Local News Archives for 2016-08

MSP Detective Klotz Retires

Today Wednesday is a special day for Detective Sergeant Terry Klotz as he is retiring from the department after 31 years of service. Klotz joined the State Police in 1985 and began his career as a Trooper at the Hastings Post.  During his career as a trooper before being promoted to Detective Sergeant, he served on the Michigan State Police Emergency Support Team.

Best wishes for a well deserved retirement.

Silent Observer lets citizens anonymously help law enforcement control crime

Keeping crime in check is one of the most important aspects in maintaining the wonderful quality of life Barry County residents enjoy, Barry Central Dispatch 911 Director Phyllis Fuller said.

“However, crime prevention is not the sole responsibility of law enforcement. Statistics show the community’s involvement in cooperation with law enforcement’s efforts is the most effective way to control crime,” she said.


Barry County Silent Observer is a county-wide program giving residents a safe and anonymous way to report crime. It’s mission is to provide a channel of communication to help law enforcement by encouraging citizen and business participation and support to help insure a safer community, Fuller said.


To benefit the Silent Observer program, those with returnable bottles and cans are asked to drop them off at the Charity House during the month of September. A refundable can and bottle recycling center, the Charity House is next to the Waste Water Treatment Plant on Apple Street in Hastings.


Locations of prescription drug drop off boxes in Ionia County told

Statistics show that more Michigan residents die from prescription drug abuse than from the use of heroin and cocaine combined. In an effort to limit the availability of medicines, the  Ionia County Substance Abuse Initiative and Ionia County Health Department announce that prescription drugs can be put in drop-off boxes installed at:


* Ionia Sheriff’s Office lobby, 133 Adams Street, Ionia,

* Belding Police Department, 120 South Pleasant Street, Belding,

* Portland Police Department, 773 East Grand River, Portland. 


Community residents can drop off unused or expired prescriptions and over-the-counter medications during regular business hours, with no questions asked. Needles will not be accepted. For questions on the boxes or any substance use disorder services from ICSAI, call 616-527-5341.


Newest Barry County Sheriff deputy starts his dream job

“I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to do,” Kenny Price said just before he was sworn in to his “dream job” as a Barry County Sheriff’s deputy. The son of John Price of Battle Creek and Christina Price of Freeport, Kenny, 25, graduated from Thornapple Kellogg in 2010. He just completed three years of study to graduate from the Kellogg Community College Police Academy.


Being hired by Sheriff Dar Leaf and starting the job he has worked hard for is, “Awesome. Just awesome. I’ve always wanted to be in law enforcement.” He’s not worried about any problems working with the people of Barry County, many of them friends or friends of the family. Being born and living his whole life in Freeport,  he is comfortably at home in the wider community.


Respect and professionalism are the keys to working with people, and that’s his goal at all times, he said.  “I’m looking forward to working with people I know. I feel blessed to be working in Barry County. I’m not going anywhere, I want to build my career here.”

What drew him to law enforcement?

“I want to help people…I knew this was the best chance to do it. It’s an active job and every day is different. It’s perfect for me.”


He will be in field training at the sheriff’s office for three or four months. This week, he’s been doing paperwork, learning about the corrections unit inside the jail, the technologies deputies use and general orientation. He was sworn in by Leaf Tuesday with his family there to watch him take the oath and become Barry County’s newest deputy.


There will be challenges he knows, especially in these times, but he’s not worried about the pressure that goes with the position. “I’m ready for this job.”


Photos: (upper left) Barry County Sheriff’s Deputy Kenny Price.


(middle right) Kenny Price takes the oath of office from Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf.


(lower left) The Price family at Kenny Price’s swearing in ceremony: (from left) step-sister Rayni Harvey, sister Jocelyn Price, brother Michael Price, dad John Price, Kenny, mom Christina Price, sister Jessica Price, brother Karsten Price and brother-in-law Jeff Leep.

Hastings schools to have liaison officer from Hastings PD

The Hastings Police Department and Hastings Area Schools is announcing that the police department is providing the school liaison officer for the schools this school year, Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt said. Sgt. Kris Miller will be school liaison and will be assisted at times throughout the year by Officer Kendra Backing.


Miller will be performing the school liaison duties one day a week at Hastings area schools. He is already well known by many Hastings children though his work in community policing, Pratt said.

“Our department and the schools have a history of cooperation, and as we start the new school year, we look forward to the continued excellent partnership to enhance relationships with students and parents of the school district,” he said.


Photos: (top) Hastings Police Officer Kris Miller.

(bottom) HPD’s Kris Miller, a kid-friendly officer, poses with a few of his fans.

All day outdoor fun for kids at Youth Day Sept. 10

A fun, skill-building, educational and entertaining event for area families will be at Charlton Park Saturday, Sept 10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Barry County Youth Day gives families an easy way to take a break from video games and let youth from toddlers to teens try their hands at more than 30 hands-on activities, including fishing, hunting, hiking, archery, mountain biking, camping, as well as see a variety of sport dog demonstrations and outdoor education displays.


Local experts help novices get their bearings and offer tips and tricks while having fun; parents can get advice from experts on how to get outdoors more. The event is free and kids get a free lunch. The day is fully funded by donations and run by a network of local outdoor enthusiasts who want to help kids get the same exposure to outdoor sports that they had as children, said Sarah Nelson, executive director of the Barry Conservation District.


“The Youth Day mission is simple-get kids outdoors. In doing so, the group hopes to preserve Michigan’s outdoor heritage by inspiring future generations to enjoy and protect all of our natural treasures...Barry County Youth Day organizers are dedicated to making this event as accessible as possible to all children,” Nelson said.


This year’s event will feature more than two dozen groups that engage in outdoor activities.

For more information visit or


Photo: Future bow hunters get tips on archery from experts at last year’s Youth Day.

(photo supplied)



Crosswalk repair resumes in Hastings Sept. 7

Hastings DPW crews will resume crosswalk repair after the Labor Day holiday.

Crosswalks at State and Church streets (west and south) will close on the morning of Wednesday, Sept. 7.  remain closed through the weekend and re-open to traffic Monday, Sept. 12.


Young Lowell woman dies in one-car crash

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate a fatal one-car crash that occurred Aug. 27 at 8:30 a.m.  Emily Hessler, 21, of Lowell, was westbound on Vergennes Road east of Alden Nash Avenue when her 2005 Pontiac crossed the centerline, left the roadway on the westbound side and hit a tree, deputies report.


Rockford Ambulance and Lowell Rescue arrived simultaneously and pronounced her deceased. She was not wearing a seat belt. There were no passengers in the car and no other vehicles were involved in the crash, the report said.

Summerfest Weather

Rain and a Thunderstorm  Saturday morning cancelled the Summerfest parade as another inch of rain (1:04)moved through, adding to the already heavy rains this August as recorded by the Hastings Natiional Weather Service Climatological Station. With the morning rain we are now at 12.26 inches for the month.  

FEMA grant will fund new self contained breathing equipment for TTES

Thornapple Township Emergency Services announced they will receive a $167,522 grant to replace all of the self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) currently in service at TTES.

The Assistance to Firefighters grant (AFG) was awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.


The grant, with a matching amount of $8,376, will fund replacement of the current SCBAs that have reached the end of their life expectancy and become costly to maintain.


The SCBAs are critical to the responders wherever immediate dangerous to life hazard conditions are present, said TTES Lt. Brett Laitila. This is the fourth time is six years that the service has been successful in receiving AFG grants to help in purchasing critical fire and EMS equipment for citizens in the TTES response area, he said.



Kent County Sheriff asks for help indentifying indecent exposure suspect

The Kent County Sheriff’s Department is investigating two indecent exposure incidents on the Paul Henry Trail between Kalamazoo and South Division avenues in Gaines Township.The first incident was Aug.10, the second on Aug. 20.


The suspect in both incidents is described as an Asian male riding a bike. Using a cell phone, the victim was able to take a photograph of the man in one of the incidents.

Detectives are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying the man in the photo. Anyone with information is asked to contact Det. Hinds at 616-632-6140 or Silent Observer at 616-774-2345.

Date changed to Sept. 7 for first day of school at Maple Valley Schools

The Maple Valley Board of Education has moved the start date for Maple Valley Schools back to Wednesday, Sept. 7.

The change in date from the announced date of Aug. 29 will allow final touches to be made by construction crews at the Junior/Senior High classrooms and common areas and not interrupt academic instruction. The delay will also give secondary staff time to unpack, organize, and prepare classrooms for the open house and seventh grade orientation on Tuesday, Sept. 6 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., according to the school’s website.

Attorney explains Distributed Antenna Systems to Hastings City Council

Hastings City Council members learned a lot about Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) at a workshop Aug. 22, and they learned they will have to make a lot of decisions in the future.

The antennas, with different styles, are mounted on new or existing utility poles, street lights and traffic lights in public rights of way to bring more service to nearby areas.


DAS is new way of boosting cellular coverage and capacity and cheaper than the macro towers used by giant telecommunications companies like AT&T and Verizon.


Jeff Sluggett, an attorney who specializes in planning, zoning and land use issues,  explained the situation. A packet developed by attorneys with guidance from the Metro Council and paid for by a consortium of cities, including Hastings, has a cover letter, a sample license/franchise, a Metro Act permit and zoning checklist to give companies applying to use its rights-of-ways.


Since every municipality is different, each must decide how to best fit their city’s needs, Sluggett said. “The Michigan law is crystal clear; Hastings has control of its rights of way… so the city can deny applicants access to its rights of way; they don’t have to allow them at all,” he said.

However, it is a valuable service for its residents and the demand is greatly expanding with the increasing growth of use of mobile data.


Pole heights, a new ordinance, zoning issues, liability, application, license and monthly fees, co-locations, site plan reviews, performance bonds, safety issues, site design and much more will have to be decided by individual cities. //


With the Metro template and local decisions made, the companies will know what is expected from them, Sluggett said. Companies prefer to deal with city officials rather than private parties; there are fewer negotiations and its cheaper, he added.

The meetings with applicants may become contentious because, “they think they have every right to be there...there is no downside to define what is regulated, clearly, no one has the right to be in a right of way without a license,” he said


He advised the council not to move too quickly; there are more work group meetings scheduled.


“At some point there will be a lawsuit filed…they have nothing to lose if you say no.” He emphasized that Hastings was not alone, there are 20 other cities in the same situation. But, he predicted “if all the cities say no, Lansing will act to take it out of local control.”


Mansfield said city officials agree they need and want telecommunications, with proper rules and regulations. The council and city staff, as of now, will discuss an ordinance to deal with the matter, fees and administrative costs, approving the Metro packet if they get a applicant, co-location and the status of existing DAS poles in the city.

With more and more applications to use the rights-of-ways sure to come, the city needs a consistent response for applicants, Sluggett said



Annual Labor Day Bridge Walk in Middleville set

It’s not too early to plan your Labor Day activities. If you can’t make the Labor Day Walk across the “Big Mac,” usually taken by the sitting governor, other politicians and lesser dignitaries, Middleville has the answer for you.


American Legion Post #140 is sponsoring Middleville’s traditional Labor Day Bridge Walk on Labor Day, Sept. 5 and the public is invited. The group will start their hike across the Main Street Bridge over the Thornapple River from the Pavilion at 9 a.m. They can reasonably expect to finish the walk at 9:02 a.m.


All walkers are given a participation certificate signed by the village president. Those who want to walk more bridges can walk the newly-dedicated north section of the Paul Henry-Thornapple Trail with its six bridges or the original section of the trail, with three bridges, making ten bridges available for the serious walkers.

The Thornapple Trail Association started the light-hearted walk in 2004, and sponsored it every year since, until the American Legion offered  to sponsor it this year.


German Wind Orchestra to present free concert in Middleville

The German Wind Orchestra from Fredrichshafen, Germany, under the direction of Alain Wozniak, will perform a concert Thursday, Sept. 1, at 7 p.m. in the First Baptist Church of Middleville, at 5215 M-37, north of the village.


The orchestra, through the Blue Lake International Music Program, is touring the Great Lakes area and will arrive in the Middleville area on Aug. 30. They will be guests in private homes and present a free concert,  followed by an Ice Cream Social. Local area churches are assisting in the program, a news release said.


Barry County is fortunate to have them come to Middleville; the public is encouraged to come to the concert and give orchestra members a Barry County welcome. the release said. The orchestra  leaves Sept. 2.


Spectrum Health Pennock seeking Compassion Award nominations

Spectrum Health Pennock is asking the public for nominations for the Compassion Award; for special caregivers who excel in their practice of care and move the patient experience from good to extraordinary. “Caring and compassion are at the core of Spectrum Health Pennock values, it is who we are,” said Carla Wilson-Neil, COO at Spectrum Health Pennock. “Choosing just one compassionate caregiver is always a challenge.”


The Compassion Award identifies very special caregivers or colleagues who consistently communicate in a sensitive manner, listen carefully, display empathy and instill a sense of hope. The recipient is announced during the annual Quality & Culture Awards dinner this fall.


For a nominating form for this year’s Compassion Award, contact by Sept. 9 with the  name of the Spectrum Health Pennock colleague or provider being nominated, a detailed description of why they are being nominated, your name, phone number and email for follow up questions. Those with questions can contact Devi Arunkumar at (269) 945-1212 Ext. 2177.


The 2015 Compassion award winner, Lee Stuart, M.D., is a family physician at Spectrum Health Pennock in Lake Odessa. Erica Nyman, a physician’s assistant at Lakewood Family Health Care, nominated him for the award. Stuart said he was very humbled and honored to be given the award. “It’s a privilege to be able to care for people, to be a part of their life and the lives of their families,” he said.


Stuart believes a successful relationship with a patient comes from the confidence they have in their provider. “The key to taking care of patients is having compassion for them. For the patient, that confidence doesn’t come down to how much you know, but how you feel about them, the compassion you show them…medicine is much more than just the physical, it also involves the mental and spiritual aspects of the person. It’s multi-faceted, you’re involved in their lives, are there to help them for a whole lifetime.”



Hastings Summerfest celebrates summer this weekend

Hastings is going all out for its annual celebration of summer coming up tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday. Summerfest 2016 has something for all ages; the old favorites and new events to enjoy.

Major attractions are the arts and crafts vendors on the Barry County Courthouse lawn, the annual parade, car show, food booths, concessions, free trolley rides, children’s activities, softball tournament, 3-on-3 basketball, 10K/5K run, roller hockey tournament, weight lifting contest, soapbox derby, live entertainment and refreshment tent.


The 39th annual parade is Saturday at 11:30 a.m. The Hastings Car Club classic, antique car and truck show is Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a live DJ entertaining viewers checking out the vehicles. The three day event is put on by the Barry County Chamber of Commerce Summerfest Committee. For a complete schedule of events and times, visit:



Top photo: Dave Corson has help from grandson Jordan Parks keeping his 1979 Pontiac Trans Am ultra shiny at last year’s car show.


Bottom photo: The Summerfest Car Show features many, many distinctive one-of-a-kind vehicles.

Pair pleads guilty to assault with intent to commit murder

Cory Louis Wagner, 27, and Tiffany Chanthavong, 22, both pled guilty to a charge of assault with intent to murder Wagner’s mother. Both waived their right to a preliminary hearing in District Court Aug. 24 in front of Judge Michael Schipper before entering the pleas.


According to the plea agreement, a 20-year-cap was set on the minimum sentence for both and the remaining charges were dropped in exchange for the guilty pleas. Wagner had his telephone privileges revoked while in jail, except to talk to his attorney, to stop him from trying to call his mother, Diane Wagner.


Wagner and Chanthavong faced the same charges of assault with intent to commit murder, kidnapping, extortion, motor vehicle theft and credit card fraud.

On July 4, Wagner was at his mother’s house on Huff Road in Assyria Township and asked her for money so he and Chanthavong could leave the state to get away from problems with the law.


When his mother refused, police said that Wagner and Chanthavong severely beat her, threatened her with a knife, bound her with duct tape, tied her to a chair and locked her in a bathroom, taking her car and credit card when they fled.


Diane Wagner was eventually able to call 911 for help and was transported to Bronson Battle Creek Hospital for treatment. The pair fled; they were arrested by Rockford, Illinois police on July 5. They were later extradited back to Barry County. Both are scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 5.



Upper Crooked Lake watercraft wash station is in operation

The first watercraft wash station in Southwest Michigan is in operation at Prairieville Township's Upper Crooked Lake launch site, constructed by volunteers from the lake community.


"Our lake has five aquatic invasive species," said Mic Mutschler, president of the Delton Crooked Lake Association.  Eurasian Water Milfoil, Curlyleaf Pondweed, Starry Stonewort, Cabomba and Phragmites. “That's more than any other lake in this area and we needed to do something to at least slow down the introduction of new non-natives."


Recreational boaters are the primary carriers of invasive species from one lake to another.  "And, the research consistently verifies, that the most effective control we have right now is to power wash possibly contaminated boats prior to their launching," said project volunteer John Hoek.


A study at the launch site last summer found about 12 percent of the watercraft launched were not properly cleaned, drained and dried.  "That's about seventy boats per year," lake resident Kathy Mutschler said. "And, the scary part is that it only takes one to introduce the next invasive."


Prairieville Township supported the study financially and also the subsequent findings that clearly showed the best way to control further introduction of harmful plants and animals was to build a watercraft wash station.


"It just made environmental, recreational and economic sense to do so," said Supervisor of Prairieville Township Jim Stoneburner. "Then my board went on to adopt one of the strongest aquatic invasive species prevention ordinances in the state.  We hope to be a model for other townships."


Under the ordinance, when the wash station is staffed, all boats entering the launch site must be visually inspected for the presence of possible contamination.  Self-wash equipment is available during non-manned hours. //

The boats must also wash before exiting the launch site.  "This is just being a good neighbor,” Jim Minich said. "We don't want to send our invasives to our neighbors."


Mary Meagher, also a lakefront volunteer, said the response of launch site users has been very positive. "We use a variety of awareness and educational materials to help folks better understand what we are doing and why.  It's amazing how a little information can have such an immediate impact."


"We're very pleased that our lake residents took the initiative to deal with the aquatic invasive species problem," township Clerk Ted DeVries said.  "We look forward to continuing our support of their prevention efforts." 


Hoek said the estimated annual operational amount isn’t available since some factors, such as staffing hours, aren’t known yet. They intend to apply for a Michigan DEQ grant during the next funding cycle to help determine the effectiveness of the wash station.       

Funding was provided by the Prairieville Township Parks and Recreation Commission, the Delton Crooked Lake Association, and private donors, as well as the township board.

Hastings Country Club Championship

The Hastings Country Club held its annual club championship this past weekend..

Kylee Nemetz a Junior at Davenport University and former Hastings High School Graduate played in the club championship for the first time  and became the Women's Club Champion..

Nemetz came in with a score of 77.

 Jeff Stores repeated as the Men's Club Champion.

Gas leak disrupts Bradford White business for about two hours

A liquefied gas similar to propane used to test international water heaters accidently leaked from a cylinder while is was being used at the Bradford White Company in Middleville, triggering a response from emergency workers with haz mat training. The amount of the leak was well less than the approximately 23 gallons of liquefied gas in the container, Thornapple Township Emergency Services reported.


TTES secured the area around the leak and moved employees from the area in the water heater manufacturing plant. By 12:25 p.m., the leak had been secured and after a period of ventilation and additional air sampling, the all clear was given and the water heater manufacturing facility on Lafayette Street resumed normal operations, the report said.

Because limited manpower is available in the daytime, help was asked from Hastings and Caledonia fire departments, the Barry County Sheriff’s Office and Barry County Emergency Management.


The call to TTES came  in at 11:04 a.m. on Aug. 23.

All responders cleared the scene at 1:22 p.m.


Barry County Commissioners filled in on BEDHD budget,operations

Barry Eaton District Health Officer Collette Scrimger gave a presentation explaining the functions and budget of the health department to the Barry County Commission Aug. 23, at the request of Commissioner Craig Stolsonburg.


Scrimger provided its organizational chart, the department’s five year strategic goals and strategies to implement the goals and staffing tables. Also included was a draft copy of the proposed budget with breakdowns on the different departments; Environmental Health, Administration, Personal Health and Eaton Behavioral Health and a list of available immunizations and their cost.


Scrimger said the department faces several challenges in its delivery of the services the public expects. A failing IT system forced the department to contract with Eaton County to become part of its computer system instead of trying to maintain an independent system.


“We continue to dig out of that.. it’s because of neglect over a long period on time,” she said.

State funding continues to be flat or decreasing, while staff costs continue to rise. Staff recruitment and training is ongoing, with qualified people hard to find, and in many cases, after a few years of training, the newer hire leaves for a better paying job.


And, as the economy improves, people are using more health department services, Scrimger said. One of the biggest concerns is $5.5 million in unfunded liability for employee pensions, The BEDHD retirement account is 73 percent funded and they have been making extra payments since 2012, she said.

“Despite all of these challenges and the many others we deal with on a regular basis, we continue to strive to provide quality public health services for our district,” Scrimger said. “The  department works to put the needs for the district first and try to be responsive and flexible to address emerging issues.” //


Several questions from commissioners and the audience had to do with the budget and the TOST regulation. Scrimger addressed the questions, and if she did not have an immediate answer, she will get the answer and forward it to County Administrator Michael Brown.




Some facts about BEDHD financials:

The operation runs on about $6.3 million a year.

The majority of costs, 71 percent, is for salary and fringes of staff.


Thirty-four percent of its income comes from the state, excluding Medicaid service revenue.

Twenty percent of revenue is from county appropriations

Forty-six percent come from grants, contracts and fees.

Personal Health makes up 40 percent of the budget and the equivalent of 21.73 full time employees.

Environmental Health makes up 33 percent of the budget with the equivalent of 18.30 full time employees.

Eaton Behavioral Health make up 15 percent of the budget and the equivalent of 8.20 full time employees.

Administration makes up 12 percent of the budget and the equivalent of 14 full time employees.




BEDHD offers free hearing and vision screenings in Charlotte office

Of the approximately three million children living in Michigan, more than one million of them will need eye care by the time they reach high school graduation age. Some 10,000 of these children are entering school each year with inadequate vision.  Hearing and vision screening is required before entering kindergarten. Hearing and vision screening is available through the Barry-Eaton District Health Department free of charge for preschool – school age children.


An Eaton County clinic is set for Friday, Sept. 9 at the BEDHD office in Charlotte. Call 517-541-2630 to schedule an appointment.


Watch for more activity with schools opening, Barry County Sheriff reminds

Next week will mark the beginning of the new school year in many Barry County School Districts.

Sheriff Dar Leaf  reminds all citizens that there will be much more activity on the streets of our communities with children walking, riding bikes, and crossing guards posted at many busy intersections helping pedestrians cross the roadways.


Traffic will also include teen drivers sharing the road with parents and other commuters, and, of course, school buses. Keep in mind the laws at it applies to the red and yellow flashing lights on those school buses, and the pedestrian and crosswalk laws, whether there is a crossing guard present or not.


Remember that schools often have policies related to traffic flow in and out of their parking lots as well. Helpful hints can be found at


Have a safe school season!


Hastings Police Department Ambassadors program launched

Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt has emphasized community policing since he became chief in April, 2014. Early on, Pratt said community policing is building relationships with kids, business owners and neighborhoods, getting officers out of the patrol cars, walking around, talking with residents, visitors, merchants and kids and having more interaction in the community. “We need to use more ways to communicate with the everyone."


Pratt announced the latest police department program fostering involvement in the community at the Hastings City Council meeting Aug. 22. He introduced David McIntyre, “a man who has devoted years of his life to service to the community,” as the first Hastings Police Department Ambassador. McIntyre, the voice of WBCH radio, is the first member of the new group that joins the police reserves and cadet programs that involve the community and police department.


The volunteers, who will have no police powers, will wear a shirt identifying them as a police department ambassador, attend events and parades, interact and help residents and visitors in any way they can and promote the police department and Hastings, Pratt said.


“Thank you. It is an honor to perform for the city,” McIntyre said. “This is people stepping forward to show others what is going on here…this program reaches out. We’ll put the shirt on, say ‘hi’ to people. We are stepping up and telling visitors and residents what’s great about Hastings,” he said. “Dave will be an awesome addition to our police department, “ Pratt said. “We’re excited about this.”


The only qualifications to be an ambassador are that the volunteer loves the City of Hastings and supports the city’s police department. Pratt will be advertising for ambassadors, and have applications on line. Those interested in volunteering can contact the police department. Mayor Frank Campbell, who is not running for reelection in November, said: “I’m going to be out of a job soon, maybe I’ll volunteer.”


More Rain

With already record amounts of rain this month another round of wet weather is on the way. A storm system in the Plains is pushing east and will start showing up  in the Hastings Barry County area  by Wednesday. So far the Hastings National Weather Service Climatological Station has recored 11.15 inches of rain this August.


Hastings in line for MDEQ grant for storm and wastewater treatment system

The City of Hastings has been notified that it is eligible to receive a $791,820 grant, which includes a 10 percent match from the city, from  the MDEQ's  Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater (SAW) Program.


Following City Manager Jeff Mansfield’s recommendation Monday, the council unanimously accepted the grant. “This is really good news,” he said. The city has some needed equipment already and some of the work can be done by city staff, he added.


The city applied for SAW grant back in December of 2013 with the council’s approval, and waited to be selected by a lottery process. Mansfield suggested that the council reaffirm their intent to accept the grant.


The city will establish a digital records management system, full field inspection, inventory of the storm and wastewater infrastructure and develop an Asset Management Plan (AMP). The local match would come from the water and sewer fund, Mansfield said.


The AMP would center on proactive maintenance and planned improvements and infrastructure replacement, Mansfield said. The city has to start a grant-funded project within three years of the grant acceptance or repay the grant, plus interest. 

Other municipalities in the area that are eligible for SAW grants include Middleville, Nashville, Hopkins, Martin, Allegan, Coopersville, Caledonia, Rockford and Calhoun County.

Mountain bike trail in Hastings moves forward

A tentative agreement to allow the West Michigan Mountain Bike Alliance to construct a mountain bike trail on city property on Hammond Road Recreation Area in exchange for maintaining the trial was approved Monday by the Hastings City Council.


Councilwoman Brenda McNabb Stange was the only dissenting vote, objecting to a provision that the WMMBA would recover a prorated part of its investment should the city sell or put the property to another use in the future. McNabb Stange said that obligates the city but there was no mention what would happen if the bike organization terminated the contract.


If the bikers didn’t maintain the trail or cancelled the contract, as it stands now, the city would still have to pay the group, she said. She also objected to not having the budget figures in the agreement.


Ben LaDuke, head trail coordinator for WMMBA, said that was a fair complaint and said they would insert into the agreement that if the group terminates it, there would be no money paid back.  LaDuke noted they were not asking the city to pay for the trail. City Manager Jeff Mansfield said the city does have commitments for funds from some private donors who support the biking trail. He said they were still working on the final budget for the project and he expects it to be ready for review by the next council meeting. //


In the works since last year, the mountain bike trail would be about seven miles long and include bridges, direction signs and maps and a kiosk. A professionally built trail would cost about $80,000 and could be build in one construction season. Construction by professionals would result in a more enjoyable and sustainable trail, LaDuke said in December 2015.


The track would be 18 to 24 inches wide, with four to six feet of clearance on the sides and could be used for biking, running, hiking, walking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and dog walking with the focus to keep the trail in wooded areas as much as possible.


Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to present award at Hastings SOS office Tuesday

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson will be at the Hastings Secretary of State’s office from approximately 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. Tuesday to present a Shining Star Award to West Michigan resident Fran Grabowski for his outstanding efforts promoting organ, tissue and eye donation. He is a double cornea recipient who travels the state to encourage people to Donate Life.

Grabowski is the newest member of the Eversight Michigan Lions and Lionesses Advisory Council and promotes donation awareness in communities statewide. His motto is, “Have eyes, will travel.”


Former warehouse to make way for green space, Plaza event parking

Demolition will begin the week of Aug. 22 of the Hastings Manufacturing Company's warehouse 80 to make way for green space to accommodate overflow parking for Thornapple Plaza events.

The property, vacant for decades,  was purchased by LRB Ventures, owned by Hastings businessman and philanthropist Larry Baum.  Hastings Manufacturing vice president of business development Jeff Guenther met Baum at Bell Title on Friday, Aug. 19, to transfer the title to LRB Industries for $1.


The Baum Family Foundation donated Thornapple Plaza to the City of Hastings after funding the development and construction for $1.2 million. The foundation also paid for the three Friday night features. The concert venue has proven to be extremely popular, drawing 700 people to the Matt Williams concert.


Baum said because Thornapple Plaza has been so well received, he and his wife, Earlene, felt they should do something to provide additional parking and improve the view from the plaza.

When demolition is complete the area will be seeded and outdoor lights installed. Baum said he anticipates the work to be completed before the next concert season begins in the spring.


Public is encouraged to attend sturgeon release in Kalamazoo River

The public is encouraged to join in a celebration and release of juvenile sturgeon into the Kalamazoo River, Monday, Aug. 29, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the New Richmond Bridge County Park, 5700 Old Allegan Road, in Hamilton. A welcome to the ceremony will be provided by Chairperson Leah Sprague-Fodor and the tribal youth drum group ThunderBuddies will perform.

Tribal elders John Bush, Punkin and Dave Shananaquet and Miss Pottawatomi, Mary Bush will also take part. The event will include hatchery tours and light dinner for up to 200 people in attendance.


The eight-inch sturgeon set for release were reared in a streamside hatchery and will be hand-released back into the river. Sturgeon, or Nmé in Pottawatomi, is culturally important to the tribe as the fish represents an animal clan in traditional beliefs. 

Sturgeon clan people have spiritual knowledge offered as guidance to others and they live to an old age, just like lake sturgeon.  The rehabilitation of lake sturgeon is a reflection of the tribe’s present-day progression as a community and a tribal government.


The Gun Lake Tribe organized an annual release of lake sturgeon into the river with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, and the Kalamazoo River chapter of Sturgeon for Tomorrow.





Run alongside area law enforcement for Special Olympics Michigan athletes

 The Allegan Law Enforcement Torch Run will raise funds for Special Olympics Michigan athletes in a community run, and the public is invited and  encouraged to run along with them.

The Allegan Community Run is an opportunity for law enforcement, corrections personnel and community members to run shoulder to shoulder, raising money and awareness for Special Olympics Michigan athletes.


Registration is at 9 a.m., the run starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27 at the Allegan Sports Complex, 1451 29th Street, Allegan. It’s one in the series of 41 community runs around the state during Law Enforcement Torch Run week in September.


Participation in one of the community runs is $25 per person which includes a dri-fit shirt. For more information, visit and click the Torch Run link or sign up at


Special Olympics Michigan Inc. provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for 23,317 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Athletes build physical fitness, develop self-confidence and prepare for participation in society. //


The Law Enforcement Torch Run Travel Teams return this year with three teams spending a week moving all around Michigan supporting the community scheduled runs. It all  coincides with the annual torch run’s central route, a 750-mile non-stop relay run from Copper Harbor in the tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to Sterling Heights in metro-Detroit. It starts Saturday, Sept. 12 and ends Friday, Sept. 18.


Each of the teams, Fraternal Order of Police, Michigan Department of Corrections and Michigan State Police, provides six runners who each run five miles, averaging eight minute miles. Dedicated runners have been raising money throughout the year to participate in the prestigious event.


Special Olympics Michigan is a non-profit organization supported almost entirely by corporate and individual gifts, without support of state funds. The generosity of Michigan organizations, individuals and statewide businesses enable the program to continue.


The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics is the largest grass-roots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle for Special Olympics in the world. In the past 30 years, the LETR has raised more than $300 million for Special Olympics athletes.



UPDATE Grandville man identified as victim in fatal crash in Middleville

UPDATE: The driver who died in a traffic crash in Middleville Aug. 18 was identified as Patrick Lee Rousseau, 32, from Grandville, the Barry County Sheriff’s Office reports.

Officials said they believe Rousseau appeared to have died from a medical issue unrelated to the crash. Alcohol and drugs do not appear to be factors in the death. The accident is still being investigated.


ORIGINAL STORY:Barry County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the report of a one-vehicle crash in at Tanglewood Drive and Riverbend Lane in Middleville about 1:30 p.m. Thursday. The vehicle involved was a commercial refuse removal truck with the driver, a white male in his early 30s, the only occupant.


Deputies said the man appeared to have died as a result of a medical issue unrelated to the crash. Further investigation and an autopsy are pending.


While emergency personnel were enroute, callers said that the driver was behind the wheel, unresponsive, and bleeding from the mouth. Citizens removed the driver from the truck and performed CPR until First Responders arrived.  Deputies and Thornapple Township Emergency Services personnel arrived on scene and took over CPR, but were not able to revive him.


The man’s identity will not be released until the family is notified.


Get ready, it is almost time to go back to school

With the exception of Maple Valley Public Schools holding its first day of classes on Monday, Aug. 29 according to its school calendar, all of the other schools in the Barry County area resume classes on the day after Labor Day, Sept. 6.


That includes Hastings, Delton Kellogg, Lakewood, Thornapple Kellogg, Caledonia and Wayland schools who will welcome the students back to school for the first day of the new school year.

Still time to give to backpack program for Barry County kids

The new school year is almost here, but there's still time to donate backpacks and school supplies for Barry County students who need them. Hastings City Bank and the Barry County United Way are collecting the items until Friday, Aug. 26. Distribution is Aug. 29.  


Items needed include backpacks without wheels and anything and everything that a student needs for school; pencils, crayons, markers, rulers, pencil boxes and more. Donations can be dropped off at any Hastings City Bank branch, the Hastings Police Department, Southside Pediatrics and Barry County United Way at 231 South Broadway in Hastings.


Last year, 360 children received school supplies and a backpack. 


Barry County Farm Bureau again calls for TOST repeal

At its 2016 annual meeting Aug. 15, the Barry County Farm Bureau again called for the Barry County Commission to repeal, without delay, a Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation called TOST. The organization’s membership has passed a resolution urging the repeal at most of its annual meetings since the 2007 adoption of the controversial regulation.


TOST, short for Time of Sale or Transfer, requires testing of private water and septic systems of properties by BEDHD approved private evaluators before they are sold or transferred in Barry and Eaton counties. If a system is deemed “failed,” it must be repaired or replaced before the sale.


The resolution said the bureau would support the inspections if the seller felt it was beneficial, the buyer wanted it or the lender required it.


“The Barry Eaton District Health Department has historically chosen to follow a pattern of using an arbitrary and capricious method of enforcement in regards to various parts of the TOST regulation, for example, refusing approval of small diameter wells passed by the private evaluators in the field, and requirements that raised beds use washed sand and not allowing installation during certain times of the year,” the resolution charged.//


If the premise for TOST was accurate, that private well and septic systems were a health risk to the people of Barry County, then all water and septic systems would have to be inspected every year, according to the bureau. However, some are inspected multiple times with sales or transfers, with inspections each time, others not for 50 to 70 years, the resolution read.


“Much of the older housing in Barry County has lost value and is being abandoned because it is cost prohibitive to renovate the house and upgrade an already functioning system,” it said.


Older citizens face their assets being drastically reduced when selling to move to retirement homes and younger families on limited incomes can’t buy and rehab older homes in their price range, forcing them out of the Barry County market, according to the resolution.


“Barry County’s population is being limited and/or reduced, the tax base lowered and the economy harmed…the TOST regulations have become to Barry County what the Small Business Tax was to Michigan,” the reaffirming resolution read.


Thornapple River Update

The Thornapple River crested Wednesday at four and a half feet and is now beginning to drop. The recent heavy  rains  caused the river levels to rise.  

Flood stage in the Thornapple River is seven feet..

Silver for Delton Kellogg Schools

Delton Kellogg Schools was notified this Wednesday they have been awarded the silver medal award from U.S News and World Report. 

Of the 1,575 high schools in Michigan, Delton Kellogg was ranked 95th.

Superintendent Carl Schoessel said there were only seven MIchigan High Schools that received gold medal awards, 93 schools received silver medal awards and 159 schools received bronze medal awards.

Schoessel said "it truly is a great day to be a Panther and to show that Panther Pride"!

New Citizens of the U.S.

Wednesday was a special day for some seventy-seven individuals from 29 countries  around the world who became United States citizens. They came from as far away as Nigeria,  Canada and South Korea.

United States Federal Judge Phillip Green who presided over the ceremony in Grand Rapids, spoke to the new citizens saying,  "you as new citizens are becoming a part of the greatest county in the world, The United States of America", and at the same time encouraged them to register to vote and to vote in any and all elections from local to state and presidential elections.


Bridge over Cedar Creek subject of public meeting

The public is invited to join Barry Conservation District at a meeting to learn more about the impacts of improperly sized or placed road-stream crossings and how to improve the health of Cedar Creek


The meeting, Thursday, Aug. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Hastings Township Hall on River Road, will highlight the benefit of  improving  the hydraulic function, sediment transport, and water quality of Cedar Creek, by replacing the two existing undersized culverts with a bridge.


Cedar Creek Aquatic Habitat Restoration Project is the name for the bridge that will be built over Cedar Creek, south of McKeown Bridge Park off  M-79.Two small culverts can’t handle the creek’s water flow, so will be removed, and the bridge installed, Barry Conservation District Executive Director Sarah Nelson said.


The bridge will have a 44-foot bank to bank span of treated lumber, the most economical choice of bridge material and work will begin in September. The project is being funded by a state grant secured by Nelson and several others committed to the plan. The total project cost is $392,300; the DNR Aquatic Habitat Program grant is $305,000. //


The remaining funds, donated labor talent and equipment, were raised with several partners, including the Barry County Road Commission, Michigan Cat of Grand Rapids and Nieswander Environmental. Pierce Cedar Creek Institute donated the talents of two of its interns; they will/were be overseen by GVSU Professor Dr. Eric Snyder.


“We’ve got a fabulous team working on this; it highlights that conservation is everybody’s business and we can all work together. We’re excited about the project,” Nelson said.




Get ready...Summerfest 2016 in Hastings is all next weekend

Hastings is going all out for its annual celebration of summer coming up Aug. 26-27-28.  

Summerfest 2016 is filled with arts and crafts vendors on the Barry County Courthouse lawn, the parade, car show, food booths, concessions and free trolley rides. Also part of the fun are children’s activities, a softball tournament, 3-on-3 basketball, a 10K/5K run, roller hockey tournament, weight lifting contest, soapbox derby, live entertainment and refreshment tent.


The 39th annual parade is Saturday, Aug. 27 at 11:30 a.m. The Hastings Car Club classic, antique car and truck show is Sunday, Aug. 28 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a live DJ entertaining viewers checking out the vehicles.

The three day event is put on by the Barry County Chamber of Commerce Summerfest Committee. For a complete schedule of events and times, visit:


Photo: A centerpiece of Summerfest are the arts and crafts booths covering the Barry County Courthouse lawn.

Motorcyclist in serious condition after M-66 crash

A motorcycle crash Aug. 16 on M-66 near Elmwood Drive north of Ionia injured the rider when he crashed and his motorcycle landed on top of him. Ionia County Sheriff’s deputies report a 62- year-old Ionia man was transported to Ionia Sparrow Hospital, then flown by Aeromed to Spectrum Health Butterworth in Grand Rapids where he is listed in serious condition.


Moments before the crash occurred, Ionia Central Dispatch was getting information that the 2012 Harley Davidson motorcycle was all over the road, deputies said.

Investigation showed that the unidentified man was south bound on M-66 when he drifted off the right side of the road, struck the curb and lost control of the motorcycle.


The driver was not wearing a helmet. Alcohol is a factor in the crash, which remains under investigation. The Ionia Department of Public Safety, Life Ambulance, AeroMed and Ruehs Towing assisted deputies at the scene.




Thunder rolls into Charlton Park Sunday, Aug. 21

Historic Charlton Park’s newest event, “Thunder at the Park” debuts Sunday, Aug. 21. The motorcycle show was created for bikers to show off their choppers and satisfy the general public’s intrigue with motorbikes. Admission and parking are free.


“Register your bike on the park’s village green between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Awards will be given to first, second and third  places in the cruiser, bobber and sport bike categories,” said Mike Plaska, of Middleville, Charlton Park Board member and event coordinator. Judging is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., winners announced at 4 p.m.


The village and museum will be open, with interpreters stationed in some of the buildings for guests taking self-guided tours. Bone Ends Food Truck will be serving Tex Mex and BBQ fare and live entertainment from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. will add to the festivities.

Motorcycle registration is $10 per bike. Alcohol is not allowed on park grounds.


Barry County Commissioners see proposed 2017 budget

The Great Recession officially started in December 2007 and ended in June 2009, but MIchigan and Barry County were still in a sharp decline in economic activity in 2010.

That’s when the county engaged the Michigan State University Extension, State and Local Government Program, to conduct a financial analysis and forecast future revenues centered on property taxes, County Administrator Michael Brown said.


Brown gave commissioners a copy of the proposed 2017 budget with projections for 2018-2019 Tuesday, saying the MSUE report, issued in January, 2011 and updated in 2014, has been used to prepare annual budgets every year since then.


He credits the MSUE financial analysis and forecasting for the county being able to maintain spending levels at or below annual revenue amounts and not having to resort to using the general fund to balance budgets during the down turn.


“We have worked hard to budget revenues at realistic levels, not underestimating them but also not falling (into the) trap of overestimating them to avoid having to make difficult choices about reducing services, if required,” Brown said.


No cuts in staffing will be made in 2017, but no increases, either, with expenses mostly held at 2016 levels, he said. The budget is dedicated largely to the continuation of current levels of county services.


Brown explained the high points in the 29-page document and answered questions from commissioners. He encouraged those with specific questions to talk to him or deputy Administer Luella Dennison, who he said had more expertise than he in some areas in the budget. //

At this point in the budget development, which began in May, Brown has received proposed budgets from department heads and made his recommendations in the proposed budget.


The next steps are to set a date for any appeals from department heads, hold budget workshops and adjust revenue and expenditure projections, if needed. In September, Brown presents the final budget recommendation to the commission and sets the date for a required public hearing before the budget is approved in October.


In other business, at the Aug. 16 committee of the whole meeting, commissioners recommended approval for a request for Digital Ally DVM- 800 in-car cameras for three new Tahoes purchased by the Barry County Sheriff’s Office.

Undersheriff Matt Houchlei said the new camera models match the make and models of the cameras in use in other sheriff's office vehicles and the computer system at the office.

The $11,803.29 cost will come from the vehicle fund. When two older model cameras are turned in, the county will get rebates of $500 for each to go into the vehicle fund, Houchlei said. The cameras have a five year warranty.

Ballot language approved for second millage try by Charlton Park

The Barry County Board of Commissioners Aug. 16  approved amended ballot language for a second try for operating millage by Charlton Park. Last week, the park board asked for .035 mills for seven years for the November election ballot. Commissioners instead approved splitting the proposal in two, one for renewal of 0.2254 mills and the other for new additional millage of 0.2146 mills, both for seven years.


The minor changes that amended the proposals were unanimously approved to go on the November ballot: renewal of 0.2253 mills (instead of 0.2254)  and new, additional 0.1247 mills (instead of 0.1246), both for seven years.


The renewal would bring in $449,416 the first year; the new millage, $248,744 the first year. The small millage changes did not alter the financial projections. If voters approve both proposals, the park would have 0.35 mills, which is equal to its second request.

Voters turned down the park’s board original request for 0.3750 mills for 10 years by 4,910 to 4,435 in the Aug. 2 election. //


Explaining the splitting of the proposals last week, commissioners said the voters deserved a choice and also, if the single ballot proposal was rejected, that would leave the park without any millage support at all. It is unclear what would happen then. Commissioner Craig Stolsonburg said with no millage going to the park, “the county would get it.”


Park Director Dan Patton said that they would then seek operating funds from three county accounts: the 100 percent tax payment, building rehab and technology funds. He also did not rule out a special election that the park would have to fund.


Staff cuts would have to be made and with ever rising operating expenses, they couldn’t maintain the historic buildings and infrastructure without the increase in millage, Patton said.

Payroll for the park is 56 percent of its budget and the only increase would be two part-time positions for a more dependable staff, he said.  “Everyone agrees the current millage rate is not sustainable in the long run.”


Park board President Rick Moore said he thought the millage failed because they didn’t get their message out to the public, the low turnout in the primary election, and the position of the request on the ballot where many voters did not see it. A committee is now being formed to provide information on the need for the millage. Moore stressed that if passed, the cost for taxpayers would be $17 to $18 a year, “a very small price to pay for what you’re getting.”


More rain

By the end of July Hastings was 7-inches of rain behind last year at this time. With today's  4.00 inches of rain, the Hastings National Weather Service Climatological Station has recorded over 9.29 inches of rain in August.


More on the way.  

Middleville Heritage Days are this weekend, Aug. 19, 20

Middleville celebrates its heritage every year, and this year they have plenty to commemorate. In fact, it will take two days Friday, Aug. 19 and Saturday Aug. 20, to get it all in.

It all starts at 8 a.m. Friday with a produce sale in the pavilion downtown, crafts from local artisans, a bounce house and games for the kids, and a pie tasting contest. The Riverbank Music Series features the Nine Mile Smile Band at the pavilion in Stagecoach Park in the evening


Saturday at 10 a.m., a ribbon cutting ceremony at the trailhead on High Street officially opens the Paul Henry Thornapple Trail paved extension from Railroad Street to Crane Road

Also on tap are 5K and 10K runs, an antique car and tractor show on Main Street, the Great Lakes Cone Crushers, a skateboard competition with proceeds going to prevent human trafficking, the continuing craft show, food court and the parade at 1 p.m.


A first for Middleville, and Barry County, is Brewfest, Saturday from 1:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. with samples of 18 of Michigan’s best craft breweries, with over 50 beers and Michigan wines, as well as samples of foods from local restaurants.  Live entertainment will add to the Barry County Chamber of Commerce sponsored event. For details of events and times of Heritage Days, visit For more on Brewfest go to




File photos from earlier Heritage Days show some of the events.

Major improvements in Hastings Schools underway

The extensive remodeling and upgrading at all Hastings Area School System school buildings, and new construction in some, is underway, thanks to voters approving a 4-mill, $44.5 million bond issue for 25 years last November.


Along with the significant improvements come many changes, at least temporarily, while the district carries out several phases of changes for the better.

“Everyone has a great attitude,” said Superintendent Carrie Duits. “There’s a lot of excitement; a lot of onlookers taking photos.”


Some are saddened by the recent demolition of part of the middle school. Duits attended Hastings schools and the changes are sad for her, too. “I have memories of there as well. My mother was school nurse at the middle school. It’s sad, but it’s about the students and what they need in this world, not about our memories.”


To let parents and guardians know about the changes they can expect at the start of the school year Sept. 6, the school will host two informational meetings just for them.


For parents and guardians of 8th graders, the meeting is set for Thursday, Aug. 25 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the high school cafeteria. Details will be explained and questions answered. If they don’t have the answers right then they will, “record and report,” Duits said. “I know parents will have a lot of questions.”


Parents and guardians of 6th and 7th grade students will meet Thursday, Aug. 25 in the middle school gymnasium from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. They will get answers to their questions, see the building and the route to Central Elementary cafeteria where the students will walk to lunch.

Students will have separate dates to visit and see their teachers, so officials ask that just parents and guardians attend the informational meetings.


The Back to School night for 1st through 5th grade students will be Tuesday, Sept. 6 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Kindergarten and Young Kindergartners will meet their teachers and visit classrooms on Wednesday, Aug. 31 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.


Some high points in Phase One include replacing the 1917 portion of the middle school, replacing the high school lecture hall with a Performing Arts Center and installing safe, secure entryways at the elementary buildings to control access through a central entry point. 


Eighth grade students will be moving to classes in the D Wing of the high school, and will have most of their activities there. They will be shuttled by bus to the middle school for sports activities.

Sixth and seventh graders will stay in the middle school, with several spaces, now in use for other things, made into temporary classrooms. In some cases, teachers will move to the classrooms instead of the other way around. Students will walk to Central Elementary for lunch. All class sizes will stay the same, Duits said. //


Before the November election, the school district released figures on what would be accomplished with the funds when all phases of the project were finished.


*The high school, built in 1970, has 827 students, will get improvements amounting to $21,708,009, or 51 percent of the building budget. A 42,200 square foot addition will house a fine arts center, band and choir room.


*The middle school built in 1917, with 640 students, will get $13,704,410 or 32 percent of the budget for improvements, including a 51,000 square foot addition to replace the 1917 portion of the school, upgrading of the 1954 part of the building and bus loop improvements.


*Central Elementary, built in 1930, with 314 students, will have $3,189,093 in improvements, or eight percent of the budget.


*Northeastern Elementary, built in 1953, has 331 students, will get $1,577,789 in improvements, four percent of the budget, including remodeling of the 1953 and 1965 parts of the building.


*Southeastern Elementary, built in 1953, with 256 students, is scheduled for $1,314,360 in improvements or 3 percent of the budget.


*Star Elementary, built in 1997, with 318 students, will get $885,617 in upgrading and improvements with 3 percent of the construction budget.

*Athletics will have repairs to the track, tennis court, home stands and press box.

*Transportation will get buses and improvements to the bus facility.


The project architect is Kingscott Associates from Kalamazoo. The construction company is Barnes Wolgast Construction Services from Grand Rapids.

A steering committee with board of education members, Mike Schneiderhan, retired principal from Central Elementary, maintenance personnel, architects, Duits and a construction company representative meet every other week to provide general oversight.


A District Accountability Committee will begin regular meetings shortly, Duits said. By state law, bond proceeds must be audited and can’t be used for repair or maintenance costs, teacher, administrator or employee salaries, or other operating expenses.

Photos of the stages of demolition of part of the middle school by Chad Henry.


Five suffer non life threatening injures in two separate crashes near Ionia freeway exit

Five people were injured in two separate crashes Aug. 14 on eastbound I-96 near the Ionia exit. All five were transported to area hospitals for evaluation or treatment;  none of the injuries are thought to be life threatening.


At  6:19 p.m., Ionia County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a crash involving a 29-year-old Wupming man who lost control of his vehicle while passing other cars, went off the road. hit the guardrail and spun several times before stopping on the shoulder. The driver possibly suffered a medical emergency which caused him to lose control, deputies said. He and his passenger were taken to the hospital for evaluation.


At 6:47 p.m. while deputies had the expressway partially shut down and were investigating the crash, they were dispatched to another personal injury crash just west of the first one. Traffic was down to one lane eastbound and the cars were all slowing down when a 29-year-old man from Traverse City, driving in the slowed traffic, looked down at his phone to check an alert and rear-ended the vehicle in front of him.


The two women and a man from the Grand Rapids area who were in the vehicle were also transported to the hospital. The Traverse City man was unhurt and was issued a citation. Berlin-Orange Fire, Life EMS, and Reed and Hoppes assisted deputies at both crash scenes.








Photo: Emergency personnel work at the second crash Saturday evening near the Ionia exit on I-96.

(Courtesy of Ionia County Sheriff’s Office)



Heavy Rain Power Outages Update

After eleven consecutive days without rain, the rains came  beginning Friday morning. Torrential rains fell a number of times causing  brief flooding. The Hastings National Weather Service Climatological Station recorded 5.26 inches since it started to rain at 5:00 o'clock Friday morning.


The heavy rainfall  impacked  streams, creeks and basements throughout the Barry County area.

A Flood Watch is in effect.

Consumers Energy said over 5,600 of their customers lost their power as the result of the rain and thunderstorms. All are now back in service.

Eaton County Sheriff deputies now using mobile fingerprint scanners.

The Eaton County Sheriff’s Office is one of the first local law enforcement agencies in Michigan to implement mobile fingerprint scanners to identify people who have fingerprints on file.


The scanners are linked to in-car computers that transmit a scanned fingerprint to the Michigan Automated Fingerprint Identification System and the F.B.I. national fingerprint database.  In a matter of minutes, deputies will know if there is a record on file that positively identifies the person. 


“We strive to be leaders in the implementation of new technology which helps us become more efficient and effective,” Sheriff Tom Reich said. “Identifying and taking wanted persons into custody increases both public safety and the timely prosecution of the offenses.”


In addition to confirming identifications during investigations, the scanners may identify those who are unable to provide reliable identification due to physical or mental incapacity, or are deceased and immediate identification is needed to assist in the performance of lawful duties.


On the first day of use, deputies identified a person in Delta Township with two Eaton County arrest warrants and an out of state warrant. Five other Michigan local law enforcement agencies and the Michigan State Police are currently using the new technology. The scanners were obtained with regional Homeland Security funds. The sheriff’s office will assist area police agencies when requested.


Spectrum Health Pennock Foundation awards $20,000 grant for Thornapple Trail

Spectrum Health Pennock Foundation has awarded a $20,000 grant to the Thornapple Trail Association to continue the expansion of the Paul Henry Thornapple Trail.


“It is important to the board that we support initiatives that improve the health of the communities served by Pennock Hospital,” said foundation Executive Director Janine Dalman. “Obesity reduction is one area that was highlighted in the 2013 Community Health Needs Assessment and a priority for our hospital. Another finding from the assessment was that residents of the county do not have enough access to areas they can bike and walk.

“The extension of the Paul Henry Thornapple Trail is one way the foundation can help Pennock follow its mission and the residents of Barry County be healthy.”


A ribbon cutting ceremony for the new section of the trail from downtown Middleville to Crane Road is Aug. 20 at 10 a.m. at the new trail head on Railroad Street across from Thornapple Township Emergency Services.//

The priority of the non-motorized path is to bring the community outside, enjoying nature, being proactive in remaining physically fit as they age, while providing recreation for the entire community.


Families are invited to ride or walk on the trail, looking at nature or birding safely away from motorized traffic. In June, the Nashville section of the trail opened with a ribbon cutting at VFW Post 8260. The trail is sustained by volunteers from the association and on the Day of Caring every September, volunteers remove invasive plants from the trail. The association meets at 7 p.m. the first Monday of every month at the Middleville Village Hall, 100 East Main Street.


Association members are committed to the completion of the trail from Grand Rapids to Jackson. With the completion, the continuing priority will be to “B. Healthy” and help lower the overall obesity rate in Barry County. 

“Walking is an easy, inexpensive way to help lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, reduce the effects of stress and lose weight,” the “B.Healthy” website said. “For every hour you walk, you gain two hours in life expectancy.”

For more, visit the association’s website,










Hastings simplifies policy on using city parks by non-profits

Using Hastings parks for non-profit events became simpler Aug. 8 when the Hastings City Council approved a change in procedure. When a nonprofit organization asks to reserve a city park pavilion or other park facility, the reservation fee may now be waived by the city staff instead of going through the council for approval.


The park use clean-up fee may also be waived by staff if the applicant provides a security deposit equal to the clean up fee. If the park is cleaned up after the event, the security deposit will be returned. City Manager Jeff Mansfield said the new rules, “pretty much follow what the council has been dong all along.”


Also, the singling out of “religious meetings” and activity needing council permission could potentially create concerns of separation of church and state, freedom of speech, and so on, Mansfield said. City Attorney Stephanie Fekkes suggested the deletion of any reference to “political meetings, religious meetings” from prohibited acts section of the ordinance.  The change will require an ordinance amendment and action by the council.


City of Hastings receives NPDES permit from DEQ, saves on wastewater plant overtime, testing

Hastings Department of Public Services Director Lee Hays told the City Council Aug.8 that they had finally received an approved National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for the Wastewater Treatment plant that was applied for over a year ago.


NPDES permits typically specify water discharge requirements, maximum flow rate, pollutant concentration limits, allowable pH range and maximum temperature. NPDES permits are issued for up to five years; provide for inspection and monitoring  and require notice to the public, the EPA and the DEQ.


“As a result of the quality of our operations at the plant, testing requirements have been reduced. Now, testing is not required on weekends, reducing overtime at the plant by 208 man hours and reducing lab costs by 30 percent,” Hays said. “In addition, as part of the new permit, less toxicity testing is required, saving approximately $7,000 annually.”


Hays also reported that by DEQ mandate, the city crews must “exercise” the valves that open and close water mains. The valves will be opened and closed several times to make sure they are in working order after not being used for some time, in some cases up to 20 years.


Hays developed a plan to check the valves before 2019 that was approved by the DEQ. The goal is to assure that all valves in the distribution system are operational. “There will undoubtedly be some minor headaches as we embark on this program, with replacing non-functional valves, but will be worth the effort in the end,” Hays said.


He estimated there are 470 valves to be tested. In the present Clinton Street upgrading of water lines, four of the six valves they used snapped, he said. Any questions regarding the operations at the water or wastewater plants can be answered by contacting Hays at 269-945-2468.



Kalamazoo Sheriff Office trying to locate 16 year old runaway

The Kalamazoo Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone who has seen 16-year-old Michael Thornton to contact them. Thornton was released from the hospital Aug. 8 after a suicide attempt; his parents fear that he still may be a danger to himself.


Thornton jumped out of a moving car near the intersection of West Main Street and Drake Road on Tuesday about 5:30 p.m. and was last seen running in a southeasterly direction toward Drake Road.


Thornton is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs about 115 pounds with sandy brown short hair that covers his forehead. He was wearing a teal blue T-shirt with " Girls on the Run " on the front, black pants with “Hollister” on the legs and he was not wearing shoes or socks when he fled.








Michael Thornton


Secretary of State asks customers of Patriot Auto Group or Wayland Motor Sales to call

If you bought a vehicle from the now-closed Patriot Auto Group or Wayland Motor Sales, check and make sure that you received the title and registration after the sale. Some customers of Wayland Motor Sales, 159 North Main Street in Wayland, or Patriot Auto Group, Inc., M-37/M-43 west of Hastings, may have been issued improper temporary registrations or license plates when they bought a car or van.


Those who don’t have the proper papers are asked to call the Secretary of State’s Office of Investigative Services at 517-335-1410 for help in getting the proper title and registration for their vehicles.


 “Consumers who may have been victimized need to call to ensure they receive the correct ownership documents for their vehicle,” Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said. “Without proper title and registration, they will have difficulty proving they own their vehicle or getting a plate for the vehicle in the future.”  If those without the papers are stopped by law enforcement, they risk having their vehicles impounded.


The Office of Investigative Services staff found a number of significant violations by both dealerships. The Wayland Motor Sales dealer poorly maintained records and repeatedly failed to apply for title and registration within the required 15 days of vehicle delivery.


The licensee allegedly claimed that only four title transactions had not yet been processed, but investigators discovered an additional 15 unprocessed tax, title and registration transactions from vehicle sales.


The Wayland dealer had a former employee pretend to be a representative of Patriot Auto Sales Group, Inc. and purchase temporary registrations for customers, then the dealership never submitted paperwork for them to receive their permanent title documents from the state. Johnson issued a summary suspension of the dealership.


During the investigation of the Wayland dealership, the licensee for Patriot Auto Sales Group, allegedly denied knowing anything about the temporary registration purchases for Wayland Motor customers and submitted a close-out statement for the business. Investigators found the dealership had seven unprocessed sales transactions, leaving customers without proper documentation for their vehicles.

The dealer could not provide funds to pay for the tax, title and registration.





Barn Fire

Fire brokeout  tuesday afternoon in a large barn located at 1650 west Cloverdale road south of Hastings.

Delton, Hickory Corners, Johnstown and Hastings fire departments  rushed to the scene.

No information as to what or how the fire started.

Barry County Commissioners hears 2015 report from Medical Examiiner

Dr. Philip R. Croft, Barry County’s Medical Examiner from Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, gave his annual report to the Barry County Board of Commissioners Aug. 9. 


Sparrow has Deputy Medical Examiners (DME) assigned to each county they serve, Medical Examiner Investigators (MEI) to help them and an administrative assistant. Barry County has eight MEI’s, Croft said.  “Your MEI’s are an excellent group; it starts with the MEIs. They are our eyes and ears.”


An ME is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In Michigan, manner of  death is limited to natural, accident, suicide, homicide or indeterminate.  Also, information/evidence gathered by an ME may be critical for further legal proceedings, he said.


In Barry County in 2015, there were 416 deaths, with 125 reported to the ME.  Of 112 MEI scene investigations, 43 bodies were taken to Sparrow; 35 had complete autopsies and one a limited autopsy.

Croft said 238 cremation permits were issued in 2015; 40 referrals to Gift of Life and six tissue/cornea donors.


Manner of death included 93 natural, 18 accidental, 12 by suicide, one homicide and one by mixed drug intoxication. In the accidental category, five died in vehicles, five were drug related, seven died from falls and one from fire, Croft said.


Of the eight drug-related deaths, five were by accident, two suicides and one indeterminate. In the suicides, seven were by firearm, three by hanging, and two of drug intoxication. Seven of the 12 deaths were between the ages of 26 to 44.

Three children in Barry County died last year; two (1 to 5) from accidents and one suicide (17).


Deaths that are thought to be from injury or poisoning, violent, sudden, unexpected, unattended or not readily explainable are investigated by the Medical Examiner’s office. //


The process can be as simple as the direct release of a body from the scene to a funeral director or, a cursory exam done to rule out further in-depth exams. There may be an external or limited exam with a detailed record of observations, lab or toxicology tests and a written report. Or, a death may rise to the level of a complete autopsy including internal and external examination, with toxicology.


Croft is Barry County’s Medical Examiner, with John A. Bechinski. D.O., Stephanie A. Dean, M.D., and Michael Markey, M.D. deputy medical examiners, (DME).

In Barry County, Kathy Armstrong, Carol Balkon, Joseph Huebner, Pattrick Jansens, Chad Klutman,  William Rentz, Jerry Sarver and William Warren are medical examiner investigators. (MEI).


The counties that Sparrow’s Forensic Pathology serves have been, granted full accreditation by the National Association of Medical Examiners.  In 2014, Barry, Eaton, Livingston and Shiawassee counties accreditations were renewed; Ingham, Ionia, Isabella, Livingston, and Shiawassee counties were accredited for the first time.


Croft said Barry County can be proud of the honor; just 17 counties in the state are accredited.



Charlton Park request for second millage try split into two proposals

Barry County Commissioners did not approve a Charlton Park millage request to go on the November ballot, this time with a smaller millage amount and shorter length of time. The new proposal was for 0.35 additional mills for seven years. The current millage, 0.2254 mills expires this December.


Commissioners instead approved two proposals; one to renew the present millage of 0.2254 for seven years, which will raise $449.615 the first year, and a second proposal for 0.1246 mills, also for seven years, which is expected to raise about $248,000 the first year. If voters approve both proposals, the park will still get the lesser request; 0.35 mills for seven years for operations, repair and maintenance of the park.


Voters turned down a 10-year, 0.3750 mill request, 4,910 to 4,435 to fund the park in the Aug. 2 primary.


Commissioner Craig Stolsonburg said if both parts of the millage fail in November, “then, we (the county commission) get it.” Charlton Park director Dan Patton said if the county were responsible, the park would seek funds from the county’s delinquent tax, building rehab and technology funds.


“That would not preclude a special election in 2017,” he said. The park board held a special election in 2010, when the current millage passed, that cost the park $40,000, he added. With renewal of just the existing millage, staff cuts would have to be made and badly needed maintenance to roofs and 20-year-old septic pumps could not be done, Patton said. //


He didn’t know how it would effect the education programs, where thousands of school children from schools in and out of Barry County visit the park every year to learn about history.


”Voters want choices,” Commissioner Ben Geiger said later. “That's why I've consistently supported splitting the Charlton Park proposal into separate ballot questions. I'm pleased my colleagues agree, and will give Barry County voters more choices in November.” An amendment by Commissioner Jim Dull to earmark the additional millage for repair and maintenance for existing buildings only failed with a tie vote.

Commissioners Dull, Vivian Conner and Howard Gibson voted “yes.” Commissioners Jon Smelker, Stolsonburg and Ben Geiger voted “no,” with David Jackson absent.


Staff payroll accounts for 56 percent of the park budget, and the, “only increase in staff would be two part-time employees for a more dependable staff…everyone agrees the current millage rate is not sustainable long term,” Patton said.


In public comment, Chuck Reid and Eldon Shellenbarger said the voters have spoken and the latest proposal should not be approved. “If they can’t operate on .25 mills, in my opinion, the park should be sold,” Shellenbarger said. “I thought Carlton Park would be self supporting by now,” Reid said.


Charlton Park Board President Rick Moore thought the millage failure was due to lack of getting its message to the public, low turnout at the primary and the position of the request on the ballot where people didn’t see it.


He said a committee to get ”the truth and information” out is being formed, the general election always draws a much higher percentage of voters and the cost to taxpayers, for what they get, is a very small $17 to $18 a year.


Expenses continually go up and, “upkeep keeps getting worse, and worse and worse,” Moore said. “We get a budget every month to see what we need for survival…it would be difficult if not impossible to survive on the currant millage.”


In other business Aug. 9, the commissioners approved recommendations from the committee of the whole meeting last week, including:


* a resolution pledging the full faith and credit of Barry County for $1.4 million in bonds for 15 years to pay for the county’s share of repair work on the Cuddy Drain. The bonds will be paid through special assessments on county property owners and corporations in the Drainage District.


* a bid of $60,992 from Customized Cleaning Service to install epoxy flooring at the Barry County Sheriff’s Office in the lobby, public rest rooms, public visitation, control one, and the east, south and west wings of the jail.


* the Hastings City Barry County Airport Commission spending $157,900 from its reserves for a hanger to be built by Stedfast Construction, Inc. to accommodate corporate jets and turbine planes.


* the purchase of two boat motors for the Barry County Sheriff’s Marine Division for $10, 098.92, paid for by the sale of two  personal watercraft and trailers for $10, 201.49, with a difference of $102.57 that will go to other marine equipment.


* accepting the cash value of $11,475 from its insurer, Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority, for a 2010 Ford Taurus totaled in an accident, and $24,000 to purchase a new vehicle for the Unified Trial Court through MiDEAL.


* an application to the Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program (PA 116) for Jeffrey and Stacey Morton in Section 11 of Hastings Township.


Hastings Public Library is 120 years old, and you are invited to the anniversary party

The public is invited to help the Hastings Public Library celebrate its 120th Anniversary with music, games and cake at the Thornapple Plaza, Wednesday, Aug. 10 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Events include a Hula Hoop workshop and contest, a Cup Cake walk to support children's programs, balloon animals, a giant chess game, a chance to throw a pie in the face of someone you know, have your picture taken on a pirate ship and maybe even win a prize bag.


Library Administrator Laura Ortiz invited Hastings City Council members to the event, noting that Department of Public Services Director Lee Hays has volunteered to be the target in pie throwing at 3 p.m. Despite Hays opinion that he was so nice, no one would want to hit him in the face with a pie, a majority of council members immediately volunteered to be the pie throwers.


The Hastings City Council celebrated the milestone with Mayor Frank Campbell reading an official proclamation Aug. 8. What started as a lending library for members only by the local woman’s club in 1896 has evolved into a state of the art facility that is the first library in Michigan that is GOLD Leed Certified for Architectural Design, he said. //

The library averages 13,500 visitors a month with more than 65,000 items in a 15,000 square foot building on East State Street. A staff of 13 dedicated professionals and 75 volunteers provide many library services and programs, Campbell said. In September, 2013, the library welcomed its millionth visitor.


The library, which moved from Church Street to its present location in 2007,  is supported by millage from residents of Rutland and Hastings townships and the City of Hastings.

A community room is available for use by non-profits and civic groups and library card holders are entitled to use the internet once a day. The internet and wireless connections are filtered to conform with Michigan and federal laws. Unlimited Wi-Fi is available without log-in or password.



Use of Hastings rights of way is subject of workshop

The Hastings City Council will hold a 6 p.m. workshop before the Aug. 22 meeting to go over documents with guidelines for the city when companies ask to put Distributed Antenna Systems in its rights-of-way.

In January, the city joined a Grand Valley Metro Council effort as part of a consortium of cities that hired an attorney to develop the document to help the city when companies ask to install the technology.

Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange, who is the city representative on the Metro Council, told the council that the new document would have a permit application, a license or franchise agreement and a cover letter to be given to any company requesting the use of rights-of-way.

McNabb-Stange said the DAS are essentially poles with what looks to some like a garbage can on the top. They boost data signals, usually for larger telecommunication companies.


The issues will involve what the council will regulate, ordinances and zoning for the council and planning commission to consider, setting fees and other components.

“Basically, it preserves a city’s right to control its own rights-of-way,” McNabb Stange said, adding that without any rules, there could be multiple uses on one pole and poles could be 120 feet tall. Attorney Jeff Sluggett will be asked to the workshop to explain the legal points.


City Manager Jeff Mansfield said there are no companies asking to install DAS right now, “so there is no huge sense of urgency,” but he asked for the workshop, “to make sure everyone is on the same page.”//


McNabb-Stange said in January that Sprint has announced its intent to change the way it delivers is its services by using a DAS, increasing its capacity and lowering its costs. The city will probably see many more requests for DAS in the future and cities need more and better control of how its done, she said.

Hastings has already granted one request for antennas in its rights of way on the mistaken information that it was governed by the Metro Act  and had to be allowed or the city would face a heavy fine.

However, attorneys said the company’s request was not governed by the Metro Act which controls equipment in the form of wires, cables and conduits but specifically excludes antennas, structures supporting antenna, equipment houses and ancillary equipment.



Airport to get second corporate jet hanger this year

The Hastings City/Barry County Airport Commission will spend $157,900 from its reserves for a hanger built by Stedfast Construction, Inc. to accommodate corporate jets and turbine planes with the approval of the City Council Monday.


The building will be 75 feet by 64 feet by 20 feet with a 17 foot six-inch ceiling height, and rent for about $1,500 a month. This is the second such hanger to be built; the first is already rented.

Because of a Joint Operating Agreement on the airport between the city and county, the Barry County Commission must also approve the move.


In other business Aug. 8, the council:

* approved the Thornapple Arts Council holding fundraisers at the Thomapple Plaza entertainment events. Fundraising by non-profits are allowed under the city code with permission of the council.


* approved several more dates for YMCA to use the ball field at Fish Hatchery Park this fall.


* approved the Barry Community Foundation Youth Advisory Council (YAC) to hold its annual “Roof Sit” on the sidewalk at Second Hand Corners in November. YAC Secretary Mary Green said benefits will go the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program this year.


* approved the donation of two pieces of property adjoining the Aldi property; one from Hastings Charter Township, the other from RGW, LLC. The council had earlier approved the transfers; City Manager Jeff Mansfield asked for the action to put it into the public record. The city will send letters of appreciation to the donors.


* approved the mayor and clerk signing declarations and notices of completion of Riverwalk I and Riverwalk II.


Missed driveway crash injures Eaton Rapids woman

When a 20-year-old Eaton Rapids woman, southbound on North State Road, tried to turn into Evergreen Mobile Home Park, she missed the driveway, ran over a large rock and ended up stuck on the top of the fence at the park entrance, the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office reports. The mishap occurred Saturday, Aug. 6 at about 1:44 p.m.


The unidentified woman was transported to Greenville Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Alcohol or drugs are not believed to be a factor in the crash; deputies said the driver may have been sleep deprived. The Ionia Department of Public Safety, LIFE EMS and Ruehs Towing assisted deputies.


Three hurt in early Sunday morning crash in Allegan County

A serious two-car, head on traffic crash on Blue Star Highway and 141 Avenue in Allegan County involved an ambulance and a pickup truck Aug. 7 about 4:30 a.m., according to an Allegan County Sheriff’s Office news release.


No patients were being transported in the ambulance at the time of the crash.


A deputy and Graafschap Fire Department found the drivers of the pickup and the ambulance trapped in their vehicles and an EMT in the back of the ambulance seriously injured. The three were transported to Holland Hospital; the EMT and the pickup truck driver subsequently transferred to Spectrum Health Butterworth. A small fire in the engine area of the ambulance was quickly extinguished by passers by.


The report said the crash remains under investigation, “however it is readily apparent that the pickup truck crossed the centerline while southbound on Blue Star Highway and struck the northbound ambulance heading back to Holland. The driver of the pick up truck appeared to be under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash,”


The EMTs names were not released, and the pickup driver will not be identified pending review by the prosecutor’s office on possible charges. If charged, his name will be released after arraignment. Both drivers were restrained, the EMT in the back of the ambulance was not restrained.

The sheriff’s office was assisted at the scene by Graafschap Fire Department and AMR Ambulance.



Repair of downtown crosswalks begins in Hastings

Hastings Director of Public Services Lee Hays is reminding Hastings residents and visitors that replacing damaged crosswalks starts this week. The first repairs will be at the west side of the Michigan Avenue/State Street intersection. The road will be closed in the area for the week while the concrete cures, and residents will need to seek an alternate route around the area.

“We will be completing the replacements one intersection at a time, and will be heading to a different location the week after,” Hays said.


Allegan County woman, 93, drowns in Lake Michigan

A woman who was known to swim in Lake Michigan near her residence almost daily, drowned during a swim Aug. 4 at about 4:30 p.m.

Allegan County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene to find emergency services personnel performing CPR in an effort to resuscitate Elizabeth Ann Bennett, 93, from Ganges Township. They were unsuccessful and she was pronounced deceased at the scene, according to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office.


Bennett was described as being in good shape and was seen by witnesses swimming yesterday, however, one of the witnesses did not notice her exit the water and a search was initiated.  

Witnesses said that nothing appeared out of the ordinary and everything seemed consistent with her normal routine, therefore, a medical condition cannot be ruled out at this time.


The Medical Examiner’s Office will determine cause of death, officials said. First responders were Allegan County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff’s Office Dive Rescue,  Ganges Township Fire Department and  AMR Ambulance



Charlton Park to look at a new millage request in November

The Charlton Park Board of Trustees “will try to put something together” for the November ballot, park Director Dan Patton said following the loss of a request in the Aug. 2 primary election.

The 10 year, 0.3750 mill request was turned down, 4910 to 4435. Patton wasn’t sure what the board will decide, but it is his assumption they would trim the size and length in a second millage request.


The board will “take a reflective look” the numbers and other factors in the voting before deciding exactly what to do, he said. There are challenges in getting a request on the November ballot in meeting specific state deadlines, but they will have something at the next Barry County Commission meeting Tuesday, Aug. 9, Patton said.


He said some voters might have thought the millage request was to be added to present millage, which expires in December. “It was two different things." Any new attempt must have a clear message, he added. “This is not about me or the board, it’s about the facility and the institution and preservation of history; for families to have fun and a good time; that’s what it’s all about.”

There has been some talk of folks forming a committee to help in a new request, Patton said, but first things first, and a visit to the commissioners is the first step.

Few new faces on Barry County township boards

Here are the unofficial results of township races as decided by voters in the Aug. 2 primary election.


Supervisor: Mike Timmons, 217

Treasurer: Elizabeth A. Miller, 232

Trustee: Eugene Waterbury, 177, James Miller 196

There are no candidates for clerk.



Supervisor: Chad VanSyckle, 225

Clerk: 16 Write in votes

Treasurer: Melissa L. VanSyckle, 233

Trustee: 10 Write in votes



Supervisor: Wesley Kahler, 457

Clerk: Dawn M. Crapo, 139   Debra Knight, 349, Ingrid Pagano, 74

Treasurer: Judith E. Wooer,  501

Trustee: Teresa Schuiteboer,129,   Tony Crosariol, 129  Lee Campbell,  241   James Alden, 170,    Ricky Lawrence. 184



Supervisor: Brad H. Carpenter, 482

Clerk: Michele Erb, 482

Treasurer: Kris Slagel, 85    David Yonker, 123    Rhonda VanOoy,  63   Terri Geiger, 267

Trustee: Cary Smith, 340    Gary VandeCar, 371


Castleton: Supervisor: Cheryl Hartwell, 349

Clerk: Marcia Scramlin, 351

Treasurer: Joy E. Mulder, 336

Trustee: Earl M. Wilson, 246, Michael Trahan, 264



Supervisor: Jim Brown, 489

Clerk: Anita Mennell, 499

Treasurer: 19 Write in Votes

Trustee: Ron Mennell, 353,  James M. Partridge II, 329, William J. Wetzel, 379


Hope: Mark S. Feldpausch, 340,  Mark Brandli, 290

Clerk: Deborah Jackson, 511

Treasurer: Arlene Tonkin, 507

Trustee: Matthew T. Peake, 268,  Ken Chandler, 193,  Alice Hunt, 257,     David Messelink, 282



Supervisor: Jamie R. Knight, 542

Clerk: Shelly Lake, 223, Sharon Olson, 311

Treasurer: Lynnette Ann Wingeier

Trustee: Michael Buehler, 377, Dean Bass, 220,   Larry Brummel Jr.,   202,  Mike Wright, 215



Supervisor: Barbara J. Earl, 369

Clerk: Sheri M. Babcock, 368

Treasurer: Karmen K. Nickerson, 379

Trustee: Deana Powell, 181, Jeffrey T, Warren, 231,  Roy W. Thunder, 130, Robert Dirmeyer, Jr.,  143.


Maple Grove:

Supervisor: Jeff Butler, 211,

Clerk: Susie Butler, 217

Treasurer: Ginger Cole, 213

Trustee: Larry Hook,  87,   Steve Gauss, 79,     Doug Westendorp, 189



Supervisor: Thomas J. Rook, 417

Clerk: Janet Browneye 160, Melody Risner, 323

Treasurer: Michelle Ritchie, 419

Trustee: Robert Perino, 258  Linda Ribble, 251, Jodi L. Patrick, 231



Prairieville: Supervisor: Jim Stoneburner,  298, Chris Khoury, 133

Clerk: Ted DeVries, 355

Treasurer: Judy Pence, 344

Trustee: Richard Van Niman, 274,    Breanna Borden, 285,

Parks and Recreation Board, Deb Young,  275,   Kevin Louden,  259,   John H. Hoek,  240,   Scott Kuebler, 251



Supervisor: Gerald Schmiedicke, 227,  Larry Watson, 495

Clerk: Robin Hawthorne, 697

Treasurer: Sandra Greenfield,676

Trustee: Sandra L. James, 547,     Marlin Walters, 475,   Michael Hallifax, 528,   Brenda Bellmore, 490



Supervisor: Michael T. Bremer, 977

Clerk: Cindy Willshire, 961

Treasurer: Debra K. Buckowing, 955

Trustee: Ross DeMaagd, 676, Jake Jelsema, 752,  Andrew Lindemulder, 664, Curt Campbell, 599,  Sandra L. Rairigh, 603



Supervisor: Jeffrey S. MacKenzie, 299

Clerk: Nancy Stanton Clerk, 289

Treasurer: Shawn Durkee, 304

Two trustee spots are open.


Yankee Springs:

Supervisor: Paul Heystek 462,  Mark Englerth, 473

Treasurer: Alice M. Jansma, 806

Clerk: Janice Lippert, 567, Thomas Wallace, 343

Trustee: Roger Rottschafer,  479,   Jacob M. Welch,  249,   Shannon VandenBerg, 419, Patrick Jansens, 373




Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf retains post, Charlton Park millage fails

Voters turned down Charlton Park’s Millage request for 0.3750 for operation and maintenance for 10 years: no 4910 to yes 4435 and kept Dar Leaf as sheriff.


What follows are the voters decisions for county elected leaders in the Aug. 2 election.


County Commission:


District 1: Howard R. Gibson, 871, Jerry Sarver, 788

District 2: Dan Parker,  740  Nick Wake 485

District 3: David Jackson, 1,254

District 4: Jon Smelker , 1,536

District 5: Ben Geiger, 948,    Bob Vanderboegh, 445

District 6: Vivian Lee Conner,1,065

District 7: Heather Lynn Wing, 1,042


Sheriff: Dar Leaf,  6,935,  Robert Jordan, 4109

Register of Deeds: Barbara D. Hurless, 8718

County Clerk:  Pam Palmer, 6437,  Craig Stolsonburg 3778

Prosecutor: Julie Nakfoor-Pratt 8991

Drain Commissioner: Russ Yarger, 3,086,  Mark Doster,  2,607  Jim Dull,  4,520  

Treasurer: Susan Vandecar  8,804

Surveyor: 507 Write in votes

Township millages pass easily in Barry County

Voters in Barry County townships looked favorably on millage requests, approving all of the local requests in the Aug. 2  primary. The unofficial results follow:


Barry Township renewal of 2 mills for fire protection, 2016-2019:  

Yes   433     No 161

And, renewal of 2 mills for police protection for 2016-2019:

Yes   388     No 205


Carlton Township renewal of a full 1.5 mills for 4 years for fire protection:

Yes  356     No 147



Castleton Township 1 mill renewal for emergency medical services for five years:

Yes   341     No 158

And, renewal of .5 mills for fire department housing and equipment for five years:

Yes  356     No 147

And, renewal of .2 mills for emergency medical housing and equipment for five years:

Yes  323     No 168


Freeport District Library renewal of  a .5 mills for 10 years: 

Yes 812     No 502



Hope Township renewal of 1 mill for fire protection and cemetery maintenance (.75 mill for fire and .25 mill for cemetery) for four years: 

Yes 469      No 163

And, renewal of 1 mill for road repair, maintenance and operating expenses for four years:

Yes 457     No 180


Irving Township renewal of 1.4804 mills for fire protection for four years:  

Yes 511   No 183


Maple Grove Township renewal of 1 for fire and ambulance department equipment, housing and operating for four years:

Yes 199   No 58

And, renewal of 1 mill to provide dust control and road maintenance for four years: 

Yes 161    No 90

And, renewal of 1 mill for emergency medical service for five years:

Yes 178   No 76


Orangeville Township renewal of 1.5 mills for road improvements from 2017 through 2020:  

Yes 334   No 165


Thornapple Township renewal of 1.5 mills, plus additional 0.2526 mills for a total of 1.75 for fire protection, emergency services and equipment for four years:

Yes 648      No  501

August is national Immunization Awareness Month

**Back-to-school season is here, the perfect time to make sure your children are up to date on the vaccines they need as they go back to school, according to the Barry-Eaton District Health Department.


They recommend you all your child’s doctor to find out which vaccines are recommended before going back to school or visit or

BEDHD holds routine immunization clinics where children can get vaccinated and special “Back to School Clinics” are being held during August.  

For an appointment, call (517) 541-2630 in Eaton County and (269) 798-4133 in Barry County.


“Getting children all of the vaccines recommended by CDC’s immunization schedule is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children from serious diseases,” said Jackie Anderson, BSN, Immunization Coordinator at BEDHD.


Vaccines protect against a number of serious and potentially life-threatening diseases. When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for diseases and can spread diseases to others; babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated themselves and people with weakened immune systems because of cancer or other health conditions.



Largest long bow event in the nation comes to Charlton Park

Archery enthusiasts looking for a weekend of fun and friendly competition are invited to the annual Great Lakes Longbow Invitational at Historic Charlton Park, August 12-14.  Hosted by the Michigan Longbow Association (MLA), the event includes archery-related activities for all ages and skill levels.

Archers can compete in a series of events, look over archery vender’s wares and take in demonstrations.  A coached children’s range, with bows and arrows provided, is available for young archers. Ice cream will be for sale and Charlton Park’s beach and boat launch is available to guests.

Admission for the weekend is $6 per person for ages 16 and up. Gate fee and activities are free for children 15 and under. Modern and rustic camping are available, first come, first served.

For prices for camping, entry fees in events or more information, visit


The MLA was formed in 1983 by a small group of longbow enthusiasts who wanted to promote the use of the longbow, and enjoy the camaraderie of other traditional archers who enjoy the sport.  Adults are required to shoot longbows only, children under 16 may shoot recurve bows, and loaner equipment is available from association members.










Photo: Archers compete at an earlier Great Lakes Long Bow Invitational.

Barry County to put its full faith and credit behind Cuddy Drain bonds

The Barry County Board of Commissioner’s committee of the whole recommended approval of a resolution pledging the full faith and credit of Barry County for $1.4 million in bonds to pay for the county’s share of repair work on the Cuddy Drain.


The intercounty drain on Patterson Road is shared with Allegan County, Drain Commissioner Russ Yarger said. The bonds will be for 15 years and the interest rate, based on current figures, will likely be less than three percent. The bonds will be paid through special assessments on county property owners and corporations in the Drainage District. Barry County is responsible for 60 percent of the cost, Allegan, 40 percent. Yarger said the bonds will cost less for taxpayers if they have the backing of the counties. Allegan County is expected to pledge its faith and credit for its share of the bonds, he said.


Also recommended was a bid of $60,992 from Customized Cleaning Service to install epoxy flooring at the Barry County Sheriff’s Office in the lobby, public rest rooms, public visitation, control one, and the east, south and west wings of the jail, as requested by Barry County Sheriff’s Lt. Pete Nevins.

Nevins said some companies called for information on the project, two were given on-site visits but just one submitted a bid, which has a 10 year warranty. The bid is lower than the $73,404 that commissioners authorized for bids in April.


Also, the Hastings City Barry County Airport Commission spending $157,900 from its reserves for a hanger to be built by Stedfast Construction, Inc. for corporate jets and turbine planes was recommended. A similar hanger was constructed in March and is rented, Airport Manager Mark Noteboom said. The building will be 75 feet by 64 feet by 20 feet with a 17 feet six-inch ceiling height. With a joint operating agreement of the airport, the Hastings City Council also must approve the proposal.//


In other business Aug. 2, the board also recommended:


* the purchase of two boat motors for the Barry County Sheriff’s Marine Division. In June, the commission approved the sale by sealed bids of two personal watercraft and trailers by the sheriff’s office which netted $10, 201.49 that went into the vehicle fund to go toward the cost of two new motors for the marine division. The cost for two motors from Harrison Marine and Storage totaled $10, 098.92, for a difference of $102.57.


* accepting the cash value of $11,475 from its insurer, Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority, for a 2010 Ford Taurus totaled in accident. And, they also approved $24,000 to purchase a new vehicle for the Unified Trial Court through MiDEAL.  The funds for the new car will come from the vehicle fund and the $11,475 settlement. Administrator Michael Brown said the insurer will sell the Ford for salvage.


* an application to the Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program for Jeffrey and Stacey Morton in Section 11 of Hastings Township. Planning Commission Director James McManus said the planning commission has recommended approval.


More parking available for Thornapple Plaza concerts in downtown Hastings

The strong attendance of Thornapple Plaza concerts is making parking spaces in the area scarce, but more parking is expected to ease that situation. Working with city officials, the owners of Ace Hardware at 200 South Boltwood have agreed to lease part of their parking lot to the City of Hastings for $1 for the concert season. 

The northeast corner of the Ace Hardware lot at East State and South Boltwood will be designated for parking during Thornapple Plaza events.

“We have agreed to provide signage, traffic control devices and so on,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said Aug. 1.  “We are working on additional parking for the Thornapple Plaza at several locations. We hope to have some news within a few weeks.”









Barry County backpack program underway

Hastings City Bank and the Barry County United Way are again providing backpacks and school supplies to Barry County students this year. The gifts go to new students in kindergarten up to seniors in high school who need that additional support for the coming school year. 


Donations will be accepted until Aug. 26. Distribution is Aug. 29.


“Community members who would like to contribute school supplies are invited to drop those off at any Hastings City Bank branch," said Nancy Goodin, marketing director at the bank. “Our employees are really excited about helping with this special project and we hope our friends and customers will join us in this project, as well.”


Donations can be dropped off at any Hastings City Bank Branch, the Hastings Police Department, Southside Pediatrics and the Barry County United Way office in Hastings.


Children living in homes at 200 percent of the poverty level or below and interested in receiving a backpack should call the Barry County United Way at 269-945-4010 to their determine eligibility.

When eligibility is confirmed, a time will be scheduled for the child to “shop” for their supplies. //

Last year, 360 children received school supplies and a backpack. 

In addition to new backpacks without wheels, items needed for each backpack include:

Middle / High School Level       Elementary School Level

5 – notebooks                                                scissors

5 – pocket folders                                          pencils

calculators                                                      pencil box

pencils                                                           colored pencils

colored pencils                                               washable markers

colored markers                                             glue sticks

highlighters                                                    hand sanitizer

1" three ring binders                                      construction paper

dry erase markers and erasers                        crayons

lined paper for three ring binder                    ruler

index cards                                                    crayons

pens                                                               pencil sharpener with lid



mouse for computer



Pre-K and Young 5’s

a box of pencils                                             12-16 color crayons

highlighters (1-2)                                           2 glue sticks

pencil top erasers                                           2 cardboard pocket folder

2 dry erase markers                                       blunt tipped scissors

tissue boxes                                                    pencil box

water bottle                                                    hand sanitizer


“This program will allow families to focus on their basic needs instead of how to include this added expense in their monthly budget,” said Lani Forbes, Executive Director of Barry County United Way.  "Each year we see an increase in the number of families that need assistance purchasing school supplies so we are very thankful that Hastings City Bank and so many others are partnering with us on this project.”  


“One of my favorite parts of this program is that the children get choices – they choose which backpack, pencil box, scissors, notebooks, etc.  It gives them a sense of ownership and they feel good heading off to school with their choice of school supplies,” Goodin said. The backpacks go to families referred by local agencies such as DHS, Kinship Care, CASA for Kids and Barry County Cares.


This year, Grace Lutheran Church will be providing the supplies and backpacks for PreK and Young 5’s.  “We are looking forward to providing our assistance to the youngest of those starting their education experience,” Pastor Paul Kuhlman said.


“We have already had many community members stop in to drop off items,” Forbes said.  “Mrs. Franscisco’s  6th grade leadership classes from Thornapple Kellogg Schools started off the collections this year.”  Hastings First Presbyterian Church, Hastings United Methodist Church and Welcome Corners have also joined the partnership. 


Questions? Call Barry County United Way, 269-945-4010.


Hastings crosswalk repairs begin Aug. 8

Motorists and pedestrians in downtown Hastings may encounter the temporary closure of crosswalks beginning Monday, Aug. 8, to allow for the excavation and repair of four crosswalks.

Only one crosswalk will be closed at a time for repair and will remain closed for three to four days to let the concrete cure.


Crosswalks will be repaired in the following order: East State Street, west of Michigan Avenue.; South Jefferson Street, south of State Street; Church Street, south of West State Street; and West State Street, west of Church Street. All crosswalks will be open for Summerfest weekend, Friday, Aug. 26 through Sunday, Aug. 29.






Former Barry County Commissioner to run as Independent in November

Jeff VanNortwick, former Barry County Commissioner, who held the  District 7 seat for six years, will be on the ballot as an Independent for that district in the November election. “I just want to help,” he said on Aug. 1. “I’m middle of the road, not pulled one way or another. I’m looking forward to seeing the results in the primary with changes in the board.”


Van Nortwick said he doesn’t want to see, “another term of mediocrity. My neighbors deserve better.” A Johnstown Township resident and founder of Environmental Landscape Services, Van Nortwick said as a commissioner, he always spoke up and voted his conscience.


“I will passionately serve my people; this is not how you treat your neighbors,” he said.

Republican Heather Wing is the only candidate for District 7 on the primary ballot and will be on the November ballot. Van Nortwick was defeated by Jim Dull in a re-election bid in 2012.


Photo: Jeff Vannortwock taking part in a recent Civil War reenactment at Charlton Park.


2024-04 | 2024-03 | 2024-02 | 2024-01 | 2023-12 | 2023-11 | 2023-10 | 2023-09 | 2023-08 | 2023-07 | 2023-06 | 2023-05 | 2023-04 | 2023-03 | 2023-02 | 2023-01 | 2022-12 | 2022-11 | 2022-10 | 2022-09 | 2022-08 | 2022-07 | 2022-06 | 2022-05 | 2022-04 | 2022-03 | 2022-02 | 2022-01 | 2021-12 | 2021-11 | 2021-10 | 2021-09 | 2021-08 | 2021-07 | 2021-06 | 2021-05 | 2021-04 | 2021-03 | 2021-02 | 2021-01 | 2020-12 | 2020-11 | 2020-10 | 2020-09 | 2020-08 | 2020-07 | 2020-06 | 2020-05 | 2020-04 | 2020-03 | 2020-02 | 2020-01 | 2019-12 | 2019-11 | 2019-10 | 2019-09 | 2019-08 | 2019-07 | 2019-06 | 2019-05 | 2019-04 | 2019-03 | 2019-02 | 2019-01 | 2018-12 | 2018-11 | 2018-10 | 2018-09 | 2018-08 | 2018-07 | 2018-06 | 2018-05 | 2018-04 | 2018-03 | 2018-02 | 2018-01 | 2017-12 | 2017-11 | 2017-10 | 2017-09 | 2017-08 | 2017-07 | 2017-06 | 2017-05 | 2017-04 | 2017-03 | 2017-02 | 2017-01 | 2016-12 | 2016-11 | 2016-10 | 2016-09 | 2016-08 | 2016-07 | 2016-06 | 2016-05 | 2016-04 | 2016-03

Listen Live





On Air Now

Best Country Hits
Best Country Hits
6:00pm - 12:00am
Night Show