and a nine-character manufacturing code of “65M127902” below the “Use By” date found on the front of the bag along the top right side. n addition, the recalled bags will also have a UPC code of “028400564632” on the bottom right side of the back of the bag. No other Stacy’s products or flavors are recalled.


The recall was initiated after it was discovered that 228 bags of chips were inadvertently filled with another flavor of pita chips, potentially exposing consumers to undeclared milk.

Frito-Lay has informed the FDA of our actions.


Consumers with the product noted above can return it to a retailer for a refund or contact Frito-Lay Consumer Relations at 1-800-352-4477 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday.



Hastings Performing Arts Center Grand Opening is Sunday

The Hastings Performing Arts Center is a reality and welcomes the community to its dedication and Grand Opening series Sunday, Feb. 10. The Center’s inaugural season debuts with presentations by Hastings School Bands at 2 p.m. and the Hastings School Choirs at 4 p.m.


“The Hastings Performing Arts Center is a community destination for the arts. We are excited to open this amazing facility so our students have an exceptional space to share their talent. We are also hoping to host community events and outside groups as well,” Hastings Area School System Superintendent Carrie Duits said.


A highly anticipated event is the Hastings High School production of “Beauty and the Beast” with Matt Callaghan directing. The musical is set for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 14, 15 and 16 with performances at 7 p.m. all three evenings and a matinee at 2 p.m. on Saturday.


Other programs coming up soon:

*Barry ISD Regional Spelling Bee- Feb. 12

*Thornapple Wind Band Concert with Olivet College- Feb. 22nd

*Mary Youngs Concert- March 2

*Middle School Ensembles Night- March 19

*Hastings Band Celebration- March 22

*Thornapple Arts Council Jazz Festival- April 25-27


Mike Sali, the managing director of the center, is a professional with a bachelor’s degree in technical theater from Aquinas Collage, 15 plus years of experience in theatrical production and eight years of experience in professional theatrical production, Duits said. Originally from Burnips, Sali recently came back home.


“He's very friendly and outgoing with tremendous technical knowledge. We’re fortunate to have him,” Duits said. Kingscott Associates, Inc is the architectural firm for the center, Peter Sarelis, the design architect and Laura Sarelis the chief designer.


Some statistics:

the main entrance has two entries with ticket and concession booths; the four entrances from the lobby to the auditorium are large enough to be used as an art gallery.


There are 820 permanent seats and an 860 seat maximum capacity with regular and raised seating for comfort.  The Center is fully handicap accessible, with an elevator to each floor; full band shell for concerts with full or half set-up options; the band shell ceiling has 10-12 studio LED lights.


A “fly” system, or theatrical rigging, is a system of rope lines, pulleys, and counterweights  that let stage crews fly (hoist) curtains, lights, scenery and sometimes, people, quickly, quietly and safely. The Center has a half-fly system.


The nine-foot deep orchestra pit has a lighted edge for performers and a black cover when not in use. In the control booth, there is a QL5 mixing console, ETC element lighting console, new LED lighting system and a Panasonic projector. It features a clear-com system and upstairs booth for a spotlight. The cost of the PAC was $9 million.


Cancellations & Closings today, Feb. 8

Lakewood Basketball Games Cancelled Friday night.

Hastings Girls Varsity and Boys Varsity basketball at Harper Creek postponed to Feb. 18th.



Due to the weather and for the safety of its members and employees, the Spectrum Health Pennock Health & Wellness Center has cancelled all group and aquatic fitness classes for today, Friday, Feb. 8. The facility will remain open with normal business hours.


All Ionia County offices closing Friday; shelter available

Due to extreme weather conditions, all Ionia County courts and business offices will be closed on Friday, Feb. 8.  The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office, Central Dispatch, and related essential personnel will be working as normal to keep our citizens safe. 


In addition, The Red Cross and Ionia County Emergency Management have opened a shelter at the Ionia Armory at 439 West Main Street in Ionia to those who may need overnight shelter and food due to the cold weather and power outages. Transportation assistance is available by dialing “211”. 











Portland Pastor gives invocation at Michigan House of Representatives

87th District State Rep. Julie Calley welcomes Pastor Gary Coleman (center) from First Baptist Church in Portland to the state capitol to give Thursday’s invocation for the Michigan House of Representatives. House tradition calls for a representative or a clergy member to begin each day’s session with a prayer. Speaker Lee Chatfield (left) joined them at the rostrum.




Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital new surgical center groundbreaking set for early summer

Plans for the new 19,000 square foot surgical center announced last June at Spectrum Health Pennock’s 95th Anniversary celebration continue to move forward, according to officials at Spectrum health Pennock.


The $12 million dollar project, funded primarily through private donations to the Spectrum Health Foundation at Pennock, is slated to break ground in early summer. The new center will include three operating rooms, 15 private patient rooms, five recovery bays and two endoscopy suites.


“The new surgical center will relocate inpatient and outpatient surgery, as well as endoscopy, to one main level suite attached to the west side of the hospital,” Spectrum Health Pennock President Angie Ditmar said.


”The center will then be closer to radiology, lab and sterile processing, which are frequently used during a surgical visit. The current surgical suite is located on the third floor of the hospital; patients navigate halls and elevators for some distance from where they enter the hospital, adding confusion and stress for the patient.


The new center will ensure one-stop shopping with private halls, private rooms and a separate drive up entrance and exit, providing patients a more discreet experience during their most vulnerable times.


“In addition to improved patient flow and privacy, the operating rooms will increase in size to accommodate modern technology that our current rooms can no longer support. These spaces will increase from 400 square feet to 600 square feet, which is industry standard for operating rooms today.

“We are thankful for the support of our donors and Spectrum Health’s investment in Pennock Hospital to make certain we continue to provide high quality, local care whenever possible,” Ditmar said.


The surgical center is projected to open in November, 2020. To make a contribution to the surgical center or to find out what naming opportunities are available, contact Janine Dalman, executive director, Spectrum Health Foundation at Pennock 269-945-651 or


Photo: The proposed new Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital surgery center.







Help your child have a healthy smile

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD), My Community Dental Centers of Charlotte and local dentists invite the public to celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month and bring increased awareness of the importance of regular dental check-ups and  healthy oral hygiene.


Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention one in five children aged five to 11 have at least one untreated decayed tooth.  


Children with untreated tooth decay may develop pain and infections that could lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing and learning. The good news is that tooth decay is preventable.


My Community Dental Centers, on behalf of BEDHD, focuses on providing dental services to Medicaid enrollees and low-income, uninsured residents throughout Eaton County. Routine dental services may be covered if your child is enrolled in a Medicaid plan such as Healthy Kids, Healthy Kids Dental, or MIChild.

For more information on MCDC services or to schedule an appointment, please call 1-877-313-6232. For more information regarding Medicaid enrollment visit or contact the Barry-Eaton District Health Department at 269-945-9516 in Barry County or 517-543-2430 in Eaton County.


It is important to begin an oral hygiene routine early. Parents should brush their child’s teeth when they begin to come in. My Community Dental Centers in Charlotte encourages parents to bring their child in for their first dental visit before the age of one, creating a positive experience and establishing a dental home before problems arise.


The American Dental Association recommends these steps for a healthy smile:

*Brush teeth twice a day for 2 minutes each time.

*See a dentist twice a year – start as early as when the first tooth appears.

*Drink fluoridated water – Community water supplies (CWS) may contain enough fluoride to protect your child’s teeth.


In Eaton County the following communities have community water supplies with enough fluoride to protect oral health; Delta Township, Grand Ledge, Charlotte, Eaton Rapids, and Misty Cove Apartments.

Contact your local municipality to determine if your community water supply is fluoridated or visit  If you have well water, or live in a community without fluoridated water, consider buying bottled water with fluoride added. 


*Put formula, milk, or breast milk in bottles; avoid filling bottles with sugar water, juice or soft drinks.

*If a child uses a pacifier, provide one that is clean – don’t dip it in sugar or honey or put it in your mouth before giving it to the child.

*Serve nutritious snacks and limit sweets to mealtimes.











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