Local News Archives for 2016-12

Most senior employee of Hastings DPS to retire

His name is Gary, but no one ever calls him that; he’s Sonny Hartman and he is “the Old Dog” of the Hastings Department of Public Services. After 37 plus years with the DPS the well liked and most senior employee will retire Jan. 3, 2017 and co-workers say he will be missed.

Starting as a general laborer in 1979, Sonny has done all kinds of jobs with the department, leading up to his position as mechanic at the DPS. He was presented the Employee Achievement Award for his work as mechanic in 2005 from the late Mayor Bob May.


“He’s the kind of guy who will have your back,” said his good friend and fellow employee Darin Dawes.  “I’d only been here eight years, but for some reason, we immediately clicked. He’s a great guy, and he definitely will be missed. We call him “the Old Dog” because he’s been here the longest.”


DPS Director Lee Hays said Sonny started with the City of Hastings in 1979 with the DPS as a general laborer. During that time Sonny worked in all phases of street construction.

“In 2000 he became the mechanic at the DPS garage, where he maintained all of the city equipment. Sonny has a wealth of knowledge of all city equipment and also the infrastructure,” Hays said.

Sonny and his wife Deb enjoy camping with their family. He’s an avid NASCAR fan, he and Deb travel to Bristol TN, MIS and other tracks to watch races. A “Mopar guy” he also likes working on his collection of antique cars and trucks.


“The City of Hastings would like to congratulate Sonny Hartman and thank him for his 37 plus years of service working at the Department of Public Services,” said Superintendent of Streets Jim James. “The crew at the city garage is going to miss working with him and wish him the best that life can bring.”



Photos: (top left) Gary “Sonny” Hartman and his wife Deb.


(lower left) Good weather or bad, hot or cold, Sonny Hartman worked to maintain Hastings infrastructure.


(middle right) Sonny Hartman poses with friend Darin Dawes at the wedding of the Hartman’s daughter “Britt” this summer. Son Ryan also married this year.

Two Barry County Commission seats change in 2017

The Dec. 27 Barry County Commission meeting was a time of transition, with Commissioner Craig
Stolsonburg leaving the board after an election loss, and Commissioner Jim Dull leaving to become drain commissioner.  With the new year, Dan Parker will follow Stolsonburg in the District 2 seat; Heather Wing will be the District 7 commissioner replacing Dull.


Outgoing Drain Commissioner Russ Yarger was given a plaque by the commissioners, praising him for “going above and beyond the call of duty” during his tenure. In the presentation, Stolsonburg recognized Yarger for his dedication and service since 2009, and for his department winning two innovative awards. "I'm sure Russ will now enjoy more time with his tractors and grandchildren."

“Thank you, I appreciate it a lot.” Yarger said. “But it’s not a Yarger thing, it goes to the commissioners, Administrator Michael Brown and the staff of Barry County departments working as a team; resourceful and helping making things work.”


It was also a meeting where past problems were forgotten and the best qualities of Stolsonburg and Dull recognized by other commissioners.

Stolsonburg was called “my friend who provided positive leadership,” and “the glue that held the board together, while always working toward a consensus.”

“The board is stronger fiscally and an organization that is just all around better because of Craig,” another said. On the board since 2009 and chair for five, he was also noted for his focus, energy and dedication to the people of Barry County.


Stolsonburg said is his “extreme honor” to serve on the commission and he would continue to serve the county in any way he could. “I’ve learned more from the people than I can every repay,” he said. “I truly appreciate it.”


Dull was credited with being a commissioner with a “full-time job mind set,” along with his willingness to confront interesting and difficult situations. He was also cited for being unafraid to be the single “no” vote on issues since he joined the board in 2013. “We could all be bolder following your example,” was one comment.


He was noted for his dedication and service along with, “being famous for his no votes,” and his strong advocacy for the boards he sat on, including the Agricultural Promotion Board, Public Works Committee, CAA, Barry Conservation District and the BEDHD.

For his part Dull, said he enjoyed working with every commissioner, saying, “There is a phenomenal amount of talent on this board and I appreciate every one of you.”

Barry Eaton District Health Department wins national accreditation

Barry Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) has achieved five-year national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), only the sixth health department in the State of Michigan to be accredited.

“Due to the hard work of our staff and together with our community partners, we have demonstrated without a doubt that we provide high quality services to our community. We are proud to share this news,” BEDHD Health Officer Colette Scrimger said.


The accreditation program works to improve and protect the health of the public by advancing and ultimately transforming the quality and performance of the nation’s state, local, Tribal, and territorial public health departments.


With accreditation, the BEDHD is demonstrating accountability and credibility to the public, funders, elected officials and partner organizations, completing community health needs assessments, community-wide health improvement plans, and improving its internal processes and services.


To receive accreditation, a health department system undergo a rigorous, multi-faceted, peer-reviewed assessment process that meets or exceeds quality standards and measures. For more, visit

For more on the PHAB, call (703) 778-4549, or visit




LLCA, anonymous donor pay overdue lunch bills at Delton Schools

The Long Lake Cloverdale Association and an anonymous donor teamed up to pay $862 in overdue lunch bills for Delton Kellogg Schools, wiping out the debt and providing a clean slate for students and parents in the new year.


“I think its great,” Interim Superintendent Carl Schoessel said. “It’s a very nice thing to do, especially this time of year. Hopefully, people will understand that some of us just can’t afford these things; they may be unemployed, or have medical bills, or for whatever reason…this is good for our students.”


At Christmas time every year, the Long Lake Cloverdale Association does something to help struggling families, association member David Jackson said. This year, the board offered to pay on the past due lunch bills in Delton, the same as an anonymous donor had done for Hastings schools.


Jackson called Interim Superintendent Carl Schoessel to tell him the association board had committed to pay half of the $862 shortfall, either through donations or from its general fund.

It turned out to be a combination of both, Jackson said.

An anonymous donor gave the remaining $431 debt.


“It’s important to be a good neighbors and our board members give back in any way they can. We’re blessed to live on a lake and have a great association; it’s our duty to be responsible and try to help out,” he said.


Bellevue man dies in Shaw Lake Road crash

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office reports Jeremiah Shaffer,19, from Bellevue, died in a single vehicle crash shortly after midnight Thursday, Dec. 29.

The preliminary investigation showed that Shaffer’s vehicle was traveling west on Shaw Lake Road near Bender Road when it left the right side of the roadway, crossed back across both lanes of the road and overturned as it went down the embankment to the left of the roadway.


Shaffer was pronounced dead at the scene. He was found outside of the vehicle; it is believed he was not wearing a seatbelt. Alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the crash.

Deputy T.J. Heald responded to  the scene. Wayland EMS and the Wayland Fire Department assisted.


Retiring Hastings Mayor Frank Campbell honored

Chances are pretty good that if you lived or visited Hastings anytime since the summer of ‘62, you have met or seen Frank Campbell. Campbell’s 55 years of service to the city includes stints as a police officer, volunteer firefighter, lieutenant and captain with BIRCH Fire Department for more than 20 years, manager of the Hastings Airport and since 1980, an official from alderman to mayor (twice) in city government.


Mayor-elect David Tossava Tuesday presented Campbell with a City of Hastings Proclamation recognizing his service to the city and wider community as he retires.
Appointed First Ward Alderman in 1980, Campbell served as an elected official leading up to two four- year terms as mayor until his first retirement in 2004. He accepted an appointment to served the remainder of an unexpired term on the council until December of 2005. Campbell returned on Jan. 1, 2008, to serve another term ending Dec. 31, 2011.


“When Mayor Bob May passed away prior to the end of his term as our city’s mayor, Mayor Frank stepped in to fill the position of mayor,” Tossava said. “Mayor Frank then agreed to serve out an additional four-year term in that office,” Tossava said.

Campbell served on numerous boards and commissions on the local and state level, and was instrumental in a number of important projects and activities while serving on the council.

“We owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for Mayor Frank’s many years of service to the community and his role in making Hastings, ‘What you always wanted your home town to be,’” Tossava concluded. The presentation ended in a standing ovation for Campbell and an exchange of the mayor’s gavel from Campbell to Tossava.


Campbell later said he was surprised and pleased that his extended family showed up for the honor. “I thought Linda and the kids, LuAnn and Lee, would come; the rest of them filled up one side of the council chambers,” he said. He said his wife Linda is his greatest asset. “She’s a neat gal,” he said. “I’ve had her for 55 years.  I couldn’t be where I am today without her.”


Photo upper left, (from left) Julie Calley, 87th District State Rep-elect,  outgoing Mayor Frank Campbell, and incoming Mayor David Tossava pose for a photo at Campbell’s retirement party Wednesday.


Middle left: Middleville’s President Charlie Pullen and Frank Campbell show off a gag gift of Old Crow for “an old crow,” Campbell quipped.


Lower left: Linda Campbell (right) chats with Kathy Rowley at Frank Campbell’s retirement party.


Middle right: People congratulating Mayor Frank Campbell on his retirement flowed in and out of City Hall Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.


Top right: Dave Tossava will preside over his first meeting as Mayor of Hastings on Jan. 9, 2017.

Farewell Mayor Campbell

Following a lifetime of community service to the City of Hastings retiring Mayor Frank Campbell presided over his final City Council meeting Tuesday night. 

Mayor Campbell  has served as a Hastings Police officer, Hasting fireman, Hastings Councilman as well as Mayor.

Wednesday an open house for Mayor Campbell was held at city hall where it was standing room only as wellwishers came by to thank the mayor for his many years of service to Hastings citizens.

The Management and staff of WBCH Radio extends our good wishes to Mayor Campbell as he heads into retirement.  But he is not yet stop serving as he is now a member of the newly formed Hastings Police Ambassadors.  Pictures include Upper Left: Former City Councilman and WBCH Broadcaster Dave McIntyre with Mayor Frank. Lower Right: Former City Clerk Donna Kinney with Mayor Campbell

Hastings okays first phase of infrastructure Asset Management plan

The Hastings City Council Tuesday approved a contract with Hubbel, Roth, and Clark (HRC) for $133,550 to develop a Geographic Information System for the city’s sanitary, storm, and water systems. It’s the first phase of the city’s asset management plan, using part of a recently awarded Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater (SAW) grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.


With the grant, the DPS will create a computer-based model of all of the city’s “horizontal” assets, its water and sewer lines and related equipment, mostly underground, and its “vertical” assets, the plants themselves. A record of vital information about each will allow the department to most cost effectively manage all of the systems, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.


The SAW grant covers $100,395 of the work, the city pays $33,155, mostly for the drinking water distribution system study, which is not included in the grant. However, the city will save money by completing the entire system at one time, Mansfield said. HRC helped the city with the $712,638 SAW grant application and Dennis Benoit, from HRC, has been the city’s engineer for the wastewater plant for about 20 years.


Mansfield said he has to commend the DEQ and the governor’s office for using SAW grants to push municipalities into taking steps to plan, maintain and improve their infrastructure.

“We’ve done a good job in recognizing and maintaining ours, but some cities ignore the infrastructure until something breaks,” he said. “This give us a good opportunity (to create a comprehensive base of vital information) with a lot of the costs covered,” he said.


Also Tuesday, the council approved ordinance 539 amending the code on public school and institutional projects giving the Hastings Planning Commission input with non-binding comments instead of requiring site plans. Also approved were winning bids for two vehicles at auction at from Dec. 12 to Dec. 22. A 2015 GMC Sierra with a winning bid of $42, 509, plus seller’s fee of $425.09, went to Loren Curtis of Bay City, and a 2014 Ford Police Interceptor (Explorer) for $10,886, plus seller’s fee of $108.86, went to Mike Carolan of Troy. A 2010 Dodge Charger got no bids above the reserve and will be re-advertised.


Free Radon test kits available during January

You can't see it, you can't smell it and you can't taste it, but high levels of radon gas may be in your home, increasing your risk of lung cancer. However, with a radon detection kit, free during the month of January,  homeowners can use the kits to find out if their home has radon gas, and if it does, can lower it.


Easy do-it-yourself radon test kits are available for free to residents of Barry and Eaton counties during the Radon Action Month of January. Pick up one test kit per address at one of the following locations and follow the instructions.


In Barry County

Delton: Cloverdale General Store, 7651 South M-43 Highway.

Dowling Public Library: 1765 East Dowling Road.

BEDHD/Hastings: 330 West Woodlawn Avenue.

Middleville: Village Office, 100 East Main Street.

Nashville: Good Time Pizza, 501 North Main Street.                         

Lake Odessa: Terry’s Woodbury Café, 7170 Saddlebag Road.


In Eaton County

Bellevue: Riverside Café, 420 East Capital Avenue.

BEDHD/Charlotte: 1033 Healthcare Drive.

Eaton Rapids: Robin’s Nest, 6053 South Clinton Trail.

Lansing: Delta Township Hall, 7710 West Saginaw Highway.

Mulliken: Swede’s Restaurant, 89 West Grand Ledge Highway.

Olivet: Fay’s Willow Tree Café and Bakery, 107 North Main Street.


For more information, visit the Environmental Health section of and click on “Indoor Air Quality.”  Or, call or visit the BEDHD in Hastings (945-9516) or Charlotte (517-541-2615). //


Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of radium, a natural decay product of uranium. Both radium and uranium are found in almost any kind of soil and rock, often in very small amounts.


Radon gas moves up through the soil and enters buildings through cracks and openings in the foundation floor or walls, and other openings caused by plumbing, wiring, or ductwork.


Outdoors, radon is diluted by the atmosphere to safe levels. Indoors, it tends to be more concentrated.  According to a Michigan survey, high levels of radon are expected in one out of eight homes in Michigan.


In some counties, as many as 45 percent of the homes have had radon levels above the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) recommended action level (4 pCi/L).  The only way to know if your home has high radon levels is to test it.










Michigan State Police Campaign Hats

On April 19, 2017 the Michigan State Police will observe 100 years of service to the citizens of Michigan.

It was April 19, 1917 the Michigan Department of State Police began as a temporary, wartime emergency force.  On April 19, 1917 Governor Albert Sleeper created the Michigan State Troops Permanent Force.


On  December 22, 2016 Troopers switched to the Campaign style hat which was the type of uniform hat the original enforcement members of the Michigan State Police wore until the early 1920s ,when they switched to the garrison hat which has now been retired. 

Pictured is Trooper Brian Roderick with the Hastings Detachment.


Downtown Hastings Ball Drop to bring in New Year for eighth time

The eighth annual Ball Drop in Hastings this New Year’s Eve has all of the features of past celebrations and more. Entertainment, music, hot chocolate, fire pits, games, dancing, a light and sound show at midnight and free fun run/walk minutes into the new year are part of the evening.

An ice sculpture is a planned centerpiece  A DJ and live musical talent will keep the festive mood swinging until the ball drop at midnight officially ends 2016 and welcomes in 2017.

This year’s event also presides over the changing of Hastings mayor with the swearing in of David Tossava as new mayor, replacing the retiring Frank Campbell. Also, the fun run will start from the Thornapple Plaza instead of the ball drop site this year.

It all starts about 9 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 31 at the corner of State and Jefferson streets in downtown Hastings.




Construction manager contract criticized, not approved by Barry County Commissioners

An agreement for Beckering Construction to be construction manager for Barry County Courthouse improvements was derailed Tuesday, when Commissioner Jim Dull complained that Dave Beckering, despite 30 years as a contractor, missed several things in the remodeling of the former library that the county will have to pay to add or modify.


Commissioner Ben Geiger made the motion to approve the agreement, and would not withdraw his motion when other commissioners suggested delaying the final okay on the contract.

The contract was for Beckering to be construction manager for $47, 575, with funding to come from the Building Rehabilitation Fund.


The vote to approve failed, 4-2, with Commissioners Geiger and Craig Stolsonburg voting “yes,” and Commissioners Jon Smelker, Howard Gibson, Jim Dull and Vivian Conner voting “no.”

Commissioner David Jackson was absent.


Dull named several items in the library building he said a project manager and the architect should have seen before work went forward; a missed egress window, grating, the sign in front and," the latest thing to come to light," not hooking in an 8000 watt generator into the system for the county’s IT department in the basement.


Dull said the county will have to pay an electrician to hook into the system and, “it will be maxed out when it’s hooked up…an 8,000 watt generator is not enough for a house, let alone an IT system…”


If Beckering is given the courthouse contract as project manager,  “what else will he short us on that we don’t know about?” he asked. With the contract turned down, the issue will likely be discussed further and could be brought up at a later meeting.




Barry Central Dispatch updates service plan, new ordinance gives enforcement powers

Barry Central Dispatch 911 now has an updated service plan and, for the first time, enforcement capability. County Commissioners Tuesday unanimously approved the plan, technically called the Barry County Emergency Telephone Service District Plan and the Emergency Service Ordinance.


The last update to its service plan in 2009 mandated an updating every seven years, Central Dispatch 911 Director Phyllis Fuller said. A committee, formed more than a year ago, found deficits in several areas and worked to develop the update, tailoring a model plan from the state to fit Barry County.


Areas addressed in the update include:

*technical considerations of service suppliers and system equipment.

*how 911 calls and texts would be processed, dispatch functions performed and information systems used.

*consideration of projected recurring and non-recurring costs, with a financial plan to implement and operate the system.


Benefits include using a three digit number for all emergencies, automatic number and location identification for mobile or wireless technology, systems designed to put the community in the best position to implement and maintain an up-to-date system, recruiting and training qualified telecommunicators, or dispatchers, and a centralized, consolidated dispatch for more efficiency, and to effectively serve all county residents and facilitate the transition from a wire-based system to Next Generation 911 (NG911).


The NG911 system will enhance 911 to create a faster, more flexible, resilient and sealable system allowing 911 to keep up with communication technology used by the public; it is an Internet Protocol-based system allowing digital information, voice, photos, videos and text message to flow seamlessly from the public through the 911 network and on to emergency responders.


The new ordinance allows Central Dispatch to seek charges against filing false fire alarms or reports, swatting, hacking, signal jamming, dispatch call jumping, prevention of unauthorized ambulance services, and compelling all communication services to direct 911 calls from within the county to the chosen service provider to facilitate the delivery of NG911 services.

The Central Dispatch board or director will work with the sheriff’s office and prosecutor on possible criminal action.//


Also on Dec. 27, commissioners approved:

* a contract with Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) for services to Barry County residents for 2017.


* a three-year renewal of a Veterans Affairs Services agreement with the Barry County United Way to provide services to Barry County veterans.

* a year end budget amendment (D-16) showing the total budget remain balanced at $15,790,653. Revenues increased by $207,208, departmental expense increased by $9,982. The remaining $197,226 goes into contingency.


* allowing auditors to determine during the 2016 budget year audits the amounts to transfer from the general fund to Special Revenue programs for the courts.

* putting 2016 surplus finds into the Building

Rehabilitation Fund and Retirement Fund (which will go to the Municipal Employees Retirement System to reduce the unfunded accrued liability for pensions).


Options for a Christmas tree after the holidays

Christmas is over and its time to take down the light displays, pack away the holiday decorations, recycle the cardboard and put away the fruitcake for a year to re-gift next year.  But what to do with the Yule tree?


Here are some tips from the National Christmas Tree Association.

First, the best way to remove the tree without making a mess is buying a tree disposal bag at the hardware. Put it under the tree stand when you set it up, hiding it with a skirt, and when the season is over, just pull the bag up and around the tree, stand and all, and take it outside. Don’t vacuum any stray needles, they can clog the device; a broom is best.


Most cities and villages have a drop off center for the biodegradable Christmas trees. Also, the department of public service may even chip the trees and make the mulch available to the public. There may be requirements for removing bulbs, tinsel or flocking.


You can cut up the tree to fit loosely in your waste container.  If you have a fish pond, a tree sunk in the pond makes an excellent refuge and feeding area for fish.

Put in the garden or back yard a tree can be a feeding station and sanctuary for birds. Make sure all tinsel strands, decorations and hooks are removed and add strings of popcorn or orange slices along with commercial feed. //


Next year, consider a living tree. In the fall, dig a hole where you want to plant the tree after Christmas and fill it with straw. Buy a rooted (ball and burlap), healthy tree. When you bring it home, leave it outside until a few days before Christmas. Water it and make sure it is kept moist. Before you bring it inside, put it in the garage for three or four days to gradually warm it up.


When it’s time remove the tree (within a week is best) return it to the garage to harden it off. Be sure to keep the ball moist.  After a week or ten days, plant it in the prepared hole which should be twice as wide as the root ball, and no deeper. Remove any burlap or plastic before filling the hole with the original soil, water and mulch. Continue to water the tree.



Recruit school graduates 41 new Michigan State Troopers

Forty-one new Michigan State Police  troopers will report for work at MSP posts across the state this week following graduation from the 131st Trooper Recruit School.

New Trooper Ryan Fras has been assigned to the Wayland Post, joining Trooper Alex Harless, a graduate of the 130th trooper recruit school.


The graduation ceremony on Dec. 22 also marked the debut of MSP’s new Campaign hats, a nod to what they wore until the early 1920s.  Active enforcement members are now wearing the hats for its 100th Anniversary, which will be celebrated throughout 2017.


Governor Rick Snyder was keynote speaker. MSP Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue administered the oath of office during the ceremony at the Lansing Center.

“I expect you to do what’s right, to do your best and to treat others the way you want to be treated. In everything you do, I ask that you provide ‘Service With a Purpose,’" she said.


The recruit school began July 17, with 50 prospective troopers. For the past 23 weeks, recruits received training in firearms, water safety, defensive tactics, patrol techniques, report writing, ethics, first aid, criminal law, crime scene processing and precision driving. All applicants must pass a stringent selection process with a physical fitness test, background investigation and hiring interview. Currently there are1,065 troopers assigned statewide.


The MSP is actively recruiting. Interested candidates should visit for more information on how to apply.




Gun Lake Winterfest is back in 2017

Gun Lake Winterfest will celebrate winter in 2017 on Saturday Feb. 18 at Yankee Springs State Park.

The event features family-friendly activities and excitement for all ages.  The whole family can have fun at no cost while enjoying the season.


Some of the highlights: Fireman’s breakfast starting at 8 a.m. Saturday morning at Gun Lake Community Church. Check out the Yankee Springs Fire Station right next door on Payne Lake Road. The doors will be open to view the new facility and equipment. A Lil’ Miss Gun Lake contest will be held at Long Lake Campground,  Mary’s Country Critters at Winterfest with their petting zoo and the Kalamazoo Huskie Club will give dog sled rides for a $5 donation.


Many Winterfest favorites are back; the Gun Lake Mayor contest, beer tent, Chili cook-off, archery tournament, disc golf, euchre tournament, Polar Dip and snowmobile drag races, with several events scheduled for the days leading up to the big day. Doug’s Backyard Bar-B-Que and Mitten Pizza are two vendors ready to go; more are expected to be announced. Various Entertainment, LLC, will be the DJ entertaining during the day.


Some dates to remember:

*Saturday, Feb. 11, an ice fishing contest,

*Thursday, Feb. 16, the Gun Lake mayor contest, 7 p.m. at the Sand Bar & Grill.

*Friday, Feb. 17, a euchre tournament at Yankee Springs Clubhouse, register at 6:30 p.m.

*An archery tournament at 6:30 p.m. at the Sportsman’s Attic.


Watch for details on the Battle of the Beards and snowmobile drag races. Gun Lake Business Association sponsors the event. For more information and updates, visit gunlake



Barry County Michigan lakes

Warm temperatures across Michigan is posing a saferty issue  for lakes and ponds.

Ice thickness can vary depending on the lake.

Ice near the shore may be unsafe due to the above freezing temperatures.

Be safe stay off the lakes until winter temperatures return.

During the holiday season one gift is always in demand

“The holidays are a time for family and giving, but many across Michigan need only one gift: a blood donation,” said Kelly Rasmussen, donor contact manager for Michigan Blood.

“The need for blood is up, but donations are down because many are focusing on family and celebrations. Donating blood is free, and takes only an hour of your time – it’s the best gift you could give!” Every two seconds, someone needs blood.


Ed Corson, 60, from Dutton, is a good example of a regular Michigan Blood donor, just recognized for reaching the five gallon mark of blood donated. Ed has donated regularly for about 15 years. His reason is simple. “I’m on the Dutton Fire Department, so I see a lot of tragedy; people need blood.” Some of the other firefighters were giving blood, so he went along once, gave, and decided to donate regularly. “It doesn’t hurt, just a little poke.”


Ed’s blood type is A-Negative, very rare since just 6.3 percent of humans have that type. And, since he takes no medicines, his blood is prized to use for babies.

It is essential to maintain a supply of the scarce A-Negative blood, and Ed doesn’t miss a turn at donating. “They always call and remind me when its time to give,” he said. “I just go down at 4 p.m., right after work.”


He gives at the Caledonia American Legion Post every four months. He did give every two months, but now, he gives double, yielding twice the number of red blood cells. The red cells are separated right there and the rest of the blood components go back into him through the IV.

“It takes a little longer, about 40 minutes, but I only get four pokes a year instead of six,” he said.


Michigan Blood is the only provider of blood and blood products for more than 60 hospitals in Michigan, including Spectrum Health, Metro Health, and Mercy Health St. Mary’s.

Blood drives coming up will be at:

*Gun Lake Casino, Dec. 27 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.,1123 129th Ave, Wayland, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

*Hastings Jan. 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Spectrum Health Pennock Conference Center, 1009 West Green Street, Hastings.

*Dorr Jan. 9 from  2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Dorr Moose Lodge, 4204 20th Street.

*Thornapple Township Emergency Services, Jan. 11 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., 128 High Street., Middleville.

*Saints Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church, Jan. 17 from 2 p.m. to 7 p..m.,159 131st Avenue, Wayland,

*Peace Church Jan. 23 from noon to 6 p.m., 6950 Cherry Valley Road, Middleville.


There is an now urgent need for O-Negative blood donations. To schedule an appointment, call 1-866-MIBLOOD (642-5663) or schedule online at



Retiring Mayor Frank Campbell honored for dedication to City of Hastings

When Hastings Public Library Director Laura Ortiz presented retiring Mayor Frank Campbell with a plaque thanking him for his community leadership, she began with a quote from that deep thinker, Dr. Seuss, who said:

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.”

“The staff at Hastings Public Library wish to express our deep felt gratitude and appreciation for all you’ve done to make our community great,” she said.

“Behind every great community, is a great Library,” Ortiz said. “Behind every great Library is a community leader that cares. Thank you for being that leader!”


The public is invited to second floor conference room at City Hall, Wednesday, Dec. 28 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. when Campbell will be recognized for his long service to the City of Hastings, including two stints as mayor.





Photo: Mayor Frank Campbell performing one of his favorite duties as mayor-presenting an Official Proclamation recognizing those who work to improve the lives of Hastings and Barry County citizens. Here, he presents his proclamation to Don Haney, administrator of Thornapple Manor.

Update Barry County United Way at 69 percent of its goal

The kindness of Barry County residents is felt all year long for the programs and agencies that are funded through the Barry County United Way campaign. Currently, the campaign stands at $416,859.93 or 69 percent of the $600,000 goal, Barry County United Way Executive Director Lani Forbes said.


“We are very excited by where we are at today,” Campaign Chairperson Matt Goebel said.

“With many campaigns yet to come in we are very hopeful to hit our goal of funding a large portion, if not all, of the dollars that the agencies requested this year through the allocations process. Barry County donors are simply amazing.”


“So far in 2016, Barry County United Way has funded 34 programs through 21 agencies services totaling $679,003.90. State and federal grants are sought on top of the campaign that have provided $190,173.31 in utility assistance, $32,032.40 in housing assistance and $52,133.95 in emergency funding for a total provided in the community totaling $953,343.56. All of these dollars are used within our county,” Forbes said.


The Toys for Barry County Kids Program has been ongoing this week, and has served 382 children. Families can still contact our office to determine eligibility through Friday, Dec. 23.


United Way partners were accessed 79,609 times last year. The gifts made a difference toward 4-H (1,167 kids), substance abuse (accessed 4,597 times), Green Gables (accessed 120 times for women and children), along with the Food Bank (31, 433) /Fresh Food Initiative (25,525), to name just a few of the many programs impacted.


Barry County United Way is able to apply 100 percent of gifts directly to programs and services thanks to the Florence Tyden Groos Administrative Endowment Fund held by the Barry Community Foundation. Those interested in helping reach the $600,000 goal, are asked to contact the BCUW office at 269-945-4010. Giving is also available on line at












Check smoke, CO detector batteries for a safer holiday season

The holiday season is a time for family, refection and good will. You can take simple steps now to help assure a safe and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year for your family, and your local fire department firefighters are glad to help.


If you don’t have detectors, every Barry County fire department in Barry County will send firefighters to your home to install both smoke and CO detectors at no cost to you. Applications are available at your local fire department or go to to get one.


Experts urge homeowners to check the batteries on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year and replace them when needed. Please also keep in mind that detectors are just like a small appliance that is on duty all the time. If your detectors are over 10 years old, they need to be replaced.


“We would much rather visit your home to install detectors than respond to a fire and find no working detectors that could have averted a tragedy,” Delton Fire Chief

Gene Muskovin said.


Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas formed when carbon-containing fuel is not burned completely and can cause death by asphyxiation.
The gas may come from a clogged chimney, corroded or disconnected water heater vent pipes, gas or wood burning fireplaces, a cracked or loose furnace exchange or an improperly installed kitchen range or vent.


Those with a battery powered CO detector, should make sure it beeps when battery power is low. No one disputes the value of a smoke detector, but they won’t alert a family to a fire unless they have good batteries. The programs are sponsored by generous grants through Spectrum Health Pennock Foundation, Southside Pediatrics, and Hastings Kiwanis.



Barry Commissioners set closed session for update on contract negotiations

At the Dec. 20 Barry County Commission meeting, in discussion on where surplus funds in the 2016 budget would go, Commissioner Jim Dull said it was a waste for commissioners to spend $90,000 for a compensation study without finding funds to implement it.


He suggested using some end-of-year surplus funding to give the courthouse employees a bonus to settle the contract dispute now and give in-coming commissioners time to,“find the money,” when the 2017 contract comes up.


Dull was discouraged by Brown and Commissioner Craig Stolsonburg who said the excess funds are meant go to non-recurring expenses, one time special needs or projects, and using it for ongoing expenses would lead to budgeting problems down the road. “The bonus would give commissioners time to find the money,” Dull maintained. “It is not a recurring expense.”


Brown said the discussion was too close to getting into the negotiations, and advised them to set a closed session for any more discussion and to give an update on the contract talks.  The Dec. 27 agenda has a closed session scheduled at the end of the regular meeting.


Later, Dull said he couldn’t understand spending $90,000 and then not coming up with anything.

“I’m not in favor of all of it in one year, or even two or three, but at least some of it. We could at least make a token effort to get them a little bit closer…$90,000 could go a long way for bonuses and give new commissioners a little breathing room.”


At the end of the year, the unspent funding is usually divided equally and put into the Building Rehabilitation, Vehicle Replacement, Data Processing and Capital Replacement funds.

This year, the funds will go to Building Rehabilitation, where funding is coming for upcoming courthouse renovations, and the Retirement fund, which will go to the Municipal Employees Retirement System to reduce the unfunded accrued liability for general fund pension dividends.

The Vehicle Replacement and Data Processing funds have adequate reserves for several years, Brown said.


Second mediation to be set for Barry County, Courthouse employees contract stalemate

Administrator Michael Brown said Tuesday that a Dec. 15 mediation session between the county and Barry County Courthouse Employees Association was a good one, which left three options: agree, set another meeting or, if at an impasse, go to fact finding.


Another mediation session near the end of January will be set when the mediator is available, Brown said. Under a provision to re-open the contract in 2016 to address wages, the two sides held one negotiation session and then went to mediation.


The main sticking point in the negotiations with the courthouse union is the county not implementing a pay study contracted for by commissioners, which recommends, among other things, a 13 percent pay boost across the board to put Barry County employees in line with surrounding entities that were used for comparison.


The implementation cost for the courthouse union employees would be $483,591; full implementation for all employees included in the study, courthouse union, non-represented and department heads, is $758,212, according to Brown.

Michigan State University Extension recommended to continue services to Barry County

The Barry County Commission’s committee of the whole meeting Tuesday covered several topics, all recommended for approval at the next board meeting.

Administrator Michael Brown explained resolutions covering a budget amendment, year end transfers and a construction manager’s contract for courthouse renovations.


Commissioners recommended a contract with Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) for services to Barry County residents for 2017 for $52, 745 for operating expenses and $60,701 for a clerical person for the local office, for a total of $113,446. The MSUE provides educational programs in the areas of agriculture and agribusiness, children and youth development, including 4-H, health and nutrition, community and economic development and natural resources.

Answering a question, District Coordinator for MSUE District 8 Don Lehman said the 4-H program has some1,000 youths involved in 45 to 50 clubs and numerous programs and one-time events.


Also moved ahead to the regular board meeting was a three year renewal of a Veterans Affairs Services agreement with the Barry County United Way to provide services to Barry County veterans for $28,417 in 2017, $29,270 in 2018 and $30,148 in 2019. Barry  County United Way Executive Director Lani Forbes said the agreements have been in one year increments while they got the program up and running, but now three years is a better option.


Other recommendations were for approval of:

*a year end amendment, or 11th hour look at the budget, showing the total budget remain balanced at $15,790,653. While the revenues increased by $207,208, departmental expense increased by $9,982, so the remaining $197,226 is placed in contingency. Other smaller amendments were for special revenue and other funds. The information is from budget reports though November, with $1,261,000 still uncollected, Brown said.


*allowing auditors to determine the amounts to transfer from the general fund to Special Revenue programs, the Friend of the Court, Juvenile Drug Court, Adult Drug Court and Child Care funds, to ensure the fund balances do not grow and to make the necessary transfers during the 2016 budget year audit.


*an agreement for Beckering Construction to provide construction manager services for the county courthouse improvements for $47,575 to come from the Building Rehabilitation fund. The commission had previously approved the concept of a construction manager.

Barry County to research hiring a human resources director

The Barry County Board of Commissioners Tuesday asked County Administrator Michael Brown to gather information on the feasibility of hiring a Human Resources Director for the county. He will work with Commissioner Vivian Conner who brought the request to the board.


“Barry County is an employer of a significant number of people and the county needs to assess the needs and benefits of having its own HR director,” Conner said.

If such a person were in place in recent history, the board could have prevented problems, “like the compensation study,” she said. At one time the county evaluated every employee every year, but that hasn’t been done for some time, she said.


A professional HR director would handle employees relations and reviews, negotiations with unions on wages, hiring, insurance, benefits, workers compensation, keep up with stricter and stricter state and federal regulations, assure compliance with laws, training and development, which would bring more uniformity to the county and help department heads, administrators and employees with a more streamlined process, Conner said.


Several areas to be researched were brought up by commissioners during discussion, including what other counties are doing, if the director would cover other county entities, like the COA, Charlton Park, County Road Commission, Thornapple Manor, Transit, 911 and the Barry Eaton District Health Department, and if they did, would there be fees for services like payroll, benefits, legal matters and other services that the county now provides free?

Questions about salary and benefits, if there would be additional staff, recruiting, and what duties might be moved from other departments also were raised.


“It’s worth taking a look at. It may change the look of county departments, but we should at least look at it. We have to protect the county in many ways. A human resources person could be a help that way,” Conner said. The board agreed by consensus that Conner and Brown should get more information report back to the commission.

Social media threat closes Maple Valley Schools

Maple Valley Schools were closed for a time Monday, Dec. !9 because of a threat of violence made  against the district on Sunday evening through social media, school officials said in a news release shortly after noon Monday.

Upon learning of the threat, district officials contacted law enforcement authorities who immediately investigated and have taken appropriate action concerning the individual believed to be responsible.

As the threat has now been contained, all school activities will resume at 3 p.m. today, the release said.

“Student safety is our primary concern and we take all threats seriously. We thank the school community for its patience and support while this difficult incident was resolved,” said Superintendent Michelle Falcon.



House Fire

Firefighters from Hastings, Freeport and Woodland  were called to a house fire on Barnum road in Barry Countys Carlton Township this morning (Tuesday).

It appears the fire was started  by an electric heater in one of the bedrooms.

Occupants were outside of the house when firefighters arrived.

Estimated dollars loss to the building and contents about $35,000.

Weather Instrument found by local resident


Local resident Don Ford who lives near the Hastings Barry County Airport found a orange parachute 

with a weather instrument package in his yard Sunday. The Instruments attached to a balloon with a parachute were launched from the Davenport Iowa National Weather Service Office and made it to hastings in four hours.

WBCH's Dave McIntyre spoke with the National Weather Service Office in Grand Rapids who told him the upper level winds over the weekend reached 150 miles and hours which accounts for the instruments reaching Hastings in that short of time. The Davenport office  sends up the instruments twice daily.

Update on woman found deceased in playground

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office has released an update on the cause of death of an unidentified woman in a Saugatuck Township playground Dec. 18. The woman was identified as Jamie Jon Dollar from the Saugatuck area. Officials said the cause of death was hypothermia with no signs of foul play.  The sheriff’s office is still awaiting toxicology results to determine if intoxicants were a contributing factor.

Unless new information requires further investigation, nothing further will be released, the update said.



The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating a suspicious death reported Sunday, Dec. 18, at about 2 p.m. in Saugatuck Township, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.

Officials said several children observed what appeared to be a deceased individual lying in a playground area near a trailer park. Officers found the body of a 40-year-old woman lying in the snow.  She appeared to have been dead for some time.

The situation is being actively investigated and no further information will be released, the release said.

An autopsy is scheduled to be performed Tuesday; the results of the examination should assist investigators to determine what occurred. A press release with more information can be expected after Tuesday.



State Police Collect Food

Dave & Lois McIntyre of Hastings pictured with Hastings State Police Troopers dropping off food items for the Christmas season.

The State Police  stationed their Patrol cars at Walmart  through saturday accepting food, clothing and toys to be distributed through Barry County United Way.

Icy roads may have contributed to fatal Baltimore Township crash

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office has released details on a fatal crash in Baltimore Township, reporting that deputies were dispatched to M-37 Highway and Mixer Road on a report of  a two vehicle head-on crash Saturday afternoon.

Preliminary investigation showed that a northbound vehicle and southbound vehicle struck each other head on, fatally injuring the southbound driver, Robert Mayberry, 73, of the Fine Lake area in Johnstown Township.


Deputies determined the northbound vehicle entered the southbound lane in an attempt to avoid a rear end crash and struck the Mayberry vehicle head on. Mayberry was taken to Sparrow Hospital in Lansing; the occupants of the other vehicle were transported by ambulance to a Kalamazoo area hospital. All occupants were believed to be wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash, and It does not appear that drugs or alcohol were involved, the release said.


Icy roads and deteriorating road conditions appear to be contributing factors in the crash, which remains under investigation, officials said. Deputies were assisted by Michigan State Police, Mercy Ambulance Service, Life Care Ambulance Service, and Hastings and Johnstown fire departments.



Barry County Sheriff updates county commissioners

Barry County Sheriff  Dar Leaf gave county commissioners statistics on activity at the jail for last month. The Dec. 13 update looked at November 2016, and when available, comparable figures for the same month in 2011.

Leaf said the staff at the Barry County Jail booked and processed 275 people into jail, with 77 serving weekend sentences, and 213 were released back into the community during the month.

Jail staff transported 49 inmates to county courts and administered 115 weekend drug screens to probationers in November. The kitchen staff prepared and served 6,994 meals for the inmate population at a cost of $1.50 each, Leaf said.

Other stats for the month in both years:

*Incidents handled, 591 in 2016 and 379 in 2011.

*Accidents handled, 143 (111 car/deer) in 2016 and 159 (134 car/deer) in 2011.

*Arrests last month numbered 56, leading to18 felony and 68 misdemeanor charges. In 2011, there were 51 arrests, with 18 felony changes and 47 misdemeanor charges filed.

*Six alcohol related arrests were reported in November in both 2011 and 2106.

Leaf said he will provide a comprehensive year-end report to the commission early in 2017, with stats for 2016, responses to townships, assists for other agencies and counties and more.



Allegan County Sheriff K9 Program gets boost from donation

 Two local businesses, Pet Klips and Studio H Photography, teamed up for their second annual Christmas fundraiser by taking photos of dogs, and donating all proceeds to the Sheriff’s Office K9 program.


Pet Clips owner Tonda Genther and Studio H Pet Photography owner Beverly Haley presented a $1,370 check to Allegan County Undersheriff Mike Larson Wednesday at the Pet Klips Studio in Wayland.  Genther is a year round supporter of the K9 program, taking care of all of the grooming needs of the K9s. Larsen presented certificates of appreciation to both business owners in thanks for their support.



Photo: Present at the presentation of the $1,370 donation to the K9 program were Deputy Matt VanderPloeg with K9 Talon, Tonda Genther,  Miah Grassmid, Beverly Haley, Undersheriff Mike Larsen and Deputy Ben Haas with K9 Medo.


Waterfowl and antlerless deer hunting continues

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds waterfowl hunters that they still have plenty of time to harvest ducks and geese in Michigan. The regular waterfowl season returns for two weekend hunts in December, and late goose season continues into February in one goose management unit (GMU) in Michigan.

The Allegan County GMU is open to late goose hunting until Dec. 23 and then will reopen to hunting after the holidays from Dec. 26- Feb. 12.


Drawings for hunting zones at the Fennville Farm Unit of Allegan State Game Area take place at 5:30 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and 11 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Dec. 31, a 5:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. drawing will occur, with the afternoon hunt being a youth-only hunt.

For more information on the managed waterfowl hunt areas, locations, dates, and rules and regulations, and the Wetland Wonders Challenge contest, visit


 Also the Late Antlerless Firearm season is open on private lands only within specified Deer Management Units (DMU) from Dec. 19 to Jan. 2, 2017.

Barry County’s DMU, as well as all of the surrounding counties, is open for late antlerless deer season.

For more information, including applying for a license, licensing purchase limits, availability in other DMUs, exceptions and testing for various diseases, visit





Take precautions in the extreme cold

**With wind chills in the area expected to reach as low as 20 below zero, health officials are urging caution when outside during the frigid weather.


Watch for early frostbite and hypothermia; numbness, and white or pale colored fingers, toes, ear lobes and nose. Treatment for frostbite is immediate submersion of warm, but not hot, water for 20 minutes to a half hour. If the symptoms don’t get better, see your doctor for further treatment.

Shivering, the first sign that the body is losing heat, is a good sign that it’s time to get out of the cold. Make sure babies and older people’s living areas are warm, as they lose heat faster that adults. When it is extremely cold stay indoors if possible and make trips outside as short as possible.


Other recommended precautions in extreme cold:

*Dress warmly and stay dry.

*Avoid exertion.  Ask your doctor about shoveling snow or other activities in the cold.

*Cover exposed skin. Wear a warm hat, gloves or mittens and a scarf or ski mask.

*Avoid perspiring or becoming overtired.

*Do not use alcohol or other mood altering substances, and avoid caffeinated beverages.

*Notify friends and family where you will be before you go hiking, camping, or skiing. Be prepared to take emergency shelter. Pack dry clothing, a two-wave radio, waterproof matches and paraffin fire starters with you.


Four suspects arrested for retail fraud throughout Kalamazoo County

Four people suspected of shoplifting more than $5,400 worth of merchandise from several stores throughout Kalamazoo County have been arrested, the Kalamazoo Sheriff’s Office reports. Three adults, two women and one man, are lodged in Kalamazoo County Jail; a juvenile was released to a parent.


The incident occurred Dec. 15 shortly after 5 p.m.  when Oshtemo Township deputies responded to a call of retail fraud in progress at the Kohl’s store at 5159 West Main Street. The four were seen concealing large quantities of merchandise on their persons inside the store, officials said. Deputies stopped the suspect’s vehicle as they were attempting to leave the store parking lot.


Investigation showed the suspects had stolen items from several stores in the county; a total of more than $5,400 worth of clothing, food and electronics has been recovered.

Most, but not all, of the stores involved have been identified.  

The investigation is continuing.


Gilmore Car Museum appoints new executive director

Gilmore Car Museum has appointed Chris Shires as executive director effective Jan. 2, 2017, replacing long-time director Michael Spezia who retires Feb. 15, 2017.


“Chris (Shires) has a strong background in museums and community relations” said Bill Parfet, chairman of the Gilmore Car Museum Foundation and grandson of founder Donald Gilmore.

“He will be stepping down as the executive director of the Holland Historical Trust and brings a wealth of museum operating experience to our organization”


Spezia joined the museum in 2001 and led the museum through the largest expansion in the organization’s fifty year history. “I’m very confident in turning the Gilmore Car Museum over to Chris,” he said. “His strong museum qualifications, experience, and desire to share history with the community will serve the future of the museum well.” Parfet pointed out that the Gilmore Car Museum has seen “phenomenal growth over the past 15 years with 2016, our 50th anniversary, marking the museum’s most successful year to date.” He acknowledged the significant role Spezia has played in its success. //


Shires, a Maryland native, earned a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Marshall University in Huntington, WV, a Master of Arts in History and a graduate Certificate in Museum Studies from the University of Missouri, St. Louis.


Employed at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati for six years, Shires became director of interpretation and programs for the historic Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores in 2009.

For more about the Gilmore Car Museum visit, or call 269-671-5089.




Report measures health of Barry County community, public invited to comment

Everyone wants to be healthy, but, unfortunately, some of us aren't, something that the Barry Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD), Spectrum Health Pennock (SHP) and other Barry County organizations and coalitions are working hard to change. The health department and SHP partnered to develop a Community Health Needs Assessment for Barry County, according to a BEDHD news release.


The report, with a summary of key findings and additional data supplement, is available to the public and can be accessed online at the following website:

The report measures factors that go beyond health care and considers what causes people to be healthy, or not, in the first place. It looks at how healthy we are, what health conditions we suffer, and the root causes of those health problems.


Key findings are:

* Social conditions promoting health vary widely. Minorities, low income, or those otherwise vulnerable, are often less healthy than people who aren’t in vulnerable groups.


* Many Barry County residents are living with and dying from chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.


* Substance abuse and mental health conditions are common, difficult to properly treat, and drive other health problems.


* People still think of health care first when they think of health, but they also recognize the importance of social conditions, such as unemployment, poverty, and the costs and availability of housing and transportation.


Approximately 40 community members and organization representatives reviewed the results of the report in February and developed a set of priority health issues based on the report.  The priorities include chronic disease, mental health, obesity, smoking and tobacco use and opportunities for physical activity.


Community involvement is vital for an effective health assessment and improvement project, the release said. The public is encouraged to visit and submit their feedback on the report.

Those interested in becoming part of the health improvement planning efforts can learn more at


 “Now that the priority health needs and root causes of those problems have been identified, we can develop plans to improve health across the whole Barry County community,” said Susan Peters, BEDHD Health Analyst. Spectrum Health Pennock, the BEDHD and other community organizations are already using the assessment to focus their health improvement efforts.


By moving in the same direction, local organizations can maximize their impact on the problems, allowing community coalitions, including the B. Healthy Coalition, the Barry County Tobacco Reduction Coalition and the Access to Care Workgroup, to make great strides in previous work addressing health issues in Barry County.





Barry County citizens to be interviewed for county committees, boards

Barry County Commissioners will interview several citizen applicants to fill 2017 openings on a half dozen committees and boards after its organizational meeting on Jan. 3.

Administrator Michael Brown said since organizational meetings are typically short in nature, there will be time for the committe of the whole to interview the applicants for open positions.

If the interviews and recommendations are completed on Jan. 3, the commissioners can approve them Jan. 10, he said.


In other business Tuesday, the commissioners approved several recommendations from its committee of the whole, including:

* fee hikes for land division applications, soil erosion permits and some publications from the Barry County Planning Commission. A complete list is available at the county planning office.

* appointing Dr. Michael Markey to replace Dr. Phillip Croft as Medical Examiner for Barry County. Croft, Barry County’s M. E. for nine years,  is resigning from Sparrow Hospital’s Forensic Pathology Group.

* an audit engagement agreement with Walker, Fluke and Sheldon to do the Barry County Road Commission’s 2016 audit for a fee of $9,000.

*a three year contract extension for Administrator Michael Brown through 2019, with a raise in salary to $103,338.35 in 2017.





Hastings leaf cleanup officially over

The annual cleanup of leaves in the City of Hastings is officially completed, Department of Public Services Director Lee Hays said Dec. 13.

“I would like to thank the city residents for their patience and assistance with this year’s successful completion,” he said.

Residents who have additional compostable items to be disposed of may drop them off at the city compost facility on West State Road.

U-Rent-Em-Canoe Livery to get extra parking on city property

The Hastings City Council Monday unanimously approved parking on a piece of city property west of the RV discharge station for overflow parking for U-Rent-Em-Canoe Livery in the summer.

Julie Hawthorne-Fox, whose father founded the business 50 years ago, thanked city staff, namely former Community Development Director John Hart, current Director Alan Klein, and City Manager Jeff Mansfield for their help in building the business up to its present level.


Business at the U-Rent-Em-Canoe Livery, at 805 West Apple Street in the city, has “exploded,” bringing up to 1,000 people to the business on Saturday afternoons in the summer season, she said. The challenge facing the “bursting at the seams” business is not enough parking, with every parking space in the area filled with more customers looking for a spot.


Hawthorne asked the council to okay the parking area for the next year or two, to give and her husband Jim time to find a solution to the problem. The company has fielded offers from other places to move their business there, but born in Hastings, she prefers to stay in her hometown, she said. Several council members congratulated her on the booming business and said they would help any way they could.

Councilwoman Brenda McNabb Stange said since the area is dirt, more cars parking there would leave a muddy mess. However, Hawthorne pointed out that there was not space for very many cars there and the use would only be on weekends for three months of the year. They can get more business, she said, but they need short-term parking help, “a one or two year Band-aid.”

The couple will provide insurance coverage according to city policy and keep the area clean.






Level 3 given a 30 day extension to remove its station

Hastings Mayor Frank Campbell Monday said the City Council would do what was best for its citizens when dealing with Level 3, a giant communications company, and that included evicting the company when no agreement was reached on lease payments.


Level 3 built a small building with electronic repeating equipment on city property near Railroad Street, and entered a lease agreement with the city in 1986, for two terms of 15 years each, until 2016, for $555.53 a year that would expire in September.


Level 3 is being evicted and have asked for an additional 30 days to move their building and equipment. The city council approved the request. A strong critic of the company’s offer for a lease, Campbell recommended the extension, “even if the company was not communicating us.”


With the renewal coming up, Level 3 asked for the same terms. In January, Campbell opposed the offer, saying the city would get a “substantial amount of money, or we will remove the building.” The council agreed that the space was worth much more than $555.53 a year, when other communication companies like Sprint are paying the city up to $2,000 a month, and in June, asked city staff to negotiate a new, higher agreement.


The company’s last offer was for a ten-year lease beginning Oct. 1 with payments of $740 a year, a 37 percent increase of $555.53 annually, with two five year options to renew the lease.

With no agreement in sight, city Attorney Stephanie Fekkes informed the company that its lease expired in September, and they would be evicted.  Fekkes said Level 3 expects to pay any rent due and costs associated with the termination and removal. //


Level 3 Communications is a premier global communications company providing communications service to enterprise, government and carrier customers with extensive fiber networks on three continents with undersea facilities to more than 500 markets in more than 60 countries, according to its website.

Hastings employees, except those with military service, can no longer apply to buy service credits

The Municipal Employees Retirement System (MERS) has notified Hastings officials that they are amending the way they consider requests for employees buying “service credits” for their pensions.

The Hastings City Council Monday learned that future requests will come from the city rather than the employee. As it is now,  the formula for determining an employee’s defined pension benefit is calculated by using the pension multiplier, the years of service and final average compensation, and the employee has the option to buy additional service credits with approval of the employer, but the city has the right to deny a request.


With the MERS change, the city would make the request for additional service credits for the employee. City Manager Jeff  Mansfield said the change is a way for employers to better control pension costs and liability. “We’re trying to get a handle on all post retirement benefits,” he said.

The city hasn’t gotten a request for additional service credits in 25 years, likely because they are very costly to the employee, he added.

The council agreed to have the opt out form filled out  and returned to MERS, but with the provision that they could opt back in to allow anyone who was employed by the city, served time in the military and returned to city employment, could buy the service credits for the years spent in the military.//


The council had the first reading of ordinance 539 amending the code on public school and institutional projects that gives the planning commission input with non-binding comments instead of site plan approval by the commission.  Action will follow with the second reading at the next council meeting.


In other business, the council approved:

*The eighth annual ball drop in Hastings on New Year's Eve, requested by Carl Schoessel, with the same requests of the city as last year. Two changes at the celebration are planned this time; the swearing in of new mayor, David Tossava, during the event and starting the fun run from the Thornapple Plaza instead of the site of the ball drop.


* amending the zoning map of Hastings-Rutland Joint Planning Commission for the third Urban Services District.


*an amendment to its Consumers Energy contract to add a new street light on Taffee Drive at Riverwalk Street. The cost is $100 for installation with a monthly charge of $11.75.


MOO-ville to open second store in Ionia

A middle-aged man, bundled up against swirling snow and 20 degree temperature, walked out of Moo-ville eating a double dip Sea Salt Caramel ice cream cone and carrying a gallon of milk in the middle of December.

Ice cream is not a seasonal treat anymore and mik has always been a staple.

The place to get premium ice cream is the MOO-ville store south of Nashville and any of the 120 other stores they supply with their dairy products.


Founded in 2005 by Louisa and Doug Westendorp, the dairy is a thriving commercial business, and is expanding with a second store and ice cream shop, called “MOO-ville, The Udder Store” in Ionia. Scheduled to open right after the new year, "The Udder Store"  is at 162 East Tuttle Road, across the street from Ionia High School.


At the original MOO-ville store on South M-66, ice cream, milk, butter and cheese are available and a light lunch menu during winter hours of 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, except Sunday. Also offered are ground chuck or patties, cheese curds, butter, cinnamon butter, garlic butter, sliced, shredded, and block cheese.  At MOO-ville, there is no question where their products come from - just look up the hill at their farm. 


The Westendorps create 80 flavors of ice cream, with 40 flavors of premium hand-dipped ice cream available at any one time, and they have two soft serve machines. The new ice cream store has a rural theme, and is shaped like a barn with open beams and barn walls. They will debut with hours from 12 a.m. to 7 p.m. Lunches will be added soon.

A drive through will be popular with moms who don’t want to get all of  the kids out of the car when she just wants to pick up a gallon of milk, MOO-ville representative Tina Westendorp said.


The Westendorp’s grown children, Carlyle, twins Troy and Eric, followed by triplets Levi, Tina and Brittany, all work in the family business. A member of the Nashville Route-66 Business District, the Westendorps are active in the community. They produced 1,300 gallons of ice cream in the attempt for the world’s longest ice cream sundae at 3,600 feet this year. Nashville won the national title for longest sundae with a length of 1,823 feet in 2015, however,  Ludington later staged a longest sundae effort and outdid Nashville’s length.

“We beat Ludington this year, so we’re just waiting for confirmation from the Guinness Book of World Records,” Tina said.


The Westendorps are also involved in the annual Christmas Parade, Christmas in the Village and Sandy Land Concerts. October is garage sale month and every December, they hold a craft sale in the store. The dairy farm offers public tours and creamery tours to groups and school children. Their free petting zoo and farm toys in the play area are popular with children.


The farm has 220 Holsteins milked by robots 24 hours a day, produces 2,500 gallons a day, and ships 10,000 gallons a week to their outlets. Each cow drinks enough water to fill a bath tub every day. “We get a day off occasionally, the cows never do,” Tina quipped. Westendorps have kept the price of milk the same for  years. “Instead of fluctuating with each price rise or dip, we keep it the same; we come out okay, and it gives our customers consistency,” Tina said.


Of  all their ice cream flavor choices, the most popular is Sea Salt Caramel, at the top of sales for three years. Second is Chocolinator, with chocolate ice cream, fudge, Oreos and chocolate chunks. Add Cookie Dough, Tina’s Tricked Out Toffee and Almond Joy for the top five most requested flavors.

Perennial favorites, vanilla and chocolate, are still in the top ten of flavors, but strawberry has dropped from the list.  No-sugar-added ice creams are also featured at MOO-ville.


The Maple Valley Township farm raises corn, wheat, beans and hay, raising the feed for the dairy herd.

For much more about MOO-ville, visit them on Facebook or their website at


Photos: Upper left: A family photo shows (from left) Tasha, Troy, Mason, Carlyle, Lindsey, (back) Levi, Tina, Eric (front) mom Louisa, dad Doug Westendorp and Jonah and Claire Benedict and their dad Joe, and mom, Brittany Benedict holding Myrie.


Upper right: The "MOO-ville The Udder Store" logo. The new store in Ionia will open the first of the year.


Middle left: Claire Benedict says hello to a new Holstein calf.

Middle right: Jody the cow overlooks the MOO-ville store on South M-66. Jody is a hit when she appears in parades and other celebrations.


Lower left: The original "MOO-ville Quality Creamery" store will soon be joined by "MOO-ville, the Udder Store" in Ionia.







Hastings Snow Update

The Hastings National Weather Service Climatological Station recorded another 6-inches of snow Sunday and Sunday night bring our event total since December 8th   to 16.5 inches.  For the season Hastings has received  23.2 inches of snow.

West Michigan Auto Auction named National Auto Auction of the Year

A Wayland area business, West Michigan Auto Auction, has received the 2016 Auction of the Year Award from the National Auto Auction Association (NAAA). The inaugural award, which honors excellence in community service, was presented to WMAA at the national company’s convention last month.  A $20,000 check goes with the award, which they will divide between DeVos Children’s Hospital and West Michigan Connected Family, Inc,.


“Our team is honored to be the inaugural winner of this distinguished award from the NAAA. We believe in our community and giving back with both our time and financial support. We are a family and will continue to do what we can to make an impact in our community,” General Manager Carl Miskotten said.


The auto auction’s community service includes :

* An employee donating a kidney to a dealer customer’s employee.

* Creating West Michigan Connected Family, Inc., a non-profit funded by employee contributions given to community organizations and employee efforts.

* Raising $42,000 for the family of a Michigan auction worker who died in a car accident, and holding an annual memorial ride.

* Donating a specially modified Dodger to former U.S. Army Sergeant Brandon Moracco, a quadruple amputee survivor who served in Afghanistan, that he can drive on his own.

* Donating vehicle repair for financially challenged individuals.

Also, continuing to raise funds, commit time and bring awareness to local and national needs – including, Wright for Kids, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, 20 Liters, community walks, food pantry collections, golf sponsorships, orphanages and mission trips.//


“We want to congratulate West Michigan Auto Auction and thank those involved at the auction who consistently give unselfishly of their time, effort, and money to so many wonderful community service organizations,” NAAA President Mike Browning said.  


WMAA received the 2016 Midwest Auction of the Year Award from the NAAA in October. The $5,000 that came with the award was donated to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

West Michigan Auto Auction is in Wayland on 86 acres with 12 lanes, and more than 300 employees. The auction consigns over 1,400 vehicles a week with 1,000 dealers in attendance.

For more information on the business, visit

Photo: Pictured at the award ceremony are (left to right) NAAA President Mike Browning, with WWMA employees, Fleet Lease Manager Jana Raushcenberg, General Manager Carl Miskotten, Comptroller Kate VanDyke, Dealer Registration Clerk Melinda Dykstra, and Accountant Rebecca Ward.



MDNR looking for volunteers at state parks, rec areas

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) is looking for volunteer campground hosts for the 2017 camping season in Michigan state parks, recreation areas and rustic state forest campgrounds. Volunteers can spend time in Michigan's great outdoors, while engaging with park visitors, helping campers find their campsites, answering questions about the park, planning campground activities and performing light park maintenance duties.


Volunteer campground hosts, individuals and couples, are responsible for 30 hours of service per week, and their camping fees are waived, but they must provide their own camping equipment, food and other personal items.


Volunteer positions can begin as early as April and last through October.


A check of the MDNR website shows Yankee Springs Recreation Area, 2104 South Briggs Road in Yankee Springs Township,  has openings for volunteers in May, June, July, August, September and the first two weeks of October.


Hosts are screened and interviewed by park managers and selected based on familiarity with the state park system, camping experience, special skills, availability and knowledge of the area.

For more information about the campground host program and how to apply, go to or contact Miguel Rodriguez at 517-284-6127.


You can help fund the last piece of Hammond Hill Trail

“We have just launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the last amount of funding needed to complete the Hammond Hill Multi-Use Trail and now, we need your help,” Community Development Director Alan Klein said. “If we meet our goal of $21,000 through this campaign by Jan. 6,  the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan State Housing Development Authority will double your contribution, dollar for dollar,” Klein said.


To help make the trail a reality, visit


The multi-use trail is a six-plus mile natural surface trail system for mountain biking, fat biking, walking/hiking, trail running, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. A connector trail to Tyden Park will let enthusiasts  reach Hammond Hill from the Hastings River Walk.

“The trails will offer a local resource to connect youth and adults to the outdoors with bicycling and walking/running activities,” Klein said.



Federal Judge Stops Michigan Recount

A Federal Judge his stopped the Michigan Presidential  re-count. As a result of the ruling, Barry County Clerk Pam Palmer said all re-count workers scheduled for this Sunday are no longer needed.


Gun Lake Tribe fall revenue sharing exceeds $6.9 million

The Gun Lake Tribe today announced its fall revenue sharing payments;  the State of Michigan received $3,974,387, and the local revenue sharing board received $1,823,054.  GLIMI, an economic development entity, received $1,192,316. 

The revenue payments, distributed semi-annually, are used for economic development, municipal services and public education.  The figures are calculated from electronic gaming revenues from April 1, to Sept. 30, under the terms of a tribal-state gaming compact.  


“This revenue sharing distribution is the result of government-to-government cooperation for the benefit of all Michiganders,” said Scott Sprague, chairman of the Gun Lake Tribe. 

“The state revenue sharing payments help to fund economic development projects beyond West Michigan, while the local revenue sharing payments are important for municipal services and public education.”


The tribe has shared $86,627,347 with state and local governments over twelve distributions. //


The gaming compact was executed in 2007; in 2016, the tribe and the state reached a partial settlement agreement to resolve an interpretation of the compact, directing part of the revenue sharing payments to GLIMI. Overseen by the state and the tribe’s economic development corporation, Gun Lake Investments, GLIMI was formed to pursue non-gaming economic development and job creation.

A local revenue sharing board administers funding to local municipalities for costs due to the operation of the casino, public safety services, and replacement of tax revenue. 


State Police

State Police Troopers in Hastings will be conducting their annual Stuff The Blue Goose to provide Food Clothing and Toys for Barry County residents in need.

The State Police Cars will be at the Hastings Walmart Saturday December 17 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. receiving donated non-parishable Food items, New Clothing and New Toys for the Christmas Season.

75th Anniversary Pearl Harbor

Wednesday marked the 75th Anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl harbor Hawaii.

At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time 360  warplanes attacked the U.S. Navel Base at pearl harbor plunging the United States into World War Two.

Four years later Japan formerly surrendered to the United States aboard the U.S. Battleship Missouri in Toyko Bay bringing an end to World War two..

Crowdfunding campaign launched for Hammond Hill Trail

The City of Hastings and The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) are launching a new crowdfunding campaign through the Michigan-based platform Patronicity.

The campaign will provide funding for the last piece of the six-plus mile natural surface, multi-use trail system that will loop through the area’s rolling landscape.


“Now is your chance to make every dollar you donate to the Hammond Hill Trail Project go twice as far,” said Hastings Community Development Director Alan Klein.

“If we meet our goal of raising $21,000 by Jan. 5 through this campaign, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Public Spaces Community Places Matching Grant program will double the amount.

“That’s a total of $42,000 to create over six miles of multi-use trails through one of the most scenic and under-utilized parks in the city,” Klein said.


For project details and to donate, go to:


The funds raised will create the natural surface, multi-use trail winding in a six-plus mile loop through woodlands, pastures and along the shore of Carter Lake, providing an opportunity for outdoor recreation for all ages.  A connector trail from the River Walk in Tyden Park, will make Hammond Hill Multi-Use Trail readily accessible by foot or bicycle.

“A trail system like Hammond Hill provides a multitude of recreational opportunities for the community and region alike,” said MEDC Community Development Director Katharine Czarnecki. “We are pleased to partner on and resource this public space creation in Pure Michigan beauty.”//


“The Michigan Municipal League is a strong supporter of the concept of placemaking and building on existing assets to create vibrant spaces,” said Dan Gilmartin CEO and executive director of MML. “This initiative in Hastings is a great placemaking example and with the public’s support, will become a source of pride for years to come.”


Public Spaces Community Places is a collaborative effort of MEDC, MSHDA, Michigan Municipal League, and Patronicity where local residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of strategic projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC.


Barry County Administrator earns high marks on evaluation

Following an excellent annual evaluation with a ranking of 4.458 points out of a possible 5, Barry County Administrator Michael Brown was recommended for a three-year contract from Jan. 1, 2017 through Dec. 31, 2019. The unanimous vote by the committee of the whole included a recommended raise from Brown’s current $102,315.20 salary to $103,338.35 in 2017.


Brown was rated by commissioners from 1 to 5 on leadership, financial management, motivation, professional development, communication, delegation,  planning, prioritizing, employee relations, initiative, interaction and coordination with others.


Earning 4, 4.5 or 5 rankings almost across the board, Brown's highest marks came for his financial acumen. One commissioner gave him a 5 in every category. In the comment sections, Brown was praised for his abilities in every area evaluated, with special note of his communication skills and respect for all those he deals with and high marks for doing “an excellent job” in financial management.

Commissioners said he is  “a superior county administrator,” his “work and effort is appreciated,” and “Barry County is lucky to have him.”


“I continue to enjoy the work I do and working for Barry County,” Brown said, adding he “greatly appreciated” the evaluation.


In other business Tuesday, the commissioners recommended:

* appointing  Dr. John Bechinski, D.O. to replace Dr. Phillip Croft as Medical Examiner for Barry County effective Dec. 16. Croft, Barry County’s M. E. for nine years, is resigning from Sparrow Hospital Forensic Pathology Group.


* approving an audit engagement agreement with Walker, Fluke and Sheldon to do the Barry County Road Commission’s 2016 audit for a fee of $9,000.


* interviewing citizen applicants to fill 2017 appointments on a half dozen boards on Jan. 3. Brown said organizational meeting will be held first that day, followed by the committee of the whole meeting. The applicants are all lined up and with Jan. 3  interviews and recommendations, the commissioners can approve them on Jan. 10.

It is not too late to get your flu shot

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department reminds the public that it’s never too late in the flu season to get the flu vaccine. Influenza can mean a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, fatigue, and miserable days spent in bed. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized in the United States with flu complications each year.


A yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older is the first and most important step in protecting against the flu and is especially important for those at high risk; young children, pregnant women, people 65 and older, and those with medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease. Persons who live with or care for some one at high risk, should be vaccinated to keep from spreading flu to them.


Vaccinations are offered in doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers, anywhere there is a sign that says “Get Your Flu Vaccine Here.” To fight flu, get vaccinated, wash your hands, stay home if you are sick and take antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them,

Antiviral drugs can prevent serious flu complications and work best when started within two days after flu symptoms begin. Those with high-risk conditions can benefit even when treatment is started after the first two days of illness.

For more, visit


Area emergency services meet real life test in factory evacuation

Yankee Springs Fire Department first responders were called to Middleville Tool & Die on Patterson Road Monday morning on the call of an employee who had passed out.


What happened next turned into a real test of area emergency service agencies ability to handle a large crisis situation. More people become sick, calling for evacuating an entire plant full of employees and finding out what was in the building that was making people sick.


By the time first responders put the first employee into an ambulance, others were complaining of nausea and headaches; 10 to 15 other employees of the plant were treated by first responders and ambulance personnel. Two employees were taken to Metro Health in Grand Rapids as a precaution.


 “It worked just like it should,” Deputy Wayland Fire Chief Dan Miller said. “All the agencies did what they’re trained to do; we moved 150 people outside; triage of the patients was done outside and treatment started.

"Barry Central was in contact with Metro hospital at all times, and (director of WAEMS) Bob Hess was in constant contact with Pennock Hospital in case they were needed. There were no glitches.”


The affected people’s vital signs were monitored and they were treated with oxygen until  their carbon monoxide levels returned to normal, he said. Wayland firefighters entered the building with carbon monoxide detectors and located the problem; an overcharging hi-lo battery was giving off carbon monoxide fumes. The hi-lo was taken outside and the building aired out, “until it was deemed safe,” Miller said. He noted the emergency personnel had the complete cooperation of the owner of Middleville Tool and Die.


Three fire departments; Yankee Springs, Hopkins and Wayland were at the scene as were ambulances from Wayland Area Emergency Medical Services, Mercy Ambulance of Hastings and Thornapple Township Emergency Services. Emergency personnel were at the scene from 10:45 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.

 “It’s a good day," Miller said. "The employees felt good and went back to work. The sun is shining, it’s a good day."

Monthly Snowfall for 2016-17

Hastings National Weather Service Climatological Station  Snowfall.



November           0.7   inches

December           6.0   inches

Legislative Review

In his final report to the citizens of the 87th Michigan House district State Representative Mike Callton of Nashville said,  "For the past six years, it has been an honor and a pleasure to serve the local communities in the 87th District. As we end the sixth consecutive year of a Republican Majority in the state house, our efforts are producing a measurable track record. Michigan's personal income growth is now one of the strongest in the nation. This year, a record $14.2 billion dollars is being spent on K-12 education,  job and employment are up with 463,000 plus jobs gained.. The house approved plans to make government  more transparent and accountable. New tools to fight against opioid overdoses are in place.   A new threat alert system to more effectively inform and protect Michigan residents and more help for Michigan Veterans are also in place"

Under Michigan term limits Representative Calltons'  term ends this month.

Beginning 2017 State Representative elect Julie Calley  of Portland will representative the district that includes Barry County.


Barry County Gravel Roads

Due to the intermittent rain the last few days, mixed with wet snow and temperatures around freezing, the Barry County Road Commission has received several complaints about gravel road conditions on Barry County gravel roads. Jake Welch with the Barry County Road Commission says "Our crews are out in full force, using trucks and graders, spot scraping in locations that are dry enough to not result in excessive mud. This will be a continual problem and we will continue to address it until hard freezing temperatures set in or mother nature gives us some dry weather. Please have patience and use caution traveling on gravel roads."

Captain Mike Larsen appointed Allegan County undersheriff

Allegan County Sheriff-elect Frank Baker has appointed Captain Mike Larsen undersheriff.

"It was important for me to select a candidate with a significant corrections background since my experience has primarily been with the law enforcement divisions of the sheriff's office,” Baker said. “ I feel it is essential that we have a well-rounded administration that can focus equally on all the diverse responsibilities of the office of sheriff.”


Larsen’s background includes positions in the corrections division and law enforcement experience as captain in the sheriff’s office. The appointment is effective immediately to help assure Baker’s smooth transition to the office of sheriff. Larsen began his career with the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office in 1994 after serving in the U.S. Navy and attending Grand Valley State University. //


As a corrections officer, he was promoted to sergeant in 2003 and lieutenant in the services division in 2007, before moving to command the patrol division in 2009. In 2012, Larsen was promoted to captain overseeing detectives. He is a graduate of the GVSU Police Academy and Northwestern Center for Public Safety School of Police Staff and Command.







Photo: Sheriff-elect Frank Baker, right, congratulates the new undersheriff, Capt. Mike Larsen.



Handcrafted items sale raises funds to help animals at Lowell sanctuary

Abandoned, orphaned and injured animals find sanctuary and rehabilitation at Lowell Farm & Wildlife Center. Owner Sjana Gordon, who founded the center 23 years ago, is certified and licensed by the DNR to rehabilitate wild animals. Gordon and the volunteers who help make homes for the sick and injured animals, run the center solely on donations to care for the animals. “Donations of any kind are very much needed and appreciated,” she said.


On Saturday,  Dec. 3, the center hold it’s annual Christmas time sale of handcrafted items to raise funds to benefit the animals.  All kinds of animals are welcome at the center, with more added all the time. Some are rehabilitated and released, to others it is their permanent home.


Fabio, the huge, elderly resident wild turkey, has company with the latest addition. “We have a white female turkey found wandering the streets in downtown Grand Rapids the day after Thanksgiving,” Gordon said.

The center has a wish list of things that they always need and can be alternatives to cash donations. The list includes general bedding, all kinds of cleaning supplies, paper goods, general supplies, firewood, produce, medical/newborn supplies and other foods; animal feeds from duck, rabbit and goat pellets to unsalted peanuts and hay.


To donors, Gordon said: “We thank you from the tips of our antlers to the bottom of our cottontails.”


Located at 12494 Vergennes Street, Lowell, the center can be reached at

They are also on, twitter at @farmwildlife and

Tax deductible cash donations can go to: For more information, call the center at 1-616-885-4223.



Medical issue may have caused fatal Barry County crash

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a one-car fatal accident that occurred Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 6:17 p.m. on Lawrence Road east of Guy Road.

Officials said the only occupant in the car, driver Lamoin F. Mitchell, 84, of Nashville, was driving eastbound on Lawrence Road, when he drifted across the center line, leaving the north edge of the roadway and driving into a ditch, striking several small trees before coming to rest.

The sheriff’s Accident Investigation Team is investigating the possibility that the driver may have experienced a medical emergency before the crash.



Barry County Presidential Recount

Barry County Clerk Pam Palmer and her staff are ready for the Presidential Recount. Jill Stein the Green Party candidate is  pushing for the recount that includes Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

The cost for the recount to Michigan citizens will be around four to five million dollars.


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