Local News

The Barry County Board of Commissioner's committee of the whole Tuesday recommended approval of grants from the Barry County Parks & Recreation Board to three townships, a village and a school.

The grant requests included one from the youngest person ever to apply, Hastings Middle School student Dylan Smith.

Smith, a member of an advisory group at the school, was looking for more to do outside. He and his advisor, teacher Courtney Coats, submitted the request for a Gaga Ball Pit for kids to play in their free time and recess to stop them from arguing or hitting each other. Smith explained Gaga Ball to commissioners. As many students as want to can get into the medium-sized wooden structure and be the target of a student with the ball.


When you are hit with the ball, you have to get of the pit, and the winner gets to start the next game, Smith said. The grant is for $500 and the middle school PTA will help with the project.


Patricia Johns, vice chair of the Park & Recreation Board announced the grants. She said they are available to schools and municipalities to enhance recreation and must be open to all county residents, which mean in the summer months, community kids can play Gaga Ball when schools are not in session.


Johns said they send out letters to all schools and municipalities, the first telling of the grants and a reminder two weeks before the deadline to apply. There were no requests from the east side of the county this year, but she said they will continue to offer them for next year’s cycle.


The board has up to $10,000 to allot in 2018. Grant requests of $2,000 or more require 50 percent in matching funds, she said. The board can increase grants in $500 increments, if they chose.

The other grants are:

Prairieville Township asked for $1,000 for work on two of its parks; the board granted it $1,500 to improve parking areas and add mulch to playground areas.


Yankee Springs Township was grant request was for $2,000 to continue to improve the township park on M-179. “Again, the board added $500 to this grant,” Johns said.


Orangeville Township will use its $2,500 grant to continue the development of a walking trail, working with Pierce Cedar Creek Institute and the DNR to establish a native plant area along the trail to attract birds, butterflies and visitors to the area, she said.


The Village of Middleville plans to buy and install a water bottle and pet bowl water filling station near the pavilion on Main Street. Visitors and residents going to events in the village will have an easier time finding water. The grant was for $3,000 with a 50 percent match from the village.


In other business, the commissioners also recommended approval of:


* the 2018 taxable value and Headlee rollback report by Equalization Director Tim Vandermark.


* budget amendment A-18.  The changes do not affect the General Fund budget totals, Administrator Michael Brown said.


* a full time Control One Monitor at the Barry County Sheriff’s Office. Funding will come from the sheriff’s budget. The full time monitor will replace two part time assistant control monitors. The monitor is responsible for entries into the Lein system, warrants, entry of court orders, bonds, probation conditions, PPO’s, jail access control, answering the telephone, assisting other department officers and much more, Undersheriff  Matt Houchlei said.


* the 2017 Homeland Security grant program funding agreement with Van Buren County as the fiduciary agent for Homeland Security grants awarded to Barry County. The same agreement has been in force for the last several years, it will bring a $7,200 baseline funding grant and $30,000 for equipment and training for District 5.









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