Local News Archives for 2017-12

Possible attempted Carlton Township break-in still being investigated

Barry County Sheriff’s deputies continue to investigate a suspicious situation from Dec. 29 in Carlton Township.

Sheriff Dar Leaf said it was reported that three white men, thought to be in their 20’s, came to rear of a residence on Farrel Road off M-43 and entered the back area through a slider.


Leaf said it was a suspicious situation; the suspects may have attempted entry. One of the men wore a safety vest with Wolverine on his shirt; deputies checked with officials from Wolverine Water Company who said their employees do not wear safety vests and none were in that area. Also the white Dodge the men were in didn’t match the description of their vehicles.


As a precaution, Leaf put an alert on the department’s Facebook page, reminding residents to keep their doors and windows locked and be aware of any suspicious vehicles.

If they see such a vehicle, they should call 911 and try to get a number or photo of the license plate with their cell phones, but only if is safe for them to do so, he said.


MPSC orders utilities to report on savings from new federal tax law

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) on Dec. 27 ordered all rate-regulated utilities to report to the commission on the impact passage of the new federal tax law will have on their customers. The new law, signed by President Donald Trump on Dec. 22, is expected to reduce the amount utilities will pay in federal taxes.


Utilities have until Jan. 19 to file their comments with the Commission (Case No. U-18494) on how they propose to return savings to ratepayers. Other interested parties will have until Feb. 2 to respond to utility proposals.


The special meeting was called to make sure the savings are calculated from the effective day of the federal legislation, which is Jan. 1, 2018, Commission Chairman Sally Talberg said.


The commission will then determine how and when the savings will flow back to ratepayers.


“While regulatory accounting isn’t always the most headline-grabbing topic, the guidance the Commission is providing in today’s order is important because it maximizes our future options as we sort through the totality of impacts the new federal tax law will have when it takes effect Jan. 1,” Commissioner Rachael Eubanks said.


“The information we receive in this docket will be incredibly useful in understanding the magnitude of the expected reduction in federal taxes that the utilities pay, which is likely to be significant. It will also provide broader input regarding the appropriate avenue for how to extend benefits to customers.”


The order applies to Alpena Power Co.; Consumers Energy Co.; Detroit Thermal, LLC; DTE Electric Co.; DTE Gas Co.; Indiana Michigan Power Co.; Northern States Power Co.; Upper Peninsula Power Co.; Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp.; Wisconsin Electric Power Co.; Presque Isle Electric and Gas Co-Op; Michigan Gas Utilities Corp.; and SEMCO Energy Gas Co.



Gun Lake Tribe donates $5,000 to Safe Harbor

The Gun Lake Tribe has announced a $5,000 donation to Allegan-based Safe Harbor Children’s Advocacy Center.

“The Tribe and its citizens are very pleased to help further the cause of charitable organizations during this holiday season,” said, Senior Director John Shagonaby.  “Groups like Safe Harbor are a real blessing to our community so we’re happy to assist them with this donation.”


“On behalf of Safe Harbor, we want to give a big thanks to the Gun Lake Tribe for this generous donation,” said Executive Director Lori Antkoviak.  “As a non-profit organization we depend on donations to carry out our mission of protecting children and educating the public about the community-wide impacts of child abuse.”


The tribe also awarded a $10,000 donation to the National Indian Child Welfare Association and $5,000 to the Native American Rights Fund. The donations were made through a legal agreement to put unclaimed or forfeited funds left at the Gun Lake Casino into a special account to go to non-profit organizations or charities that the tribe selects.


Last fall, when the tribe announced the details of its fall revenue sharing payments, they noted it was a very special distribution because of the significant increase in revenues due to the recent expansion, and because they surpassed the $100 million milestone.


Pure Michigan $5 Hunt license deadline is Dec. 31

Time is running out to buy your Pure Michigan Hunt applications! Buy $5 Pure Michigan Hunt applications anywhere hunting licenses are sold or buy online at e-License. There is no limit to the number of applications you can purchase, but the deadline is Dec. 31, 2017.


Don’t miss out on your chance to win once-in-a-lifetime hunting opportunities and more than $4,000 in prizes from Michigan-based businesses. And remember, Pure Michigan Hunt winners can transfer one or all of their licenses to another eligible hunter.


The Pure Michigan Hunt licenses will be valid for the 2018 hunting season. Visit to learn more, to apply and to view the entire hunter’s prize package donated by Michigan organizations and businesses.


Dispose of or recycle your Christmas Tree

If you are a Hastings resident with a Christmas tree to dispose of, Public Service Department Director Lee Hays said the State Road site will remain open through Jan. 12, 2018 for Christmas tree drop-off. 

Hours for the site are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.;

Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.


No matter where you live you can recycle the trees, but first there is a best way to get the tree out of the house. To avoid a mess, place a plastic tree bag, available at hardware stores, underneath the stand when you set the tree up, or when you remove it, if necessary. When the holidays are over, pull the bag up around the tree, stand and all, and carry it outside. Remove the stand before recycling the tree, of course. If some needles do scatter inside, it is better to sweep them up; needles can clog vacuum cleaners.


Some suggestions for recycling from the National Christmas Tree Association:

* Sink them in private fish ponds for an excellent refuge and feeding area for fish.


* Set the tree in the garden or backyard as a bird feeder and sanctuary. Fresh orange slices or strung popcorn will attract birds and they can sit on the branches for shelter. Be sure to remove all hooks, garlands and tinsel strands. Within a year, the branches will become brittle and you can break the tree apart by hand or chip it in the chipper.


* If there is a wildlife rehabilitation site nearby, the trees will provide cover for birds, chipmunks, raccoons and other small wild animals, protecting them from predators as well as shielding them in harsh weather.

* Christmas trees are biodegradable, so you can remove the branches, chip them and use as mulch in the garden.  


* Some communities use shredded trees as a free, renewable and natural path material that fits both the environment and the needs of hikers.


Residents urged to take extra precautions with extreme cold

As the cold reaches down into Michigan this week wind chills are dropping down into the -20’s. Residents should take extra precautions over the coming days to ensure they are prepared for and protected from this cold snap.


What follows is an alert from the Ionia County Health Department: It is important to be aware of any changes in exposed skin during cold weather periods. Frostbite and hypothermia are very serious conditions that can be lessened by early recognition and treatment. Shivering can be a good indicator that it’s time to go in, as it is the first sign that the body is losing heat.


"If you are going to be doing outdoor activities for an extended period of time it is vital to be observant for signs of frostbite. These include numbness, and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If you think you have frostbite you should go indoors immediately and submerse the extremity in warm (not hot) water for 20-30 minutes until sensation returns. If it does not return in that time you should call your doctor,” Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Chad Shaw said.


While inside, monitor the indoor temperature carefully. Because they lose body heat much faster than adults, infants should never sleep in a cold room. It is also necessary for older adults to take extra home heating precautions, as they tend to have slower metabolisms and so make and retain less heat than other adults.


If you are caring for an infant or senior citizen, be sure to frequently check that their homes are adequately heated. If heating is not at a safe level, making alternative housing arrangements is recommended. When the weather is extremely cold, and especially if there are high winds, try to stay indoors. Making trips outside as brief as possible can help to reduce the potential dangers associated with cold weather.//


To remain healthy and safe this winter, please follow these cold-weather tips while outdoors:


?Dress warmly and stay dry: Be sure to dress in layers in wind resistant clothing. Wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers will hold more body heat than cotton. If your clothing is wet, go inside as soon as possible. When inside, remove the wet clothing as soon as possible.

?Avoid exertion: Cold weather can put extra strain on the heart. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s advice about shoveling snow or other hard work in the cold. The body is already working hard to stay warm, so extra work can cause an overload.

?Cover exposed skin: Always wear a warm hat that covers ears, gloves or mittens that cover the full wrist, and a scarf or ski mask to protect face and neck.

?Be Safe during recreation. Notify friends and family where you will be before you go hiking, camping, or skiing. Avoid perspiring or becoming overtired. Be prepared to take emergency shelter. Pack dry clothing, a two-way radio, waterproof matches, and paraffin fire starters with you. Do not use alcohol or other mood altering substances, and avoid caffeinated beverages.

Thornapple Manor celebrates 60 years of serving Barry County

Thornapple Manor will mark an historic occasion Jan. 2, 2018, with the unveiling of its 60th Anniversary logo.  Administrator Don Haney will start the festivities at 2 p.m. with a short presentation in the main lobby, followed by a cake and punch reception. The event is open to the community. Many community leaders will be on hand to help usher in the New Year as well as a year-long reflection of the past 60 years.


“Although the people, buildings and equipment have changed over the years, the heart of those that work and support Thornapple Manor has not. It is truly an inspiration to be surrounded by so many giving, talented and loving individuals. This is their celebration, we want to tell their stories,” Haney said.


Thornapple Manor will host many different activities throughout 2018 to acknowledge residents, family members, staff, volunteers and community members. Since 1958, Thornapple Manor has been delivering quality skilled nursing care, continually providing unrivaled patient care in an ever-changing environment while growing, developing and enhancing its services to adapt to needs within the community.


Over the years, Thornapple Manor has grown from a 105 bed facility to today’s 161 bed campus, providing long-term care services, specialized dementia/Alzheimer care and a rehab center.  


The event is open to the community.


Public hearing set for Hastings dog ordinance revision

 Revision of the city’s animal/dog ordinance was on the Hastings City Council agenda Tuesday. Before acting on it, the council opted to set a public hearing to listen to the public at the next council meeting in two weeks.


Supporters of pit bulls had asked the council to remove the language in the ordinance specifying the breed as vicious or dangerous two years ago and had asked for the results of the revision of the ordinance again in November. They were told it would be available before the end of the year.

A copy of the ordinance can be found on the city’s website in the Dec. 26 council meeting packet.


The council approved an MDOT performance resolution, one they sign every year that allows the city, or its contactors, to work in the MDOT rights of way.  “They’re not asking for anything they haven’t in the past…we still have to get permits for special projects,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.


An ordinance to change various regulations applying to parking of vehicles was unanimously approved, however, an ordinance extending the length of time a temporary storage units is allowed in the city as long as they are kept in good repair was sent back to the Planning Commission for clarification of what a storage unit is, how many are allowed on one property, the time limit and where they can be located.


Mansfield reported on his annual evaluation, saying he was pleased with the results, which had 94 percent of responses “excellent” or “good,” five percent “satisfactory,” one percent “no opinion,” and no “needs improvement.”  He said he would gladly share the results on his performance as city manager, but some of the comments were clearly not meant to be made public, so he would talk to council members individually about the results. He added none of those comments were about him.


Also, Councilman Bill Redman, responding to a letter to the editor protesting the use of taxpayer money for a proposed city skating rink, said the project he is working on will not get any city, county or state funding.  “I thought I made that clear, it will all be private money.”


BEDHD reports confirmed hepatitis A case in Eaton County

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) is reporting a confirmed case of hepatitis A in an Eaton County resident, the first during 2017. It is unknown if the case is related to an ongoing hepatitis A outbreak in southeast Michigan; laboratory testing to confirm or disprove such a link is underway.

The individual is not considered to be at high risk of spreading hepatitis A to others and is undergoing appropriate treatment.


Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, contagious liver disease often spread by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with infected feces or by oral contact with contaminated objects. Transmission can occur easily among household contacts and sexual partners.

Risk factors for getting hepatitis A include homelessness or use of transient housing, illicit drug use, and incarceration. Men who have sex with men and sex workers and their clients are also at high risk.

While the risk is higher among these specific populations, BEDHD recommends that all individuals be vaccinated against the disease.


Hepatitis A can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting several months. Illness generally occurs two to six weeks after exposure to the hepatitis A virus. Symptoms include fatigue, abdominal pain, yellow skin (jaundice), dark urine, and pale stool. Some people have no symptoms. Vaccination against hepatitis A and thorough hand washing can prevent infection. //


“Outside of vaccination, handwashing is the most important step that everyone can take to protect themselves from hepatitis A,” said Dr. J. Daniel Woodall, BEDHD medical director.

“With other contagious diseases like the flu, whooping cough, and gastrointestinal illnesses currently in our area, proper handwashing is the key, everyday action that people can take to keep healthy this holiday season.”


People who believe they have been exposed to hepatitis A or who have symptoms should contact their healthcare provider immediately. Those who want to be vaccinated should contact their healthcare provider or BEDHD’s Eaton County office at (517) 541-2630.

For more information, visit


River Valley Rail Trail recommended for $290,000 expansion

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board has recommended funding for expansion of the River Valley Trail in Ionia County, according to a press release from 87th District Rep. Julie Calley.


The $290,000 project would involve construction of 14.5 miles of non-motorized trail from the Ionia-Kent County line to the north city limits of Lowell, then south from Lowell to Saranac, where it will connect to the existing Fred Meijer Grand River Valley Trail. The new pathway would further develop an existing corridor, which connects the Ionia River Trail to the Clinton-Ionia-Shiawassee Trail and contributes to the planned 125-mile trail system between Alma and Owosso.


“Ionia County is an ideal destination for people seeking to take advantage of our abundant natural resources,” Calley said. “Expanding this trail system will give local families and visitors more opportunities to go outside and play and enjoy the scenery.

“This project is a perfect example of how local and state governments can work together and improve the quality of life for Michigan families.”


Funding for the project comes from the lease of state land and is designated on an annual basis in partnership with local governments. The legislature will consider the recommendation in 2018.


Barry-Eaton Board of Health continues discussing changes to TOST

At the Dec. 21 Barry-Eaton District Health Department’s Board of Health meeting, the board continued its discussions on revising the time of sale or transfer (TOST) program in response to constituent feedback, according to a health department news release update.


Barry County Commissioners Ben Geiger, David Jackson and Dan Parker and Eaton County Commissioners Joe Brehler, Blake Mulder, and Jane Whitacre are Board of Health members.


The board has been working with health department staff to make changes to the regulation since November. While progress is being made to address many of the key concerns about the program, Health Officer Colette Scrimger reviewed the existing state laws applicable to onsite septic and water systems that require local health department action, the update read.


“Everyone has to have an approved system, and while state and local laws are set up that way, there are no state laws that provide a method to find critical problems,” she said. “For example, if the health department discovers that a sewage system doesn’t exist, and a residence is discharging sewage illegally, the health department takes action to assure the sewage system is installed,” Scrimger said.


“However, many counties who do not have a TOST program do not have a process to find out if the system that was originally installed is still functional, or even if there is one there at all.”

According to the TOST 10-year report, the percentage of wells with problems requiring correction was about two in 10 sites, and about 2.5 sites out of 10 sites had problems requiring correction in their sewage system, she said.


Scrimger reviewed the key objectives that a public health-based sewage and water program is addressing:

1) Assure that state and local laws relating to sewage and water systems are being followed,

2) have a process in place to evaluate aging infrastructure,

3) assure that systems continue to function as intended,

4) standardize evaluations, so that buyers and sellers can be assured that they receive accurate information about their systems and,

5) education on the importance of maintaining on-site sewage and water systems.


The TOST program’s overall purpose is to protect public health and the environment. There was general consensus from the board members that these were important goals that should be retained, Scrimger said. She recommended that changes to the regulation be evaluated to see if they would be supportive of those goals, the update read. //


Board members reviewed and discussed potential changes to the regulation and will continue their discussions about a revised regulation at the next meeting in January, according to the news release. “As we continue to evaluate changes to the TOST program, it’s important that we assure that we are still protecting the public health and the environment of our counties,” Geiger said.


“I think it’s critical to know that Eaton County is willing to work on this, and it’s important,” Mulder said. “It should not detract from the relationship between our two counties, and the rest of the important work that the health department is doing.”


“Recent work on TOST is in addition to the continual response of the health department to public concerns. In September 2015, TOST improvements were made in several program areas, including communications, the decision appeal process, correction options, evaluation criteria, and evaluation categories,”  the update continued. “Further, in September 2017, the health department released the TOST 10-Year Report, which outlines the purpose of the program, its successes (including data analyses), and changes made to it since its inception,” it concluded.


TOST reports are available at

Board of Health meeting minutes and agendas are available at


Barry County Chamber of Commerce announces Athena awards

Strong and meaningful leadership is crucial to any community’s success, which is why the Barry County Chamber of Commerce serves as the host organization for the ATHENA program.


“The ATHENA program and awards are a way that we are able to bring acknowledgement of internationally recognized female leadership traits here to Barry County,” said Megan Lavell, past-chair of the Barry County Chamber and a 2012 ATHENA honoree.


The 2017 ATHENA Leadership Award recipient is Nancy Goodin, assistant vice president and marketing director at Hastings City Bank. 

“I am honored and humbled to be included in this group of accomplished women in Barry County. I am an example that one person, through their community involvement, can make a difference in Barry County,” Goodin said. “I hope that encourages other women and men as well, to realize they, too, can make a difference by finding initiatives they are passionate about and contributing their time and talents to those efforts.”


The 2017 ATHENA Young Professional Award recipient is Kristen Cove.

Cove said she was “in shock" when she was told. “It is humbling to be nominated by women that I consider to be my mentors. When you look at the list of past recipients it is overwhelming to consider myself as a fellow ATHENA.  I appreciate the Barry County Chamber of Commerce, the ATHENA Committee, as well as the local businesses that have sponsored the ATHENA Award in Barry County.”


The ATHENA awards will be presented at the Barry County Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 20 at Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners. For details, call 269-945-2454 or visit //


The daughter of a U.S. Navy officer, Goodin spent her formative years in San Diego, Panama, South Carolina and Puerto Rico before returning to her parent’s hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. She attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and lived there for 12 years before relocating to West Michigan.


At Hastings City Bank, Goodin spearheaded development of financial literacy programs for Barry County youth, and was instrumental in the launch of the Kickstart To Careers program with the Barry Community Foundation.


She was the driving inspiration and key organizer of the Women’s Giving Circle of Barry County; with more than 125 members, the giving circle gives over $30,000 annually to various charitable causes throughout the area. Goodin has served on the Thornapple-Kellogg School Board, and Pennock Hospital Board.  A loyal member of Hastings Rotary, she co-chairs the Barry Career Access Network’s “Affordability Team.”


“We are lucky to have her in our community in the role she plays to improve the lives of children and their families through financial independence,” said Bonnie Gettys, CEO of the Barry Community Foundation and past ATHENA honoree.

“There’s no denying that we are a much better community because of Nancy Goodin,” said, CEO of Hastings City Bank Mark Kolanowski.


Goodin’s family includes her daughter Lana, an architect; son-in-law Luke, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a new grandson named Jack.  Her son Chase is an automotive engineer in Hartland, Michigan.


Cove  is Thornapple-Kellogg Board of Education secretary, chair of the Thornapple Area Enrichment Foundation, chair of the Thornapple Area Parks and Recreation Commission, president of TK PTO, president of Page Elementary PTO, co-founder of Parents for TK Schools, Citizen Representative on the Barry County 911 Administrative Board, member of the Middleville ‘80 Acre Project’ committee, and serves on numerous sub-committees.


Cove is described by many involved with TK schools as giving, dedicated, tireless, amazing, and inspiring. “Kristen has truly embraced community leadership as a full-time job, dedicating herself to serving each organization with all she has,” said Catherine Getty, program director for Thornapple Area Parks and Recreation.


“Kristen is one of the few people I know who will walk toward a problem, taking personal initiative and willingly owning challenges as opportunities where others can’t or won’t,” said co-nominator Jessica Phillips. “Her  leadership style is “organic and humble, drawing people to her creative ideas by helping everyone involved imagine what the best-case scenario could look like. She is ‘in it’ with both feet, for the good of our schools, our kids and our community.” 


Cove and her husband Andy, both lifelong Barry County residents, live in Middleville with their four boys, Damon, David, Jack, and Erik. 


The ATHENA Leadership Model identifies eight distinct attributes that are reflective of women’s contributions to leadership: living authentically, learning constantly, advocating fiercely, acting courageously, fostering collaboration, building relationships, giving back and celebrating.


These personal traits that are more intuitive to women combined with the strongest aspects of traditional leadership, taking risks, assertiveness and hard work, prepares women to be successful leaders in the 21st century.


“These awards continue to be a prestigious honor for recipients of both ATHENA awards,” Lavell said. “These are the women who continue to do the work that needs to be done in our community to make Barry County a better place. More important than the outcome of their own efforts, is the inspiration they provide for other women to be leaders.”



Senate Bill 637 would take away city's control of its rights-of-way, Hastings councilwoman says

A bill introduced by Senator Joe Hune (22nd district) and co-sponsored by Mike Nofs (24th district) for the regulation by local authorities of wireless services providers and infrastructure will, “basically take away municipalities rights to control their own rights-of way,” Hastings City Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange said.

Senate Bill 637, introduced in October, would regulate rates and fees to the providers, collocation of wireless facilities and pole attachments, uses of rights-of-way, permitting and zoning reviews, and prohibit commercially discriminatory actions by local authorities and electric utilities as well as prohibiting certain insurance requirements.


The bill, if enacted, would be the "Small Wireless Communications Facilities Deployment Act,” with the purpose to increase investment in wireless networks for better access to emergency services, advanced technology and information and increase investment in wireless networks to enhance competitiveness in the global economy.


It is expected to streamline operations of wireless services in the public rights-of- way, enhance networks services, provide next generation services, and ensure reasonable and fair control of rights-of-ways by governmental units in the state. It is also intended to avoid interference with right-of-way use by existing public utilities and cable communications providers.


The systems are poles of varying heights with an antenna that looks like a garbage can mounted on the top, McNabb-Stange said.


Several years ago the city joined other municipalities, and with advice from the METRO Council, hired a law firm to develop guidelines for wireless providers  that they expected would come into the city. If SB 637 becomes law, it will nullify their work, McNabb-Stange said. “We would have to delay projects; all of our rights of way could be riddled with poles.” 


The Hastings ordinance calls for a 40 foot limit for poles, however, “one company wants a 120 foot pole. There are a certain number of feet you have to go down to support a standalone pole and that could interfere with our things in the rights of way,” she said.


Large telecommunication companies like AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint are going to smaller antenna along rights of way to do away with larger antennas on water towers and other city structures. The city would be able to charge “very, very little money; a $100 fee and no monthly charges,” she said.


“Telecommunication companies are right to want to improve service to their customers, but they are looking to do it for free.  The first place they go to is business areas because they go by the number of customers. The rural areas are always overlooked. The county and townships won’t get this kind of service; they’re few and far between.”


“It isn’t law yet, and now the FCC is getting involved,” McNabb-Stange said.  “The Metro Council is working with the legislature, they will send us a notice, especially if problems come up, telling us to contact our legislators.”//



A senate fiscal agency analysis said the bill would prohibit, among other things:

* A local authority from entering into an exclusive agreement for use of a right-of-way for work on utility poles or the collocation of small cell wireless facilities

* Charging a wireless provider a rate or fee for the use of a ROW

* Prohibiting, regulating or charging for the changing of collocation of small cell wireless facilities

* Deny an application unless there was a reasonable basis for the denial, and require a denial be supported by substantial evidence.


The bill would permit, among other things:

* A wireless provider to collocate small wireless facilities and work on utility poles in, along, across, upon, and under an ROW, subject to height limitations

* An authority to require a wireless provider to repair any damage to an ROW caused by the provider

* An authority to require an application for a permit, with work to begin within one year after granting a permit.

* Require an application and an application fee for a permit with requirements a zoning approval would have to meet.

* Establish requirements that a rate or fee to collocate a small cell wireless facility on a pole would have to meet.






Barry County Administrator earns near perfect evaluation

A total average score of 4.8 out of a possible 5 in his annual evaluation gives Barry County Administrator Michael Brown the same kind of validation he has earned from every Barry County Commission he has worked with.


Brown got 54 top of the chart 5’s. The remaining scores were either 4 or 4.5, with the exception of one 3. Two commissioners gave Brown 5’s across all twelve categories in the evaluation.

In both financial management and interaction, he was given a 5 by all the commissioners.


Comments from commissioners in the evaluation include praise for his leadership, providing consistent, informed and accurate judgements, always providing help and answers and as an outstanding ambassador for Barry County statewide.


His leadership in finances, reducing county liabilities by millions and saving for the future was noted, along with his ability to stay calm and not be coerced to speak in the heat of the moment and treating others with dignity and respect.

“Michael is someone that raises the bar, and someone we just like working with,” Commissioner Ben Geiger said.


“Thank you. I deeply appreciate the opportunity to do the work I do… and in the confidence you have in me,” Brown said. “Most importantly, I’m certain you all realize there is quite a depth behind me,” he said. “I try to advocate for you and I hope the commissioners are all comfortable, if you have a question, reaching out to department heads…when I don’t have the answer, I’m reaching out to those individuals…of course, Luella in my office… so, I thank them for all they do, and acknowledge that, that wisdom doesn’t just come from me…thank you.”


The 12 areas rated were leadership, financial management, motivation, professional development, communication, delegation, planning, prioritizing, employee relations, initiative, interaction and coordination with other units.

Yet another scam alert

Different ways criminals use to steal money from their victims come up all the time. This alert involving iTunes gift cards comes from the Michigan Attorney General’s office.


The iTunes scam is a demand for you to pay right away for taxes, hospital or utility bills, bail money, or to settle a debt. Scammers make up all kinds of reasons for why you owe money. The goal is the same: to steal from you.


When someone catches you off guard and hits your panic button, it’s hard to think straight. Criminals know this, and hope you will focus on the worse-case scenario they are painting and not on your common sense.


Con artists ask for an untraceable form of payment. The iTunes gift card is the payment method of choice right now. A gift card is like cash. It is a quick, convenient, and untraceable. Even when victims realize they’ve been scammed, there’s usually no way to reverse the transaction or return the funds.


Don’t pay anyone with a gift card. If you’re not shopping at the iTunes store, you should not be paying with an iTunes gift card. Never give the numbers on the back of your iTunes gift card to someone you do not know. If anyone asks you to pay with an iTunes gift card, report them to Apple 800-275-2273, or contact Apple Support online, and the Federal Trade Commission Complaint Assistant.


To report a scam, file a complaint, or for additional information, contact the Michigan Department of Attorney General: Consumer Protection Division P.O. Box 30213 Lansing, MI 48909 or call 517-373-1140, fax: 517-241-3771, toll free: 877-765-8388.

Barry County Commission handles two meetings in one day

The Barry County Board of Commissioners had a busy day Tuesday, with the committee of the whole in the morning and the regular board meeting in the afternoon. The morning session started with the delaying of a decision on TOST (see related story) but the commissioners still had more than a dozen other items to consider in the afternoon.


The board approved committee of the whole recommendations to:

*re-appoint Candice Stowe and Patricia Robinson to the Animal Shelter Advisory Board for one year terms.

*re-appoint Sager Miller, Marlin Walters, Carole Wiggs, David Tossava to three year terms to the COA board and appoint Sally Schuster Shoff for the remainder of a three-year term that expires on Dec 31, 2108.


*approve the total cost of $270,700 and the special assessment tax roll to pay for the replacement of the Gun Lake Dam. Allegan County has also approved it, so contracts will be let, and work can begin.

*approve a $10,000 grant from Two Seven Oh to continue the trap, neuter and release program of about another 100 to 150 free roaming cats in the county at the request of Animal Shelter Director Kenneth Kirsch, Jr. //


*re-appoint Joan L. Bosserd Schroeder to the Agriculture Promotion Board as agricultural education representative and Bob Baker as agribusiness representative for three year terms as recommended by Barry Conservation Director Sarah Nelson. The commission also approved changing the board’s bylaws to allow a quorum of half of the present members instead of the five members to avoid cancelling a meeting for a lack of quorum.


*appoint Joyce Snow to the Parks and Recreation Board for a three year term. In the morning meeting, commissioners directed Administrator Michael Brown to research and report on ways Charlton Park and the Parks and Recreation Board can collaborate to find potential cost savings and achieve county wide goals.


*a resolution recognizing Michigan State University Extension District Coordinator Don Lehman for his long service to the county through his involvement in Extension services. He will be at the next board meeting to accept the resolution.


*a collective bargaining agreement with the Governmental Employees Labor Council, Corrections Officers Division.

*an employee appreciation program that awards certificates and a traveling trophy to county employees for outstanding contributions and significant anniversaries with the county. Details will be finalized before the program premiers in March, 2018.


Brown had several requests that were also approved, including:

*a new ten-year agreement of the Barry County Solid Waste HOST agreement with Waste Management through 2027 and re-appoint Tom Rook to the solid waste committee for a three year term as representative of townships.


*transferring the general fund surplus to four specialty funds; building rehabilitation, capitol replacement, data processing and vehicle replacement,  


*authorizing auditors to make final year-end transfers to several court programs from the general fund and,

*budget amendment D-17, the final adjustment of the fiscal year.

TOST repeal discussion delayed until Feb. 6

First on the long list of items on the Barry County Commission’s committee of the whole agenda Tuesday was a resolution to rescind the TOST regulation by the end of 2017. After thorough discussion, the board voted to move consideration of the resolution to the committee of the whole meeting on Feb. 6.


The Barry Eaton District Health Department’s TOST regulation mandates inspection and, if deemed failing, repairs or replacement before the sale or transfer of property can be completed in Barry and Eaton counties.


Commissioner Vivian Conner explained her resolution to repeal, saying the commission voted in October to make the program voluntary and despite two months of negotiating by Barry and Eaton county and BEDHD officials, she saw little or no progress in changing the mandatory rule to voluntary.


She pointed to requests for repeal from individuals for years and more recently, in a town hall meeting, an on-line survey and resolutions offered by several groups.


Commissioner Jon Smelker made the motion to delay consideration on the matter to give the negotiators more time to work out a replacement program that would protect the environment and still allow county residents to freely buy or sell their homes.


The vote to delay the resolution was unanimous, however, Commissioner Heather Wing said there should be a tentative agreement by the February meeting, and Commissioner Howard “Hoot” Gibson said he was at the latest negotiating meeting and he didn’t see any progress.


In public comment, 11 (10 speakers and one in a letter) gave their opinions; nine wanted to repeal TOST, two spoke in favor of keeping it.


Commissioners Ben Geiger, Dan Parker and David Jackson and three Eaton County commissioners, Jane Whitacre, Blake Mulder and Joseph Brehler, make up the Health Board; they are talking to BEDHD officials, trying to reach agreement on changes to TOST.


Geiger, Parker and Jackson all asked for more time.


“A goal delayed, is not a goal denied,” Jackson said. Geiger likened the talks to a football game. “Progress is being made…we’re moving the ball down the field.”


“We’re still working on it; we need some time,” Parker said.

Icy Roads and Accidents

As the result of icy conditions there were a number of vehicle accidents Tuesday morning in Barry County.

 State Police Troopers in Hastings investigated vehicle accidents on Patterson road and M-179. The Barry County Sheriff's office also policed vehicle accidents.

Motorist are advised to use extreme caution especially entering  intersections.

Opioid Addiction Assistance Program now available at all Michigan State Police Posts

The Michigan State Police (MSP) Angel Program, a pre-arrest diversion program for those struggling with drug addiction, is now active and operational at all 30 MSP posts statewide.

Those seeking treatment can go to any MSP post during business hours, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.


The Angel Program, allows someone with a drug addiction to walk into a state police post to seek help for their addiction, without the fear of arrest or investigation. If accepted into the program, the individual is guided through a professional substance abuse assessment and intake process to ensure proper treatment placement.


An “Angel” volunteer, who is a member of the local community, is present to support the individual during the process and to provide transportation to the identified treatment facility. “The opioid epidemic is real and we all need to do our part to stop it,” said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the MSP.

“More people in Michigan die from drug overdoses than car crashes, and the Angel Program is one way the Michigan State Police is helping to reduce drug demand and serve those struggling with this deadly addiction.”


The program was first launched in October, 2016 at the MSP Gaylord Post and has since expanded across the state. To date, 37 people have been admitted to treatment through the program.


The Angel Program, modeled after a similar initiative developed in 2015 by the Gloucester, Massachusetts Police Department, is a partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Prepaid Inpatient Health Plans, private donations and a grant from P.A.A.R.I. (the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative. For more information, or to become an Angel volunteer or to make a donation to support the initiative, visit


Barry County Commissioners to vote Tuesday on rescinding TOST

The Barry County Board of Commissioners will vote Tuesday on a resolution to rescind the Barry Eaton District Health Department’s time of sale or transfer regulation, or TOST.

Commissioner Vivian Conner brought the resolution forward. “I want to send a clear message. I want to rescind TOST by Dec. 31, and then sit down and come up with a voluntary system,” she said. She noted a different, voluntary program would be in addition to the safeguards already in place that protect the county’s water supply.


“In October we (the county commission) had a consensus to make TOST voluntary that didn’t change anything,” she said.Despite data collected by the county commission in a public meeting in August and an online poll that showed the residents overwhelmingly wanted the regulation revoked, and after two months of talks between the health board and BEDHD officials, the health department will not agree to give up the time of sale and transfer provision that triggers the initial inspection, she said.


“They don’t write the laws; we are the legislative body in Barry County. It’s been ten years…it’s time.  I’m sure the health department will argue it’s a district, and you may hear some commissioners ask to go our separate ways. It may just stop enforcement in Barry County,” she said.


Conner said that their constituents have been asking, pleading and even demanding that the commission to do away with TOST since it went into effect.

“I want to start fresh in 2018 and know that it has been repealed based on our constituents requests. I don’t know how we can sit by and not do anything…we should listen to our people and do away with TOST.”


The regulation mandates inspection of on-site water and sewer systems in Barry and Eaton counties and, if deemed failing, replacement or repair before the sale or transfer of a property can be finalized.

Complaints in the past have included arbitrary and capricious decisions, the costs of inspection, autocratic management of the program by staff, an appeal that costs $350, too many delays, failing working systems and ordering them up to present day codes and violating property owner’s rights.




Shop with a Cop delights young Christmas shoppers

There were the usual amount of kids at Wal-Mart over the last few days, but instead of parents, many of the children were with a law enforcement officer.


The area school students were part of the “Shop with a Cop” program, armed with gift certificates from Wal-Mart, going up and down aisles and buying Christmas gifts for family members. Hastings Police officers, Barry County Sheriff’s deputies and some 25 kids were delivered to the store Tuesday by the Holly Trolley after enjoying snacks and crafts at the Community Center.


The officers and deputies were watching, answering questions, and keeping a running total of the cost of gifts as the kids made their selections. Some knew exactly what they wanted; others took a little longer to decide. All were serious shoppers.


After choosing the gifts and “paying” for them, Wal-Mart supplied the gift wrapping and the kids wrapped them, with help from officers if needed.

Children with Michigan State Troopers and DNR Conservation Officers were seen at Wal-Mart on Wednesday.





















Photos: (upper left) Sara Snider, 10, from Page Elementary, spots the toy pointed out by Barry County Deputy Rose O’Grady who notes it only cost $9.87 and is as great as one that costs $20.


(upper right) “What do you think?” Hastings Police Officer Dennis Lajcak asks Jayden Kikendall, 10, from Maple Valley School.


(lower left) Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf’s charge Kim Avery, 9, from Maplewood Elementary shows her excitement as they enter Wal-Mart to “Shop with a Cop.”


(lower right) Christmas gifts selected, the children wrap their gifts or get help from their “cop.”

Stats given on Barry County Sheriff's Office November activity

Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf gave the November uniformed patrol/jail activity report to County Commissioners Tuesday, with some comparisons from other years.


The uniformed patrol figures compared to those from five years ago showed 643 complaints were handled in 2017 and 426 in 2012. Accidents handed totaled 118 this year, with 98 in 2012; car/deer crashes were 80 this November, 103 in 2012.


Last month, 78 persons were arrested, 48 for felonies and 84 for misdemeanors. In 2012, 58 were arrested on 22 felony charges and 52 for misdemeanors. Eleven alcohol arrests were made in this report, versus 9 in 2012.


Activity at the jail included booking and processing 276 persons in November; it was 206 in 2013. Two hundred and four persons were released back into the community in November; 179 in 2013. Seventy-one public prints were taken last month, compared to 85 in 2013.


Figures for November with no data available for 2013 include 136 drug screens, 80 court transports, and 8,119 meals served to inmates at a cost of $1.42 a meal.

Repairs at the facility during the month cost $4,244.47 for plumbing, $1,878.94 for HVAC and $275 for security.

Outgoing Barry Central Dispatch director honored

Phyllis Fuller, director of Barry Central Dispatch 911, is leaving the post after 24 years with the organization, beginning as a telecommunicator. In addition to a resolution from Barry County recognizing her contribution to the county and its residents, several people also spoke of her at the Tuesday Board of Commissioners meeting.


The resolution centered on her accomplishments, with extensive professional affiliations and as an active member in many community organizations and builder of positive improvements at Central Dispatch.


Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf remembers Fuller as a rookie telecommunicator. When a situation, “went south on a hot call,” he said, Fuller’s calm voice gave them one less stressor to deal with.

Interim director Stephanie Lehman, in a quavering voice, held back tears, saying she was the first person Fuller hired as director and she was honored and blessed to have worked with her. “She’s amazing and I’ll never be able to fill her shoes,” she said.


Lani Forbes, chair of the administration board, recognized Fuller’s dedication, service and leadership. “Not just about 911. Her involvement is a blessing to our community,” she said.

“She was absolutely excellent with the employees,” 911 administrative board member Bill Redman said. “We have the best people at the center.”


Keith Murphy, also a board member, said Fuller was a quiet, hard worker for many years. “Behind the scenes, she was always the one to go to community events.” Others who spoke remembered Fuller’s dignity, leadership and professionalism, ability to handle complaints and always working to make the employees and organization the best it could be.  All said she would be truly missed.


Fuller said she was humbled by the recognition. “I have mixed feelings; I’ve given my adulthood to Barry County, and I truly love it.” While she appreciated the support of the commissioners, “I most appreciate my incredible staff. They are amazing dedicated people who are there for you 24/7.”


She received a standing ovation from the audience.


A telecommunicator in 1993, Fuller was promoted to supervisor in 2005, then to interim director in 2007 and director in 2008. She leaves 911 on Jan. 5 to become the Next Generation 911 Program Coordinator for Peninsula Fiber Network.



City will continue to maintain Hastings Dog Park

Hastings City Council members made no comment last night after a long list of complaints by the chairman of the Hastings Dog Park Companions (HDPC), mainly about the ongoing months-long turmoil inside the dog park committee. The controversy has caused concern by some that with the bad feelings in the committee and the termination of the agreement between the city and the HDPC, the park might close, with many dog owners asking the city to find a way to keep it.


City Manager Jeff Mansfield explained what is going on now and the future of the dog park after the city ends its agreement Jan. 16. The city expects to continue maintaining the park following the termination.


“Staff has been providing maintenance at the dog park for some time now, and things are going very well, so continuing to do so is certainly not a problem,” he said.

“Our staff has lots of experience doing so and is very skilled at those types of operations … based on reports from a variety of folks, the dog park is seeing more use than ever.”


Mansfield said the council will work with the HDPC and their attorney to amicably determine the appropriate transfer or distribution of assets at the site – both those that are affixed to the property and those that are not. The city council will consider a variety of ways to solicit the assistance and input of dog owners and users of the park as it continues in operation, he said.


They will also consider alternate forms of governance for the dog park in the coming months, including the possible formation of an advisory committee, such as they have with Riverside Cemetery and the Hastings Outdoor Nature Area, or even the possibility of contracting for certain operations at the dog park, he said.


“I believe everyone involved in this matter views the dog park as a wonderful asset in the Hastings community. And, I think the city council wants to find a way to operate the park in a manner that maximizes its value for the users and for the entire community.” 


Barry County Commissioners to hold two meetings in one day

Barry County Commissioners will hold two meetings on Tuesday, Dec. 19, and none on Dec. 26, making allowances for Christmas. The committee of the whole meeting will be at 9 a.m., and the regular board’s second meeting of the month will follow at 3:30 p.m.


In Tuesday business, the commissioners approved a collective bargaining agreement with the Police Officers Labor Council, Corrections Supervisors Unit for a three-year contract at a cost of $12,555 in 2018.

The agreement calls for a two percent raise in each of the three years plus a differential increase of 10 percent for corrections sergeants above officers in 2018, 11 percent above officers in 2019 and 12 percent above officers in 2020.


In other action, commissioners:

* will receive Administrator Michael Brown’s annual evaluation form either by computer or hard copy. Commission Chairman Ben Geiger asked the evaluations be completed by next week.

* approved the 2018 agreement between the county and Michigan State University Extension to provide MSUE programs

* reappointed Regina Young to serve on the Barry County Solid Waste Oversight Committee for a three-year term

* approved an agreement with VARIPRO for third party administration of the county’s short term liability claims



Another scam


The Michigan State Police are advising individuals to beware of another scam in the area.

The most recent scam comes with the caller telling the individual it's an emergency situation concerning their brother-in-law. Of couse the bottom line is they need money to help the brother-in-law, which as it turned out was not having any problems. It was all about getting money from an individual who was led to believe their was a serious problem.

The State Police advise. Do not giving any personal information over the phone, these people will use any means to get your money.

State Police collect food and gifts

Michigan State Police Troopers from Hastings and Wayland spent sunday at the Hastings Walmart  accepting food and gift items from shoppers in their annual Stuff the Blue goose Christmas program. Three of the patrol cars were used to collect the items that  individuals donated as they were doing their shopping.


Trooper Brian Roderick said, "we were overwhelmed by the generosity of giving by the local shoppers and spending time visiting with the troopers. It was a wonderful day!  Many thanks for stuffing the Blue Goose."

Hastings Dog Park agreement termination hotly protested

The Hastings City Council and city staff were both complimented and condemned Monday.


“I just want come out tonight to commend all members of the council and city staff for the job that was done this year; it was a tremendous, great year,” Hastings resident Mike Snyder said.

"The Christmas parade was something unbelievable, and all the activities, I know there’s  been a lot of hard work and dedication and a lot of challenges for all of you, and I definitely want to thank you for all you’ve done, and I look forward to 2018.”


Christopher Geisert, chairman of the Hastings Dog Park Committee, was not there to praise the council. He charged dog park companions were “under attack” after the city manager and council inserted themselves into a dispute between the dog park and one individual who was making untrue accusations and bent on making trouble for the organization.


The council’s involving itself in the conflict has allowed one individual to bully and run roughshod over the committee, Geisert said. Several attempts to resolve the conflict with the woman in question resulted only in screaming, cursing and verbal abuse, he said.


Geisert said he was told the committee’s request for a change in the agreement with the city would not be a problem, but once in the meeting they were, “ambushed and hung out to dry,” by the council, and left with no chance for rebuttal of its decision to change the agreement without both sides agreeing to it.


So far, no council member has contacted any committee member to talk about the matter, he said.

“Reportedly, a Hastings Council member has been on social media telling people not to donate at the dog park, volunteer at dog park events or help the with the park in any way,” Geisert said. “This is all on social media.”


He detailed several accusations against the disaffected woman, including ignoring a cease and desist order and the possibility of defamation, among other charges, against her.

Outright lies, misinformation, false accusations of mismanagement and personal attacks are preventing the smooth operation of the dog park and causing people to avoid the park, he said.


There were no questions or comments from council members. Mayor Dave Tossava said the city served the required 90-day notice of termination of the agreement with the dog park committee in October, and on recommendation of city Attorney Stephanie Fekkes, will allow the termination to become effective on Jan. 16, 2018.


Fekkes said she would not go over the reasons for the termination previously aired in October, only that the city’s action is appropriate and, “in the best interest of city.”

Infrastructure dominates Hastings City Council meeting

Water for the new Hastings Fiberglass Products facility in Rutland Township will be delivered by the City of Hastings, likely by Thursday, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said Monday.

The request by Rutland Township to accept the water main extension along West Green Street was approved by the council with the condition that the necessary legal paperwork be completed. The township board is expected to approve final easements Wednesday.


The extension of Hastings city water and sewer service into the township is part of an urban services agreement between the city and the township. Providing the service starts the process of withdrawing the Urban Services and Economic Development Agreement from escrow for execution, which could take up to a year.


The council approved an agreement with the MDOT for funding for sidewalks, sidewalk ramps, signs and pavement marking for the Safe Routes to School project. The grant will pay for nine segments in the area of the Hastings Middle School, Central Elementary, and Northeastern Elementary.


The federal funds will be administered by the MDOT and pay 100 percent of the project. The city will pay for design and construction engineering and materials testing. Those costs are covered in this year’s budget, Mansfield said.The project cost was originally set at $689,900, but came in at $706,000. However, Mansfield said there is a provision in the contract that allows for adjusting the figures up or down. In the worst case, the city would have to pay the difference, he said.


In other infrastructure matters, a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Storm, Asset Management, Wastewater (SAW) program grant will pay low bidder Perceptive Services $196,962.96 for cleaning and televising 30,000 feet of storm and 90,000 feet of sanitary sewer lines as part of the infrastructure evaluation process of the program.


Department of Public Services Director Lee Hays said the winning bid was considerably lower than the $350,000 expected to be asked for the work and they may be able to add more lines to the list. They also got bids of $317,675.50 and $339, 925.45 from out of state companies.

Also, two ordinances had first readings; one would change various regulations applying to parking of vehicles, the other would allow temporary storage units in the city as long as they are kept in good repair. Now they are allowed only for an initial 90 days with a 90-day extension. The planning commission has recommended approval of both amendments. Action will be taken at the next council meeting.


In other council business:

*The form for Mansfield’s annual evaluation was passed out with a request they be tuned in to Rusty Dowling who will tabulate the results for the next meeting.


*Mayor Pro-tem Bill Redman was reappointed to the administrative board of Barry Central Dispatch 911.


*The council approved and placed on file the 2015-2017 audit report from Rehmann.


*NOTE: The Dec. 25 the Hastings City Council meeting has been moved to Dec. 26.




Lake Odessa couple injured in rollover accident

On 12-9-17 deputies from the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office responded to a rollover accident involving one vehicle. While responding to the scene the deputies were advised there were two occupants and one occupant was trapped under the vehicle.


Through investigation it was determined that a Chrysler Town and Country van, driven by a 79 year old woman from Lake Odessa, had lost control of her vehicle while maneuvering the corner on Tupper Lake Rd at Jackson Rd. While trying to correct her vehicle, the driver slid onto the south shoulder of the road before over correcting and sliding sideways across the center of the road. The van then struck the ditch on the north side of the road and overturned onto the passenger side.


As a result of the collision the passenger, her 80 year old husband, was partially trapped under the passenger side door. Both parties were extricated and transported to Spectrum Butterworth hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.


Assisting on scene by Lake Odessa Police Department, Lake Odessa Fire Department, Clarksville Fire Department, Reed and Hoppes Towing, Life EMS, and Ionia County Central Dispatch.  Speed was a factor. 

Winter weather a factor in several accidents on I-96

During Monday morning’s snow fall, there were more than 15 accidents on I-96.  Most of them were property damage accidents and slide offs due to the weather.  There was a large back up due to this accident west bound on I-96 just west of Sunfield Hwy.


While traveling west bound, the driver of a tractor trailer lost control of their vehicle.  The truck sideswiped a pick up before going into the median and overturning.  The driver was hauling 3000 lbs. reams of paper that were thrown from the truck upon it over turning.  Several of these landed in the expressway causing other vehicles to have to swerve to avoid hitting them.  Five vehicles ended up hitting the papers or other vehicles during the evasive maneuvers.  There were no injuries to parties involved. 


The expressway was down to one lane for the next five hours while efforts were taken to upright the truck and clean up the papers.  Reed and Hoppes, Berlin/Orange fire department, life EMS, and Ionia County Central Dispatch assisted on scene. 


Suspect arrested for felony home invasion in Mulliken

Eaton County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a home in the village of Mulliken on a report that a man with a gun had broken down the door to the house, held a female victim at gunpoint, and had fired off a round in the house.


According to an Eaton County Sheriff news release, the 40 year old suspect then left the victim’s house and went back to his own residence  on Shilton Road in Ionia County. His wife and daughter saw him with the gun and left the house.


The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office and Michigan State Police assisted in securing the suspect’s home while a search warrant was obtained. The suspect, who’s name has not yet been released, was eventually called out of the house and taken into custody.


He was transported to the Eaton County Jail on charges of Home Invasion 1st degree and felonious assault. Additional charges may be issued following review by the Eaton County Prosecutor’s office.

State House bill to ban taxes on Groceries

State Representative Jullie Calley who represents Barry County cosponsored legislation to prohibit local governments from imposing taxes on the manufacture, distribution and sale of food and beverages.

Calley pointed out that purchasing groceries can represent a large portion of a family's monthly budget.

Calley said, "Our house bill prevents local communities from placing an undue burden on families and farmers.

Taxes on groceries would have a tremendously negitive impact on families who are living from paycheck to paycheck and seniors living on fixed incomes."

Lawrence Road residents thanked for patience during road work

In a letter from the Barry County Road Commission, Lawrence Road residents were recognized for their patience during the heavy construction work done on the road during the fall season.


“I personally would like to personally thank you all for your patience and kindness,” wrote Jacob Welch, director of operations. “I have been onsite daily and from my experience, and from the experience of our contractor, everyone has been patient, kind and welcoming.”


Welch said in the month of October, the area had 11.25 inches of rainfall. “This didn’t lend itself to road construction,” he said.


Much of the work has been done, but there is more to do. When weather allows in the spring, traffic control will go back in place and the rest of the work will be completed with additional grading and spreading topsoil and seeding. After restoration is complete the final coat of asphalt will be placed and the road fully open to traffic, he said. He estimated the work would take a few weeks.


In the meantime, the road is open with advisory signs as the final cost of asphalt is not completed.

 “As the road sits is how the road will remain through the winter. We will monitor the site regularly and address any issues that arise.”


“We certainly realize this was horribly inconvenient and it was handled by everyone involved very well. This is what we truly appreciate about being part of the Barry County community. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free  to give me a call at 269-945-3449. We will see you in the spring!”

Lt. Governor Brian Calley officially running for governor

Lt. Governor Brian Calley formally launched his campaign for governor this week with vows to “Continue the Comeback” and “Make Michigan the Most Prosperous State in the Nation”

In a new release announcing his intention, Calley outlined his reasons for running for the highest political post in the state.


“Not long ago, Michigan’s biggest problem was a lack of jobs. Seven years and more than 500,000 new jobs later, our economy has outgrown our workforce and our future is bright,” Calley said.

“I am proud to have been an integral part of Michigan’s extraordinary rise from the recession that plagued our state during the ‘Lost Decade.’ We set out to make Michigan the comeback state and that’s exactly what we did. I am running for Governor to build on this strong foundation and make Michigan the most prosperous state in the nation,” he said.


Calley is known for redefining the role of Lieutenant Governor in Michigan, played an integral role in the state’s comeback, and is passionate about building a state where any person willing to work hard has an opportunity to succeed, the release read.


uring the Snyder/Calley administration, Michigan’s business climate ranking climbed from 40th to 12th and the corporate tax ranking from 49th to eighth, according to the release. //


The deciding vote to balance the budget, Calley led the effort to eliminate thousands of rules and regulations. More than 500,000 jobs have been created since December 2010, Michigan’s unemployment rate is at a 17-year low and outpacing the nation in the workforce growth rate, the release continued.


Michigan is the number one Great Lakes state for job creation and sixth in the country; the state is number one in America for creating new manufacturing jobs and in the top 10 in population growth among 25 to 34 year olds, it read.


A nationally recognized Autism advocate, Calley has substantially increased access to autism services, improving the lives of thousands of families in Michigan.

He is also heavily engaged in increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities through the bipartisan “MI Hidden Talent” initiative, the news release read.


Calley led the Mental Health and Wellness Commission, the Special Education Task Force, the Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force, the Child Lead Poisoning Elimination Board and the Mental Health Diversion Council.


A community banker for more than 10 years, he worked his way from the mailroom to vice president. He was elected twice to the Ionia County Board of Commissioners and elected state representative, also for two terms.


Calley earned degrees from Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He and his wife Julie live in Portland with their three children: Collin, Reagan and Karagan.


Photo: Lt. Governor Brian Calley


Celebrate "Of Christmas Past" at Historic Charlton Park this weekend

Children and the young at heart will delight in the holidays of yesteryear during “ Of Christmas Past" at Historic Charlton Park Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 9 and 10 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

The park’s turn-of-the-century village and museum will be staffed by volunteers and adorned with festive decorations, a train display and fresh evergreens.


Take a wagon ride, and visit with St. Nicholas who has plenty of candy canes for good boys and girls.

Guests are encouraged to make holiday crafts, including a candle and yarn doll. Traditional food and drink samples will be available in the village, with wassail, roasted chestnuts, cinnamon and sugar apples and popcorn, and coffee and cookies are served at the Sixberry House.


The Thornapple Wind Band and the Thornapple Valley Dulcimer Society will provide live holiday music at the Carlton Center Church. The park gift shop will also be open.

Daily admission is $6 for those 13 and up, $4 for ages five to 12 and children four and under are free. 


Local citizens interested in donating items to a “wish list” of packaged cookies, popcorn kernels, chestnuts and apples to help the park offset event costs, are encouraged to contact park staff. 

For additional information, visit  The park is located southeast of Hastings, north of M-79, at 2545 South Charlton Park Road.


Photo: The Charlton Park Christmas tree being decorate for an earlier "Of Christmas Past."

Pearl Harbor

76 years ago December 7, 1941 Japan attacked the United States Navel Base at Pearl Harbor Hawaii sending the United State into war with Japan. On September 2, 1945,  Four years later on board the Battleship Missouri  in Toyko Bay General Douglas MacArthur accepted Japans formal surrender ending World War Two.

**What you should know about Hickory Corner's American Legion Post 484

**The Hickory Corners American Legion Post 484 was founded in 1946, named the Simmonds/Williams Post. It’s at 3801 West Hickory Road, in Hickory Corners, three miles east of Gilmore Car Museum.


Their telephone number is 269-671-5230. “We have an answering machine if we’re not there; but we’re open every day from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and closed Sundays,” Post Commander William Fayling said. They have a website,, and a Facebook page.


A Memorial Day Parade, Trunk or Treat, free dinner for vets on Veterans Day, Poppy Days, raffles for dinners and tickets to the Barn Theater and an appearance by Santa at the December steak fry are some of the events that involve them in the community.

The Post has 175 members, plus the membership of the Sons of American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary.


An Honor Guard is available to serve at local military funerals, and lead parades. They also show the colors at special events, when requested.

“We have a great Memorial Day Parade. The ladies do a lot of work on it; last year was the longest parade we have ever had,” Fayling said.


The post serves several meals to the public. In the winter months, a steak fry is hosted the third Saturday of every of month from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on the second Sunday, they host an all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

“We have a fish fry every Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., except the third Friday during the winter months.


“We have an open grill every night from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. with specials like deli sandwiches and pizza on Mondays, and burger and fries for $4.84 on Thursdays, then there’s the Friday fish fry,” Fayling said. The auxiliary meets the first Monday of the month at 5:30 p.m., the Sons of American Legion meet the second Tuesday at 6 p.m. and post members meet the third Wednesday at 6 p.m.


The post owns Cadwallader Park just west of Hickory Corners which was donated to the post by the Walters Family in the late 1950’s. The only community park in the immediate area, it’s being renovated with many new upgrades added. “We’re an active, involved post,” he said.


In addition to Fayling, other officers at the post are Post Adjutant Herman I. Clear. Commander of the Sons of the American Legion is Geoff Shepard; Adjutant is Michael E. Gerlofs.

America Legion Auxiliary President is Chris K. Reed, and Vice President is Robin L. Robbins.


The legion and all of its members, through shared interest, support all veterans and the community. For information on joining the organization, visit



Barry County Sheriff attends summit on mental health, substance abuse and the law

Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf attended a Mental Health and Criminal Justice Strategic Summit hosted by the Justice Center, the Council of State Governments, in November.


Experts spoke on incarcerated or homeless people and the community justice system and behavioral health. The focus was the justice system’s ability to identify those with mental or substance abuse problems, how to divert them from jail or prison and also to reduce recidivism.


Policy Research Associates presented the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM), a method for achieving community-based solutions for people with those issues who are involved in justice systems.


The SIM offers five steps from first contact of those with behavioral problems and the justice system, key steps for each intercept, and the challenges in each step.

To be effective,  all intercepts require cross system collaboration by the agencies involved, identification of those with mental or substance abuse issues, access for treatment, support treatment  from Social Security and Medicaid, information sharing and measurement of performance  by health, criminal justice and housing providers.


Leaf credited the Barry County Mental Health Department for its critical role and its cooperation with the sheriff’s office. “From its leadership, right down through the staff, we have an excellent working relationship for the very much needed professional services they provide for the facility.”

Leaf said as the state closed most mental health facilities, the jails became where those with mental issues wound up, when none of the facilities were prepared. “We’re doing the best we can for the short and long term future of the community,” he said


“It’s a nationwide problem. If someone has a mental health crisis, we end up having to put them somewhere, and it’s often it’s jail; usually a crime has been committed,’ he said.

“Deputies learned to recognize early stages of mental issues and who to call. Everyone who has physical contact with someone brought into our jail has had the training.”


At the summit, Barry County was recognized with other counties for their efforts to divert those with mental issues from jail, and its pilot programs. Leaf noted. The State of Michigan is also working to improve of the sharing of health information and better recidivism tracking, among other efforts. Attendants were given a list of 10 national and state resources to help with their programs.


The SIM was developed by Mark Munetz, MD, Patricia S. Griffin, PhD and Henry J. Steadman, PhD in the early 2000s. It has been refined and tested over several years.


Barry County commissioner has experience in employee recognition

A discussion Tuesday by Barry County commissioners on an employee recognition program at the county level prompted Commissioner Dan Parker to offer a suggestion.

Instead of a small event every month or two for one employee, he suggested a once a year event for all employees.


Years ago in Middleville, after hearing rumors the village fire department was feeling unappreciated, he organized an event to show them how they much they were valued. He got donations that paid for a meal in the TK cafeteria and a program in the auditorium with a professional magician that was very well attended by the community and the firefighters.


It was in January on a bitterly cold night with blowing snow, but the community still came out to show their support. “It was a good family night and made good memories, too,” Parker said.


Parker has long been a believer in recognizing employee contributions. He sat on the Thornapple Kellogg Board of Education when the district’s bus drivers were taking some criticism in 1992.

He and his wife Linda invited all of the drivers to brunch in their home that December and they have every December but one since.


Now, the brunch includes bus drivers, transportation staff, the TK superintendent, board of education members and others, with many contributing to the occasion. The board of education now pays for the food for some 30 guests, and others help prepare the food.


Parker remembers a humorous sidelight of their efforts to recognize the drivers. After he retired from the school board after more than a dozen years, he got a call from then-Superintendent Kevin Konarska who was involved in negotiations with the driver’s union.

“I gotta call you,” Konarska said. “They want to know if you are still going to have the driver’s brunch.” While not a negotiated item, it showed the Parkers their efforts were appreciated.


What started as a nod to a group of employees has grown to something much larger over the past 25 years. “The best part is they get to know each other; it builds respect,” Parker said of the annual gathering. Next week, the bus drivers and others, will again be guests of Dan and Linda Parker for brunch.




Employee recognition proposal brings questions from Barry County Commissioners

An employee recognition program for Barry County employees brought up by Barry County Commissioner Ben Geiger Tuesday brought many questions from other commissioners.


Department heads get recognition, but there are 275 employees who carry out the functions of the county every day who don’t, Geiger said.

He suggested a program to recognize employees using a model the state legislature uses. A traveling trophy goes to the employee picked by other staffers.  The first honoree would be appointed by the commission; after that, the winning employee would select the next one to have the trophy, but they would be from a different department.


There would be a little ceremony, every month or two, with a small certificate at a board meeting for the selected employee Geiger said. Commissioner Howard “Hoot” Gibson wanted to know “if other counties do this” and later, “would the employees want it?”


Commissioner Jon Smelker thought it would likely end up a popularity contest. Commissioner Heather Wing wondered if it goes for all departments; Thornapple Manor, the sheriff’s office, the COA?

“Would there be applications from employees and then choose from the applications?” Commissioner Vivian Conner asked “Is this to boost morale or recognizing those achieving more in the workplace?” asked Commissioner Dan Parker.


Geiger said he will bring a formal proposal with more information to the next committee of the whole meeting.


In other business, the committee of the whole recommended the full board approve:


*renewal of an agreement between the county and Michigan State University Extension for its services to county residents in 2018. The $116,283 assessment will pay for operating expenses for extension personnel, the 4-H program, and a clerical employee for the local MSUE office.


*the appointment of  Regina Young to a seat on the Solid Waste Oversight Committee representing the Barry Eaton District Health Department for a three year term.


*the renewal rate of $2.25 a month per county employee to VERIPRO of Grand Rapids for administration of the county’s self-funded short term disability claims for one year.


*moving the Dec. 26 board of commissioners meeting up to Dec. 19 to accommodate holiday and vacation plans during Christmas week. A committee of the whole meeting is scheduled for the morning of Dec. 19. Geiger will look at the committee of the whole agenda before setting a time for the county board meeting.


Hastings leaf pickup

The Department of Public Services will continue leaf pickup in Hastings, Wednesday 12-6-17 beginning at North Michigan Avenue and East Mill Street, and will work north and west from there.


"There will probably be a motion to rescind TOST by the end of the year," Barry Commissioner Howard "Hoot" Gibson

Barry County Commissioners negotiating revisions to the TOST regulation with their Eaton County counterparts and Barry Eaton District Health Department officials, said Tuesday they were not making much progress but were on the right track.


Others were not as patient.


At issue is the Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation TOST, which mandates inspection of all on-site water and septic systems by certified evaluators and, if deemed failing, repaired or replaced before a property can be sold or transferred. It has been roundly condemned by Barry County residents since its inception 10 years ago.


The Health Board had a three-hour meeting last Thursday, Commissioner Howard “Hoot” Gibson said. “We’re not happy with this. They still have too much involvement in the process. There will probably be a motion to rescind TOST before the end of the year,” he predicted. “We’ve been screwing around with this long enough.”


Commissioner Vivian Conner said Barry County Commissioners sent the Health Board its consensus that they wanted to repeal TOST so county taxpayers and residents with property could get some relief from the regulation.

“Do away entirely with TOST. Then, the county could come up with a new completely voluntary program to go with the laws already in effect,” she said.


Citizen Larry Bass questioned what happens if the talks making TOST voluntary fail. “The counties demographics and priorities are so different, it’s time to separate (the BEDHD) and pay more attention to Barry County citizens,” he said.


“In my opinion, we’re not getting much input from Eaton County,” Commissioner David Jackson said. “We're moving in the right direction, but getting it done, we need to hammer out the details. I’m not completely happy.”


Commissioner Dan Parker said they were getting push back from one Eaton County commissioner, “but I got the impression that things were going our way…we have some work to do. We’re not there,” he said.


Commissioner and chair Ben Geiger said they offered voluntary or rescinding the regulation at the first meeting, but the other side was “warmer” to repealing sections of the regulation.


The Board of Health, made up of Geiger, Parker and Jackson and Eaton County commissioners Blake Mulder, Jane Whitacre and Joe Brehler, have met twice with the BDHD officials to discuss changes. The BEDHD is represented by Health Officer Colette Scrimger and Environmental Health Director Regina Young.





City of Hastings audit gets an "A"

Rehmann Robson, the auditing firm for Hastings, reported on the outcome of its 2016-2017 fiscal year audit of the city’s financial practices and gave the city a “clean opinion,” which they compared to a grade of “A,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.


The report in part read, in their opinion, the financial statements prepared by the city staff presented fairly the respective financial position of the governmental activities, the business-type activities, the aggregate discretely presented component units, each major fund, and the aggregate remaining fund information… in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.


Also, “the respective changes in financial position and, where applicable, cash flows thereof and the respective budgetary comparisons for the general fund and each major special revenue fund for the year then ended were in accordance with the principles,” the report said.


“Essentially, that means that they found the City’s financial statements for FY 16/17 to be in order, to reflect what the City did during the year along with the resultant changes in financial status, and to have been prepared in accordance with the appropriate laws and standards,” Mansfield said.


Changes in the city’s internal controls recommended by Rehmann following the malfeasance of a former employee have been, or are being implemented, Mansfield said.


Power Outage

High winds have knocked out power to thousands of Michigan resident as a powerful cold front pushes through the state.

Consumers energy is reporting 734 in Barry county, 195 in Hastings, Middleville 358, Delton 61, Lake Odessa 14  out of service, in Kent county 5,125, Kalamazoo County 2,540, in Ionia County 187.


Church security training offered by Barry County Sheriff

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office invites Barry County churches to a seminar on Feb. 16 on the basics of church security. The all-day session will cover safety and security topics that a church should follow, and help them form their own security team going forward.

The training includes how to increase security, deal with medical issues and weather concerns and how to handle funds in the most secure manner, Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf said.


The sheriff’s office has its own policies for church security team members to use when writing their own guidelines, and will help with writing them, Leaf said. Any church representative can call the sheriff’s office and apply to attend. Anticipating a crowd, the training will be held at the Thornapple Valley Church.


The BCSO has offered the training to Barry County and other area churches since two students shot and killed 13 at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado in April, 1999.



The Hastings Fire Department was called out at 2:00-pm Saturday to a fire at 705 East Grant Street. The fire appeared to have started in the attached garage of the one story house from one of the vehicles.  No injuries.


Jingle & Mingle

It was a perfect weekend for the annual Jingle & Mingle celebration in Hastings.

Temperatures in the 50s, plenty of sunshine for folks of all ages enjoying an outstanding weekend of fun for all. A Christmas tree lighting ceremony, Horse drawn carriage rides, an outstanding Christmas Parade, kids and Santa, fun run, a chili cookoff just to name a few of the three days of holiday events.

and nobody seemed to miss the snow. 

Newest Hastings police officer believes in community policing

Hastings police department’s reputation for active community policing attracted its newest officer, Jeremy Belknap.


Belknap, 22, from Otsego, graduated from Kalamazoo Valley Police Academy in November of 2016, and went to work as a St. Joseph County Sheriff’s deputy.


He applied for an open position in Hastings PD because working with community policing in a smaller venue than a county, gives him a better chance to get to interact with the people he serves.


 “Hastings has a lot of community policing activities going. I love the opportunity to know who you are protecting on a daily basis.” He sees his job as helping people while enforcing the law, something that fits in with community policing. He said all police officers should be approachable and points to the liaison program in the schools as an example.


In his third week on the department, he’s is in the field training phase which “is pretty tough, but it’s teaching me a lot. This is a very good department with good administration.”


Belknap was a volunteer reserve officer in Allegan for two years, but his interest dates back to fifth grade when he was named a Conflict Manager, helping teachers on the playground at recess. “I always enjoyed that and the teachers taught me how to resolve conflicts.”


He is into physical training “big time” and weight lifting, and he’s in the outdoors whenever he gets the chance. Belknap has agreed to take part in the annual flag football game, the fundraiser “Cops vs Cadets” when the officers take on the Hastings Police Cadets. It doesn’t matter where they put him on the field. “Whatever role I am given to play, I will play,” he said with a smile.


Belknap’s family includes his parents, Marcia and Jeff Belknap, an older sister and older and younger brothers.


Photo: HPD Officer Jeremy Belknap


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