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Local News

Fatal boating accident on Gull Lake

On Sunday, July 5th at 1:44 p.m., Emergency personnel were dispatched to Gull Lake in Ross Twp for a boating accident. A male swimming in the lake was struck by a boat. The male was taken to shore where life saving measures were taken. Ultimately the male died due to his injuries.

 

The investigation is ongoing and the name of the victim is being withheld until family is notified. The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by Augusta-Ross Fire, Life Care EMS, Michigan State Police and Augusta police.

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Car Museum Hosts Delton Kellogg Graduation & Concert

When the Gilmore Car Museum reopened to the public after the state-mandated three-month shutdown, they announced two major events completely out of their “wheelhouse.”

 

The Museum will host a graduation ceremony for Delton Kellogg high school, followed the next day by a special concert by a nationally acclaimed band – both set in an outdoor drive-in theater style.

 

As many restrictions were lifted, Museum spokesperson Ken Fischang explained, we felt it important to offer our neighbors—our community—hope that we’re all making a comeback.

 

The Museum’s Community Comeback weekend, begins Friday, July 10th with a complete graduation ceremony for the Delton-Kellogg High School class of 2020. On Saturday evening, July 11th the Museum welcomes Grammy Award winning artists of THE ENGLISH RAIN, a celebrated BEATLES cover-band from Nashville, TN for a drive-in style fundraising concert.

 

Both events, the high school graduation ceremony on Friday and the Saturday evening fund-raising concert, will be set in an outdoor drive-in theater style where guests either stay in their cars or sit near them in their own lawn chairs for social distancing.

 

The Museum will transform one of their large car show fields on the 90-acre historic campus into a drive-in setting. Families and ticket holders will park their cars in front of an elevated stage complete with the sound system and the ability to listen from a car’s FM radio.

 

Admission to the graduation will be made through the school district. The limited number of drive-in concert tickets (offered by advanced sale only), are available at GilmoreCarMuseum.org and cost only $28 per carload. Funds raised by the concert will go toward many of the Museum’s free community engagement efforts such as its high school auto restoration program, K-12 field trips, weekly cruise-in nights and free active military admissions.

 

 

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Health Dept. says positive individual was present at Charlotte garage sale

Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) is informing the public that on Friday, June 26th, Saturday, June 27th an individual who was pre-symptomatic with covid-19 was working at a garage sale at 1748 W. Kalamo Highway outside Charlotte, Michigan. The individual developed symptoms on Sunday, June 28th. Persons with the virus are considered able to spread the disease for 48 hours prior to developing symptoms.

 

Individuals who were at the garage sale are considered exposed to the virus. These individuals should monitor themselves for symptoms and take precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 by wearing masks when indoors in public, washing their hands frequently, and staying home as much as possible for 14 days after exposure.

 

Since it has been several days since the sale, it is unknown whether items purchased may be infectious. Individuals who bought items may wish to sanitize their purchases. Cloth items may be machine washed and dried.

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Tree Service Scam

A tree service in Barry County reported by Fox 17 is accused of taking money and not doing the work.

Now a third person claims they too were ripped off by the same person.

The report says Darren Huffman of Darren's Tree Service was hired to take down a tree damaged in May. A receipt shows the person put down $500 cash for a $1,000 job they say never was completed.

 

 

 

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Whitmer closes indoor service at bars, allows cocktails-to-go

Governor Whitmer today signed an Executive Order closing indoor service at bars throughout most of lower Michigan to protect the progress Michigan has made against COVID-19. Regions 6 and 8, which include the Upper Peninsula and much of northern Michigan, are excluded from the order.

 

Bars statewide can continue to serve outdoors. The governor also signed a package of bills allowing cocktails-to-go at bars and restaurants to help these businesses serve more Michiganders during this time. 

 

“We owe it to our front line heroes who have sacrificed so much during this crisis to do everything we can to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the chance of a resurgence like we are seeing in other states,” said Whitmer. “Following recent outbreaks tied to bars, I am taking this action today to slow the spread of the virus and keep people safe. If we want to be in a strong position to reopen schools for in-person classroom instruction this fall, then we need to take aggressive action right now to ensure we don’t wipe out all the progress we have made.” 

 

Over the past week, every region in Michigan has seen an uptick in new cases, and daily case counts now exceed 20 cases per million in the Grand Rapids, Lansing and Kalamazoo regions. Nearly 25% of diagnoses in June were of people ages 20 to 29, up from roughly 16% in May. That shift aligns with national trends, and the evidence suggests that young people may be driving a new phase of the pandemic. 

 

As bars have reopened for indoor service across the country, some have been linked to a growing number of large outbreaks. In Michigan, for example, health officials in Ingham County have linked 107 confirmed COVID-19 cases to an outbreak in a single bar in East Lansing. Similar super-spreader events have been documented in bars in Florida, Louisiana, Texas and elsewhere.

 

Bars are often crowded, indoors and poorly ventilated — all of which make it easy to spread COVID-19 from person to person. Bars also encourage mingling among groups and facilitate close contact over an extended period of time. They are noisy, requiring raised voices and allowing for more projection of viral droplets. And they serve alcohol, which reduces inhibitions and decreases compliance with mask use and physical distancing rules.  

 

“I urge all Michiganders to double down on mitigation tactics like wearing masks, practicing physical distancing, and washing hands, so we can get our trajectory headed in the right direction again,” said Governor Whitmer. “If we open up our economy too quickly, the efforts of the last three months will be for nothing and we will have to go through this pain all over again and put our economy, health and medical system at risk. Nobody wants to move backward. Everyone, please do your part, and let’s show the nation and the world how smart we are.” 

 

The governor’s order applies to establishments with on-premises retailer liquor licenses that earn more than 70% of their gross receipts from alcohol sales. That means that most brewpubs, distilleries, and vineyards can stay open indoors. Traditional bars, nightclubs, and strip clubs will have to end indoor service. 

 

Governor Whitmer today also signed Senate Bill 942 and House Bills 5781 and 5811 into law, which allow bars and restaurants to sell cocktails-to-go and expand social districts to allow for more outdoor seating and areas for people to safely congregate while practicing physical distancing.

 

To view Executive Order 2020-143, which takes effect at 11pm tonight, click the link below:   

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Barry Co. Christian School's new learning program

Barry County Christian School unveiled their new learning program they will begin teaching this fall.

Brandon Strong & Michele Hinthorne spoke about it on WBCH. Listen to audio clip below:

 

 

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Governor Whitmer Releases MI Safe Schools Roadmap

Tuesday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer released the MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap, a comprehensive document to help districts create local plans for in-person learning in the fall. The Roadmap outlines a number of safety protocols for schools to implement in each phase of the governor’s MI Safe Start Plan.

 

“Our students, parents, and educators have made incredible sacrifices during our battle with COVID-19,” said Governor Whitmer. “Thanks to aggressive action against this virus, the teachers who have found creative ways to reach their students, and the heroes on the front lines, I am optimistic that we will return to in-person learning in the fall."

 

Whitmer's Executive Order requires school districts to adopt a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan laying out how they will protect students and educators across the various phases of the Michigan Safe Start Plan.

 

In recognition that these protocols will cost money, the Governor also announced that she was allocating $256 million to support the districts in implementing their local plans as part of the bipartisan budget agreement the Senate Majority Leader, the Speaker of the House, and the governor announced Monday.

  

The safety protocols detailed in the MI Safe Schools Roadmap includes guidance on  the use of PPE, good hygiene, cleaning/disinfecting, spacing in classrooms, screening for symptoms, athletics, and more. The Roadmap also recognizes the impact COVID-19 has had on students and educators’ mental health, and offers guidance on how schools can address this issue. 

 

On June 3, the governor announced a group of 25 leaders in health care and education to serve on the COVID-19 Return to Learn Advisory Council.  On June 17, Governor Whitmer announced that Michigan schools may resume in-person learning in phase 4 of the MI Safe Start plan, with strict safety measures in place.

 

The Advisory Council was created to identify the critical issues that must be addressed, provide valuable input to inform the process of returning to school, and ensure a smooth and safe transition back to school. The Council will act in an advisory capacity to the Governor and the COVID-19 Task Force on Education, and will continue to develop recommendations regarding the safe, equitable, and efficient K-12 return to school in the Fall. 

 

To view the governor’s MI Safe Schools Roadmap, click here. To view Executive Order 2020-142, click the link below: 

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Lakewood Public Schools has new Superintendent

Lakewood Public Schools new superintendent, Dr. Steven Skalka, officially begins his new duties July 1st.  Skalka was chosen by the school board following final interviews last Wednesday for his many years of education experience and leadership.

 

Skalka comes to Lakewood from the Lewisburg Area School District in Pennsylvania where he served as superintendent for the last 4 years. He has worked since 1983 in education and holds a doctorate degree from University of Michigan in educational administration. His administrative experience also includes serving in the Lakeview school district in Battle Creek from 1993 to 2013 as an assistant superintendent, high school principal and high school assistant principal.

 

Skalka faces big leadership challenges dealing with covid-19 and extreme budget cuts.

 

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Allegan County Fair Cancelled

After many months of deliberation, the Allegan County Fair Board of Directors decided to cancel the 2020 Fair.  The Fair has been cancelled only once before at the commencement of World War II.

 

The health and welfare of visitors, vendors, carnival and employees is priority. The Coronavirus Pandemic and the resulting mandates of the State of Michigan make this difficult decision necessary.

 

The Fair Board will work out details regarding 4-H livestock showing and the 4-H sale with MSU Extension and 4-H Leaders. 

 

If you purchased tickets for Jeff Dunham Show that was to be held at the Fair, September 11th, you may request a refund for tickets and service fees from July 8th to July 20th, 2020. You may also keep your tickets and they will be honored for the Sept. 10th, 2021 Jeff Dunham Show at the Allegan County Fair.  These tickets must have been purchased from etix or the Allegan County Fair. Ticket holders will receive an email July 8th from etix explaining this process. 

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Barry County Sheriff's Office conducting Operation Dry Water July 3rd-5th

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office in partnership with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and the U.S. Coast Guard will be participating in the National Operation Dry Water to heighten awareness and enforcement for boating under the influence infractions Over the course of the Holiday weekend.     Boaters will notice an increase of officer patrols on the water and at recreational boating check points. The combined efforts of the participating law enforcement agencies will result in the removal of impaired operators, providing a safe and enjoyable experience for boaters.  Operating a vessel under the influence of drugs and alcohol is illegal on all bodies of water and can lead to serious injuries, death and legal consequences.  In Michigan it’s illegal to operate a vessel with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher.  Boaters should always boat sober and wear a life jacket when on the water. 

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Rain Thunderstorms Power Outages

Rain and Thunderstorms packing high winds during the night  knocked out electric service  to Consumers Energy Customers throughout lower Michigan.

 

Barry County 246

Allegan County 293

Calhoun County 415

Kalamazoo County 1,817

Kent County 4,029.

The Storms dropped 2.00 inches of rain in Hastings.

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Spectrum Health Pennock Earns State Recognition for Infection Rate Efforts

Spectrum Health Pennock’s Journey to Zero Infections project was acknowledged Friday, June 25, by the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) with its 2020 Advancing Safe Care Award.

 

The MHA Advancing Safe Care Award honors health care teams within MHA-member hospitals that demonstrate a fierce commitment to providing care to different patient populations, show evidence of an improved safety culture, lead the charge for quality improvement, and demonstrate transparency in their efforts to improve health care.

 

The Spectrum Health Pennock team set out to eliminate surgical-site infections in November 2017, when it had a 12% infection rate for colorectal surgeries. They began implementing procedures that resulted in zero complex surgical-site infections for colorectal and joint replacement surgeries between November 2018 and December 2019, and no complex infection rates with hysterectomies since February 2019.

 

“Safety is always our highest priority in surgical care,” said Andrew Parsons, MD, chief of staff and clinical chair of surgery at Spectrum Health Pennock. “When we noted elevated post-surgical infection rates, we immediately went to work. Great surgical care is a collaborative effort, and as a member of Spectrum Health, we have great access to support. Our local team collaborated with digestive disease specialists and colorectal surgeons within Spectrum Health to strengthen our evidence-based treatment protocols. This involved many disciplines including nursing, nutrition, physical and occupation therapy, respiratory therapy, infectious disease, anesthesiology, the surgical care team, surgeons and many other team members. 

 

“The amount of effort that went into making these changes has been nothing less than astounding. It truly was a group effort. We are committed to providing the best patient care possible and will continue to take advantage of the collective knowledge of our expanded teams,” Parsons explained.

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Mighty tree has new purpose

After being extensively damaged by recent storms, one of the oldest and mightiest trees in Hastings’ Tyden Park is being transformed.  

 

Hastings City Manager Jerry Czarnecki told WBCH the huge Cottonwood tree has been enjoyed for decades and used as a photo background by area families and visitors, but it needed to come down for safety reasons.

 

When Hometown Tree Service removed the canopy of the tree and the massive trunk was still standing at a height of around 30 feet, they contacted Jerald Miller, a chainsaw artist who grew up in Hastings. An impromptu meeting of the minds took place to come up with a creative idea to save part of the tree. 

 

Miller is carving a tunnel through the trunk of the gigantic Cottonwood that will be large enough to walk through.  Miller, who lives with his family in Battle Creek, has previously done projects on trees at Leila Arboretum. Some of Jerald Miller’s creations can be viewed on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MillerChainsawArt/

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Whitmer signs order allowing Pro Sports to return

Governor Whitmer has signed an order which sets guidelines for the safe return of professional sports in Michigan, without a live audience. The order follows Major League Baseball’s announcement that a shortened 60-game season would begin on July 24 with players reporting for spring training at their home ballparks by July 1. Participants must maintain six feet of distance from one another to the extent compatible with the sport.

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Hastings Schools Budget Hearing

Hastings Area Schools annual budget hearing will take place virtually via facebook live at 6:45p.m. Monday, June 29th, followed by the Board meeting, which is when the Board of Education will consider for approval its proposed State Aid Note (Limited Tax General obligation).  The proposed State Aid Note, if issued, will contain the limited tax full faith and credit pledge of Hastings Area School System.

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Buskers bring live music to downtown Hastings

Live music has returned to downtown Hastings. Each Friday and Saturday throughout the summer (Thursday and Friday of July 4th weekend) stroll downtown Hastings between 5 – 8 pm to hear street music performed by local and area musicians.

 

Buskers are part of the Hastings Live program offered by the City of Hastings and the Thornapple Arts Council and paid for in part by a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

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Fatal Crash

Troopers from the Michigan State Police Wayland Post are investigating a fatal traffic crash that took place on Wednesday, June 24th at approximately 5:00 P.M. on Marsh Road north of Keller Road in Barry County's Orangeville Township.

 

The crash involved a Honda Accord driven by a 21-year-old Grand Rapids man and a GMC pickup truck driven by a 76-year-old Battle Creek man. The driver of the Honda Accord succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead on scene. The driver of the pickup and his 77-year-old female passenger were transported to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

 

The driver of the Honda lost control of his vehicle and crossed the center line causing the collision. Preliminary investigation indicates that excessive speed was a factor.  Alcohol and/or drug impairment has not been ruled out.

 

Troopers were assisted at the scene by the Orangeville Township Fire Department and Wayland EMS.  

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Virus

The Barry Eaton District Health Department Wednesday reported one new COVID-19 case in Barry County. 

 

There have been 77 total positive cases and currently are four active cases in Barry County.

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Monday's City Council Meeting Summary

City Manager Jerry Czarnecki gives WBCH News a summary of what took place at Monday nights Hastings City Council meeting.

 

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Power Outages Barry County

 

Rain and Thunderstorms that swept across lower Michigan Monday knocked out electric service to Consumers Energy Customers. Trees and limbs that came down from the Storms  high winds are responsible for the power outages. As of this morning there are 29 Barry County Consumers Energy customers out of service.

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Lakewood Public Schools to hold second interviews with candidates for Superintendent

Lakewood Public Schools Board of Education moved one step closer to potentially hiring a new superintendent after two days of interviewing five candidates.  The board deliberated and unanimously decided to invite two candidates back for a second interview.

 

Interviews are tentatively scheduled to take place in the media center at Lakewood High School.  Interviews are open to the public through the zoom sight listed on the school district website at lakewoodps.org

 

The interview schedule is Tuesday, June 23rd at 6:30pm with Dr. Steve Skalka, Superintendent at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania and Wednesday, June 24th at 6:30pm with Mr. Kevin Robydek, Superintendent at Potterville.

 

Dr. Skalka has four years of previous superintendent experience with East China Public Schools.  His administrative experience also includes serving Lakeview school district in Battle Creek from 1993 to 2013.  During this time he served as an assistant superintendent, high school principal and high school assistant principal

 

Mr. Robydek, has previous administrative experience in Portland, where he served as middle school principal and assistant principal.

 

Frank Pylowany, Board President stated that the board was impressed with all the candidates that they interviewed. Not only are they outstanding and successful educators, they are outstanding people and have a high degree of integrity and ethics. 

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Boating accident

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office Marine Division was dispatched to Pine Lake, Plainwell, for a two vessel collision on the lake.  A ski boat towing a knee boarder collided with a fishing boat, sending two men from the fishing boat into the water.  The two men were helped into the ski boat and were taken to shore.  There were minor injuries reported at the scene.  The incident is still under investigation.

 

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Maple Valley 2020 Senior Convoy

Friday, June 19th the Class of 2020 of Maple Valley School will gather in their cap & gown and receive their diploma’s. The  Senior convoy will depart from the Vermontville Bible Church Parking lot at 6:00p.m  traveling through Vermontville and Nashville. 85 Vehicles chauffeuring Graduates are expected.

 

Residents and spectators are encouraged to make signs, line the streets for the Convoy and to practice social distancing for the safety of others.

 

Diploma covers and Diplomas are being distributed during the convoy to ensure seniors who have military commitments are able to have ceremony and recognition.  Many students need their diploma to work, military service and continued education.  Withholding that until a traditional ceremony (which could be held July 24th or August 7th) will not work for students who have commitments.

 

Graduates unable to participate may pick up their Diploma cover and Diploma at the High School Office on June 22nd or 23rd from 8:00a.m to 2:00pm.   If unable to pick up please contact  Sharon Harris.

 

Parade route:

Traveling on North Main through downtown Vermontville...Students names will be announced;  the convoy will then proceed on Nashville Highway to Nashville.  To Main Street (m-66) turning on West Washington Street and will continue to Water Alley behind the store fronts where seniors names will be announced.  Then on to west Sherman. The convoy concludes at the Stop Sign (Main St.-M-66.)

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Founder's celebration cancelled in Delton

The 2020 Delton Founders Festival scheduled for August 13th-16th has been cancelled due to Covid-19 concerns, the festival board announced.  Many components of the Festival were taken into consideration with the health and safety of volunteers, participants and the community the top priority.

 

They are still hoping to be present at Delton Oktoberfest, October 8th-10th, 2020.

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Lake Odessa among 22 Communities Receiving Nearly $1 Million in Grants for Small Business Recovery Efforts

Twenty-two communities around Michigan have been awarded a total of $993,984 in grants aimed at supporting the COVID-19 economic recovery efforts of small local businesses throughout the state, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced today. The grants are being awarded through an expansion of MEDC’s Match on Main program. A total of 299 small businesses around Michigan are receiving assistance through the program.

 

The Lake Odessa DDA received a $50,000 grant under the program that will be awarded to support 8 businesses in amounts from $3,000 to $8,000.

 

“Michigan’s small businesses and traditional downtowns are the heart of our communities, and by providing communities with resources to engage in economic recovery efforts we can help ensure our downtowns not only recover, but thrive,” said MEDC CEO Mark A. Burton. “The Match on Main grants will help Michigan’s downtown businesses recover from the loss of revenue as a result of the COVID-19 virus and support workers they employ in these communities.”

 

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