Local News Archives for 2016-05

Just an Observation

**Barry County is sailing along, with energy, progressive ideas and plenty of smart people who put the wind in the sails of our Ship of State we call Barry County.

For the most part, this county is run by some capable people, doing outstanding jobs. That’s nice, but think about it for a minute. Did you ever notice how many of them are women?


Here’s a list of names that quickly come to mind, some organizations and departments that have a woman at the helm: Julie Nakfoor-Pratt, Barry County Prosecutor; Amy McDowell, Barry County Circuit Court Judge; Phyllis Fuller, Barry Central Dispatch 911; Lani Forbes, Barry County United Way; Tammy Pennington, Barry County Commission on Aging; Bonnie Gettys, Barry Community Foundation; Ines Straube, Barry County Unified Court; Pam Palmer, Barry County Clerk; Sarah Nelson, Barry Conservation District; Barbara Hurless, Barry County Register of Deeds; Sue VandeCar, Barry County Treasurer; Vicky Alspaugh, Friend of the Court; Dawn Karfonta, Adult Drug Court; Rachel Ward, Headstart; Colette Scrimger, Barry Eaton District Health Department, Hastings office;  Jan McLean, Mental Health and Substance Abuse; Shasta Lenz, Youth Services Bureau; Barbara Earl, Johnstown Township; Jamie Knight, Irving Township; Cheryl Hartwell, Castleton Township; Laura Ortiz, Hastings Public Library; Heather Wing, Barry County Farm Bureau, and Patty Woods, Hastings Downtown Development Authority.


I know I’ve missed a lot, but you get my drift. Many, many more women hold positions of influence; on the Barry County Commission, Vivian Conner; Barry County Administration, Luella Dennison; Hastings City Attorney, Stephanie Fekkes; Hastings Councilwomen Brenda McNabb-Stange and Therese Maupin-Moore, just to name a few.

At the township and village level, women completely dominate the positions of clerk and treasurer.


Some (okay, mostly women) decry the “good ol’ boy” network, but it’s not so much in Barry County. Women are sharing the power because they are getting the job done.

Look at the list again.  It’s a good start.


Jean Gallup

Grand River cleanup set for June 3, volunteers welcome

Friday, June 3 is Grand River clean up day in Eaton County and volunteers are still needed for the second annual effort to improve the waterway. The clean up will target three miles of river, from the Mill Street Launch to Bunker Road Landing.

Those interested will meet at 10 a.m. Friday at the Mill Street Launch site. Gloves are advised. The event is sponsored by the American Canoe Association River Stewardship group.


Consumers Energy expects power to be restored at 6 p.m.

The Consumers Energy outage map shows an area in and near Barry County with a loss of power affecting 1,308 people. The energy company reported the blackout started at 12:30 p.m. and anticipated that power would be restored by 6 p.m. today.

MSP pursuit in Allegan County ends with arrest of wanted felon

A pursuit by Michigan State Police that lasted for several miles and continued on foot, ended when a 53 year-old man from Kalamazoo was arrested without incident.

Troopers from the Wayland Post report the man had an outstanding warrant for operating/maintaining a meth lab and was lodged at Allegan County Jail with added charges of fleeing and eluding and resisting and obstructing.


The pursuit began at 2:20 p.m. Saturday May 28 when a trooper attempted to stop the man’s vehicle at 10th Street near 129th Avenue during the OHSP Seatbelt Enforcement.  As the suspect’s vehicle slowed to turn a corner during the chase, a 45 year-old woman opened her front seat passenger door and jumped from the moving car.  She was transported to a hospital and treated for a broken clavicle and minor injuries.


The pursuit continued as the driver pulled into a private driveway on M-222 near 14th Street. When his vehicle became stuck, he continued to flee on foot.  An MSP K9 unit was called in and after a brief K9 track, the man was taken into custody without incident. The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department assisted troopers on scene.

Two rescued from Algonquin Lake, one held by Barry County deputies

Barry County Sheriff’s deputies, dive team and marine division, as well as the Hastings Fire Department, responded to a report of two people in the water at Algonquin Lake on Friday, May 27.

A 37-year-old Hastings woman and a 30-year-old Orangeville man were pulled from the lake after their boat capsized. The man was held for probation violation and resisting and obstructing police; the woman was released.

Deputies report alcohol was a factor in the incident. Names are not being released at this time.


Scammers new twist: tell businesses they have won an award

The Barry County Chamber of Commerce has notified  all 362 of its members that a company called Hastings Business Recognition is running a scam, trying to get credit numbers and personal information. The alert cautioning them not to open an e-mail from that source is also good advice for all businesses.


The scammers send out announcements that the company has won an award. The Barry County chamber supposedly won the 2016 Best of Hastings Award for Best Chamber of Commerce.


That was a red flag for the chamber, since they are the only chamber in Barry County. Spectrum Health Pennock was also targeted, but they were named for being the 2016 Best of Hastings Award for Best Pharmacy instead of a hospital.


The e-mail directs targets to a web site for details and more information. They supply two addresses in case the first doesn’t work. If someone responds, the crooks will try to get business and personal information, including a credit card number, and also money to pay for shipping and handling of the award.


The e-mail letter looks legitimate, complete with “links” to click on to be removed from the website, report abuse or stop all future communication. The “links” don’t work and the address given to stop all ads will be returned with “no such address” stamped on it.


The website has more details on the scam.


UPDATE: Lost money orders returned to owner

UPDATE: The Michigan State Police in Wayland report the owner of money orders found in the parking lot of Weick’s Food Town in Shelbyville has been identified and the money orders returned on May 26.


ORIGINAL STORY: Troopers from the Michigan State Police Wayland Post want to identify the owner of a substantial number of money orders that were purchased at the Plainwell Wal-mart on May 18, and were found in the parking lot of Weick’s Food Town at 57 124th Avenue in Shelbyville.  Anyone claiming the money orders will need to show documentation proving ownership. If they are yours, call the post at 269-792-2213 during regular business hours and ask for Trooper Bachman.




2016 Hero Award winner honored for his quick action, demeanor

Seth Viel,10, from Delton, was presented the Michigan National Emergency Number Association (NENA) 2016 Hero Award for his heroic actions earlier this year.

Seth was at home with his father, Matt, on Jan. 13 when his dad started experiencing a medical issue. Seth called 911 and stayed on the phone with Barry County Central Dispatch

Telecommunicator Kristina Beach for more than nine minutes until Seth’s mother Jennifer arrived home.


His quick thinking and calm demeanor helped Beach gather critical information that helped get responders there as quickly as possible.

Seth was awarded a certificate, an all-expenses paid trip to LegoLand and SeaLife Aquarium and $200 in spending money. Seth and Beach, a telecommunicator for three years, were honored at the NENA conference May 23.


Photo: (from left)Telecommunicator Kristina Beach,

Seth Viel, Dr. Matthew Viel.


Hastings Council approves 2016-2017 budget

The Hastings City Council held a public hearing and approved the city’s budget for fiscal year 2016-2017 as well as millage to support it with 16.0714 mills for general operations and 0.7500 mill for Riverside Cemetery.

Anticipated General Fund revenues and transfers total $5,181,000, while expected expenditures are transfers out in the general fund total $5,468,000, resulting in a slight decrease in the general fund balance, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.


“This is due in large part to the lingering impact of the sluggish economy on our general fund revenues, but also due to changes at the state level that have adversely impacted our local revenue stream for a number of years now,” Mansfield said.

“However, we anticipated these reduced revenues some years back, and built our fund balance accordingly to help us through these challenging times,” he said.


In other business Monday, May 23, DPS Director Lee Hays said the original $15,000 cost estimate of the proposed Veterans Memorial Park at the entrance to Tyden Park has increased to $26,000 because of some additions to the memorial and some “faulty estimates,” which Hays said were his. To stay within the budget, Hays suggested doing the work in two phases, however, the council voted to amend this year’s budget to include the $11,000 overage and do the project now.


The only objection came from Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange who voted not to fund the entire project now.  “It was to be a private project. This puts it on the taxpayers and I don’t agree with that,” she said.


Mayor Frank Campbell, who has said several times that Hastings should have its own veteran’s memorial and pushed to get it done before he leaves office at the end of the year, pledged to raise money for the project. “I will see some people. I will try to raise some money and give it back to the city. I’d like to see it done, we got it this far.”


The area, 40 by 40 foot, will feature stamped concrete, flag poles, pole lighting, brick columns and fence restoration and installation. Several small monuments to veterans now on the Barry County Courthouse lawn will be moved to the new park.


The good news is that with the many donations of labor and equipment that Hays secured, the city will get a Veterans Memorial Park worth $60,000 for its $26,000 investment.




Hastings Township, City of Hastings nearer to closing on property transfer

Taking care of several things in a complicated issue at one time, the Hastings City Council approved items to do with the transfer of governmental jurisdiction and property for parcels now in Hastings Charter Township.


Approved was a Letter of Understanding outlining the relationship of Hastings Township to the city in a parcel transfer, a real estate agreement, and approval of an Urban Services and Economic Development Agreement with Hastings Township.


The items approved by the council have already been approved by the Hastings Township board, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said. The exchange of the township property, a parcel of some 60 acres sandwiched between the City of Hastings and Rutland Township, has been in progress for several months.


Mansfield said they expect to fully execute all of the agreements as soon possible after the closing on the property with Hastings Township.


The council voted unanimously to move the Hastings Township property into the now-reduced second Urban Services District between Hastings and Rutland Township as soon as it is officially transferred into the city.


The council also had a first reading of ordinances to establish a Hasting Rutland Township Planning commission and adopt the zoning ordinance of that commission, with action expected at the next council meeting.


At the end of the Monday, May 23 meeting, the council went into closed session to discuss negotiating strategies for union bargaining agreements.

Dog Park, Hastings will negotiate contract renewal

Hastings Dog Park companions will bring more information and costs on several issues brought up by them and work with Hastings city staff on a contract renewal, which will bring a recommendation to the council.


“The Hastings Dog Park Companions would like to maintain our excellent relationship with the City of Hastings, but would like to discuss some maintenance issues and other issues with the City Council…,” their agenda application read.


Dog park representative Vicki Butler told the council the five-year contract with the city for the companions operating and maintaining the dog park expires in June.


She outlined several issues for the renewal of the contract including the city taking over mowing and trash pickup at the park.


The group has plans for a gazebo, lighting for winter hours, more hours of operation, and possibly sharing the cost of portapotties if the city could get a better rate. Butler said the organization has some money for the enhancements, and plans to raise more.


Councilman David Tossava said the city mows and cleans up all the city parks, and he has no objection to the city adding the dog park area, "but, I’d like to see any extra costs before I approve it.”


Councilman Donald Bowers said the original contract was that the companions would manage and pay for the park, and now they were asking the city to do it and “supply the taxpayers to pay for it, and I don’t think that’s right.”


After more discussion of a possible city take over, solar lights on a gazebo, later hours, funding, the number of people who use the park, previous plans on flood plains and DEQ permits “that never came together,”  Councilman Bill Redman stopped the debate with a motion that city staff and the companions negotiate a contract renewal and come back with a recommendation. //


In other business, Monday, May 23, the council approved an event by the Church of Latter Day Saints on June 17 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Tyden Park. Organizers expect about 130 kids from 14 to 18 years old to perform several service projects and then have a bar-b-que at the park.


The council also approved paying the Tri-Clor Company $16,800 to remove a lime silo at the wastewater treatment plant, since it is not in use and will not be used again.



Contingency fund for Barry County Community Building project approved

The Barry County Commission approved requests made last week by Robert Van Putten, architect/owner of Landmark Design Group, on the renovation of the Community Building by Beckering Construction. A five percent construction contingency fund of $40,000 was approved and County Administrator Michael Brown will be able to approve changes orders up to $7,500.


Any change order more than $7,500 and less than $10,000 will be reviewed by the committee of the whole and change orders exceeding $10,000 will go to the full commission for a decision. The contract with Beckering now stands at $795,830, down from $808,890 after some cost savings were found. Brown said with the Community Building renovations on track, the planning and designs for improvements in the Barry County Circuit Court area will move ahead.


In other business, Tuesday, May 24, Brown told commissioners the final draft of the compensation study by Segal Waters Consulting Group, hired in September of 2015 to produce the study for $92,500, will be presented to the commission within 30 days.


Commissioners also approved:

* making temporary Office of Community Corrections (OCC) GED instructor Richard Todd Willard permanent instructor for the rest of the 2016 fiscal year, to be paid $19 an hour for up to 18 hours a week,


* renewing a contact with BC&BS to provide hospital and prescription services for Barry County Jail inmates from July 2016 to July 2017,


* budget amendment A-16, which involved $5,438 in both income and expenses, but did not affect the bottom line in the $15,393,956 budget.





Request for beer and wine at three Thornapple Plaza events tabled

The possibility of  beer and wine at the Thornapple Plaza was discussed at Monday’s Hastings City Council meeting, but sent to city staff for more work before it is reconsidered. A request from the Thornapple Arts Council to allow beer and wine at three summer events at the Thornapple Plaza and street closures at those events, brought differences of opinions from the council.


TAC Director Megan Lavell said the Delton Moose Lodge would control the sale of beer and wine, were responsible and had training in preventing over-serving. An area next to the concession stand would be set aside for imbibers.


Lavell said TAC is trying to fulfill the intent of the donor who funded the facility, the Baum Family Foundation,  to attract more visitors to the city. “We want to be a destination. Beer and wine are part of the attraction,” she said. City Manager Jeff Mansfield said the city has allowed alcohol at events “at some places every year, with proper restraints.”


Councilman Bill Redman said he would not vote for beer and wine at all, adding when the Hastings Rotary Club proposed running the concession stand, they said there would be no alcohol and the council voted yes to that agreement.  Councilman Don Bowers disliked the idea of alcohol being served where there would be children.  


“I don’t like the set up” Councilwoman Therese Maupin-Moore said, adding that the Summerfest beer tent is double fenced and enclosed. Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange said she thought alcohol would discourage families from attending events and the street closures, “are a problem.”


The TAC asked for street closures on Boltwood from East State Street to Michigan Avenue on June 17, July 15 and Aug. 12 for the Friday Night Features Concerts and the same streets closed for the Sept. 24 Hastings Roots Festival.


Several council members asked for a plan with more separation of families from the beer tent and better constraints. Lavell said they were flexible and would work with staff on such a plan.

The council voted to allow the street closures.

Hastings Council appoints four to continue Jasperse's work

The depth of the contribution the late David Jasperse made to the city was recalled at the Hastings City Council meeting Monday when positions he left vacant with his passing were filled. Mayor Frank Campbell noted how many boards Jasperse worked on, with four appointments “scattered among” other people to continue his work.


The council voted 6-2 to install former Councilman Bill Cusack in the 4th Ward seat. Cusack said Jasperse was, "a great friend and it  would be a high honor to be able to finish out his term.” Already on the planning commission, Cusack will be the council representative on the commission. He took the seat after being sworn in by Clerk Tom Emery.


Jordan Brehm,  IT/compliance coordinator at Thornapple Credit Union, also applied. Brehm served on the Zoning Board of Appeals before being appointed to the Planning Commission.

Other positions filled were Jacquie McLean to the City Planning Commission, Al Jarvis to the Joint Planning Commission and Alan Klein to the Joint Planning Alliance.


Cusack will  hold the seat for the remainder of Jasperse’s term until Dec. 31, 2018 and said he would run for the seat after that. The rest of the appointments end Dec. 31, 2016.


Memorial Day observances planned in area communities

Many area communities hold observances and parades to honor the intent of Memorial Day to remember America’s men and women in the military who served and died to defend our country. Here’s a rundown of services and parades in the area:


* Middleville’s annual parade starts at 10:30 a.m. May 30, pauses at the Thornapple River Bridge to toss a wreath to honor veterans who served under and on the sea, continues its march to Mt. Hope Cemetery for a program to honor those who lost their lives in service to the country.


* Hastings May 30 Memorial parade steps off at 9:30 a.m. going through town, stops at the Barry County Courthouse for a rifle salute, Tyden Park to lay a wreath at the soldier’s monument, at Thornapple River to toss a wreath in the water and on to the Riverside Cemetery for its final ceremonies.


* Nashville’s VFW Post 8260 has held a Memorial Day observance honoring all veterans; “those who came home, and those who didn’t,” since 1947. This year’s parade will begin on the north end of the village at 11 a.m. and march to Lakeview cemetery for a short ceremony.


* Lake Odessa VFW Post 4461 marks Memorial Day on May 30 beginning at 8:30 a.m. with the Post Color Guard leading the Clarksville parade, followed by observances at Clarksville and Woodland cemeteries then by final memorials at Lake Odessa’s Lakeside Cemetery.


* Caledonia’s American Legion Post 305 honors veterans at local cemeteries in Alaska at 9 a.m., Blain at 9:45 a.m., Dutton at 10:30 a.m. and Holy Corners at 11:15 a.m.  The Parade is May 30, at noon and travels down Main Street to Lakeside Cemetery with a ceremony to  honor America’s fallen heroes.


* Wayland’s parade is on Memorial Day at 11 a.m. beginning at the Michigan State Police Post on North Main Street, and ending at VFW Post 7581 at 735 South Main Street. The VFW Post will again offer pulled pork sandwiches with all the fixings after the parade.


* Orangeville will host a ceremony on the May 29 at 2 p.m., at the Orangeville Veteran’s Memorial, with speakers,  laying of wreaths, an honor guard from the Hastings American Legion Post #45 and the playing of taps.


* Prairieville Township hosts its Memorial Day parade on May 30 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. starting at the gas station in Prairieville and proceeding to the Prairieville Cemetery for a ceremony.


* Vermontville’s  parade starts at 9: 30 a.m. at the bridge at North Ionia Road and Nashville Highway, travels through the village to Woodlawn Cemetery.


* Hickory Corners parade begins at 10 a.m. at Cadwallader Park, marches through Hickory to East Hickory Corners Cemetery for a memorial service. A pancake breakfast is served from  7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the fire station and a chicken bar-b-que is held after the parade at Hickory Corners American Legion Post 484, 3801 Hickory Road.


* Yankee Springs Township will hold a short service to honor veterans at the Payne Lake Fire Station at 4 p.m. on Memorial Day. They are looking for veterans who would like to take part; call 269-838-1289.

Single motorcycle crash injuries one in Orangeville Township

An unidentified man was injured in a single motorcycle crash at 9-mile and Marsh Road in Orangeville Township Sunday, May 22, about 5:30 p.m., according to the Barry County Sheriff's Office.


Deputies report their preliminary investigation shows the motorcycle left the roadway and struck a tree. The crash is still under investigation. The driver was transported from the scene by Wayland EMS to a Kalamazoo area hospital with unknown injuries. Speed and alcohol are believed to be factors in the crash. Orangeville Fire Department and Wayland EMS assisted deputies.


Gabrielle Shipley National Golf Champion

Gabrielle Shipley, a 2012 Hastings High School graduate and Michigan Division 2 State Champion, won the NCAA Division two National Women's Individual Golf 

Championship in Colorado Saturday as a member of the Grand Valley State University Women's Golf Team.  Well Done Gabrielle...Congratulations!

Curtis resentencing set back at least to June 30

The resentencing of Chad Curtis on a prison term of seven to 15 years in prison for criminal sexual conduct has been pushed back at least to June 30.


The Michigan Supreme Court has abolished mandatory sentencing guidelines, leaving advisory guidelines, giving judges more latitude in sentencing. The ruling led Curtis, and many other inmates, to seek resentencing.


Judge Amy McDowell, who gave the original sentence and will do the resentencing, told Curtis she wanted him to be clear that her court was restrained by the former mandatory guidelines at his 2013 sentencing.


If the current advisory guidelines were in effect then, McDowell said she would have “imposed a more reasonable and proportionate sentence.” At the original sentencing, she said she seriously considered going over the guidelines, but it would have given him an avenue of appeal, so she did not.


Curtis still has the right to resentencing. He has the right to ask for an attorney within 14 days, and also to withdraw his motion for resentencing within 21 days. If he asks for an attorney, that will likely push the resentencing date back further, McDowell said.  She stressed that the resentencing could not be affected by anything that happened after the original sentence was handed down, Asked by McDowell if he needed more time to write a sentencing memorandum, as well a possible brief, Curtis replied he did not.


Assistant Prosecutor Chris Elsworth said McDowell technically has the option to raise, lower or keep the original sentence, but is not likely that she would leave it the same. //

Curtis was found guilty of six charges of criminal sexual conduct of three Lakewood High School female students after a week long trial in 2013.


All of the charges came from when Curtis was an unpaid volunteer in the Lakewood School weight room.  During the trial, the victims testified that on separate occasions, Curtis took them into the windowless training room to help them with exercises to recover from injuries, and instead inappropriately touched them with sexual intent. He was removed from his weight room duties by school officials when the allegations of inappropriate touching of the female students surfaced.

Curtis was a Major League Ball player from 1992 to 2001 with several teams, including the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees.



Barry County Transit driver alleged to have spanked 5 year old, more investigation needed

Hastings police will further investigate an allegation that a Barry County Transit driver spanked a five-year-old girl on Monday, May 16.  Police Chief Jeff Pratt said the incident was investigated and sent to the Barry Prosecutor’s Office for review; the prosecutor’s office asked for more information on the incident.


Pratt said the child told her mother the transit driver had spanked her and the mother reported it to police. “The daughter and her mother did the right thing by reporting it, that’s just what we say they should do,” he said.

There was physical contact, and investigators will try to determine if the contact was child abuse, he said. The report will then go back to the prosecutor’s office for review.

Transit Director Bill Voigt said he would withhold comment until the prosecutor’s office finishes its review.


Michigan State Police investigate serious injury traffic crash on U.S. 131

The Michigan State Police/Wayland Post is investigating a personal injury traffic crash that occurred May 18 at approximately 1:35 p.m. on northbound U.S.131 at the 64 mile marker near Wayland, a MSP news release said.

Initial investigation showed  that a pedestrian was in the left lane of U.S. 131, attempting to drag a large object out of the roadway when he was struck by a northbound vehicle.  
The pedestrian is a 61-year-old man from the Shelbyville area. His vehicle was found parked a short distance north of the crash scene.  

Wayland Fire/EMS responded to the scene. Aeromed helicopter eventually landed on the expressway and transported the man to Spectrum Health Butterworth in Grand Rapids.

Allegan County Sheriff’s Department, Wayland City Police Department and the Gun Lake Tribal Police assisted troopers.  Allegan County Central Dispatch 9-1-1 did an outstanding job coordinating responding emergency vehicles, the news release said. Northbound U.S.131 was totally closed for approximately an hour and a half.


Two car crash on M-37 Wednesday causes minor injuries

A 30-year-old Hastings man heading east on M-37 between Hastings and Middleville, turned left into S&S Market and into the path of a northbound vehicle driven by a 20-year-old Alto woman, the Michigan State Police/Hastings Post reports.

Troopers said there were minor injuries in the May 18  afternoon crash, and no other cars were involved. The crash is still being investigated.


Many Barry County roads, bridges being upgraded

With the certainty of a steady flow of funding after the state legislature passed a road repair bill, and a $4.6 million dollar loan, the Barry County Road Commission crews are busy repairing many of the county’s primary roads this construction season.


“Work is going well,” BCRC Engineer/Manager Brad Lamberg said, “especially considering the weather, but we’re working around the cold start. The contractors and crews are working well and we’re very close to being on schedule.”


A list of roads scheduled for overlay shows several already finished; Norris, Brown, Charlton Park from Center to M-79, and also from M-43 to Coats Grove, Stevens, Sisson, Banfield and West State. Green Lake Road is also done and has been widened to 28 feet.


Still to be finished are Guernsey Lake, from M-43 to Otis Lake, Cressy from Lockshore to Enzian (also being widened to 28 feet), Thornapple Lake, from the bridge to M-66, Yankee Springs, from M-37 to M-179, and Brogan from M-37 to the township line. Some shoulder gravel still needs to be put on a few of the completed roads, and crews will chip seal all the roads on the list this summer.


Three bridges in the county will also be worked on, Lamberg said. Heavy maintenance, repaving decks, repairing concrete and painting steel beams on bridges that have them is scheduled for bridges on Irving, Parmalee and Brown roads.


“The bridges will have to be closed at times. On the road work, it will be controlled by flags. Just slow down and you can get through it just fine,” Lamberg said.



$40,000 contingency fund likely for Barry County Community Building renovation

Barry County Commission’s committee of the whole unanimously recommended approval of two requests by Robert Van Putten, architect/owner of Landmark Design Group to do with renovation of the Community Building by Beckering Construction.


Van Putten asked for a five percent construction contingency fund of $40,000 and also that County Administrator Michael Brown be allowed to approve change orders  of  up to $7,500. Anything more than $7,500 and less than $10,000 would be reviewed by the committee of the whole and change orders exceeding $10,000 would go to the full county commission for a decision.


Van Putten said the changes would cover unforeseen items that often occur on renovation projects and let the project move forward with little or no delay;  it also follows county policy.

He noted that nothing unforeseen has been found by Beckering one month into the construction, "which is good." 

Also, Van Putten said the contract with Beckering was lowered by $13,060  from $808,890, to $795,830 after some cost savings were found.


 “The work on the project is off to a good start and the project appears to be on schedule for an Oct. 24 completion date,” he said.


In other business, May 17, the committee recommended approval of:

* making the temporary Office of Community Corrections (OCC) GED instructor Richard Todd Willard the permanent instructor for the remainder of the 2016 fiscal year at a pay rate of  $19 an hour, for up to 18 hours a week,  as requested by OCC Director Dawn Karfonta. The cost is funded by the state.


* renewing a contact with BC&BS to provide hospital and prescription services for Barry County Jail inmates from July 2016 to July 2017. Brown said the program allows the counties that participate with BC&BS discounted rates the insurer has negotiated with other hospitals, doctors and pharmacies, and he recommended it.


* budget amendment A-16, which involved $5,438 in both income and expenses, but did not affect the bottom line in the $15,393,956 budget.




Enjoy free family fun at Charlton Park Day

Looking for excitement on Memorial Day weekend? Celebrate the kick-off to summer at the 10th annual Charlton Park Day Saturday, May 28 from 11 a.m. to  4 p.m.

Charlton Park Day is held to honor Barry County residents who have supported the park for the past 80 years. Thanks to generous donors, the entire day is free to everyone.  Free grilled hot dogs, chips, ice cream, and bottled water will be provided to all while supplies last.

The bounce house is a popular

attraction for kids.


In celebration of the park’s 80th year, Uncle Irving’s Attic exhibit in the museum will be on display, along with crafts, activities and treats in the Historic Village.  Watch master craftsmen in action in the blacksmith shop and fiber spinning in the township hall.  Sample cookies and bread baked on a wood stove in the Sixberry House and the Bristol Inn. Popcorn, balloons, and the gift shop will be at the Upjohn House.


Cowboy Tommy and His Fancy Roping Tricks and two bounce houses will entertain the kids, and everyone can hop aboard a tram for tours of the park. WBCH 100.1 FM will host a live radio remote.


“Representatives from the Michigan Longbow Association, Civil War reenactment, Thorny Apple Craftsman and Art Fair and Gas & Steam Engine Club will be on site to promote upcoming park events,” said Event Coordinator Stacey Graham. “The exhibition hall will also be open for tours.”


Several Barry County agencies will be on hand with goodies and information and the Sheriff’s Posse will fingerprint children. The park, at 2545 South Charlton Park Road, is open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. For much more, visit, or call 269-945-3775.









Cowboy Tommy with his rope tricks will be

back at Charlton Park May 28

Middleville trail extension expected to be finished in August

Middleville will fill a 0.9 mile segment in the Paul Henry Thornapple Trail, thanks in part to donors who not only matched a recent 30-day fund drive with a goal of $10,000, they doubled it.

“It was overwhelming the outpouring for the campaign,” said organizer of the fundraising, Jean Lamoreaux.. “We did not realize how important the trail is to our community. Wow!”
The contributions were needed for a match to secure a $10,000 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), she said.


Lamoreaux, who is also a village council member, said when she ran for the council, her goal was to get the trail extension finished. After getting advice from other trail supporters and the MEDC she decided to seek $10,000 in donations; “I didn’t want to ask for $20,000 and fail,” she said.


The total $30,000 will be a contribution to Middleville’s part of the cost.  The paved extension begins at the new Middleville Pavilion, going north to Crane Road. Nashville Construction began work on the extension in March and anticipate completion by the end of August.


Background: The original bid accepted of $679,905 from Nashville Construction in July of 2015 was the low bid; five bidders ranged from Nashville’s low to a high of $1,209,409.30 by D. J. McQueen & Sons Inc, from Leroy Michigan.


However, by January of 2016, with attorney, design and survey fees, construction staking and testing and archaeological and bat habitat studies, the cost rose to $897,770.42.

The MDOT agreed to split the bid overage 50/50 with the village.


The final figures show the MDOT grants will fund $550,871 or 61 percent; Bradford White, $250,000, ($300,000 less engineering and legal fees) or 28 percent and the Village of Middleville, $96,900, or 11 percent.











Class of 2016 going out into the world, soon will be alumni

The Class of 2016 members will take part in ceremonies marking the end of their high school careers later this month and in early June. The list of area schools includes:


Thornapple Kellogg: Graduation, Thursday, May 26, at 7 p.m.
Honors Night, Tuesday, May 24, 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium.


Hastings Area School System: Graduation, Friday,  May 27, 7 to 8 p.m., in the high school gym.

Honors Night, Thursday, May 26 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.


Lakewood Public Schools: Graduation, Thursday, May 26 at 7 p.m. in the high school gymnasium

Honors Night,  Monday, May 23 at  7 p.m. in high school auditorium.


Maple Valley Public Schools: Graduation, Friday, June 3 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the athletic complex.

Honors Night, May 16, 7 p.m. at the high school auditorium.


Delton Kellogg School:

Graduation, Thursday, June 2 at 7 p.m. in the high school gymnasium.

Seniors Tribute, Friday, May 27 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the high school gymnasium.


Caledonia Community Schools: Graduation, Thursday, May 26 at 7 p.m. in the high school’s main gymnasium.

Senior Awards Night, May 17 at 7 p.m. at the Fine Arts Center.


Wayland Union Schools: Graduation, Thursday, May 26 at 7 p.m. in the football stadium.




Charges sought in domestic violence, felonious assault in Hastings

Barry County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to 1968 Brookfield Drive in Hastings May 15 at 8:14 p.m. to a domestic violence situation.


Deputies found that one of the involved persons had been struck in the head with a shovel after ramming his vehicle into a parked car. The victim was transported to Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital, where he was treated and released.


The report on the matter was sent to the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office for review while charges are being considered for Felonious Assault and Malicious Destruction of Property.


Two seriously hurt, two with minor injuries in Cascade Township crash

Two young area people suffered serious injuries and a Lowell couple sustained minor injuries in a 9 p.m. crash on May 14  at the intersection of Cascade Road and 28th Street in Cascade Township, according to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office.


The crash involved two vehicles with a total of four occupants, all with injuries. Deputies report that a 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix traveling eastbound in Cascade Road at a high rate of speed struck a 2013 Chevrolet Equinox which had just turned eastbound onto Cascade Road from 28th Street.


The Pontiac was driven by Colin Kerkstra, 20,  of Wyoming, who was transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth with serious injuries. His passenger, Kylee Christian, 17,  of Grand Rapids, was taken to Devos Children’s Hospital, also with serious injuries.


The Chevrolet was driven by John Pierce, 70, of Lowell with his passenger Nancy Pierce, 72, also of Lowell. Both were transported to Spectrum Health Blodgett with minor injuries. All of the injured were transported by Life Ambulance.


Alcohol and speed are both believed to be factors in the crash which is still under investigation.

UPDATE: Wayland area man faces OWI causing death, two more charges, in fatal crash

UPDATE:Dale Robert Melick, 53, from the Wayland area, was arraigned Monday on one count of OWI causing death and two counts of OWI causing serious injury in connection with a May 14 traffic crash that he was apparently involved in with another vehicle that caused the death of a woman and put two others in the hospital with serious injuries. Melick remains  jailed on $250,000 bond.


The woman who died at the scene was identified as Jemimah S. Palsce, 36, from Albuquerque, New Mexico. The injured passengers are Scott Robert Foster, 57,  last reported in serious condition, and his wife Barbara Ann Foster, 56, last reported in critical condition, both at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital.


The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office clarified the original report, saying Palsce was not ejected from the vehicle, she had to be extricated. //



An intoxicated Wayland area man fleeing police at high speed from US-131, through the City of Wayland and into Wayland Township apparently was involved in a crash with another vehicle where one person died and two more were seriously injured, the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office reports.


In the early morning hours of Saturday, May 14, a Gun Lake Tribal Police Department officer alerted other officers when he was nearly sideswiped by a speeding vehicle on south U.S. 131 while enroute to the Allegan County Jail.


An Allegan County Sheriff’s deputy saw the vehicle leave the freeway and head east on 135th Avenue and tried to stop him, but the driver sped away at high speed.


Continuing on 135th, the deputy found what appeared to be the vehicle rolled over in the ditch on 135th Avenue near 4th Street in the township. The driver of the vehicle  was trapped in the vehicle and was belligerent and uncooperative.


At about the same time, Allegan Central Dispatch got  a 911 call from a person whose car had just been struck by a vehicle in the same area of the roll over crash. The deputy and an officer from the Wayland Police Department immediately searched the area and found a second vehicle rolled over into a dense tree line, making it virtually impossible to see.


The vehicle had three passengers, one who was ejected and died at the scene. The other two passengers were extricated and rushed to Spectrum Health Butterworth; one in serious condition and one in critical condition, officials said.


 The driver of the fleeing vehicle, who was found to be intoxicated, was treated and released from Allegan General Hospital and is lodged in Allegan County Jail pending formal charges. The name of the suspect will be released after he is arraigned. The names of the passengers in the vehicle that he struck will be released when notifications have been made. 

The crash remains under investigation.

Sheriff’s deputies were assisted by Gun Lake Tribal Police, Michigan State Police, Wayland Police and Wayland Fire Departments and Wayland Area Ambulance.


Improvements at Hastings Fish Hatchery Park underway

Hastings Fish Hatchery Park, the largest and busiest park in the city, invites residents and visitors to enjoy all kinds of social gatherings, softball, tennis, soccer, basketball, picnics, or just a quiet visit to relax.


The park is getting a significant face-lift, with work started by the Department of Public Services (DPS) on  May 4. DPS Director Lee Hays said three areas are being addressed; the berms, ponds and restroom facilities.


The berms block the view of children on the playground, and are being removed to increase visibility of the  children for parents and police. The trees on the berms have been moved into the new flat space. The project will be completed in about two weeks.


The three ponds at the park have needed dredging for some time. The  8 to 10 feet of sediment and debris on the bottoms has resulted in an increase in algae and odor.  

A required dredging permit from the DEQ was received this week. Dredging will begin May 23 and be finished in about a month, Hays said.


The dredged material will be moved north of the largest pond on a new road built from the gravel berm material.  When dry, the material will be spread and seeded; the increase in height south of the baseball field should reduce the boggy ground in that area, he said.


In July, the existing restroom will be demolished and a new facility constructed with separate restrooms for men and women, similar to the one at Tyden Park.


“Over the years, Fish Hatchery Park has been widely used and a great asset to our community. The improvements the Department of Public Services is completing this spring will result in a great finished product that will provide years of enjoyment to our community,” Hays said.


“The new facilities and park improvements will ensure that Hastings remains one of the Top 100 Small Towns in America.”

New program aimed at helping veterans in Eaton County Jail

A new Veteran Services Coordination program to help military veterans during and after incarceration in Eaton County Jail was announced by Sheriff Tom Reich  May 12.


Corrections Sergeant Tim Sixberry has been named the Veteran’s Services Coordinator.  Sixberry, who served four tours of duty overseas, including two combat tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, holds the rank of Sergeant Major in the Indiana Army National Guard, Reich said.


“I place a high value on assisting our military veterans who have given so much in service to our nation,” he  said. “Sgt. Sixberry’s extensive military leadership experience brings another level of professionalism, understanding, and trust as he identifies and works with veteran’s in our facility in this program.”


Part of Sixberry’s duties will be to identify veterans in the jail and coordinate services and benefits with the Veteran’s Justice Outreach Coordinator at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and Housing Services of Mid-Michigan. 


He will also serve as the liaison between the jail and the Eaton County Veteran’s Court Team Members and Mentors and help veterans find housing and prospective employment before their release from jail, Reich said.





Hastings welcomes Middleville officials for Mayor Exchange Day May 18

Hastings officials will welcome Middleville officials for Mayor Exchange Day on Wednesday, May 18. Beginning with the 9 a.m. arrival with a welcome by Mayor Frank Campbell and brief presentations by Hastings department heads, the guests will visit the Hastings Public Library.


Following that, there will be a walking tour of downtown, Attractions on the tour will be the Thornapple Plaza, east end redevelopment, Michigan Avenue Bridge, Moose building, Hastings Fire Station, Alfresco, Barry County Courthouse, Seasonal Grille, the sculptures, South Jefferson Street, Hastings City Bank, Walldorff Brewpub & Bistro, and the DDA Façade Program, with several rest points during the walk.


The group takes an hour break from noon to 1 p.m. for luncheon at Walldorff Brewpub & Bistro.

An afternoon bus tour will include visits to Bliss Clearing Niagara, Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital, Rutland Township’s  Urban Service Area, the Regional Shopping District, Tyden Park/River Trail and the Barry County Enrichment Center.


A roundtable discussion at Hastings City Hall from  3 p.m. to 4 p.m. will wind up the visit. A firm date when Middleville will host Hastings officials for its part of the exchange will be set in the near future.


Rumpf sentenced to 10-15 years in prison in Kauffman death

Sigmund Rumpf, convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Steven M. Kaufman, was sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison on the charge in Barrry County Circuit Court by Judge Amy McDowell May 12, Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt said.


On a felony firearm charge, he was sentenced to 24 months with credit for 297 days served in Barry County Jail. On a concealed weapon charge, he was sentenced to 24 months, to be served concurrently with the voluntary manslaughter charge, Nakfoor-Pratt said.


The death occurred when Morgan Wire, in a relationship with Kauffman, texted Rumpf July 21, 2015 to help her get away from Kauffman because she said he was abusive and she was afraid of him.


When Kauffman met Wire and Rumpf on Wildwood Road that evening, the two men argued; the confrontation escalated and Rumpf shot and killed Kauffman with a single shot to the chest.


The prosecution charged Rumpf with second-degree murder. Rumpf’s attorneys said he acted in self defense, the Barry County jury determined it was voluntary manslaughter.


Assistant Barry County Prosecutor Chris Elsworth represented the prosecution, Joshua and Keeley Blanchard from Miel & Carr Trial Lawyers and Hastings Attorney Brad Gee represented the defense.






Victim critical in Eaton County shooting; suspect sought

The Eaton County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a suspect who shot a man at the Elmwood Park Apartment complex at about 11 p.m. on May 11. When deputies responded, they found an adult man with gunshot wounds lying on a sidewalk and administered emergency first aid. Delta Township Fire EMS arrived and transported the victim to the hospital where he is in critical condition.


The shooter was described as a black male in his late 20’s or early 30’s, with a thin build, approximately 5 feet, 10 inches tall and wearing a head scarf, dark shirt and pants. It was reported that he run southeast from the scene toward the Zap Zone on Mall Drive East. A K-9 track was conducted but the suspect was not located.


Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call Detective Rick Buxton at 517-323-8484.



Hastings lists streets to be seal coated

Hastings DPS crews plan to seal coat more than a dozen city streets this year, beginning with patching to prepare for seal coating on Monday, May 16, DPS Director Lee Hays said. Also, he said East State Road will reopen this week after Consumers Energy completes moving a gas line. It will close again in mid-June for road reconstruction and culvert replacement.


The following streets are to be upgraded:

Court Street from State St to Hanover

Center Street from State St to Hanover

Dibble Street from South St to State St

Madison Street from East St to State St

Hayes Street from Clinton to State St

Blair Street from Michigan to dirt

Benton Street from Jefferson to cul-de-sac

Park Street from Grand to Green

Church Street from Green to Clinton

Walnut Street from Church to Park

Walnut Street from Market to Young

Grand Street from Church to Hanover

Bond Street from Church to dead end

Bond Street from Young to Park

Jefferson Street from Blair to dead end

State Road from Michigan west to city limits

Barry County Sheriff Office patrol cars to get new radios

Barry County Sheriff’s Office patrol cars will have new radios after the County Commission on May 10 approved seeking sealed bids for the equipment.


Undersheriff Matt Houchlei asked for 22 Motorola APX-6500 radios and accessories, not the most expensive or the most inexpensive models, he said.


The current radios are 10 years old, failing, and are out of warranty, Houchlei said, repair parts are hard to get and they are running out of spare parts of their own.


“It’s just that point in time when we need to be moving forward with new purchases.”


Of the 22 radios, 16 will replace current worn-out models in patrol cars, three will go in cars that don’t have them and three are for recently purchased cars. The radios are compatible with fire departments radios, so they can communicate with each other, he said.


The department will install the units and keep the old ones in case any of the parts match the newer models. The estimated $80,000 to $90,000 likely will come from the vehicle equipment fund, County Administrator Michael Brown said.//


In other county business, the commission approved:

* the 2016 Taxable Value Report L-40046,  to be submitted to the State Tax Commission, presented by Equalization Director Tim Vandermark last week, and recommended by the committee of the whole.


*  two easement agreements between Barry County and Scott and Theresa Decker of Nashville; one allows the Deckers ingress and egress across the Thornapple Trail, and the other agreement gives Barry County 10 more feet of easement to install a drain tube under the trail.


* hiring two part-time employees to work 15 hours a week each at the Animal Shelter. Funding will come from the shelter’s health services fund.


* the 2017 budget calendar


Hastings Council deals with centrifuge repair, downtown parking special assessment roll

The Hastings City Council on May 9 unanimously approved a contract with Centrifuge and Pump Services Corporation for $42,954.99 for centrifuge repair. “It’s temporary, but right now, it’s the best option we have,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.


The city has two centrifuges at the wastewater treatment plant; the one being repaired is the newer of the two, but still more than 20 years old. They plan to replace both units in an upcoming major expansion of the plant, but they need to keep the two for the next few years and “this will get us by,” he said.


In other council business, a public hearing was held on the final assessment roll for the 2016 Downtown Parking Special Assessment District and a resolution adopted to approve the roll. As it has done for several years, the Downtown Development Authority will pay the difference between this year’s $35,618 assessments and those set at $26,540 in 2008.



The council unanimously approved:

* a contract with Black Gold Paving for $20,275 for City Hall parking lot improvements.


* closing one block of Market Street from Apple to State Street for Wendy’s Annual Classic Car Show on Friday, June 17 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.


* the purchase of meters and components from Michigan Meter for $8,534.


* setting a public hearing on the 2016/2017 budget at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 23. The council will then make a determination on the budget and set the millage rates needed to support the budget.


Hastings Fire Chief Roger Caris announced the Hastings Fire Department’s annual Pancake Breakfast will be May 14, from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. //


The council also approved an annual task; amendments to the Municipal Employee’s Retirement System hybrid pension plan to be effective July 1.


New employees have a hybrid retirement plan, with 10 percent of the employees wages paid into the pension plan by the city. The plan has both defined benefit and defined contribution parts and the city’s contribution is split between the actuarially determined part and the direct contribution portion.


Each year, the city adjusts the two parts using the actuarial valuation of the defined benefit part with the rest going into direct contribution part. The figures may shift in each case,  but in the end, the overall figure stays at 10 percent


The changes include:

Department of Public Services AFSCME employees hired after July 1, 2007, changing the defined contribution employer contribution rate from 5.59 percent to 5.63 percent.


General non-union employees hired after July 1, 2008 changing the defined contribution employer contribution rate from 4.69 percent to 5.30 percent,


Police union employees hired July 1, 2010 changing the defined contribution employer contribution rate from 5. 74 percent to 5.45 percent per the collective bargaining agreements and the city’s personnel policies.






Maple Valley School High School vandalized, suspects identified

On Saturday, May 7, at 5 p.m., Eaton County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a breaking and entering and malicious destruction of property at the Maple Valley High School on Nashville Highway in Vermontville. It was reported that doors were propped opened, windows were broken, classrooms vandalized and fire extinguishers set off.

Eaton County Deputies and detectives worked with school officials. Two juvenile suspects, who were identified from video, were located and a warrant request is being reviewed by the Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney.


Delton boy, 10, is Michigan 911 Young Hero for 2016

Seth Viel, 10, from Delton, has been named the 911 Young Hero 2016 for his actions when he called Barry County Central Dispatch 911 to get medical help for his father Matt when he needed it.

Seth will be given the Young Hero award on May 23 at the Crowne Plaza in Lansing at a Conference of the Michigan Chapter of the National Emergency Number Association (NENA).

He will be there  with his parents, Jennifer and Matt Viel, Barry Central Dispatch officials, including Director Phyllis Fuller and Dispatcher Kristina Beach and 200 to 250 professionals from dispatch centers around the state.


The Young Hero must be younger than 12,  helped save a life or a made a call that had a positive outcome.


Seth called 911 at 5:11 p.m. Jan. 13, and reached dispatcher  Beach.

“I believe that Seth is worthy of the award because his quick action in calling 911 helped save his father’s life,” Beach said in her nominating letter to NENA for the award.


"Seth answered difficult medical questions about his father’s condition by talking to his dad through the bathroom door. He stayed very calm and relayed questions and answers clearly. Seth was very brave for helping his dad while he was sick,” she said.


When the medical questions were answered, Seth updated her on his father’s condition, described his house in detail and told her  there were no cars in the driveway.

Seth’s mother had left the house to pick up older son James in Delton, a 25-minute round trip. She got home nine minutes after he called 911, just as he was giving them her cell phone number.


“Had he waited that nine minutes for his mother to return, the outcome of the call could have been drastically different,” Beach said. After a week of treatment in the hospital, Matt came home and is doing well, Jennifer said. “We’re so proud of Seth, he did a really good job.”


Jean Gallup


Plainwell woman arrested for delivery of a controlled substance causing death

Officers from the West Michigan Enforcement Team, Wayland City Police Department, Allegan County Sheriff’s Office and Michigan State Police are reporting the arrest of Ashley Catherine Ashbrook, 28, of Plainwell, on a five-count felony warrant.


Charges include Delivery of a Controlled Substance Causing Death, Delivery of Heroin, Possession with the Intent to Deliver Amphetamine, Possession of Heroin, and Possession of Analogues.   


Ashbrook is suspected of delivering heroin that caused the death of Julius Lehmoine in October, 2015. When stopped on the day of Lehmoine’s death, she also had suspected heroin and amphetamine in her possession.  Arrested in Grand Rapids on May 4, she was arraigned in  57th District Court, Friday, May 6. Bond was set at $20,000 cash or surety. If convicted, Ashbrook faces life in prison.

Jean Gallup


UPDATE 911 service to Palo and Hubbardston area restored

UPDATE: Ionia County Central Dispatch  reports that the 911 outage in Hubbardston and Palo in Ionia County has been resolved.


ORIGINAL STORY: Ionia County Central Dispatch has been notified by Frontier Communications that a fiber optic line cut in their system impacts 9-1-1 service to Palo and Hubbardston, Dispatch Supervisor Steven Van Holstyn said today.

If residents in those areas have an emergency, attempt to dial 9-1-1 and it does not work, they should call central dispatch on its 24/7 non-emergency lines at 616-527-0400.


Repair crews are expected on scene by 3 p.m. today and fiber repairs are expected to be complete by early evening,” Van Holstyn said. The interruption of service affects landline 9-1-1; it is unknown if cell phone 9-1-1 calls are affected.

2017 budget schedule recommended by Barry County Commissioners

The 2017 budget calendar, which sets a dozen dates for specific parts of the county's budget to be done up to Oct 25, when the commission is expected to approve the budget, was recommended for approval by the Barry County Commissioner's committee of the whole Tuesday.


The months-long project starts with approval of the calendar on May 10 by the full board. Most of the month of June is taken up by the administrator’s office preparing and giving budget packets to department heads with cost estimates and any help needed to complete documents.


Department heads submit their budgets to Administrator Michael Brown by June 27. In July, Brown develops the budget recommendation which is given to department heads and the committee of the whole for review on July 29. Budget workshops, budget hearings and appeals from department heads are held in August.


In September Brown finalizes the budget and commissioners make millage recommendations and budget resolutions. A public hearing on the budget is advertised in September, and after the public hearing is held Oct. 25, the board approves the 2017 budget.


In other business May 3, the commissioners recommended approval of:


* the 2016 Taxable Value Report L-40046,  to be submitted to the State Tax Commission before the fourth week in May. Equalization Director Tim Vandermark said the taxable value “did not go up much,” just .043 percent to $2,011,600,688 (correction from an earlier incorrect figure).


* hiring two part-time employees for a total of 30 hours a week at the Barry County Animal Shelter. With increased use of home tethers instead of jail for some low level offenders, jail inmate help at the shelter has become “sporadic,” Director Billie Jo Hartwell said. Each employee would be half time, provide four hours of coverage seven days a week and paid $9 an hour. The funding would come from the shelter’s health and services fund.


And, Colette Scrimger, health officer at the Barry Eaton District Health Department, gave commissioners copies of the department’s annual report, saying she can come to another meeting to answers any questions or they can call or e-mail her directly.


Jean Gallup



Freeport Fire Department Spring Auction set for June 4

Spring cleaning this weekend? You can donate all of those found treasures to be auctioned off at the Freeport Fire Auction on June 4, starting at 10 a.m.

New and used auction items are currently being accepted (except tires, clothing and refrigerators). Items may be dropped off behind the station in the semi-trailer located at 100 State Street in Freeport or call the fire station at  616-765-5450 and leave a message to schedule a pickup.


“No item is too big, we once had a sailboat!”  Chief Jim Yarger said. “The generosity of the community and townships we serve has enabled us to have great equipment to serve our residents."


Proceeds from the auction will be used to purchase additional rescue equipment. The fire department is not for profit so donated items can be used as a tax deduction with a donation slip from the department.


Barry County Commissioners generally supportive of moving monuments to new Veterans Plaza

  The veteran's monuments and Blue Star Highway marker now on the Barry County Courthouse lawn will likely be moved to the Veterans Plaza, a new memorial planned for Tyden Park.


Administrator Michael Brown told Barry County Commissioners Tuesday that he brought up the city’s request to move the monuments to see if anyone was opposed. After answering commissioner’s questions, Brown said he will let city officials know that the “board is generally supportive” of them moving the monuments.


Brown said the relatively small monuments, as well as  a Blue Star Highway marker, were not purchased or owned by the county, moving them will not cost the county any money and the areas left are small and would be reseeded.


The new veteran’s memorial is supported by the city and the area’s major veteran’s groups, he said. He will get more information on the plans, which are still being finalized.


The Veterans Plaza plan includes several additions to the Civil War soldier’s statue already at the entrance to the park. Planned are four benches, three memorials, stamped concrete areas,  eight lit flagpoles, one for each of the six branches of the military, including the Merchant Marines, one for the POW/MIA, and an American flag.


The Hastings City Council approved the use of the city property for the new memorial last month. They allocated $15,000 for the memorial to come from the Parks and Recreation capital improvements fund.

The Barry Community Foundation is holding $600 raised a few years ago, and will accept donations from individuals or businesses for the memorial

Residents voice concern that if DNR owns trails in State Game Areas, they may close them

The regular board meeting of the Barry County Road Commission Tuesday morning drew an overflow crowd. Several who were denied admittance because of the fire marshal’s limit of 30 people in the room, stood in the commission office area, trying to hear.

The thing that drew them was the question: Who has ownership and is responsible for the trails in the Barry and Middleville State Game Areas?


The Michigan Department of  Natural Resources would like it to be them.


 In an April 14 letter to the Barry County Road Commission, the DNR asked that the commission abandon portions of 16 trails/roads. “Future decision making authority and maintenance responsibility on stretches of these roads, that are void of houses or public lake access, would be best handled by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR),” it read.

They asked for abandonment of parts of 16 roads/trails, “so that future decision making and road maintenance can be handled by the MDNR.”

The question remained unanswered with the road commission committing to find out which trails have been decertified or abandoned, which ones belong to them and which ones never did.


Sara Thompson, district biologist with DNR, agreed. “Since no one is clear on jurisdiction, we should get it cleared it up once and for all.”

Chairman Frank Fiala said the road commission staff will examine  its maps, but the commission does not have the legal expertise to decide the jurisdictions involved and abandonment of roads requires a formal process including public hearings.


A map developed for the discussion has trails marked that are in question, others that have been abandoned and a few that no one can even verify are trails. Although not a public hearing, Fiala allowed comments from the audience. While listening to comments, the commissioners voted unanimously to hold a public hearing on the issue and in a larger venue before they take any action on the DNR’s request.


Most of the speakers said they were concerned that if the DNR was given control of the trails, they would be closed and the public would lose, or have limited access to, places they have use for recreation and outdoor activities, some for many years.//


One complained that the trails have not been maintained, and one case, blocked off by two large tree stumps to prevent access.

Another asked who was putting boulders in the trails; “Someone has to be accountable,” he said. If they are ordered by the state to close or maintain trails, they should be able to send the bill to Lansing for payment under the Headlee Amendment one said. Still another said they should let the erosion happen and let the Cadillac people stay home and leave it to people with the proper equipment to use the trails.


Thompson said the public may confuse the Barry State Game Area with the Yankee Springs Recreation Area, an adjacent,  much smaller area that is devoted to people recreation.  The state game area’s focus. Its funding comes from the federal and matching state funds; if a specific group activity is allowed by the DNR to come into the state game area without a special permit, federal funding to the whole state would be lost, she said.


Each request for a permit is on a case-by-case basis, with accompanying proof that it would not harm the original intent of benefitting hunters and wildlife habitat, she said.


An example is an equestrian group that has an approved permit; they groom and maintain their trail in the game area and are monitored by the DNR.


Thompson put out a sign up sheet for those interested so she could contact them. “I can’t work with you, if I can’t reach you,” she said.


Since people had heard that the meeting would be held at different times, the board went through its questions to the DNR at its regular board meeting and then a second time for those who missed any part of the first meeting.


The trails and roads identified by the DNR includes parts of 10 trails and six roads.

TRAILS in Barry State Game Area:

Upton-from Kiser Road east to Yankee Springs Road

Shooting Range-from Yankee Springs Road east to the dead end

Bassett Lake-from West M-179 south then east to Deep Lake Road

Hart –from South Yankee Springs Road east to South Whitmore Road

Peets-from South Peets Road south to Hart Trail

Fire Tower-from Hart Trail, southeast to Gun Lake Trail

Metz-from West M-179 east to South Peets Road

County Farm-from South Peets Road east to South Whitmore Road

Sager- from McKibben Road east to South Whitmore Road

Shaw-from Gun Lake Road south to private residence just north of West Shaw Road.


ROADS in the Barry State Game Area:

South Peets- from West M-179 south to Peets Trail

Otis Lake-from Gun Lake Road south to Sager Road.


ROADS in the Middleville State Game Area:

Parmalee-decertified portion that lies east of Solomon Road then east to Wood School Road

Loftus-decertified portion east of Solomon Road beginning where both sides are state land, then east to the end of the decertified portion (at section 9 line)

Solomon-decertified portion from Eckert Road north to the county line (108th Street)

Johnson-decertified portion from Garbow Road north to dead end.



Law Day, 2016: Part One. The introduction

The Barry County Bar Association recognized Law Day in an April 29 ceremony in the Barry County Circuit Courtroom. The theme of Law Day 2016 is “Miranda, more than words.”

During the observance, the association presented the Liberty Bell Award to Don Geukes of Middleville and heard a speech by James Redford (see related stories).


Three years before the Miranda v Arizona case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all citizens had the right to counsel in serious cases, which was later broadened to include all crimes, Judge Amy McDowell said in her opening remarks.


“However, that would be an empty promise if the accused was not aware of the right, or how to exercise that right,” she said. With the Miranda decision, officers were required to give individuals in custody the now familiar “Miranda warning” to assure that they knew their rights.


McDowell said 2016 is the 50th anniversary of Miranda v Arizona, and the Miranda warning has become ingrained in law enforcement and popular consciousness through countless recitations in films and television shows.


“Yet, Miranda is only part of the story when it comes to the procedures for ensuring justice. These procedural rights afforded all of us, how these rights are safeguarded by the courts and why the preservation of these principles is essential to our liberty, is the focus of this year’s Law Day theme,” she said.


Attorney Bob Byington told Miranda’s story. Ernesto Miranda, from Arizona, was 23, poor, with a ninth grade education, when he was tried and convicted of rape and sentenced to prison.


When reviewing the case, the U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged that while the police did not coerce, threaten or promise Miranda anything during his interrogation, neither did they inform him of his right to have counsel when being interrogated or that his words would to be used against him in court, Byington said.


Miranda was granted a new trial, was again convicted and sent to prison in 1967. He was paroled in 1972. His story had an ironic ending, Byington said. Miranda was murdered in a bar fight in 1976. His suspected attacker used his right to remain silent contained in the Miranda warning. With no other evidence against him, the suspect was released.

Law Day 2016 Part Two: Special speaker is James Redford

Featured speaker at the Barry County Bar Association’s Law Day observance April 29 was James Redford, Kent County Circuit Court Judge from 2003 to 2014, former chief legal counsel to Governor Rick Snyder, and now director of Michigan’s Veteran’s Agency.  

Don Geukes was presented the Liberty Bell Award (see related stories).


In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower selected May 1 as Law Day, a day chosen specifically to counterbalance displays of military might in communist bloc countries, Redford said.

“Hundreds of processions of troops, of missiles, of tanks, of every type of armament known to mankind, for the killing of mankind. The communists believed that the displays demonstrated their strength as the superior power of the world at that time, he said.


Eisenhower, a five-star general and commanding officer of all Allied Forces in the European Theater in WWII who ordered millions of soldiers to fight to free Europe, recognized that, “it was not the force of arms which gave America its greatest strength, rather, it was our commitment to the rule of law.”


In other counties, in communist countries, disputes were settled by gun fights, political brawls and political coup d’états, with the military taking over civilian governments.


“Our disputes in our nation, individually or collectively, are settled in courts. Every day, disputes between individuals, and between businesses, sometimes between families, are resolved peacefully and predictably because of the rule of law,” he said.


Because of Miranda, and its assurance of the rights of people against the government, people can have confidence when they know what is to be taken place in special halls…where we come together as individuals as jurors, as witnesses, as judges as lawyers, to do justice. The Miranda decision is just as relevant today as it was in 1966, because it reaffirms the rule of law, he said. //


In the four Miranda warnings, suspects are told that they have the right to remain silent, that anything they say can and will be used against them in a court of law, they have the right to an attorney, and if they cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for them, he said.


“So Miranda today continues to be important and relevant…it’s what makes us a nation, our commitment to the rule of law…everyone is held to the rule of law. It gives greater faith in our system of government,” Redford said.

Law Day 2016, Part Three. The Liberty Bell Award

The Barry County Bar Association presents the Liberty Bell Award during its Law Day observances to a person who has demonstrated a commitment to their community.  Featured speaker at the April 29 event was James Redford (see related stories).

This year, the award was presented to Don Geukes, the third generation of Geukes to own and manage a meat market in Middleville.


“It is really a great honor to accept this,” he said, introducing his family, wife Janet, children Jennifer and Jeffrey, grandson Nicholas, sister Ruth and sister-in-law Marcia Schondelmayer.


Geukes Meat Market was founded by grandparents Art and Florence, then owned and run by mom and dad, Chet and Eleanor, then Don and Janet who operated it for 35 years.


Don was given the Liberty Bell award this year for his decades long involvement in the betterment of his hometown and Barry County.


The couple has been involved in 4-H and the Barry County Fair for many years. Besides their regular duties, both pitch in and do whatever needs to be done, helping wherever they are needed.

Don and Janet, who was a teacher for 37 years, were instrumental in the adding one of the most popular attractions at the fair, the birthing tent.

While still in high school, Don started a herd of Angus cattle and showed them at the fair; he also worked at the market. After graduating from MSU, he returned to Middleville to work at the market and assumed ownership when Chet retired in the early 1980s.


On the fair board for 30 years, Don  was president when they moved to the current location mid-way between Hastings and Middleville. That was a difficult time with stressful special meetings and many upset people, he said.


“It was a big job and a challenge. We knew we had to rebuild the fairground…but we wanted to do more than that, we wanted to be part of the community.”


“We’ve been out there 16 years now, we’re non-profit and self sufficient. The Expo Center is owned by the Barry County Agricultural Society. We are proud to say we use no taxpayer money. We set it up that way, with the rental, winter storage and the fair, we’ve done real well with it and haven’t asked the taxpayers for any help.” //


“We support Waste Management’s Hazardous Household Waste Collection, the United Way Kickoff, the Relay for Life, Farm Bureau Agricultural Awareness Day, the Home Show, weddings, horse shows, the Blue and Gold show, 4-H activities all year long and soccer is out there now, thus, we are part of the community,” he said.


Don is a livestock buyer at the Barry, Eaton, Kent and Allegan 4-H livestock sales; he created the 4-H Livestock Carcass Contest at the fair.

Among the  numerous awards Don and Janet have received are:

*the 1995 Michigan Meat Association Outstanding Service Award

*the Outstanding 4-H Leaders Award for the 2001 Barry County Fair

*the 1995 Barry County Livestock Developmental Committee Award for their many outstanding contributions to the Barry County Live stock program

*the Commission on Aging and Hastings City Bank 2014 Senior Citizen Award.

Geukes Market has received:

*the 2013 Barry County 4-H Livestock Program Award, for its contributions for many years

*the Gold Award from Eaton County Junior Livestock Market for investing in 4-H youth’s future,

*the Friend of 4-H Award for service and support from both Eaton and Allegan county 4-H fairs.


The Liberty Bell Award was established by Michigan Young Lawyers in the 1960s to acknowledge outstanding community service by those who stimulate a sense of civic responsibility, contribute to good government, promote better understanding of the law and encourage greater respect for the law and the courts.

Open carry incident in downtown Hastings called unacceptable

A man with gun on his hip, wearing a mic and body camera and being followed by a WWMT-TV cameraman was on the street in downtown Hastings Friday afternoon, April 29. The man walked into two downtown stores, and then left.


Melissa Broderick, in the WWMT newsroom, said the footage is part of a special news report named "Carry Controversy." Broderick said the main body of the special report by reporter Kate Tillotson is in Kalamazoo, with the Hastings tape used as additional footage, done with the cooperation of Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf.


WWMT News Director Steve Koles told WBCH that a decision was made by Monday morning not to air the special news report at this time. Koles said after discussing the matter with Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller, they decided it is still too soon after the mass shootings in Kalamazoo, and have put the report on hold.


The incident, however, has brought anger and condemnation from Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt. Pratt said the Channel 3 reporter confirmed to him that the live coverage of promoting ”open carry” was done with Leaf’s cooperation.


“I’m not against guns, or open carry,” Pratt said, “but to have someone in Dar Leaf’s position to do that when there are 4,000 students from 60 school districts in town for the Jazz Festival is just a stupid decision." 


“In this day and age, it is disrespectful to anyone who lives or visits here, as well as the students.  For the sheriff to push his political agenda at the expense of the students by promoting open carry with 4,000 of them in town is not acceptable.”


Leaf acknowledged that he worked with the news media on the project. “They asked me if I knew someone who open carried. I did, and I hooked them up with someone who open carries all the time. I found a body camera and put that on him.”


The man walked into Barlow’s and Gilmore’s on State Street and had positive interactions in both stores, he said. The same man went with WWMT-TV to Battle Creek, still open carrying, “and got the same reaction from the people there, which was nothing. A lot of people supported it,” Leaf said.


“I talked to the Kalamazoo County sheriff, but he said it was too soon after the mass shooting there.”  Leaf said he called the Hastings Police to give them a “heads up.”


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