Local News Archives for 2017-08

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:


“It has taken our district a few years, but Maple Valley Schools has expanded educational programming in many areas. Our students who are at or above grade level have different opportunities to expand their knowledge at all buildings. Our elementary schools utilize online learning programs such as Moby Max and Khan Academy to individualize instruction for each student.


These programs prescribe assignments at or above their level to challenge the child. Students have enrichment classes to further academics in areas such as: creative writing, Lego robotics, and project based learning.

Elementary students are invited to participate in Odyssey of the Mind or Mathletes. These academic clubs are offered to enrich Science and Mathematics after school hours.

Students in grades 5 – 12 are placed in advanced English and Mathematics courses based on assessment data.


At our secondary building, we offer advanced classes such as Honors: Physics, Calculus, Anatomy, Chemistry and this year we have added Honors English 10 and Honors Geometry to our curriculum for underclassmen. For upperclassmen we offer two Advanced Placement (AP) English classes, AP Biology, and AP US History.


We also allow students to take college level classes through Davenport, Lansing Community College, or Kellogg Community College. For those students who qualify, we offer independent study courses as well. After school hours we have a plethora of academic and fine arts clubs such as: chess, DECA, musical programs, PALs, student council, National Honor Society, jazz band, and De Capo. For our students who are identified as at-risk by state qualifications, we have worked diligently to improve our intervention classes in all buildings to support these students who need additional academic instruction.


We do this by offering a tier support system where the students get 1, 2, or 3 blocks of instruction on important core content standards.  We are proud of student achievement improvements that we are making. Our state and local assessment data show steady increases in all content areas. The following points of pride are additions to our instructional programming:

·       Caring Student-Centered Teachers

·       Updated Curriculum: Elementary & Social Studies

·       Little Lions Preschool and Child Care

·       Online Learning Opportunities

·       Specials Courses

o      Physical and Health Education

o      Library and Computers

o      Music and Band (Grades 5  - 12)

o      Fine Arts Education

·       Career Technology Education

o      Award winning Agriculture program

o      Comprehensive Business and Marketing programs

o      Woods/Manufacturing/Sawmill (operations)

o      COMING SOON! MV Works Skilled Trades Education

·       Maple Valley Pathways High School (Alternative/Adult/Virtual)

·       Multi-Tier System of Support (MTSS)

o      Positive Behavior Interventions

o      Comprehensive Assessment Plan

o      Intervention Classes

·       Special Education Supports

·       Counseling Services

·       District-Wide School Nurse




Here's how to help disaster survivors in Texas

The compassion and generosity of the American people is never more evident than during and after a Disaster, according to a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) news release.

It is individuals, non-profits, faith- and community-based organizations, private sector partners, and

governmental agencies working together that will most effectively and efficiently help survivors cope with the impacts of Tropical Storm Harvey. FEMA asks those who want to help to please follow a few important guidelines below to ensure your support can be the most helpful for tropical storm Harvey disaster survivors.


To donate to relief efforts:

The most effective way to support disaster survivors in their recovery is to donate money and time to trusted, reputable, voluntary or charitable organizations.


Cash donations offer voluntary agencies and faith-based organizations the most flexibility to address urgently developing needs. With cash in hand, these organizations can obtain needed resources nearer to the disaster location.The inflow of cash also pumps money back into the local economy and helps local businesses recover faster.


Please do not donate unsolicited goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, medicine, or perishable foodstuffs at this time. When used personal items are donated, the helping agencies must redirect their staff away from providing direct services to survivors in order to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.


Donate through a trusted organization.

At the national level, many voluntary-, faith- and community-based organizations are active in disasters, and are trusted ways to donate to disaster survivors.

Individuals, corporations and volunteers, can learn more about how to help on the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) website. In addition to the national members, The Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (Texas VOAD) has a

list of vetted disaster relief organizations providing services to survivors. Texas VOAD represents more than three dozen faith-based, community, nonprofit and non-governmental organizations.


To personally volunteer in the disaster areas:

The State of Texas is asking volunteers to not self-deploy, as unexpectedly showing up to any of the communities that have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey will create an additional burden for first

responders. The National VOAD has also noted the situation may not be conducive to volunteers entering the impacted zone and individuals may find themselves turned away by law enforcement.


To ensure volunteer safety, as well as the safety of disaster survivors, volunteers should only go into affected areas with a specific volunteer assignment, proper safety gear and valid identification. At this time, potential volunteers are asked to register with a voluntary or charitable organization of their choice, many of which are already in Texas and supporting survivors on the ground.

The National and Texas VOAD websites are offering links to those who wish to register to volunteer with community and faith-based organizations working in the field.


Most importantly, please be patient:

Although the need is great, and desire to help strong, it is important to avoid donating material goods or self-deploying to help until communities are safe and public officials and disaster relief organizations have had an opportunity to assess the damage and identify what the specific unmet needs are. Volunteer generosity helps impacted communities heal from the tragic consequences of disasters, but recovery lasts much longer than today.


There will be volunteer needs for many months, and years, after the disaster, so sign up now.// Tropical Storm Harvey is still dangerous, with the potential to impact additional areas of Texas and Louisiana. As the situation changes, needs may also change in these areas. Continue monitoring traditional and social media channels to learn more.


FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards. Follow FEMA online at,,, and Also, follow Administrator Brock Long’s activities at


The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

Kellogg's to cut jobs

The worlds largest cereal maker, Kellogg's with world headquarters in Battle Creek called their workforce into a special Thursday morning meeting to inform them that some 200 jobs would be eliminated at their Battle Creek plant.  This includes both hourly and salaried employees.

Sources told WBCH News the job eliminations would begin in the first quarter of 2018.

Amash hosting Town Hall Meeting in Hastings

Congressman Justin Amash will hold a town hall meeting this friday September 1st at the Barry Community Enrichment Center, Leason Sharp Hall 231 South Broadway.  The Meeting open to the public runs from 12:00-pm to 1:00-pm.

Attorney General Warns Against Price Gouging Gas

As a result of Hurricane Harvey, the nation's largest oil refinery, in addition to many smaller refineries, have been shut down and it is possible Michigan drivers may see a slight spike in gas prices. In light of this, Michigan Attorney General Bill Shuette issued a warning to gas stations against any attempt to take advantage of consumers by price gouging or price fixing.

To report gas gouging or price fixing call 1-877-765-8388.


Barry County prosecutor settles case against Lowell police chief

Barry County Prosecuting Attorney Julie Nakfoor-Pratt said that Steven Bukala, City of Lowell police chief, today entered a plea to willful neglect of duty by a police officer in Allegan District Court, a misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of one year in jail. The remaining charges, all misdemeanors carrying lesser penalties, are being dismissed.


The prosecution requested probation, and that Bukala receive and benefit from retraining in the proper use of the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN).


“I wanted to ensure that Chief Bukala takes responsibility for what he did without losing his ability to work as a police officer. From this point on, whether Chief Bukala succeeds in maintaining his career and improving his integrity is up to him,” Nakfoor-Pratt said.


Also sentenced today, Bukula received a total of $1,425 in fees and fines and as part of the sentence, must also complete LEIN re-training within 90 days.


Nakfoor Pratt was appointed special prosecutor for the Kent County prosecutor, who recused himself due to a conflict.



Spectrum Health Pennock seeking Compassion Award nominees

Spectrum Health Pennock is seeking nominations from the community of an outstanding caregiver to receive the  Compassion Award at its 10th annual Quality & Culture Awards.


Now in its fifth year, the award is for a special caregiver who consistently communicates in a sensitive manner, listens carefully, displays empathy, instills a sense of hope, and moves the patient experience from good to extraordinary.


Send nominations to: with the name of the Spectrum Health Pennock colleague or care provider, a detailed description of why you are nominating the individual, your name, telephone number and e-mail address. Nominations are accepted until Sept. 9. For questions or to have a nomination form mailed to you, call 269-945-1753. 

Yankee Springs Fire Department adds LUCAS Chest Compression System

The Yankee Springs Fire Department continues to add equipment that makes its staff more efficient, more effective and saves lives. Recently they added battery-powered tools to cut open car doors and roofs that can be carried to someone trapped in a vehicle if the fire truck is not close enough to use equipment tethered to the truck.


Now, they have the Lucas Chest Compression System that first responders and paramedics will use to give effective and uninterrupted chest compressions to sudden cardiac arrest patients, while at the scene, getting into an ambulance, in transit and into the hospital.

With automated CPR, the fatigue and individual variations are removed from CPR, and there is no longer the need for shifting CPR providers every two minutes, said Wayland Deputy Fire Chief Dan Miller.


“Rescuers are freed up to focus on other critical life saving tasks, such as ventilation, medication and defibrillation, which leads to increased attention on the cardiac arrest,” Miller said.

Performing CPR in a moving ambulance is known to be very difficult to achieve manually and may compromise a first responder’s safety if they are doing compressions during transportation.


“With the Lucas consistently performing the compressions in transport, rescuers work in a more secure setting while on the road,” he said.

The Lucas was delivered last week, and after departmental training, was put into service this week.


“The firefighters and MFR’s are very happy and want to thank the Yankee Springs Township Fire Committee, township board and taxpayers for allowing us to the purchase of this piece of lifesaving equipment,” Miller said.


Photo: (upper left) The LUCAS Chest Compression System.


(left) The LUCAS Chest Compression System at work was demonstrated at the recent first Night Out in Hastings. This little girl pats the manikin’s face, comforting it while it gets compressions.



Bonoloto is a Scam

The Michigan State Police is warning the public to beware of the Bonoloto lottery that appears to be from Spain. It is a scam.  Every month the scammers send out thousands of emails telling the recipients they have won the lottery worth millions of dollars.  The email looks very authentic, cleverly worded with telephone numbers and a Madrid email address. The bottom line is,  the scammers are out to get your personal information, bank account numbers, credit card numbers any way they can to steal your money.  The State Police again are warning the public beware of the Bonoloto lottery. It is a scam.



Hasting City Council consensus: Summerfest was great, thanks to city staff

Summerfest 2017 drew huge crowds to Hastings during the annual celebration of the season. Staging the event, with hundreds of people attending craft sales, hundreds more watching the parade, kids running around, more activities, athletic contests for kids and adults, and street detours and closings, could lead to problems.


At Monday’s council meeting. members noted that Summerfest was very successful this year, and they wanted to recognize and thank the city staff for the extra effort in setting up before, helping out during and cleaning up after, the event again this year.


Councilman Bill Cusack singled out Department of Pubic Works crews and Jim James for their hard work, saying driving through town early Monday morning and “was amazed the way things were back in order…also to express my appreciation for the job our local police department did, it’s rewarding. I observed a lot of friendliness going on…its an asset to our community,  the DW and Jim. He’s a very friendly young man and it’s going to pay dividends, I’m sure about that. I just want to thank them.”


City Manager Jeff Mansfield added Chuck Tefft to the list, noting he is with the police as well as the DPW.

Councilman John Resseguie said the DPW crews were so effective, there was not a trace of the event by Monday morning. “Without them, it certainly never would have happened.” Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange saw many positive comments about Summerfest on social media, Facebook and different websites. “People are already looking forward to next year,” she said.


Police Chief Jeff Pratt said the Police Cadets worked at the event, and the Police Reserve Officers “worked an amazing amount of hours from Thursday through Sunday.” The City Ambassadors spent  35 hours welcoming visitors, and there were few problems related to the police department.

“It was great, everybody was having a good time,” he said.

Hastings is a "B.Healthy Community"

The Hastings City Council Monday passed a resolution declaring it a “B. Healthy Community.”

Lauran Cibor, co-leader of the coalition, said obesity is not only an issue in the state, but also in Barry County, as detailed in a Community Health Needs Study.


B. Healthy is “looking for more traction in the community” as a resource to encourage healthy eating and more physical activities and promote programs to help fight the overweight and obesity issue in the county, Cibor said. They are working with area restaurants and their patrons to encourage healthy eating choices.


The city already has many programs in place and others planned activities for a healthy lifestyle; promoting the Farmers Market and the use of financial assistance for patrons, the Riverwalk with mile markers, development of 1, 2 and 3 mile walking loops in the city, a master bike plan for more accessibility to non-motorized transportation, the Hammond Hill multi-use trail, and a planned fall walking contest for city staff and others.


“The city has already accomplished all of the requirements, we just need the support of the city (with the adoption of the resolution),” Cibor said.


Formed in 2012, “The mission of the B. Healthy Coalition is to foster an active, healthy community by creating policy and environmental changes that make the healthy choice the easy choice for all Barry County residents.”


Cibor said their vision is to make Barry County the healthiest county in Michigan. 

Trucks, road salt, trees, new roof on Hastings City Council agenda

Following the City of Hastings policy of replacing work trucks every year to eliminate maintenance costs and maintain a fleet of new trucks, Department of Public Services Director Lee Hays submitted a chart to the council with the purchase and sale prices of trucks purchased in 2013, 2015, 2016 and the proposed purchase in 2017.


Hays said they have added $2,637.34 to the equipment fund when selling the year-old trucks, with the exception of a $155.69 loss with truck 20 in 2016. “In addition, we have not incurred maintenance costs,” he said. He will sell two half-ton Sierras and two three-quarter-ton Sierras on if they meet the minimum reserve prices. They will sell a truck as they get a replacement truck, Hays said.


He listed the trucks to be purchased at MiDeal pricing from Todd Wenzel GMC as four 2018 GMC Sierra 2500 HD trucks, three at the price of $44,520.85, one for $44,880.30, for  total of $178,422.85. Expenditure of  $180,000 was approved in the capital improvement plan of 2017-2018, he said. About $175,000 will be left in the equipment fund, not including the revenue that will come from selling the current trucks, he said.


In other DPW activity, the council approved:

* Street line painting to PK Contracting for $29,031.60 to come from the major street fund. Included in the bid is striping for bike lanes, including Michigan Avenue from State Street to Woodlawn and on West State Road to the city limits. The routes were determined by the Hastings Police Department and the DPS.


* Replacement of wastewater treatment facility piping by Advantage Plumbing and Drain for $17, 878, with costs to come from the water and sewer fund.


* A new roof and other repairs to the Arts building in Fish Hatchery Park. Affordable Metal, LLC from Hastings, will do the work for $29,700. With the repairs, maintenance will not be needed for the next 50 years. Funding will come from the capital improvement fund and is less than the $30,000 budgeted for the work.


* Hometown Tree Service, in Hastings, will trim and remove trees in 2017-2018 for $25,500. The only other bid was from Procare Tree Service, LLC, in Wyoming, with a quote of $50,400.


* Detroit Salt Company will supply salt for city streets with a unit price of $40.92 a ton for the seasonal fill for the total of $32,736. The city uses about 800 tons a season. The contract through the MDOT guarantees more salt if the city needs it, and they can accept only 70 percent of the seasonal backup commitment, Hays said. Last year’s price was $43.40 a ton, he noted.

Former Moose building to be replaced by new, three story mixed-use building

The former Moose building will be razed after a structural engineer’s report, the Hastings City Council learned Monday. Community Development Director Jerry Czarnecki told the council Smith Equities has revised its plans for the building at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Apple Street.


Structural engineers have found it will cost too much to save the original portion of the building, so it will be demolished and replaced with a three story mixed-use building with about 20 apartments on the upper floors. Hooker DeJong Inc. will develop a new concept plan to eliminate apartments on the ground floor and use building designs to match the original façade design, Czarnecki said.


Nederveld will do the civil engineering and SME the environmental assessment. A development agreement with the city is pending, waiting for comments from Hooker DeJong.

Smith Equities had previously agreed to the city’s plan to demolish the added-on portion on the back of the building and use the space for parking.


In other business, the council approved amending two zoning ordinances:

Before the vote to approve to change ordinance 548, Czarnecki explained the change eliminates the minimum size requirements for dwelling units in the central business district (B-1). The trend is toward smaller dwelling units because of lifestyle changes, affordability and development costs and several developers have asked for smaller units than are allowed under the city code. However, developers must provide living space, bathrooms, kitchens and bedrooms in the apartments, Czarnecki said. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority has eliminated dwelling unit sizes in its programs.


Ordinance 547 amends the zoning map to change the B-6 zoning district near and along South Hanover Street near the south city limits. Several properties in the area are split by the B-6 zoning line, with portions of the lots falling in the B-6 zone and other portions in a residential zone (R-S) or (R-R), City Manager Jeff Mansfield said. The split zone caused problems for property owners with what they can do with their properties and the city staff in administering the code.


Professionals brought in to address rat problem at Hastings feed mill

Greg Cabose, environmental health director of the Barry Eaton District Health Department gave an update of the rat infestation in a shuttered feed mill on Railroad Street to the Hastings City Council Monday. Cabose said the department first became involved Aug 2, with a site visit to the mill where they saw rats and grain that could feed them. The same day, they talked to the owner, who told of his efforts to rid the area of rats.

Cabose said the owner was completely cooperative, but after two weeks, and complaints from residents, there were still too many rats and he agreed to hire a professional firm to handle the problem.


The Orkin Company from Kalamazoo was hired, gave the health department its plans and began working on the problem about a week ago. They are focusing control of the rats in the building next to the silo, using baits and traps to get the rats and take them off site. Asked about long term control, the exterminator said the rat population will spike before it goes down; typically it is 30 days to knock the population down and 60 to 90 days to eliminate the rats, he said.


Orkin is disposing of the rats before they remove the grain. If they take the food source away, the rats will go elsewhere looking for food, spreading the problem. The exterminators visit the mill once a day and sometimes twice a day, Cabose said, and the department will make weekly checks on the status and provides a report to the Hastings Police Department.


Councilman Bill Redman asked for an ongoing count of the number of rats disposed of; Cabose will get the information from the exterminator and pass it on to Redman and the police department.


“It didn’t happen overnight and it won’t be cured overnight, either,” Cabose said.

He urged residents with questions to call or visit the health department offices at 330 West Woodlawn Street to get answers. "We’re open all day…We have nothing to hide, we’re here to help,” he said.



Antlerless deer license application results now available

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters that antlerless deer application results are available beginning today. Application results and leftover license availability can be found at


Any leftover antlerless deer licenses not issued in this drawing will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis beginning Tuesday, Sept. 5, at 10 a.m. EDT until license quotas are met.

The 2017 antlerless deer license quotas for each DMU also can be found at Please note, DMU 333 has unlimited antlerless licenses that may be purchased without application beginning Sept. 5 at 10 a.m.


For additional information, the 2017 Michigan Antlerless Deer Digest is available online at

Hastings Summfest Parade Entry Winners

The Hastings Summerfest Parade announces the winners of the parade "Through the Decades"contest.


1st place At Home Real Estate-The Jetson's- Fly with us, your future is waiting!

2nd place Hastings City Bank in business since 1886, representing all decades through music In tune with you through the decades..

3rd place Thornapple Players celebratting the 1950's with the birth of Rock N Roll, soda fountains and poodle skirts.



1st place Athletic Sensations Baton twirling

2nd place Champion Force Gold Team Cheerleading of Middleville

3rd place Barry County Animal Shelter



1st place Higgen's Freedom Ford

2nd place 1962 Corvette," the General"  has been with Bion & Vicky Eye 45 years

3rd place The 1928 Doodle Bug driven by Harold Root

Lake Odessa Man found Dead in a Ditch

A 59 year old Lake Odessa Man was found dead in a ditch around 9:30 Saturday  night.

According to the Ionia County Sheriff the victim was found by a family member in a drainage ditch near the 300 block of West Henderson road. The tractor driver was operating the tractor on private property when the accident occured.

The  accident remains under investigation.

Motorcyclist Killed In Yankee Springs

39 year old Shane Doorn of Hastings was killed Sunday afternoon when he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed.

The Michigan State Police said the accident happened around 4:20 pm on Briggs road near Chief noonday in Yankee spring west of Hastings in Barry County. Troopers said the motorcycle was traveling north when Doorn lost control on a curve and was thrown into the path of a pickup truck where he was struck by the truck and killed.

Eaton County 911 asks for help naming rescued kitten

The Delta Township Fire Department rescued a kitten from a storm drain on Aug. 14. After being cared for by animal control, the kitten was adopted by a member of the dispatch team, Deputy Director Lara O'Brien.

The kitten has a new home, but she doesn’t have a name. So, O'Brien and Eaton County 911 are asking the public to help name the lucky kitten. What should the kitten's name be? Vote by Sept. 5 to help make the decision before her next veterinarian visit.

The public can comment on the post with the following options:

A) Poppy B) Stormy C) Hope D) Delta.




Photos: (above) Eaton County Dispatch 911 Deputy Director Lara O’Brien with her new kitten.


(left) The so-far-unnamed kitten with Delta Fire Department firefighter/paramedic Reader after her rescue from a storm drain.








(photos supplied)

Barry Eaton District Health Department budget adopted amid TOST concerns

Barry Eaton District Health Department leaders adopted a 2017-2018 budget Thursday while unsure of the future of one of its regulations that affects both Barry and Eaton county residents.

With expected income of $6,613,816 and anticipated expenses of $6,613,816,  this year’s budget is slightly leaner than last year.


“Today Barry and Eaton County leaders came together and adopted a balanced budget for the Health Department. It sure wasn’t easy, but we got the job done,” said chairman of the health board, Barry County Commissioner Ben Geiger.


A proposed six percent increase in environmental health services fees was reduced to three percent. In addition to public questioning of the increase, Geiger supported the rollback. “Back to back increases of six percent two years in a row is too tough on our constituents, so we cut it in half,” he said later.


Anticipated appropriation amounts from Eaton and Barry counties, a total $1.81 million, are not finalized since the commissioners have yet to set their budgets. The board went into a brief closed session to do with contract negotiations; wages were not discussed at the meeting because they are part of current negotiations. 


The health department budget could be impacted by the results of two things already in motion. Because of the need to cut costs, Eaton County Commissioners will vote Sept 20 on whether to end its participation in TOST.


The regulation mandates on-site well and septic systems inspections and repair or replacement if needed, before the time of sale or transfer of property in both counties.


Also, Barry County commissioners are in the middle of a review of the 10-year-old regulation with the goal of improving the system based on responses from the public in a survey and a listening session. At the Tuesday listening session, 20 of the 25 speakers asked for TOST to be rescinded. 

Middleville woman will go to trial in bicyclist's death

Kelleigh Linae Hobbs, of Middleville, charged with in connection with the alleged hit and run crash that caused bicyclist Carla Reiffer’s death, waived her preliminary hearing today and will go to trial.

Reiffer, 40, also from Middleville, was struck near the intersection of Whitneyville and Parmalee roads while riding her bike on June 23.

Hobbs is charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in serious impairment or death, a felony carrying a maximum of 15 years in prison. She is also charged with a moving violation causing death, and possession of marijuana, both misdemeanors carrying a maximum of one year in jail. The date for a pretrial conference has not been announced.



Hastings Summerfest Parking lot and Street Closures


Parking Lots 4 and 5 and Church Street between State and Center will be closed after 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24. and will remain in effect until the evening of Sunday, Aug. 27.

Those with over-night/resident parking permits may use Lots 3 and 8

Expect street closures before and during the 11:30 a.m. parade Saturday.



Green Street lane Shift

The Barry County Road Commission will begin a Lane Shift on West Green Street from M-37 to Cook Road.  Beginning Monday August 28th for about a month.  Drivers should plan to take an alternate route.

*School bus safety alert: stopping for school buses and other safety tips

**With schools starting across Michigan, the Barry County Sheriff’s Office is reminding the public of the laws for school buses.


Passing a school bus that is loading or unloading students is prohibited under any circumstance. The law requires motorists to come to a complete stop at least 20 feet from a school bus whenever a bus is stopped and using its two red flashing signals. The driver may proceed once the bus resumes motion.


Tips for motorists:

•Never pass a school bus when children are loading or unloading. That is the Law!

•Slow down and prepare to stop whenever you see yellow school bus lights flashing.

•Motorists must come to a complete stop at least 20 feet from a school bus whenever a bus is stopped and using its two red flashing signals. The driver may proceed once the bus resumes motion.

•Remember that children are unpredictable in their actions.  Take extreme caution when traveling in a school zone.

•Those who live in an area where there are no sidewalks, should drive cautiously.  Be more alert to the possibility of children walking in the road.

•Be more aware of children playing near school bus stops.

•Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.

•Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully

•Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings. 

•Put down the telephone – don’t talk or text while driving!


Tips for students:

•Always arrive at the bus stop early.

•Wait until the bus has some to a complete stop, the door is opened and the bus driver says that it’s OK before boarding the bus.

•Once on board, proceed quickly to your seat and stay sitting until the bus arrives at your school or other drop off location.

•Do not move around on the bus. 

•Always walk on the sidewalk when preparing to cross the street near a bus.  Make eye contact with the driver so that you are sure he or she sees you.

•Never walk behind the bus.

•If you are walking beside the bus, make sure you are at least 10 feet (10 “giant” steps) away.

•Take extra precaution to make sure that clothing with drawstrings and book bags do not get caught in the hand rail or door.

•Never stop to pick something up you have dropped while the bus is stopped.  Wait until the bus has driven off to avoid not being seen by the driver.


Traveling to and from school:

•Plan a walking route to school or the bus stop.  Choose the most direct way with the fewest street crossings and, if possible, with intersections that have crossing guards.

•Walk the route with your child beforehand.  Tell him or her to stay away from parks, vacant lots, fields and other places where there aren’t many people around.

•Teach your child never to talk to, accept rides from, or accept gifts from strangers.  Remember, a stranger is anyone you or your children don’t know well or don’t trust.

•Be sure your child walks to and from school or the bus stop with a sibling, friend or neighbor.

•Teach your kids – whether walking, biking or riding the bus to school – to obey all traffic signals, signs and traffic officers.  Remind them to be extra careful in bad weather.

•When driving kids, deliver and pick them up as close to the school as possible.  Don’t leave until they are in the schoolyard or building.

•If your child bikes to school make sure he/she wears a helmet that meets safety standards.  Research indicates that a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by up to 85 percent.

•If your child rides a scooter to school, make sure he/she wears sturdy shoes, a helmet, knee pads and elbow pads.  Children under 12 should not ride motorized scooters.

•Be sure your child knows his or her home (or parents’ cellular) phone number(s) and address.  They should also know where you work, your work phone number, the phone number of another trusted adult and how to call 911 for emergencies.



Scott Monroe named GM of Southwest Barry County Sewer and Water

Scott Monroe has been appointed general manager of Southwest Barry County Sewer and Water, David Messelink, chairman and CEO of the sewer authority board announced Wednesday.


A 23-year employee of the authority, Monroe has served as interim manager since the termination of former administrator Mark Doster in May.  Monroe was unanimously awarded the permanent title for the full time job by the authority board on Aug. 22. His salary is $88,775 a year.


Messelink said Monroe has proven himself a dedicated, hard-working, knowledgeable and valued team member during his years at the authority. He has continued his education and developed exceptional managerial skills, always staying focused on providing customers with outstanding service and responsiveness.


“Since the changes in management were made in May of this year, we have already witnessed significant improvements in employee morale and, as a result, increased productivity. SWBCSWA is a happier workplace environment,” he said.


“Our board of directors congratulates Scott Monroe on his promotion to general manager,” Messelink said. “We are confident in his leadership skills, work ethic, and on-going commitment to the authority and all the customers we serve. We look forward to building on that success together in the years ahead.”


Barry County Commissioners hear calls to rescind TOST

A listening session, part of a review of a 10-year-old Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation was held Tuesday, with Barry County Commissioner’s hearing mostly unfavorable remarks about the time of sale or transfer or TOST. The second part of the review is a survey at, open until Sept.30.


About 65 people attended the board meeting, with 25 signing up to speak for three minutes each in the 90 minute session. Of those who gave their opinions, four or five supported the regulation or wanted to keep it with improvements, the rest had complaints and told the commissioners to rescind the time of sale or transfer (TOST) regulation.


TOST calls for on-site water and sewer system inspection by health department evaluators in both counties at the time of the sale or transfer of property and repair or replacements ordered if a system is deemed failing.


The Eaton County Board of Commissioners is also concerned with the regulation; they will vote Sept. 20 on rescinding TOST to save money at the request of its Health and Human Services Committee.

The rule has been criticized at Barry County commission meetings by members of the public since it’s inception, with resolutions calling for rescinding it from the Barry County Farm Bureau, the Republican Party and a veteran’s group.


The main criticisms are that TOST takes away property owners rights, punishes rural residents, its costs are a financial burden, it gives unlawful authority to the health department, enforcement is uneven and arbitrary, the appeal process does not work, and health department administrators are arrogant and lack professionalism and common sense.


Many said TOST violates and erodes citizens rights, violates the constitution, and is unlawful search and seizure. Several said they didn’t think they should have to get government approval sell their property, summed up by one who said: “We don’t need your help.” //


Mark Hewitt, associate broker and co-owner of Miller Real Estate, said he helped shape TOST when it was written, asked to give the views of those in real estate. The original intent to protect the environment and water supply was fine, Hewitt said, but now, “TOST sucks and you can put that in the paper.”


The regulation  has also been losing support from commissioners. When Commissioner Joyce Snow resigned in 2015, she suggested a review of the rule, saying she had seen no data that TOST had achieved its goal of improving the county’s water supply.

Last Year, then Commissioner Jim Dull tried and failed to get the commission to find a way to rescind TOST and withdraw from the joint health department.


Last month, Commissioner Jon Smelker said he favored separating the joint health department.

Last year, when running for a seventh term on the commission, Howard Gibson said he would work on improving TOST. The last commissioner left who voted for TOST eight (now 10) years ago, he said, “I don’t feel right leaving when people are not satisfied with something I had something to do with.”


Nancy Ohle, consultant and organizational development leader, facilitated the meeting. She encouraged the audience and speakers who felt they had more to say to fill out comment cards with their opinions for commissioners to review. She thanked the audience for its civil approach and being respectful of others time.



Little Thornapple River Drain assessment district, methodology to be reviewed, updated

The Little Thornapple River Drain has been in the news for a couple of years, and most area residents are familiar with the issue.  However, it likely will bring more surprises and comments, more likely howls, in early 2018.


The boundaries of the assessment district itself and the methodology for calculating who pays assessments for the drain and how much, will be reviewed and updated, a project expected to be completed by late winter 2017 or early spring, 2018.


The record of properties in the assessment district dates as far back  as 1929 and has not be reviewed since then.  It is not uncommon for some drain assessment districts to be unchanged since first drawn in the late 1880s.


A consulting engineer will be hired by the Little Thornapple River Drainage Board to determine the district’s boundaries and methods to use to assess property owners in the new district and handle required public hearings. Stacy Hissong, attorney from Fahey, Schultz, Burzych and Rhodes, and the drain board’s legal counsel, said there will be changes.


Some who have paid since the beginning of the restoration project may find they won’t be assessed for the work for the next two or three years, or even longer, Hissong said.

Conversely, others may find themselves added to the assessment roll.


The assessments on this year’s winter property tax bills are calculated on the present formula.

2018 winter taxes will be determined by the updated assessment district boundaries and methodology on figuring the cost, she said.


The review will also solve the mystery of why Kent County’s Drain Commissioner Ken Yonker sits on the board with Barry and Ionia county drain commissioners, Jim Dull and Robert Rose.

No Kent County residents pay assessments and it is debatable if the river flows into that county, but history does not reveal why a Kent County representative is on the board at all.


Yonker would like know if he will continue.

“It’s not right….it’s not fair for me to vote to levy taxes when we have no skin in the game,” he said.

If Kent County is found to have no land in the assessment district, there are legal mechanisms to remove Yonker, Hissong said. The board will ask for requests for proposals from several consulting engineers, with the provision that the work be done no later than January, 2018.











FEMA Great Lakes coastal Flood Risk Review is Aug. 29

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region V Office is encouraging staff and officials of villages, cities, townships, and county government, regional organizations, non-governmental bodies, neighborhood associations and harbor and shoreline protection engineers to attend a meeting Tuesday, Aug. 29.  At the gathering, FEMA will showcase the new draft hazard work maps for the Lake Michigan shoreline in Allegan County .


The meeting is from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Herrick District Library, 300 River Street, in Holland; it is intended to solicit comments from community officials and embodies a process FEMA refers to as Flood Risk Review. 


Areas include Laketown, Saugatuck, Ganges and Casco Townships, and the cities/villages of Saugatuck, Douglas, Glen and South Haven.

An access work map viewer is at

The link to map viewer user document is at

Officials can RSVP by contacting Brett Holthaus at or calling 240-264-8028.

One dead, four injured in Eaton County rollover crash

Four passengers in a SUV that rolled over multiple times in a traffic crash in Eaton County were transported to area hospitals and the driver, who was ejected, was pronounced dead at the scene, the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office reports.

The crash happened at Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the area of South Ionia Road and Stoney Point Highway. The SUV was traveling northbound on South Ionia Road when it left the roadway and rolled over several times.

Five people were in the vehicle; four were ejected and one was pinned in. It is believed that no one was wearing a seatbelt and speed was most likely a factor, officials said. Names have not yet been released. The crash is still under investigation.


Four injured in Shaw Lake, M-37 crash Monday

Yankee Springs and Wayland firefighters, Medical First Responders and Wayland Area EMS were dispatched to a crash at about 4:35 p.m. today at the intersection of M-37 and Shaw Lake Road south of Middleville.


According to Wayland’s Deputy Fire Chief Dan Miller, a caller reported two children and one adult were injured. Upon arrival, responders found three injured from one vehicle and one injured from another car. Mutual aid was requested from Thornapple Township Emergency Services and Mercy Ambulance answered an EMS call for a second ambulance. 

EMS reported all of the injured were taken to Grand Rapids hospitals, Miller said. The victim's conditions were not immediately available. The direction the vehicles in the crash was not clear, but it was a rear-end collision, Miller said.



M-37 was shut down between Shaw Lake Road and the north end of Yankee Springs Road until the incident was cleared and traffic rerouted around the scene. The incident was investigated by the Barry County Sheriff's Office. 


Photos: Cars at the crash scene Monday at Shaw Lake Road/M-37.

Possible abduction being investigated in Eaton County

A kidnapping incident that originated in Eaton County today is still under investigation by detectives from the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office.  At about 12:45 p.m., police received information from the mother of a 19-year-old woman of a possible abduction, according to a sheriff's news release. 


The woman was able to send her mother messages saying she was being held by a man against her will, and provide a description of the vehicle they were in.

The mother reported the information to 911, and minutes later, at about12:58 p.m., Lansing Township Police had located and stopped the suspect at Saginaw Highway and Waverly Road.


The 20-year-old suspect is in the custody of the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office. The woman was found to be physically unharmed. No further details will be released at this time.

Spectrum Health Pennock earns two awards for improving healthcare quality and patient safety

Spectrum Health Pennock was recently recognized for two significant achievements in health care quality by MPRO (Michigan Peer Review Organization) and Governor Rick Snyder at the 2017 Governor’s Award of Excellence ceremony. The awards, achieved through continuing improving in specific and rigorous milestones, included Lowering Risk of Infection and Effective Reporting and Measurement.


The two awards recognize Spectrum Health Pennock’s efforts toward becoming a High Reliability Organization (HRO). Leading organizations that commit to achieving high reliability have a preoccupation with avoiding failure and its employees learn to anticipate, respond and prevent risk or injury before it happens.


Jen Grile, infection preventionist, Spectrum Health Pennock, was instrumental in developing a Clostridium Difficile infection protocol designed to reduce the number of related infections. The protocol and successful outcomes resulted in the Governor’s Award achievement.


“The road to high reliability is an ongoing journey. Pennock leadership and the board of trustees are committed to implementing best practices and involving our employees in this journey that leads to improved patient safety outcomes and high quality care for our community,” stated Kim Norris, MD, trustee and chair, board quality and patient safety committee. “These two awards recognize the hard work, dedication and drive that the entire Spectrum Health Pennock team puts forth daily to ensure the safety of patients.”


Governor Rick Snyder distributed more than 150 awards to hospitals, physician practices, nursing homes, inpatient psychiatric facilities, ambulatory surgery centers, home health agencies and community-based organizations statewide.


“MPRO is tasked with improving the health care of Michigan’s residents,” said MPRO’s President and CEO, Dr. Leland Babitch. “But these are the folks who actually bring those changes to life. It was my distinct honor to recognize all of those from around the state who have shown such a huge commitment to quality improvement.”

Hastings schools Welcome Back teacher train is Aug. 23

Teachers from the Hastings Area School System schools will be in a caravan of big yellow school buses and ride though downtown Hastings on Wednesday, Aug. 23 at 10:45 a.m. 

Area residents are encouraged to welcome the teachers as they return for the 2017-2018 school year, hopefully lining the sides of State Street as the teachers pass though on the buses. 


This is the second year for the welcome teachers back convoy, and organizers are looking for an even bigger group of people to show up to wave at their favorite teacher, possibly with signs welcoming all of the teachers back to school.


Electric vehicle event to be in Hastings Sept. 9

If you’re curious about electric vehicles, you will have a chance to inspect and drive one in Hastings during National Drive Electric Week. Sponsors will be in Hastings Saturday, Sept. 9 from 11 a.m. to  2 p.m. in the Hastings Library parking lot.


Southwest Michigan communities are celebrating the week with events to heighten awareness of the benefits and widespread availability of all-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric cars, trucks and motorcycles. Local owners will be on site offering rides in their vehicles ranging from the small Nissan Leafs and Mitsubishi I-MiEVs to the Teslas.


Owners will share their experiences with the convenience, low expense and ease of driving an electric car and will tell of the benefits electric cars offer to the economy and environment.

Multiple charging stations are available nearby and electric car owners are invited to join in the fun at this family-friendly event.


There will be two more chances to test ride an electric car: Monday, Sept. 11, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the South Haven Library parking lot and Wednesday, Sept. 13 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Western Michigan University's Physical Plant parking lot near Waldo Stadium.


ierra Club is a national co-sponsor of Drive Electric Week. Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group and Kalamazoo Electric Vehicle Association co-sponsor the event.





Holland woman identified as Selkirk Lake drowning victim

UPDATE: The victim in the drowning at Selkirk Lake Saturday has been was identified as Anna Elizabeth Demshuk, 40, of Holland.  Family notifications have been made with the assistance from various law enforcement agencies in west Michigan.  The incident remains open pending further investigation by the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office.



Allegan County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a missing swimmer in Selkirk Lake at 11:54 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19. The caller reported that two older women were swimming in the lake when one did not come back to shore, according to a sheriff's office report.


Divers recovered the woman’s body near an anchored floating raft. EMS personnel attempts to revive her were unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead at the scene. She was missing for about 45 minutes and located in 10 feet of water. The woman was not from the area, but had friends who live at the lake.


A preliminary investigation indicates the drowning was accidental in nature and medical issues, along with alcohol, may have been contributing factors. The victim’s name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.


The Allegan County Sheriff’s Road and Marine Patrol and Dive/Rescue & Recovery Team responded to the call from the 800 block of 127th Avenue in Wayland Township. Wayland Fire Department and Wayland EMS assisted at the scene.

Gun Lake Tribe offers free electronic recycling Aug. 24

The Gun Lake Tribe hosts a free electronics recycling event Thursday Aug. 24 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the tribe’s government campus headquarters, 2872 Mission Drive, Shelbyville, near the Gun Lake Casino.


A $10 fee to recycle tube-style televisions and computer monitors will be paid for by the tribe for the first 200 units collected.  The tribe supports electronic waste recycling because of a growing concern to the environment.  Electronic waste in landfills can leak harmful toxins into the soil and groundwater.


Acceptable items include office and household electronics, cell phones, radios, microwaves, VCRs and TVs, computer laptops, computer monitors, keyboards and mice, printers, speakers and power cords.  Comprenew will erase or destroy all computer hard drives.


The public is urged to take advantage of the opportunity to properly dispose of obsolete electronic items.  Comprenew uses best practices in electronics recycling and data security; they do not ship electronic waste overseas, and the zero-landfill policy requires that all electronics are recycled, refurbished or reused.


Follow the signs to the area near the public works building.  


Stolen Property including a Tombstone

The Calhoun County Sheriff's Office on Thursday with assistance from Hastings State Police Troopers,  the Battle Creek Police Department and Emmitt Township Police through a search warrant recovered a number of stolen items. During two previous search warrants at the same residence police took methamphetamine, prescription pills,  marijuana, stolen property and recovered two stolen vehicles.  The home was condemned and a child was placed into a temporary foster care home.

One suspect is currently in jail and was arraigned for eight felony charges. Warrants for eight other suspects have been submitted for review for those who were part of this criminal enterprise.

New information has been obtained that led officers to the discovery of a stolen tombstone that belonged to a deceased child who had been laid to rest in Barry County in 1988.  The tombstone was buried in the backyard of the residence but had been desecreated by the suspects.

From additional information, four more suspects have been identified for crimes that involve theft, counterfeiting and illegal drug activity.




Barry County residents to give opinions on TOST at Aug. 22 meeting

The Barry County Board of Commissioner’s Aug. 22 meeting time and location have been changed to 7 p.m. at Star Elementary School, 1900 Star School Road, Hastings.  Officials moved the meeting in anticipation of a larger than usual audience, since it’s also a ‘listening to the public’ session on the controversial Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation, time of sale or transfer, or TOST.


The meeting is part of a 10-year review of the regulation that has been roundly criticized by Barry County residents since its inception. A public survey, available on the county website and ongoing until Sept. 30, is part of the review approved by the Barry County Commission in July at a cost of $6,500.


Meanwhile, on Aug. 16, Eaton County Commissioners discussed a resolution “strongly” recommending the commission “cease participation” in TOST to save staff and administrative costs.

The commissioners delayed a decision until Sept. 20 to allow time for “minor technical changes” in the proposal, according to sponsors of the resolution, the Health and Human Services Committee. Chair of the committee,  Commissioner Barbara Rogers said Aug. 17 that she is confident they have the votes to approve the resolution next month.


Barry County Commissioner Ben Geiger, commission chairman, said this Thursday: “Protecting public health, the environment, and the rights of homeowners is very important to the community, and requires leaders listen to all voices. Barry County's initiative is all about listening to our residents, and we will continue and complete this listening process regardless of what's going on in other counties.”



TOST mandates inspection of Barry and Eaton county on-site water and septic systems before the sale or transfer of property. If deemed failed by evaluators, repairs or replacement are ordered and must be completed before the sale or transfer occurs.

Critics say the administration of the regulation is arbitrary and capricious, public relations with the health department are strained and costs associated with TOST are a costly and unnecessary burden on residents.


Geiger’s stated goal of the review is to listen to Barry County residents and make recommendations to the BEDHD’s six-member Board of  Health, three Barry County and three Eaton County commissioners, on ways to improve the unpopular regulation.


Gun Lake Tribe's $93,040 gift to Hopkins Schools will fund technology

The Gun Lake Tribe has presented Hopkins Public Schools with a check for $93,040 for the purchase of computer technology for the advancement of student learning.  At a check presentation Aug. 16, the tribe’s tribal council was joined by Hopkins school administrators who remarked on the benefits the gift will provide for the district.   


“On behalf of the tribe, it is our pleasure to assist the students, families and faculty of Hopkins Public Schools by making a financial gift in the amount of $93,040,” said Scott Sprague, chairman of the tribe.  “With this gift, we build upon a great relationship with the school district that has been established over generations.”


“On behalf of Hopkins Public Schools, we would like to thank the Gun Lake Tribe for their partnership and financial generosity,” said Hopkins Elementary Principal Scott VanBonn.

“With this gift, Hopkins Public Schools will be purchasing 10 iPads for every Kindergarten, first and second grade classroom, as well as three mobile carts of Chromebooks for our third, fourth and fifth grade students.  This technology will help the students of Hopkins become better equipped to develop the necessary technology skills needed in today's highly technical society.”//


The tribe was represented by Chairman Scott Sprague; Vice Chairman Ed Pigeon and Secretary Jeff Martin, both graduates of Hopkins Schools, and tribal council members Bob Peters (Treasurer), Phyllis Davis, Jennie Heeren (Hopkins graduate), and Jody Palmer.  Principals Scott VanBonn and Amy Mielke and school board member Ben Brenner represented the school.


The gift from the tribe to the schools is not required as part of the tribal-state compact agreement and local revenue sharing distribution; the school does not receive funds from the local revenue sharing board.


(left) At the check presentation are (left to right) Ben Brenner, Hopkins Schools school board member; Scott VanBonn, Hopkins Elementary principal; Amy Mielke, Sycamore Elementary principal; Jeff Martin, tribal council secretary; Chairman Scott Sprague; Bob Peters, tribal council treasurer; Ed Pigeon, vice chairman; and tribal council members Phyllis Davis, Jody Palmer and Jennie Heeren.


New equipment offers Yankee Springs Township firefighters more range, flexibility

The Yankee Springs Township Fire Department has three new tools that will increase firefighter’s flexibility and help save precious seconds and lives when extrications are involved.


The new tools are battery operated and can be carried as far as needed to address a situation, unlike the similar equipment’s motor and hoses permanently mounted on  Engine 1  that extend just 75 feet from the truck.


“The tools are a great asset to the fire department in that we will now be able to respond to emergencies where we would not have been able to do so before because these tools are more portable and versatile,” said Wayland Deputy Fire Chief Dan Miller.  


Delivered on Aug. 8, firefighters have practiced with them since they were delivered. Steve Funk with Rescue Resources, will give final training on the new tools on Aug. 28, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.  “We urge anyone to stop by and view the tools as they are being used that evening,” Miller said.


The new EFORCE S53 Spreader spreads up to 31.5 inches, to open doors of vehicles that can’t be opened normally, as well as other uses, including lifting or spreading things should someone become entangled in a piece of machinery or farm implement, Miller said.

The AC236 NextGen Cutter with a blade opening of 7.9 inches will cut roofs and door hinges on vehicles.  The Ram has the capability to push things open and extends from 21 inches to 36 inches with a 12-inch extension, if needed, Miller said.  Each tool comes with two batteries and a charger, he said.


The Genesis Rescue Tools were purchased from Rescue Resources. The Yankee Springs Township Fire Committee approved the purchase with final approval given by the Yankee Springs Township Board.


Photos: (left) The S53 Spreader, AC236 NextGen Cutter and the Ram displayed with Engine 1 at the Yankee Springs Township Fire Station on Payne Lake Road.






lbelow) A close up of Yankee Springs Township firefighter’s newest life saving tools.




Eaton County Commission vote on rescinding TOST delayed until Sept.20

Many questions on a controversial Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation, some obvious and more likely unforeseen, will not become clearer for at least another month

The Eaton County Board of Commissioners discussed rescinding the combined health department’s 10-year-old TOST regulation, but put off a decision until the Sept. 20 meeting.

A resolution asking to drop the regulation was brought to the commission by its Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Commissioner Barbara Rogers.


“I do believe we have the votes to pass it then,” Rogers said Thursday.


Citing budget reductions in all Eaton County departments, and noting, “that this is only the beginning of such reductions,” the resolution made a “strong recommendation” to immediately cease participation in TOST to reduce the costs of staff and administration.


The vote was delayed for minor legal technicalities which will be corrected by the Sept. 5 Health and Hunan Services Committee meeting, Rogers said.

“We will then send it to the full board for approval. It will definitely be on the Sept. 20 agenda…we want to be sure we dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s.  I’m comfortable that we have the support to pass it,” she said.

County Controller John Fuentes is out of town at a seminar and Commissioner Blake Mulder, commission chair, was not immediately available for comment.


In July, the Barry County Board of Commissioners narrowly passed a proposal to review the regulation through a survey for Barry County residents and a public hearing to listen to residents comment on TOST. The goal of the review is to improve the regulation based on the public’s response, commission Chair Ben Geiger said.


The survey, on the county website at,  is available until Sept 30; the public hearing is Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. at Star Elementary School on Star School Road.


OST, for time of sale or transfer,  mandates inspection and replacement of on-site water and sewer systems deemed failed by inspectors certified by the heath department before a sale or transfer of property in both counties could be completed.


The health department said the rule was necessary to protect the environment, the county’s water supply and public health.

It was almost immediately a target for criticism by Barry County residents, who complained of a pattern of arbitrary and capricious enforcement, refusing to approve small diameter wells passed by private evaluators and bringing all systems up to current standards, which is prohibited in the regulation.


BEDHD budget, regulation, phone system decried at Barry County Commission meeting

Each Barry County Board of Commissioner’s meeting has a public comment time at the beginning and at the end of its business agenda. The commission’s policy is to provide time for citizens to talk, listen to their remarks, but not to respond. Tuesday, several county residents took the opportunity to be heard, and most complained about the Barry Eaton District Health Department.


Elden Shellenbarger reminded the audience of an Eaton County Board of Commissioners meeting on Aug. 16 when commissioners would consider a resolution rescinding the health department’s TOST regulation.

TOST calls for inspections of on-site water and sewer systems and replacement or repair to those deemed failing before the sale or transfer of properties in both Barry and Eaton counties. It has been the target of Barry County critics since it’s inception 10 years ago.


Sharri Philips said when trying to learn the health department’s progress in handling a rat infestation in her neighborhood, she spent two and a half hours trying to reach the right person in the health department. “The menu and phone system is horrible, she said. “…a person could die before they get to the right person. Three times I ended up talking to probate court…I think the system is designed to prevent people from reaching them.”


Jack Miner said the BEDHD ratifies it’s budget next week. “At least three executives of the BEDHD will get a 9.6 percent raise. 9.6 percent. Who is watching the store, men and ladies?”


Bob Vanderboegh said: “Beyond the increases in salary… the health department is asking for a 6 percent increase in the environmental permit fees,” after they asked for 6 to 8 percent increase a year or two ago. “It’s just a continuing flow of money for those folks.”


Bill Redman advised the commissioners to eliminate TOST and, “getting the BEDHD back where it belongs, in Barry County…it’s time to straighten this out.”


Larry Bass had a wider question. “Should a property owner be required to get government permission to sell his property?”


Maple Valley Schools Aug. 21 opening cut to half day

Maple Valley Schools opening day for the 2017-2018 school year has been cut to a half day because of concerns of students viewing the partial solar eclipse that will begin around 1 p.m. and end about 3:45 p.m.


The revised schedule:

Fuller Street Elementary School *8:20 a.m. to noon.          

Maplewood School *8 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.    

Jr./Sr. High School / Pathways *7:55 a.m. to 11:25 a.m.

Morning CTE/LCC students will be bused to campus, but students will be excused from afternoon CTE/LCC classes. Little Lions will be open and all children will remain indoors from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.; there will be no other activities on campus from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Superintendent Michelle Falcon said.


When the Aug. 21 day was set in the school calendar in January, it was not known that a solar eclipse would occur that day, Superintendent Michelle Falcon said,


“Our science teachers have been researching activities for our students surrounding this event. In doing so, we have discovered many warnings of the damage to a person’s vision without proper eye protection.


“Our number one priority is the safety of our students. When looking at something that is incredibly bright there is a chance of burning your retina which creates permanent damage. The eclipse would be at its peak around the time of dismissal in the afternoon,” she said.


“Although our teachers would supervise the students outside with their glasses (provided by the school that allows them to safely watch the eclipse), after they leave the building, we cannot ensure they will keep them on,” Falcon said.


Students will have a lesson on the eclipse in the morning and be served a free super snack before leaving. For more information on the solar eclipse, go to 




Barry County Road Commission Road work

Weather Permitting on Friday, August 18th, the Barry County Road Commission will be chip sealing Lakewood Drive off of M-50 and Heath road.


In the next 1 to 3 weeks Green Street off of M-37 will be shut down/closed.


Signs have been posted on Lawrence Road for Road closure from Sept. 1st to November 15th.

Extended hours at the Hastings compost drop off site announced

The City of Hastings is announcing extended hours one evening a week and Saturday morning at its compost drop off facility for city residents on West State Road.

Starting Wednesday, Aug. 16, the operating hours are:  Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Typical compostables include leaves, small brush and small limbs, grass clippings and garden waste such as flowers, stems and foliage.

The action follows an earlier city council decision to limit drop-offs to regular business hours daily, when city employees would be comng and going, because of the amount of non-compostable items coming into the facility, some from non-residents.

The extra hours are to accommodate residents who can’t deliver their compostable materials during regular hours.

UPDATE: Suspect in several crimes is in custody of Ionia County Sheriff's Office

UPDATE: Justin Wayne Rogers has been located and is in custody.


ORIGINAL STORY: Justin Wayne Rogers, 32, of Ionia, is wanted for questioning related to  multiple criminal investigations by the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office, according to a sheriff’s news release. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Rogers should contact the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office via Central Dispatch at 616-527-0400, or Silent Observer at 616-527-0107.


Barry County deputies administer Narcan, reverse heroin overdose

Barry County Sheriff’s Deputies Travis Cooper and  Travis Moore responded to a possible heroin overdose near Delton Tuesday at 8:18 p.m., according to Barry County Undersheriff Matt Houchlei. They found a 29-year-old man parked in a driveway at 869 Vickery Road unconscious and not breathing.


The deputies administered Narcan to the man, who regained consciousness a short time later. He was later transported to Bronson Hospital by LifeCare Ambulance, Houchlei said. No further details on the condition of the man are available at this time. LifeCare Ambulance and Barry Central Dispatch assisted deputies.

Middleville's Heritage Days are this weekend, and you're invited

Middleville Heritage Days Aug. 18-20 welcomes visitors to help celebrate the village's heritage with fun events, activities and lots of entertainment. A parade, car show, live concerts all three days, a food court and arts and crafts are all part of the events in the downtown.

Saturday, Aug. 19 starts at 11 a.m., with the dedication of the Middleville Veterans Memorial and don’t miss the Heritage Day Parade that steps off at 1 p.m.













The family-friendly event has its own KidzWorld next to the Village Hall. On Saturday, the kids will find inflatables, face painting, air brush tattoos, a back pack full of school supplies raffle and free drinks and snacks. It’s also the base for a family scavenger hunt in the downtown from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with prizes.


For a complete schedule, visit WBCH Community Events calendar. The event is sponsored by the Middleville Downtown Development Authority.


(upper left) The Battle Creek Mini-T’s perform at an earlier Heritage Day celebration.


(lower left) A file photo shows beautiful, handmade quilts displayed in the Middleville United Methodist Church during a Heritage Day.


Family friendly Summerfest has fun and entertainment for all ages

Visitors to Summerfest in Hastings on Aug. 25-27 will find something for everyone in the family. Arts & Craft vendors on the Barry County Courthouse lawn, softball and basketball tournaments, kids activities, a 10K/5K run/walk, free trolley rides, a car show on State Street, free live entertainment on the main stage and Thornapple Plaza, a motorcycle show, refreshment tent, all the favorite food carts and much more.


In honor of its 40th year, the event’s signature event, the Summerfest Grand Parade, will stroll “Through the Decades.” Parade entries are judged on overall excellence, originality and uniqueness of design during the line-up and parade.

First place wins $100 prize and the Summerfest Parade Trophy, first runner up wins $50 and a ribbon and second and third runners up will earn a ribbon.


In the parade this year in a Michigan Department of Transportation/Hastings Office entry; a snow plow, its big orange blade covered with signatures and hand prints from area residents from the first “Night Out” held in town on Aug. 2.

The annual celebration of summer is presented by the Barry County Chamber of Commerce Summerfest Committee.

For a complete schedule of the three days of events, visit



(upper left) This V plow will be attached to a MDOT truck for the Summerfest Grand Parade this year.


(middle left) The Summerfest Car Show fills State Street from the courthouse to city hall with al manner of vehicles to check out as this man is doing in a file photo from an earlier Summerfest.

(left) A file photo shows that even young shoppers find unique arts and crafts on the Barry County Courthouse lawn every year.



Items for Yankee Springs Veterans Memorial auction sought

The 52-foot-long semi trailer parked at the Yankee Springs Fire Station will be there until the first of September, accepting donations for an auction with proceeds to go to the township’s veterans memorial.

The auction, called by Kendall Tobias, is tentatively set for Saturday, Sept. 2.

Parked at the corner of Payne Lake Road and M-179, the trailer is easy to spot, it’s marked by a 6 foot by 24 foot banner.  Any and all auction-worthy items are being accepted for the fundraiser. For more information, call 795-4540 or 838-1289.


Hastings to accept compostables one evening a week, Saturday mornings

The Hastings City Council Tuesday reconsidered its limiting of hours at its facility where Hastings residents drop off compostable materials.

The area will be open one evening a week and Saturday mornings until noon. The new hours will be posted at the site on West State Road shortly, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.


In late July, because of the “unbelievable amount” of  non-compostable material being dropped off, much of it likely from non-residents and some from commercial businesses, the council agreed to limit the hours to 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, when city workers would be going in and out.


That brought a letter of protest from resident Elizabeth Forbes who pointed out the limited hours did not consider responsible residents who work past the closing time of the area, or can deliver their compostable yard waste only on Saturdays.


The council vote to add the hours was unanimous, with Mayor Dave Tossava saying he has been at the drop-off and the situation has already improved.



Residents ask for faster solution to rat problem at empty feed mill

Several Hastings residents are urging the Hastings City Council to work faster on ridding their neighborhood of rats living in an empty feed mill on Railroad Street, just off East State Street.

Speaking during public comment time  Monday, Sharri Phillips said her neighborhood smells and people walking the River Walk cross the street to avoid the area. She’s afraid of the rats migrating into the rest of the residential neighborhood and since rats are prolific breeders, the condition could continue or grow worse.


Phillips asked the council to have, “more of a sense of urgency to resolve this problem…when do professionals come in to take care of the problem?” Property values and city officials work on the image of Hastings as a “positive, pleasant and safe place to live,” will be damaged without getting rid of the rats, “in a timely manner,” she said.


The city has been working on the problem for several weeks with the Barry Eaton District Health Department, City Manager Jeff Mansfield responded. Normally the issue would be handled by code enforcement, but the steps in the enforcement process takes time, up to going to court. Since it is as health hazard involving public safety they went to the health department for a faster solution, he said.


The health department inspects the site to see the steps taken by the owner with weekly updates with the owner.  “There is progress,” he said. The owner is using poison and live traps, cleaning up and removing the food source.


Another resident, Michelle Went, worries about the health of her family. “This isn’t just one or two rats, it's thousands and thousands,” she said. "They will be looking for food and water…they could infest our home… I walk my dog…you see them crawling, they’re like molten lava under that place.”


Mansfield agreed the situation was urgent. “It’s up to us to work with them (the health department). They’re trying to figure out how to move forward.”


Hastings Police chief Jeff Pratt noted that the owner and residents have been very cooperative.


Richard Tinkler, resident in the area, suggested two quick ways to kill rats, saying if they take the food away at the mill, “the rats will go all over… I’m just one of the residents in that area. I know you’re working on it.”


Councilman Bill Redman said he is very concerned about the problem and assured the residents that the matter would be kept at a high priority for the council. Councilman John Resseguie said he is also very concerned: “We are on top of this; we will not let it slide.”

UPDATE: Driver, victim named in fatal U.S.131 crash

UPDATE: Allegan County Sheriff’s Office has updated information on an Aug. 13 crash that caused the death of Sean Michael Barone, 29, from the Wayland area, and sent another man, Alexander Madison Wieland, 22, from the Plainwell area, to the hospital with serious injuries.


The Barone vehicle was initially reported as facing the wrong way on the shoulder of the southbound lanes of U.S 131 Highway.  Prior to officers arriving on scene the vehicle was traveling the wrong way and several vehicles had to swerve to avoid the hitting it. 

Wieland was unable to avoid the Barone vehicle and struck it head on, causing severe damage which led to a fire in the engine compartment, the update said.


The fire was held at bay by responding officers using fire extinguishers until Wayland Fire Department arrived and extinguished it completely.  Wieland was transported to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital with a severe leg injury and concussion-like symptoms. Barone was transported to Metro Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. 

Both drivers were wearing seatbelts and alcohol is believed to be a factor in regard to Barone, the update said.



Allegan County Sheriff’s deputies and officers from the Gun Lake Tribal and Wayland police departments responded Sunday to U.S.131 on a report of a head-on crash, a vehicle on fire and a vehicle with no lights on, according to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office. 


Officers found a vehicle on fire with a person still trapped inside. Using fire extinguishers, officers were able to suppress the fire so other officers could extricate the 22 year old plainwell occupant, who was transported to Spectrum Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.


The driver of a second vehicle a 29 year old wayland man died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash.

Through witness statements and evidence on scene, it is believed that the deceased driver was travelling northbound in the southbound lanes of the expressway north of the Shelbyville exit when it struck the victim’s vehicle causing it to catch fire.


Victims names will be released after notification of family.



Rollover Crash Near Middleville

Two individuals were taken to area hospitals Sunday with serious injuries following a rollover crash south of Middleville. According to the police report the crash took place on M-37 near Fawn Avenue in Thornapple Township.

There were two individuals in the car and both suffered serious injuries, but none appeared to be life-threatening. The crash remains under investigation.

Is TOST over?

The Eaton County Board of Commissioners has on its Aug. 16 agenda a resolution “strongly recommending” they rescind its participation in the TOST regulation administered by the combined Barry Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD).


Depending on the votes of commissioners, dropping the controversial regulation will create many questions that will quickly demand answers.


Barry County residents have complained of the regulation mandating inspection of on-site septic and water systems and replacement of systems deemed failing before the sale or transfer of property in Barry and Eaton counties.


The resolution from Eaton County Commission’s Health and Human Services Committee and put on the agenda by its chair Barbara Rogers, first surfaced in late May, but did not appear on the county commission agenda until now.


Eaton County officials contacted the first week in June either did not know about the resolution or said they had heard some talk, but had seen nothing on paper.


Pointing to large budget deficits for 2018 and recognizing, “this is just the beginning of reductions by the county,” the committee’s resolution gave, “its strong recommendation that Eaton County immediately cease participation in the Time Of Sale or Transfer  (T.O.S.T) program, thereby eliminating its cost of staffing and other associated costs of implementation, management and operation.”


Meanwhile, in a move prompted by Barry County Commission Chairman Ben Geiger, a public survey, available until Sept. 30 and an Aug. 22  public meeting will let commissioners hear Barry County resident’s opinions on TOST. Geiger has said the views of constituents are expected to drive improvements in TOST when they are brought to the health board which oversees the combined health department.


The health board is made up of three commissioners from each county. Geiger, the health board chair, and Commissioners David Jackson and Dan Parker represent Barry County. Eaton County Commissioners Jane Whitacre, Vice Chair Blake Mulder and Joe Brehler serve their county on the board.


Some of the unanswered questions depending on which way the Eaton County commissioners vote:


If Eaton County does not rescind TOST:

* Will that impact Barry County’s participation and the plans already in motion?


If Eaton County does rescind its participation in TOST:

* Will approval ramp up calls to separate Barry County from the BEDHD and maintain its own health department?


* How will it affect the BEDHD operations? It’s budget?


* Can Eaton County legally drop TOST by simple resolution?


* How much money does Eaton County forecast they will save in a year?


* How much money will BEDHD lose in a year?


* Can/will the BEDHD administer the program in just Barry County?


* How will Barry County commissioners respond to certain renewed pressure to also rescind the regulation?


* How many wells and septic systems have been deemed failed during TOST in Barry County and Eaton County, and at how much cost to property owners in both counties?


* Is the upcoming change in the division of financial support by the counties of the combined departments a factor in the recommendation?


* Are there any estimates available on how much it would cost to have a separate Barry County Health Department? //



Vocal critics have been to Barry County Commission meetings repeatedly since the program’s inception 10 years ago complaining about the regulation that was meant to assure clean water and adequate septic service to county residents and protect the environment.


Many maintained that the regulation was being unevenly and arbitrarily enforced, that working systems that had adequate water and sewer were condemned and replacement forced, the fees charged are a burden for property owners, that a regulation with the force of law is unconstitutional and that the health department uses the regulation to bring all systems up to the present day codes, which is prohibited in the regulation.


When Barry County residents protested the health department’s administration of the regulation, they asked and, at times demanded, that Barry County commissioners rescind it. They were told the county attorney’s opinion was there was no legal mechanism to repeal it and so there was nothing they could do.


The Eaton County TOST resolution reads:

WHEREAS, Eaton County is facing a large budget deficit for fiscal year 2018 and;


WHEREAS, the Eaton County Board of Commissioners have tasked each committee, subcommittee and board with budget reductions and;


WHEREAS, the Health and Human Services committee also recognizes that this is only the beginning of such reductions and;


WHEREAS, the Health and Human Services committee recognizes the seriousness of this task and has given due diligence to this decision, therefore be it


RESOLVED, that the Health and Human Services Committee makes its strong recommendation that Eaton County immediately cease participation in the Time Of Sale or Transfer  (T.O.S.T) program thereby eliminating its cost of staffing and other associated costs of implementation, management and operation.



Treasury warning residents of state debt payment scam

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Treasury is asking residents to be alert for a new scam that implies the federal government will pay their outstanding state tax debts or other state debts.

Within the last month, the state Treasury Department has noticed an increase in cases where individuals are attempting to pay their outstanding state debts with routing numbers from two U.S. Department of Treasury Bureaus – the Financial Management Service (FMS) and the Bureau of the Public Debt (BPD). Individuals are using these federal routing numbers with their Social Security Number as the checking account number and listing the bank as either the FMS or the BPD. 

As a part of this scam, the U.S. Department of Treasury warns that groups are holding seminars throughout the United States that fraudulently teach attendees to use these federal routing numbers to resolve their outstanding government debts.

“Please do not fall for this scam,” said Deputy Treasurer Ann Good, head of Treasury’s Financial and Administrative Services Group. “Individuals who try to pay their state debts in this way will have their payment rejected. Treasury will work with you to resolve your outstanding debts.”

Individuals who think they may have an outstanding state tax debt or other state debt are encouraged to call state Treasury Department’s Office of Collections at 517-636-5265.

For more information about state tax debt or other state debt collections, go to

Three Car Crash

76 year old Ruth Prusinski of Ada died from injuries suffered in a three car crash on Wednesday.

The Kent County Sheriff's Office said the accident occured at the intersection of Byron Center Avenue and 76th street in Byron Township.

 A 2017 Cadillac SUV driven by 83 year old Bruce Fase of Ada traveling south on Byron Center Avenue struck a 1998 Dodge Durango driven by 61 year old Timothy Daymon of Bryon Center..  The Cadillac then struck a  northbound 2017 Jeep driven by 75 year old Gerrit Schoilten of Byron Center.

 All three driver were taken to nearby hospitals with non-life threatening injuries.

Alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the crash.


Barry County TOST review survey underway

The Barry County Board of Commissioners is offering residents multiple ways to share their thoughts and experiences on the Time of Sale or Transfer (TOST) program.


Buyers, sellers, industry professionals and interested residents can take a short survey at from now through September 30. Additionally, the county is holding a public listening session on Tuesday, August 22 at 7:00pm at Star Elementary School, 1900 Star School Rd, Hastings. After September 30, the Board of Commissioners will evaluate the feedback and offer recommendations for improvement.


"This initiative is all about listening. The feedback Commissioners receive on TOST experiences will show what's working, and what isn't working for our residents.” said Commissioner Ben Geiger. “While this regulation plays a role in protecting public health, we must listen and learn how it is impacting local residents."


Since 2007, the TOST program requires that private wells and on-site sewage systems be evaluated to make sure they are functioning adequately and safely before a sale or transfer of a property can occur.

Barry County Election Millage Results

Tuesdays election voter turnout was low as the numbers show.

Hastings Area School System Operating Millage Renewal.

952 Yes   834 No.

Barry Intermediate School District Special Education Millage Proposal.

1,263 Yes     1,467  No


Orangeville Township Fire Millage

174 Yes  121 No

Middleville Veterans Memorial to be dedicated Aug. 19

The public is invited to the dedication of Middleville’s Veterans Memorial on Aug. 19 at 11 a.m. presented by Friends of the Middleville Veterans Memorial.

The project has been in the works since 2010, when a small group met at the Middle Villa Inn and talked about ideas for a memorial, recalls past president of the group, Jerry Walsh.


Ideas were still being formed when the group learned about the 7 foot by 11’ foot granite walls salvaged from Upjohn headquarters; four of the slabs were purchased and the current layout was developed, with Middleville area veteran’s pavers on the inside.


“The large vertical wall will carry the names of those Killed in Action from WWI up to 2009. There is room to add more, unfortunately,” Walsh said.


Originally it was planned to pay for the $100,000 project by selling the pavers at $100, since there is a large number of veterans from the Middleville area, but it soon became apparent they needed to reach out for other donors, he said.

“While we have four partners at $10,000 each, more than 50 percent of the entire fund-raising came from donations of $1,000 or less,” he said.


The group petitioned the village council for the property and was granted the site for the memorial. Welsh has maintained a historical book and newspaper article collection for an eventual museum.

The memorial is just north of the Community Pavilion in the center of the village.











Photo: An artist’s rendering of the Middleville Veterans Memorial


Bicyclist hit by Car

68 year old Jim Steenwik of Zeeland was hit by car Sunday morning  around 8:45 while riding his bicycle on Wildwood road in Barry County's Orangeville township.

State Police Troopers from Hastings said a individual found Steenwik in a ditch along side  the road thinking he suffered a medical issure, only to learn he was struck by a car that failed to stop.

Steenwik was taken to a nearby hospital where he remains in stable condition.

Through their investigation Troopers identified a 40 year old Shelbyville woman as the driver of the vehicle.   Damage to her vehicle matched that of the bicycle.

Charges are pending at this time.



Update - Ionia County accident kills woman, injures three others

UPDATE: In reference to the fatal crash at M-21 and Johnson Road investigated by the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office on August 5, 2017 and the subject of any earlier press release, the decedent is identified as Tiffany Kreager-Sochor, 45 of Muir, MI.


The other occupants of the vehicle were transported and treated at Spectrum Butterworth in Grand Rapids, MI.  They are identified as:


Eric Sochor, 40 of Muir, MI

Jeffrey Miller, 47 of Muir, MI

Marlena Miller, 36 of Muir, MI


Alcohol was believed to be a contributing factor in this crash, however, the exact circumstances of this crash are still under investigation and further details are not being released at this time.   
ORIGINAL STORY:  On Saturday, August 5th, 2017, at 3:54 a.m. Deputies with the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office responded to a single car accident on W. Bluewater Hwy, west of Johnson road in Easton Township. 
Deputies said a 2014 Mazda was eastbound on Bluewater Hwy (M-21) when it left the south side of the road, drove through a yard and into a wooded area and collided with a tree.
A 45 year old woman from Fenwick was pronounced dead on the scene. Three occupants of the vehicle also sustained minor injuries and were transported to an area hospital for 
Alcohol is believed to be a factor in the accident. The incident is still under investigation at this time. Assisting at the scene were the Michigan State Police, Saranac Fire Department, Lehman Funeral home, Life Ambulance, and Reed & Hoppes Towing.

BCUW again heading drive for backpacks with school supplies for Barry County students

With school just around the corner and the list of needed school supplies weighing on families, Barry County United Way (BCUW) has once again partnered with many in the community to address the need by giving away backpacks filled with school supplies.


"Each year we see an increase in the number of families that need assistance purchasing school supplies so we are very thankful that Hastings City Bank and so many others are partnering with us on this project.  This program will allow families to focus on their basic needs instead of how to include this added expense in their monthly budget,”  BCUW Executive Director Lani Forbes said.


Distribution will take place the week of Aug. 21 to children living in homes at 200 percent of the poverty level or below. Those interested in receiving a backpack can determine eligibility by calling the BCUW at 269-945-4010.  Once eligibility is determined, a time will be scheduled for the child to “shop” for their supplies.


Those who wish to contribute school supplies are invited to drop them off at any Hastings City Bank branch in Bellevue, Caledonia, Hastings, Marshall, Middleville, Nashville and Wayland. Items may also be dropped off at Thornapple Credit Union, Walker, Fluke and Sheldon, Barry County United Way, Welcome Corners Church and Grace Lutheran Church this year.//


The lower level at Hastings City Bank will provide backpacks to Barry County children in Kindergarten to 12th grade who need additional support for the coming school year. Grace Lutheran Church will be providing the supplies and backpacks for Pre-K and Young 5’s.  “We are looking forward to providing our assistance to the youngest of those starting their education experience,” Pastor Paul Kuhlman said.


In addition to new backpacks without wheels, items needed for each backpack include:


Middle / High School Level                           Elementary School Level

5 – notebooks                                                 scissors

5 – pocket folders                                           pencils

calculators                                                      pencil box

pencils                                                            colored pencils

colored pencils                                               washable markers

colored markers                                              glue sticks

highlighters                                                      hand sanitizer

1" three ring binders                                       construction paper

dry erase markers and erasers                       

lined paper for three ring binder                       ruler

index cards                                                       crayons

pens                                                                  pencil sharpener with lid



computer mouse



Pre K and Young 5’s

a box of pencils                                              12-16 color crayons

highlighters (1-2)                                             2 glue sticks

pencil top erasers                                           2 cardboard pocket folder

2 dry erase markers                                        blunt tipped scissors

tissue boxes                                                    pencil box

water bottle                                                     hand sanitizer


Last year, 408 children received school supplies and a backpack.  “We are thankful for those in our community that choose to partner with us as well,” said Nancy Goodin, marketing director at Hastings City Bank. “Our employees are really excited about helping with this special project and we hope our friends and customers will join us in this project, as well,” she said.


“One of my favorite parts of this program is that the children get choices – they choose which backpack, pencil box, scissors, notebooks, etc.  It gives them a sense of ownership and they feel good heading off to school with their choice of school supplies,” she said.

Those with questions are asked to call the BCUW at 269-945-4010.



Planning for sewer service to Gilmore Car Museum moves ahead

Sewer service to Gilmore Car Museum and possibly Hickory Corners, is moving forward with the Southwest Barry County Sewer and Water Authority, Gilmore Car Museum and Fleis &Vandenbrink Engineering officials discussing preliminary plans on the projects, according to Scott Monroe, plant manager/interim general manager of the sewer and water authority.


F&V has submitted a proposal to the authority on the design and permitting of a sanitary force main extension. An option being considered for Gilmore is installing a sanitary pump station on the south side of West Hickory Road, going east on Hickory Road, north on Hallock Road, west on Osborne Road onto authority property, to connect directly to the wastewater treatment plant, Monroe said. 


Gilmore would abandon its present septic system in favor of new infrastructure going to the proposed pump station. The new station would be a solid-handling pumping system so wastewater would gravity flow to the pump station, and be moved through the force main to the treatment plant, he said.


Gilmore would be responsible for its gravity feed system, the authority would own, operate, maintain and replace the pump station and discharge force main.

Connecting to an existing force main on Osborne Road was considered but failed to meet state requirements.


Fleis & Vandenbrink’s proposed fee of $67,000 for the project would include field work and elevations along the proposed sewer route, locating existing utilities, preparing drawings based on an aerial map, completing design and technical specifications for the sewer and pump station, and preparing an easement for Gilmore’s signature for the pump station on museum property, the F&V proposal said.


The engineering firm would obtain all the permits required, and address all comments from permitting agencies, including the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Barry County offices, handle the bidding process for contractors and complete the engineering and construction, including a pump station startup, it said.


If the authority opts to continue with plans to also serve Hickory Corners, Fleis & Vandenbrink would do the engineering for $26,000.


Final numbers for the total projects are not yet available.


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 Summer Events and School Plans

It is already August and planning for the 2017-18 school year is well underway.  We have been busy with professional learning, scheduling, and technology and facility maintenance. We are excited to begin another successful school year at Maple Valley Schools.


The summer has included:

*130+ students in summer school during the month of July

* 650+ PALM Bicyclers camping out on our high school campus

* 6000+ summer lunch meals served to date

*Hiring a new Principal and two teachers

* Kindergarten Camp – August 8-10

* Installing air conditioning at the elementary buildings

* Back to School Celebration at Thorn Apple Estates


Professional learning sessions in the areas of:

                        1.     Social Studies Curriculum

2.     Reading and Math Training

3.     Administration collaboration

4.     Assessment

5.     Instructional software preparation

6.     Third Grade Reading Law expectations


Future planning including:

Ø     Maple Valley Skilled Trades Education Programs

Ø     Expansion of Little Lions Daycare and Preschool Programs

Ø     Improved marketing materials of the district

Ø     International exchange student program exploration

Ø     Implementation of the SMART Boot security system


Our opening day for staff as well as our open houses will be held on August 17. If you have any questions about our district, please do not hesitate to visit our website, Facebook, or download our mobile application.  We value our school-family partnerships."


Eaton County alerts Delta Township to outdoor siren test

Eaton County Central Dispatch has issued a warning of testing of outdoor sirens for Delta Township on Saturday, Aug. 5 at 1 p.m.

If there is a threat of severe weather on the day of a test, it will be cancelled. The sirens are tested at 1 p.m. on the first Saturday of every month.


Except for scheduled testing, the sirens will be activated if:

* The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning.

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

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

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


The warning siren is a signal for the public to immediately go indoors and monitor local Emergency Alert System media outlets for official information.

Residents can also sign-up for emergency notifications at or by texting the word EATON to 888777. The sirens are triggered when appropriate by central dispatch, but are maintained by local government.


Barry County Commissioners praised for "standing their ground"

Three Barry County Commissioners were complimented Tuesday by citizen Bob Vanderboegh for their demeanor at a Barry Eaton District Health Department health board meeting he attended last Thursday.


Vanderboegh said the reception by Eaton County commissioners to a planned Barry County Commission review of the department’s TOST regulation was, “less than positive. It was almost like our commissioners were being chastised as if they were children.

“I think it was very unprofessional and I commend our commissioners for standing their ground and holding to their guns.”


The health board oversees the combined health departments.It  is made up of three commissioners from each county. Commissioners Ben Geiger, who is board chair, David Jackson and Dan Parker represent Barry County on the BEDHD health board. Eaton County Commissioners Jane Whitacre, Vice Chair Blake Mulder and Joe Brehler serve their county on the board.

Backers say a survey of residents, a public meeting to take input and a telephone survey will lead to improvements in the 10-year old regulation.


TOST calls for inspection of on-site sewer and water systems and repair or replacement of systems deemed failing before the sale or transfer of property in both counties protects the environment.


Critics contend the regulation is too costly, administrated arbitrarily and unfairly, and brings exiting systems up to the present day codes, which is prohibited in the regulation.


In other matters Tuesday, Commissioners Geiger and Vivian Conner will visit Washington D.C. on Aug. 8 and attend a White House conference meant to develop a working relationship between

Michigan county commissioners and federal agencies. A tour of the White House is part of the day.


No taxpayer funds are involved, both intend to pay the full cost of their trips.


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

Geiger called it, “a unique opportunity that doesn’t come along very often.”

Conner said she will never have a better chance to visit the nation’s capital. Geiger is flying in and out the same day; Conner is going to stay a few days and take in the sights.

Dr. Weatherhead receives Distinguished Physician Society Award

James Weatherhead, MD, retired family physician in Hastings, was recently recognized along with six others for his significant contributions to Spectrum Health, receiving the Distinguished Physician Society Award.

Weatherhead is one of only 82 physicians who have been recognized for their clinical practice and leadership since 1997.











Photo: James Weatherhead MD.


Nation's largest longbow-only event coming to Charlton Park

Archery enthusiasts looking for a weekend of fun and friendly competition are invited to the annual Great Lakes Longbow Invitational at Historic Charlton Park, Aug. 11-13. 


Admission is $6 for those 16 and up, gate fees and activities are free for children 15 and under.  


The event includes archery-related activities for all ages and skill levels, including tomahawk throwing, breaking clays at the ‘Ol Sagamore Turkey Shoot, and a chance to hear archery experts around the campfire.


A coached children’s range with bows and arrows provided is available for young archers beginning their longbow adventure. A nondenominational church service will be in the Carlton Center Church Sunday at 8 a.m. //


Archery vendors will sell custom made items and a trade blanket and barn raffle will be for those looking to barter or pick up archery odds and ends.  Demonstrations include bow building and flint knapping.//


The meet is hosted by the Michigan Longbow Association. The group, formed in 1983 by a small group of longbow enthusiasts, promotes using the longbow, and takes pleasure in the camaraderie of other traditional archers who enjoy the sport.   

“Our goal as MLA members is simple: teach people about the longbow and archery, and promote an appreciation of the outdoors.  There are few activities as inclusive and unifying as archery, and the longbow is a beacon for all of the above. We love nothing more than sharing it with folks," MLA President John Buchin, said.  For details, visit






Photos: (upper left) Competitions for all ages and skill levels dominate the Longbow event. This file photo shows just one of the contests.


(lower left) Children and youths practice their aim at set-ups especially for them at the Longbow days at Charlton Park. This one has a jurassic theme.

Night Out is a big hit with 1,500 to 2,000 Barry County area visitors

Hastings deputy Police Chief Dale Boulter, who is credited with the idea and putting together a committee to organize the national Night Out couldn’t be happier with the successful first-time event held Tuesday, especially with the “awesome” turnout, conservatively estimated at between 1,500 and 2,000 people.


The Night Out is to let the community get to know Barry County firefighters, Michigan State Police troopers, Barry County deputies, Hastings and other police officers, EMTs, Barry Central Dispatch 911, and ambulance personnel who protect and serve the community.


The emergency personnel brought their equipment, explained their jobs, and encouraged kids to climb into their fire trucks, cruisers and ambulances and try on their gear.

Barry Central Dispatch taught kids how to dial 911, the Barry County Road Commission offered a huge orange snow plow blade for everyone to autograph, an ongoing raffle gave away lots of prizes, and free hot dogs, chips and bottled water were just some of the attractions.


Boulter definitely plans to hold another Night Out next year, especially after all the good comments he’s getting about the first event in Hastings. The morning after, with all the planning, work and organizing over, Boulter said: “I’m ecstatic; this is like Christmas morning.”


“The main thing for me, is I’m super proud to be the host agency for all of Barry County. All of the agencies were great, and Barry County businesses contributions were great, too.”

“We’ll hold a post-event meeting to go over everything, but we definitely plan to do it again next year. It’s a lot of work but the community is certainly worth it.” 



Photos: left, top to bottom.
Parents line up so their kids can learn how to dial 911 for help.
Deputy Police Chief Dale Boulter talks with visitors to the first Night Out.
This lad hit the red button, and volunteer Judge Michael Schipper goes into the dunk tank again.
The Fire House has tours pointing out fire hazards and giving fire safety tips to kids.
Aiden Lilly, 4, signs the county snow plow blade while Kelly Concannon waits her turn.
Hundreds enjoyed a free hot dog at the first Night Out in Hastings.
Freeport firefighters help kids run the fire hose to knock the targets down.
Cameron VanderHuis shows 911 director Phyllis Fuller that he can call 911.
This little girl was content just to look at the python in the reptile tent. 
Photos: right, top to bottom.
Easton Carley will have to grow some before a firefighter's gear will fit. Volunteer Tammy Pennington helps with the gear.
Daddy touches the alligator in the reptile tent; she chooses to just watch.
Serenity Endres, 2, finds the Johnstown firefighter's  helmet is pretty heavy for a little girl..
Proper stance, right control of the hose; Dylan Krueger, 5, may be a future firefighter.

Decision on mini-excavator for Barry County drain work delayed

Several Barry County Commissioners praised Drain Commissioner Jim Dull for his enthusiasm, his working to save taxpayers money, looking at the big picture and the future of the drain system in the county, and generally moving the department in the right direction.


However, several commissioners had concerns enough that they tabled his request to get more definitive information on a request he made Tuesday. Dull asked to buy a mini-excavator for up to $42,000 to pull trees and limbs from county drains, improving their efficiency.


Dull said he and deputy Drain Commissioner Tammy Berdecia would remove debris from drains for four hours every other week, with him operating the excavator. Independent contractors have trouble finding  time to do such small projects, and it's not financially profitable for them, and renting equipment and hiring an operator is time consuming and about as expensive as a general contractor, he said.


An outside contractor charges $110 an hour for the machine, $35 an hour for labor, plus $300 or $400 mobilization costs. Renting would end up costing about $550 for the first hour, he said.

Cost to the county would be $290 an hour, if they had the equipment and they did the work, Dull said.


Questions on cost of the unit, who would do the maintenance, what effect it would have on the budget, the cost of training an operator, the effect on liability and workman’s compensation insurance, and how much time Dull would be taken away from his regular administration of the drain office were some of the concerns that led to the delay in a decision.


“I want you overseeing things…my concern is we’re leaping into something that we will find out quickly is something we never should have done,” said Commissioner Dan  Parker. “I love your exuberance, but what you are trying to do is not proper at this time.”

Commissioner Heather Wing said Dull was elected to administrate the drain office, not to be a laborer operating equipment.


Commissioner Ben Geiger told Dull he was asking for a shift in policy to a more government-centered organization, “where we do the work, and the private sector doesn’t...we haven’t gone through your first budget…show us the line items… show us at budget time where we can save money…”


Parker summed it up, saying they needed to learn more, that more information leads to better decisions. The issue will be brought up again no later than the Sept. 5 committee of the whole meeting, and possibly sooner.//


In other business, the commissioners recommended approval of the renewal of the Child Care Fund and budget to be submitted to the state by Aug. 15, and the purchase of new kitchen equipment for the Barry County Jail at a cost of up to $32,000, to be paid from the capital improvement fund. The recommendations will be considered at the regular board of commissioners meeting next week.


Some area schools to start classes before Labor Day

The usual before-school sales have already started and families are thinking about  gearing up for the 2017-2018 school year. Some parents will have less time to prepare if their school districts start classes before the Labor Day holiday.

Some 120 school districts have obtained waivers from the Michigan Department of Education to allow classes to begin before Labor Day. The following is a listing of area schools and their start dates, according to their websites.


*Hastings Area School System: Monday, Aug. 28


*Maple Valley Public Schools: Monday, Aug. 21


*Delton Kellogg Schools: Tuesday, Sept. 5


*Thornapple Kellogg Schools: Tuesday, Aug. 22


*Lakewood Public Schools: Wednesday, Aug. 23


*Caledonia Community Schools: Monday, Aug. 28


*Wayland Union Schools: Tuesday, Sept.5.


*Barry County Christian School, Tuesday, Sept. 5




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