Local News Archives for 2017-06

Building total loss in Cascade Township fire

On Thursday, June 29, at 3:10 p.m., Kent County Sheriff’s deputies, and Cascade, Caledonia and Kentwood fire departments responded to the report of a structure fire at Midwest Trailer Repair, 5015 52nd Street in Cascade Township.

An employee used a blow torch to cut a steel beam on a semi trailer that they were repairing inside the building. The semi-trailer caught fire and subsequently caught the building on fire, officials said.

The employees evacuated the building and there were no reported injuries.

The building was a total loss

Eaton County Sheriff's Office increases security at fireworks display

For the safety of everyone attending the annual Delta Township Fireworks display on July 3, the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office and Delta Township have taken steps to increase security and reduce the potential for injury inside Sharp Park before, during and after the event.

During the day of July 3, the park will be closed to motor vehicles and the Delta Library lot will also be closed.


Two entrances will be available into Sharp Park.

The main entrance from Elmwood Road will be open to pedestrians, and to vehicles holding a valid parking permit obtained from Delta Township. The second entrance open to pedestrians or bicyclists will the east/west pathway entry into the park.


Fireworks, missile-like objects, weapons or firearms that are not permitted by law are prohibited in the park.   People entering are subject to a visual inspection of their person, parcels, bags and containers, and clothing capable of carrying such items.

Visitors may refuse this inspection.  If so, they will be refused entry into the park.//


The Michigan Fireworks Safety Act legalized the purchase and possession of consumer fireworks previously banned in Michigan and regulates the use of the fireworks. Violations of the fireworks law carry penalties from 30 days in jail and/or fines up to $1,000 to sentences of 15 years in prison and/or fines of up to $10,000 depending on the severity of the offense. Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich also emphasizes safety in the use of fireworks in annual fireworks displays.



Be aware of siren test in Delta Township Saturday

A test of outdoor warning sirens will be conducted by Eaton County Central Dispatch on Saturday, July 1 at 1 p.m. in Delta Township. The sirens are tested at 1 p.m. the first Saturday of every month; if there is a threat of severe weather on the day of a test, it will be cancelled, according to a Central Dispatch news release.


Except for scheduled testing, the sirens will be activated for the following emergencies:

* the National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning.

* a trained spotter has sighted a tornado or funnel cloud.

* a hazardous materials accident requires immediate protective action by the public.

* an attack on the United States is imminent, underway or has recently occurred.


Warning siren activation is a signal to members of the public to immediately go indoors and monitor local Emergency Alert System media outlets for official information.  Residents can also sign-up for emergency notifications at or by texting the word EATON to 888777.


Central Dispatch is responsible for the activation of outdoor warning sirens in Delta Township. The sirens are maintained by local governments, but are triggered, when appropriate, by Central


Barry County earns AA bond rating from Standard & Poors

Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings has given Barry County a AA bond rating, the third highest rating available, County Administrator Michael Brown said Tuesday.

After review of the county’s outstanding bonds, S&P said Barry County earned the AA rating by showing a strong economy with access to a broad and diverse metropolitan area; strong budgetary performance with balanced operating results and an operating surplus; very strong budgetary flexibility with a high available fund balance; very strong liquidity and a strong institutional framework score.


“Barry County’s strong rating means lower interest ratings and significant savings for taxpayers today and in the future,” Commissioner Ben Geiger, commission chairman said. “But, beyond reaffirming our financial strength, this rating shows this county government is on the right track, and has a deep respect for its taxpayers.”


In its report, S&P said the county’s financial position and performance were stable and steady, and reflects its belief that the county will keep its favorable reserve levels.

“Given management’s historical budget performance and forward looking planning, we do not expect to change the rating during the two-year outlook horizon.”


After hearing the Barry County Road Commission’s annual report by Managing Director Brad Lamberg, the commission approved:

* the annual implementation plan for CareWell Services Southwest (formerly Region 3-B Area on Aging)

* the annual audit report prepared by Rehmann Robson

* sending a letter meeting a National Government Services mandate revalidating Thornapple Manor’s Medicare enrollment required to continue serving Medicare patients.

* Brown issuing requests for proposals for medical examiner services.



Preliminary hearing for murder suspect begins, to be continued

The preliminary examination of Ralph Bowling III on several charges including open murder, will be in two parts. The first was held Wednesday, June 28. District Court Judge Michael Schipper warned the people in the courtroom that though he understood there would be tension there would be no words or actions during the proceedings, “or you will be removed, or if need be, you will be arrested.”


Bowling faces open murder, attempted murder, home invasion, 2nd degree arson and several felony gun charges. Bowling is charged with entering a home on Bird Road in Baltimore Township in the early morning hours of June 11 and shooting Nathan Farrell in the neck and then chasing his wife, Cheyenne Bowling, from the house and allegedly shooting her to death. He then went to his home on Coats Grove Road and allegedly set it on fire.


Farrell was questioned by Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt and defense Attorney James Goulooze for an hour. Farrell testified he and Cheyenne Bowling had spent Saturday evening together and were at Cheyenne’s mother and stepfather’s house watching a movie when Ralph came into the room with a gun asking, “Where is he?” and calling her names.


Cheyenne told Bowling he couldn’t be there and he had to leave and stepped between Farrell and Bowling, saying, “He won’t shoot me.” Farrell testified Bowling was circling the two, trying to get a good angle to shoot him. “I told him, put the gun down; I’ll leave, I’ll do whatever you want, this doesn’t make any sense.” He recalled hearing a shot, felt warm and found he was bleeding profusely. Thinking that he was going to die, he made his way out of the house and ran down a drainage ditch to the nearest house with lights on. As he ran, he heard a single gunshot.


The owner, at first alarmed at a man coming out of the darkness covered with blood, called 911. Ferrell was airlifted to a hospital in Grand Rapids and treated for a broken jaw.

Asked about his relationship with Cheyenne Bowling, Farrell said they worked at the same place and had gone with a group of fellow employees for drinks after work a few times. He said from the way she talked about her husband and her marriage, he thought they were separated.//


Cheyenne’s stepfather, Tim Wymer, testified that relations with Ralph Bowling were strained and a week before the murder, his wife Melissa, Cheyenne’s mother, disinvited him to the regular Wednesday night family dinner, and if he did come, Wymer said, he would have been asked to leave.


Trevor Slater, a Michigan State Police expert in fire investigations, testified that Bowling admitted setting the fire in a jail interview. The date for the continuation of the hearing wasn’t immediately set.




City Councilman offers to build a basketball court in the 3rd Ward Park

The 3rd Ward Park in Hastings may get a regulation size 50 by 84 square foot basketball court, striped with lines to match what middle and high school students use in schools, so they can practice at the park court.


It’s Councilman Don Smith’s idea. 


Monday, he asked and received unanimous approval from the council for him to work with city staff during the project. His employer will fund one-half of the cost, the rest will be asked of residents to give them ownership of the park.  He said everyone he talked to liked the idea and he plans to go door to door raising the needed capital.


The park, also known as the skate park, has an area that gets little use with room for a court.

Smith said with an epoxy surface and commercial poles they could hold basketball camps in the summer and the residents on the northeast side of town would welcome a place for kids to exercise.

He plans on enough top soil to cover 90 by 60 square feet and a couple of feet of sand for drainage.


“I do want to raise money from the residents to give them ownership,” he repeated.


Photo: Hastings City Councilman Don Smith tells council members of his plans for  a basketball court in 3rd Ward Park.

Hastings officials will negotiate with Smith Equities on sale of Moose building

The Hastings City Council Monday opted to negotiate with Smith Equities, Inc. for the sale of the former Moose building at the corner of Apple Street and Michigan Avenue.

With the decision made, city staff will work with Smith Equities to finalize a development plan.


The council has been considering the sale of the building for several weeks, including presentations from developers Smith Equities, represented by John VanFossen,  and Developer Marv Helder, as well as a special workshop to gather facts.


Smith Equities, Inc. would raze the building and build a new, three story mixed-use building with three retail units on Michigan Avenue and about 20 apartments on upper floors.

Helder planned to save the building, enhance its historical characteristics, install a banquet hall and office spaces on the first floor and a half dozen living units on the second floor. His plan would take an estimated five years to complete, and he asked for five years of tax abatement for five years or until the completion of the project.


Smith Equities listed construction completion time as 200 to 250 days, after a development agreement and site plan approval.

Both agreed to the removal of an addition on the back of the building, which the city will use to expand an existing parking lot. //


Public Services Director Lee Hays gave a report on the building to the council.

“Overall the structure is in poor condition,” he said. The roof is leaking, the entire outside needs replacement or upgrades, a leak in the foundation is letting water into the basement, the stairs to the second floor have settled to one side, with questionable condition of the second floor itself, heaving slightly when one walks on it.


Hays said if the building was going to be rehabilitated, it must be now or in the near future, because it would not be salvageable later.


The total cost to the city to acquire the building up for tax sale, was $83,979.75, according to a memo to the council from City Manager Jeff Mansfield. The cost for removing the back add-on of the building would be, without abatement or hazardous materials treatment, about $20,000 to $22,000, he said.

Parking would be a primary consideration, Mansfield said, with Smith Equities needing 59 parking spaces and Helder about 64 parking spaces.

However, Mansfield pointed out that since the development is within 300 feet of a  municipal parking lot, no additional parking is required to be provided under the city code. 


Photo: Thornapple Flats development for the former Moose building proposed by Smith Equities.

City of Hastings paid back for early financial support of Hastings Veterans Monument

Former Mayor Frank Campbell Monday presented the Hastings City Council with a check for $41,502.05, fulfilling his pledge that the city would be paid back for its help with the early costs of the Hastings Veterans Memorial.

While he was mayor, Campbell pushed for the monument, promising to raise the money the city spent during the project to assure taxpayers would not be obligated to pay the bill. He only asked that the monument be finished before he retired at the end of his term.


A budget amendment to allow the city to add funds to make up a shortfall for the construction of the monument was approved by the council in July 2016.


“This has been a long time coming,” Campbell said. “I don’t know the names of all the people who helped with the project, but there were a great number...I especially want to thank the city council who helped me when I was mayor.”


He also named Councilman Don Smith, for his drive to getting the monument done. “You can’t see a lot of what he did, it’s underground. He started it and others joined in. There were many, many, others who gave what they could.”


The money was held at the Barry Community Foundation as it was raised, with two anonymous donors helping meet the goal, Campbell said.

The total cost of the work on the monument was $74,202.05, with the city’s contribution $41,502.05, the amount of the check.


Mayor Dave Tossava, who accepted the check for the city, said Campbell was the reason there is a monument. “Without Frank, this would never have been done. Thank you, Frank.”


Campbell is still accepting donations for upkeep costs such as replacing flags or lights and possibly two more monuments that he said should be added to the display at the entrance of Tyden Park; the Military Order of the Purple Heart and Gold Star Mothers.


Donations can be sent to the Barry Community Foundation to the Hastings Veterans Monument Fund. The monument was formally dedicated to the city in a ceremony on Memorial Day.


Photos: (upper left)The Hastings Veterans Monument


(middle left) Former Mayor Frank Campbell, left, presents a check to current Mayor David Tossava covering the cost the city’s contribution to the Hastings Veterans Monument.


(upper right) Former Mayor Frank Campbell enjoys a laugh with the Hastings City Council before his check presentation. 


Power Restored

Electric service was restored this Tuesday morning to the Cloverdale, Delton and Orangeville area after being out since late Monday night. Consumers Energy said the outage affected some five thousand of their customers as a result of equipment failure.

Hastings to get new street sweeper, continue disposing of unused equipment

The City of Hastings will get a new 2018 street sweeper though the State of Michigan’s MiDeal negotiated price with the approval of the City Council Monday. Department of Public Services Director Lee Hays said the current machine is used every day in the non-winter months getting a lot of wear and tear.


“At this time, the existing sweeper has reached it’s useful life, and is beginning to need major component replacements,” Hays said in his request. The state’s negotiated price is $256,353 provided by Bell Equipment for a 2018 Elgin Whirlwind Street Sweeper. Bell offered a $40,000 trade-in for the old sweeper, Hays asks to sell the sweeper to the high bidder; if the reserve price of $40,000 is not met, he will use it as trade-in to Bell Equipment.

The new sweeper has two perpendicular brooms that are not on the old sweeper and some additional minor modifications to suit the city’s needs, he said.

The purchase was budgeted in the 2017-2018 Capital Improvement Plan for $270,000 from the equipment fund. The balance in the equipment fund would be $189,500, not counting the $40,000 to go there with the sale of the old sweeper, Hays said.

The current model, a 2010 Elgin Whirlwind in service since 2009, was purchased for $197,560. The sweeper is one of the most used and complicated pieces of equipment the city has and requires considerable maintenance, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.


Also, Hays will continue “housekeeping” by disposing of equipment no longer used by the DPS by auction through Rangerbid. Fees are paid by the bidder so there is no cost to the city, he said.  Funds raised by the sales will go into the equipment fund.


On the list: A 1972 John Deere motor grader estimated value: $13,000  for auction with a $13,000 reserve; 1956 Army Corp. of Engineers 10 Kw generator, for high bid at auction; 1955 125 horse power Hoffman Blower, for high bid at auction; and 1987 Onan 15 Kw trailer mounted generator, for high bid at auction.


In other business, the council approved razing a small, unused structure at Fish Hatchery Park that is beyond repair, as recommended by Hays. The DPS will demolish and dispose of the structure.


Celebration of antique iron at Charlton Park July 7-8

The Charlton Park Gas & Steam Engine Club hosts its 46th annual Gas & Steam Engine Show Friday, July 7 and Saturday, July 8, from 8 a.m. to dusk.

Admission to the event is $6 for those 13 and up, $4 for children 5 to12 and children 4 and under are free. 

Tractors, stationary engines, steam engines, farm machinery, and the famed 1884 Westinghouse Traction Engine, thought to be one of the few left in the world, will be on display during the show.  The Westinghouse is also used to steam sweet corn for event guests.

Food vendors with festival favorites, a daily swap meet and flea market, garden tractor and farm tractor pulls, tractor and steam engine games, kid’s pedal pull and tractor parades at 4 p.m. both days are planned. Bring lawn chairs and blankets for seating.


Start the day Saturday morning, with a pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. hosted by club members and Barry County Commissioners.

“Charlton Park Gas & Steam Engine Club members are excited to share this event with our community,” President Daryl Cheeseman said. “There’s something for everyone July 7-8.  Bring your cameras to catch all the action and be sure to enjoy a fresh ear of sweet corn, dipped in butter.”


Charlton Park is at 2545 South Charlton Park Road off M-79.

For a complete schedule, visit, or on Facebook. 













Photo: A child feeds a corn shelling machine under the watchful eye of an adult at an earlier Gas & Steam Engine Show.


Hastings City Council considers temporary signs, Distributed Antenna Systems, setbacks

The Hastings City Council considered several draft ordinances Monday, approving changes in ordinances 543 and 546 and denying amendmets to ordinances 544 and 545.


The change in ordinance 543 clarifies definitions of some temporary signs and amends regulations that apply to the signs in residential areas. The issue came up when the code compliance officer began enforcing the ordinance that was amended to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court decision banning content based signs.


Ordinance 546 clarifies definitions of Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) to confirm that they are not essential public services equipment. Lack of the clarification would hamper the city’s ability to regulate the systems. Approval of both amendments was recommended by the city planning commission, with the DAS amendment also recommended by Attorney Jeff Sluggett.


The council followed the planning commissions recommendation to deny changes in draft ordinances 544 and 545 that would have reduced setbacks in D-1 and D2 industrial zones that abut residential zones, depending on the height of the building in the industrial zone.

Alcohol allowed at Thornapple Plaza events for a "test" year

With no problems or issues related to the sale and consumption of alcohol at a June 16 Thornapple Plaza Friday Night Feature, the Hastings City Council Monday approved allowing the sale of alcohol Friday nights from June 30 through August 18.


David Solmes, representing the Hastings Rotary and Kiwanis clubs said everything went smoothly during the “test” event and asked that they be allowed to drop a designated seating area for those who buy alcohol because it was difficult to tell who had a drink and who did not. Councilmen Al Jarvis, Don Smith and John Resseguie said they attended and enjoyed the event and agreed that eliminating segregation of drinkers was a good idea.


Solmes said it turrned out that they actually had too many volunteers at the event and will reduce the numbers in future concerts. The June 16 event had $800 in concession stand sales and $500 of it was for alcohol, far above the average $200 to $400 in sales, he said.

The Baum Family Foundation, which funded the construction of the Plaza and then gifted it to the City of Hastings, also agreed to pay for the entertainment for the first three years. The profits from beer and wine sales will raise funds to pay for the future entertainment acts at the city’s newest attraction.


Some of the conditions for serving alcohol include beer and wine only, a two drink limit, wrist bands, two volunteers at five entry points to ID and give stamps, volunteers for security to make sure no one is bringing in something they shouldn’t or buying drinks for others. Serving begins 30 minutes before events and ends 30 minutes before the end of a concert of less than two hours and one hour before the end of concerts longer than two hours.


City staff will monitor the situation for one “test” year with the provision that they can get involved if a problem arises. The vote to approve extend the sale of alcohol was nearly unanimous, with Councilman Bill Redman the sole “no.”


Middleville woman charged with hit and run death of bicyclist

Barry County Prosecuting Attorney, Julie Nakfoor-Pratt, today filed charges against Kelleigh Linae Hobbs in connection with the alleged hit and run crash that killed Carla Reiffer of Middleville on June 23.


Hobbs, of Middleville, is charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in serious impairment or death, a felony carrying a maximum of 15 years in prison. She is also charged with a moving violation causing death, and possession of marijuana, both misdemeanors carrying a maximum of one year in jail.

Her bond is set at $250,000. A probable cause hearing is set for July 5.

“I would like to recognize the Barry County Sheriff’s Office for their coordinated efforts to locate the vehicle and suspect in this case,” Nakfoor-Pratt said. “The collaboration between the police, central dispatch and other emergency services is to be commended.”







Photo:  Kelleigh Linae Hobbs

(Photo courtesy of Barry County Sheriff’s Office)




Eaton County motorcycle, SUV crash leaves one with serious injuries

Eaton County Sheriff’s Office Deputies report a personal injury crash involving a motorcycle and an SUV left the motorcycle driver, a 45 year-old Onadaga man, in a hospital with serious injuries.

His passenger, a 43 year-old-woman also from Onadaga, was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.


Deputies said an 18-year-old Pleasant Lake man was driving an SUV south on Waverly at the intersection of Kinneville Highway Friday about 7:30 p.m. when he collided with the westbound motorcycle. He was not injured. Both riders on the motorcycle were wearing helmets.


Alcohol, drugs, and speed are not believed to be factors in the crash, which is being investigated by the sheriff’s office’s accident investigation team and its detective bureau. 

Deputies were assisted by Eaton Area EMS, Hamlin Twp Fire Department, Eaton Rapids Police, and Michigan State Police.  The intersection was closed down for about four hours.


UPDATE: Bicyclist in fatal hit and run identified

UPDATE: The Barry County Sheriff’s Office has identified the victim of the Friday evening hit and run as Carla Marie Reiffer, 40 from Middleville.


ORIGINAL STORY:The Barry County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public’s help in finding the hit and run driver of a vehicle that struck and killed a woman bicyclist just before 7 p.m. Friday evening on Whitneyville Road near Parmalee Road in Thornapple Township.

The victim, a Middleville area woman about 40, is not being identified pending notification of family.


The suspect’s vehicle is a 1998 to 2004  Chrysler Concord, color unknown, that has substantial front end damage, and left the scene heading north toward Kent County, officials said. The Kent County Sheriff’s Office has been alerted.


Anyone with information is asked to call Barry County Central Dispatch 269-948-4800 ext 1, the sheriff’s office, 269-948-4801, or Silent Observer 269-948-3335.  


Reward offered for information on person who abused dog

The Capital Area Humane Society in Lansing is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the abuse of a young female pit bull mixed-breed dog. Eaton County Animal Control was contacted June 21 by the humane society about the dog found by a citizen near Strange Highway and M-100 and taken to the humane society shelter.


The dog had signs of abuse and neglect including severe injuries and scarring around the muzzle and a shaved body with significant skin irritation. She had recently weaned a litter of puppies. An alleged suspect and owner of the dog is currently in custody on unrelated charges in another county. 

Eaton County Animal Control continues to investigate the case to determine where the abuse occurred and to arrest the person(s) who committed the mistreatment. 





Gun Lake Tribe hosts third annual Sweet Grass Moon PowWow July 8-9

The Gun Lake Tribe of Pottawatomi Indians will host the Sweet Grass Moon PowWow Saturday, July 8, from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, July 9, from 12 p.m. to  5 p.m.

The public is invited to the free celebration of Pottawatomi culture, dance and songs. The third annual powwow will be at Jijak Camp, 2044 126th Avenue, Hopkins. The entrance is near the farmhouse.


Jijak Camp is a sprawling cultural center that features a beautiful powwow arena, cabins, lakes, a community center, and much more.  Native American vendors from across the Great Lakes region will offer native foods, arts, and jewelry. Pictures and video may be taken during the event, unless otherwise announced by the emcee.  


In lieu of an admission fee, attendees are asked to bring one canned good or dried food item to go to the Annetta Jensen Food Pantry in Dorr.


Ionia woman dies when struck by vehicle on M-66

The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office reports the death of a 32-year-old pedestrian struck on South State Road (M66) just south of Tuttle Road at about 11:15 p.m. on June 22.

Officials said they are not releasing the woman’s name until the family can complete notification of her passing. 

The woman, an Ionia resident, is believed to have been walking toward the west across the lanes of travel when a Ford Ranger driven by a 22-year-old Ionia man struck her while southbound on South State Road from East Tuttle Road.  She died at the scene.

Neither alcohol or drugs are believed to have played a role in the incident, which remains under investigation.

The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Ionia Department of Public Safety, the Berlin Orange Fire Department, Life Ambulance, and Reed and Hoppes Towing. 


Kalamazoo County man missing since June 4, family asks public's help

Ronald Harry French, 71, from South 34th Street in Brady Township, has been missing since June 4, the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office reports.

French is white, about six feet tall, weighs 200 pounds and has gray hair and blue eyes. He suffers from epilepsy and has a heart condition. His 2016 Silverado pick up truck has been located and no other vehicle information is available, authorities said. A report was made to the sheriff’s office June 21.

The family asks that anyone with information about French’s whereabouts contact the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office.

Charlton Park plans patriotic party July 4th

The 35th annual celebration honoring America’s independence will be Tuesday, July 4 at Historic Charlton Park in Hastings with free parking and admission.

The Old Fashioned Fourth of July and Veteran’s Barbeque event  is from noon to 4 p.m., with a flag raising and presentation by American Legion Post 45 at noon.


Field-day style games for all ages include three-legged and sack races, watermelon and pie eating contests, hay bale toss, needle in a haystack and baby crawl with ribbons awarded to all winners.

Local “celebrity” judges will select the 2017 Champion Pie, with prizes to the baker. The pie will be auctioned off with proceeds going to the park’s special events fund. Uncle Sam will also be on hand with a free treat for everyone. 


“Guests told us they wanted more free community events, and we are happy to host this fun-filled day,” Office Manager  Stacey Graham said. “We owe a debt of gratitude to our past and present service men and women who are stationed around the world.  Purchase a meal and help support veteran’s programs locally.” 


Schondelmayer’s B-B-Q Pork Buffet, sponsored by the Hastings American Legion Post, will be served from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.


Come early or stay late and enjoy the beach, fishing, picnic area, hiking trails or boat launch.  The Historic Village is also open for self-guided tours.  The park is open every day from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Historic Charlton Park is at 2545 South Charlton Park Road off M-79.

Visit for more information.














Photo: Barry County Commissioner Ben Geiger hands out ice cream to visitors at last year's July 4th celebration.


Allegan Sheriff asks public to help find Steven Eugene Chandler

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to ask for any additional information regarding Steven Eugene Chandler.

Chandler was last heard from May 26 when he called his family and told them that he was borrowing someone’s phone, believed that he was in Lansing, and did not give them any further information.


The family stated that while he said he was okay, his voice led them to believe that he may not have been. Steven traveled from Minnesota to Chicago via Greyhound bus arriving on May 22 at the downtown Greyhound station in Chicago.


His ticket was bought to continue on to the 95th Street Station, however Greyhound officials stated he never got on that bus. The family believes that Steven may have found a ride from someone in Chicago to Michigan.


At this time, the sheriff’s office is asking for any information about Steven’s whereabouts or who may have given him a ride back to Michigan.


Photo: Steven Eugene Chandler

















Steven Eugene Chandler

Fire hits the Mexican Connexion this morning, damages kitchen, roof

The Hasting Fire Department responded to a fire at the Mexican  Connexion, 131 South Jefferson Street in Hastings at 9:13 a.m. today, according to Hastings Fire Department.


The fire was contained to the kitchen contents and roof,  causing an estimated $20,000 damage to the structure and $40,000 loss of contents. There was also smoke damage throughout the building. The structure, owned by Hugo Osario, is insured through the Buckland Agency.


The fire was contained at 9:55 a.m. and firefighters were back at the station at 10 a.m. Freeport Fire Department assisted Hastings.


Photo: Fire at the Mexican Connexion this morning was contained to the kitchen and roof.

Barry County receives "clean, unmodified" 2016 audit

Kirstin Hoogerwerf, CPA and Certified Government Financial Manager with Rehmann told Barry County Commissioners Tuesday that, for 2016, the county earned a “clean, unmodified opinion of its financial statements, that’s the highest level we can give you…”


Hoogerwerf highlighted parts of the 200-plus page draft audit, also explaining a second audit required when an entity has $750,000 or more in federal expenditures; Barry County had $1,231,504 in such expenditures in 2016.

 “In our opinion, the schedule of expenditures of federal awards is fairly stated in all material respects in relation to the basic financial statements as a whole,” the report said of the second audit.


On Wednesday, Hoogerwerf issued a correction to one of the findings in the draft audit in a letter to Administrator Michael Brown, copied to Register of Deeds Barb Hurless.

Hoogerwerf's letter to Brown said, in part:

“In discussing Finding 2016-001, Community Development Block Grant Loan Administration, I indicated that timely communication from the Register of Deeds office was the recommended course of corrective action.


“While the Register of Deeds office does have information on property sales and foreclosures, it is only for the purpose of maintaining public records. Further, the Register of Deeds office only receives information on a property sale or foreclosure after the action has already taken place…neither the control deficiency, nor the error resulting from the control deficiency, relate to officials or employees of the Register of Deeds office.” The language of the Finding was revised to eliminate any reference to the Register of Deeds office.


“Please accept my deepest apologies for the misunderstanding and any trouble it may have caused to the County, its elected officials, or employees,” she wrote. //


In other business, the commission recommended approval of the 2017-2018 annual implementation Plan for Region 3B CareWell Services Southwest (formerly the Area

Agency on Aging) prepared by Program Manager Stacy Wines and presented by CEO Karla Fales.


The proposed plan documents goods, services and funding for older adults in Barry and Calhoun counties. After it is approved by the county the plan is sent to the Michigan Commission on Services to the Aging for its approval.


Barry County: Take responsibility for any Thornapple Manor debts, or lose 90 percent of its operating revenue

Barry County Commissioners don’t seem to have a choice.

They must agree to accept legal and financial responsibility for any outstanding debts owned to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) by Thornapple Manor. If the county does not agree by June 30, CMS will stop paying Medicaid and Medicare claims, which is more than 90 percent of the nursing facility’s operating revenue.


Thornapple Manor Administrator Don Haney, said the CMS is requiring revalidation of all skilled nursing facilities in the country. When the initial revalidation is complete, it will be done every five years thereafter.


Thornapple Manor is unique in its relationship with the county, but the CMS does not recognize it and is requiring the county, as "owner " of the facility, to guarantee that all debts due to CMS will be paid by the county should the facility ever go bankrupt or close, Haney said.


Administrator Michel Brown talked to a county attorney who wanted to look at the underlying request. Brown wants to know if the county has that liability. At his request, the commissioners moved the matter to the regular board meeting next week, giving Brown time to get more information.

Commissioners agreed the facility could not be allowed to lose Medicare and Medicaid payments; they would have to sign it and argue it later.//


The original license was issued to Thornapple Manor in 1957, and Haney said in his 16 years at the facility, nothing like it has come up before. There are 35 other counties around Michigan in a similar situation, and “they are taking variety of approaches” to the mandate, Brown said. There is “only a very slight possibility” that the facility would ever close or go bankrupt, activating any debt payments, but he wanted more legal advice, he said.

Sparrow Hospital to terminate contract for ME pathology services, asks Barry County to renegotiate

Barry County has received notice from Sparrow Health System that it intends to terminate its 2016 contract with the county for death investigations by its pathology services on Sept. 30.


“We sincerely hope that we can renegotiate the terms of our contract and that we can continue to serve as your Medical Examiner’s Office,” Sparrow Laboratory Director Jon Baker wrote.


Sparrow asks for an increase from $2.09 per capita to $2.50 per capita that “would allow us to break even on the service.” The increase would add $25,000 a year for the service. Baker also asked for Barry County “to communicate your intensions to us, no later than June 23.”


Baker said its forensic pathology department has operated at a deficit of $500,000 a year, which Sparrow Health System has absorbed; they can no longer subsidize counties, he said, so are re-evaluating the counties where it provides Medical Examiner services.


Commissioners directed Administrator Michael Brown to develop a request for proposals (RFPs) from pathology services to, “see what’s out there,” before they make a decision. The RFP will ask for prices on both individual cases and blanket coverage.


An ME is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In Michigan, manner of  death is limited to natural, accident, suicide, and homicide or indeterminate.  Also, information/evidence gathered by an ME may be critical for further legal proceedings. Barry County has several Medical Investigators who assist the ME.

Deaths that are thought to be from injury or poisoning, violent, sudden, unexpected, unattended or not readily explainable deaths are investigated, including autopsies, by the ME’s office. //


Barry County had a doctor who was ME, but after his death, no other doctor was interested in taking the office, and extensive examination and autopsies had to be sent to an out of county pathology lab, making it “not optimal,” Brown said.


During discussion, commissioners stressed the excellent service provided by Sparrow, and whether to ask for RFPs.

Commissioner Heather Wing noted if not enough counties signed new contracts and Sparrow eliminated the pathology service, the county would still have to issue RFPs to find another service.


Sparrow serves as Medical Examiner to Eaton, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Livingston, Montcalm, Muskegon and Shiawassee counties.



UPDATE: Driver in June 17 fatal crash arrested, charged with OWI causing death

UPDATE:The Barry County Sheriff’s Office has identified the driver of a vehicle in a fatal traffic crash Saturday night as Joshua Michael Allerding, 23, of Hastings.  Allerding was arrested and has been charged with Operating While Intoxicated Causing Death.


ORIGINAL STORY: Hastings woman dies when driver loses control, goes into water

Camilia Ray, 29, of Hastings, was pronounced dead at a local hospital after being trapped in a partially submerged vehicle on M-43 near Cloverdale Road in Hope Township. The Barry County Sheriff’s Office reports an as yet unidentified 23-year-old Hastings man lost control of his vehicle on a curve and it overturned into the water at 11:33 p.m. Saturday. Alcohol is believed to be a factor in the crash, deputies said.


Investigators were Sgt. Timothy Stevens and deputies Randy Volosky, Barry Brandt and Scott Ware.

Delton Fire  Department, Barry Township Police, Michigan State Police, Lansing Mercy Ambulance Service, Michigan Department of Transportation and Barry County Central Dispatch assisted deputies.


Photo: Joshua Allerding

(Photo supplied by Barry County Sheriff's Office)

Barry Central Dispatch Supervisor Mulvaine is 2017 National Telecommunicator of the Year

Barry County Central Dispatch Supervisor Eric Mulvaine has been named National 2017 Telecommunicator of the Year by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International (APSCOI).

“The award recipients demonstrated the highest levels of professional conduct and outstanding performance in the line of duty,” the announcement said. Mulvaine will accept the award at the APCO’s Annual Conference & Expo in August in Denver.

In October, 2016, Mulvaine was named Telecommunicator of the Year by the Michigan APCO.

“Supervisor Eric Mulvaine is the first telecommunicator in Michigan to receive the national award,” Central Dispatch Director Phyllis Fuller said. “He was hired on October 3, 2012 and promoted in December of 2016.  Eric was promoted to supervisor shortly after receiving the Michigan Telecommunicator of the Year award.”


In his nomination for the state award, Mulvaine’s then supervisor,  Che’rie Baldwin-White, wrote that he is a person that lends a hand without expecting anything in return.

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


“At the same time, he provides excellent customer service while working as a call taker and dispatcher.  He works well with his peers and administration and has a great working relationship with law enforcement, fire, EMS and the other agencies that Barry Central Dispatch serves,” she said.

Mulvaine, his wife and two daughters live in Barry County. //


The 2017 Public Safety Communications Awards and Technology Leadership Awards received 275 nominations from across the country. APCO International is the world’s oldest and largest organization of public safety communications professionals


Photo: Barry Central Dispatch Supervisor Eric Mulvaine, 2017 National Telecommunicator of the Year.

Hastings City water, sewer fees to rise July 1

Fees for Hastings City services stay the same for the next budget year, with the exception of notary services, which are now $5. Sewer and water rates will go up July 1, with some increases as low as a nickel, dime or quarter.


Water charges go up from $1.51 to $1.56 for 100 cubic feet. Some examples of minimum monthly fees: base charges per month for 5/8 and ¾-inch meters go from $6.69 to $6.89. A two-inch meter rises from $53.56 to $55.17, a four-inch meter from $167.42 to $172.44 and an eight-inch meter, from $732.25 to $754.22. Meters between the smallest and largest sizes have similar raises. For bulk water via a hydrant, the use fee goes from $64, to $66, plus the cost of the water.


New connection construction charges for a 5/8 inch meter, the smallest listed, goes from a total of $1,690 to $1,987, a 1 ½ inch meter, the largest listed, from $2,173 to $2,470.

Sewer rates, based on water use, are now $3.18 for 100 cubic feet of water, and will go to $3.28. Base charge per month for a 5/8 or ¾ inch meter will go from $13.49 to $13.89. The largest meter listed, eight inch, is $1,483.47, will be $1,526.94.


All of the rates for water and sewer service inside and outside of the city, and much more information on services the city provides, are available at Hastings City Hall.


Barry County Jail over capacity, may have to look at early releases

The Barry County Jail’s capacity is 98 inmates. It is now at 102. Barry County Sheriff  Dar Leaf said 82 inmates is a safer number of offenders to manage because it allows moving inmates around if is required.For now, they will house only those accused of serious felonies, domestic violence or highly intoxicated, he said.

Leaf will inform county judges of the overflow if it  lasts more than five days and seek solutions.

If an emergency is declared, Leaf said the inmate population will be reduced by releasing some low level offenders and those near their release date. “There’s quite a lot to it. Judges have a lot to say about it,” he said.


The jail was overcrowded for several months in 2013-2014. At that time, the jail inmate count was at 95 percent of capacity for more than five days. As long as the inmates basic needs are met, the state doesn’t get involved, Leaf said then, but he had to release some inmates early or house them somewhere else.


Leaf notified other police jurisdictions in the county, advising them to bring in those with less serious offenses, “take their photos and fingerprints, get them into the system, and release them on personal recognizance bonds.”

Also, inmates were housed in Eaton and Calhoun county jails to ease overcrowding,  leaving Barry County Commissioners to find the funds to pay the additional bills.


Picnic, car show enjoyed by Carveth Village residents, families

Carveth Village in Middleville held its annual picnic for its residents Friday afternoon. The grounds were filled with people at tables with plenty of shade from the sun provided by trees, tents or porches. An auto show, coordinated by Barry County Commissioner Howard “Hoot” Gibson, had unique cars lining all the driving and parking areas. The picnic was attended by several generations, from babies to great grandparents and all ages in between. Some photos give a snapshot of the afternoon.








Local trail, park may get major boost from Natural Resources Trust Fund

The Michigan House has approved providing $2.06 million for Barry and Ionia county  park and trail projects developments and the bill now goes to the Senate for consideration, according to 87th District Rep. Julie Calley.


The projects include a Jordan Lake Trail project to construct an eight-mile long, combination asphalt and boardwalk, non-motorized path around the 430 acre Jordan Lake in Barry and Ionia counties. The $1.36 million will be used for to finish 1.4 miles of the pathway.


A second Jordan Lake Trail project, in Barry County’s Woodland Township, is a $433,200 project that involves universal access features being built into the trail to give those with disabilities and of all ages the opportunity to travel through and observe areas of wildlife and nature.


A $259,500 development at the Saranac boat launch will construct a parking area, a restroom and pavilion building, a fishing/overlook pier, educational displays, and a trail connection to the existing Riverwalk Trail and the Fred Meijer Grand River Valley Rail-Trail. //


“These projects will benefit so many families, runners, anglers and boaters, not to mention those who just like picnics in the park,” Called said. “They will enable more people to enjoy the natural resources that abound in this area.”

Funding for the Natural Resources Trust Fund comes from revenue from the lease of state land and is designated every year in partnership with local governments.

Rep. Calley update addresses opioid epidemic, reinstating 2nd Amendment rights

Meghan Koorndyk, legislative aide, standing in for 87th District Rep Julie Calley Tuesday, gave an update on Lansing activities at the Barry County Commission meeting.


Among items in the June newsletter was that a package of bills on the opioid epidemic has been approved by the House Health Policy Committee. The Legislation would require medical professionals to talk with parents when prescribing opioids to anyone under 18, improve access to treatment, allow pharmacists to use their judgment to deny an opiod prescription without fear of legal problems and require schools to include the risks of prescriptions drugs in its curriculum.



Also in Calley’s newsletter, she supported the Michigan’s citizens right to carry a concealed pistol without a permit.

Anyone who legally owns a gun can carry it out in the open without  a permit. However, simply putting a coat over it requires a concealed pistol permit. Self defense is a fundamental right and honest citizens should be allowed to carry beneath their jacket, her newsletter said.


Calley sponsored a resolution adopted on the House floor declaring May 14-20 as InfantSee week in Michigan. Under the program, participating optometrists will provide a comprehensive eye assessment to infants between six months and one year of age as a no-cost public service.

Koorndyk noted that Calley will hold office hours in Middleville on June 19 from 11 a.m. to noon at the Village Hall and also in Hastings on Monday from 1p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the commission chambers in the Barry County Courthouse.

Charlton Park hosts 36th annual Father's Day Car Show Sunday, June 18

Charlton Park in Hastings kicks off the summer season when it hosts the largest one day car show in the Midwest, the 36th annual Father’s Day Car Show, on Sunday, June 18.  Guests are invited to tour the Park’s Historic Village while admiring hundreds of vintage show cars covering more than 45 acres. 

The Father’s Day Car Show is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine. Admission is $6 for those 13 and over, $4 for children 5 to 12 and children 4 and under are free. 

All spectator parking is off River Road with shuttle service provided by Barry County Transit. The Barry County Sheriff’s Posse will assist with crowd control and parking.  //


Look for free pony rides for kids and a nondenominational church service in the Carlton Center Church at 11 a.m. Adding to the celebration, a DJ will be playing music from the 50’s and 60’s, vendors will offer festival food and  swap meet vendors and crafters will sell their wares. Dash plaques, door prizes, cash prizes and numerous awards, including People’s Choice,  will be awarded. Vehicle awards will be presented at 3 p.m. 


During the event, South Charlton Park Road, from M-79 to River Road will be open to northbound traffic only from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.  Show cars must access Charlton Park via northbound M-79.  Spectator access is easiest using southbound Charlton Park Road to River Road. 


The car show is coordinated by the Southern Michigan Street Rod Association and Charlton Park staff.   For more, visit or follow the park on Facebook.


Comstock Fire and Rescue Chief dies after being stuck by passing motorist

Comstock Fire and Rescue Chief Edward Switalski died Wednesday evening after being struck by a passing vehicle as he stood near the rear of his rescue vehicle, the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department reports. Several responders on scene provided immediate care, however, resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful. Switalski was pronounced dead at the scene.


Sheriff’s deputies and Comstock Fire and Rescue had responded to east bound I-94 near the 81mile marker for an unknown accident, where they found an unoccupied vehicle and no injuries being reported. As fire responders were preparing to leave the scene, a passing vehicle lost control and struck Switalski. The driver of the at-fault vehicle was transported to Borgess Hospital for injuries sustained in the accident.


“The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department wishes to extend their sincere condolences to the Switalski family and the Comstock Fire Department in their tragic loss,” the sheriff’s representative said.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation. Anyone with information regarding the accident is asked to call the sheriff’s office.

Hastings to reallocate MDOT grant to resurface downtown streets

The City of Hastings has reconstructed part of East State Road, but put the work on hold when they found that continuing the work to the city limits was just too expensive at this time. Department of Public Services Director Lee Hays told the City Council that the Michigan Department of Transportation has agreed to allow the city to reallocate $342,000 in grant funding originally meant for East State Road to resurface a number of downtown streets later this summer.


Also, Monday, the council approved a two-year agreement with Wade Trim to provide a licensed operator for the water and wastewater plants for $119,648 the first year and $119,412.72 the second year. George Holzworth of Wade Trim, is the operator at the wastewater plant and will also operate the water plant.


In other business, the council held first readings of two ordinances; one to amend city sign regulations and the second to amend the ordinance covering Distributed Antenna Systems.

The council will have a second reading at its next meeting and likely make a decision on both.


Also approved was the installation of a propane filling station at 1633 South Hanover Avenue requested by Randy Hart on behalf of Rusty Bible. The proposal to have one 1,000 gallon tank to fill smaller propane tanks was submitted some time ago, but lacked site plan approval. “The site plan was approved with all the requirements and is ready for your approval,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.

Also, the council:

* approved Boy Scout Michael Moore installing blue bird houses at Bliss Park behind the semi truck parking area.


* approved a resolution to stay certain ordinances to accommodate the 42nd annual Summerfest in August.

*approved the Local Development Finance Authority’s restated five year “Development Plan and Tax Increment Financing Plan” for the LDFA district.


* approved the application of a $30,000 grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs by Community Development Director Jerry Czarnecki. Last year, an $18,000 grant was awarded and used for downtown activities.

Lowell police chief charged with unauthorized use of LEIN

Barry County Prosecuting Attorney Julie Nakfoor-Pratt announced today that charges have been issued against Lowell Police Chief Steven Bukala, according to a news release from the prosecutor’s office.


Bukala is charged with five counts of unauthorized use of the Law Enforcement Information Network, (LEIN) a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500, or both, the release said.  Nakfoor-Pratt was appointed special prosecutor for the Kent County Prosecutor, who recused himself due to a conflict.


Bukala turned himself in to authorities today; his arraignment will be set at a later date. 

He is represented by Attorneys Terry Tobias and Brett Naumcheff.  Bukala is presumed innocent until proven guilty. As with all criminal defendants, the charges issued are accusations until, and if, the defendant is convicted, the release concluded.


Temporary housing will help compliance of Barry County court orders

Barry County Circuit Court Judge Amy McDowell explained a new effort to provide a place for people to go when they are released from jail at 12:01 a.m. with no where to go, or back into the same environment they were in when they got into trouble with the law.


She told the Hastings City Council Monday that she is part of a non-profit group that is looking for a house for up to eight non-violent, non-sex offenders near enough to the city to walk to get essentials for those without driver’s licenses or transportation. There would be tasks and specific house rules to follow. Obviously, there here be no alcohol or criminal activity at the house, she said


The effort will help bring court compliance; when people are released back into the same situation they were in, it’s a lot of pressure on them.

“Housing makes it easier for them to comply; they have no jobs, can’t pay child support, they can’t pay fines. This is a nice fit for what we have going on now. It really motivates them to change in other ways, too.”


“The main thing is community support,” she said. To raise awareness about what they are doing, they will have a booth at the Barry County Fair and a fundraising dinner in August.

If successful with the first housing for men, they will arrange for similar housing for women.


Specialty courts, including the adult drug court, Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program and 56th District Sobriety Court, which have a success rate of 80 percent, need a house, she said. The stays at the house would be transitional with lengths of time from three to six months, with a full time residential manager.

Who goes to the house is on a case by case basis; those who need it and those who have no place to go will go into the voluntary program.

“We are fortunate that we have businesses who will hire people who are on probation; with a job they have money to pay rent and get to where they can go on their own,” she said.


Housing in the area is limited and McDowell expects to get a house that will need repairs. They have volunteers who have offered to help, and will look for more. McDowell said they're moving full steam ahead. “We’re very excited about it.”


Hastings sidewalk special assessment set aside for now

A special assessment district to pay for extended city sidewalks at Cook Road on the west edge of the city was approved by the Hastings City Council Monday, but it may not be needed.

Tyler Guernsey, representing Dairy Queen, said he was fully in favor of the sidewalk extension that would run past the business and offered to put it in himself without a special assessment.


City Manager Jeff Mansfield said with 650 feet of the parcel, Guernsey has a large share of the proposed work, and he will talk to the other property owners to see if they also want to do the work without special assessment. The sidewalks will be on West State Steet/M43 from Industrial Park Drive west on both sides of the road.


Agreements with property owners would call for sidewalks built to city specifications and a completion date. “If the owners want to install them, I’m all for it,” Mansfield said.


Barry Commissioners hear more from COA in public comment

The discussion with the Commission on Aging on how to implement a pay and classification study at the Barry County Board of Commissioner’s Tuesday meeting continued during public comment. Commission on Aging Executive Director Tammy Pennington took issue with commissioner’s treatment of the entire situation (see  related story.)


Not every department used the county implementation plan, she said. “One department didn’t participate at all; they just turned around and gave their director a $5,000 raise…I did  act on the chart I was given… I walked out of the office with a chart…that I thought was certainly the implementation chart for the county…


“On May 16, Commissioner (Vivian) Conner went to the administrator’s office and had specific charts made for the COA implementation that matched the other county departments. That was the first time I saw any chart that was different…so I do believe I had good faith with my board. I feel regretful that my integrity has been questioned and I feel very strongly that it was unfair…


After an April special commission meeting proposing a new COA building, Pennington said she thought  that commisionmers, "really believed in the project; you believed in a new state of the art facility that could deliver services to not just the oldest members of our community…


“I really regret that that project is now confused with the fact that our board chose to implement on a slightly different plan than some other departments. I do regret the project has been caught up in this situation because the more delay on the project, the less opportunity you are giving us to go out educate the public and the less opportunity to answer all your constituents and all our residents and be able to give them the information they need to make a decision.”


COA board member Sharon Zebrowski said when the issue came up, the board talked about it in three meetings.

“I felt very pressured from commissioner that you either do it our way, or else. I have sat here and watched other boards come up…the same thing…you do it our way, or else.


“You say ‘you are a good board member, you’ll make good decisions.’ What I hear is ‘you will make good decisions, as long as we do what you want.’” If you are not happy with the decisions the boards make, why have boards, just do it yourself. As a board member, I feel, we get no backing from commissioners, unless we do what you want.” //


Carole Wiggs, COA board member, said the board has the option of “setting our own standards; if it isn’t good, then I think commissioners should take that privilege away from the board.”


Jim Enrietti said he sees the conflict between people's wallets and taxpayers wallets, and commended the board "for being cautious and taking a tough stand. The public comments right now are not very favorable on the COA, and the danger is, if this is not rectified, this being the salary discrepancy, the COA would have a tough time passing that millage in the fall, which would really put a wedge into things.” He sees this as a chance to clarify things and actually help the passage of the millage in the fall.



Police chase leads to eight charges for Charlotte man

A Charlotte man who led Eaton County Sheriff’s deputies, Michigan State Police troopers, and Charlotte and Potterville police department officers on a chase over the weekend was captured Sunday morning, June 11. Brent Lee McPhall, 36, was arraigned Tuesday on the following charges:

Count 1:  Controlled Substance – Possession of Methamphetamine/Ecstasy

Count 2:  Police Officer – Fleeing and Eluding – Third Degree

Count 3:  Police Officer – Fleeing and Eluding – Fourth Degree

Count 4:  Police Officer – Fleeing and Eluding – Third Degree

Count 5:  Malicious Destruction of Fire or Police Property

Count 6:  Police Officer – Assaulting/Resisting/Obstructing

Count 7:  Police Officer – Assaulting/Resisting/Obstructing

Count 8:  Driving While License Suspended/Revoked/Denied

McPhall’s bond was set at $100,000 cash/surety. 

Gaines Township man charged with murder, 1st degree child abuse, in four year old's death

UPDATE: Elis Nelson OrtizNieves, 25, from Gaines Township, has been charged with homicide/felony murder, 1st degree  child abuse and being a habitual offender by the Kent County Prosecutor's Office

in the  death of four-year-old Giovanni Mejias.


Original story: The Kent County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of a four-year-old Gaines Township child. Deputies, and emergency personnel, were dispatched to 277 North Green Meadow Street S.E. Tuesday at 10:45 a.m.  on a report of a child not breathing. The child’s  pulse was restored and he was transported to Helen Devos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids where he later died.

The death is currently under investigation.  

Milling, resurfacing dates set for downtown Hastings streets

Businesses and visitors are reminded of the dates for milling and surfacing on downtown Hastings streets by the Department of Public Services.June 14th to 16th.

Residents would be advised to seek alternate routes during this period.
- Court Street from Broadway to S. Jefferson Street(including intersection at Jefferson)
- Church Street between State Street and Court Street

Special Note:
During resurfacing, the only access to City Lot 1 will be the alley on S. Jefferson Street.

No automatic alt text available.


Debate by Barry County Commissioners, COA officials brings no resolution

A disagreement on how to implement the results of a Barry County employee pay and classification study by Segal Waters was discussed Tuesday by County Commissioners and Commission on Aging officials. It brought a lot of opinions, but no solution.


The pay and classification study lists what most county employees would be paid if they were paid at the current market value, when compared to other cities, counties, non-profits and private businesses.


The county negotiated with the Barry County Courthouse employees on the results of the study and, eventually, agreed they would implement the recommendations, phased in over a four year period. The terms of the agreement were extended to cover most other employees and department heads.

The COA board, which is independent of the county, approved both the compensation and classification recommendations from the study in one year starting May 1, instead of over four years as the county planned.


That gave COA Executive Director Tammy Pennington a raise of her $64,117.20 annual salary to $80,641.60 beginning May 1, and an increase on two percent until 2020.

Pennington immediately asked the board to bring her salary from $80,641.60 in the first year down to $69,971.20 and then follow the four year phase-in as the county is doing. The board did as Pennington requested.


However, they implemented the proposed reclassifications and two percent pay increases for other employees, also immediate instead of over four years.

“That was on the chart we were given,” COA board Chair Sandy Kozan said. Either way, the figure would end up being the same, so they decided to leave it the way it is, she said. “We budgeted knowing the increases were coming,” she said. “If we repeal it, we have to tell 30 employees they are not going to get the raises we promised,” she said, adding the COA employees work very hard for older adults in the community.


A commissioner she did not name pressured her by saying if they didn’t repeal the raise, they wouldn’t get approval for a November millage request for a new COA building,she said.


Commissioner Dan Parker said if it was a misunderstanding, miscommunication or something else, “it needs to be rectified, for all county employees…it’s fair, it will get there, just not as quickly.”

After lengthy discussion Tuesday, each Barry County Commissioner agreed its recommendation to the COA board is that they take back the raises and then restore them over the next four years.


"The board asked you why you were so against what we did; we did what you asked us to do,” Kozan said. “The county is the one who told us what to do, so where does that leave us?”


Implementing the recommendations over four years was to smooth the transition to higher salaries,  for ease in budgeting and the impact on pension costs to avoid spiking,  Administrator Michael Brown said.

Commissioner Ben Geiger said if the COA let the accelerated the pay scale stand, it would affect operations at the COA. “Based on concerns from my colleagues and others, and what I heard here today, I’m afraid this board would not approve a millage request,” he said.


Commissioner Vivian Conner said the COA board thought they were voting the same case as the county. When questions about the raises started, she contacted Brown and got the county four year implementation figures.


"We voted what we were given,” Kozan said. “We are a completely independent board; we chose to do what we thought was right.”

“Keeping the implementation the same, keeps it on an even keel, now we’ve got COA employees getting more than other employees,” said Commissioner Jon Smelker.


Commissioner David Jackson said looking the figures going from four years to one gave him quite a shock and is out of character with the rest of the was a misunderstanding with everyone still getting to the same goal. It’s just a matter of time, he said.


The board put off the vote on approving ballot language for COA millage on the November ballot until July 11, because the COA board is still determining the final size of the new building, either 20,000 or 25,000 square feet, which will affect the final amount of millage they will ask for and thus the millage rate. They plan to have those figures Thursday. The commission has until August to submit the ballot language to the state.



Fun run to benefit Helen DeVos Children's Hospital

The Hastings City Council Monday approved a request from the Hastings Dairy Queen owner to stage fun run on July 27 as part of a Dairy Queen national fundraising event. Tyler Guernsey said 100 percent of the proceeds from the event will go to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids again this year.


“Last year, we raised $1,700, Guernsey said. “This year, our goal is $25,000.” The route, which goes from the DQ to Cook Road and through Fish Hatchery Park, is about a mile long and will take about an hour, he said.


A concert featuring the local entertainment group, “Grumpy Old Men,” will be held later at the Dairy Queen, but it will be self contained inside the parking area at the business, Guernsey said. City Manager Jeff Mansfield saw no conflicts with the event and Hastings police have approved the route. 


“I want to commend you,” Councilman Bill Redman said before the panel’s unanimous vote of approval. “It’s a good cause. Thank you.”

Barry County murder suspect charged, $1 million bond set

The husband suspected of allegedly murdering his wife is facing several charges from the  Barry County Prosecutor’s office, all related to the events of early yesterday morning.


Ralph Bowling, III was charged Monday with open murder, a felony with a maximum penalty of life in prison, in the alleged shooting death of his wife, Cheyenne Bowling, according to a news release from the prosecutor’s office.


Bowling also faces other charges: attempted murder, a felony with a maximum penalty of life in prison; first degree home invasion, a felony with a maximum penalty 20 years in prison; and second degree arson, also a felony with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, the release said.


The charges stem from events that unfolded in the early morning hours of June 11. Bowling allegedly entered the home of his wife’s mother and stepfather on Bird Road and shot Nathan Farrell, injuring him.


It is believed that Ralph Bowling then chased Cheyenne Bowling from the home and shot her in the driveway.  Bowling fled the scene and returned to his residence on Coats Grove Road where he is alleged to have set it on fire, the release continued.


Bowling was arraigned today on the charges and his bond was set at $1,000,000 cash or surety.  He was also ordered to have no contact with his two minor children or Nathan Farrell. His probable cause hearing is set for June 21, at 8:30 a.m. in Barry County  District Court. 


Vietnam veterans are thanked and welcomed home

 They were mostly young men just out of high school from every walk of life 50 years ago; they served their country in places with names like Pleiku, Khe Sanh, La Drang, Hue, Saigon and Ap Vac in a tiny nation in Southeast Asia named South Vietnam.

The U. S. Congress never declared war on North Vietnam, so it was not a war, it was officially the Vietnam Conflict. Nevertheless, an estimated 58,272 Americans gave up their lives there in a hostilities.


The war violently split the nation into those for and those against the war with riots, parades, demonstrations and counter demonstrations.

State Senator Mike Kowall, 15th District, said: “Our military did not lose the war in Vietnam, the politicians did.”


When the veterans came home, it was to a still bitterly divided country; there were no parades, speeches or picnics, no “welcome homes” for Vietnam vets.

Most were ignored, or met with open hostility. “I just kept my head down,” one said.


Saturday, June 10, several veterans organizations and many, many volunteers, came together to welcome home and thank the veterans on the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam Conflict at the Barry Expo Center.


The Center was filled to capacity with veterans, their families and supporters. The Delton High School Band played military-themed music,  there were speakers, tokens supporting veterans for the public, information about the war, American flags, ice water and snacks.


The speakers, Brigadier General Mike A. Stone, and State Senators Mike Nofs, 19th District,  and Kowall, all had the same theme: "Welcome home, and thank you for your service. You will never, ever be forgotten."

Sustained applause, and often standing ovations, met every announcement, ceremony, and speaker. Veterans lined up, giving their name, branch of service, and time served before they were “pinned” and again thanked and welcomed home.


The afternoon event concluded with a sing along of “God Bless America,” the Delton High School Band performing “America the Beautiful,” the playing of Taps and the Retiring of the Colors.

The organizers of the pinning ceremony were members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legions, Post 45 Riders, the Disabled Veterans, POW/MIA, and Vietnam Era Veterans and sponsors and volunteers too numerous to mention.


For photos, visit Welcome Home, Vietnam Veterans. 

Welcome Home, Vietnam Veterans



Photos, left to right, from top, down
(1) A Vietnam veteran studies a map of "Nam."
Post 45 Riders officially opened the Welcome Home event.
(2) Veterans were asked to stand during the playing of their service anthem; these men served in the U.S. Navy.
The Delton Kellogg High School Band plays one of its rousing selections during the event.
(3) The POW/MIA Missing Man Table hold the caps of U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force veterans who didn't come home.
Brigadier General Mike A. Stone fastens the Vietnam pin on U.S. Air Force veteran Bob Davis.
(4) Standing ovations were given to veterans lining up to give their name, rank, service and tour of duty and receiving a pin recognizing their service in Vietnam.
Barry County Commander Jim Gross, U.S. Army (Ret),displays medals, ribbons, commendations and badges he earned during his career serving in the military.
(5) Vietnam veteran Steve Rider shares a hug from a Post 45 Rider after being pinned.
The 110th Attack Wing Air National Guard Unit Color Guard stands at the table with Vietnam pins to 
recognize veterans who served there.
(6) State Senators Mike Nofs, left, 19th District and Mike Kowall, 15th District, spoke, welcoming the Vietnam veterans home and promising that they will never be forgotten.

High wind damage

High winds on Saturday caused a large portion of a tree to breakoff and crash throught the roof of a garage causing heavy damage.

The garage sits behind the house at 729 church street in Hastings. no information on whether vehicles were in the garage at the time.

Blue is for recycling; brown is for trash

Downtown Hastings has bright blue recycle bins scattered around town for residents and visitors to drop items they are done with when they are out and about enjoying the town; papers, pop cans and pop bottles they don’t want to carry around, and want to recycle.


Also on city streets, there are brown trash bins for things that are not recycled, like half-eaten cheeseburgers, diapers and dead flowers. Unfortunately, the blue containers are being used for recycle items and garbage alike, threatening the viability of the program.


Les’s Sanitary Service picks up the blue bins as a public service, and they are finding trash mixed in with the recyclable items, polluting the entire bin.  In one recent pickup swing, three of eight recycle containers could be recycled; the remaining five were contaminated by garbage.


Bill Sweeney, one on the owners of Les’s, said when trash and garbage is mixed in with recyclable items, they can’t sort out the garbage, it has to be taken to the landfill. That nullifies the efforts of recyclers, he said. “It doesn’t do a bit of good at all.”


“We want to get the word out,” said Community Development Specialist Sandra Ponsetto. “We don’t want to lose the program, it’s a nice convenience for folks who happen to be downtown but still want to help the environment by recycling.”


A simple reminder might help: Blue is to recycle, brown is for trash.


Good kids in Hastings elementary, middle schools enjoy "Lunch with a Cop"

The Hastings Police Department and Hastings Area School System have a relationship that goes beyond law enforcement with special programs and events that strengthen the rapport between students and the police.


The latest program, “Lunch with a Cop,” is designed to reward the kids who go above and beyond every day by helping teachers and other students and being a good leader in the classroom. Many times they are the kids who get overlooked because they do what they're supposed to be doing on a daily basis. 




Above: Officer Josh Sensiba and Max Steele, who attends St. Rose Elementary, went to Applebee’s for “Lunch with a Cop.” Here, they display Max's certificate for his going above and beyond every day.


Each school nominates one student each marking period, and they have “Lunch with a Cop” at a local restaurant of their choice. This marking period Ryan Hinkley, Hastings Middle School; Brianna Bennett, Central Elementary; Lucy Barnard, Star Elementary; Max Steele, Northeastern Elementary; Brissa Hernandez, Southeastern Elementary; and Jack Webb, Saint Rose of Lima Elementary were treated by officers.



The kids chose to eat at the Waldorf, Applebees, Subway, Pizza Hut and the Mexican Connection. Chief Jeff Pratt, Deputy Chief Dale Boulter, Sgt Kris Miller and Officer Josh Sensiba took part this marking period.
















Left: Police Chief Jeff Pratt treated Jack Webb, a good leader at at Northeastern, to lunch at Walldorff's, Jack's restaurant of choice.


Saranac third grade students complete "Too Good for Violence" program

Saranac Elementary School Principal Jason Smith is announcing that students in two of Saranac’s third grade classes have successfully completed the “Too Good for Violence” program.


“Too Good for Violence” is a violence prevention and character education program that teaches character based skills, attitudes, and behaviors to help elementary students tell the difference between feelings and actions, encourage respect between peers and celebrate diversity.

Program lessons and activities help kids realize that as individuals and as a group, they are too good for bullying and violence.


The program teaches social and emotional learning skills, which research has linked with healthy development and academic success: Conflict resolution, anger management, respect for self and others and effective communication.


The curriculum is based on seven one-hour sessions and taught by Deb Thalison, Ionia County Substance Abuse Prevention Director/Community Health Supervisor.


"This program was first piloted last year to fifth grade students,” Thalison said. “The program was expanded this year to include third grade. We are excited to announce we will be providing “Too Good for Drugs,” and “Too Good for Violence” to 13 classrooms in the 2017-2018 school year.”


“Too Good for Violence” is an evidence-based curriculum by the Mendez Foundation, provided in partnership with the Ionia County Substance Abuse Initiative (ICSAI), the Ionia County Health Department and Saranac Schools.


Fight the bite, protect yourself from ticks

Ticks have, unfortunately, become one of summertime’s irritations, and bites from ticks can sometimes become serious. Residents should know how to protect themselves from illnesses spread by ticks, such as Lyme disease, a bacteria spread by bites from infected blacklegged ticks (deer ticks).


Ticks attach to any part of the body, often in hard-to-see areas like the groin, armpits and scalp.

In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36-48 hours or more before Lyme disease can be transmitted, so a full-body check for ticks after spending time outdoors is important. Remove ticks with tweezers as close to the skin as possible.


Symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, and fatigue. Many, but not all, people will get a characteristic “bull’s-eye” skin rash. If untreated, infections can become serious, however, most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics.


To avoid being bitten by a tick:

* Wear light-colored clothing so ticks can be spotted more easily and removed before they bite.


* Wear long-sleeved shirts and tuck pants into socks or boot tops. Wear boots or shoes instead of sandals, especially in brush or long grass.


* Apply insect repellents with DEET to clothes and exposed skin, and apply a permethrin product to clothes to kill ticks on contact to lower the risk of bites. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.


* Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors, preferably within two hours, to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.


* Make a full-body check after being in tick-infested areas. Check children under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in the hair. //


* Examine gear and pets. Ticks ride into homes on clothing and pets, and then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs.


* Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks.


The range of the blacklegged tick in Michigan is growing, and Barry and Eaton counties are now considered to be risk areas for Lyme disease. Other types of ticks are commonly found in Michigan, and can spread other tick-borne diseases to people.


If you are bitten by a tick that is suspected or confirmed to be a blacklegged tick, you should call your health care provider. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely came into contact with the tick.


Ticks can be submitted for identification; blacklegged ticks that are still alive can be submitted to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHSS) for Lyme disease testing.


Steps for submitting a tick:

Only ticks that have been attached to people, not animals, or have been engorged with human blood should be submitted. Ticks should be intact (not crushed or in pieces). If alive, place the tick in a container with a piece of paper towel moistened with drop of water. If dead, place it in a small, watertight container filled with water or alcohol. Dead ticks can only be submitted for identification, not testing for Lyme disease.


The BEDHD can help submit ticks to MDHHS for identification and testing, or ticks can be directly submitted to MDHHS; go to for instructions and the submission form.


For more information, visit or For tick-related questions, call the Environmental Health Division of the BEDHD in Eaton County at 517-541-2615 or Barry County at 269-945-9516, select 3, and then 5. 

Superintendent's Platform

WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight news in their districts. This posting is from Maple Valley Superintendent Michelle Falcon.


“Maple Valley Schools announces the sponsorship of the Summer Food Service Program for Children Monday through Friday from June 12 to Aug. 11 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Free  meals are for children 18 and under or those up to 26 who are enrolled in an educational program for the mentally or physically disabled that is recognized by a state or local public educational agency.


The meals will be served at:

*2 or 3 Together, 112 Main Street, in Nashville,

*Vermontville Public Square Pavilion, 100 North Main Street in Vermontville,

*Thornapple Lake Estates, 6335 Thornapple Lake Road,

*Maplewood School, 170 Seminary Street in Vermontville.


The meals are provided without regard to race, color, national origin, age, sex, or disability, and there will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service.”


DEQ agrees to a "test" plan on the Little Thornapple River Drain.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has agreed to try a plan proposed by Barry County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull, and if he can make it work, it will satisfy a DEQ requirement to replace some of the wetland area lost by excessive tree removal in the Little Thornapple River Drain two years ago.

Dull proposes using Barry County Jail inmates to remediate a quarter acre of wetlands by

hand in areas that heavy machinery can’t access.


The latest overall plan to restore the drain area submitted by Aaron Snell of Streamside Ecological Services included the “test” program and drew a positive response from DEQ officials, Snell said. They agreed with the outlines and asked for details, he said. The state office had rejected two plans before the last submission.


Dull is confident the plan will work, with inmates promised by Barry County Sheriff Dar

Leaf for work on  weekends. Dull and Snell plan to identify the test areas to be

remediated and start work by the end of the month.


If it doesn’t work, it’s on to Plan B, which is more complicated, and will require

“purchasing credits” of  $30,000 an acre, or a total of $45,000,  for remediation of

one and one half acres in the Ionia State Game Area to satisfy the replacement of the

wetlands. The Ionia property is owned by the DNR.


The $45,000 is like a promissory note, or money in escrow; it won’t be used if the remediation is successful, Dull said. “It’s a good workable option, and is better than having to get a petition. It’s better than doing a special assessment.”


“I don’t want the people to think this is the end of it,” he said. “There is still in-stream work and previously agreed to wetland restoration.”//


The Little Thornapple River Intercounty Drain Drainage Board updated the public on the status of settlement discussions with the DEQ at a Wednesday meeting.

Board members are Chair Brady Harrington, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and commissioners Jim Dull from Barry County, Robert Rose from Ionia County and Ken Yonker from Kent County.

Spectrum Health Pennock retail pharmacy to close

After nearly 30 years of service, Spectrum Health Pennock retail pharmacy is closing its doors, effective Friday, June 30.  The hospital will continue to provide hospital patients with pharmacy services, ensuring the best care and treatment possible during their stay.


The decision comes after much consideration, discussion and market analysis by the Pennock Ventures Board and Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital Board of Trustees.


Patients with a prescription at the retail pharmacy should call 269-948-3136 before Friday, June 30 to transfer prescriptions to their pharmacy of choice. Patients of Spectrum Health Pennock retail pharmacy can call 269-948-3136 with any questions or concerns.




“The decision to close the retail pharmacy was not a quick one. Pennock Ventures Board has evaluated the trends in the pharmacy market for Spectrum Health Pennock retail pharmacy over the last five plus years, allowing ample time for growth opportunities,” said Dan King, Pennock Ventures Board chair and hospital board trustee.


“Given the growing number of pharmacies in the community and decline in our pharmacy patient base, the board made the difficult decision to close. Barry County patients are fortunate to have several pharmacies within Hastings and within the county to meet their needs. We sincerely appreciate the past support of our community to the pharmacy.”


The impact to care providers and patients is expected to be minimal given the variety of pharmacy options available in the community. Current Spectrum Health Pennock retail pharmacy patients will have many options and accessibility. “It has been an honor and privilege to serve our community’s pharmacy needs and we are committed to providing a smooth transition for our patients,” said Carla Wilson-Neil, chief operating officer, Spectrum Health Pennock.




Make your plans: Lake Odessa Fair kicks off fair season June 21-25

The Lake Odessa Fair debuts June 21, with a week of activities, events, entertainment, food, fun and features that goes through June 25.

The Grand Parade is Wednesday, June 21 stepping off at 6 p.m. Floats, politicians, walkers, bicycles antique cars and tractors bands to mark the tempo are ready to parade.

The parade route this year is Fairground Road ending at Jordan Lake Avenue.

 The events include the Midway, 5K run/walk, mud run, Demo Derby, live stock shows, and volleyball. Fireworks, kids and adults mud runs.

For a complete schedule of times and events, visit .

Barry County election equipment to be upgraded

Barry County Clerk Pam Palmer will submit a grant agreement to the Secretary of State for state and federal funds with a 10-year contract to pay for a replacement voting system for the 13-year-old system Barry County voters now use.


The Help America Vote Act funding and state funds, will pay for one tabulator and ballot box per precinct, one accessible voting device for those with handicaps per polling place and Election Management System software for each county.


The county will be responsible for one backup tabulator $4,395 Palmer requested, and $18,886 a year for programming and maintenance for years six through 10 of the contract. Palmer said they always pay for years six through 10, with the cost divided between the city, townships and county.


Palmer studied three bids and is recommending Dominion Voting.

There were originally high, middle and low bidders that ended up being offered for the same price.

With the bids the same, Palmer did more digging and she thinks when the county has to start paying, the original high bidder will try to make it up.  Also, they are located in Dallas Texas.

The original low bidder had a poor service record, which she didn’t like. “When something goes wrong, I get the phone calls,” she said.

She said she has worked with Dominion before, they give good service for a good price and they are local, so she is recommending them. Of the 83 Michigan counties, 58 counties use Dominion. The new system will be implemented in 2018. The Barry County committee of the whole Tuesday recommended approval of Palmer’s request to the full board.


The commissioners also recommended:


* approving the summer tax rate based on Headlee Amendment rollbacks. A copy will be sent to all townships, the City of  Hastings so the correct amount will be billed. A copy also goes to the state, Equalization Director Timothy Vandermark said.

* transferring a 25-year-old Chevrolet panel van from the Barry County Sheriff’s Office to Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office. Calhoun County officials know the vehicle needs about $7,600 in repairs, but they plan to use it for their Special Response Team. “No money will change hands, just the title, to promote cooperation between agencies,” Undersheriff Matt Houchlei said.


* approving replacing the heating and cooling system in the Courts & Law Building with a contract with Havel, a division of Shambaugh & Sons, for up to $50,000  with funds to be paid from the building rehabilitation fund.


* approving Jim Yarger making Homeland Security grant requests $7,200 for conferences, exercises and drills and $30,000 for equipment for the Emergency Management Department.


*continuing an arrangement with Blue Cross Blue Shield discount program for inmates at the Barry County Jail. Not an insurance policy, Administrator Michael Brown said, it is a discount program that helps defray medical cost for inmates the county is responsible for.


* renewing the county’s liability, vehicle and property and crime coverage for $381,914 through the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority, a self insurance pool with more than 300 local government members. The county gets substantial rebates, or distributions, from the arrangement.

Barry County Commissioners introduced to newest members of Sheriff's Office

Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf introduced the three newest members of the sheriff’s office at Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting. “We’re catching up on our people,” Leaf said. “Here are three good ones.”


Corrections Officer Daniel Waddell grew up near Gun Lake, graduating from Thornapple Kellogg Schoos. A Kellogg Community College Police Academy graduate, he was a corrections officer at Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office. “He left Calhoun to work at his dream department in his hometown,” Leaf said.


Deputy Jack Sidney, also a KCC Police Academy graduate, grew up in the Battle Creek area. He has three years experience in law enforcement, two with the Village of Nashville Police Department.


Deputy Rose O’Grady, a Barry County Christian School alumna, grew up in Barry County and graduated from the KCC Police Academy Summa Cum Laude. She was a Sheriff’s Office Cadet with the Marine Patrol.


Photo: Newest Barry County Sheriff’s Office employees, from left, Corrections Officer Daniel Waddell, Deputy Jack Sidney and Deputy Rose O’Grady, standing with Sheriff Dar Leaf.

Hired in 1978, COA account clerk retires this month

Kathleen Courtney, COA account clerk, is retiring after 39 years with the facility, COA Executive Director Tammy Pennington told Barry County Commissioners Tuesday.


The COA is hosting a retirement party for Courtney on June 23 from noon to 2:30 p.m. “We’re going to miss her, she’s been here a long time.” Pennington said. “She plans to go east and spend more time with her grandchildren.”


“A hardworking dedicated public servant,” Courtney oversaw a budget that grew from a modest $175,000 to more than $1.6 million, a resolution honoring her service said.


For 15 years she helped low income, older Barry County adults apply for federal and state tax credits during income tax time. Courtney also helped establish the Medicare Medicaid Assistance program in the county, directing a team of six highly trained volunteers who counsel hundreds of enrollees in the programs annually. She also helped establish a Pet Meals on Wheels program with the Barry County Humane Society.


The resolution, recommended for adoption by the full board, said on behalf of the citizens, the commission “extends its sincere appreciation to Kathleen Courtney for her years of dedicated service, and wishes her many years of  health, happiness and success in her future endeavors.”

Elected Officials Compensation Commission set for Barry County

A special Barry County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday had one item on the agenda; the naming of seven members to an Elected Officials Compensation Commission (EOCC) for Barry County. The new commission will determine the salaries of elected officials in Barry County; the clerk, prosecutor, sheriff, register of deeds, treasurer, drain commissioner, surveyor and commissioners.


The EOCC’s determination on elected official’s salaries, except judges, would go into effect in the first odd-numbered year after the EOCC’s determination unless a super majority of the county commission votes against it.


Each county commissioner submitted two names to Commission Chair Ben Geiger to consider for the seven seats on the commission. Geiger didn’t offer candidates, Commissioner David Jackson made two sets of suggestions. Geiger gave his recommendations for the final makeup of the EOCC; all passed unanimously.


Approved for one year terms:

* Ms. Teri Enrietti, retired from Delton Kellogg Schools nominated by Commissioner Howard Gibson.

* Steve Buehler, president of Munn Manufacturing, nominated by Commissioner Jon Smelker;


Serving two year terms:

* Kim Dufresne, retired Michigan Forest Fire Officers,  nominated by Commissioner Vivian Conner

* Chris Lapins, owner of  Beauland, Inc. nominated by Jackson.


Set for three year terms:

* Tom Enslen, superintendent, Thornapple Kellogg Schools, nominated by Commissioner Dan Parker.

* Karen Zuver, field agronomist at DuPont Pioneer, nominated by Commissioner Heather Wing.


Approved for a four year term:

* Brenda Schild, human resource generalist at
Spectrum Health Pennock, nominated by Jackson.


Questions and answers from discussion:

(Q) Can commissioners vote up or down on any raises?


(A) No, the commissioners can only vote no by a super majority to stop a recommendation. If a super majority voted no, the salary in place would stay as it is.


(Q) If an increase is turned down, could EOCC come back with another offer?

(A) They could.


(Q) Can the county commissioners vote to disband the EOCC?

(A) Yes, they can. That happened to an earlier commission around 2003.


(Q) Are the EOCC meetings open to the public?

(A) Yes. It is subject to the Open Meetings Act.


(Q) Will Geiger meet with the EOCC for any conversations on what commissioners would like to see?

(A) Geiger: “I do feel I need to explain the wage study…the history of pay…I don’t know if I’ll make a recommendation.”


(Q) Where will the EOCC get all the information they will need to make a decision?

(A) Administrator Michael Brown and Deputy Administrator Luella Dennison will provide all the facts and figures they will need.


Gibson objected to what he saw as another level of government; saying: “They should pay us like other employees.”


According to an explanation of the statute by a Michigan State University Extension article on county government:

“The statute requires the compensation commission to meet in even-numbered years for not more than 15 “session” days. The pay board must complete its work within 45 days of its first session. A majority of the members serving must approve any action. A few other limitations govern the action of a county compensation commission. It can raise or lower salaries as it considers appropriate. An action to reduce the compensation of an elected official during the term of office is generally prohibited.


No one on the EOCC can be a member or employee of the legislative, judicial or executive branch of any level of government, or a member of that person’s immediate family.



Logs and debris causing jam on the Thornapple River

Citizens traveling northwest of Hastings to Airport Road by the Thornapple River are reporting the waters under the old train trestle is jammed with logs and brush and is difficult to get through. One man broke his wrist in the area. A small opening on the southwest or left side is blocked by a log and boaters must get out of the canoe to get over it. The current is very strong due to the reductions in space where water is being pushed. This area is called “strainer” and can create dangerous currents which may capsize or trap boaters. Please use caution when boating in the area. The banks are very steep and difficult to portage around the trestle.

87th District Rep. Calley plans local office hours June 19

State 87th District Rep. Julie Calley welcomes residents to office hours in two communities on Monday, June 19. Calley, of Portland, will give a legislative update to attendees. If residents have individual concerns, she will take one-on-one meetings for 10 minutes each.


Calley will meet with constituents at:

• Middleville Village Hall, 100 East Main Street in Middleville, from 11 a.m. to noon;

• The Barry County Courthouse, Commission Chambers, 220 West State Street in Hastings, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

“Accountable representation requires consistent feedback,” Calley said.  “Office hours present an opportunity for productive dialogue with those whom I serve.”


No reservations are necessary. Those unable to attend may call Calley at 517-373-0842 or via email at


Dust collector fire quickly put out at Bradford White Company

A small fire in a dust vent near a receiving bay at Bradford White Company was quickly put out Sunday afternoon by Thornapple Township Emergency Services firefighters, Chief Randy Eaton said.

“Employees were removing a cover from the dust collector when something sparked, starting the fire. The sprinklers went off, we just added a little more water in there,” Eaton said. “We were only there about an hour.”


Bradford White’s  professional company came in while they were there and replaced the sprinkler, he said. There was no production time lost, the employees were there for maintenance.

Wayland and Caledonia fire departments also responded, but after about 15 minutes, returned to their home stations, Eaton said.


Spectrum Health Pennock launches veterans program

Spectrum Health is making every effort to recognize, thank and support veterans. The Veterans Support Services program began at Spectrum Health Pennock on March 7; bridging the gap between veteran patients and access to their federal, state and local benefits and resources.


Veteran Support Services goes beyond medical costs, also helping with services from counseling to employment. Some of the common benefits include housing assistance, mental health services, Michigan Veterans Trust Fund and Veterans Affairs benefits.


Danielle Montag is the veteran behind the program. She got the idea as an intern at Spectrum Health when she realized that a gap existed between VA health care and hospitals.


“In a pilot study, we found that 33 percent of our inpatient veterans had unmet needs that could be addressed through existing programs,” said Montag, Veteran Support Services coordinator for Spectrum Health. “As this program grows, we will be able to salute and help more veterans and their families. We don’t want anyone to go without.”


Spectrum Health Pennock recognizes veteran status during registration or admittance to the hospital. Patients are identified by a flag posted on their status board in their hospital room. The flag is meant to symbolize their military service so they may be recognized by staff and visitors. Veterans may also get a special visit from a veteran volunteer and may be eligible for services from the Veteran Support Services team.


“The Barry County United Way and Veteran’s Affairs office applauds Spectrum Health Pennock for identifying and assisting with the coordination of available benefits for the veterans of our community. We are very proud of this cooperative venture,” said Pattrick Jansens, BCUW Veteran’s Coordinator.


Jim Atkinson, veteran and member of the community, said: “As a veteran and member of American Legion Post 45 of Hastings, I salute Spectrum Health System, and specifically Spectrum Health Pennock, for recognizing this shortcoming and doing something to correct it.

“Many older, and some younger veterans are requiring more frequent hospitalizations. Bringing this to the attention of Barry County Veterans Affairs office can only help these veterans with the help they need to heal. Also, veterans will now know that this added service is available. Thank you Spectrum Health Pennock for bringing this to Hastings and Barry County.”


Patients who want to take part in this Spectrum Health program can let staff know their veteran status upon registration at the hospital. Anyone interested in volunteering with the program may email Montag directly at

For more, contact or call 616.267.1744. //


“Our veterans are vitally important to our communities and beyond,” said Sheryl Lewis Blake, president, Spectrum Health Pennock. “We are committed to recognizing them and to showing our appreciation for their contributions to our country. As we provide recognition for veterans’ service and advocacy when needed, we strive to heal the whole person, while enhancing the patient experience.”

So far, Spectrum Health has recognized more than 4,436 veterans throughout the health system for their service to our country. That number will continue to grow as awareness about the program increases.


Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system based in West Michigan, offering a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, with 12 hospitals, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital; about 180 ambulatory and service sites; about 3,400 physicians and advanced practice providers, including about 1,400 members of the Spectrum Health Medical Group; and Priority Health, a health plan with about 796,000 members.


Spectrum Health is West Michigan’s largest employer, with 25,300 employees. The organization provided more than $326 million in community benefit during its 2016 fiscal year; it was named one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems—and in the top five among the largest health systems—in 2017 by Truven Health Analytics®, part of IBM Watson HealthTM.

This is the sixth time the organization has received the recognition.




Gun Lake Tribe's spring revenue sharing tops $6.7 Million

The Gun Lake Tribe has announced its spring 2017 revenue sharing payments. 

The State of Michigan received $3,744,951, and the local revenue sharing board received $1,872,475.  GLIMI, an entity overseen by the state and the tribe’s economic development corporation, received $1,123,485. 

The revenue sharing payments are distributed semi-annually under terms of the tribal-state gaming compact using figures calculated from electronic gaming revenues reported from October 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017.    


“Our team members at the casino deserve a lot of credit for their outstanding contributions to the strong results for this revenue sharing distribution,” said Scott Sprague, chairman of the Gun Lake Tribe.  “The construction team is also recognized for their professionalism which allowed for seamless operations during the last year while the expansion was built.”


The Gun Lake Casino expansion opened to the public on May 3 and includes the all new Harvest Buffet and Stage 131 entertainment lounge.  The expansion nearly doubled the size of the facility to add 500 more slot machines and a new air filtration system.  A new high limit gaming room and bar will open later this year.


The tribe and the state executed a gaming compact in 2007 where the tribe agreed to share a percentage of electronic gaming revenues with the state and local governments. In July 2016, the tribe and state announced a partial settlement agreement to resolve an interpretation of the tribal-state gaming compact. 


The agreement directs a portion of casino state revenue sharing payments to GLIMI, which is overseen by the state and the tribe’s economic development corporation, Gun Lake Investments.

GLIMI was formed to pursue non-gaming economic development and job creation.  Noonday Market, a fuel and convenience store located next to the Casino, was the first such project. //


State revenue sharing payments depend on continued preservation of exclusive gaming rights within the tribe’s competitive market area, which includes statewide expansion of certain lottery games.  The market area includes the cities of Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Lansing, and the entire counties of Kent, Kalamazoo and Ingham, among others.


Gun Lake Casino opened in February 2011 and now employs more than 1,000 team members.

The tribe has now shared $93,368,258 with state and local governments through 13 distributions.


The local revenue sharing board receives and administers the semi-annual payments to local municipalities for costs incurred due to the operation of the casino, public safety services and replacement of tax revenue. The local payments are made under terms of the gaming compact independent of gaming exclusivity.      




Delton Kellogg Schools hires new superintendent

The Delton Kellogg Board of Education Thursday unanimously approved a contract for Kyle Corlett as the new superintendent of Delton Kellogg schools; he will begin his new duties July 1.

Corlett  succeeds Carl Schoessel, who has served as interim superintendent for three years. Schoessel was Hastings Area School  System’s superintendent for 20 years.


“Following such an accomplished superintendent as Schoessel will be a challenge, but I have been impressed by the veteran administrative team and a staff that truly cares about every student,” Corlett said.


The school board looked for  a superintendent with a strong background in curriculum and a commitment to working with the community. During the interview process and the board’s site visit to Three Rivers to talk to Corlett’s staff, the board learned about his experience in developing and improving curriculum along with his collaborative decision making approach.


“The board’s commitment to excellence and strong values attracted me to the district,” Corlett said. “I am excited to build on the district’s current strengths and values to impact the lives of our children. I plan on communicating with the community about the great programs the district has and our work to be the best at everything we do.”//


 “My first job is to learn and listen to students, parents, and staff to fully understand strengths and areas of improvement. Improving student achievement should be the driving force to motivate the growth of every educator. I look forward to growing with the staff at Delton Kellogg,” he said.


Corlett is an elementary principal for Three Rivers Community Schools, a position he has held for the past two years. Previously, he was a curriculum director/elementary principal and high school English teacher in Illinois. Corlett received his bachelor’s degree from Cornerstone University, master’s degree from Olivet Nazarene University, and is currently a doctoral student at Western Michigan University.


Photo: Delton Kellogg School's new Superintendent Kyle Corlett.







Former administrator, Southwest Barry County Sewer and Water Authority board agree on separation agreement

A separation agreement between former head of the Southwest Barry County Sewer and Water Authority was verified by the authority board Wednesday.

Mark Doster, who was administrator and project manager of the system, was relieved of his position May 4 when the board eliminated his position and shifted the responsibilities to Plant Manager Scott Monroe while adding interim general manager to his title.


The amount of the agreement was not announced, but board Chairman David Messelink said it, “basically amounted to three months,” of Doster’s salary.


Doster did not attend the meeting; he had signed the document on May 24, the board just verified it, Messelink said.


Doster served on the authority board, and as its chairman before becoming the system’s administrator in 2005, later adding the title of project manager. His dismissal came after weeks of protests about Doster’s pay versus hours worked by Barry County Commissioner David Jackson.


Jackson charged that Doster was being paid full time wages for a part time job and was obstructing future sewer expansion plans. Doster’s availability to the public and his attitude on the feasibility of a sewer district to serve Hickory Corners and Gilmore Car Museum also were questioned.


The board recently made other changes in the operation of the authority; changing office hours to 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and purchasing a fingerprint/time clock system and security camera systems for both the plant and office.


Messelink said authority business will now be more accessible and transparent, and the board will move ahead on plans to provide sewer service to Gilmore’s Car Museum.

“We’re going full steam ahead. We hope to get it done, and I’m fairly confident that we can.”


Barry County Animal Shelter ex-director put on probation, fined

The former director of the Barry County Animal Shelter was placed on 12 months probation and fined a total of $625 in costs by Judge Michael Schipper in District Court Wednesday.

Billie Jo Hartwell, the director since July 2015, pleaded guilty to one count of embezzling less that $200, a misdemeanor punishable by 93 days in jail and/or $500 fine.

She also pleaded no contest to one count of disorderly/obscene conduct, a misdemeanor punishable by 90 days in jail and/or $500 fine.

Schipper dismissed a five year felony count of misuse of office.


He gave the prosecutor’s office 30 days to decide if they wanted to seek restitution for the embezzlement, in this case, dog food. The charges against Hartwell were filed April 5; she was fired from the director’s position the third week of April.


Hartwell’s attorney Jeffrey Portko, with Advocate Law Offices in Grand Rapids, told Schipper that Hartwell has absolutely no criminal record, and is extremely remorseful and sorry for what she did.

He said the county fired her and he saw, “no reasonable expectation,” that she would get her job back. “It cost her her job and career…besides the embarrassment,” he said. “I’m fully confident it won’t happen again.”


Schipper said he put her on probation for two reasons; to make sure costs, fines and restitution are paid, and because he didn’t know her, to have the court monitor her to be sure doesn’t repeat the aberrant behavior. 

McIntyre doing well after bypass

Dave McIntyre, the Voice of WBCH and man about town, is recuperating from three-vein bypass surgery Wednesday. Doctors at Spectrum Health Hospitals Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center said the operation was text-book perfect.


His prognosis is excellent.


After feeling ill about a week ago, Lois McIntyre took her husband to the doctor, who admitted him to the hospital for tests. She has stayed with him the entire time.


Dave is in great spirits and expects to return to the microphone soon. When that will be, is a matter of opinion, with Dave’s expectation it will be a lot sooner than the doctors.


Look for him to return to his regular routine and community involvements soon.


Dave is not the only WBCH staff member to spend time in a hospital recently. Teresa Smith, in sales, donated a kidney to a friend five weeks ago and is now back to work on a limited basis.


Photo: Dave McIntyre at work.


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