Local News

Barry Commission interview volunteers for committees, hears more about health department

The Barry County Commission committee of the whole recommended several citizens who volunteered to serve on county committees and commissions Tuesday.


Citizen Joe Sancimino was selected to serve on both the Agriculture Promotion Board as well as the Parks & Recreation Board for partial terms ending Dec. 31, 2019.


Sarah Nelson, representing the Conservation District, will sit on the Parks & Recreation Board for a partial term ending Dec. 31, 2020.


Jerry Czarnecki, from the City of Hastings, and Steve Essling (reappointed), from the recycling industry, will serve on the Solid Waste Oversight Committee until Oct. 31, 2021. Jack Miner will serve on the Planning Commission for a partial term until March 31, 2021.


In other business, the commission recommended the full board:


*approve the Fiscal Year 2019 grant contracts for the court’s specialty programs; Adult Drug Court, 56B District Sobriety Court, Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program, Office of Community Corrections and Juvenile Drug Court.


* appprove a Farmland and Open Spaces Preservation (PA 116) application for Boyd and Lydia Endsley for property in section 18 of Castletown Township.

* approve  the Barry County 2018 Apportionment report with the local tax rates, to allow collection of taxes.


In the final public comment time, several spoke on the earlier discussion and action by the commission on the Barry Eaton District Health Department.


Cathy Young-Gramze said a visit to the BEDHD showed of the last seven events, three were for Eaton Rapids, three were with Lansing-Tri County and one for Barry County, the emergency Hep A inoculation program.


Young-Gramze said 50 years ago, even 20 years ago, Eaton and Barry counties were similar. Eaton County is now a bedroom community for Lansing, Barry is mostly rural.

“The interests of Barry County have diverged from Eaton; we really do need to investigate the feasibility of having our own health department,” she said.


Jim Enrietti said he had heard the insinuation that there were a handful of people “stirring the pot” about the health department. “If you think there are only seven people, get out into the townships.”

Commenting in the previous discussion, he said: “Maybe some of us are glad we haven’t marked our ballots yet.” The health department is not on the front burner yet, but it’s on the back burner and its bubbling, he said.  


Larry Bass said in his experience, it’s like pulling teeth to get information from the department about the department. Freedom of Information Act requests are, “flat out denied,” or have exorbitant fees attached; one that comes to mind is $3,273, he said.


Demographics are vastly different; Eaton is 70 percent urban, and dominated by Delta Township, Barry is 78 percent rural, Bass said. The three Barry County Commissioners were advised to look at it more objectively and stop looking at the department as if it is a “sacred cow.”

“All we want from the health department is answers; we want to get answers, otherwise, it will continue on the front burner.”


Citizen Jack Miner echoed Bass, saying “All we want is good solid answers with number attached.”  He predicted if they get answers, “it will not be on the back burner, it will put it in the back yard.”


Sparks fly, advice given at Barry County Commission meeting

The Barry County Commision meeting Tuesday was routine until the last agenda item; Commissioner Howard “Hoot” Gibson’s request for a study of the Barry Eaton District Health Department to look at its budget and the feasibility of establishing an independent Barry County Health Department.


“When I saw they had $100,000 in mileage, it got my attention. If we had one of our own, it would be half as much, Gibson said.”


An ad hoc committee of three commissioners was appointed to look into Gibson’s request, but not before sparks flew and personal comments were made. Commissioners David Jackson and Chair Ben Geiger argued against using staff time and resources to study the proposal when they already have the jail and COA projects on their plates.


Gibson said an ad hoc committee had minimum costs and worked well with the officer’s compensation study.


“it goes against common sense,” that they are qualified on their own to deal with the huge scope of the health department’s unfunded liability, budget, staffing requirements and health department programs, Jackson said.


Jackson said the department is financially stable, its budget increased just $10,000 in the last ten years, yet some commissioners, “continue to hammer away at the health department like it’s failing, that they’re not doing their job…it’s a nationally credited health department.”


Gibson started to say he wasn’t looking forward to spending a million dollars on mileage when Geiger gaveled him silent.

“This issue is emotional,” Geiger said, “and I’m trying to contain my disappointment for using the health department for political reasons.”

He would work with those who wanted to save money, “maybe next spring when the jail thing is behind us...” he said.


Visibly agitated with his voice rising, Geiger continued: “But, those who want use the health department as a political punching bag before November 6, we have more important stuff to do.”


”What I’m not going to do, if I’m sitting in this chair next year, I’m not putting together a kangaroo court  to come up with a political solution to the health department. That’s not what we’re elected to do and I’m not going to go down that road.”


Gibson said “So you're  saying…” to be gaveled into silence again.

“I’m saying I’m talking” Geiger said, “to put this behind us until the staff is in a position where they can do something….”


“There is only one person on this board with political aspirations and we know who it is,” Commissioner Jon Smelker said to Geiger. ”You just remember that.” //


Conner again addressed Geiger: “You gaveled Dave and Hoot’s conversation because it is too emotional and then you go on and accuse people of doing it for political purposes before the November 6 election. Then when they tried to talk, you gaveled them again,” she said.


“I was finishing my statement,” Geiger said.

“But, you gaveled them again,” she said.

“I thought the discussion was going off the rails,” he replied.


Conner persisted: “That’s what we do here, we discuss is emotional; we know it’s out there…it’s not a political thing, it’s out there, people are talking about it.”


Commissioner Dan Parker, who sits on the Health Board with Geiger and Jackson, said there might be ways to save taxpayers money.  “But there’s a matter of trust here and it’s because people are not going to the health board and asking direct questions and getting direct answers. “If they are not getting direct answers, then I’d like to get involved with it.”


Conner thanked Parker for the “constructive, kind and fair way,” he gave his views.

She then turned to Jackson and Geiger. “You two are always throwing out little jabs, personal pet peeves; you guys are the leaders; when our constituents come to us and ask us what’s going on, we have the right to do it, it is not micromanagement. You have to be professional too, and not use those little tag lines…”


Commissioner Heather Wing said she hears about the health department at every township meeting she attends. People ask when she is going to look at it, and, “it’s not always hostile.”  The commission should, “not kick the can down the road... we should look at it,” she said.


Geiger agreed to find an independent firm to look into it after Tower Pinkster, the consulting company for the new jail and COA, has a schedule set.


Conner suggested that Geiger, “use the gavel a little more fairly, not just to silence someone who disagrees with you.”

“Okay, this is getting too emotional,” Geiger said. “But we have consensus that we are going to look at what’s best for our taxpayers, but now is not the time.”


Smelker made a motion for three commissioners (Wing, Parker and himself) to look into the health department budget and report back to the commission before the end of the year. The motion passed 6-1, with Jackson dissenting.


Geiger later apologized to Gibson and Conner if he had come on too strong.

“Thank you for that,” Conner said

“I’m used to it,” Gibson said.


UPDATE: Caledonia woman seriously hurt in traffic crash with cement truck

UPDATE: The Kent County Sheriff’s Department has identified those involved in a 1:47 p.m. crash yesterday between a car and a cement-mixing truck. Colleen Koetsier, 51, of Caledonia was driving the Buick; Corey Hunt, 63 from Grand Rapids was the driver of the Advance cement-mixing truck.


ORIGINAL STORY: The Kent County Sheriff Department was dispatched to a serious personal injury accident at 92nd and Kalamazoo Avenue.S.E.  today, according to a sheriff’s news release.

Preliminary investigation showed that a 2002 Buick was westbound on 92nd Street and either stopped or rolled through the stop sign.


A northbound cement-mixing truck swerved in an attempt to avoid the collision, however, it did strike the westbound  car. The driver of the Buick sustained serious injuries and was transported to Metro Health via AMR Ambulance. The cement mixer rolled over and the driver sustained minor injuries.


The sheriff’s department was assisted at the scene by Michigan State Police Motor Carrier, AMR Ambulance, Life EMS, and Dutton and Cutlerville fire departments.


NOTICE: Vermontville residents under a Boil Water Advisory

The Village of Vermontville's water system lost pressure and bacterial contamination may have occurred, so residents are being told to boil their water before using it.


Residents are advised to bring water it to a boil, let it boil for one minute, and let it cool before using, or use bottled water for drinking, brushing teeth, making ice, washing dishes or preparing food.  Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water.


Residents should continue using boiled or bottled water until further notice, likely several days. The village will inform residents when tests show no bacteria and the water is safe to drink and there will be no need to boil water.


Village officials ask that those who get the notice share the information with other people who drink the water, especially those who may not have received the notice directly; people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses, They also may post the notice in a public place or distribute copies by hand or mail.


Measures are currently being undertaken to correct the situation. The loss of water pressure in the water system was caused by a water tower inspection and two water main breaks on Oct. 15.


Pressure has been restored, and Department of Public Works staff will be taking other remedial actions such as flushing and collecting bacteriological samples from around the system to determine that the water quality meets the state drinking water standards.


They anticipate resolving the problem within three days when testing from the DEQ is received. Bacteria are generally not harmful and are common throughout our environment, however, whenever a water system loses pressure for any significant length of time, precautionary measures are taken.


For more information, contact the DPW at 517-726-1444 or 194 South Main Street. P.O. Box K, Vermontville MI 49096.


General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by microbes are available from the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1(800) 426-4791.


Report: Protection of Barry County computer data paramount

David Shinavier, Barry County information technology (IT) and geographic information system (GIS) coordinator gave county commissioners a report on the state of the county’s information technology system last week.


Led by Shinavier, the staff includes Rose Anger, half time GIS tech, half time appraiser; Aaron Staines, network administrator and Matt Ward, desktop technician.

Computers came to the mapping department in 1991, hiring an IT/GIS coordinator in in 1999. From the mid- 2000’s the computer service expanded to other county agencies “with good steady growth,” including the sheriff’s office, county courts, COA, transit, Charlton Park, animal shelter, central dispatch and in 2017, the road commission.


The computer system has about 650 devices it supports, Shinavier said. The county website, was outsourced to in 2016, with a five -year agreement and redesign at the end of the contract.


The website is visited about 600 times a day, Fetch about 300 hits a day and the clerk gets some 76 visits a day. Telephone/Internet service is provided by MEI for $600 a month, standard telephone service by AT&T for $1,800 a month and PRI internet by Iserv for $420 a month.

Protection of the computer system is paramount.


“This is what keeps us up at night,” Shinavier said: disaffected employees, viruses/malware, remote access, fire, water, sabotage, data loss, data integrity, public embarrassment, and loss of production.

The system as several levels of security, employee training and use policy, e-mail spam and virus filters that take out 70 to 85 percent of spam coming in, along with firewalls, endpoint scanners, subnetting, and security and backup policies.


“Foreign companies bombard our system…just twenty percent of the traffic is business,” he said.
They keep upgrading equipment and are always looking for upgrading standards.

Shinavier said the department had several points of emphasis: employee education/training, network security, incident response/mitigation, improving application stability, and increasing productivity.


The IT/LIS department is funded by the data processing fund; planned major projects include phone replacement in one to two years, new service to the jail and COA, a new server cluster in three or four years, backup drive in three to four years, and cloud apps and security enhancements, he said.

The county has a “significant investment” of $600,000 in computer assets in equipment right now, Shinavier said.




Armed gas station robbery foiled by manager, Allegan County deputies

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call from the Village of Martin of an armed robbery at the Clark gas station about 8:40 p.m. Monday, according to a sheriff’s news release.


The robbery suspect showed a handgun and held the clerk and manager at gunpoint during the robbery.When he left the station, the manager chased after him and when he got into a vehicle, the manager followed in his car until the suspect was stopped and taken into custody.

He was arrested on several felony charges. His name will be released after he is arraigned.


The sheriff’s office was assisted by Plainwell Department of Public Safety, Michigan State Police and Otsego Police Department.



Gun Lake Casino Straws

As of this coming November 1st the Gun Lake Casino will be free of plastic straws. The casino said they plan to replace the straws with a certified compostable straw, which will join several other organizations in the effort to limit plastic waste.  With an output of over 3 million straws per year through the casino's three bars, two restaurants and other beverage services, the company said they also plan to work on replacing other disposable items with compostable products in the near future.. While these straws are biodegradable, they will still look and perform similar to other straws.

The Gun Lake casino will be the first tribal casino in the state to announce the removal of plastic straws.


Rep. Calley welcomes summer reading winners to Capitol

87th District State Rep. Julie Calley welcomed four summer reading program winning students and their families to the Capitol as junior representatives for a day and experience the life of a Michigan state representative. 


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, met the Lieutenant Governor, and toured the Capitol.


“There are two things that I hope they will remember,” Calley said. “First, literacy is an essential foundation for success. Second, diversity enriches any decision-making body. No matter which professions they choose, public service is an option. The junior representatives were extraordinary. Hosting them at the Capitol is one of my favorite days of the year.”


Fourth-grader Lucas Halanski, from Lakewood Elementary School, received special recognition for reading 1,704 pages, the most over the summer. The four students read 40 books, totaling more than 3,890 pages.


Ellen Craig, a second-grader at Alto Elementary School, read 1,163 pages; Anna Halanski, a second-grader at Lakewood Elementary School, read 794 pages; Lucas Halanski, a fourth-grader at Lakewood Elementary School, read 1,704 pages; Jacob Rogalski, a first-grader at Saranac Elementary School, read 230 pages. Mhairi Johnstone, fifth-grader from St. Rose of Lima Catholic School in Hastings, was unable to attend the day.


Calley said she was honored to welcome the remarkable group of students, their families, teachers, and librarians to the Capitol. Students entered the contest by reading books, filling out a bookmark with the books they read, and returning it to their library.







Photo: Joining Rep. Julie Calley at the Capitol are (from left) students Ellen Craig, Anna Halanski, Jacob Rogalski and Lucas Halanski.  Mhairi Johnstone  was unavailable for the photo.



Friends, family, deputies search for missing man

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public for help in locating Justin Michael Brown, 39, from the Grand Rapids area, missing since Saturday night.


Family and friends told deputies Brown was last seen in a bar in Saugatuck around 1 a.m. They said he has no health or mental concerns and this behavior is not normal for him.  


Brown was wearing a gray Columbia jacket, dark color baseball hat, and blue jeans.  Deputies, family and friends searched the area extensively and could not locate him.


There has been no activity on Brown’s cell phone; the last known location of the cell phone was still in the Saugatuck area.


Anyone with information about Brown is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 269-673-0500 or Silent Observer at 1-800-554-3633.




Hastings asks feedback on future recreation plans for the city

Hastings area residents interested in recreational activities in the city and in its parks will have an opportunity to let officials know what they would like to have for recreation in the future.


The City of Hastings is holding a public meeting in the Hatchery Building in Fish Hatchery Park on Thursday, Oct. 25, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. to take feedback and discuss the needs and desires for the parks and recreation system in Hastings in the coming years.  The meeting will help guide future plans and development.


Hastings residents are encouraged to fill out an online survey available at  that will provide more information and help shape decisions on future recreation in the city.



Hastings City Council retreat "should be fun"

The Hastings City Council will go on a retreat Thursday, Oct. 18 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the YMCA Camp at Algonquin Lake.


The event gives the council a chance to meet in a more relaxed atmosphere and brainstorm with no agenda. The topic will be strategic planning, but the evening, organized and planned by Hastings City Planner Rebecca Harvey, includes games and exercises just for the fun of it.


“This is an open affair,” Mayor David Tossava said. “The public can stop by. It should be fun. Rebecca is excited about it; we’re looking forward to it.”



Work to ease Crooked Lake flooding continues

Reports to Barry County Commissioners on the flooding on Crooked Lake, Delton did not bring reassuring news. County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull updated them Tuesday, and engineer Brian Cenci sent in a report Oct. 2.


Dull reported on several attempts to find a solution to lowering the lake level, but water has to go somewhere and residents approached on nearby lakes are reluctant to add to their high lake levels. One promising solution was withdrawn by the property owners after a DEQ permit had already been issued. Another didn’t get that far when residents reconsidered their consents, Dull said. 


The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has been very helpful, but there probably won’t be additional help from state of federal agencies, he said. “We’ve tried several different approaches…it’s challenging.”


Several unusually large rain events this fall have added to the problem and the pumping onto wetlands on M-43 stopped Sept 19 when it was within an inch of the maximum height limit allowed on M43. The emergency pumping had pumped about 250 million gallons of water into the wetlands east of M-43.


Cenci included charts in his report showing Watson Drain/Upper Crooked Lake pumping analysis, the daily rainfall at the lake and a drawing of a possible solution they are working on, involving an open air storage area for excess water that would infiltrate into the ground.


He said he and Dull don’t have time to reasonably compile and report on everything they are working on. “We only want to report on updates to firm or very promising progress, …but rest assured, not a day has gone by where Jim, I or someone from our respective offices have not been working vigorously to facilitate additional emergency short-term relief plans, or develop the long-term solution.”


36th Annual Barry County CROP Hunger Walk

This year's Barry County 36th Annual CROP Hunger walk will be held in  Hastings hosted by Emmanuel Episcopal Church,  315 W. Center Street, Sunday, Oct. 14th rain or shine with registration at 1:30pm and the Walk at 2:00p.m.


Church World Service deifines  CROP  to mean, Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty both locally and globally. Church World Services raises money through CROP Hunger Walks to provide food, Medical Care, disaster relief and self help developement for families in need throughout the world.


 Barry County Churches and community members will come together to make a difference.  You are invited to be a walker or sponsor..Donations for the Barry County CROP Hunger walk can be given online  


Last Year The Barry County CROP Hunger walk gave $625.00  to each of  the  following programs; Barry County Cares, Good Food for Freeport, Hastings Community Food Pantry, Maple Valley Community Pantry Shelf and Middleville Food Pantry. 


For more information contact Nolan Hudson, 517-852-1821


Crooked Lake flooding still eludes solution

Crooked Lake resident Sharon Ritchie Tuesday told Barry County Commissioners the water flooding her and neighbor’s homes is higher than it was this summer. After several months of dealing with the flooding, residents are “very weary and feeling overwhelmed mentally, physically, emotionally and financially,” she said.


Nine months ago, county officials visited their home, and recognized the rising waters were a concern for public health and safety; eight months ago, the commission declared the lake a flooding crisis and allocated $10,000, she said.


She stressed that Crooked Lake residents appreciate the help they have received and are sad other lakes are also contending with high water issues, “Yet, I request that your efforts, resources and time is dedicated to Crooked Lake Delton since we have been told that our crisis is your priority.”


Ritchie said more homes are in crisis now than when  Engineer Brian Cenci’s  report last summer said 63 homes were seriously impacted by the flooding, 193 homes had flooding issues and just 24 homes were unaffected by flooding. Sump pumps are wearing out from use and being replaced and residents have been told a sand bagging service is no longer available.


“It has been four months since Chairman (Ben) Geiger stated: ‘Hang in there…help is on the way.’”

“I am asking you: Where is the help you said was on the way…What exactly am I to hang onto?”


Geiger later said he would talk to Barry County Emergency Management Department to see if they could offer any help.



Hastings won't vacate street, allows easement for access

A request to grant access to a graveled area for parking at a parcel on the West Mill Street Right of Way (ROW) between Washington Street and the Thornapple River was approved by the Hastings City Council 0n Monday.


Doug and Sharon Vickery asked to vacate the street was turned down in September; council members would not consider vacating the property because of the storm sewer and its proximity to the Thornapple River and Tyden Park.


The couple asked for reconsideration this week. They are close to selling the property, he said,


A driveway, a ranch-style building and a three-unit apartment building and a city storm sewer line are in the ROW. Vickery said the buildings are likely non-conforming.


They didn’t know about the situation with the ROW when they purchased it 34 years ago, Vickery said. They learned about it years later, and didn’t want to leave the problem for the next owner, he said.


The easement won’t affect the sale of the parcel; it has no time limit, unless the city needs it for some purpose, and is transferable from one owner to the next. The non-conforming structures can stay, but cannot be rebuilt if they burn down.








Transitional/emergency housing ordinance topic at Hastings City Council

Two ordinances had first readings by the Hastings City Council Monday. Council members get information on an issue at the first reading and have until the next meeting to learn more before it’s brought up at the second reading, when action is expected.


Ordinance 561 would allow emergency and transitional housing in most zoning districts near the city’s downtown by special use permit. Originally to permit temporary housing for qualified inmates being released from Barry County Jail, it was broadened by the commission to include other forms of temporary housing for others facing other needs and challenges.

With special uses, the commission can establish conditions and controls for each facility and its use. Planning Commision Chairman David Hatfield was at the council meeting to answer questions from members.


Hatfield said they have been working on the transitional housing ordinance for about six months since the original request from Judge Amy McDowell.

When the commission was deciding on the ordinance, they “were creating too many specifics; it got convoluted,” he said.


So instead, he said they backed away, and gave general guidance and would look at specifics under the special use permit

As a special use, they have the right to look at specifics on any proposal. Each applicant will be specifically judged on the merits of the specifics by the planning commission, he said.


Some of the special use provisions are to maintain the appearance of a one-family dwelling with nothing to identify it as transitional or emergency housing, approval by a building inspector, no activities that would be detrimental to neighbors, he right to review on-site management, the number of people to occupy the dwelling at one time, the size of rooms, and all applications submitted to the police and fire departments for review and comment.


When Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange said it looked like the planning commission was making law, Hatfield noted that City Planner Rebecca Harvey wrote the ordinance.

There will be more discussion to make sure everyone is “on the same page on the second reading.”//


The second ordinance would rezone five parcels along and near Woodlawn Avenue from AO-Apartment-Office, R-1 and R1A One Family Residential to A-1 Apartment.

A request from Ravenna Holdings to the Planning Commission to rezone a parcel at 600 East Woodlawn Avenue for multi-family development was broadened by the planning commission to reflect land development patterns in the area. The planning commission recommended approval of both ordinances.


In other business, Clerk/Treasurer Jerry Czarnecki was appointed to a three year term on the Barry County Solid Oversight Committee at the request of Mayor Dave Tossava. He will replace City Manager Jeff Mansfield whose term expires the end of October. Also, Tom Wiswell was approved to serve on the Joint Planning Committee to fill Tom Wilt’s seat after his resignation.






Audits, brownfield assessments, pensions on Barry County Commission agenda

The Barry County Board of Commissioners first denied Barry County Sheriff’s Office employee Robert Horrmann’s request to purchase one year of generic service credit with the Municipal Employees Retirement System for $26,846 that would allow him to qualify for a full pension.


A motion to allow it was tied 3-3, with Commissioner David Jackson absent, so failed.


Reading from Roberts Rules of Order, Commissioner and Chairman Ben Geiger said in this particular case, the board could reconsider its decision.


Commissioner Howard “Hoot” Gibson said it has been done in the past for others, “Why not now?” Commissioners Jon Smelker and Heather Wing wanted more information, leading to an agreement to table the issue until the Oct. 21 meeting.


It will be a closed hearing at Sheriff Dar Leaf’s request since it is a personnal matter. The request was sent to the full board by the committee of the whole last week.


In other business Tuesday, commissioners

*approved applying for an EPA assessment grant to fund environmental assessment projects for potential brownfield redevelopment sites in the county,


*approved contracting for auditing services from Gabridge & Co. for a fee not to exceed $26,060 a year for the next three years, with option for an additional two years at the same cost.


*set a public hearing on the proposed 2019 budget and to recommend its approval on Oct. 23 at 9 a.m.


Barry County Career Exposure kicks off tours

Barry County high school students will learn first-hand about manufacturing and health care careers as a Career Exposure tour starts this week.


The Career Exposure Tours are organized by the Barry County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Alliance (EDA) in partnership with West Michigan Works.

With local unemployment rates at historic lows, the demand for talent is increasing, meaning outstanding opportunities for county youth, particularly those graduating in the next few years.

Bringing those opportunities to the forefront is the primary goal of tours this month throughout the county.


 “We routinely hear from local employers – large and small – that workforce is their number-one concern,” Travis Alden, president of the Chamber & EDA, said...

“Getting local students into these companies to see the great career opportunities that exist right in their backyard is a crucial part of addressing Barry County’s current and future workforce needs.”


The first week of October is national Manufacturing Week, with communities across the country celebrating America’s manufacturing strength and highlighting career opportunities in that sector; showing students and educators what manufacturing is like in the 21st century.//


“Most students are completely unaware of the innovative products produced right in their community and sold all over the world,” said Craig Stolsonburg, Business Solutions representative with West Michigan Works.

“It’s incredible to see the lightbulbs go on in their heads, as they tour these amazing facilities only a few miles from home.”


“Exposing students to – and educating them about – what local companies do is just part of the picture,” Alden said. “Showing them the myriad of career opportunities available at these firms, and the paths to get them there, is a key goal of these events.”


“We want local students to explore the numerous career opportunities available under the manufacturing umbrella including production, sales, purchasing, engineering, maintenance, and more,”  Director of Training & Development at FlexFab Andrew Walsh said.


“Our goal is to help students understand that their career path does not need to be linear. The direction of their careers depends on their interests, aptitude and goals.” Area educators echo the importance of that goal and underscore the unique experience this is for their students.

“Students are amazed to find out that there were so many different career opportunities within each business, including accounting, IT, research and development, engineering, CNC, CAD, programming and more,” said Ed Domke, director of Hastings High School’s Career & Technical Education.


“Add in the healthcare sites that we’re visiting this year and it’s an extremely valuable experience for our students.” “Our job is to prepare our students to be college and career ready, and these opportunities help students to learn more about the options that they have and how to prepare for their future,” Thornapple-Kellogg High School Principal Tony Peterson said.  “We are extremely grateful to all of the participating companies for opening up their doors to our students.”


Students from all Barry County schools; Hastings, Thornapple-Kellogg, Maple Valley, Delton-Kellogg and Barry County Christian, will tour 13 sites: Bliss Clearing Niagara, Hastings Manufacturing, Hastings Fiberglass, Tri-Clor, Flexfab, Spectrum Health Pennock and Thornapple Manor in Hastings; Advanced Stone Fabrication, Bradford-White, H&L Manufacturing, ChemQuest, and Middleville Tool & Die in Middleville and TnR Machine in Dowling.


“Manufacturing is the top employment sector in Barry County, at about 33 percent of our local labor force, so naturally we feature manufacturing firms,” Alden said.

Health care is second-highest sector in terms of employment in the county, so they included a couple of those employers, and hope to expand that in the future, he said.

As students learn about opportunities throughout the career areas, emphasis is also on pathways to achieve success in these careers.


“Seeing local folks on the job and asking questions may be the beginning of discovering what students want to do for their career and make a plan,” said Barry Career Access Network Coordinator Margie Haas.

“As they plan for their post-high school education or training, we want them to visualize what they may be doing for a career, ask how people in that profession got started and understand how their classwork and training will apply to success in their career field.”


The tours are geared toward 10th and 11th grade students, but each school selects students who participate, based on the capacity at each company.

The tours in the county began in 2015 with a single company – Flexfab – grew to three in 2016, six in 2017 and 13 this year.


 “That growth speaks to the importance of this experience for our local employers, students and educators,” Alden said... “The best part? We have slots for nearly nine hundred student experiences. “That is almost double last year. We wouldn’t be able to do it without the commitment of our local companies and schools. I sincerely thank them for making this possible.”




Tower Pinkster picked to facilitate new Barry County Jail project

The Barry County Board of Commissioners Tuesday voted unanimously to hire Tower Pinkster to facilitate the building of a new Barry County Jail. With the decision, Administrator Michael Brown will send a Letter of Engagement to Tower Pinkster.


The five companies interviewed were Tower Pinkster, Hooker/Delong/Landmark Design Group, BKV Group, and Lifespan Design Studies with BKV Design, BVCE & Associates and DLZ/Granger.


Discussion began at last week’s meeting and continued Tuesday. “We cannot continue to deliberate on this the waywe have,” Commission Chair Ben Geiger said.


He favored taking the top two scoring companies commissioners ranked during interviews and make a decision on one or the other; Tower Pinkster or Granger.  


That started the discussion for the next two hours, when commissioners discussed several more options, and discarded each for a variety of reasons. 


All had good points, but also drawbacks; BKV had a good presentation, but is an out of state company, some commissioners thought Barry County residents would prefer someone in the state. 


Tower Pinkster are excellent architects and engineers, but couldn’t do the actual construction. 
A proposal to take the top three companies and re-interview them was talked of, but was also dropped. One company had no experience with building jails, some would be involved in the money raising, and other firms, not as much. 


Uppermost in the discussion was how to pay for the jail, with millage the likely route, but with intense public education on what a new jail would look like and what they would be getting for their taxpayer dollars.


“If we don’t get millage, that would cause a real problem; this would be an expensive farce, an expensive farce.”


Geiger said several times he did not want to bring a millage request to voters more than once. “I want to do it once and do it right… I have too much respect for voters.” 


Resident Cathy Young Gramze cautioned the commission that they will have to show the community exactly what they would get for their money. “Barry County people won’t buy a pig in a poke,” she said.


Resident Larry Bass reminded the board that at least two school districts would be asking for millage in the near future. “You have competition…stick with needs, not wants.”.”


Resident Bob Vanderboegh recommended commissioners use a plan already paid for, the Master Facilities Plan of 2015. It calls for moving the Friend of the Court office to the Courts & Law Building. They could then move the Barry Eaton District Health Department office into the FOC space and renovate the health department building for the COA.


Considering the COA and the jail the same time was also brought up.  If they did the moving of offices to different spaces to make the health department building available, maybe they wouldn’t need a millage for the COA, Geiger said.


Middleville water heater company drops pollution exception request

A request for a pollution exception by the Bradford White Company in Middleville being considered by the DEQ has been dropped by the company in response to written comments to the state agency. As first reported by the Grand Rapids Press, company officials said they wanted time to listen to employees, residents and others interested in the Thornapple River,


David Wierzbicki, project manager, DEQ Remediation and Redevelopment Division in Grand Rapids in an interview two weeks ago said the DEQ was getting “a good number” of written comments by the public.


Wierzbicki said then he had been working on the issue with Bradford White for quite some time. “There is no actual dumping of active chemicals into the Thornapple River to the best of our knowledge,” he said. Bradford White was asking for a mixing zone in the river that would dilute groundwater contaminatoin when it went into the river.


Chemicals in two ground water plumes are flowing west and south from the plant toward the river; monitoring wells are between the plumes and the river. A routine schedule of sampling the monitoring wells showed contamination near the river,” Wierzbicki said.


“We have been studying this quite a while to find out what and where it is and at what levels, and whether there is a risk to the public.”


The contamination is thought to originally have come from two concrete tanks 50 feet apart that held degreasing chemicals used to clean metal used in water heaters.

If, when or how the leakage may have occurred from one or both tanks is unknown; use of the chemicals stopped around 1985, he said.


He said trichloroethylene, which breaks down into ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride, are the volatile organic compounds identified as carcinogens, or probable carcinogens, by the EPA that were used as degreaser solvents in the past, They are no longer in use.


The contamination was believed to first been discovered under the water heater plant in the late eighties or early nineties. Remediation started in 2004 and continuing today, has removed 90 percent of the contamination, Wierzbicki said.


If levels of contamination detected in the monitoring wells as it approaches or enters the river do not exceed the calculated mixing zone based criteria, it is determined that there is no risk to the public and environment, he said in the interview.


“The mixing zone is the area where the groundwater mixes with river water at the bottom the river. The flow rate of groundwater going into the river compared to the flow rate of the river itself is used to calculate the mixing zone base criteria that will be protective of public health, the environment and for all the uses of the river,” he said.


“Bradford White has been very cooperative with me for the entire time to do with the work they need to do to comply with state statutes. It’s on ongoing process, I think most people understand that,” he said then.



Skateboarder hurt in collision with mini-van

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office today responded to a pedestrian/vehicle injury crash on South. Division Avenue under M-6, according to a sheriff’s news release.

The investigation revealed a man in his early 30’s was riding his skateboard on the southbound sidewalk when he fell into the southbound lane of vehicle travel.


The man was stuck by a Chrysler mini-van and dragged a short distance. He was pinned under the vehicle and was freed by pedestrians and first responders. The unidentified man was transported to Metro Health Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries via AMR.


Speed and alcohol/drugs do not appear to be a factor. The driver of the Chrysler, who was not cited, and occupants of the vehicle, were uninjured. Cutlerville Fire Department also responded.


Large bull on the loose wandered into subdivision in Grand Rapids Township

Friday afternoon Kent County Sheriff deputies and Kent County Animal Control were dispatched to the area of Michigan Street and Quail Ridge Drive in Grand Rapids Township on reports of a large bull on the loose, according to a sheriff’s news release.


The bull was wandering through a subdivision. Attempts were made to corral the bull back to its pen but were unsuccessful. The bull wandered into a wooded area, still near the subdivision. The owner of the bull did not have a way to get it back to the farm and requested that deputies put it down.


There was a concern for the children that were coming home from school and Michigan Street also had to be closed to prevent anyone from hitting the bull if it ran back across the road. When the bull was in a safe location to be put down, a deputy fired a single round and killed it instantly. The owner of the bull is making arrangements to remove it from the wooded area.  No one was injured in the incident.


Notice:Public health advisory for Jordan Lake lifted

The Public Health Advisory for Jordan Lake issued by the Ionia County Health Department on Oct. 4 has been lifted as of 3 p.m., Friday, Oct. 5. Water sampling performed by the Lakewood Wastewater Authority on Oct. 4 revealed levels of E. coli that are considered safe for full body contact, according to the health department. Residents and visitors may resume normal activity in and around Jordan Lake.

For more on E. coli in surface water, visit

For more on sewage overflows in Michigan, visit


Stealing political yard signs is a crime, but not unusual

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the first report of political yard signs being stolen during the lead up to the Nov. 6 election. Sheriff Dar Leaf said his office has just started an investigation into the charge. “These kinds of thefts are not uncommon,” he said.


Theft of political signs is a crime in all 50 states. In Michigan, the consequences of stealing or defacing signs can include a large fine or even jail time. Stealing or defacing signs is a misdemeanor that can carry a maximum penalty of a $500 fine or imprisonment of up to 90 days, according to state law.




The Lofts of Middleville holds "groundbreaking" celebration

It’s been part of downtown Middleville since the late 1800’s. Still structurally sound, the three-story tan brick building at the corner of Railroad and Main streets has held many businesses. Some remember Liebler’s, a clothing store, some can remember further back and other businesses.

Most remember its years as the village Post Office and for a time, a variety store.


It’s showing its age, and needs extensive repairs, but is still sound and after years being vacant and neglected, is ready to be of use to the community again.

At the celebration of the project’s “groundbreaking” Monday, Zoning Administrator Brian Urquhart said he often looked out the front window of the village hall and wondered if it would ever have tenants again.


“This is the result of years of hard work,” he said. The Lofts of Middleville is an investment of three-quarters of a million dollars, mixed use development. In addition to interior improvements, the exterior will have major repairs, with bricks and masonry upgrade, new windows added to the third floor,  windows and doors replaced, new siding on the front and a closed stairwell in the rear for renters, he said.  “This will be a catalyst for Middleville and with the community development status, prime for development.”//


Joanna Schlientz, the owner with husband Chad, explained the plans. Each of the three stories has 3,000 square feet, for a total of 9,000 square feet. The upper floor will hold four apartments, the first floor a combination of retail and possibly a restaurant, the lower level will be retail and offices. ‘We’ve been working on this for two and a half years,” she said. “We hope to have it done and ready for showing in six months.”


In his remarks, Chad Schlientz said they appreciated all the people working with them, helping them with their “vision of getting things to come together and help us out…the village and the township helped us along the way...this is a fantastic building.”


MEDC Executive Vice President Greg Tedder said all the background work done to get to where they are today is paying off. “This will have a huge impact on Middleville,” he predicted. An MEDC grant for $352,850 will help fund the Lofts; the Middleville DDA put in $27,000 for a new façade.


“Middleville has so much to offer,” 87th District State Rep. Julie Calley said. “Jobs are here and they are in close proximity to many opportunities. We value what Middleville offers. Businesses want to be in Middleville, making it the place to be.”


“101 E. Main Street was the focal point for activity for Middleville community for decades,” Village Manager Duane Weeks said. “After its rehabilitation, this building will reclaim its previous place and even more moving forward. The resulting renovated historic building will invigorate activity and a sense of place into Middleville and throughout the community.


“In one’s professional and personal lives you find opportunities that transform the future through steadfast effort or involvement in a project such as The Lofts of Middleville. The renovation and repurpose of 101 East Main Street is one of those opportunities for the Village of Middleville.”



















Student count in Barry County area schools mixed

All public schools in Michigan count the number of students attending their schools twice a year, in October and February. In Barry County area schools this year, the student count was mixed, without large shifts either way. Count information is critical to school districts, because each student translates into state funding.

The calculation schools receive is based on a blend of both winter and fall student count data during the same calendar year.


Area schools unofficial student counts on Wednesday, Oct. 3: 


*Thornapple Kellogg’s student count stood at 3,156, up 25 from last year. 


*Delton Kellogg Schools student count this year is 1,251, down 30 from last year.


*Caledonia Community Schools counted 4,847 students this year, down 19 from 2017.


*Wayland Union Schools reports its student count is 3,059, up 21 from last year.


*Maple Valley Public Schools have 994 students enrolled this year compared to 1,069 last year, a 75-student drop.


*Hastings Area School System’s student count is 2,660, down three from last year.


** Lakewood Public Schools count was not available for the 5 p.m. news. 



October is Fire Prevention Month: Look, Listen, Learn, Be Aware

“Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.”

Michiganders are urged to look for places fire could start in their homes and fix any potential fire hazards; listen for the sound of the smoke alarm, and learn two ways out of every room by developing and practicing a home escape plan.


“We’re working to educate people about how to reduce the likelihood of having a fire in the first place, and if they do have a house fire how to escape safely, “said State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer.


“This includes having working smoke alarms on each level of their home to provide early notification and then exiting quickly can literally make the difference between life and death. In many instances there’s a much smaller window of time for people to escape a home fire safely – as little as one or two minutes from the time the smoke alarm sounds -- largely due to more plastics and furnishing burning faster, producing large amounts of toxic gases and smoke. Knowing two ways out of every room will help people use that small window of time wisely to escape fire, Sehlmeyer said. //


Tips to make a home more fire-safe:


*Install smoke alarms on every level of the home and inside every sleeping area. Check them every month by pushing the test button.


*Never smoke in bed. Keep lighters and cigarettes away from children.


*Never leave cooking unattended. Keep stoves and burners clean and free of grease to avoid the potential for a small kitchen fire that can get out of hand quickly.


*Never leave candles unattended. Place them in sturdy holders on uncluttered surfaces at least a foot away from anything that can burn; curtains, bedding, furniture, carpeting.


*Have fireplaces, chimneys, and both wood and coal stoves inspected annually by a professional and cleaned if necessary.


*Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended.


*Use caution when using space heaters. Keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn and place them on a hard-nonflammable surface. Never leave them unattended.


*Replace frayed extension cords; do not overload extension cords. Plug only one heat-producing appliance into an outlet at time. Plug major appliances directly into a wall receptacle.

*Keep clothes and other items three feet away for your gas water heater that can ignite items when the water heater comes on.


*Clean the dryer lint screen after each load as lint is extremely flammable.


*Have a fire extinguisher in the home and know how to use it.


*Develop and practice a home fire escape plan that the entire family knows that includes two ways out of every room.


*Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily and are free of clutter.


*Sleep with bedroom doors closed to limit fire spread. Closing the door can save lives by reducing toxic smoke levels and slowing down the spread of fire and smoke into sleeping areas.


*Make sure you close doors behind you as you escape a fire.


“Fire can happen to you,” Sehlmeyer emphasized. “With a few practical and essential preventive measures, people can eliminate fire hazards in their home, and be better prepared to expect the unexpected if a fire occurs in their home.”


For more on preventing fires and staying safe:

For more on fire safety:



NOTICE: No body contact of Jordan Lake waters recommended

The Ionia County Health Department is recommending no body contact in Jordan Lake, due to high levels of E.coli after a sewage spill from a creek that flows into the lake.


On Oct. 2, the Lakewood Wastewater Authority experienced the sewage overflow; water testing by the LWA that day revealed high levels of E. coli in the creek. Additional testing will be conducted until E. coli levels return to normal the health department said.


Register to vote before Oct. 9 to vote Nov. 6

If you aren’t already a registered voter, you have until next Tuesday, Oct. 9, to register to vote in the “midterm” election Nov. 6


U. S. and Michigan representative and senate seats will be decided, as well as house and senate seats in Michigan. Voters will pick Michigan’s next governor, attorney general and secretary of state as well.Ballot issues on legalizing recreational marijuana, rights to certain voting laws and political gerrymandering will be approved or denied by voters.


There are several places to register; at any county, city or township clerk’s office, any Secretary of State’s branch office, or by mail. For more information on registering to vote, visit the Secretary of State’s website at,4670,7-127-1633_8716---,00.html




Free smoke, carbon monoxide detectors still available

The Barry County Fire Association (BCFA) and Barry County United Way are reminding residents that the free smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector program is still going on throughout the community.

“This program can provide the first alert to getting out of a home when fire is eminent,” said Delton Fire Chief Gene Muskovin.


A grant from Spectrum Health Pennock Foundation, Hastings Kiwanis and Southside Pediatrics make these detectors available free to qualifying households. Applications are available at all local fire departments, or on-line at or

When the application is filled out and returned to Barry County United Way or the local fire department, firefighters will call to set a time to inspect your home for smoke detector placement.


While there, firefighters will install additional smoke detectors as needed and check the batteries on current detectors. The firefighters will leave information with the home owner explaining how to set up a fire escape plan. 


“The smoke detector will provide the first alarm, but knowing how to get out and where to go are just as important,” said Freeport Fire Chief Jim Yarger. “We have been surprised by the number of homes with one or less detector,” said Executive Director of the Barry County United Way Lani Forbes. 


Since the inception of this program, 1,279 homes have been inspected, 2,695 devices installed.  Thirty percent of the homes had no working detector. These are much larger numbers than anticipated when the grants were applied for,” Forbes said. 


“It’s great that we received these grants to provide this program. If we can save one life it will be wonderful!”  Orangeville Fire Chief Matt Ribble said.

According to the NFPA, the vast majority of fatal fires, 60 percent, occur in homes without smoke alarms. A majority of deaths that occur in homes with smoke alarms are a result of dead or missing batteries.


The BCFA, Bellevue and Lake Odessa fire departments would like to also remind you of a few other fire-related issues: With heating bills soaring this winter there is a concern about using alternative heat sources that are not safe. Make sure that any alternative heat sources that may be used are rated for use indoors and are properly vented. 

When turning clocks back on Nov. 4, don’t forget to change the batteries and test smoke detectors. It can save your life.



Barry County to apply for brownfield assessment grants

“Go for it,” Commissioner Dan Parker said when the Barry County Commission was asked to apply for $300,000 in brownfield assessment grants.


Casey Smith, project manager with SME, said the next round of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency brownfield grants offer $300,000 over three years to fund environmental assessment projects for potential redevelopment sites in Barry County.


Two possible brownfield sites are the property where there was a small engine business in Middleville and where Hastings Manufacturing removed a riverfront building.

Some 25 brownfield sites have already been cleaned up in Barry County, resulting in $11 million in investments and jobs, Smith said.


“We will write the grant at no cost to you,” he said. Travis Alden, president of the Barry County Chamber of Commerce: “We’re being proactive on brownfields to spur development in Barry County.” The request moves to the full board for action next week.


Also Tuesday, commissioners recommended hiring Gabridge & Company for auditing services for a fee not to exceed $26,060 a year for the years 2018, 2019 and 2020, with the option of a two year extension at the same price.

“To better coordinate auditing services and take advantage of economies of scale, the county, Thornapple Manor and Barry County Transit issued a joint RFP,” Administrator Michael Brown said.


Thornapple Manor has an offer of $10,940 a year for a total of five years, and the transit has a $6,400 bid for each of five years,

Both issue separate financial audit reports and will enter separate agreements with Gabridge & Company, Brown said. Gabridge & Company was the lowest of five bids received. For the last six years, the county has hired Rehmann of Grand Rapids for audits.


In other business Tuesday, commissioners also recommended:


*setting a public hearing and adoption of the 2019 budget at 9 a.m., October 23.


*approval of Building and Grounds Director Tim Neeb to issue requests for proposals (RFPs) to buy two boilers for the Courts & Law building for up to $70,000. Neeb said one boiler is leaking; both were installed when the building was constructed and are beyond their life expectancy. Payment will be from the building rehabilitation fund.





Barry County earns Moody's Investors Service Aa2 credit rating

Barry County has been notified it has earned a credit rating of Aa2 from Moody’s Investment Service.  In a report issued Sept.14, Moody credited the high score to Barry County for its very strong credit, robust financial position, small debt burden, healthy economy, tax base and its management.


“The Issuer Comment Report is intended to provide investors with a consolidated source of current credit metrics, including updated economic demographic and financial information for Barry County,” Administrator Michael Brown said. “It also provides investors with a rating or grade and I am very pleased that Barry County was assigned a rating of Aa2.”


Barry County Board meeting dominated by budget matters

The Barry County Commission’s committee of the whole spent the morning Tuesday talking about budget matters; first an overview of the proposed 2019 budget, then appeals from departments whose requests for increases were denied.


County Administrator Michael Brown said the focus, “was on budgeting revenues at realistic levels, not underestimating them, but also not falling trap to overestimating them, to avoid having to make financial choices about reducing services, if required. The recommended budget shows both general fund revenues and expenditures are expected to be $17,101,947; the entire budget totals $48 million.


The proposed budget has figures from 2016 forward with projections for 2020 and 2021.

Several commissioners said they appreciate Brown’s expertise in budgeting, with Commissioner Dan Parker urging Brown to, “stay in the conservative window that makes economic sense for the county,” Commissioner David Jackson agreed they “should maintain a conservative focus as we go forward. The budget reflects clear thinking.”


The appeals included a Parks & Recreation Board request for $3,510 to move its administrator from .2526 time to .375 time. It was approved.

“We have some dedicated people here…it’s use it or lose it…we should think about what it could cost if we don’t do it,” Parker said.


No action was taken on a request by the Barry County Sheriff’s Office Undersheriff Matt Houchlei for an additional sworn deputy to work in court security at a total cost of $70,389.80 a year. Current staff is inadequate to cover the increased hearings in all four courts, leading to overtime or call-ins every morning, and constant shifting of staff.


Tthere was also no action on the request from Register of Deeds Barb Hurless, for two part-time indexers for three to four months to manually remove inoperative, unneeded numbers in their archives caused by several months of computer malfunctions. She also asked for another full time abstractor to help with the work load and provide coverage during vacation, sick time or other absences of the one abstractor in the office.


The computer situation is complicated and so difficult to understand that the commissioners need more information before making a decision. Both Houchlei and Hurless’ requests will likely be discussed at the next board meeting.


Also to wait for more information are a request from Commissioner Vivian Conner for an increase of $1,000 for maintenance of a vehicle to be used on a three-county invasive species eradication program by the Barry Conservation District, and Commissioner Heather Wing’s request for funding for an administrator for the Agriculture Preservation Board.




Autumn Honor Flights

Talons Out Honor Flight will depart Kalamazoo on October 27th to take Michigan World War Two and Korean War Veterans on their final mission to Washington DC.

American Legion Post 45 will hold a benefit car and motorcycle event, silent auction and dinner Saturday October 6th to raise funds for the Talon Out Honor Flight.

The event offers a scattered run, where stamps must be collected on a passport at stops in seven counties; Allegan, Barry, Calhoun, Eaton, Kalamazoo, Kent and Ionia. It will conclude at the Lawrence J. Bauer American Legion Post in Hastings at 3:00 pm where dinner will be served.

It is estimated 500 veteran from these two wars die each day and less than 10,000 remain in Michigan.


Missing Girl Update

16 year old Michelle Winchell who had been missing since September 10th has been located and reunited with her family. Winchell was dropped off in Kalamazoo on September 9th to visit friends and failed to return for pickup on September 10th. Again Michelle Winchell from Barry County's Baltimore Township has been located and reunited with her family.


Barry County Transit ride passes now available at more locations

The Barry County Transit is easier to ride than ever, transit Manager Bill Voigt said Monday.


As always, riders may still purchase rides or passes online, or pay the drivers with correct change. 

But now, ride passes are also available from the Freeport District Library, Delton District Library, Putnam Library in Nashville and Middleville Village Hall.

“Now, many of our riders can purchase passes closer to home. We hope this makes things easier,” Voigt said. 


Barry County Transit serves all areas in Barry County every day except Sunday.

For more information, call 269-948-8098 or visit


Rebuild of entire manhole at Market and Green delays street re-opening

 The Hastings Department of Public Services crew found the work at the Green and Market street intersection was more of an undertaking than was initially planned, DPS Director Lee Hays said  Monday. They had to rebuild the entire manhole from the base up, about 14 feet, which takes substantially longer than fixing a few pipes and backfilling a hole, he said.


“We have to wait for the mortar that is holding the assembly together to cure.  The large amount of rain on Sunday caused the gravel in the hole to collect water,” he said. “As soon as we can ensure the proper compaction in the roadway, we will get the street re-opened to traffic.”




Divorced couples can exchange custody of children in Hastings City Hall parking lot

The Hastings City Hall parking lot is  a secure place for divorced parents to exchange children according to their custody agreements, Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt said. City Attorney Stephanie Fekkes asked Pratt, Judge William Doherty and the Family Court to work on finding a safe and secure site for parenting exchanges.


Parents now meet in many different places in and around Hastings to exchange children and there have been some conflicts, Pratt said.

Doherty, Referee Vicky Alspaugh, Fekkes and Pratt agreed the Hastings City Hall parking lot was a good exchange location, since the parking lot has monitoring cameras and a call box to contact police.


“The issues involving parental exchanges for parenting times has been a longstanding problem.  No matter where these exchanges take place there is always a potential for issues to arise,” Pratt said.

“Often times the relationship between the parents is not strong enough to provide the exchange to happen at their perspective residences so there needs to be a neutral site. A neutral site may not be needed long term but it does provide a chance for emotions to calm down.”


“Parenting time exchanges have often taken place in the parking lot so this will be nothing new, however, I would expect to see an increase in people using our parking lot for a safe and secure exchange location,” he added.



Barry County Road Commission Looking for Vandals

The Barry County Road Commission is turning to the public for help in finding vandals who have left sexually explicit symbols on several roadways and stolen signs over the past month.

The commission has been dealing with vandals for the past month who have spray painted signs misleading motorist, then began taking and spray  painting phallic images across roads in the northern part of the county.  Anyone with information that will assist the road Commission in this matter is ask to contact the police.


Comment period on Bradford White's mixing zones requests extended to Oct. 31


The Michigan Department of Environmental Resources is announcing the extension of the deadline for public comment to Oct. 31 on the Bradford White Company’s requests for calculation of mixing-zone based groundwater-surface water interface criteria for the south and west discharges  requests. The receiving surface water body is the Thornapple  River, the location of the venting groundwater plume is 200 Lafayette Street in Middleville


Written comments should be submitted by the extended  deadline to David Wierzbicki, DEQ Remediation and Redevelopment Division (DEQ), 350 Ottawa Avenue NW, Unit 10, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.

Copies of Bradford White’s requests may be obtained by calling or writing David Wierzbicki at the above address, or calling 517-420-2605. 









Baltimore Township missing/runaway 16-year-old girl sought

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public’s help in locating a missing juvenile runaway, according to Detective Sgt. Janette Maki.


Michelle Winchell, 16, from Baltimore Township in Barry County, was dropped off in Kalamazoo to visit a friend on Sept. 9 and she failed to return for pickup at her scheduled time. Winchell last had contact with family on Sept. 10.  Winchell is known to have friends in Kalamazoo near the Western Michigan University campus.   


Deputy Robert Fueri is the investigator. Barry Central Dispatch is assisting.

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












   Michelle Winchell




**Barry County Sheriff Posse donates invaluable service to county residents

**The Barry County Sheriff Posse, formed in 1950’s, has 21 active members, three active honorary members with membership limited to 30 members.

They are true volunteers; they get no pay; they buy their own uniforms, equipment, even the guns they carry.

In its entire history, just 81 people can say: “I was on the Barry County Sheriff Posse.”


Captain Matt Dougherty, with eight years on the posse, joined the group because, “I thought it would be exciting, which it is…I wanted to be able to help people in my community, to give back to my county and community.” 

The depth of the commitment of posse members, current and former, is shown by the donation of more than 80,000 hours of volunteering since they started keeping track of hours. Average now is around 2,500 hours a year.


The all-time leader of volunteers is the late Lloyd Shepard, with 7,720 hours. Tim Allen is next with 5,500 hours and climbing. John Townsend has 4,000 plus. The numbers are really higher than that; volunteers often don’t bother to sign in and out, Dougherty said.


The modern day posse is the same as in the Old West; whatever the sheriff’s asks of them, they do, and more. Their role has expanded from riding with the sheriff tracking down cattle thieves and other outlaws.


These days, they are more likely to be in search and rescue, guarding crime scenes, funeral traffic, parades, inmate transfers, Charlton Park and county school events, parades, bike races or ride alongs with road patrol deputies. The list of their assignments in the community includes 35 to 40 events during the year. A recent detail was filling sandbags at Crooked Lake.


With the expense of buying and maintaining a horse, the posse has morphed into a mechanized unit instead of mounted. Typically, now it’s a Gator, Mule or other all-terrain vehicle, Dougherty said.


The horses were a great draw for children and grown-ups, and built good relations with the community, but it’s expensive and you also have to own property to keep a horse.

“A quad carries two instead of one and the cost of the quad is just once. It’s load it and take it, but we still have the same mission we’ve always had. We’re there to help the sheriff.”


It’s not cheap to be a posse member, either, Dougherty said. After a successful interview and background check, applicants takes three days of training and buy equipment and clothing that can cost up to $2,000.


For example, good boots cost $150, or up; shirts, $65 each, one long sleeved, one short sleeved; pants are $75; a coat goes from $130 to $150, an empty vest, $125. The cost of a gun varies depending on the type, but a holster will go $180. Dougherty carries a 40 caliber Glock 22 he has drawn once and never fired on duty. The vest with needed equipment they wear while on duty weighs about 35 pounds.


Each member is a sworn special deputy. They have the power to arrest as long as they are in touch with a certified police officer, either by voice, radio or telephone, but most likely, they will detain a suspect and a deputy will take them into custody.


The posse as a group, not its members, is paid for some of its work details; but if a member works 30 hours of paid details and 30 hours of unpaid details during a year, they are a member in good standing and are given 5,000 rounds of ammunition they use to qualify in shooting matches and a $60 uniform allowance. The state mandates qualifying in firearms once a year, some posse members shoot up to three times a year.


Warrant Officer Brian McKinley and Sgt. Zach Drake competed in June in a Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards certified qualification shoot, a shoot-don’t shoot situation, and the dim light shoot that starts so late it’s actually in the dark. Both did extremely well.


Drake won overall highest score in High Point Bullseye and McKinley took the overall highest scores in High Point Combat and High Point Combined. As a two-man team, they brought home first places in both Combat, Class A and Bullseye, Class A contests.


The posse has four elected officers; Captain Dougherty, Warrant Officer McKinley, 1st Lt. Ginger Helmus and 2nd Lt. Jack Ward. Three sergeants are appointed. Deputy Bob Fueri serves as the liaison between the posse and the sheriff’s office.


The group meets the first Thursday of the month at the sheriff’s office. The budget of the 501 c3 non-profit is roughly $8,000 for paid details and about $7,300 from a fundraising gun raffle for something under $20,000 a year.


For more information, contact Dougherty at


Photos: (upper left) Barry County Sheriff Posse members 2018.


(middle, right) Warrant Officer Brian McKinley and Sgt. Zach Drake show trophies they earned at a recent qualifying shoot.


(middle left) 2nd Lt. Jack Ward “swears in” Zander and Hadley Corson as deputies for the day (with no arrest powers) at Charlton Park Youth Day.


(right) Posse member Jason Mishler takes fingerprints of kids of all ages at Charlton Park Day.







Posse background:

The Michigan Sheriff's Posse Association was incepted in 1961. Most county mounted divisions were known as "Sheriff's Posse" but with the perception of a posse from the Old Wild West movies, being a group seeking to find a person for lynching, they changed to the current Mounted Division.


Michigan Sheriff's Posse Association met for the first time in October of 1961, in a field near Yankee Springs in Barry County. A total of 18 counties and 250-300 active members were present.

The members were from different posse groups from Michigan and Indiana. Their intent was to try and form a state-wide Posse Association. By July of 1962 they had organized and started the Michigan Sheriff's Posse Association.


With increased law enforcement training and assistance, it was decided to change the name from Michigan Sheriff's Posse Association to the Michigan Sheriff's Mounted Association.

The change in name was prompted in 1999 with the desire to reflect the professionalism of the organization. This group was formed to assist Sheriff's Departments become stronger and to help at the state level when needed.


The Michigan Sheriff's Mounted Association is currently made up of 26 counties, with about 500 active Members.

-information from the MSMA website.



Barry County YMCA Camp at Algonquin Lake to get major upgrades

The “Y” Camp at Algonquin Lake will be getting major improvements in the coming months, Jon Sporer, CEO and executive director of the YMCA of Barry County said Friday.

Architects from Slocum Associates, Inc. from Kalamazoo and three general contractors will visit the camp on Iroquois Trail next week to hear details of the plans before they offer bids. The bids are due on Oct. 15.


A new boat house three times the size of the present one, a new retaining wall along the shoreline, more accessible steps and a new boardwalk between the lake and cabins with a fishing platform are all planned.


“We are extremely excited and we know this project will benefit the youth and families of our community,” Sporer said. “This project could not have happened without the volunteer efforts of our YMCA board and committees.”


The goal is to have construction completed by June 1, 2019, in time for camping season.

The majority of funding will come from two family’s bequests, a grant from YMCA of USA, and will use no taxpayer dollars. They will determine the final cost of the project after opening the bids.


“The YMCA is very thankful for those who have supported the “Y” through the years, Sporer said.





Hastings City Council plans strategic planning retreat

At the Monday council meeting, Hastings Mayor David Tossava said a member had asked for a retreat about a month ago, and with changes in the city coming up, a new city manager and new clerk/treasurer, they have decided to have one.


 It will be Oct. 18 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the YMCA Camp on Iroquois Trail at Algonquin Lake.  The topic will be strategic planning, with Hastings Planner Rebecca Harvey participating.  

“Anybody with ideas about strategic planning, write them down,” Tossava told council members.


“Anyhow, it’s going to be an open affair, anybody wants to come that’s fine…it looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun.”




Crooked Lake

Home owners at Crooked lake in Delton are facing the possibility there maybe no relief to the high lake level despite efforts to bring the water level down.Engineers and county leaders say they're up  against a wall.   According to Barry County drain commissioner Jim Dull several property owners just backed out of a deal to allow pumping water on their land.


For over a month the county has been pumping water from Crooked Lake across M-43 into Glasby lake.  The pumping has now been stopped because the county has reached the limit of how much water they can pump into Glasby lake. Official are keeping their fingers crossed hoping no torrential rains hit the area.


Spectrum Health Announces Pennock Leadership Change

Angela Ditmar, RN, MBA, has been named president of Spectrum Health Pennock and southeast regional market leader, effective Nov. 1.

Ditmar is currently the vice president for cancer health at Spectrum Health. She will assume the new role from Sheryl Lewis-Blake, who announced her plans earlier this year to retire as Pennock’s president on October 1.


“We are very pleased to announce that the exceptional leadership demonstrated by Sheryl over the past 11 years will continue,” said Gwen Sandefur, president, Spectrum Health Hospital Group.

“Angie Ditmar is a highly experienced and dedicated professional who will be a wonderful asset to the Pennock team and she looks forward to becoming part of the community.”


Since joining Spectrum Health in 2011, Ditmar has held a variety of leadership positions, including vice president, operations, women’s health, and director for cardiovascular services. She also previously provided oversight for respiratory care, bronchoscopy and sleep disorder centers.


Ditmar was instrumental in helping to establish the cancer center at Pennock in 2017. “After a diligent and exhaustive process, the search committee members were unanimous in their support of Ms. Ditmar and the recommendation to the Board of Trustees for her to become the new regional market leader and president of Spectrum Health Pennock,” said Nathan Tagg, chair, Spectrum Health Pennock Board of Trustees and co-chair of the selection committee.


“Her qualifications, engaging personality and record of success in other roles within Spectrum Health impressed the committee members. I believe those traits will be an asset to the employees and, most importantly, patients of Spectrum Health Pennock.”


Ditmar earned both her Bachelor of Business and Master of Business Administration from Davenport University. She is currently pursuing her Master of Science in nursing at Ferris State University.

She has participated on numerous professional advisory boards and served as a mentor on the Association of Cancer Executives (ACE) fellowship program. Ditmar is also an active community member, serving as board vice president for Lakeshore Area Radiation Oncology and as past board member for the Davenport Alumni Association and Grand Rapids Chamber Choir.


Photo: Angela Ditmar, RN, MBA is named new president of Spectrum Health Pennock and southeast regional market leader.



Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system, based in West Michigan, offering a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, which is comprised of 12 hospitals, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital; 180 ambulatory and service sites; 3,600 physicians and advanced practice providers; and Priority Health, a health plan that served one million members in fiscal year 2018.

Spectrum Health is West Michigan’s largest employer, with 26,000 employees. The organization provided $434 million in community benefit during its 2018 fiscal year. Spectrum Health has earned recognition as one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems six times by Truven Health Analytics®, part of IBM Watson HealthTM.



Public invited to "The Lofts of Middleville" groundbreaking Oct. 1

The Village of Middleville is proud to announce the commencement of one of the most significant redevelopment projects to occur in our beloved downtown.


The groundbreaking ceremony for “The Lofts of Middleville” represents years of hard work, dedication, and steadfast commitment from both state and local officials and private property owners, in transformation of the vision for rehabilitating the historic 19th century building, into the reality of a redeveloped mixed-use structure engineered to satisfy the demands for the 21st century.


Please join us on Monday Oct. 1 at 11 a.m. at 101 East Main Street in downtown Middleville to be a part of the celebration!



87th District Rep. Calley's plan to establish online voter registration gains House approval

87th District State Rep. Julie Calley’s legislation modernizing Michigan’s voter registration system by giving qualified voters the option to register online was unanimously approved today by the Michigan House.


“In this day and age, there’s no reason registering to vote shouldn’t be just as easy as hopping online to shop or pay bills,” said Calley, of Portland. “Thirty-eight other states and the District of Columbia have established online registration systems. Michigan residents deserve this simple modern convenience as well.”


Calley said the plan laid out in House Bills 5548 and 5549 allows people who are qualified to vote in Michigan to register to vote online if they already have a valid Michigan driver’s license or state identification card. People who register online would still be required to cast their first vote in person and present identification at that time.


“In reality, requiring residents to fill out a paper registration form leaves more room for errors and is less secure than an online system,” Calley said. “An online system would also help local elections officials operate more efficiently, reduce processing costs and build more complete and accurate voter lists.”


The plan includes several measures to ensure system security and prevent unauthorized users from accessing the online system. The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration.



Hastings DPS visits to city resident's homes explained

“You may have seen the City’s Department of Public Services staff knocking on doors in your neighborhood recently,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said today.


The DPS staff members are looking for additional single family residences with lead water service leads entering the home.  Such locations are known in the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s jargon as “Tier 1” sampling sites for the city’s routine lead and copper testing program, he said.


“The MDEQ requires that the city test 20 such Tier 1 sites for lead and copper every 3 years.  We will be sampling and testing again for lead and copper in our water supply over the next few weeks.".

The DPS crews look for Tier 1 sampling sites primarily in the older portions of the city where water services were installed to homes built prior to roughly 1930 (although later in some cases), he said.


“However, even in the case of many of these older homes, the water services are made of galvanized steel or have been replaced with copper piping. 

“And, since the city has been feeding protective phosphate for many, many years, even where lead services do exist the lead does not find its way into the water supply in the home since the phosphate coats the interior wall of the pipe keeping the lead from entering the water,” he continued. 


“The MDEQ’s rules related to lead and copper in community water distribution systems are still evolving at this time.  Once the MDEQ establishes final guidelines for inventorying and addressing lead components in water systems, the city will begin a program to replace lead service leads in the city.

“In the meantime, we will continue routine testing of the city’s drinking water to ensure that all contaminant levels remain well within the MDEQ standards,” Mansfield said.



More information sought on consulting firms for new Barry County Jail, COA

The Barry County Commission held two meetings Tuesday. The first , a regular meeting, had a light agenda, the second a special meeting was to last from 1p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to interview five consulting firms to determine the one that will facilitate the new jail and COA building projects.


At the 1 p.m. meeting, the five firms, DLZ, Tower Pinkster, BYCE & Associates, BFK Group, and Hooker DeJong/Landmark Design made presentations, with no final decision reached by commissioners.


“All were educational, some with different strategies,” Commissioner and Vice Chair David Jackson said of the presentations. “The board wanted more time to delve more into references, some firms were in closer proximity and more familiar with Barry County and the fees for service will also factor into it,” Jackson said. “All the firms are very qualified.” The continuing discussion is expected to be on the Oct. 2 agenda.


In the 9 a.m. meeting, the commissioners paid the bills and approved four items recommended the week before by the committee of the whole:

* a zoning ordinance amendment allowing adult care foster facilities in Rural Residential (RR) districts by special use.

* a State of Michigan Emergency Management Performance Grant and Grant Agreement.

* a PA 116 application request from Richard and Pamela Palmer in Section 29 in Irving Township.

* re-appointment of Teri Enrietti and Steve Buehler to the County Officer’s Compensation Committee for four year terms.



Hastings Scarecrow Contest deadline extended

The Hastings Downtown Business Team Annual Scarecrow Contest will begin October 4th at Hastings Girl's Night Out.

Hastings Businesses and Communty Groups are welcome to participate and compete for the honor of displaying the First Place Traveling Trophy.  Participants are encouraged to decorate and display a Bone Rattlin' Scarecrow.  Scarecrows must be displayed by noon on Tuesday October 2nd. for inclusion in the online voiting!  All voting will take place on Hastings Downtown Business Team Facebook page and will continue through October 30th.  The winner will be announced on Halloween.  Entry forms are available at WBCH Radio, 119 W. State Street in downtown Hastings. or email   Entry forms must be submitted to Sue no later than 1pm, Oct 1, 2018.


Hastings City Council asked: What is the city's role in ice skating rink facility?

The Hastings City Council Monday was asked what they saw as the city’s role in a planned ice skating rink and community venue for family and business events.


Following the success of an ice skating rink at Tyden Park proposed and promoted by Councilman Bill Redman a few years ago, he researched permanent rinks and has put the wheels in motion for an ice skating rink on the basketball courts at Tyden Park that could also be used in the summer for weddings, reunions, birthday parties, business meetings and other group activities.


The total cost is an estimated $6 million, Redman said.  He has a pledge of $200,000 from a donor, “with the promise of $300,000 behind that.” After the facility is built, he said, there would “moderate fees to pay for expenses.” Every city he visited with a rink broke even on expenses, and the state may have grants available. He has asked the Barry Community Foundation to hold the funds, but hasn’t head back yet.


City Manager Jeff Mansfield said now that the group is raising money, the city needs well-documented concepts from anyone who builds on city land that the city will be able to legally defend. Does the city take ownership after it’s built and operate it on a break even basis?  he asked.


Council members agreed there was a lot of work to be done, and specific information was needed to get clear outlines of the city’s responsibilities, or even if they even wanted to commit to another entertainment venue in the city. Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange called for at least a business plan of sorts for the council to study. “Do they know what they will spend in the first year? Donors would like to know that, too.”


Councilman Don Bowers said he didn’t think the city had to money to support it, “I don’t think that it’s reasonable at this time, to keep it running year after year...”.  Councilman John Resseguie also wanted more information on the plans. “It’s kinda hard to come up with dollars and cents with just a little information.”  But he strongly supported the idea, saying the city needs to bring people in during the winter season too, otherwise the city will “dry up.”


If the city does not take over the facility, they will need documentation and those raising money will need to understand they need a well-documented agreement, an organizational setup with attorneys to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, Mansfield said.


“I’m not opposed, but I recommend extreme caution...this is a group with no legal underpinnings…we want to make sure we don’t replicate that situation (with a dog park committee),” he said.

The consensus was for Mansfield and city Attorney Stephanie Fekkes to work on an agreement and, “go from there.”  




Hastings SanitarySewer and Stormwater projects move ahead

The Hastings City Council Monday awarded contracts to Hubbell Roth and Clark to provide design and construction engineering for Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrades and soil borings at the site.


Both projects are parts of extensive improvements of the Hastings sanitary and storm sewer system already underway, with the majority of funding from a Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater (SAW) Program grant.


The total SAW project amount is $791,820; the total SAW grant is $712,639, with a committed amount of $561,671. The City of Hastings match is $79,182, with the city committed amount of $58,880.


The grant, from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, was applied for in 2013, and granted in December, 2016. The grant requires the updates to the sanitary and storm sewer systems be completed by December, 2019.


Also Monday, a request to vacate a portion of the West Mill Street Right of Way (ROW) between Washington Street and the Thornapple River from Doug and Sharon Vickery was turned down by the council. A driveway and one or more one accessory buildings on their property, as well as a city storm sewer line, are inside the ROW.

City Manager Jeff Mansfield said the vacation request would likely have to go before the courts because it is so close to the Thornapple River and for other reasons.

Several council members said they did not want to give up the property because of the storm sewer in the ROW and proximity to Tyden Park. They agreed to consider leasing part of the ROW to the Vickerys.


In other business, the council:


*approved a grant agreement with the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs that will fund part of the community entertainment events next summer. Attendance at this year’s events is estimated at 10,000 and work has begun on Hastings Live, 2019.


*approved Girl’s Night Out on Oct. 4 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. requested by the Downtown Business Team, with a Scarecrow  Contest and sidewalk sales.


*approved the 18th annual roof sit on Oct. 13, requested by Sarah Alden, Youth Advisory Council director. The event is a fund raiser with a donation to different charity each year. This year, it is Habitat for Humanity. Alden said a smaller group of YAC was also holding the event in Middleville this year.


*appointed Mike Hamp to the Cable Access Committee, recommended by Councilman Bill Redman.


*appointed Tim Girrbach to the Board of Review to a term that expires in 2020.


*voted for Robert Clark, mayor of the City of Monroe and Paula Zelenko, mayor of the City of Burton for the Michigan Municipal League’s Liability and Property Pool Board.



Reminder: Detour at Green/Market street intersection in Hastings

The Hastings Department of Public Services will be completing utility work at the Green/Market street intersection in the city starting at 5 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, Sept. 26.

The street will be closed there until 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, with traffic detoured to the south one block.



Spirit's high for Hastings Homecoming activities

Hastings High School Homecoming Week featured a week of activities including the big Homecoming Parade with teacher Jeff Denny as Grand Marshal and the Homecoming football game against Parma Western High School. The week wound up with the Saturday night dance.


Activities during the week kept students spirits up and excited about the weekend. Hall and locker decorating, color day, a powder puff game, and beach day were some of the activities. 


The floats at the parade reflected styles and music over the decades. The freshmen class replicated 1980’s garb, sophomores copied 1920’s fashions, juniors looked like “the way we were” in the 1950’s and seniors copied 1970s fashions.


For parade photos visit 2018 Homecoming photo album


Maple Valley Concrete Products Fire

The Nashville Fire Department with assistants from area fire departments battled a fire at Maple Valley Concrete Products around 5:00 o'clock Saturday aftrrnoon. Flames were seen coming out of the building as firefighters arrived on the scene at 725 Durkee road south east of Hastings. The fire closed a portion of M-66 for about four hours. No information at this time as to what started the fire.






UPDATE:Police give timelines in homicides of two; suicide of their killer.

FINAL UPDATE:The Kent Conty Sheriff's Office has released information on the deaths of two people and the suicide of the man who killed them. Police on a well-check found the two dead.


The latest report reads: Based on the investigation, detectives determined that Bruce Edward Huntley, 33, and his wife, Samantha Lynn Huntley, 33, have a boy, 4 and a girl, 2. following a domestic about a week ago, Samantha went to stay with her mother, Lisa Bradley, 58, at 10036 Rooksby Street N.E. in Spencer Township. Bradley lived there with her long-time boyfriend, James Cole, 54.


The morning of Sept. 22, Bruce Huntley forced entry into the Bradley home and shot and killed Lisa Bradley and James Cole. Bruce Huntley then kidnapped his wife and two children and took them back to their apartment on Stonebridge Road in Wyoming.


When the Kent County Sheriff’s Office realized the wife and children were missing, they immediately contacted the Wyoming Department of Public Safety and asked them to check at the suspect’s apartment.


Bradley’s vehicle was located at the apartment and the Wyoming Department of Public Safety assembled its Tactical Team. Contact was made with Samantha Huntley who confirmed she was in the apartment with her husband and two children and was being held against her will.


Negotiators with the Wyoming Department of Public Safety, with assistance from the Grandville Police Department, negotiated the release of Samantha and the two children. Bruce Huntley had threated to commit suicide and refused to come out. After several hours, the tactical unit entered the apartment and confirmed he was dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.


On Sept. 24, the Kent County Medical Examiner’s Officer conducted autopsies and determined Lisa Bradley and James Cole manner of death was homicide from a gunshot wound. Bruce Huntley’s death was ruled a suicide from a gunshot wound.


The sheriff’s office was assisted by the Wyoming Department of Public Safety, Grandville and Grand Rapids police departments and LIFE Tactical Medics.

UPDATE: A second joint release reports that despite extensive efforts to ensure a peaceful surrender, the man in question was found dead inside the apartment at approximately 12:15 a.m.  He has been identified by investigators as the primary suspect in the apparent homicide in Spencer Township on Saturday. 


UPDATE: A joint media release from the Wyoming Police Department and the Kent County Sheriff’s Office reported that  after  Wyoming police established communication with the possible suspect inside the apartment on Stonebridge S.W., they learned there were three hostages inside, the suspect’s wife and two children, ages 4 and 2.

The three hostages have been released and are speaking with investigators. The man remains inside the apartment and negotiations for a peaceful surrender are ongoing as of this release.


ORIGINAL STORY: A man and woman were found deceased inside their home in the 10000 block of Rooksby Street NE., according to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. At 11:37 a.m. Saturday, deputies responded to the residence on a well-being check after an acquaintance of the couple went to the house and received no response after knocking.


A search warrant for the residence was obtained and investigators are processing the scene. Shortly after the initial response to Rooksby Street N.E. investigators developed a possible suspect  believed to be inside an apartment in the 4200 Block of Stonebridge Avenue SW in the City of Wyoming.


The Wyoming Police Department attempted to make contact with the man, who refused to cooperate and would not come out of the apartment. WYPD is negotiating with the man at the time of this release, and Stonebridge Avenue remains an active scene. Additional updates will be forthcoming.



Superintendent's Platform

WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight activities in their districts.

This posting is from Hastings Area Schools Superintendent Carrie Duits:


“It’s a great day to be a Saxon! What a fantastic week of school pride throughout the community! Students kicked off the week last Sunday with traditional hall decorating followed by painting windows in downtown Hastings. Many thanks to all the businesses who offered their windows for a display of Saxon pride."


The Homecoming parade and game were held Friday with community members encouraged to join the fun and festivities with a free tailgate party of hot dogs, chips and lemonade at Johnson Field.


"At our Board meeting, we thanked our Maintenance Department for all their hard work throughout the summer and into the fall. They are a small and mighty department, working across the district to mow lawns, prepare fields, make a variety of repairs, paint, move furniture and equipment, address leaks and respond to other emergencies.


"Our Maintenance Department does a fantastic job, and they respond at all hours and on the weekends to a variety of needs. They do all this with high-quality customer service. Dan Blair is one member of our Maintenance Department, and he built a Saxon display from “the old high school” just outside the Administration Office. Dan was given an idea of creating a display to incorporate artifacts saved from the old building, and he took the design and improved upon it ten-fold with lights and windows and refurbished doors.


"This unique showcase honors our Saxon history. The display will make its public debut at the Middle School Dedication Ceremony scheduled for Sunday, October 14, 2018, from 1:00 pm- 3:00 pm. During the September 17 meeting, the Board of Education accepted with great appreciation the donations of $2,000 from the Richard B. Messer Trust to the High School Drama department and a donation of $1,600 from the Hastings Community Diving Club for refinishing the diving board at the CERC.


"The Board of Education also voted to add bowling as a Varsity sport for Hastings Area Schools. We have a team of students eager for this new winter sport, and we are excited to offer this additional opportunity for our HS students.


The Board of Education’s next regular monthly meeting will be Tuesday, October 15, 2018, at 7:00 pm in the Hastings Middle School Commons.”


Charlotte woman charged with multiple crimes against an Eaton County Sheriff's deputy

The Barry County Prosecutor’s Office has issued several criminal charges against Kellie Leigh Bartlett, of Charlotte, for allegedly making false allegations of criminal sexual conduct against an Eaton County Deputy, the office said Friday.

The charges stem from a lengthy investigation by Michigan State Police and a Mission Team consisting of detectives from the Allegan and Kent County Sheriff’s Offices.


Bartlett is charged with two felony counts of using a computer to commit a crime; two felony counts of identity theft; three felony counts of unauthorized access to a computer; one count of felony conspiracy; one count of false report of a felony; two counts of misdemeanor stalking; one count of intentional dissemination of sexually explicit visual material, and two misdemeanor counts of using a computer to commit a crime. 


Bartlett, a clerk, and the deputy were employees of the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office when they began a relationship in late 2015.  The relationship ended when the deputy, who is the alleged victim in several of the charges, ended the relationship in the spring of 2017 and requested that the Bartlett cease contact with him.


When Bartlett continued contact, the victim advised his superiors and a Mission Team was assigned to investigate Bartlett for stalking. As of December 2017, Bartlett no longer worked for the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office. In January 2018, she filed a complaint with the Michigan State Police alleging the deputy had sexually assaulted her in March, 2017.


Following an investigation, the Michigan State Police and Mission Team cases were turned over to the Eaton County Prosecutor, who recused their office due to a conflict of interest. The case was assigned to the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office in spring, 2018.


“My review of the evidence from both investigations raised suspicion that the allegation against the deputy could be false,” said Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt. “Considering that the rate of false reports of sexual assault is extremely rare, two to eight percent, a thorough investigation was necessary to ensure a fair and just outcome.


“The material in this case is voluminous and multifaceted and has taken months to review and analyze.  This office thoroughly reviews all allegations of sexual assault, as we do suspected false allegations,” Nakfoor-Pratt said.


Bartlett was arraigned Friday in Eaton County District Court, Bond set at $50,000.



Delton man loses life in single car crash in Gun Plain Township

Allegan County Central Dispatch received a 911 call at about 4:30 a.m. Thursday morning from a motorist saying they had come upon a crash with a person lying outside of the vehicle.  A Plainwell Department of Public Safety Officer arrived on the scene and confirmed that it was a single vehicle fatal crash. 


Allegan County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived and conducted an investigation of the crash. The lone occupant, John Pluymers, 53, of Delton, was pronounced deceased at the scene.


Deputies report the Pluymers vehicle was west bound on 106th Avenue east of 4th street in Gun Plain Township when it left the roadway and crashed into a group of trees, overturning several times and coming to rest against a tree. The crash remains under investigation by the sheriff’s office.

Plainwell Department of Public Safety, Gun Plain Township Fire Department and Plainwell EMS assisted sheriff’s office deputies.



UPDATE: Deadline for public written comment on Bradford White mixing zone is Sept.28

UPDATE: Friday, Sept. 28 is the deadline for written comments to be accepted on a Bradford White request for a groundwater-surface mixing zone discharge under the Environmental Remediation of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, according to a DEQ news release.


The location of the venting groundwater plume is 200 Lafayette Street in Middleville, the receiving surface water body in the Thornapple River.

Copies of the determination request may be obtained by calling or writing:


David Wierzbicki, DEQ Remediation and Redevelopment Division,

350 Ottawa Avenue, N.W. Unit 10,

Grand Rapids, MI, 49503.


Written comments should be submitted by the deadline to him at the above address.

For information, contact:

David Wierzbicki,

Remediation and Redevelopment Division



ORIGINAL STORY: Groundwater contamination with known carcinogenic chemicals is discharging into the Thornapple River and the responsible company in Middleville is asking state regulators to let dilution solve the problem according to an Mlive newspaper story.


Bradford White Corporation, a water-heater manufacturer in Middleville, wants the Michigan Department of Enviromental Quality to consider a pollution exemption that would allow continued discharge of groundwater plumes contaminated with chlorinated solvents into the Thornapple River.


Presently, the contaminant discharges are above the state's Part 201 enviromental cleanup criteria, but Bradford White is asking the DEQ to allow a "Mixing Zone" in the river that would dilute the contamination.


Village Manager Duane Weeks said he was unaware that Bradford White wanted to continue discharging contaminated water into the Thornapple River but knew the company was talking with state regulators about lowering levels of chlorinated solvents in the groundwater.


Upcoming street projects in Hastings told

Supervisor of streets and construction at the Hasting DPS Jim James gave an update on upcoming projects in the city at the latest Coffee with the on Chief Wednesday, including:


*the DPS will be completing utility work at the Green/Market street intersection starting at 5 a.m. Sept. 26. The street will be closed at the intersection until 5 p.m. on Sept. 27, with traffic detoured to the south one block.


*hydrant flushing will be on Sept. 24-25-26. James asks that residents don’t put anything in the curb line during flushing, “especially Michigan Avenue. It makes problems.”


*the annual fall leaf pickup is tentatively set for Oct. 29 into November, depending on the weather.


Also of interest, a medicine take-back project and Household Hazardous Waste Collection (and free disposal of up to 10 household tires) will be at the Barry County Fairgrounds on Saturday, Sept. 22 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For specifics, call the Barry Eaton District Health Department, 269-945-9516.


Hastings school's safety main topic at Coffee with the Chief

Coffee with the Chief, led by Hastings Deputy Chief Dale Boulter Wednesday, brought discussion about school safety, what to do about cars speeding around Hastings schools and improper parking.


School safety is a topic not just here, but across the country, Boulter said. It’s not simple and it’s not a task just for school administrators, but a task for every person involved in the community.

“It’s more than money… law enforcement and the schools have good communication, that’s a number one thing.”


Hastings Schools Superintendent Carrie Duits reported the recent installation of camera systems around the schools makes a difference. Incidents in the areas covered by cameras were solved right away; others without camera coverage took days, she said.

Access to the building is tightly controlled with staff more involved from school opening to closing.

An electronic card reader system does away with entry by key.


Building relationships with law enforcement is critical, enhanced by the liaison officer and the Hastings Police Cadets, Duits said. “The cadet program is growing; it’s a really clear piece evidence that it’s working,” she said.


“Times have changed,” Boulter said. “It’s amazing what they’ve done with the time and resources they have…the issue is at hand and will probably always be with us. We hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”


Also discussed:  

*speeding around school buildings: Police can increase patrols at certain times of day and use the sign trailer that shows the speed of motorists.


*cars parked on both sides of a street at a business that blocks larger vehicles: Boulter will “check it out,” and talk to the owner and customers about parking in permitted areas.


*drivers making so much noise they wake residents at 2 a.m.: residents should feel free to call Barry Central Dispatch and ask them to send a patrol car there.


Hastings Police Department averages four to six thousand complaints a year and the volume of calls to all law enforcement agencies across the county is up 33 percent, Boulter said.

“To date, we have taken 5,300 complaints, and will probably be well over 8,000 this year. Those making non-emergency calls may wait a little longer. We’re hiring new people and working overtime, making sure we’re still giving the best service possible,” he said.


Without a code enforcer since April, newly-hired code enforcer Frank Jesensek starts next week. Boulter said. James will be busy clearing up pending complaints, but residents should still call with problems: “We’ll get to them as soon as we can.”








Barry, Eaton counties provide mental, substance abuse services

Mental health illnesses and substance use disorders affect all communities nationwide, but with commitment and support, those with the disorders can achieve healthy lifestyles and lead rewarding lives in recovery.


By seeking help, they can embark on a new path toward improved health and well-being. September, National Recovery Month, focuses on celebrating their journey with the theme Join the Voices for Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose and Community.


The impact of mental health illness is apparent in the local community.

A 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Survey data showed that 9.4 percent of Barry County adults reported poor mental health. Also concerning is that, according to the most recent (2017-2018) Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth data, 38.4 percent of 9th and 11th graders in Barry County had symptoms of depression  where they felt so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row that they stopped doing some usual activities in the past year.


Recovery Month spreads the message that behavioral health is essential to one’s health and overall wellness, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover, become more aware and able to recognize signs of mental and substance use disorders that can lead to needed treatment.


Managing the effects of these conditions can help people achieve healthy lifestyles, both physically and emotionally, improve the lives of those affected by educating communities of available prevention, treatment, and recovery resources.


In Barry County, Barry County Community Mental Health Authority provides mental health and substance abuse services to Barry County residents. For more information, call (269)948-8041 or visit  For those with insurance, contacting the insurance provider before the visit is advised. For more, visit


In Eaton County, Eaton Behavioral Health (EBH) provides outpatient care for substance use treatment and recovery at the BEDHD Charlotte office, serving both adolescent and adult clients. For information, call (517)543-2580.  For a list of resources available to help on a recovery journey, visit For more on recovery, visit




Barry County taking next step toward new jail,COA

The Barry County Board of Commissioners is ready to take the next step in the planning for two major projects. Next Tuesday at 1 p.m. after the regular board meeting, Commissioners will meet at the Barry Central Dispatch community room to interview five consulting firms with experience in building jails and senior service type buildings, and possibly select one as a facilitator to advise them with all the aspects of planning for a new jail and COA.


In the week between, commissioner will decide specific questions they want to ask the firms and get them to Administrator Michael Brown.

Also, Brown will check with people who have employed the firms for their opinions on their work. Brown emphasized that all of the companies were highly qualified and reputable, and “all can do what you want,” so the commissioners need to look closely at the strengths of each firm and decide which best fits their needs.


One important item is how the plan to communicate with the community, “citizen engagement is critical,” Commissioner Ben Geiger said, and also what experience and ideas they have in local government financing of projects.

A tentative set of questions includes a firm’s experience with law enforcement and senior service facilities, local millage elections, its communication style with constituents, experience with moving departments around a campus or community and relevant construction experience.


In other business Tuesday, the commissioners recommended approval of:

*an amendment of a Barry County ordinance that allows Adult Care Foster Facilities in Rural Residential zones by special use permit. The change will allow Boulters Adult Foster Care Home on Kingsbury Road to grow from a specialized small family home of six to a specialized medium group home of 10. The planning commission has recommended approval.


*approval of a State of Michigan 2018 Emergency Management Performance Grant.


*entry into PA 116, by Richard and Pamela Palmer in section 29 of Irving Township.   


Popular restaurant closing in Hastings

After more than 27 years Mills Landing Restaurant in Hastings will close its’ doors for the final time at the end of business Sunday, September 30th.


Andrea (Curtiss) Purdun, in announcing the imminent closing, posted “We sincerely have appreciated your patronage, the opportunity to have served you and your family, and most importantly your love, kindness, laughs, and tears over the years.  We have been extremely blessed over the years to have a staff that is beyond dedicated and loyal to our family and our business.”


Purdun is encouraging the restaurant’s long-time patrons, “lifers”, to visit one more time before they close.  If you have a Mill’s Landing gift certificate that you will be unable to use before September 30, Purdun requested you mail it to the restaurant with your name, address and phone number no later than October 31st.


Barry County Officers Compensation Commissioners reappointed

When formed by the Barry County Board of Commissioners in June of 2017, the County Officers Compensation Commision members (COCC) were given staggered terms. Terri Enrietti and Steve Buehler, whose one year terms expire on Sept. 30 were reappointed to terms that now expire Sept. 30, 2023.

Members  Chris Lapins and Kim Dufresne’s  terms go to 2019,  Karen Zuver’s term is until 2020 and Brenda Schild’s  term expires in 2021. Tom Enslen has resigned.


Commissioners formed the COCC to decide salaries for elected county officials, other than judges. A seven-member independent body was appointed by the commission chair from a list of names submitted by the other commissioners.


Determinations by the COCC go into effect unless a super majority of the county commission votes against it. If county commissioners do not act, the salaries are effective in the first odd-numbered year after the committee’s determination. COCC members get mileage, not per diems, set their own time table for considering salary increases and their own criteria.


Elected county officials include commissioners, sheriff, clerk, treasurer, prosecutor, drain commissioner, register of deeds and surveyor.


Barry County United Way 2018 officially underway

The Barry County United Way held its 2018 Campaign and Day of Caring kick-off last week, a rally filled with enthusiasm followed by volunteers fanning out across the county tackling all types of improvement projects and marking the official start of the year’s fund raising for the United Way.




BCUW executive director Lani Forbes, who has attended similar events for 20 years, emceed the event with the theme, Live United: Be the One. One person can change a life. She told the story of “Patricia” that showed how all-encompassing the United Way assistance can be and the way just one person can trigger help that changes lives.


“Please consider how you can be the one. It takes a little from all of us. One dollar can purchase six meals. Two dollars and 32 cents per month can place a book in the mailbox of a three-year-old.  “This year, based on the needs of the partner agencies and programs, the goal is $625,000. We have many that have stepped forward as pacesetters to kick this off. As of this morning these pacesetters are kicking us off with $123,979.89,” Forbes said.


“The 34- member board directors of the Barry County United Way work diligently to make sure the needs of the community are met and that we are living our mission of improving lives by mobilizing the caring power of Barry County communities.


“Last year contributions of $628,000 turned into $1.8 million invested back into the community through matching grants, volunteer hours and gifts in kind.

“We hit a milestone in August the BCUW reached a milestone of providing more than $1million dollars in utility assistance. The BCUW had more than 2,493 volunteers impacting every aspect of our community.


“Florence Tyden lives on in the administrative endowment fund at the Barry Community Foundation ensuring that 100 percent of contributions go directly to programming,” she said. The Andy and Kristen Cove family served as campaign chairs this year, the prayer was offered by Reverend Linnea Stifler and the Thornapple Kellogg High School Band kept an upbeat tempo to the kickoff.



Photos: The BCUW staff ffrom left,Courtney Ziny, Ally Owen, Emily Blocher, Morgan Johnson, June Behrendt, Lani Forbes, Devin Hamlin, Pattrick JansensCourtney Ziny, Ally Owen, Emily Blocher, Morgan Johnson, June Behrendt, Lani Forbes, Devin Hamlin and Pattrick Jansens  pose for a photo at the campaign and Day of Caring kickoff.

(photo by Lyn Briel)















Volunteers Josh Wooden, (left) team leader, and Carl Swanson start the cement repairs to the Shack in Delton.












Volunteers Dave Hard (front) and Roy A. Stadel throw cement pieces into the truck. New cement blocks improved the Shack’s exterior during Day of Caring.
















Two Thornapple Kellogg High School volunteers,Kara Burbridge and Anna Benedict, clean up a landscape area for a homeowner. (photo by Lyn Briel)
















Carl Swanson, gets the metal saw to cut out an old air conditioner from the building in Delton.









Patricia's story

At the Barry County United Way Campaign and Day of Caring Kickoff last week, Executive Director Lani Forbes told the story of a woman she called “Patricia.” The BCUW theme, “Live United Be the One” was illustrated perfectly by her story, how “one” after another “one” stepped up to help her become an independent woman succeeding on her own.


This is the story Forbes told:

A Hastings woman, Patricia was being shuttled from one family member or another for a time depending on who needed her Social Security Disability check. She has lived in Nevada, California, New Jersey and now Michigan.


Vern, who works for Hastings Department of Public Works, was the first one of many other ones who stepped up for Patricia. He saw her most valuable possessions on her front porch, then saw her take her items to the end of the road and wait for someone to pull up, load all of the items into the car and be driven away, only to return a few days later.


He saw the items would soon be back out on the porch and the cycle would start all over. Vern stopped Patricia and asked if he could help. He brought her to the United Way, where Emily became the one to find her shelter. The Hastings City Police became the one when they went to her former home, located her missing Bridge card and gathered the rest of her belongings for her.


The Salvation Army was the one who provided overnight housing at the Parkview Motel where Naynika and Victor became the ones.

At Green Gables Haven, Christy became the one, connecting Patricia with legal services, holistic counseling and the prosecutor’s office.

Sue at the Department of Health and Human Services became the next one, making sure Patricia had food and medical benefits.


Next, Courtney became the one, helping her figure out what she could afford for housing and utilities. Together, they figured out a stable plan for Patricia’s future based on her limited income and resources. //


Karri became the one from Barry County Mental Health that helped with underlying and current issue that any of us would face if we had lived the life of Patricia.

Barry County Transit becomes the one, when Patricia chooses to go to the Fresh Food Initiative.


The next one, Jenna of Pine Grove Housing, contacted Patricia to say she had a Housing Choice Voucher available. Patricia, armed with her budgeting plan, and helped by Jenna, searched and found an apartment that met requirements and was affordable. Habitat ReStore provided affordable items needed for her to move into her first apartment.


“What if Vern chose not to be the one?  What if Vern would have been too busy?  Thankfully, Vern chose to be the one,” Forbes said.

“Everyone advocated for Patricia, for her safety and well-being. She was an active participant in making herself successful.


“After her first payment to her landlord, she called Emily, she was so excited, she did it, she had made her rent payment and she said, ‘I feel like a real adult now!’” 

Patricia had not had this amount of outside support in her life. Because of the way those choosing to be the one were involved in her life, she began to believe in herself.

Today, Patricia is living on her own successfully for the first time in 57 years, Forbes said.


“The Barry County community allowed this to happen. Because you all chose to Be the One. Will you be the one?  The Patricia’s of this world thank you.”






Coffee with Chief Pratt is Sept. 19 at Hastings Public Library

The next Coffee with the Chief, with Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt, is set for Wednesday, Sept. 19 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Community Room at the Hastings Public Library. The hour is for the public to bring questions and concerns to discuss with the chief.

Pratt said one of the topics will be school safety and he’s asking the public for input on the subject.



Greenville man dies in motorcycle/car crash in Cascade Township

Kent County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a motorcyclist struck by a passenger car in the 5000 block of Kraft Avenue, S.E. near the airport viewing area Monday just after 7 a.m.,according to a KCSO news release.


The initial investigation revealed that a southbound motorcycle, operated by Michael Wilberding, 58, of Greenville, was struck head-on by a northbound sedan, driven by Andrijana Masnica, 48, also of Greenville.


Wilberding was pronounced dead at the scene; the cause of the accident remains under investigation.



New chairman of Gun Lake Tribal Council named

Bob Peters has been sworn in as Chairman of the Tribal Council of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians (Gun Lake Tribe). The council selected Peters to serve as chairman Sept. 13.


Nicole Overbeck was also sworn in as a newly-elected Tribal Council member.  Peters, Overbeck, and incumbent Jennie Pearl Heeren were all elected as representatives of the Bradley voting district by tribal citizens on Aug. 28.  Each was elected to four-year terms.


“I am honored and humbled to have been chosen chairman by my fellow Tribal Council members,” said Peters.  “I want to thank our tribal citizens for their support in my re-election, and my mother and family for always being there to support me.” Peters values family above all else and is very close with his mother, two sisters and his nieces and nephews.  He is the grandson of the beloved and respected departed tribal elder, Joseph “Shine” Sprague. 


Peters has served on the Tribal Council since 2014, he became the treasurer in 2016.  He has nearly 20 years of experience in casino operations, gaming regulatory and tribal government employment.For the last four years he has been responsible for administering and monitoring all fiscal matters of the tribe, and is a board member of the tribe’s non-gaming economic development corporation, Gun Lake Investments.


Peters is enrolled at Western Michigan University, where he will complete his bachelor’s degree in business, and plans to continue his education by earning a Master of Business Administration.  In 2015, he became a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society.


Recently selected as one of the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s “40 Under 40 Business Leaders” in West Michigan. Peters will accept the award on Oct. 17 in Grand Rapids.  

Tribal Council members are Bob Peters, chairman; Ed Pigeon, vice chairman; Jennie Pearl Heeren, treasurer; Jeff Martin, secretary and Phyllis Davis, Jodie Palmer and Nicole Overbeck.



Two area men die in two-car Eaton County crash

The Eaton County Sheriff’s Office is reporting a Saturday afternoon crash that claimed the lives of two area men.

Earl Richard Miller from Hastings and Eugene Dale Miller from Vermontville died at the scene at the intersection of West Five Point Highway and North Bradley Road.


Officials said it initially appears a brown sedan westbound on West Point Highway was struck by a blue SUV that was northbound on North Bradley Road and ran the stop sign.

Both vehicles ended up in the yard of a residence northwest of the intersection.


The sedan held the two men who died and a third passenger who was flown by helicopter to a Lansing hospital with serious injuries. The driver of the blue SUV, the only occupant, suffered non-life threatening injuries and was transported by ambulance to a Lansing area hospital.


Deputies responded to the crash at 1:44 p.m. Eaton Area EMS and the Charlotte Fire Department also responded. The intersection was shut down for about five hours.  The sheriff’s Accident Team and Detective Bureau continue to investigate.




Home invasion in progress stopped by Allegan County Sheriff deputies

Allegan County Sheriff deputies were dispatched to a home invasion in progress in Monterey Township Sunday about 8:45 p.m. Officers arrived on the scene and found a female hiding in a suspect’s vehicle in the garage.  Another suspect was seen inside the residence.


The homeowner was not on scene, but a surveillance/alarm system alerted the call.  The owner told deputies he had numerous firearms in the residence. When the suspect did not comply when told to come out of the house, Allegan County SWAT was called to the scene. After several more commands, a man came out the home.


A thorough search of the residence found no one else inside. Both suspects were brought to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office for interviews and lodged for home invasion.


The incident occurred at a home on 28th Street north of 134th Avenue.

The deputies were assisted by Michigan State Police, Gun Lake Tribal Police and Wayland EMS.


If anyone who has any information about home invasion or similar incidents in the area, is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 269-67-0500 or silent observer, 1-800-554-3633



Plainwell man dies in motorcycle crash in Yankee Springs Township

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate a fatal motorcycle crash on Briggs Road in Yankee Spring Township on Sunday about 11:30 a.m.


According to a sheriff’s news release, Dennis Corbin, 70, from Plainwell, was thrown from his motorcycle as a result of the crash; he was pronounced dead at the scene. Corbin was wearing a helmet and alcohol and speed do not appear to be factors.


Sheriff’s deputies were assisted by Wayland EMS, Yankee Springs Fire Department, Michigan Department of Transportation, and Barry County Central Dispatch.











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