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Local News

3 children killed, 1 hurt in Vehicle-buggy crash

The Eaton County Sheriff's  Office say three children are dead and a fourth seriously injured after a vehicle crashed into their Amish buggy around 3:19 Wednesday afternoon.  The crash occured on Vermontville highway near Bradley Road in Vermontville Township just east of Barry County.

 

The Sheriff's Office said the buggy was struck from behind. The driver of the vehicle was also taken to an area hospital for evalutation. The children were on their way home from school when the crash happened. The children are all siblings from a local family between the ages of 6 and 13.

 

The Eaton County Sheriff’s Office Crash Reconstruction Team and Detective Bureau are investigating the crash.

 

Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich stated –

 

“It is difficult to find words to describe this horrific tragedy.   Our hearts and prayers go out to the parents who are enduring such unimaginable loss and grief, and also to their extended family and close community. Our Victim Advocates are assisting the family, and we will continue to provide our support and resources.  We grieve with them.”

 

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Athletic events re-scheduled to reduce risk of EEE virus

Schools in southern Michigan are in the process of re-scheduling athletic practices and events to earlier start times in response to recommendations by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to help combat the spread of Eastern Equine Encephalitis which can be carried by mosquitos.

 

Update:  TK Varsity Football game at Wayland Friday night will be moved to begin at 5:30pm.

 

Hastings High School has moved the start times for Freshmen and Junior Varsity games up one hour and will start the first contest at 3:30pm.  So far no change has been announced for the Varsity Football game this Friday night at Marshall.

 

Delton Kellogg will play their JV football game this Thursday, Varsity Soccer on Friday, and Varsity Football on Friday all starting at 5:30pm.

 

Lakewood will kick off their JV game Thursday and Varsity homecoming football game Friday at 5:00pm. Lakewood is moving all athletic practices earlier and will try to end outdoor events by 7pm.

 

WBCH will let you know as soon as we learn start times for other schools/contests.

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Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in Southwest Michigan, Including Barry County

Southwest Michigan is experiencing activity of a rare, deadly mosquito-borne disease known as Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). As of September 17, there have been 7 confirmed cases of EEE in humans, including one (1) case in Barry County. The Barry-Eaton District Health Department would like to remind residents that human cases of EEE are rare, usually averaging around 7 cases per year in the United States. However, the presence of EEE activity in the Southwest Region of Michigan is of concern, thus, precautions to prevent exposure to mosquitos should be taken.

 

People can become infected with the EEE virus from the bite of a mosquito carrying the virus. Most who are infected with the virus that causes EEE do not become ill. However, persons below the age of 15 or above the age of 50 years have greater risk of developing a severe infection that has high potential for permanent brain damage or death. Barry County residents will continue to be at risk for EEE infection until the first frost decreases mosquito populations. The risk of bites from infected mosquitoes is highest for people who work or play outdoors in these areas. Wearing insect repellent containing the active ingredient DEET, or one of the other active ingredients listed below, when outdoors (especially at dawn and dusk), is important to prevent EEE.

 

Early symptoms of EEE include the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, body and joint aches. Symptoms usually appear 4-10 days after exposure. EEE can develop into severe encephalitis (brain swelling), resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis. Permanent brain damage, coma and death may also occur in some cases.

 

All residents of and visitors to areas where virus activity has been identified are at risk of infection with EEE. To prevent mosquito bites, the following precautions should be taken:

 

  • Use an insect repellent registered by the EPA, containing one of the following active ingredients; DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, Para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone on exposed skin and/or clothing. To find out if an insect repellant is registered by the EPA, visit epa.gov/insect-repellents.
  • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old. Instead, dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs. Cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting. Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old.
  • Avoid outdoor activities from dusk until dawn
  • Wear long-sleeves, long pants, and socks with shoes when weather permits.
  • Have secure screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
  • Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets, barrels and other containers.

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Three dead amid mosquito borne virus

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is reporting that two more people have died from the mosquito borne virus Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

Human cases of EEE have been confirmed in Barry, Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo and Van Buren Counties. State health officials are encouraging local leaders in Barry, Berrien, Cass, Genesee, Kalamazoo, Lapeer, St. Joseph and van Buren to consider postponing, rescheduling or canceling outdoor activities particularly those involving children, in an effort to protect public health.

Michigan is currently experiencing its worst Eastern Equine Encephalitis outbreak in more than a decade.

 

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Judge McDowell's Replacement

 

With Barry County Circuit Judge Amy McDowell's retirement from the bench, Barry County  Chief Judge William Doherty moved quickly in replacing McDowell until the Governor appoints a replacement.

 

On Tuesday in a written announcement, Judge Doherty said retired Judge Donald Johnson will sit as a visiting Judge for the time being. Doherty said Johnson's assignment is effective immediately and will continue through December 31st.

 

Judge Johnson seved 10 years as District Judge and 30 years as Circuit Judge in Kent County.

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Skateboarder injured when struck by car

The Hastings Police Department responded to a personal injury accident at approximately 3:30pm  Monday afternoon involving a skateboard and a motor vehicle. 

 

The accident occurred as an 18 year old Hastings man,was riding on a  skateboard, eastbound on Center St, approaching Boltwood St. The skateboarder failed to stop at a stop sign and was hit by a southbound vehicle on Boltwood St. driven by a 42 year old Hastings woman. The 18 year

old was flown to Borgess hospital for treatment. The driver of the motor vehicle was not injured.

 

The Hastings Police were assisted by Hastings Fire Department and Barry Central Dispatch.

 

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Barry County Circuit Court Judge resigns

Barry County Circuit Court Judge Amy McDowell has stepped down, her last day at work was September 6th, 2019 according to the court administrator.  Judge McDowell’s retirement from the bench will become official when Governor Gretchen Whitmer formally accepts her letter of resignation.

 

McDowell was originally appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder in June, 2011 following the retirement of Judge James Fisher. She was subsequently elected in 2012, and then re-elected to a six-year term in 2014. Before that, McDowell was an attorney in Barry County for over 17 years. She  held positions with the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office as Assistant Prosecutor, Chief Assistant Prosecutor, City of Hastings Attorney, Juvenile Drug Court Attorney, and an Adjunct Professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School.  She was the Judge for Barry County’s Adult Drug Court and implemented the Swift and Sure Sanctions Program.

 

There is no information available yet on how or when the court vacancy will be filled.
 

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HPD investigating thefts from motor vehicles

The Hastings Police Department is  investigating a rash of thefts from motor vehicles that have occurred throughout the City  at all times of the day and night. Residents and visitors are encouraged to lock their vehicles as the majority of these thefts are occurring to vehicles that are left unsecured.

 

Please help by reporting all suspicious activity and crimes. HPD strives to provide the best service possible, and asks for your help in making that possible.

 

You can contact Barry County Central Dispatch, 24 hours a day, at 269-948-4800 or Silent Observer at 1-800-310-9031.

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Storm Update

Officials with the National Weather Service In Grand Rapids concluded their survery on Wednesday's storms.  The survey team did not see conclusive evidence of a tornado touchdown in the area. In  tracking the storms path, damage was observed from U.S. 131 in Grand Rapids east towards Woodbury and Lake Odessa, Ada and Lowell where wind speeds were  estimated between 70 and 80 mph.

 

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Storms

 

 

A line of  Thunderstorms some severe moved through Lower Michigan  Wednesday night bringing down trees, limbs, and  power lines. No injuries reported. Utilities companies are out restoring electric service to over 50-thousand homes and businesses who lost their power. At one time some 1,569 Barry County customers were with out power.. 

Here in Hastings the National Weather Service Climatological Station recorded two inches of rain from the storms after a high of 88-degrees on Wednesday.

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Where There's a You, There's A Way - United Way Kickoff and Day of Caring

The Barry County United Way will kick-off the 83rd campaign on September 12th, 8am at the Barry County Expo Center. This year’s theme “Where there’s a You, There’s a Way” speaks directly to the heart of how donor dollars change lives in our community. Last year, over 60,000 times residents of our community accessed programs and services funded by donor contributions.

 

Campaign Co-Chairs Jim DeCamp and Bill Rohr are challenging residents to become a partner with United Way.  “Your investment goes so much further with Barry County United Way. 100% of the contributions are utilized for programming right here in Barry County, thanks to the Florence Tyden Groos Endowment Fund that covers administrative costs,” says campaign co-chair Bill Rohr. “This year our goal is $650,000 based on the needs of the programs and services that request funds through Barry County United Way,” states campaign co-chair Jim DeCamp.

Thirty four programs rely on the support of the United Way campaign in Barry County.

 

 

Right after the kickoff, over 400 volunteers will join forces to volunteer on a variety of both indoor and outdoor opportunities. Indoor events include archiving at Gilmore Car Museum, office cleaning at Hope Network, sorting clothes for the changing seasons at the Shack in Delton and playing BINGO with the residents at Thornapple Manor. Outdoor activities include cleaning up the Riverwalk Trail in Hastings and the Paul Henry Trail in Middleville, playground painting at Central Elementary, building a therapeutic horse shelter at Camp Manitou-Lin, gardening at Charlton Park to create shoreline garden, and sanding and sealing a wooden ship in Freeport.  We are still in need of more volunteers for both Thursday and Saturday projects. If you are interested in helping, please call Morgan at the Volunteer Center, 945-4010 “It is great to witness how eager our community is to volunteer at so many organizations”, says Morgan Johnson, Volunteer Center Director. “According to the Independent Sector each volunteer hour is worth $25.43, therefore the hours put in by these volunteers is equal to over $40,000 to our community. Day of Caring will take place on Thursday, September 12th and Saturday, September 14th.  Thornapple Valley Church has combined their Blitz Day with United Way to show the value of partnerships throughout the community. “This enables us to partner with many individuals and families that are not available during the work week”, says Johnson.

 

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Update: Missing Kalamazoo man

UPDATE: On September 12, 2019 Frank Farthing was located in Avoca Iowa. The Avoca Iowa Police Department spoke with Frank Farthing. They determined that he was alive and well and not in any danger. The family has been notified and made aware of his location and condition.

 

ORIGINAL STORY: The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office is attempting to locate 60 year old Frank Farthing of Kalamazoo. Farthing left his residence on Reisling St in Texas Township in the afternoon of September 10, 2019 driving a 2013 Ford Mustang, silver in color, with Michigan Registration HY93L.

 

The family is concerned for his safety and wellbeing as this is unusual for him not to return home. If anyone has information about Farthing or locates his vehicle, they are asked to contact the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office or Kalamazoo Consolidated Dispatch at 269-488-8911.

 

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BEDHD offers tips for Septic Smart week

September 16th-20th is Septic Smart Week, and Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) would like to remind septic system owners to be SepticSmart! Follow these tips to keep your septic system working properly!

 

  • Think at the Sink! What goes down your drain has a big impact on your septic system. Avoid harsh chemicals and use any cleaners, detergents, and especially drain cleaners in moderation.
  • Don’t Strain your Drain! Use water efficiently and stagger use of your washing machine to avoid overloading your system causing a back-up into your house. It is better to do one small load a day than save everything to wash all at once.
  • Shield your Field! Tree and shrub roots, cars, and livestock can damage your drainfield. Don’t plant woody trees and shrubs near your septic system and never drive a vehicle over any portion of it.
  • Protect It and Inspect It! Regular septic system maintenance can save homeowners thousands of dollars in replacement costs and protect public health by identifying potential problems before they become irreversible. Have your system evaluated by a professional.
  • Don’t Overload the Commode! Don’t treat your toilet like a trash can. Disposable diapers and wipes (even those labeled “flushable” or “septic system safe”), feminine hygiene products, cigarette butts, cat litter, and much more can damage your septic system if you flush them down the toilet. Only flush human waste and toilet paper, everything else should go in the trash.
  • Pump Your Tank! Have your septic tank cleaned out at regular intervals by a licensed septage hauler. This should be done once every five years or so, depending on use and the size of your septic tank.

 

Septic system owners also should take special care during flood conditions. BEDHD recently added information on our website about septic system safety during a flood. This information can be accessed at https://www.barryeatonhealth.org/site-flooded-sewage-systems-and-water-supply-wells.

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Fire destroys semi on I-96

Ionia County Deputies responded to a vehicle fire on east bound I-96 near mile mark 71, Tuesday at 7:30pm. The investigation showed that a semi-truck was traveling east on I-96 when an unknown mechanical failure cause the truck to catch fire. The driver was able to pull the truck onto the shoulder and escape safely. The truck was a complete loss. I-96 was closed for about an hour and a half while the investigation was conducted.


The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by Berlin Orange Fire Department, Ionia County Central
Dispatch, and Reed and Hoppes Towing.

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County Commission approves Blue Zones agreement with Health Department

The Barry County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved a revised letter of agreement between the Barry Eaton District Health Department and Blue Zones, LLC,  that will allow the Health Department in Hastings to provide office space for Blue Zones to establish the program in Barry County.

 

The original letter of agreement was turned down by Commissioners on a 4-3 vote in August over concerns about data security and technology. At the Committee of the Whole meeting September 3rd, the issue was re-visited when the provision of a laptop computer, Health Department I-T support services, and access to the Health Department copier/printer and web conferencing system were removed in the revised agreement.

 

Several citizens and community leaders spoke during public comment in support of Blue Zones, a public health initiative that the Barry community has agreed to pursue. It has financial backing from multiple community partners and the health care community.  Barry County would be the first in the state to implement the initiative to change the health and wellbeing of all citizens.

 

 

 

The Commission also approved a bid for application of epoxy flooring in specific locations at the Sheriff’s Office in the amount of $60,563 from the Building Rehabilitation fund.

 

The hiring of a temporary part-time person in the County Clerk’s department for up to 10 hours per week was approved, to be paid from the Concealed Pistol Licensing fund. The hire will assist with the Concealed Pistol License workload and  miscellaneous other tasks.

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Two Vehicle Crash Child Dead

Barry County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to the intersection of Eckert Rd and Woodschool Rd for a two car fatal crash.  Preliminary investigation, showed the northbound vehicle, 2001 Ford Taurus, disregarded the stop sign on Woodschool Rd and was struck by an eastbound vehicle, 2007 Chevrolet Suburban, traveling on Eckert Rd. The Ford Taurus was occupied by a 26 year old female driver and two 3 month old female children.  One of the children was pronounced deceased at the scene.  Both children were secured in car safety seats. This crash remains under investigation.  The name of the deceased child will not be released at this time.

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Hastings City Council meeting, Monday, September 9

In a short meeting Monday the Hastings City Council approved a tax exemption ordinance and passed a resolution of community support for a proposed housing project on the old Royal Coach factory site located along the north bank of the Thornapple River on Mill Street.

 

The council had the first reading of a separate ordinance to re-zone the property to create the Royal Coach Apartments - Planned Unit Development (PUD) as recommended by the Planning Commission on September 3rd.

 

The PUD calls for 45 single-bedroom apartments and 9 two-bedroom units to be built inside the existing Royal Coach structure. Additionally, 19 three-bedroom units would be constructed in new Townhouse buildings.

 

The proposed development by Wisconsin based General Capital Group will be known as Royal Coach Landings and will offer affordable and middle income housing on 8.2 acres formerly owned by Hastings Manufacturing Company across the river from Thornapple Plaza.

 

In other business the council:

 

Approved resolutions to adopt and implement a local Pavement Warranty Program to comply with state requirements.

 

Approved a request from Brian Shumway of American Legion Post 45 to use the Veteran’s Plaza at Tyden Park on Monday, September 30th, to hold  a memorial event for Ernest Cassius Belson, a Barry County resident who died of malaria while serving in World War II, but was never recognized for his contribution to the war effort.

 

Approved the tying of teal colored ribbons around city trees during September to promote awareness of ovarian cancer.

 

Approved the Hastings High School Homecoming parade in downtown Hastings at 5:30pm on Friday, October 18.

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Emmanuel Episcopal Church celebrates installation of rooftop solar array

Installation of 62 rooftop solar panels begins September 9, 2019 at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Hastings. The solar array is projected to supply over half of the electric needs of the church.

 

Emmanuel parishioners  signed footings that attach the panels to the roof on Sunday, September 8, and a blessing of the materials and prayers for the workers will be held at the site at 8:00am, September 9. “Acts of Transformation: A Solar Celebration” is planned for Wednesday, October 23, 2019 beginning at 3:30pm at the church, when the system will “go live,” and the church will be plugged in to the Consumers Energy power grid.


Solar Winds Power Systems, LLC of Shelbyville, Michigan was awarded the project.

 

“We learned of Solar Winds through Michigan Interfaith Power and Light, an organization whose mission is ‘to inspire and equip people of faith to exercise stewardship of and love for all Creation,’ and which helps houses of worship with practical ways to put faith into action by promoting energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other sustainable practices that lead to a cleaner, healthier, and more just world. We found Mike Linsea, of Solar Winds to be very knowledgeable and generous with his time and attention as we began to explore this action toward solar energy for Emmanuel. He has worked with other churches in western Michigan and supports our faith-based commitment to Creation Care,” stated The Reverend Linnea Stifler.

 

Solar Winds has been providing both residential and commercial solar for eleven years and provides turnkey solutions ranging from design, engineering, material, labor, installation, and web monitoring. Some of Solar Winds references include Church of the Servant, United Church of Christ, St. James Apartments and Townhomes, Apex Stamping, and the Michigan Public Service Commission/ Michigan Agency for Energy.

 

The 20-kW system to be installed at Emmanuel includes  sixty-two 325-watt Panasonic solar panels, SolarEdge Invertors and Optimizer, an IronRidge roof mounting system, and features a web-based monitoring system. A special feature of the SolarEdge power optimizer is a DC/DC converter which turns the solar modules into smart modules, increasing the energy output from the PV system by constantly tracking the maximum power point of each module individually.

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UPDATE: Attempted Murder

 

UPDATE: 29 year old David Gene Krebs II of Vermontville was arraigned today(Friday) on attempted murder and habitual offender charges. The next court appearance is scheduled for September 18th

 

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating a stabbing incident that occurred in a moving vehicle between occupants on Barber Road south of M-43. The front seat passenger of the vehicle was stabbed multiple times by a back seat passenger. After stopping the vehicle, the injured passenger was able to flee to a nearby residence, and the homeowner then reported the incident. The suspect fled on foot from the vehicle, but was later taken into custody by deputies after being tracked by the Barry County Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit. He is currently lodged at the Barry County Jail while charges are being filed.  The victim was transported to Butterworth Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

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Barry County Missing Juvenile

 

 

The Barry County Sheriff's Office is asking the public's assistance in locating a missing juvenile runaway.

On September 1st, 15 years old Jah'lell Stephenson was last seen at her home in southeast Barry County. Jah'lell is known to have friends in the Bellevue area.

She is five feet four inches tall, 220 pounds with short black hair, brown eyes and black glasses.

 If you can assist the Sheriff's Office in this matter call 269-948-4801 or Barry County Central Dispatch.

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Hastings Kmart Closing

A total of eight-Michigan Kmart stores including Hastings are due to close by the end of the year.

Larry Costello, public relations director for Sears and Kmart said "after careful review, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to close the Kmart stores in Hastings, Belleville, Menominee, Midland, Clio, Grayling, Oscoda and Marine city."

Liquidations sales are expected to begin  this month, with a plan in place to close the stores by mid December. 

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Michigan Queen

Diane Strang of Hastings was crowned the Michigan Queen at the summerfest parade after losing 120 pounds.

Diane joined the tops club inc. the non-profit weight loss support organization in june 2015 weighing 284 pounds.  She lost over 13 pounds through 30 days, but by march 1st she gained it all back, but one pound. After starting a new food plan of no flour, sugars or caffeine and attending tops events she now weighs 161.5 pounds and wears a size  eight.

she went on to say, "I am no longer diabetic, and take no medication, my diagnosis of non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver is gone.

She is greatful for the encouragement of my tops chapter and god.

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Board of Commissioners

Barry County Commissioners met Tuesday and approved several items that were recommended by the Committee of the Whole.

 

Sheriff Dar Leaf presented his 2018 Annual Report,  and Eric Hackman, Senior Project Manager for Tower Pinkster, updated commissioners on the preliminary work plan and timeline regarding a new Barry County Jail and Commission on Aging.  Voters will likely decide on funding for new facilities at the August 2020 election.

 

A public hearing was held on the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program Income Emergency Repair Guidelines.

 

Stacey Graham and James Alden were appointed to serve on the Zoning Board of Appeals.

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Eastern Equine Encephalitis in Barry County

 The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services confirmed a case of a mosquito-borne disease in a resident and suspected three others according to the Detroit News .

The confirmed case was in Genesee County while, three cases of the disease are suspected in residents from Kalamazoo and Berrien Counties.

Through Monday, six cases of E.E.E  had been diagnosed in deer in Barry and Cass Counties.

Eastern Equine Encephalities is amond the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States.

It has a 33-percent fatality rate in people who become ill and 90-percent fatality rate in horses.

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Hastings City Council approves downtown housing and retail project

Hastings City Council held a workshop prior to their regular meeting Monday night to ask questions and discuss proposals from A.J. Vaneklasen, Inc. and Kevin Moore & Company,  the two developers that would like to build housing developments in downtown Hastings at the corner of North Michigan Avenue and Apple street.

 

The proposal from A.J Vaneklasen was selected by council vote.  Vaneklasen is proposing to build a 4-story building with 30 market-rate apartments on the upper floors, and retail and parking on the ground floor. The project would take about 9 months to complete and would open in early 2021. Vaneklasen also proposes purchasing 18 outdoor parking spaces from the city, however the parking portion is still under consideration.

 

The Council heard from Martha Gibbons, Executive Director of Family Promise, about “A Walk in Homeless Shoes” that will be held September 4th on the courthouse lawn.

 

Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt was appointed by the city council as Deputy City Manager, in addition to his role as Chief.

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