The next Coffee with the Chief with Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt will be at 10 a.m. March 8 upstairs at the Hastings Public Library. Pratt’s guest will be Superintendent of the Hastings Area School System, Carrie Duits.
Pratt and Duits will likely discuss recently instituted monthly meetings by officials and the building of the relationship between the police department and the school. Residents are invited to bring their questions and suggestions to the event.
The Gun Lake Casino will hire more than 100 new team members, with the additional jobs coming from a 73,000 square-foot expansion that nearly doubles the size of the casino. The expansion includes a 300-seat buffet, more gaming space, and a new Stage 131 bar.
Jobs include a variety of positions, from cooks and servers, to security officers and table games dealers. Many positions are entry-level positions with on-the-job training offered, while other positions require experience.
“We’re excited to offer new amenities for our guests and are equally as excited to offer so many new jobs for our community,” said Brent Arena, vice president and general manager for Gun Lake Casino. “We pride ourselves in being an employer of choice in West Michigan, offering our full-time team members a highly competitive benefits package, including health insurance, paid vacation, personal days, free shift meals, and more.”
JOB FAIR SCHEDULE
Monday, March 6, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Crossroads Conference Center in Grand Rapids
Thursday, March 9, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Radisson Banquet Room in Kalamazoo
Saturday, March 11, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Tribal Government Complex across from Gun Lake Casino
Candidates are encouraged to apply online prior to job fairs, along with bringing a resume. On-site interviews will be offered to qualified candidates. Candidates offered employment will be required to pass a drug screen and background check in order to obtain a gaming license needed for employment. Candidates must be 18 years or older for a variety of positions, while other positions require candidates to be 21 years or older. For a complete list of positions and to apply, visit www.GunLakeCasino.com/Careers.
In a State of the County report, Barry County Commission Chairman Ben Geiger said the county is "great" thanks to strong leaders, past and present, who worked hard to leave the county better than the way they found it.
He pointed to many successes; the self-sufficiency of the City of Hastings Barry County Airport, the county’s Standard & Poor’s AA rating, its second highest rating, and its talented and dedicated workforce. Conservative budgeting of the annual budget of some $16 million shows good stewardship of taxpayer’s money, he said.
The Barry County Transit expanded its routes and availability without raising fares, he added, and won a national award for its services.
“Barry County collaborates better than anybody,” he said, noting the county collaboration with the Barry County United Way now brings county veterans the best care possible. The commission meets challenges head on, with the board addressing the issues of the aging COA building and the need for a new county jail, Geiger said.
The county is meeting another challenge; the $15.8 million in unfunded liability in its pension plan. They are making extra payments and plan to have it completely funded in 14 years, he said.
Also tuesday, with one full year on the job, Travis Alden, president of the Barry County Economic Development Alliance (BCEDA) and Chamber of Commerce gave commissioners an in-depth report on the BCEDA’s structure, external and internal goals, marketing and promotion, its business expansion, retention and attraction efforts and organizational sustainability and improvement.
In other business, the commission approved:
* the appointment of Jan Otto as attorney magistrate, *spending up to $10,000 to repair the plaster in the Barry County Courthouse,
* an updated agreement with the Barry Economic Development Alliance (and Barry County Chamber of Commerce) to provide economic development services for Barry County for 2017 for $107,395, already included in the general fund budget,
* purchase upgrades for the county servers and e-mail server from Dell, Inc. for $40,693,84.
* spending up to $10,000 on plaster repair in the Barry County Courthouse.
Diagnosed in November of 2015 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Grant Pratt, now 15, went through his treatments with quiet determination, always looking forward, inspiring his family and many others with the way he handled the long, hard fight against the disease.
Mom, Liz, a teacher at Reeths Puffer School in Muskegon, dad Greg, superintendent of Lowell Public Schools and older brother Garrett, his wider family and friends were just part of his support system, the community of Lowell also was also pulling for him in his fight. Grant kept up his physical conditioning and grades at school, often doing homework during hospital treatments.
This is not the first bout with cancer for the Pratts, mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 and she continues in remission. “She showed me how to fight this disease on a daily basis,” Grant said.
In July, 2016, nine months into the trying and painful treatments, he was looking forward to being a freshmen at Lowell schools and being able to wrestle and just to feel “normal.”
He was going to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital’s 10th floor outpatient clinic two days a week for a lumbar puncture, chemo injected into the spinal column and other chemo drugs delivered trough the port in his chest over a relatively short visit, four hours; or a longer stretch of eight or nine hours.
He spent up to a week at a time in the hospital. And then, the side effects; headaches, body aches, nausea, fatigue, mouth sores, joint pain, swelling and hair loss. He looked forward to when he wouldn’t have to deal with it. “Sometimes, I forget what it feels like to be normal,” he said last July.
In February, 2017, Grant has reached some of his goals; he’s a freshman at Lowell High, played on the football team, wrestles, and plans on being the catcher on the baseball team this spring.
But the best news is he is now into a three-year maintenance regimen with once a month treatments at the hospital and a daily pill. It is easier to take than earlier treatments and, “I’m handling it pretty good.”
His days now are more in line with typical 15 year olds: school, practice for a football, wrestling or baseball, hanging with older brother Garrett, “always,” and now feeling “a lot better.” And he hasn’t stopped looking forward. He plans to go to college to become a bio-medical engineer.
If faced with something as serious as cancer, his advice to others is to, “take it one day at a time, be patient and just persevere through it.”
Does he feel normal yet? “Not quite, but it’s getting a lot closer.”
The Pratt family (from left) Garrett, Dad Greg, Mom Liz and Grant.
Teresta Bolo’s fourth grade class at Central Elementary in Hastings has lots of discussions on being respectful, responsibility, paying attention to how others are feeling and how they treat others.
When the students see someone who looks “down” they act on it, showing them kindness by smiling at them, saying hello, or even leaving a short, positive friendship letter in their desk, often unsigned. “It’s about the power of appreciation, part of the children looking at the wider world,” Bolo said.
When discussing unrecognized kindnesses, a student mentioned Sergeant Kris Miller of the Hastings Police Department and all he does at their school and in the community. Other students who know Miller added their stories about him from personal contact or from interactions at school, Bolo said.
“Each of the comments and stories had one thing in common,” she said. “They were all positive.”
Students talked about Miller’s friendly, respectful nature, willingness to help them solve problems and his ability to make each of them feel special and safe. Some noted the stickers and popsicles that he shares with kids.
They decided to reach out to Miller and write letters to thank him, to let him know how appreciated he is. Recognizing the importance of positive thinking, they also created motivational posters, Bolo said.
Proving that nine and ten year olds appreciate a joke, they also brought Miller a box of Krispy Kreme donuts.
Last week, they walked from Central Elementary to the police department and gave the letters and posters to a surprised Miller.
He accepted the letters and posters, smiling and thanking each student, even agreeing with the students that police officers, “do like donuts.”
Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt said the children’s mission was accomplished; Miller said the children’s recognition, “really made my day,” and lifted his spirits.
The children were surprised themselves when Miller came to the classroom the next day with a box of cookies to show them how much their thoughts and gifts meant to him. They were delighted to learn that when you do something nice for others, nice things can come back to you.
Photos: (top left): Marisa Hilton hands Sergeant Miller her letter. Kaylin Schild, Rachael Hewitt, Xavier Thomas, Nicholas Kane and Makaila Hawkins look on.
(top right): Xavier Thomas hold the class poster to be put on Sergeant Miller’s office door. Makaila Hawkins, Nicholas Kane, Karsyn Argo are seen in the front.
(bottom right): Rachael Hewitt and Alan Li receive their coins from Chief Jeff Pratt.
(bottom left): Ariana Beard reads her motivational poster, as Jordan Milanowski and Gage Holtrust look on.
Julie Calley 87th District State Rep, was in the audience at the Hastings City Council meeting Monday and was invited to speak by Mayor David Tossava. Calley reported she was one of 43 freshmen in the legislature and has been appointed to the transportation, health, agriculture and elections committees. She invited constituents to visit her office, noting that was, “the best part of my job.”
Calley explained why she did not support the recent proposal to cut the state income tax.
“I agree with low taxation,” she said. However, the amended bill requirements, when added to already passed budget items, would create a deficit of more than $2 billion in just five years.
She said she wouldn’t support cuts without ways to pay for them.
“My take on the legislation was that that I could not pass a tax cut now and proclaim myself a hero, only to force Michigan to deal with the ramifications at a later date,” she said later. “We need to end the kick-the-can-down-the-road approach and start proposing tax cuts one year at a time so we can effectively deal with the budget process ourselves.”
In other business, the council rejected a request by Pastor Daniel Quanstrom of the Church of the Nazarene to place a Little Pantry with non-food personal care items for those who need them at the city’s First Ward Park. Council members said it was a great idea, but granting a request for the pantry on city property would, “open a can of worms,” and is not the right place to put the small wooden structure. Quanstrom accepted the council’s offer for city staff to work with him to find a way for the church to provide the service.
Also Monday, the council approved a Million Dog March at Tyden Park on April 22 to raise funds for the Hastings Dog Park and agreed to a parking agreement with Bolthouse Merchandising from March 1 through the summer event season at the Thornapple Plaza season for $1.
The Hastings City Council is on board with a plan for the city to host its first National Night Out in August.
Hastings Police Deputy Chief Dale Boulter, who was given credit for the original idea, told the council Monday that the planning was in its beginning stages with a lot of work to do, but a committee made up of Boulter, Officer Kendra Backing and Sgt. Kris Miller, Secretary Anne Lockman and Chief Jeff Pratt has begun making decisions.
The national event, always held the first Tuesday in August, promotes police-community relationships, giving the community a chance to see law enforcement in a relaxed setting, while promoting a sense of community, positive public relations, safety and trust.
Backing, who has experience in 10 such events, said the night out activities sends the message to the community that the Hastings Police Department really wants to provide and maintain a quality of life for citizens.
Boulter said county emergency services, police, fire, 911, EMS, would be at the event, with demonstrations of what they do, along with other community outreach organizations like the Barry County United Way and Green Gables that provide resources for residents.
Decisions will be made on a site for the event, hours, parking, traffic control, prizes, food and more.
Boulter expects citizens from all over Barry County to attend the occasion and would like to have a lot more than just one year of the event. He said he will provide the council with much more information as planning goes on.
What are you doing the afternoon of March 17, say around 4 p.m.?
If you are in or near Hastings, come on down and join the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, the biggest little parade held in the city every year.
There are no entry fees, complicated sign up sheets and you don’t have to be good at marching, or even Irish.
You do have to be sporting something green. “Getting your green on” is required, “getting your silly on” is optional, and encouraged.
It’s just a chance to take a early spring break, have some fun, and march along with your friends and neighbors for a little more than two city blocks. Music is always provided by the marchers, including Mike Smith (pictured) setting the tempo with “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
Come to the street behind WBCH Radio a little before 4 p.m. and line up with everyone else who is lucky enough to have (or borrow) something green for the event.
The Grand Marshal this year is Emily Jasperse of the General Store on South Jefferson Street. Emily will lead the parade and lots of smiling faces.
For more information, call WBCH at 269-945-3414.
Despite some early concerns, Eugene Fisher, the past president of the Vermontville Maple Syrup Corporation Festival, isn’t worried about the maple syrup production this year.
“With all those warm days, we thought it might be a short season, but we’re going to be okay. The colder weather helped tremendously; we’ll still be able to collect sap,” he said.
President of the festival organizers for 25 years, Fisher is excited about the annual Vermontville Syrup Festival set for April 28, 29 and 30 this year, the 77th year of the festival.
“We are the largest in the State of Michigan and the grand daddy of them all,” he said.
Some the events packed into the three days in the center of the village are two parades, professional entertainment, fireworks, amusements rides, arts and crafts, egg throwing, arm wrestling and pancake eating contests, pedal pull, petting zoo, flea market, Little Princess contest, appearances by the Vermontville Maple Syrup Queen and her Court, talent show and historical displays.
At Maple Manor, the entire process of making maple syrup made from sap to syrup and sugar will be explained and maple syrup producers will be in town selling syrup, candies, crème and maple syrup cotton candy.
And, of course, you are invited to enjoy pancakes with real maple syrup, hosted by the Maple Valley Band Boosters and the American Legion. “And it’s all one place, not scattered around. It’s all right here in the center of town,” Fisher said. //
Some maple syrup in Michigan facts:
*Michigan’s maple syrup industry is the fifth largest in the country.
*Average maple syrup production averages about 90,000 gallons a year.
*There are an estimated 500 commercial producers in Michigan, with some 2,000 additional hobby or home use producers.
*Only one percent of Michigan maple forest resources are used in maple syrup production.
*A gallon of standard maple syrup weighs 11 pounds and has a sugar content of 66 percent.
*Maple syrup is the first farm crop harvested in Michigan every year.
(Information from the Michigan Maple Syrup Association)
Congressman Justin Amash made a stop in Hastings Saturday where he was greeted by one of the largest crowds to hear and share with the 3rd district Congressman.
Sources tell WBCH news nearly 200 individuals made it standing room only at the Commission on Aging. Unlike some Townhall meetings where individuals protested with strong and unkind comments, the Hastings visit moved along fairly smoothly.
National Spay Day is the fourth Tuesday in February, but rather than concentrating on one day a year to help with spaying or neutering pets, the Barry County Humane Society has expanded the program to every day, all year long for those who need financial assistance, said BCHS President Mary Fisher.
The program is available to Barry County residents who take their pet to a Barry County vet, C-Snip in Grand Rapids or the Kalamazoo Humane Society, she said.
A Barry County resident can get an appointment for the procedure, then call, or come in to the office, and give your name, address and phone number. Tell them if it’s a cat or dog, the sex and name of animal, the name of the veterinarian and date of the appointment.
“We will then call your vet and they will take $20 per pet off your bill. Simple as that. This offer is good for multiple pets, too, and will cover stray dogs and cats along with feral cats,” she said.
“You can help make a difference in lowering the number of unwanted animals coming in to the Barry County Animal Shelter and the shameful pet overpopulation here in the United States by having your pet(s) spayed or neutered today,” Fisher said.
The Humane Society’s office hours are Monday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. They are located in the Barry Community Enrichment Center at 231 South Broadway in Hastings, telephone 269-945-0602.
WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight news in their districts. This posting is from Hastings Area School System Superintendent Carrie Duits.
“The Hastings Area School System has a long history of musical excellence and we are proud to say our Saxon Drumline is continuing that tradition. The competitive group, formed by Hastings High School band Teacher Jen Pesch is already winning accolades. The Saxon Drumline was named West Michigan Drumline of the Year— what a way to start off an exciting new program! Congratulations to Jen and her students!
Also, hats off to our Hastings High School Student Council and Advisor Cathy Longstreet for another successful Winterfest celebration! Community service is a HHS Winterfest tradition. This year the high school honored, Leo, a kindergarten student at Star Elementary with leukemia. All proceeds from T shirt sales and raffles are being donated to the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Great job everyone!
Speaking of traditions, our community has a long tradition of supporting education and our current bond project is evidence of the pride our community takes in its schools!
Monday evening the Hastings Area School System Board of Education got a brief update on the bond project from Tom Kloosterman from Kingscott. He included a power point presentation on the designs for the new Hastings Middle School building. Go to the district website www.hassk12.org and click on the Bond Project Information button to see the designs – they’re amazing!
The first-floor block work for the classroom portion of the middle school is nearly complete. This means we are on schedule to begin placing the structural steel March 6. Once the steel is in place, it will be covered with pre-cast concrete flooring, and then block work will begin on the second story!
Two walls of the auxiliary gym are almost to roof level and we are about a week away from having all walls of the new gym up. Things are really coming together at Hastings Middle School! It may not seem like there is much bond work happening at the high school; but, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes! Bids have been received and reviewed and Monday evening the Board of Education approved six contracts for construction at the high school. Sixteen more contracts are expected to be approved during the board’s work session Tuesday, March 14.
Once all the bids have been awarded and the frost laws are lifted for the season, construction will begin on footings for our new Performing Arts Center (PAC) at the high school. We’re anticipating work to begin in early to mid-April!
Everything is on track for all bond work to be completed by the fall of 2018! The new PAC will be a fitting showcase for our award winning band and choral music programs as well as our high school dramas and musicals!
The Hastings Area School System appreciates what voters have done to support the future of our students and community. When the work is complete we will have world class facilities for our world class students!”
Young kindergarten and kindergarten enrollment has begun and we are once again to area preschools to aid parents with the enrollment process. If you have a child who will be ready for young kindergarten or kindergarten in the fall, go to the district website www.hassk12.org to download the enrollment form or contact the Hastings Area School System 269-948-4400 to enroll. Remember – it’s a great day to be a Saxon!
The Barry County Jail, built in 1970, is outdated and with “significant security and safety issues,” according to a 2015 report. Barry County Commissioners agree a new jail is needed and are again considering the possibility. In January, commissioners unanimously voted to direct County Administrator Michael Brown to pursue an RFP for completion of a financial analyses and architectural renderings for a replacement jail, as described in the Barry County Master Facilities Plan from Tower Pinkster.
Commissioners said then they wanted everything on the table and several commissioners called for being through and careful when considering funding options.
Al Graves, from Delton, gave the commissioners his advice on how to fund a new jail at Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting. Saying he was advocating for seniors and the working poor, Graves read his suggestions:
Exempt seniors 65 and older who are on fixed income and have paid taxes most of their lives.
Exempt working poor (income level to be determined).
Stop or reduce millage on the following:
-Commission on Aging
“The easy solution is to raise everyone’s taxes,” he said. “The hard, but fair, solution is a line item evaluation of local taxes, seek donations from residents and businesses and state aid.
“It’s time to stop kicking that can down the road…You know how to get this done,” he said.
Eaton Behavioral Health (EBH) has been accredited for another three years by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. The Commission, an independent, nonprofit accreditor of health and human services, including behavioral health, showed that the services being offered have been critiqued and are being held to high standards.
“The Barry-Eaton District Health Department/ Eaton Behavioral Health has strengths in many different areas…Interviewees indicated feeling a level of respect from the entire staff that allows them to develop self-respect for the first time in their lives,” the report read. Interviewees also said “the staff helped them to develop a true sense of hope for their future.”
EBH is a licensed and accredited outpatient substance use and behavioral health disorder treatment provider, with the mission to empower individuals, families and the community with affordable, accessible and effective, research supported, best-practices health care for the treatment of addictions and other behavioral health concerns. The program provides a holistic spectrum of treatment choices recognizing the mental, emotional, physical, spiritual and social needs of every person in becoming healthy, whole and balanced.
Though the process is both time consuming and demanding, EBH views the process as a necessity to assure they are providing only the best, most quality services. EBH is extremely satisfied with the reviews and plans to go through the process again in three years to ensure the highest of standards are being met.
EBH is in the Barry-Eaton District Health Department, 1033 Health Care Drive, Charlotte. Call 517-543-2580. For more, visit www.barryeatonhealth.org/Services/BehavioralHealth.
In the second phase of an overall technology infrastructure overhaul following last year’s hardware upgrades, new software is recommended to replace the current system, now at the 2008 level, with the 2016 level for Barry County servers and e-mail.
IT Director David Shinavier requested the purchase of the upgrade from low bidder Dell, Inc. for $40,693.84.
Precision Data Products, Inc. bid $45,852.25; CDW-G quoted $42,599.12. The cost will come from the Data Fund. The upgrade is in the IT Department’s capital budget.
“It’s expected to be a five-year solution,” Shinavier said.
The Barry County Commission’s committee of the whole recommended the purchase. Commissioners will act on the recommendation at the next regular meeting.
The Barry County Board of Commissioners held its committee of the whole meeting in the completely renovated and newly named Cabinet Building Tuesday and invited the crowd to take tours and enjoy light refreshments directly after the meeting.
Actions taken in the meeting included asking for more information on a request for replacement and upgrading of the 10-year-old emergency “panic button” system for the County Courthouse, Courts & Law Building, Friend of the Court and Cabinet Building as well at work stations of most employees and in vaults, at a cost of $37,750.
Commissioners said it was a good idea to move ahead with improved technology with the Wave Plus System from SecureTech Systems, Inc., but wanted more information on what security measures the system has, which county fund the payment would come from, if discounts were available, where the new 200 buttons would be located, and any possible problems with sharing the 900 MH system with others.
The request will be brought back up as an agenda item after more information is provided by IT Director David Shinavier. Shinavier did not object to the delay, saying it was needed and he wanted to get the process started.
The committee also recommended approval of:
* appointment of Jan Otto as attorney magistrate, to allow her to register for Magistrate Training with the State Court Administrative Office and comply with the currant job description and requirements of the state.
* spending up to $10,000 to repair all areas of missing, chipped or loose ornamental decorative plaster in the Barry County Courthouse, requested by Tim Neeb, director of building and grounds department. Neeb said he got just one bid from Artistic Plastering for $9,552.
* an updated agreement with the Barry Economic Development Alliance (and its parent company the Barry County Chamber of Commerce). The agreement calls for the BEDA to provide economic development services for Barry County for 2017 for $107,395 which is already included in the general fund budget. The agreement goes from multi-year agreements to yearly for more flexibility and transparency, BEDA Director Travis Alden said.
The Gun Lake Tribe and Gun Lake Investments (GLI) held a ceremonial grand opening Monday to celebrate its first-ever non-gaming economic development project. Noonday Market, a $4.4 million fuel and convenience store located south of Gun Lake Casino’s main entrance.
Noonday Market opens for business to the public at noon on Tuesday Feb. 21.
The 6,800 square foot facility is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with 12 regular fueling stations and two high-flow diesel pumps. It will house a SUBWAY® Restaurant featuring indoor and outdoor seating. The operation will employ 22 positions and generate over $1 million annually in local and state taxes.
“This is a special milestone because we are celebrating the opening of our first non-gaming business,” said Chairman Scott Sprague. “My hope is many years from now our people will see this as the beginning of a new journey towards economic diversification that played a key role in securing the health and well-being of our Tribe.” //
The Tribe formed GLI as an independent economic development company tasked with pursuing business opportunities outside of casino gaming.
“I am very thankful that we have forward looking tribal leadership that devoted resources necessary for us to pursue real economic development projects,” said GLI Chief Operating Officer Kurt Trevan “Noonday Market’s development, construction and operation will be the first of many successful ventures for GLI and the Tribe.”
Rockford Construction was the construction manager of Noonday Market. R.W. Mercer and Seven Generations A&E were among other partners involved in the construction process. Ninety-eight construction jobs were created in concrete, electrical, mechanical, stone masonry, ironworkers, plumbers, pipefitters, roofing and carpenters. J&H Family Stores was hired to help manage the day-to-day operations. Nearly all of the $4.4 million cost in materials and services were purchased from Michigan companies.
Nothing wrong with planning for your future and working toward a goal. That’s what Ryan Appel is doing. Vacuuming interiors and washing windows of vehicles at Lincoln Meadows this week, he also mows lawns in the summer. He’s planning on going to college and becoming a doctor.
Don’t discount his dreams, he’s only 10 years old, but he’s already going in the right direction.
The family has a farm and he does lots of chores there. Sister Abbie, 13, is also an entrepreneur; she babysits dogs.
Ryan doesn’t work all the time; he said when he is not busy, he spends his time hanging out with dad, playing on his I Pad and riding his quad.
Dad is Brian Appel, a local contractor and owner of Brian Appel Builders in Middleville, Mom Courtney handles the office work for the business.
Photo 1: Ryan Appel,10, of Middleville.
Photo 2: Ryan Appel vacuums the interior of an SUV. He also cleaned vehicle windows as part of his cleaning package.
An unidentified 20-year-old Wyoming woman died in a one-vehicle roll over crash Sunday at about 2 p.m., according to the Ionia County Sheriff's Office. The crash occurred on the west bound side of I-96, west of Jordan Lake Road.
A 2003 Jeep Liberty was west bound on I-96 at a high rate of speed and lost control, ran off the right side of the roadway and struck a tree, the sheriff’s news release said.
According to witness statements, there may have been a white Honda Accord involved in a form of road rage with the woman. Those with any information on the crash are asked to contact the Ionia County Sheriff's Office at 616-527-5737 or Silent Observer at 616-527-0107.
Berlin/Orange Fire Department, Reed & Hoppes Towing, Ionia Road Commission, and Lake Funeral Home also responded and assisted deputies.
Sunday February 19th saw another record setting high temperatures for the day at 3:45 pm when it reach 64 degrees. The old record for February 19, 1994 was 59 degrees. This makes three straight days when new record high temperatures were set in Hastings.
The Barry County Board of Commissioners invites all public officials and local citizens to an open house Tuesday, Feb. 21, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. to tour the recently renovated Cabinet Building.
On February 14, commissioners approved naming the county owned building at 121 South Church Street in Hastings as the “Cabinet Building” in honor of William T. Barry and in recognition of the United States federal cabinet’s influence on Barry County’s name and facilities. Commissioners will hold their regularly scheduled committee of the whole meeting in the community meeting room at the Cabinet Building beginning at 9 a.m. The public is invited to attend, and tours and light refreshments will be available beginning at 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Questions regarding the open house may be directed to the Barry County Administrator’s office at 269-945-1284.
***WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight news in their districts. This posting submitted by superintendent Michelle Falcon, is from Tracy George, director of technology at Maple Valley.
Maple Valley Schools will be celebrating Digital Learning Days on Feb. 23 and 24 at Maple Valley Jr./Sr. High School. All students and teachers will have the opportunity to participate in this event which is intended to highlight the effective use of modern day tools to improve the learning experience in K-12 public schools. Maplewood students and teachers will attend the event on Thursday, Feb. 23. Fuller students and teachers will attend Friday, Feb. 24. This event has been made possible by a generous donation from the DeCamp Foundation.
We have tried to set this day up conference style. There are many sessions for the students to attend, an exhibit hall to walk through, and prizes to be given away. In order to facilitate travel around the building, we are using a buddy system between the younger students and the Jr./Sr. High students. Maplewood students will be having 10th, 11th, and 12th graders as buddies. Fuller will have 7th, 8th, and 9th grade buddies. We will be sharing more specific information on these assignments at your staff meetings next week.
The general schedule is as follows:
All students will participate in a virtual field trip in the auditorium for about one hour
All students will have a 30 minute lunch and 30 minutes of gym time (recess)
All students will have the opportunity to go to classrooms for participation in sessions.
The amount of time is flexible, but students will have between an hour (Fuller) and two hours (Maplewood) to visit both the sessions and the exhibit hall with their buddies.
3D Printing and Physics Technology
CNC Shopbot/Laser Carving and Engraving
All students will have the opportunity to go to the Exhibit Hall in the main gym where there will be over 20 booths set up with additional hands on technology related fun!
Concussion Sensing Helmets
Chrome Apps and Extensions
Shop Class Display
Virtual Reality Goggles
Sock Puppet app
Digital Avatar Creation Station
Math/ELA/Science/Social Studies Learning Games
And much, much more!
Students and staff will be provided with a Digital Learning Day t-shirt and a bag containing a #DLDay pencil, bracelet, and set of earbuds. There will be additional items to collect in the exhibit hall and at some of the sessions. Additionally, drawings will be held at the end of the day on Friday for a great selection of prizes! Those prizes will be distributed to the buildings the following week. We are really hoping that this will be a great success and that we will be able to make it an annual event. Thank you for all of your support and flexibility!
The Hastings National Weather Service Climatological Station recorded another recording setting day Saturday February 18, 2017. 65 degrees at 2:32-pm. Old record 57 degrees set on February 18, 1961.
UPDATE: The Eaton County Sheriff’s Office has released the names of the three victims of the Saturday crash near I-69. They are all family members, and were in the single vehicle involved. They are: Kevin Haas, 63, from Linden; Kimberly Trasciatti, 66, from Howell; and Lorraine Haas, 88, from Hartland. The cause of the crash is still under investigation by the sheriff’s office.
ORIGINAL STORY: A pickup crash in Eaton County claimed the lives of three people Saturday morning at 7:26 a.m.
The Eaton County Sheriff’s Office is not releasing names of the victims until families have been notified. The sheriff’s report said a Ford pickup left the roadway while exiting the off-ramp from southbound I-69 to Ainger Road and crashed into a swampy area.
Two of the three occupants in the pickup were thrown from the vehicle and pronounced deceased at the scene. The third was taken to a hospital and later died. The sheriff’s Accident Team and Detective Bureau is investigating.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is looking for volunteers throughout the state to help with its annual frog and toad survey.
The surveys are conducted by volunteer observers along a statewide system of permanent survey routes, each consisting of 10 wetland sites. The sites are visited three times during spring, when frogs and toads are actively breeding.
Observers listen for calling frogs and toads at each site, identify the species present, and make an estimate of abundance.
New volunteers are needed in all parts of the state. If interested, contact Lori Sargent at 517-284-6216 or SargentL@michigan.gov. More information on the frog and toad survey is available at mi.gov/wildlife.
The National Weather Service Hastings Climatological Station recorded a new record high temperature for Hastings for February 17th. It was 57 degrees on Friday breaking the old record of 53 degrees set on February 17, 2011.
The PennNook gift shop recently made a $15,000 donation to the Doris I. Cappon Scholarship Fund.
“The Doris I. Cappon Scholarship originated from the legacy of a generous $1.4 million gift from a truly dedicated and faithful volunteer, who was a member of the Spectrum Health Pennock Auxiliary Board for many years,” said Janine Dalman, executive director of Spectrum Health Foundation Pennock.
“This generous support from the PennNook gift shop would not be possible without the continued support of Spectrum Health Pennock employees and volunteers,” she said.
The donation will help fund ongoing educational endeavors at the foundation. For more information on the foundation or scholarship fund, contact Dalman at 269-945-3651.
Pictured with $15,000 check are (from left) Martha Edger, Donna Mathews, Jeanne McFadden and Janine Dalman.
Lake Odessa’s Joyce Brinningstaull works five days a week; not bad for someone born on Aug. 9, 1931.
Brinningstaull has worked hard all her life. She grew up on a farm, married and worked alongside her husband Alden, a truck driver, and today works five days a week as a dishwasher at the McDonald’s in her hometown. A 17plus-year employee at the restaurant, Joyce isn’t unlike most of her fellow crew members, except at 85, she ranks as the eldest.
Well known among the customers, Brinningstaull has had various responsibilities throughout her 20-year career, including working at the front counter, the grill and in the lobby. She began working at the Lake Odessa location in 1997, which was then owned and operated by McDonald’s Corp. and is now owned by Keith Berg.
“Joyce is a very hard worker, spending four hours a day, five days a week washing dishes and always willing and asking if there is anything else she can do to help out,” Berg said. And the restaurant benefits from more than her work ethic, he added.
“Our McFamily is made up of a diverse group of people, and to have Joyce share her experiences with her fellow crew members, it just makes our restaurant a unique place in the community,” Berg said. “The kids here learn a lot from her, and I think she learns from them as well.”
For Joyce, a mother of two sons – Alden Jr. and Alan, two granddaughters and nine great grandchildren, her colleagues are like extended family.
“We are always treated like family here,” she said. “I enjoy being around the people I work with and the customers; it’s a small community and everyone knows everyone.”
In addition to working five days a week, Brinningstaull volunteers at the local VFW on bingo night and has helped lead charitable fund-raising programs for special education students in nearby Ionia. She is a loyal Lakewood High School Vikings fan and is a diehard Michigan State University basketball and football fan, and is also a big fan of the Detroit Tigers.
As she ended her shift, getting ready to head out and drive back home after another day at work, Brinningstaull remarked she doesn’t have plans to retire anytime soon.
“I’ll keep working as long as I can,” she said with a smile.
Committed to providing compassionate and skilled care, noted senior care providers Holland Home, Resthaven and Clark are partnering to launch Atrio Home Care to serve West Michigan.
This new nonprofit joint venture will employ 225 nurses, therapists, aids and other clinicians to deliver a broad range of skilled and private duty services. Based in Grand Rapids and Holland, Atrio expects to serve more than 3,000 seniors and their families in Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, and Ottawa counties in the coming year.
Atrio Home Care is a new joint venture between Holland Home, Resthaven and Clark that provides Home Health and Help at Home services to seniors in West Michigan.
All Delton Kellogg Schools will be closed Friday, February 17th due to illness of students and staff.
Interim Superintendent Carl Schoessel told WBCH that the Delton school buildings will be closed and will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
The Daycare Center will also be closed.
Barry Intermediate School District students, however, will be picked up at their regular times.
In an effort to protect Michigan taxpayers, the Michigan Department of Treasury continues to implement security measures to stop tax-related identity theft.
If an individual income tax return has been selected for identity confirmation, the taxpayer will receive a letter from Treasury asking them to confirm their identity by completing a short online quiz.
After confirmation of passing the quiz, tax refunds will be issued between 14 and 21 days. Some taxpayers may be asked to submit paperwork to confirm their identity.
For the 2015 tax year, over 33,000 returns were stopped that prevented more than $70 million in potentially fraudulent refunds being issued by the state of Michigan.
“Our priority is to protect Michigan taxpayers from cybercriminals,” Michigan Treasurer Nick Khouri said. “As treasury makes progress in the fight against tax-related identify theft, cybercriminals are getting more sophisticated when impersonating taxpayers and filing fraudulent returns. This additional layer of security helps ensure the appropriate person receives their much-deserved refund.”
Michigan taxpayers who suspect they may have been a target of tax-related identity theft should call the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at 1-800-829-0433.
Last year, the treasury processed more than 5 million individual income tax returns, with 3.7 million receiving more than $1.8 billion in refunds.
Michigan taxpayers can check the status of their refund online by going to www.michigan.gov/wheresmyrefund. For more information about Michigan’s individual income tax, go to www.michigan.gov/incometax.
New technology brings new challenges. Citizens, including those in Hastings, want maximum capabilities for their data devices and city officials want to provide it, but at the same time, that leads to differences in the methods used to get the increased services when cities have no controls in place for its installation.
Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) is new way of boosting cellular coverage and capacity and cheaper than the macro towers used by giant telecommunications companies like AT&T and Verizon. The antennas, with different styles, are mounted on new poles or existing utility poles, street lights and traffic lights in public rights-of-way bring more service to nearby areas.
Companies plans for DAS sometimes conflict with municipal officials who want to make sure that permitting the technology doesn’t interfere with what city officials and residents want and need for their communities.
Hastings and other municipalities are anticipating future requests from companies to install equipment in their rights-of-way by developing guidelines to control what the infrastructure will look like, how much there will be and where it will go.
Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange, who represents Hastings at the Grand Valley Metropolitan Council, reported Feb. 13 that the Mobilitie Company has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission for an interpretation and a ruling on 253c of the Communications Act of 1939.
Hastings and other municipalities, with the Metro Council acting as fiduciary, will each contribute $300 for an attorney to develop a response to the petition going to the FCC, encouraging federal officials to “protect local communities independent control over our rights-of-way,” McNabb-Stange said.
“We are banding together to do the right thing…we’re trying to be fair… but we oppose any effort to restrict our rights…it’s a service we feel our citizens want, and the taxpayers have the right to control their rights-of-way,” she said.//
The city of Hastings granted one request for antennas in its rights-of-way a few years ago based on mistaken information that it was governed by the Metro Act and had to be allowed. The city later found that the Metro Act does not authorize installation of antenna, but officials realized they had no rules in place to address future requests sure to come.
In January, 2016 Hastings City Council voted to contribute financially to a similar consortium of both Metro Council members and non-members to retain an attorney to develop guidelines for companies to follow when applying for infrastructure or space to increase high speed internet capability in cities rights-of-way.
What resulted was a packet with a cover letter, a sample license/franchise, a Metro Act permit applicaton and zoning checklist to give companies that apply to use cities rights-of-ways. Attorney Jeff Sluggett told the city council in August, 2016, that the law is “crystal clear.” Hastings has control of its rights-of-way… and can deny applicants access to its rights-of-way. They don’t have to allow them at all.” he said.
City officials say they recognize that it is a valuable service for its residents and the demand is greatly expanding with the ever increasing use of mobile data. But, each municipality must have the right to decide how to best fit their city’s needs, McNabb-Stange said.
Pole heights, a new ordinance, zoning issues, liability, application, license and monthly fees, co-locations, site plan reviews, performance bonds, safety issues, site design and much more will have to be decided by individual cities.
Mobilitie, a large international company provides the foundation for carriers to offer wireless communications in difficult to cover areas, including DAS that provides improved coverage and capacity for all wireless carriers at the largest venues and most challenging locations in the country, according to its website.
“Our complete wireless infrastructure solutions include funding, designing, building, operating and maintaining neutral host outdoor and indoor DAS networks, Small Cells, Wi-Fi networks and communication towers,” its website said. The company headquarters are in Newport Beach, California, with offices in Panama City, Panama, Tokyo, Japan and London in the United Kingdom.
The Hastings High School Band Drumline was named the 2017 West Michigan Drumline of the year! Maranda from WOOD-TV was at Hastings High School Wednesday to honor the drumline. The segment will air Thursday February 16th at 4:30PM on WOTV.
Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf reported activity at the sheriff’s department for the month of January at the Barry County Commissioner’s meeting Tuesday.
Barry County uniformed patrol logged 691 complaints with 69 arrests which brought 22 felony and 71 misdemeanor charges. Forty nine citations were issued and eight persons were arrested for alcohol related driving offenses. Deputies responded to 101 accidents, 45 involving car/deer; four were alcohol related with one fatality.
The K-09 Unit was activated 10 times, resulting in quantities of drugs recovered during the month, he said.
Leaf said in activity at the jail in January, 296 people were booked and processed into jail, with 235 subsequently released back into the community. Eighty one people were booked as “weekenders,” . Thirty-eight persons were transported to court, 108 sets of fingerprints taken and 120 weekend drug screens given to probationers. The kitchen staff served 6,955 meals to inmates at a cost of $1.49 per meal.
Gaines Township Community Policing Deputy Eric Brunner is cautioning residents to be extra aware and take steps to assure that they are not a victim of thefts from vehicles.
Since January 1st, 2017 almost a dozen Gaines Township residents have had property stolen from their vehicles, Brunner said in a Community Alert.
Numerous other vehicles have been rummaged through, but no property taken. Some of the stolen property includes prescription medications and firearms from two separate vehicles, he said. “It’s a warmer weekend coming up, please be vigilant. Saturdays and Sundays are the (Kent County) Sheriff’s Office highest call volume days,” he said.
*Lock your vehicles, especially when parked outside.
*Keep valuables out of sight.
*Close garage doors and lock service doors.
*If you have a concealed pistol license or own a firearm, do not leave it in your vehicle.
Barry County Commissioners Monday officially named the building at 121 Court Street that was the city’s post office and later, its library, and for a time, was just called the community building.
It is now the Cabinet Building.
In discussing what to name the refurbished structure, Commissioner Vivian Conner suggested the name because Barry County is one of 10 “cabinet” counties in Southwest Michigan named after members of then-President Andrew Jackson’s cabinet. Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Eaton, Ingram, Jackson, Livingston and Van Buren are the “cabinet” counties.
The commission will hold its committee of the whole meeting in the Cabinet Building on Feb. 21 from 9 to 10 a.m. An open house with light refreshments will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The renovated building now holds the Michigan State University Extension offices, the county IT Department and its equipment and features a large community meeting room.
Also Tuesday, the commission approved the rezoning of property in Section 20 of Hastings Charter Township from Rural Residential to High Density Residential, and appointed Commissioners Dan Parker and Conner to attend Southwest Michigan Region Three meetings.
On February 3rd of this year Jacob Bailey, son of Mr. & Mrs. James Bailey of Hastings graduated from the Michigan State Police Training Acadamy in Lansing. Trooper Bailey spent 23 weeks at the Acadamy in training in the 132 recruit school.
in order to be selected to attend either a trooper recruit school or a motor carrier recruit school candidates had to pass a stringent selection process that included a physical fitness test, background investigation and hiring interviews.
Trooper Jacob Bailey was assigned to the Paw Paw Post in Van Buren County.
The Hastings City Council Monday voted 6 to 3 to solicit proposals for the redevelopment of the former Hastings Moose building rather than demolishing it. The majority of the council said they would rather get proposals for redevelopment and keep the building at Michigan Avenue and Apple Street on the tax rolls, if possible. If it didn’t work out, they agreed they could always demolish the building later.
The city has had prospects look at the building which would require extensive work, but no bids.
Marvin Helder, owner of Helder Construction, specializes in residential development and redevelopment. He came to the Jan. 9 council meeting to say he was interested in redeveloping the building, following one of the council’s original ideas; demolishing the back portion of the building to replace city parking lot 3 spaces that will be lost with the building of a new emergency services building, have a retail business on the side fronting Michigan Avenue and apartments on the second floor.
“I would like to partner with the city in order to see another beautiful downtown building redeveloped rather than demolished,” Helder said at that meeting. It is expected that he will offer a proposal.
In other business, the council:
*approved the WBCH-sponsored Saint Patrick’s Day Parade for Friday, March 17 at 4 p.m. The parade route will be the same as past years for the biggest little community parade.
* awarded a contract to Slagel Construction for $8,200 to replace a section of the Riverwalk Trail sidewalk which will be moved 10 to 15 feet to accomodate the new Veterans monument. The work will be paid for by donations.
* awarded a contract to the only bidder, Pure Fence, Battle Creek, for $5,850 to install 500 feet of black vinyl coated four foot high chain link fencing that will mark the northern border of Riverside Cemetery.
* approved the YMCA, SCMYB and the Hastings Area Church Softball League to use the city's ball fields again this year, with staff working with the groups to resolve a few conflicting dates.
* formally approved the city’s Goals and Objectives for 2017-2018 budget development. Councilman Don Smith asked Mansfield to keep track of the work on the goals with monthly updates, “to make sure we are on track.”
* set a workshop on Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. to discuss the Municipal Employees Retirement System pension and health care. A representative of MERS will attend.
Following the recommendation of Hastings City Manager Jeff Mansfield, the City Council Monday unanimously approved Jerry Czarnecki as the new Community Development Director, to replace Alan Klein who resigned to pursue a career in law enforcement.
Czarnecki served as Supervisor of the Mathematics Department with Kelloggsville Public Schools in Grand Rapids, and had an extended term as a high school mathematics and science teacher.
“Jerry admittedly has limited prior experience in community development, but I think you will find that his passion, energy and enthusiasm will serve the City of Hastings well as we work as a team to make our community a better place to live, work and play,” Mansfield said in a memo to the council.
Asked by Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange why they hired someone with no experience in community development, Mansfield said Czarnecki has held leadership positions, has been a department head and, “he will fit into the pattern quite well. He’s very well qualified…I look forward to working with him.”
Czarnecki has a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from Alma College and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Grand Valley State University. He will begin work Feb. 27.
Also Monday, the council approved licensed contract operator services for the water and wastewater treatment plants until the end of the fiscal year the last of June to Wade Trim at a cost of $46,150. Wade Trim replaces Mead & Hunt, who recently terminated its agreement with the city.
Mansfield said they met with several firms, and believe Wade Trim “is best able to meet our needs.” The company intends to use George Holzworth, a former Mead & Hunt employee, who was previously the city’s operator for two years. The long term goal is to be able train one of the city’s own employees to become the operator and Wade Trim will help them with that, Mansfield said.
In other business, the council:
*approved the American Cancer Society holding its Barry County Relay for Life at Tyden Park this year, along with the staying of ordinances to accommodate the event, approval of fundraising and waiving the fee for reserving the pavilion
* heard Tom Thompson, of PCI, give a report on construction permits in the city. In the first quarter, 11 permits were issued with a construction valued at $209, 319; in the second quarter, 27 permits for work worth $4,482,423; the third quarter, 16 permits with construction valued at $2,666,880, and the fourth quarter 15 permits for a value of $137,947 for a total for the year of $7,496,389. PCI also inspected 316 rental units out of the 882 units registered in the city.
Heating systems have been working continuously all winter and as the heating season draws toward a close, a late-winter check of safety issues is in order for homeowners and local fire departments can help. Free smoke and carbon monoxide detectoor are available from all fire departments in Barry County, as well as those in Lake Odessa, Bellevue, Caledonia and Clarksville. Yankee Springs Township and Wayland fire departments also provide the free alarms and installation.
Applications for the detectors are available at each fire department and the Barry County United Way website at www.bcunitedway.org. Fax the filled out application to 269-945-4536, drop it off at your fire department or mail to Barry County United Way, 231 South Broadway, Hastings. 49058.
The responding fire department will call to set a time to come to the residence and install the units to National Fire Protection Association recommendations and manufacturer’s instructions.
The firefighter will also check the batteries in other devices and recommend the number of detectors needed in a home.
The Yankee Springs Township/Wayland Fire Department responded to two chimney fires in one week, pointing up the need for regular inspections of woodburners for creosote buildup.
The program is sponsored by Spectrum Health Pennock, Southside Pediatrics, Hastings Kiwanis and Barry County United Way. Those outside of the Barry County coverage area can contact the Red Cross in Grand Rapids, which has a similar program.
The second mediation session with Barry County and the Barry County Courthouse Employees Association produced results, moving the negotiating process forward, County Administrator Michael Brown said.
“I would consider our last mediation session productive as the bargaining teams came to a tentative agreement through the mediator. The attorneys are working on drafting an update to the current collective bargaining agreement language for review,” Brown said.
Currently the Association is meeting with its membership to explain it “so that they can hold full membership ratification vote to see if it will be accepted,” he said. If the Association approves it, the Barry County Board of Commissioners will take it up for consideration and approval also.
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 in December. The cause of the stalemate in the negotiations is the implementation of a pay study contracted for by commissioners.
The pay study recommended, among other things, a 13 percent pay raise across the board to put Barry County employees in line with surrounding entities that were used for comparison.
Firefighters from Hopkins, Martin, Orangeville, Wayland and Yankee Springs Township fire departments have attended and completed two-day classroom/hands on training in ice rescue, according to Wayland Deputy Fire Chief Dan Miller.
Miller, who administers the Yankee Springs Fire Station, said with the large number of lakes in the area it is very valuable that firefighters to get the training so that they can assist those in need should an incident arise.
“We would hope that it will not be needed however, in the event it is, firefighters are properly trained and ready for the call,” he said.
Winterfest will again celebrate winter in 2017 starting Friday, Feb. 17 and with most of the events Saturday Feb. 18 at Yankee Springs State Park.
The event features family-friendly events and excitement for all ages. The whole family can have fun at no cost while enjoying the season.
With the weather always a factor, be sure to check on the latest plans at the Gun Lake Business Association’s website, gunlakewinterfest.com/schedule/ for latest information and updates.
Some of the planned 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:
*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.
For more specific information and updates, visit gunlake winterfest.com/schedule/. or text WINTER to WBCH 269-945-3414 for a schedule of events.
The Barry County Road Commission says Seasonal weight restrictions will go back in effect this Monday February 13th at 6:00AM.
A Barry County Road Commission employee working in a construction zone in Prairieville Township was hospitalized for treatment of non-life threatening injuries today after being struck by a vehicle driven by an 80-year-old Plainwell man.
Barry County deputies investigation showed that while workers were repairing a guardrail, numerous construction zone signs were posted in both directions prior to the work zone. Vehicles with flashing yellow lights and flaggers were at the north and south ends, directing traffic on the one-lane roadway.
Deputies reported the Plainwell man, the only occupant in the car, was traveling northbound on Doster Road near Merlau Avenue when he continued through the construction zone and struck the flag man and the construction vehicle on the north end.
Pride Care Ambulance transported the unidentified road commission employee to Borgess Hospital for treatment. Alcohol was not a factor and seatbelts were used. The incident remains under investigation and will be reviewed by the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office.
A free electronics recycling event is offered to the public by the Gun Lake Tribe and Gun Lake Casino with the cooperation of electronic recycler Comprenew on Monday, Feb. 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Tribe’s Government Campus headquarters. The campus is at 2872 Mission Drive, Shelbyville, across the road from the casino. Follow the signs to the area near the “Public Works” building.
A $10 fee to recycle tube-style television and computer monitors will be sponsored by the tribe for the first 200 units. Acceptable items include office and household electronics, cell phones, radios, microwaves, VCRs and TVs, computer laptops, computer monitors, keyboards and mice, printers, speakers and power cords. Comprenew will erase or destroy all computer hard drives.
The public is invited to take advantage of the free opportunity to properly dispose of obsolete electronic items. Comprenew uses best practices in electronics recycling and data security. Comprenew does not ship electronic waste overseas, and the zero-landfill policy requires that all electronics are recycled, refurbished or reused.
The tribe and casino support electronic waste recycling because of a growing concern to the environment. Electronic waste in landfills can leak harmful toxins into the soil and groundwater.
WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight news in their districts. This posting is from Hastings Area School System Superintendent Carrie Duits.
“2017 off to a great start for Hastings Area School System
The year has just started and already great things are happening throughout the district.
Here are just a few of highlights:
Northeastern Elementary recognized by Michigan Department of Education
Northeastern is no longer a “Focus school!” Northeastern originally received this label based on a need to close the gap between the high and low achievers. Last week, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) reported, "hard work and an emphasis on data-driven decisions," are making the difference in closing the achievement gap at Northeastern. Michigan accountability for schools requires a focus on effective teaching to increase in student achievement for all, and Northeastern is viewed as "on its way" and making great strides.
As a Focus School, Principal Eric Heide has been required to give quarterly reports to the Board of Education, submit additional plans to MDE, meet regularly with a consultant from MDE, and create plans for summer and school-year professional development. Throughout this process, the feedback has been very positive.
Northeastern teachers have worked hard to try new ideas, participate in additional professional development, analyze their data, and collaborate with each other. The result has been student success. Great job, NE staff and students!
Bond Update: The walls of Hastings Middle School begin to take shape
Thanks to teachers William Renner and Natasha Offerman, we have a time lapse video on YouTube of the demolition of the 1917 portion of Hastings Middle School (HMS). Like many in our community, I was a student in the 1917 portion of the building years ago, so it was a little hard to watch. The promise of a new facility that is safe and updated for students brings hope. https://youtu.be/XfYVFlqnNi8
If you haven’t been by the construction area in a while, the new building is taking shape. The footings are in, and the walls are going up. It’s also interesting to watch the new section fit between the boiler room of the past and the 1954 and 1997 sections of the building. Soon our view from Broadway will include a school!
HMS Pride Activities
HMS students in sixth and seventh grade participate in monthly pride activities for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS). In January, students chose activities and were awarded the opportunity to participate through their positive behavior choices. Data is shared monthly with students for ownership and goal setting of the initiative.
In January, 16 out of 414 students were in the "planning room" to plan for a better month. This means 96.2 percent of the student body made great behavior decisions. Their goal was 95 percent so they accomplished their goal for January and have their sights on a positive February for all students.”
The Delton Kellogg Board of Education has voted to enter into a contract with Hartman Consulting, based in Haslett, to conduct a superintendent search to find a replacement for interim Superintendent Carl Schoessel.
Schoessel, who took the position July 7, 2014, is stepping down June 31.
The next step in the process will be for board members to begin working with the consultant to approve a timeline for the search and develop a candidate profile.
The boaard's decision came following discussion on presentations from Hartman Consulting and the Michigan Association of School Boards from Lansing at a special Feb. 6 meeting.
An informational meeting on the medical marijuana law in Michigan was held Monday at the Yankee Springs Township Hall. Former 87th District State Representative Mike Callton, who wrote the present medical marijuana law, Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt and Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf all spoke on the subject, as seen from their perspectives.
Yankee Springs Supervisor Mark Englerth stressed it was not a pro or anti marijuana discussion, with no debating, just information.
Callton explained the law he wrote, starting by saying when the medical marijuana bill passed in Michigan, he voted against it. He gave the reasons he got involved with the marijuana issue.
Back in the 60’s marijuana was used for recreation, but a shift occurred; it could be used possibly as a medicine.
He told of a man he came to him for chiropractic treatment who was dying of cancer and losing weight. He wanted to live to see his son born. But, he was losing weight rapidly, common to cancer patients. His doctor was trying different drugs, but they weren’t working. The man asked for marijuana three times before he was prescribed the drug. It worked, the man gained weight and lived long enough to see his son born, Callton said.
“It took me aback. I usually don’t see patients like that in my practice. I believe it helps cancer patients who can’t eat,” he said.
He told of a child who was having up to 200 seizures a week; treatment with marijuana oil reduced the seizures to less than a dozen a week and they were much less severe, he said.
“In my mind, it helps as a antidote to chronic pain, problems sleeping, and certain illnesses… “
The Journal of American Medicine reported states where medical marijuana is legalized have 24.8 fewer opioids deaths than states without the laws, he said.
Ann Arbor, Detroit and Flint have medical marijuana dispensaries that are not in operation, waiting for clarification of the law Callton authored.
Still, the law prevents sale of marijuana to non-patients, the sale of overage and dispensaries.
Callton’s bill requires municipal approval to get a license for a dispensary. It’s likely those with a felony conviction, prior drug problems and little financing to run a business would not be considered for a license by the state licensing agency, LARA.
Clear policies by all municipalities are needed to prevent arbitrary enforcement; “to clearly state why they want this or do not want it,” he said.
His law covers five types of licenses; growers, transporters, testing labs, processing centers and provision centers.
Callton said despite the growing number of states approving marijuana for recreational use, it isn’t likely Michigan will approve it in the next few years, but might around 2020. //
Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt has been an attorney for 29 years, 24 in prosecuting. She stressed her opinion on any issue does not matter; her job is to see justice is done, to enforce the laws, not make them. If someone breaks the law they will be in court, she said.
Dispensaries are against the law, even those not open while waiting for clarification of the law.
“If Barry County has a dispensary, we have a problem with that.”
Most people want to follow the law, she said. “Our police are exemplary and they will work with people with minor violations who just don’t understand.”
However, if they are repeat offenders, or those who will take a mile when given an inch, “they will talk to the judge.” If people call to ask questions because they don’t want to make a mistake, she said, that’s fine with her.
She urged parents and other caregivers to make sure the young and the elderly are kept safe with regard to guns, registered or not, or any drug, be it alcohol or marijuana, to help her in her job of “keeping our most vulnerable citizens safe.”
Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf said in his entire career in law enforcement, marijuana use ha been against the law.
“It’s a new thing,” for all law enforcement and all must adapt to the change, the rookies and especially the older officers.
There are 19 amendments to the medical marijuana law that they must learn to conduct, “a fair and impartial investigation,” he said. Barry County is watching what is happening in other states that have legalized marijuana, he said. The federal government holds that any use of marijuana is against the law, the state now says it’s not in some cases, creating another concern. “It’s a change, and we have to change,” he said.
The first project to be completed in a comprehensive Barry County facility improvement plan is the former U.S. Post Office/Hastings Library/community building at 121 Court Street in the city.
Barry County Commissioners are inviting the public to an Open House Feb. 21 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to showcase the successful renovation project.
The refurbished building now holds the Michigan State University Extension offices, the county IT Department and its equipment and features a large community meeting room. The commission will hold its committee of the whole meeting before the open house from 9 to 10 a.m. There will be light refreshments.
The commission has tentatively named the former library the Cabinet Building. Barry County is one of 10 “Cabinet Counties" in Southwest Michigan named after members of then-President Andrew Jackson’s cabinet.
The former U.S. Post Office/Hastings Library is tentatively named the Cabinet Building.
After months of working with Streamside Ecological Service on a remediation plan for the 14-mile-long Little Thornapple River Drain, negotiating reached an impasse, according to Luis Saldivia, supervisor of the Water Resources Division of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in Grand Rapids.
Saldivia said the DEQ has been in ongoing consultations with the Michigan Attorney General’s office since last fall to see what they need to do to get the restoration done. The next step could include civil action. He discounted any criminal action as, “a last resort,” and a “drastic step.”
“We want to get an agreement and get to work,” he said. “Having three new commissioners on the board presents a challenge and also an opportunity to see new energies devoted to see if we can solve the issues.”
The intercounty drain board is made up of the drain commissioners from Barry County, Jim Dull; Ionia County, Robert Rose; and Kent County, Ken Yonker. Brady Harrington, from the Michigan Agriculture Department and Rural Development Board, chairs the intercounty drain board meetings. The board has not met since August, 2016.
Streamside Ecological Services co-founder Aaron Snell was hired by the intercounty drain board to develop a remediation plan that was agreeable to the DEQ. Snell submitted two plans to the DEQ, the first was returned for revision, the second is the one now stalled. Streamside said the DEQ was asking for things they couldn’t do, and negotiations broke down last fall, Saldivia said on Jan. 26. He said the restoration will be a multi-year project
Attorney Stacy Hissong with the Fahey, Schultz, Burzych and Rhodes law firm, represents the drain board. She said according to the drain code, they need a petition from a government entity or a court order to move forward on the drain. “Without a petition, we have no plan to move forward,” she said. Streamside’s work is not in question and the drain board is pleased with its work, she said. Streamside has to find a remediation plan that would meet the drain code in the most cost effective way possible, she added. Streamside is “very close” to having such a plan.//
August, 2014: To correct flooding problems along the 14-mile-length of the Little Thornapple Drain,(part of the Thornapple River) the intercounty board voted unanimously to do the work. With a proposal for bids with specifications adopted by all on the board, notices were sent to property owners along the river to make them aware of the coming work, according to drain commission records.
September, 2014: Geiger Excavating won the contract for $139,840 to be spread over the 2014-2015 budget years.
November, 2014: The board paid Geiger $24,000 and voted to borrow $135,000 to pay him the full amount.
Meanwhile, property owners along the drain and trout stream were complaining in public meetings of trees being cut and left lay, bank erosion, loss of ground cover along the river’s banks, lowered property values and general devastation of the river and their property.
With ongoing complaints from the public and the Coldwater River Watershed Council, the board voted to suspend Geiger’s work and find a plan to fix the damage. Aaron Snell, co-owner of Streamside, was hired by the drain board to provide a reconstruction plan for review by the DEQ. Other than seeding and initial work to stabilize the river banks, no further remediation has been done since then.
May, 2015: the Barry County Commission hired attorney Doug Kelly, with the Clark Hill law firm, to defend the county and its then Drain Commissioner Russ Yarger.
An original assessment and stabilization report was discussed by Streamside and the DEQ.
October, 2015: the first report from Streamside went to the DEQ, with follow-up meetings later in October and in November. It was reviewed by the DEQ and sent back with changes requested.
On the legal advice of Hissong, who represents the drain board, the second remediation plan developed by Snell, was sent back to him by the intercounty board for more work before it was submitted to the DEQ for approval and work could continue on the drain.
“We’re in a standby mode,” Saldivia said then. “We would like to see a plan. We’re encouraged, we do like to work with the people on the board…there is a lot of common agreement in several areas; with an updated plan, the board will look at it, we will review it, and hopefully get it done in 2016.”
March, 2016: The second, revised report was submitted to the DEQ by Streamside. Saldivia said then that DEQ staff was doing field work on the plan to determine it will approve the plans, or suggest improvements to Streamside.
June and July, 2016: Saldivia said the DEQ field work was completed and they were “discerning what areas they have agreement with the submitted remediation plan from Streamside.”
Billings for 2015-2016 legal work from Clark Hill, P.C. totaled $84,247.05, Barry County Administrator’s office figures show.
Billings from Fahey, Schultz, Burzych and Rhodes total $91,828, including $6,210.98 waiting for board approval of invoices, according to Hissong.
Billings from Streamside has been $85,315.23, with the first invoice in May, 2015, Snell said.
Special assessments on parcel owners to pay for improvements along the drain from Jordan Lake to Freeport are assessed on winter tax bills only. Special assessments are for one year, and must be re-approved every year.
In 2015, 2,190 parcels in the special assessment district were assessed, with Barry County parcel owners assessed $154,000, Ionia County owners $66,000 and Kent County owners, $0, according to drain department records.
In 2016, 2,191 parcels were assessed, with Barry County owners for $77,000, Ionia County assessed $33,000 and Kent County, $0, for a total of $330,000 over the two years, drain commission records show.
On Jan 26, Saldivia offered to supply a contact number of the Attorney General’s lawyer who is conferring with the DEQ. As of Feb. 7, no contact information has been forthcoming.
What to name a Barry County building was discussed by County Commissioners Tuesday. The building, acquired by the county in a land swap with the City of Hastings several years ago and renovated for county offices, is being called by some of its past uses; the old library building, the old post office, the community building.
Commissioner Ben Geiger suggested the Mellon Building after Andrew Mellon, the name is on the cornerstone. Commissioner Dan Parker suggested the People’s Building because the taxpayers paid for it and it is their building. Commissioner Jon Smelker didn’t support the Mellon name, saying Kim Sigler, the 40th Governor of Michigan and Hastings resident was better, but he leaned toward the People’s Building. In the end, the commission voted unanimously to send Vivian Conner’s choice, The Cabinet Building, to the full board for approval.
Smelker noted it was a recommendation to the full board and they might hear from the public on names over the next week.
Conner said several Southwest Michigan counties were named after men who were in President Andrew Jackson’s cabinet, with Barry already one of 10 “Cabinet Counties” in Southwest Michigan, so the name would be a good fit. Barry County came from William T. Barry, then U. S. Postmaster General.
Other counties got their names from cabinet members; John M. Berrien, John Branch, John C. Calhoun, Lewis Cass, John Eaton, Samuel D. Ingham, Edward Livingston, Martin Van Buren, and newly-elected President Andrew Jackson.
The story goes that the mass naming of the counties for Jackson’s cabinet was to curry favor with the federal government in a dispute over 468 square miles along the Ohio border. Eventually, the federal government gave the property to Ohio and Michigan get a large piece of the Upper Peninsula.
In public comment, Sharon Zebrowski said she was disappointed the commission did not allow time for the public to submit names for the building before they made a decision. The name should be serious and reflect Barry County, Zebrowski said. “If the taxpayers paid for the building, we have the right to at least submit names.”
Hastings Township Supervisor Jim Brown agreed, although he did say it didn’t matter what they named it, people would still call it the old library building. //
In other business, the commission recommended rezoning property in Section 20 of Hastings Township from Rural Residential to High Density Residential. The change has been approved by the Planning Commission; state law requires commission approval of all rezoning requests.
The commission also recommended Conner and Parker to represent Barry County on the Southwest Michigan Region 3 SMART Committee. The purpose of the SMART committee is to hare information, learn from each other and build unity among the 14 counties in Region 3.
(For more on Michigan history, read Forgotten Tales of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula by Alan Naldrett.)
The Hastings Fire department was called to a house fire on heath road in Rutland Township over the weekend.
The fire started from a woodburner chimney in the attic and spread to rest of the structure.
no injuries reported.
Riston Holley, a senior at Barry County Christian School, has been extended a congressional appointment to a U.S. military academy of his choosing from Justin Amash, U.S. Congressman from Michigan’s 3rd District.
The youngest son of Ron and Mary Holley of Hastings, Riston’s academic achievement, proven leadership qualities and community service highlight Congressman Amash's appointment, BCCS Administrator Brandon Strong said.
“It’s nice to have something we know about a student confirmed by Congressman Amash. Riston is a tremendous leader, has a strong personal commitment to patriotism, and is from an exceptional family. It’s been an absolute pleasure to watch the growth of young people; to watch one receive an honor like this is certainly a highlight.”
Holley is the grandson of Lyle Holley, a World War II veteran and an influence on his decision to serve. “Grandpa served in the Army and has always lived his life with integrity, I hope to be able to live life similarly, as it is very important to serve my country.”
To earn nomination, an applicant must prove their leadership capability, have strong academic records, and be interviewed by a panel from the congressman’s office. Now that he has completed that hurdle, the next step is to receive an appointment from an academy, Strong said.
Holley has not determined which academy he will attend, but his top three choices are West Point, U.S. Air Force Academy, and U.S. Naval Academy.
Upon graduation, he will be appointed an officer in the corresponding branch of the military, where he will serve for a minimum of five years.
Upon nomination from an academy, he will receive 100 percent free tuition, housing, meals, books, health insurance and a small stipend with the appointment. With graduation, he will become an officer in the United States military, Strong said.//
“I am very thankful for the opportunity to get a great education and then have the opportunity to go on and serve my country,” Holley said. He is the first student in Barry County Christian School’s 45-year history to earn the honor.
Military academies receive approximately 8,000 nominations yearly, and accept only 1,200. Holley has attended Barry County Christian School for 13 years.
His education and scholarships are valued at more than $350,000 to date
Last year, the Michigan Department of Treasury declared potential financial stress in the Delton Kellogg School District. A Kent Intermediate School District (KISD) administrative review recommended the district restore it’s fund balance to five percent of revenue by the end of the 2017-2918 school year.
Based on the district’s 2015 financial audit, the DK District met the recommendation by ending the fiscal year with a 5.2 percent general fund balance as a percent of total revenue. In December, 2016, the KISD recommended Delton be removed from the review process. The state treasurer agreed and determined that the potential stress no longer exists.
Delton Kellogg Interim Superintendent Carl Schoessel said the goal was accomplished a year and a half early mainly by two things; a dramatic increase in student enrollment and a “wonderful staff” that agreed to a budget modification that included a wage freeze. “There were other things, but those are the two major reasons,” he said. “We have a good team here, and this was definitely a team effort.”
The Barry Intermediate School District helped the Delton Kellogg District by agreeing to contract with KISD Business Manager Mike Haggarty to work with school officials. “Mike was very helpful to us,” Schoessel said.
Board of Education President Jim McManus added his thoughts: “The Board of Education is thrilled that we are no longer on the Financial Stress List and very thankful to the administration, teachers and staff for working together to help resolve the issue.”
This space is devoted to area school superintendents for them to highlight news in their districts. This posting is from Maple Valley’s Superintendent Michelle Falcon
“Attendance Critical for Academic Success
The importance of being a high school graduate in today’s society becomes more apparent every year. It is our goal at Maple Valley Schools that every student who enters our doors will earn a diploma. Unfortunately, we have some students who slip away from us before we even know it has happened.
Based on research from the University of Chicago, we now have some tools to help us identify students before they even know they are on track to dropout. These tools are called Early Warning Indicators and they are as easy as knowing your ABC’s.
A. Attendance (Miss more than 10 percent in a semester)
B. Behavior (Out of school suspensions or expulsion)
C. Course Proficiency (Grade point average and failure in English or Math)
The University of Chicago found that students in grade 9 who had all three of these indicators present were 75 percent likely to not finish high school and earn their diploma. Possessing two indicators, regardless of which indicators they were, half of those students dropped out. Our school district is currently using these early warning signs to identify students who need the most supplemental support. We believe attendance is a primary area to focus on.
Attending school can be one of the most important life skills that families and school systems instill in our children. Every employer in this country desires reliable employees who come to work and are prepared for the work. School districts feel the same way and have the same expectations. Maple Valley schools is asking for a call to action. As a community, we need to get our students to school and decrease the amount of instructional time missed. Each month we review our attendance data by grade level.
The missed days from September 7, 2016 through January 13, 2017 is 78 school days.
Nearly 30 percent of our students have already missed more than one week of school. This is a major concern for our staff. In order to improve our student achievement, we must have our students in class to receive the necessary instruction.
Our school improvement action plans now include strategies to target those students who have attendance issues.
It is our goal to improve our daily attendance so we can increase student learning. Please help us lower this number by persuading family and friends to attend school. We need your support to ensure Maple Valley students become successful, productive citizens.”
Former Hastings Mayor Frank Campbell was honored for his 55 years of service to the community in an official State of Michigan Special Tribute from 87th District Rep. Julie Calley.
Barry County Commissioner Ben Geiger, speaking for Calley, presented the certificate to Campbell as he and his wife Linda attended the Wednesday Kiwanis meeting.
Campbell was praised for his hard work, dedication and professionalism on behalf of the people of the community. “As the people of Hastings recognize the loyalty and devotion to public service of this conscientious individual, we add our sentiments of gratitude for a job well done,” the Special Tribute read.
A U.S. Army veteran, his 55 years of service to the city includes as a Hastings police officer, manager of the Barry County/City of Hastings Airport, multiple terms on the city council and as its mayor twice.
Congratulating Campbell on his personal milestone, the tribute wished him "the happiest of retirements."
The document, signed by Calley, 19th State District Senator Mike Nofs and Governor Rick Snyder, is the first legislative recognition authored by new representative Calley, Geiger said.
Photo: Barry County Commissioner Ben Geiger, left, and former Hastings Mayor Frank Campbell show Campbell's Special Tribute from the State of Michigan.
The pubic is invited to a forum on medical marijuana law in Michigan, what it is and what it is not, on Monday Feb. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at the Yankee Springs Township Hall, 284 North Briggs Road.
Former 87th District Rep. Mike Callton, Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf and Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt will attend. Yankee Springs Supervisor Mark Englerth said he expects good discussion on the topic. “I don’t care if you are for or against, just speak the truth,” he said.
With Hastings school officials following protocols and working with Hastings Police, it was quickly determined Wednesday morning that an e-mail sent to 7th grade teachers that read “Bomb” was a false threat, a prank.
With the determination that it was a low level threat, they did not need to evacuate the middle school building.
Superintendent Carrie Duits said they did not call off a Michigan State Police handler and his K-9 who were enroute, but kept students in their classrooms while “the dog performed a walkthrough as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of our students.”
Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt credited Duits, Business Manager Tim Berlin and Director of Curriculum Matt Goebel for their cooperation and taking all the right measures early on.
“If they hadn’t taken the proper steps, it would have been different,” he said. The police report will be sent to the prosecutor for possible charges against the student.
Allegan County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a Dorr Township residence around 4 a.m. Wednesday on a call of a domestic violence situation involving family members that escalated to a shooting and an apparent suicide.
As an active investigation, all the details are not yet available for release. Details could change as all the evidence is collected and the Medical Examiner’s Office completes their portion of the investigation, an Allegan County Sheriff’s Office news release said.
The initial investigation and interviews indicate there was a domestic violence argument between brothers in their 20’s, and a step-father in his mid 40’s, officials said.
The argument escalated when one of the brothers went to an separate upstairs residence and got a rifle.
He returned to the downstairs residence and shot the stepfather, causing a non-life threatening injury, then turned the weapon on himself. According to the witnesses and the initial scene investigation, the suspect died as the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Deputies and investigators are still interviewing witnesses and processing the scene for evidence.
The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office assured the public Tuesday that it was safe to go about their business after the arrest of a suspect was made by several law enforcement officers in a public place.
A 25-year-old Lee Township man, with an outstanding warrant for assault and believed to be armed with handgun, was taken into custody during the noon hour in the parking lot of an Allegan business. The unnamed suspect, being held in the Correctional Center, is believed to be involved in a stabbing of a 28-year-old Lee Township man on Jan. 13.
The stabbing is still under investigation, however, an assault and battery warrant was initially issued as the investigation continues. Detectives are in the process of obtaining search warrants and will be meeting with the prosecutor’s office regarding additional charges.
Sheriff’s office deputies were assisted in the arrest by Allegan City Police Department officers.