A new program of “Ambassadors” designed to make visitors feel welcome during events in Hastings is ready to “mingle” in downtown during the Christmas celebration in the city, “Jingle and Mingle,” on Dec. 2. 3 and 4, according to Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt. They will also be a visible presence at the city’s annual Ball Drop on New Year’s Eve.
Led by the first appointed ambassador, David McIntyre, eight volunteers have taken training in basic first aid, how to be good observers, and when and who to call, if needed. They will be circulating during events giving event information, where to find parking, directions and being “ambassadors” for the city.
The unpaid volunteers, well identified by bright green vests and logos on hats and jackets, will represent both the police department and the city as a whole. They will not have any police powers and will not carry weapons, Pratt said.
“It’s another way to build relationships with residents and visitors,” he said.
Michigan State Police from the Lakeview Post are investigating a fatal traffic crash that occurred on Nov. 28, at approximately 5:35 p.m. on M-66 near Peck Lake Road in Berlin Township in Ionia County.
A 2003 Pontiac Aztec driven by Elizabeth Vanderhoff, 39, of Ionia, was northbound when it crossed the centerline and struck a southbound vehicle, a 2008 Chrysler Town and Country, driven by Harvey Hansen, 69, of Battle Creek. Vanderhoff was pronounced dead on scene. Her passenger, Andrew Fox, was taken to Butterworth Hospital for injuries sustained in the crash. Harvey Hansen was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital for injuries he sustained, MSP officials said.
State troopers are continuing to investigate the incident. Speed and alcohol are not believed to be a factor in the accident. Troopers were assisted on scene by the Berlin-Orange Fire Department, Life EMS, Ionia Public Safety Ionia County Sheriff’s Department, Ionia County Victim’s Advocates, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Reed & Hoppes Towing.
Anyone who may have witnessed this crash is asked to contact the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post at (855) 677-9178 and speak with Trooper Fick.
The Hastings City Council approved a five year renewal of an agreement with BIRCH and Mercy Ambulance, which expires in June, 2017. BIRCH Rural Fire Association consists of the City of Hastings and Baltimore, Irving, Rutland, Carlton and Hastings townships.
Rod Palmer, chief operating officer of Mercy, has been with the ambulance service for 33 years. He said the terms and conditions are the same as the previous contract, with no subsidies from the city.
Because of increases in the numbers of clients, the service has been able to keep up its obligations to its staff and make improvements despite no increase in payments from Medicare for five years, Palmer said. He said he appreciated the confidence the city has in the service and the support from Hastings Fire Chief Roger Caris. “We have a great relationship with the townships,” he added. The BIRCH Rural Fire Association also recommends that the five townships renew their agreements.
In other business Monday, the council had the first reading of an amendment to the Joint Planning Commission zoning ordinance that adds the third Urban Service District to the ordinance, and approved the third Urban Services and Economic Development Agreement and an escrow agreement to hold the USEDA until Rutland Township constructs the necessary infrastructure.
A Bike Master Plan developed by Williams & Works, along with community members, was approved Monday by the Hastings City Council with a general understanding that some details would be worked out before the plan for a more bike-friendly city is implemented.
Planner Lenee Wells of W&W, outlined specifics on the Bike Master Plan. Recommended by the city planning commission, the plan is posted on the city website, hastingsmi.org.
Wells stressed that the two-year pilot plan would not tear up streets, but put bike lanes in existing streets through striping, adapting different streets to different configurations depending on widths.
For example, a street with 19.5 feet of width could have driving lanes narrowed to 11.5 feet, still within standards for streets, and 4.5 foot bike lanes added on both sides. Driving lanes on other city streets would depend on widths. Some streets would lose residential parking on one side and some bike lanes would be between lines of traffic, bringing questions from the council.
Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange supports the concept, but insisted that problems with young people and other cyclists not knowing or not obeying the rules of the road must be addressed before they roll out the plan. “We need to get over that hurdle before we implement the entire city, to make it work for everyone.”
Wells stressed that they were open to modifying the plan to make bikers and drivers comfortable and will pursue an education and safety campaign, with safety first a motto.
“We will get real time feedback for the public and adjust accordingly,” Wells said. Enforcement will play a big part and education, possibly bike safety classes.
Most of the short Barry County Commission meeting Tuesday was taken up by commissioners acting on recommendations made last week by its committee of the whole. The only discussion centered on price hikes for land division and soil erosion permits from the Planning Department, to be effective Jan. 1, 2017.
Commissioner Jim Dull said sometimes prices have to raised, and he had no problem with the land division increase, but the soil erosion permit could probably be done for less by hiring Professional Code Inspectors (PCI) to do the permitting, as they did several years ago.
Dull said soil erosion permits do require several visits by planning staff, but PCI is at the site often for their part of the process, and could easily add the soil erosion inspections along with regular duties.
“Just because one department is not as efficient an another is no reason to raise fees,” he said.
The commission approved the increases in land division and soil erosion permits as well as some published material by a 6-1 vote with Dull dissenting. However, Commissioner Craig Stolsonburg said he and County Administrator Michael Brown and will talk to PCI about what they would charge and report back to the commission.
In other business, the commission approved:
* a contract with Land and Resource Engineering for engineering services for permanent repairs to Gun Lake Dam for not more than $24,950.
* selling a 2005 and a 2006 Chevrolet Tahoe by the highest sealed bid.
* removing the crematorium from the Barry County Animal Shelter for safety reasons and use the cremation services of Noah’s Pet Cemetery.
* entry into the Farmland and Open Space Preservation program (PA 116) by Rachelle and Matthew Henney in Section 1 of Castleton Township.
* Equalization Director Tim Vandermark’s 2016 apportionment report, to be sent to the State of Michigan by Nov. 30.
The Christmas season is the time for giving and people seem to come up with new ways to make the holiday more joyous for others. A few years ago, anonymous donors paid for others Christmas layaway items. The idea spread and is another example of giving during the holidays.
Add to the innovative ways to help others without recognition; paying up overdue lunch costs for school children. Hastings schools have benefited, first reported by WOOD-TV, when an anonymous couple paid almost $1,000 in overdue lunch bills for the district’s four elementary schools.
Superintendent Carrie Duits said the students and their families were suprised and grateful.
The couple will remain anonymous. “They really wanted to challenge all of us to think about kind acts,” Duits was quoted as saying in the television report.
Another example: A woman talking briefly with a lady in a local store learned that the lady couldn’t find Tabu, her favorite perfume. She took the lady’s name and address and finding the famous scent in another local store, bought Tabu perfume and after-bath dusting power, and delivered the gifts to her home.
The women will never know her benefactor’s name. “I know she was surprised and very happy with the Tabu; it really lifted my spirits, making me feel good, too,” she said.
More ways to spread good will in the community by “paying it forward” will surely be found in the future by those who look for them.
The Hastings City Council Monday approved City Manager Jeff Mansfield executing an MDEQ Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater Program grant, or SAW grant. The city applied for the grant in December, 2013 and was waiting to be selected by a lottery.
Notified in August that the city was eligible for the $712,638 grant, the council voted unanimously to accept it.
The grant requires a 10 percent local match of $79,182 that will come from the water and sewer fund, Mansfield said. It will pay for a digital records management system, full field inspection, an inventory of storm and wastewater infrastructure and a Geographic Information System to create an Asset Management Plan for city storm water and waste water systems, Mansfield said.
The plan will center on maintenance and budgeting for planned improvements and infrastructure replacement that will allow the city be proactive, instead of just responding to emergencies, he said. The city must start a grant funded project within three years or repay the grant, plus interest. They intend to create a similar program for the water system incidental to the storm and wastewater project, he said.
Other area entities eligible for SAW grants include Middleville, Nashville, Hopkins, Martin, Allegan, Coopersville, Caledonia, Rockford and Calhoun County.
The Hastings City Council unanimously approved holding the fifth Barry Roubaix Killer Gravel Road Race starting and ending in the city on March 25, 2017, as requested by Race Director and owner of Kisscross Events Rick Plite and Event Organizer Scott Tencate.
Tencate thanked the city for its full support of the race and “the great team” on city staff that works with them to bring it to the city. He said the race is growing and moving up “to the next level” in Hastings with bike infrastructure, a new mountain bike trail being built, the paved path to Middleville and signs of bike routes. “This is what it looks like when a community supports biking,” Tencate said.
The Roubaix draws around 3,000 cyclists, with the goal of 3,500 this year. Many come to the county and city for practice runs or pleasure rides the rest of the year. On race day, riders face 80 percent of rolling gravel roads, pavement, one mile of rough two track, rocks, sand, mud, and possibly snow and ice on the scenic roads of the county. The largest gravel road bicycle race in the world offers three race lengths to challenge riders of all abilities; the 22-mile “Chiller,” 36-mile “Thriller, and 62-mile “Killer.”
The thousands of people in the event have been called the most polite and friendliest of any large group that comes to the city.
In other business Monday, the city is playing catch up with its agreement for recreational services from the YMCA, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said in his report to the council. The contract between the two entities ran out in June 2014, with the "Y" continuing to provide services at $28,000 a year, or payments of $14,000 each six months. However, last year, the rate was inadvertently lowered to $26,089, and also in this year’s budget. Next year’s budget will have a payment of $30,000 to bring the payments for the last two years back into line. Mansfield said.
YMCA CEO Jon Sporer and Program Coordinator Gina McMahon introduced themselves to the council, saying both were new to Barry County YMCA, but Sporer has 20 years experience with the “Y” and McMahon has extensive contacts in the community. There were no questions for the pair, but a comment from Councilman Bill Redman: “You’re doing a great job.”
Photo: Some of the thousands of bike riders wait for their flight to start the Barry Roubaix in a prevous race.
“Kids Comfort Kits,” given to the youngest patients and visitors at Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital, are to remind children that they are special, loved, and cared for during their time of need.
The kits, which contain “Sparkle the Caring Star” stuffed pillow, crayons, stickers, a coloring book, and a small Nerf ball, have already brightened the lives of more than 160,000 children who are hospitalized or undergoing medical treatment. The Guideposts Outreach "Kid Comfort Kits" are being brought to the local hospital by the Spectrum Health Pennock Auxiliary.
“The members wanted to share these special gifts with the children who may be here as a patient themselves, waiting for a family member who is getting out of surgery, or for those waiting to be seen in the emergency department,” said Auxiliary Board President Sharon Berry.
“The aim of the kits is to bring hope, spiritual reassurance, and smiles to children, parents, and medical professionals,” she added.
The Guidepost program’s five year goal is to distribute 500,000 kits to medical facilities throughout the United States in the next five years. There is no cost to hospitals participating in the program. For details on the "Kid Comfort Kit" program or donating to the program, visit www.comfortkits.org.
Spectrum Health Pennock Auxiliary Board members (left to right) Dennis Morgan, Carol Ergang, Ingrid Morgan-Wilson, Sharon Berry, Diane Williams, Ruthie VanderVeen, Rose Wood, Rose Ann Smith, Eulan Tucker, and Judy Groendyke-Tucker
Visitors to Charlton Park from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 10 and Sunday, Dec. 11, will take a step back in time to experience the holiday season as it was celebrated in the late 1800s.
The Historic Village is decorated with the same materials the pioneers already had and visitors can try their hand at making traditional drafts, including hand dipping their own candles.
Live music in the church, samples of wassail, chestnuts roasted over an open fire and visits with St. Nick are some of the sights, sounds and tastes of the time spent seeing Christmas as it was.
Cost is $6 for adults, $4 for children four to 12. For details, call 269-945-3775.
Photo: (upper left) Children are serious about creating their own hand-dipped candles, as shown in this file photo from an earlier “Of Christmas Past.”
(lower left) Chestnuts roasted on an open fire is just one of the pleasures of the past offered for visitors to sample at “Of Christmas Past” at Charlton Park.
The Mingle & Jingle event in downtown Hastings features three days of Christmas themed events, including lighting of holiday trees, special treats for everyone, Santa’s visits and activities for the whole family. The holiday mood will be enhanced by a sound system in the downtown area playing holiday music during the three day celebration.
Friday, Dec. 2, Saturday, Dec. 3 and Sunday, Dec.4 activities include: a 5:30 p.m. Christmas Parade Saturday, free Holly Trolley, carriage and wagon rides, the Mayor’s Christmas tree lighting, arts and crafts Friday, and free pancakes with Santa Sunday at the Hastings Public Library, a 5K Santa run, chili cook-off, a game tent, reindeers to pet, cookies with Santa, a candy cane hunt and the lighting of the nativity scene in front of the Barry County Courthouse. For a detailed schedule that can be printed, go to www.hastingsjingleandminglecom.
Many communities in the Barry County area offer a Christmas parade to add to the holiday spirit. Most also plan specialm activities including tree lightings, live nativities and visits with Santa after the parades (see photo at left).
What follows is a partial list of area parades.
Hastings: The Christmas parade is in the middle of the Mingle & Jingle celebration on Saturday, Dec 3 at 5:30 p.m. Hastings merchants will have extended hours for mingling, dining and shopping.
Middleville: The Middleville Lions Club Christmas Parade is set for Dec. 10, with step off on Main Street at 5 p.m., and prizes for the top three floats. Visit with Santa after the parade in the gazebo at Stagecoach Park. Take a free wagon ride from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Nashville: The Christmas Parade is Dec. 10 at 11 a.m. part of Nashville Route 66 Business District “Christmas in the Village.” Parade ends at the fire station with visits with Santa and treats.
Lowell: The Santa Parade begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3., part of Christmas activities that involves most businesses and several venues in the city. Get to the parade route 15 minutes early for the candy pass out, because candy can no longer be thrown to kids during parades. For details, visit discoverlowell.org.
Caledonia: The “Christmas in Caledonia” celebration includes its Santa Parade on Dec. 3, down Main Street, beginning at 6 p.m.
Wayland: “Toyland” is the theme for the Wayland Christmas Parade on Dec. 3 at 11 a.m. Starts at Wayland VFW Post 7481 on South Main Street and ends at the fire department. Visit Santa at the fire station.
Delton does not have a parade, instead ringing in the holiday season with a “Hometown Christmas Celebration” on Saturday, Dec. 10 with Santa, live reindeer, a 5K Santa run, live music in the library, a chili cook-off and more.
Mid Michigan Law Enforcement is promoting a food drive for area food banks and you can help. In a news release from the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office, the event is framed in language most familiar to law enforcement. It reads: Mid Michigan Law Enforcement is seeking “most wanted suspects” with the aliases soup, tuna, canned meats, cereal, racers, rice, stew, pasta “and, others too numerous to name.”
The appeal continues: Warning: Suspect is delicious, nutritious and filling. Shoppers are advised to approach with a shopping cart, apprehend suspect and any accomplices and bring them to the patrol car in the parking lot of your local participating food store on Saturday, Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 1p.m. An officer will be there to take the suspect(s) into custody. All that are apprehended will be transported to area food banks.
The list of sites to turn in “suspects” includes Wal-Mart’s in Charlotte and Delta; Family Fare in Eaton Rapids; Kroger’s in Delta; Dollar General in Potterville and Carl’s in Dimondale.
Thank you for your support.
Mid Michigan Law Enforcement.
Fee hikes for Barry County land division applications, soil erosion permits and some publications from the Planning Commission will likely go up with a recommendation to approve the increases by the County Commission’s committee of the whole Tuesday.
Planning Director Jim McManus said proposed fees would more accurately reflect the cost to the county. The department is spending more time in review and approval of land divisions and the review timetable for soil erosion permits is “significantly greater than other types of projects,” he said.
Land division permits will go from $50 to $75; soil erosion permits from $60 to $100. Costs for copies of publications also increase. The zoning ordinance fee goes from $25 to $75; a set of zoning maps from $20 to $50 and a single map from $3 to $5. McManus said few zoning ordinances are sold, since they are posted on the county website.
The new prices will bring in between $4,000 and $6,000 a year, he said. The other fees associated with planning and zoning remain the same.
The committee also recommended not replacing the crematorium at the Animal Shelter and using cremation services of Noah’s Pet Cemetery. The present unit is unsafe, Director Billie Jo Hartwell said and the cost to replace the crematorium at $59,450 was not feasible with the reduced rate of euthanasia at the shelter.
Cremation service will still be offered to Barry County residents through Noah’s. A price list for cremation of different pets, based on weight and type of cremation desired is available at the shelter.//
In other business, commissioners recommended:
* approval of entry into PA 116 for Mathew and Rachelle Henny in Section 1 in Castleton Township.
* transferring a F-150 pickup truck from the drain commissioner’s office to Charlton Park and selling a 2005 Chevy Tahoe and a 2006 Chevrolet Tahoe by sealed bid.
* approval of Equalization Director Tim Vandermark’s 2016 apportionment report, to be sent to the State of Michigan by Nov. 30.
The commission will act on the recommendations at its next meeting, Nov. 29.
On May 28, 2015 erosion under the Gun Lake Dam on Patterson Road in Yankee Springs Township threatened to wash out the dam and the road. Emergency repairs saved the dam that night through the combined efforts of the Barry Drain Commission, Road Commission, Emergency Management, Orangeville and Yankee Springs fire departments and the local gravel pit.
Planning for a permanent fix to the dam moved forward Tuesday with a recommendation of approval for engineering studies by Land & Resource Engineering by the Barry County Commission’s committee of the whole. The engineering firm will assess the dam’s structural integrity, potential permanent repairs and ways to accomplish them, at a cost of no more than $24,950.
The commission will consider the committee’s recommendation Nov. 29.
According to the Professional Services Agreement, Land & Resource will report to the county drain commissioner every week, or more often, and the county can ask for on-site inspections. The study is expected to be completed within three months and a final report given to the county commission.
Land & Resources was chosen for the study last month after the commission reviewed the statements of qualifications submitted by six companies, interviewed four and narrowed the choice to either Land & Resources or GEI.
Barry County Commissioners approved the final drawings for improvements to the Barry County Circuit Courtroom Tuesday. Bob Van Putten of Landmark Design Group will now seek competitive bids for the construction work that includes improvements in the court’s holding area, courtroom and security entrance.
Van Putten brought two changes to the plan; an added door to the security area and a half wall to provide more space between the jury and public seating area. Commissioners Vivian Conner and Jim Dull voted no. Commmissioners Ben Geiger, Craig Stolsonburg, Jon Smelker, David Jackson and Howard Gibson voted yes,
In the plans, the jury box was moved to the opposite side of the courtroom to avoid prisoners being in close proximity to the jury when they are brought into the courtroom. The jury will now walk in front of the spectators to go to the jury box. Conner said she didn’t like the possibility for jury intimidation by spectators as jurors filed by; Dull did not give a reason for his vote.
Commissioner Jon Smelker also said he could see the possibliity of intimidation by someone in the audience. The half wall was added to address that concern, he was told.
The commission approved paying $308,000 for the project in July.
In a short special meeting immediately after the committee of the whole meeting, the commission paid the bills.
In a marathon two hour and 15 minute public comment period at the Tuesday Barry County Commissioner’s meeting, 45 people spoke on the current negotiations with the county administration and the Barry County Courthouse Employees Association representing courthouse employees.
The negotiators, County Administrator Michael Brown, Commissioner Ben Geiger, members of the association, an attorney and department heads with employees in the association met in one session; it goes to mediation in December. The impasse is about a classification and compensation study by Segal Waters that found Barry County employees were “drastically underpaid,” when compared to several nearby municipalities.
Commissioners sat silent as they listened to the speakers negative comments. Each speaker, from judges to long time employees, to department heads supporting their staff, made virtually the same points; county wages and benefits are too low and wages and benefits lost during the last eight years has make working for the county extremely difficult to support a family.
Most employees said they are very proud of the work they do and the people they work with, and although some said their jobs are extremely stressful when dealing with irate people and it negatively affects their home life, they love their jobs and the services they provide. Some spoke of being single providers who are doing “more for less” on their jobs and working two or three jobs to support their families. Many said the county has wasted $90,000 of taxpayer money on a classification and compensation study that they had no intention of using.
Suggestions on how to fund raises were offered; taking one half of the excess that departments turn back to the county at the end of the year that now go into four different permenent funds, or the anticipated $200,000 increase in recording fees in the Register of Deeds office that would otherwise go into the general fund in the next year. //
Many speakers berated the commission for making county employees feel unappreciated, unimportant and disrespected for their work and dedication; they demanded the commission treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve and to negotiate a fair and equitable contract in good faith.
A common concern was that new employees work at the county only to get training and experience and then leave for higher paying jobs elsewhere. The county will lose many more significant employees if they don’t act now, several said.
The spending of the commission was brought up several times, with speakers saying the county spends millions on facilities instead of good wages for the people who provide the services a county delivers.
Julie Ingle, president of the association covering 70 courthouse employees, said the compensation study and reopening the contract for wages in 2017 was part of the last contract.
“They made sure it was an accurate and fair study, and now we’re told it was flawed and there is no way to implement it. You spent $90,000 for something that the county doesn’t want.”
Judge Michael Schipper said he knew the employees were underpaid. “I just didn’t know they were that much underpaid. The (Segal Waters) study said employees are 15 to 20 percent underpaid…it’s time to roll up our sleeves and fix this.”
Tammy Pennington, COA director, said the dispute goes beyond the 70 courthouse employees; it affect some 200 county employees. They know the county can’t implement a suggested 13 percent wage increase 100 percent in the next year or two years, but she said, “you value your employees, the way to show you value them is to make a goal. Put together a plan; put in steps to reach the goal.”
Geiger issued the following statement after the meeting:
“I have great respect for Barry County's hardworking employees; they provide valuable service to our taxpayers every single day. I look forward to working through this bargaining process, and finding solutions that strengthen our county.”
A semi tractor trailer carrying 8,000 gallons of gasoline rolled over on the off ramp of northbound I-196 at the Pullman/109th Avenue exit Monday afternoon and caught fire, according to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office.
The driver, Michael Bennett, 45, from the Benton Harbor area, was found next to the cab of the semi. Three passersby helped Bennett from the area before the semi caught fire. He was taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries. The Good Samaritans were identified as Jeff Hunter, from Gaylord; Chad Edgington, from Illinois; and Shawn Crittendon, who was enroute to the Chicago area.
The semi burned for several hours, allowing the gasoline to burn off to limit its release into the environment. Allegan Emergency Management and the MDEQ are working on a clean up plan. Work is still being done in the area and as of late afternoon the exit ramp was still closed.The semi was owned by PAC Trucking of Kankakee, IL.
The crash remains under investigation, but speed is believed to be a factor. The ramp has a posted 25 mph cautionary speed limit and is a challenging exit structure, deputies said. The sheriff’s office was assisted at the scene by the South Haven Area Emergency Services, AMR Ambulance and Michigan State Police.
Salem Township has won an $800,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant that will fund two storm shelter safe rooms; convenience centers engineered to resist an EF-4 Tornado winds of 250 miles per hour at Sandy Pines Campground Resort, and two all-hazard warning sirens to alert Phase 6 of Sandy Pines, St. Mary’s Visitation School and, with its two mile radius, parts of Dorr Township.
To apply for the grant, a threat assessment plan of the township, was developed by the Allegan County Emergency Management Department, made part of the Allegan County All-Hazards Mitigation Plan, adopted by Salem Township and approved by FEMA Region 5.
“This would not be possible if not for the tireless efforts by particular individuals such as (Salem Township Supervisor) Jim Pitsch and Steve Deyarmond, who were instrumental in collecting the necessary data to show the need for protection of campers, visitors and the surrounding community of Sandy Pines Campground Resort,” Emergency Management Director Scott Corbin said.
Corbin credited Pitsch and the township officials for their leadership in seeing the project to completion, and encouraged other municipalities to apply for the types of grants that make communities more resistant to these types of hazards.
“I am extremely proud of our team and the efforts put forth on these grant projects and thank them for their time,” Pitch said.
FEMA’s Region 5, Michigan State Police Hazard Mitigation Division, Allegan County Emergency Management, Salem Township and Sandy Pines Resort collaborated on the grant.
Contact the Allegan County Emergency Management with questions on completing grant applications.
Middleville will host a holiday open house Dec. 8 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. with village shops and businesses open and inviting visitors in, each offering something special with music, snacks, photos with Santa, or other surprises. The open house is sponsored by the Middleville Business Alliance.
Also, in keeping with the holiday season, the village hosts holiday markets Nov. 26, Dec. 3 and Dec. 10 in the community pavilion from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. featuring live music, distinctive gifts and homemade treats.
During the month of December, 20 Middleville store owners have hidden elves somewhere on their premises for kids to find and get a surprise gift. Kids can also count the number of elves on the floats in the Dec. 10 Christmas Parade, write down their number and put it in a drawing that will win a prize for a boy and for a girl.
Spectrum Health Pennock Foundation has launched a yearend fundraising campaign for the creation of a new sanctuary and healing garden for the benefit of guests, patients and employees of Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital. The new space in the atrium area near the main entrance will reflect an inter-faith presence and serve as a calming place where all are welcome to pray and receive spiritual counsel, be a family, meditate, grieve and receive grace, peace and hope, said Janine Dalman, executive director of the foundation.
“When we think of health care we naturally think of clinical care, but having this incredible sanctuary will allow the hospital to offer a next level of emotional and spiritual care. What started out as a small project to enhance our existing chapel turned into something much more impressive thanks to the input of our community,” Dalman said.
Moving the existing chapel to its new location in the hospital is the result of a focus group of patients, families, ministers, social workers, hospice, employees and the community at large. Working with architects, the group discussed bringing the outdoors in and a hope to provide a unique, serene space for patient families and employees.
They envisioned the sanctuary holding bereavement classes for hospice families, counseling patient families during difficult times, debriefing emergency department staff after a traumatic event and simply a place of peace, she said.
A sanctuary with flexible seating, areas for prayer and meditation, a resource wall and access to the outside healing garden, fills a void at Pennock and helps fulfill its mission to improve the health of the community in a different way. Pastor Michael Anton said the chapel (sanctuary) is literally and symbolically a critical sign of holistic healing – for both patients and caregivers.
For more information on how to help the foundation make the new sanctuary a reality, contact Dalman at 269-945-3651, or Janine.email@example.com. Donations can be made online at www.pennockfoundation.com or mailed to Spectrum Health Foundation Pennock Hospital, 1009 West Green Street, Hastings, MI 49058.//
Participants of the focus group who dealt with grief shared what having a sanctuary at the hospital meant to them during their time of need.
The hospital chaplain: “The children were having a great deal of difficulty dealing with their mom’s declining health and there were many opinions on what to do.
“As the chaplain at Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital, I was asked to meet with them. I wanted to meet in the chapel, but with eight children and spouses, we were forced to meet in the third floor family waiting area. It was the only space that could hold all of us.
“The daughter spoke with me later and said it would have been so much better if we had been able to meet somewhere that would have given us a feeling of hope for Mom, her future and us, as we made decisions about her future.”
From another: “My dad spent a fair amount of time in the hospital. The chapel in the hospital meant a lot to me when I needed to get away and process what was happening in my life. It was quiet without medical equipment, noises, nurses and sickness. The chapel gave me a place to grieve, without further upsetting my parents with my grief. It gave me a place to pray for something better than the situation I was in.”
A new donor wall separating the sanctuary from the waiting area will highlight contributors to the new sanctuary in addition to donors of the PACS campaign that are currently recognized on bricks in the garden area.
Photo: One view of the projected sanctuary area at Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital
The Hastings National Weather Service Climatological Station recorded the first snowfall of the season Saturday at 7:10-am.
Volunteers have been notified that Bronson at Home of Barry Community Hospice is closing its Hastings office at 450 Meadow Run the first of the year.
The hospice service will continue to provide all of its services with the same volunteers and staff and will stay at its present location until the first of the year, hospice volunteer Georgette Schirmer said.
The service will then move to Emanuel Episcopal Church, 315 West Center Street in Hastings, until they find a permanent home.
“It will be a challenge,” Schirmer said, “but we will still be providing our services, going to nursing facilities and homes, giving respite and holding vigils.”
There are few details on reasons for the change as yet, however, more information is expected from Bronson’s Corporate Communications office the first of next week.
Hastings, Delton, Johnstown and Nashville firefighters battled at barn fire at 2343 Dowling Road around 7:48 Friday night.
The Owners said he was burning leaves when winds came up blowing sparks into the Barn.
A traffic crash on eastbound I-96 between St. Joe Highway and eastbound I-496 this morning at 7:22 a.m. caused the death of Carl Langham, 27, from Holt, according to the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office. The drivers of the two SUVs that collided were injured in the crash.
Langham was a passenger in a westbound SUV driven by an unidentified 19-year-old woman, also from Holt. Deputies say the 19-year-old lost control of the SUV, which crossed the median, rolled over and hit an eastbound SUV.
A 21-year-old woman from Laingsburg was the driver and lone occupant of the second SUV. Both drivers were transported to a local hospital by Delta Township Fire/EMS with non-life threatening injuries.
The crash remains under investigation by the sheriff’s detective bureau. Highways near the scene were rerouted or closed for several hours after the crash.
The Barry County Prosecutor’s Office issued criminal charges Wednesday against Greg Eugene Kotrba, a juvenile probation officer with the Barry County Circuit Court-Family Division, according to a release from that office.
Kotrba was charged with three felony offenses: misuse of office and two counts of possession of controlled substance. Kotbra was arraigned in Barry County District Court and was given a $5,000 cash/surety bond, also on Wednesday. He is scheduled to be back in District Court Nov. 23rd.
***Many people look forward to holiday parties and dinners during the holidays. However, with the hustle and bustle of the season, healthy eating and exercise can get overlooked. The average American gains one to two pounds each holiday season.
Here are some tips to help prevent weight gain during the holidays:
* If you’ve been trying to lose weight, shift your focus from weight loss to weight maintenance
* trim calories if it won’t affect tradition or flavor in holiday foods and serve healthier desserts
* offer lighter appetizers like shrimp cocktails, reduced-fat cheese, or fruits and vegetables and add more vegetable and fruit dishes.
* roast or grill foods for rich flavor and fewer calories
* try to plan your calories and fit in exercise so you can enjoy holiday foods
Also, many people will prepare food for meals and celebrations. To protect yourself and your family from food poisoning and keep food safe:
* use a food thermometer to make sure food is heated high enough to kill bacteria and keep food hot after cooking at 135°F or above and reheat cooked foods to 165°F or higher
* wash hands and surfaces often, cleaning hands for 20 seconds with soap and running water; also wash fruits and vegetables, but not meat, poultry, or eggs and wash surfaces and utensils after each use.
* refrigerate perishable foods within two hours, never thaw or marinate foods on the counter and know when to throw foods out by visiting www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/storagetimes.html)
* use separate cutting boards and plates for produce and for meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs and keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods in your grocery bags and in the refrigerator.
* signs of food poisoning can include upset stomach, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and dehydration. These can be mild to severe and may differ depending on the germ that is making you sick.
* if you think you may have food poisoning, call your doctor. Also, if you suspect food poisoning from eating at a food service establishment or a large gathering, contact the Barry Eaton District Health Department.
For more information on healthy holiday eating, visit http://www.webmd.com/diet/holiday-foods-diet and http://www.cdc.gov/family/holiday/. For food safety information, visit www.foodsafety.gov.
Following successful deployments of Smart911 in dozens of 911 centers across the state, the State of Michigan has appropriated $2.3 million in 2017 to make Smart911 standard in the state.
Michiganders can create an extensive online safety profile on Smart911 that is displayed to dispatchers when a 9-1-1 call is made. Critical information such as home address, bedroom location, pet information, medical details and if households include people who need special care, can all be provided.
By creating a free safety profile, residents give dispatchers vital information that speeds emergency response times to them, and saves money by reducing the number of unnecessary law enforcement dispatches.
“Having Smart911 available in all Michigan communities benefits Barry County residents who travel outside of this county for work or pleasure,” said Barry Central Dispatch 9-1-1
Director Phyllis Fuller. “Any 9-1-1 center in the state will have detailed information about a person’s household if they create a safety profile at Smart911.com. The statewide deployment will also help us in our quest to educate people about the benefits of Smart911.”
Smart911 is currently available across parts of 43 states and thousands of municipalities across the country, and has been credited with positively impacting countless emergencies.
“In emergency situations, every minute counts and enhancing 9-1-1 services across our state is essential to protecting the lives of Michiganders,” Lt. Governor Brian Calley said. “State funding will help communities across our state take advantage of this program and have extra resources to help save lives in emergencies.” //
Rave Mobile Safety will provide the communication software to increase emergency preparedness. “We applaud the State of Michigan for bringing greater safety and peace-of-mind to residents and for their commitment to improving public safety,” said Tom Axbey, Rave president and CEO. “By partnering with public safety agencies statewide, we can save more lives together.”
When announcing the retirement of the Barry Eaton District Health Department Medical Health Director Dr. Robert Schirmer, the health department recognized the extensive work he accomplished over the years for the health department, the communities it serves and the individuals and families he has touched both inside and outside of Barry and Eaton counties.
Dr. J. Daniel Woodall, D.O., M.P.H., the new medical health director, will begin in early December.
Schirmer has been BEDHD medical health director since 2005, following 18 years in public health in the pharmaceutical industry conducting post-marketing drug safety surveillance and pharmaco-epidemiology, and 11 years in private practice of office and hospital-based internal medicine.
A passionate advocate for change to improve health and preventing disease, particularly through policy to changes to make healthy decisions easier, Schirmer’s focus is on unhealthy behaviors in tobacco use and obesity. //
“Chronic disease resulting from unhealthy behavior has long surpassed communicable diseases as the leading cause of preventable death in our community,” Schirmer said.
“Unhealthy behaviors are killing us. The two biggest killers are tobacco and obesity. These behaviors begin in childhood and policy can reduce these unhealthy behaviors.”
“Locally, we have much policy work to do to make individual’s default decisions healthy and to make a future where every resident has the opportunity to live a long, healthy, and active life.”
Although Schirmer will be leaving his position at the health department, he will continue his work with the statewide tobacco21 coalition, Barry Tobacco Reduction Coalition, Barry Substance Abuse Task Force, the Barry Suicide Awareness Task Force, and as medical director for the Barry Community Free Clinic and consultant in drug safety to pharmaceutical companies.
A 9 a.m. Tuesday crash at the intersection of 58th Street and 136th Avenue in Fillmore Township that involved a semi tractor-trailer loaded with pigs and a box-type truck, caused very minor injuries to the box-truck driver. The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office reports that very dense fog contributed to the crash.
Deputies said the semi with a stock trailer carrying 2200 young pigs was struck broadside in the trailer by the box-type truck as the semi driver was trying to cross the intersection. The damage from the impact caused the death of about 20 pigs, and allowed another 200 to escape. The pigs were eventually corralled by members of the public, workers from the farm that the pigs came from and public safety personnel. The remaining pigs were eventually back on their way to a destination in Indiana.
Both drivers were wearing seat belts, officials said, and their names will not be released. The intersection was closed for about two hours. Deputies were assisted by Hamilton and Graafschap fire departments and AMR ambulance.
Mountain and fat tire cyclists, cross country skiers, hikers and snow shoers, trail runners and other outdoor enthusiasts will soon have a new venue to pursue their favorite outdoor activities, all within easy walking or cycling distance of downtown Hastings.
Monday, Nov. 14, crews began construction of the six-plus mile Hammond Hill Multi-Use Trail. The narrow 18" to 36" natural surface trail is being constructed to complement the natural features and existing disc golf course at the Hammond Hill Recreation Area and will be connected to Tyden Park and Hastings Riverwalk.
The initial planning and project oversight is being done by professional trail builders, Dirt Artisans, aided by volunteers. When complete, maintenance will be done by volunteers organized and trained by the WMMBA.
The total cost of the project is $120,000. Funding will be raised by the City of Hastings and the West Michigan Mountain Bike Association (WMMBA) through grants, private donations, and fundraising events. Other funding sources include the MEDC, Barry Community Foundation and Barry-Roubaix. A crowd funding campaign is schedule to begin later this month.
Look for project updates on the Hastings website https://hastingsmi.org and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/hastingsmi.org.
Photo: Professional trail builders, Dirt Artisans, begin work on the Hammond Hill Trail. It is expected to take about six weeks to complete.
Some lucky person playing the Michigan Fantasy 5 lottery matched 5 of 5 numbers to win a $626,793 jackpot. The ticket was sold monday at Johnny's Shell Station in Hastings.
The Hastings City Council Monday approved Burr Engineering drilling six monitoring wells in city rights-of-way adjacent to the Viking Corporation on Industrial Drive.
Viking is continuing to work with the MDEQ to bring environmental closure from soil and groundwater contamination from past releases of hazardous materials, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said. The wells, 15 to 25 feet deep, are expected to be required for two to three years, depending on Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approval.
With MDEQ approval, the wells will be abandoned by Viking, the pipe pulled and the holes filled from the bottom up and the sites restored to their original condition. The wells will be 10 to 15 feet away from the sewer lines in the city’s rights of way
“It works well for the both the city and Viking,” Mansfield said.
In other business, the council:
* approved the City of Hastings Barry County Airport Commission’s recommendation for a three-year contract extension for Manager Mark Noteboom at $65,000 a year. Because of a joint operating agreement, the city and county both have to approve the request. The Barry County Board of Commissioners approved the contract Nov. 8.
* approved spending $30,380 for an estimated 700 tons for road salt through an agreement with the State of Michigan Acquisition Services that guarantees salt to last the winter and up to 30 percent additional above the requested supply, DPS Director Lee Hays said. The unit price is $43.40 per ton. The benefit to the city in going with a state contract is that the requested quantity of salt is guaranteed, which helps alleviate supply headaches later in the winter, he said.
* approved buying 75 trees for 2016-2017 from low bidder Landmark Skid Steer and Trucking from Dowling for $17,850. The company has done excellent work in the past, and the cost is reasonable and within the budgeted amount, Hays said. County Line Nurseries, Bangor, bid $21,875 and Twin Lakes Nursery bid $36,750.
* awarded a contract to Prein & Newhof for $9,050 to develop a geographic information system (GIS) for mapping cemetery graves locations as recommended by the Riverside Cemetery Preservation Advisory Board.
The Hastings City Council issued an official Proclamation Monday recognizing Rutland Charter Township Supervisor Jim Carr, “for his exceptional tenure of service and many accomplishments.”
Carr was elected supervisor in March of 2003 following a recall and reelected in every election since then. He chose not to run for reelection this year. Hastings Mayor Frank Campbell said Carr has a rich and varied history of public service in Barry County, including terms as building and zoning inspector in Prairieville, Hope and Rutland townships.
“Jim is intelligent, caring and firmly dedicated to those he serves, while remaining down-to-earth and extremely accessible at all times. Jim finds his own success in the success of others, and he has consistently demonstrated that he is willing to invest his all into improving the community he loves and serves. His leadership has created numerous opportunities for residential commercial and industrial development in Rutland Township and central Barry County," Campbell continued.
Carr also guided development of intergovernmental agreements on infrastructure and services needed for managed development and finding the revenue necessary for prudent government operation. He is chairman of the Joint Planning Alliance and Zoning Administrator of the Joint Planning Committee. “A true leader, Jim helps those he serves and mentors those he works for and with, always working to inform and assist those who interact with local government,” Campbell concluded.
“I really can’t take the credit,” Carr said. “It’s what all we did together, especially Jeff Mansfield.”
Carr’s parting remark drew laughs and a standing ovation from the council and audience. He said he wouldn’t try to name all those who worked with him on different projects because he couldn’t name them all. “Instead, I’ll just thank my mother for giving you all the opportunity to work with me,” he joked.
Thornapple Township hosted an Open House at the last board meeting of four of its outgoing members Monday from 6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. prior to the regular meeting. Being recognized for their service to the community through service on the board are: Trustee Walt Eavey for 20 years, Clerk Susan Vlietstra for 16 years, and Trustees Bill Kenyon, eight years and Nick Wake, four years.
Some people don’t look for publicity or note, but quietly spend their time promoting a better life for those in their community. Walt Eavey, who moved to Middleville in 1948, is one of those people who are essential for a functioning village or city. //
Walt retires from the board with a long list of volunteering for the township and Middleville, including the Barry County Red Cross where he was named Barry County Disaster Services Volunteer of the Year, Veteran of the Year in 2015, Thornapple Township Emergency Services firefighter, when it was the Middleville Fire Department; founding member of the Middleville Lions, founding member of Thornapple Area Parks and Recreation, Barry County Parks & Recreation Board, a member of the United Methodist Men, and even constable for the village.
Walt also volunteered for village events and committees too numerous to mention, from a theater group to parades to emergency services committee and his commitments were kept for years, not weeks or months. Why did the Korean War U.S. Army veteran become so involved in so many community activities, and for so long?
“He’s quite a social person,” said wife Margaret, better known as “Mike.”
“He likes to keep busy and do things for other people. Whatever he does, he’ll do a good job. Someone asked him to join the Lions, so he did. Someone asked him to join the fire department, so he did. I don’t know about the trustee thing, I wasn’t too happy about that.”
Living on Russell Street in the village, Walt heard the fire siren every time it called firefighters. Then-fire chief Ernie Ball asked him to come to a meeting of the department, and in 1956, at 23, he joined the fire department. Walt worked for Geukes Meat Market on Main Street and fit the criteria; all of the firefighters were men who owned or worked at a downtown business and could leave their business in a second to respond to calls. Firefighting then was completely volunteer, it became a paid yearly stipend, and now is paid on call.
He retired from firefighting once for about four years, but then re-joined. He never officially retired after that, but the first of two hip replacements meant he would no longer climb ladders, so for about five years, he went on fire calls to take photos of the fires for the department archives.
Walt has seen a lot of changes at the township in the 20 years. When first on the board, the officers kept their records in their homes. The offices moved several times until the township came to its present location.
At one of his last meetings, Walt voted to move the township offices to the Thornapple Township Emergency Services building on High Street to save money and increase efficiency.
The biggest change for township business has been computers, which changed everything. “It does save some time and the township has its own website, but it is expensive and I don’t know if it made everything better,” he said.
The biggest challenge now for the township is funding the emergency services, he said. State laws are designed for large metropolitan services like Grand Rapids and Detroit and demand replacement of expensive equipment every so many years.
“They probably need it, they make thousands of calls and it wears out, but a small department like ours won’t have the activity of a Detroit,” he said. But, they still have to replace the same equipment on the same timetable, a budget drain for a small emergency service.
Also, he said some state requirements aren’t well thought out. The state mandated getting rid of wood ladders because they might catch fire and replace them with aluminum ladders. After five or six years, they had to get rid of aluminum ladders. If they touched power lines, electrocution resulted. Now they use fiberglass ladders, he said.
Back in the day, the community, smaller, not quite so mobile, not influenced by television or the internet, was much closer and nicer, he said. “Then, if you asked for help, you would get it,” he said. Now, people don’t volunteer as much, and most want to be paid for the help they do give.
Still, he sees a bright future for the township. “We’ve got some good people coming up on the board. And they are smart on computers, that will be helpful.” Middleville is doing a lot of good things too, making some nice improvements, he said.
Even Walt’s hobbies involve volunteering. He and Mike, married 62 years, have varied interests besides their children and grandchildren. They were volunteer lighthouse keepers at Michigan lighthouses. Walt climbed the twisting stairways, reciting the history of the lighthouse to visitors and Mike ran the gift shops.
Their favorite lighthouse is the Big Sable. “She’s my girl, I miss her,” Walt said. They were lighthouse keepers for eight years, and worked for the National Parks Service at the Casa Grande Ruins Monument in Coolidge, Arizona for several years. They were Ringo Swingo square dancers, and he took up clogging.
The couple have four children; Connie Eavey Hicks, Alan Eavey DVM, Timothy Eavey, and Sherri Eavey Hicks and seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Look for Walt to stay involved with Middleville and Barry County. “I like helping people; this is home. I just enjoy doing it.”
Photos: (upper left) Walt Eavey
(middle left) Walt Eavey explains how this actual lighthouse lamp works.
(lower left) The Eavey’s collection of miniature lighthouses is testimony to their interest.
Rutland Charter Township officials and the public honored veterans for their service to the country on Veteran’s Day by dedicating a black granite monument with an inscription and the insignia of POW-MIA and all the military services: Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines. The monument is installed at the entrance of the township hall in front of the American flag.
Harley Marlett, an 11-year-old Hastings school student, donated $75 in prize money she earned for her winning essay about a woman veteran. Supervisor Jim Carr made brief remarks, thanking those responsible for the monument, including Patten Monument, and Halifax Services, individuals Rocky Adams, Robin Hawthorn and in-coming supervisor Larry Watson for their work on making the memorial possible, others who donated money, and the Rutland Township Board for approving all of the plans.
The Lawrence J. Bauer American Legion Post Honor Guard gave the rifle salute and American Legion Riders rode their motorcycles in with American flags flying. The monument inscription reads: “This monument is dedicated to the men and women of Rutland Charter Township who have served their country.”
Upper left: The new Rutland Township veteran's monument.
Middle left: Harley Marlett, 11, is all smiles as she is thanked for her $75 donation to the monument.
Lower left: the Lawrence J. Bauer American Legion Post Honor Guard performs a rifle salute.
Middle right: Supervisor Jim Carr makes brief remarks to the crowd as incoming supervisor Larry Watson listens.
Veterans Day Ceremony 11:00 am held this November 11th at the Barry County Court House in Hastings in Honor of our Military servicemen and women.
The Staff and Management of WBCH FM-AM join the Nation with a Heartfelt THANKYOU for your service to our Country.
The renewal of Charlton Park millage request for 0.2254 mills, with 15,261 yes to 12,034 no votes, guarantees the park will stay open for the next seven years, Park Director Dan Patton said.
“That’s a good thing for people who love the park, and that’s a tremendous positive…it shows people have appreciation for what we’re doing.”
However, a second request for 0.2146 in additional millage was defeated, 14,705 no, to 12,526 yes. “That gives us some challenges,” he said. The maintenance needs and capital projects haven’t gone away, they still need to be done and the park board will discuss what the next steps might be, “to come up with a way to do that…we’ll get busy, probably right after the first of the year.”
Patton noted one of the park’s special programs “Of Christmas Past” is coming up shortly, the Halloween event, “All Hallows Eve,” was a hit. "It was, I believe, the largest attendance for that since I’ve been here.”
Patton said while he was talking, Maple Valley School first grade students, some of the thousands of area school kids who visit the park every year, were there learning how their ancestors lived day to day. “We try to get the word out. There are a lot of positives here, we’re doing some good things here,” he said.
Barry County voters went to the polls Tuesday and voted solidly Republican, from the top of the ticket, down through the state and local races.
Of the 45,480 registered voters in the county, 30,732 citizens made the trip to the polls or voted absentee.
Some figures: In the county, Trump/Pence received 19,197 votes, Clinton/Kaine 9,109.
In the 3rd U.S. Congressional District, Justin Amash was re-elected with 20,168 votes. His Democratic opponent Douglas Smith garnered a distant 8,135 votes. Ted Gerrard, from U.S.Taxpayers, picked up just 1,266 votes.
Republican Julie Calley, will be the new 87th District state representative with 19, 389 votes friom Barry county voters. Democrat Eric Anderson got 8,416 votes, and Libertarian Joseph Gillotte collected 1,447 votes. The 87th District covers all of Barry County and three-quarters of Ionia County. Calley will replace of Rep. Mike Callton, first elected in 2010 and term limited.
Winners for school board in nearby area schools:
* Caledonia Community Schools: Julie Asper, Kyle Clement and Tim Morris won six year terms. Bill Donohue was unopposed for a partial four-year term.
* Gull Lake Community Schools: Laura Burr and Brad Bagley won board seats.
* Bellevue Community School: Linda Timmons, Marion Ramer and Andrew Dixon were elected to six year terms.
* Pennfield: Mike Bishop and Abby Green won seats on the school board.
* Wayland Union Schools: Dan Cassini, Theresa Dobry, Cinnamon Mellema and Gary L. Wood were elected to the board.
(Out-of-county school board election winners from Election Magic.)
Coffee with the Chief is a chance for Hastings residents to bring their concerns to Police Chief Jeff Pratt and get an answer. At Wednesday’s coffee, a resident brought up a concern about the crosswalk at Hanover and Grand, and Pratt will see if a school crossing guard can be moved to that location.
The meeting also lets Pratt update residents on police activities, including the department's latest project, the Ambassador program. The concept is to make Hastings an even friendlier place for visitors during events in town. Ambassadors will circulate in the city, helping with directions, information and in general being “cheerleaders” for Hastings.
They will start small, an approach that worked well with setting up the successful Hastings Police Cadet program, and build on the base, Pratt said. The first Ambassador, Dave McIntyre, and five to 10 more ambassadors, will be trained in basic first aid, how to be good observers, and when and who to call, if needed.
The unpaid volunteers will represent “both the police department and the city, as a whole…will not have any police powers and will not carry weapons,” he said.
Details will be finalized shortly and Pratt hopes to have ambassadors circulating in the city for the annual Christmas Parade, part of the “Mingle and Jingle” celebration in early December. //
Pratt gave updates on Smart 911, the annual leaf pickup starting Nov. 14, the school liaison program, the new code enforcement officer and the annual 2 a.m.to 6 a.m. parking ban.
Assistant Chief Dale Boulter reported the department, now up to full strength, provides coverage on three shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with two officers a shift. Friday, their busiest day, has three officers on duty. Officers are “extremely busy,” and have handled 6,000 calls so far this year, Boulter said. He expects that number to reach 8,000 by the end of the year.
Pratt said officers are now handing out warnings to residents who park on city streets between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., an annual ban to allow city employees to plow snow overnight.
“In a week, it will be real,” he cautioned.
Freeport Fire Department responded to a call of a Barn Fire Tuesday night around 5:22PM at 1819 Brown Rd. in Carlton Township. Upon arriving, Firefighters found a 40x60 Barn fully engulfed. The Barn is a total loss. Freeport firefighters were assisted with personnel from Hastings, Woodland, and Clarksville Fire Departments.
To accommodate the opening of the firearm deer season, Barry County Commissioners moved its Tuesday, Nov. 15 committee of the whole meeting to Nov. 22, pushing the regular board meeting to Nov. 29, so will not hold a meeting during the week of Nov. 15.
Charlton Park won a renewal millage of 0.2253 with 15,261 voting yes, 12,034 voting no.
The second request, for 0.1247 additional mills was defeated with 14,705 no votes and 12, 526 yes votes.
OTHER MILLAGE REQUESTS:
Dowling Public Library:
(1) Baltimore Township: renewal of 0.30 mills from 2017-2020:
Yes-- 573 No--291
(2) Johnstown Township; renewal of 0.30 mills from 2017-2020:
(1) Renewal of fire protection millage of a total of .9559 mills for four years.
Yes-- 1,255 No---283
(2) Renewal of road improvement millage of a total of .9087 mills for four years.
-(3) Renewal of police protection millage of a total of .8174 for four years.
(4) An increase of .8174 mills for police protection for four years.
Yes--- 688 No---850
Renewal of 2 mills from 2017 through 2020 for fire, cemetery and township.
Results for villages and Barry County votes for area school boards.
Clerk Shawna Hill and Trustees
Joshua Endsley, Michael David Dougherty, John Raymond and Karl Wilkins are unopposed. The office of treasurer is open.
President: Charles Pullen
(5 trustees) Trustee:
Sherry Lynn Ronning
(6 trustees) Trustee:
Most school districts have voters in more than one county. Those figures will not be available until Wednesday, the following figures are from Barry County voters only.
(vote for three)
(vote for three)
Bill Donohue---73 (partial term)
(vote for two)
(vote for two)
Mike Nickels—6,109 (partial term)
Steve St. Laurent
(vote for three)
One seat is open
(vote for two)
One seat is open
WAYLAND: (vote for four)
As with the county elected officials and commissioners, many township contests were settled by voters in the August Primary. Contested seats will have the results, the unopposed are listed.
Supervisor Mike Timmons, Treasurer Elizabeth Miller and Trustees Eugene Waterbury and James Miller are unopposed.
Tandra Sue Angus---302
Clerk Penelope Ypma and Trustees Gerard Ypma and Micheal Altoft are unopposed.
Supervisor Wesley Kahler, Treasurer Judith Wooer and Trustees Lee Campbell and Teresa Schuiteboer are unopposed.
Supervisor Brad Carpenter, Clerk Michelle Erb, Treasurer Terri Geiger, and Trustees Cary Smith and Gary VandeCar are unopposed.
Supervisor Cheryl Hartwell, Clerk Marcia Scramlin, Treasurer Joy Mulder and Trustees Earl Wilson and Michael Trahan are unopposed.
Supervisor Jim Brown, Clerk Anita Mennell, Treasurer Jenee Phillips, Trustees Keith Murphy, James Partridge, William Wetzel and Ron Mennell are unopposed.
Supervisor is Mark Feldpausch.
Clerk Deborah Jackson, Treasurer Arlene Tonkin and Trustees Matthew Peake and David Messelink are unopposed.
Supervisor Jamie Knight, Clerk Sharon Olson, Treasurer Lynnette Wingeier and Trustees Michael Buehler and Dean Bass are unopposed.
Supervisor Barbara Earl, Clerk Sheri Babcock, Treasurer Karmen Nickerson and
Trustees: (vote for two)
Maple Grove Township:
Supervisor Jeff Butler, Clerk Susie Butler, Treasurer Ginger Cole and Trustees Doug Westendorp and Larry Hook are unopposed.
Supervisor Tom Rook, Clerk Melody Risner, Treasurer Michelle Ritchie are unopposed.
Trustee: (vote for two)
Supervisor Jim Stoneburner, Clerk Ted Devries, Treasurer Judy Pence, and Trustees Breanna Borden and Richard Van Niman are unopposed.
Parks and Recreation Board: Deb Young, Kevin Louden, John Hoek, Scott Kuebler are unopposed, with one open seat.
Clerk Robin Hawthorne, Treasurer Sandra Greenfield and Trustees Sandra James, Marlin Walters, Michael Hallifax and Brenda Bellmore are unopposed.
Supervisor Mike Bremer, Clerk Cindy Willshire, Treasurer Debra Buckowing and Trustees Ross DeMaagd, Jake Jelsema, Andrew Lindemulder and Sandra Rairigh are unopposed.
Supervisor Jeffrey MacKenzie, Clerk Nancy Stanton, Treasurer Shawn Durkee are unopposed. Two trustee seats are open.
Yankee Springs Township:
Supervisor Mark Englerth, Treasurer Alice Jansma, Clerk Janice Lippert and Trustees Roger Rottschafer and Shanon VandenBerg and Constable Charles Biggs are unopposed.
Most county and Hastings offices were determined in the August primary election. Two county commission contests and one contest in the City of Hastings, show the numbers; other officials who will be on various boards are listed.
BARRY COUNTY COMMISSIONERS:
Two seats are contested:
In District 3, David Jackson won with 2,525 votes to Barb Cichy's 1,065 votes.
In District 7, Heather Wing had 2,456 votes to Jeff VanNortwick’s 1,096 votes.
Commissioners Ben Geiger (District 5), Howard Gibson (District 1), Jon Smelker (District 4), Vivian Conner (District 6) and Dan Parker (District 2) are unopposed.
BARRY COUNTY OFFICIALS:
All are unopposed
Sheriff Dar Leaf
Clerk Pam Palmer
Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt
Treasurer Susan VandeCar
Register of Deeds Barbara Hurless
Surveyor Brian Reynolds
Drain Commissioner Jim Dull
HASTINGS OFFICIALS. In the only contested seat, the 2nd Ward, John Resseguie won the seat with 355 votes to Bill Westerveld's 255.
Mayor: David Tossava
1st Ward: Therese Maupin-Moore
1st Ward: Al Jarvis
3rd Ward: Donald Bowers
3rd Ward: Don Smith
4th Ward: Willard Redman
Board of Review: Tom Wilt, Donald Tubbs, Melissa Winick.
Bonnie Toskey, attorney with Cohl, Stoker, Toskey and McGlinchey, P.C., was at the Barry County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday to clarify issues surrounding a recent policy change by the county Register of Deeds Barbara Hurless.
Toskey reviewed state laws covering county register of deeds and their rights and responsibilities for the commission and several township supervisors and assessors in the audience. Between 35 and 40 interested people attended the meeting.
At issue is the policy Hurless set in late September denying county assessors open, unfettered access to the department’s entire data base where they could view and print documents free.
Her reason for the change was abuse of the records by three assessors who had been warned, stopped the abuse for a time, but went back to the same misuse of the records, she said. When she closed the access, Hurless said according to the law, she would e-mail assessors a copy of all the transactions they needed every thirty days.
Toskey said Hurless is meeting the disbursement of information to assessors she is legally mandated to do and doing more by providing reports by e-mail or letter once a week including buyer and seller names, description of the parcel, interest conveyed and date at no charge.
“That’s all an assessor needs to do his job,” she said.
The solution to the objections brought by supervisors and assessors that taking away complete access to the records diminishes their ability to do their jobs, Toskey said, is to meet with Hurless and negotiate an intergovernmental agreement, which a register of deeds can do in this case, and together find a way to provide what the assessors feel they need and still protect the use of the records.
In some instances, boards of commission have the power to regulate some activities of the register, but not here. “The law has carved out an exception for the register of deeds,” Toskey said. To several complaints from the assessors of Yankee Springs and Rutland townships and others, the answer was the same; sit down with Hurless and work it out through negotiation.
Toskey said she was surprised the situation drew so much controversy and interest, especially since it was clear in the statutes that Hurless was going beyond what she was required to do.
Toskey noted that assessors perform a critical service, noting that property taxes provide up to 60 percent of municipal budgets and must be factual.
Also, the register’s office is income producing; sending $2.25 million to the county’s general fund in the last four years.//
However, Hurless has the sole discretion to protect the documents and the cost of documents.
By law, registers must notify the taxing unit, the township, not the assessors, and then notify the assessing office of the taxing unit and equalization, once every thirty days.
During the weeks of controversy, liber and page numbers were brought up, but Toskey said it is simply a method of locating records and has nothing to do with the discussion.
A question from Commissioner Jon Smelker went unanswered: “If three assessors are misusing records why not slap their hands and leave the rest alone?”
In other business, the commissioners:
*appointed Shawn Winters to complete a term on the Barry County Transit Board ending Dec. 31, 2018.
*approved a three-year contract extension for Hastings City Barry County Airport Manager Mark Noteboom at $65,000 a year. The Hastings City Council must also approve the agreement.
*reappointed David McIntyre to serve a three year term on the Department of Human Services board.
*appointed Patrick Hansma, D.O. a deputy medical examiner for the county.
*renewed the contract with VARIPRO as third party administrator of short term disability claims of county employees for one year.
*approved a memorandum of understanding between the Barry County and Eaton County Board of Commissioners on BEHD funding ratios.
*approved the 2017 fiscal year Michigan Drug Court grant program.
*approved submitting a proposal of intent to apply for grants for homeowner rehabilitation/home buyers from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.
The goal of the annual Stuff Our Station drive is to give a present to a Barry County child who might otherwise not get a gift for Christmas. The holiday season is a time for sharing, so when shopping for family and friends, consider picking up one or two gifts from Santa to light up a child’s eyes on Christmas.
The drive is sponsored by Backwoods Trading Post, in Freeport, Scrapaloo in Delton and McDonald’s of Hastings, Southside Pediatrics and WBCH in Hastings. All three locations will collect the gifts to be given to Barry County kids for Christmas through the Barry County United Way.
Barry County residents and visitors are encouraged to donate new, unwrapped toys and gifts for boys and girls at any of the sponsors locations.
Thornapple Township is hosting on open house at the last board meeting of four of its members on Nov. 14 from 6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. prior to the regular monthly meeting.
Trustee Walt Eavey, with 20 years on the board, Clerk Susan Vlietstra, with 16 years, and Trustees Bill Kenyon with eight years and Nick Wake with four years are being recognized for their service to the community.
Light refreshments will be served.
Update: Daric Cameruci has been located and is back with his family.
Original story: The Kalamazoo Sheriff’s Office is looking for a missing Richland man who walked off his job in Comstock Township Friday morning. Daric Cameruci, 39, suffers from bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia. He is about six feet, one inch tall, weighs 250 pounds, and has short brown hair and blue eyes.
Cameruci was last seen wearing a green zip up hoodie, blue jeans, black shoes and a turquoise baseball cap. Police say his destination and whereabouts are unknown. They ask anyone with information about Cameruci to contact the sheriff’s office at 269-383-8822.
Photo: Daric Cameruci
A 19-year-old man died in a traffic crash Friday afternoon near 3050 Alden Nash Avenue in Lowell Township, the Kent County Sheriff’s Office reports.
Driving southbound on Alden Nash Highway, the 19-year-old turned into the path of a northbound semi-tractor when he attempted to turn left onto Emery Drive, striking the semi head on. Both vehicles then collided with a third vehicle, also southbound, deputies said.
The young man died at the scene. The driver of the semi and the third vehicle were not injured. No names have been released. Deputies determined that neither alcohol or speed were factors in the 4:12 p.m. crash, which remains under investigation. Lowell Fire/Rescue, Rockford Ambulance and Michigan State Police Motor Carrier assisted deputies.
A 47 year old man was pulled from his burning car by Walker Police early Friday morning on wilson avenue near a roundabout.
The driver who's name was not released was taken to Butterworth Hospital with potentially life threatening injuries. The vehicle according to police drove across the roundabout, across several curbs damaging several street signs and a utility pole before overturning and catching on fire.
Police say the driver may have possibly suffered a medical condition.
It doesn't appear alcohol was a factor.
The Barry County Prosecutor' s Office issued an open murder warrant Nov. 3 for John Joseph Calgaro, 48, from South Haven, in connection with a body found in a wooded area of Barry County on July 12, according to a news release from the City of South Haven Police Department.
The body was identified as Matthew Morin, 39, also from South Haven, who was reported missing three days before his body was found.
Calgaro became a suspect in the case; he was lodged in Van Buren County on a parole violation where he has remained in custody.
The South Haven Police Department and Michigan State Police have conducted a thorough investigation and worked closely with the Barry County Prosecutor's Office throughout, the release said.
WBCH News has learned that TreeHouse Foods who owns the former Battle Creek Ralston Purina plant is in the process of closing two of their three buildings in January of this coming new year.
Sources within the company told us, management informed employees wednesday night and Thursday morning about the closings and that a number of employees will likely lose their jobs with the company.
The Company has not returned a call to WBCH placed on Wednesday asking for more information.
The Battle Creek plant produces a number of private label brand breakfast cereals.
TreeHouse Foods headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois provides private label food and beverage offerings to retail grocery and food away from home customers across North America.
The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office is alerting citizens that spammers are using the sheriff’s office to attempt to swindle money from county residents. The crooks say the sheriff’s office is trying to raise money for a local soup kitchen, and then ask for the person’s credit card number.
This is a scam. The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office is not making calls to raise funds.
Those who have been contacted and given out credit card numbers or made a donation of any kind, please call Central Dispatch at 616-527-0400 to make a report.
It’s not a new scam, but it is active again, this time in the Kalamazoo County area.
Police impersonators call residents, tell them they have a warrant for their arrest and need to pay their “bond.”
The Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office reports the caller identifies themselves as “Officer Hall” and gives the scam target a phone number to call.
If called, there is a message saying it is the KCSO. Sheriff Rick Fuller emphasized that the number does not belong to the sheriff's office and the call is a confirmed scam.
Residents should always be aware that unsolicited phone calls using scare tactics where the citizen has to provide money to an unknown person are always suspicious. //
Citizens receiving such a call, or victims of the scam, are asked to contact the sheriff's office at 269-383-8821.
Those who get a suspicious phone call, email, or letter should contact family, friends or the sheriff's office to verify if the solicitation is legitimate.
Anyone with further information is asked to contact the KCSO at 269-383-8748 or Silent Observer at 269-343-2100 or online at www.kalamazoosilentobserver.com.
A new “exchange zone” in the front parking lot of the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office at 1025 Independence Boulevard in Charlotte has been installed.
“I am pleased to offer this exchange zone at the sheriff’s office for parents to exchange custody of their children and for others who wish to make private property transactions (excluding weapons), with the knowledge that the meetings are being video recorded by the sheriff’s office,” Sheriff Tom Reich said.
The exchange zone is under video camera surveillance, and daylight hours are best for exchanges and transactions when possible.
55 year old Robert Jay Geurink of Holland was killed Tuesday when the crane he was operating tipped over pinning him in the cab.
According to the Allegan County Sheriff, Geurink was was working alone and attempting to move a large piece of equipment from a flat bed trailer when the crane rolled over on its side causing the fatal injuries.
MI-OSHA is conducting the investigation. Geurink is owner/operator of A & B Sales and Rental.
The second Barry County township supervisor in two weeks came to the Board of Commissioner’s meeting on Nov. 1, urging them to end the ongoing situation with the Barry County Register of Deeds, Barbara Hurless.
Jim Carr, supervisor of Rutland Township, followed Hastings Township Supervisor Jim Brown’s appearance last week, both urging a solution to a Sept. 22 policy change denying township assessors open access to the register’s department property records.
Giving assessors unlimited access to the records may lead to unauthorized use of its records and a loss of income that should go to the county, Hurless has said. Citing legal advice from Bonnie Toskey, an attorney with Cohl, Stoker, Toskey and McGlinchey, P.C., Hurless said she would provide all the information an assessor needed by e-mail once a month.
That brought complaints from supervisors and assessors that they don’t have the information needed to do their jobs. Carr told the commission that Hurless can’t carry out that decision “without your permission,” and doesn’t have the power to change assessor’s access to information.
Also, charging assessors fees for copies of records is “just insanity” he said. “This is one government agency paying taxpayer money to another." Further, he said the Rutland Township attorney is “all fired up” saying the law Hurless cites doesn’t allow what she did.
“You have an attorney, why hasn’t he done something? You can sanction her, you can withhold funds. This is a three-week incident; it should have been taken care of a long time ago. You should show a little more oomph on this, you shouldn’t let this go on.”
Commissioner Craig Stolsonburg said they were waiting for a call back from Stoker.
A decades-old formula used by Barry and Eaton county officials to determine the share each paid to support the combined Barry Eaton District Health Department was difficult, if not impossible, to understand or explain. Barry County Commissioners have debated the allocations ratio for several years, looking for a clear, understandable and fair division for each county’s contributions.
The committee of the whole Nov. 1 voted to send a Memorandum of Understanding changing the method of funding of the health department to the full board with a recommendation to approve. Commissioner Ben Geiger, calling the division of funding “a long time mystery,” proposed the memorandum to change the formula and define percentages to use in the future that will go to the Eaton County Board of Commissioners for consideration.
Geiger said the present formula, based on taxable values and millage rates, would be changed to population density only, with Eaton County paying 63.3 percent, Barry County, 36.4 percent of the total budget.
“Barry and Eaton counties are on different fiscal years, resulting in Barry County acting last. The MOU determines each county’s annual contribution by calculating a monthly rate. This will allow both counties, and the health department, to know how exactly how much they will spend and receive,” he said.
The vote to send the proposal to the full board for approval was 5-2, with Commissioners Vivian Conner and Jim Dull voting “no” and Commissioners Geiger, Craig Stolsonburg, David Jackson, Jon Smelker and Howard Gibson voting “yes.”
“I’m pleased commissioners moved forward with my proposal to reinvent how Barry and Eaton Counties fund a joint health department. The current funding method doesn’t account for our different fiscal years, or different populations. I look forward working with leaders in both counties to finalize a better funding system for our residents,” Geiger said.//
Conner had several objections. She said the proposal was “way too vague….it should be fixed before it is moved on,” and she wouldn’t vote for something she didn’t understand.
Dull said he liked that the proposal would mean a stable budget but, “We’ve been told repeatedly we can’t do anything without the Board of Health doing it first…we don’t have that power.”
The Board of Health doesn’t set budget allocations of the counties, Geiger said. “This is this board working directly with Eaton County Commissioners.” With some discussion, the memorandum was changed to reconsider the budgeted amounts every January 1 by both commissions instead of a set amount for five years because sitting commissioners can’t obligate future boards to budgets.
The memorandum likely would change during discussion by both commissions, but the basic premise; allocation by population density, and defining the payment ratio remain the focal points of the memorandum. Geiger said.
Smelker, Jackson and Stolsonburg agreed with Geiger that the memorandum was “a good starting point” to “get the ball rolling.” No one would predict what the Eaton County Commission would do, however, Geiger said, “With the relationship we have with the board, I’m confident they will examine it and come back with tweaks.”
In 1966, the two counties merged its departments into a district health department and went to a cost sharing formula based on the apportioned population in the counties. Over time, it was modified to become a formula based on a proportionate share of gross taxes and millage.
The firearm deer season is two weeks away, and given that hunting is potentially a very dangerous sport, Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf would like to remind everyone it is important to follow hunting safety tips.
“Because of the very nature of the sport and the risks involved, it is important to be educated and know how to stay safe.” Leaf said.
Following these 10 safety tips can help all hunters have a safe and successful 2016 hunting season, he said.
1. Always tell someone whenever you go hunting. Make sure someone knows the area you will be in and when you expect to be back. If there is an accident, they will know where to find you.
2. Treat every weapon as if it is loaded. Point the muzzle in a safe direction and do not put your finger on the trigger unless ready to shoot.
3. Dress for the weather. Check the forecast and dress appropriately.
4. Never hunt alone. Have someone with you or hunt with a group. Having someone with you to call for help, if needed, is vital.
5. Check equipment regularly and maintain it. Equipment not well maintained can be a hazard to yourself and those around you.
6. When hunting with a firearm you must wear hunter's orange visible from all sides and worn on any hunting property.
7. Be sure what your target is, that what you're going to shoot is your intended target and not another hunter.
8. Be in control of your emotions. If you hit a target you may get excited but don’t wave your firearm around wildly to celebrate. Don’t carry a gun if you’re angry or your emotions are out of control.
9. Wear hearing and eye protection to protect your sight and hearing from damage.
10. Don't hunt while under the influence of drugs or alcohol; substances that impairs judgment and the ability to control emotions.