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Local News

Hastings County Club, Now the Legacy

Since 1921 the local Hastings golf course has been known as the Hastings County Club. Since the new owners purchased the local course from the former owner PGA Professional Lynn Janson and taking  over on November 1st, a number of changes including the name have taken place with more to come.

 

As of Saturday November18th  the new sign "The Legacy"  displayed at the course entrance on north broadway welcomes  golfers to come and enjoy this unique golf course.

 

Saturday night the owners held an open house where they had the opportunity  to meet the members and their guests  and  talked about some of the new changes that will take place over the new several months.

And  Lynn Janson the former owner will remain at the Legacy to provide lessons for golfers of all ages.

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Hastings leaf pick up route

The Department of Public Services has completed their first round of leaf pickup in Hastings. They will resume pick up and start a second round on Monday, Nov 27th, beginning at State St and Boltwood St and work south and east in second ward.

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Selling old pipes brings questions from Hastings City Councilwoman

A request by Public Service Director Lee Hays to sell old pipe for salvage to Etna Supply for $26,000 was questioned by Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange at the Nov. 13 Hastings City Council meeting.

 

Hays said the pipe and fittings have been stored outside for 25-30 years and are no longer usable.

”How much did you waste?” McNabb-Stange asked. She asked how much the pipe cost when purchased and was told between $150,000 and $160,000.  “So you spent $160,000, and you’re going to sell it for $26,000 and then go buy more?” she said.

 

City Manager Jeff Mansfield said the pipe had been accumulating over the past 35 to 40 years, maybe longer, when the city kept much larger amounts of stock on hand than they do now. “Some pipe is four inch, that’s not even used in construction any more.” The interiors of the fittings have deteriorated making them worthless and not salvageable, though ductile iron is. “We just made a decision to move on,” he said.

 

In other business, the council approved:

 

*a contract with the Macker organization to bring the 3-on-3 basketball tournament to Hastings for the next three years. They plan to change the date to mid-July to avoid a larger tournament. Avoiding the date of the larger event will bring another 25 to 30 teams to Hastings, said Travis Alden, president of the Barry County Chamber of Commerce.

 

*a CX and fat bike event named Cabin Fever at Fish Hatchery Park Dec. 30 requested by Kisscross Events. The activities will be confined to the park and sponsors will restore the area after the event.

 

*a contract with Stedfast for $200,000 to build a corporate-sized hanger at the Hastings City Barry County Airport. Director Mark Noteboom said three customers are waiting for a larger hanger, adding this is the third year the airport has been self sustaining and the building will bring in more income. 

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TOST talks for changes heading in the right direction, Barry Commissioner says

A Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation that mandates inspection of on-site water and sewer systems and that they be repaired if they are deemed failing before a property can be sold or transferred in Barry and Eaton counties is being reviewed for changes by BEDHD officials and the Health Board, made up of three Barry and three Eaton county commissioners.

 

The Barry County Board of Commissioners earlier agreed they want the controversial rule made voluntary and take away the $350 fee to file a complaint, among other changes.

 

Tuesday, the three Barry Commissioners, Ben Geiger, David Jackson and Dan Parker, gave an update on a workshop held this week. The three agreed progress was being made. Geiger said they are, “moving in the right direction…the overall goal is to let residents buy and sell property without going through hoops.”

 

“We found common ground,” Jackson said. Parker said that both sides gave their positions and the health department has already made a concession. “They gave us a good base to work from,” he said.

 

Overall, the commissioners are “optimistic” although they say they know they have work to do.

Commissioner Heather Wing and Vivian Conner stressed the commissioners should keep pushing for repeal or a voluntary program.

 

“We have your back, as long as it’s productive,” Commissioner Jon Smelker said.

Citizen Larry Bass said he was not quite so optimistic. “We thought it would be voluntary, a regulation is not voluntary.” He added an Eaton County Commissioner he talked to was unaware that there was a workshop.

 

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Volunteer drivers, staff needed at Hope Network Transportation

Barry County Hope Network needs volunteer drivers, office staff.

 

Because of normal volunteer turnover, there is a need for three to five drivers and two or three office helpers.

 

If the positions are not filled, hours and number of staff will have to be reduced in early December.

 

To volunteer, or for more information, call the local Hope Network Office at 269-331-6007 or stop in at 109 North Church Street, downtown below Miller Realty between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

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Stolen handgun and marijuana seized, crack cocaine dealer busted

On November 14, 2017, at approximately 6:30 p.m., the Southwest Enforcement Team-East Team along with officers from the Kalamazoo Township Police Department where conducting a counter drug operation in the area of East Main Street and Fennimore Street in Kalamazoo Township.

 

Detectives from the Southwest Enforcement Team observed a suspicious vehicle and alerted Kalamazoo Township Police Officers, who conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle. During the traffic stop, Kalamazoo Township Police Officers located a stolen handgun in the passenger’s waist band and a large amount of marijuana in the car.  Two of the three male subjects had felony warrants and were lodged on outstanding warrants, as well as weapon and drug charges.

 

The Southwest Enforcement Team is a multijurisdictional task force comprised of sworn law enforcement personnel from the Michigan State Police, Barry County Sheriff’s Office, Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office, Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office, Covert Police Department, Kalamazoo Township Police Department, and the South Haven Police Department.

 

-------------------------------

 

In a separate case, members of the Southwest Enforcement Team (SWET), with the assistance of the Berrien County Sheriff Road Patrol, conducted an arrest operation in Benton Harbor on Monday.

 

Demetrius Lashawn Jefferson, 24 years of age, was arrested following a month-long investigation into the distribution of crack cocaine.  The Southwest Enforcement Team and Berrien County Sheriff Department have received numerous complaints and information about drug sales in the 900 block of Buss Ave in Benton Harbor.  SWET Detectives began an investigation that determined Jefferson was a suspect who was selling crack cocaine in the area.  Jefferson was arrested on two counts of delivery of crack cocaine and resisting arrest. 

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Hastings Dog revised dog ordinance to be finalized by Jan 1

Some thirty plus people attended the Hastings City Council meeting Monday, most of them supporters of pit bull dogs. They were asking why a revision of chapter 14 on vicious animals in the city ordinance deleting any reference to pit bulls as “dangerous dogs” had not been approved two years after the first draft was completed. The group’s spokeswoman, Tammy Berdecia gave the council a packet with information about pit bulls and other municipality’s dog ordinances.

 

Mayor David Tossava said when they revisited the revised draft ordinance in response to an earlier request, they found it still needed changes dealing with insurance and enforcement and it would take a little more time for Police Chief Jeff Pratt and City Manager Jeff Mansfield and Attorney Stephanie Fekkes to add the language.

 

Councilman Bill Redman made a motion that the draft be completed and returned to the council for approval by Jan. 1. He put the time limit in the motion because of the two year lapse last time, he said. Berdecia and others said pit bulls are friendly, tolerant dogs that show less threat of biting than other breeds.

 

“There are good and bad statistics; don’t single out our dogs; they are our family,” Berdecia said.

The council was given information from several sources that supported pit bulls and noted that Hastings is the only community in the immediate area that has “breed specific language” in its ordinance that names pit bulls as dangerous.

 

No one in the audience responded when asked if there was anyone to speak against pit bulls, however Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange said they were dangerous because of the way they “grasp and don’t let go…that happens a lot in the home. I still have a problem with that.” Councilman Don Bowers said a pit bull killed his small dog, and 46 percent of calls of dog bites were from pit bulls. “There is another side,” he said.

 

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**Barry County Oct. CROP Hunger Walk results

On Sunday, Oct. 8th, thirteen churches in Barry County partnered with Church World Service and raised $12,233.90.  Ninety two adults, youth and children gathered at Grace Lutheran Church in Hastings to walk for helping to assist families who have needs both locally and globally.  Twenty five percent of the money collected will be divided equally to five food programs in Barry County and Church World Service will use the remainder to aid families dealing with diasters in the U.S. and around the world. The five local programs; Barry County Cares, Community Food Pantry at Middleville United Methodist Church, Good Food for Freeport, Maple Valley Community Center for Hope and the Hastings Food Pantry, each will receive a little over $600 to help families with food.

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Yankee Springs Township trustee, Zoning Administrator resign in protest

Months of wrangling by members of the Yankee Springs Township Board has resulted in the resignations of Trustee Roger Rottschafer and Zoning Administrator Larry Knowles, effective immediately.

A notice on the township website notes a special meeting has been called for Nov. 13 at  6 p.m. at the township hall.

Rottschafer, who retired about 18 months ago, said his company, Marygrove Industries, asked him to come back to work for them, and the bad feelings between him and Supervisor Mark Englerth, “helped me make the decision to come out of retirement.”

Relations with Englerth and Trustee Shanon VandenBerg, have been a “dogfight” for months, with accusations of obstructing board efforts to do township business and Englerth’s attitude causing dissention.

An issue mentioned by both Rottschafer and Knowles was  about Vandenberg’s refusal to stop discussing his housing development in the township while a trustee on the board that makes decisions that would likely financially benefit him.

 

Rottschafer said Englerth’s abrasive style led to efforts to keep him away from the fire station and get him removed from the Gun Lake Sewer and Water Authority.

He said the biggest thing for him was the unprofessionalism and lack of credibility of both men that was making the township a laughingstock.

 

He didn’t know what will happen to the township after the resignations. “People in the audience have asked Englerth to resign; he wouldn’t do it…recall is a possibility…something has to happen to get him out of there.”

 

"They (Englerth and VandenBerg) are not acting professionally, Knowles said. There’s the conflict of interest thing going on. It’s clearly wrong how they’re doing it and the supervisor allows it.

“Every meeting is worse than the last one… they don’t treat people fairly, and the meetings get out of control."

 

“I’m still here for the community…I’ll go to planning meetings and help how I can, but I can’t work with them anymore.” Knowles will stay on as director of GLSWA.

“I do enjoy working with the people there. We have some top notch people to help. We’ve had a few minor problems, but we worked them out.”

 

Asked for a statement, Englerth said: “I’m not slinging mud. It’s unfortunate, but we have to move forward in the best interest of the community in a positive manner.” VandenBerg could not be reached for comment.

 

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Barry County Sheriff's Office offers security/safety programs to area churches

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office provides a certified security and safety program to churches to help church leaders develop an organized plan for any emergency and to secure buildings and grounds.

 “We’re offering to develop overall plans for church security and get their security teams started at no cost to them,” Sheriff Dar Leaf said.

 

The preventive program began before the recent mass killings, including one at a Texas church.

“We’ve been involved with church security since April 1999; we did Thornapple Valley Church right after Columbine,” Leaf said.

 

Based partly on a plan developed by the Michigan State Police, plans are tailored to cover specific areas of different kinds of buildings. How long it takes depends on what the church wants, if it’s basic security, active shooter training or something else.

 

“We’ll even look at how they handle money; it’s not advisable to have the same people make bank deposits at the same time, on the same route on a regular schedule.” Some insurance companies will give churches discounts in premiums if they have the program, he said.

The security/safety programs have been completed in churches in Barry, Kent, Eaton and Allegan counties.

Interested church officials are urged to call the sheriff’s office with their contact information and the department will follow through.

 

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Consider becoming a school crossing guard in Hastings

Do you live in Hastings? Need something to do a couple hours a day to stay active? Retired and looking for something to earn a little extra money? Love kids? Want to do something for them and the community?

This may be for you.

 

The Hastings City Police Department is looking for full and part-time school crossing guards for one hour in the morning and one in the afternoon at cross walks to keep kids safe when crossing streets on their way to and from school.

 

“There really aren’t that many kids that walk to school, but there are enough so they need help getting across the street,” Deputy Chief Dale Boulter said. “You get to know your corner, you get to know the kids and the kids look forward to seeing their guard every day. When one of us fills in for a regular, the kids always ask where they are.”

 

Ideally, a candidate lives nearby “their" corner. Guards can be a man or woman, grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, anyone with a sincere interest. There is no upper age limit, but a guard has to be at least 18, Boulter said. It’s usually not a full hour on a corner, he added. Pay is every two weeks and is about $180 before taxes.

 

Those interested can call for more information or stop at the police department at Hastings City Hall and pick up an application. New guards watch a video and get basic instructions that take about an hour that includes time for questions.

Hastings Police are responsible for providing guards at Broadway and Green, Clinton and Broadway, Hanover and Grand and Michigan and Grant.

 

 

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Suspicious calls no threat to schools: Eaton County Sheriff's Office

The Eaton County Sheriff's Office assisted Grand Ledge and Bellevue police Thursday after two local businesses received suspicious calls that were perceived as threats against schools, according to a sheriff’s news release.

“It was quickly discovered the calls came from outside of Eaton County, and that there was absolutely no danger to any of our local schools or students,” a sheriff's representative said.

 

Several schools initiated a “shelter in place” as a precaution for a short time.  A “shelter in place” is simply a heightened level of security to the exterior of the building, while classroom instruction continues.  No schools went into “lockdown,” where all activities stop within the school, the release said.

 

“Any calls of this nature are taken very seriously, and the sheriff’s office commends the pro-active approach to safety that our local schools take,” the official said.

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Multiple DUI offender sentenced to 40-60 months in prison

Alan Kent Prichard was sentenced by Barry County Circuit Court Judge Amy McDowell to 40 to 60 months in prison on Monday for drunk driving.

Originally, because of problems with the case, Prichard was allowed to pleaded guilty to felony OWI, third or subsequent offense, and would spend time in jail, instead of going to prison, Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt said.

 

When he pleaded guilty, McDowell warned Prichard  that he had to follow her pre-sentence order to go into inpatient treatment or his agreement would be null and void, Nakfoor-Pratt said.

 

Prichard went into inpatient treatment, but then walked away. “After we found out he did not follow her orders, we asked her to sentence him to prison. Judge McDowell was willing to give him a chance; she warned him, and when he didn’t follow her order, she sentenced him to the maximum for that charge. We’re pleased and appreciate that she did what she said she would,” Nakfoor-Pratt said.

 

Prichard has a total of 12 OWI convictions over several years,in four counties; Berrien, Allegan, Van Buren and now Barry.

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Culvert replaced keeping drive from being washed away, now who pays the bill?

A routine budget amendment to the Barry County budget Tuesday brought an explanation and a question on a $8,641.01 item charge in the Emergency Management department. Administrator Michael Brown said after a significant amount of rain recently, Barry County Emergency Management coordinator Jim Yarger got a call from a resident of Charlton Drive, reporting  a culvert was washing out underneath a private drive at Pleasant Shore in Castleton Township.

 

“It couldn’t wait over the weekend,” Yarger said. “It would be gone by Saturday afternoon, or deteriorated so far that we couldn’t safety pass vehicles over it."  Some 50 to 60 people would have been stranded and without access by fire trucks or ambulances, if they were needed, he said.

 

“I could have pulled the trigger, or walked away,” Yarger said. “It was a Friday afternoon, we had an hour or two to get an emergency soil erosion permit, to make up our minds…everyone agreed to do what we did…it was a safety issue.”

 

He called the Barry County Road Commission to come out to replace the culvert, which they did.

The question is who will pay the bill for the road commission’s work?

Brown said he has contacted the drain commissioner, who said it is private property, not in a drain so they aren’t responsible. No township or group of residents have petitioned for a special assessment district to pick up the tab. The road commission said it’s not in its right of way, so they are not responsible.

 

So, it stays in the Emergency Management column.

Yarger said the tab for repairs was minor compared to the costs of evacuating, sheltering and legal costs for the  50 to 60 people who would have been impacted.  

 

So far,  no one seems ready to pay the bill. “If nothing changes, it will come out of the general fund,” Brown said. “That’s taxpayers paying for a private drive,” said Commissioner Jon Smelker. “Do that, and you’ll be paying for everyone’s private drive.”

“Notify the home owner that they have to pay up,” Commissioner Dan Parker suggested.

“It’s a unique situation.” Brown said. “It was the right thing to do.”

 

 

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Barry County Road Commission "remains ahead of the curve" County Road Association says

An article in the Fall 2017 edition of “Crossroads,” the quarterly journal of the County Road Association of Michigan, recognizes the accomplishments of the Barry County Road Commission.

 

More than a million dollars has been saved in the past two decades by the Barry County Road Commission (BCRC) thanks to innovation and creative operational systems. BCRC emphasizes the importance of planning for the future, good business practices and constant innovation, the article said.

 

“We make it a priority to safeguard our internal operations. And identifying these ‘curves’ or trends is just the beginning,” Manager/Director of the BCRC Brad Lamberg  said in the article.

 

Lamberg credits forward-looking thinking by the road commissioners and staff over the last two decades in the areas of health care, unfunded liabilities and longer-lasting road preservation on a reduced budget.

Addressing health care costs, the BCRC replaced defined benefit with defined contribution in the late 1990s, allowing health care accounts to grow and keep health care contributions flat for seven years, saving over $1.5 million.

 

Innovations on the road have helped the BCRC stretch its dollars. Wedging is a process used to strengthen the outer half of lanes using a thin layer of asphalt. Combined with a chip-seal surface the technique has proved a sustainable practice for road repair. Today all BCRC asphalt surfaces, including full overlays and multi-lift all season roads, are topped with a chip seal layer as the county has proven it is best to extend pavement life, the article said.

 

In a 2014 evaluation, 79 percent of Barry County residents gave BCRC a, “positive job rating, a rate rarely obtained by tax-funded agencies,” the County Road Association reported.

 

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BEDHD explains Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment

Open enrollment for health insurance on the Marketplace runs Nov. 1- Dec. 15.

Consumers have until Dec. 15 to renew their coverage or enroll in a plan in order for their coverage to begin on Jan. 1, 2018, according to a Barry Eaton District Health Department news release.

 

There are five ways to apply:

1. Online at https://www.healthcare.gov/. If you are new to HealthCare.gov you will need to create an account. If you already have an account, just log in.

2. By phone. Call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. You can ask a question, start or finish an application, have a customer service representative help you with an application, review your choices, and enroll in coverage.

3. In person with help from a Certified Application Counselor or Navigator. Assisters in your community with special Marketplace training can help you fill out an application and enroll.

Visit https://www.healthcare.gov and search by your city or ZIP code to see a list of local people and organizations who can help you apply, pick a plan, and enroll.

4. Through an agent or a broker, who will help you apply and enroll. (You pay no more with an agent or broker; however, some may sell only certain companies plans.)

5. By mail. Fill out and mail in a paper application. You’ll get eligibility results in the mail within 2 weeks. Create an online account or use the Marketplace Call Center to enroll. Download a paper application and instructions at https://www.healthcare.gov.

 

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) has Certified Application Counselors available who can help you fill out an application and enroll. If you would like in-person assistance, call (269) 945-9516 (Barry) or (517) 543-2430 (Eaton) to make an appointment.

 

BEDHD would also like to remind residents about the following:

· Anyone who already has coverage through the Healthy Michigan Plan, Medicaid, or MIChild must renew at least every year; they can look for information in the mail from the Michigan Department of Human Services about renewal.

· Anyone with coverage through the Marketplace can keep their plan or shop for a new one.

· Renewal must take place between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15, so it’s important to not delay.

· Anyone lacking health insurance must get covered.

· Those who are uninsured should review options, check to see how much financial help is available, and choose the coverage that meets their needs and fits their budget.

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Voters turn down Barry County COA building, Hastings schools millages

In a county-wide vote, a Barry County Commission on Aging proposal for a new $5.4 million building was defeated 3,910 to 3,629.

 

Hastings Area School System voters rejected two millage requests:

 

Proposal 1, asking $10.5 million for technology and to improve the middle school, lost by 2,212 to 1,642.

 

Proposal 2, for $19.5 million for buses and improvements in technology, athletic stadium and transportation was also rejected, 2,296 to 1,496.

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Election Results City of Hastings

In the City of Hastings 1241 voters  turned out to vote on the Hastings Area school district bond proposals and the bond issue for the commission on ageing.

Hastings schools proposal one  746 yes   486 no. On proposal two 769 yes  468 no.

These figures do not include the entire Hastings school district only the city of Hastings.

On the county wide proposal for the commission on ageing in hastings 769 yes  464 no.

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Barry County Commission sets policy on interviewing applicants for committees, commissions

The Barry County Board of Commissioners discussed Tuesday when to interview applicants and when to waive them for those who sit on county boards and commissions. The commission decided if there are more applicants than positions, or if one person is applying for one position, but is not an incumbent, they should interview.

 

Otherwise, they will waive interviewing incumbents who reapply for their same positions.

One example, Commissioner and Chair Ben Geiger said, is the Commission on Aging board,  which has four openings and three incumbents re-applying.

 

Discussion brought up the issue of the size of some boards and possible changes in bylaws of some; that will be left up to individual boards, with final approval by the commission. Several ideas on how to attract more candidates will be set in motion.

Geiger proposed developing a flyer, a promotional, informational piece, to pass out to those thinking about applying for a committee with things one should know about serving to, “help commissioners make decisions for government.”

 

Commissioner David Jackson suggested using the county website to put broader descriptions and more details on different boards and their functions. Commissioner Howard Gibson advocated putting more information with the advertisement in the newspaper besides just the name of the position. 

 

The board will provide training for new members that will include their duties, policies on harassment and what they can and can not say on social media, among other things, “to make sure they’re same page,” Commissioner Heather Wing said.

 

 

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Charlton Park to seek requests for proposals to re-roof several park buildings

Barry County Commission’s committee of the whole Tuesday recommended approval of Charlton Park releasing requests for proposals for replacement of the roofs on the Carlton Center Church, Upjohn House/office, Upjohn Carriage House, and Main Street complex; the general store, hardware store and print shop.

 

Charlton Park does not have the funds for the upgrade, and commissioners agreed the buildings were owned by the county and they have the responsibility to pay for the repairs. Park Director Dan Patton said the information will better inform the commission of the size, scope and financial need for replacing the roofs. He said they had help from a local contractor in developing the specs for the projects, which he expects to last 50 years.

 

Commissioner Jon Smelker requested to see all of the bids, both single and block bids for all of the roofs, rather than waiting for the park board to select one and then send it to the commission.

 

Also to do with the park, commission recommended approval of amendments to Section 5 of the park’s bylaws that reduces the number of “citizens at large” positions on the park board from 10 to six, reducing the number of members from 13 to nine, and also to change the number needed for a quorum from seven to five members. The park board has already approved the amendments. Patton said they have vacancies on the board and with some not applying to serve again, they will not need to remove any members.

 

In other business the commissioners recommended approval of:

* the $200,500 bid for the construction of a hanger for jet/turbine aircraft at the Hastings City/Barry County Airport from Stedfast Construction. Funding will come from the airport’s find balance. Stedfast was the only bidder for the project.

 

Airport Director Mark Noteboom said four parties were interested in leasing a hanger, but they are all full. The lease would be for three years. The airport board has approved the contract, it also must be approved by the Hastings City Council and Barry County Commission.

 

* re-appointing Chelsey Foster to serve a three-year term on the Health and Human Services Board. He was the only applicant.

 

* the application to the Agriculture Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program (PA 116) for Geerlings Hillside Farms in Section 5 of Carlton Township.

 

* the application to the Agriculture Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program (PA 116) for Brook View Dairy LLC in Section 11 of Carlton Township.

 

 

 

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Tuesday, Nov. 7 is election day. Remember to vote

Today is election day and Barry County voters will decide on a new facility for the Barry County Commission on Aging.

 

Hastings Area School System voters will decide two millage requests for the schools.

Hastings citizens vote at the Hastings Baptist Church at 309 East Woodlawn Avenue.

 

All the polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

 

Your vote will count.

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Spectrum Health's MedNow good example of emerging technology in medicine

Technological advances in medicine include more electronic devices that will reach almost any location and perform functions once impossible to do. More people are using advanced technology and becoming comfortable with it. In the field of health, MedNow from Spectrum Health is an good example of telemedicine. There are two pieces to MedNow, e-Visits and Video Visits, Spectrum Health’s Stacee English said.

 

E-visits are done through a secure online messaging exchange with a medical provider who gives medical advice through a My Health account after completing a questionnaire describing your symptoms. E-visits are not for emergencies, urgent conditions or questions needing an immediate response.  An e-visit will never cost more than $25, English said.

 

A Video Visit provides direct, real time visits to a Grand Rapids-based Spectrum specialist for low acuity conditions. Idone through a webcam and smart phone, I-Pod, or computer, anywhere there is a strong internet connection, and requires an e-mail address, she said.

 

Using special computer equipment, a doctor can take vital signs and other tests with a patient and show the results to a specialist in Grand Rapids with sharp images that can be enlarged and sound that can be turned up.

 

Online primary care with a doctor 24/7 includes allergies, bites and stings, colds, cough and flu, heartburn, nausea/vomiting pink eye, rash and hives sinus problems, sprains and strains, fever and headache and more. A report of a MedNow visit is sent to the person’s primary care physician as part of their medical history and for physician follow up if necessary. The service is never more than $45.

 

There is no difference in quality of care using the technology, and tracking the use of antibiotics shows physicians prescribe less when using technology than during face to face visits, English said.

“Eighty percent are comfortable with the technology,” she added.

 

For more information and a complete lists of problems cared for by e-Visit or Video Visit, go to mednow.specturmhealth.org. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan and Priority Health offer coverage of e-Visit and Video Visits.

The telemedicine service is for any Michigan resident over the age of three.

 

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Barry Eaton District Health Department approves new laserfiche system

The Barry Eaton District Health Department is getting a new electronic filing software system that is less expensive and is expected to be more stable and easier to work with. The laserfiche system from General Code CMS will replace the Filer system, the department’s current management system that organizes paper files into electronic form.

 

The Health Board approved the purchase of the software program for $21,575. Health Officer Colette Scrimger said with a difference in support costs, $10,000 a year to Filer and $3,825 to General Code, the department will recoup $17,000 of the cost in two and a half years.

The current program is “at least 10 years old, balky, and a troublesome company to work with,” she said.  

 

Health Board member and Eaton County Commissioner Blake Mulder said Eaton County uses the laserfiche system, saying, “They like it, they say it’s efficient and easy to use.”

The BEDHD’s  IT department will produce the conversion requirements and the transfer of data, Scrimger said. “It shouldn’t require much staff time, and we hope to complete the transfer over Christmas break.” 

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Roadside drug testing pilot program begins in five counties

In an effort to combat the dangers of drugged driving, five Michigan counties, Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair and Washtenaw, will take part in a one-year roadside drug testing pilot program, established by the Michigan State Police.

 

The Preliminary Oral Fluid Analysis program, beginning Nov. 8,  will establish policies for administration of roadside drug testing to see if an individual is operating a vehicle under the influence of a controlled substance in violation of Michigan law,  according to an MSP news release.

 

Over the last several years, Michigan has seen a steady increase in fatal crashes involving drivers impaired by drugs.  In 2016, there were 236 drug-involved traffic fatalities, up from 179 drug-involved traffic fatalities in 2015.

 

“Motorists under the influence of drugs pose a risk to themselves and others on the road,” said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the MSP.

“With drugged driving on the rise, law enforcement officers need an effective tool to assist in making these determinations during a traffic stop.”

The pilot counties were chosen based on the number of impaired driving crashes, impaired drivers arrested and trained Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) in the county.//

 

DREs are police officers who have received highly specified training that allows them to identify drivers impaired by drugs. Although the pilot program is being organized and managed by the Michigan State Police, DRE officers employed by county, township and municipal police agencies will also be involved.

 

A DRE officer may require a person to submit to a preliminary oral fluid analysis to detect the presence of a controlled substance if they suspect the driver is impaired by drugs.

 

The analysis of oral fluid, obtained by a mouth swab, will be given along with the drug recognition 12-step evaluation currently used by officers. Refusal to submit to a preliminary analysis is a civil infraction.

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Public invited to give input on Agricultural Management Practices

The public has the opportunity to give its input on the 2018 drafts of Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMP).

 

The Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development set a public meeting for 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29, in the J. Edward Hutchinson Conference Room at Constitution Hall, 525 West Allegan Street in Lansing, and a review period that is open until Nov. 29.

 

Public comment will be taken on practices that have proposed changes: Manure Management and Utilization, Care of Farm Animals, and Site Selection and Odor Control for New and Expanding Livestock Facilities.

 

For a copy of the GAAMPs, including the proposed revisions, visit www.michigan.gov/righttofarm, or contact MDARD’s Environmental Stewardship Division at 517-284-5619 or toll-free at 877-632-1783.

Submit written comments to the Environmental Stewardship Division, P.O. Box 30017, Lansing, MI 48909, postmarked no later than Nov. 29, or by e-mail to: TurrubiatesO@michigan.gov by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29. //

 

The comments will be forwarded to the respective Task Force Committee chairpersons for consideration before final review and adoption. There are no proposed changes to practices regarding Nutrient Utilization, Cranberry Production, Farm Markets, Irrigation Water Use and Pesticide Utilization and Pest Control in 2018.

 

The best practices are reviewed annually by committees of various experts, revised and updated as necessary, and reviewed and approved by the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development each year.

 

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Boil water advisory for Freeport lifted

Freeport Fire Chief Jim Yarger has announced that the boil water advisory for the Village of Freeport has been lifted effective immediately. The latest tests affirm the water is clean and safe for drinking and all other uses.  A  mishap Oct. 27 allowed river water into the watet system through a fire hydrant.

 

The Barry Eaton District Health Department ordered the advisory and immediately began flushing the system and continued flushing and testing the water until two completed two tests showing the water system clean of any bacteria before lifting the boil water advisory.

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Bike lanes, school millage topics at Coffee with the Chief

Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt quipped he might rename his periodic meetings with residents from “Coffee with the Chief” to “Coffee with the Chief and Friends.” Department of Public Services Director Lee Hays, DPS garage Superintendent Jim James, Deputy Chief Dale Boulter and Community Development Director Jerry Czarnecki all gave updates on activities in their departments at the Wednesday meeting.

 

The two main interests of residents were recent bike lane striping in the city and Hastings School millage issues. Bike lane discussion centered on responsibility of both motorists and bikers to each be aware of the other and the need for both to obey rules of the road. The first bike lanes were striped this year and all are to be installed over three years, Hays said.

 

The next striping will be in July 2018. Hastings City Councilman John Resseguie said the striping on West State Road brought several complaints, which died down after the lanes started being used and residents found that it slowed traffic in the area.

“With a few bumps along the way, I think it went pretty smoothly,” Pratt said. The city will put out more advanced notice of future striping of the lanes next year so the public will be aware of the change coming, he added. There is more information on the bike lanes on the city’s website.

 

After Hastings Area School System Superintendent Carrie Duits gave an explanation of the two millage proposals on the Nov. 7 ballot, she was asked two questions. Why was so much money directed to athletics and would the school come back in a few years and ask for more millage?

To asking for more millage, Duits said they would not. “This is it. This will complete our projects,” she said.

When a $55 millage proposal failed in May, 2015, officials cut about $12 million in projects off the list for the second request for millage of $44.5 million, which passed in November, 2015.

With the passage of the smaller package, they said they would come back later to replace the projects with another millage vote, and several other things, including school buildings roofs needing repairs, came up in the meantime, she said.

 

On athletics, Duits said upgrades were needed on the deteriorating track and tennis courts and several other areas, but boards in the bleachers on both sides of the football field are breaking when walked on, making the bleachers and safety the number one concern.

 

Also, Pratt gave an overview of the police department, saying there are 15 full-time officers, two office staff, a code compliance officer and a parking enforcement officer. Add to that, 10 volunteer reserve officers who act as second officers with the officers, seven Police Ambassadors, and 10 Police Cadets from Hastings High School. “All together, that makes 44 people associated with the department,” he said.

 

 

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A few dates Hastings residents should know

Fall and winter bump into each other for Hastings residents this week, with leaves still falling and snow in the forecast. Here are a few dates to keep in mind:

 

Daylight savings time ends Sunday Nov. 5, remember to turn clocks back one hour Saturday night.

 

Leaf pickup will begin Monday, Nov. 6, starting in the second ward on the east side of South Hanover. Public Services Director Lee Hays said daily notices of where the crews are and will be the next day will be on the WBCH and city websites.

 

The annual winter season parking ban for snow removal on city streets between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. started Nov 1, with officers giving out 90 “courtesy” tickets, which will soon turn into citations that carry a five dollar fine. Police Chief Jeff Pratt said the 90 reminder tickets is about normal for the first day of the ban.

 

Looking forward to next summer, Aug. 18 is the date of the second Night Out, which features the county’s emergency services personnel. Hastings Deputy Chief Dale Boulter said he will enlist help from the Michigan State Police, Barry County Sheriff’s Office, county fire departments, and ambulance services in planning for next year, which will start in January.

The first Night Out last year was “a great success,” and he anticipates another well-attended community event next year.

 

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Victim who died in Ionia County traffic crash identified

UPDATE: The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office has positively identified the victim in the fatal accident as Shardella Shana White-Smith of Kentwood. The crash remains under investigation. 

 

ORIGINAL STORY:Ionia County Sheriff’s deputies and Lowell and Saranac fire departments responded to a three-car accident on M-21 near Whites Bridge Road in Boston Township Wednesday morning at 10:14 a.m.

Ionia County Central Dispatch advised deputies that three vehicles were involved and that two of them had hit head on.

 

Deputies arrived six minutes later to find one of the vehicles fully involved in flames and the second vehicle entwined with that vehicle, also burning.  Both vehicles were occupied.

 

With the help of a civilian volunteer firefighter, the deputy was able to combat the flames and extract the driver of the second vehicle, identified as Christopher Shawn McKibben, 42, from Saranac. He was transported by Life EMS to Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids where he remains in serious condition but is expected to live.    

 

Deputies preliminary investigation showed that McKibben was eastbound on M-21 in a Ford Explorer toward Saranac and crossed the centerline into the westbound lane of travel.

The other two vehicles were both traveling westbound and were unable to avoid the impending collision due to a guardrail and bridge located on the roadway.

 

McKibben’s vehicle sideswiped the first vehicle, a Kia driven by 38-year-old Anna Burr, before striking the Buick Rendezvous head-on causing the fatal injury to the driver. 

 

No information is being released about the victim at this time. 

Ionia County Central Dispatch, Lowell and Saranac fire departments, Life EMS, Lehman’s Funeral Home, Reed and Hoppes Towing, Ionia County Road Commission and numerous civilians assisted deputies. The crash remains under investigation.

            

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Pair who twice pleaded guilty to assault with intent to murder to be sentenced Nov. 16

Tiffany Chanthavong, 23, and her boyfriend Cory Wagner, 28, were sentenced to prison last year after both pleaded guilty to assault with intent to murder Wagner’s mother.

In October, 2016, Chanthavong was sentenced to 23.3 to 40 years in prison. Two weeks later, Wagner was sentenced to prison for 15 to 35 years.

 

Both were allowed to withdraw their pleas based on legal technicalities to do with plea taking procedures, and both were back in court Sept. 8 seeking trials.

 

However, neither would go to trial.

 

Earlier this month, Wagner again pleaded guilty to assault with intent to murder and is to be sentenced by Judge Amy Mc Dowell on Nov. 16 at 8:10 a.m.

Last week, Chanthavong also again pleaded guilty to the same charge and will be sentenced Nov. 16 at 8:15 a.m. in the same court.

 

On July 4, 2016, the couple were at Wagner’s mother’s house on Huff Road in Assyria Township asking her for money for him to leave the state to get away from problems with the law in Michigan.

When Diane Wagner refused, the pair beat her, threatened to kill her with a knife, tied her to a chair, locked her in a bathroom, stole her car and credit card and fled.

They were arrested in Illinois the next day and brought back to Barry County to face charges.

 

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Hepatitis A outbreaks across the state prompt calls for vaccination

As a result of Hepatitis A outbreaks around the state, the Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) reminds residents that vaccination is the best defense against the contagious disease.

Hepatitis A is vaccine-preventable disease, often spread through the ingestion of food or water contaminated with infected feces or by oral contact with contaminated objects.

 

Transmission can occur easily among household contacts and sexual partners. High risk factors include homelessness or use of transient housing, illicit drug use, and incarceration. Men who have sex with men and sex workers and their clients are also at high risk.

 

While the risk of getting hepatitis A is higher among these specific populations, the health department recommends that all individuals be vaccinated against the disease. The effects of the disease can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting several months.

 

Illness generally occurs two to six weeks after exposure to the virus with symptoms that includes fatigue, abdominal pain, yellow skin (jaundice), dark urine, and pale stool. Some people have no symptoms. Vaccination and thorough hand washing can prevent infection.

 

People who believe they have been exposed to hepatitis A or who have symptoms should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

 

Anyone who wants to be vaccinated should contact their healthcare provider or BEDHD at (517) 541-2630 for Eaton County or (269) 798-4133 for Barry County.

 

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Record rainfall in October

October 2017 turned out to be the wettest month on record according to the Hastings National Weather Service Climatological Station. The total rain for the month measured  11.72 inches, making up for the lack of rain in September where just a little over a half inch (.58) fell for the entire month.

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Three suffer minor injuries in Usborne, Brown Road crash

A traffic crash Monday night at the intersection of Brown and Usborne roads resulted in minor injuries to three people, one a pregnant woman.

Barry County Sheriff’s Deputy Barry Brandt reports that he and Sgt. Tim Stevens responded to the crash at the Usborne and Brown road intersection at 7:40 p.m.

 

A SUV northbound on Usborne Road failed to stop at the stop sign and collided with a pickup westbound on Brown Road carrying a man and his pregnant wife, he said.

The SUV driver and the couple in the pickup were transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth in Grand Rapids, all with minor injuries.

 

“They were very lucky,” Brandt said.

Names of those involved were not immediately available.

Mercy Ambulance, Nashville EMS, Freeport and Woodland fire departments and Spencer Towing assisted Brandt and Stevens at the scene.

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**Just an Observation...

**The original intent of this piece was to highlight a few of the good things happening in Hastings; a new business and shop in town. But when you start to look at the “right” things about Hastings, where do you stop?

 

If you deliberately looked for a city that is a good place to live, work and play, you couldn’t find a better choice than the City of Hastings. “What a nice small town,” is often heard from visitors, some even write the City Council to say they enjoyed their time in town.

 

That doesn’t come without a lot of work by a lot of people over a lot of time.

Look at the town. Flowers and art on street corners, special events almost non-stop, a Farmers Market all summer, and a beautiful courthouse square are all assets.

 

Hastings has a low crime rate, with a commitment from police to community policing, clean, modern water and wastewater services, an efficient, friendly public services department, and tree-lined sidewalks in the downtown and residential areas.

 

Established neighborhoods are well kept, with officials preparing for more commercial development and millennials. Developers and Hastings officials anticipate an influx of young people as downtown residents. An apartment building is set for the corner of Apple and Michigan and upstairs apartments throughout the downtown are ready or near-ready for occupancy.

 

Almost any choice of food you want, with your preference of atmosphere while dining, are here too.

Commercial development in and on the edge of town, Walgreens, the Holiday Inn Express and Jet’s Pizza, San Marco’s Mexican restaurant, Bigby Coffee, Aldi and new pharmacies continues and are being added to all the time.

 

The site plan for a Dollar General on South Hanover, has been approved, and the Short Stop, in the former Vitale’s building, is open for business and drawing customers.

A convenience store with a twist, the Short Stop, has kept most of Vitale’s menu, takes to-go orders and stocks an array of items that people most often need.

 

Also new downtown are a cookie/soup/salad shop, an artisan who creates her own porcelain dolls and the Plucky Knitters Studio, who have customers from around the country and the world.

Several niche boutiques attract shoppers. There is talk that Arby’s is coming back to Hastings and Jimmie Johns may locate a franchise here.

 

Even the location works for Hastings. Those who want a more urban scene once and a while, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Battle Creek are within easy driving distance.

Hastings residents have Gun Lake or any number of smaller lakes nearby to swim, canoe, fish, or kayak. Several thousands bicyclists visit the city during the Barry Roubaix and hundreds more take part in the Macker, also an annual event.

 

The Hastings City Barry County Airport has built several new hangers for more private planes, a jet fuel station and an extended runway for corporate jets. A radio station and newspaper keep residents up on local interests. 

 

The Thornapple River, parks, special entertainment events, a splash pad for kids, trolley rides in the summer, a variety of community events, many with parades, bring a vibrant tempo to the town, with volunteers and supporters always looking for more reasons for folks to visit Hastings to see what the city offers.

 

The newest downtown attraction, the Thornapple Plaza, has drawn thousands into Hastings in its first summer concert season. Thanks to years of cooperation by Hastings, Rutland Township and Barry County  planners, commercial development is centered along the main/east west corridor through the area, keeping the countryside open, simple and natural just minutes from the city.

 

People work every day to make Hastings a better place by volunteering, funding projects, working to constantly improve its basic structure, along with citizens who support their city with property taxes and millage are far, far too many to name.

Just be glad they are here, and hope the next generation, when it’s their turn, will continue to build on what they have been given.

 

Even in a long article like this, much is not mentioned. I think every resident in the city could name something else entirely that makes Hastings a good place to live, work and play for them.

 

Jean Gallup

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Daylight saving time ends Nov. 5, turn clocks back one hour

Love it or hate it, adjusting clocks for daylight saving time’s beginning and ending is an annual ritual we live with.

Those who protest the turning back of clocks in fall and ahead in the spring, or just forget, are frequently early or late for church on Sunday, depending on the season.

 

This Sunday, Nov. 5 at 2 a.m. is when we “fall back,” so clocks should be turned back an hour before bed Saturday night.  On March 11, 2018, you will be reminded to, “spring ahead.”

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Remember to vote Nov. 7, one week from today

Barry County voters are reminded to vote in the Tuesday, Nov. 7 election, one week from today.

One county-wide issue is on the ballot; a proposal for a new Barry County Commission on Aging facility.

The COA request is for millage to raise $5,450,000 to pay for demolishing the present building, constructing a new, 22,500 square foot building on the same site, site work, commercial kitchen equipment and other improvements. The millage would be for 20 years; 0.0593 mills for the first year and then 0.1669 mills a year until the bonds are paid.

 

It is estimated that a property in Barry County with a taxable value of $50,000 would pay $2.97 the first year and $8.35 a year thereafter.

 

Voters in the Hastings Area School System District will decide two millage requests:

Bond Proposal 1 seeks approval of a 15-year bond, extending the current millage by four years to produce $10.5 million to improve school buildings, for technology instruction and to develop and improve the middle school site for 0.85 mills the first year, which is no increase over the prior year’s levy.

The maximum number of years the bonds may be outstanding is 15 years. The estimated annual millage required to retire the bond debt is 1.53 mills, ($1.53 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation).

 

Bond Proposal 11 requests approval of a 25-year bond issue that will produce $19.5 million. The levy in 2018 would be 1.35 mills, or a 0.5 mill increase over the prior year’s levy.

The estimated simple average annual millage of 1.87 mills would be levied in the remaining years until the bonds are paid and is being offset by a loan from the State School Bond Qualification and Loan Program to help pay the bonds and lessen the impact on taxpayers.

 

The funding would be for technology, a new transportation office building, stadium concession building and press box, buses, upgrading athletic facilities and improving school buildings.

 

Orangeville Township voters in the Martin School District are asked to approve renewal of 18.6524 mills for two years for school operations. The millage is levied against all property, except a principal residence and other exempted property, and is expected to raise approximately $560,645 in 2018.

 

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Hastings Halloween on Green Street, parking restriction, Coffee with the Chief coming up

Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt reminds Hastings residents that Green Street will be closed from Broadway to Cass Street from  5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Halloween, Oct. 31 for the annual trick or treating event for Hastings kids. The police department will set up a tent at the intersection of Green Street and Broadway and again hand out hot chocolate and candy.

 

Also, starting Nov. 1, parking on city streets will be prohibited from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. to allow for snow plowing of the streets, Pratt said. He said officers will issue courtesy citations for the first week or so.

 

Hastings residents are invited to the next Coffee with the Chief on Wednesday, Nov. 1 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the upstairs conference room in the Hastings Public Library. “This is a great forum to listen to suggestions and make Hastings a better place to live, work and play,” he said.

 

 

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Health Insurance Open Enrollment time is shorter this year

The Ionia County Health Department advises you act now.

The Health Insurance Marketplace Open Enrollment starts Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 15. This enrollment period is just half as long as in previous years.

 

Schedule your free appointment with the Ionia

County Health Department at 616-527-5341 for help understanding and applying for Marketplace

insurance.

 

“Because the enrollment period is so short, people can’t put off enrolling, or re-enrolling, in the Marketplace this year,” said Ken Bowen, Health, Officer for the Ionia County Health Department. “At the Ionia County Health Department, we will help people find the plans that are best for them.”

 

Plans bought during this Open Enrollment period will start Jan. 1, 2018. If you are already insured through the Marketplace, you should update your information and make sure that your current plan is still the best one for you, your family, and your budget.

Visit your Marketplace account at HealthCare.gov. The health department can also help people understand and apply for Medicaid.

For more information about open enrollment, visit https://www.healthcare.gov/.

 

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Superintendent's Platform

WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight news in their districts. This posting is from Lakewood Public Schools Superintendent Randy Fleenor.

 

“Thank a member of our Transportation Department today!

The week of October 16 was National Bus Safety Week in our district. This is such a critical topic and the information discussed during this week is at the forefront of our thinking every week of the year.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, riding on a school bus is the safest way for children to get to and from school, and school bus accidents account for less than 1 percent of all traffic fatalities each year.

 

Nonetheless, knowing safe school bus practices and discussing them with your children is paramount to keeping everyone safe on the roads. We hope that the information discussed this week at school and on social media has helped in this endeavor.

You can find all the week’s information on our Facebook timeline or call and we’d be happy to mail it out.

 

Driving a school bus isn’t an easy job. It takes a special kind of person to board a moving classroom with 30-60 young people, all eager to let loose and get home! But our drivers and paraprofessionals do it with grace and make it look pretty easy.

 

Our drivers, bus paraprofessionals, office staff, and mechanic staff all work together to ensure we provide the very best care and service possible for our student and parents.

 

Our district covers roughly 221 square miles and ranks in the top three districts for size in the Lower Peninsula. The day begins around 4:45 AM and ends around 5:00 PM. In the course of one day, routes cover about 2,100 miles. This equates to roughly11,000 miles per week.

 

Last year, the Board of Education took action to reinstate district-provided transportation to athletic events, ensuring the safety of our athletes and coaches. This was an additional 21,000 annual miles, logged after the school day.

 

All in all, our drivers travel almost 400,000 miles per year! They provide great service, safely moving approximately 1,500 students a day. Collectively, this team represents over 250 years of experience behind the wheel. These are all impressive numbers. But what is most impressive is the care they demonstrate daily for our children.

 

Our bus drivers make a difference every day in the lives of our students. For most of our student body, they are the first hello and last good bye. Our drivers have the ability and opportunity to set a positive tone each morning – maybe even turning someone’s day around.

 

Please join me in saying “thank you” to our drivers, support staff, office staff, and mechanic team for a wonderful job done each and every day.”

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Extra caution urged with reduced daylight hours, visibility

The Barry Eaton District Health Department is reminding citizens it is essential they be extra cautious with during the fall and winter seasons.

They have issued some advice. With the reduced daylight hours, people may find themselves doing normal morning or evening activities, such as walking dogs and waiting for school buses, in the dark or near-dark.

 

Because visibility is decreased at this time of year, it’s important for everyone, both people on the ground and drivers, to be especially cautious.

 

Pedestrians, bikers, and others who are on or by roadways should consider buying reflective clothing, reflective tape, or lights that they can carry or clip on to themselves so that drivers can see them better and sooner.

 

Drivers should refrain from using mobile devices, especially cell phones and GPS devices, and other actions that can be distracting, including eating and fiddling with the radio. Drivers should pull over in a safe location to do any activity that is potentially distracting.

 

Everyone should act with extra caution, and drivers should consider lowering their speed, in areas where roads are narrow, curvy, or hilly. In addition to pedestrians, drivers should also be on the lookout for animals, especially deer.

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Barry County 2018 budget adopted, balanced at $16,662,301.

 Completing a process that began in May, the Barry County Commissioners unanimously passed the 2018 balanced budget on Oct. 24, with anticipated general fund revenues and expenses of $16,662,301.

The document was presented by Administrator Michael Brown with a detailed overview of the general fund.

 

County Commissioner and Chairman Ben Geiger credited the county’s stable financial condition to Brown’s budgeting skills.

 

 “Michael Brown is a tremendous asset to Barry County and is widely respected for his knowledge, expertise and leadership in local government issues,” he said.

 

Some excerpts of his report.

The county engaged Michigan State University to conduct a Financial Analysis and Forecast Report for future revenues centered on property taxes in 2011. The county adopted the report, and with an update in 2014, has used it as a financial tool every year since, he said.

Brown credited the MSU report for the county being able to maintain spending levels at or below annual revenue amounts and not having to use the general fund to balance the budgets.

 

Projections for 2018 revenues came from analysis of current revenues, the history of the revenues, state of the economy and many other influences to incorporate all the known factors affecting the county’s income and be as accurate as possible, so services will not be reduced unnecessarily and future budget amendments minimized, Brown said.

 

Revenues are budgeted at realistic levels, neither underestimating or overestimating to avoid having to make difficult choices about reducing services, if required.

Property taxes, licenses and permits and federal and state income, charges for service and rents and interest are the sources of income for the county. General fund expenditures for 2018 are projected to fund current staffing and continuation of current levels of spending.

 

The county’s Standard and Poors Global Ratings affirmed its AA rating with a stable outlook. “Given historical budget performance and forward-looking planning, we do not expect to change the rating during the two year outlook horizon,” it said.//                                                                                                                                               

Also last week, the commission approved:

* $15,000 to the Workforce Development programs. *contracting medical examiner services from the pathology department of WMU Homer Stryker MD Medical School.

* a one-year contract extension with Rehmann auditors for $38,200 to complete the 2017 audits and then to seek proposals from auditing firms for a five-year-contract.

* the Barry County 2017 apportionment report

* an Emergency Management Performance grant for 2017

* 2018 state grant contracts for Barry County specialty courts.

* updates to the county IT technology policy

* Farmland and Open Space Preservation program (PA 116) requests from Ronald and Amanda Hoeksma in Irving Township, and Kristopher and Stacy Javor, Burdock Hill Land LLC, and John and Elizabeth Lenz, for property in Carlton Township.

 

 

 

 

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Human remains found by Otsego Township hunter investigated

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office is reporting they responded to a call Oct. 29 after a local hunter discovered what he thought were human remains in Otsego Township.

 

After a thorough search of the area, it was determined that the bones found were human and had been there for some time. 

“At this time we do not feel that foul play was a factor, but this case is still under investigation as we wait for identification of the remains,” Captain Scott Matice said. 

 

The sheriff’s office was assisted by Plainwell Department of Public Safety, Michigan State Police and Western Michigan University’s forensic team.

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Gun Lake Tribe donates $35,000 to Red Cross to honor its citizens who have passed

The Gun Lake Tribe made $35,000 in donations to the West Michigan and Southwest Michigan Chapters of the American Red Cross this week.  The funding was in honor of Gun Lake Tribal citizens who passed away in 2017. The donations were made in addition to those the Gun Lake Casino made for hurricane relief efforts in Texas and Florida.

 

Retired Chairman D.K. Sprague has volunteered with the American Red Cross for decades. He lost his daughter, Leah Sprague-Fodor, unexpectedly in September and suggested that donations be made in her honor and three other citizens who walked on this year.

 

“This is a bittersweet occasion,” remarked the Gun Lake Tribe’s Chairman, Scott Sprague. “While we’re honored to donate these funds to such a worthy cause, we’re still mourning the loss of our brothers and sisters this year. We’re glad we could find such a meaningful way to honor their memory.”

 

D.K. Sprague is looking forward to seeing the funds used for much needed upgrades to the Red Cross’s infrastructure, and other resources that help them perform the amazing work they do for so many people in need.

 

“We’re so thankful for the generosity of organizations like yours,” commented Mike Mitchell, Executive Director of the West Michigan American Red Cross. “The Red Cross does not receive government funds and relies mainly on donations such as this to provide emergency and disaster relief both locally and abroad.”

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Drinking water warning in Freeport issued by BEDHD

The Barry Eaton District Health Department has issued a warning on Freeport’s water. The order, in its entirety, reads:

“During the fighting of a structure fire on Friday, October 27, failure of a valve occurred on the fire truck and caused raw water from the Little Thornapple River, mixed with firefighting foam, to be pumped into the water supply through a fire hydrant.

 

The foam was verified to NOT contain fluorinated compounds, however may cause irritation if exposed to skin, swallowed, or inhaled. In addition, water of unknown quality from the river also likely entered the system along with the foam, which increases the risk of contamination of the water supply.

 

What should I do?

DO NOT DRINK THE WATER, AND AVOID BODY CONTACT WITH THE WATER. Bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, bathing, and preparing food. Continue using bottled water until further notice.

 

If you have a severely compromised immune system, have an infant, are pregnant, or are elderly, you may be at increased risk and should seek advice from your health care providers about drinking this water.

 

What does this mean?

River water is more likely to contain harmful bacteria. It will most certainly contain some level of total coliform bacteria. Total coliform bacteria are generally not harmful themselves. Coliforms are bacteria which are naturally present in the environment and are used as an indicator that other, potentially-harmful, bacteria may be present. Coliforms were found in more samples than allowed and this was a warning of potential problems.

 

To confirm there is not a risk associated with this incident, we will be testing for total coliform bacteria in the water supply. This will serve as an indicator that the steps we have taken have removed the river water from the drinking water system.

 

What happened? What is being done?

Immediately following the backflow incident, we began notifying customers in person of a do-not-drink status for the water supply. We also began flushing the system to rid the river water and foam from the system. We will conduct two rounds of bacterial sampling to verify this was successful, prior to lifting this boil water notice.

 

We will inform you when our sampling shows that no bacteria are detected. We will also continue to flush and examine the water for presence of firefighting foam to ensure there is no risk of body contact with the water.

 

We anticipate resolving the problem within as soon as possible. In the meantime, please continue using boiled or bottled water until we notify you otherwise.

 

If you have questions, you may contact Russ Yarger at 616-299-4223. General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by microbes are available from EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.

 

Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.”

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Fire in Freeport

The village of Freeport is without water this weekend do to a fire at Ketchum Machine Shop friday night.

Residents are being urged not to have contact with their water until further notice.

Drinking water will be available for residents at the Freeport Fire Department.

The outage comes after a valve failure during the fire that according to the village the fire retardant ended up breaching the water system.

 

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Spectrum Health Pennock to showcase surgical robot at open house

An open house sponsored by Spectrum Health Pennock on Wednesday, Nov. 1, offers the public a hands-on look at Pennock Hospital’s daVinci® surgical robot.

 

The free event, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., will showcase the robotic surgical system. Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital surgeons, Max Rappaport, MD, and Andrew Parsons, MD, will offer demonstrations and information about advanced capabilities of the equipment, along with a presentation on robotic surgery, the treatment of hernias and free screenings.

 

Attendees can operate a simulator version of the new daVinci® robotic-assisted surgery equipment, while learning how this technology makes hernia surgery minimally invasive, which can lead to less pain and shorter recovery time for patients.

Rappaport and Parsons will conduct the free hernia screenings and give a presentation about robotic-assisted surgery. Hernia screenings are first come, first serve, beginning at 4:30 p.m.

 

“This innovative equipment allows us to provide high quality care to our patients,” said Douglas Smendik MD, division chief, regions Spectrum Health Medical Group. “We are fortunate to have such advanced procedure capabilities right here in Hastings.”

The public is welcome to attend the event. Light hors d’oeuvres and other refreshments will be served.

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Barry, Eaton Health Board officials agree to work to make TOST voluntary, other changes

The Barry Eaton District Health Department’s TOST regulation will become a voluntary program offered by the joint health department, and with other changes, be more user-friendly to Barry and Eaton county residents who chose to use the regulation.

 

Those are the stated goals of a process set in motion Thursday by officials on the health department’s Health Board.

 

“Me, Dave Jackson and Dan Parker will draft a proposal over the next few weeks with the changes we want in TOST. On Nov.13, we will have a Health Board workshop and on Nov 14, at the Barry County Board of Commissioners meeting, we will report on the workshop and have a status update discussion. After that, we’ll set dates for the next steps,” Barry County Commissioner Ben Geiger said.

 

TOST calls for inspection of on-site water and sewer systems on property in both counties with repair or replacement mandated before the property can be sold. It has been the target of near-constant criticism by Barry County residents since it’s inception 10 years ago.

 

The Health Board, three county officials from Barry, three from Eaton County, control the health department. Commissioners Blake Mulder, Jane Whitacre and Joe Brehler are from Eaton County, Geiger, Dan Parker and David Jackson from Barry County.

 

The proposal from Barry County to revise the unpopular regulation was met with a willingness by Eaton County representatives to work together to find the best way to accomplish it.

Several options were discussed at the Thursday meeting, with pro’s and con’s for each.

 

“Do we really need any new information?” Whitacre asked during discussion. She suggested a framework, she called it a skeleton, of TOST’s working parts, that the six commissioners could work on changing, each segment, one at a time.

“Don’t rewrite policy, take the pieces of what we’d like to change, work on them,” she said.  “It’s easier than starting over.”

 

The board agreed it would take some time to work through the process, and it should start right away. The initial meeting could be followed by more, with stake holders sitting in, if it is needed.

“It may be simpler than we think,” Parker said.//

 

The Barry County Commission by consensus on Oct. 24, agreed the regulation should be voluntary between buyer and seller, the $350 fee to file an appeal removed and timelines set for steps in the process.

“We recognize TOST has validity, by preventing polluting of our lakes and streams,” Geiger said. “We want to protect public health and also protect the right to exchange property.”

 

A major complaint was the regulation takes away the fundamental right to freely exchange property without permission from the government, he said.

 

Mulder said the Eaton County Board of Commissioners has less information about the process than Barry commissioners. “They would like to see movement,” he said, “but, it has to come from us.”

 

Eaton County Commissioner Brian Droscha, who was in the audience, advised against including well drillers, real estate agents and evaluators in meetings. Those mentioned all have financial interests in the rule, he said. “Bottom line, they have a vested interest.” He suggested bringing in home inspectors from outside the TOST area.

 

Barry County citizens Joyce Snow and Chuck Reid asked that more citizens, buyers and sellers, be brought into the talks.

 

Mulder wanted assurance that the result was not predetermined and a waste of time, with the outcome already decided, “that we would be doomed to fail.”

 “I’m not wasting anyone’s time,´ Geiger said. “I’m not interested in wasting anyone’s time. We will take action in a responsible way…we didn’t vote to repeal it, we believe we can make it work.”

 

All agreed the goal was candid and open discussion with honesty and good will.

Whitacre said she was distressed by things she has been hearing; that the health department is in it for the money, of 20 percent pay increases and that they are an evil, corrupt organization.

“It’s not true, but perception is reality…we need to clear away the misunderstandings.”

 

“The health department gets beaten up unnecessarily,” Geiger said. “It’s our policy…they implement what we pass. To protect public health, we all have to buy into it so we can defend it and explain it.”

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Charlton Park hosts community Halloween celebration

Grab your favorite costume and join the staff and volunteers at Historic Charlton Park for an afternoon of family-friendly fun at the All Hallows Eve event from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28.

 

Bring your own treat bag and enjoy trick or treating in the Historic Village, a maze, wagon rides, a scavenger hunt, pumpkin painting and prizes for best costume in a variety of categories. Refreshments, popcorn balls, donuts and cider will be served. 

Cost is $4 for those age 13 and up;  children 12 and younger are free, but must be accompanied by an adult.  Plenty of free parking is available. //

 

“During All Hallows Eve, our goal is to provide fabulous fall fun for all ages in a safe environment. If you love Halloween and costumes of all sorts, we hope to see you next Saturday,” said Charlton Park Director Dan Patton.

“Community outreach events are one of the park’s strategic initiatives and we look forward to hosting an afternoon of celebration for our local residents.”

 

The park is at 2545 Charlton Park Road, north of M-79 between Hastings and Nashville. For more, visit www.charltonpark.org.

 

Photo: Distinctive costumes are part of the event at Charlton Park's All Hallows Eve celebration.

 

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Drop off unwanted prescription drugs on Take-Back Day this Saturday

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office, 1212 West State Street, Hastings, Michigan State Police Post in Wayland and the Hastings Police Department, partnering with Walgreens in Hastings, are taking part in the national prescription drug Take-Back Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28.

 

Citizens can discard expired, unused and unwanted prescription pills that will be destroyed, but no needles or peroxide. Studies show that the majority of abused prescription drugs come from family and friends, including from family medicine cabinets. Disposing of unused medicines by flushing them or putting them in the trash can result in safety and health hazards.

 

At the last Take-Back event, working with Walgreens at the intersection of North Broadway and State Street, the Hastings police collected 160 pounds of medicines that were safely disposed of.

For questions, call the Barry County Sheriff’s Office at 269-948-4805, or Hastings Police Department, 269-945-5744.

 

 

 

 

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Fatal Car/Pedestrian Accident in Hastings

On Wednesday, October 25, 2017 at 8:04pm Hastings Police responded to a car vs Pedestrian accident in the 1300 block of E. State Rd. The preliminary investigation indicates an 80 year old male victim was in the roadway when he was struck by a vehicle travelling east on E. State Rd.  The 80 year old victim was pronounced deceased at the scene. The driver of the vehicle is cooperating fully with the investigation and was not injured. The incident remains under investigation at this time.

 

Hastings Police were assisted by  the Hastings Fire Department, Hastings Department of Public Services, Michigan State Police, Lansing Mercy Ambulance and Barry County Central Dispatch.

 

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It's not too late, get your flu shot now

It’s not too late to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu, and the flu vaccine is the best way to do it. The Ionia County Health Department (ICHD) is encouraging everyone to get vaccinated this season.

The flu is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs that is caused by influenza virus that spreads easily from person to person. Most people with flu are sick for about a week, and then feel better.

 

However, some people, especially young children, pregnant women, older people, and people with chronic health problems, can get very sick and some can die.

Most people with the flu feel tired and have fever, headache, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and sore muscles.

 

Flu shots are available at the Ionia County Health Department; call 616-527-5341 for more information. //

 

Prevent the spread of germs with steps that include:

1. Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub often, especially after using

tissues or coughing/sneezing into your hands.

2. Cough or sneeze into your arm or shoulder, not your hands.

3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth unless your hands are clean.

4. Stay home if you get sick. Stay at home until you have been free of fever (100°F or 37.8° C), or signs of a fever, for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.

5. Contact your doctor with any questions or concerns.

 

Everyone six months or older should get the flu vaccine and now is a good time to get them.  For more on the flu, go to the CDC’s website www.cdc.gov/flu

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UPDATE: Body found in Allegan County identified as missing Theresa Lockhart

UPDATE: The body discovered by the Allegan County Sheriff’s office yesterday has been identified as Theresa Lockhart, Schoolcraft teacher missing for five months.

In a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Portage Department of Public Safety Director Nicholas Armold said Theresa’s husband, Chris Lockhart was found dead in his Portage home. He had left a suicide note with a map with the location of the body in a wooded area in Valley Township in Allegan County. Armold said Chris Lockhart admitted killing his wife, saying he snapped. Her death was caused by strangulation.

 

ORIGINAL STORY:The Allegan County Sheriff's Office received a tip Tuesday afternoon that a body may have been buried in Valley Township. After a diligent search, sheriff’s detectives discovered a partially buried body in the area in a remote section of the township, according to a sheriff’s office news release..

The body of the unknown individual appeared to have been in that location for a fair amount of time. The remains have been sent to the Western Michigan University School of Pathology for autopsy and forensic examination.

Further information will be released as it becomes available.

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Hastings 2015 dog ordinance review to be revisited

Three people spoke to the Hastings City Council Monday, asking about the results of a 2015 review of a city ordinance involving pit bull dogs. The ordinance does not ban owning a pit bull, but identifies them as “dangerous.”

Tammy Berdecia, Barbara Haywood and David Carey  said they had not heard anything about the outcome of the review.

 

In October, 2015, Councilwoman Brenda McNabb Stange asked that wording identifying pit bulls as “dangerous” be removed from the section of the Hastings ordinance dealing with dogs. At the time, Attorney Stephanie Fekkes and Police Chief Jeff Pratt were asked to work on removing the blanket definition of the breed as dangerous.  Fekkes said the problem could be solved by describing what behavior in dogs they want to prevent, without naming a specific breed. 

 

Mayor David Tossava said Monday said he would get the information on the issue that was gathered in 2015 and put the topic on the agenda for the next council meeting in three weeks.

“We’ll revisit it, maybe we will have an answer for you then,” he said. There will be public comment at that time.

 

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Hastings man dies in pedestrian/vehicle accident on North Broadway

The Hastings Police Department is investigating a fatal pedestrian/vehicle accident that occurred at 5:34 p.m. Tuesday, according to Police Chief Jeff Pratt.

 

The initial investigation indicates that a vehicle driven by a 27-year-old Hastings man was southbound in the 1200 block of North Broadway Avenue when it left the roadway and struck a 34-year-old man, also from Hastings. The 34-year-old was given immediate medical attention, but died at the scene, Pratt said.

 

Names of those involved are not being released at this time. When completed, the investigation will be turned over to the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office for review.

 

Hastings officers were assisted by the Barry County Sheriff’s Department, Hastings Fire Department, Lansing Mercy Ambulance, Barry County Central Dispatch, Michigan Department of Transportation and Hastings Department of Public Services.

 

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State's dairy producers vote to continue Michigan Dairy Market Program

Michigan’s dairy producers have approved a referendum to continue the Michigan Dairy Market Program for Grade “A” Milk. The program will continue for an additional five years beginning Jan. 1, 2018. The current state program assessment is $.10 per hundredweight of Michigan Grade “A” Milk.

Established in January 1983, the Michigan Dairy Market Program was developed to increase consumer awareness and promote the sale of milk and milk products in Michigan.

 

A total of 386 ballots were cast in the referendum. Of those, 345 producers voted yes (89 percent), representing 3,415,417,264 pounds (91 percent of the production volume represented) and 41 producers voted no (11 percent) representing 344,488,929 pounds (9 percent of the production volume represented).

For renewal of the program and its activities, more than 50 percent of the voting producers, representing more than 50 percent of the pounds sold by those voting, must approve it.

 

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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:

 

“There is so much support for our students in the Hastings Area School System—from our teachers and staff to the community at large. During their regular October meeting, members of the Hastings Board of Education received donations and heard about new programs being

developed to benefit our Saxons in the classroom and beyond.

The Board accepted, with appreciation, donations totaling $28,186. The Hastings Education Enrichment Foundation donated $17,111 to help defray the costs of several programs and activities for students at every building in the district.

 

Thornapple Trading Post donated $425 for Carrie Carl’s science classroom; and, the Hastings Athletic Boosters donated $10,650 to purchase volleyball nets and other equipment for the winter sports program.

 

Superintendent Duits shared that Hastings Middle School recently established a student advisory board through the leadership of Assistant Principal Cortney Coats. The students meet with Ms. Coats each month to look at data and determine success, brainstorm about how the

school should celebrate successes, and provide input for addressing deficits.

 

Superintendent Duits also shared that High School Counselor Cathy Longstreet received a $25,000 Reach Higher grant from the Michigan College Access Network. Plans for the funds include the development of a college and career readiness course for all 9th grade students in

conjunction with our Career and Technical Education (CTE) programming.

 

In addition, the Board:

? Approved, in principle, a travel study request for the Spanish 3 class to travel to Spain June 18-27, 2019

? Accepted the personnel report which included appointments, transfers/reassignments

and leaves of absence

? Accepted a bid from Hurst Mechanical in the amount of $70,391 to replace the secondary boiler at Southeastern Elementary using Sinking Funds

? Approved a furniture proposal for the MS and HS not to exceed $429,366.16

Announcements:

? A community forum about the Nov. 2017 bond proposals is scheduled for 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, at Central Elementary

? A Community tour of the new construction at the middle school at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25 and the high school at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2

? The next monthly work session of the Board of Education will be conducted at 7 p.m. Tues, Nov. 14, in the multi-purpose room of Northeastern Elementary, 519 E. Grant St.

? The next regular monthly meeting of the Board of Education will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 20, in the media center of Hastings High School, 520 W. South Street.”

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Barry County Commissioners: Make TOST voluntary

A consensus is a generally accepted opinion or decision among a group of people.

The consensus of the seven Barry County Commissioners Tuesday was that the Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation time of sale or transfer (TOST) be a voluntary program instead of mandatory.

 

The  controversial regulation calls for inspection of all on-site water and sewer systems and if deemed failing, repair or replacement before the property can be sold or transferred.

Commissioner Dan Parker said making it voluntary, those who wanted to use the program still could, if buyer and seller agreed to it.

 

The commission had volumes of material to help them make a decision: a public listening session, an on-line poll, a telephone survey, a BEDHD 10th anniversary report on TOST and a long history of input from citizens.

 

The health department is run by the Board of Health with three commissioner from each county: Commissioners, board chair Ben Geiger, David Jackson and Dan Parker from Barry County. Eaton County Commissioners Jane Whitacre, Vice Chair Blake Mulder and Joe Brehler represent their county.

 

The commission agreed to a motion to make TOST voluntary, revise the appeals process and develop timelines for action on requests. Geiger, Parker and Jackson will take the proposal to a Board of Health meeting in the Charlotte office Thursday, and report the Eaton County officials response at the next committee of the whole meeting.

 

Commissioners decisions reflected what constituents have been complaining about; it is too costly, rule enforcement is inflexible and unpredictable, owner’s property rights are being violated, complainers must pay $350 to file an appeal to the same people who enforce the regulation and the health department staff is hard to deal with.

 

Jackson said there were no baseline figures ten years ago, and there is still no baseline or way to determine measurable results despite being in effect for 10 years. Pointing to other problems with the regulation and considerable negative feedback, he said: “We can’t continue on this course.”

 

Several other parts of the regulation will be reviewed by commissioners to make it easier to navigate for those who choose to use it, but commissioners called the consensus a good first step.

Depending on action by the Health Board, many questions will likely be raised about the future of the combined health department.                                               

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Record rain for Hastings

The Hastings National Weather Service Climatological Station recorded a new record rainfall for Monday october 23rd at 2.57 inches. The old record was 1.88 inches  for the same date in 2012. Hastings is close to a new record rain total for October.  Monthly total to date is 10.09 inches.

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Budget amendments brings advice for legal review of all Hastings contracts

The Hastings City Council Monday approved a budget amendment reflecting the police departments spending $13,512,  Parks and Recreation receiving another $16,477, and an increase of $19,200 for additional accounting costs from Rehmann auditors and the Walker, Fluke and Sheldon firm.

 

Clerk/Treasurer Dan King explained the changes, which were challenged by Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange.

A request from the cable access committee for funding to buy audio equipment for the council chambers ($7,510.88),  was approved by council despite strong objection by McNabb Stange that the agreement was “very, very, vague and poorly written…we need legal input before we enter into it…all agreements need to be looked into… so the city understands what we’re getting into,” she said.

 

The vote to approve the amendment without changes was seven to two, with McNabb-Stange and Councilwoman Therese Maupin Moore voting “no”. “Yeah,” Councilman Don Bowers voted, “but I do believe that she has a point, that we ought to take consideration before we do those things again…”

 

A video system controller and server for the committee room ($17,605.03)  was also approved. McNabb-Stange said her previous comments about legal advice on contracts also applied to the second purchase.

 

At the police department, the vendor of the new Report Management System could not deliver the system as quoted or provide necessary technical support, so a new vendor was selected that will provide timing of delivery, necessary technical support and enhance capabilities for the amount in the amendment.

 

The Parks and Recreation department increase will allow the Elks Lodge and the city to coordinate paving of its parking lot with the city’s blacktopping of Bob King Park’s share of the parking lot at the same time. The city owns two-thirds of the lot, the Elks the rest.

 

Doing both segments at once brings the city’s estimated cost of its blacktopping, budgeted for $20,000 in 2020-2021, to $16,446.87. The Elks will pay $8,248.12 for their portion of the lot and any extra work they request.

The council approved the joint blacktopping later in the meeting.

 

 

 

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Basic groundwork underway for extension of Hastings Riverwalk

Planning is underway for a 4,100 linear foot extension of the Riverwalk Trail from Industrial Park Drive in Hastings, into Rutland Township to Wal-Mart to bring the total length of the trail to well over four miles.

Director of Hastings Department of Public Services Lee Hayes said the city and Rutland Township will share the cost of the hard surfaced non-motorized trail based on the footage in each unit; 55.56 percent (2,250 linear feet) from the city and 44.44 percent (1,800 linear feet) from the township.

 

The City Council Monday approved Hays request for Prein & Newhof to prepare cost estimates and a conceptual rendering that will be used when seeking grants and donations. The study will cost $14,700, with the city paying $8,167.32 and Rutland Township paying $5,532.68.

 

Hayes is looking for potential funding, listing four possible grants sources:

* An MDOT Transportation Alternatives Program grant, that would cover up to 80 percent of the project, with a 20 percent local match.

* a Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) Trust Fund grant that would cover up to $300,000 of project funding.

* an MDNR Recreation Transport grant for construction of a trailhead north of the existing Aldi store, that would cover up to $75,000 of the cost.

 

The trail is considered highly competitive for the three grants and the first two have been already been used to fund parts of the existing trail, Hayes said. The fourth funding possibility is donations and crowd funding that would go toward the local match. 

 

The city and township worked on the Trail Extension and Sidewalk Master Plan with Prein & Newhof on the location and plans for the trail as well as anticipated project costs for the trail, trailhead, design, construction engineering and 10 percent contingency.

 

“A project of this scope is higher than initially anticipated. Through donations, value engineering and reducing the project scope we will be able to bring the total match portion of the project to fit the budget,” Hays said. When they have revised project costs, and a better picture of the total funding, Hays will ask for council approval to more forward on the project. 

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Hastings Live entertainment programs draw thousands to the city

Hastings Live 2017 has proved to be everything its supporters hoped for and more, its entertainment programs drawing large crowds of residents and making it a destination for visitors.

Community Development Director Jerry Czarnecki gave the Hastings City Council some figures Monday on average attendance at the events, noting the turnouts were greater than expected.

 

The season included 50 concerts and four movies. Czarnecki said Wednesday concerts drew 2,000; Fridays at the Fountain, 550; Friday Night Concerts, 4,200 and Saturday Night concerts, 1,000. Already working on next year’s schedule, they are deciding which bands to bring back and which new acts to introduce.

 

“We felt that this summer set the bar high, and now we have to do better,” Czarnecki said. They plan more advance publicity  next year, he added. Support for Hastings Live came from many quarters, he said;  a state arts grant, local businesses and foundations, private donations and collected donations.

 

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COA to hold two information sessions on proposed new building

The Barry County Commission on Aging will hold two informational sessions on the COA building project billed as “Just the fact- not the rumors” on Oct. 30 at 11 a.m. and again at 6:30 p.m.

The Commission on Aging is at 320 West Woodlawn in Hastings.

 The invitation to the public includes a tour of the current facility and answers to questions about the proposed new COA building, including:

* City of Hastings landscaping requirements,

* parking lot safety issues,

* space designed for lobby, classrooms, private,

* counseling and offices,

* adult day care plans,

* congregate dining and activities,

* public spaces,

* actual cost to Barry County property owners.

 

 

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"Cops vs Cadets" third annual football game is Sunday, Oct. 22

This is an invitation to a community event written by a novice sports writer, who proves that sports “experts” can write anything they want in favor of one team or the other. See if you can spot the bias in this item.

 

The facts: The Hastings police officers, aka “The Cops” will once again risk injury and loss of self esteem when they take on the Hastings Police Cadets aka, “The Likely Winners,” in a friendly flag football game this Sunday at noon at the Hastings High School football field.

 

The cops refer to their wisdom and experience as reasons they will prevail in the game; the cadets have the advantage of youth, muscle, agility, stronger bones, talent, speed and desire on their side. Look for trash talk from both squads, earnest efforts and lots of laughs during the game.

 

The invitation comes from Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt.

Pratt, who is said to have accurate premonitions of the future, and has already said there will be no post-game interviews from his side.  His pre-game comment didn’t sound too confident either: “My hope is that we do not lose any "Cops" to injury like we have in the past!!”

 

The real story: The cops won the first two games, Pratt said, but the wins did come with a cost. Two years ago Deputy Chief Dale Boulter collided with Sgt. Kris Miller and suffered a couple of broken ribs.  Boulter will return this year.  

 

Last year, Pratt was the “ wedge buster” during a kickoff and probably received a concussion. Miller and Sgt. Josh Sensiba have “tweaked” their ankles while playing.

 “Also last year, Cadet Jon Cook received a broken arm during the game…yes, this is truly flag football!” Pratt said.

 

“The Cadet program, in my opinion, has been an outstanding success due to the leadership of Miller and the amount of time and energy he places into these students to mentor them.

“The majority of the students who remain in the Cadet program tend to better their grades and their behavior at school and home. It is fun, and very rewarding, to watch these kids perform their outreach programs and give back to the community,” Pratt said.

 

The next cadet community outreach being planned is a fundraiser for a student in the Hastings schools with a medical condition, probably a Cops vs Teachers basketball game. Pratt also expects cadets to be involved in helping families in need of Thanksgiving Day dinners.

 

 

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**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, written by guest contributor Technology Director Tracy George:

 

“To Our Maple Valley Families,

We have recently implemented a new school notification system called SwiftK12. It is loaded with new features that will make it easier for us to keep in contact with your family.

To guarantee the notification system is used efficiently, we will need to confirm your contact information is accurate and up-to-date at all times. SwiftK12 allows our school to send messages using phone, email and SMS text messaging.

 

Our automated phone messages will come from the hotline numbers. If you call back to that number, the message will be repeated to you. You can still call any of our building offices at their published numbers below to speak directly with our office staff.

 

DISTRICT OFFICE                            Hotline: 517.615.1141            Office Number: 517.852.9699

MAPLE VALLEY JR/SR HIGH        Hotline: 517.615.1142            Office Number: 517.852.9275

MAPLEWOOD SCHOOL                  Hotline: 517.615.1143            Office Number: 517.726.0600

FULLER ELEMENTARY                  Hotline: 517.615.1144            Office Number: 517.852.9468

PATHWAYS HIGH SCHOOL           Hotline: 517.615.1145            Office Number: 517.852.2322

 

Text messages will be sent from abbreviated versions of the school name. Please note you will not be able to reply to text messages sent from the school.

 

SwiftK12 is integrated with the existing PowerSchool Parent Portal. If you log on to the Parent Portal (browsers that work best are Google Chrome or Firefox) you will now see a new link called SwiftReach SwiftK12 on the left navigation pane under Alerting.

 

You will be able to see all the contact information our school has listed for you by clicking on the Contact Information button in the top navigation.

 

Within the Alert Preferences section of the Parent Portal, you will be able to choose your communication preferences based on message category, such as School Closures or Attendance, as well as message type (email, voice and/or text message) by placing a checkmark into the aligned contact fields.

You may opt-out of any message category except for Emergency Messages.

 

Please Note: Setting up your parent preferences is your responsibility. You will receive messages to every contact field shown in Alert Preferences until updated in the parent portal. Tolls and charges associated with receipt of messages from the school are your responsibility and not the responsibility of the school.

 

Please be sure to set your unique preferences if there are any numbers or addresses to which you do not like to be contacted. All phone numbers and email addresses must be in a valid format to save properly.

 

Emergency messages are always sent with all three message types (email, text, and voice calls) and to every contact field shown even if you have opted out. We cannot change this. Emergency messages will be labeled as such so you will know it is an actual emergency.

 

If you do not have access to the Parent Portal, you may contact Kelly Zank, District Registrar, at 517.852.9699 ext. 1006 for your login information. If you have any additional questions, please contact Tracy George, Technology Director, at tgeorge@mvs.k12.mi.us.

 

We hope you appreciate this new SwiftK12 school notification system and the flexibility it will provide for you and your family.”

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Barry County Commissioners asked to repeal TOST, demand a better regulation

TOST, a Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation already the subject of numerous articles and discussions, was brought up again at Tuesday’s Barry County Commission meeting.

 

The ten-year-old regulation, commonly called “TOST” for Time of Sale or Transfer, mandates inspection of on-site water and sewer systems when property is sold or transferred in Barry and Eaton counties. If a system is deemed failing, the deficiencies are ordered fixed or replaced before the property can be sold.

 

Supporters and critics have outlined their positions many times over several years. (See background is at the bottom of this article.)

 

In public comment time, Bob Vanderboegh, a persistent critic of the regulation, took issue with an editorial and a health department official’s letter to the editor in last week’s Banner.

The opinion article seemed to infer that rural residents of Barry County are the sole cause of potential water contamination due to their onsite sewer systems, Vanderboegh said.

 

“The rural residents of Barry County are as interested in clean water as any other sector of the Barry County population. It appears we are being singled out as anti-clean water advocates. Besides wanting clean water, we also want our property rights respected,” he said.

He said health department presentations have never recognized property owners as stakeholders and officials are using the “fear factor” and the “we can save you tactic,” to further their agenda.

 

Health department officials seem to be incapable of achieving a program that respects property rights and still provides a service that is not dictatorial, he said.

“You, the county commissioners, have the power to achieve both goals in this issue: #1. You can repeal the TOST regulation. #2. As members of the health board you have the power to require the health department to come up with a program that achieves the goals of the health department and protects property owner’s rights.

 

“I ask you to use your authority as our elected officials on the health board to oversee BEDHD in a fashion that puts the health board back in control of the health department,” Vanderboegh said.

 

Vanderboegh’s comments come before discussion and expected suggestions for improvements in TOST by commissioners at the Oct. 24 meeting, after an extended period of hearing public opinion through a telephone survey, listening session and on-line poll.

 

Background:

TOST  has been controversial since it began, with property owners charging enforcement is arbitrary, unfair, too expensive, goes beyond the wording of the regulation by bringing all inspected systems up to present day code, interferes with owner’s property rights and is too costly to appeal.

The health department maintains the regulations protect the quality of water resources, on-site water supplies, the natural environment and is protecting the public health by providing an evaluation and maintenance program for on-site sewage systems and on-site water supply systems in Barry and Eaton County. 

 

 

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**Students in summer reading contest visit 87th District Rep. Calley in Lansing

**87th District State Rep. Julie Calley welcomed students and their families to the Capitol to be junior representatives for a day and experience the life of a Michigan state representative.

Local students entered a contest by reading books over the summer, filling out a bookmark with their name and the list of books they read, and returning it to their local library. During their day in Lansing, the students took an oath of office, learned about the responsibilities of being a state representative, participated in a mock committee meeting and toured the Capitol.

 

“There are two things which I hope they will remember,” Calley said. “First, literacy is an essential foundation for success. Second, diversity enriches any decision-making body. No matter where their professions lead them, public service is an option. The junior representatives were extraordinary. It was such a joy to have them at the Capitol.” 

 

Fourth-grader Hope McKinnon, a home-schooled student from Hastings, received special recognition for reading the most pages. She read 2,692 pages over the summer. The students that attended read 140 books, totaling over 20,000 pages.

 

· Ella Blood, a second-grader at Saranac Elementary School, read 396 pages;

· Olivia Blood, a fourth-grader at Saranac Elementary School, read 1,682 pages;

· Darren Carpenter, a second-grader at Maplewood Elementary School, read 432 pages;

· Taylor Carpenter, a fourth-grader at Maplewood Elementary School, read 2,362 pages;

· Samantha Keilen, a fifth-grader at St. Mary’s Elementary School, read 3,543 pages;

· Carter Krzysik, a fourth-grader at St. Rose of Lima School, read 1,304 pages;

· Tanner Krzysik, a second-grader at St. Rose of Lima School, read 1,956 pages;

· Alice Newman, a second-grader at St. Patrick Catholic School, read 268 pages;

· Garrett Lucci, a second-grader from Nashville, read 541 pages;

· Alaina McCrumb, a third-grader at Lee Elementary School, read 1,627 pages;

· Austyn McHenry, a fifth-grader at Westwood Elementary School, read 1,420 pages;

· Ben Scott, a fifth-grader at Maplewood Elementary School, read 1,809 pages; and

· Ryan Wise, a fifth-grade home-schooled student from Lake Odessa, read 740 pages.

 

Calley said she was honored to welcome the remarkable group of students and their families to the Capitol.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

87th District State Rep. Julie Calley poses for a photo with the winners of a reading contest at the Capitol in Lansing.

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Barry County Commissioners to suggest improvements to TOST on Oct. 24

The stated goal of the Barry County Board of Commissioner’s public listening session, online poll and telephone survey on the controversial Barry Eaton District Health Department TOST regulation is to take the citizen’s input and find ways to improve the rule that has been criticized by many Barry County citizens since its inception 10 years ago.

 

Commissioner and Chairman Ben Geiger said Tuesday that the results of public input will be discussed at its Oct. 24 board meeting with all of the commissioners expected to weigh in with suggested improvements.

 

“The results of the feedback will be posted on line Saturday around noon,” he said. “I don’t know if the telephone poll will be included, if not, they will be distributed when they are ready.” He cautioned commissioners they may need a second meeting, possibly Oct. 30. “TOST is an important program for the county and an important issue for a lot of individuals."

 

In Eaton County in September, a subcommittee of the County Board of Commissioners strongly recommended ceasing participation in TOST to save money during a severe budget crisis, however it was sent back to the committee for language changes and has not come back to the full board.

Eaton County Commissioner Brian Droscha said at the time: “We’ve had a ton of problems with TOST,” and predicted further attempts to rescind it.

 

Geiger dismissed the activities in Eaton County, saying then: “Barry County's initiative is all about listening to our residents, and we will continue and complete this listening process regardless of what's going on in other counties.”

 

Background:

The BEHD Board of Health has three commissioner from each county: Commissioners, board chair Ben Geiger, David Jackson and Dan Parker represent Barry County. Eaton County Commissioners Jane Whitacre, Vice Chair Blake Mulder and Joe Brehler serve their county on the board.

 

TOST mandates the seller of property to pay for a health department inspection of private water and sewer systems before the sale or transfer of property in both counties. If a system is deemed failed, it must be repaired or replaced before the sale. Health department officials say the regulation is protecting Barry County’s water supply, environment and public health, assuring clean water and adequate septic systems. They say they implemented less restrictive rules and more personal contacts with health department staff in response to public complaints.

 

Critics say the regulation tramples on their property rights, is too expensive, cannot document improvement from TOST, suffers from capricious decisions, and is bringing all systems up to present day codes, which is prohibited in the regulation. Also, those with complaints must pay $350 to appeal an action to the same people who permitted it.

 

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National prescription drug Take-Back Day is Saturday, Oct. 28

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office, 1212 West State Street, Hastings, and the Hastings Police Department, Walgreens, 126  North Broadway, are taking part in the national prescription drug ‘Take-Back Day’ from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28.

 

Citizens can drop off expired, unused and unwanted prescription pills that will be destroyed. No liquids, inhalers, patches, or syringes will be accepted.

 

A majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from home medicine cabinets, studies show. Disposing of unused medicines by flushing them or putting them in the trash may result in safety and health hazards.

 

For questions, call the BCSO at 269-948-4805, or HPD, 29-945-5744.

 

 

 

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Barry Commissioners recommend continued funding of technical training program

With the success of a pilot program of technical training for careers that can provide a good living for some of the 50 percent of students who do not plan to go to college, the  Barry County Commission’s committee of the whole Tuesday recommended approving $15,000 to support and expand the effort.

 

Travis Alden, executive director of Barry County Economic Development Alliance (BCEDA) and Mike Schneiderhan, BCEDA Workforce Development coordinator, explained the process that provides training for vocations that provide worthwhile careers for future graduates and a viable, stable workforce for area manufacturers.

 

Nine students completed last year’s pilot program, learning the foundation, technical and hands-on work, and how to apply it to real life. They had mock interviews for practice before formal interviews by representatives of local manufacturers. All nine were offered positions, some with numerous offers, by local businesses, Schneiderhan said.

“Eight of the nine are gainfully employed at about $15 an hour in entry level positions.” Three are going on with training for more technical skills, he said.

 

The next step is to obtain dual enrollment in area schools, to make the training cost free. In the pilot program, the Barry Community Foundation paid the $2,000 per student charge.

Schneiderhan said they would like to recruit 15 to 18 students for the program this year, and laughed when asked what he would do if 50 applied. “I’d love to have that problem,” he said, adding they would solve it.

 

Scheduling is a problem he acknowledged but, “if students can start training in duel enrollment in January, in June they can go to work. It’s a great benefit for these kids.”

They would like to start programs earlier than the senior year, so students can select courses they will need to follow a path, instead of catching up later.

 

Their main challenge is that with the strong mindset that graduating students go to college, technical skills training has been neglected, the two agree. Changing that mentality will be a long, slow process, Schneiderhan said, and will need teachers, parents and grandparents to help change the perception.

 

They will focus on all areas, like plumbing, carpentry and electrical work, not just manufacturing, so students, adults, parents and teachers will realize, “that there are other viable options (other than college) to make a good living and enjoy a productive life.”

 

The result of the program is a trained and available workforce that will encourage growth and retention in area businesses. The students also learn “soft skills,” getting to work on time, producing and getting along with coworkers.

 

The recommended funding will support the expansion of the Kellogg Advanced Manufacturing Assembly (KAMA) program, starting new apprenticeship programs with local manufacturing firms, identifying and recruiting Barry County students into in-school and other CTE programs, and career exposure initiatives with career tours, career expo and more.

 

The KCC training to become a Certified Production Technician starts with fundamental courses promoting a base of skills required for entry level positions, moves on to technical courses that teach learning and applying of relevant industry knowledge.

Next, the certified production technician courses teaching mastery of the core competencies of manufacturing.

 

The final course,  industry recognized certification and assessments, results in high quality credentials that are accepted by manufacturing employers, as endorsed by a nationally recognized association.

Commissioners are expected to vote on the recommendation at its Oct. 24 meeting.

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Note: Barry County Sheriff's Office changes some procedures

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office is changing procedures regarding “walk-in” sex offender registrants and court-ordered preliminary breath test (PBT) testing, according to Undersheriff Matt Houchlei.

 

Houchlei reported the following changes, effective Sunday, Oct. 29:

 

Sex offender registry verifications, updates and other changes to S.O.R. information at the Barry County Sheriff’s Office will take place Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. only.

 

Court-ordered PBT testing at the Barry County Sheriff’s Office will occur daily, Sunday thru Saturday, from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. only.

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Barry County asks to seek multi-year contract for auditors after one year extension

The Barry County Commission committee of the whole Tuesday recommended approval of County Administrator Michael Brown’s request to secure a one year contract extension with the auditing firm Rehmann for $38,200 to complete the 2017 audits.

 

The county then intends to seek proposals from qualified auditing firms for a five-year-contract that will include Thornapple Manor and Barry County Transit audits. Up to now, both had individual audits. County auditors review the separate audits, sometimes delaying the county’s audit process, Brown said.

 

Charlton Park, Central Dispatch 911 and the COA audits are already included in the county audit; the Barry County Road Commission is not. They will be invited to join the county audit, but since they are audited by a local company, may not want to change their provider, Brown said.

 

Also recommended for approval at the next board meeting:

*  the Barry County 2017 apportionment report, necessary to collect taxes, requested by Equalization Director Timothy Vandermark.

 

* an Emergency Management Performance Grant for fiscal 2017, which pays $33,440 of the salary and benefits to Barry County Emergency Management Director Jim Yarger.

 

* the 2018 state grant contracts for Barry County specialty courts; the adult drug court, sobriety court, Swift and Sure Sanctions probation program, Office of Community Correction and juvenile drug court.

 

* Farmland and Open Space Preservation program (PA 116) requests from: Ronald and Amanda Hoeksma in Irving Township, and Kristopher and Stacy Javor, Burdock Hill Land LLC, and John and Elizabeth Lenz,  all for property in Carlton Township.

 

All of the requests were recommended for approval by the Planning Commission, Planning Director Jim McManus said. There are several small items the applicants will have to correct before the requests are submitted to the state, McManus said.

 

* approval of the several minor updates to the IT technology policy, last updated in 2016, requested by IT Director David Shinavier. Five areas of IT security risks are named: confidentiality of information, data integrity, assets, efficient and appropriate use and system availability. “The policy supports all five areas,” Shinavier said.

 

 

 

 

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WMU School of Medicine recommended for Barry County medical examiner services

Barry County will likely contract with Western Michigan University’s Homer Stryker MD School of Medicine to provide medical examiners services with a six year contract from Jan.1, 2018 to Dec. 31, 2023, including the appointment of recognized expert Joyce deJong, D.O. as Medical Examiner.

 

Sparrow Forensic Pathology has provided the services to Barry County since the death of the local doctor who was the ME in 2007, County Administrator Michael Brown said Tuesday.

This summer, Sparrow notified the county they were terminating the contract because they were losing money, and offered to re-negotiate a new agreement at a higher rate, he said.

 

Requests for proposals were sent to WMU, Sparrow and Genesee, Oakland and Kent County medical examiners. Just WMU and Sparrow responded with proposals. Sparrow offered a one-year fixed price of $137.873, with the fee “increasing in accordance with it’s costs at a rate not to exceed four percent a year.”

 

“While it is impossible at this time to calculate the total cost of the agreement for Sparrow due to the inflationary increases not being defined, applying four percent a year would make Sparrow’s final contract price $914,508. WMU’s proposal total cost in their proposal in $921,700,” Brown said. He noted the WMU bid was higher, but the amount was not significant over the life of the agreement.

 

The schedule for WMU is: in 2018, $145,957; in 2019, $148,876; in 2020, $151,989; in 2021, $155,169; in 2022, $158,272; and in 2023, $161,437 to be billed monthly.

The new contract would be for six years since there were two years left on Sparrow’s contract when they terminated it.

 

In a letter sent with it’s proposal, deJong said the focus of  the Department of Pathology at WMU School of Medicine is to create forensic pathology and anthropology centers to serve the nine most southwest counties in Michigan, including Barry County.

A $68 million renovation of the former Pfizer  Building in the heart of Kalamazoo County included development of state-of-the-art pathology laboratories that opened in 2014.

 

“The addition of talented and experienced faculty to the department with extensive training and experience in forensic pathology, anthropology, odontology and entomology, along with a dedicated and experienced staff, allow us to provide exceptional medical examiner services to area counties,” she said.

 

The WMU pathology department in the Kalamazoo facility is in the District 5 Emergency Services District, as is Barry County. Brown said current Medical Examiner Investigators would be retained.

 

By state law, Barry County must provide medical examiner services and appoint an ME and Deputy ME to carry out the duties called for by the law. 

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19-year-old Potterville man dies in single car crash in Eaton Township

Eaton County Sheriff’s Office Deputies, Eaton Area EMS, and Charlotte and Hamlin township fire departments responded to the scene of a single vehicle traffic crash in the area of East Five Point Highway and Brookfield Road on Monday about 9:26 p.m.

 

First responders discovered that Thomas Waligorski, 19, from Potterville, was ejected from the vehicle; he was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

A second person in the vehicle was transported to a hospital for non-life threatening injuries.  Traffic was diverted around the crash site for several hours while the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office Accident Investigation Team looked into the fatal crash. The investigation continues. 

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New president, CEO of Gun Lake Casino named

 The Gun Lake Tribe has announced the hiring of Salvatore, (Sal) Semola as president and chief operating officer of Gun Lake Casino.

 

“I am very excited about the opportunity to work for the citizens of the Gun Lake Tribe, and to lead an incredible group of team members at the Gun Lake Casino,” commented Semola.

“Gun Lake Casino is a beautiful property that is poised for tremendous growth that will produce mutual benefits for the tribe and local community.”

 

Semola will work closely with the Tribe’s governing body, the Tribal Council, and the casino management team over the next few months to ensure a smooth transition when Station Casinos concludes its management responsibilities in February of 2018 after nearly seven years of leading the tribe through pre-opening operations, successful daily operations and expansion projects.

 

“We are confident that the addition of Mr. Semola’s management capabilities to our established executive team will ensure the continued success and growth of the Gun Lake Casino,” said Scott Sprague, chairman of the tribe.  “We thank Station Casinos for their years of management expertise and the solid foundation it provided for the tribe.” //

 

Semola has more than 40 years of experience in the gaming and hospitality industry, including numerous successful Las Vegas properties and  management roles at Foxwoods Resort Casino, Cannery Casino Hotel, and Detroit’s Greektown Casino Hotel. 

Most recently, he was the president and owner of Semola Consulting/Cornerstone Gaming Management, a casino consulting company.

 

Semola has earned several awards, including the Eastern Division of the Casino Management Association “Gaming Professional of the Year,” and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration “Industry Executive of the Year.” 

He has also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, instructing casino management programs.

 

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New COA building, Hastings school millages on Nov. 7 ballot

The Barry County Commission on Aging has a county-wide millage proposal on the Nov. 7 ballot for $5,450,000 that would fund demolishing the present building, constructing a new, 22,500 square foot building on the same site, site work, commercial kitchen equipment and other improvements.

The millage would be for 20 years; 0.0593 mills for the first year and then 0.1669 mills a year until the bonds are paid.

 

It is estimated that a property in Barry County with a taxable value of $50,000 would pay $2.97 the first year and $8.35 per year thereafter.

 

Voters in the Hastings Area School System District will decide two millage requests:

Bond Proposal 1 asks for approval of a 15 year bond, extending the current millage by four years to produce $10.5 million to improve school buildings, for technology instruction and to develop and improve the middle school site for 0.85 mills the first year, which is no increase over the prior year’s levy. The maximum number of years the bonds may be outstanding is 15 years. The estimated annual millage required to retire the bond debt is 1.53 mills, ($1.53 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation).

 

Bond Proposal 11 requests approval of a 25 year bond issue that will produce $19.5 million. The levy in 2018 would be 1.35 mills, or a 0.5 mill increase over the prior year’s levy.

The estimated simple average annual millage of 1.87 mills would be levied in the remaining years until the bonds are paid and is being offset by a loan from the State School Bond Qualification and Loan Program to help pay the bonds and lessen the impact on taxpayers.

 

The funding would be for technology, a new transportation office building, stadium concession building and press box, buses, upgrading athletic facilities and improving school buildings.

 

Orangeville Township voters who live in the Martin School District are being asked to approve renewal of 18.6524 mills for two years for school operations.

The millage is levied against all property, except a principal residence, or other property exempted by law. It is expected to raise approximately $560,645 in 2018. 

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