Local News Archives for 2017-10

Three suffer minor injuries in Usborne, Brown Road crash

A traffic crash Monday night at the intersection of Brown and Usborne roads resulted in minor injuries to three people, one a pregnant woman.

Barry County Sheriff’s Deputy Barry Brandt reports that he and Sgt. Tim Stevens responded to the crash at the Usborne and Brown road intersection at 7:40 p.m.


A SUV northbound on Usborne Road failed to stop at the stop sign and collided with a pickup westbound on Brown Road carrying a man and his pregnant wife, he said.

The SUV driver and the couple in the pickup were transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth in Grand Rapids, all with minor injuries.


“They were very lucky,” Brandt said.

Names of those involved were not immediately available.

Mercy Ambulance, Nashville EMS, Freeport and Woodland fire departments and Spencer Towing assisted Brandt and Stevens at the scene.

**Just an Observation...

**The original intent of this piece was to highlight a few of the good things happening in Hastings; a new business and shop in town. But when you start to look at the “right” things about Hastings, where do you stop?


If you deliberately looked for a city that is a good place to live, work and play, you couldn’t find a better choice than the City of Hastings. “What a nice small town,” is often heard from visitors, some even write the City Council to say they enjoyed their time in town.


That doesn’t come without a lot of work by a lot of people over a lot of time.

Look at the town. Flowers and art on street corners, special events almost non-stop, a Farmers Market all summer, and a beautiful courthouse square are all assets.


Hastings has a low crime rate, with a commitment from police to community policing, clean, modern water and wastewater services, an efficient, friendly public services department, and tree-lined sidewalks in the downtown and residential areas.


Established neighborhoods are well kept, with officials preparing for more commercial development and millennials. Developers and Hastings officials anticipate an influx of young people as downtown residents. An apartment building is set for the corner of Apple and Michigan and upstairs apartments throughout the downtown are ready or near-ready for occupancy.


Almost any choice of food you want, with your preference of atmosphere while dining, are here too.

Commercial development in and on the edge of town, Walgreens, the Holiday Inn Express and Jet’s Pizza, San Marco’s Mexican restaurant, Bigby Coffee, Aldi and new pharmacies continues and are being added to all the time.


The site plan for a Dollar General on South Hanover, has been approved, and the Short Stop, in the former Vitale’s building, is open for business and drawing customers.

A convenience store with a twist, the Short Stop, has kept most of Vitale’s menu, takes to-go orders and stocks an array of items that people most often need.


Also new downtown are a cookie/soup/salad shop, an artisan who creates her own porcelain dolls and the Plucky Knitters Studio, who have customers from around the country and the world.

Several niche boutiques attract shoppers. There is talk that Arby’s is coming back to Hastings and Jimmie Johns may locate a franchise here.


Even the location works for Hastings. Those who want a more urban scene once and a while, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Battle Creek are within easy driving distance.

Hastings residents have Gun Lake or any number of smaller lakes nearby to swim, canoe, fish, or kayak. Several thousands bicyclists visit the city during the Barry Roubaix and hundreds more take part in the Macker, also an annual event.


The Hastings City Barry County Airport has built several new hangers for more private planes, a jet fuel station and an extended runway for corporate jets. A radio station and newspaper keep residents up on local interests. 


The Thornapple River, parks, special entertainment events, a splash pad for kids, trolley rides in the summer, a variety of community events, many with parades, bring a vibrant tempo to the town, with volunteers and supporters always looking for more reasons for folks to visit Hastings to see what the city offers.


The newest downtown attraction, the Thornapple Plaza, has drawn thousands into Hastings in its first summer concert season. Thanks to years of cooperation by Hastings, Rutland Township and Barry County  planners, commercial development is centered along the main/east west corridor through the area, keeping the countryside open, simple and natural just minutes from the city.


People work every day to make Hastings a better place by volunteering, funding projects, working to constantly improve its basic structure, along with citizens who support their city with property taxes and millage are far, far too many to name.

Just be glad they are here, and hope the next generation, when it’s their turn, will continue to build on what they have been given.


Even in a long article like this, much is not mentioned. I think every resident in the city could name something else entirely that makes Hastings a good place to live, work and play for them.


Jean Gallup

Daylight saving time ends Nov. 5, turn clocks back one hour

Love it or hate it, adjusting clocks for daylight saving time’s beginning and ending is an annual ritual we live with.

Those who protest the turning back of clocks in fall and ahead in the spring, or just forget, are frequently early or late for church on Sunday, depending on the season.


This Sunday, Nov. 5 at 2 a.m. is when we “fall back,” so clocks should be turned back an hour before bed Saturday night.  On March 11, 2018, you will be reminded to, “spring ahead.”

Remember to vote Nov. 7, one week from today

Barry County voters are reminded to vote in the Tuesday, Nov. 7 election, one week from today.

One county-wide issue is on the ballot; a proposal for a new Barry County Commission on Aging facility.

The COA request is for millage to raise $5,450,000 to pay for demolishing the present building, constructing a new, 22,500 square foot building on the same site, site work, commercial kitchen equipment and other improvements. The millage would be for 20 years; 0.0593 mills for the first year and then 0.1669 mills a year until the bonds are paid.


It is estimated that a property in Barry County with a taxable value of $50,000 would pay $2.97 the first year and $8.35 a year thereafter.


Voters in the Hastings Area School System District will decide two millage requests:

Bond Proposal 1 seeks approval of a 15-year bond, extending the current millage by four years to produce $10.5 million to improve school buildings, for technology instruction and to develop and improve the middle school site for 0.85 mills the first year, which is no increase over the prior year’s levy.

The maximum number of years the bonds may be outstanding is 15 years. The estimated annual millage required to retire the bond debt is 1.53 mills, ($1.53 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation).


Bond Proposal 11 requests approval of a 25-year bond issue that will produce $19.5 million. The levy in 2018 would be 1.35 mills, or a 0.5 mill increase over the prior year’s levy.

The estimated simple average annual millage of 1.87 mills would be levied in the remaining years until the bonds are paid and is being offset by a loan from the State School Bond Qualification and Loan Program to help pay the bonds and lessen the impact on taxpayers.


The funding would be for technology, a new transportation office building, stadium concession building and press box, buses, upgrading athletic facilities and improving school buildings.


Orangeville Township voters in the Martin School District are asked to approve renewal of 18.6524 mills for two years for school operations. The millage is levied against all property, except a principal residence and other exempted property, and is expected to raise approximately $560,645 in 2018.


Hastings Halloween on Green Street, parking restriction, Coffee with the Chief coming up

Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt reminds Hastings residents that Green Street will be closed from Broadway to Cass Street from  5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Halloween, Oct. 31 for the annual trick or treating event for Hastings kids. The police department will set up a tent at the intersection of Green Street and Broadway and again hand out hot chocolate and candy.


Also, starting Nov. 1, parking on city streets will be prohibited from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. to allow for snow plowing of the streets, Pratt said. He said officers will issue courtesy citations for the first week or so.


Hastings residents are invited to the next Coffee with the Chief on Wednesday, Nov. 1 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the upstairs conference room in the Hastings Public Library. “This is a great forum to listen to suggestions and make Hastings a better place to live, work and play,” he said.



Health Insurance Open Enrollment time is shorter this year

The Ionia County Health Department advises you act now.

The Health Insurance Marketplace Open Enrollment starts Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 15. This enrollment period is just half as long as in previous years.


Schedule your free appointment with the Ionia

County Health Department at 616-527-5341 for help understanding and applying for Marketplace



“Because the enrollment period is so short, people can’t put off enrolling, or re-enrolling, in the Marketplace this year,” said Ken Bowen, Health, Officer for the Ionia County Health Department. “At the Ionia County Health Department, we will help people find the plans that are best for them.”


Plans bought during this Open Enrollment period will start Jan. 1, 2018. If you are already insured through the Marketplace, you should update your information and make sure that your current plan is still the best one for you, your family, and your budget.

Visit your Marketplace account at The health department can also help people understand and apply for Medicaid.

For more information about open enrollment, visit


Superintendent's Platform

WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight news in their districts. This posting is from Lakewood Public Schools Superintendent Randy Fleenor.


“Thank a member of our Transportation Department today!

The week of October 16 was National Bus Safety Week in our district. This is such a critical topic and the information discussed during this week is at the forefront of our thinking every week of the year.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, riding on a school bus is the safest way for children to get to and from school, and school bus accidents account for less than 1 percent of all traffic fatalities each year.


Nonetheless, knowing safe school bus practices and discussing them with your children is paramount to keeping everyone safe on the roads. We hope that the information discussed this week at school and on social media has helped in this endeavor.

You can find all the week’s information on our Facebook timeline or call and we’d be happy to mail it out.


Driving a school bus isn’t an easy job. It takes a special kind of person to board a moving classroom with 30-60 young people, all eager to let loose and get home! But our drivers and paraprofessionals do it with grace and make it look pretty easy.


Our drivers, bus paraprofessionals, office staff, and mechanic staff all work together to ensure we provide the very best care and service possible for our student and parents.


Our district covers roughly 221 square miles and ranks in the top three districts for size in the Lower Peninsula. The day begins around 4:45 AM and ends around 5:00 PM. In the course of one day, routes cover about 2,100 miles. This equates to roughly11,000 miles per week.


Last year, the Board of Education took action to reinstate district-provided transportation to athletic events, ensuring the safety of our athletes and coaches. This was an additional 21,000 annual miles, logged after the school day.


All in all, our drivers travel almost 400,000 miles per year! They provide great service, safely moving approximately 1,500 students a day. Collectively, this team represents over 250 years of experience behind the wheel. These are all impressive numbers. But what is most impressive is the care they demonstrate daily for our children.


Our bus drivers make a difference every day in the lives of our students. For most of our student body, they are the first hello and last good bye. Our drivers have the ability and opportunity to set a positive tone each morning – maybe even turning someone’s day around.


Please join me in saying “thank you” to our drivers, support staff, office staff, and mechanic team for a wonderful job done each and every day.”

Extra caution urged with reduced daylight hours, visibility

The Barry Eaton District Health Department is reminding citizens it is essential they be extra cautious with during the fall and winter seasons.

They have issued some advice. With the reduced daylight hours, people may find themselves doing normal morning or evening activities, such as walking dogs and waiting for school buses, in the dark or near-dark.


Because visibility is decreased at this time of year, it’s important for everyone, both people on the ground and drivers, to be especially cautious.


Pedestrians, bikers, and others who are on or by roadways should consider buying reflective clothing, reflective tape, or lights that they can carry or clip on to themselves so that drivers can see them better and sooner.


Drivers should refrain from using mobile devices, especially cell phones and GPS devices, and other actions that can be distracting, including eating and fiddling with the radio. Drivers should pull over in a safe location to do any activity that is potentially distracting.


Everyone should act with extra caution, and drivers should consider lowering their speed, in areas where roads are narrow, curvy, or hilly. In addition to pedestrians, drivers should also be on the lookout for animals, especially deer.

Barry County 2018 budget adopted, balanced at $16,662,301.

 Completing a process that began in May, the Barry County Commissioners unanimously passed the 2018 balanced budget on Oct. 24, with anticipated general fund revenues and expenses of $16,662,301.

The document was presented by Administrator Michael Brown with a detailed overview of the general fund.


County Commissioner and Chairman Ben Geiger credited the county’s stable financial condition to Brown’s budgeting skills.


 “Michael Brown is a tremendous asset to Barry County and is widely respected for his knowledge, expertise and leadership in local government issues,” he said.


Some excerpts of his report.

The county engaged Michigan State University to conduct a Financial Analysis and Forecast Report for future revenues centered on property taxes in 2011. The county adopted the report, and with an update in 2014, has used it as a financial tool every year since, he said.

Brown credited the MSU report for the county being able to maintain spending levels at or below annual revenue amounts and not having to use the general fund to balance the budgets.


Projections for 2018 revenues came from analysis of current revenues, the history of the revenues, state of the economy and many other influences to incorporate all the known factors affecting the county’s income and be as accurate as possible, so services will not be reduced unnecessarily and future budget amendments minimized, Brown said.


Revenues are budgeted at realistic levels, neither underestimating or overestimating to avoid having to make difficult choices about reducing services, if required.

Property taxes, licenses and permits and federal and state income, charges for service and rents and interest are the sources of income for the county. General fund expenditures for 2018 are projected to fund current staffing and continuation of current levels of spending.


The county’s Standard and Poors Global Ratings affirmed its AA rating with a stable outlook. “Given historical budget performance and forward-looking planning, we do not expect to change the rating during the two year outlook horizon,” it said.//                                                                                                                                               

Also last week, the commission approved:

* $15,000 to the Workforce Development programs. *contracting medical examiner services from the pathology department of WMU Homer Stryker MD Medical School.

* a one-year contract extension with Rehmann auditors for $38,200 to complete the 2017 audits and then to seek proposals from auditing firms for a five-year-contract.

* the Barry County 2017 apportionment report

* an Emergency Management Performance grant for 2017

* 2018 state grant contracts for Barry County specialty courts.

* updates to the county IT technology policy

* Farmland and Open Space Preservation program (PA 116) requests from Ronald and Amanda Hoeksma in Irving Township, and Kristopher and Stacy Javor, Burdock Hill Land LLC, and John and Elizabeth Lenz, for property in Carlton Township.





Human remains found by Otsego Township hunter investigated

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office is reporting they responded to a call Oct. 29 after a local hunter discovered what he thought were human remains in Otsego Township.


After a thorough search of the area, it was determined that the bones found were human and had been there for some time. 

“At this time we do not feel that foul play was a factor, but this case is still under investigation as we wait for identification of the remains,” Captain Scott Matice said. 


The sheriff’s office was assisted by Plainwell Department of Public Safety, Michigan State Police and Western Michigan University’s forensic team.

Gun Lake Tribe donates $35,000 to Red Cross to honor its citizens who have passed

The Gun Lake Tribe made $35,000 in donations to the West Michigan and Southwest Michigan Chapters of the American Red Cross this week.  The funding was in honor of Gun Lake Tribal citizens who passed away in 2017. The donations were made in addition to those the Gun Lake Casino made for hurricane relief efforts in Texas and Florida.


Retired Chairman D.K. Sprague has volunteered with the American Red Cross for decades. He lost his daughter, Leah Sprague-Fodor, unexpectedly in September and suggested that donations be made in her honor and three other citizens who walked on this year.


“This is a bittersweet occasion,” remarked the Gun Lake Tribe’s Chairman, Scott Sprague. “While we’re honored to donate these funds to such a worthy cause, we’re still mourning the loss of our brothers and sisters this year. We’re glad we could find such a meaningful way to honor their memory.”


D.K. Sprague is looking forward to seeing the funds used for much needed upgrades to the Red Cross’s infrastructure, and other resources that help them perform the amazing work they do for so many people in need.


“We’re so thankful for the generosity of organizations like yours,” commented Mike Mitchell, Executive Director of the West Michigan American Red Cross. “The Red Cross does not receive government funds and relies mainly on donations such as this to provide emergency and disaster relief both locally and abroad.”

Drinking water warning in Freeport issued by BEDHD

The Barry Eaton District Health Department has issued a warning on Freeport’s water. The order, in its entirety, reads:

“During the fighting of a structure fire on Friday, October 27, failure of a valve occurred on the fire truck and caused raw water from the Little Thornapple River, mixed with firefighting foam, to be pumped into the water supply through a fire hydrant.


The foam was verified to NOT contain fluorinated compounds, however may cause irritation if exposed to skin, swallowed, or inhaled. In addition, water of unknown quality from the river also likely entered the system along with the foam, which increases the risk of contamination of the water supply.


What should I do?

DO NOT DRINK THE WATER, AND AVOID BODY CONTACT WITH THE WATER. Bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, bathing, and preparing food. Continue using bottled water until further notice.


If you have a severely compromised immune system, have an infant, are pregnant, or are elderly, you may be at increased risk and should seek advice from your health care providers about drinking this water.


What does this mean?

River water is more likely to contain harmful bacteria. It will most certainly contain some level of total coliform bacteria. Total coliform bacteria are generally not harmful themselves. Coliforms are bacteria which are naturally present in the environment and are used as an indicator that other, potentially-harmful, bacteria may be present. Coliforms were found in more samples than allowed and this was a warning of potential problems.


To confirm there is not a risk associated with this incident, we will be testing for total coliform bacteria in the water supply. This will serve as an indicator that the steps we have taken have removed the river water from the drinking water system.


What happened? What is being done?

Immediately following the backflow incident, we began notifying customers in person of a do-not-drink status for the water supply. We also began flushing the system to rid the river water and foam from the system. We will conduct two rounds of bacterial sampling to verify this was successful, prior to lifting this boil water notice.


We will inform you when our sampling shows that no bacteria are detected. We will also continue to flush and examine the water for presence of firefighting foam to ensure there is no risk of body contact with the water.


We anticipate resolving the problem within as soon as possible. In the meantime, please continue using boiled or bottled water until we notify you otherwise.


If you have questions, you may contact Russ Yarger at 616-299-4223. General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by microbes are available from EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.


Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.”

Fire in Freeport

The village of Freeport is without water this weekend do to a fire at Ketchum Machine Shop friday night.

Residents are being urged not to have contact with their water until further notice.

Drinking water will be available for residents at the Freeport Fire Department.

The outage comes after a valve failure during the fire that according to the village the fire retardant ended up breaching the water system.


Spectrum Health Pennock to showcase surgical robot at open house

An open house sponsored by Spectrum Health Pennock on Wednesday, Nov. 1, offers the public a hands-on look at Pennock Hospital’s daVinci® surgical robot.


The free event, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., will showcase the robotic surgical system. Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital surgeons, Max Rappaport, MD, and Andrew Parsons, MD, will offer demonstrations and information about advanced capabilities of the equipment, along with a presentation on robotic surgery, the treatment of hernias and free screenings.


Attendees can operate a simulator version of the new daVinci® robotic-assisted surgery equipment, while learning how this technology makes hernia surgery minimally invasive, which can lead to less pain and shorter recovery time for patients.

Rappaport and Parsons will conduct the free hernia screenings and give a presentation about robotic-assisted surgery. Hernia screenings are first come, first serve, beginning at 4:30 p.m.


“This innovative equipment allows us to provide high quality care to our patients,” said Douglas Smendik MD, division chief, regions Spectrum Health Medical Group. “We are fortunate to have such advanced procedure capabilities right here in Hastings.”

The public is welcome to attend the event. Light hors d’oeuvres and other refreshments will be served.

Barry, Eaton Health Board officials agree to work to make TOST voluntary, other changes

The Barry Eaton District Health Department’s TOST regulation will become a voluntary program offered by the joint health department, and with other changes, be more user-friendly to Barry and Eaton county residents who chose to use the regulation.


Those are the stated goals of a process set in motion Thursday by officials on the health department’s Health Board.


“Me, Dave Jackson and Dan Parker will draft a proposal over the next few weeks with the changes we want in TOST. On Nov.13, we will have a Health Board workshop and on Nov 14, at the Barry County Board of Commissioners meeting, we will report on the workshop and have a status update discussion. After that, we’ll set dates for the next steps,” Barry County Commissioner Ben Geiger said.


TOST calls for inspection of on-site water and sewer systems on property in both counties with repair or replacement mandated before the property can be sold. It has been the target of near-constant criticism by Barry County residents since it’s inception 10 years ago.


The Health Board, three county officials from Barry, three from Eaton County, control the health department. Commissioners Blake Mulder, Jane Whitacre and Joe Brehler are from Eaton County, Geiger, Dan Parker and David Jackson from Barry County.


The proposal from Barry County to revise the unpopular regulation was met with a willingness by Eaton County representatives to work together to find the best way to accomplish it.

Several options were discussed at the Thursday meeting, with pro’s and con’s for each.


“Do we really need any new information?” Whitacre asked during discussion. She suggested a framework, she called it a skeleton, of TOST’s working parts, that the six commissioners could work on changing, each segment, one at a time.

“Don’t rewrite policy, take the pieces of what we’d like to change, work on them,” she said.  “It’s easier than starting over.”


The board agreed it would take some time to work through the process, and it should start right away. The initial meeting could be followed by more, with stake holders sitting in, if it is needed.

“It may be simpler than we think,” Parker said.//


The Barry County Commission by consensus on Oct. 24, agreed the regulation should be voluntary between buyer and seller, the $350 fee to file an appeal removed and timelines set for steps in the process.

“We recognize TOST has validity, by preventing polluting of our lakes and streams,” Geiger said. “We want to protect public health and also protect the right to exchange property.”


A major complaint was the regulation takes away the fundamental right to freely exchange property without permission from the government, he said.


Mulder said the Eaton County Board of Commissioners has less information about the process than Barry commissioners. “They would like to see movement,” he said, “but, it has to come from us.”


Eaton County Commissioner Brian Droscha, who was in the audience, advised against including well drillers, real estate agents and evaluators in meetings. Those mentioned all have financial interests in the rule, he said. “Bottom line, they have a vested interest.” He suggested bringing in home inspectors from outside the TOST area.


Barry County citizens Joyce Snow and Chuck Reid asked that more citizens, buyers and sellers, be brought into the talks.


Mulder wanted assurance that the result was not predetermined and a waste of time, with the outcome already decided, “that we would be doomed to fail.”

 “I’m not wasting anyone’s time,´ Geiger said. “I’m not interested in wasting anyone’s time. We will take action in a responsible way…we didn’t vote to repeal it, we believe we can make it work.”


All agreed the goal was candid and open discussion with honesty and good will.

Whitacre said she was distressed by things she has been hearing; that the health department is in it for the money, of 20 percent pay increases and that they are an evil, corrupt organization.

“It’s not true, but perception is reality…we need to clear away the misunderstandings.”


“The health department gets beaten up unnecessarily,” Geiger said. “It’s our policy…they implement what we pass. To protect public health, we all have to buy into it so we can defend it and explain it.”

Charlton Park hosts community Halloween celebration

Grab your favorite costume and join the staff and volunteers at Historic Charlton Park for an afternoon of family-friendly fun at the All Hallows Eve event from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28.


Bring your own treat bag and enjoy trick or treating in the Historic Village, a maze, wagon rides, a scavenger hunt, pumpkin painting and prizes for best costume in a variety of categories. Refreshments, popcorn balls, donuts and cider will be served. 

Cost is $4 for those age 13 and up;  children 12 and younger are free, but must be accompanied by an adult.  Plenty of free parking is available. //


“During All Hallows Eve, our goal is to provide fabulous fall fun for all ages in a safe environment. If you love Halloween and costumes of all sorts, we hope to see you next Saturday,” said Charlton Park Director Dan Patton.

“Community outreach events are one of the park’s strategic initiatives and we look forward to hosting an afternoon of celebration for our local residents.”


The park is at 2545 Charlton Park Road, north of M-79 between Hastings and Nashville. For more, visit


Photo: Distinctive costumes are part of the event at Charlton Park's All Hallows Eve celebration.


Drop off unwanted prescription drugs on Take-Back Day this Saturday

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office, 1212 West State Street, Hastings, Michigan State Police Post in Wayland and the Hastings Police Department, partnering with Walgreens in Hastings, are taking part in the national prescription drug Take-Back Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28.


Citizens can discard expired, unused and unwanted prescription pills that will be destroyed, but no needles or peroxide. Studies show that the majority of abused prescription drugs come from family and friends, including from family medicine cabinets. Disposing of unused medicines by flushing them or putting them in the trash can result in safety and health hazards.


At the last Take-Back event, working with Walgreens at the intersection of North Broadway and State Street, the Hastings police collected 160 pounds of medicines that were safely disposed of.

For questions, call the Barry County Sheriff’s Office at 269-948-4805, or Hastings Police Department, 269-945-5744.





Fatal Car/Pedestrian Accident in Hastings

On Wednesday, October 25, 2017 at 8:04pm Hastings Police responded to a car vs Pedestrian accident in the 1300 block of E. State Rd. The preliminary investigation indicates an 80 year old male victim was in the roadway when he was struck by a vehicle travelling east on E. State Rd.  The 80 year old victim was pronounced deceased at the scene. The driver of the vehicle is cooperating fully with the investigation and was not injured. The incident remains under investigation at this time.


Hastings Police were assisted by  the Hastings Fire Department, Hastings Department of Public Services, Michigan State Police, Lansing Mercy Ambulance and Barry County Central Dispatch.


It's not too late, get your flu shot now

It’s not too late to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu, and the flu vaccine is the best way to do it. The Ionia County Health Department (ICHD) is encouraging everyone to get vaccinated this season.

The flu is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs that is caused by influenza virus that spreads easily from person to person. Most people with flu are sick for about a week, and then feel better.


However, some people, especially young children, pregnant women, older people, and people with chronic health problems, can get very sick and some can die.

Most people with the flu feel tired and have fever, headache, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and sore muscles.


Flu shots are available at the Ionia County Health Department; call 616-527-5341 for more information. //


Prevent the spread of germs with steps that include:

1. Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub often, especially after using

tissues or coughing/sneezing into your hands.

2. Cough or sneeze into your arm or shoulder, not your hands.

3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth unless your hands are clean.

4. Stay home if you get sick. Stay at home until you have been free of fever (100°F or 37.8° C), or signs of a fever, for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.

5. Contact your doctor with any questions or concerns.


Everyone six months or older should get the flu vaccine and now is a good time to get them.  For more on the flu, go to the CDC’s website

UPDATE: Body found in Allegan County identified as missing Theresa Lockhart

UPDATE: The body discovered by the Allegan County Sheriff’s office yesterday has been identified as Theresa Lockhart, Schoolcraft teacher missing for five months.

In a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Portage Department of Public Safety Director Nicholas Armold said Theresa’s husband, Chris Lockhart was found dead in his Portage home. He had left a suicide note with a map with the location of the body in a wooded area in Valley Township in Allegan County. Armold said Chris Lockhart admitted killing his wife, saying he snapped. Her death was caused by strangulation.


ORIGINAL STORY:The Allegan County Sheriff's Office received a tip Tuesday afternoon that a body may have been buried in Valley Township. After a diligent search, sheriff’s detectives discovered a partially buried body in the area in a remote section of the township, according to a sheriff’s office news release..

The body of the unknown individual appeared to have been in that location for a fair amount of time. The remains have been sent to the Western Michigan University School of Pathology for autopsy and forensic examination.

Further information will be released as it becomes available.

Hastings 2015 dog ordinance review to be revisited

Three people spoke to the Hastings City Council Monday, asking about the results of a 2015 review of a city ordinance involving pit bull dogs. The ordinance does not ban owning a pit bull, but identifies them as “dangerous.”

Tammy Berdecia, Barbara Haywood and David Carey  said they had not heard anything about the outcome of the review.


In October, 2015, Councilwoman Brenda McNabb Stange asked that wording identifying pit bulls as “dangerous” be removed from the section of the Hastings ordinance dealing with dogs. At the time, Attorney Stephanie Fekkes and Police Chief Jeff Pratt were asked to work on removing the blanket definition of the breed as dangerous.  Fekkes said the problem could be solved by describing what behavior in dogs they want to prevent, without naming a specific breed. 


Mayor David Tossava said Monday said he would get the information on the issue that was gathered in 2015 and put the topic on the agenda for the next council meeting in three weeks.

“We’ll revisit it, maybe we will have an answer for you then,” he said. There will be public comment at that time.


Hastings man dies in pedestrian/vehicle accident on North Broadway

The Hastings Police Department is investigating a fatal pedestrian/vehicle accident that occurred at 5:34 p.m. Tuesday, according to Police Chief Jeff Pratt.


The initial investigation indicates that a vehicle driven by a 27-year-old Hastings man was southbound in the 1200 block of North Broadway Avenue when it left the roadway and struck a 34-year-old man, also from Hastings. The 34-year-old was given immediate medical attention, but died at the scene, Pratt said.


Names of those involved are not being released at this time. When completed, the investigation will be turned over to the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office for review.


Hastings officers were assisted by the Barry County Sheriff’s Department, Hastings Fire Department, Lansing Mercy Ambulance, Barry County Central Dispatch, Michigan Department of Transportation and Hastings Department of Public Services.


State's dairy producers vote to continue Michigan Dairy Market Program

Michigan’s dairy producers have approved a referendum to continue the Michigan Dairy Market Program for Grade “A” Milk. The program will continue for an additional five years beginning Jan. 1, 2018. The current state program assessment is $.10 per hundredweight of Michigan Grade “A” Milk.

Established in January 1983, the Michigan Dairy Market Program was developed to increase consumer awareness and promote the sale of milk and milk products in Michigan.


A total of 386 ballots were cast in the referendum. Of those, 345 producers voted yes (89 percent), representing 3,415,417,264 pounds (91 percent of the production volume represented) and 41 producers voted no (11 percent) representing 344,488,929 pounds (9 percent of the production volume represented).

For renewal of the program and its activities, more than 50 percent of the voting producers, representing more than 50 percent of the pounds sold by those voting, must approve it.


Superintendent's Platform

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


“There is so much support for our students in the Hastings Area School System—from our teachers and staff to the community at large. During their regular October meeting, members of the Hastings Board of Education received donations and heard about new programs being

developed to benefit our Saxons in the classroom and beyond.

The Board accepted, with appreciation, donations totaling $28,186. The Hastings Education Enrichment Foundation donated $17,111 to help defray the costs of several programs and activities for students at every building in the district.


Thornapple Trading Post donated $425 for Carrie Carl’s science classroom; and, the Hastings Athletic Boosters donated $10,650 to purchase volleyball nets and other equipment for the winter sports program.


Superintendent Duits shared that Hastings Middle School recently established a student advisory board through the leadership of Assistant Principal Cortney Coats. The students meet with Ms. Coats each month to look at data and determine success, brainstorm about how the

school should celebrate successes, and provide input for addressing deficits.


Superintendent Duits also shared that High School Counselor Cathy Longstreet received a $25,000 Reach Higher grant from the Michigan College Access Network. Plans for the funds include the development of a college and career readiness course for all 9th grade students in

conjunction with our Career and Technical Education (CTE) programming.


In addition, the Board:

? Approved, in principle, a travel study request for the Spanish 3 class to travel to Spain June 18-27, 2019

? Accepted the personnel report which included appointments, transfers/reassignments

and leaves of absence

? Accepted a bid from Hurst Mechanical in the amount of $70,391 to replace the secondary boiler at Southeastern Elementary using Sinking Funds

? Approved a furniture proposal for the MS and HS not to exceed $429,366.16


? A community forum about the Nov. 2017 bond proposals is scheduled for 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, at Central Elementary

? A Community tour of the new construction at the middle school at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25 and the high school at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2

? The next monthly work session of the Board of Education will be conducted at 7 p.m. Tues, Nov. 14, in the multi-purpose room of Northeastern Elementary, 519 E. Grant St.

? The next regular monthly meeting of the Board of Education will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 20, in the media center of Hastings High School, 520 W. South Street.”

Barry County Commissioners: Make TOST voluntary

A consensus is a generally accepted opinion or decision among a group of people.

The consensus of the seven Barry County Commissioners Tuesday was that the Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation time of sale or transfer (TOST) be a voluntary program instead of mandatory.


The  controversial regulation calls for inspection of all on-site water and sewer systems and if deemed failing, repair or replacement before the property can be sold or transferred.

Commissioner Dan Parker said making it voluntary, those who wanted to use the program still could, if buyer and seller agreed to it.


The commission had volumes of material to help them make a decision: a public listening session, an on-line poll, a telephone survey, a BEDHD 10th anniversary report on TOST and a long history of input from citizens.


The health department is run by the Board of Health with three commissioner from each county: Commissioners, board chair Ben Geiger, David Jackson and Dan Parker from Barry County. Eaton County Commissioners Jane Whitacre, Vice Chair Blake Mulder and Joe Brehler represent their county.


The commission agreed to a motion to make TOST voluntary, revise the appeals process and develop timelines for action on requests. Geiger, Parker and Jackson will take the proposal to a Board of Health meeting in the Charlotte office Thursday, and report the Eaton County officials response at the next committee of the whole meeting.


Commissioners decisions reflected what constituents have been complaining about; it is too costly, rule enforcement is inflexible and unpredictable, owner’s property rights are being violated, complainers must pay $350 to file an appeal to the same people who enforce the regulation and the health department staff is hard to deal with.


Jackson said there were no baseline figures ten years ago, and there is still no baseline or way to determine measurable results despite being in effect for 10 years. Pointing to other problems with the regulation and considerable negative feedback, he said: “We can’t continue on this course.”


Several other parts of the regulation will be reviewed by commissioners to make it easier to navigate for those who choose to use it, but commissioners called the consensus a good first step.

Depending on action by the Health Board, many questions will likely be raised about the future of the combined health department.                                               







New Record rain for Hastings

The Hastings National Weather Service Climatological Station recorded a new record rainfall for Monday october 23rd at 2.57 inches. The old record was 1.88 inches  for the same date in 2012. Hastings is close to a new record rain total for October.  Monthly total to date is 10.09 inches.

Budget amendments brings advice for legal review of all Hastings contracts

The Hastings City Council Monday approved a budget amendment reflecting the police departments spending $13,512,  Parks and Recreation receiving another $16,477, and an increase of $19,200 for additional accounting costs from Rehmann auditors and the Walker, Fluke and Sheldon firm.


Clerk/Treasurer Dan King explained the changes, which were challenged by Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange.

A request from the cable access committee for funding to buy audio equipment for the council chambers ($7,510.88),  was approved by council despite strong objection by McNabb Stange that the agreement was “very, very, vague and poorly written…we need legal input before we enter into it…all agreements need to be looked into… so the city understands what we’re getting into,” she said.


The vote to approve the amendment without changes was seven to two, with McNabb-Stange and Councilwoman Therese Maupin Moore voting “no”. “Yeah,” Councilman Don Bowers voted, “but I do believe that she has a point, that we ought to take consideration before we do those things again…”


A video system controller and server for the committee room ($17,605.03)  was also approved. McNabb-Stange said her previous comments about legal advice on contracts also applied to the second purchase.


At the police department, the vendor of the new Report Management System could not deliver the system as quoted or provide necessary technical support, so a new vendor was selected that will provide timing of delivery, necessary technical support and enhance capabilities for the amount in the amendment.


The Parks and Recreation department increase will allow the Elks Lodge and the city to coordinate paving of its parking lot with the city’s blacktopping of Bob King Park’s share of the parking lot at the same time. The city owns two-thirds of the lot, the Elks the rest.


Doing both segments at once brings the city’s estimated cost of its blacktopping, budgeted for $20,000 in 2020-2021, to $16,446.87. The Elks will pay $8,248.12 for their portion of the lot and any extra work they request.

The council approved the joint blacktopping later in the meeting.




Basic groundwork underway for extension of Hastings Riverwalk

Planning is underway for a 4,100 linear foot extension of the Riverwalk Trail from Industrial Park Drive in Hastings, into Rutland Township to Wal-Mart to bring the total length of the trail to well over four miles.

Director of Hastings Department of Public Services Lee Hayes said the city and Rutland Township will share the cost of the hard surfaced non-motorized trail based on the footage in each unit; 55.56 percent (2,250 linear feet) from the city and 44.44 percent (1,800 linear feet) from the township.


The City Council Monday approved Hays request for Prein & Newhof to prepare cost estimates and a conceptual rendering that will be used when seeking grants and donations. The study will cost $14,700, with the city paying $8,167.32 and Rutland Township paying $5,532.68.


Hayes is looking for potential funding, listing four possible grants sources:

* An MDOT Transportation Alternatives Program grant, that would cover up to 80 percent of the project, with a 20 percent local match.

* a Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) Trust Fund grant that would cover up to $300,000 of project funding.

* an MDNR Recreation Transport grant for construction of a trailhead north of the existing Aldi store, that would cover up to $75,000 of the cost.


The trail is considered highly competitive for the three grants and the first two have been already been used to fund parts of the existing trail, Hayes said. The fourth funding possibility is donations and crowd funding that would go toward the local match. 


The city and township worked on the Trail Extension and Sidewalk Master Plan with Prein & Newhof on the location and plans for the trail as well as anticipated project costs for the trail, trailhead, design, construction engineering and 10 percent contingency.


“A project of this scope is higher than initially anticipated. Through donations, value engineering and reducing the project scope we will be able to bring the total match portion of the project to fit the budget,” Hays said. When they have revised project costs, and a better picture of the total funding, Hays will ask for council approval to more forward on the project. 

Hastings Live entertainment programs draw thousands to the city

Hastings Live 2017 has proved to be everything its supporters hoped for and more, its entertainment programs drawing large crowds of residents and making it a destination for visitors.

Community Development Director Jerry Czarnecki gave the Hastings City Council some figures Monday on average attendance at the events, noting the turnouts were greater than expected.


The season included 50 concerts and four movies. Czarnecki said Wednesday concerts drew 2,000; Fridays at the Fountain, 550; Friday Night Concerts, 4,200 and Saturday Night concerts, 1,000. Already working on next year’s schedule, they are deciding which bands to bring back and which new acts to introduce.


“We felt that this summer set the bar high, and now we have to do better,” Czarnecki said. They plan more advance publicity  next year, he added. Support for Hastings Live came from many quarters, he said;  a state arts grant, local businesses and foundations, private donations and collected donations.


COA to hold two information sessions on proposed new building

The Barry County Commission on Aging will hold two informational sessions on the COA building project billed as “Just the fact- not the rumors” on Oct. 30 at 11 a.m. and again at 6:30 p.m.

The Commission on Aging is at 320 West Woodlawn in Hastings.

 The invitation to the public includes a tour of the current facility and answers to questions about the proposed new COA building, including:

* City of Hastings landscaping requirements,

* parking lot safety issues,

* space designed for lobby, classrooms, private,

* counseling and offices,

* adult day care plans,

* congregate dining and activities,

* public spaces,

* actual cost to Barry County property owners.



"Cops vs Cadets" third annual football game is Sunday, Oct. 22

This is an invitation to a community event written by a novice sports writer, who proves that sports “experts” can write anything they want in favor of one team or the other. See if you can spot the bias in this item.


The facts: The Hastings police officers, aka “The Cops” will once again risk injury and loss of self esteem when they take on the Hastings Police Cadets aka, “The Likely Winners,” in a friendly flag football game this Sunday at noon at the Hastings High School football field.


The cops refer to their wisdom and experience as reasons they will prevail in the game; the cadets have the advantage of youth, muscle, agility, stronger bones, talent, speed and desire on their side. Look for trash talk from both squads, earnest efforts and lots of laughs during the game.


The invitation comes from Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt.

Pratt, who is said to have accurate premonitions of the future, and has already said there will be no post-game interviews from his side.  His pre-game comment didn’t sound too confident either: “My hope is that we do not lose any "Cops" to injury like we have in the past!!”


The real story: The cops won the first two games, Pratt said, but the wins did come with a cost. Two years ago Deputy Chief Dale Boulter collided with Sgt. Kris Miller and suffered a couple of broken ribs.  Boulter will return this year.  


Last year, Pratt was the “ wedge buster” during a kickoff and probably received a concussion. Miller and Sgt. Josh Sensiba have “tweaked” their ankles while playing.

 “Also last year, Cadet Jon Cook received a broken arm during the game…yes, this is truly flag football!” Pratt said.


“The Cadet program, in my opinion, has been an outstanding success due to the leadership of Miller and the amount of time and energy he places into these students to mentor them.

“The majority of the students who remain in the Cadet program tend to better their grades and their behavior at school and home. It is fun, and very rewarding, to watch these kids perform their outreach programs and give back to the community,” Pratt said.


The next cadet community outreach being planned is a fundraiser for a student in the Hastings schools with a medical condition, probably a Cops vs Teachers basketball game. Pratt also expects cadets to be involved in helping families in need of Thanksgiving Day dinners.



**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, written by guest contributor Technology Director Tracy George:


“To Our Maple Valley Families,

We have recently implemented a new school notification system called SwiftK12. It is loaded with new features that will make it easier for us to keep in contact with your family.

To guarantee the notification system is used efficiently, we will need to confirm your contact information is accurate and up-to-date at all times. SwiftK12 allows our school to send messages using phone, email and SMS text messaging.


Our automated phone messages will come from the hotline numbers. If you call back to that number, the message will be repeated to you. You can still call any of our building offices at their published numbers below to speak directly with our office staff.


DISTRICT OFFICE                            Hotline: 517.615.1141            Office Number: 517.852.9699

MAPLE VALLEY JR/SR HIGH        Hotline: 517.615.1142            Office Number: 517.852.9275

MAPLEWOOD SCHOOL                  Hotline: 517.615.1143            Office Number: 517.726.0600

FULLER ELEMENTARY                  Hotline: 517.615.1144            Office Number: 517.852.9468

PATHWAYS HIGH SCHOOL           Hotline: 517.615.1145            Office Number: 517.852.2322


Text messages will be sent from abbreviated versions of the school name. Please note you will not be able to reply to text messages sent from the school.


SwiftK12 is integrated with the existing PowerSchool Parent Portal. If you log on to the Parent Portal (browsers that work best are Google Chrome or Firefox) you will now see a new link called SwiftReach SwiftK12 on the left navigation pane under Alerting.


You will be able to see all the contact information our school has listed for you by clicking on the Contact Information button in the top navigation.


Within the Alert Preferences section of the Parent Portal, you will be able to choose your communication preferences based on message category, such as School Closures or Attendance, as well as message type (email, voice and/or text message) by placing a checkmark into the aligned contact fields.

You may opt-out of any message category except for Emergency Messages.


Please Note: Setting up your parent preferences is your responsibility. You will receive messages to every contact field shown in Alert Preferences until updated in the parent portal. Tolls and charges associated with receipt of messages from the school are your responsibility and not the responsibility of the school.


Please be sure to set your unique preferences if there are any numbers or addresses to which you do not like to be contacted. All phone numbers and email addresses must be in a valid format to save properly.


Emergency messages are always sent with all three message types (email, text, and voice calls) and to every contact field shown even if you have opted out. We cannot change this. Emergency messages will be labeled as such so you will know it is an actual emergency.


If you do not have access to the Parent Portal, you may contact Kelly Zank, District Registrar, at 517.852.9699 ext. 1006 for your login information. If you have any additional questions, please contact Tracy George, Technology Director, at


We hope you appreciate this new SwiftK12 school notification system and the flexibility it will provide for you and your family.”

Barry County Commissioners asked to repeal TOST, demand a better regulation

TOST, a Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation already the subject of numerous articles and discussions, was brought up again at Tuesday’s Barry County Commission meeting.


The ten-year-old regulation, commonly called “TOST” for Time of Sale or Transfer, mandates inspection of on-site water and sewer systems when property is sold or transferred in Barry and Eaton counties. If a system is deemed failing, the deficiencies are ordered fixed or replaced before the property can be sold.


Supporters and critics have outlined their positions many times over several years. (See background is at the bottom of this article.)


In public comment time, Bob Vanderboegh, a persistent critic of the regulation, took issue with an editorial and a health department official’s letter to the editor in last week’s Banner.

The opinion article seemed to infer that rural residents of Barry County are the sole cause of potential water contamination due to their onsite sewer systems, Vanderboegh said.


“The rural residents of Barry County are as interested in clean water as any other sector of the Barry County population. It appears we are being singled out as anti-clean water advocates. Besides wanting clean water, we also want our property rights respected,” he said.

He said health department presentations have never recognized property owners as stakeholders and officials are using the “fear factor” and the “we can save you tactic,” to further their agenda.


Health department officials seem to be incapable of achieving a program that respects property rights and still provides a service that is not dictatorial, he said.

“You, the county commissioners, have the power to achieve both goals in this issue: #1. You can repeal the TOST regulation. #2. As members of the health board you have the power to require the health department to come up with a program that achieves the goals of the health department and protects property owner’s rights.


“I ask you to use your authority as our elected officials on the health board to oversee BEDHD in a fashion that puts the health board back in control of the health department,” Vanderboegh said.


Vanderboegh’s comments come before discussion and expected suggestions for improvements in TOST by commissioners at the Oct. 24 meeting, after an extended period of hearing public opinion through a telephone survey, listening session and on-line poll.



TOST  has been controversial since it began, with property owners charging enforcement is arbitrary, unfair, too expensive, goes beyond the wording of the regulation by bringing all inspected systems up to present day code, interferes with owner’s property rights and is too costly to appeal.

The health department maintains the regulations protect the quality of water resources, on-site water supplies, the natural environment and is protecting the public health by providing an evaluation and maintenance program for on-site sewage systems and on-site water supply systems in Barry and Eaton County. 



**Students in summer reading contest visit 87th District Rep. Calley in Lansing

**87th District State Rep. Julie Calley welcomed students and their families to the Capitol to be junior representatives for a day and experience the life of a Michigan state representative.

Local students entered a contest by reading books over the summer, filling out a bookmark with their name and the list of books they read, and returning it to their local library. During their day in Lansing, the students took an oath of office, learned about the responsibilities of being a state representative, participated in a mock committee meeting and toured the Capitol.


“There are two things which I hope they will remember,” Calley said. “First, literacy is an essential foundation for success. Second, diversity enriches any decision-making body. No matter where their professions lead them, public service is an option. The junior representatives were extraordinary. It was such a joy to have them at the Capitol.” 


Fourth-grader Hope McKinnon, a home-schooled student from Hastings, received special recognition for reading the most pages. She read 2,692 pages over the summer. The students that attended read 140 books, totaling over 20,000 pages.


· Ella Blood, a second-grader at Saranac Elementary School, read 396 pages;

· Olivia Blood, a fourth-grader at Saranac Elementary School, read 1,682 pages;

· Darren Carpenter, a second-grader at Maplewood Elementary School, read 432 pages;

· Taylor Carpenter, a fourth-grader at Maplewood Elementary School, read 2,362 pages;

· Samantha Keilen, a fifth-grader at St. Mary’s Elementary School, read 3,543 pages;

· Carter Krzysik, a fourth-grader at St. Rose of Lima School, read 1,304 pages;

· Tanner Krzysik, a second-grader at St. Rose of Lima School, read 1,956 pages;

· Alice Newman, a second-grader at St. Patrick Catholic School, read 268 pages;

· Garrett Lucci, a second-grader from Nashville, read 541 pages;

· Alaina McCrumb, a third-grader at Lee Elementary School, read 1,627 pages;

· Austyn McHenry, a fifth-grader at Westwood Elementary School, read 1,420 pages;

· Ben Scott, a fifth-grader at Maplewood Elementary School, read 1,809 pages; and

· Ryan Wise, a fifth-grade home-schooled student from Lake Odessa, read 740 pages.


Calley said she was honored to welcome the remarkable group of students and their families to the Capitol.








87th District State Rep. Julie Calley poses for a photo with the winners of a reading contest at the Capitol in Lansing.

Barry County Commissioners to suggest improvements to TOST on Oct. 24

The stated goal of the Barry County Board of Commissioner’s public listening session, online poll and telephone survey on the controversial Barry Eaton District Health Department TOST regulation is to take the citizen’s input and find ways to improve the rule that has been criticized by many Barry County citizens since its inception 10 years ago.


Commissioner and Chairman Ben Geiger said Tuesday that the results of public input will be discussed at its Oct. 24 board meeting with all of the commissioners expected to weigh in with suggested improvements.


“The results of the feedback will be posted on line Saturday around noon,” he said. “I don’t know if the telephone poll will be included, if not, they will be distributed when they are ready.” He cautioned commissioners they may need a second meeting, possibly Oct. 30. “TOST is an important program for the county and an important issue for a lot of individuals."


In Eaton County in September, a subcommittee of the County Board of Commissioners strongly recommended ceasing participation in TOST to save money during a severe budget crisis, however it was sent back to the committee for language changes and has not come back to the full board.

Eaton County Commissioner Brian Droscha said at the time: “We’ve had a ton of problems with TOST,” and predicted further attempts to rescind it.


Geiger dismissed the activities in Eaton County, saying then: “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.”



The BEHD Board of Health has three commissioner from each county: Commissioners, board chair Ben Geiger, 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.


TOST mandates the seller of property to pay for a health department inspection of private water and sewer systems before the sale or transfer of property in both counties. If a system is deemed failed, it must be repaired or replaced before the sale. Health department officials say the regulation is protecting Barry County’s water supply, environment and public health, assuring clean water and adequate septic systems. They say they implemented less restrictive rules and more personal contacts with health department staff in response to public complaints.


Critics say the regulation tramples on their property rights, is too expensive, cannot document improvement from TOST, suffers from capricious decisions, and is bringing all systems up to present day codes, which is prohibited in the regulation. Also, those with complaints must pay $350 to appeal an action to the same people who permitted it.


National prescription drug Take-Back Day is Saturday, Oct. 28

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office, 1212 West State Street, Hastings, and the Hastings Police Department, Walgreens, 126  North Broadway, are taking part in the national prescription drug ‘Take-Back Day’ from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28.


Citizens can drop off expired, unused and unwanted prescription pills that will be destroyed. No liquids, inhalers, patches, or syringes will be accepted.


A majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from home medicine cabinets, studies show. Disposing of unused medicines by flushing them or putting them in the trash may result in safety and health hazards.


For questions, call the BCSO at 269-948-4805, or HPD, 29-945-5744.




Barry Commissioners recommend continued funding of technical training program

With the success of a pilot program of technical training for careers that can provide a good living for some of the 50 percent of students who do not plan to go to college, the  Barry County Commission’s committee of the whole Tuesday recommended approving $15,000 to support and expand the effort.


Travis Alden, executive director of Barry County Economic Development Alliance (BCEDA) and Mike Schneiderhan, BCEDA Workforce Development coordinator, explained the process that provides training for vocations that provide worthwhile careers for future graduates and a viable, stable workforce for area manufacturers.


Nine students completed last year’s pilot program, learning the foundation, technical and hands-on work, and how to apply it to real life. They had mock interviews for practice before formal interviews by representatives of local manufacturers. All nine were offered positions, some with numerous offers, by local businesses, Schneiderhan said.

“Eight of the nine are gainfully employed at about $15 an hour in entry level positions.” Three are going on with training for more technical skills, he said.


The next step is to obtain dual enrollment in area schools, to make the training cost free. In the pilot program, the Barry Community Foundation paid the $2,000 per student charge.

Schneiderhan said they would like to recruit 15 to 18 students for the program this year, and laughed when asked what he would do if 50 applied. “I’d love to have that problem,” he said, adding they would solve it.


Scheduling is a problem he acknowledged but, “if students can start training in duel enrollment in January, in June they can go to work. It’s a great benefit for these kids.”

They would like to start programs earlier than the senior year, so students can select courses they will need to follow a path, instead of catching up later.


Their main challenge is that with the strong mindset that graduating students go to college, technical skills training has been neglected, the two agree. Changing that mentality will be a long, slow process, Schneiderhan said, and will need teachers, parents and grandparents to help change the perception.


They will focus on all areas, like plumbing, carpentry and electrical work, not just manufacturing, so students, adults, parents and teachers will realize, “that there are other viable options (other than college) to make a good living and enjoy a productive life.”


The result of the program is a trained and available workforce that will encourage growth and retention in area businesses. The students also learn “soft skills,” getting to work on time, producing and getting along with coworkers.


The recommended funding will support the expansion of the Kellogg Advanced Manufacturing Assembly (KAMA) program, starting new apprenticeship programs with local manufacturing firms, identifying and recruiting Barry County students into in-school and other CTE programs, and career exposure initiatives with career tours, career expo and more.


The KCC training to become a Certified Production Technician starts with fundamental courses promoting a base of skills required for entry level positions, moves on to technical courses that teach learning and applying of relevant industry knowledge.

Next, the certified production technician courses teaching mastery of the core competencies of manufacturing.


The final course,  industry recognized certification and assessments, results in high quality credentials that are accepted by manufacturing employers, as endorsed by a nationally recognized association.

Commissioners are expected to vote on the recommendation at its Oct. 24 meeting.

Note: Barry County Sheriff's Office changes some procedures

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office is changing procedures regarding “walk-in” sex offender registrants and court-ordered preliminary breath test (PBT) testing, according to Undersheriff Matt Houchlei.


Houchlei reported the following changes, effective Sunday, Oct. 29:


Sex offender registry verifications, updates and other changes to S.O.R. information at the Barry County Sheriff’s Office will take place Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. only.


Court-ordered PBT testing at the Barry County Sheriff’s Office will occur daily, Sunday thru Saturday, from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. only.

Barry County asks to seek multi-year contract for auditors after one year extension

The Barry County Commission committee of the whole Tuesday recommended approval of County Administrator Michael Brown’s request to secure a one year contract extension with the auditing firm Rehmann for $38,200 to complete the 2017 audits.


The county then intends to seek proposals from qualified auditing firms for a five-year-contract that will include Thornapple Manor and Barry County Transit audits. Up to now, both had individual audits. County auditors review the separate audits, sometimes delaying the county’s audit process, Brown said.


Charlton Park, Central Dispatch 911 and the COA audits are already included in the county audit; the Barry County Road Commission is not. They will be invited to join the county audit, but since they are audited by a local company, may not want to change their provider, Brown said.


Also recommended for approval at the next board meeting:

*  the Barry County 2017 apportionment report, necessary to collect taxes, requested by Equalization Director Timothy Vandermark.


* an Emergency Management Performance Grant for fiscal 2017, which pays $33,440 of the salary and benefits to Barry County Emergency Management Director Jim Yarger.


* the 2018 state grant contracts for Barry County specialty courts; the adult drug court, sobriety court, Swift and Sure Sanctions probation program, Office of Community Correction and juvenile drug court.


* Farmland and Open Space Preservation program (PA 116) requests from: Ronald and Amanda Hoeksma in Irving Township, and Kristopher and Stacy Javor, Burdock Hill Land LLC, and John and Elizabeth Lenz,  all for property in Carlton Township.


All of the requests were recommended for approval by the Planning Commission, Planning Director Jim McManus said. There are several small items the applicants will have to correct before the requests are submitted to the state, McManus said.


* approval of the several minor updates to the IT technology policy, last updated in 2016, requested by IT Director David Shinavier. Five areas of IT security risks are named: confidentiality of information, data integrity, assets, efficient and appropriate use and system availability. “The policy supports all five areas,” Shinavier said.





WMU School of Medicine recommended for Barry County medical examiner services

Barry County will likely contract with Western Michigan University’s Homer Stryker MD School of Medicine to provide medical examiners services with a six year contract from Jan.1, 2018 to Dec. 31, 2023, including the appointment of recognized expert Joyce deJong, D.O. as Medical Examiner.


Sparrow Forensic Pathology has provided the services to Barry County since the death of the local doctor who was the ME in 2007, County Administrator Michael Brown said Tuesday.

This summer, Sparrow notified the county they were terminating the contract because they were losing money, and offered to re-negotiate a new agreement at a higher rate, he said.


Requests for proposals were sent to WMU, Sparrow and Genesee, Oakland and Kent County medical examiners. Just WMU and Sparrow responded with proposals. Sparrow offered a one-year fixed price of $137.873, with the fee “increasing in accordance with it’s costs at a rate not to exceed four percent a year.”


“While it is impossible at this time to calculate the total cost of the agreement for Sparrow due to the inflationary increases not being defined, applying four percent a year would make Sparrow’s final contract price $914,508. WMU’s proposal total cost in their proposal in $921,700,” Brown said. He noted the WMU bid was higher, but the amount was not significant over the life of the agreement.


The schedule for WMU is: in 2018, $145,957; in 2019, $148,876; in 2020, $151,989; in 2021, $155,169; in 2022, $158,272; and in 2023, $161,437 to be billed monthly.

The new contract would be for six years since there were two years left on Sparrow’s contract when they terminated it.


In a letter sent with it’s proposal, deJong said the focus of  the Department of Pathology at WMU School of Medicine is to create forensic pathology and anthropology centers to serve the nine most southwest counties in Michigan, including Barry County.

A $68 million renovation of the former Pfizer  Building in the heart of Kalamazoo County included development of state-of-the-art pathology laboratories that opened in 2014.


“The addition of talented and experienced faculty to the department with extensive training and experience in forensic pathology, anthropology, odontology and entomology, along with a dedicated and experienced staff, allow us to provide exceptional medical examiner services to area counties,” she said.


The WMU pathology department in the Kalamazoo facility is in the District 5 Emergency Services District, as is Barry County. Brown said current Medical Examiner Investigators would be retained.


By state law, Barry County must provide medical examiner services and appoint an ME and Deputy ME to carry out the duties called for by the law. 

19-year-old Potterville man dies in single car crash in Eaton Township

Eaton County Sheriff’s Office Deputies, Eaton Area EMS, and Charlotte and Hamlin township fire departments responded to the scene of a single vehicle traffic crash in the area of East Five Point Highway and Brookfield Road on Monday about 9:26 p.m.


First responders discovered that Thomas Waligorski, 19, from Potterville, was ejected from the vehicle; he was pronounced dead at the scene.


A second person in the vehicle was transported to a hospital for non-life threatening injuries.  Traffic was diverted around the crash site for several hours while the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office Accident Investigation Team looked into the fatal crash. The investigation continues. 

New president, CEO of Gun Lake Casino named

 The Gun Lake Tribe has announced the hiring of Salvatore, (Sal) Semola as president and chief operating officer of Gun Lake Casino.


“I am very excited about the opportunity to work for the citizens of the Gun Lake Tribe, and to lead an incredible group of team members at the Gun Lake Casino,” commented Semola.

“Gun Lake Casino is a beautiful property that is poised for tremendous growth that will produce mutual benefits for the tribe and local community.”


Semola will work closely with the Tribe’s governing body, the Tribal Council, and the casino management team over the next few months to ensure a smooth transition when Station Casinos concludes its management responsibilities in February of 2018 after nearly seven years of leading the tribe through pre-opening operations, successful daily operations and expansion projects.


“We are confident that the addition of Mr. Semola’s management capabilities to our established executive team will ensure the continued success and growth of the Gun Lake Casino,” said Scott Sprague, chairman of the tribe.  “We thank Station Casinos for their years of management expertise and the solid foundation it provided for the tribe.” //


Semola has more than 40 years of experience in the gaming and hospitality industry, including numerous successful Las Vegas properties and  management roles at Foxwoods Resort Casino, Cannery Casino Hotel, and Detroit’s Greektown Casino Hotel. 

Most recently, he was the president and owner of Semola Consulting/Cornerstone Gaming Management, a casino consulting company.


Semola has earned several awards, including the Eastern Division of the Casino Management Association “Gaming Professional of the Year,” and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration “Industry Executive of the Year.” 

He has also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, instructing casino management programs.


New COA building, Hastings school millages on Nov. 7 ballot

The Barry County Commission on Aging has a county-wide millage proposal on the Nov. 7 ballot for $5,450,000 that would fund demolishing the present building, constructing a new, 22,500 square foot building on the same site, site work, commercial kitchen equipment and other improvements.

The millage would be for 20 years; 0.0593 mills for the first year and then 0.1669 mills a year until the bonds are paid.


It is estimated that a property in Barry County with a taxable value of $50,000 would pay $2.97 the first year and $8.35 per year thereafter.


Voters in the Hastings Area School System District will decide two millage requests:

Bond Proposal 1 asks for approval of a 15 year bond, extending the current millage by four years to produce $10.5 million to improve school buildings, for technology instruction and to develop and improve the middle school site for 0.85 mills the first year, which is no increase over the prior year’s levy. The maximum number of years the bonds may be outstanding is 15 years. The estimated annual millage required to retire the bond debt is 1.53 mills, ($1.53 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation).


Bond Proposal 11 requests approval of a 25 year bond issue that will produce $19.5 million. The levy in 2018 would be 1.35 mills, or a 0.5 mill increase over the prior year’s levy.

The estimated simple average annual millage of 1.87 mills would be levied in the remaining years until the bonds are paid and is being offset by a loan from the State School Bond Qualification and Loan Program to help pay the bonds and lessen the impact on taxpayers.


The funding would be for technology, a new transportation office building, stadium concession building and press box, buses, upgrading athletic facilities and improving school buildings.


Orangeville Township voters who live in the Martin School District are being asked to approve renewal of 18.6524 mills for two years for school operations.

The millage is levied against all property, except a principal residence, or other property exempted by law. It is expected to raise approximately $560,645 in 2018. 

Hunter safety tips: hunt smart - hunt safe

With deer hunting season under way, many sportsmen and women will take advantage of the opportunity to share time with their friends, relax, and enjoy the outdoors.  The hunting season offers much in the way of sportsmanship and camaraderie, but it also poses some obvious inherent dangers, Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich reminds citizens.

“Every year, we hear of tragic, fatal accidents that occur because simple precautions and care are not being used with bows and firearms.  Don't let what should be an enjoyable and memorable time turn into a tragedy,” Reich said. "Taking a hunter safety course is an excellent idea." 


Hunter education in Michigan has taught thousands of people safe hunting techniques, bow and firearm handling, and hunter ethics, he said. Hunter safety is required if you were born after January 1, 1960, and you want to purchase any Michigan hunting license, or if you are planning an out-of-state hunting trip. 


Free Hunter safety classes are offered at the Eaton County sheriff’s office; call 517-543-5257 for dates of upcoming classes. 


A hunter safety certificate or previous hunting license is required to purchase any Michigan Hunting License.  Hunters can be licensed at age 10. A hunter must be at least 12 years old to hunt deer, bear, or elk with a firearm.  Hunters age 12-13 may hunt deer, bear, or elk with a firearm only on private land, including lands enrolled in the Commercial Forest Program. //


Remember simple rules and laws to follow before you go hunting. These safety tips will make everyone safer:

When Bow Hunting:

• Only point your bow and arrow in a safe direction, and only nock an arrow when it is safe to shoot.

• Be sure of your target and what is in front, behind and beyond it.

• Only shoot when you have a safe range or shooting area, and a safe backstop. Never shoot over a ridge or ridge top when you cannot identify a safe background.

• Do not drink alcohol or take mood-altering drugs before or during bow hunting and keep your emotions under control.

• Exercise regularly and stay in good shape, especially before strenuous hunts. Hunt within your physical limitations.

 • Let someone know exactly where you will be hunting.

• Carefully cross barriers or obstacles with arrows secured in a sturdy quiver fully covering razor-sharp blades and check your bow and arrows for signs of damage or wear.

• Dress properly for the worst weather conditions you may encounter and carry basic survival gear every time you go into the field.

• When climbing into an elevated stand, attach yourself to the tree when you start climbing and until you are back on the ground, using a full-body harness attached so you will drop less than a foot if you fall.

• Always use a haul line to raise and lower your gear when hunting—do not climb or descend with a bow in your hand.


When Hunting with Firearms:

• Always tell someone the area you will be hunting and when you expect to be back. In case of an accident they will know where to find you.

• Treat every weapon as if it were loaded. Point the muzzle in a safe direction and do not put your finger on the trigger unless you are prepared to shoot. Be certain of your target, and what is beyond it.

• Protect yourself from hypothermia by checking the weather forecast and dressing appropriately.  Simply being prepared will keep you safe hunting.

• Check your equipment regularly and maintain it. 

• When hunting with a firearm you must wear hunter's orange visible from all sides.

• Be aware of what your target is and what you shoot at is your intended target.

• Wear hearing and eye protection.

• Do not hunt while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It is illegal and unsafe.

• Hunters on someone else's land should always get permission and let them know when you will be there.

• Hunting from a tree, raised platform, or scaffold with a firearm is legal, but do not carry a loaded weapon as you climb.

For more information on hunter safety visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources at




Watch for the convoy of tow trucks Saturday Oct. 21

A procession of tow trucks, police, ambulance and fire vehicles is planned for Saturday, Oct. 21 to draw attention to a Michigan law that 70 percent of its citizens haven’t heard about.  Everyone in those professions is invited to join a procession of vehicles that will travel from Nashville Saturday at 9 a.m. and drive to Middleville, where they will disband.

It’s to raise awareness of the law that is meant to make emergency roadside workers safer.


The “Move Over” law mandates that when drivers come upon tow trucks, police fire and ambulance workers in an adjacent lane, then they must slow down and pass with caution, giving the emergency vehicle as much room as possible. Tow trucks, are considered  emergency vehicles under the law.


Matt Spencer, owner of Priority Collision Center in Hastings, heard of the law at a trade show, along with some disturbing facts. In one year, 12 law enforcement members died on highways while working, and 66 tow truck drivers also died while on the job in the year. 


Spencer said to get the feeling that emergency personnel work under, “imagine yourself in your office chair parked on the yellow line in the middle of the highway. When you have a vehicle three feet from you pass you going 65-70 miles an hour, that’s pretty scary,” Spencer said. “We have the highest death rates of those who work on highways.”


The problem comes from drivers in five “d” categories: drunk, drugs, drowsy, distracted or dumb, Spencer said. “If I can do anything to raise awareness of the danger, and get people talking, I’ll do it.” 


Photos: (upper left) Matt Spencer, left, and his son Keagan will be in the Priority Collision Center tow truck in the Oct. 21 procession from Nashville to Middleville.


(left) The 66 tow truck drivers who were killed in one year while working at their jobs were memorialized with this display at a recent trade show in Ohio.

Suspected murderer's trial set for March, 2018

A March 19, 2018 trial date was set for Ralph Bowling III in Barry Circuit Court Thursday.

Charges against Bowling include open murder, attempted murder, home invasion and arson, all in connection of the death of his estranged wife Cheyenne Bowling in the early morning hours of  June 11.

Cheyenne Bowling, 26, had left her husband and moved in with her mother and stepfather Melissa and Tim Wymer on Bird Road in Baltimore Township. In a preliminary court hearing in July, testimony revealed that Bowling had suspected for about six months that his wife and a co-worker, Nathan Farrell, were in an "inappropriate relationship." 


On the night of the homicide, Bowling confronted his wife and Farrell at the Wymer home. Bowling admitted to investigators that he shot Farrell in the neck during the altercation that followed. Farrell fled the Wymer home, getting help from a neighbor.


Bowling is charged with chasing Cheyenne Bowling out of the house onto the driveway, and shooting her. A forensic pathologist testified that she was shot in the left side of the face at close range, likely with a 410 shotgun.


According to testimony, Bowling then went to his Coats Grove home and set it on fire, intending to commit suicide. He changed his mind, and several hours later, turned himself in to authorities.

Bowling’s final pre-trial hearing is set for Feb. 2, 2018.


Upon conviction, open murder carries a life sentence, attempted murder can be life or any term of years, home invasion is 20 years, and arson, a possible 20 years.

Wagner again pleads to assault with intent to murder his mother

After pleading guilty to assault with intent to murder his mother, Cory Wagner was sentenced to 15 to 35 years in prison last October.

Wagner’s girlfriend, Tiffany Chanthavong was sentenced to prison for 23.3 to 40 years in prison after pleading to the same charge.  Both were allowed to withdraw their pleas on legal technicalities to do with plea taking procedures, and both sought new trials.


Yesterday,in circuit court, Wagner again pleaded guilty to assault with intent to murder.  His sentencing date is set for Nov. 16 at 8:10 a.m. Chanthavong will be in court on Oct. 26.


On July 4, 2016, the couple went to Wagner’s mother’s house on Huff Road in Assyria Township asking for money to leave the state for him to get away from problems with the law in Michigan.  When Diane Wagner refused, the pair severely beat her, threatened her with a knife, bound her with duct tape, tied her to a chair, locked her in a bathroom, took her credit card and her car and fled.  They were arrested in Illinois the next day and brought back to Barry County for trial.


MSP: "Operation Safe Driver Week" is October 15-21

Beginning Sunday, Oct. 15, the Michigan State Police will engage in heightened traffic safety enforcement aimed at unsafe driving behaviors by commercial motor vehicle and passenger vehicle drivers during "Operation Safe Driver Week."


The week-long effort is sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), in partnership nationally with government, industry and safety organizations. It was created to help decrease the number of deaths and injuries resulting from crashes involving large trucks, buses and passenger vehicles due to unsafe driving behaviors like speeding and distracted and aggressive driving.


“We continue to work on traffic initiatives to reduce deadly accidents involving commercial motor vehicles.  "Operation Safe Driver Week" is another great example of a program that focuses on addressing this problem and moving Michigan "Toward Zero Deaths,” said Capt. Michael A. Krumm, commander of the MSP Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division.


The effort is part of the department’s participation in "Toward Zero Deaths," which is the United States highway safety vision. It unites stakeholders from engineering, enforcement, education and emergency medical services with the common goal of reducing traffic fatalities to zero. To learn more, visit

Remember: Don't Veer for Deer

With deer hunting season here, citizens are reminded to be careful when driving this fall, and to remember “Don’t Veer for Deer!” according to Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich.


As the deer population becomes more active this fall, residents potentially will face more deer encounters on the roadway. Knowing how to react to deer on or next to the road is important to the safety of the driver and their passengers.


The best course of action when faced with a deer in the road is to brake firmly while staying in your lane, even if it means you are going to hit the deer.


The majority of deer crashes occur in the fall according to statistics, and on average vehicle-deer crashes result in 10 motorist fatalities each year.  Most vehicle-deer crashes, death and injury occur when drivers veer from their lane, hitting another vehicle or a fixed object such as a tree.


The following tips can help drivers avoid a serious problem when encountering a deer on the road:

• Stay aware, awake, alert, and sober.

• Wear your seat belt.

• Watch for deer crossing signs.

• Be more alert in the fall and spring, but keep in mind deer crashes can occur at any time.

• Deer travel in groups. If you see a deer, slow down, as there may be others close by.

• Be alert for deer at dawn and dusk. Over 90 percent of deer crashes occur during these times.

• Do not swerve when faced with a deer in the road. Brake firmly, stay in your lane, and bring your vehicle to a controlled stop if possible.


For more information on deer crashes and safety, visit the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition website at





Spectrum Pennock Awards

Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital thursday evening observed its tenth annual quality and culture awards event by recognizing a number of individuals for their contribution to  quality health care.


The compassion award was presented to Sandy Bowen. The Community Health Ambassador Award was presented to Doctor Daniel Woodall. The MPRO Governor's Award of Excellence was presented to Spectrum Health Pennock.  Doctor Tom Hoffman received the Outstanding Achievement Award in Improving Diabetes Managemant, Physician Practices,  with the Distinguish Physician Award going to Doctor James Weatherhead.


State Representative Julie Calley presented Pennock Spectrum Health with a special proclamation from the State of Michigan honoring the local health system for its contribution to quality health care to the community and signed Governor Rick Snyder, Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley and Julie Calley State Representative from the 87th House district that includes Barry County.


Hastings awarded MCACA arts grant

The City of Hastings has been awarded a grant of $19,500 from the State of Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA), according to Jerry Czarnecki, Hastings Community Development director.


In 2018, Hastings will continue to present the annual year-round Downtown Sculpture Tour, partner with the Thornapple Arts Council to present Hastings Live! the summer program that includes the Community Concert Series and Friday Night Features, as well as Playing at the Plaza.


“Support from MCACA and local sponsors allows the City of Hastings to provide all these programs free of charge, giving residents in this rural community and visitors alike access to high quality visual and performing arts,” Czarnecki said.//

Grants are awarded through the a peer review process, Hastings was one of 575 applicants to compete for funding in 2018.


MCACA grants require matching funds with private and public dollars. Local support  includes the Baum Family Foundation, Hastings Downtown Development Association, Thornapple Arts Council, Brown’s Carpet One, and Barry County Lumber.The City of Hastings also receives significant volunteer support from members of the community and local service organizations.


Grant applications are competitively considered by a panel of in-state and out-of-state arts and culture professionals, ensuring that taxpayers who support the project through state funds, and others, have access to the highest quality arts and cultural experiences.


For more information, contact MCACA at 517-241-4011 or visit the MCACA website at affairs/#MCACA.


Hastings Dog Park future up in the air, and is it Companions or Committee?

The future of the Hastings Dog Park is in doubt with park officials indicating they plan to terminate its agreement with the city that covers the park. Minutes of a Dog Park Committee board meeting were left at Hastings City Hall last week declaring its intent, but City Manager Jeff Mansfield said more has to be done to nullify a legal contract between the city and the group.


The city has been working with the “Hastings Dog Park Committee” on amending some issues in the agreement for some time, Mansfield said. The  city’s contract for operating the dog park is with an organization legally known as the “Hastings Dog Park Companions.”

“This may be the same group, but the board members and officers have apparently changed over the past year or so,” Mansfield said. 


The city asked for several documents, (adopted bylaws, articles of incorporation, and IRS letter of determination) to help understand the legal status of the Hastings Dog Park Companions, and identify who are currently members and officers of their board of directors.

“To date, we have received some of that information, but not all,” he said.


A half dozen people spoke at the City Council meeting Monday, asking the city to make sure the dog park stays open. Two former members who help create the park offered to step up and run the park in the interim, if they were needed.


Other comments included complaints on the lack of communication from companion officials to members and park users, erratic behavior of the officials, requests for the city to run the park if the companions abandons it, park officials not acting in the best interest of the park, and if the city can ban removal of park infrastructure while decisions are being made.


All strongly supported keeping a dog park in the city, calling it an attraction for people to come to Barry County, a great place for people to socialize and for dogs to get needed exercise and interact with other dogs. //


The threat of closure came to light after members of the group came to the Sept. 26 council meeting seeking an increase in the number of dogs allowed at the park from three to four per person. Instead, citing the difficulty of one person controlling more than two dogs in an incident and possible injury to people or dogs, the council voted to set the number of dogs allowed per person at two, down from the present three.


Different groups have worked on getting a dog park since at least 2009; the Hastings Dog Park Companions signed a contact with the city to build and maintain the park in 2011.

In June, 2016, the city and the companions agreed on a contract for another five years of operation; the city agreed to pay the costs for mowing the area and a portable toilet. When approving the agreement, it was noted that other issues with the park would be worked out.

At the time, the companions estimated 80 people a day came to the park with their dogs.


Barry County Commissioners have light agenda Tuesday

Barry County Commission meetings can easily go three or four hours if something controversial is brought up. Tuesday was not one of those meetings, with the county's business taken care of in about 10 minutes. Commissioners paid the bills, then took up items recommended by the committee of the whole last week, and approved:


*a Bissell Foundation grant for $11,250 for the Barry County Animal Shelter to continue the trap, neuter and release (TNR) program that has already spayed or neutered 2,000 cats in the county over the last several years.


*re-appointment of Democrat Anne Richards and Republican Patricia Walton to the Barry County Canvassing Board for four year terms.


*an agreement between Automated Merchant Systems and the Register of Deeds office to allow credit and debit card payments for transactions over the internet, simplifying the process and saving staff time.


Also, Commissioner Howard Gibson announced bidding begins at 10 a.m. at an auction Saturday, Oct. 14 at the Yankee Springs Fire Station on Payne Lake Road with proceeds to go toward the Veteran’s Memorial. 

Hastings Public Library Director resigns, replacement sought

Laura Ortiz, director of the Hastings Public Library, said Monday she is resigning her position, effective when the library board selects a replacement. She told the Hastings City Council that she made the decision with great sadness, and loved the library staff and living and working for the community, but, “personal reasons have taken me elsewhere.”


Originally Oct. 13 was to be her last day, but she said since she is in no hurry to leave, she will wait for her replacement to be named. 

She thanked everyone for, “allowing me to make Hastings my home for 25 years.”


City Manager Jeff Mansfield said he was speaking himself and city staff when he said it was a pleasure working with her and they really appreciated her work. Ortiz was named interim director when former Director Evelyn Holzwarth retired in January 2016, and was named director April 1, 2016.


Photo: Retiring director of Hastings Public Library Laura Ortiz.


Hastings overtime rules updated as part of personnel policy review

The Hastings City Council Monday approved adding holiday hours worked during a week when calculating overtime for hourly non-union staff. Now, if an employee works 10-12 hours on an election and Veteran’s Day comes in the same week, the employee does not get overtime pay for the overtime hours worked.


City Manager Jeff Mansfield said the situation comes up often during Christmas/Eve and New Years/Eve.

“Our staff may need to work well beyond 8 hours during days in those weeks to get payroll done or on getting other necessary task completed, and yet they are only paid at their regular rate for such time,” he said.

The city’s personnel policy is currently undergoing a comprehensive review with recommendations for revisions.


Also the council proclaimed Oct.13 as “Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day," recognizing the unique challenges for an estimated 154,000 women in the United States with the disease.


Mayor David Tossava read the proclamation with Sarah Hockin, mission director of Susan G. Coman and Intern Rachael Burnosky standing with him. While early detection and routine diagnosis have made tremendous progress in the last 30 years, the story for advanced disease is quite different, the proclamation said.


The devastating stage of breast cancer occurs when it spreads to the bones, lungs, liver and brains. Metastatic breast caner patients face emotional and physical demands of continuing treatment indefinitely with the goal of extending the best quality of life possible, Tossava read.


No cure exists for metastatic breast cancer and the disease cuts short the lives of too many people in Michigan, leaving a lasting effect on families, he continued. On National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day, the proclamation asks the citizens to become more informed and aware of the disease.


Also, the council waived the penalty for failure to file a property transfer affidavit. The city has never charged the penalty and state law requires units of government to waive the requirement.

“By adopting the resolution we will meet the new state requirement,” Mansfield said.

And, they approved the appointment of Jeffrey S. Kniaz to the Hastings Public Library Board to a partial term expiring Dec. 31.


Changes will be made for event parking at Hastings Ace Hardware

The Hastings City Council will implement several conditions for events involving the Ace Hardware parking lot after they learned of the situation at the Hastings High School Homecoming Parade last week.

Some 200 to 300 kids, cars and floats were in the parking lot, milling around, unsure of what to do, with no one in charge. And then, heavy rains hit, causing more disorder.

Jerry Bolthouse, president and CEO of Bolthouse Merchandising Corporation, stressed he was a supporter of the City of Hastings and its schools at Monday’s council meeting.

However, there were several problems apparent at the event in the ACE Hardware parking lot last week that needed to be in place for future events, not just the schools, he said.


He gave the council a letter with a list of problems and solutions which council members immediately said they would implement. City Manager Jeff Mansfield said they were great solutions the council would enact, adding, “it isn’t often we get the solutions to problems brought to us.”

The incident caught the city by surprise with the increase in the size of the parade this year, he said. He has already talked to Hastings Schools Superintendent Carrie Duits.


Several council members apologized to Bolthouse for the inconvenience and thanked him for his strong support of the city and its events, for example, providing dedicated parking spaces in the Ace Hardware lot for Thornapple Plaza entertainment events for $1 a year.


Bolthouse’s list:


* No one was in charge of the event, with resulting confusion, and no one asked permission from him to hold the parade lineup in the parking lot.

Solution: A representative of the school/event should be present to give assignments, answer questions and with a certificate of insurance with ACE Merchandising named as the insured.


* No notice of the event was given to Bolthouse other than the date.

Solution: A plan for the event, with the parade line up, parking, a severe weather plan and time line would be given to all the parties involved.


*No control over traffic and parking of the cars resulted in parking in fire safety zones and other safety issues.

Solution: Close Boltwood or line up along East State or Railroad streets. Also, someone needs to direct traffic, both vehicles and people.


* With no direction, parked cars were blocking exits and drives, loading ramps and parking spaces leased to other businesses.

Solution: Approval for future events will be based on volunteers being present to direct parking. The group can charge for parking spaces, and previously, his company has matched the amount the parking raised.


* Trash left in the parking lot after the event was left for his employees to clean up, hampered by a dozen cars left there overnight.

Solution: Those holding the event would be required to clean up the parking lot after the event.


“We are strong supporters of our local school system and welcome school events into the downtown business area. All of us need to act as partners in promoting the great City of Hastings,”  Bolthouse’s letter said. He has sent copies to the Downtown Hastings Business Team and Hastings area schools.


Year and a half old boy found in shallow pond, pronounced deceased

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office is reporting the death of a 1 ½ year old boy in the 8000 block of South Broadway Road in Baltimore Township Monday morning.

In a sheriff’s news release, officials said the toddler was pronounced dead at the scene after his father discovered him in a shallow pond on the family property.

The matter remains under investigation.


Superintendent's Platform

WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight news in their districts. This posting is from Lakewood School’s  Superintendent Randy Fleenor:


“Setting: A Key to Success

Thank you for allowing Lakewood Public Schools to be part of your child’s education. Grades 3rd– 8th and 11th participated in Michigan’s statewide test—the M-STEP exam—this past spring.


You may have already received M-STEP information from your child’s teacher, or will shortly. You may find the district’s M-STEP overview information on our website or by following this link:


Here’s some good news about the test: teachers and parents can use student scores to make sure they’re doing all the right things; working together, they can learn how to support every student to improve scores for next year; test scores can assist in goal setting.


Goodwin & Miller, (2012) found that giving effective, timely, and clear feedback to students translated into a 28% higher achievement rate by students compared to those counterparts that did not receive feedback. 28%! It is clear that students who review their own achievement data, set, and monitor their own goals out-achieve those students who do not have these types of habits.


Of course, this needs to be done in a healthy, balanced manner. Test scores aren’t everything; although they can provide key insights for teachers and parents. We use this data, as well as other forms of summative and formative data within the district to identify several things.


Specific student results help teachers and principals identify growth areas for each student. For example, a student’s scores may indicate a weakness in a certain reading or writing skill. Knowing specifically what these struggle areas are allows the teacher to fine tune instruction.


It also allows for the application of additional supports if warranted. District-wide data allows us to look for broad trends. An example of this would be looking at how all of 3rd grade is performing in a certain content area within the subject of Math. If the majority of student data indicates non-proficiency in fractions, this may be an indication of a gap in curriculum.


This year’s 3rd– 8th grade M-STEP data indicates an overall (all subjects and grade) 2% increase in composite proficiency scores from 45.6% to 47.8%. Specific subjects results for 3rd-8th grade were: 3% increase in English/Language Arts proficiency (58% to 61%), held steady in math proficiency (46%), 11% increase in Social Studies proficiency (29% to 40 %), and a 5% decrease in Science proficiency (28% to 23%).


Eleventh grade reported: 9% decrease in Social Studies proficiency (54% to 45%), and a 7% decrease in Science proficiency (48% to 41%). Overall, the high school remains constant with growth scores compared to 2015, at 42.7% proficiency in all subjects in 11th grade. Teachers and principals are in the process of discussing this data to determine the reasons for gains and deficiencies.


If you would like to see how our district stacks up against our peers in the county, visit and click on the composite score links.

Our teachers, support staff, and principals work tirelessly to ensure that our children receive the very best opportunities for learning. These scores represent their dedication and hard work partnering with the home; together, we’re better!

Thank you for your continued support.”

First Michigan case of influenza H3N2 variant in 2017 detected in Allegan County

The Allegan County Health Department (ACHD) is recommending influenza precautions after a child who visited the Allegan County Fair in September tested positive for the H3N2 variant influenza. Currently there is no vaccine for H3N2v and the seasonal flu vaccine will not protect against H3N2v. Early treatment works best and may be especially important for people with a high risk condition.


Symptoms of H3N2v infection in people are similar to those of seasonal flu viruses and can include fever and respiratory symptoms, such as cough and runny nose, and possibly other symptoms, such as body aches, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.


Infections with influenza viruses, including variant viruses like H3N2v, can sometimes cause severe disease, even in healthy people. Complications can include pneumonia, which may require hospitalization, and sometimes results in death.


People who are at high risk of developing complications if they get influenza include children younger than five, those 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with certain long-term health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune systems, and neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions.//


The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and ACHD reported the finding on Oct. 6.

Steps you can take to protect yourself and prevent the spread of any illness:

* Avoid close contact with sick people.

* Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

* Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

* Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth since germs are spread this way.

* If you are sick, stay home from work or school until your illness is over.

* Get an annual influenza vaccination.


The incubation period (the time from exposure to illness) for H3N2v, as well as the usual, seasonal influenza, is one to seven days, and most commonly two days, so it is unlikely that there will be new cases from direct exposure at the Allegan County Fair.  


“This variant flu virus has rarely been shown to spread from person to person but any individual with flu-like-symptoms should contact his or her medical provider and the health department. In addition, it is important to note, the seasonal flu vaccine will not protect against H3N2v,” said Allegan County Health Officer Angelique Joynes, MPH, RN.


For more information about H3N2v, visit and/or contact Erin Radke, RN, ACHD Communicable Disease Nurse at 269-686-4551.







Eaton County deputies capture absconder after extended foot chase

About 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 4,  Eaton County Sheriff’s deputies were sent to Conestoga Drive in Delta Township to locate a runaway juvenile for Lansing police, a sheriff’s office news release said.

The girl was believed to be at a residence with her boyfriend. Deputies learned that the boyfriend, Isaiah Murray 18, from Delta Township, was wanted for absconding (fleeing to avoid detection or arrest) while on parole. 


When deputies entered the residence, Murray fled, leading them on an extended foot chase through the neighborhood. When Murray broke into two occupied homes, the homeowners pointed pursuing deputies in the direction Murray fled as he left the homes. Deputies relentlessly pursued Murray and apprehended him near Brookside Drive, the release said.


“I am very proud of the outstanding efforts made by Sgt. Tietsort, Deputy Kanazeh and Deputy Travis in apprehending and arresting this fleeing parole absconder and preventing him from committing further criminal acts in this community,” Sheriff Tom Reich said.

“We are also grateful for the valuable  assistance  from the victims of these home invasions.”


Murray was on parole following conviction for an unarmed robbery in Eaton County in September of 2016. He was lodged on the parole absconding charge and additional charges sought from the County Prosecutor’s Office. Murray was arraigned on two counts of home invasion, 1st degree, a 20 year felony, and one felony count of resisting and obstructing police officers. Bond was set at $50,000.











Isaiah Murray

Student counts in Barry County area schools show gains, losses

All public schools in Michigan count the number of students attending their schools  twice a year, October and February. In Barry County area schools this year, the student count was up in some, and down in others.


Count information is critical to school districts, because each student translates into state funding. The calculation schools receive is based on a blend of both winter and fall student count data during the same calendar year. Area schools took the unofficial student count Wednesday, Oct. 5. 


* Maple Valley Public Schools have an increase of 62 students. This year’s count is 1,074, up from 1,012 in 2016.


* Hastings Area School System’s student count dropped 41 from last year to 2,669 this year.


* Thornapple Kellogg’s student count stood at 3,134, up 68 from last year.


* Lakewood Public Schools count went down 17 students for a total of 1,839.


* Caledonia Community Schools counted 4,866 students this year, up from 4,721 in 2016.


* Delton Kellogg Schools student count this year is 1,304,down from 1,322 last year.



Hastings Dog Park Companions signal intent to close park

The City of Hastings does not have official notice seeking termination of the agreement with the Hastings Dog Park Companions, or formal notice of its intent to close the dog park.

Unofficially, the committee has let the city know that is their intent.


The group’s members have voted to disband its board and close the dog park, according to papers left at Hastings City Hall.


City Manager Jeff Mansfield said unsigned notes or minutes, apparently from a meeting of the Hastings Dog Park Committee, were left on Community Development Director Jerry Czarnecki’s desk at Hastings City Hall last week.  The notes indicated the group voted to disband the dog park board, close the park, and notify the City of Hastings of its intent, he said.


Vice President of the group, Leslie Sitzer, told Mansfield in an e-mail that he should assume that the notes that were dropped off are an official record of a meeting of the Hastings Dog Park Companions. "But, because we are dealing with a legally binding contract here between the city and a formal non-profit organization, I need to be a bit of a stickler for detail,” Mansfield said.


Sitzer referred calls to companion President Christopher Geisert and supplied his telephone number. A call to Geisert’s number to ask if there was a connection of the decision to close the park and Hastings City Council action on Sept. 25, found his mailbox “is full and not accepting any messages. Goodbye.”


Committee members had come to the council meeting seeking an increase of number of dogs per person allowed at the park from three to four. Instead, citing the difficulty of one person controlling more than two dogs in an incident and possible injury to people or dogs, the council voted to set the number of dogs allowed per person at two, down from the present three.



Grant could continue trap, neuter and release (TNR) program at Barry County Animal Shelter

A Barry County Animal Shelter program to trap, neuter and release (TNR) feral and barn cats in the county will likely continue. Shelter Director Ken Kirsch asked the Barry County Commission to accept a grant for an $11,250 Bissell Foundation grant to continue a program that has already spayed or neutered 2,000 cats in the county over the last several years.


Live trapped cats, both male and female, are brought to the shelter, sent to a veterinarian, sterilized, given a rabies shot, and with the tip of the left ear clipped, returned to its original location. The program reduces the free roaming cat population in the county.


The successful use of the grant opens the way to future grants, said Tami Dickinson, member of the Barry County Animal Shelter Oversight Committee. Started this year on Oct. 1, the program covers all of Barry County, she said. A previous grant centered on the feral cat population in Nashville that Commissioner Ben Geiger said was very effective in that area.


The committee of the whole Tuesday moved Kirsch’s request to the next board meeting with a recommendation to approve, along with two other requests:


*re-appointment of Democrat Anne Richards and Republican Patricia Walton to the Barry County Canvassing Board for four year terms, requested by County Clerk Pam Palmer


* an agreement between Automated Merchant Systems and the Register of Deeds office to allow credit and debit card payments for transactions over the internet through Tyler Eagle software (BridgePay Tyler’s Gateway), simplifying the process and saving time, sought by County Register Barb Hurless.



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 is offering first Intersession days on Nov. 15, 16, & 17.

The Maple Valley Schools Board of Education and Maple Valley Educators Association agreed upon the 2017-18 school year calendar in the spring of 2017. The calendar was released to our stakeholders at that time which includes: six 2-hour early release days for professional learning, several half days, and a three day break from November 15-17.


Although these days are not counted in the official pupil contact time, the district will offer a modified schedule which offers non-traditional courses for students. We are planning the intersession curriculum offerings now. Our courses will be driven by staff; the number of staff will be determined by the number of students who enroll for the intersessions.


It is for these reasons we have released registration forms now so we can design the three day schedule with our students needs in mind. The goal of offering intersessions is to support our various learners in academic remediation and enrichment. We will collect student data on the activities completed during this time similar to when we offer summer school programs.


Again, student attendance is not required for intersessions! We will have a draft of our class offerings available during parent teacher conferences on October 18 & 19 to allow parents to make decisions to register for the intersessions before the October 31 deadline.


Frequently Asked Questions:

•What are intersessions?

Intersessions are optional days of extended learning offered during the breaks. Intersessions are staffed by teachers, support staff, administrators, and professionals in the community.  Intersessions are designed for remediation and enrichment. We will strongly encourage students in need of remedial support to attend the intersession periods.


•What kinds of courses might be offered during intersessions?

Some of the ideas that are being considered are: ELA and math remediation, art and music, computer classes, field trips, and specialized physical activities such as yoga, dance, or even skating.


•Will transportation be provided during intersessions?

Transportation will be provided to students who normally ride the bus.  Bus routes will be determined by the number of students registered for the intersession period.


•What is the cost for my child to attend the intersession?

There is no charge as the program is paid using grant funds.


•Will meals be provided during intersession? 

Breakfast and lunch will be served.


•What about community members who are teaching? How does that work? 

Anyone who is working with the students will have to fill out the Volunteer Application and be approved. These volunteers do not have to be certified teachers as these days are not counting toward instructional hours.


Lack of common ground with public noted in 10th anniversary report on TOST

The Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation commonly called  “TOST”  for Time of Sale or Transfer, mandates inspection of on-site water and sewer systems when property is sold or transferred in Barry and Eaton counties. If a system is deemed failing, it is ordered fixed or replaced before the property can be sold.


It’s has been controversial since it began, with property owners, and a few (Barry County) commissioners, charging enforcement of the new rule was arbitrary, unfair, expensive to property owners, goes beyond the intent of the regulation and brings all inspected systems up to present day code when they were not in failure.


The health department maintains the regulations protect the quality of water resources, on-site water supplies and the natural environment and protects the public health by providing an evaluation and maintenance program for on-site sewage systems and on-site water supply systems in Barry and Eaton County. 


Those three paragraphs were the lead into an article on TOST aired on WBCH on June 13, 2014.  They still could be used today.


Reports to Barry County Commissioners to explain TOST on March 12, 2013, June 28, 2016, in a public forum on Nov. 10, 2011 and numerous appearances by health department officials at commission meetings, seems to have changed no one’s position on the 10-year-old regulation.


The only thing supporters and those opposed have in common is the desire for clean water and effective sewer systems.


At the Barry County Commission meeting Tuesday, the first 20-25 minutes were used to send several issues to the next board meeting with recommendations of approval.

The rest of the three hour meeting centered on TOST, first with an in-depth report on TOST on its 10th anniversary from Health Officer Colette Scrimger, with details provided by Environmental Health Director Regina Young, followed by questions from commissioners and the public.


“Community opposition to the TOST program has included widespread and misinformation and misconceptions,” the report read.  “It has also included an inability to reach a common ground from which to discuss shared solutions to problems, while still recognizing that TOST is a necessary and integral part to keeping our communities and environment safe and healthy.”


The same positions voiced by health department officials and members of the public over the last 10 years were still being heard Tuesday.


The report says TOST is both preventative and regulatory to prevent problems from happening and respond to threats that exist.


“The reality is that it is impossible to show that illness has been prevented or that injuries did not occur. It is sound public health priorities that provide for prevention and for methods to find and fix significant problems,” the report reads.


A TOST goal is increasing public awareness by public education, however the report said the effort was hampered by staffing and IT changes, and with the demands of training, oversight and learning new software, they found themselves, “with limited time to get out into the community more regularly to both educate about the program and obtain feedback.”


Still, Scrimger said in response to public input, the health department changed its rating system from “failed” or “authorized” to “action required,” action recommended” or “no action required,” held one-on-one meetings with owners, simplified the TOST language and highlighted the appeals process. //


Barry County residents often speak against TOST during the commission’s public comment. In an August listening session on TOST hosted by county commissioners, 22 of the 25 speakers spoke against the regulation.


Also in August, a committee of the Eaton County Board of Commissioners proposed “ceasing participation” in TOST as a cost-saving measure during its current budget crisis. The resolution has not come back out of committee after being sent back for language changes.


The 10th Anniversary report is meant to show TOST’s value to public health and the natural environment using data and case studies. The complete report with goals, charts, graphs and narrative is available at


Barry Eaton District Health Department takes part in National Breast Cancer Awareness month

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) is participating in the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month of October.  

Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer in women. About one in eight women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point.


The good news is, most women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early.  Talk to a doctor about your risk for breast cancer, especially if someone in your family has had breast or ovarian cancer; they can help you decide when and how often to get mammograms.


If you are a woman age 40 to 49, talk with your doctor about when to start and how often to get mammograms. Women age 50 to 74 should get a mammogram every two years or more often.


If you are concerned about being able to cover the cost of screenings, The Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Navigation Program (BCCCNP) is available to women in Barry and Eaton counties.


The program provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to women in the state for women who are age 40 to 64; with household income of less than $30,150 for single women and less than $40,600 for a household of two, and so on; does not have health insurance or has health insurance but has co-pays, un-met deductibles, or other cost sharing.


For details about the program, Barry County residents call (616) 632-7283 or (888) 515-1300 ext. 7283. Eaton County residents call (517) 887-4364 or (877) 221-6505, or visit

**Hastings State Street Diner rated "Must Try" diner in Barry County

**In an ongoing series of “bests” in Michigan, The Grand Rapids Press has identified the best craft beer, best burgers, best pizza and so on.When they turned their attention to diners, they produced a list of ‘must visit’ diners in each of Michigan’s 83 counties.


In Barry County, the Hastings State Street Diner was singled out as the diner to visit, “if you love fresh, hot food, in large portions, for a reasonable price, served by friendly local faces.”



A stop at the Diner is recommended when traveling or even if its right in the neighborhood.

Lee and Terri Campbell are owners of the former Big Boy restaurant at 1105 West State Street in Hastings. Lee is there most of the time, and Terri, a Librarian, comes in to help at times. Lee Campbell has been in the food service industry since he was a teen, starting as a dishwasher in Lansing while in high school.


Campbell opened a Big Boy franchise in Hastings in 1995, leaving the company in April of 2015, to become the State Street Diner.

“It was time for a remodel, a new menu. I think the public wants more of a local atmosphere.”

The change has been successful, with more flexibility on the menu and décor. Customers suggest sampling the Raspberry Crunch French toast or the eggs Benedict. The walls and menus are covered with photos of early Hastings and Barry County.


The restaurant has 50 part-time and full-time employees. “I have a great staff, they like working here; some have been with me for 10-15 years. Betty’s been here for 20 years,” Campbell said. The staff likes and caters to the regulars, and welcomes first time customers like regulars. And, there’s never much of a wait, he said.


“Our food is good, the price are reasonable. We haven’t raised pries in 2 ½ years,” he said. The Diner is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Reservations are not needed, but if you have a large group, they ask that you call ahead. Telephone 269-948-2701.


Photo: The State Street Diner, 1105 West State Street, Hastings.



Gov. Snyder lowers flag to honor victims of Las Vegas Tragedy

Gov. Rick Snyder is joining President Donald Trump's call to lower Michigan and U.S. flags to half-staff today through sunset on Friday, Oct. 6, in honor of the victims of the Las Vegas tragedy.  Michigan residents, businesses, schools, local governments and other organzations are encouraged to display the flag at half-staff.  Flags should be returned to full staff the evening of Friday, Oct. 6th.



Mexican Connexion Grand Re-Opening

WBCH and local patrons congratulate Mexican Connexion restaurant as they celebrate their grand re-opening today after being closed for several months due to a fire this summer. 

"Handle with Care" initiative launched in Eaton County

Eaton County has launched a new initiative called “Handle with Care,” involving all first responders in Eaton County; law enforcement, fire, and EMS, Eaton County schools, community mental health, and Highfields.


A cost-free initiative, it is communication between front line workers and the education system.


“Handle with Care” assists teachers and administrators to understand why children’s behaviors and demeanors show changes during their school day and ensures that children exposed to traumatic situations receive sensitive interventions as needed.


Now, when a child is exposed to violence or trauma, first responders will take the child’s name and where they go to school, and send a “Handle with Care” notice before the next school day begins.

No additional information will be provided to the school.


The notice is given to those identified as supports for the child; it informs educators that a child may need a little extra time, sensitivity, lenience, or kindness. Teachers/counselors will watch the child’s mood, behaviors and academic achievements, but ask no questions. 


The child may be referred to other supports and there may be work with the family for mental health assessments. Children exposed to trauma are less able to cope and problem solve; trauma can lead to social, emotional and academic difficulties. With prolonged trauma, they may turn to self-medicating, substance abuse, smoking and overeating. //


Trauma interferes with one’s ability to focus in school and can lead to truancy, failing grades, suspension and higher drop-out rates and increased risk involved behaviors.


The program was developed with guidance and technical assistance from the West Virginia Defending Childhood Initiative who also worked with the Massachusetts Advocates for Children: Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, in collaboration with Harvard Law School and the Task Force on Children Affected by Domestic Violence.


Local acknowledgements go to the implementation team in Eaton County, which includes school superintendence and personnel, law enforcement administrators, mental health professionals, Amanda Burch and Lisa Underhill, and to Undersheriff Jeff Cook. 

Eaton County is the second county in the state to launch the initiative. Jackson County is the first. 



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