Local News Archives for 2016-10

No Traffic Light on State Street & Cook Road in Hastings

Rumors have been circulating in the Hastings area since Aldi's  started construction of their new store that there would be a traffic light at State Street (M-37/M-43) and Cook Road.


In talking with the Michigan Department of Transportation WBCH News was told by MDOT, "as part of the permit process for the new Aldi Store, a traffic signal study was conducted at State Street (M-37/M-43) and Cook Road, and it did not meet the required federal and state warrants to install a traffic signal."    


MDOT did not elaborate on the details of the study or when it was conducted.

Allegan County deputies working with leads, video in firearm robbery

Allegan County Sheriff’s deputies are working with investigative leads and video evidence to help identify suspects in a robbery of a large amount of firearms from the Southwick’s Guns & Ammo on Oct. 29, according to the sheriff’s office.


Deputies responded to a breaking and entering and firearms theft during the overnight hours at the Otsego Township business on Saturday Oct. 29 about 8:25 a.m.


Anyone with information about the theft or the stolen firearms is asked to contact the sheriff’s office through Allegan County Central Dispatch at 269-673-3899 or during business hours at 269-673-0500. The public may also provide information through Silent Observer at 1-855-SILENT-0, or by email at

Rutland Township to dedicate veterans memorial Nov. 11

The public is invited to the dedication that will recognize all Rutland Charter Township veterans who served their country.  The event is set for Nov. 11 at 9 a.m. at the Rutland Township Hall, 2461 Heath Road.


Township officials will unveil the new memorial, a black granite stone with a dedication inscribed to all members of the military services: Pow-Mia, Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines. Emblems of each branch are etched in the stone installed next to the American flag in front of the hall.


Harley Marlett, an 11-year-old Hastings school student, will present the $75 prize she won for a school project to go the monument. Lawrence J. Bauer American Legion Post members from Hastings will attend and make a presentation.

The monument inscription reads: “This monument is dedicated to the men and women of Rutland Charter Township who have served their country.”

MOO-ville owner clarifies voluntary milk recall


Doug Westendorp, owner of MOO-ville in Nashville, has issued the following clarification of an earlier news release:

“MOO-ville stands behind it products 100 percent. There was a glitch in the paperwork, there was no question on the quality of the milk. The milk in the voluntary recall is completely wholesome and safe.”


ORIGINAL NEW RELEASE: Out of an abundance of caution, MOO-Ville, 5875 M-66 Nashville,  has issued a recall of certain milk products due to inadequate testing of the milk. The testing is required by the federal Pasteurized Milk Ordinance in order to sell milk products. No illnesses have been associated with the products being recalled, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The problem was discovered during record review as part of a routine dairy plant inspection conducted at the facility by the state agency.

Milk products covered by the recall were distributed in the greater Grand Rapids, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, and Lansing areas. 

All of the following recalled products have a “best by” date of Nov. 10 or Nov. 14.

•    Mooville 2% Reduced Fat Cream Line Milk (gallon size plastic jugs);
•    Mooville Whole Milk (gallon and half-gallon plastic jugs);
•    Mooville 2% Reduced Fat Milk (gallon, half-gallon and pint jugs);
•    Mooville Skim Milk (gallon and half-gallon plastic jugs);
•    Mooville Chocolate Milk (gallon, half-gallon and pint jugs);
•    Horrocks brand Whole Milk (gallon plastic jugs) – sold only at Grand Rapids and Battle Creek stores
•    Horrocks brand 2% Reduced Fat Milk (gallon plastic jugs) – sold only at Grand Rapids and Battle Creek stores
•    Horrocks brand Skim Milk (gallon plastic jugs) – sold only at Grand Rapids and Battle Creek stores

Consumers who have purchased any of the recalled products should return them to the place of purchase for a full refund or product replacement. Consumers with questions may contact Doug Westendorp at 269-838-7001.



Barry County United Way allocation applications now available

Applications for Barry County United Way funding for 2017-2018 are now available. The not-for-profit agencies that receive funding must provide services to Barry County residents in one of the four funding areas:


Helping youth achieve their full potential, supporting families to achieve well being and success, assisting senior adults find support and maintain independence or addressing urgent and emerging needs in Barry County.

Applications are available at the Barry County United Way, 231 South Broadway, Hastings, 49058 or at under the News tab at the top of the page. Completed applications are due by Dec. 1 at 5 p.m.

The Allocations Committee of some 30 local volunteers meet with applicants to evaluate the health and human service care programs, including how successful they are in improving the lives of our residents through measurable results. As a result, Barry County citizens in 2015 used the services of  the United Way and it’s partner agencies more than 79,000 times.
“This is possible thanks to the many contributions that are made throughout the United Way campaign currently under way in our community, Executive Director Lani Forbes said.

“The goal for this year’s campaign of $600,000 is based on what agencies have said they need to continue programming in our community,”  said Allocations Chair Courtney Collison. Currently the campaign is at $155,580.41 or 25.9 percent of the goal. “We are encouraged by the early support of the campaign,” he said. //


Those who would like to hold a United Way campaign at their place of business or to make a contribution, are asked to contact the BCUW at 269-945-4010. One hundred percent of non-designated contributions are distributed throughout our community thanks to the Florence Tyden Groos Endowment Fund held by the Barry Community Foundation.
Agencies applying for funding must be a health and human service charitable organization 501(c) 3 as determined by the Internal Revenue Service or be a 501(c), incorporated entity in the State of Michigan.  Questions? Call Forbes at (269)945-4010.


Wagner sentenced to 15 to 35 years for assault with intent to murder his mother

Cory Louis Wagner, 27,  was sentenced  Oct. 28 by Barry County Circuit Court Judge Amy McDowell to 15 to 35 year in prison for assault with intent to murder his mother.

The sentence was less than the minimum of 20 years in a plea agreement.

Wagner and his girlfriend, Tiffany Chanthavong, 22, both pled guilty in August to the charge of assault with intent to murder his mother.


A sobbing Diane Wagner read a statement saying she was suffering that, “my only son, who I continue to love, will be in prison the rest of my life.”

Wagner,  66, said his relationship with Chanthavong was poisoning, with her history of drinking and drug use, adding he had scratches and bruises where she kicked him.

“His father and I tried to get him to call the police, but he wouldn’t. You see these stories on TV; you never think they will happen to you…”


She gave details of the abusive treatment and threats to her by Chanthavong leading up to and during the final assault, when Chanthavong kicked her and stepped on her neck, demanding Cory Wagner kill her. “Cory said, 'no, I won’t kill my mom,'” she said. She asked McDowell to show mercy on him with  a term that will allow him to have a family someday. “Please let me be a mother, please let him out when I’m still alive…Please show mercy on my son.”


“What in the world were you thinking?” Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt  asked Cory Wagner. “This is your mother.
"The one person you should respect more than anyone, except your father.” Cory Wagner had a free will and could have helped her, she said. “He put himself in the position he is in; not his mother, not Tiffany, not his father or society.”


Nakfoor-Pratt urged Wagner “to do something you clearly have not done in the situation. You need to be a man, stand up and take responsibility for what you’ve done.”


Wagner’s attorney Carol Jones Dwyer said the case was “all too familiar; a person under the influence of another.”  Chanthavong did threaten him, though that doesn’t justify what he did; Wagner’s actions were typical feelings and actions of one in conflict, she said. “Look at the overall picture; he is not asking for mercy, I do. This is deeper and more complicated than it seems…we ask the court to be consistent with the agreement.”


Cory Wagner said Chanthavong "manipulated me into doing this. I never thought she would hurt her. I love my mom.

“I lost everything because of my relationship with Tiffany;  I thought my life was in danger if I left her… No sentence will pay for what I did.

“I’m sorry for what I did” he said to his weeping mother; “I’m sorry I was stupid. Sorry.. I love you, mom… I love you.”


McDowell said the couple’s relationship was violent and abusive on both sides, noting that Wagner had pled guilty to assault against Chanthavong in an Ottawa County court earlier this year.


“She was the leader and instigator; I believe that. I don’t understand why you let her continue…I understand your mother. She wants you to get out of prison; she wants you to be a family again.”

Taking into consideration his lesser culpability in the situation, McDowell said: “I believe you are salvageable.”


Diane Wagner was allowed one half hour with her son at the jail before he was taken to prison. McDowell will note on her sentence that she has no objection to Wagner visiting her son, although that decision is up to the Department of Corrections.


In sentencing Chanthavong on Oct. 10, McDowell went above the cap in the agreement and offered her the chance to change her plea. Chanthavong did not change her plea and was sentenced to 23.3 to 40 years in prison. Wagner had said he wanted to withdraw his plea at that time, but at the sentencing Dwyer said he had decided against it.


On July 4, when his mother refused to give Wagner money to leave the state, Wagner and Chanthavong severely beat her, threatened to kill her, bound her with duct tape, tied her to a chair and locked her in a bathroom, before fleeing with her car and credit card.

The pair was arrested by Rockford, Illinois police the next day and extradited to Barry County.


Photo: Cory Louis Wagner




Get your flu shot now

To keep individuals and communities healthy this flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends flu shots for those six months and older. The flu season can start in October, and last until May. Since the shots can take up to two weeks to provide full protection; it is best to get yours before the virus starts to spread.

Now is the time to get your shot.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, and fatigue. The shot will not give you the flu, may make symptoms milder if it does not completely prevent it, and can also stop you from spreading the virus to other people. 

Infants, elderly, and those with chronic health conditions, are more at risk for flu complications and benefit from others being vaccinated.

Influenza is a leading cause of vaccine-preventable deaths in U.S. children. Over the past five flu seasons, 590 children have died from complications caused by influenza, according to the CDC.  Protect your kids – get them a flu shot.

Washing hands frequently is recommended, and antiviral medications are prescribed to some people to reduce the risk of complications of the flu and the length of illness.

Flu shots are available in many locations. To find where to get yours, visit For more information visit


With less daylight, motorists urged to use more caution

With fewer daylight hours as fall transitions into winter, Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt is urging motorists to be vigilant for pedestrians, especially kids, when on the road. At the same time, he suggested pedestrians wear light colored clothes to help them be more easily seen.


In his report to the Hastings City Council Monday, Pratt made a few announcements:

* the annual celebration on Halloween night for kids on Green Street will take place from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The street will be blocked off, with a warming tent set up, reserve officers holding a candy check and cadets serving hot chocolate. Officers will be on hand to assist homeowners coming in and out of the area.


* The next “Coffee with the Chief” is set for Nov. 9 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Hastings Public Library. The meeting typically draws about 30 citizens and is a “good chance for me to talk with residents,” Pratt said.


* The annual 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. parking ban on city streets goes into effect Nov. 1, which Pratt thinks will be a week or so before snow comes. After a short period of warnings, violators risk fines and possible impoundment of vehicles blocking the city’s snow clearing equipment.

Two Barry Central Dispatch employees win MI APCO awards

Barry County Central Dispatch 911’s  Eric Mulvaine was named 2016 Telecommunicator of the Year and Che'rie Baldwin-White received the first President’s Award from the Michigan Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (MI APCO).


"Eric and Che'rie are just two examples of the dedicated professionals in
this organization that are giving their all to this community every single
day" said Barry Central Dispatch Director Phyllis Fuller.


Mulvaine was nominated by Baldwin-White, his supervisor, who said he was "a person that lends a hand without expecting anything in return."

Mulvaine became a trainer with only two years on the job, maintains the Barry Central Dispatch website, assists the network administrator with technical issues, and served on the steering committee for the Next Generation 9-1-1 phone system.


At the same time, he provides excellent customer service while working as a call taker and dispatcher.  He works well with his peers and administration and has a great working relationship with law enforcement, fire, EMS and the other agencies that Barry Central Dispatch serves.  "His cooperation, coordination, and initiative are present every single day" Baldwin-White said.

APCO President Sandra Nielsen created the first President’s Award in appreciation of Baldwin-White’s long standing contributions to the Michigan Chapter of APCO. Baldwin-White was instrumental in the collaboration and selection process for an upcoming joint conference of the MI APCO and National Emergency Number Association.


Although there is great collaboration between the two national associations, their annual Michigan conferences have been held separately for more than 30 years. Baldwin-White traveled the state scouting potential conference sites.

For a year and a half, she worked diligently with the two association’s board members to create a memorandum of understanding that is the foundation for the first annual joint conference in 2018.//

The Michigan Chapter of APCO is part of the world's oldest and largest organization of public safety communication professionals. The event was held in Frankenmuth on Oct 20.



Photos: (upper left) 2016 Telecommunicator of the Year Eric Mulvaine

(center left) The President’s Award winner, Che’rie Baldwin-White.

Both awards are from the Michigan Association of Public Safety Officials, part of the oldest organization of public safety communication professionals.

2017 budget, unfunded liability payment approved by Barry Commissioners

The Barry County Commission Oct. 25 approved the county’s 2017 budget by unanimous vote after a public hearing. A resolution for a Fair Housing Policy and budget amendment C16 were also approved by voice vote. More of last week’s committee of the whole recommendations were approved in the consent agenda:


* the transfer of $1.75 million from the 100 percent tax payment fund to the retirement fund to reduce the unfunded liability in the pension program

* the Barry County Healthcare Cost Containment Committee’s recommendation for renewal of health care choices for county employees and to keep the five health plans through Priority Health.


* a public hearing on Nov. 8 at 9 a.m. on a state grant for a Homebuyer Purchase grants and allow Marilyn Smith to submit a grant proposal to Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

* a grant agreement for $10,000 from the 27oh Company to the Animal Shelter to continue the trap, neuter and release (TNR) program.


* court specialty programs and grant contracts for the adult drug court, 56B District sobriety court, and Swift & Sure Sanctions probation programs.

* Lockshore Dairy’s entry into the Agriculture Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program (PA16) in sections 32 and 33 in Barry Township.


* Parks and Recreation Board awards of  $1,000 grants to the City of Hastings, Thornapple Kellogg Schools, Orangeville Township and the Village of Woodland, and $500 grants to Thornapple Township and the Prairieville Parks and Recreation Commission.







Hastings City Council agrees with change in Urban Services Agreement with Rutland Township

A  public hearing on the third Urban Services and Economic Development Agreement between Hastings and Rutland Township drew no comment from the public at the Oct. 24 City Council meeting.

By consensus, the council approved an agreement with Rutland Township that provides city services to a specific area in the township, modeled after the first two USEDA agreements.

“This is the third one, we’re getting better at it,” City Manger Jeff Mansfield said.


He asked them to delay formally approving the agreement, but to indicate their support. The urban service area is slightly smaller than the original, a change recommended by the township board after listening to the public at its public hearing.


The owners of five properties in the proposed district have no immediate need for the services and asked to be removed, Mansfield said, and since that’s what the township wants, and the agreement still works well with the change, he asked for the consensus.


The matter will come back to the council after the 30 day comment period that starts with the public hearing and a motion will be made to approve it then, he said.


BCBSM to continue drug subsidy services for Hastings retirees, for a fee

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Michigan will provide administrative services for 20 percent of the city’s funds obtained through the retiree drug subsidy (RDS) program. The federal subsidy was started as an incentive to encourage the city to keep drug programs for its retirees, paying 28 percent of Medicare eligible retirees drug costs, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.


The city has filed for, and received, RDS payments from Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS) for several years. BCBSM has provided the year end report to the federal government, “as part of its service,” City Clerk Tom Emery said.

However, BCBSM has the claims data at the end of the year needed to file for RDS payments. “We don’t have the claims data and they will continue to do it…It’s 80 percent of something, or nothing,” Emery said.


BCBSM suggests they will be able to gain additional funds for the city through the program by identifying more drugs to get more money from the federal government,  but that remains to be seen, he added. The cost of the program last year was $10,000, and is going down because some of the eligible retirees are switching to Medicare Advantage plans and are no longer eligible.


In other business Oct. 24, the council approved a request from Marilyn Smith of Smith Housing Consulting for a letter of support for Barry County’s proposal for funding to the Michigan State Housing Development Authority for Funding for the Homebuyers Purchase Rehabilitation Program. Smith said she wasn’t sure they would get the grant, but since two houses in Hastings would benefit from a grant, she asked the city council for the letter of support.


And, Mansfield invited everyone to a public input session led by the MDOT on the Grand Region non-motorized plan and new bike maps on Nov. 16 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Barry Community Center.

City of Wayland thanks law enforcement in a big way

A #JustSayThanks campaign to show thanks and appreciation to local law enforcement went far beyond the expectations of its sponsor, the Wayland Area Chamber of Commerce.

Homeowners and businesses showed their support by displaying yard signs, banners, blue ribbons and Thin Blue Line window clings. Every other street light is wrapped in blue Christmas-type lights, with blue bows and a banner.


Chamber Executive Director Denise Behm said the color blue represents law enforcement personnel who have made the ultimate sacrifice and in honor of those who protect and serve their communities 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


“When an officer puts on his or her badge each day, they are also risking their life to protect and serve us. They do not know if they will make it home at the end of their shift. They sacrifice and endure extreme situations that most of us would not want to imagine. We wanted to show our thanks to them and let them know that they are appreciated,” Behm said.


The response from residents and the community “was awesome,” she said.

The goal was 50 signs in homeowners yards, they are now at 130 signs, mainly on the two streets leading into the city, Main and Superior.


At the close of the campaign, the chamber will host a free appreciation dinner for the Wayland City Police, Gun Lake Tribal Police, Michigan State Police, Allegan County Sheriff’s Office and the Wayland Fire Department. The dinner is dedicated to all those invited: officers, firefighters, spouses, significant others, and children. //


The signs are not just in Wayland. Visitors from Indiana, Texas, Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Frankfort asked for signs to display at their homes.

Behm suggested putting a “Thanks, we appreciate you,” on Facebook, Twitter or other social media. Tagline #JustSayThanks links it to similar posts.


In the future, every year during the week of May 15, the national Peace Officer’s Memorial Day, all of the signs, flags, banners, blue lights and ribbons will be brought out and displayed.

For more on the event or chamber, visit or call 269-792-9246.














Photos: (upper left) Executive Director of the Wayland Area Chamber of Commerce Denise Behm shows items displayed around town during the #JustSayThanks campaign.



(center left) Every other light pole in downtown Wayland has a blue bow, blue Christmas-type lights and a banner recognizing law enforcement.



(lower left) Some 130 signs are on Main Street and Superior streets during the month long #JustSayThanks campaign.

Lyons man dies in motorcycle crash

Ionia County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a fatal motorcycle crash yesterday just before 6 p.m. Their initial investigation showed a 45-year-old man from Lyons, driving a 2002 Harley Davidson west on East Blue Water Highway (M-21) near Hillcrest Drive, drifted off the right side of the roadway and struck several trees. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The crash is still under investigation. Ionia Department of Public Safety, Life Ambulance, Ionia County Victim Advocates, and Reed & Hoppes Towing assisted sheriff’s deputies.

ArtPrize entry donated to Gilmore Car Museum

Artist Paula Blinco Collins, best known for her more than 200 bas-relief brick sculptures on display throughout the country, has donated her  2016 ArtPrize entry, “Mom’s Favorite Car,” to the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners.


A life-sized recreation of a car made out of 12,000 pounds of brick, her entry is nearly four times the weight of the actual car. “It’s a 1940 Pontiac that will never rust,” Collins said.

The stand-alone brick sculpture “Mom’s Favorite Car” was created by Collins in honor of the first car in which her mother Aileene rode. The gift arrived at Gilmore on Monday, Oct. 10, her mother’s 90th birthday. She was able to see it in Grand Rapids.


“We were ecstatic to receive such a unique piece of art that was part of the world-renowned ArtPrize competition,” said Executive Director of the Museum, Michael Spezia. “I am certain it will become a focal point of the Museum’s 90-acre campus.”


More than 380,000 public votes were cast at ArtPrize this year. Collins’ entry ranked fifth in three-dimensional entries. To learn more about Gilmore, visit: or call 269-671-5089.


The 12,000 pound brick sculpture of a 1940 Pontiac arrives at the Gilmore Car Museum. The museum will pour a concert pad to permanently display the work by artist Paula Blinco Collins.


Photo credit: Gilmore Car Museum



Delton Middle School locked down briefly after alleged threat to teacher

An alleged threat against a Delton Middle School teacher resulted in the lock down of the school for a time Thursday morning.


Interim superintendent Carl Schoessel said an alleged threat made against a middle school teacher by an unnamed adult yesterday was reported, and since it was thought that the adult might be in the school this morning, a lockdown was carried out shortly after school started.


Barry County Sheriff’s deputies, Michigan State troopers and the Barry Township police chief responded.  After police had contact with the adult, they determined that the lockdown be lifted, Schoessel said.



**Hastings Police Cadet program, entering its third year, building a tradition


Hastings Police Cadets 2016: (from left) Carson Winick, Jon Cook, Michaela Smith, Logan Leatherman, Dakota Chilton, Justin Voshell, Logan Cobb, Trevor Ryan, Allison O’Dell, Joshua Bachman, Hunter Walker, Hayden McMahon, Joshua Sherwood and Cody Vandyke.


Year three of the Hastings Police Department Cadet Program for teen students in Hastings High School is turning out to be just as successful as the first two.Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt said this year is the same as the first two; to boost self esteem, build good community relations, and give the teens a close up look at basic police work, tactics, procedures and protocols.


The good results of the department’s mentoring program, that coincides with the school year, has led to offers from other organizations to help expand the program.

It’s also fun. A looked forward to activity, by both sides, is the flag football game, Cadets and Cops, this year on Sunday, Oct. 23 at 5 p.m. at Johnson Field in Hastings. Both sides are dead serious about winning the game, kind of. “We’re already getting trash talk, and yes, we are definitely keeping score,” Sgt. Kris Miller said.


Pratt credits Miller and Officer Josh Sensiba for getting the cadet program up and running, and commends the other officers who donate their time to contribute to the program. Miller and Officer Brian Hansford now organize the program.


Other officers who work in specific areas talk to the youths about their work and a Michigan State Police investigator has come from the MSP crime lab to explain his responsibilities to the cadets. Ride alongs with on-duty officers and visits to Barry Central Dispatch, the KCC Police Academy, the courts during sentencing, and other departments that the police work with are part of the program.


No one gets any pay for their time and the public is very generous in its support, Pratt said. Cadet fund raisers, like the turkey dinners delivered to needy families during the holidays and a spaghetti dinner, were more successful than even he anticipated, he said.


Miller, who has already built good rapport with younger Hastings kids as part of the department’s community policing, was recently made liaison officer for the Hastings schools.

He sees great value in the friendships he’s making and is looking forward to when those kids who are already his buddies get into middle and high school. Elementary kids respond very well to Miller, the middle and high schoolers, not as much as the younger ones.


He said because it’s been a long time since they’ve had liaisons in the schools, he expected a period of “getting to know” the older kids, but some are already approaching him and introducing themselves. “Long term, it will be fine.”


“Interaction with the schools improves the relationship and communication between the police and schools,” Pratt said. “We learn something every day. We plan to expand the liaison officers. It’s in our mutual self interest,” he said. He is working with the curriculum department on developing credits for completing the program.


Besides the community, the program emphasizes involvement with the school and family and physical exercise. Officer Shawn Olmstead leads the workout sessions. “It keeps us in shape, and them too,” Pratt said. Community service is 50 percent of the cadet’s program, with strong emphasis on giving back to the community. Cadets have cleaned up trash along the city’s River Walk, done basic yard work for the elderly, raked leaves, washed windows, organized a spaghetti dinner, served hot cocoa to the public during community events, and organized the turkey dinners.


At the end of the year in June, a banquet and awards ceremony is held for cadets, their families and officers. Awards are presented for Cadet of the Year, Leadership, Most Improved and the Iceberg Award, for cadets who have more potential that may be “under the surface.”

Some earlier cadets mentor the newer ones, “off to the side, helping, just giving some extra guidance,” and they are also recognized, Pratt said.


During the year photographs and videos of the cadets activities are recorded and a CD produced to be shared at the banquet and made available to cadets and their families. Many parents send photos in to the cadet’s website.


One of the original goals of the cadet program was to reach teens who may be starting on a path to making bad choices, Pratt said. “We’ve had some; it helps them. They seem to like being part of a group. Most kids are proud to be a cadet.”

Logan Cobb (front) and Joshua Bachman “put their backs into it” as they rake leaves for an elderly Hastings resident.















Jon Cook feels the burn as he does sit ups to keep in shape.
















Sgt. Kris Miller stands with Hunter Walker, with Carson Winick on the passenger side of the vehicle, as they learn the proper way to approach “suspects” Tommy Patterson and Kim Tolan.







Sgt. Kris Miller watches Allison O’Dell’s technique as she handcuffs “bad guy” Tommy Patterson.























Does this crew look like a threat on the football field? The cadets don’t think so either. (trash talk) Last year’s cops team, who did not give the final score, was (front row, from left) Mike Behrendt, Rose O’Grady, Heidi Bustance, Morgan Hubbell, Kris Miller, (back row) Jerry Schray, Mitch Tolan, Isaac Yonkers, Jeff Pratt and Mike Martin.

Rutland Charter Township to dedicate veterans memorial

The public is invited to recognize all Rutland Charter Township residents who served their country on Nov. 11 at 9 a.m. at the Rutland Township Hall, 2461 Heath Road.


Township officials will dedicate the new veteran’s memorial, half of a large, black granite stone dedicated to all the members of the military services: Pow-Mias, Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines.

Emblems of each are etched into the stone installed next to the American flag in front of the township hall.

The monument's inscription reads: “This monument is dedicated to the men and women of Rutland Charter Township who have served their country.”


Lawrence J. Bauer American Legion Post members from Hastings will attend and make a presentation. Harley Marlett, an 11-year-old Hastings student, will present the $75 prize she won for a project at school to go the monument.


No one hurt as police subdue suicidal Nashville man

At 1:40 a.m. this (Thursday) morning, police disarmed a suicidal man who was shooting himself in the chest with a nail gun after pointing it at a Nashville officer.


The officer responded to a home on Francis Street to find a man in the garage pointing a nail gun at him. The officer ordered the man to drop the nail gun but he rushed the officer, keeping the nail gun pointed at him.


The man had run back into the garage when Barry County Sheriff’s deputies arrived to assist. They entered the garage, where the man was still holding the nail gun. Ordered to drop it, he instead turned it on himself, firing and striking himself several times in the chest.


Deputies deployed less than lethal rounds at the man to prevent him from further harming himself. He was transported by AeroMed to a Grand Rapids hospital were he was listed in stable condition.

Names are being withheld during the ongoing investigation.

Nashville police were assisted by Barry County Sheriff’s deputies, Nashville EMS and Nashville Fire Department.




Design, engineering company selected for Gun Lake Dam repair

In May of last year, the dam on Patterson Road in Orangeville Township almost failed when erosion underneath the dam created a hole, threatening the dam and the road.

County Drain Commissioner Russ Yarger and County Road Commission Director Brad Lamberg were notified of the problem about 3 p.m. and with the help of the road commission, Orangeville and Yankee Springs fire departments, Barry County Emergency Management and the local gravel pit, an emergency fix was completed about midnight that day.


The process to for a permanent repair begins with engineeering studies. With two companies equally qualified to do design and engineering on the repair of the dam, Barry County Commissioners Tuesday selected the most “user friendly” to the community.


A workgroup with supervisors from the affected townships, a Barry County commissioner, road commission manager, drain commissioner and Administrator Michael Brown reviewed the statements of qualifications submitted by six companies, interviewed four and narrowed their choice to two, Brown said.


Both companies, Land Resources, Inc and GEI were equally qualified to deliver professional engineering services related to evaluation, maintenance, design and repair of the Gun Lake Dam, which controls the Gun Lake level, he said. With no firm recommendation from the workgroup, he asked the commission to make its choice between the two.


Commissioner Vivian Conner, who was in the workgroup, recommended Land Resources, Inc, because of its continuing good relationship and interactions with the community.

“They are very, very user friendly with the public and working with neighbors. They listen to their concerns,” Conner said. “I would recommend them.” The next step is for Brown to work out an agreement with L&R on the scope of the project, time frame and cost.


The question by Commissioner Jon Smelker on how the county came to be the owner of the lake level control dam is lost to the past. Records going back to the early 1900’s confirm that the county does own it, but not why.





Three year old hurt in car pedestrian accident in Hastings

The Hastings Police Department is still investigating an accident where a three-year-old boy was hit by a vehicle in the 700 block of South Hanover Street in Hastings this morning about 7:30 a.m.

Officers determined the three-year-old was crossing the street with his mother and siblings when he was struck by a northbound vehicle.


The boy suffered injuries to his head/face and was transported to Devos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. Speed, alcohol or weather conditions were not factors in the accident., officials said.

It remains under investigation.


Michigan Teen Safe Driving Lakewood

Student at every high school in Michigan now have the opportunity to help make their fellow teens better, safer drivers by taking part in the "Strive for a Safer Drive Program." The public private partnership between Ford Driving Skills for Life and the Michigan Office of Highway safety Planning seeks to reduce the leading cause of death for teens in traffic crashes.


In 2015, there were 41,961 crashes in michigan with a drivers age 15 to 19 years old.

These crashes resulted in 84 fatalities and 477 serious injuries.

Participating schools will receive one thousand dollars for their campaign.

Last year, St. Joseph County's Sturgis High School finished first in the state for their distracted driving and seat belt safety program.  Three Rivers High School finished second and Lakewood High School earned 3rd place.


Participation and application information is available on Michigan dot gov/s4sd.

Health care plans for employees recommended by Barry County Commissioners

The Barry County Commission’s committee of the whole Tuesday voted to recommend approval of the Barry County Healthcare Cost Containment Committee’s recommendations for renewal of health care choices for county employees and to keep the five health plans through Priority Health.

Deputy Administrator Luella Dennison said that for single coverage, the county would pay $6,344.80; for two person coverage; $13, 268.93 and for family coverage, $17,304.02 and employees would pay the remaining cost for health plans exceeding the caps.


Dennison said Priority Health’s increases in premiums for individual plans ranged from 6.77 percent to 13.29 percent. The county’s contributions have increased 3.3 percent, as allowed by state law.


The committee also recommended:

* setting a public hearing Nov. 8 at 9 a.m. on a state grant for homebuyer purchase grants and allow Marilyn Smith to submit a proposal to Michigan State Housing Development Authority for grants for Barry County residents for homeowner rehabilitation and/or home buying, and adopt a Fair Housing Resolution.


* approving a grant agreement for $10,000 from the 27oh Company to the Animal Shelter to fund a trap, neuter and release (TNR) program to reduce the number of free roaming cats in the county. TNR grants have spayed 2,000 cats in the county so far. This year’s grant will pay for spaying cats in the middle section of Barry County.


* approving court specialty programs and signing grant contracts for the adult drug court, 56B District sobriety court, and Swift & Sure Sanctions probation programs.


* approving Lockshore Dairy’s application to enter the Agriculture Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program (PA16) in sections 32 and 33 in Barry Township.


* approving the Parks and Recreation Board awards of  $1,000 grants to the City of Hastings, Thornapple Kellogg Schools, Orangeville Township and the Village of Woodland, and $500 grants to Thornapple Township and the Prairieville Parks and Recreation Commission.






Barry County Commission recommends $2.3 million payment to lower unfunded pension liability

Barry County Administrator Michael Brown Tuesday asked the County Commissioners to increase the amount the county pays into its pension fund this year to reduce the unfunded liability of county pension costs. He asked to transfer $1,750,000 from the 100 percent tax payment fund to the retirement fund. With the additional $574,615 already budgeted for the plan in 2016, the total $2,324,615 payment will reduce the unfunded liability by some 10 percent.


With very little discussion after Commissioner Jon Smelker said, “We own it,” and made the motion, the commission unanimously recommended the payment. The xommission will act on the request at its next regular board meeting.

The Michigan Employee’s Retirement System, the county’s pension administrator, in its most recent annual valuation Dec. 31, 2015, reported that the unfunded liability in the pension plan stood at $15, 849,382, Brown said.


The 100 percent tax payment fund has a mandated cap on the amount that must be held in the fund. Funds above the cap can be used for specified uses. At present, the amount above the cap in the fund is $2,436,556.  After the payments, the balance would be $111,941 left above the cap, with $7 million below the cap.


The unfunded liability in pensions has been a county concern for some time. For several years, the county has been paying an extra $500,000 a year to reduce the amount of the liability. That was also done with funds above the 100 percent tax payment fund cap.


Commissioner Jim Dull asked Brown for a brief explanation of how the unfunded liability grew from $10 million in 2015, when the county was making extra payments.

Brown said this summer, when MERS held its five year review of assumptions they used in setting rates to see if they were consistent with reality, they found its two main assumptions, interest rates and the longevity of employees, did not match what really happened.


To adjust it, they reduced the assumption of an eight percent return on investments to 7.75 percent and also raised the life expectancy on its longevity tables, he said.


Commissioner Craig Stolsonburg said he hoped the employees would agree to adjust their pension benefits in the next few years, saying the funds could be used for many other programs vital to the county. Later, he added a caution saying: “In the long run, it will benefit them. If it continues the way it is, the pension plan will go broke and then they will have nothing.”



Yankee Springs Township board members can attend meetings by teleconferencing

At its Oct. 13 meeting, the Yankee Springs Township Board voted 3-1, with one abstention, to allow board members to participate and vote on township matters via teleconferencing.

Supervisor Mark Englerth was the sole “no” vote. Clerk Janice Lippert, Treasurer John Jerkatis and Trustee Bruce Campbell voted “yes.”


Trustee Roger  Rottschafer, who is in Florida, voted on other issues by phone, but said he would abstain because he did not have enough information to vote on electronic attendance.


“If you are not there; you are not there," Englerth said. “If it is important that they vote, they should be there. That’s the first time in the history of Yankee Springs,  and probably Barry County, that someone has voted over the phone.”


Englerth noted there was no board policy on elecronic attendance, however, he said the board plans to develop one.


“Would it be okay for all of the board members not to show up, have an empty hall and have a custodian running the meeting?” he asked. “This all started at the Planning Commission. They wanted to keep some (members) who go to Florida over the winter."


Lippert, who supported the change, was contacted and asked several submitted questions about the issue last Friday. There has been no reply.


Some of the questions still to be answered are if the board is going to consult an attorney, if the absent member has to notify the board of an absence and the length of time they will be gone, if there a limit to how many meetings they can miss, how many members can be absent at one time, and if the teleconferencing is considered an automatic excused absence.


When the Barry County Board of Commissioners debated the same issue in November 2013, and ultimately rejected it,  County Administrator Michael Brown said the county's legal counsel said attendance may be allowed by teleconferencing, if they can be clearly hard by all those present at the meeting.


That would include voting on matters, but the absent member could not constitute a quorum, which is a court decision. That would mean if four of the seven members of the commission were present, three could be attending from a remote location and there would be a quorum, Brown said.



I/MFAN Recovery Fair this Saturday

The public is invited to a Celebration of Recovery at the right door for Hope, Recovery and Wellness from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday Oct. 22 at 375 Apple Tree Drive in Ionia (just east off of M-66, ½ mile north of M-21).

Families Against Narcotics (FAN) founder, Judge Linda Davis, will be the keynote speaker.


The goals of the event are to:

* Increase awareness and understanding through education and discussion,

* Promote the message that behavioral health is essential to good health,

* Recognize treatment and prevention can work for a life time of recovery.


Also, the audience will be asked for their ideas on creating a recovery-friendly community.

Contact Info: 616-527-5341 or or visit:

All Hallows Eve at Charlton Park

Grab your favorite costume and join the staff and volunteers at Historic Charlton Park for an afternoon of family-friendly fun at the All Hallows Eve Saturday, Oct. 29. Bring your treat bag and enjoy trick or treating in the Historic Village from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., an autumn-themed maze on the village green, a scavenger hunt, pumpkin painting, a wagon ride around the park, balloons and more.


Prizes are awarded for best costume in a variety of categories. Refreshments, popcorn balls, donuts and cider will be served. Cost is $4 for those 13 and up, children 12 and younger are free, but must be accompanied by an adult. Plenty of free parking is available.


“During All Hallows Eve, our goal is to provide fabulous fall fun for all ages in a safe environment. If you love Halloween and costumes of all sorts, we hope to see you next Saturday,” Park Director Dan Patton said. “Community outreach events are one of the park’s strategic initiatives and we look forward to hosting an afternoon of celebration for our local residents,” he said.

For more, visit


Photo: (upper left) Prizes are awarded for best Halloween costumes in several categories at All Hallows Eve. Here’s one of last year’s winners.

Yankee Springs Township recycling station opens

Yankee Springs residents are now bringing their items to be recycled to the recycling station in the parking lot of  the township hall at 284 North Briggs Road. Some of the features of the just opened facility are a PaperGator that accepts newspapers and magazines, a receptacle for metal only, and another bin for glass, bottles, plastics and cardboard that goes to Kent County for recycling.

Supervisor Mark Englerth said he had input about  the facility from many sources including Hastings Charter Township Supervisor Jim Brown, whose township has a new cutting-edge recycling center. “One size does not fit all,” he said. “We needed something to fit our needs. We had plenty of partners and companies to help us deliver a more efficient direction of the revenue stream.”


Grants from the Barry County Solid Waste Oversight Committee and the Barry County Foundation helped with the initial costs, bringing the cost down to about half of $6,500, or $3,200.

The PaperGator proceeds and the sale of metals will help keep costs low. Unfortunately, there is no market for glass.”


“We have three goals: reduce the cost of the service, generate income and encourage people to recycle.” A three-page brochure is being created to let residents know what officials are doing, how they are doing it and ways the citizens can help.

“Without the residents working with us, it makes the struggle much harder,” he said.



upper left: The PaperGator accepts paper for recycling.

lower left:The recycling station for township residents at the Yankee Springs Township Hall.


Airport Construction

Pictured is B & R  Martin Heavy Equipment filling in over 50-thousand yards of sand to level up the runway that when finished will add another 5-hundred feet to the main runway at the Hastings Barry County Airport making it 5-thousand feet in length. This will  allow larger jet or turbine aircraft to use the airport..

Fracking back in the news with proposal for brine disposal well in Barry County

The controversial issue of fracking in Barry County, which drew much public attention from the spring of 2012 until early 2015, is back in the news again with the EPA considering an application for a permit for a proposed brine disposal well in Johnstown Township.


Horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the process of deep-shale natural gas drilling using high-pressure injection of water, sand and chemicals to release trapped gas reserves in rocks deep below the earth’s surface.

Critics have condemned the practice in many public forums,  warning of possible pollution of the air, water, ground and nature by the chemicals used and millions of gallons of ground water in the process.

The DEQ’s position is that fracking has caused no harm in Michigan and has been used here for more than 50 years.


The proposed brine well in Johnstown Township would store the materials used in fracking in Barry County. At the regular Johnstown Township meeting Wednesday, attendants were advised to sent their concerns to:

Ross Micham, U.S. EPA, UIC branch, (WU-16-J),

77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, 60604-3590, with a  postmark no later than midnight, Oct. 24. They are to reference Swanson, 4-7 SWD, permit number MI-015-2D-0002.


Those interested can see the draft permit at the Hastings Public Library.


A public notice from the EPA to take public comment says they plan to allow Arbor Operating, in Traverse City, MI to inject fluid underground by approving the company’s application for a Class II injection well permit.

If approved, Arbor Operating could inject brine into a rock formation 2,000 feet below the surface through the well.  Arbor Operating has also applied for a permit from the MDEQ.


The EPA is accepting comments on the proposed permit ending Monday, October, 24. Writers may ask for a public hearing and if, “there is significant interest.” the EPA will schedule one.


“The EPA will consider all comments it receives, and then issue a final decision along with a response to the comments,” the notice reads.//

Informational meetings were held by Cedar Creek Pierce Institute, anti-fracking groups, and a town hall meeting with 87th State Representative Michael Callton.

Michigan State University Extension offered advice to property owners who were considering an oil or gas lease.


The Barry County Commission has been told by the county attorney several times that counties and townships can’t do anything to stop or control fracking.


Four hurt in four-car crash at M-43 and Nixon Road in Eaton County

Eaton County Sheriff Deputies responded to a four-car personal injury accident at the intersection on M-43 and Nixon Road in Delta Township Wednesday morning at 7:50 a.m.

A vehicle westbound on M-43 went through a red light and stuck a vehicle which was northbound on Nixon Road, and also hit two other vehicles in the intersection.


Deputies report four patients were transported to Sparrow Hospital for their injuries; a 27-year-old man from Grand Ledge in critical condition, a 35-year-old woman and 13-year-old child from Grand Ledge and a 74-year-old woman, also from Grand Ledge, were in serious condition at the time of transport.

The intersection was closed for an hour and a half.

Barry County Commissioners seek clarification of Register of Deeds policy change

The Barry County Board of Commissioners is trying to get information to clarify a policy change by the Register of Deeds that drew complaints from township officials and assessors. Register Barbara Hurless sent a notice to township and equalization assessors that as of Sept. 22, they would no longer be allowed to access the Tyler Technology data base, view and print documents for free.

Supervisors and assessors in several townships have complained that the restriction impedes their ability to get their work done.


Hurless has said it would be possible for a person to get the information and sell it to someone else or build their own data base for their own reasons, as had happened in other Michigan counties. If someone sells the information, “that’s taking a bite out of our revenues.”


When a Register of Deeds records a transfer of ownership of property, they must notify the local tax collection units where the property is located of the transfer within 30 days. That includes nine county assessors for the townships and also the equalization department.


After an opinion by Attorney Bonnie Toskey from Cohl, Stoker, Toskey and McGlinchey, P.C. that it is proper according to state law,  Hurless said she will e-mail assessors a copy of every transaction they need every thirty days.


Administrator Michael Brown said he has talked to Toskey, but so far, he has not received much on the reasoning for the change or what the commissioners can or can’t do.

He said Hurless is dedicated to protecting the integrity of the track index and the fees and also make sure the assessors and equalization department have the information needed to do the job, but it is a state-wide issue with some private companies creating a private track index.


Hurless is willing to work with the assessors, “to find a solution that meets everyone’s needs,” Brown said. She plans to visit each township, “reach out to them” to help them get what they need.

Hurless was invited to the Tuesday meeting; she had a prior commitment in court and couldn’t attend. //


While commissioners agreed Hurless should protect the data base and money from fees that come to the county, the policy change “came out of nowhere,” without communication or advance notice to officials or assessors on the change she was making.


Commissioner Jim Dull suggested withholding funds from the register’s office to repay township assessor’s costs, but Brown said the money goes to the county and he is not aware of any provision that would allow refunding.


Commissioner Jon Smelker said security is up to the Register of Deeds, “but charging townships for information they need is unnecessary.”


Hurless will collaborate with the officials, Commissioner Craig Stolsonburg said. “There are many questions to be answered; Barb will contact all the township supervisors and assessors.”



Barry County to get major IT upgrade

The Barry County Information Technology Department will get a significant upgrade to modernize  the Barry County Server Network infrastructure with virtualization technologies with approval of the Barry County Commission Tuesday.


IT Director David Shinavier gave commissioners a short history of the county’s data department, saying they went from one server in 2005 and covering just the courthouse, to providing IT to several county offices now, including the Friend of the Court, Road Commission, Annex, community building, 911, Commission on Aging, Charlton Park and Animal Shelter.


The $106,805.93 price from the Dell Company will come from the data processing fund, he said.


The change has been more than a year in planning with much research Shinavier said, including a site visit. The present system has 20 switching boxes with heating and cooling problems and equipment of varying ages. With the new system, the switching boxes will be reduced to three with much more storage, including off-site space.


“It addresses all of our issues,” he said.

They are dealing directly with the Dell Company, and on their advice, the new system will be purchased all at once. “I was going to phase it in, but the vendor says that’s not the way to go.”

Data integrity and security and network security and reliability and storage are features of the system. Moving the date from the old system to the new will take months and be done on weekends and nights, he said.


A three year service plan is included in the price and the IT staff will take care of it after that. Shinavier said they will find places in the county for the old equipment. The Dell system should last five years. “Six years would be perfect…this is hardware, next year it will be software and e-mail servers. That will be a more substantial project, at much less cost.”


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