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Local News

Spectrum Health Pennock partners with local emergency crews to provide emergency training

Spectrum Health Pennock will be conducting an active shooter training exercise in partnership with all area law enforcement, first responders and other community groups, on Wednesday, October 23.

 

With recent mass-casualty incidents occurring around the country, it becomes a necessity for businesses, emergency personnel and individuals to plan and train for this type of situation with a hope we do not have to utilize the skills and training practice.

 

“This is a great opportunity for us to test Spectrum Health Pennock staff response skills, as well as training for our security, local law enforcement, first responders and other organizations who would be involved in responding to this type of situation,” explained Doug De Vries, emergency preparedness specialist, Spectrum Health Pennock. “The partnership and coordination with local law enforcement and other groups will ensure the exercise is productive and as beneficial as possible.”

 

Spectrum Health Pennock staff who choose to take part were required to complete a one-hour training to ensure understanding of the exercise plan and ways they can respond. Traffic in and out of the hospital parking lot will be ushered; all hospital services will remain open during the exercise, including radiology, lab and Cancer Center.

 

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Barry Commissioners approve 2020 county budget

The Barry County Board of Commissioners adopted the 2020 county budget on Tuesday.  The $17.8 million General Fund budget maintains departmental staffing at the current levels, except for the addition of a part time clerk for the Equalization department. Property taxes bring in $12.3 million, levied at 5.3504 mills, the maximum allowed after the application of the Headlee rollback.  Federal and State revenue provides $2 million, while charges for services, licenses and permits, rents and interest, fines and forfeits, and other revenue provides $3.5 million in revenues.

 

The total budget for all funds, including General fund, special revenue, debt, enterprise, construction, and internal service exceeds $48 million for 2020.

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Update regarding Eastern Equine Encephalitis in Barry and Eaton County

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department was notified that a deer found in Eaton County tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). This is the first confirmed animal case of EEE in Eaton County. There have been no human cases of EEE reported in Eaton County.

 

In Barry County, 1 human and 5 animal cases have been confirmed. Based on this information, BEDHD encourages residents of both Barry and Eaton County to continue to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites. According to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), 55 cases of EEE have been confirmed in 17 counties. EEE has been confirmed in 10 humans, and 45 animals.

 

There are no plans to conduct aerial spraying for mosquitos in Eaton County at this time. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) conducted aerial treatment in early October to help combat EEE by reducing mosquito populations in affected areas. At the time that aerial treatment was conducted, no EEE cases had been confirmed in Eaton County. Due to this, Eaton County was not included in the aerial treatment.

 

Mosquito populations continue until there is a very hard frost. According to the National Weather Service, the warmer weather in Michigan is expected to continue well into the month of October. This means that mosquitoes that carry the EEE virus can still bite and infect people and animals.

 

BEDHD encourages residents to continue to protect themselves from mosquito bites by:

 

• Avoiding being outdoors from dusk to dawn when mosquitos that carry the EEE virus are most active.
• Applying insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-registered product to exposed skin or clothing, and always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.
• Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Apply insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites.
• Maintaining window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes outside.
• Emptying water from mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes may lay eggs.
• Using nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas.

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Several guns stolen from Saugatuck gun and tackle shop

On October 20th near 11:49pm Allegan County Central Dispatch received a call for an alarm at a gun and tackle store in Saugatuck Township.  A deputy had a 3 minute response time to find forced entry to the building.  The investigation is still  ongoing but several firearms were stolen.  At this time Allegan County Sheriff’s Office deputies and evidence technicians are still processing the scene. 

 

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Michigan State Police and Douglas Police Department.

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1863 House of Worship celebrates Solar Transformation

“Acts of Transformation: A Solar Celebration” is planned for Wednesday, October 23, 2019 beginning at 3:30pm at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Hastings, when a newly installed rooftop solar panel system will officially “go live”.

 

The historic church, established in 1863 during the Civil War, is now plugged into the Consumers Energy power grid with an array of 62 panels that can produce 20 kilowatts of electricity, or about half of the electric needs of the church. Anytime the church is using less power than it produces, the excess goes to the Consumers grid.


It is the first church in the Hastings area and the first Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Western Michigan to address global climate change through the installation of solar power. Solar Winds Power Systems, LLC of Shelbyville, Michigan, did the installation of the project in September.

 

“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” stated The Reverend Linnea Stifler, Rector of Emmanuel Church.

 

The public is invited to the October 23rd event. An open house and refreshments will follow.

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Commissioners to hold dialogue event about COA and Jail

The Barry County Board of Commissioners on November 4th will hold a  forum to share information and gather public feedback and input regarding the current use and condition of the Commission on Aging facility in Hastings, the Barry County Jail & Sheriff’s Office, and the potential millage election in August 2020 to fund replacement of those buildings.

 

Tower Pinkster, the firm that helped develop the 2015 Facilities Master Plan, will lead the discussion.  A new Jail and Sheriff’s Office, and a new COA facility were two of the priority initiatives identified in the 2015 Master Plan.

 

The public is invited to participate in the dialogue event on Monday, November 4th at 6:30pm at the Barry Community Enrichment Center Leason Sharpe Hall in Hastings.

 

A quorum of the Board of Commissioners may be present.

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Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign starts Oct. 17

Autumn in Michigan includes tailgates and bonfires, along with Halloween parties. Officers from police departments, sheriff’s offices and the Michigan State Police want to remind people to enjoy these activities and make safe driving choices this month as seat belt enforcement steps up across the state during the two-week Click It or Ticket campaign Oct. 17-31.

 

In Michigan, 192 people killed in traffic crashes during 2018 were not wearing a seat belt. October is the second deadliest month, behind only July, for fatalities of those unrestrained in a passenger vehicle in Michigan. 

 

“Wearing a seat belt is the simplest thing you can do to save lives and reduce injuries in a crash,” said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director. “When you’re out enjoying fall in Michigan it’s important to remember to buckle up - every trip, every time, every passenger.”

 

Michigan law requires drivers, front seat passengers and passengers 15 and younger in any seating position to be buckled up.  The fine and associated costs for not wearing a seat belt is $65.  Children must be in a car seat or booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4’9” tall, and children under 4 years old must be in the back seat.

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Thornapple Plaza to add laser system

David Solmes presented a report at the October 14th Hastings City Council meeting about the successful season for the concessions at Thornapple Plaza. The concession stand is operated jointly by the Hastings Rotary and Kiwanis clubs during many of the spring and summer entertainment events at the plaza including the Hastings Live concert series and Hastings Summerfest. A portion of the concession proceeds goes to the city for expenses, the two service clubs split the profit.

 

The Council approved the purchase of a Laser Projection System for Thornapple Plaza that is being donated by the Baum Family. The laser can be programmed to display shows for every season and should help increase utilization of Thornapple Plaza and attract people to the downtown area.

 

Thornapple Plaza was a gift to the community from the Baum Family Foundation. The ampitheater acility opened in April, 2016.

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Gun Lake Casino announces $100-Million Expansion

The Gun Lake Tribe and Gun Lake Casino on Wednesday released details of a significant expansion slated at a total project cost of $100 million. Preliminary site work is underway on the project that will bring new dining and entertainment options along with additional gaming space. The expansion is projected to open summer 2021.

 

“We are proud of the effort of our team members that has driven the continued success of Gun Lake Casino and our Tribe’s contributions to Michigan’s economy in the last eight years. These expansion plans allow us to build on these efforts and provide even more employment opportunities and increased economic impact in our local communities,” said Tribal Chairman Bob Peters.

 

The expansion will add new building space going south towards 129th Avenue to enlarge the gaming floor and high limit gaming areas. Gaming offerings will increase by providing 450 more slot machines, 12 new table games, and a larger non-smoking area. Stage 131 will double in size providing an improved entertainment experience with more seating, a new outdoor patio area, and offer a new dining service. Two additional upscale restaurants will be included in the expansion. More details about the new dining options will be provided closer to the grand opening date. The expansion will add 72,000 square feet to the existing 156,000 square foot facility. 

 

Officials from the Tribe and Casino have thoroughly explored options for this expansion by engaging with internal senior leadership, outside gaming and hospitality research experts and industry leading casino resort architects. The team will continue to analyze the market for new and exciting ways to entertain guests now and into the future.

 

 

The Casino currently has 1,100 team members and will hire an additional 125 new team members in the following areas: food service, table games, slot technicians and guest services. For excellent career opportunities visit www.GunLakeCasino.com to apply.

 

Clark Construction has been hired to serve as the Construction Manager of the expansion project. Preliminary site work is underway. Construction will begin in the coming weeks, and the parking area south of the building, closest to 129th Avenue, will be closed during construction. Signage will be erected to direct property visitors to parking areas such as the covered parking garage on the north side of the facility.

 

The Tribe and Casino are proud to continue the long-standing partnership with Michigan’s skilled building trades unions for the construction of the expansion. A total of 300 construction jobs will be created during the building timeline of the expansion.

 

Michigan Building Trades / Southwest Building Trades Council and West Michigan Construction Alliance Contractors are excited to be part of the expansion. The following locals will be participating in the project: Bricklayers and Allied Craft Local 2; Carpenters Local 100/525; Plasterers & Cement Masons Local 514; IBEW Local 131; Heat and Frost Insulators Local 47; Ironworkers Local 25; Laborers Local 355; Operating Engineers Local 324; Painters and Allied Trades Local 1M; Plumbers, Fitters & Service Trades Local 357; Road Sprinkler Fitters 669; Roofers Local 70; and Sheetmetal Local 7.

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Wanted Suspect

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office, City of Kentwood Police, and United States Marshall’s Office are looking for help in locating and apprehending 16 year old James Edward Key. Warrants for Key's arrest are out in Allegan County and the City of Kentwood for Armed Robbery, Home Invasion 1st degree, and Felonious Assault.

 

Police say Key had followed at least two elderly women home, broke into their homes and robbed them, after he had met them at the Four Winds Casino and the Gun Lake Casino.

 

Anyone with information as to his whereabouts should the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office, City of Kentwood Police Department, or Silent Observer.

 

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Wayland Post to host Citizen's Academy

The Michigan State Police Wayland Post will host a Citizens’ Academy, which will start November 5, 2019 and finish November 21, 2019.  The three-week academy will give citizens the opportunity to become familiar with the mission and operation of the MSP, understand the procedures troopers follow, increase their awareness of law enforcements role in the community, and get to know personnel at the Wayland Post.

 

The Citizens’ Academy will meet at Gun Lake Tribal Police Complex conference room on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.  A graduation ceremony will be held on November 21, 2019. 

 

Individuals who are interested in attending the Citizens’ Academy should contact Trooper Stephen Wood or the Wayland Post.  Everything you need to attend will be provided for free and there is no fee to attend. 

 

contact

Tpr. Stephen Wood by phone at 269-397-0244 or by e-mail at woods10@michigan.gov to receive an application or they can contact the Wayland Post by stopping in or calling (269) 792-2213.

 

Applications will be accepted until November 1, 2019.

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Purchase Option Agreement approved for another potential housing development in Hastings

The Hastings City Council has approved an Option Agreement with Kendall Place Limited Dividend Housing Association, LLC,  for the purchase of the Court Street Planned Unit Development (PUD) property.

 

The city of Hastings obtained that property many years ago in a land-swap arrangement with Barry County for the former library, now named the Tyden Building.  The PUD property consists of six vacant city lots, west of the Friend of the Court building, between Court Street and State Street. Since that time there have not been any other offers on the parcel that met the PUD requirements. Under the option agreement Kendall Place would purchase the real estate, which is estimated to be worth $200,000 from the city for $77,000.  

 

Kendall Place previously submitted a site plan and tried to obtain the site at 128 North Michigan Avenue for a downtown development, however that location went to developer A.J. Vaneklasen for their housing and retail project.

 

Kendall Place hopes to revise their earlier site plans for best use of the Court Street PUD property and build an estimated 50-unit housing complex that would face State Street, with on-site parking in the rear towards Court Street.

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Trick-or-Treat and other Hastings City Council news

The closing of West Green Street from Broadway to Cass was approved by the Hastings City Council, as in previous years, from 5 to 8pm on Thursday, October 31st for Halloween festivities in order to provide a safer environment for trick-or-treaters.  The neighborhood along Green Street has become a popular destination for children and families on Halloween and several volunteers assist in keeping the area safe and secure.

 

The council approved a request from Lori Pearson, Principal of St. Rose School, to restrict parking in front of the school on Jefferson Street to bus parking only from 7am to 4pm, Monday through Friday.

Council also approved a request from Hastings Manufacturing Company to waive the parking restrictions and time limits around the first ward park in late October and early November for company employees, while work is being done on the company’s parking lots.

 

The city will contract with Municode for Self-Publishing Software at an annual cost of $3,000.  The software will allow city staff to update, maintain, and publish municipal ordinances in-house as they are adopted. In the past, the city has paid Municode to do the updates once a year.

 

Amendments to the Hastings-Rutland Joint Planning Commission Zoning ordinance pertaining to electronic and illuminated signs and billboards were approved, as was a Limited Wastewater Service and Maintenance agreement between the City of Hastings and Rutland Township to extend and replace the current agreement that was made in 1992.

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Get the Flu Vaccine Every Year for the Best Protection

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department recommends getting a flu vaccine this year, and every year, to protect yourself and your family from flu and its potentially serious complications.

 

Anyone can get the flu, including healthy children and adults. Symptoms of the flu can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. Unlike the common cold, flu symptoms usually appear suddenly and may last up to two weeks. Some people are at a greater risk of more severe symptoms and complications. These include individuals aged 65 and older, those with certain chronic conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and children younger than five years old (especially infants).

 

“Getting an influenza vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your family against the flu and its potentially serious complications,” says Jackie Anderson, RN, BEDHD Clinic Coordinator. “In fact, a recent study showed that influenza vaccination reduced the risk of flu-associated death by nearly two-thirds in healthy children.” If you receive a vaccination and still get the flu, the vaccine may make flu symptoms milder. The vaccine will also prevent you from spreading the flu to others, including those at risk of more serious illness.

 

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department, along with CDC, recommend a three-step approach to fight flu:

 

  • Get a flu vaccine. Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine by the end of October. 
  • Take everyday actions to stop the spread of germs. Try to avoid close contact with sick people, and if you become sick, limit your contact with others. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and wash your hands often.
  • Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them. If you get sick with flu, prescription flu antiviral drugs can be used to treat flu illness. Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.

 

BEDHD offers flu vaccinations for children between the ages of 6 months and 18 years of age. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body to protect against flu virus infection. BEDHD encourages you to contact your health care provider or local pharmacy and get vaccinated before flu activity starts to increase.

 

For more information about immunizations offered at BEDHD, visit www.barryeatonhealth.org/immunizations. For more information on this year’s influenza vaccine, visit www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccinations. Call (517) 541-2651 or (269) 793-4133 to schedule an appointment.

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High School Girl's Swim Team Member Battling Cancer Update

Swim Coach Carl Schoessel told WBCH  that one of our team members on the Delton Kellogg/Thornapple Kellogg/Hastings Girls Swimming and Diving team was diagnosed with a form of pancreatic cancer at the beginning of the past summer.

Since that time Lydia Cole has been undergoing chemo and radiation treatment.

Despite all of that, Lydia Cole has continued to swim and hasn't missed a meet, a practice or a set, except for treatments.

Coach Schoessel went on to say, "She is an amazing young women, just the kind of person all of us want on our team."

Monies raised during the Cancer Awareness meet with Wayland Union High School at the Hastings Community Education and Recreation Center on October 24th at 6-pm will go to help pay the medical bills for Lydia's treatments  Donations can be made on line aat teamlydia.com,or by cash or check can be made out to Team Lydia and mailed or delivered to Highpoint Community Bank, 150 W. Court St.,Hastings, MI 49058. 

Lydia says she wants to donate part of the many raised to help other kids.

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Commissioners make DHHS appointment, hear updates, pay tribute

Barry County Commissioners interviewed a third applicant for the Department of Health and Human Services Board during their meeting on Tuesday and appointed June Behrendt of Hastings to serve a three year term. The other two applicants will be encouraged to consider serving on other county boards where openings exist.

 

Eric Hackman of Tower Pinkster updated commissioners on plans for a community forum to give the public information about the condition of the jail and COA, and to gather input from county residents regarding a new jail and sheriff’s office and new Commission on Aging building. The forum will likely be held in early November, the time and place will be announced soon. The forum will be followed by a community phone survey in order to gather as much public input as possible.

 

Barry County Prosecuting Attorney Julie Knakfoor Pratt and Kyle Koster, Chris's son, paid tribute to Chris Koster, Nashville Police Chief, who died in a tragic automobile accident on September 26th.  Commissioners adopted a resolution of condolence and gratitude to Chief Koster’s family and the community.

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Commissioners pledge full faith and credit of county for Watson Drain Project note

The Barry County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday passed a resolution pledging the full faith and credit of the county for the payment of a $1.4 million dollar Drain note for the Watson Drain project, to fund the ongoing effort to lower the water levels of Crooked Lake in Delton and surrounding areas in the drain district.

 

The resolution by Commissioners allows the Watson drain district to renegotiate the existing $400,000 drain note with Highpoint Community Bank for the $1.4-million dollar amount at a substantially lower interest rate than it could obtain without the pledge of the county.

 

The debt will eventually be repaid through special assessments on the property owners within the Drain district. The Michigan Department of Transportation, Barry County and the four townships involved, Barry, Orangeville, Prairieville and Hope will also pay a share.  The county has already spent $500,000 on mitigation efforts.

 

It was also pointed out that the work to be done is a short term solution to get lake the lake flooding down to manageable levels by diverting water to mitigation areas to the north of Crooked Lake. The long term plan calls for permanent infiltration areas to the south. Both projects are needed for permanent relief.

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Update on Aerial Spraying for EEE

Update for Monday, October 7, 2019

 

To date, total treated acreage is more than 541,000. Areas completed include Areas 1-1 and 1-2 in Allegan County, Area 2-1 in Barry County, Area 3-1 in Berrien County, Areas 4-1 and 4-2 , 4-3 and 4-4 in Calhoun County, Areas 5-1 and 5-2 in Cass County, Areas 6-1 and 6-2 in Jackson County, Areas 8-1 and 8-2 in Kent County, Area 9-1 in Lapeer County, Areas 10-1, 10-2 and 10-3 in Montcalm County, Area 11-1 in Newaygo County, Areas 12-1, 12-2 and 12-3 in St. Joseph County, Areas 13-1 and 13-2 in Van Buren County and Area 14-1 in Washtenaw County and Area 15-1 in Livingston.

 

The area slated for treatment tonight is Area 13-2 in Van Buren County and is identified in the Aerial Treatment Zones Map. Please refer to the County-level Aerial Treatment Maps for more details of the identified zones’ locations.

 

These schedules are weather dependent and may change. The most up-to-date information will be posted here at Michigan.gov/EEE.

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Wayland Man Arrested for Felonious Assault

 

 

A 31 year old Wayland man was arrested after he crashed his pickup truck  into a swimming pool early Sunday morning.  When Wayland police arrived they found numerous items of property scattered about the yard.  Police then saw a person in a red oldsmobile who attempted to leave backing  into a Wayland police car. The officer was not injured.

The suspect got out of the car to run away, but was captured by the State Police. The suspect is now in the Allegan County jail on a number of charges.

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Barry Roubaix Fall Fondo is Oct. 5th

The Founders Fall Fondo  on the Barry Roubaix Course is  Saturday, Oct 5th for a 22, 36, 62 mile ride at Noon and the 100 mile at 8:30am. from the 243 W. Court Street Barry County Court House Lawn in Hastings.  The group ride will be lead by police escort out of the city of Hastings and to the Barry Roubaix course. Once on the course riders will choose their ride.  Proceeds from this race support the Barry County Animal Shelter Animals and the Barry County Imagination Library.  Drivers should be aware and use caution of cyclist in and near the Barry County Roubaix Course and in the City of Hastings.

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Student Count in Area Schools

All public schools in Michigan count the number of students attending their schools twice a year, in October and February.  Count information is critical to school districts, because each student translates into state funding.  The calculation schools receive is based on a blend of both winter and fall student count data during the same calendar year.

 

Area Schools Unofficial  student counts on Wednesday, Oct. 2nd.:

 

Hastings Area School’s System Student count  2598.

 

Thornapple Kellogg Student count is at 3,233 up 71 from last year

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Caledonia Community Schools counted 4,867 students this year up 20 from last year.

 

Maple Valley Public Schools preliminary count is 978.

 

Lakewood Public Schools 1810, up from last year.

 

Wayland Union and Delton Kellogg student count were not available for the 5pm news.

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Rep. Calley hosts October office hours

State Rep. Julie Calley will hold office hours in three communities in October. Rep. Calley will meet with constituents at the following times:

 

  • Monday, Oct. 7 at the Village of Middleville, 100 E. Main St. in Middleville. Individual meetings from 10:30 to 11 a.m. followed by a legislative update from 11 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Monday, Oct. 7 at the Barry County Courthouse, Commissioners’ Chambers, 220 W. State St. in Hastings. Individual meetings from 1 to 2 p.m. followed by a legislative update from 2 to 2:30 p.m.
  • Monday, Oct. 14 at the Village of Lake Odessa, Page Memorial Building, 839 4th Ave. in Lake Odessa. Individual meetings from 10 to 10:30 a.m. followed by a legislative update from 10:30 to 11 a.m.

 No appointment is necessary. Residents unable to attend scheduled office hours may send their questions and ideas to Rep. Calley via email at JulieCalley@house.mi.gov or by calling her at 517-373-0842.

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Heavy Rain Over the Weekend

Mother Nature let go over the weekend with Thunderstorms and heavy flooding rain.

The Hastings National Weather service Climatological Station recorded 2.86 inches of rain bringing the September rain total  to date at 7.32 inches. 

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Blue Zones and Barry Community Foundation launch groundbreaking countywide transformation

The Barry Community Foundation and other local leaders have joined forces with Blue Zones to begin a countywide well-being transformation in Barry County through the Blue Zones Activate program. Blue Zones uses scientifically proven lessons of longevity, health, and happiness to boost the well-being of entire communities.

 

Barry County is proud to be the first community in Michigan to partner with this innovative approach to increase community health and wellness. Blue Zones Activate is based on research and principles developed by Dan Buettner, National Geographic Fellow and New York Times bestselling author, who identified the cultures of the world—or blue zones—with the healthiest, longest-living populations.

 

Blue Zones focuses on the single largest determinant of our health: the place we live. By focusing on the places where people live, work, learn, and play, Blue Zones has been able to help communities move the needle in improving overall population health and reducing healthcare costs in hundreds of places around the country. The innovative strategy is built on the foundation of improving food and built environment policies that impact public health and health inequalities to increase the availability of healthy choices within the community

 

By optimizing the places where people spend most of their time, Blue Zones Activate helps communities with policy initiatives to create environments where healthy choices are easier and accessible to everyone. As a result, people can live longer and better, and communities can lower healthcare costs, improve productivity, and boost their city's national recognition as a great place to live, work, and play.

 

The Barry Community Foundation is the lead partner, with primary sponsorships from the MTC Community Fund, Spectrum Health Pennock, and Hastings Fiberglass, and supporting sponsorships from Highpoint Community Bank, Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, the DeCamp Foundation, Barry Community Foundation, Barry Eaton District Health Department and Barry County.

 

 

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Aerial spraying to start Sunday night in 14 counties to combat EEE

Due to the large geographic distribution and number of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) cases in humans and animals, coupled with warm weather projections, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and 12 local health departments have decided to conduct aerial spraying in high risk areas to combat further spread of the deadly disease EEE.

 

Spraying is scheduled take place starting Sunday, Sept. 29 starting at 8 p.m. However, the ability to spray is weather dependent and the schedule may change. Residents are encouraged to visit Michigan.gov/EEE for up-to-date information.

 

Spraying will occur in the following 14 counties: Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Montcalm, Newaygo, St. Joseph and Van Buren. All of these counties have cases of EEE in people, animals or both.

 

Aerial spraying is conducted by low-flying aircraft, beginning in the early evening and continuing up until 4:30 a.m. the next morning, in areas of concern. Mosquito control professionals will apply approved pesticides as an ultra-low volume (ULV) spray. ULV sprayers dispense very fine aerosol droplets that stay suspended in the air and kill adult mosquitoes on contact. This is a tactic other states, including Massachusetts and Rhode Island, have recently employed to combat EEE.

“We are taking this step to help protect the health and safety of Michiganders in areas of the state that are being affected by this dangerous mosquito-borne disease,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “The continuing number of cases in both people and animals indicate an ongoing risk for EEE exposure. We continue to urge residents to protect themselves against mosquito bites until a hard frost.”

 

The pesticide being used is Merus 3.0 which is an organic pesticide containing 5 percent pyrethrin. Pyrethrins are chemicals found naturally in some chrysanthemum flowers. They are a mixture of six chemicals that are toxic to insects. Pyrethrins are commonly used to control mosquitoes, fleas, flies, moths, ants and many other pests. Pyrethrins have been registered for use in pesticides since the 1950s.

 

In general, health risks are not expected during or after spraying. No special precautions are recommended; however, residents and individuals who have known sensitivities to pyrethrins can reduce potential for exposure by staying indoors during spraying. Aerial spraying is not expected to have any impacts on surface water or drinking water.

 

Aerial spraying will be conducted in the nighttime hours as this is when mosquitos are more active. It is also when fish are less likely to be at the surface feeding and honeybees are most likely to be in their hives. However, owners should cover small ornamental fishponds during the night of spraying. While it is not necessary to bring animals indoors during spraying, concerned pet owners can bring animals inside during spraying.

 

Additional information about aerial spraying and other health-related information is available in a Frequently Asked Questions document at Michigan.gov/EEE.

 

As of Sept. 27, EEE has been confirmed in nine people, with three fatalities, in Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties. In addition, cases have occurred in 27 animals from 13 counties: Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Genesee, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Montcalm, Newaygo, St. Joseph and Van Buren. There is an EEE vaccine available for horses, but not for people. Additional animal cases are under investigation.

 

MDHHS is continuing to encourage local officials in the affected counties to consider postponing, rescheduling or cancelling outdoor activities occurring at or after dusk, particularly activities that involve children. This would include events such as late evening sports practices or games or outdoor music practices. The MDHHS recommendation is being made out of an abundance of caution to protect the public health and applies until the first hard frost of the year.

 

EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States, with a 33 percent fatality rate in people who become ill. People can be infected with EEE from the bite of a mosquito carrying the viruses. Persons younger than age 15 and over age 50 are at greatest risk of severe disease following infection.

 

Although the aerial spray is considered necessary to reduce human risk, it will not eliminate it. Residents must continue to protect themselves from mosquito bites by:

 

• Avoid being outdoors from dusk to dawn when mosquitos that carry the EEE virus are most active.

• Applying insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved product to exposed skin or clothing, and always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.

• Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Apply insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites.

• Maintaining window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes outside.

• Emptying water from mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes may lay eggs.

• Using nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas.

 

Signs of EEE infection include the sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches which can progress to a severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis. Anyone who thinks they may be experiencing these symptoms should contact a medical provider. Permanent brain damage, coma and death may also occur in some cases.

 

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