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Local News

Voters to consider bond proposal Aug. 3rd for Hastings Area Schools

Voters in the Hastings Area School district will vote on Tuesday, August 3rd on a bond proposal request for $21.9 million dollars that if approved, would result in a net decrease of 0.1 mills from the current rate.

 

The current millage is set to drop by 0.9 mills this year, while the new bond proposal is for 0.8 mills for a term of 18-and-a-half years. This one bond would be sold in two series to save interest costs and to allow spreading out the purchase of buses and technology.

 

District wide, the money if approved will be used for student equipment and furnishings, replacement of 3 or 4 buses that date back to 1997, student technology, security cameras and other security measures, mechanical, electrical, and other energy upgrades to save costs, and air purification systems.

 

Hastings High School, the Middle School, Star Elementary, Northeastern, Southeastern, and Central Elementary each have a list of specific building needs including things like roof replacement at the high school, replacing old single-paned windows, asbestos removal, remodeling bathrooms, upgrades to LED lighting, air purification systems and more.

 

If approved by voters on August 3rd, work would begin this coming school year and be completed by 2024.

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Plainwell T-Mobile Armed Robbery

At approximately 10:40 a.m. Thursday 3 masked individuals entered the T-Mobile store on M-89 in Plainwell  brandishing a firearm.  The three individuals fled the store in a black Ford after robbing the store of an undetermined number of cell phones.  The black Ford vehicle was later determined to be reported as stolen out of Grand Rapids.

 

The suspect vehicle was located on US 131 by Troopers from the Michigan State Police Wayland Post who pursued the individuals into the City of Grand Rapids until the pursuit was terminated. The suspects were re-located on the S.E. side of Grand Rapids and two of the individuals, both in their teens, were apprehended. The firearm used in the robbery has also been recovered.  A third individual has only been identified as a black male, possibly in his teens or early 20s, wearing a grey sweatshirt and jeans.

 

The two teens are currently being held at the Allegan County Youth Home pending Armed Robbery charges.  Any tips as to the location or identity of the third suspect can be sent to Allegan County’s Silent Observer.

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Motorcyclist killed on Saginaw Hwy

Eaton County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a fatal traffic crash in Delta Township early Thursday morning around 1:40 a.m.  Preliminary investigation reveals a motorcyclist was travelling eastbound on Saginaw Hwy near Mall Dr West.  Witnesses reported the motorcycle going well in excess of the posted speed.  The motorcyclist rear-ended another vehicle that was also going eastbound.  The male motorcyclist was found on the shoulder and was deceased.  He was identified as Vernon Brown, 28 years old, from Lansing.  Brown was not wearing a helmet, and it’s unknown if alcohol was involved.

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Delta Variant of COVID-19 Identified in Barry County

An individual with the Delta variant of COVID-19 was identified in Barry County on Monday, July 19.  The individual was not vaccinated against COVID-19 and first tested positive on July 5th. 

 

At this time, Barry-Eaton District Health Department is urging individuals to continue to take precautions against COVID-19, especially as new variants of the virus become more prevalent. 

 

These precautions include:

 

-Get vaccinated for COVID-19 when available and eligible. For the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, this means receiving both doses for the vaccine to be fully effective.

-Wear a mask around others if not vaccinated.

-Stay six feet apart from others if not vaccinated.

-Wash hands often.

-Ventilate indoor spaces.

 

The first Michigan case of the Delta variant was identified in Ottawa County in June. Several other cases have been identified in Michigan since the first case was announced. Only a small percentage of COVID-19 tests are sequenced to identify the variant strain.  In addition, it takes additional time to perform the genetic sequencing.  Therefore, it is likely that there are additional unidentified cases of the Delta variant in Barry County at this time.

 

BEDHD continues to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to eligible individuals who work or live in Eaton or Barry counties. Vaccines are available at either BEDHD location in Charlotte or Hastings, and mobile clinics are also offered at various locations throughout the district. Vaccinations can be scheduled online through the BEDHD website, but walk-ins are also available at this time.

 

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Fatal Motorcycle Crash

Troopers from the Michigan State Police Wayland Post are investigating a two vehicle crash involving a Harley Davidson Motorcycle and Chevrolet Impala on Sunday 7/18/2021 at approximately 1:52PM. The crash occurred on US 131 Hwy near 135th Ave in Wayland Township, Allegan County.

 

Initial investigation shows the Chevrolet Impala was slowing for traffic backup when the motorcycle rear-ended the Impala, ejecting the rider.

 

The driver of the motorcycle, a 72 year old man from Scotts, MI was pronounced deceased at the scene.  The driver of the motorcycle was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, his name is being withheld pending notification to the family. The driver of the Impala was not injured and released from the scene.

 

Troopers were assisted on scene by Wayland Police Department, Wayland Fire Department, Wayland EMS, and Michigan Department of Transportation.

 

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Barry County Sheriff Launches Investigation into voting fraud

A number of  local election clerks in Barry County report a private investigator recently questioned them about voting machines used during the 2020 presidential election.

The Barry County Sheriff's office confirmed they launched an investigation after they received a citizen complaint about voting machines connected to the election.

Sheriff Dar Leaf has claimed there was voter fraud in the 2020 election.

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Rain and Flood Advisory

Heavy rains and a slow moving Thunderstorm dropped heavy rain in parts of lower Michigan during the night.

The Hastings National Weather Service Recording Station reports. 2.80 inches  of rain at 2:00 am this Saturday morning.

Three miles south of Hastings some locations received 3 inches of rain and the Kalamazoo area between 4 and 5 inches of rain.

A flood advisory is in effect for Barry County through Saturday morning.

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BCCMHA Awarded Federal Community Behavioral Health Clinic Grant

Barry County Community Mental Health Authority has been awarded a $3.3 million federal funding grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic expansion program.

 

It is one of the 100 new federal grants awarded nationwide over the next two years to provide integrated care across the health care continuum. Barry County Mental Health will receive over $3.3 million in funding, beginning August 31, 2021 through August 29, 2023.

 

The funding will be used to enhance and expand services for Barry County residents with increased access to behavioral health care, increased access to psychiatric services, and development of an intensive Assertive Community Treatment Team. Additionally, program evaluation, RN care management and services for veterans will be expanded. Grant funds will be utilized for these new and expanded programs, and 16 additional staff members will be hired; Barry County Mental Health plans to serve an additional 200 county residents per year.

 

-more-

 

“It is the mission of BCCMHA to provide accessible and affordable mental health and substance use disorder services focused on prevention, treatment and rehabilitation to county residents”, stated Richard Thiemkey, Executive Director of BCCMHA. “This CCBHC grant allows BCCMHA to do more—to grow our mission--to help our community residents with quality behavioral healthcare”.

 

Kristyn Kostelec, LMSW, CAADC, Integrated Care Supervisor at BCCMHA and the Project Director for the CCBHC Grant, stated “BCCMHA will now be able to provide an enriched array of services to those in need, with the intent of creating a ‘no wrong door’ environment for those seeking behavioral health or substance use services.” She added, “We can now serve those with mild and moderate needs, while also strengthening services for individuals living with severe mental health challenges”.

 

“BCCMHA is looking forward to responding to the behavioral health needs in our community. We know this grant and its programs will improve the lives of many in Barry County”, stated Kelly Jenkins, Chief Operating Officer at BCCMHA. “These funds will change lives for the better.”

 

Barry County Community Mental Health Authority is a licensed and accredited behavioral health agency providing treatment and prevention services to all Barry County residents.  For more information, please call 269-948-8041.

 

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Divers at Gun Lake

On Thursday 39 divers from nine counties did training at Gun Lake in Barry County. They trained in search, rescue and looking for evidence.

The exercise mimics real-life scenarios that law enforcement officials and dive teams would encounter.

Six zones were set up, where they submerged things like kayaks, canoes, dummies and other items in the water, said Lt. Bob Kirk,  Van Buren  County Emergency Manager.

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St. Rose Fire Update

Still no official word from fire inspectors as to what caused the fire Tuesday at  St. Rose Church in Hastings. Hastings Chief of Police Dale Boulter told WBCH news they did not find any malicious activity. Cleanup crews  started arriving Wednesday to begin the long procress of cleaning up the fire damage. Thursday a large generator was brought in along with a large blower system as the electicity has been shutoff.

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Fire at St. Rose Catholic Church in Hastings. Update

After finishing their investigation of the fire at St. Rose Catholic Church, the State Police 

fire inspectors said they did not find any suspicious activity. 

During their investigation a specially trained State Police dog was used to check for any

accelerant that could cause a fire, and none was found. However, the fire remains under investigation.  The church's insurance company is also sending in its' investigators.

One fireman was overcome from smoke, he was taken to the hospital and is ok.

The ATF was also at St. Rose checking for any threats. None found.

 

The Hastings Fire Department was dispatched shortly before 4 AM this morning to a report of a fire at St. Rose Church in Hastings. When firefighters arrived heavy smoke and flames were coming from the front door area. Firefighters were able to extinquish the flames. Damages are said to be moderate with mostly smoke and water damage around front door area. Cause of the fire is unknown at this time. The State Fire Marshall is coming to investigate. Hastings fire was assisted with mutual aid from Freeport, Woodland and Nashville Fire Departments.

 

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Mosquito activity on the rise, take steps to avoid illness

With mosquito activity on the rise following recent rains, Ken Bowen of the Ionia Co. Health Dept. offers a refresher on avoiding mosquitoes and mosquito-borne illness. Primary among these illnesses in Michigan are West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).


Most people bitten by a WNV-infected mosquito show no symptoms of illness. However, some people develop mild flu-like symptoms which generally last a few days. These symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, and/or a body rash. An estimated 1 in 150 people infected with WNV will progress to a more severe infection. People 50 and older are more susceptible to severe WNV disease symptoms.


Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a rare illness in humans. Most persons infected with EEE have no apparent illness. Severe cases of EEE (involving encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain) begin with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting. The illness may then progress into disorientation, seizures, or coma. 


Michigan residents should take the following precautions to avoid mosquito bites throughout the spring, summer, and fall months:


1) Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes out of buildings.

2) Empty water from mosquito breeding sites such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, and old tires.  Anything that holds standing water should be emptied if possible – some mosquito species can breed in a bottle cap full of water!

3) Apply an insect repellent that contains the active ingredient DEET (or other EPA approved repellent) to exposed skin or clothing - particularly during peak mosquito activity periods such as dusk and dawn.

4) If possible, stay indoors at dusk and dawn.
5) Wear light colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.

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Barry County Community Health Needs Assessment Survey is live

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) in conjunction with Spectrum Health Pennock and other community organizations have begun the 2021 cycle of the Barry County Community Health Needs Assessment. The purpose of this assessment is to measure health in Barry County, determine what health problems are most prevalent, and the root causes of those health problems.

 

One of the first stages of this assessment is a community survey that can be completed by anyone who lives or works in Barry County. No identifying information will be collected. The survey can be completed online or on paper, only takes 5-10 minutes to complete, and will be open until the end of July.

 

This survey gives anyone in Barry County the opportunity to share their experiences with health in the community. Community participation is essential to gather what community members think are the most concerning health issues facing people in Barry County.

 

The information and perspectives shared on this survey will be used to help prioritize health needs and drive future programs and services. To complete this survey, please visit http://bit.ly/barryCHA  or if you would like to complete a paper survey, please visit the BEDHD Hastings Office at 330 W. Woodlawn Ave. Hastings, MI 49058.

 

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Ionia County added to emergency declaration due to severe weather

Governor Gretchen Whitmer amended a recent state of emergency declaration to include Ionia and Huron counties due to tornado damage, and Washtenaw County due to widespread flooding. 

 

Governor Whitmer declared a state of emergency for Wayne County on June 26 after heavy rainfall caused severe flooding, damaging infrastructure and private property. Ionia, Huron, and Washtenaw counties were added to the emergency declaration following the completion of local damage assessments. 

 

By declaring a state of emergency, the state of Michigan will make available all state resources in cooperation with local response and recovery efforts in the disaster area as outlined in the Michigan Emergency Management Plan. 

 

All three added counties declared a local state of emergency activating local emergency response and recovery plans. By requesting a governor’s declaration, these counties and their communities have determined local resources are insufficient to address the situation and state assistance is required to protect public health, safety and property to lessen or avert the threat of an emergency. 

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Hastings chooses new City Manager

During a nearly ten hour marathon session on Thursday, the Hastings City Council conducted in-person interviews with the 5 final candidates in the search for a new city manager.  Afterward, the council members commented on the high quality of all the candidates and deliberated, selecting Sarah Moyer-Cale as their top choice.

 

Moyer-Cale currently serves as village manager, zoning administrator and  DDA director at Paw Paw, Michigan, a position she has held for 4 years. Prior to that, she served in Almont, Michigan as village manager and zoning director and was a planning assistant for the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. She has a master’s degree in urban planning.

 

Her selection is somewhat historic in that she will become the first female city manager for the City of Hastings.

 

The council voted unanimously to extend a conditional job offer to her, and authorized Mayor David Tossava and the city attorney to negotiate a contract and compensation package  while the Michigan Municipal League will perform background checks. The council will then have to approve the contract to make it official.

 

In the meantime, Gregg Guetschow of Charlotte will continue on the job as interim city manager until Sarah Moyer-Cale takes over.

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Young boy pulled out of the Thornapple River

On Monday evening, June 28th, Hastings Police responded to Tyden Park near the Broadway Bridge for four children ages 11 to 14 years old swimming down the river. City Police Officer Winick arrived on the scene and saw three of the children on the river bank while one child appeared to be in distress crying for help while still in the river. Officer Winick went into the river and was able to take hold of the child an pull him to safety. Officers waited with the children until their parents arrived.

The river level came up quickly after 4.5 inches of rain fell from June 24th to June 26th.

 

Monday evening July 5th the Kent County Sheriff's office said  a Mazda and a Ford Fusion were involved in a sideswiping incident on cascade road causing  one of the  vehicles to go into the Thornapple River.

 

Both 16 year old drivers sustained minor injuries, but refused treatment.

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Plane Crashes at Hastings Airport

Around 6:00 p.m. Wednesday night, troopers from the Wayland Post responded to Hastings Airport located in Rutland Township for a report of an airplane that ran off the runaway and flipped over.

 

The small private airplane was being flown by a student pilot with his flight instructor onboard when they encountered engine trouble about one mile from the airport.  Upon returning to the airport and

attempting to land, the plane went off the runway and flipped over. No injuries were sustained by either occupant, although the plane was damaged.

 

The pilot was described as a 69-year-old man from Munich.  His flight instructor was described as a 61-year-old man from Caledonia.

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New Culvers Restaurant Hastings

Heavy earth moving equipment is now preparing the land for the construction of a new Culvers Restaurant in Hastings. Culvers will be located at the corner of west Green Street and M-37/M-43.

 

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Thornapple River Update

The Thornapple River is now above flood stage at 7.2 feet and is expected to crest at 7.3 feet by Thursday July 1st

Flood stage in Hastings is 7 feet.  A Flood Warning remains in affect.

The heavy rains over the last few days has cause widespread flooding of Creeks, Streams and Rivers.

Many homes have also sustained water damage.

 

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Local business honored on 90th anniversary at City Council meeting

Congratulations to Hodges Jewelry and Gifts as they celebrate 90 years in business in downtown Hastings.  At the  City Council meeting Monday night, Mayor Dave Tossava presented an official proclamation honoring the milestone. The Hodges family opened Hodges Jewelry in 1931 and ran it until 1985, when it was sold to Don Button and his wife. Daughter Deb Button joined the family business and still runs it with her father.

 

At Monday’s meeting the City Council approved a number of upcoming events:

-Sidewalk Sales were approved in downtown Hastings July 9th and 10th at the request of the downtown business team

-Hastings Summerfest, August 27th through 29th at the request of the Chamber of Commerce Summerfest Committee

-Overdose Awareness Day, by the Hastings Serenity Club, August 31st at Thornapple Plaza

-Barry County Brewfest, September 25th at Thornapple Plaza by the Barry Chamber of Commerce

-A new fall event, Barry County Boo Fest October 22nd and 23rd hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Alliance.

 

In other business:

-Council approved the sale  of city property at 326 West State St. for $77,000 to Kendall Place, the developer that plans to build an apartment complex at the site under an option agreement that was executed in October, 2019.

-A revision of City Code was approved that will allow special assessments on public improvements to be paid in up to 10 installments rather than the current 5.

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Area Fireworks Shows planned

Looking for a fireworks show this Independence holiday weekend?  Here are a few to enjoy in the area:

All shows at dusk, weather permitting

 

Saturday, July 3rd:

Gun Lake, Yankee Springs State Park

Algonquin Lake, near Hastings

Allegan, over Kalamazoo River

Caledonia, Duncan Lk. Middle School

Dorr, at Township Park

Gull Lake, from the Country Club

Grand Rapids, at Ah-Nab-Awen Park

 

 

Sunday, July 4th:

Middleville, near TK Middleville School, part of Middleville's all-day Independence Day Celebration

Bellevue, Elementary School ball fields

Nashville, at Fox View

Battle Creek, at the Air Show & Balloon Festival

East Grand Rapids, Reeds Lake

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Flooding

Heavy rains from Thursday June 24th through Sunday morning the 27th has caused widespead flooding in the Hastings Barry County area. Rivers, Streams and Creeks are being impacted by  the rains as the ground in now saturated.  The Thornapple River reading in Hastings is over 5 feet and expected to crest at six feet in a day or two. Flood stage in Hastings is seven feet.

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Storms

Severe storms slammed into lower Michigan Saturday along with five tornadoes according to the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids. The storms damaged homes and vehicles in the lake Odessa area from falling trees. A barn and silo on a Freeport farm on Vedder road was damaged from high winds.

 

The storms that hit lower Michigan since Thursday has caused wide spread flooding, as  flood warnings remain in effect. On Saturday Hastings received 2.05 inches of rain. On Friday Hastings received 1.51 inches of rain. Hastings total for June is over six inches. (6.81 inches)

 

 

 

 

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Search for new Hastings City Manager narrowed to five candidates

The search process for a new city manager for Hastings advanced one more step with the release of the names of five finalists for the position. The nationwide search began after former city manager Jerry Czarnecki left the post in early May, and the City Council engaged the Michigan Municipal League to identify a list of candidates to consider.

 

From twenty initial applicants, the field was narrowed to ten candidates, and then during an executive session at the June 14 council meeting, to the five finalists.  

 

They include:

 

    -Richard Downey, currently the Village Manager of Kronenwetter, Wisconsin

 

    -Susan Montenegro,  the City Manager of Leslie, Michigan

 

    -Tim Wolff, Village Manager of Lake Isabella, Michigan

 

    - Bret Harmon, Administrative Services Director for Sanger, California

 

    - Sarah Moyer-Cale, who is currently Village Manager, Zoning Administrator and     DDA Director at Paw Paw, Michigan

 

During a day-long session on Thursday, July 8th, the City Council will interview all five with the hope of making their final selection on July 9th.

 

In the meantime, Gregg Guetschow of Charlotte has been serving as Interim City Manager under contract until a new permanent manager takes over.

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Marijuana Lockboxes Available at the Barry-Eaton District Health Department in Charlotte

This year, BEDHD received funding from Michigan Licensing and Regulation Affairs (LARA) to launch a harm reduction campaign called Weed Facts, which focuses on 7 facts relating to marijuana, with the ultimate goal of encouraging safety before and during marijuana use. These facts are:

 

  1. Keep marijuana locked up and away from kids
  2. Marijuana hinders brain development in adolescents
  3. Driving high is illegal and is considered at DUI
  4. Marijuana is only legal if you’re 21 or have a prescription
  5. Marijuana in pregnancy or breastfeeding can harm the baby
  6. Most teens don’t use marijuana – 1 in 14 teens say they used in the past month
  7. Marijuana can be addictive – especially if you start using as a teen

 

As part of the campaign, BEDHD is providing lock boxes free of charge to encourage safe storage of marijuana products. Individuals interested in picking up a lock box can visit the Eaton Clinic or Environmental Health offices at 1033 Health Care Dr., Charlotte, MI 48813. BEDHD will not be collecting information from those who take a lock box, but ask that only one is taken per household.

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