Local News

Break-in at Al & Pete's Sport Shop in Hastings

Sometime Thursday night some Hastings Area School students broke into Al & Pete's Sport Shop in an attempt to steal guns.


Store Owner Pete Shantz told WBCH News,"he hasn't found anything missing at this time."


The students told authorities they wanted to take the guns and sell them for money and nothing more.

The students also broke into and vandalized the school  concession stand.



Mulliken area landline outage update -- service is restored

Eaton County 911: UPDATE: Landline phone service in Mulliken has been fully restored at this time.




Senate bill introduced to restrict use of dangerous kratom

Sen. John Bizon, M.D. introduced a bill on Tuesday that would regulate the use of the plant kratom in Michigan.


Senate Bill 433 would make kratom a Schedule 2 controlled substance, which means it could be obtained only through a prescription.


“The currently unregulated drug kratom is both dangerous and addictive,” said Bizon, R-Battle Creek, the only physician in the state Senate. “There has been an alarming increase recently in the number of deaths from this relatively unknown drug. We must take measures to help prevent such tragedies and the continued abuse of this drug.”


Kratom is a tropical tree found in southeast Asia that users consume in a capsule or powder form. It affects the same opioid brain receptors as morphine, and some opioid users claim it has helped them curb their addiction.


But the drug, which currently is legal for sale to minors, appears to have properties that expose users to the risks of addiction, abuse and dependence. In addition, kratom can cause serious interactions when taken with prescription drugs. Its reported side effects include seizures, hallucinations and symptoms of psychosis.


There have been five deaths from kratom use in Kent County since 2018. In May 2019, Troy police issued a warning about the substance, and on May 8, a Royal Oak man was sentenced to two years in prison for illegally smuggling the substance and selling it unlawfully.


Bizon said six states, including Indiana and Wisconsin, have banned kratom. Four other states now regulate the drug.



Gun Lake Tribe celebrates 20th anniversary of federal re-affirmation

The Gun Lake Tribe,  Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, announced it will celebrate 20 years of federal re-affirmation by the United States of America.  The Tribe has a unique history which is well documented under several treaties signed by the United States government, a historic reservation in present-day downtown Kalamazoo, and an affiliation with the Methodist Church that created an Indian community that has endured since 1838.        


“Today we celebrate a remarkable history of perseverance, community, and culture,” said Bob Peters, Chairman of the Gun Lake Tribe.  “We also recognize the tremendous hardships our ancestors endured, which our present-day elders did as well, to keep the Bradley and Salem Indian communities, and families, intact.  We are a proud people with a bright future, but we honor our past on this day.”


In the early 19th century the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band inhabited the Kalamazoo River valley.  Chief Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish signed the 1821 Treaty of Chicago that created a three-mile square reservation for the Band at present-day downtown Kalamazoo.  The City of Kalamazoo recently installed new street signs that feature 1821 reservation boundary markers.


The Chief would also sign the 1827 Treaty of St. Joseph which required the Band to relinquish the newly created reservation to the federal government in exchange for a promised payment and a new home.  The Band received neither, and instead a difficult era of relocation ensued.


The Band avoided forced removal west of the Mississippi River, known as the Trail of Tears, by moving north to several temporary locations.  The Band found protection under the Church through the creation of the Bradley Indian Mission settlement in 1838.  The Salem Indian Mission would be established nearby. 


After years of petitioning for federal recognition the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, known as the Gun Lake Tribe, achieved formal re-affirmation on August 23, 1999.  The Tribe’s citizens would later vote to adopt a Tribal Constitution which established a democratically elected governing body of seven Tribal Council members. 


Today the Tribe strives to provide services to its citizens such as health care, education and language and cultural preservation.  The Gun Lake Casino opened in 2011 and now provides government gaming revenue that allows the Tribe to fund these important programs to maintain its self-sufficiency.      


To read more about the Tribe’s history and watch a narrated video visit the Heritage page online at


To learn more about the 1821 Treaty reservation boundaries located throughout Kalamazoo visit the City’s news section, online at   


Public Health Advisory on Potentially Harmful Algae in Morrison Lake

The Ionia County Health Department has issued a Public Health Advisory about potentially harmful algae identified in Morrison Lake in Ionia County. People and pets should avoid direct body contact with scummy water in the lake, with water that looks like spilled paint, and water that has a green sheen to it. 

These scums may contain flecks, foam, or clumps. People and pets should avoid swallowing lake water.


This cautionary advice is based on water samples taken on August 20th, 2019. Advice may change as
more information becomes available. Also, the amount of algae present in the lake could change




Business, Industry, Education


The annual Business, Industry, Education Luncheon was held today Wednesday at the Hastings Middle School Commons.


Travis Alden, President of the Barry County Chamber of Commerce and Barry County Economic Development Alliance, welcomed the large gathering.





Superintendent of the Hastings Area School Dan Remenap also extended a warm  welcome to all. The guest speaker  Sarah Alden, Manager of Human Resources at Hastings Fiber Glass Products spoke on  21st Century Skills.


Spirit Parade, BIE Luncheon kick off school year in Hastings


Saxon fans, students and staff celebrated Wednesday morning in downtown Hastings with the annual ‘Welcome Back to School’ parade.   The Saxon marching band played the fight song, horns honked, and crowds cheered to welcome and support the Hastings teachers and support staff who arrived on school busses.


After the parade, the annual BIE luncheon was held to recognize the important partnership between Business, Industry, and Education in the community. The collaborative event between the Hastings school district, the Barry County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Alliance featured guest speakers on ‘Essential Skills for the 21st Century’.  Hastings Area Schools classes begin on Monday, August 26.


Barry County fills vacancies on Zoning Board of Appeals

The Committee of the Whole (COW) met Wednesday and completed interviews for the Zoning Board of Appeals.  There were three applicants to fill two vacancies on the ZBA.   Stacey Graham was recommended to fill a partial term that ends March 31, 2021  and James Alden was recommended to fill a term ending March 31, 2022.


The committee voted to authorize the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority Board to administer a $300,000 grant from the EPA to assess potentially contaminated sites throughout Barry County.

A letter of support was approved concerning the application by for a state grant that would be used to expand broadband access in Barry County.  ACD is exploring the possibility of expanding and improving high speed broadband infrastructure in underserved areas.


Also approved were changes to the Solid Waste Oversight Plan to remove the county residency requirement for the Barry-Eaton Health Department representative on the board, the Environmental Health Association representative, the City of Hastings representative, waste industry, and recognized recycle program representatives.  The Solid Waste Oversight committee will also be expanded to include a member of the County Board of Commissioners.


Sheriff Leaf says to be aware of gift card scam

Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf is cautioning area residents to be aware of a new telephone scam that occurred just one county away. Calhoun County detectives are investigating a crime which cost a victim $2,900 in one payment to crooks and $13,000 in subsequent payments, all in gift cards from Target and Walmart, Leaf said.


The victim answered a telephone call from a person who said he was a DEA agent and the victim in the scam was found to be involved in a big drug deal in Texas. Supposedly, the victim was guilty of drug trafficking and money laundering and the caller said the DEA was going to freeze his bank accounts and put him in prison for 10 years unless he gave them $4,500 in gift cards.


“Police don’t work that way,” Leaf said. “The victim has never been involved in money laundering and even if he was, the police don’t deal with gift cards. “Anytime anyone asks for money over the phone, call our office, we’ll investigate it for you.”


Ionia County participates in S.T.O.P.P.E.D. program

Sheriffs Telling Our Parents and Promoting Educated Drivers (S.T.O.P.P.E.D.) is a voluntary program for parents who would like to be notified when their child is involved in a traffic stop by an Ionia County Sheriff’s Deputy.


For over 14 years, the Michigan Sheriffs Association has partnered with law enforcement and parents to promote safe driving by teens.  Previously, notification to the parents of a traffic stop was completed by regular mail.   According to Sheriff Charlie Noll, “the enhanced system will fully automate the process. In the event a deputy makes a traffic stop with a young driver, the deputy locates the STOPPED sticker, puts the corresponding number into an internet based program and hits the send button.  The deputy than tells the driver that their parent will receive either a text message or e-mail regarding the traffic stop.  This system allows for not only notification but accountability between young driver student parent and the Ionia Sheriffs’ Office “


For more information on the STOPPED Program or to register a vehicle, please visit the MSA website at


Amash announces stops in Grand Rapids, Gaines Township, and Hastings

Representative Justin Amash (I-Mich.) announced the times and locations for constituent meetings in the Third District on Wednesday, August 21. Third District residents are encouraged to attend.

9:30 a.m.
Rising Grinds Café
1167 Madison Ave SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49507


10:45 a.m.
Common Ground
1319 Fulton St E
Grand Rapids, MI 49503


12:00 p.m.
New Holland Brewing - The Knickerbocker
417 Bridge St NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504


2:15 p.m.
Railtown Brewing Company
3595 68th St SE
Caledonia, MI 49316


4:00 p.m.
Walldorff Brewpub & Bistro
105 E State St
Hastings, MI 49058


You are invited to Hastings Summerfest this weekend

Hastings Summerfest is an all-out celebration of summer held annually in the city’s downtown. Set for Aug. 23-24-25, this is the 42nd year of the festival. Visitors from near and far come to Hastings every year to shop the huge arts and crafts show on the Barry County Courthouse lawn, sample a wide variety of food, take in the Farmers Market, concessions, special events and activities for kids and free trolley rides to enjoy the atmosphere around town.


For the more active, there are athletic events; a triathlon, softball tournament, 3-on-3 basketball, Summerfest 10K/5K run, a fun run, and a weight lifting contest.


“Nursery Rhymes” is the theme of the Summerfest Grand Parade Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Look for the children's parade, the Hastings Car Club car show and listen to live entertainment, thanks to Hastings Live at Summerfest. The Elks Lodge refreshment tent will be open to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.


Details of activities and a full event schedule can be found on the Hastings Summerfest website, you’ll find a link at wbch-dot-com. The Barry County Chamber’s Summerfest Committee and Economic Development Alliance are the event’s sponsors.


Barry County KAMA Fall Cohort open registration

With local unemployment rates at historical lows, the demand for talent is increasing.  This means outstanding opportunities for Barry County youth and young adults. Multiple collaborative initiatives in Barry County are actively moving the needle when it comes to talent development says Travis Alden, President of the Barry County Chamber of Commerce & Economical Development Alliance.  For a small community, there's a lot going on.


The Kellogg Advanced Manufacturing Assembly (KAMA) training program has seen three successful cohorts of graduating high school seniors not only gain necessary hard and soft skills, but also employment at local manufacturing firms immediately after completing the program.   The KAMA Curriculum which is continually improved by Kellogg Community College staff with collaboration from local stake holders, includes conponets ranging from financial literacy, team work, to hands on math, measurement and safety.  The experierce culminates in a multi-week manufacturing simulation capstone that immerses students in a real world manufacturing experience.


Through a new, innovative partnership with West Michigan Works, Barry County will host a KAMA program this fall. This cohort is focused on adults who wish to up-skill for a successful career in manufacturing.  This crash course in advanced manufacturing basics will run approximately 5 weeks, from Sept. 3rd through October 10th.  Sessions run Monday through Thursday, 8am to 4:30pm at the KCC Fehsenfeld Center in Hastings.  Anyone interested in the fall program should contact Tina Wescott at the West Michigan Works office in Hastings. Registration deadline is Friday, August 23rd.    West Michigan Works will potentially cover all tuition costs for qualifying applicants, based on eligibility.



Gun Lake Tribe to Release Lake Sturgeon into Kalamazoo River

The Gun Lake Tribe has organized another annual release of lake sturgeon into the Kalamazoo River.  Participating parties include the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, and the Kalamazoo River chapter of Sturgeon for Tomorrow, and Grand Valley State University.  This year, more than two hundred (200) young sturgeon will be hand-released back into the river, which is the highest amount of fish the Tribe has ever released.


The release will take place Wednesday, August 28, 2019 from 5 pm to 7 pm at the New Richmond  Bridge County Park, 5731 Old Allegan Road, Hamilton, Michigan.


Sturgeon, or Nmé in Pottawatomi, is culturally important to the Tribe as the fish represents an animal clan in traditional beliefs.  Sturgeon clan people have spiritual knowledge offered as guidance to others and they live to an old age, just like lake sturgeon.  The rehabilitation of lake sturgeon reflects the Tribe’s present-day progression as a community and a tribal government.


A welcome will be provided by Tribal Council.  Tribal drum group, Thunder Buddies, will perform.  The Tribe’s Language and Culture Department will give an oral teaching about the sturgeon.  The event will also include park tours, hatchery tours, Central Michigan University interpretive mussel trailer and light dinner for up to 200 people in attendance.  The general public is encouraged to attend this event.    


Missing teen and daughter located in Kalamazoo

On Friday 08/16/19 the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office located a missing teen and her 2 year old daughter.


The pair were reported missing out of Alcoa Tennessee. They were located on N. 30th ST. in Comstock Twp. Both were found uninjuried and in good health.


Area Back to School Dates

It’s back to school time in West Michigan.  WBCH wishes all area students, school staff and families a great school year!   Remember, be aware and extra cautious with school busses and walking students.


August 19th:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Bellevue Community Schools

Charlotte Public Schools

Grand Ledge Public Schools

Maple Valley Public Schools

Otsego Public Schools


August  20th

Caledonia Community Schools

Lowell Area Schools

Thornapple Kellogg Schools


August 21st

Ionia Public Schools

Portland Public Schools


August 26th

Hastings Area Public Schools

Lakewood Public Schools

Saranac Community Schools

Wayland Union Schools


August 27th

Martin Public Schools

August 28th

Faith Christian School


September 3rd

Barry County Christian School

Delton Kellogg Schools

Gull Lake Community Schools

Hopkins Public Schools




Aggravated Stalking


After a preliminary hearing, Kellie Leigh Bartlett was bound over in Barry County District court on charges of aggravated stalking, which carries a maximum of five years in prison. A second charge of using a computer to commit a crime was added. This offense carries a  maximum of  seven years in prison.


Prosecutors alleged that Bartlett violated a court order by having a third party contact a victim in a pending case.


The offense's are alleged to have occured in Eaton county.  However the Barry County Prosecutor;'s Office was assigned by the Attorney General as a speciial prosecutor as the Eaton County Prosecutor's Office had a conflict of interest and recused itselt.


No date has been set for a pre-trial in the case.


American Legion Post 45 celebrates 100th year with the community

The Lawrence J. Bauer American Legion Post 45 is celebrating its 100th Anniversary Aug.16-17, and inviting the community to celebrate along with them.


In a Friday, Aug. 16 celebration at Thornapple Plaza, hot dogs, chips and lemonade will be served from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.  A proclamation by Mayor David Tossava at 6:45 p.m. will be followed by Happy Birthday sung by the audience and dessert; servings of the 100th year anniversary birthday cake and ice cream. A concert by the 338th Army Band begins at 7:30 p.m.


On Saturday, Aug.17, the post will host a Centennial Open House from noon to 4 p.m., and will feature Bingo from 10 a.m. to 1p.m. From 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. the American Legion Riders will do a Cruise and show of their motorcycles and military vehicles.


A welcome from Post Commander Steve Carr is at 1:30 p.m. and remarks by invited dignitaries District Commander Barry Wood, Sen. John Bizon, Representative Julie Calley, Mayor David Tossava and Ron Bauer. A free hamburger dinner is served at 2 p.m. and the music also starts then.


From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. there are games, music and raffles as well as tours of the renovated post at 2160 South M-37 Highway. Activities include a corn hole tournament and possibly a bounce house for the kids. A mortar, a recent addition, is now on its pad at the post and can be inspected.


“Free to all-it’s our Centennial Celebration,” the post’s invitation reads.


*Post namesake Lt. Lawrence J. Bauer: Born March 29, 1894 to James M. and Grace Garrison Bauer, Lawrence was raised in Hastings, graduated president of his high school class in 1913 and entered college, first at Michigan State College and then at the University of Michigan.


When war came he enlisted as a bombing observer and taught at the flight school in France before being commissioned. In 1918 he flew with the 11th Aero Squadron during the Meuse Argonne offensive and was there at the armistice.


Two days later, however, he was killed in a wind shear accident while taking off for an observation flight. He is buried at the Meuse Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial near the village of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon France, which lies about 26 miles northwest of Verdun.

(Courtesy of Post 45 archives).


*The 338th Army Band was originally formed in 1943 at Camp Siebert, Alabama, as part of a support group for General Patton's 3rd Army in Europe. The band was deactivated before overseas deployment in 1945. The 338th was reactivated in 1952 as part of the Second United States Army, according to Wikipedia.


*A mortar is usually a simple, lightweight, man portable, muzzle-loaded weapon, consisting of a smooth-bore metal tube fixed to a base plate with a lightweight bipod mount and a sight. They launch explosive shells in high-arching ballistic trajectories at close targets.






Celebrate Middleville's Heritage Days Aug. 16-17-18, and "Remember When..."

Middleville’s Heritage Days are August 16, 17 and 18 with the theme, “Remember When…”




This year’s Heritage Days promises to be an event packed with ongoing demonstrations and activities of interest area residemts in three days of celebrating the best of small town living and remembering the village’s past.


Those who come to enjoy any of the events any or all of the day’s events, will need a schedule, available at .  Be sure to check back for updates and additions.


Some highlights: Friday features are a Classic Car Cruise in, music by the “Whatabouts Band” and The Jungle Book at the “Pajamas in the Park” movie.

Saturday has non-stop activities and a dozen demonstrations in several locations in the village repeated during the day so visitors can attend all the ones that interest them.


See how to make a perfect pie crust, a stained glass window or make balloon animals, create a quilt, make perfect pizza dough and much more.  Some demonstrations teach a talent, others are just for fun, like the ventriloquist who will put on two shows.


Runners can sign up for the Heritage Days 5k/10k trail run and Youth Fun Run. How about a guided tour of the trail? Or, just sit and watch the Rotary Duck Race.


Old-fashioned, (not electronic) adult and children’s games, pie baking contest and pie and pizza eating contests, it’s all there, and more. Middleville restaurants are part of this Heritage Days; most will feature specials, like a chicken croissant, chips and a drink for $5.


Look for the Sock Hop on Main Street, the nature walk, corn hole tournament, the Jersey Pete & Java Joe Band, and of course, plan to take in the Middleville Rotary Club parade, complete with floats, that will be judged with awards given.


Sunday morning, enjoy an old-fashioned church service and (bring your own) picnic.





New Jailbreak 5k Benefits Child Abuse Victims

Think you can outrun the police? Prove it!


Safe Harbor Children’s Advocacy Center partners with law enforcement to host their second Badges and Bravery 5k on Saturday, September 28, 2019 at Camp Jijak


Last year Michigan State Trooper, Blaine Bachman, partnered with Safe Harbor to create the first Badges and Bravery 5k. Registration was only open to first responders in Allegan County. The group of participants helped raise over $10,000 for the children’s advocacy center to help continue providing hope, help, and healing to the children in their community.


This year the Badges and Bravery 5k is opening up to the public and will allow civilian racers the opportunity to run from the police. Civilians will be given a head start after escaping from the race jail. Law enforcement and other first responders will need to catch up to “capture” the escapees before they finish the race. All proceeds from the event will help Safe Harbor provide a lifeline to child victims of abuse and neglect. To register visit,


Safe Harbor Children’s Advocacy Center is a nationally accredited, nonprofit organization that provides hope and healing to child victims of abuse and neglect in both Allegan and Barry Counties. Through teaching and training, coordinating funds and services, providing protection, offering medical care and counseling, investigating and prosecuting those responsible, and by offering children a safe harbor from further abuse, children find the hope, help, and healing they need at Safe Harbor CAC. Learn more about Safe Harbor at


Doctors, health officials urge Michigan parents to put immunizations on their kids' back-to-school checklist

 As the start of a new school year approaches, Michigan health officials are urging families to make sure they are up to date on all immunizations, to ensure their loved ones are protected. 

“Vaccines protect our children from serious and preventable diseases,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief deputy director for health and chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Now is the time to visit your local health department or family doctor for immunizations, to help your kids start the school year on the right foot.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently designated August as Immunization Awareness Month in Michigan.


Two Vehicle Accident

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office responded to a two vehicle serious injury crash on M-37 Hwy, near Pinecone Drive Wednesday Night.

The initial investigation shows a Toyota Highlander was traveling east on M-37 Hwy and a Motorcycle was traveling west on M-37 Hwy. The driver of the Highlander turned north on to Pinecone Dr in the path of the motorcycle. The westbound motorcycle crashed into the eastbound Highlander.


The Highlander was occupied by a 39 year old female from Hastings. The motorcycle was occupied by a 29 year old male from Plainwell.


The operator of the motorcycle was air lifted to an area hospital. The driver of the Highlander was not injured. This incident remains under investigation.


Eight persons charged in Crystal Meth ring in Hastings

The Southwest Enforcement Team (SWET) conducted a months-long investigation into a drug trafficking organization that was distributing crystal methamphetamine in the City of Hastings.  As a result of the investigation, eight people were charged with 15 counts of delivery of methamphetamine by the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office.  To date, seven of the individuals have been arrested and lodged at the Barry County Jail. 


The following have been arrested and arraigned:


Timothy William Stube, 42 years old

Delivery of methamphetamine (3) counts. Timothy Stube is being charged as 2nd offense


Marc West Wright, 45 years old

Delivery of methamphetamine (2) counts.  Marc Wright is being charged as 2nd offense


Michelle Marie Otoole, 38 years old

Delivery of methamphetamine (2) counts. Michelle Otoole is being charged as habitual offender 2nd


Gary Robert Willavize Jr., 37 years old

            Delivery of methamphetamine.  Gary Willavize is being charged as 2nd offense


Kevin Duiane Abbott, 51 years old

Delivery of methamphetamine (3) counts.  Kevin Abbott is being charged as habitual offender 4th – 2nd offense.


Nicholas James McClelland, 29 years old

            Delivery of methamphetamine


Tina Marie Noble, 42 years old

            Delivery of methamphetamine (2) counts.  Tina Noble is being charged as 2nd offense


The Southwest Enforcement Team (SWET) is a multijurisdictional task force that has been operating in Southwest Michigan since 1981.  SWET-North is a newly-formed team dedicated to serving the specific needs of Allegan and Barry Counties.


Southwest Michigan has seen an alarming increase in the availability of crystal methamphetamine that has been trafficked into our area in the last two years.  The increased availability and the low cost of the product has presented a challenge for law enforcement throughout Southwest Michigan.  Combating the spread of the methamphetamine epidemic has been a primary focus of SWET-North. 


The Southwest Enforcement Team (SWET) is comprised of sworn law enforcement personnel from the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office, Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office, Covert Township Police Department, Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office, Kalamazoo Township Police Department, Michigan State Police, South Haven Police Department, Saint Joseph County Sheriff’s Office, and Sturgis Police Department.


Juvenile Runaway

15  year old Ethan Valdez ran away from home Wednesday afternoon and has not been heard from or seen.

Ethan lives near Orangeville and attends Thornapple-Kellogg schools in Middleville.

He is possibly wearing an orange and gray striped shirt and black Adidias tennis shoes. Ethan is 5-feet, 9-inches tall and is 165 pound, with short, black hair and wears glasses. He is of mixed race and appears Hispanic.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is ask to contact the Michigan State Police Wayland Post 269-792-2213.


Groundbreaking for new amphitheater in Middleville

The Village of Middleville will break ground for construction of a new Amphitheater in the green space behind the Pavilion, on the bank of the Thornapple River. The project is a collaborative effort between the village and My Middleville DDA and is part of the greater Parks Master plan. The amphitheater is expected to be completed by mid-October.  A groundbreaking celebration will take place Monday, August 19th at 9am.


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