Local News Archives for 2017-01

Telephones are back on at Barry County Sheriff Office

UPDATE: Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf reported telepone service was restored at the sheriff's office at approximately 10:18 p.m. Tuesday. Service was interrupted for about four and a half hours.


How about a quiet Fourth of July?

Looking for a Fourth of July camping experience with a little less noise? Check out Fireworks-Free Fourth of July for veterans, pet owners and other visitors looking for a quieter holiday this year.

Several Michigan state parks and recreation areas that are situated farther away from traditional community firework displays will participate July 1-4.

The Michigan DNR and the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency worked together, for the third straight year to bring this opportunity to the public.  It's not too early to book your favorite spot either, since camping reservations can be made up to six months in advance.

No fishing license required Feb.18-19

The DNR is inviting residents and non-residents of all ages to take advantage of the first of two Free Fishing Weekends on Feb. 18-19. Everyone can enjoy two days of back-to-back fishing without a license. All other fishing regulations apply.

Additionally, the DNR will waive the regular Recreation Passport entry fee to get into Michigan’s 103 state parks and recreation areas. Several of these locations will be hosting official free fishing events that are perfect for the whole family!


Spectrum Health MedNow allows access to specialists through technology

Technological advances in medicine are occurring at a rapid pace, with more and more electronic devices to access almost any location and perform many functions once impossible to do.

One of the latest advances is MedNow, from Spectrum Health.


Spectrum Health’s Stacee English, gave a presentation at a TechTalk program sponsored by the Barry County Chamber of Commerce at Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital Tuesday.

There are two pieces to MedNow, English said. E-Visits and Video Visits.


E-visits are done through a secure online messaging exchange with a medical provider who gives medical advice through a My Health account after completing a questionnaire describing your symptoms. E-visits are not for emergencies, urgent conditions or questions needing an immediate response.  An e-visit will never cost more than $25.


A Video Visit provides direct, real time visits to a Grand Rapids-based Spectrum specialist for low acuity conditions. It can be accomplished with a webcam and smart phone, I-Pod, or computers anywhere there is a strong internet connection, and requires an e-mail address.

Using special equipment, a doctor can take vital signs and other tests with a patient and show the results to a specialist in Grand Rapids with images of good clarity that can be enlarged and sound that can be turned up.  A Video Visit will never cost more than $45.


Online primary care with a doctor 24/7 includes allergies, bites and stings, colds, cough and flu, heartburn, nausea/vomiting pink eye, rash and hives sinus problems, sprains and strains, fever and headache and more. A report of every MedNow visit is sent to the person’s primary care physician as part of their medical history and so the physician can follow up if necessary. //


Director of the MedNow program, Jeremy Bainbridge, said the first use of telemedicine was on July 14, 2014. “It’s a very exciting opportunity,” he said.

There is no difference in quality of care with other state using the technology, and tracking use of antibiotics shows physicians prescribe less when using technology than during face to face visits, he added.


To a question about making mistakes without touching patients, Bainbridge said: “We try very hard to make sure we can triage and send them to the appropriate place. We’re looking for the right people to see.” If a referral is needed, to an emergency room for example, the specialist will help smooth the way for that visit, he said.

“We do robust tracking on all sorts of information, English said. Eighty percent are comfortable with the technology.”


Currently, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan and Priority Health offer coverage of e-Visit and Video visits, Medicare does not. The Spectrum telemedicine service is for any Michigan resident over the age of three. For  much more information and complete lists of problems cared for by E-Visit or Video Visit, go to

Hastings girl hopes to pay it forward for honorary uncle

Every year on her birthday, Gloriana Elston, 12, from Hastings, finds a project to pay it forward. Her parents, Anne and Shannon Elston, always support her efforts. This year, they are holding a series of fundraisers for her “honorary Uncle” Curt Pavlik.


Pavlik, 39, also from Hastings, graduated from Hastings High and is works full time in town.  He was badly injured on April 1, 2006 from an accidental gunshot wound to his face. Operations to correct the damage followed, but he has exhausted his insurance. However, he still needs facial reconstruction of his jaw. Since regular dentures won't work in the reconstrucion, he also needs teeth implants.


“My family loves him and wants to see the best for him. We want to help him move on, eat real food again, meet the women of his dreams, get married, to just let his dreams come true. He has a heart of gold and compassion for others.


“I know we can do this; we live in an amazing small town,” Gloriana said.

To help, go to, 2PD57C4.


 The list of fundraisers includes:

* Feb. 2, Dine for dinner at Kloosterman’s Sports Tap Bar & Restaurant, Hastings, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated.


* Feb. 25, Silent auction, bake sale and LuLaroe fundraiser, 218 West Main Street, Middleville, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.


* March 16, Art on Canvas Ladies Night 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Lake Sunset Painting, County Seat, Hastings, $35 per person.


* March 25, AYCE pancake breakfast, Living Waters Church, South Hanover, Hastings, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., minimum $3 donation.


* April 8, Art on Canvas, Mommy & Me Day, County Seat, Hastings, $25 per person, noon to 3 p.m., You Are My Sunshine painting.


For more information and updates, visit  #glorysbirthdaywish.


Photo: Gloriana Elston and Curt Pavlik.

(photo submitted)

Suspect in Davenport shooting incident arrested in Lansing

Update: Thursday, January 26,  Paul Christopher Howard, 23,  was arrested in Lansing by the Michigan State Police First District Fugitive Team.  Howard, a suspect in an October, 2016 incident where shots were fired in the dormitory area of  Davenport University in Caledonia, is lodged in the Ingham County Correctional Facility and will eventually be transported to the Kent County Correctional Facility, according to the Kent County Sheriff's Office.


Background:  On Oct. 23, 2016,  at 2:30 a.m., Kent County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of shots fired in a dorm area at Davenport University in Caledonia Township. Deputies determined that four nonstudents were involved in an altercation with two students. One of the nonstudents discharged a gun; no one was shot, however a bullet penetrated a wall and hit a student who was not involved. The student was treated and released from a hospital.


After an extensive investigation, detectives were able to develop Howard as a suspect in the incident. On October 25, 2016 the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office  authorized a four count warrant for Howard: discharging a firearm in a building, carrying a concealed weapon, carrying a weapon with unlawful intent and felony firearm, 2nd.   






Delton woman, teen injured in M-43 traffic crash

A 38-year-old Delton woman was seriously injured and her passenger, a 17-year-old girl, suffered minor injuries in a traffic crash Thursday.

The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office reports the woman was southbound in the 10900 block of M-43 in Richland Township at about 4:30 p.m. when she lost control of her car, left the roadway and struck a tree. The unidentified woman and the teen were transported to an area hospital, where the driver is listed in serious/stable condition.

The crash remains under investigation; speed and wet road conditions appear to be factors.

Southwest Barry Sewer Authority moving ahead on Hickory Corners/Gilmore sewer service

After months of disagreements and delay, the Southwest Barry County Sewer and Water Authority board moved to put the past in the rear view mirror and move forward with the possibility of a sewer district in the Hickory Corners area to include Gilmore Car Museum.

Tuesday, authority members agreed a feasibility study already commissioned from Prein & Newhof on a sewer district and service to Gilmore’s is the next step needed to decide if the project can become a reality.


The board took several steps in the effort to resolve past differences and move the initiative forward,  including:

*to expedite authority business, the board will meet monthly instead of every other month,


*as an expression of good faith, the board waives payment for an invoice for out-of-pocket expenses made in response to a 2011 sewer service request by Gilmore.


*directed authority Manager Mark Doster to cooperate with Gilmore staff and associates with regard to the feasibility study.


*directed authority staff and engineer to comply with reasonable requests for information for Prein & Newhof’s feasibility study before an escrow account is used.


*instead of accessing $10,000 in escrow from Gilmore up front, the authority will wait until the feasibility study is completed and use the funds for engineering and legal expenses when the project gets underway.


*send a letter to Barry County Commissioner David Jackson and Gilmore outlining the changes they are making.


“This letter will move us off dead center,” Prairieville Supervisor Jim Stoneburner said. Hope Township representative David Messelink agreed: “This has been dragging on too long.”

The board’s moves were encouraged by Jackson, who has been pushing for action on the authority’s latest request for sewer service. He said was “fairly discouraged” in his past dealings with the board, feeling that Doster was giving them incorrect information and the board was too quick to defend him.


He urged the board to put a poor relationship (with former longtime director Michael  Spezia) aside, “and show Gilmore we’re ready to roll out the red carpet.” He proposed an oversight committee to follow each development in the Hickory Corners/Gilmore project and provide timely updates to the full board. He suggested putting off buying property in favor of investing it for the people by creating more sewer customers and also develop a budget for long-term infrastructure maintenance.


Jackson also asked the board to do a comprehensive compensation study of Doster’s salary in the near future. Doster started out part time for $25,000 a year, he said, and was given a 64 percent increase for being a project manager while working eight to 15 hours a week.

“If it was full time, it would not be an issue; but for 10 hours a week, it’s outrageous.” //


“The issue with Gilmore has been going now for six years,” Doster said. In 2011, Gilmore had asked for sewer service but was not in a sewer district. The authority had run up a legal bill of $2,500 in the process. Doster said Gilmore was billed for the costs, but they chose not to pay it and put in their own system.


When Gilmore again said they wanted to hook up Doster said, “this board and others pay on the sewer system; we thought it would be unfair to add that burden. To make a request, they would have to put money into escrow. We felt to go forward, they needed to comply with the money and escrow and we would not to entertain requests until they did.”


During the course of the meeting, Doster was pressed  by Messelink on the clear direction for Doster to cooperate with Gilmore  that was missing in the October meeting minutes. To Doster’s concern that system capacity might not be enough for the proposed project, Messelink said when Pennock Hospital was going to build a new hospital, Doster said they could supply that.

“You were willing to go to Hastings. If you can go there, you can go here…are we incurring expense just to answer questions? My answer is not,” Messelink said.


Barry Township Supervisor Wes Kahler said they should be looking at requests from townships. “It’s a cost of doing business, as far as I can see; any and all projects. …we've never asked any other township projects for money in escrow.”


            Authority board members:

            Barbara Earl, supervisor of Johnstown Township

Jim Stoneburner, supervisor of Prairieville Township (chair)

Wes Kahler, supervisor of Barry Township

Dave Messelink, Hope Township representative

Richard VanNiman, Prairieville Township trustee

The plant operator is Scott Monroe.

Superintendent's Platform

WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight news in their districts. This posting is from Delton Kellogg Schools Superintendent Carl Schoessel (left).


"The January meeting of the Delton Kellogg Board of Education was an exciting one. Re-elected Board members Marsha Bassett, Kelli Martin, and Jim McManus took the oath of office, as did newly elected Board member Jessica Brandli.


As part of the annual organizational meeting, Jim McManus was elected as President of the Board, Kelli Martin as Vice-President, Marsha Bassett as Secretary and Andy Stoneburner as Treasurer. In addition, all Board members received special gifts of appreciation from students and staff members in observance of “School Board Recognition Month.”


It was announced that 36 new students have enrolled in the Delton Kellogg Schools since the fall count day in October, the DK High School will host a regional wrestling tournament on February 18, and that the Delton Kellogg Education Foundation will be awarding $1,000 scholarships to graduating seniors who qualify for the awards."

Phone problems

A widespread outage with ISERV, a phone system that serves the area occurred around 7:45 Tuesday night. WBCH notified their center by  cell phone where engineers said they were working on the problem. Sometime during the night service was restored, but no word on what caused the outage.

Barry County Sheriff wins national 2016 Sheriff of the Year award

The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, with the motto “Protect, Serve, Uphold and Defend,” named Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf  “2016 Sheriff of the Year” at its national conference in Maryland Jan. 21.


Undersheriff Matt Houchlei told the Barry County Commission of the national award for Leaf.

“I think the award is very important for its significance for the residents of Barry County and the fact that we have Sheriff Leaf

representing us in this office,” he said. The award reads: “For his unwavering courage in standing for  American liberty and the United States Constitution.”  “It is an awesome award and I was glad to see him receive it,” Houchlei said.


Leaf said he was quite surprised to receive the honor. “It was toward the end of a long day; these are training conferences, this was a long one.…I was kinda listening like you do at the end of the day, when I heard my name. It’s quite an honor, something I will treasure forever.”


“There are a lot of sheriffs in this country. It is a testament to your leadership that you were recognized for what you’ve done here in Barry County,” Commissioner Ben Geiger said.  “Thank you for your service Dar,” Commissioner Jon Smelker said.


In other business Tuesday, the commission:


*approved bids for the renovations of the Barry County Courthouse totaling $342,404.


*appointed incumbent Charles Pullen for a four-year term on the Barry County Veterans Committee, and to increase the three person committee to five, effective immediately. With a new relaxed requirement that now allows veterans who did not serve in wartime to serve on the committee, the commission will advertise the two additional positions.


* approved a resolution of intent for Barry County Transit Director William Voigt to apply for state and federal funds for transit operations and appoint him the transportation coordinator.


Photo: Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf   


WOW cable called on to answer for employees behavior

Hastings City Manager Jeff Mansfield will invite the WOW cable service representative to a council meeting to explain questions of inappropriate behavior by its employees, and the perception that they may be treating their the elderly clients poorly.


Councilwoman Theresa Maupin-Moore said Monday a Hastings resident’s daughter called her, and told her that her mother had trouble with WOW when she tried to change the status of her programming after her husband died.


A WOW representative told the woman her husband had signed a binding contract and she had to adhere to that contract. She was told they had recently talked to her husband, however, her husband had been deceased for some time before the contact was supposed to have been made.

WOW dropped her mother’s telephone service and then charged her to hook her back up, the daughter said. Maupin-Moore said she was concerned that WOW may be “honing in on other older adults” for poor treatment.


The city has a non-exclusive, open-ended franchise agreement with WOW allowing the use of the city rights of way, but residents sign individual contracts, Mansfield said. “I don’t know how much leverage we have in that…” He said he was sure the representative would come to a meeting, and suggested the city attorney look into options available to the city regarding the franchise.


City Attorney Stefanie Fekkes said she will look into the matter before anyone takes any action, “to provide them the opportunity to handle it themselves,” if it is an employee problem they weren’t aware of. Saying a person made contact with someone had been deceased for months would be “egregious and deceitful….obviously, that conversation could not have taken place,” she said.

Councilman Willard Redman said he had so much trouble with WOW he told them “to get the heck out,” and advised “getting rid of them.”  Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange called on the council to hold WOW accountable;  “call them on the carpet…let them know that we’re keeping an eye on them….it could affect their franchise, should this type of thing continue…”


Barry County Road Closures

The Barry County Road Commission reports the following roads are closed until further notice due to flooding:


Enzian Road between Bever Road and Pine Lake Road.


Tobias Road between Cedar Creek Road and Lammers Road.

Thornapple River Update

A Flood Advisory remain in effect.

Thornapple River reading is 5.4 feet and is slowly going down.  Flood Stage in Hastings is 7 feet.

Dan King appointed Hastings clerk, treasurer, financial director

City Manager Jeff  Mansfield’s recommendation for Dan King as the city’s clerk/treasurer/finance director was unanimously approved by the Hastings City Council Monday. King is well known in the community for his many years of service in financial institutions and service on several committees and boards. “I believe Dan will do an absolutely fantastic job for the City of Hastings,” Mansfield said. King replaces Tom Emery, who retired earlier this month.


The council also approved retaining Rehmann as independent auditors for an additional year. A three-year contract with the company expired with the 2016 audit. Mansfield recommended extending the existing contract, noting that Rehmann has served in the capacity for a number of years, “is very familiar with the city’s financial processes and practices” and will provide stability as King takes over as clerk/treasurer.


The cost for the 2017 audit is $9,500, up $500 from 2016. If the city receives $750,000 in federal awards during the year, that requires a separate audit that would cost an additional $350.


In other business, Mead & Hunt has provided the required 30-day written notice that they are terminating its agreement for operation services at the city water and wastewater plants, City Manager Jeff Mansfield told the Hasting City Council Monday. They will provide service until Feb. 8.

“Unfortunately, the relationship was not working well for either party,” Mansfield said. “We have several options available for short and long term agreements with other organizations for operations services, and we are exploring these options at this time to see what makes the most sense,” he said. He likened the situation to a “marriage,” where the operator must maintain a good relationship with the staff, but it has been a continuing problematic arrangement for many years.

They are leaning toward a company that is open to what is in the best interest of Hastings, he said. “We expect to have a recommendation for interim services of an operator at the next council meeting.”


The city hall elevator failed several times in the past week and replacement of the obsolete door operator board and motor was initiated with a $5,626.42 emergency purchase order. However, since the repair exceeded the $5,000 limit on expenditures that can be authorized by staff, it was reported to comply with the city purchasing policy. The replacement parts are in and repairs are scheduled to begin Tuesday at 9 a.m. //


In other business, the council:

*approved adding a small section of Taffee Drive to Act 51 local streets. The section was inadvertently left off the official street inventory after its construction years ago.

*appointed Councilman Don Smith to the Joint Planning Alliance replacing Alan Klein.

*set a special meeting Monday, Jan 30 at 7 p.m. to discuss, among other things, the possible sale or demolition of the Moose building.

* heard Mansfield say there would be more special and work shop meetings in the coming year, with new council members and city staff, he said they want to make sure everyone is fully informed before making decisions.


After the regular meeting adjourned, the council returned to complete a work shop started at 6 p.m. on goals and policy issues to be considered in the budget preparation for 2017-2018 fiscal years.

Woman dies, man critical in bicycle/car crash near Bellevue

Eaton County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a car/ bicycle accident just outside the village of Bellevue Saturday, Jan. 21 about 2:50 p.m.

Richard Pulliam, 66, and Shelly Pulliam, 65, were riding a tandem bicycle northbound on Battle Creek Road, when they were hit from behind by a car also traveling northbound. Shelley Pulliam died at the scene and Richard Pulliam was transported to Sparrow Hospital in critical condition.

Battle Creek Road was shut down until 7 p.m. while deputies processed the scene. The accident is still under investigation.

Area blood drives set for February

The following blood drives are scheduled by Michigan Blood in the Barry County area during February. There is critical need for O-negative blood, officials of the organization say.


Feb. 2-Hastings High School, auxiliary gym, 520 West South Street., Hastings, 8 a.m. to  2 p.m.


Feb. 3-Hastings area donor site at Spectrum Health Pennock, Conference Center, 1009 West Green Street, Hastings, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Feb.13-Hickory Corners Bible Church, gym, 13720 Kellogg School Road, Delton, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.


Feb. 28-Gun Lake Casino, blood bus, 1123 129th Avenue, Wayland, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. //


Michigan Blood is a nonprofit blood bank serving Michigan hospitals since 1955. 

In the Southwest Michigan area, they supply blood to Spectrum Health Butterworth and Blodgett hospitals, Mercy Health, Metro Hospital and Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Spectrum Health Pennock in Hastings, Borgess Medical Center and Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo and Bronson Battle Creek Hospital, Battle Creek VA Medical Center and Southwest Regional Rehabilitation Center in Battle Creek.


New Record High Temp for Hastings

The National Weather Service Hastings Climatological Station recorded a new record high 60 degrees for January 21, 2017 at 2:00 pm.  The old record of 59 degrees was set in 1906, 111 years ago today Saturday.

**Superintendents Platform

 WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents for them to highlight news in their districts. This posting is from Hastings Area School System’s Superintendent Carrie Duits.


January is School Board Appreciation Month. During the board’s regular monthly meeting the board received certificates of appreciation, and they were honored for their hard work and dedication to the students of the Hastings Area School System.


Our board members include:  Jennifer Eastman, Luke Haywood, Mike Nickels, Dan Patton, Rob Pohl, Valerie Slaughter, and Louis Wierenga, Jr. If you see them at a school function or out in the community, please take a moment to let them know you appreciate their service to our students!


Many great things are happening for the students, staff and community of HASS. Here are a few highlights:


  • A new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) after-school program is starting Jan. 25 at the middle school.
  • Our Varsity Girls and Boys Basketball teams had the unique opportunity/experience to play at the Palace of Auburn Hills.


  • The board has approved the addition of  three new classes at the high school for the 2017 -18 school year:  Anatomy and Physiology II, Marketing 100, and Marketing 200



  • We recently hired two new social workers for the elementary, with one social worker at each building. Please join me in welcoming Leah Lucas at Central and Cathy Engle at Northeastern. Leah and Cathy will join the team of Megan VanWyk at Star and Dawn Coltson at Southeastern. This amazing group will support students, families, and staff. We're very excited to have both become members of our world class staff!
  • Other new staff members include:
    • Angela Hilbert, Southeastern lunch paraprofessional
    • Lindsey Meeker, CERC lifeguard
    • Jacqueline Perez, Southeastern lunch paraprofessional
    • Samantha Richardson, CERC lifeguard
    • Joshua Sensiba, 8th grade basketball coach
    • Heather Watson, substitute bus driver
  • The district is in the process of finding a full-time administrative intern for the middle school.



  • We’ve established regularly scheduled meetings with the City of Hastings to share and discuss our construction progress. An additional topic of discussion is the progress of the Safe Routes to School Grant, which will provide additional sidewalks and marked walkways for our students.
  • Monday the board accepted with great appreciation donations from the community totaling $20,356!


  • Douglas and Margaret DeCamp, $750 for the High School Choral Music Program
  • Jeffrey and Danielle Storrs, $5,000 for new basketball backboards and rims at the high school
  • Family Tree Medical Associates, $1,000 to purchase an ultrasound for use in high school sport rehabilitation
  • Hastings Athletic Booster Club, $13,000 to support Fall and Winter Sports Programs
  • Hastings Education Enrichment Foundation, $606 to defray expenses for projects, activities, trips and materials for students

Thank you to everyone who supports the students of the Hastings Area School System!








Eaton County Sheriff promotes two

Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich has announced the promotions of

Timothy Jungel to chief deputy and Adam Morris to captain.


Chief Deputy Jungel has served with the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office since January 1993 in the Field Services Division. He is also a member of the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team and Marine Patrol Unit.


Captain Morris has served with the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office since December 1997 in the Field Services Division. Morris is assigned to the Administrative Services Division of the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office.


Update - Barry County Roads

Brandy Casey, Office Coordinator for the Barry County Road Commission, told WBCH Wednesday afternoon "Our gravel roads have gone from solid ice to not so solid mud. With the frost coming out of the ground coupled with the ice melting and the amount of rain we have had our gravel roads are sure to be a mess for the foreseeable future. The amount of moisture in the road bed will not allow us to scrape the roads as they will turn to a soupy mess. Please be patient, we will be on them as soon as moisture levels drop" .


Weight restrictions go into effect at 6AM Thursday, January 19th on county roads.


Anyone with questions about the restrictions may contact the Road Commission office. 



2016 a great year for Barry County Transit, director says

Barry County Commissioners Tuesday recommended approval of a resolution of intent for Barry County Transit Director William Voigt to apply for state and federal funds for transit operations and appoint him transportation coordinator. During the routine annual request, Voigt gave an overview of the past year.


“The transit had a great 2016,” he said. The transit provided 107,000 rides, earned $258,000 in fares in the past year and won the 2016 Federal Transportation Administrator's award for ”Outstanding Rural Transit System.” Building on a 30 percent increase in ridership in 2015, Voigt announced two changes in the transit services in January of 2016.


Instead of assigning a bus to a specific village or area on certain days of the week, transit buses covered all of the county. Hours were extended from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on weekdays to “provide more hours for those people coming home from work, after school activities and later doctor visits,” Voigt said at the time.


A new software system is working well and the department recently completed installation of cameras on all transit buses, he said. Some buses have three cameras, some four, giving complete coverage of buses, drivers and passengers. Voigt is currently working on ways to coordinate transit coverage with systems in neighboring counties.


On the grants, he estimated the transit would receive $253,421 in federal funds, $524,739 in state funds, $507,538 in local funds, fare box totals of $250,000 and other funds of $90,550 with expenses of $1,374,344. //


The commission also recommended Incumbent Charles Pullen for a four-year term on the Barry County Veterans Committee. The commission recommended increasing the three-person committee to five and will likely re-advertise the two additional seats and invite Douglas Eugene Lindsey, who interviewed, to re-apply, and interview Shannon Alexander Szukala, who applied but could not be at Tuesday’s meeting.

The committee of the whole recommendations will be acted on at the next regular board meeting. The board went into closed session to discuss ongoing negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement.


Bids for Barry County Courthouse project recommended

Barry County Commissioners Tuesday reviewed and recommended bids for the renovations of the Barry County Courthouse totaling $342,404, which includes $20,000 for contingencies.

The vote was 5-2 with commissioners Vivian Conner and Heather Wing dissenting. 

Dave Beckering, Beckering Construction, Inc. and Bob Van Putten, Landmark Design Group, explained the bids and answered questions.


In addition to the bid work mentioned, flooring, painting, fire suppression, plumbing and electrical, the renovations include two holding cells, one for women, another for men; separate corridors to keep judges and prisoners apart and increased soundproofing in the jury room. 


There will be improved separation between prisoners, jurors and the judicial staff; limited access to judicial areas with a window between staff and public; an attorney/prisoner conference room; a private entrance to the judge’s bathroom, moving the jury box across the room and a new judge’s bench.


During discussion,Commissioner Dan Parker asked why a railing separating the jury from the audience cost $14,700, and was told the rail was more like a wall, extra sturdy with metal anchors and intricate designs to match the existing historical details. Commissioner David Jackson asked if Barry County Sheriff’s Deputy Gary Pearson, court security, endorsed the plans for the railing and flow of the people, and was told Pearson was very involved with the planning and was happy with it.


To a question on a charge for cell phones, Beckering said all construction sites now have employees carrying “smart” cell phones to upload drawings, get the latest architect’s bulletins, and keep up with changes. “In this age of technology, information is so fast, our guys have to have them…they seldom talk on them.”


Beckering also explained carpeting for the courtroom and acoustical and circulation improvements in the jury room.  "I'm pleased Commissioners took decisive action in addressing this county's biggest facility problem. By taking a hard look at the cost of replacing our county jail, we're making progress and respecting our hardworking taxpayers,” Commissioner Ben Geiger said later.

New Barry County Jail put at the forefront

The Barry County Jail, built in 1970, is outdated and with “significant security and safety issues,” according to a 2015 report. Replacing the aging jail has come up many times at the Barry County Commission, most recently in 2014, but has always been pushed to the background because of economic pressures and/or the uncertainty of a millage proposal being approved by voters.


Tuesday, commissioners voted unanimously for Administrator Michael Brown to pursue a financial analysis and architectural renderings for a replacement jail, as described in the Barry County Master facilities plan from Tower Pinkster.


However, commissioners said they wanted several things discussed.

Commissioner Dan Parker and others, said everything should be on the table, including the location. The first several meetings with the results of the RFP should be held at committee of the whole meetings since the initial meetings would be pointing in the direction the commission would take. Later meetings, when more narrow things would be considered, could be at committee meetings, he added.


Commissioner Vivian Conner suggested collaborating with the City of Hastings and considering a facility for a jail, fire department and other emergency services all in one location.

Commissioners David Jackson, Ben Geiger and Heather Wing called for being very careful when considering funding options.


“We want the best estimates on what it could cost; we owe it to the taxpayers,” Geigert said.

Jackson advised being very careful with funding options. He was concerned about millage, adding, “we need to be mindful as we go forward.”


Wing noted the report recommended trying to provide millage funding for all three projects at once. “If we go back repeatedly, the voters are not going to be happy with five different millages. Maybe we should consider (the jail) the COA and Courts & Law all in one,” she said.

Commissioner Jon Smelker, after confirming that the RFPs would cost nothing said, “This will answer a lot of questions.”//


The April, 2015 study said the jail, at 1212 West State Street, was deficient in many areas of security and safety; building systems beyond their useful life, antiquated security systems and hardware that are difficult to maintain, poor air and daylight quality, line of sight issues, limited effectiveness of processing inmates in and out and limited capacity for female inmates. The offices are undersized for the staff and the IT servers are inside a closet with limited ventilation.


The study included a dozen Barry County buildings  and the jail. It recommended upgrading the community building, the county courthouse and animal shelter, to be paid from existing county funds.

It also reported on the need for three considerably larger projects; replacement of the 28,000 square foot,  97-bed jail at an estimated cost of $24.95 million,  a new COA building for $4.55 million and Courts & Law building expansion for $6.21 million for estimated total of $35.71 million that would require voters to approve millage to pay for them.


“The three projects total almost $36 million and require an estimated average millage rate of just over one mill (1.0653 mills) over 25 years. It is the steering committee’s recommendation, to the extent possible,  to seek approval as a single ballot issue,” the report read.


The target date for a millage election was May 2016 or at the latest, November 2016, “to allow the community to understand the proposal and have time to become comfortable with the millage package before heading to the polls.”

Superintendents Platform

**WBCH provides this space for area school superintendents to highlight news in their districts. This posting is from Maple Valley Public Schools Superintendent Michelle Falcon.


School Board Appreciation Month: “School Boards Lead”

January is School Board Recognition Month and Maple Valley is joining 541 local and 56 intermediate school districts across the state to thank these community volunteers for their untiring dedication to public education.


Our boards of education, and the hundreds like it across the state, preserve the core of our democracy—public education. They ensure that people we’ve elected to represent our community’s values, culture and circumstances make decisions on school programming.


Showing appreciation for the important work of school boards should be a year-round process, but too often we neglect to recognize the dedication and hard work of these men and women who represent us. This January, the staff and students of our district are asking all members of the community to take a moment and thank a school board member.


It’s an exciting and challenging time in public education. School board members in Maple Valley Schools develop policies and make tough decisions that help shape the future of our education system.


They bear responsibility for an annual budget of $10.7 million, 1,020 students, and 110 employees. They are citizens whose decisions affect our children and build our communities.


In 2015, this Board of Education has demonstrated tremendous courage in supporting and cultivating the education of our young people.  Collaborating with stakeholders, the board developed and implemented a strategic plan including a mission and vision statement along with four goal areas:


Mission Statement:

Maple Valley Schools will provide a nurturing environment that creates productive citizens with lifelong learning skills.


Vision Statement:

Maple Valley Schools will provide learning through innovative opportunities while nurturing for success.


Strategic Focus Areas:

Student Achievement





The men and women serving Maple Valley Schools:

Mark Rushford – President – 2 years

Andi Montgomery – Vice President

Michelle Dunkelberger, Secretary – 2 years

Robert Franks, Treasurer – 2 years

Tim Burd, Trustee – 10 years

Brian Green, Trustee – 4 years

Craig Lackscheide, Trustee – 2 years

Water clean, boil water advisory lifted in Barry Township

Barry Township officials have lifted a 48-hour boil water advisory issued Wednesday for those on the Delton Public Water System after an interruption in the service caused be a failed generator.

Supervisor Wes Kahler said the advisory was lifted early because the water supply has been tested by the DEQ in its lab and is clear of any contamination.

Monday is Martin Luther King Day, some offices close

Some offices and businesses are closed for Martin Luther King Day, a national holiday on Monday, Jan.16. It is advised to call ahead if you aren’t sure your destination is open. Below is a sample of places that are open and others that are closed.


Closed on MLK Day


All Secretary of State offices (DMV)

County Offices (Barry County Courthouse)

Chemical Bank (Middleville and Hastings) 

PNC Bank (Delton)



Open on MLK Day


Hastings City offices

Village of Middleville offices

Village of Nashville offices

Eaton Federal Savings (Nashville)

United Bank of Michigan (Clarksville and Shelbyville)

Hastings City Bank (all offices)

Thornapple Credit Union (Hastings)

United Bank of Michigan (all offices)

Commercial Bank (all offices)

Barry County Road Conditions

Brad Lamberg from the Barry County Road Commission tells WBCH News about conditions on Barry County roads as of noon Thursday.



Power Outage Update

Following Tuesdays powerful windstorm Consumers Energy is reporting most of the electric service to their customers, with the exception of Allegan, Hillsdale, Lenawee, Newago and Arenac counties has been restored. 

Barry Township water restored, 48 hour boil water advisory issued

Barry Township has issued 48-hour boil water advisory starting at 2 p.m. today, Wednesday, for those on the Delton Public Water System after water service was interrupted earlier and then restored at 2 p.m.

Bottled water for customers will be available at the township hall between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

A generator in the water system’s well house at Pleasant Lake failed sometime during Tuesday night, Barry Township Supervisor Wes Kahler said. He was notified at 5 a.m.  A replacement part was installed in the generator and the water was flowing again this afternoon.

The proper authorities, including the DEQ, were notified. The water system has about 100 customers, Kahler said.

Those with questions are asked to call the township hall at 269-623-5171.


Hastings had a great 2016, looks forward to 2017

In his first “State of the City” address, Hastings Mayor David Tossava said “2016 was a great year.” He listed highlights and accomplishments by the city during the year, starting with the Thornapple Plaza’s first season with 30 plus performances and 6,500 people attending, and thanking Larry and Earlene Baum and the Baum Family Foundation for funding the city’s newest attraction.


The Barry County Roubaix Gravel Road Racev brought thousands of people into the city, as did the annual Jazz Festival. The Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament fielded 200 teams to play on city streets. City employees worked to improve the city; dredging the ponds at Fish Hatchery Park, repairing the Taffee Drain and performing routine maintenance of city infrastructure. “We are proud of our employees,” Tossava said.


Extensive East State Road repairs were completed by the MDOT, the Hastings City Barry County Airport finished an extension of the main runway and built two new hangers for larger aircraft, Tossava said.


The Hastings Police Department sponsored the second Hastings Police Cadet class, and the cadets raised $6,000 for needy Hastings students. The department also started an Ambassador Program to welcome visitors for special events in town and responded to 700 more complaints than last year.


Hastings/BIRCH Fire Department answered 560 calls in the year. Warehouse 80 was razed to provide more parking for Thornapple Plaza, also funded by the Baum Family Foundation. The city finances are in great shape thanks to Clerk/Finance Director Tom Emery and a required appraisal of Hastings properties is complete, Tossava said.


In 2017, a Safe Routes to School effort will get underway as will a plan for bike routes in the city and continued improvements at Fish Hatchery Park and Riverside Cemetery. The mountain bike trial on Hammond Hill will be finished, the Veterans Memorial at Tyden Park will be completed by Memorial Day, and the Riverwalk may be extended to Wal-Mart.  2017 is the year the city plans to build a new emergency services building.

“The State of the City is good,” Tossava concluded.

Presentation on medical marijuana given to Hastings City Council

An attorney and co-owner a specialized tobacco retailer, made a presentation on the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act at the Hastings City Council Tuesday. Grand Rapids attorney Mark M. Caldwell said there is a need for medical marijuana dispensers in cities like Hastings, but did not propose any action from the council.


He traced the steps taken to allow medical marijuana use in the state, saying in the state-wide election to allow it, the majority of voters in every Michigan county, including Barry, voted for it.

“The public wants it…it is inevitable…it is the will of the people,” Caldwell  said.

Recent amendments to the law, “were well thought out, well researched,” and track marijuana from seed to sale.


“It is regulated, taxed, out in the open, out of the basement.”

Dispensaries are not recognized by federal law, no insurance will cover the cost and doctors can’t prescribe marijuana until late 2017, he said.

Cites that allow dispensaries in Michigan are operating outside of the law, he said, adding his company will wait to apply for a dispensary until it is legal.


Councilwoman Therese Maupin-Moore, who has worked in drug abuse prevention, said marijuana is a known gateway drug to more addictive drugs, and she would like a presentation from the opposing view.


Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt said Caldwell’s facts didn’t sound right to her and challenged his assertion that no one has ever overdosed on marijuana, noting she has personally seen children who had overdosed on the drug. She cautioned the council to be careful and make sure that what is told to them is correct.


Former Hasting Police Chief Jerry Sarver said Hastings residents were conservative, pointing to two cases of when distributors of adult magazines, pornography and sex toys, set up shop in Hastings, only to soon close shop for lack of business.


“Apparently, the legislature found some merit in the laws,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said, adding he expects to hear more on the subject.  “Education is always a good thing … but it is premature to talk about any action… if you are inclined to consider it, you would need more information. Or, "you could leave it alone, if you desire,” he said.

Barry, Eaton residents reminded to get free Radon test kits in January

The Barry Eaton District Health Department is handing out free Radon test kits during the month of January and encourages residents of Barry and Eaton counties to pick up a kit to see if they have a high level of the gas in their homes.


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, if a home has radon gas, it can be lowered.


Hastings City Councilman Al Jarvis took that advice a few years ago.

“We checked our house and the Radon level was dangerous. We put in a control system. You can get free kits from the health department. I urge you to get a free kit. Radon can kill you.”

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.

Dimondale: Windsor Township Hall, 405 West Jefferson 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).


Hastings Council has offer to buy and restore former Moose building

The former Moose building at 128 North Michigan may be returned to its original historical condition if a contractor’s offer to buy and rehab the building is accepted by the city of Hastings.

Acquired in a tax sale two years ago, the city had planned to raze the back of the building to extend parking lot 8 for parking for a planned emergency services building that would take up present parking spaces. Retail space was planned for the eastern part of the building fronting Michigan Avenue.

Marvin Helder, owner of Helder Construction, specialties in residential development and redevelopment. He proposed apartments on the second floor and retail on the first floor after extensive restoring of the building.


City Manager Jeff Mansfield advised the council to “take a step back” and do some research before entering into any agreement. Mansfield suggested a workshop to give new council members background on the building, discuss a development plan, a possible plan timeline, and take a tour of the building to appreciate  the scope of the work.  


Helder, who said he “immediately fell in love with downtown Hastings,” is looking for redevelopment projects in the city, already owns the Hendershott building and is remodeling it to include retail on the ground floor and apartments on the upper floor.


“I would like to partner with the city in order to see another beautiful downtown building redeveloped rather than demolished,” Helder said of the Moose building. He agreed that the west end of the building could to be demolished for parking, resulting in 91 total parking spaces. His plan would bring the building’s exterior back to its original historical appearance with an estimated cost of the project, including abatement, of $100,000. 


“This is a very large project, and that is why I will need your help to make it possible. I would like to propose that the city sell the eastern portion…and have the western portion of the building demolished as part of the sale of the eastern portion.

“This is a great way for us to work together to continue the development of the east end.”//


In other business, the council adopted an ordinance amending the zoning map of the Hastings/Rutland Joint Planning Commission and approved the bids for two vehicles sold at auction: a 2016 GMC Sierra 2500HD crew cab pickup for $39,951, plus $399.51 seller’s fee, and a  2010 Dodge Charger sedan for $4,050 plus a $40.50 seller’s fee.


Barry County Courthouse renovations move forward

Barry County Commissioner’s approved authorizing and executing contracts for Barry County Courthouse renovations on Tuesday.  The go-ahead follows a two-week delay by questions raised Dec. 27 by then Commissioner Jim Dull, who complained about work done on the community building renovations by Beckering Company.

Beckering is also doing the courthouse project.


Among other things, Dull maintained an 8,000 watt generator was not hooked up by a project electrician and was too small to maintain the IT department in the basement of the community building during a power outage.


Administrator Michael Brown said the original plan called for an all building generator but the cost was too much to justify and an addendum to the plan called for a smaller generator to back up just the IT equipment room, but Dull did not see the blueprints with the change.

Brown said the generator’s capability was verified, and IT Director David Shinavier said the unit performed “as it was supposed to,” during a four-hour brownout on Thursday, Jan. 5.


The HVAC was not hooked into the generator, but done by a local electrician doing other work not part of the project. Brown said Beckering’s electrician will pay the cost of the “minor” hookup work done by the local electrician. The vote to go ahead was 6-1 with Commissioner Vivian Conner the only “no” vote.

Conner later explained her vote had nothing to do with the community building project. She has maintained all along that she would vote against the courthouse project itself because of it’s security plans and other issues. “The project is so far away from the facilities plan, it’s not even close.”  //

Also Tuesday, the commission filled several committee and board seats, with a few corrections, by approving:

Barry County Animal Shelter Advisory Board:

*Tamara Dickinson (three years) for two-year term *Maggie Pierson (two years) as citizens at large

*Dawn Koning (three years) as Rescue Shelter Operator

*Veterinarian Linda Robinson (three years)in veterinarian position.

*Pattie Richardson (one year) Barry County Humane Society representative.


Barry County Road Commission:

*Dave Dykstra (six years).

Commission on Aging:

*Sharon Zebrowski, Sandra Kozan, Terry Dennison, (three years).


Parks & Recreation Board:

*Patricia Johns (three years) as citizen at large.

*Jim Cary (three years) to represent Hastings.


Charlton Park Village and Museum Board:

*Doris Hale (two years) term,

*Russ Yarger (three years), both as citizens at large.




Hastings City Council puts rules in place to carry out city business

Following Clerk Tom Emery administering the oath of office to sitting council members AI Jarvis, Therese Maupin-Moore, Don Bowers, Don Smith, Willard Redman and newcomer John Resseguie, the council got down to the business of doing the city’s business.

The council adopted Robert’s Rule of Order and named Bill Redman Mayor Pro-Tem. The calendar for regular meetings was set for the second and fourth Monday of each month with the Dec. 25 meeting moved to Tuesday, Dec. 26, because of Christmas.


Financial institutions for depositing city funds, the same as last year, were approved. Elected officials salaries also remain the same as last year; $7,800 for the mayor, $2,500 for mayor pro-tem, $2,300 for council members and $115 per meeting for Board of Review members.


Mayor David Tossava’s  recommendations of Jeff Mansfield as city manager, Stephanie Fekkes from Varnum Attorneys at Law as city attorney and The Barry Eaton District Health Department as city health officer were approved for one year. Mansfield’s employment agreement calls for $92, 212 in base pay, $300 a month for travel expenses and the same health insurance as other city employees. Fekkes and Varnum at Law will be on retainer for $14,500 a year, with a $175 hourly fee.


Mansfield’s recommended appointments for one year were approved: Jeff Pratt, as deputy city manager/police chief/ and coordinator for emergency management and FOIA requests; Roger Caris as fire chief/fire marshal/ADA coordinator; Jackie Timmerman as city assessor; and Lee Hays as director of Department of Public Services. Mansfield will serve as zoning administrator and the Community Development director’s position is currently vacant.


Jennifer Venema, hired to replace retiring Tom Emery on Jan. 14, decided not to take the position after working for a few weeks with Emery on the transition. She told Mansfield she liked the people, but the job was just not a good fit for her and it was better to leave now, rather than later.

The council received the 2017-2018 budget calendar and set a budget workshop for 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23.






Photo: Hastings City Council members read the oath of office, from left, Don Bowers, Therese Maupin-Moore, Al Jarvis, John Resseguie, Don Smith and Bill Redman.

Barry County Community Mental Health to Move

Barry County Mental Health Authority is preparing to move to their new building at 500 Barfield Drive in Hasting. Barry County Mental Health will close at noon on February 9th and remain closed through February 13, 2017 in order to move to their new facility. Their regular business hours will resume at 8:30 am on Tuesday February 14th.


The telephone and fax numbers will remain the same.

269-948-8041. The fax number is 269-948-9319.

In case of an emergency during this time, contact the regular phone number and on-call staff will be available to return calls.

West Michigan residents asked to check trees for hemlock woolly adelgid

Michigan forest health experts are asking west Michigan residents to check their trees for hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA).


The tiny insects secrete white wax as they feed on sap. HWA feeding can kill needles, shoots and branches. Over time, growth slows as trees become less vigorous. Eventually, infected trees may take on a grayish-green appearance and can die when combined HWA and with other stress factors, such as drought.


The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR)and Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) say the harmful insects are a serious threat to Michigan’s eastern hemlock.

Hemlock woolly adelgid has already been found in Ottawa and Muskegon counties. In cooperation with MDARD, Michigan State University and others, DNR staff this winter will be searching for HWA in state parks, state game areas and hemlock trees all over Michigan.


If you find a possible HWA infestation, take photos, note the location of the affected trees and contact MDARD at 800-292-3939 or To prevent spread, do not move the potentially infested material.


A statewide response strategy requires knowing precisely where hemlock woolly adelgid occurs. When the insects have been detected in Michigan in the past decade, several state agencies have joined forces to address the threat. //


"We’re asking for assistance from the public in detecting occurrences of hemlock woolly adelgid in Michigan,” said Roger Mech, DNR forest health specialist. Quickly detecting and eliminating HWA is critical to slowing the spread of the insect. Eggs and very young adelgids can be carried by birds or moved on people’s clothing, hemlock nursery trees, logs or firewood.

Hemlock trees can be protected from HWA with proper insecticide treatments.


“Citizen involvement in reporting and treating HWA is crucial for the future of hemlock trees in Michigan,” said John Bedford, MDARD Pest Response Program specialist. “Examine your hemlocks, or have them examined by a qualified arborist and, if HWA is found, treat them or have them treated.”

Eastern hemlock is an essential component of Michigan’s 2.3 million acres of forests and critical for wildlife habitat.


For more on hemlock woolly adelgid, visit  For further on treatments, visit



(upper left) Adult hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) on a hemlock twig.

(middle left) An eastern hemlock twig with cones.






Fifty two years of playing basketball and he is not done yet

Shortly after getting out of the U.S. Army in 1964, “I celebrated my 21st birthday on guard duty at Fort Knox,” Jay Gordenski said, he took up playing basketball.

And, he’s still playing. Stop by the gym in the Hastings Middle school on a Thursday night and you can watch him and his team play.


Early games were played in the early 1960’s at a “Y” center in the cafeteria of the now-demolished wing of the Hastings Middle School. In 1966, he and teammate Bob King put together a loose group of guys, “not really teams,” so they would have someone to play against.

Dave Leary, Ray Ellis and Bruce Edger are some of the players on his first team who come to mind, he said. Not tall, Jay still played center for the first 15 years, “because I could jump.” His team won the first 25 of 26 games.

When the “new” Hastings High School was built, the games moved there and A and B leagues were formed. Jay recalls with smiling satisfaction a game his B team was asked to play against the A team in a charity benefit. “You know, we beat the A team; and I was guarding Bruce Gee.”


His wife Earleen is good with him playing basketball, he said. Married since 1970, the couple live in Hastings and have two grown sons, Justin and Tay.

The current men’s YMCA basketball program has six A teams, seven B teams, a 12-game season and playoffs.

Jay credits his being able to play basketball at 73 to staying healthy and working all his life. “I’m the mechanic at the Barry County Sheriff’s Office from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., then I go home and work on other people’s cars.


“This is a sanity break for me; I just think about basketball; it gets me away for anything else and I like the exercise. They’re bunch of good guys. I’d give any of them the shirt off by back if they needed it.” They all play hard, but “win, lose or draw, we have fun.” Jay last drew a technical four in 2002, which show how he plays the game.

"I believe the way a person plays basketball, his personality, mannerisms and attitude, tells you what kind of person he is in his life.”


He “messed up" his ankle once, and broke a finger or two, but that’s it for injuries from playing. He was out of the game from June 30 to September for quadruple bypass. “I’ve got a zipper,” he said, pointing to his chest, “but, that’s got nothing to do with basketball.” He will play as long as he is physically able.

"It’s a good way to stay healthy and it’s good for my mental health, too.” His teams have had just four major sponsors since the early 60’s; Richie’s Coffee Shop, Johnny’s Pit Stop Bar, Hastings Oxygen and current sponsor, Go Go Auto Parts.


Photos: (upper left) Jay Gordenski, basketball player for 52 years.

(lower left) Matt Courtright, (from left) Jay Gordenski and Steve Speckman talk strategy while waiting for their basketball game to start.

(middle right) On the perimeter, Jay Gordenski looks for a teammate under the basket.

Hastings K Mart not on closing list, Grand Rapids Sears store to close

Sears Holdings announced Jan. 5 they will close 108 K-Mart stores and 42 Sears stores to “increase its financial flexibility and improve long-term operating performance.“

The Hastings K-Mart is not on the list of 10 stores in Michigan slated to close. The list of Sears stores to close includes one Michigan store; the Sears at 3099 28th Street in Grand Rapids.

Liquidation sales are expected shortly with the store closing by the end of March.


This is the latest round of store closings, following December cuts of non-profitable stores. In other moves, Sears Holding will sell the Craftsman business for $775 million, and generate up to $1 billion in liquidity through a $500 million real estate-backed loan and a previously announced letter of credit of up to $500 million.


"We are taking strong, decisive actions today to stabilize the company and improve our financial flexibility in what remains a challenging retail environment," said Edward S. Lampert, chairman & CEO of Sears Holdings. "We are committed to improving short-term operating performance in order to achieve our long-term transformation."


Calling the decision to close stores “difficult but necessary,” Lampert said many of the stores, “have struggled with their financial performance for years and we have kept them open to maintain local jobs and in the hope that they would turn around….but in order to meet our objective of returning to profitability, we have to make tough decisions and will continue to do so, which will give our better performing stores a chance at success."

Hastings Taco Bell

Hastings firefighters were called during the night to the Hastings Taco Bell for an electrical fire.

No other information available at this time.

Caledonia woman has non life threatening injuries in crash, four children not injured

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office is continuing an investigation into a two-car crash at 68th Street S.E. and Cherry Valley Ave S.E. this morning (Thursday) at about 7:40 a.m.

The deputies investigation showed a 2002 Chevrolet Trailblazer driven by 37-year-old female from Caledonia was westbound on 68th street when she lost control of her vehicle and struck an eastbound 2007 Honda Pilot driven by a 32-year-old woman from Caledonia whose four children were her passengers.

The 32 year-old woman was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Her children, ages 9, 6, 4 and 14 months were not injured. Authorities did not release the women’s names.

Severe Weather Seminar

 Dave McIntyre and fellow  Members  of the American Meteorological Society had the opportunity to hear one of the top experts on severe weather at their bimonthly  meeting Wednesday night in Grand Rapids.

Maria Molina finishing up her PH.D on her research of how the Gulf of Mexico has an effect on Severe Weather in the United States.  Molina already has degrees in Weather research but her interest is on the effect of the Gulf of Mexico  and severe Severe Weather. She has also served as the weather reporter on the National Fox News Channel.


Photo: Dave McIntyre with Maria Molina

Hastings man set to begin a career that was meant to be

It isn’t often that one finds a profession they really love, a natural calling, and get to make it their life’s work. Alan Klein and his wife Megan, of Hastings, have talked for at least five years about his desire to pursue his passion, a career in law enforcement, but they couldn’t find a way to make it happen.


Community Development director for Hastings, Alan likes his job and the work he does every day.

“I like what I do, but it’s doesn’t fulfill me. I want to help people.” Alan was accepted as a reserve police officer for the City of Hastings about two years ago.

“I absolutely loved it. I thought it would satisfy the urge to be in law enforcement, but it didn’t. It just made it worse.”


About nine months ago, after working late one night as a reserve officer, he walked into work the next morning and he was struck with the thought. “Why am I sacrificing my time and not doing what I really love doing?” That was the day the couple decided to make it happen. He applied to the Michigan State Police. Two days later he got a call from Bob Zuniga, former code compliance officer in Hastings.


Retired from Kalamazoo Public Safety Department, Zuniga knew of  Alan’s interest in law enforcement. He told him Kalamazoo was having a special hiring enrollment and he should apply.

“He helped me with my resume. The only advice he gave me was, ‘Be yourself. Just be the man I worked with for four months; I know you’ll be in public safety,’” Alan recalls.


“I started the hiring process and with every step, it seemed more and more right…. It’s definitely a humbling process. I was one of 16 out of 320 applicants to be hired.” //


Being in law enforcement is dangerous and especially right now, on the national level and even on local streets. He knows that and that at times it will be stressful, at times it will be boring, “but, I feel like it’s what I was meant to be. It beings me fulfillment and joy. I really like to help people.”


He feels blessed and honored that Chief Pratt put him on the Hastings reserves and Chief Hadley in Kalamazoo is giving him a chance to achieve his dream.

“My last day with Hastings is Jan. 16. I start training on the 17th,” he said.  


The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety’s website says it combines law enforcement and fire services into a unified organization of 257 employees to provide the highest level of professional public service to the community.  

Officers have the opportunity to progress upward into the supervisory ranks or specialized technical position, as Criminal Investigators, Crime Laboratory Technicians, Neighborhood Liaison Officers, K-9 Handlers and Drug Enforcement Investigators.


Officers also may serve in special units, in addition to their primary assignments, such as the Honor Guard, Bomb Squad and Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT).

Kalamazoo is a ethnic and cultural diverse community and the department recognizes the value of diversity in its ranks as being absolutely necessary to carry out their roles as public servants. Community involvement is a primary organizational goal, according to the website.


Photo: Alan Klein



Barry County deputy arrested for DUI, leaves department

A Barry County Sheriff’s deputy has resigned from the sheriff’s office and turned in his equipment following a DUI arrest on Sunday, Jan 1. Kenny Price, 25, was stopped by a Barry County deputy for speeding on M-37, and arrested for having a blood alcohol content of .15.  He was released on bail.

Barry Eaton District Health Department introduces new medical director

The Barry Eaton District Health Department has welcomed new Medical Director, J. Daniel Woodall, DO to the department.

Woodall has been an attending physician in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Spectrum Health Pennock since 2015.  He was a resident physician in Grand Rapids from 2011 through 2015.


“This position as an opportunity for me to better serve our community and advance the health of our population,” Woodall said.

With maternal-child health a recent research-based top priority in both Barry and Eaton counties, Woodall’s local experience with a focus on women’s health will bring a unique expertise to the health department and be invaluable when addressing many of the health issues facing women and children today.


 “I am committed to serving the people of our community through my role as medical director. My wife is a Barry county native, I'm originally from North Carolina, and over my nearly 10 years in Michigan I have developed a strong appreciation and affinity for our unique district,” Woodall said.


A particular concern to Dr. Woodall is expanding community resources to address postpartum depression. Promoting, expanding, and optimizing women’s health is critical for good infant and child health, which ultimately is essential for good family health.




New Years Baby

At 7:55 Tuesday morning Layla  Risk was born at Spectrum Pennock Hospital in Hastings making  Layla,  Barry County's  New Years Baby.  Mom  and Dad, Tracie and Ben with siblings, Vincent, Alex and Conor reside in Lake Odessa.    Mom and Layla are doing fine.

Apply for spring turkey hunting now through Feb. 1

Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters that the spring turkey hunting application period opened Sunday, Jan. 1.

“If you are looking to hunt one of the limited-license turkey hunts, make sure to apply,” said DNR upland game bird specialist Al Stewart. “If you’re looking for broader statewide options in your hunt, you may want to wait and purchase Hunt 234.”


Now through Feb. 1, a $5 spring turkey application may be purchased anywhere hunting licenses are sold or online at

Hunters may purchase only one spring turkey hunting license.

The 2017 spring turkey season runs April 17 through May 31, with several different hunt periods to choose from. The Spring Turkey Digest explains regulations, season dates and hunt units.


Hunt 234 licenses go on sale over the counter March 20, with no application required. Hunt 234 offers the most days to hunt, as it is valid May 1-31 and is open statewide except on public land in southern Michigan.


"In Michigan, spring turkey season is a big deal,” said Stewart. “We're ranked seventh in the nation for turkey harvest, harvesting over 30,000 turkeys while providing a variety of quality hunting options.” For more information about spring turkey hunting visit



Barry County Commission sets officers, board rules, meeting dates

After the swearing in of commissioners by County Clerk Pam Palmer, the Barry County Board of Commissioners elected Commissioner Ben Geiger chair and Commissioner David Jackson vice-chair with no other nominations offered for either post.


Both votes were unanimous with the exception on a “no” from Commissioner Vivian Conner on Geiger as chair. In the organizational meeting Tuesday, the board rules were approved and the year’s meeting dates for  2017 were adopted, with the March 28 meeting moved to March 27 to accommodate members attending a MERS Conference.


Commissioners also got the first look at committee assignments, but no action was taken, pending commissioners possibly trading assignments. Typically, the Barry County Board of Commissioners meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, and the commissioner’s committee of the whole meets the first and third Tuesdays of the month, both in the mezzanine of the Barry County Courthouse at 9 a.m.//


The organizational meeting was followed by the committee of the whole meeting where several committee positions were recommended for action at the next commission meeting including:


The Barry County Animal Shelter Advisory Board:

Incumbents Tamara Dickinson for two-year term and Maggie Pierson for a one-year term as citizens at large, Dawn Koning for three years as Rescue Shelter Operator and Veterinarian Linda Robinson for a three-year term in the veterinarian position.


Barry County Road Commission:

Dave Dykstra for his fourth six year term. Terence W. Finnigan also applied.


Commission on Aging:

Sharon Zebrowski, Sandra Kozan and Terry Dennison, all incumbents, to additional three-year terms.


Parks & Recreation Board:

Incumbent Patricia Johns for a three-year term as citizen at large.


Charlton Park Village and Museum Board:

Incumbent Doris Hale for a two-year term, and
Russ Yarger for a three-year term, both as citizens at large.


Also moved forward to the full board for approval:

The City of Hastings’ recommendation of Jim Cary to represent the city on the County Parks & Recreation Board for a three-year term; and the Barry County Humane Society’s recommendation of Pattie Richardson for a one-year term on the Animal Shelter Board as its representative.


Photos: (upper left) Former and present Commissioner Dan Parker, who covers the 2nd District.

(middle left) New commissioner Heather Wing represents the 7th District.

Wing and Parker to take Barry County Commission seats Tuesday

Two Barry County residents who won Barry County Commission seats in November will officially take their seats on Jan. 3.

Heather Wing, a dairy farmer,  will represent the 7th District; Assyria, Johnstown, Baltimore and Maple Grove townships, not including the Village of Nashville.  

Active in the Barry County Farm Bureau, she has held several positions there, including president and is now on the executive board.


She was named to the Michigan Dairy Marketing Committee by Governor Rick Snyder, and received the MMPA Milk Quality Silver Award in 2012. Wing earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Saginaw Valley State University and a Master’s Degree in

Administration from Central Michigan University. She and husband Tom have two daughters.


Wing said when people are service oriented, they naturally take it to the next level. “It’s my turn to officially serve my community…I’m looking forward to working with this group of commissioners,” she said.


Dan Parker is president of Zenas Corporation, a publishing company. He represents District 2; precincts one and three in Thornapple Township and precinct one in Yankee Springs Township.


Parker has a long history of public service, with several terms on the Thornapple Kellogg Board of Education, as well Middleville’s Council, Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals and Housing Commission.

He sat on the Barry County Economic Development Alliance and numerous committees when on the Barry County Board of Commissioners. Parker served one term on the commission, sworn in December of 2010.Redistricting later put him in a district held by friend Craig Stolsonburg and Parker declined to run against him.


Parker said he had enjoyed the work when he served before and decided to run when Stolsonburg left the board to run for county clerk. “That’s when we were going through tight money times; I hope I was effective helping in working as a team to be of benefit to the county,” he said.  Parker and his wife Linda live in Middleville. They are parents of three boys and a girl.



Just an Observation

***When I watched the primary ballot develop back in August, like every one else who is interested, I watched for names of those I thought should run, those I hoped would run as well as those who… well, never mind.


I watched for Jim Carr’s name on the slot for supervisor of Rutland Township.  He’s said before other elections that he might not run again, that, “there are plenty of others who can do the job,” but in the end, he did.

Not this time.

I asked him why and he said, “It’s time. Enough is enough.”

Jim is not your average public servant. Let alone politician, which he would probably tell you is a good thing. He has a quick, biting sense of humor which is wickedly funny, but no doubt a little too close to its target sometimes.


But, he shares a valuable trait with the late David Jasperse.

He has no personal agenda, he is willing to work when everyone else has gone home, give up parts to keep the whole, and keep working to get something worth keeping.


And what he, and others like him, especially Hastings City Manager Jeff Mansfield, wanted to keep has taken years. Their passion was a simple concept that is almost impossible to achieve, and getting there is not that exciting to the average Barry County citizen.


Controlling growth.


Most don’t care that much about planning or zoning until a neighbor intrudes on their space or they want something outside the rules. But planning and zoning is much bigger than that. Jim, and other like-minded officials knew, if they stayed with it, they could make Barry County a better place to live for its residents for generations.


He, and many, many others, worked with each other and officials from other townships and the county, across jurisdictional lines, to put together the framework to keep commercial and industrial businesses in specific areas and provide Hastings city services.


The overall goal is to encourage commercial development and at the same time prevent urban sprawl from taking up precious rural lands and destroying the natural environment Barry County residents have said they prize in every poll taken over the last 30 years.


Those in community planning and economic development recognize the value of controlled expansion. To do it, groups, alliances and committees were formed with acronyms that made explaining what was being done even more difficult.


Joint Planning Committee (JPC) changed to Joint Planning Alliance  (JPA), Preliminary Initial Urban Services Area (PIUSA), Urban Services and Economic Development Agreement (USEDA) to say nothing of the Urban Services Agreement (USA), Joint Overlay Ordinance (JOO), Joint Master Plan (JMP) are just some of the acronyms. I don’t think the Hastings Joint Future Land Use Plan has one. What do all of the initials even mean?


Lawyers parsed every word of every proposal, draft proposal,  proposed agreement, draft agreement, proposed contracts and draft contracts, then again after changes were made. And, lawyers cost money, always a consideration for officials on government boards. Township boards and city councils are elected positions, and the make-up of boards often change, sometimes presenting more challenges.


The sustained, years long effort is quite a tribute to city, township and county official’s ability to work together over the long haul on a common goal, which is very rare.

Maybe, Jim thinks with the guidelines firmly set, the first Urban Services District a reality, the second district  validated, and a third agreement being ratified, the committees, alliances and boards will continue to keep the concept a reality without him.


There are a lot of good people working on it, so he would probably be right.

The good news is that he will keep up with township planning as zoning administrator at the request of Rutland’s new Supervisor Larry Watson.

“Just because I won’t be supervisor, doesn’t mean I don’t care about the township,” he said.

“I do.”


Jean Gallup


Photo: Former Rutland Township Supervisor Jim Carr.

News Years Celebration

The New Years Eve celebration in Hastings found perhaps the largest  crowd downtown taking in all of the many activities and joining retiring Mayor Frank Campbell counting down the final ten seconds of 2016 making it  his final official act as Mayor  as the colorful New Years Ball  came down ringing in 2017, followed by incoming Mayor Dave Tossava taking the oath of office.  Mayor Tossava's first official act as mayor, wishing the hugh crowd a joyous Happy New Year.


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