Local News

Police Car hits Sign

A State Police Car heading to Nashville to assist a Nashville Police Officer lost control of his vehicle an hit a crosswalk sign and a no parking sign.  The trooper was on Apple Street in Hastings when he  turned on Broadway losing control of his patroll car and hit the signs.

no one was injured. The accident happened on July 1st.



Vehicle Crash Kills Middleville Couple

A Middleville Couple was killed saturday afternoon in a two vehicle crash in Wexford County. According to WPBN TV 59 year old Janice Verkerke failed to stop  at a stop sign traveled into the intersection where her vehicle was struck by a westbound vehicle driven by a Benzonia man. Wexford County Sheriff Deputies say Janice and her passenger, 64 year old Richard Verkerke were pronounced dead at the scene.. The driver of the other vehicle and a passenger were taken to Munson Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.


Middleville celebrates "Redevelopment Ready Community" status

The public is invited to Middleville Monday, July 31 from 11 a.m. to noon to join a celebration of the village being certified as a “Redevelopment Ready Community.”

Middleville is the 13th community, and the smallest in the state based on population, to be certified by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.


The accomplishment acknowledges that the village has removed barriers and streamlined processes to be more competitive in today’s economy. The village has worked toward certification since 2015.

The event will be in the Community Pavilion across from the village hall on Main Street.


“Join us to recognize the hard work of a village dedicated to having a vision for the future and the fundamental practices in place to get there,” a village news release said.



Seen at the Barry County Fair...











Loan to pay preliminary costs for Gun Lake Dam recommended

Barry County will likely back a loan to the County Drain Commission to pay costs incurred since an emergency effort saved the Gun Lake Dam in May of 2015. Despite the temporary repairs, engineers inspected it and advised that, given the condition of the dam, it be replaced.


The project now underway to replace it has wide support of the Gun Lake residents who will be in a special assessment district to pay the cost, but that has not been set yet, Drain Commissioner Jim Dull told commissioners.


Dull estimates they will need 18 months to determine the construction costs, “then we’ll go the regular route to pay it back,” he said. The committee of the whole moved the proposal to the next regular commission meeting with a recommendation for approval.

The Barry County Circuit Court will determine the normal lake level of Gun Lake and establish a special assessment district.


In other business Tuesday, Commissioner David Jackson was named officer delegate and Commissioner Ben Geiger the alternate, to the annual Municipal Employee Retirement System meeting Sept. 21-22 in Detroit. Karen Barnes was named employee delegate with Julie Ingle as alternate.


More Crystal Lake Dam dredging this year likely with more funding recommended

The Crystal Lake Improvement Board has petitioned the Barry County Drain Commission for dredging of sand that has accumulated over the past two years at the Upper Crystal Lake Dam sediment pond, County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull said at the Barry County Board’s committee of the whole meeting Tuesday.


A resolution, technically an excess spending authorization, was moved to the next regular commission meeting with a recommendation for approval.


The action is required to allow spending of more than $10,000 on dam maintenance or repair in one year. With approval, the drain commission will spend $14,200 to dredge sand in the dam area this year, Dull said. They will remove 300 yards of sand now; it’s part of a special assessment for the removal of 600 yards in five years, he said.





Safe Kids brings car seat safety check to Thornapple Township Emergency Services

Safe Kids Greater Grand Rapids, along with the Barry County United Way and Thornapple Township Emergency Services (TTES), will host a car seat safety check in Barry County  July 26 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the TTES station, 128 High Street in Middleville.


The inspections are free and replacement seats available for those who qualify, thanks to a grant from Priority Collision in Hastings.  For an appointment, call Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention Program at 616-391-7233.


The Safe Kids Greater Grand Rapids is part of the DeVos hospital program.


According to national statistics, three out of every four car seats are installed incorrectly.  “We are looking forward to bringing this event into Barry County for the first time,” said Captain Chad Klutman of TTES. “We see many accidents where children in properly installed car seats have saved a lot of injuries.”  Local, certified car seat technicians will help the parent or care giver find which seat is right for their child and work with them on the proper installation.


“Car seats can be difficult to properly install. Sometimes it’s just the tricks we have learned that help the parent or care giver install them correctly every single time they move them,” said Lani Forbes, executive director of Barry County United Way.

Helen Devos Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention program is dedicated to educating families about how to reduce unintentional injuries to children.












Photo: Car seat technicians Stacey Youngs, Community Education, Spectrum Health Pennock, front,  and Amanda Hoeksma, Family Support Center, ready to check child safety seats.



Car crashes into Yankee Springs Township house, breaks gas line

Wayland and Yankee Springs Township fire departments, Wayland Area EMS and Consumers Energy were called to a home on North Patterson Road in Yankee Springs Township on a report of a car striking a house July 17 at 5:55 p.m., according to a Yankee Springs Fire Department official.


The out-of-control vehicle crashed into the home, taking out the bay window and breaking the gas meter off the pipes,  allowing an uncontrolled flow of natural gas.
Firefighters cleared the scene after the gas company arrived to take care of the broken line and the wrecker hauled the vehicle away. The original call reported no injuries



Barry Eaton District Health Department offers free hearing and vision clinics

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department will host free hearing and vision clinics for school-age children in Barry County on Thursday, August 17  and in Eaton County on Friday, August 18.

Appointments are required. To schedule an appointment in Eaton County, call 517-541-2630. In Barry County, call 269-798-4133. Clinics are open from 8 a.m. to noon.


The clinics are at the health department offices in Barry County at 330 West Woodlawn Avenue in Hastings; in the Eaton County office at 1033 Health Care Drive in Charlotte.

For more information about hearing and vision screening at the health department, visit


Why should you get your child screened?

* All children must have a hearing and vision screen before entering kindergarten.

* More than one million children in Michigan will need eye care by the time they reach high school graduation age.

* Approximately 10,000 Michigan children begin each school year without adequate vision.

* Screening can help your child succeed in school. An undiagnosed hearing and vision problem can interfere with your child’s development.

* Five percent of children screened for hearing are referred to a specialist. Ten percent of children screened for vision are referred to a specialist.

* Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent temporary difficulties from becoming permanent problems.



Controversial Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation to be reviewed

A ten-year review of TOST with changes expected to be recommended based on citizen’s comments, was narrowly approved by a split Barry County Commission Tuesday.

Commission Chair Ben Geiger proposed the review at a cost of $6,500, saying their job as commissioners is to listen to the people’s experiences with TOST.


"This is not a referendum on the health department; this is not an initiative to put the health department on the hot seat, and it's not a referendum on the importance of protecting public health, it is just an exercise in good government, listening to the public,” Geiger said.


The recommendations would go to the Barry Eaton District Health Department’s six-member Board of  Health, (three Barry County commissioners, and three Eaton County commissioners) with ways they could improve the unpopular regulation.


Voting to approve the proposal, effective immediately, were Geiger and Commissioners Dan Parker, Heather Wing and David Jackson. Commissioners Jon Smelker, Howard Gibson and Vivian Conner voted “no.”

For the reasoning behind the commissioners votes, see the article: “Why Barry County Commissioners voted the way they did.”


Geiger’s plan, leading to specific recommendations to the health board, would allot Aug. 1 to Sept. 30 for public comment about TOST on a new portal on the county website, approve a public listening session on the evening of  Aug. 22 and a professional survey of randomly selected TOST participants.


Those making comments on the county web site can chose to keep their responses confidential.

The plan contains $5,229.69 for identified costs for the project and $ 1,250.31 for contingencies for up to $6,500 to pay for advertising, the survey, a facilitator at the public meeting, and refreshments at the meeting.


The responses would be evaluated in October and specific recommendations for changes in the TOST regulation will then be developed.//


Geiger, who is president of the health board, said he had informally talked to the rest of the board, but in response to commissioner’s comments, would ask them at their next meeting for consensus of support for the ten year review.



TOST, standing for “Time of Sale or Transfer,” is a Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation that calls for a department-certified evaluator to inspect on-site water and septic systems at the time of sale or transfer of property in Eaton and Barry counties. The department reviews the evaluations and orders corrections or replacement if a system is failing. Systems out of compliance must be repaired or replaced before the sale can be completed.


The TOST regulation is to identify and repair failing septic systems and defective water wells, protect the groundwater and the environment, acording to the health department.


Since shortly after it’s conception in 2007,  the commission has heard citizens complaining the program was arbitrary, unfair, unnecessarily costly and being used to bring systems up to present day codes, if they are failing or not, contrary to the wording of the regulation.


Information on the BEHD website, includes a list of evaluators, evaluation sites, exemption forms, escrow agreement forms and the TOST regulation.



Why Barry County Commissioners voted the way they did

Ten years ago, the Barry Eaton District Health Department set a regulation mandating inspection of on-site sewer and water systems and repair or replacing those deemed failing before selling or transferring property in Barry and Eaton counties.

It has drawn many complaints from the public since its inception.


A proposal from Barry County Commission Chair Ben Geiger to review the regulation at a cost of $6,500 for a public meeting, advertising and a survey to develop improvements, brought a response from every commissioner, a former commissioner and the public. What follows is a condensation of commissioner’s reasons for their votes, pro and con.


Commissioner Vivian Conner: “You want to spend money when we don’t know it we can do anything. We could do this and the board (of health) can say no. We’ve been listening for 10 years and they wanted it changed…things do need to be changed…I’m leaning toward a (separate) Barry County Health Department.”


Commissioner Dan Parker: “What we are saying is that the health department needs a Dale Carnegie course…but they have to see it needs to be changed… the money would be worth it to me to get the latest up-to-date information, conduct a professional survey with random sampling and some from the health department.”


Commissioner Heather Wing: “We need to have a system to what we’re doing to our lakes. The time of sale is the biggest problem. Houses are not being sold, houses are not being bought. They are manipulating the property owners rights. Our constituents are not being listened to…get the numbers--the health department runs on numbers. “


Commissioner Howard Gibson: “We’ve heard from the people; no one likes it. It’s a waste of money. It’s not a bad regulation, it’s bad how they administrated it. We should go out on our own, modify it and do what we want.”


Commissioner Jon Smelker: “I’m not fond of spending money…if we do it, we should ask, ‘Should we have a Barry County Health Department?’ We’ve lost control of our health department. Once we get one Barry County department, then we decide.”


Commissioner David Jackson: “Review is good, if spending money meets our end goals. I favor meeting to hear the public, so I’m in favor of going forward. I’m not sure a professional survey will get us the results we want; it’s important  to hear all sides. I’d like to limit the money somehow…is there an alternate plan?”


Commissioner Ben Geiger said after the meeting: "The plan approved today is all about listening. The feedback Commissioners receive on TOST experiences will show what's working, and what isn't working for our residents. While this regulation plays a role in protecting public health, we still have duty to listen, and to learn how it is impacting taxpayers." //


And, the public said:

Citizen Jack Miner: “Why would you spend money on what you already know, unless you want to make it look like you are fulfilling a campaign promise? Miner urged commissioner to consider a standalone health department for Barry County, discuss dropping TOST with Eaton County officials, develop a policy with mandatory guidelines of all aspects of TOST and insist health department enforcement match the policy.


Citizen Bob Vanderboegh said commissioners should compare TOST against other counties regulations, pointing out Barry County already has health and nuisance rules. He said TOST pits lake owners against rural residents and contended health department actions are based on faulty numbers. “They said it would create jobs. It has, and it has cost the public a lot of money.”


Former Commissioner Jim Dull: “I sat in the health board for two years; Ben said there were changes; they didn’t cure any problems. We had resolutions from the Farm Bureau and Barry County Veterans, all they got was lip service…it’s $6,500 on another study that goes nowhere.”












Traffic Death

Update: The person who died in the accident detailed below is identified as Daniel Russian,32, from Delta Township.

Original story: One person is dead following a crash on I-496 Tuesday morning in Eaton County. The Eaton County Sheriff's Office said a vehicle driven by a Delta Township resident rear-ended a truck stopped for a backup created by a construction zone.  The force of the of the impact pushed the truck into another stopped car in front of the truck. The lone male driver of the first car was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene. The occupants of the other vehicles were not injured.


Tuesday morning around 10:30 a.m. Grandville Police and Fire were called to Affordable Dentures and Implants on Canal Avenue on a vehicle that crashed into the building..  Two people were in the building at the time and were treated for injuries and taken to a nearby hospital.

The driver of the pickup truck, a 69-year-old male, refused medical treatment on the scene. Alcohol was not a factor in the crash.


Bowling will go to trial; charges include murder and attempted murder

Ralph Bowling III was bound over to circuit court for trial on nine counts involving the death of his estranged wife Cheyenne Bowling in the early morning hours of June 11. District Court Judge Michael Schipper set the Aug. 16 at 8:15 a.m. for Bowling’s next court appearance.


Bowling faces trial on counts of open murder, attempted murder, home invasion, 1st degree, second degree arson, carrying a weapon with unlawful intent and four counts of felony firearm violations during the commission of the crimes.


At the second part of the preliminary hearing, continued from June 28, forensic pathologist Patrick Hansma from Sparrow Hospital’s Forensic Pathology Department, testified that Cheyenne Bowling was shot in the left side of the face with a shotgun at close range. He determined the distance, from three inches to two feet, based on stippling, commonly called powder burns, around the wound.

Hansma said the gun likely was a .410 gauge shotgun.


Cheyenne Bowling’s body had several bruises and contusions from before her death in various stages of healing and newer abrasions on her head, neck and jaw. With the gunshot, her death would have been immediate, he said.


Barry County Sheriff’s Office Detective Janette Maki interviewed Bowling the morning after the death. He told her he had been  suspicious for six months that his wife was in an “inappropriate relationship” with co-worker Nathan Farrell, and put a tracking app on her phone that let him know where she was and also read her text messages.


Cheyenne left him and moved in with Melissa and Tim Wymer, her mother and step-father, when she discovered Bowling had put a camera covering her movements in her bedroom.

Bowling told Maki he followed Farrell and Cheyenne to the Wymer home on Bird Road home the night of the murder, and confronted them with a .410 shotgun. Bowling said he was upset, and angry and shot Farrell in the neck. Farrell fled and was later hospitalized.


Bowling changed his account of the night’s events and how Cheyenne died several times, “when I confronted him with inconsistencies,” Maki said. When Cheyenne fled the house, he found her where her body was later found between a vehicle and an outbuilding. Bowling first said they struggled for the gun, then later said when he went outside, he had his gun at shoulder level, “she stopped, and he discharged the shotgun,” Maki said. //


After the shooting, he went to his house on Coats Grove Road, intending to commit suicide, poured gasoline on the carpet and set it on fire. Changing his mind, he jumped out of a window and drove to Clarksville, then to Ionia County where he threw the shotgun in the woods alongside the road. The gun was recovered by police. Several hours later, he turned himself in to Barry Central Dispatch and was taken to Barry County Jail.


Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt asked Schipper to bind Bowling over to circuit court for trial. The murder was premeditated, he had six months to think about it, she said. Bowling clearly shot to kill Farrell and had to reload his gun to shoot Cheyenne, she added.

“It appears there were some injuries before she died. She was in the house, he chased her outside and he shot her in the face.”


Schipper said he found there was probable cause to believe that the nine counts were committed and they were committed by the defendant, “a pathetic man who murdered a defenseless woman.”


If convicted, open murder carries a life sentence, attempted murder can be life or any term of years, home invasion is 20 years, arson, a possible 20 years, carrying a weapon with unlawful intent, five years and felony gun charges an additional two years for each count. Bowling’s $1 million bond continues.




Thornapple Kitchen to reopen Thursday

The Thornapple Kitchen in Middleville plans to reopen today  July 20,  after a fire last Saturday destroyed the kitchen grill.

Unable to buy a replacement on the weekend, the restaurant  installed a new grill  and will be ready to serve customers again today.


Algal bloom at Thornapple Lake beach at Charlton Park not harmful to humans, pets

A suspicious looking algal bloom at the Thornapple Lake beach at Charlton Park, first thought to be harmful to people and pets, was later confirmed not to be at a level that would pose a threat to humans or animals, according to the Barry Eaton District Health Department.


An initial test by the DEQ on July 12 showed the toxin that often causes harmful algal blooms was probably present at the beach, but the levels of the toxin were unknown.


Out of caution and to protect the health of the public, the Barry-Eaton District Health Department issued a public health advisory for the swimming beach and recommended that people and pets not enter the water, especially where blue-green algae is visible.  


On July 14, the health department,  with guidance from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, sampled the water and updated the public health advisory, noting it is below the Environmental Protection Agency’s draft recreational criteria.


The health advisory was lifted July 14.


The health department strongly suggests that lake users still follow these recommendations:

*Avoid water that looks like spilled paint, has surface scum or films, is discolored or has colored streaks, and/or has green globs floating below the surface.

* Keep pets out of water with the above characteristics. If they come into contact with this water, rinse them off immediately. Do not let them drink the water or lick algae off their coats.

* Avoid swallowing water and rinse off with clean water after swimming.//


The public should also know that the amount of blue-green algae present in the lake could change quickly. A potential harmful algal bloom could occur at any time.

Awareness signs have been posted at various public access points to Thornapple Lake. While not all algal blooms produce toxins, to be safe, people and animals should avoid contact with very thick green scum in surface waters.


If you have concerns about algae in surface waters, contact MDEQ at For more information about harmful  algal blooms, see MDEQ’s information at For information on how they can affect health, visit




Two bicyclists struck by motorist; one dies, one seriously injured

One bicyclist died and the second suffered serious injuries after both were struck by a Caledonia motorist Saturday according to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. The bicyclist who died has been identified as Clarence Doornbos,76, of Caledonia. The second bicyclist, Claire Elgersma, 69, of Kentwood, sustained serious injuries.


A 2007 Jeep station wagon driven by Gerard Geerligs, 83, of Caledonia was southbound on Hanna Lake Avenue SE south of 92nd Street in Gaines Township when his vehicle struck the bicyclists who were also traveling southbound on Hanna Lake. Authorities say Geerligs was not wearing a seat belt and alcohol was not a factor in the crash.



Road Closure

Barry County Road  Commission would like to remind motorists to be aware of a road closure starting Monday July 17th at 7am, through Thursday, July 20th from Sisson Road at North Broadway to M-43 for culvert replacement.


Very Barry Family Event recognized by Hastings City Council

The City of Hastings Monday offered an Official Proclamation of Appreciation to the Very Barry Family Event coordinator, Daryl Waggoner. Mayor David Tossava read the proclamation, saying the event lets families with young children enjoy a free breakfast, learn about all the resources available to them in the county and meet and interact with emergency services workers.


Hearing and vision testing is available and kids enter a drawing for a new bike every other year.

“This event is thoroughly enjoyed by both the participants and those providing activities and sharing the information,” Tossava said. He named a dozen sponsors of the annual event, adding that there were many more.

“We really, really appreciate this, Waggoner said. “It’s a lot of work; it’s not just me, it’s certainly the committee. We were very successful this year; we gave out 384 bicycle helmets to 134 families.

“I want to thank the community partners who take part in the Very Barry Family Event.” 


Mass casualty training exercise will test Barry County emergency services response

Barry County Emergency Management will hold a full scale exercise of a mass casualty incident Saturday, August 19 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with approval of the Hastings City Council Monday.

Emergency Management Director Jim Yarger said personnel from Barry County emergency services, police, fire and ambulance, will respond, “stabilizing the situation, triaging and transporting ‘patients’ from the scene.”


The exercise will be held on South Church Street between South Broadway and West Court and West Center streets. West Center will be closed from South Broadway to the entrance to the Hastings City Bank parking lot during the exercise.


To have the last impact on the Saturday Hastings Farmer’s Market, all emergency vehicles will enter the scene from West Center, without lights or sirens, Yarger said.


The location will let responders use the Barry Enrichment Center parking lot and its building for pre-exercise orientation and post incident debriefing and lunch after the event. Responders will obey all traffic laws and an Exercise Safety Officer will oversee the exercise activities.




Superintendent's Platform

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


More than $83,000 in donations from the community and a roster of new teachers that includes Hastings High School alumni, gave evidence to the strength of our Saxon community as the Hastings Area Board of Education wrapped up the 2016-2017 year and prepared for 2017 -2018.


During its regular monthly meeting June 26, the board accepted with great appreciation the following donations from the community totaling $83,860.36:  Hastings Athletic Boosters, $2,000, summer athlete weight program, and $5,000 for the spring· sports season  Hastings Rotary Club, $4,375, backpack lunch program·  Kiwanis Club of Hastings, $500, Roe Reading Room·  Edythe Marshall Estate, $1,335.36, High School FFA·  Kisscross Events, $650, Hastings Athletic Department·  Baum Family Foundation, $70,000, Pay to Play (athletics)· //


Our community supports our Saxons and our Saxons give to the community. It’s great to see so many of our students involved in summer activities. Many played in the Gus Macker tournament and a youth leadership group from area districts worked with Bob Nida at the Y Camp and were recently honored by the Hastings Rotary.


The board approved the personnel report which included the following appointments:  Shayna Gibbons, 4th grade teacher, Southeastern Elementary·  Lacey Khon, media teacher, Northeastern/Star elementaries·  Adam Knapp, English Language Arts (ELA) teacher, middle school·  Anthony Knop, social studies teacher, middle school·  Margaret Livengood, art teacher, Northeastern/Star·  Katie Sanchez, 5th grade teacher, Southeastern·  Meg Travis, 4th grade teacher, Southeastern·  Shawn Watkins, ELA teacher, high school·  Stephanie Watkins, 1st grade teacher, Southeastern· In other action regarding personnel the Board approved the following:  The superintendent’s evaluation and contract·  The issue of employment contracts district administrators·  Continuing employment of non-contract employees·  A Master Agreement between the Hastings Area School System and the Hastings· Educational Support Personnel Association  A Letter of Agreement with the Hastings Education Association as presented, adding· “Experience Credit” to the 2017-2019 contract.  The Board also accepted the personnel report also included notice of the following: Retirement:  Linda Miller, bus driver·


To ensure that all Saxons, all students in Barry County, are prepared for and have access to post secondary education the Barry County College Access Network (BCAN) Leadership Team, led by former Saxon Margie Haas, met recently to continue their work. There are two BCAN action teams to support our students with their post-secondary plans, the Affordability Action Team and the Awareness and Aspiration Action Team.


Preparing students for academic success starts with mastering the fundamentals of reading. Curriculum Director Matt Goebel discussed recent Michigan legislation that requires students to be retained if they have not achieved reading proficiency by the end of third grade and what is being done ensure that students achieve the required proficiency. In related action, the board approved the purchase of Pearson’s Reading Street as the primary resource for the Hastings K-5 core reading program. The Board also approved the On Course text as the primary resource for the College and Career Preparation course for the Early Middle College program.


The board also held a first reading on several NEOLA policies regarding:  Bylaws·  Mandatory courses·  Recording of district meetings involving parents and students·  Student assessments·  Employment of substitutes·  Criminal history record check·  Opioid antagonists·  Bullying and other aggressive behavior toward students·  Emergency removal, suspension and expulsion of non-disabled students·  Expulsions/suspensions required by statute·  Web content·  Student records·  School safety information·  Food services·  Wellness·  Continuity of organizational operations plan·  Information security·  Student seclusion and restraint·  Homeless students·  Children and youth in foster care·  Letters of reference· The board approved a travel study request for the Varsity Singers to Carnegie Hall in New York City in the spring of 2018.


It also approved a resolution of membership in the Michigan High School Athletic Association for the 2017 – 2018 school year.

Regarding business the Board approved:  A food service shared service agreement with Lakewood Public Schools·  The execution of agreements with the following organizations for the 2017 -2018 school year--· Hastings Education Association, Barry Intermediate School District.


The Board held a public hearing on the proposed 2017 -2018 budget, and later adopted the 2017 -2018 General Appropriations Act Budget Resolutions, which defines the parameters for the 2017 -2018 fiscal year. The biggest change in the budget for the 2017 -2018 fiscal year is a decrease in federal funding for disadvantaged students, which is offset somewhat by an increase in state funds.


Closing out the 2016 -2017 fiscal year, the Board approved General Appropriations Act Amendment No. 3 to the General Operating Fund for 2016 -2017. In related action the board approved borrowing up to but not exceeding $3,000,000 to meet cash flow needs for the 2017 -2018 fiscal year until state and federal funds are dispersed.


The board approved a recommendation from administration to adopt the Preliminary Qualification Application for the November 2018 bond issue. The Board previously approved an August millage request for the renewal of the current 17.92 mills.

There are two additional potential proposals for the November ballot. One is new mills taking advantage of the School Bond Loan Fund (0.5) for athletics, transportation, technology, and middle school and high school locker rooms, high school library and cafeteria/kitchen.

The second potential proposal is for a no mill increase to the current millage using capitalized interest to remodel areas of the middle school that are untouched by this bond (carpeting and furniture in the 1997 wing) and some work at the four elementary schools such as carpeting and furniture, and roofs for all buildings.


The Board will review the two potential November ballot proposals and consider a resolution during its next regular meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, July 24 at Central Elementary, 509 South Broadway, Hastings.



GHO Symphonic Band from Germany to visit, perform in Middleville

The GHO Symphonic Band from Heide, Germany will visit Middleville from July 24 to July 28 as part of the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp International Exchange Program, the eighth Blue Lake International Touring Exchange group sponsored by the Fond du Lac Symphonic Band since 2008.

The Band will present a performance on Wednesday, July 26, at 7 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, 5215 M-37 Highway, north of Middleville. An Ice Cream Social will follow the concert to greet the conductor and performers.

Hailing from the Schleswig-Holstein province of northern Germany, the group, conducted by Matthias Heidenrich, includes 54 youth, ages 13-19, and five adult staff/instructors, for a total of 59 guests who will stay with Middleville area families.


Dedicated to promoting peace and understanding through the universal language of the arts, the Blue Lake International Exchange Program began in 1969.

Since then, more than 15,000 high school musicians have been hosted in 900 European communities while nearly 10,000 members of European bands, orchestras, choirs and other groups have toured communities throughout the Midwest. //


The Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp operates each summer near Whitehall, Michigan.  More than 5,500 talented young musicians, dancers, theatre and art students – mostly from Michigan and other mid-western states – are expected to attend Blue Lake this summer. 


Some 1,500 students apply for the Blue Lake International Exchange Program each year. Three hundred and fifty are selected to participate in one of seven performing groups of the International European touring ensembles.


In return, nearly 10,000 members of 550 European bands, orchestras, choirs, dance and theatre groups have performed in communities throughout Michigan and the Midwest.

While touring the United States, more than 300 families in 35 Michigan communities have hosted members of eight European groups that have visited Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.


Photo: The GHO Symphonic Band, being led by Matthias Heidenrich, will perform in Middleville on July 26.




UPDATE: Homicide suspect gives himself up in Detroit

UPDATE: Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich reports that murder suspect, Nathaniel Bowers, turned himself in to police in Detroit and is being transported to the Eaton County Jail, to be held for arraignment on the charges issued by the Eaton County Prosecutor’s Office.

Sheriff’s office detectives, Lansing Police Department and the Capitol Area Violent Crime Initiative have been working with the Michigan State Police Multi-Jurisdictional Fugitive Apprehension Team to locate Bowers since July 11.


ORIGINALSTORY: Eaton County Sheriff’s detectives have identified the suspect who fled the scene of the killing of 22-year-old Trevon Rashad McDuffy from Lansing.  McDuffy died July 11 of multiple gunshot wounds in the parking lot of the Quickie Convenience store at 4820 Waverly Road.


He is Nathaniel Marcelious-Antonio Bowers, 23, a black male, 5 feet 4 inches tall with a thin build, according to a sheriff’s office report. As a result of the investigation, the Eaton County Prosecutor’s Office authorized an arrest warrant for open murder and felony firearm.


“Bowers is considered to still be armed and we are making every effort to arrest him and remove this dangerous threat to public safety from the streets.  We are asking that anyone who sees or has information about the location of Nathaniel Bowers to call 911 immediately,” the news release said.


“If you are a witness or have any information regarding this crime, we are asking that you call Eaton County Sheriff’s Office Detective Sergeant Josh Ivey at 517-652-3315 or Mid-Michigan Crime stoppers at 517-483-STOP.”


The Lansing Police Department,  Capitol Area Violent Crime Initiative team, Michigan State University Police Department, and the Michigan State Police Fugitive Team are providing tremendous ongoing assistance in the murder investigation and search for suspect Nathaniel Bowers, officials said. 






Hastings City Council:"Here's what's going to happen..."

The Hastings City Council has delayed action on an expected  request to its Planning Commission for one month to give city staff and council members  time to explain to the public what’s going on.

If they can let people know what they are going to do and why, it will reduce a lot of possible confusion and phone calls seeking clarification, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said Monday.


During routine zoning business, city staff learned that the city code mandates if an ordinance change affects the entire city, the city has to send notifications to every resident in the city by first class mail or personal delivery, he said.


That’s about 3,000 notifications, plus one for every one who lives within 300 feet of the city.

That’s a lot of money and work, especially when the state law says if more than 11 parcels are involved, the city must publish a notice in a general circulation newspaper. 

“Just one zoning district change still involves hundreds…even if it’s just the B-1 zoning, that’s 300 mailings,” he said.


Mansfield said they will change the code to align with the state rules. To do that, they must notify all the residents of the change of the code, and he wants the people to know what it means, and why it is being done, before they get the notice.


“We will still make notifications in the paper and also to those within 300 feet of the city after the change,” he said.

Mansfield asked for the one-month delay to “try to get the word out…We’re not trying to hide anything, it’s just if they don’t know about it ahead of time, the change will cause confusion and lots of phone calls.” 


Hastings Councilman planning permanent ice skating rink at Tyden Park

Hastings City Councilman Bill Redman was given permission by the council to develop plans for a permanent ice skating rink in Tyden Park on Monday, July 10.

Redman was responsible for the installation of a temporary ice rink two years ago which was well attended, and planned another last year, but the weather did not stay cold enough to maintain ice for skating.


His plan calls for a rink over at least one existing basketball court in the park that could be used for basketball in the summer and ice skating in the winter. Redman said among other things, they will need a water system, a drain installed and a freezing unit that will freeze water up to 45 degrees.


Redman said he wants no money from the city, just approval to begin planning and applying for grants from Barry Community, Steelcase and Kellogg foundations. He also will seek donations for the project.

“We are looking at $700,000. That’s a lot of money, but I think we can do it.”


He was asked to develop a plan covering the scope of the project, including future maintenance, and bring it back for council approval. It is probably a two-year project, hopefully, the winter of 2019-20 20, he said. "Then Mother Nature can do whatever she wants.”



Superintendent's Platform

WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight news in their districts. This posting is from Maple Valley Superintendent Michelle Falcon.


“Maple Valley Schools Extra-Curricular “Pay to Participate” Fee --- NO MORE!

It has been nearly a dozen years in which “Pay to Participate” has been assessed to students who take part in school sponsored extra-curricular activities. 


The cost ranges from $50 - $300 annually depending on number of activities, grade level, and family member participants. Our annual operating budget views this income as a $22,000 revenue.


After many discussions at the board level, the Labor/Finance, School/Community, and Athletic committees requested data to determine if a barrier existed for those students who could not afford the fee to participate in activities.


Due to the lack of quantitative data, the perception data collected from our stakeholders indicates this could be a factor.  In addition, the Maple Valley Athletic Boosters have been cooperative and collaborative in financial supporting the district in the areas of our trainer, supplies, uniforms, and other expenses. 


Both the board of education and the board of the athletic boosters have agreed to meet annually to discuss the financial need in order to fill the revenue void of the “Pay to Participate” fees collected.


Beginning 2017-18 school year, there will be no fees collected for extra-curricular activities. It is always our mission to support our Maple Valley families in a successful school experience. We hope this will encourage more of our students to participate in our extra opportunities.”


Intercounty Drain Drainage Board responds to Little Thornapple River Drain letter

In 2014, tree removal along the Little Thornapple River Drain was approved, however, many claim there was excessive removal beyond the original contract that caused severe damage to part of the 13.9 mile drain district.

After months of property owners complaining, attorney’s opinions and negotiations with the Department of  Environmental Quality,  property owners in the drain district in Barry and Ionia counties were assessed differing amounts on their property tax bills to pay for costs related to reconstruction of the affected segments.


Residents in Carlton Township in Barry County are included in the assessments.

Now, a letter to the Intercounty Drain Board from the Carlton Township Board, referring to the restoration work, said the township is “submitting a claim against your insurance carrier for past and future charges being mandated to Carlton Township for additional work done outside the original contract.”


The letter, discussed by the drainage board at a Wednesday meeting, said the claim was being made “because of oversite, mismanagement, and not following contract obligations that occurred on their behalf,” and that legal fees would be added if necessary.


Attorney Stacy Hissong, who represents the drainage board, will send Carlton Township a letter telling them the board does not have an insurance company.


All three counties in the drain district, Barry, Ionia and Kent, received similar letters, according to drain board members. Barry County Administrator Michael Brown has forwarded his to the county’s insurance carrier, Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority. As of July 12, he had not received a reply from MMRMA.

 The counties will give their individual responses, Hissong said, “and, we’ll see what happens next.”



Update on Little Thornapple River Drain work is positive

A Wednesday update on reconstruction of part of the Little Thornapple River Drain was mostly positive, with work on a test site continuing with the expectation that it will be completed before the next update in August.


The DEQ agreed to a test plan to use Barry County Jail inmates for hand work where heavy machinery can’t be used, reclaiming somewhat less than an acre that would serve as partial replacement of lost wetlands.


Aaron Snell, of Streamside Ecological Services, said work with the inmates and others went well, with the effort about half finished. They will finish the work and ask a DEQ representative to inspect it and hopefully approve it.


The  Little Thornapple River Drain Drainage Board unanimously approved authorizing Snell to work on all permitted work toward completion of the project. Getting needed permits has not been a problem, Barry County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull said.


At the same time, Attorney Stacy Hissong will continue working with the DEQ on an administrative consent order covering the legal technicalities.

The DEQ would like to see a faster timeline, but there’s not much they can do about that, Snell said. The drain board’s funding comes through assessments on property owners added to property tax bills so, “comes in chunks,” and is not a steady stream of income.

The next progress report is set for 2 p.m. Aug.17 at the Barry Central Dispatch community room.//


The drainage board members are Brady Harrington, deputy director of the Michigan Department of Agricultural and Rural Development and drain commissioners, Jim Dull from Barry County, Robert Rose from Ionia County and Ken Yonker from Kent County.



n August, 2014, the intercounty drain board hired Geiger Excavating to do limited tree removal to correct flooding problems along part of the 13.9-mile-length of the Little Thornapple Drain, part of the Thornapple River.


Property owners along the drain and trout stream were soon complaining in public meetings of trees being cut and left lay, bank erosion, loss of ground cover along the river’s banks, lowered property values and general devastation of the river and their property.


In April, 2015. The Little Thornapple River Drain Drainage Board held a public meeting and hired Aaron Snell, co-owner of Streamside Ecological Services, to provide a reconstruction plan for review by the  DEQ. The latest plan submitted by Snell was accepted by the DEQ with minor questions.


Barry County Sheriff's Office not soliciting funds for summer concerts

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office reports that they received information from a local business today regarding an individual who had contacted the business to solicit a monetary donation for advertising to support the summer concert series. The man identified himself as a representative of the Barry County Sheriff’s Office.


"Please be mindful that the sheriff’s office will never solicit anyone for donations in this fashion.  If you receive a call of this nature, they are not associated with this office," Undersheriff Matt Houchlei said.





Lansing man dies from multiple gunshots in Eaton County business parking lot

A Lansing  man was shot to death at 4:32 p.m. yesterday in the parking lot of the Quickie Convenience store at 4820 Waverly Road, the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office reports.

Responding deputies found Trevon Rashad McDuffy, 22, lying in the parking lot with multiple gunshot wounds.


Delta Township Fire Emergency Medical Services responded, however McDuffy died at the scene. Sheriff’s detectives are continuing to investigate information developed since the homicide; they have determined the shooting was not a random act of violence.


The Michigan State University Police Department assisted deputies with new crime scene mapping technology and detectives received immediate valuable assistance from the Lansing Police Department and Michigan State Police. 




Allegan County Sheriff's Office hosts dive team training for 5th District Region

The Allegan County Sheriff's Office hosts a training exercise on Thursday July 13 at Dumont Lake in Monterey Township. Several dive teams from the State’s Homeland Security 5th District Region which includes Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties, are taking part.


Dive team members will work and train with other divers and agencies so they will be comfortable working with each other during a large scale incident. //


The exercise will evaluate an “in-water” incident and use resources available through mutual aid in the 5th District. Dive team leaders will learn what resources are available to them in the event of a large scale incident in their area. Additionally, team leaders will share techniques used in the areas of documenting and recovering evidence. Pre-determined topics will also be evaluated.



During the exercise, the teams will learn different means and methods of work from each other, including search patterns, boat operations, underwater photography, evidence collection  and preservation, scene processing and photography, scene sketches, information documentation and the use of other resources such as drones and cadaver dogs to locate evidence and possible human remains.



Notice: Change in Fresh Food Initiative location

Due to inclement weather and construction at the Hastings First United Methodist Church, the Hastings Fresh Food Initiative on Wednesday, July 12, will be in the community room at the Hastings Church of the Nazarene, 1716 North Broadway in Hastings.


Until further notice, as long as weather permits the program to operate outside, we will continue to host our food distribution at the Hastings First United Methodist Church.

However, if the weather does not allow us to be outside, the program will be at the Hastings Church of the Nazarene. We will make every effort to inform you of a location change and we apologize for the inconvenience.


Barry County United Way, Phone: 269-945-4010



Barry County Commissioner Geiger to take public input on TOST, seek solutions to criticisms

Barry County Commission Chairman Ben Geiger said he is prepared  to confront the issue of a Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation named time of sale of transfer or TOST. His proposal for reviewing the entire program will include a new online comment portal and a public listening session..


“It has been 10 years since the TOST Regulation was enacted. A lot has changed in 10 years. Commissioners have changed. Attitudes have changed,” Geiger said Tuesday. “But one thing has not: concerns about how the program is affecting homeowners. We’ve all heard input on TOST. But, our health department structure doesn’t allow for everyone to be involved in the discussion.


“When I became chair, I promised to be welcoming to everyone wanting to be involved the policy process. I intend to keep this promise. “Next week, I will present my proposal for reviewing the TOST regulation. By listening to everyone, and having a honest discussion about what’s working and what isn’t working, we will find the right strategy for protecting our environment without burdening homeowners with red tape and unnecessary costs,” he said.


The TOST regulation was designed to protect the county’s water supply by inspection and replacement or repairs of on-site water or sewer systems if they are deemed failing. Heath department certified inspectors make those determinations whenever a property in Barry and Eaton counties is sold or transferred.

However, the regulation has been roundly criticized since it was put in place; many over the years bitterly complained to commissioners of the costs involved, health department officials going beyond the scope of the regulation, arbitrary and capricious decisions and poor public relations.




New Barry County COA building millage proposal will be on November ballot

Barry County voters will be asked on Nov. 7 to approve a request for 0.1669 mills for 20 years to fund a new $5,450,000 Commission on Aging (COA) facility with an annual 4.5 percent interest rate, after unanimous approval of ballot language by the Barry County Board of Commissioners Tuesday.


If the millage is approved, it is estimated that an owner of a Barry County residence with a taxable value of $50,000, will pay an average of $8.35 a year.


The proposal is based on erecting a new 22,500 square foot building using 2018 construction estimates. Included in the proposal are costs for architects fees and issuing bonds, demolition of the existing building, site work, commercial kitchen equipment and high-quality durable interior and exterior finishes.


Other equipment and office furnishings are not included, however, Executive Director of the COA, Tammy Pennington, has said the facility can pay the cost of new furnishings and equipment.


The initial plan was for a 20-year, 0.1843 millage request for a 25,000 square foot building costing $6 million. With concerns on the cost of the project, the COA board worked with Bob Van Putten, from Landmark Designs, to find ways to lower the cost.


They found savings of  $500,000 by bringing the building size down to 22,500 square feet by narrowing the main corridor from 12 feet to 10, reducing the  community room from 112 feet long to 96 feet and other smaller measures.//


In other business, commissioners approved completing paperwork to finalize the acceptance of a donation to the Barry County Animal Shelter from the Edythe Marshall Estate/Trust. 


Update - Personal Injury Vehicle Crash

A 44 year old Hastings man was airlifted to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo following a single vehicle traffic accident on Center Road near east State Street at around 10pm Monday night. The west bound vehicle failed to make a curve, left the road and rolled over.


The man, whose name has not yet been released, was ejected from the vehicle and suffered serious injuries. His exact medical condition is unknown at this time.  A dog, believed to have been riding in the car, was found near the scene and was taken to the Barry County Animal Shelter for care until a family member could arrive.


Alcohol may have been a factor in the crash. The accident remain under investigation by Hastings Police.


UPDATE: Missing teen found; hospitalized with minor injuries

UPDATE: After an extensive search, Alexandra Field was found at an area business. She was transported to an area hospital with minor injuries.



ORIGINAL STORY: The Kent County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a missing/endangered 16-year-old girl who left her home on foot, armed with a knife and had made statements indicting that she might harm herself.


Alexandra Field was last seen leaving the residence in the 3000 block of Winesap Drive, N.E. in an unknown direction at 2:21 p.m. today. She was wearing a black sweatshirt, black stretch pants, and black knee high boots. She is described as a white, 5 feet 2 inches tall, 120 pounds, with short blond hair.


Field is not known to frequent any specific areas of interest and she has a history of self harm. A K9 track was attempted but was unsuccessful.  Currently, police are searching surrounding wooded areas and neighborhoods. Those search efforts are ongoing.


Anyone with information on Field’s whereabouts is asked to call 911 immediately to report her location and description as well as her direction and means of travel.


Photo: Alexandra Field



Callton announces run for 19th Senate District seat

Former 87th Michigan House District Representative Mike Callton, (R-Nashville)  officially announced his candidacy this week for State Senate District 19, which covers Barry, Calhoun and Ionia counties.

Callton previously served six years as representative for the 87th District, and termed out in 2016. 

During his terms, Callton did not miss a vote.  He served as chair of the House Health Policy Committee and was the primary sponsor of eight public acts. 

He hopes to follow Sen. Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek), who will be termed out of the senate in 2018.


"It’s just my way,” Callton said. "I figured the sooner I started talking to people, the better I can serve them later on down the road.  It’s a big district and I want to be sure I meet with as many folks as possible.” Callton graduated from Michigan State University, served in the U.S. Army, and returned to earn his doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine from the National University of Health Sciences. 


The owner and operator of the Nashville Chiropractic Center in his hometown, Callton was named Michigan’s Chiropractor of the Year for 2013. He previously served as chair of the Barry County Board of Commissioners. 


“I’m really just a guy who sees problems that need fixing,” he  said.  “And I’m not scared of getting my hands dirty to get the job done.”


Photo: Mike Callton


First National Night in Hastings is Aug.1

All Barry County residents are invited to the first Night Out celebration in Hastings at Tyden Park on Aug 1 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Hastings police, area law enforcement and emergency services will be there to meet and greet the public with free food, prizes, games, a dunk tank, a free raffle and a bounce house.


It’s all to recognize and build on the police-community partnership, and let the people get to know firefighters and police, deputies and troopers and EMTs, Barry Central Disatch 911, and ambulance personnel who protect and serve the community.


Deputy Chief  Dale Boulter is given credit for the original idea. Planning for the event started in February by a committee made up of Boulter, Officer Kendra Backing and Sgt. Kris Miller, Secretary Anne Lockman and Chief Jeff Pratt.


On the national level, the event is always held the first Tuesday in August, and promotes police-community relationships, giving the community a chance to see law enforcement in a relaxed setting, while promoting a sense of community, positive public relations, safety and trust.


Backing, who has experience in 10 such events, said the Night Out activities sends the message that the Hastings Police Department really wants to provide and maintain a quality of life for citizens.


Boulter said county’s emergency services will have displays of their equipment and demonstrations of what they do. Other community outreach organizations that provide resources for residents, like the Barry County United Way and Green Gables will also be there.





Just an observation....

**It’s not surprising that Carl Schoessel helped Delton Kellogg Schools out of its financial peril as interim superintendent,  sorting out the issues and untangling financial problems, and the many other concerns as they came up.

He’s been at it long time, he understands it and he’s good at it.


Also, that he stayed for three years to help the district when he expected to stay a semester of two holding everything in place until they hired new superintendent, makes perfect sense to any one who knows Carl.


He should be very satisfied with the work he did at the school; it is not an overstatement to say the district was on the brink of some really unpleasant things happening, right up to closing the schools, when he agreed to help out. He surely is quietly pleased with what he accomplished.

But Carl, being Carl, would never say it.


Give credit to others, admit he was part of a good team that did it, but not take credit for himself.

We all know the people who shift blame for everything; Carl shifts credit.

He is matter of fact when explaining how to fix financial problems. Maybe he just figures no big deal, you can always get more money, but he gets excited talking about a character building program that was created for their school by their people.


“One thing I’m really, really, really proud of is the character program we have,” he said.

The program the school had, though very expensive, was not very good, and the school couldn’t afford it anyway.

“I asked the counselors, elementary, middle and high school, to see if they could find a program that would meet our needs.  I asked them, ‘what do you think about having our own plan’”?

“Bless their hearts, they did a magnificent job; they came up with a program with seven character traits, one for each month and then together at the end of the year.”

During each board of education meeting, students gave examples of the character trait of the month; one example, the Chess Club members showed they had perseverance when they became champions.

An incident that shows why Carl is so proud occurred during the month when integrity was stressed. A 10-year-old boy found a $100 bill in the Family Fare parking lot in Delton, took it inside and turned it into a clerk, “because I have integrity.”


“It was a self-created plan and didn’t cost anything. They even made lessons plans for the teachers. At the end of the school year, we made a presentation to the community.

“To me, the highlight was to get it done. The kids, staff and the community bought into it, it will continue. I’m very proud of them; they changed the character of the school. “It’s another example of when people work together, good things happen.”


Did you notice he just did it again?


I’ve known Carl for a long, long time and I know he’s not going to like this commentary. So, as a favor, I’m not putting his photo with the article. He hates that.

Jean Gallup


Power Outage Update

Some areas of west michigan are still without power from the powerful storms that hit west michigan last friday morning.

Consumers Energy crews with help from out of state utility crews worked long hours getting the power back on. This monday morning there are still 10 Barry county customers  without electric service, but that should be cleared up soon. Ottawa county still reporting 1,100 out of service, Kent county some 426.



One minor injury reported in two-car crash in Caledonia Township

A collision of two cars driven by Caledonia women resulted in minor injuries to one Friday afternoon, July 7, according to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department.

Jessica Keto, 37, driving a 2013 Lexus westbound on 100th Street, turned southbound at Alaska Avenue in front of Emily Jacobs, 22, colliding with her 2004 Impala and causing it to roll over, deputies report.


Jacobs was transported by Thornapple Township Emergency Services to Mercy Health St. Mary’s Hospital with a back injury. Keto and her two children in her vehicle were not injured.


Deputies were assisted by the Caledonia Township Fire Department, Thornapple Township Emergency Services and Life Ambulance.


It's Barry County Fair time!

The 165th annual Barry County Fair is just around the corner; July 15 through July 22, at the fairgrounds at the Barry Expo Center, midway between Hastings and Middleville.


A centerpiece of the fair is the kids in 4-H Clubs showing their animals during judging, the birthing tent and special youth programs in the Community Tent all week, including Youth Cat judging on Wednesday, Ladies Day on Thursday, Williams Family bluegrass on Friday and Taste of Barry County on Saturday,


The grandstand has events every day, starting with harness racing, mud runs and draft horse pulls, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. During the week, look for more events at the grandstand; the Super Kicker Rodeo, Off Road Derby, truck and tractor pulls, demolition derby and antique tractor pulls. Special Days are Veterans & Senior Day on Tuesday and Kids Day on Wednesday.

Elliot Amusements will provide Midway rides and attractions. For details including a schedule and time of events, and much more, visit



Photos: The Barry County Fair is all about 4-H kids and their animals, exhibits and the midway.

(file photos)





Spectrum Health Pennock to open new cancer center Monday

Becoming part of Spectrum Health has enabled an expansion of cancer services for the local community. In partnership with the Spectrum Health Foundation at Pennock and Spectrum Health Cancer Center, the new Spectrum Health Pennock Cancer Center will begin seeing patients on Monday, July 10.


The center, in the main hospital at 1009 West Green Street in Hastings, offers local access for patients to meet with their care team and receive treatment and related services in one visit, in one location, close to home. Chemotherapy will be offered on Monday and Thursday with other infusion therapy services available Monday through Friday.


Megan Fletcher, Spectrum Health Pennock pharmacy manager, led efforts to achieve national certification with The Joint Commission. This allows preparation of chemotherapy drugs on site and adjustment of therapy in response the patient’s most recent laboratory results. Pennock’s multidisciplinary skilled care team, including Kathleen Yost, MD, treats people with many different types of cancers and blood disorders.


“The Spectrum Health Pennock Cancer Center is part of a collaboration of Spectrum Health’s network of hospitals, Spectrum Health Cancer Center and community providers. The center will offer a full range of cancer services including prevention, screening and diagnosis, personalized cancer treatment, integrative therapies, access to clinical trials and leading edge technology,” said Spectrum Health Pennock President Sheryl Lewis Blake. //


For patients, this means access to specialists in every area of cancer care, as well as the most advanced technologies and latest treatment options to identify and fight cancer.

“Spectrum Health Pennock will provide access and treatment to the most complex types of cancers and each treatment plan is as unique as the patient who receives it. Care teams also maintain strong communications back with patients’ primary care providers,” explained Spectrum Health Pennock Chief Operating Officer Carla Wilson-Neil.


Wilson-Neil played an instrumental role, advocating and coordinating local cancer services in Barry County with help from Dr. Judy Smith, chief of the Department of Oncology for Spectrum Health. The center hosts a local team of four oncology certified nursing staff members, including Cindy Bigler, NP with cancer center oversight.



“Our approach to cancer care focuses on treating the whole person. We provide patients and families with quality and compassionate care from their initial visit, throughout treatment and beyond,” stated Douglas Smendik, MD, division chief, Middleville Family Practice, Spectrum Health Medical Group.


With one out of every two men, and one out of every three women likely to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society, the center comes as a welcome addition to help those in the community.


“Dialysis and cancer were the top two requested services for Pennock,” said Mike O’Mara, chair, Spectrum Health Foundation at Pennock. “The Pennock Foundation ran a capital campaign in 2013 for what is now the Baum Center for Health, where our patients receive local dialysis care.

“The dialysis center has provided over 25,000 treatments and continues to grow. Now, the new Spectrum Health Pennock Cancer Center is opening and it is anticipated it will provide over 4,800 patient visits per year.”


The Spectrum Health Foundation at Pennock has committed to fundraising $400,000 over the next three years to support the program and keep cancer services local. The foundation will also offer a complimentary oncology massage to the cancer center’s patients.


According to the national Massage Therapy Foundation, oncology certified massage therapy may provide relief for nausea, fatigue, pain and chemotherapy induced neuropathy, enhancing the healing process and comfort felt by patients.


Spectrum Health Pennock will be holding a dedication ceremony for the new Cancer Center, along with the recently renovated Healing Garden and Sanctuary, on Wednesday, July 26 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.; the public is welcome to attend. Please RSVP to Sandy Reedy at or by calling 269.948.5890.




Have fun at the fair, enjoy the animals and stay healthy

It’s fair season in Michigan, with most fairs featuring petting zoos and animal exhibits that give children a thrilling face-to-face experience with animals.

However, it is important to remember that animals can carry germs harmful to humans. When people forget to wash their hands after petting an animal, or bring food or drinks into an area where animals are exhibited, they are at risk for becoming ill.


The novel influenza, or flu virus, can be spread from pigs or poultry when a person comes into contact with the droplets from an animal’s cough or sneeze, then touch their own nose or mouth.

Salmonella and E. coli germs can infect the stomach and intestines if a person touches animals or nearby surfaces that have been contaminated by feces (poop) and then eating or touching their face with their hands. //


To prevent illness when visiting animal exhibits, wash your hands often, and always right after petting animals or touching animal pens or fences, leaving animal areas, after using the restroom, before eating or drinking or making food or drink and when taking off soiled clothes and shoes.

Use hand sanitizers if running water and soap are not available, but wash your hands with soap and water as soon as a sink is available.


Keep food and drinks out of animal areas, do not share food with animals, do not eat or drink raw unpasteurized products including milk, cheese, cider or juices. Prepare, serve, and eat only where animals are not permitted, and always wash your hands before fixing food or drinks and before eating or drinking.


Always supervise children younger than five in animal areas and don’t allow them to put their thumbs, fingers or other objects in their mouth when they are interacting with animals, and supervise their hand washing. Don’t take strollers, bottles, pacifiers, spill-proof cups, or toys in animal areas.


Children under five years, the elderly, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems should use extra precautions at animal exhibits.

If one becomes ill with flu-like symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, and/or tiredness, or gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, especially with a fever or bloody stools after visiting an animal exhibit, contact a doctor, and be sure to tell them about the recent contact with animals.


Most animal-related illnesses appear within a week after contact.



Lansing man deliberately ran his vehicle into woman's car, causing crash, police say

Eaton County Sheriff’s deputies were called to a two-car personal injury crash at Saginaw Highway and Robins Road On July 4, at about 1:45 p.m., authorities report.  Deputies and detectives investigating the circumstances and actions leading up to the crash discovered that Tony Lorenzo Walker, 32, from Lansing, had allegedly intentionally crashed his vehicle into a woman’s vehicle.

Walker and the iwoman know each other.


At the crash scene, the woman’s vehicle had rolled over and struck a light post, pinning her inside. Although serious, her injuries are not considered to be life threatening at this time, officials said.

Delta Township Fire Department extricated the woman and she was transported by ambulance to a local hospital.


Walker was arrested and lodged.  He was charged Thursday by the Eaton County Prosecutor and arraigned on two 10-year felony counts of assault with intent to do great bodily harm, and one 5-year count of reckless operation of a motor vehicle causing serious injury. His bond was set at $250,000.




Barry County Animal Shelter to benefit from Hickory Corners woman's gift

The Barry County Animal Shelter will get a substantial donation from the estate of the late Edythe Marshall, from Hickory Corners, who died in January.

The county is working with local Attorney Bob Byington to provide a step by step process on the bequest because it involves an insurance company and also a portion of her estate, Barry County Administrator Michael Brown said Tuesday.


“We don’t know how much it is, but it will be significant,” he said. “It’s best to honor the requirements.”

The shelter accepts gifts in donation fund, which are usually smaller amounts, he said.

In 2015, Edythe and Harold Marshall gifted their 300-acre farm to Michigan State University.



Wayland MSP post seeking "Angel" volunteers

To help people struggling with addiction and reduce drug demand, the Michigan State Police has joined almost 200 police departments nationwide in the Angel Program, a pre-arrest diversion program. The program allows someone with a drug addiction to walk into a state police post to seek help for their addiction, without the fear of arrest or investigation.


The MSP has expanded the program to the Wayland Post and is recruiting volunteers who wish to provide support to participants, including transportation to treatment.


Interested volunteers must complete an application, available at the post, have reliable transportation, a valid driver’s license and live within one hour of the post, among other requirements. Volunteers receive training prior to any assignments, and will be reimbursed for mileage and meals. For more about the program or becoming an Angel Volunteer, contact the Wayland Post at (269) 792-2213.


The Angel Program is supported by the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative. It began in Gloucester, Mass. in 2015. The state police plan to continue expansion of the program across the state in 2017.



COA Building Committee recommends downsized new building, vote on millage request expected next week

Putting a millage proposal on the Nov. 7 ballot to pay for a new Commission on Aging building will likely be voted on by county commissioners next week after changes were made to the plans.


The new plan reduced the overall size of a new building from 25,000 square feet to 22,500 square feet by narrowing the main corridor from 12 feet to 10 feet, reducing the  community room from 112 feet long to 96 feet long and other smaller measures, saving approximately $500,000 on the projected cost.


Bob Van Putten, from Landmark Design Group, worked with the building committee on revisions and assured the commission the changes were made, “without impacting the critical components” of the facility. “The large room was a major reduction area,” Executive Director Tammy Pennington said. “We wanted to maintain the integrity and size of the adult services area.”


The initial plan was for a 20-year, 0.1843 millage request for a $6 million building. The exact numbers for the Nov. 7 ballot will reflect the cost savings and an adjusted millage rate.

A “Friends of the COA” committee will be formed to provide information on the project.//


“This is good news for taxpayers,” Commissioner Ben Geiger said. “I want to thank the COA board for its action on wages. It was a difficult decision, but it goes a long way toward building trust with the taxpayer.”


Geiger was talking about the county implementation of the recommendations of a recent compensation and classification study over a four year period. The COA board, which is independent of the county, approved both the compensation and classification recommendations in one year starting May 1, instead of over four years.


That gave COA employees an immediate raise and Pennington a raise of her $64,117.20 annual salary to $80,641.60 beginning May 1, and an increase of two percent until 2020.

The move caused general confusion among officials and hard feelings when the county commission asked the COA board, and some on the board said, pressured them, to take back the action and follow the four year schedule. The COA board rescinded the implementation, and put the issue to rest.

Commissioner Vivian Conner said those involved have put it the past and are moving on.



IRS, Barry County disagree: employee or independent contractor?

In an issue that is sure to take time to resolve, the Internal Revenue Service has given Barry County its opinion that Airport Manager Mark Noteboom is a county employee, not an independent contractor. County Administrator Michael Brown, Noteboom and the Hastings City/Barry County Airport Commission disagree.


“We believe he is an independent contractor,” Brown said. “We continue to look into it.” County Attorney David Stoker is gathering information, “but this is just in the beginning stages,” Brown added.


That brings up a much wider question: Would everyone who works by contract with the county or city be considered an employee by the IRS?


Noteboom has negotiated contracts with the county, which were also approved by the city, since he was hired in 2009. Depending on the results of the contention of the IRS, the county could be liable for some costs, and likely penalties, but that’s still an unknown, Brown said. “FICA is 7.65 percent, we would have to pay that; that’s just one area…ultimately, the airport board may consider changes to clarify things.”


Hastings City Manager Jeff Mansfield said the city is still reviewing the IRS opinion and seeking advice from specialists in legal and accounting firms.  Hastings Mayor Dave Tossava is the city representative on the airport commission. He said the commission is unsure which direction the board will go.


Talking to county commissioners on August 1, 2014, Noteboom said he as an independent contractor, he pays his own taxes, insurance and mileage; he said he is not an employee of either the city or county, and manages the airport by contact with the airport commission.

“I do everything from A to Z, maintain everything, mow the grass, plow snow, pay my assistant and the help and handle any and all complaints…” Noteboom said then.


He did not return a call asking for a comment.



Allegan City police investigate death of man found in Kalamazoo River

Allegan City police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of an unidentified man whose body was found by boaters in the Kalamazoo River Monday, July 3, at about 8:45 p.m., according to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office.


The sheriff’s Dive / Rescue & Recovery Team and Marine Division were dispatched to Allegan to assist city police with the recovery. The body of a white man city officials believe may be a local resident  in his sixties, was recovered.


They are working to confirm his identity and notify his next of kin.

The Allegan County Medical Examiner’s office will investigate further to determine the exact cause of death. LIFE EMS of Allegan assisted law enforcement.


State Police ask for help to identify two suspects in Wal-Mart

The Michigan State Police/Hastings Detachment, would like the public's help identifying two suspects involved in a larceny from Walmart on West M-43 Highway in Hastings.

Anyone with any information, is asked to call the Wayland Post at 269-792-2213.









Civil War reenactment to be presented at Historic Charlton Park

Historic Charlton Park is offering the sights and sounds of "the war between the states" at its Civil War Muster on July 15-16.

Special scenarios by interpreters and craftsmen will be presented at the Sixberry House, Barber Shop, Carpenter Shop, Jail and Bristol Inn. Take the lantern tour of the village on Saturday night; enjoy live music and dancing at the Gas & Steam barn and view cannons firing over the Thornapple River.


Battles are fought at High Meadow at 1:45 p.m. on Saturday and in the village on 2 p.m. on Sunday. Infantry, cavalry, medical and artillery demonstrations are featured.

Sutler’s Row vendors offer reproduction and handmade civil war-era merchandise, clothing, household goods, and toys. 


Admission is $6 for those 13 and up, $4 for children 5 to 12, and children four and under are free. For an event schedule and much more, visit or visit the park’s Facebook page.                                                                                                                  


Photos: (Upper left) Confederate soldiers mount a winning charge to take possession of the village in an earlier Civil War Muster.

(Lower right) Authentic Civil War era garb is an important part of re-enactments. 


Gun Lake Tribe hosts third annual Sweet Grass Moon PowWow this weekend

The Gun Lake Tribe of Pottawatomi Indians will host the Sweet Grass Moon PowWow Saturday, July 8, from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, July 9, from 12 p.m. to  5 p.m.

The public is invited to the free celebration of Pottawatomi culture, dance and songs. The third annual powwow will be held at Jijak Camp, 2044 126th Avenue, Hopkins.


UPDATE: Hastings woman dies after Gun Lake boating accident

Eric Cybulski,55, of Hastings, operating a 16-foot fiberglass inboard pleasure boat, collided with a Seadoo personal watercraft being driven by Jacob Baker,19, from Grand Rapids, in the southeast end of Gun Lake Saturday about 4 p.m., according to an update by Barry County Marine Department Deputy Julie Jones.


Baker was injured, knocked unconscious and thrown into the water. Cybulski jumped into the lake, keeping Baker's face out of the water.  Baker was wearing a life jacket, however, Cybulski was not and becoming exhausted, Jones reported.


Cybulsksi's wife, Melanie, who witnesses believe went into the water to help her husband, was found floating face up and not breathing.The Saindon family of Middleville found her and began rescue breaths and CPR on their boat. It is unknown at what point Melanie Cybulski was not breathing or for exactly how long. She was transported to Blodgett Hospital where she died on Sunday, July 2. 


Several Good Samaritan citizens assisted Baker and then Cybulski. They got Baker onto a boat and took him to shore where he was treated by Orangeville First Responders and Wayland EMS.  He was transported to Spectrum Butterworth with head and face injuries.  Cybulski was also transported by Wayland EMS to Pennock Spectrum, due to other health conditions. Eric Cybulski and Baker remain hospitalized in stable condition. 


Orangeville Fire Department, Wayland EMS and Michigan State Police Wayland Post assisted the sheriff’s marine division.



Superintendent's Platform

WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight news in their districts. This posting is from Maple Valley Superintendent Michelle Falcon.


NEW!  Michigan’s Third Grade Reading Law (Public Act 306)

In an effort to boost reading achievement, Michigan lawmakers passed Public Act 306 in October 2016. To help more students be proficient by the end of third grade, the law requires extra support for K-3 students who are not reading at grade level. The law also states that a child may be retained in third grade if they are one or more grade levels behind in reading at the end of third grade.


Maple Valley School’s has had an extensive assessment plan in place for three years.  This helps us to closely monitor our student’s progress in mathematics and reading comprehension when your child starts school.


If your child is not reading where expected, a plan to improve reading will be created. This means your child’s teacher and school will work with your child to find where your child needs support in his/her reading development and create a plan to support him or her.


This plan includes:

• The extra supports in your child’s reading improvement plan will occur in small groups during the school day. Your child will not miss regular reading instruction.

• Starting in 2019-2020 school year, in order to be promoted from third to fourth grade, your child must score less than one year behind on the state reading assessment, or demonstrate a third grade reading level through an alternate test or portfolio of student work.

• If you are notified your child may be retained, you have the right to meet with school officials and to request, within 30 days, an exemption if in the best interest of your child. The district superintendent will make the final decision. Our goal is to support our students in the early grades to prevent third grade retention.


As a district we will be offering support in the following ways:

• Strive for small class sizes.

• Continue to offer intervention classes and class times.

• Communicate assessment data with parents. Attached to the end of the year report cards, parents in grades Y5 – 10 will receive an assessment report reflecting the district tests administered.


For more information on the Third Grade Reading Law, go to home page of our website It is our first spotlight article.



Saving Delton Kellogg: "We had a good team. It was definitely a team effort..." Carl Schoessel

Carl Schoessel, a 20-year plus veteran superintendent at the Hastings Area School System with extensive knowledge of school finance and budgets, agreed to accept the interim superintendent position at Delton Kellogg Schools in July of 2014, when then-Superintendent Paul Blacken retired.


It was to be a short transition. “I would do a semester to keep things in place and help with the financial problems until a new superintendent was hired,” Schoessel said. He stayed for three years.  

His "term" is over, but he's agreed to stay available and help with the transition to new Superintendent Kyle Corlett.


During those three years, the district’s problems included a $1.6 million bill from the state, declining student count, half-completed construction work and the threat of being designated a school in financial stress.

 “We worked as a team, and as a team, we overcame them,” he said.


Looming was the repayment of $1.6 million to the state in excessive state aid after auditors found errors in the student count from 2009-2011. With no remedy in the courts, in 2015, Schoessel, attorneys, board of education members and others, made a final appeal to the state Superintendent of Public Instruction. Their argument was persuasive and they won a reduction in the payback from $1.6 million to $360,000 to be paid back over five years.

“We can make those payments, we couldn’t have made the $1.6 million,” Schoessel said.


With some of the financial uncertainty gone, the board of education asked Schoessel to stay another year to help with half-finished millage-funded construction work. “That would wind down within a year, so I signed on for another year.”  He also wanted to work on the declining student count, either by retaining or recruiting students.The construction is wrapping up this summer and student counts have now risen three years in a row.


Last year, the Michigan Department of Treasury declared potential financial stress in the district. Delton Kellogg was to restore its fund balance to five percent of revenue by the end of the 2017-2918 school year or submit periodic financial status reports to the state treasury.  The district ended 2016 with a 5.2 percent fund balance, 18 months early. In December, 2016, the state treasurer determined the potential stress no longer existed.


The goal was met because of a substantial increase in student enrollment, hence more state aid, and a “wonderful staff” that agreed to a cut in salaries by teachers and a wage freeze by others, Schoessel said. “”Everybody gave something. They saved the school. There were other things, but those are the two major reasons. We have a good team here, and this was definitely a team effort.”


“Carl was definitely a game changer,” Board of Education President Jim McManus said. “He was able to keep morale up; he brought confidence. He negotiated with all of the groups for long term contracts so we could do long term budgeting; that made it a lot easier for us to dig out of the hole. He did the bond work correctly and we got $1 million more than we planned. With his help, enrollment stabilized,” he said.


“We didn’t have to cut any academics or sports. We held on. It’s a testament to his confidence. Without him there, we may not have been able to do what we did. It was a gift that he was able to come and help us out and he did. He left us in a position of strength and able to move forward.”


Delton was one of 50 schools in Michigan ranked one of the Best High Schools in Michigan by U.S.News in 2014, offers 31 Advanced Placement Courses and has rising test scores. The students have won academic honors, and the high school basketball team won a sportsmanship award, McManus said.


“I have said to everyone, it was my pleasure to be here,” Schoessel said. “It is privilege to be part of the team. This is a good community, with good people.”


Photo: Carl Schoessel












Building total loss in Cascade Township fire

On Thursday, June 29, at 3:10 p.m., Kent County Sheriff’s deputies, and Cascade, Caledonia and Kentwood fire departments responded to the report of a structure fire at Midwest Trailer Repair, 5015 52nd Street in Cascade Township.

An employee used a blow torch to cut a steel beam on a semi trailer that they were repairing inside the building. The semi-trailer caught fire and subsequently caught the building on fire, officials said.

The employees evacuated the building and there were no reported injuries.

The building was a total loss


Eaton County Sheriff's Office increases security at fireworks display

For the safety of everyone attending the annual Delta Township Fireworks display on July 3, the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office and Delta Township have taken steps to increase security and reduce the potential for injury inside Sharp Park before, during and after the event.

During the day of July 3, the park will be closed to motor vehicles and the Delta Library lot will also be closed.


Two entrances will be available into Sharp Park.

The main entrance from Elmwood Road will be open to pedestrians, and to vehicles holding a valid parking permit obtained from Delta Township. The second entrance open to pedestrians or bicyclists will the east/west pathway entry into the park.


Fireworks, missile-like objects, weapons or firearms that are not permitted by law are prohibited in the park.   People entering are subject to a visual inspection of their person, parcels, bags and containers, and clothing capable of carrying such items.

Visitors may refuse this inspection.  If so, they will be refused entry into the park.//


The Michigan Fireworks Safety Act legalized the purchase and possession of consumer fireworks previously banned in Michigan and regulates the use of the fireworks. Violations of the fireworks law carry penalties from 30 days in jail and/or fines up to $1,000 to sentences of 15 years in prison and/or fines of up to $10,000 depending on the severity of the offense. Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich also emphasizes safety in the use of fireworks in annual fireworks displays.




Be aware of siren test in Delta Township Saturday

A test of outdoor warning sirens will be conducted by Eaton County Central Dispatch on Saturday, July 1 at 1 p.m. in Delta Township. The sirens are tested at 1 p.m. the first Saturday of every month; if there is a threat of severe weather on the day of a test, it will be cancelled, according to a Central Dispatch news release.


Except for scheduled testing, the sirens will be activated for the following emergencies:

* the National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning.

* a trained spotter has sighted a tornado or funnel cloud.

* a hazardous materials accident requires immediate protective action by the public.

* an attack on the United States is imminent, underway or has recently occurred.


Warning siren activation is a signal to members of the public to immediately go indoors and monitor local Emergency Alert System media outlets for official information.  Residents can also sign-up for emergency notifications at or by texting the word EATON to 888777.


Central Dispatch is responsible for the activation of outdoor warning sirens in Delta Township. The sirens are maintained by local governments, but are triggered, when appropriate, by Central



Barry County earns AA bond rating from Standard & Poors

Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings has given Barry County a AA bond rating, the third highest rating available, County Administrator Michael Brown said Tuesday.

After review of the county’s outstanding bonds, S&P said Barry County earned the AA rating by showing a strong economy with access to a broad and diverse metropolitan area; strong budgetary performance with balanced operating results and an operating surplus; very strong budgetary flexibility with a high available fund balance; very strong liquidity and a strong institutional framework score.


“Barry County’s strong rating means lower interest ratings and significant savings for taxpayers today and in the future,” Commissioner Ben Geiger, commission chairman said. “But, beyond reaffirming our financial strength, this rating shows this county government is on the right track, and has a deep respect for its taxpayers.”


In its report, S&P said the county’s financial position and performance were stable and steady, and reflects its belief that the county will keep its favorable reserve levels.

“Given management’s historical budget performance and forward looking planning, we do not expect to change the rating during the two-year outlook horizon.”


After hearing the Barry County Road Commission’s annual report by Managing Director Brad Lamberg, the commission approved:

* the annual implementation plan for CareWell Services Southwest (formerly Region 3-B Area on Aging)

* the annual audit report prepared by Rehmann Robson

* sending a letter meeting a National Government Services mandate revalidating Thornapple Manor’s Medicare enrollment required to continue serving Medicare patients.

* Brown issuing requests for proposals for medical examiner services.




Preliminary hearing for murder suspect begins, to be continued

The preliminary examination of Ralph Bowling III on several charges including open murder, will be in two parts. The first was held Wednesday, June 28. District Court Judge Michael Schipper warned the people in the courtroom that though he understood there would be tension there would be no words or actions during the proceedings, “or you will be removed, or if need be, you will be arrested.”


Bowling faces open murder, attempted murder, home invasion, 2nd degree arson and several felony gun charges. Bowling is charged with entering a home on Bird Road in Baltimore Township in the early morning hours of June 11 and shooting Nathan Farrell in the neck and then chasing his wife, Cheyenne Bowling, from the house and allegedly shooting her to death. He then went to his home on Coats Grove Road and allegedly set it on fire.


Farrell was questioned by Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt and defense Attorney James Goulooze for an hour. Farrell testified he and Cheyenne Bowling had spent Saturday evening together and were at Cheyenne’s mother and stepfather’s house watching a movie when Ralph came into the room with a gun asking, “Where is he?” and calling her names.


Cheyenne told Bowling he couldn’t be there and he had to leave and stepped between Farrell and Bowling, saying, “He won’t shoot me.” Farrell testified Bowling was circling the two, trying to get a good angle to shoot him. “I told him, put the gun down; I’ll leave, I’ll do whatever you want, this doesn’t make any sense.” He recalled hearing a shot, felt warm and found he was bleeding profusely. Thinking that he was going to die, he made his way out of the house and ran down a drainage ditch to the nearest house with lights on. As he ran, he heard a single gunshot.


The owner, at first alarmed at a man coming out of the darkness covered with blood, called 911. Ferrell was airlifted to a hospital in Grand Rapids and treated for a broken jaw.

Asked about his relationship with Cheyenne Bowling, Farrell said they worked at the same place and had gone with a group of fellow employees for drinks after work a few times. He said from the way she talked about her husband and her marriage, he thought they were separated.//


Cheyenne’s stepfather, Tim Wymer, testified that relations with Ralph Bowling were strained and a week before the murder, his wife Melissa, Cheyenne’s mother, disinvited him to the regular Wednesday night family dinner, and if he did come, Wymer said, he would have been asked to leave.


Trevor Slater, a Michigan State Police expert in fire investigations, testified that Bowling admitted setting the fire in a jail interview. The date for the continuation of the hearing wasn’t immediately set.





City Councilman offers to build a basketball court in the 3rd Ward Park

The 3rd Ward Park in Hastings may get a regulation size 50 by 84 square foot basketball court, striped with lines to match what middle and high school students use in schools, so they can practice at the park court.


It’s Councilman Don Smith’s idea. 


Monday, he asked and received unanimous approval from the council for him to work with city staff during the project. His employer will fund one-half of the cost, the rest will be asked of residents to give them ownership of the park.  He said everyone he talked to liked the idea and he plans to go door to door raising the needed capital.


The park, also known as the skate park, has an area that gets little use with room for a court.

Smith said with an epoxy surface and commercial poles they could hold basketball camps in the summer and the residents on the northeast side of town would welcome a place for kids to exercise.

He plans on enough top soil to cover 90 by 60 square feet and a couple of feet of sand for drainage.


“I do want to raise money from the residents to give them ownership,” he repeated.


Photo: Hastings City Councilman Don Smith tells council members of his plans for  a basketball court in 3rd Ward Park.


Hastings officials will negotiate with Smith Equities on sale of Moose building

The Hastings City Council Monday opted to negotiate with Smith Equities, Inc. for the sale of the former Moose building at the corner of Apple Street and Michigan Avenue.

With the decision made, city staff will work with Smith Equities to finalize a development plan.


The council has been considering the sale of the building for several weeks, including presentations from developers Smith Equities, represented by John VanFossen,  and Developer Marv Helder, as well as a special workshop to gather facts.


Smith Equities, Inc. would raze the building and build a new, three story mixed-use building with three retail units on Michigan Avenue and about 20 apartments on upper floors.

Helder planned to save the building, enhance its historical characteristics, install a banquet hall and office spaces on the first floor and a half dozen living units on the second floor. His plan would take an estimated five years to complete, and he asked for five years of tax abatement for five years or until the completion of the project.


Smith Equities listed construction completion time as 200 to 250 days, after a development agreement and site plan approval.

Both agreed to the removal of an addition on the back of the building, which the city will use to expand an existing parking lot. //


Public Services Director Lee Hays gave a report on the building to the council.

“Overall the structure is in poor condition,” he said. The roof is leaking, the entire outside needs replacement or upgrades, a leak in the foundation is letting water into the basement, the stairs to the second floor have settled to one side, with questionable condition of the second floor itself, heaving slightly when one walks on it.


Hays said if the building was going to be rehabilitated, it must be now or in the near future, because it would not be salvageable later.


The total cost to the city to acquire the building up for tax sale, was $83,979.75, according to a memo to the council from City Manager Jeff Mansfield. The cost for removing the back add-on of the building would be, without abatement or hazardous materials treatment, about $20,000 to $22,000, he said.

Parking would be a primary consideration, Mansfield said, with Smith Equities needing 59 parking spaces and Helder about 64 parking spaces.

However, Mansfield pointed out that since the development is within 300 feet of a  municipal parking lot, no additional parking is required to be provided under the city code. 


Photo: Thornapple Flats development for the former Moose building proposed by Smith Equities.


City of Hastings paid back for early financial support of Hastings Veterans Monument

Former Mayor Frank Campbell Monday presented the Hastings City Council with a check for $41,502.05, fulfilling his pledge that the city would be paid back for its help with the early costs of the Hastings Veterans Memorial.

While he was mayor, Campbell pushed for the monument, promising to raise the money the city spent during the project to assure taxpayers would not be obligated to pay the bill. He only asked that the monument be finished before he retired at the end of his term.


A budget amendment to allow the city to add funds to make up a shortfall for the construction of the monument was approved by the council in July 2016.


“This has been a long time coming,” Campbell said. “I don’t know the names of all the people who helped with the project, but there were a great number...I especially want to thank the city council who helped me when I was mayor.”


He also named Councilman Don Smith, for his drive to getting the monument done. “You can’t see a lot of what he did, it’s underground. He started it and others joined in. There were many, many, others who gave what they could.”


The money was held at the Barry Community Foundation as it was raised, with two anonymous donors helping meet the goal, Campbell said.

The total cost of the work on the monument was $74,202.05, with the city’s contribution $41,502.05, the amount of the check.


Mayor Dave Tossava, who accepted the check for the city, said Campbell was the reason there is a monument. “Without Frank, this would never have been done. Thank you, Frank.”


Campbell is still accepting donations for upkeep costs such as replacing flags or lights and possibly two more monuments that he said should be added to the display at the entrance of Tyden Park; the Military Order of the Purple Heart and Gold Star Mothers.


Donations can be sent to the Barry Community Foundation to the Hastings Veterans Monument Fund. The monument was formally dedicated to the city in a ceremony on Memorial Day.


Photos: (upper left)The Hastings Veterans Monument


(middle left) Former Mayor Frank Campbell, left, presents a check to current Mayor David Tossava covering the cost the city’s contribution to the Hastings Veterans Monument.


(upper right) Former Mayor Frank Campbell enjoys a laugh with the Hastings City Council before his check presentation. 



Power Restored

Electric service was restored this Tuesday morning to the Cloverdale, Delton and Orangeville area after being out since late Monday night. Consumers Energy said the outage affected some five thousand of their customers as a result of equipment failure.


Hastings to get new street sweeper, continue disposing of unused equipment

The City of Hastings will get a new 2018 street sweeper though the State of Michigan’s MiDeal negotiated price with the approval of the City Council Monday. Department of Public Services Director Lee Hays said the current machine is used every day in the non-winter months getting a lot of wear and tear.


“At this time, the existing sweeper has reached it’s useful life, and is beginning to need major component replacements,” Hays said in his request. The state’s negotiated price is $256,353 provided by Bell Equipment for a 2018 Elgin Whirlwind Street Sweeper. Bell offered a $40,000 trade-in for the old sweeper, Hays asks to sell the sweeper to the high bidder; if the reserve price of $40,000 is not met, he will use it as trade-in to Bell Equipment.

The new sweeper has two perpendicular brooms that are not on the old sweeper and some additional minor modifications to suit the city’s needs, he said.

The purchase was budgeted in the 2017-2018 Capital Improvement Plan for $270,000 from the equipment fund. The balance in the equipment fund would be $189,500, not counting the $40,000 to go there with the sale of the old sweeper, Hays said.

The current model, a 2010 Elgin Whirlwind in service since 2009, was purchased for $197,560. The sweeper is one of the most used and complicated pieces of equipment the city has and requires considerable maintenance, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.


Also, Hays will continue “housekeeping” by disposing of equipment no longer used by the DPS by auction through Rangerbid. Fees are paid by the bidder so there is no cost to the city, he said.  Funds raised by the sales will go into the equipment fund.


On the list: A 1972 John Deere motor grader estimated value: $13,000  for auction with a $13,000 reserve; 1956 Army Corp. of Engineers 10 Kw generator, for high bid at auction; 1955 125 horse power Hoffman Blower, for high bid at auction; and 1987 Onan 15 Kw trailer mounted generator, for high bid at auction.


In other business, the council approved razing a small, unused structure at Fish Hatchery Park that is beyond repair, as recommended by Hays. The DPS will demolish and dispose of the structure.



Celebration of antique iron at Charlton Park July 7-8

The Charlton Park Gas & Steam Engine Club hosts its 46th annual Gas & Steam Engine Show Friday, July 7 and Saturday, July 8, from 8 a.m. to dusk.

Admission to the event is $6 for those 13 and up, $4 for children 5 to12 and children 4 and under are free. 

Tractors, stationary engines, steam engines, farm machinery, and the famed 1884 Westinghouse Traction Engine, thought to be one of the few left in the world, will be on display during the show.  The Westinghouse is also used to steam sweet corn for event guests.

Food vendors with festival favorites, a daily swap meet and flea market, garden tractor and farm tractor pulls, tractor and steam engine games, kid’s pedal pull and tractor parades at 4 p.m. both days are planned. Bring lawn chairs and blankets for seating.


Start the day Saturday morning, with a pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. hosted by club members and Barry County Commissioners.

“Charlton Park Gas & Steam Engine Club members are excited to share this event with our community,” President Daryl Cheeseman said. “There’s something for everyone July 7-8.  Bring your cameras to catch all the action and be sure to enjoy a fresh ear of sweet corn, dipped in butter.”


Charlton Park is at 2545 South Charlton Park Road off M-79.

For a complete schedule, visit, or on Facebook. 













Photo: A child feeds a corn shelling machine under the watchful eye of an adult at an earlier Gas & Steam Engine Show.



Hastings City Council considers temporary signs, Distributed Antenna Systems, setbacks

The Hastings City Council considered several draft ordinances Monday, approving changes in ordinances 543 and 546 and denying amendmets to ordinances 544 and 545.


The change in ordinance 543 clarifies definitions of some temporary signs and amends regulations that apply to the signs in residential areas. The issue came up when the code compliance officer began enforcing the ordinance that was amended to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court decision banning content based signs.


Ordinance 546 clarifies definitions of Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) to confirm that they are not essential public services equipment. Lack of the clarification would hamper the city’s ability to regulate the systems. Approval of both amendments was recommended by the city planning commission, with the DAS amendment also recommended by Attorney Jeff Sluggett.


The council followed the planning commissions recommendation to deny changes in draft ordinances 544 and 545 that would have reduced setbacks in D-1 and D2 industrial zones that abut residential zones, depending on the height of the building in the industrial zone.


Alcohol allowed at Thornapple Plaza events for a "test" year

With no problems or issues related to the sale and consumption of alcohol at a June 16 Thornapple Plaza Friday Night Feature, the Hastings City Council Monday approved allowing the sale of alcohol Friday nights from June 30 through August 18.


David Solmes, representing the Hastings Rotary and Kiwanis clubs said everything went smoothly during the “test” event and asked that they be allowed to drop a designated seating area for those who buy alcohol because it was difficult to tell who had a drink and who did not. Councilmen Al Jarvis, Don Smith and John Resseguie said they attended and enjoyed the event and agreed that eliminating segregation of drinkers was a good idea.


Solmes said it turrned out that they actually had too many volunteers at the event and will reduce the numbers in future concerts. The June 16 event had $800 in concession stand sales and $500 of it was for alcohol, far above the average $200 to $400 in sales, he said.

The Baum Family Foundation, which funded the construction of the Plaza and then gifted it to the City of Hastings, also agreed to pay for the entertainment for the first three years. The profits from beer and wine sales will raise funds to pay for the future entertainment acts at the city’s newest attraction.


Some of the conditions for serving alcohol include beer and wine only, a two drink limit, wrist bands, two volunteers at five entry points to ID and give stamps, volunteers for security to make sure no one is bringing in something they shouldn’t or buying drinks for others. Serving begins 30 minutes before events and ends 30 minutes before the end of a concert of less than two hours and one hour before the end of concerts longer than two hours.


City staff will monitor the situation for one “test” year with the provision that they can get involved if a problem arises. The vote to approve extend the sale of alcohol was nearly unanimous, with Councilman Bill Redman the sole “no.”



Middleville woman charged with hit and run death of bicyclist

Barry County Prosecuting Attorney, Julie Nakfoor-Pratt, today filed charges against Kelleigh Linae Hobbs in connection with the alleged hit and run crash that killed Carla Reiffer of Middleville on June 23.


Hobbs, of Middleville, is charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in serious impairment or death, a felony carrying a maximum of 15 years in prison. She is also charged with a moving violation causing death, and possession of marijuana, both misdemeanors carrying a maximum of one year in jail.

Her bond is set at $250,000. A probable cause hearing is set for July 5.

“I would like to recognize the Barry County Sheriff’s Office for their coordinated efforts to locate the vehicle and suspect in this case,” Nakfoor-Pratt said. “The collaboration between the police, central dispatch and other emergency services is to be commended.”







Photo:  Kelleigh Linae Hobbs

(Photo courtesy of Barry County Sheriff’s Office)





Eaton County motorcycle, SUV crash leaves one with serious injuries

Eaton County Sheriff’s Office Deputies report a personal injury crash involving a motorcycle and an SUV left the motorcycle driver, a 45 year-old Onadaga man, in a hospital with serious injuries.

His passenger, a 43 year-old-woman also from Onadaga, was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.


Deputies said an 18-year-old Pleasant Lake man was driving an SUV south on Waverly at the intersection of Kinneville Highway Friday about 7:30 p.m. when he collided with the westbound motorcycle. He was not injured. Both riders on the motorcycle were wearing helmets.


Alcohol, drugs, and speed are not believed to be factors in the crash, which is being investigated by the sheriff’s office’s accident investigation team and its detective bureau. 

Deputies were assisted by Eaton Area EMS, Hamlin Twp Fire Department, Eaton Rapids Police, and Michigan State Police.  The intersection was closed down for about four hours.



UPDATE: Bicyclist in fatal hit and run identified

UPDATE: The Barry County Sheriff’s Office has identified the victim of the Friday evening hit and run as Carla Marie Reiffer, 40 from Middleville.


ORIGINAL STORY:The Barry County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public’s help in finding the hit and run driver of a vehicle that struck and killed a woman bicyclist just before 7 p.m. Friday evening on Whitneyville Road near Parmalee Road in Thornapple Township.

The victim, a Middleville area woman about 40, is not being identified pending notification of family.


The suspect’s vehicle is a 1998 to 2004  Chrysler Concord, color unknown, that has substantial front end damage, and left the scene heading north toward Kent County, officials said. The Kent County Sheriff’s Office has been alerted.


Anyone with information is asked to call Barry County Central Dispatch 269-948-4800 ext 1, the sheriff’s office, 269-948-4801, or Silent Observer 269-948-3335.  



Reward offered for information on person who abused dog

The Capital Area Humane Society in Lansing is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the abuse of a young female pit bull mixed-breed dog. Eaton County Animal Control was contacted June 21 by the humane society about the dog found by a citizen near Strange Highway and M-100 and taken to the humane society shelter.


The dog had signs of abuse and neglect including severe injuries and scarring around the muzzle and a shaved body with significant skin irritation. She had recently weaned a litter of puppies. An alleged suspect and owner of the dog is currently in custody on unrelated charges in another county. 

Eaton County Animal Control continues to investigate the case to determine where the abuse occurred and to arrest the person(s) who committed the mistreatment. 






Gun Lake Tribe hosts third annual Sweet Grass Moon PowWow July 8-9

The Gun Lake Tribe of Pottawatomi Indians will host the Sweet Grass Moon PowWow Saturday, July 8, from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, July 9, from 12 p.m. to  5 p.m.

The public is invited to the free celebration of Pottawatomi culture, dance and songs. The third annual powwow will be at Jijak Camp, 2044 126th Avenue, Hopkins. The entrance is near the farmhouse.


Jijak Camp is a sprawling cultural center that features a beautiful powwow arena, cabins, lakes, a community center, and much more.  Native American vendors from across the Great Lakes region will offer native foods, arts, and jewelry. Pictures and video may be taken during the event, unless otherwise announced by the emcee.  


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



Ionia woman dies when struck by vehicle on M-66

The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office reports the death of a 32-year-old pedestrian struck on South State Road (M66) just south of Tuttle Road at about 11:15 p.m. on June 22.

Officials said they are not releasing the woman’s name until the family can complete notification of her passing. 

The woman, an Ionia resident, is believed to have been walking toward the west across the lanes of travel when a Ford Ranger driven by a 22-year-old Ionia man struck her while southbound on South State Road from East Tuttle Road.  She died at the scene.

Neither alcohol or drugs are believed to have played a role in the incident, which remains under investigation.

The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Ionia Department of Public Safety, the Berlin Orange Fire Department, Life Ambulance, and Reed and Hoppes Towing. 



Kalamazoo County man missing since June 4, family asks public's help

Ronald Harry French, 71, from South 34th Street in Brady Township, has been missing since June 4, the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office reports.

French is white, about six feet tall, weighs 200 pounds and has gray hair and blue eyes. He suffers from epilepsy and has a heart condition. His 2016 Silverado pick up truck has been located and no other vehicle information is available, authorities said. A report was made to the sheriff’s office June 21.

The family asks that anyone with information about French’s whereabouts contact the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office.






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