Local News

After a lengthy interview by teleconference, the Barry County Commissioners Tuesday agreed to offer the position of Barry County Animal Shelter Director to Kenneth Kirsch, and directed Administrator Michael Brown to offer him a salary of $49,108.80, one step above starting wage, because of his vast experience.


The current beginning salary is $46,945.60, but by 2020 it will be $74,006.40, dictated by a recent classification/compensation study.


Kirsch, who lives in New York, owns a home in Barry County and will complete the process of moving here in about two weeks. Kirsch was strongly recommended by County Administrator Michael Brown, County Commissioner David Jackson and Animal Shelter Oversight Board member Tami Dickinson.


The trio reviewed about 25 applications and held telephone and personal interviews. Jackson said they focused on education and experience and Kirsch impressed them with both attributes.


Kirsch visited Hastings, toured the animal shelter, and attended a meet and greet with shelter staff, volunteers and animal shelter oversight board members, asking and answering questions.

Kirsch has 30 years experience in hands-on and management positions with America’s VetDogs in New York, Paws with a Cause in Wayland, Canine Companions for Independence, Woodland Veterinary Clinic in Grand Rapids, and as a kennel master/canine instructor while in the Military Police in the U.S. Army. He has traveled extensively across the country and internationally for his work.

He answered commissioners questions including how he would handle budgets, adoptions, promotion of adoption of cats and dogs, personnel, volunteers, euthanasia, and relations with the commission.


Kirsch has developed $2 million budgets, worked with 700 volunteers at a time, trained, judged the temperament of hundreds of dogs and developed, implemented and successfully maintained several programs during his career. He said communication, both up and down the chain of command, is essential to the success of any program.


When Jackson asked Kirsch if he is ready to go from being a world traveler and hundreds of dogs and volunteers to a shelter which holds about 25 dogs at a time, he said he was.


“I wouldn’t have wasted your time, or mine. I am absolutely dead serious about taking this role. I’m ready to come back to the community my wife and I love dearly…I’m very excited.”









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