Local News Archives for 2017-07

Don't miss First Night Out Tuesday in Hastings

All Barry County residents are invited to the first Night Out celebration in Hastings at Tyden Park  today from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Hastings police, area law enforcement and emergency services will be there to meet and greet the public with free food, prizes, games, a dunk tank, a free raffle and a bounce house.


It’s all to recognize and build on the police-community partnership, and let the people get to know firefighters and police, deputies and troopers and EMTs, Barry Central Disatch911, ambulance personnel who protect and serve the community in a casual setting. 

Superintendent's Platform

WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight news in their districts. This posting is by Barry Intermediate School District Superintendent Richard Franklin:.




“Special Education millage proposal--restoration of Headlee reduction




Frequently Asked Questions:





What is the proposal?

The Barry Intermediate School District, on behalf of its constituent districts (Hastings

Area Schools and Delton Kellogg Schools) is asking voters to restore the special

education tax rate approved in 1996.


Why is the Barry ISD asking for an increase?

Our local boards of education work very hard to provide the best programs and services

to all of their students that they possibly can. They have asked their intermediate school

district to help them do just that, particularly for our most vulnerable students with

physical, cognitive, learning, or other disabilities.


When is the vote?

The proposal will appear on the August 8, 2017, regular primary election ballot.


How much of an increase is the Barry ISD seeking?

A restoration of the tax rate approved by voters would take 0.3631 mills, or about

$18.16 per year on a home or parcel with a taxable value of $50,000. The ballot

language will actually ask for more than that—about double—but no more than the

original rate approved by voters in 1996 can ever be levied.


Why ask for more than you can levy?

The way the Headlee Amendment works, tax rates approved by voters are

automatically scaled back, or eroded, as taxable values rise. By asking for 0.7 mills, a

buffer will be created that should mean we don’t have to ask taxpayers for another

restoration for the life of this approved increase.


How long does this increase, or restoration, last?

The Barry ISD is asking for a ten (10) year millage increase to restore the tax rate

approved by voters in 1996.


How much difference will the requested restoration make?

Based on a taxable value in Barry ISD of just over $1 billion, the increase (override)

of .3631 would yield about $363,000 in additional revenue to fund special education

programs and services in Delton and Hastings. (The actual projected amount is

$366,143.29 on a total taxable value of $1,008,381,414, based on 2016 figures.)


How will this new revenue be spent?

All special education funds from local tax dollars are spent according to the Barry ISD

Special Education Plan, which is developed in consultation with the local districts and

reviewed periodically. All special education funds come to the children in our local

districts, whether in the form of special programs, services, equipment, or other needs.


What does Barry ISD provide for students with special needs in Hastings and


The Barry ISD Special Education Department provides center-based programs and

classrooms for students with certain types and levels of disability. We provide

specialized staff like psychologists, social workers, speech and language pathologists,

physical and occupational therapists, hearing impairment teachers, transition planning,

and monitoring. We provide special transportation, summer jobs programs, and

contracted services for individuals over the age of 26. We flow special education

funding through to our constituent districts.


Whom can I contact with other questions?

Please feel free to call Barry ISD Superintendent Rich Franklin directly, at 269-945-

9545, ext. 111, or email him at; or talk with your local

superintendent’s office.”

Agnes M. Hollister Courtyard dedicated at Thornapple Manor

A garden party at Thornapple Manor, complete with ice cream and cake, was held after a ribbon cutting celebrating the naming of the new "Agnes M. Hollister Memorial Courtyard."

The Hollister family, represented by son David, daughter-in-law Martha and grandson John Hollister were joined by residents, staff and volunteers to commemorate the event.   


“Aggie called Thornapple Manor home for many years and was active in the Resident Council and the Helping Hands volunteer group,” said Director of Support Services Lyn Briel. “She loved that her room faced the beautiful West Courtyard, and enjoyed year-round pleasure from her view. Daughter Mary Hollister, who resides in Maine, spearheaded the drive to create a lasting memory of her mother by making a naming donation to Thornapple Manor,” Briel said.


"I made this gift to Thornapple Manor both in memory of my mother, Agnes M. Hollister, and as a tribute to the wonderful staff, nurses, nurses aids, and therapists who cared for her during her over fifteen-year stay there. The Manor was her second home,” Mary Hollister said. “My brother David, our families, and I are pleased that this gift will name her favorite place here ‘The Agnes M. Hollister Memorial Courtyard.’

“This courtyard was a place she could see from her room's window and enjoy the birds, flowers, trees and changing seasons and also spend time in during the warmer months. I hope others are encouraged to express their thanks to Thornapple Manor by this gift."


“The staff made it easier for us when mom needed extra help,” David Hollister said. “We all felt like we were part of a large extended family and appreciated so much the care and compassion mom experienced here.”


“With this gift we are able to provide extra staff development and purchase a few items that can enhance resident care, as directed by the donor,” Thornappple Manor

Administrator Don Haney said. “Aggie was a friend to all of us and by naming this courtyard ‘The Agnes M. Hollister Memorial Courtyard’ her memory, her name, will become a permanent feature here.


“We are grateful to receive this gift. Your family could have chosen so many different ways to memorialize your mother, that you chose Thornapple Manor is humbling,” Haney concluded.


Thornapple Manor, part of the Barry County community for more than 59 years, specializes in 24-hour, skilled long-term care, specialized dementia care and in-patient rehab services.


Photo: Representing the Hollister family during the celebration in the naming of the Agnes M. Hollister Memorial Courtyard are (left to right) Martha, John and David Hollister with Thornapple Manor Administrator Don Haney.

Barry Eaton District Health Department, pantries to offer more healthy food choices

The Hastings and Diamondale food pantries, working with the Barry Eaton District Heath department (BEDHD), have changed their policies to increase the health of its client by encouraging healthy food choices.


Offering healthful foods can help pantry clients eat more nutritious food than they might be able to afford, which can help decrease the number of people who have nutrition–related diseases or reduce the severity of the diseases in those who have them.


The changes are supported by a grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, working with local pantries to being healthful foods to low income residents.


The Hastings Pantry, at the First United Church, will provide fresh vegetables as seasonally available and provide information on healthy nutrition.


The Dimondale Pantry, at the First Presbyterian Church of Diamondale, will provide food from each food group, seek donations of fresh produce, and purchase low sodium, no-salt-added and processed foods from the Lansing Food Bank. They also purchase fresh product and dairy items from the Lansing Food Bank before each distribution day, when available, and encourage donations of whole grain products.


Cooking classes, ”Cooking Matters,” are being held at the both pantries. Taught by MSU Extension, the class teaches how to cook healthy foods in budget-friendly way.

For more information and to sign up for an upcoming class, call the Barry County MSU Extension office at 269-945-1388


Those who wish to donate to a pantry are encouraged to donate healthy foods, canned fruit in 100 percent fruit juice, whole wheat pasta, whole grain cereal and low sodium or water packed vegetables and meats. More helpful donation suggestions are at Feeding America’s Healthy Donation List at

Caledonia man victim of industrial accident

A Caledonia Farmers Elevator employee died in an industrial accident while at work Saturday, according to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department.

Deputies called to the scene learned that Daniel Hibma, 56, from Caledonia, was working at the Caledonia Farmers Elevator when another employee, who was not working, drove by at about 3:10 p.m. and saw that Hibma had not finished working.


Knowing that was unusual, the employee searched the buildings and found that Hibma had been involved in an accident, officials said.

Caledonia and Kentwood fire departments worked together using technical rescue equipment and recovered Hibma.


Life Ambulance personnel pronounced him deceased at the scene.  The investigation is ongoing. Additional details may be released later.


Superintendent's Platform

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


“In 2015 voters in the Hastings Area Schools System approved a bond proposal, which is providing our students with safer and updated learning facilities. These improvements are sure to enhance our students’ educational environment and opportunities. Now the Hastings Area School System Board of Education is asking voters to consider two proposals during a special school election in November.


The first proposal is a no mill increase from the current mills, and it uses capitalized interest for $10.5 million to remodel elementary schools, provide student technology devices, remodel the 1997 portion of the middle school, remodel locker rooms at the middle school and high school and provide new roofs on all schools.


The second proposal is a $19.5 million bond taking advantage of the State-offered School Bond Loan Fund. This second proposal is a 0.5 mill increase for remodeling major areas of the high school, providing increased technology for instruction and security, purchasing new school buses, constructing a new transportation office building, stadium concession building and bleachers and press box, and upgrading athletic fields, facilities and sites. If approved the bonds would further enhance the improvements made possible by the 2015 bond.


Taking advantage of the School Bond Loan Fund may or may not be available to us in the future. The total proposal (0.5) is 1/10 of the increase for the current projects (4.0 mills) and the sinking funds (1.0 mills) combined.


Students and families are already benefiting from improved entrances and reconfigured offices at each elementary building in the district as well as other structural updates and improvements. Phase 4 of the bond project is currently in the design phase and includes mechanical and heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) upgrades for all elementary schools as well as site and drainage work at Star Elementary. The work for Phase 4 will be in the summer of 2018.


When school resumes next month, 6th and 7th grade students will see some renovations to the 1954 portion of the middle school. The new addition is on schedule to be ready for use by spring 2018, while work continues on the construction of the performing arts center and classroom renovations at the high school, slated to be complete in 2018.

In other action the board approved:


• Authorized district administration to charge tuition and/or transportation fees to non-resident students during the 2017-2018 school year


• Authorized the superintendent to discipline students in accordance with provisions as described in current policies


• Approved making arrangements with First Agency, Inc. of Kalamazoo to provide student accident insurance coverage with Guarantee Trust Life Insurance Company for those parents and guardians who wish to purchase it during the 2017-2018 school year


• Approved the following personnel appointments


• Accepted an installment purchase agreement from Commercial Bank to finance the purchase of five school buses


• Set athletic activity admission process for the 2017-2018 school year—high school athletic activities, $5 for adults and students, middle school athletic activities, $3 for adults, $2 for students; passes (except for any tournament or invitational) for both middle and high school activities—Student Pass-- $40 for admission to all sporting events during a season, Adult Pass-- $80 for admission to all sporting events during a season, All-Season Family Pass-- $200 for admission for all immediate family members who are residents to all sporting events during all seasons


• Approved participation in the National School Lunch Program and related programs and provide a breakfast program during the 2017-2018 school year and the following cost schedule-- $1.60 for a full-price breakfast; $.30 for reduced-price breakfast; $2.80 for a full-price, type A student lunch; $.40 for a reduced-price, type A student lunch; and $3.75 for an adult lunch


• Accepted a bid from Hurst mechanical in the amount of $25,000 to complete control and mechanical work at the Community Education and Recreation Center (CERC)


• Announced its next regular meeting would be conducted at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21 in the multi-purpose room of Central Elementary, 509 S. Broadway, Hastings.


We are excited to share the progress of our facilities with students, families and the community.  Please remember schools starts on August 28th.”   


Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital Cancer Center dedicated

Spectrum Health Pennock President Sheryl Lewis Blake welcomed the audience at the Cancer Center Sanctuary and Healing Garden Dedication Wednesday to “an exciting day for Spectrum Health Pennock and a glorious day for our community, and specifically, for the patients we serve.”


Lewis-Blake recognized the leadership of the Community Board of Directors, the Pennock Foundation, Pennock Ventures Board and the staff, all “who moved the new service to reality.”

“The purpose of the Healing Garden and Sanctuary are to create an environment that cares for the whole person and demonstrates a commitment to the soul as well as the physical body….our new center will enable care close to home while maintaining connectivity of specialists and offering clinical trials,” she said.

Chief Operating Officer Carla Wilson-Neil followed Lewis Blake. “We are grateful to Spectrum Health Cancer Center and Spectrum Health System for collaborating with West Michigan Cancer and Hematology in advancing the services for cancer care available to patients here in Hastings,” she said.


“When we are caring for those we love who are battling cancer, it is more important than ever to stay close to home.  Treatment and recovery is easier when travel time and costs are reduced and family is nearby.”


Wilson-Neil recognized several people and groups whose efforts helped make the cancer center a reality, such as the Spectrum Health multidisciplinary team that met for a year, “addressing a multitude of complex issues and challenges necessary to implement a program that is now a partner of the region’s largest cancer care provider…we are truly living and delivering on our mission to improve the health of the community we serve.”


Two patients of the new center, Gene Greenfield, the first patient seen when the center opened on July 10, and Chris Bush, told their stories and attested to the exceptional care they are receiving at the third floor cancer center. //


The crowd met Dr. Judy Smith, MD, department chief of oncology at Spectrum Health, who said she came to Spectrum because of its network of hospitals and facilities and to “be able to bring that same level of care, where you have the absolute best…to bring it to the people, so the people didn’t have to travel as they started on their most difficult of journeys. I’m very, very proud that we are able to bring cancer services here to Pennock.”             


Pastor Michael Anton noted the level of care at the facility, “the treasure that is Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital… I’ve had a good sense of what we have here for a long time, since my first pastoral visit in 1969.” There is a growing awareness that, “total health is always, and always has been, integrated; mental, physical, spiritual."  The hospital now has an interfaith sanctuary, by design, a healing garden for individual meditation, and a cancer center. “Mental, physical, spiritual; the integrated approach to wholeness and health,” he said.


Pennock Foundation Executive Director Janine Dalman announced the foundation has pledged $200,000 this year and $200,000 over the next two years to support the cancer program.

A ribbon cutting was held and guided tours of the cancer center and pharmacy compounding room offered.



Photos: Upper left:The ribbon cutting Wednesday marks the official opening of the Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital Cancer Center.


Middle left: Pastor Michael Anton and Chief Operating Officer Carla Wilson-Neil share a hug after the dediction of the cancer center.


Middle right: The overflow crowd waits in the sanctuary for speakers at the cancer center dedication.


Lower left: Chief of the oncology department at Spectrum, Judy Smith, MD, tells how proud she is of the new Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital cancer center that provides close to home cancer care for Barry County residents.


Bottom left: Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital President Sheryl Lewis Blake speaks at the cancer center dedication Wednesday.














Three millage requests on Aug. 8 ballot.

Hastings Area School System and Barry Intermediate School District non-homestead millage renewals are on the Aug. 8 ballot, along with a request for millage for fire equipment in Orangeville Township.


Hastings Area School System:

Voters will decide a request for a 10-year renewal of the current 17.9262 mills ($17.9262 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation), reduced from 18 mills by the Headlee Amendment, on non-homestead property.


The non-homestead millage renewal is for industrial, commercial and ‘second homes,’ and does not include a family’s primary residence.

The renewal is required for the school district to receive its per pupil foundation allowance from the state and renews the millage that will expire with the 2017 tax levy.

 If approved, an estimated $3,044,300 will be collected by the district in 2018.


Barry Intermediate School District:

This proposal requests additional millage to permit the levy by the Intermediate School District of the maximum mills for special education previously approved by voters.


The ballot language:

“Shall the current limitation on the annual property tax rate for the education of students with a disability in Barry Intermediate School District, Michigan, be increased by .7 mill ($0.70 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a period of 10 years, 2017 to 2026, inclusive (.3631 mill of this increase will restore millage lost as a result of the reduction required by the Michigan Constitution of 1963, and will allow the intermediate school district to levy the maximum rate of 2.1875 mills previously approved by the electors; the remaining .3369 mill will only be levied to the extent necessary to restore a reduction required by the Michigan Constitution of 1963); the estimate of the revenue the intermediate school district will collect if the millage is approved and levied in 2017 is approximately $366,143.29?”


Also on the Aug. 8 ballot, Orangeville Township is asking an additional 0.75 mills for five years to purchase fire department equipment and apparatus raising an estimated $102,403 in the first year the millage is levied.



Eaton County deputy helps save 20-year-old woman's life

Eaton County Sheriff’s Deputy Pete Walter was in the area of the Citgo gas station on West Saginaw Highway about 2 p.m. yesterday when a 911 call came in of a woman possibly in cardiac arrest at the station, according to a sheriff’s office news release.


Walter responded and found a 20-year-old woman who did not appear to be breathing with a faint pulse, unconscious and turning blue. He administered a dose of Narcan to no effect, got two more does from his patrol car and gave her those, one in each nostril.


The woman was still unresponsive when EMS arrived and put her into an ambulance; eight minutes later, she was conscious and talking to medics.


“Sheriff (Tom) Reich praises Deputy Walter and Delta Fire EMS for their quick actions that helped save this young woman’s life,” the release said.

Hastings Country Club Being Sold

Members of the Hastings Country Club received word by letter Wednesday that Lynn and Norma Janson owners of the local golf course are selling the popular course.

Janson said "It's both with a heavy heart and great excitement at the same time that Norma and I are writing to let you know we are selling the Hastings Country Club." 

Lynn went on to say, "I plan on being the PGA Golf Professional at the club and running the PGA Junior League as well as helping with every aspect of the operation as requested by the new owners."

The New owners include;

Korin and Phil Ayers, Dave and Susie Baum, Ron and Nikki Kloosterman, Rick and Kris Reigler, Nathan and Becky Tag, and Tom and Beth Watson.

Hiring process for Barry County Animal Shelter director continues

The process for hiring a director for the Barry County Animal Shelter continues, with initial candidates being considered for interviews by the county commission.

County Administrator Michael Brown, who is also department head of the shelter, reported Tuesday he has received 23 applications for the post.


Brown has reviewed the applicants for educational experience and job duties required and said Tuesday that he will meet with Commissioner David Jackson for him to also review the candidates. Jackson represents the county commission on the Barry County Animal Shelter Oversight Board.


They will “determine a few quality applicants and recommend interviews with the board,” Brown said.

The shelter has been without director since the third week in April when Billie Jo Hartwell, director since July, 2015, was fired after being charged with acts of misconduct at the shelter.


Barry County Commissioners invited to the White House

Barry County Commissioners have been invited to a White House conference to develop a working relationship between Michigan county commissioners and federal agencies on Aug. 8. A tour of the White House is part of the day.

The invitation, received by each commissioner, came from Billy Kirkland, deputy director of intergovernmental affairs, the liaison between state and local governments and the White House.


“What a unique opportunity for county commissioners,” Chairman Ben Geiger said. “Regardless of how you feel about the current administration, it’s a great opportunity that doesn’t come along very often.”


Geiger said he is going; commissioners have until Friday to decide if they can attend.


August Fest rolls on at Charlton Park

The local classic car community will be showcased at Historic Charlton Park’s sixth annual August Fest Antique Car Show on Saturday, Aug. 5. Registration begins on the Village Green at 9 a.m. with numerous awards, trophies and door prizes awarded at 1 p.m.

Admission and parking are free. 


“This year’s show is supported by 35 sponsors, including local businesses, residents and county commissioners.  We are truly grateful to our generous donors who support the event,” said event coordinator Howard “Hoot” Gibson.


A county-wide yard sale will take place during August Fest, with vendors selling antiques, household items, tools, car parts, and crafts. The Historic Village and Museum will also be open for self-guided tours. Food and music will add to the festivities.  Vendor spaces for the yard sale are available for $15 on the day of show.  Vehicle registration is $10 per vehicle. 


Charlton Park also offers a beach and boat launch, fishing, picnicking and hiking on the grounds.



Clarification: Hours to drop off compostables in Hastings ends at 3 p.m.

Clarification: The hours to drop off compostables at the Hastings facility on West State Road ends at 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Originally announced as 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., it was decided to stop entry at 3 p.m. to have all drop offs complete, trucks gone and gates locked at 3:30 p.m.


Original story:The City of Hastings maintains a compostable material drop off site on West State Road for its citizens to use, but because of the “unbelievable amount” of compostable and especially non-compostable material being dropped off, the city council by consensus Monday agreed to limit hours the facility is open to the public.

“With the volume and type of material, we need more control,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said, setting the hours from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. “We realize it will be inconvenient for some…it’s less than ideal...the workers won’t be there all the time, but we have to do something, particularly about  the non-compostables. I strongly suspect some of it is not coming from city residents, especially after hours,” he said.

Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange suggested keeping the area open in the evening once a week or once  month,. “We need to try different things.”

“We should try this,” said Councilman Don Smith. “Guys will be going in and out. It’s a good idea.”

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Mansfield said.


Reaction to TOST review heard by Barry County Commissioners

Last week, Barry County Commissioners narrowly approved a review of the 10-year old TOST program. Tuesday, commissioners heard two views of the subject in public comment.


TOST, which stands for “Time of Sale or Transfer,” is a Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation that calls for a department-certified evaluator to inspect on-site water and septic systems at the time of sale or transfer of property in Eaton and Barry counties. The department orders corrections or replacement if a system is deemed failing, and systems out of compliance must be repaired or replaced before the sale can be completed.


Larry Bass, resident of Carlton Township, said the county commission did not consider withdrawing from TOST last year, citing excessive cost to taxpayers for legal counsel. “Just his year, the rural taxpayers of Barry County have endured 394 TOST evaluations at a cost of approximately $160,000.

"Since the regulation was adopted,  there have been 5,700 evaluations at a cost of approximately $2 million to the rural taxpayers. There doesn’t seem to be the same concern when the fees or taxes are paid directly by the property owners,” he said.


Noting Barry County already had a Sanitary and Nuisance codes in place before TOST, he said, “there is absolutely no evidence that the quality of drinking water has improved in Barry County since the inception of TOST.”


He suggested that the county, “is capable and has the ability to tell the health district that we will no longer participate in TOST…even though 70 percent of the county is rural and primarily served by on-site systems, we are in a minority in representation on the board of commissioners, and especially the health board. It is time we were given our due.”


Former Commissioner Jim Dull lauded Commissioner Ben Geiger for urging an open forum for public opinion, but he maintained that the since the health department gets paid for the TOST program, they should pay the anticipated $6,500 cost of the review.


Hastings Township Supervisor Jim Brown urged the commissioners "to be very careful not to throw the baby out with the wash water....keep the good parts and throw out the bad parts."




In other business, the commissioners:

* approved an excess spending authorization to allow spending more than $10,000 in one year for dredging at Crystal Lake Dam. The Barry County Drain Commission will spend $14,200 to dredge 300 yards of sand this year.


* authorized the drain commission to borrow $100,000 to pay for emergency repairs and other preliminary expenses of the Gun Lake Dam, to be paid back through a special assessment that will be set up to pay for the replacement of the dam.


* approved Commissioner David Jackson as officer delegate and Commissioner Ben Geiger alternate and Karen Barnes as employee delegate and Julie Ingle as alternate.

to attend the annual Municipal Employee Retirement System meeting Sept. 21-22 in Detroit.


First Night Out in Hastings is Tuesday, Aug.1

Hastings Deputy Police Chief Dale Boulter asks everyone who plans to attend the first Night Out Aug. 1 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Tyden Park to spread the word about the event, inviting everyone in the city and Barry County.


In planning since February, Boulter updated the Hastings City Council Monday, saying that the organizers are very excited about hosting the evening. Free food, 2,000 hot dogs have been purchased to hand out to visitors, prizes, games, a dunk tank, a free raffle and a bounce house are some of the attractions.


Hastings police officers, Barry County Sheriff’s deputies and Michigan State troopers, area fire department firefighters and ambulance service personnel will bring their equipment and demonstrate what they do. “The night is for them to show people the firefighters and police who are on call for them every day,” Boulter said. The “hopefully” annual event will build on the police-community partnership, and let the people meet and talk to emergency services personnel in a casual setting.


Bolter said he has several slots open in the dunk tank schedule and is looking for volunteers from the city council to take 10 minute turns in the tank to, so far, a lukewarm response from council members.

Parking will be eased by Barry County Transit buses that will shuttle people to and from various spots around town, including city parking lots.


Other community outreach organizations that provide resources for residents, like the Barry County United Way and Green Gables will also be there. Boulter is credited with the original idea; a committee made up of Boulter, Officer Kendra Backing and Sgt. Kris Miller, Secretary Anne Lockman and Chief Jeff Pratt did the planning.


On the national level, the event is always held the first Tuesday in August, promoting a sense of community, positive public relations, safety and trust.





Hastings Schools Board of Education approves two millage requests for Nov.7 ballot

The Hastings Area School System’s Board of Education unanimously approved two millage proposals for the Nov. 7 general election ballot at it’s semi-annual organizational and regular board meeting Monday. Trustee Robert Pohl was absent.


The first proposal asks for $10.5 million for remodeling, equipping, refurnishing school buildings, adding instructional technology to school buildings and improving the middle school site.

The school gave additional information on the request: The estimated millage levied for the proposed bonds in 2018 is 0.85 mill for a -0- mill net increase over the prior year’s levy. The request is for 15 years; the estimated annual millage is 1.53 mills.


The second proposal is $19.5 million for remodeling, equipping and refurnishing school buildings, adding instructional technology in school buildings, building a new transportation office building, stadium concession building and press box, purchasing buses and upgrading athletic fields, facilities and sites.


The additional information: The estimated millage is 1.35 mills, a 0.50 percent net increase over the prior year’s levy, for 25 years. The estimated simple average annual millage required to retire the bond debt is 1.87 mills.


The district expects to borrow from the State School Bond Qualification and Loan Program to pay debt service on those bonds; the estimated total principal amount is $1,620,726  with a total interest of $670,036. The estimated rate for such a levy is 7 mills for 13 years.


“I would just like to point out that the reason we are going back so quickly is because we promised our voters on the last campaign when we had to make several cuts, that when the timing was right and there was a good value for the  voters in the district, we would do so and in order to capitalize on the school bond loan fund, we have a window and we thought we needed to bring it back to our voters,” board President Luke Haywood said.


“I wanted to also point out that this is a November election, not to be confused with the August operating millage which generates three million to keep our doors open…a non-homestead tax, so what we’re talking about here is a special election in November,” he said.

Marijuana Card Holders in Barry County

More than 2-percent of Michigan residents have a medical marijuana card, according to the most recent state information.

The data shows there are 218,556 patients with a medical marijuana card as of september 2016, plus 38,057 caregivers with a card so they can obtain marijuana for a designated patient.

 The 2016 data show there are just over one thousand medical marijuana cardholders in Barry County.

Police Car hits Sign

A State Police Car heading to Nashville to assist a Nashville Police Officer lost control of his vehicle an hit a crosswalk sign and a no parking sign.  The trooper was on Apple Street in Hastings when he  turned on Broadway losing control of his patroll car and hit the signs.

no one was injured. The accident happened on July 1st.


Vehicle Crash Kills Middleville Couple

A Middleville Couple was killed saturday afternoon in a two vehicle crash in Wexford County. According to WPBN TV 59 year old Janice Verkerke failed to stop  at a stop sign traveled into the intersection where her vehicle was struck by a westbound vehicle driven by a Benzonia man. Wexford County Sheriff Deputies say Janice and her passenger, 64 year old Richard Verkerke were pronounced dead at the scene.. The driver of the other vehicle and a passenger were taken to Munson Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.

Middleville celebrates "Redevelopment Ready Community" status

The public is invited to Middleville Monday, July 31 from 11 a.m. to noon to join a celebration of the village being certified as a “Redevelopment Ready Community.”

Middleville is the 13th community, and the smallest in the state based on population, to be certified by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.


The accomplishment acknowledges that the village has removed barriers and streamlined processes to be more competitive in today’s economy. The village has worked toward certification since 2015.

The event will be in the Community Pavilion across from the village hall on Main Street.


“Join us to recognize the hard work of a village dedicated to having a vision for the future and the fundamental practices in place to get there,” a village news release said.


Loan to pay preliminary costs for Gun Lake Dam recommended

Barry County will likely back a loan to the County Drain Commission to pay costs incurred since an emergency effort saved the Gun Lake Dam in May of 2015. Despite the temporary repairs, engineers inspected it and advised that, given the condition of the dam, it be replaced.


The project now underway to replace it has wide support of the Gun Lake residents who will be in a special assessment district to pay the cost, but that has not been set yet, Drain Commissioner Jim Dull told commissioners.


Dull estimates they will need 18 months to determine the construction costs, “then we’ll go the regular route to pay it back,” he said. The committee of the whole moved the proposal to the next regular commission meeting with a recommendation for approval.

The Barry County Circuit Court will determine the normal lake level of Gun Lake and establish a special assessment district.


In other business Tuesday, Commissioner David Jackson was named officer delegate and Commissioner Ben Geiger the alternate, to the annual Municipal Employee Retirement System meeting Sept. 21-22 in Detroit. Karen Barnes was named employee delegate with Julie Ingle as alternate.

More Crystal Lake Dam dredging this year likely with more funding recommended

The Crystal Lake Improvement Board has petitioned the Barry County Drain Commission for dredging of sand that has accumulated over the past two years at the Upper Crystal Lake Dam sediment pond, County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull said at the Barry County Board’s committee of the whole meeting Tuesday.


A resolution, technically an excess spending authorization, was moved to the next regular commission meeting with a recommendation for approval.


The action is required to allow spending of more than $10,000 on dam maintenance or repair in one year. With approval, the drain commission will spend $14,200 to dredge sand in the dam area this year, Dull said. They will remove 300 yards of sand now; it’s part of a special assessment for the removal of 600 yards in five years, he said.




Safe Kids brings car seat safety check to Thornapple Township Emergency Services

Safe Kids Greater Grand Rapids, along with the Barry County United Way and Thornapple Township Emergency Services (TTES), will host a car seat safety check in Barry County  July 26 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the TTES station, 128 High Street in Middleville.


The inspections are free and replacement seats available for those who qualify, thanks to a grant from Priority Collision in Hastings.  For an appointment, call Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention Program at 616-391-7233.


The Safe Kids Greater Grand Rapids is part of the DeVos hospital program.


According to national statistics, three out of every four car seats are installed incorrectly.  “We are looking forward to bringing this event into Barry County for the first time,” said Captain Chad Klutman of TTES. “We see many accidents where children in properly installed car seats have saved a lot of injuries.”  Local, certified car seat technicians will help the parent or care giver find which seat is right for their child and work with them on the proper installation.


“Car seats can be difficult to properly install. Sometimes it’s just the tricks we have learned that help the parent or care giver install them correctly every single time they move them,” said Lani Forbes, executive director of Barry County United Way.

Helen Devos Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention program is dedicated to educating families about how to reduce unintentional injuries to children.












Photo: Car seat technicians Stacey Youngs, Community Education, Spectrum Health Pennock, front,  and Amanda Hoeksma, Family Support Center, ready to check child safety seats.


Car crashes into Yankee Springs Township house, breaks gas line

Wayland and Yankee Springs Township fire departments, Wayland Area EMS and Consumers Energy were called to a home on North Patterson Road in Yankee Springs Township on a report of a car striking a house July 17 at 5:55 p.m., according to a Yankee Springs Fire Department official.


The out-of-control vehicle crashed into the home, taking out the bay window and breaking the gas meter off the pipes,  allowing an uncontrolled flow of natural gas.
Firefighters cleared the scene after the gas company arrived to take care of the broken line and the wrecker hauled the vehicle away. The original call reported no injuries


Barry Eaton District Health Department offers free hearing and vision clinics

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department will host free hearing and vision clinics for school-age children in Barry County on Thursday, August 17  and in Eaton County on Friday, August 18.

Appointments are required. To schedule an appointment in Eaton County, call 517-541-2630. In Barry County, call 269-798-4133. Clinics are open from 8 a.m. to noon.


The clinics are at the health department offices in Barry County at 330 West Woodlawn Avenue in Hastings; in the Eaton County office at 1033 Health Care Drive in Charlotte.

For more information about hearing and vision screening at the health department, visit


Why should you get your child screened?

* All children must have a hearing and vision screen before entering kindergarten.

* More than one million children in Michigan will need eye care by the time they reach high school graduation age.

* Approximately 10,000 Michigan children begin each school year without adequate vision.

* Screening can help your child succeed in school. An undiagnosed hearing and vision problem can interfere with your child’s development.

* Five percent of children screened for hearing are referred to a specialist. Ten percent of children screened for vision are referred to a specialist.

* Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent temporary difficulties from becoming permanent problems.


Controversial Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation to be reviewed

A ten-year review of TOST with changes expected to be recommended based on citizen’s comments, was narrowly approved by a split Barry County Commission Tuesday.

Commission Chair Ben Geiger proposed the review at a cost of $6,500, saying their job as commissioners is to listen to the people’s experiences with TOST.


"This is not a referendum on the health department; this is not an initiative to put the health department on the hot seat, and it's not a referendum on the importance of protecting public health, it is just an exercise in good government, listening to the public,” Geiger said.


The recommendations would go to the Barry Eaton District Health Department’s six-member Board of  Health, (three Barry County commissioners, and three Eaton County commissioners) with ways they could improve the unpopular regulation.


Voting to approve the proposal, effective immediately, were Geiger and Commissioners Dan Parker, Heather Wing and David Jackson. Commissioners Jon Smelker, Howard Gibson and Vivian Conner voted “no.”

For the reasoning behind the commissioners votes, see the article: “Why Barry County Commissioners voted the way they did.”


Geiger’s plan, leading to specific recommendations to the health board, would allot Aug. 1 to Sept. 30 for public comment about TOST on a new portal on the county website, approve a public listening session on the evening of  Aug. 22 and a professional survey of randomly selected TOST participants.


Those making comments on the county web site can chose to keep their responses confidential.

The plan contains $5,229.69 for identified costs for the project and $ 1,250.31 for contingencies for up to $6,500 to pay for advertising, the survey, a facilitator at the public meeting, and refreshments at the meeting.


The responses would be evaluated in October and specific recommendations for changes in the TOST regulation will then be developed.//


Geiger, who is president of the health board, said he had informally talked to the rest of the board, but in response to commissioner’s comments, would ask them at their next meeting for consensus of support for the ten year review.



TOST, standing for “Time of Sale or Transfer,” is a Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation that calls for a department-certified evaluator to inspect on-site water and septic systems at the time of sale or transfer of property in Eaton and Barry counties. The department reviews the evaluations and orders corrections or replacement if a system is failing. Systems out of compliance must be repaired or replaced before the sale can be completed.


The TOST regulation is to identify and repair failing septic systems and defective water wells, protect the groundwater and the environment, acording to the health department.


Since shortly after it’s conception in 2007,  the commission has heard citizens complaining the program was arbitrary, unfair, unnecessarily costly and being used to bring systems up to present day codes, if they are failing or not, contrary to the wording of the regulation.


Information on the BEHD website, includes a list of evaluators, evaluation sites, exemption forms, escrow agreement forms and the TOST regulation.


Why Barry County Commissioners voted the way they did

Ten years ago, the Barry Eaton District Health Department set a regulation mandating inspection of on-site sewer and water systems and repair or replacing those deemed failing before selling or transferring property in Barry and Eaton counties.

It has drawn many complaints from the public since its inception.


A proposal from Barry County Commission Chair Ben Geiger to review the regulation at a cost of $6,500 for a public meeting, advertising and a survey to develop improvements, brought a response from every commissioner, a former commissioner and the public. What follows is a condensation of commissioner’s reasons for their votes, pro and con.


Commissioner Vivian Conner: “You want to spend money when we don’t know it we can do anything. We could do this and the board (of health) can say no. We’ve been listening for 10 years and they wanted it changed…things do need to be changed…I’m leaning toward a (separate) Barry County Health Department.”


Commissioner Dan Parker: “What we are saying is that the health department needs a Dale Carnegie course…but they have to see it needs to be changed… the money would be worth it to me to get the latest up-to-date information, conduct a professional survey with random sampling and some from the health department.”


Commissioner Heather Wing: “We need to have a system to what we’re doing to our lakes. The time of sale is the biggest problem. Houses are not being sold, houses are not being bought. They are manipulating the property owners rights. Our constituents are not being listened to…get the numbers--the health department runs on numbers. “


Commissioner Howard Gibson: “We’ve heard from the people; no one likes it. It’s a waste of money. It’s not a bad regulation, it’s bad how they administrated it. We should go out on our own, modify it and do what we want.”


Commissioner Jon Smelker: “I’m not fond of spending money…if we do it, we should ask, ‘Should we have a Barry County Health Department?’ We’ve lost control of our health department. Once we get one Barry County department, then we decide.”


Commissioner David Jackson: “Review is good, if spending money meets our end goals. I favor meeting to hear the public, so I’m in favor of going forward. I’m not sure a professional survey will get us the results we want; it’s important  to hear all sides. I’d like to limit the money somehow…is there an alternate plan?”


Commissioner Ben Geiger said after the meeting: "The plan approved today is all about listening. The feedback Commissioners receive on TOST experiences will show what's working, and what isn't working for our residents. While this regulation plays a role in protecting public health, we still have duty to listen, and to learn how it is impacting taxpayers." //


And, the public said:

Citizen Jack Miner: “Why would you spend money on what you already know, unless you want to make it look like you are fulfilling a campaign promise? Miner urged commissioner to consider a standalone health department for Barry County, discuss dropping TOST with Eaton County officials, develop a policy with mandatory guidelines of all aspects of TOST and insist health department enforcement match the policy.


Citizen Bob Vanderboegh said commissioners should compare TOST against other counties regulations, pointing out Barry County already has health and nuisance rules. He said TOST pits lake owners against rural residents and contended health department actions are based on faulty numbers. “They said it would create jobs. It has, and it has cost the public a lot of money.”


Former Commissioner Jim Dull: “I sat in the health board for two years; Ben said there were changes; they didn’t cure any problems. We had resolutions from the Farm Bureau and Barry County Veterans, all they got was lip service…it’s $6,500 on another study that goes nowhere.”











Traffic Death

Update: The person who died in the accident detailed below is identified as Daniel Russian,32, from Delta Township.

Original story: One person is dead following a crash on I-496 Tuesday morning in Eaton County. The Eaton County Sheriff's Office said a vehicle driven by a Delta Township resident rear-ended a truck stopped for a backup created by a construction zone.  The force of the of the impact pushed the truck into another stopped car in front of the truck. The lone male driver of the first car was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene. The occupants of the other vehicles were not injured.


Tuesday morning around 10:30 a.m. Grandville Police and Fire were called to Affordable Dentures and Implants on Canal Avenue on a vehicle that crashed into the building..  Two people were in the building at the time and were treated for injuries and taken to a nearby hospital.

The driver of the pickup truck, a 69-year-old male, refused medical treatment on the scene. Alcohol was not a factor in the crash.

Bowling will go to trial; charges include murder and attempted murder

Ralph Bowling III was bound over to circuit court for trial on nine counts involving the death of his estranged wife Cheyenne Bowling in the early morning hours of June 11. District Court Judge Michael Schipper set the Aug. 16 at 8:15 a.m. for Bowling’s next court appearance.


Bowling faces trial on counts of open murder, attempted murder, home invasion, 1st degree, second degree arson, carrying a weapon with unlawful intent and four counts of felony firearm violations during the commission of the crimes.


At the second part of the preliminary hearing, continued from June 28, forensic pathologist Patrick Hansma from Sparrow Hospital’s Forensic Pathology Department, testified that Cheyenne Bowling was shot in the left side of the face with a shotgun at close range. He determined the distance, from three inches to two feet, based on stippling, commonly called powder burns, around the wound.

Hansma said the gun likely was a .410 gauge shotgun.


Cheyenne Bowling’s body had several bruises and contusions from before her death in various stages of healing and newer abrasions on her head, neck and jaw. With the gunshot, her death would have been immediate, he said.


Barry County Sheriff’s Office Detective Janette Maki interviewed Bowling the morning after the death. He told her he had been  suspicious for six months that his wife was in an “inappropriate relationship” with co-worker Nathan Farrell, and put a tracking app on her phone that let him know where she was and also read her text messages.


Cheyenne left him and moved in with Melissa and Tim Wymer, her mother and step-father, when she discovered Bowling had put a camera covering her movements in her bedroom.

Bowling told Maki he followed Farrell and Cheyenne to the Wymer home on Bird Road home the night of the murder, and confronted them with a .410 shotgun. Bowling said he was upset, and angry and shot Farrell in the neck. Farrell fled and was later hospitalized.


Bowling changed his account of the night’s events and how Cheyenne died several times, “when I confronted him with inconsistencies,” Maki said. When Cheyenne fled the house, he found her where her body was later found between a vehicle and an outbuilding. Bowling first said they struggled for the gun, then later said when he went outside, he had his gun at shoulder level, “she stopped, and he discharged the shotgun,” Maki said. //


After the shooting, he went to his house on Coats Grove Road, intending to commit suicide, poured gasoline on the carpet and set it on fire. Changing his mind, he jumped out of a window and drove to Clarksville, then to Ionia County where he threw the shotgun in the woods alongside the road. The gun was recovered by police. Several hours later, he turned himself in to Barry Central Dispatch and was taken to Barry County Jail.


Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt asked Schipper to bind Bowling over to circuit court for trial. The murder was premeditated, he had six months to think about it, she said. Bowling clearly shot to kill Farrell and had to reload his gun to shoot Cheyenne, she added.

“It appears there were some injuries before she died. She was in the house, he chased her outside and he shot her in the face.”


Schipper said he found there was probable cause to believe that the nine counts were committed and they were committed by the defendant, “a pathetic man who murdered a defenseless woman.”


If convicted, open murder carries a life sentence, attempted murder can be life or any term of years, home invasion is 20 years, arson, a possible 20 years, carrying a weapon with unlawful intent, five years and felony gun charges an additional two years for each count. Bowling’s $1 million bond continues.



Thornapple Kitchen to reopen Thursday

The Thornapple Kitchen in Middleville plans to reopen today  July 20,  after a fire last Saturday destroyed the kitchen grill.

Unable to buy a replacement on the weekend, the restaurant  installed a new grill  and will be ready to serve customers again today.

Algal bloom at Thornapple Lake beach at Charlton Park not harmful to humans, pets

A suspicious looking algal bloom at the Thornapple Lake beach at Charlton Park, first thought to be harmful to people and pets, was later confirmed not to be at a level that would pose a threat to humans or animals, according to the Barry Eaton District Health Department.


An initial test by the DEQ on July 12 showed the toxin that often causes harmful algal blooms was probably present at the beach, but the levels of the toxin were unknown.


Out of caution and to protect the health of the public, the Barry-Eaton District Health Department issued a public health advisory for the swimming beach and recommended that people and pets not enter the water, especially where blue-green algae is visible.  


On July 14, the health department,  with guidance from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, sampled the water and updated the public health advisory, noting it is below the Environmental Protection Agency’s draft recreational criteria.


The health advisory was lifted July 14.


The health department strongly suggests that lake users still follow these recommendations:

*Avoid water that looks like spilled paint, has surface scum or films, is discolored or has colored streaks, and/or has green globs floating below the surface.

* Keep pets out of water with the above characteristics. If they come into contact with this water, rinse them off immediately. Do not let them drink the water or lick algae off their coats.

* Avoid swallowing water and rinse off with clean water after swimming.//


The public should also know that the amount of blue-green algae present in the lake could change quickly. A potential harmful algal bloom could occur at any time.

Awareness signs have been posted at various public access points to Thornapple Lake. While not all algal blooms produce toxins, to be safe, people and animals should avoid contact with very thick green scum in surface waters.


If you have concerns about algae in surface waters, contact MDEQ at For more information about harmful  algal blooms, see MDEQ’s information at For information on how they can affect health, visit



Two bicyclists struck by motorist; one dies, one seriously injured

One bicyclist died and the second suffered serious injuries after both were struck by a Caledonia motorist Saturday according to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. The bicyclist who died has been identified as Clarence Doornbos,76, of Caledonia. The second bicyclist, Claire Elgersma, 69, of Kentwood, sustained serious injuries.


A 2007 Jeep station wagon driven by Gerard Geerligs, 83, of Caledonia was southbound on Hanna Lake Avenue SE south of 92nd Street in Gaines Township when his vehicle struck the bicyclists who were also traveling southbound on Hanna Lake. Authorities say Geerligs was not wearing a seat belt and alcohol was not a factor in the crash.


Road Closure

Barry County Road  Commission would like to remind motorists to be aware of a road closure starting Monday July 17th at 7am, through Thursday, July 20th from Sisson Road at North Broadway to M-43 for culvert replacement.

Very Barry Family Event recognized by Hastings City Council

The City of Hastings Monday offered an Official Proclamation of Appreciation to the Very Barry Family Event coordinator, Daryl Waggoner. Mayor David Tossava read the proclamation, saying the event lets families with young children enjoy a free breakfast, learn about all the resources available to them in the county and meet and interact with emergency services workers.


Hearing and vision testing is available and kids enter a drawing for a new bike every other year.

“This event is thoroughly enjoyed by both the participants and those providing activities and sharing the information,” Tossava said. He named a dozen sponsors of the annual event, adding that there were many more.

“We really, really appreciate this, Waggoner said. “It’s a lot of work; it’s not just me, it’s certainly the committee. We were very successful this year; we gave out 384 bicycle helmets to 134 families.

“I want to thank the community partners who take part in the Very Barry Family Event.” 

Mass casualty training exercise will test Barry County emergency services response

Barry County Emergency Management will hold a full scale exercise of a mass casualty incident Saturday, August 19 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with approval of the Hastings City Council Monday.

Emergency Management Director Jim Yarger said personnel from Barry County emergency services, police, fire and ambulance, will respond, “stabilizing the situation, triaging and transporting ‘patients’ from the scene.”


The exercise will be held on South Church Street between South Broadway and West Court and West Center streets. West Center will be closed from South Broadway to the entrance to the Hastings City Bank parking lot during the exercise.


To have the last impact on the Saturday Hastings Farmer’s Market, all emergency vehicles will enter the scene from West Center, without lights or sirens, Yarger said.


The location will let responders use the Barry Enrichment Center parking lot and its building for pre-exercise orientation and post incident debriefing and lunch after the event. Responders will obey all traffic laws and an Exercise Safety Officer will oversee the exercise activities.



Superintendent's Platform

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


More than $83,000 in donations from the community and a roster of new teachers that includes Hastings High School alumni, gave evidence to the strength of our Saxon community as the Hastings Area Board of Education wrapped up the 2016-2017 year and prepared for 2017 -2018.


During its regular monthly meeting June 26, the board accepted with great appreciation the following donations from the community totaling $83,860.36:  Hastings Athletic Boosters, $2,000, summer athlete weight program, and $5,000 for the spring· sports season  Hastings Rotary Club, $4,375, backpack lunch program·  Kiwanis Club of Hastings, $500, Roe Reading Room·  Edythe Marshall Estate, $1,335.36, High School FFA·  Kisscross Events, $650, Hastings Athletic Department·  Baum Family Foundation, $70,000, Pay to Play (athletics)· //


Our community supports our Saxons and our Saxons give to the community. It’s great to see so many of our students involved in summer activities. Many played in the Gus Macker tournament and a youth leadership group from area districts worked with Bob Nida at the Y Camp and were recently honored by the Hastings Rotary.


The board approved the personnel report which included the following appointments:  Shayna Gibbons, 4th grade teacher, Southeastern Elementary·  Lacey Khon, media teacher, Northeastern/Star elementaries·  Adam Knapp, English Language Arts (ELA) teacher, middle school·  Anthony Knop, social studies teacher, middle school·  Margaret Livengood, art teacher, Northeastern/Star·  Katie Sanchez, 5th grade teacher, Southeastern·  Meg Travis, 4th grade teacher, Southeastern·  Shawn Watkins, ELA teacher, high school·  Stephanie Watkins, 1st grade teacher, Southeastern· In other action regarding personnel the Board approved the following:  The superintendent’s evaluation and contract·  The issue of employment contracts district administrators·  Continuing employment of non-contract employees·  A Master Agreement between the Hastings Area School System and the Hastings· Educational Support Personnel Association  A Letter of Agreement with the Hastings Education Association as presented, adding· “Experience Credit” to the 2017-2019 contract.  The Board also accepted the personnel report also included notice of the following: Retirement:  Linda Miller, bus driver·


To ensure that all Saxons, all students in Barry County, are prepared for and have access to post secondary education the Barry County College Access Network (BCAN) Leadership Team, led by former Saxon Margie Haas, met recently to continue their work. There are two BCAN action teams to support our students with their post-secondary plans, the Affordability Action Team and the Awareness and Aspiration Action Team.


Preparing students for academic success starts with mastering the fundamentals of reading. Curriculum Director Matt Goebel discussed recent Michigan legislation that requires students to be retained if they have not achieved reading proficiency by the end of third grade and what is being done ensure that students achieve the required proficiency. In related action, the board approved the purchase of Pearson’s Reading Street as the primary resource for the Hastings K-5 core reading program. The Board also approved the On Course text as the primary resource for the College and Career Preparation course for the Early Middle College program.


The board also held a first reading on several NEOLA policies regarding:  Bylaws·  Mandatory courses·  Recording of district meetings involving parents and students·  Student assessments·  Employment of substitutes·  Criminal history record check·  Opioid antagonists·  Bullying and other aggressive behavior toward students·  Emergency removal, suspension and expulsion of non-disabled students·  Expulsions/suspensions required by statute·  Web content·  Student records·  School safety information·  Food services·  Wellness·  Continuity of organizational operations plan·  Information security·  Student seclusion and restraint·  Homeless students·  Children and youth in foster care·  Letters of reference· The board approved a travel study request for the Varsity Singers to Carnegie Hall in New York City in the spring of 2018.


It also approved a resolution of membership in the Michigan High School Athletic Association for the 2017 – 2018 school year.

Regarding business the Board approved:  A food service shared service agreement with Lakewood Public Schools·  The execution of agreements with the following organizations for the 2017 -2018 school year--· Hastings Education Association, Barry Intermediate School District.


The Board held a public hearing on the proposed 2017 -2018 budget, and later adopted the 2017 -2018 General Appropriations Act Budget Resolutions, which defines the parameters for the 2017 -2018 fiscal year. The biggest change in the budget for the 2017 -2018 fiscal year is a decrease in federal funding for disadvantaged students, which is offset somewhat by an increase in state funds.


Closing out the 2016 -2017 fiscal year, the Board approved General Appropriations Act Amendment No. 3 to the General Operating Fund for 2016 -2017. In related action the board approved borrowing up to but not exceeding $3,000,000 to meet cash flow needs for the 2017 -2018 fiscal year until state and federal funds are dispersed.


The board approved a recommendation from administration to adopt the Preliminary Qualification Application for the November 2018 bond issue. The Board previously approved an August millage request for the renewal of the current 17.92 mills.

There are two additional potential proposals for the November ballot. One is new mills taking advantage of the School Bond Loan Fund (0.5) for athletics, transportation, technology, and middle school and high school locker rooms, high school library and cafeteria/kitchen.

The second potential proposal is for a no mill increase to the current millage using capitalized interest to remodel areas of the middle school that are untouched by this bond (carpeting and furniture in the 1997 wing) and some work at the four elementary schools such as carpeting and furniture, and roofs for all buildings.


The Board will review the two potential November ballot proposals and consider a resolution during its next regular meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, July 24 at Central Elementary, 509 South Broadway, Hastings.


GHO Symphonic Band from Germany to visit, perform in Middleville

The GHO Symphonic Band from Heide, Germany will visit Middleville from July 24 to July 28 as part of the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp International Exchange Program, the eighth Blue Lake International Touring Exchange group sponsored by the Fond du Lac Symphonic Band since 2008.

The Band will present a performance on Wednesday, July 26, at 7 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, 5215 M-37 Highway, north of Middleville. An Ice Cream Social will follow the concert to greet the conductor and performers.

Hailing from the Schleswig-Holstein province of northern Germany, the group, conducted by Matthias Heidenrich, includes 54 youth, ages 13-19, and five adult staff/instructors, for a total of 59 guests who will stay with Middleville area families.


Dedicated to promoting peace and understanding through the universal language of the arts, the Blue Lake International Exchange Program began in 1969.

Since then, more than 15,000 high school musicians have been hosted in 900 European communities while nearly 10,000 members of European bands, orchestras, choirs and other groups have toured communities throughout the Midwest. //


The Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp operates each summer near Whitehall, Michigan.  More than 5,500 talented young musicians, dancers, theatre and art students – mostly from Michigan and other mid-western states – are expected to attend Blue Lake this summer. 


Some 1,500 students apply for the Blue Lake International Exchange Program each year. Three hundred and fifty are selected to participate in one of seven performing groups of the International European touring ensembles.


In return, nearly 10,000 members of 550 European bands, orchestras, choirs, dance and theatre groups have performed in communities throughout Michigan and the Midwest.

While touring the United States, more than 300 families in 35 Michigan communities have hosted members of eight European groups that have visited Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.


Photo: The GHO Symphonic Band, being led by Matthias Heidenrich, will perform in Middleville on July 26.



UPDATE: Homicide suspect gives himself up in Detroit

UPDATE: Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich reports that murder suspect, Nathaniel Bowers, turned himself in to police in Detroit and is being transported to the Eaton County Jail, to be held for arraignment on the charges issued by the Eaton County Prosecutor’s Office.

Sheriff’s office detectives, Lansing Police Department and the Capitol Area Violent Crime Initiative have been working with the Michigan State Police Multi-Jurisdictional Fugitive Apprehension Team to locate Bowers since July 11.


ORIGINALSTORY: Eaton County Sheriff’s detectives have identified the suspect who fled the scene of the killing of 22-year-old Trevon Rashad McDuffy from Lansing.  McDuffy died July 11 of multiple gunshot wounds in the parking lot of the Quickie Convenience store at 4820 Waverly Road.


He is Nathaniel Marcelious-Antonio Bowers, 23, a black male, 5 feet 4 inches tall with a thin build, according to a sheriff’s office report. As a result of the investigation, the Eaton County Prosecutor’s Office authorized an arrest warrant for open murder and felony firearm.


“Bowers is considered to still be armed and we are making every effort to arrest him and remove this dangerous threat to public safety from the streets.  We are asking that anyone who sees or has information about the location of Nathaniel Bowers to call 911 immediately,” the news release said.


“If you are a witness or have any information regarding this crime, we are asking that you call Eaton County Sheriff’s Office Detective Sergeant Josh Ivey at 517-652-3315 or Mid-Michigan Crime stoppers at 517-483-STOP.”


The Lansing Police Department,  Capitol Area Violent Crime Initiative team, Michigan State University Police Department, and the Michigan State Police Fugitive Team are providing tremendous ongoing assistance in the murder investigation and search for suspect Nathaniel Bowers, officials said. 





Hastings City Council:"Here's what's going to happen..."

The Hastings City Council has delayed action on an expected  request to its Planning Commission for one month to give city staff and council members  time to explain to the public what’s going on.

If they can let people know what they are going to do and why, it will reduce a lot of possible confusion and phone calls seeking clarification, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said Monday.


During routine zoning business, city staff learned that the city code mandates if an ordinance change affects the entire city, the city has to send notifications to every resident in the city by first class mail or personal delivery, he said.


That’s about 3,000 notifications, plus one for every one who lives within 300 feet of the city.

That’s a lot of money and work, especially when the state law says if more than 11 parcels are involved, the city must publish a notice in a general circulation newspaper. 

“Just one zoning district change still involves hundreds…even if it’s just the B-1 zoning, that’s 300 mailings,” he said.


Mansfield said they will change the code to align with the state rules. To do that, they must notify all the residents of the change of the code, and he wants the people to know what it means, and why it is being done, before they get the notice.


“We will still make notifications in the paper and also to those within 300 feet of the city after the change,” he said.

Mansfield asked for the one-month delay to “try to get the word out…We’re not trying to hide anything, it’s just if they don’t know about it ahead of time, the change will cause confusion and lots of phone calls.” 

Hastings Councilman planning permanent ice skating rink at Tyden Park

Hastings City Councilman Bill Redman was given permission by the council to develop plans for a permanent ice skating rink in Tyden Park on Monday, July 10.

Redman was responsible for the installation of a temporary ice rink two years ago which was well attended, and planned another last year, but the weather did not stay cold enough to maintain ice for skating.


His plan calls for a rink over at least one existing basketball court in the park that could be used for basketball in the summer and ice skating in the winter. Redman said among other things, they will need a water system, a drain installed and a freezing unit that will freeze water up to 45 degrees.


Redman said he wants no money from the city, just approval to begin planning and applying for grants from Barry Community, Steelcase and Kellogg foundations. He also will seek donations for the project.

“We are looking at $700,000. That’s a lot of money, but I think we can do it.”


He was asked to develop a plan covering the scope of the project, including future maintenance, and bring it back for council approval. It is probably a two-year project, hopefully, the winter of 2019-20 20, he said. "Then Mother Nature can do whatever she wants.”


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 Extra-Curricular “Pay to Participate” Fee --- NO MORE!

It has been nearly a dozen years in which “Pay to Participate” has been assessed to students who take part in school sponsored extra-curricular activities. 


The cost ranges from $50 - $300 annually depending on number of activities, grade level, and family member participants. Our annual operating budget views this income as a $22,000 revenue.


After many discussions at the board level, the Labor/Finance, School/Community, and Athletic committees requested data to determine if a barrier existed for those students who could not afford the fee to participate in activities.


Due to the lack of quantitative data, the perception data collected from our stakeholders indicates this could be a factor.  In addition, the Maple Valley Athletic Boosters have been cooperative and collaborative in financial supporting the district in the areas of our trainer, supplies, uniforms, and other expenses. 


Both the board of education and the board of the athletic boosters have agreed to meet annually to discuss the financial need in order to fill the revenue void of the “Pay to Participate” fees collected.


Beginning 2017-18 school year, there will be no fees collected for extra-curricular activities. It is always our mission to support our Maple Valley families in a successful school experience. We hope this will encourage more of our students to participate in our extra opportunities.”

Intercounty Drain Drainage Board responds to Little Thornapple River Drain letter

In 2014, tree removal along the Little Thornapple River Drain was approved, however, many claim there was excessive removal beyond the original contract that caused severe damage to part of the 13.9 mile drain district.

After months of property owners complaining, attorney’s opinions and negotiations with the Department of  Environmental Quality,  property owners in the drain district in Barry and Ionia counties were assessed differing amounts on their property tax bills to pay for costs related to reconstruction of the affected segments.


Residents in Carlton Township in Barry County are included in the assessments.

Now, a letter to the Intercounty Drain Board from the Carlton Township Board, referring to the restoration work, said the township is “submitting a claim against your insurance carrier for past and future charges being mandated to Carlton Township for additional work done outside the original contract.”


The letter, discussed by the drainage board at a Wednesday meeting, said the claim was being made “because of oversite, mismanagement, and not following contract obligations that occurred on their behalf,” and that legal fees would be added if necessary.


Attorney Stacy Hissong, who represents the drainage board, will send Carlton Township a letter telling them the board does not have an insurance company.


All three counties in the drain district, Barry, Ionia and Kent, received similar letters, according to drain board members. Barry County Administrator Michael Brown has forwarded his to the county’s insurance carrier, Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority. As of July 12, he had not received a reply from MMRMA.

 The counties will give their individual responses, Hissong said, “and, we’ll see what happens next.”


Update on Little Thornapple River Drain work is positive

A Wednesday update on reconstruction of part of the Little Thornapple River Drain was mostly positive, with work on a test site continuing with the expectation that it will be completed before the next update in August.


The DEQ agreed to a test plan to use Barry County Jail inmates for hand work where heavy machinery can’t be used, reclaiming somewhat less than an acre that would serve as partial replacement of lost wetlands.


Aaron Snell, of Streamside Ecological Services, said work with the inmates and others went well, with the effort about half finished. They will finish the work and ask a DEQ representative to inspect it and hopefully approve it.


The  Little Thornapple River Drain Drainage Board unanimously approved authorizing Snell to work on all permitted work toward completion of the project. Getting needed permits has not been a problem, Barry County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull said.


At the same time, Attorney Stacy Hissong will continue working with the DEQ on an administrative consent order covering the legal technicalities.

The DEQ would like to see a faster timeline, but there’s not much they can do about that, Snell said. The drain board’s funding comes through assessments on property owners added to property tax bills so, “comes in chunks,” and is not a steady stream of income.

The next progress report is set for 2 p.m. Aug.17 at the Barry Central Dispatch community room.//


The drainage board members are Brady Harrington, deputy director of the Michigan Department of Agricultural and Rural Development and drain commissioners, Jim Dull from Barry County, Robert Rose from Ionia County and Ken Yonker from Kent County.



n August, 2014, the intercounty drain board hired Geiger Excavating to do limited tree removal to correct flooding problems along part of the 13.9-mile-length of the Little Thornapple Drain, part of the Thornapple River.


Property owners along the drain and trout stream were soon complaining in public meetings of trees being cut and left lay, bank erosion, loss of ground cover along the river’s banks, lowered property values and general devastation of the river and their property.


In April, 2015. The Little Thornapple River Drain Drainage Board held a public meeting and hired Aaron Snell, co-owner of Streamside Ecological Services, to provide a reconstruction plan for review by the  DEQ. The latest plan submitted by Snell was accepted by the DEQ with minor questions.

Barry County Sheriff's Office not soliciting funds for summer concerts

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office reports that they received information from a local business today regarding an individual who had contacted the business to solicit a monetary donation for advertising to support the summer concert series. The man identified himself as a representative of the Barry County Sheriff’s Office.


"Please be mindful that the sheriff’s office will never solicit anyone for donations in this fashion.  If you receive a call of this nature, they are not associated with this office," Undersheriff Matt Houchlei said.




Lansing man dies from multiple gunshots in Eaton County business parking lot

A Lansing  man was shot to death at 4:32 p.m. yesterday in the parking lot of the Quickie Convenience store at 4820 Waverly Road, the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office reports.

Responding deputies found Trevon Rashad McDuffy, 22, lying in the parking lot with multiple gunshot wounds.


Delta Township Fire Emergency Medical Services responded, however McDuffy died at the scene. Sheriff’s detectives are continuing to investigate information developed since the homicide; they have determined the shooting was not a random act of violence.


The Michigan State University Police Department assisted deputies with new crime scene mapping technology and detectives received immediate valuable assistance from the Lansing Police Department and Michigan State Police. 



Allegan County Sheriff's Office hosts dive team training for 5th District Region

The Allegan County Sheriff's Office hosts a training exercise on Thursday July 13 at Dumont Lake in Monterey Township. Several dive teams from the State’s Homeland Security 5th District Region which includes Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties, are taking part.


Dive team members will work and train with other divers and agencies so they will be comfortable working with each other during a large scale incident. //


The exercise will evaluate an “in-water” incident and use resources available through mutual aid in the 5th District. Dive team leaders will learn what resources are available to them in the event of a large scale incident in their area. Additionally, team leaders will share techniques used in the areas of documenting and recovering evidence. Pre-determined topics will also be evaluated.



During the exercise, the teams will learn different means and methods of work from each other, including search patterns, boat operations, underwater photography, evidence collection  and preservation, scene processing and photography, scene sketches, information documentation and the use of other resources such as drones and cadaver dogs to locate evidence and possible human remains.


Notice: Change in Fresh Food Initiative location

Due to inclement weather and construction at the Hastings First United Methodist Church, the Hastings Fresh Food Initiative on Wednesday, July 12, will be in the community room at the Hastings Church of the Nazarene, 1716 North Broadway in Hastings.


Until further notice, as long as weather permits the program to operate outside, we will continue to host our food distribution at the Hastings First United Methodist Church.

However, if the weather does not allow us to be outside, the program will be at the Hastings Church of the Nazarene. We will make every effort to inform you of a location change and we apologize for the inconvenience.


Barry County United Way, Phone: 269-945-4010


Barry County Commissioner Geiger to take public input on TOST, seek solutions to criticisms

Barry County Commission Chairman Ben Geiger said he is prepared  to confront the issue of a Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation named time of sale of transfer or TOST. His proposal for reviewing the entire program will include a new online comment portal and a public listening session..


“It has been 10 years since the TOST Regulation was enacted. A lot has changed in 10 years. Commissioners have changed. Attitudes have changed,” Geiger said Tuesday. “But one thing has not: concerns about how the program is affecting homeowners. We’ve all heard input on TOST. But, our health department structure doesn’t allow for everyone to be involved in the discussion.


“When I became chair, I promised to be welcoming to everyone wanting to be involved the policy process. I intend to keep this promise. “Next week, I will present my proposal for reviewing the TOST regulation. By listening to everyone, and having a honest discussion about what’s working and what isn’t working, we will find the right strategy for protecting our environment without burdening homeowners with red tape and unnecessary costs,” he said.


The TOST regulation was designed to protect the county’s water supply by inspection and replacement or repairs of on-site water or sewer systems if they are deemed failing. Heath department certified inspectors make those determinations whenever a property in Barry and Eaton counties is sold or transferred.

However, the regulation has been roundly criticized since it was put in place; many over the years bitterly complained to commissioners of the costs involved, health department officials going beyond the scope of the regulation, arbitrary and capricious decisions and poor public relations.



New Barry County COA building millage proposal will be on November ballot

Barry County voters will be asked on Nov. 7 to approve a request for 0.1669 mills for 20 years to fund a new $5,450,000 Commission on Aging (COA) facility with an annual 4.5 percent interest rate, after unanimous approval of ballot language by the Barry County Board of Commissioners Tuesday.


If the millage is approved, it is estimated that an owner of a Barry County residence with a taxable value of $50,000, will pay an average of $8.35 a year.


The proposal is based on erecting a new 22,500 square foot building using 2018 construction estimates. Included in the proposal are costs for architects fees and issuing bonds, demolition of the existing building, site work, commercial kitchen equipment and high-quality durable interior and exterior finishes.


Other equipment and office furnishings are not included, however, Executive Director of the COA, Tammy Pennington, has said the facility can pay the cost of new furnishings and equipment.


The initial plan was for a 20-year, 0.1843 millage request for a 25,000 square foot building costing $6 million. With concerns on the cost of the project, the COA board worked with Bob Van Putten, from Landmark Designs, to find ways to lower the cost.


They found savings of  $500,000 by bringing the building size down to 22,500 square feet by narrowing the main corridor from 12 feet to 10, reducing the  community room from 112 feet long to 96 feet and other smaller measures.//


In other business, commissioners approved completing paperwork to finalize the acceptance of a donation to the Barry County Animal Shelter from the Edythe Marshall Estate/Trust. 

Update - Personal Injury Vehicle Crash

A 44 year old Hastings man was airlifted to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo following a single vehicle traffic accident on Center Road near east State Street at around 10pm Monday night. The west bound vehicle failed to make a curve, left the road and rolled over.


The man, whose name has not yet been released, was ejected from the vehicle and suffered serious injuries. His exact medical condition is unknown at this time.  A dog, believed to have been riding in the car, was found near the scene and was taken to the Barry County Animal Shelter for care until a family member could arrive.


Alcohol may have been a factor in the crash. The accident remain under investigation by Hastings Police.

UPDATE: Missing teen found; hospitalized with minor injuries

UPDATE: After an extensive search, Alexandra Field was found at an area business. She was transported to an area hospital with minor injuries.



ORIGINAL STORY: The Kent County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a missing/endangered 16-year-old girl who left her home on foot, armed with a knife and had made statements indicting that she might harm herself.


Alexandra Field was last seen leaving the residence in the 3000 block of Winesap Drive, N.E. in an unknown direction at 2:21 p.m. today. She was wearing a black sweatshirt, black stretch pants, and black knee high boots. She is described as a white, 5 feet 2 inches tall, 120 pounds, with short blond hair.


Field is not known to frequent any specific areas of interest and she has a history of self harm. A K9 track was attempted but was unsuccessful.  Currently, police are searching surrounding wooded areas and neighborhoods. Those search efforts are ongoing.


Anyone with information on Field’s whereabouts is asked to call 911 immediately to report her location and description as well as her direction and means of travel.


Photo: Alexandra Field


Callton announces run for 19th Senate District seat

Former 87th Michigan House District Representative Mike Callton, (R-Nashville)  officially announced his candidacy this week for State Senate District 19, which covers Barry, Calhoun and Ionia counties.

Callton previously served six years as representative for the 87th District, and termed out in 2016. 

During his terms, Callton did not miss a vote.  He served as chair of the House Health Policy Committee and was the primary sponsor of eight public acts. 

He hopes to follow Sen. Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek), who will be termed out of the senate in 2018.


"It’s just my way,” Callton said. "I figured the sooner I started talking to people, the better I can serve them later on down the road.  It’s a big district and I want to be sure I meet with as many folks as possible.” Callton graduated from Michigan State University, served in the U.S. Army, and returned to earn his doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine from the National University of Health Sciences. 


The owner and operator of the Nashville Chiropractic Center in his hometown, Callton was named Michigan’s Chiropractor of the Year for 2013. He previously served as chair of the Barry County Board of Commissioners. 


“I’m really just a guy who sees problems that need fixing,” he  said.  “And I’m not scared of getting my hands dirty to get the job done.”


Photo: Mike Callton

First National Night in Hastings is Aug.1

All Barry County residents are invited to the first Night Out celebration in Hastings at Tyden Park on Aug 1 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Hastings police, area law enforcement and emergency services will be there to meet and greet the public with free food, prizes, games, a dunk tank, a free raffle and a bounce house.


It’s all to recognize and build on the police-community partnership, and let the people get to know firefighters and police, deputies and troopers and EMTs, Barry Central Disatch 911, and ambulance personnel who protect and serve the community.


Deputy Chief  Dale Boulter is given credit for the original idea. Planning for the event started in February by a committee made up of Boulter, Officer Kendra Backing and Sgt. Kris Miller, Secretary Anne Lockman and Chief Jeff Pratt.


On the national level, the event is always held the first Tuesday in August, and promotes police-community relationships, giving the community a chance to see law enforcement in a relaxed setting, while promoting a sense of community, positive public relations, safety and trust.


Backing, who has experience in 10 such events, said the Night Out activities sends the message that the Hastings Police Department really wants to provide and maintain a quality of life for citizens.


Boulter said county’s emergency services will have displays of their equipment and demonstrations of what they do. Other community outreach organizations that provide resources for residents, like the Barry County United Way and Green Gables will also be there.




Just an observation....

**It’s not surprising that Carl Schoessel helped Delton Kellogg Schools out of its financial peril as interim superintendent,  sorting out the issues and untangling financial problems, and the many other concerns as they came up.

He’s been at it long time, he understands it and he’s good at it.


Also, that he stayed for three years to help the district when he expected to stay a semester of two holding everything in place until they hired new superintendent, makes perfect sense to any one who knows Carl.


He should be very satisfied with the work he did at the school; it is not an overstatement to say the district was on the brink of some really unpleasant things happening, right up to closing the schools, when he agreed to help out. He surely is quietly pleased with what he accomplished.

But Carl, being Carl, would never say it.


Give credit to others, admit he was part of a good team that did it, but not take credit for himself.

We all know the people who shift blame for everything; Carl shifts credit.

He is matter of fact when explaining how to fix financial problems. Maybe he just figures no big deal, you can always get more money, but he gets excited talking about a character building program that was created for their school by their people.


“One thing I’m really, really, really proud of is the character program we have,” he said.

The program the school had, though very expensive, was not very good, and the school couldn’t afford it anyway.

“I asked the counselors, elementary, middle and high school, to see if they could find a program that would meet our needs.  I asked them, ‘what do you think about having our own plan’”?

“Bless their hearts, they did a magnificent job; they came up with a program with seven character traits, one for each month and then together at the end of the year.”

During each board of education meeting, students gave examples of the character trait of the month; one example, the Chess Club members showed they had perseverance when they became champions.

An incident that shows why Carl is so proud occurred during the month when integrity was stressed. A 10-year-old boy found a $100 bill in the Family Fare parking lot in Delton, took it inside and turned it into a clerk, “because I have integrity.”


“It was a self-created plan and didn’t cost anything. They even made lessons plans for the teachers. At the end of the school year, we made a presentation to the community.

“To me, the highlight was to get it done. The kids, staff and the community bought into it, it will continue. I’m very proud of them; they changed the character of the school. “It’s another example of when people work together, good things happen.”


Did you notice he just did it again?


I’ve known Carl for a long, long time and I know he’s not going to like this commentary. So, as a favor, I’m not putting his photo with the article. He hates that.

Jean Gallup

Power Outage Update

Some areas of west michigan are still without power from the powerful storms that hit west michigan last friday morning.

Consumers Energy crews with help from out of state utility crews worked long hours getting the power back on. This monday morning there are still 10 Barry county customers  without electric service, but that should be cleared up soon. Ottawa county still reporting 1,100 out of service, Kent county some 426.


One minor injury reported in two-car crash in Caledonia Township

A collision of two cars driven by Caledonia women resulted in minor injuries to one Friday afternoon, July 7, according to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department.

Jessica Keto, 37, driving a 2013 Lexus westbound on 100th Street, turned southbound at Alaska Avenue in front of Emily Jacobs, 22, colliding with her 2004 Impala and causing it to roll over, deputies report.


Jacobs was transported by Thornapple Township Emergency Services to Mercy Health St. Mary’s Hospital with a back injury. Keto and her two children in her vehicle were not injured.


Deputies were assisted by the Caledonia Township Fire Department, Thornapple Township Emergency Services and Life Ambulance.

It's Barry County Fair time!

The 165th annual Barry County Fair is just around the corner; July 15 through July 22, at the fairgrounds at the Barry Expo Center, midway between Hastings and Middleville.


A centerpiece of the fair is the kids in 4-H Clubs showing their animals during judging, the birthing tent and special youth programs in the Community Tent all week, including Youth Cat judging on Wednesday, Ladies Day on Thursday, Williams Family bluegrass on Friday and Taste of Barry County on Saturday,


The grandstand has events every day, starting with harness racing, mud runs and draft horse pulls, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. During the week, look for more events at the grandstand; the Super Kicker Rodeo, Off Road Derby, truck and tractor pulls, demolition derby and antique tractor pulls. Special Days are Veterans & Senior Day on Tuesday and Kids Day on Wednesday.

Elliot Amusements will provide Midway rides and attractions. For details including a schedule and time of events, and much more, visit



Photos: The Barry County Fair is all about 4-H kids and their animals, exhibits and the midway.

(file photos)




Spectrum Health Pennock to open new cancer center Monday

Becoming part of Spectrum Health has enabled an expansion of cancer services for the local community. In partnership with the Spectrum Health Foundation at Pennock and Spectrum Health Cancer Center, the new Spectrum Health Pennock Cancer Center will begin seeing patients on Monday, July 10.


The center, in the main hospital at 1009 West Green Street in Hastings, offers local access for patients to meet with their care team and receive treatment and related services in one visit, in one location, close to home. Chemotherapy will be offered on Monday and Thursday with other infusion therapy services available Monday through Friday.


Megan Fletcher, Spectrum Health Pennock pharmacy manager, led efforts to achieve national certification with The Joint Commission. This allows preparation of chemotherapy drugs on site and adjustment of therapy in response the patient’s most recent laboratory results. Pennock’s multidisciplinary skilled care team, including Kathleen Yost, MD, treats people with many different types of cancers and blood disorders.


“The Spectrum Health Pennock Cancer Center is part of a collaboration of Spectrum Health’s network of hospitals, Spectrum Health Cancer Center and community providers. The center will offer a full range of cancer services including prevention, screening and diagnosis, personalized cancer treatment, integrative therapies, access to clinical trials and leading edge technology,” said Spectrum Health Pennock President Sheryl Lewis Blake. //


For patients, this means access to specialists in every area of cancer care, as well as the most advanced technologies and latest treatment options to identify and fight cancer.

“Spectrum Health Pennock will provide access and treatment to the most complex types of cancers and each treatment plan is as unique as the patient who receives it. Care teams also maintain strong communications back with patients’ primary care providers,” explained Spectrum Health Pennock Chief Operating Officer Carla Wilson-Neil.


Wilson-Neil played an instrumental role, advocating and coordinating local cancer services in Barry County with help from Dr. Judy Smith, chief of the Department of Oncology for Spectrum Health. The center hosts a local team of four oncology certified nursing staff members, including Cindy Bigler, NP with cancer center oversight.



“Our approach to cancer care focuses on treating the whole person. We provide patients and families with quality and compassionate care from their initial visit, throughout treatment and beyond,” stated Douglas Smendik, MD, division chief, Middleville Family Practice, Spectrum Health Medical Group.


With one out of every two men, and one out of every three women likely to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society, the center comes as a welcome addition to help those in the community.


“Dialysis and cancer were the top two requested services for Pennock,” said Mike O’Mara, chair, Spectrum Health Foundation at Pennock. “The Pennock Foundation ran a capital campaign in 2013 for what is now the Baum Center for Health, where our patients receive local dialysis care.

“The dialysis center has provided over 25,000 treatments and continues to grow. Now, the new Spectrum Health Pennock Cancer Center is opening and it is anticipated it will provide over 4,800 patient visits per year.”


The Spectrum Health Foundation at Pennock has committed to fundraising $400,000 over the next three years to support the program and keep cancer services local. The foundation will also offer a complimentary oncology massage to the cancer center’s patients.


According to the national Massage Therapy Foundation, oncology certified massage therapy may provide relief for nausea, fatigue, pain and chemotherapy induced neuropathy, enhancing the healing process and comfort felt by patients.


Spectrum Health Pennock will be holding a dedication ceremony for the new Cancer Center, along with the recently renovated Healing Garden and Sanctuary, on Wednesday, July 26 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.; the public is welcome to attend. Please RSVP to Sandy Reedy at or by calling 269.948.5890.



Have fun at the fair, enjoy the animals and stay healthy

It’s fair season in Michigan, with most fairs featuring petting zoos and animal exhibits that give children a thrilling face-to-face experience with animals.

However, it is important to remember that animals can carry germs harmful to humans. When people forget to wash their hands after petting an animal, or bring food or drinks into an area where animals are exhibited, they are at risk for becoming ill.


The novel influenza, or flu virus, can be spread from pigs or poultry when a person comes into contact with the droplets from an animal’s cough or sneeze, then touch their own nose or mouth.

Salmonella and E. coli germs can infect the stomach and intestines if a person touches animals or nearby surfaces that have been contaminated by feces (poop) and then eating or touching their face with their hands. //


To prevent illness when visiting animal exhibits, wash your hands often, and always right after petting animals or touching animal pens or fences, leaving animal areas, after using the restroom, before eating or drinking or making food or drink and when taking off soiled clothes and shoes.

Use hand sanitizers if running water and soap are not available, but wash your hands with soap and water as soon as a sink is available.


Keep food and drinks out of animal areas, do not share food with animals, do not eat or drink raw unpasteurized products including milk, cheese, cider or juices. Prepare, serve, and eat only where animals are not permitted, and always wash your hands before fixing food or drinks and before eating or drinking.


Always supervise children younger than five in animal areas and don’t allow them to put their thumbs, fingers or other objects in their mouth when they are interacting with animals, and supervise their hand washing. Don’t take strollers, bottles, pacifiers, spill-proof cups, or toys in animal areas.


Children under five years, the elderly, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems should use extra precautions at animal exhibits.

If one becomes ill with flu-like symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, and/or tiredness, or gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, especially with a fever or bloody stools after visiting an animal exhibit, contact a doctor, and be sure to tell them about the recent contact with animals.


Most animal-related illnesses appear within a week after contact.


Lansing man deliberately ran his vehicle into woman's car, causing crash, police say

Eaton County Sheriff’s deputies were called to a two-car personal injury crash at Saginaw Highway and Robins Road On July 4, at about 1:45 p.m., authorities report.  Deputies and detectives investigating the circumstances and actions leading up to the crash discovered that Tony Lorenzo Walker, 32, from Lansing, had allegedly intentionally crashed his vehicle into a woman’s vehicle.

Walker and the iwoman know each other.


At the crash scene, the woman’s vehicle had rolled over and struck a light post, pinning her inside. Although serious, her injuries are not considered to be life threatening at this time, officials said.

Delta Township Fire Department extricated the woman and she was transported by ambulance to a local hospital.


Walker was arrested and lodged.  He was charged Thursday by the Eaton County Prosecutor and arraigned on two 10-year felony counts of assault with intent to do great bodily harm, and one 5-year count of reckless operation of a motor vehicle causing serious injury. His bond was set at $250,000.



Barry County Animal Shelter to benefit from Hickory Corners woman's gift

The Barry County Animal Shelter will get a substantial donation from the estate of the late Edythe Marshall, from Hickory Corners, who died in January.

The county is working with local Attorney Bob Byington to provide a step by step process on the bequest because it involves an insurance company and also a portion of her estate, Barry County Administrator Michael Brown said Tuesday.


“We don’t know how much it is, but it will be significant,” he said. “It’s best to honor the requirements.”

The shelter accepts gifts in donation fund, which are usually smaller amounts, he said.

In 2015, Edythe and Harold Marshall gifted their 300-acre farm to Michigan State University.


Wayland MSP post seeking "Angel" volunteers

To help people struggling with addiction and reduce drug demand, the Michigan State Police has joined almost 200 police departments nationwide in the Angel Program, a pre-arrest diversion program. The program allows someone with a drug addiction to walk into a state police post to seek help for their addiction, without the fear of arrest or investigation.


The MSP has expanded the program to the Wayland Post and is recruiting volunteers who wish to provide support to participants, including transportation to treatment.


Interested volunteers must complete an application, available at the post, have reliable transportation, a valid driver’s license and live within one hour of the post, among other requirements. Volunteers receive training prior to any assignments, and will be reimbursed for mileage and meals. For more about the program or becoming an Angel Volunteer, contact the Wayland Post at (269) 792-2213.


The Angel Program is supported by the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative. It began in Gloucester, Mass. in 2015. The state police plan to continue expansion of the program across the state in 2017.


COA Building Committee recommends downsized new building, vote on millage request expected next week

Putting a millage proposal on the Nov. 7 ballot to pay for a new Commission on Aging building will likely be voted on by county commissioners next week after changes were made to the plans.


The new plan reduced the overall size of a new building from 25,000 square feet to 22,500 square feet by narrowing the main corridor from 12 feet to 10 feet, reducing the  community room from 112 feet long to 96 feet long and other smaller measures, saving approximately $500,000 on the projected cost.


Bob Van Putten, from Landmark Design Group, worked with the building committee on revisions and assured the commission the changes were made, “without impacting the critical components” of the facility. “The large room was a major reduction area,” Executive Director Tammy Pennington said. “We wanted to maintain the integrity and size of the adult services area.”


The initial plan was for a 20-year, 0.1843 millage request for a $6 million building. The exact numbers for the Nov. 7 ballot will reflect the cost savings and an adjusted millage rate.

A “Friends of the COA” committee will be formed to provide information on the project.//


“This is good news for taxpayers,” Commissioner Ben Geiger said. “I want to thank the COA board for its action on wages. It was a difficult decision, but it goes a long way toward building trust with the taxpayer.”


Geiger was talking about the county implementation of the recommendations of a recent compensation and classification study over a four year period. The COA board, which is independent of the county, approved both the compensation and classification recommendations in one year starting May 1, instead of over four years.


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

The move caused general confusion among officials and hard feelings when the county commission asked the COA board, and some on the board said, pressured them, to take back the action and follow the four year schedule. The COA board rescinded the implementation, and put the issue to rest.

Commissioner Vivian Conner said those involved have put it the past and are moving on.


IRS, Barry County disagree: employee or independent contractor?

In an issue that is sure to take time to resolve, the Internal Revenue Service has given Barry County its opinion that Airport Manager Mark Noteboom is a county employee, not an independent contractor. County Administrator Michael Brown, Noteboom and the Hastings City/Barry County Airport Commission disagree.


“We believe he is an independent contractor,” Brown said. “We continue to look into it.” County Attorney David Stoker is gathering information, “but this is just in the beginning stages,” Brown added.


That brings up a much wider question: Would everyone who works by contract with the county or city be considered an employee by the IRS?


Noteboom has negotiated contracts with the county, which were also approved by the city, since he was hired in 2009. Depending on the results of the contention of the IRS, the county could be liable for some costs, and likely penalties, but that’s still an unknown, Brown said. “FICA is 7.65 percent, we would have to pay that; that’s just one area…ultimately, the airport board may consider changes to clarify things.”


Hastings City Manager Jeff Mansfield said the city is still reviewing the IRS opinion and seeking advice from specialists in legal and accounting firms.  Hastings Mayor Dave Tossava is the city representative on the airport commission. He said the commission is unsure which direction the board will go.


Talking to county commissioners on August 1, 2014, Noteboom said he as an independent contractor, he pays his own taxes, insurance and mileage; he said he is not an employee of either the city or county, and manages the airport by contact with the airport commission.

“I do everything from A to Z, maintain everything, mow the grass, plow snow, pay my assistant and the help and handle any and all complaints…” Noteboom said then.


He did not return a call asking for a comment.


Allegan City police investigate death of man found in Kalamazoo River

Allegan City police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of an unidentified man whose body was found by boaters in the Kalamazoo River Monday, July 3, at about 8:45 p.m., according to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office.


The sheriff’s Dive / Rescue & Recovery Team and Marine Division were dispatched to Allegan to assist city police with the recovery. The body of a white man city officials believe may be a local resident  in his sixties, was recovered.


They are working to confirm his identity and notify his next of kin.

The Allegan County Medical Examiner’s office will investigate further to determine the exact cause of death. LIFE EMS of Allegan assisted law enforcement.

State Police ask for help to identify two suspects in Wal-Mart

The Michigan State Police/Hastings Detachment, would like the public's help identifying two suspects involved in a larceny from Walmart on West M-43 Highway in Hastings.

Anyone with any information, is asked to call the Wayland Post at 269-792-2213.








Civil War reenactment to be presented at Historic Charlton Park

Historic Charlton Park is offering the sights and sounds of "the war between the states" at its Civil War Muster on July 15-16.

Special scenarios by interpreters and craftsmen will be presented at the Sixberry House, Barber Shop, Carpenter Shop, Jail and Bristol Inn. Take the lantern tour of the village on Saturday night; enjoy live music and dancing at the Gas & Steam barn and view cannons firing over the Thornapple River.


Battles are fought at High Meadow at 1:45 p.m. on Saturday and in the village on 2 p.m. on Sunday. Infantry, cavalry, medical and artillery demonstrations are featured.

Sutler’s Row vendors offer reproduction and handmade civil war-era merchandise, clothing, household goods, and toys. 


Admission is $6 for those 13 and up, $4 for children 5 to 12, and children four and under are free. For an event schedule and much more, visit or visit the park’s Facebook page.                                                                                                                  


Photos: (Upper left) Confederate soldiers mount a winning charge to take possession of the village in an earlier Civil War Muster.

(Lower right) Authentic Civil War era garb is an important part of re-enactments. 

Gun Lake Tribe hosts third annual Sweet Grass Moon PowWow this weekend

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 held at Jijak Camp, 2044 126th Avenue, Hopkins.

UPDATE: Hastings woman dies after Gun Lake boating accident

Eric Cybulski,55, of Hastings, operating a 16-foot fiberglass inboard pleasure boat, collided with a Seadoo personal watercraft being driven by Jacob Baker,19, from Grand Rapids, in the southeast end of Gun Lake Saturday about 4 p.m., according to an update by Barry County Marine Department Deputy Julie Jones.


Baker was injured, knocked unconscious and thrown into the water. Cybulski jumped into the lake, keeping Baker's face out of the water.  Baker was wearing a life jacket, however, Cybulski was not and becoming exhausted, Jones reported.


Cybulsksi's wife, Melanie, who witnesses believe went into the water to help her husband, was found floating face up and not breathing.The Saindon family of Middleville found her and began rescue breaths and CPR on their boat. It is unknown at what point Melanie Cybulski was not breathing or for exactly how long. She was transported to Blodgett Hospital where she died on Sunday, July 2. 


Several Good Samaritan citizens assisted Baker and then Cybulski. They got Baker onto a boat and took him to shore where he was treated by Orangeville First Responders and Wayland EMS.  He was transported to Spectrum Butterworth with head and face injuries.  Cybulski was also transported by Wayland EMS to Pennock Spectrum, due to other health conditions. Eric Cybulski and Baker remain hospitalized in stable condition. 


Orangeville Fire Department, Wayland EMS and Michigan State Police Wayland Post assisted the sheriff’s marine division.


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.


NEW!  Michigan’s Third Grade Reading Law (Public Act 306)

In an effort to boost reading achievement, Michigan lawmakers passed Public Act 306 in October 2016. To help more students be proficient by the end of third grade, the law requires extra support for K-3 students who are not reading at grade level. The law also states that a child may be retained in third grade if they are one or more grade levels behind in reading at the end of third grade.


Maple Valley School’s has had an extensive assessment plan in place for three years.  This helps us to closely monitor our student’s progress in mathematics and reading comprehension when your child starts school.


If your child is not reading where expected, a plan to improve reading will be created. This means your child’s teacher and school will work with your child to find where your child needs support in his/her reading development and create a plan to support him or her.


This plan includes:

• The extra supports in your child’s reading improvement plan will occur in small groups during the school day. Your child will not miss regular reading instruction.

• Starting in 2019-2020 school year, in order to be promoted from third to fourth grade, your child must score less than one year behind on the state reading assessment, or demonstrate a third grade reading level through an alternate test or portfolio of student work.

• If you are notified your child may be retained, you have the right to meet with school officials and to request, within 30 days, an exemption if in the best interest of your child. The district superintendent will make the final decision. Our goal is to support our students in the early grades to prevent third grade retention.


As a district we will be offering support in the following ways:

• Strive for small class sizes.

• Continue to offer intervention classes and class times.

• Communicate assessment data with parents. Attached to the end of the year report cards, parents in grades Y5 – 10 will receive an assessment report reflecting the district tests administered.


For more information on the Third Grade Reading Law, go to home page of our website It is our first spotlight article.


Saving Delton Kellogg: "We had a good team. It was definitely a team effort..." Carl Schoessel

Carl Schoessel, a 20-year plus veteran superintendent at the Hastings Area School System with extensive knowledge of school finance and budgets, agreed to accept the interim superintendent position at Delton Kellogg Schools in July of 2014, when then-Superintendent Paul Blacken retired.


It was to be a short transition. “I would do a semester to keep things in place and help with the financial problems until a new superintendent was hired,” Schoessel said. He stayed for three years.  

His "term" is over, but he's agreed to stay available and help with the transition to new Superintendent Kyle Corlett.


During those three years, the district’s problems included a $1.6 million bill from the state, declining student count, half-completed construction work and the threat of being designated a school in financial stress.

 “We worked as a team, and as a team, we overcame them,” he said.


Looming was the repayment of $1.6 million to the state in excessive state aid after auditors found errors in the student count from 2009-2011. With no remedy in the courts, in 2015, Schoessel, attorneys, board of education members and others, made a final appeal to the state Superintendent of Public Instruction. Their argument was persuasive and they won a reduction in the payback from $1.6 million to $360,000 to be paid back over five years.

“We can make those payments, we couldn’t have made the $1.6 million,” Schoessel said.


With some of the financial uncertainty gone, the board of education asked Schoessel to stay another year to help with half-finished millage-funded construction work. “That would wind down within a year, so I signed on for another year.”  He also wanted to work on the declining student count, either by retaining or recruiting students.The construction is wrapping up this summer and student counts have now risen three years in a row.


Last year, the Michigan Department of Treasury declared potential financial stress in the district. Delton Kellogg was to restore its fund balance to five percent of revenue by the end of the 2017-2918 school year or submit periodic financial status reports to the state treasury.  The district ended 2016 with a 5.2 percent fund balance, 18 months early. In December, 2016, the state treasurer determined the potential stress no longer existed.


The goal was met because of a substantial increase in student enrollment, hence more state aid, and a “wonderful staff” that agreed to a cut in salaries by teachers and a wage freeze by others, Schoessel said. “”Everybody gave something. They saved the school. There were other things, but those are the two major reasons. We have a good team here, and this was definitely a team effort.”


“Carl was definitely a game changer,” Board of Education President Jim McManus said. “He was able to keep morale up; he brought confidence. He negotiated with all of the groups for long term contracts so we could do long term budgeting; that made it a lot easier for us to dig out of the hole. He did the bond work correctly and we got $1 million more than we planned. With his help, enrollment stabilized,” he said.


“We didn’t have to cut any academics or sports. We held on. It’s a testament to his confidence. Without him there, we may not have been able to do what we did. It was a gift that he was able to come and help us out and he did. He left us in a position of strength and able to move forward.”


Delton was one of 50 schools in Michigan ranked one of the Best High Schools in Michigan by U.S.News in 2014, offers 31 Advanced Placement Courses and has rising test scores. The students have won academic honors, and the high school basketball team won a sportsmanship award, McManus said.


“I have said to everyone, it was my pleasure to be here,” Schoessel said. “It is privilege to be part of the team. This is a good community, with good people.”


Photo: Carl Schoessel












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