Local News Archives for 2018-01

Gun Lake Dam replacement underway


The Gun Lake Dam, which was saved from collapse by temporary emergency action in May, 2015, is being replaced by Nashville Construction Company, and will be completed within two weeks, according to Barry County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull.

After the near collapse of the dam on Marsh Road, Land & Resource Engineering (LRC) recommended a new control structure made of steel to protect public safety, properties around the lake and preserve natural resources. An informal meeting of residents from around the lake showed all in favor of replacing the dam. The total cost of $270,000 will be paid through a special assessment district around the lake. Allegan and Barry county commissioners both approved the replacement.


Photo: (left) Officials gather for the start of the work on the Gun Lake Dam. They are, from left, Project Manager with LRC Chad Mencarelli, Yankee Springs Supervisor Mark Englerth, Barry County Commissioner Vivian Conner, Barry County Administrator  Michael Brown,  Allegan County Drain Commissioner  Denise Medemar, Barry County Deputy Drain Commissioner Tammy Berdecia, Allegan County Drain Commission Maintenance Supervisor Brent Scholten, and Barry County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull.




















(left) Heavy Equipment from Nashville Construction Company is moved into place to replace the Gun Lake Dam.













(left) The Gun Lake Dam before any work is done.



Former Rutland Township Supervisor Jim Carr honored for years of dedicated public service

Jim Carr, of Rutland Township, was honored by a Barry County Joint Planning Commission resolution with his December retirement from public service. He also earned high praise from Hastings City Manager Jeff Mansfield, a man and friend he worked with for years on city and township planning and zoning.


“Jim Carr was an amazing public official.  But in thinking about him, it isn’t easy to summarize what made him successful and effective in a few paragraphs,” Mansfield said. “I think Jim’s success stemmed from a combination of strengths that he brought to the job. 


“Jim was, and is, extremely intelligent. He had a very diverse and well-rounded background in public service. Never in it for himself, Jim’s only interest was to do the best job possible for those living, working, or visiting the community,” Mansfield said. 


“He is personable and very approachable and can almost immediately relate to anybody he meets.  He was willing to put in as much time and effort it took to get the job done and he never settled for simply taking the easy or comfortable route. 


“Jim could see the ‘big picture’ and he based his work on the long-term view. He was very rational and analytical, a great thinker and also a great listener.  He always viewed his role and position on matters in the context of the whole and would never compromise the interests of those he served. But, Jim was also willing to work collectively with others for the ‘greater good’ of all involved,” he said.


“I thoroughly enjoyed working with Jim and learned a lot from him. He was instrumental in the formation of the Joint Planning Alliance and Joint Planning Commission, and the building of the very positive relationship that the city and our neighboring townships enjoy today. I miss working with him.” //


From the JPC resolution: “Jim’s down to earth personality, his commitment to serving both his community and his fellow citizens and his deep and through understanding of the fundamental concepts for successful planning and zoning initiatives has served both Jim and units of government he has worked for extremely well through the years.”


Carr’s long history of public service includes being Rutland Charter Township supervisor and zoning administrator, building and zoning inspector for both Prairieville and Hope townships, and chairman and zoning administrator for the JPA until he retired in December.


“Jim’s knowledge, leadership and thoughtful approach to problem solving and assisting the JPC with zoning and planning related matters spanning jurisdictional boundaries will be sorely missed,” the resolution concluded.

**After years of controversy, TOST headed toward repeal

Barry Eaton District Health Department’s time of sale or transfer regulation, or TOST, has been the center of dissention since its inception in 2007. Intended to assure clean water and sewer systems on private property, the rule mandated inspection and repair of systems deemed failing by a health department certified evaluator.


The goal was never in dispute but the cost, restrictions and administration of the regulation raised continuous complaints by citizens.

With action last week by the health department’s Board of Health, it appears that the regulation probably will be repealed. The Board of Health is made up of commissioners Blake Mulder, Jane Whitacre and Joseph Brehler from Eaton County and Ben Geiger, Dan Parker and Dave Jackson from Barry County.


WBCH asked a few people who were involved with TOST for years to give their opinions on the regulation for a better understanding of what happened and why; a health department official, a Barry County commissioner, an Eaton County commissioner, and a Barry County citizen. A minimum of editing was done for length.


BEDHD Health Officer Colette Scrimger:

“Yesterday, (Jan.25) the Board of Health voted to begin the process to repeal regulations governing on-site sewage and on-site water supply system evaluation and maintenance program Time of Sale or Transfer or TOST.  Over the last 10 years, the program facilitated inspections of 11,440 wells and 9,443 septic systems throughout Barry and Eaton counties, ensuring that the systems are functioning as intended and protecting the health and welfare of countless residents.


“We are proud to protect public health, proud of the work we've done, and proud of the work we will do,” Scrimger said.  "Unfortunately, since gaining approval from both county boards of commissioners, the misunderstandings surrounding the program have made it a source of frustration and controversy.


“Despite efforts to review, refine, and reform TOST, it continues to be subjected to intense public scrutiny and political debate. According to Commissioner Ben Geiger, chair of the Board of Health: “After months of consideration, the Board of Health has determined a fresh start is what's needed to bring our communities back together around public health. Rest assured, the health department's commitment and ability to serve all residents will remain, with or without TOST.”

Commissioner Blake Mulder, Board of Health vice chair added: "If TOST is repealed, it’s up to commissioners in both counties to lead the way in finding new strategies to protect and promote public health in a manner that unites us together.”   


“Public hearings on the subject are scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 1 p.m. at the Barry-Eaton District Health Department Office at 330 West Woodlawn, Hastings and Wednesday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m. at the Barry-Eaton District Health Department Office at 1033 Health Care Drive, Charlotte. The Board of Health will take action at their next meeting, scheduled to take place immediately following the public hearing on Feb. 28.”


Barry County Citizen Larry Bass:

“Professionally I have spent 40 years at various levels in Materials Management primarily in the automotive sector, dealing with both U.S. government customers and inspection agencies as well those in the private sector; I have written and audited numerous procedures and work instructions. Data has always driven me.


“On the Issues Committee of the Barry County Republican Party I was asked in 2013 to take on TOST as an issue. After finding out that since TOST was implemented in 2007 and I was now required to get permission of the Barry Eaton District Health Department (to sell property) I was infuriated.


“Why in America would I need government permission to sell my property? There was no base line study performed to indicate that the mandatory inspections were needed; there was no way of measuring if the water quality and environment were improving since the regulation was adopted. "This is true even after 10 years. The cost of the evaluations increased from $123 when the Health Department performed them to $450 when performed by the required registered evaluators; $125 is still kept by BEDHD.


“These evaluations have cost the rural residents of Barry County approximately $2.9 million dollars since the start of the regulation. After interviewing elected officials, realtors, TOST committee members and residents who attended meetings leading to the regulation’s rollout, it was acknowledged that what was implemented was not what was presented.


“No over-site was initiated to insure that enforcement of the regulation did not exceed the original parameters. Property owners were not considered as stakeholders in the regulation but banks, realtors, etc. were.


“The aquifers associated with Barry County test well within EPA guidelines.”

“Being data driven, I started researching the evaluation results and science involved. Just some examples of the results of that investigation were:

  • Sale of vacant homes refused because electricity turned off.
  • Sale refused because depth of well unknown, water tested ok.
  • Property owners forced to allow entry into homes and outbuildings.
  • Refused for loose well cap or frayed wiring.
  • Septic tank needing pumping still functions.

“These are just a few examples, I can furnish more.”


Eaton County Commissioner Brian Droscha:

“In my opinion, rescinding TOST is going to be good for both counties. The problem I have with TOST is that it is focused on such a small minority of property owners in both counties. The concept of TOST and its goal, while admirable, failed to really give us the broad perspective of where the problems truly lie.


"Conservation district studies give us a much broader picture of what is really going on with water quality in our two counties. Watershed studies, test well studies and so forth give us a much better picture of water quality in Barry and Eaton counties than the TOST program could ever offer.

“TOST in its implementation only targets properties for sale. If a particular property is tested once in a decade it does not give us accurate information. Continued water testing is the only accurate way to gather this information.


“Also, TOST took our health department from being a public service organization and morphed it into an enforcement agency. That's was never the intended role of our health department.
 “It is my hope and belief that Eaton County will join with Barry County in rescinding TOST and implement better, broader and more consistent ways to monitor water quality in our county. It is also my hope that the Barry Eaton District Health Department will join with us in this endeavor so that we can get back to serving our public and teaming with our residents in keeping our environment safe and clean.”


Barry County Commissioner David Jackson:

“I was appointed to the commission in June of 2015 and some of the first conversations with constituents revolved around the Time of Sale Transfer (T.O.S.T.) program.  I listened and started gathering information from many different viewpoints.


“I’ve had many conversations with realtors, lenders, evaluators, constituents and leaders at the county and township level. The agreement was that T.O.S.T. had some of the intended benefits of finding and fixing aging septic and water infrastructure, however the methods used to accomplish that goal centered on words like heavy handed, inconsistent, expensive, personal property rights.


“I believe that T.O.S.T. was a “bridge” program that took us from the mid 2000’s where systems to accurately evaluate our onsite infrastructure were lacking. T.O.S.T. helped foster a standard and a system that involves certified evaluators, realtors and lenders who understand and promote professional inspections for their clients. With the sunset of the program, those standards remain in place for the protection of Barry County residents.


“The vote to begin unwinding T.O.S.T. was a culmination of many things:  Public support for the program has been lacking for many years, continued efforts by the board of health to revamp the program failed to meet flexibility guidance requested by the Barry County Board of Commissioners, and T.O.S.T. became a block to forward thinking ideas.


“The Eaton County Commission has also had discussions on repeal of this regulation, and it was apparent to all, we need to get to a better place. I believe we all agree that T.O.S.T. has been a dark cloud over our district health department that needs to be removed. I have offered to lead a steering committee to promote responsible, forward thinking ideas that continue to protect Barry County families and target areas of concern.


“I sincerely thank all Barry and Eaton County residents who have supported and encouraged this process of review.”

Viking new global headquarters and R&D center to be in Caledonia Township

Viking Group, Inc. a fire protection product manufacturer and distributor will build a new facility in Caledonia Township as part of an overall strategy for its sustained and long-term growth. The new facility will be between the company's existing facilities in Hastings and Grand Rapids. Slated for completion in early 2019, the new global headquarters will feature a modern, professional work environment designed to promote creativity, innovation and collaboration, and will also include an expanded, state-of-the-art research and development center, according to a news release from the Viking Group.


"The expansion of our West Michigan footprint is an investment not only in the communities we are proud to call home, but in our employees, who are the key to our continued success," said Viking Group President and CEO James Golinveaux.  "The new facility will free up space in our Hastings location, which will continue to house manufacturing operations, and will be conducive to the future expansion of our manufacturing footprint."


The yet-to-be-finalized site, located near M-6 and M-37 in Caledonia, will provide a significant upgrade to Viking Group's R&D infrastructure, including cutting-edge design, engineering and testing capabilities, paving the way for future product innovation. Additionally, the new building will feature a high-tech training facility to support the organization's goal of becoming the recognized leader in fire protection training.


Viking Group expects nearly 100 people will move from its Grand Rapids and Hastings offices into the Caledonia location once the new building is completed. To accommodate anticipated future growth, the company also expects to add at least 50 new jobs in the next few years to support its expanding business both in the U.S. and internationally.  Viking's commercial and residential products, including industry leading fire sprinklers, valves and fire protection devices, are currently sold in more than 90 countries.


The Right Place assisted Viking Group in identifying the M-37 corridor in Caledonia Township due to its close proximity to both its Hastings campus and Grand Rapids offices.  "We want to thank The Right Place for their assistance with this strategic project. Their guidance and knowledge provided the support we needed to fulfill this vision," said Golinveaux.  






Rendering of Viking Group's new facility scheduled to open in Caledonia Township in early 2019.



Eaton County now part of statewide hepatitis A outbreak

The second Eaton County case of hepatitis A reported on Jan. 5 is linked to the statewide Southeast Michigan Hepatitis A outbreak, according to the Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD).  


The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services now includes Eaton County in the outbreak jurisdiction and cases of hepatitis A will be automatically included in the outbreak.

 “The health department will be increasing our community outreach and vaccination efforts, especially in high-risk groups,” said Health Officer Colette Scrimger. “Making sure that our high-risk groups get vaccinated is one of our top priorities.”


Those with insurance that covers the vaccine should get vaccinated through their healthcare provider or local pharmacy. BEDHD has vaccine for most privately insured people.


Those who don’t have insurance or insurance that doesn’t cover the vaccine may qualify for a low-cost vaccine at the health department, if they are in a high-risk group.


ndividuals who don’t have insurance coverage for the vaccine, and are not in a high-risk group, may be vaccinated at the health department for $71 per dose. Call 517-541-2630 (Eaton County) or 269-798-4133 (Barry County) for an appointment.


To prevent getting or spreading the disease, always wash your hands after using the bathroom and before eating. The health department recommends everyone be vaccinated by a series of two shots given six months apart. //


Vaccination is especially important for individuals at high-risk including those who:

*have acute or chronic liver disease, a history of substance abuse or are homeless or in transient living, are or have recently been incarcerated,

*travel to or work in countries with high or medium rates of hepatitis A, expect close personal contact (e.g., household or regular babysitting) with an international adoptee for the first 60 days after their arrival from a county with high or medium rates of hepatitis A,

*household members and/or sexual partners of someone with hepatitis A, men who have sex with other men, healthcare workers with direct patient care, food handlers,  

*anyone in close contact with any of the risk groups.


Two cases of hepatitis A in the county were laboratory confirmed to be linked to the outbreak; both since December 2017. One person has died and a third case has been reported.

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, contagious liver disease often spread by eating food or drinking water that is contaminated with infected feces or by oral contact with contaminated objects.


The disease spreads easily among people who live together and sexual partners. It 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 being exposed to the virus. Symptoms include fatigue, stomach pain, yellow skin (jaundice), dark urine, and pale stool. Some people have no symptoms.


People who believe they have been exposed to hepatitis A or who have symptoms should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

For more visit  For more on the Southeast Michigan Hepatitis A outbreak, visit


Hastings suspect in possible kidnapping nabbed in Sunfield

Barry County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call of a possible kidnapping Sunday, Jan. 21, according to Undersheriff Matt Houchlei.

While he was being tracked by his cell phone the suspect, Michael Lyn Miller, 41, of Hastings, entered Eaton County and was arrested by Eaton County Deputies in Sunfield.


Miller has been charged with possession of methamphetamine and traffic offenses. Charges of kidnapping or false imprisonment are being considered, Houchlei said.

The investigation is continuing with deputies interviewing several more witnesses.



TOST Repeal initiated by BEDHD of Health


The process to repeal TOST was approved Thursday with a 4-1 vote of the Barry Eaton District Health Department Board of Health.

The Board of Health is made up of Barry County commissioners Ben Geiger, David Jackson and Dan Parker, and Eaton County commissioners Blake Mulder, Jane Whitacre and Joe Brehler.

Geiger, Jackson, Mulder and Parker voted to start the repeal; Whitacre voted “no.” Brehler was absent.


Repealing the 10-year-old health department regulation will follow the way it was implemented. BEDHD Health Officer Colette Scrimger outlined the time frame for repeal.

Notices of public hearings in both counties will be published in the counties newspapers in early February, depending on their deadlines, followed in 10 days by the hearings, she said.

After the public hearings, the matter moves to the county commissions. Barry County, with meetings every Tuesday will address the issue first.


The Eaton County Commission meets once a month, so will likely vote on the repeal at its March 21 meeting.

If both commissions approve the repeal, it will be effective 45 days after the approvals, Scrimger said.

During discussion, Whitacre arguing without TOST or another program in place, the health department would be cut out of any way to improve water quality.


Jackson and Parker reassured Whitacre that the department would always be involved in promoting clean water; Jackson committed to support developing an alternative to TOST, agreeing to serve on a steering committee. TOST was a good bridge moving them forward, he said, and they should keep the best of the regulation; its professional evaluators, lenders and real estate people, for what follows TOST. Parker stressed education of the public on clean water and septic systems. “We need to do everything we can to have clean water earmarks, what it is now; with test wells, find out which way it’s going. We need some way of measuring.”


Geiger argued there were concerns and questions from the “git go” by the public on TOST. There be no moving forward as long as the “black cloud” of an unresolved TOST hangs over everything the health department does, he said.


“The status quo is unacceptable…this program divides counties…we need a program that all can support…it should be something that all can stand behind,” Geiger said.

“Our role will continue,” Mulder said. “We’ll keep on putting education first.” He stressed that maintaining the data they have and its sources for access by the public is important.


Before the vote, board members listened to 13 opinions in public comment, seven favoring keeping TOST, six asking for repeal.

Superintendent's Platform

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



“As citizen leaders, individual school board members face complex and demanding challenges. They are alternately described as having the most important volunteer jobs in the country and facing the toughest challenge in elected American government. Yet, our school board members are just ordinary citizens with extraordinary dedication to our schools.


"I would invite all Clarksville, Lake Odessa, Woodland, and Sunfield citizens to join me in recognizing the vital contributions these men and women make and the crucial role they play in the education of our children.


"Your Board of Education is: Mrs. Jamie Brodbeck-Krenz (Lake Odessa), Mr. Gary Foltz (Sunfield), Mr. Jeff Gibbs (Sunfield), Mrs. Lynn MacKenzie (Woodland), Mr. Frank Pytlowany (Lake Odessa), Mrs. Melissa Schuiling (Lake Odessa), and Mr. Steve StLaurent (Sunfield).


"Their job is to establish a vision for the education program, design a structure to achieve that vision, ensure schools are accountable to the community and strongly advocate for continuous improvement in student learning. The job of a school board member is tough, the hours long and the thanks few and far between. Too often we’re quick to criticize school board members without really understanding the complex nature of their decisions. Now is the time to thank them for their untiring efforts!


"Our school board members come from a variety of backgrounds, yet they share a common goal—helping students achieve success in school and life. We often forget about the personal sacrifices school board members make. Board members contribute hundreds and hundreds of hours each year leading the Lakewood District.


"The time spent in board meetings represents just a small fraction of the hours school board members spend leading in the Lakewood District. Collectively, they spend thousands of hours on professional development, keeping informed on the latest trends in educational leadership, community activities, extracurricular events, as well as board meetings and strategic planning.


"The month of January marks the annual observance of School Board Recognition Month. This is the time to show our appreciation and begin to better understand how local trustees work together to prepare today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders.


"As we close out this month we want to salute the men and women who provide grassroots governance of public schools, especially Lakewood Public Schools.”


Lakewood Board of Education: (front)  Jamie Brodbeck-Krenz, Frank Pytlowany, Melissa Schuiling,(back) Jeff Gibbs, Steve St.Laurent, Gary Foltz, Lynn MacKenzie.

(photo supplied)







Castleton-Maple Grove-Nashville ambulance shut down for lack of paperwork, state on standby for reinstatement

Castleton-Maple Grove-Nashville EMS station services have been suspended by the Barry County Medical Control Board, leading the state of Michigan to void the ambulance services’ license.


 “Communication was the biggest problem,” board Chair Cheryl Hartwell said. “We’re in the final stages of (preparing the) documents needed by the board and the state is on standby for inspection and reinstatement. It’s a matter of details.


“We had a great meeting Monday with the board; we have a great staff; we met with them, they’re upbeat with a positive attitude and working diligently to get everything that’s needed.”

Tuesday night, they had a public informational meeting with representatives from Castleton and Maple Grove townships and the Village of Nashville for an update and to answer questions, Hartwell said.


“We’ve developed an action plan to correct the deficiencies. The big thing is communication needs be improved…we want to get back on line as soon as possible for our residents.”

The advanced support service serves Castletown, Maple Grove townships, the village of Nashville and parts of Eaton County.


Barry County ambulance services have mutual agreements; Barry Central 911 will dispatch the nearest ambulance to calls from the area.


Dryer fire contained to laundry room in Yankee Springs Township home

Yankee Springs Township firefighters responded to a call to a home at 12376 Bay View Drive in Yankee Springs Township Tuesday to find smoke coming from the residence and the homeowners already out of the house, according to Assistant Fire Chief Dan Miller.


Firefighters contained the dryer fire to the laundry room, however there was smoke throughout the residence, Miller said. The cause of the fire is still under investigation and no dollar amount of damage has been set. No injuries were reported. 


Yankee Springs /Wayland fire departments were assisted by firefighters from Orangeville and Martin departments and Wayland Area EMS.

Hastings revised dog ordinance moved forward for council action

The Hastings City Council held the first reading of its revised dog ordinance Monday, corrected some wording, and heard speakers say they approve of the city taking over operation of the popular attraction.


The original ordinance identified the pit bull breed as dangerous dogs; that language has been removed and other conditions clarified by Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt and Attorney Stephanie Fekkes. The council will have a second reading and then act on the matter at its next meeting.


City Manager Jeff Mansfield asked anyone who donated items to the park to contact the city in writing and let them know what they would like to see happen to their gifts to the park.

The Hastings Dog Park Companions are planning to construct another dog park in the city and would like to use some of the items, Mansfield said. After they learn the donor’s wishes, the city and the HDPC will meet and discuss the future use of the items, he said. Nothing will be moved until that is decided.


The contract between the city and the HDPC was terminated by the city Jan. 16; the city’s Department of Public Services is maintaining the park.

Mansfield said that will continue for a while until everything is settled and suggested the city then look into forming an advisory committee like the one for Riverside Cemetery.


In other business Monday, the council and the audience got a demonstration of American signing, when April Davidson interpreted what was being said to and from Hastings resident Matthew Hall, who is hearing impaired.


They were there to raise awareness of the rights of the deaf and to urge better communication between the deaf community and law enforcement.

Davidson said if pulled over by a policeman, the deaf have the right to have a signer provided for them; if there is miscommunication, “things happen.”


In simple interactions with law enforcement, writing notes back and forth could work, she said. Communication is a barrier, she said, and asked for better awareness in the police community.

For those interested in American signing, classes are available at the Hastings Public Library the first Monday of each month from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. starting Monday, Feb. 5.



UPDATE: Barry County Commissioners to ask for TOST repeal

UPDATE: The Barry Eaton District Health Board will meet Thursday at 9:30 a.m. in the Hastings office where a Barry County Commissioner will move to rescind TOST.


TOST is a joint health department regulation that mandates inspection and correction of any defects in on-site wells and septic systems before a property owner can sell or transfer property in Eaton and Barry County. Barry County Commissioners Geiger, David Jackson and Dan Parker and Eaton County Commissioners Joe Brehler, Blake Mulder, and Jane Whitacre are Board of Health members.


“On Thursday, I will ask the Board of Health to vote on whether to retain the TOST Regulation, and if not, to set a timeline for taking it off the books,” Geiger said. “I and the other two Barry County commissioners believe it is time to resolve this long standing conflict, and believe it is our responsibility as county leaders to protect the rights of property owners while maintaining our responsibly to protect the environment.


“As long as it is on the books, the TOST Regulation is an obstacle to change. We will only see a brighter future when we resolve to break from the past,” Geiger said.


BDHD Health Officer Colette Scrimger released a statement this evening:

“The Board of Health Agenda for this Thursday has been revised at the direction of Board Chair Geiger to include a decision on whether or not the Board wants to retain the TOST regulation.  TOST has been a topic of conversation and deliberation for the board over the last several years. It has also been subject to intense public scrutiny and controversy.  If the Board decides to initiate the process to repeal the regulation, the community will have the opportunity to provide input into that decision through required public hearings that will be scheduled before a final vote takes place.  Whether the regulation is repealed or retained, the Health Department’s goal is to continue protecting and promoting public health.  Once a decision is made, we will move forward with the resources and tools we are provided by the Board of Health to accomplish that goal.”


“It’s about time,” Barry County Commissioner Howard “Hoot” Gibson said of the effort to repeal TOST. Gibson has spoken against the regulation and ran for his commission seat in the last election with the pledge to try to get TOST rescinded.


“We’ve had no resolutions asking for TOST, but we have had resolutions asking for its repeal from the Barry County Farm Bureau, twice, the Republican Party, veterans from American Legion Post 45, and the Tea Party,” Gibson said. “The commissioners were not listening to the residents.”


In October, Barry County Commissioner Vivian Conner put forward a resolution to make TOST voluntary that was passed unanimously by the commission.

The Board of Health and BEHD officials have been meeting to work out a way to modify the regulation to safeguard the environment and also satisfy property owners.


In December, noting officials were not making any progress in negotiating a voluntary plan, Conner made a motion, that failed,  to rescind TOST completely and then come up with a different, voluntary plan that would be in addition to the safeguards already in place that protect the county’s water supply. //


Controversial since its inception 10 years ago, Barry County critics said the administration of the rule was capricious, arbitrary, and an unconstitutional taking of citizen’s rights. Several charged that although it was prohibited in the regulation, it was being used to bring all systems up to present day codes.

The cost of the inspection and what some called unnecessary remedies was seen as a way for the health department to increase its income. The health department maintains the regulation has discovered and required repairs on thousands of water wells and septic systems, keeping the ground water and the environment safe for county residents.


Hastings compostable drop-off site to close for winter

The Hastings City Council approved closing the city’s compostable material drop-off site at 1303 West State Road for the winter, effective Friday, Jan. 26. City Manager Jeff Mansfield said they will re-open the facility in the spring. If the city has a major event like an ice storm or wind storm they could always open it up, he said.

Any one with questions on the site's operation or materials that can be dropped off,  can contact director of the Department of Public Services  Lee Hays at: or call 269-945-2468.


In other business Monday, Tom Thompson of Professional Code Inspectors of Michigan (PCI) gave the figures for 2017 in his annual report to the council and also for each quarter of the year. Building permits for the City of Hastings in 2017 totaled 82, with the value of the projects set at $5,414,617.

In the first quarter, PCI issued 22 permits with a value of $1,383,452; in the second quarter, 23 permits with a value of $960,605; third quarter, 25 permits, with a value of $2,236,144; and fourth quarter, 12 permits with a value of $834,416.


Thompson’s figures for 2016 show 81 permits were issued with a value of $7,496,389. PCI also inspects Hastings rental properties, 530 of them last year. As of Dec. 31, 2017, there were 895 registered rental units in the city. About 10 percent of the units required some type of very minor repair, he said.


Fire Chief Roger Caris reported the boiler at the fire station failed Sunday, Jan 7 and the department replaced it at a cost of $37,215.  Caris said with the trucks in the station, if one of the pumps froze on the truck, it would cost more than $20,000 to repair, and eight trucks have that style pump. Caris got two bids, $38,620 from Pleune and $37,215 from VanDyken.  Low bidder VanDyken was given the job and began the work the next day. Heat was restored Friday, Jan. 12. Caris said “they just got lucky,” because the emergency occurred during a warm spell and nothing was in danger of freezing. Mansfield said the city’s insurance company will pay one-half of the bill.


In a workshop before the meeting, the council discussed future and past practices, goal and policy issues to be considered in the budget process for 2018-2019.There were eight main goals, with several objectives within each goal.

They included:

*effectively represent the city and provide community leadership in policies and laws,

*maintain financial stability,

*seek and improve community development in the city,

*improve city infrastructure,

*improve public relations with city residents,

*maintain a knowledgeable and high quality staff,

*develop a six-year capital improvement plan for all city departments, and

*strive to provide a safe community to protect citizen’s lives, health and property.



Parents look for answers on favorite Hastings teacher's future

The Hastings Schools Board of Education meeting Jan. 15 in the High School Media Center, packed with kids, parents and teachers, became a show of strong support for a Central Elementary teacher.


The comments from more than a dozen people praised Young 5’s teacher Emily Hoke, who some feared might be fired by the board. A little girl who spoke up and said Hoke was the best teacher she ever had, it brought tears to the eyes of many in the crowd.


Public comments, some very emotional, were closed after 30 minutes by the board, leaving unanswered questions, including Hoke’s future with the school, why they weren’t informed of the situation, and if the board could legally limit the time for the public to speak.


Responding to a request for comment, Superintendent Carrie Duits said the matter is, “a personnel situation that we can’t discuss at this time. It’s to protect the employee’s rights. We are addressing the matter following state law and complying with notices from the Michigan Department of Education.”  She said board President Luke Haywood told the audience that the board’s bylaws allow just 30 minutes total of public comment.


Elizabeth Lonergan, a parent at the meeting, said she thought something was amiss at the beginning of school last September, when she was told the school couldn’t say who her 5-year-old’s teacher would be in the new school year. She thought that odd since Hoke is the only Young 5’s teacher at Central. She described Hoke as “a perfect fit” for her active daughter, and if Hoke can’t be her teacher, she will consider leaving the district.


Lonergan said parents learned Hoke had not renewed her teaching certificate on time at the beginning of the school year, but was allowed to teach until Nov. 15. A state audit discovered it and fined the school $24,081, to come from its state aid, or $248 for each day Hoke was in the classroom without being certified, she said.


“She didn’t get it in on time, but it was pending all that time,” Lonergan said. “She offered to pay the fine and take a sub’s pay.”  Hoke was recertified on Nov. 16, and turned it into the school the same day.


Just before Christmas break in December, parents heard that Hoke was asked to resign her position by Dec. 22 or be terminated. “She didn’t resign; she said she didn’t do anything wrong,” Lonergan said. Hoke was notified the day before school resumed that she was to return to her classroom, she said.


Many parents were upset that they were not told of the matter when it was ongoing. “We got a letter saying that they wouldn’t talk about it; that letter came from the superintendent’s office, not one board member knew about it when we talked to them,” she said.


Now the parents wait for what comes next.  Lonergan has heard there will be a tenure hearing for Hoke, and also that an official in the system is not certified. Upset that public comment was cut off at 30 minutes, she is considering filing an Open Meetings Act complaint with the Barry County Sheriff’s Office.


Hoke did not return a voice mail message asking for comment.


Rack Pack attracts a dozen youth to its first meeting

The Barry County Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association, (QDMA) has started a youth program for girls and boys ages 10 to 16. Named the Rack Pack, it’s the first pack to hold official meetings in an area spanning upper Indiana and Ohio and all of the state of Michigan, said spokesman Rob Miller.


The grass-roots program intends to create and enrich future hunters and leaders in conservation.

In its first meeting, two girls and 10 boys and their parents, heard speaker  Mike Flohr explain the Quality Management Program, what it’s about, its functions and procedures, Miller said.


Two more volunteers were introduced; Rob’s dad Walt Miller and Leo Hendershot.

Their first activity was identifying animal tracks, “quite a challenge for the kids and parents,” he said.


The group will learn fire arms safety and shot placement from Hendershot, using air guns and indoor targets for practice. “Leo is a hunter safety instructor,” Miller explained.

The kids have varying levels of experience, but all will have the right level training of before they go into the field, “likely for a squirrel or rabbit hunt later this year,” he said,


Miller is pleased with the initial turnout of a dozen kids for its first meeting; he’s hoping to get more youth for the club at the annual QDMA banquet Jan. 20 at the Barry County Expo at 5 p.m. The event will feature games, gun drawings, raffles, live and silent auctions.


To join the group, or for more information, contact Rob Miller at 269-838-6184.

The Rack Pack will meet the third Wednesdays of the month, at 7 p.m. at the Elks Lodge in Hastings on Woodlawn Avenue.//


More about QDMA from its webpage:

 Because of its growth and strong support from the professional wildlife community, QDMA is considered the most respected and influential whitetail organization in North America.


As a result, QDMA serves as the leading advocate for the wise management of deer and the protection of our deer-hunting heritage.


The organization maintains strong ties with its members, other conservation organizations, state and federal agencies, and other groups with an interest in deer hunting. Since 2006, QDMA has engaged on nearly 800 state, federal and provincial management and policy issues impacting wildlife, habitat and our hunting heritage.


Michigan State Police Trooper of the Year, Civilian of the Year both from Wayland Post

Michigan State Police Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue announced the 2017 recipients of the Dr. Carl A. Gerstacker Trooper of the Year, Motor Carrier Officer of the Year and Floyd R. Bell Jr. Civilian of the Year Awards in Lansing on Jan. 18.


Trooper Blaine Bachman, of the Wayland Post, was named Trooper of the Year and Connie VanHouten, also of the Wayland Post, was named Citizen of the Year.

The Trooper of the Year Award recognizes the MSP trooper or sergeant who symbolizes outstanding professional ethics, dedication to duty and a concern for giving back to their community.


Bachman is a recipient of the Cpl. Samuel A. Mapes Criminal Patrol and Investigation Award, recognized for excelling in looking past the traffic stop to identify serious crimes and close investigations with felony arrests.


A mentor to younger troopers as a field training officer, he has become someone to turn to for assistance with criminal investigations. He also coordinates the post’s Explorers program, a career-oriented program that gives young adults the opportunity to explore a career in law enforcement.

“Trooper Bachman rarely does only what is expected. His exemplary work performance, extensive community involvement and leadership skills make him an excellent choice for Trooper of the Year,” said Etue.


“He is keenly aware of the needs of his fellow troopers and also works hard to make a positive difference in his community.” Bachman participates in MSP community programs, such as Stuff the Turkey and Shop with a Cop. He mentored a child during the DNR’s youth hunt and, like others in the department, has taken the frigid polar plunge to raise money for Special Olympics.Bachman enlisted with the MSP in 2014, graduating from the 126th Trooper Recruit School.


Civilian of the Year VanHouten, “is the go-to person at the Wayland Post for just about everything,” said Etue. “Her positive attitude and comforting presence make an impact not just at work, but also in her hometown. Her commitment to bettering the lives of those around her makes her an obvious choice for the Civilian of the Year Award.”


VanHouten is the primary organizer and fundraiser for at the Wayland Post for many events that benefit the less fortunate. Thanks to her commitment, the events are always a great success resulting in the collection of thousands of pounds of food or monetary donations.

Though invaluable at work, what she does at home and for the children in her community is what makes VanHouten really remarkable.


A strong advocate of foster parenting and adoption, VanHouten has adopted eight children, including two groups of siblings, into her family.

Sharing her story to help others understand what a rewarding experience fostering and adoption can be has become her mission. As a result, 20 children have been adopted by her friends. VanHouten is active in a number of programs that help provide food, clothing and school supplies to low income families. A secretary at the Wayland Post, she joined the MSP in 1997.


Christopher Russo of the Jackson Post was named Motor Carrier Officer of the Year, recognized as the MSP motor carrier officer who symbolizes outstanding professional ethics, dedication to duty and concern for giving back to their community.


The Trooper of the Year Award was created in 1061 by Dr. Carl A. Gerstacker, former chairman of Dow Chemical Company. The Civilian of the Year Award is named in honor of the late Floyd R. Bell Jr., a 42-year employee of the MSP, who continuously demonstrated commitment and dedication to the department and his community.


















Hastings cops, cadets go at it again, this time in basketball

The Hastings Police Department will field a squad of its officers to take on the Hastings Police Cadets team in a Cops vs Cadets basketball game at the Hastings Middle School on Sunday, Jan. 28 at 5 p.m.

From tip off, the cadets will be trying to make good on their goal to boost their record to 2-0 (they did, after all, defeat the cops in football) and the officers will strive to even the score.

Fans are invited to cheer for their favorite cop or cadet at the free, just for fun event.

TOST controversy continues in Barry County...

Barry County resident Larry Bass, frequent critic of the Barry Eaton District Health Department time of sale or transfer (TOST) regulation, read a statement on the topic during public comment time at Tuesday’s Barry County Board of Commissioner’s meeting.


Bass said it has become apparent that the leadership of the Barry Eaton District Health Department believes that the Board of Health has little or no institutional control over the BEDHD.

 “In spite of the board of health engaging in a process of radically modifying the TOST regulation to a minimum of a voluntary process between buyer, seller and the lending institution, the leadership of the health department has chosen to engage in a massive public relations campaign to ‘Save Our TOST,’” he said.


The campaign included “a carefully constructed television news segment” on WLNS Jan. 9, two articles in the County Journal in Eaton County and one in the Hastings Banner, he said, adding that the news releases made it appear that Barry and Eaton County would be on the edge of both a health and environmental disaster if not for the existence of TOST.


The articles focused on a TOST 10-year-report from last August and early September that was published at that time, he said. “It is being presented again now because after three BOH meetings and other sessions between principal individuals, the health department leadership is aware of the direction the modifications are going and is refusing to accept that direction in spite of minor concessions,” he said.


“The attitude borders on insubordination and should be addressed as soon as possible in a manner that makes expectations clear to all.

“It also demonstrates the little regard the health department has for the board of health and the respective county boards of commissioners,” he said, asking Barry County Commissioners “why do we go through the exercise of pretending to have any oversight and control of the BEDHD?”


Colette Scrimger, Health Officer at BEDHD responded: “The health department sends press releases on various health topics on a weekly basis,” she said. “This helps to fulfill our role in providing information on public health topics.”  Scrimger supplied a list of news releases and their topics for the last three months:


Open Enrollment

Winter Weather Hazard Awareness

National/American Diabetes Month

Healthy! Capital Counties Kick-Off

Eating Healthy During the Holidays / Food Safety / Hand Washing



Holiday Safety

National Influenza Vaccination Week

Confirmed Hep A Case in Eaton County

December Board of Health Summary (TOST, CD)

World AIDS Day



Cervical Health Awareness Month/HPV Immunization

National Radon Action Month

Eaton Hepatitis A Case Linked to Statewide Outbreak

Illicit Discharges



Spectrum Health Pennock gives precautions to take with flu, how and when to seek care

 Spectrum Health Pennock has recently seen a marked increase in the number of people coming to the emergency department with flu and flu-like symptoms. In response, they are advising stepping up precautions to prevent spreading the virus to others.


Influenza is a respiratory illness that is especially harmful to children, people over 65, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems or chronic conditions.

Those conditions include asthma, COPD, CHF, severe kidney disease, diabetes, cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis, sickle cell disease, seizure disorder, dementia, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries or morbid obesity.


Common flu symptoms include fever and chills, intense body aches, marked fatigue, headache, cough, sore throat and runny nose. Vomiting and diarrhea are not usual symptoms for adults and occur in less than 25 percent of children with influenza. Symptoms may be more subtle in the advanced aged.


Paul DeWitt, MD, chairperson of Spectrum Health Pennock Infection Control Committee recommends the following steps to avoid flu.


“First off, it is not too late to get the flu shot, which may help lessen the severity of the flu if you are to catch it, DeWitt said. “Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub, cover coughs and sneezes and if you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your symptoms are gone and you have stopped taking fever reducing medication.” 


“The virus is spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing. People may also become infected by touching surfaces contaminated with the virus then touching their mouth, nose or eyes,” DeWitt said.


“It is important if you do have symptoms of flu to stay home and rest, drink plenty of fluids and ease fever and body aches with fever-reducing medication.

“Medical treatment is not necessary in most cases; however, anyone experiencing difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest, dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting or symptoms that have improved, but return or worsen within a few days should seek emergency medical treatment,” he said.//


Those experiencing shortness of breath, numbness, facial or arm paralysis, slurred speech or other heart attack or stroke symptoms, call 9-1-1 for immediate medical care.

When feeling flu-like symptoms, extra precautions should be taken to stay away from children, people over 65 years of age, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems or chronic conditions.


Treat the illness at home with over-the-counter fever and pain reducers, cough medicine and other products. Those in a high risk group or who cannot control symptoms should seek non-emergency care through one of the following:

*Primary care provider office

*Urgent care

*MedNow, Spectrum Health’s telemedicine option.

Simply download the free MedNow app or learn more at


Also, Spectrum Health Pennock reminds the community that those with symptoms of influenza should postpone visiting patients in the hospital until they are well. They also encourage those with children not to bring them to the hospital unless they need medical attention. 


Child safety product recalls since summer of 2017 announced

Michigan’s Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a list of recalled products, not including toys, since the last list was released in the summer of 2017. The list is of interest to parents, day care providers and others who care for children.


The list includes:

· The Land of Nod recalls toddler beds due to entrapment hazard.

· Squatty Potty recalls children’s toilet step stools due to injury and fall hazards.

· Dream On Me recalls crib and toddler bed mattresses due to violation of Federal mattress flammability standard.

· Toys “R” Us recalls clay craft kits due to risk of mold exposure.

· Kidde recalls fire extinguishers with plastic handles due to failure to discharge and nozzle detachment.

· IKEA announces recall of MALM and other models of chests and dressers due to serious tip-over hazard.

· Plan toys recalls baby gyms due to strangulation hazard.

· Fisher Price recalls infant motion seats due to fire hazard.

· Target recalls leather pouf ottoman due to suffocation and choking hazards.

· Playtex recalls children’s plates and bowls due to choking hazard.

· Target recalls room essentials 4-drawer dressers due to tip-over and entrapment hazards.

· Ameriwood Home recalls chests of drawers due to tip over and entrapment hazards.

Family Support Center Family Workshop Series

The Family Support Center of Barry County Family Workshop Series began January 15th and will be held Monthly through April.  The topic this month is Developemental Stages of your Child. In the workshop will be a panel of speakers, including a local pediatrician and community health worker. The Workshops are held in Hastings and Middleville.  The next workshop is Monday January 29th in Hastings.  Free Dinner with registration at 5:30pm and the Free Workshop at 6pm with free childcare with registration.  Contact the Family Support Center of Barry County/ 269-945-5439 or visit for questions and pre-registration.

Spectrum Health Pennock limiting visitations in response to recent increase of influenza

For the safety of patients and staff, Spectrum Health Pennock is limiting visitation to its hospital during the CDC-declared flu epidemic. In addition, they are asking patients to limit the number of people who accompany them to office and clinic visits. The flu can be especially dangerous to the young, frail or elderly 


One of the most important tools in fighting the transmission of flu is limiting exposure.

Visitors are asked to respect the following restrictions: If you are ill or have been exposed to someone who is ill, please refrain from visiting the hospital. All visitors are expected to be healthy and the hospitals are taking active steps to protect patients, staff and visitors.


A healthy visitor is someone who does not have the following symptoms:

  • Fever, greater than 100.4 F
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose or congestion
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Rash or draining sores
  • Only healthy visitors should visit patients in the hospitals or outpatient clinics
  • Hospitals strongly recommend only two visitors or family members visit a patient at a time in order to limit exposure to patients, visitors and family members

These measures are designed to protect vulnerable patients and apply to visitors at Spectrum Health Pennock and all Spectrum Health Grand Rapids area hospitals and are effective until further notice.

To avoid getting influenza, Hastings area physicians recommend:

  • Get your seasonal influenza vaccine
  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly
  • Avoid contact with people who have flu-like symptoms
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet

Influenza Facts

  • Most symptoms can and should be treated at home. Only the most severe illnesses require a visit to an urgent care location or emergency department
  • It will take anywhere from five to 10 days for the illness to run its course
  • Most people who contract influenza should try to stay home, rest, drink plenty of liquids and take acetaminophen or an anti-inflammatory medicine


Barry County Compensation Commission holds first session

A Barry County Compensation Committee, approved by county commissioners last May, held its first meeting Jan. 9. An introduction and presentation of the responsibilities of a compensation commission was given by Commissioner Ben Geiger, County Administrator Michael Brown gave commission members a review of the Open Meetings Act, discussed the county’s 2015 classification and compensation study and reviewed data on commissioners from several other counties.


Compensation Commission members approved for four year terms by county commissioners in June, 2017 are:


Teri Enrietti, Delton; retired enrollment consultant, Delton Schools

Chris Lapins, Hastings; owner of Beauland, Inc.

Steve Buehler, Freeport; president of Munn Manufacturing

Kim Dufrense, Hastings; retired Michigan forest fire officer

Tom Enslen, Middleville, superintendent of Thornapple Kellogg Schools

Karen Zuver, Woodland; field agronomist at Dupont Pioneer

Brenda Schild, Hastings; human resources generalist at Spectrum Health Pennock.

Enslen and Zuver were absent.


Enrietti was elected chair of the new seven member board,  Lapins was elected vice-chair.

Also, a meeting schedule was set for Jan. 28, Feb. 1, 15 and 22, all at 6:30 p.m., in the Barry County Courthouse Mezzanine.


John Amrhein, Michigan State University Extension, said the book, Guide to Michigan County Government written by Ken Verburg, MSU professor emeritus, is a great source of detailed information about counties in the state.


What follows comes from a post where Amrhein used Verburg's guide to explain county officer’s compensation commissions:


A compensation commission’s only responsibility is to set the rate of compensation for county commissioners, the board chair, and other elected county officers. (Compensation for judges is not included.) The statute requires the compensation commission to meet in even-numbered years for not more than 15 “session” days, and complete its work within 45 days of its first session.


A majority of the members must approve any action. The final decision on any decisions remains a county board responsibility because it has the authority to overturn a compensation board’s action by a two-thirds vote. The county board only considers the compensation commission actions upon a motion to reject.


If the county board takes no action, the pay board’s decision takes effect with the beginning of the next odd-numbered year. If the county commission rejects the action, the previous compensation remains in effect. A person employed by any level of government or a member of that person’s immediate family is ineligible to serve on the commission.


Taxpayers urged to watch for phone scams and phishing schemes at income tax time

As the state of Michigan begins a new year and the state income tax filing season approaches, the Michigan Department of Treasury is asking taxpayers to be ready for tax scams in 2018.Cybercriminals typically increase their activity in the first part of the year through phone scams and email phishing schemes. These scammers try to obtain personal information using different tricks and tactics so they can file income tax returns and claim refunds on behalf of unsuspecting taxpayers. 


Some scammers may tell a taxpayer they owes taxes and aggressively demand payment for a quick payout. “Taxpayers need to be extra alert for possible scams and schemes during this time of year and throughout the income tax filing season,” said Deputy State Treasurer Glenn White, head of Treasury’s Tax Administration Group. “When taxpayers proactively look for scams, they are less likely to be a victim of a tax-related identity theft and other cybercriminal activities.”


The Treasury Department will never:

*Use a phone call or email to ask for personal information.

*Call or email to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, Treasury will first send a bill through the U.S. mail to any taxpayer who owes taxes.

*Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.

*Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.

*Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.//


Cybercriminals often alter caller ID numbers and emails to make it look like the state Treasury Department, the Internal Revenue Service or another official agency is contacting a taxpayer. Scammers may use employee titles, a person’s name, address and other personal information to sound official.


Taxpayers who are contacted by a scammer should immediately cease the call or delete the email.

In 2017, the state Treasury Department’s increased security measures protected more than 4,000 taxpayers who confirmed their identity was stolen and used to request state of Michigan income tax refunds. This prevented more than $16 million from being distributed to scammers.


Taxpayers who get a call or email from a scammer should report the case to the IRS through the web or by calling 800-366-4484. For more on tax-related identity theft, go to


Have you gotten your HPV vaccine yet?

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month and there is a lot both men and women can do to prevent cervical cancer, according to the Barry Eaton District Health Department (BDHD).


HPV (human papilloma virus) is a very common virus that spreads through sexual activity. It’s also a major cause of cervical cancer and can also cause anal cancer, throat cancer and genital warts in both men and women.


About 14 million Americans, including teens, become infected with HPV each year, but many people with HPV don’t know they are infected.

The HPV vaccine for men and women, a series of 2 or 3 shots, can prevent HPV and cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular Pap screening tests and follow up care. 


Most health insurances pay for the HPV vaccine, including Medicaid. If you or your child’s insurance doesn’t cover the vaccines, contact the Barry-Eaton District Health Department at 517-541-2630 for low-cost vaccine options. For more information, visit or visit us on Facebook @BarryEatonHealth.


For women who cannot afford or need assistance in scheduling cervical cancer screening, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Navigation Program may be able to help. For more about the BCCCNP, call toll free 844-446-8727. //


During National Cervical Health Awareness month of January, BEDHD encourages individuals to talk with their health care provider and stay current on cervical cancer screening.

Also, women are urged to get regular Pap tests starting at 21 and all individuals should check to see if they are eligible for the HPV vaccine.


According to the CDC, nationwide, six out of 10 parents are choosing to get the HPV vaccine for their children. In Barry County, 46.9 percent of females are vaccinated and 41.1 percent of males. 

HPV vaccines have been studied very carefully and showed no serious safety concerns, according to the BEDHD.

Common, mild side effects reported include pain in the arm where the shot was given, fever, dizziness and nausea. 


The vaccine is most effective when given at the recommended age of 11-12 years so they are protected before being exposed to the virus; however, it can be given to women up to age 26 and men up to age 21.





Seniors, others, get financial help using Barry County Transit for medical needs in neighboring counties

Barry County seniors and those with disabilities can get financial aid for Barry County Transit fares when they have non-emergency medical needs in neighboring counties, Director Bill Voigt announced Tuesday.


A grant from Area Agency on Aging and Carewell Services will pay the $45 an hour transit fare for trips to Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, Voigt said. The grant does not apply to the reduced $1 to $1.50 fares for seniors.


No financial disclosures or vetting is required, so the use of the funds by seniors is on the honor system. The grant is intended to help only those who truly cannot afford the higher fares.


Using the new program is as simple as calling the transit to arrange it, Voigt said.


The transit provides transportation to seniors and those with disabilities at a 50 percent discount. Coming soon, the transit will offer a Universal Reduced Fare Card to seniors and those with disabilities that lets them ride in transits in neighboring counties, with the discounts they offer, without having to apply at each of the other transits, he  said. The area covered by the universal card includes transits in Ionia, Allegan, Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Kent counties; they will be available soon at the transit office.


Also, Barry County Commissioners recommended approval by the full board of Voigt’s intent to apply for state, federal and local funds for transportation services by the transit for fiscal 2019.

Federal government funding is estimated at $290,879 and estimated state funds of $616,319. Local funds will be $754,945, with total estimated expenses of $1,576, 818, Voigt said.


Voigt will also apply for $1,673,000 in federal and state capital assistance funds to replace 14 eligible buses, although it is not likely that that many replacements will be funded. Replacing buses is done using age of the vehicle, miles driven and percentage of the bus fleet eligible for replacement, he said. Total amounts of all requested grants will be $2,580, 218.


















































"Handle With Care" begins today in Ionia County

The entire law enforcement community, every school district, fire department and EMS in Ionia County are now part of a program called Handle With Care.  

Starting today, children and youth in the county will be “handled with care” in their schools if the child is present at a distressing event that requires intervention from local law enforcement officers and personnel, according to the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office.


Handle With Care provides the school with a “heads up” when a child has been at the scene of a traumatic event such as a house fire, a domestic violence situation, a shooting, an arrest of a family member, a drug raid or a motor vehicle accident, the sheriff’s release said.


Police officers will look around for children when they are on scene and get their name and where they go to school.  Before school starts the next day, they will make sure the school is sent a note that simply says to handle that particular child with care.


“Our children experience traumatic events in their lives and then have to report to school the next day and perform as though nothing happened,” said Sheriff Dale Miller.  “The Handle With Care” program supports the child and schools in protecting their students and helping them be successful in the midst of the everyday chaos and trauma that so many of us experience.” 


The program is designed to help children struggling with the effects of trauma by allowing their teachers just that bit of insight into the child’s previous day to be able to better address issues in the classroom and provide needed support for students experiencing trauma.

If the child needs more extensive help in working through what they saw happen, the school will work with the parents to provide a trauma informed response by counselors, social workers and local mental health providers onsite at the school. //


Michigan State Police Lakeview Post Lieutenant Robert Davis:

 “This program helps bridge a gap between what’s happening in a child’s home life and their time at school, and will give educators context when dealing with behavioral issues.”


Director of Special Education at Ionia Intermediate School District Cindi Geiger: “Nationally, research shows that approximately 60 to 70 percent of our children experience a traumatic event. Of those, 40 to 50 percent are direct victims of two or more acts of violence.

“These traumatic events may result in mild to significant social, emotional, behavioral and learning difficulties. By partnering together to bring awareness when events occur, we will be more proactive in supporting these children and creating better outcomes now and throughout their life span."


Lake Odessa Police Sergeant Brent Listerman: “The Handle With Care Program will guide public safety staff in helping school faculty better understand the behaviors they’ve already detected in their student. This program will be monumental in leading our children to success by ensuring their needs are being met.”


Sheriff  Miller: “Handle with Care is a great opportunity to work together to help Ionia County children be safe and achieve success in school at their highest levels despite any traumatic circumstances they may be experiencing.”



Barry County Sheriff's Office handled 9,027 complaints in 2017

Statistics given by Barry County Dar Leaf in his report to Barry County Commissioners Tuesday showed 2,329 more complaints were handled by uniformed patrol in 2017 than in 2012. Incidents numbered 9,027 last year, versus 6,698 five years ago.


Last December’s monthly figures show of 68 arrests, 19 were felonies, 65 misdemeanors. In 2012, of the 55 arrests, 21 were felonies, 50 misdemeanors. One hundred thirty nine accidents were handled (61 versus deer) this year compared to 108 (64 with deer) in December, 2012. Alcohol arrests were the same at five for both years.


The K-9 unit was called seven times and officers made 56 home checks, assisting the Swift and Sure, Sobriety and Drug Courts. Criminal histories were run for warrant entry and/or requests 382 times.


At the jail, staff booked and processed 249 persons (as opposed to 158 in December, 2013) released 179 (166 in 2013) and held 77 “weekenders.”   Deputies escorted 48 persons to court, processed 150 weekend drug screens to probationers and fingerprinted 94 (44 in 2013).

Inmates were served 7,966 meals at a cost of $1.53 a meal.  No repairs were done in December.


In other business, commissioners approved a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the Command Officers Association of Michigan/Sheriff’s Command Unit representing Barry County Sheriff’s command officers.                                            

Tyden Park Skating Rink is open for aspiring Olympic skaters, and you, too.


Whether you can pull off a double axel with a triple toe loop, or just barely keep your feet under you, there is a rink in Hastings for you to enjoy your ice skating. With the frigid sub-zero temperatures this winter, the Tyden Park Ice Rink in Hastings is open from now until spring, with ice perfect for skating. The rink is available to skaters 24 hours a day.



“The ice is in great shape. There are people down there skating all the time. It’s good to see,” Hastings City Councilman Bill Redman said.


The park doors are closed at 9 p.m. but if it’s a good moonlit night, skaters can park on the hill above the park and walk to the rink in the soccer field area to skate.

The skating rink is a welcome addition to Hastings for area skaters, but Redman, the driving force behind the first rink, has a larger dream, that he and others are now working toward.


Their goal is a 120 foot long, 90 foot wide covered skating rink with four poles on each side, and an accessory building with a warming room, skates to rent, a Zamboni and other equipment ready for skaters in the winter of 2019-2020.


“Very, very” preliminary plans include the rink where the Tyden Park basketball courts are, but that could change, Redman said. In the warm months, the facility will be rented for weddings, reunions, birthday parties and other group activities.“There will be moderate fees to raise enough to pay for maintenance,” Redman said.


“There's a lot of planning and a lot of work ahead of us,” he said of the as-yet unnamed facility. The challenge is even bigger because Redman and his supporters are raising private funds for the project and will not use any taxpayer dollars. Ironically, Redman doesn’t skate, but his grandkids do. Granddaughter Nicole Olsen skates at the park with a brand new pair of skates.












Photos: (upper left) The Tyden Park Skating Rink in use.

(lower left) A concept drawing of the future skating rink.

(photos provided)

Treasury: New tax laws don't affect 2017 tax returns

With the passage of the federal tax laws, the Michigan Department of Treasury reminds taxpayers that the 2017 tax year will not be affected when tax season begins later this month. Taxpayers should file their taxes like they have in previous years when the state treasury department begins accepting 2017 state income tax returns on Jan. 29.


Any changes to tax laws will be experienced during the 2018 tax year and next year’s state income tax filing season. Income tax filing season begins on Jan. 29, tax returns are due April 17. “The new federal tax law does not affect the 2017 tax year,” said Deputy State Treasurer Glenn White, head of Treasury’s Tax Administration Group. “Please continue to file your income tax returns as you have in previous years.”


Taxpayers are encouraged to gather tax-related documents and update their home addresses with current and former employers so W-2s and other financial documents can be mailed to the correct address. Incorrect addresses typically lead to information being mailed to the wrong location and could cause delays when filing tax returns.


When tax season opens, taxpayers can e-file their state tax returns instead of mailing a paper return. To learn more, go to Later this month, forms and instructions may be viewed and downloaded from


In addition, commonly used forms will continue to be available at Treasury offices, most public libraries, northern Michigan post offices and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services county offices.


All state income tax returns must be e-filed or postmarked by April 17, 2018. For the benefit and convenience of taxpayers, both the beginning and end of the state income tax filing season are the same as the Internal Revenue Service. To learn more about the state of Michigan’s state income tax, go to Federal tax information is available at



Mayor says 2017 was a "great" year for Hastings, 2018 will be"fantastic"

In the annual report of the State of the City, Hastings Mayor David Tossava painted a picture of a vibrant city with city employees, volunteers and generous donors striving to make Hastings a special place to live by creating events and an atmosphere for its residents that also attracts more visitors to the city.


Tossava highlighted several things that makes Hastings unique before, during and beyond 2017.

The Barry Roubaix bicycle race, that had 3,000 entrants; the annual Jazz Festival featuring 4,000 students from 70 schools treating 10,000 people to music all over the city for three days in April, and Hastings Live! hosting 50 entertainment performances and events at three locations to 8,000 people were some at the top of his list.


“This isn’t just local people attending; it’s people from all over the state.  Every one of these events was free to attend,” he said.


Tossava noted that thanks to its staff, the city had another successful audit this year. “The State of the City isn’t just about it financial status, it’s also about quality of life for its residents. It is our responsibility to attract new business and housing opportunities for our residents and city officials will continue to do this.


“It is fitting that our city logo says, ‘We treasure the old and progress with new.’  We will cherish our past and embrace our future! The state of the city is great and 2018 will be fantastic,” he predicted. //


Tossava highlighted some other notable events in 2017. The Veteran’s Memorial was dedicated before a huge crowd at the Veterans Plaza after the Memorial Day Parade.  “I am very proud of the donations of money and labor that were given to complete this project to honor our veterans,” he  said.  Another successful Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament attracted 200 teams and hundreds of supporters, Jingle and Mingle’s Christmas Parade drew 6,000 people to view the 70 parade entries.


The police department sponsored National Night Out in August, with Barry County law enforcement, fire departments, EMS and first responders gathered to meet and greet thousands of people from the communities they serve. HPD graduated the third Hastings Police Cadet class and held a Cops vs. Teachers basketball game fundraiser for Star Elementary student Leo Loeks.


It took just 22 minutes for police cadets, reserves, ambassadors and officers to pump $400 worth of gas from donated gas cards to customers at the Green Street Shell Station just before Christmas; they also distributed 20 turkey dinners for families in need at Christmas.


All of the events held in Hastings take a lot of work by volunteers and staff that help coordinate events along with their regular duties, he said. The biggest is the Barry-Roubaix, with meetings to set up race routes, street closures, detours and to assign areas for volunteers to help direct traffic.  The average race day starts at 4 a.m.


The police department, the Michigan Department of Transportation, and the Hastings Department of Public Works coordinate all their efforts to make sure the race runs smoothly and the public is kept safe. After the race, everything has to be taken down, removed and taken care of.  The day usually ends around 5 p.m. 


“Without the leadership of Jim James and the dedication of his crew at the Department of Public Works and their coordination with other departments, none of these events would have been successful.  Our hats are off to Jim and his crew,” Tossava said.


Looking ahead, Tossava said in 2018, the Safe Routes to School sidewalk construction will begin and more marking of bicycle lanes on city streets will be done in the second phase of the Bicycle Master Plan.  Improving the infrastructure, sidewalks, roads, water and sewer will continue, with improvements to city parks a priority in 2018.


Three departments, police, fire, and the DPW, are responsible for Hastings residents safety 24 hours a day, seven days a week, he said.







Record High Temp

The Hastings Climatological Weather Station set two new record high temperatures for Thursday

01-11-2018 The first occured at 5:47 am when the temperature reached 52 degrees breaking the old record of 51 degrees set this same day in 1981.  The second record breaking themperature occured at  12:28 pm when the temperature reached 57 degrees.

Dollar General issues voluntary recall of Clover Valley® Iced Oatmeal Cookies

Dollar General Corporation has announced a voluntary recall of its 12-ounce packages of Clover Valley® Iced Oatmeal Cookies with lot # L46217 30 with a best-by date of Aug. 18, 2018 over concerns of undeclared milk and tree nuts, according to a news release from the Michigan Agriculture and Rural Development Department.


Consumers with a milk and/or nut allergy or sensitivity to these items should not consume these products due to a possible health risk or serious allergic reaction.  No illnesses or reactions have been reported at this time


Dollar General initially learned of a potential issue based upon information received from a store level employee. The Company promptly contacted the product’s manufacturer who confirmed a production facility labeling error in which Clover Valley® Coconut Macaroons were inadvertently placed in Clover Valley® Iced Oatmeal Cookie packaging.


Dollar General then contacted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to initiate the voluntary product recall. The affected product package image is below:

12-Ounce Clover Valley® Iced Oatmeal Cookies Package UPC: 0 86106 03201 5 
SKU: 14878301 
Lot: L46217 30 
Best by Date: 08/18/18


Milk and nut allergens present in the Clover Valley® Coconut Macaroon Cookies, which are not disclosed on the Clover Valley® Iced Oatmeal Cookie packaging, may pose a health risk to consumers if consumed.


Customers are encouraged to discard the product or return to their local Dollar General store to exchange the product for a like item. Those with questions can  contact Dollar General’s Customer Service Department at 1-800-678-9258 seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST or by emailing


Dollar General is working in partnership with the product manufacturer and the FDA to fully investigate the matter and comply with all necessary recall procedures as well as  taking the necessary steps to address the issue and apologize for any inconvenience caused by the issue.


Superintendent's Platform

WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight activities in their districts. This post is from Richard Franklin, superintendent of Barry Intermediate School District.

Recognition for Hastings, Delton, and Barry ISD School Board Members:


“As citizen leaders, individual school board members face complex and demanding challenges. They are alternately described as having the most important volunteer jobs in the country and facing the toughest challenge in elected American government. Yet school board members are just ordinary citizens with extraordinary dedication to our nation’s public schools.


All Michigan citizens should recognize the vital contributions of these men and women and the crucial role they play in the education of our children. Public education is the backbone of American society, and local school boards are deeply rooted in U.S. tradition. It’s the foundation on which our democracy was built. Today local school boards continue to do the most important work of their communities—that of educating our youth.


Their job is to establish a vision for the education program, design a structure to achieve that vision, ensure schools are accountable to the community and strongly advocate for continuous improvement in student learning. The job of a school board member is tough, the hours long and the thanks few and far between. Too often we’re quick to criticize school board members without really understanding the complex nature of their decisions.


Now’s the time to thank them for their untiring efforts.

School board members come from a variety of backgrounds, yet they share a common goal—helping students achieve in school and life. As a state, Michigan has faced many challenges, but the key to a brighter future is a strong public education system. We often forget about the personal sacrifices school board members make.


Board members contribute hundreds and hundreds of hours each year leading their districts. The time spent in board meetings represents just a small fraction of the hours school board members spend leading their districts. Collectively, they spend more than 7,500 hours on professional development to keep abreast of the latest trends in educational leadership, are deeply involved in community activities and spend many hours at extracurricular events.


They continually advocate for the children of our state, and in the past year school board members made more than 1,100 passionate pleas to legislators, speaking out against budget cuts and pushing for smart reforms. The month of January marks the annual observance of School Board Recognition Month.


This is a time to show our appreciation and begin to better understand how local trustees work together to prepare today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders. In January, please join with me to salute the men and women in Hastings Area Schools, Delton Kellogg Schools, and Barry ISD who provide grassroots governance of our public schools.”

Hastings City Council workshops go in-depth on city government

Hastings City Council members have added another meeting to their schedules of regular meetings and special meetings on budgets and on other topics; workshops to learn more about the workings of city government that effect their roles as stewards of the city.


Credit definitely goes to Councilman Don Smith and Mayor David Tossava for suggesting the meetings to make sure the council is well educated and informed on various topics, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.


“I applaud the council’s willingness to take the time to attend the sessions and become more fully informed. A full understanding of issues by all involved leads to an improved decision making process and better outcomes,” he said.


The meetings always open to the public, are at 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month, followed at 7 p.m. by the first monthly council meeting. The council has had three sessions so far. Last November’s meeting was a general review of the city’s annual budget, audit and financial reports and a discussion of “fund accounting” facilitated by Mansfield.


In December, the council learned more about winter season maintenance activities from Department Public Services Director Lee Hays and Superintendent of Streets and Construction Jim James.


The Jan. 8 workshop was on the current strategic vision for the clerk/treasurer/finance and Community Development Departments, as Clerk/Treasurer Dan King and Community Development Director Jerry Czarnecki switched positions. Mansfield and King explained the transition of King to community development director and Czarnecki to clerk/treasurer. Czarnecki was not available for the meeting due to a family emergency.


“We have not yet landed on a topic for February, but we have a couple in mind at this point,” Mansfield said. 


Hastings City Council commits to keeping popular dog park open

The agreement between the City of Hastings and the Hastings Dog Park Companions to maintain the city’s only dog park ends Jan. 16. The city has been providing maintenance for the park for some time; the council agreed unanimously Monday to keep the park open after the termination.


City Manager Jeff Mansfield said he and city Attorney Stephanie Fekkes are talking to a Companion representative about the transfer of equipment that was donated or purchased for the park. The Companions intend to develop another dog park in the city later this year, and wants to take the materials that were donated to the dog park, or bought with money donated to them, to the new park, he said.


Mansfield said they need the donors to contact the city to identify which items were donated to the park and which were given to the committee. “We need the donor’s intent to get a better understanding of what is specific to the dog park or to the committee."

They will follow the donor’s intent in the disposition of the equipment, and possibly buy some items from the Companions.


Fekkes asked that donors, “put their intent in writing; we both want to honor donor’s wishes.” The majority, if not all of the larger items, will stay with the park, she said.


Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange thought that many people interested in helping with the dog park, “stepped back to let the Hastings Dog Park Companions run its course.” She predicted they would come forward as the city determines how they will run the park in the future.


An oversight committee or an advisory board like they have for Riverside Cemetery will be considered. “There will be other decisions down the road,” Mansfield said. “We’ll look at options we can address later.”  For now, nothing is being moved. The dog park is open and will stay open, he said.


Speakers at public hearing like Hastings' revised dog ordinance

The Hastings City Council held a public hearing Monday to take public comments on a revised dog ordinance involving pit bull dogs.


Four people spoke during the public hearing, several more during public comment, and three letters were sent to the council, all supporting the revised ordinance that removed any mention of the specific breeds of pit bulls as dangerous dogs, changed to define dangerous actions by any dog. Several thanked the council for its attention to their comments and its work to change the ordinance.


The council had several options; leave the ordinance as it is; schedule a first reading of the ordinance, send the ordinance back to the police chief and attorney for further revisions, or take more time to consider the next steps.


They opted to send the ordinance back to Police Chief Jeff Pratt and Attorney Stephanie Fekkes to include two language changes. Councilwoman Theresa Maupin-Moore asked for clarification on working dogs, such as law enforcement K-9s and Councilman Don Smith asked that if a dog harmed a person or another animal, the owner must buy insurance with a certificate of insurance going to the city to assure they continue to have coverage.


The motion made by Brenda McNabb-Stange called for the revisions and a first reading of the ordinance at the next meeting, which triggers a second reading at the following meeting and action by the council.


The meeting was quiet in contrast to previous city council meetings during discussions by strong advocates for pit bulls and mixed pit bull breeds, and those as just as adamantly opposed to them.

While speakers were unanimous in their support of the breed Monday, some on the council had reservations.


Councilman Don Bowers told of deaths of humans and animals by pit bulls and told supporters, “You ignore the other point of view that say it is a problem,” cautioning they should recognize the other side of the argument. Councilman Bill Cusack pointed out pit bulls have killed people in other parts of the country, but also as close as Kalamazoo. “People should be aware of these things so close to home.”


Mayor Dave Tossava said the council is responsible for the safety of citizens and his concern was that an ordinance has “teeth” for enforcement.


Asked for statistics, Pratt said in the city between 2011 and 2015, 48.5 percent of dog bites were by pit bulls; in 2016-2017, the number was 46.5 percent.


Councilman John Resseguie said the ordinance change could, “come back to bite us… if your dog bites someone, just remember, you wanted this new ordinance.”



Hastings organizational meeting goes smoothly

The Hastings City Council held its annual organizational meeting Monday, approving the rules that govern the staff and procedures that affect the city every day.

In short, it’s approving the rules that cover the business of doing business.


The list of approvals by the council includes:

Regular council meetings will be the second and fourth Monday of the month at 7 p.m., except for accommodations for some holidays that fall on Mondays.  Roberts Rules of Order was adopted for council meetings,


Bill Redman re-elected mayor pro-tem, and the Barry Eaton District Health Department was approved as its health officer. Jeff Mansfield will remain as city manager and Stephanie Fekkes, and Varnum Attorneys at Law as city attorney. Mansfield’s salary is $94,056, the same as last year. Fekkes will receive a retainer of $14,500 a year, the same as last year, and $200 an hour for general legal advice and $250 an hour for negotiations, financial and tax matters, up about $15 from last year.


A list of city officials offered by Mansfield and Mayor David Tossava were approved for 2018. They are:

Jeff Pratt, deputy city manager/police chief/emergency management coordinator,

Roger Caris, fire chief/fire marshal/ADA coordinator,

Jerry Czarnecki, clerk/treasurer/finance director,

Dan King, community development director,

Jackie Timmerman, city assessor,

Lee Hays, director of public services and,

Mansfield, zoning administrator.


Annual salaries for the council, the same as last year, are mayor, $7,800; mayor pro-tem, $2,500; council member, $2,300 and board of review members, $115 per meeting.


Eligible depositories for city funds with no additions or deletions from last year are: CIBC (Formerly The Private Bank), Birmingham; Chemical Bank, Midland, (Hastings);  Comerica Bank, Detroit;  Commercial Bank, Alma (Hastings);  Flagstar Bank, Troy;  Hastings City Bank, Hastings; Horizon Bank(Formerly Wolverine Bank), Grand Rapids;  Huntington National Bank, Grand Rapids;  Macatawa Bank, Holland;  Mercantile Bank, Grand Rapids and Union Bank, Hastings, all in Michigan.


The Michigan CLASS Investment Pool/Grand Haven was designated an approved depository as an intergovernmental pool, and  Comerica Securities, Detroit;  Huntington Investment Company, Grand Rapids; and Michigan Vining Sparks, Memphis, Tennessee were approved as security broker/dealers to advise and assist Czarnecki.


Meeting dates and times for various city commissions, committees and boards, its members and lengths of terms, were also approved. Details are available on the city’s website, in the city council’s Jan. 8 packet.


UPDATE: Deaths on I-96 in Ionia County were apparent murder/suicide

UPDATE: The Ionia County Sheriff's Office has issued the following update on the deaths on I-96 last night:


Further investigation at the scene determined that this was a case of an apparent murder/suicide.  The decedents are identified as David Somers, 51, and Lisa Somers, 51, both of Kaleva, MI.  Both died of gunshot wounds at the scene.  A loaded shotgun was found at the scene directly underneath David Somers body. 


The living victim found in the car by police is identified as Amedy Dewey, 18, also of Kaleva, the daughter of Lisa Somers.  Dewey was treated at the scene by Life EMS and the Saranac Fire Department before being transported by ambulance to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids.  Dewey remains in critical, but stable condition at this time.


The Michigan State Police Lakeview Post assisted at the scene, and also helped close a portion of eastbound I-96 near mile marker 59 as sheriff’s detectives investigated the shooting and collected evidence.  The highway reopened at 1:40 a.m. 


There is no clear motive at this time of what prompted this homicide, and sheriff’s detectives will continue to investigate the case.  More information may be released in the future as it becomes available. 


oRIGINAL STORY: The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a double homicide discovered when a deputy was dispatched to a motorist assist on I-96 near Nash Highway in Boston Township about 9:38 p.m. Saturday night.


A sheriff’s news release said the deputy arrived at the scene and found two deceased individuals off the roadway, and a third person still alive inside a vehicle with an apparent gunshot wound. The deputy rendered aid to the victim in the vehicle until other officers and first responders arrived.


Two persons were pronounced dead at the scene; the third was transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital and is in critical condition.  No names or genders have been released.

The  release said the sheriff’s office is conducting a homicide investigation and there is no danger to the public.

Eaton County confirms hepatitis A case linked to Southeast Michigan outbreak

Based on Jan. 5 laboratory results, the Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) has confirmed that the hepatitis A case reported in December of 2017 is linked to the statewide Southeast Michigan hepatitis A outbreak, the first case of the disease in the county linked to the outbreak.


A second case of hepatitis, confirmed on Jan. 5, will have additional lab testing to confirm or disprove if it is related to the outbreak. The person is not considered at high risk of spreading the disease and is undergoing appropriate treatment.


Hepatitis A is vaccine preventable. The best ways to help prevent infection is getting vaccinated and practicing good hand hygiene. The vaccine is recommended in routine childhood vaccinations; however, most adults have not been vaccinated.


 “We recommend that everyone be vaccinated against Hepatitis A,” said Colette Scrimger, BEDHD’s health officer. “Outside of vaccination, handwashing is the most important step that everyone can take to protect themselves.”  Individuals should always wash their hands after going to the bathroom or changing diapers and before eating or preparing meals for themselves and others.


Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease often spread by consuming food or water contaminated with infected feces or by oral contact with contaminated objects. Transmission can occur easily among people who live together and between sexual partners. Homelessness, use of transient housing, illicit drug use, incarceration and men who have sex with men and sex workers and their clients are at a higher risk for getting the disease.//


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


Anyone who believes they have been exposed to hepatitis A or has 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.


As of Jan. 5, 630 other individuals in the state have had the illness linked to the outbreak; 82 percent of ill individuals have been hospitalized and 20 deaths have been reported, with the majority of the cases in metro Detroit. For more information, visit

For more about the Southeast Michigan outbreak, visit


Record Low Temp Hastings

The Hastings National Weather Service Climatological Station recorded a new record low temperature

for this January 6th.  At 7- am the temperature was minus 12. 

The old record was minus 9 on this day in 1924.

Barry County Commissioners hear the public

The Barry County Commission offers the public a chance to speak at the beginning and end of each meeting; to state their opinions, ask questions, make suggestions, even issue invitations. Tuesday’s meeting had all four.


Sharon Zebrowski, Charlton Park Board chair, asked commissioners when the empty seats on the board would be filled. There were supposed to be ads out for the positions two weeks ago and it has not been done, she said. “We’re getting questions now…we have to make decisions. We’ll get started...see what you can do about getting us more members.”  


Jim Dull, drain commissioner and former commissioner, suggested commissioners change the rule allowing chairpersons to hold the position for one year instead of the present two years. Incoming commissioners don’t know anything, he said, but after a year, they have a handle on the job and the board as well.

“I’d like this board to look at reversing it back to one year. If they do well, they will be reelected; if not, they won’t be reelected.”  


Bob Vanderboegh gave his opinion on the ongoing negotiations by the Barry Eaton District Health Department’s Health Board to make the TOST regulation voluntary instead of mandatory.

“It is apparent they are only interested in shuffling the cards and continue the tail wagging the dog…certainly, they put a lot of effort into changing the words without changing the meaning," he said.

On the partnership with BEDHD, he said it appears Barry County is not respected as such when a resolution unanimously supporting a voluntary TOST by the Barry County Commission is not honored.  “We are not little brother, so why do we continue the partnership?”


Patricia Johns, member of the Parks & Recreation board, invited commissioners to offer their suggestions for what they would like to see in the future of the county’s  recreation program as the board develops its next five-year recreation plan.


DNR offers special winter hunting, fishing programs

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced programs that may interest area deer and turkey hunters and anglers.

Hunters in several townships in Ionia County will have an additional firearm only deer hunt Jan. 11-14. Hunters are required to submit the head of harvested deer within 72 hours for disease testing. The hunt includes Easton, Ionia, Keene, Lyons, North Plains, Orleans, Otisco and Ronald townships in Ionia County.

Go to for a list of available check stations and self-service drop boxes. For details on licenses, visit Michigan Hunting and Trapping Digest.


During the 2018 Winter Free Fishing weekend, Saturday and Sunday, February 17-18, residents and nonresidents can fish without a license, and the weekend includes free entry into Michigan’s 103 state parks and recreation areas. The event promotes awareness of the state’s vast water resources. Many locations will host weekend events for the whole family. For a full list of events, visit


For turkey hunters, the 2018 spring turkey hunting applications can be purchased from now through Feb.11. Licenses are available on line at E-license or wherever hunting licenses are sold. The spring turkey hunt runs from April 23 through May 31, with several hunting periods to choose from.

For details on spring turkey hunting, visit

Barry Central Dispatch Director's Last Day

Friday was Barry Central Dispatch Director Phyllis Fullers' last day at Barry Central Dispatch.

Fuller joined Central Dispatch as a telecommunicator 25 years ago. 

Fuller was honored in December at a Barry County Commissioners meeting recognizing her contribution to the county and its residents.

Man dies in Wayland Township mobile home fire

A man who died in a mobile home fire in Rabbit River Estates, believed to be 44 years old, has not been officially identified, according to Wayland Fire Chief Joe Miller.


Miller said the structure was well involved when they arrived at the scene in the 3400 block of Dale Drive Tuesday at 9:40 a.m. The fire started in the living room/kitchen area, but what caused it is undetermined, Miller said.


The man was found in the kitchen area in a room by room search. “We knocked it down pretty fast, about an hour,” he said. Investigators are working to find the cause of the fire.


Hastings City Bank Offers Education Scholarship

Hastings City Bank has developed a scholarship program to award a high school senior accepted into a post-secondary education program in finance and a finance related field.


The amount is $1,000 dollars per year up to four years.

Requirements for scholarship consideration include the applicant must be a full-time student, a Michigan resident and attend a Michigan or out of state community college or University providing a certificate, two year or four year degree.

The degree must be finance-related; business administration, economic, and accounting.

The student must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3-point zero or better.

Applications must be received by Friday April 13, 2018.


Participating schools include:

Hastings area Schools

Maple Valley Schools

Thornapple Kellogg Schools

Bellevue Community Schools

Caledonia Community Schools

Marshall Public Schools

Wayland Union Schools


Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender

Area health departments give out free Radon test kits in January

The Barry Eaton District Health Department and the Ionia County Health Department are giving away free radon testing kits during January, Radon Action Month. During the month, the easy, do-it-yourself radon test kits are available first come, first served to Barry and Eaton County residents. There is a one kit per address and supplies are limited.


The Ionia Department asks for the donation of a non-perishable food item in return for a kit.

Kits are available at the BEDHD, 330 West Woodlawn Avenue, Hastings and 1033 Healthcare Drive in Charlotte, or at Delta Township Hall (assessing department), 7710 West Saginaw Highway, Lansing.


Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas found naturally in the environment. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers, and the second leading cause of lung cancer overall. It is released from rock or soil and may seep into homes through the foundation, cracks in floors and walls, or gaps around service pipes.


A high level of radon in a home increases the risk of exposure to radiation which increases the risk for lung cancer—it is the second leading cause of lung cancer (smoking is the first), but it is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.


It is very important for residents to know their home’s radon level and to take action to lower it if it’s too high. Testing your home is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk since there are no warning signs or symptoms of exposure. The EPA recommended action level (4 pCi/L). The EPA estimates one out of 15 homes in the US has elevated radon levels.  Radon-related lung cancer is preventable, but you can reduce the risk.


For more information about radon call Hastings, 269-845-9516, visit or call Charlotte, 517-541-2615.

In Ionia County, call the health department at 616- 527-5341.


Snow Update

The seasonal snow total for Hastings to date as recorded by the Hastings National Weather Service Climatological Station is 31.8 inches. No snow in October  or November 2017. For December 2017 29.5 inches. January 2018  2.2 inch to date.

Thornapple Manor celebrates 60 years of service to Barry County, looks forward to 60 more

The front lobby and hallway of Thornapple Manor was crowded with well-wishers Tuesday as Administrator Don Haney unveiled the logo that celebrates the county assisted living facility’s 60th anniversary. Residents, members of the public and state, city and county officials heard Haney share the history of the facility that dates back to the 1830’s as the County Poor Farm.


“Thornappple Manor has experienced many changes from 1958 to today,” Haney said. “Through all those changes, one thing has remained consistent and that is our commitment to care for those in our community who need our services regardless of their ability to pay.


“The staff, from day one to today, provides compassion, love and support while caring for the emotional social and medical needs of our residents. “Our staff today certainly embodies those qualities and it is an honor and privilege to work with such an amazing team.”//


Around the turn of the century, a building to care for those with tuberculosis was built, called the Thornapple Valley Home, Haney said. In 1954 that building was found to be unfit for occupancy.

A millage was passed in1956, construction began in 1957 and in May of 1958, the first resident moved into the Thornapple Valley Home and Medical Care Facility.


In a 1986 addition and renovation project, residents voted to change the name to Thornapple Manor. In June 2006, an expansion and renovation project that ended in August of 2009, doubled the footprint of the building by creating private rooms and more gathering spaces throughout the building. The Cottage was added in July of 2013 to care for those with dementia.


“Today, we unveil our 60th anniversary logo to celebrate the history of our contribution to Barry County. We do so with our eye toward the rapidly changing world of healthcare and in a position to provide another 60 years of service to the Barry County community,” Haney concluded. Thornapple Manor residents and guests were offered a slice of the 60th anniversary cake and punch.











Photo: Thornapple Manor Administrator Don Haney with the 60th anniversary logo.


Barry County Commission approves organization rules with split vote

The board rules covering county operations were approved by commissioners Tuesday on a split vote after rewording of one amendment. The organization rules cover commission meetings, officer elections, board successions, open meetings, quorums, rules of general conduct and procedures, reimbursement for expenditures, mileage, board committees and administration.


Commissioner Ben Geiger, commission chair,  said there were no large changes to the rules this year, offering “small tweaks on the way we do business.”

Commissioner Vivian Conner objected to a proposal to allow the chair to postpone a commissioner’s committee of the whole agenda request for two committee meetings.

She said his request was too controlling, the issue of delaying an agenda item has never been a problem. “Things come up all the time…so why delay it?”


Geiger said it is his responsibility to set the agenda, with advice from Administrator Michael Brown, to space out items to prevent three-hour meetings and the change would give him more flexibility. Also, he said the chair has the ability to say no to an agenda request. “With this, the chair can only postpone it…I wouldn’t delay something that needed to be approved,” he said.


Commissioner Heather Wing said she tended to agree with Conner, that  it was too restrictive for them, “that things do come up” and they needed flexibility “when time is of the essence,” to respond to grants, meeting deadlines, and, “things that need to be done this week.”


Commissioners Jon Smelker, Dan Parker and Howard “Hoot” Gibson had questions on the wording. Smelker asked how long the two committee of the whole meetings would delay an item and was told about a month. Commissioner David Jackson said if they changed the language, he could support it.

During a five minute break the language was changed to read:


Before: Any Commissioner may place an item on a future Committee of the Whole agenda. 

After: Any Commissioner may place an item on a future Committee of the Whole agenda. The Chairperson may postpone such items for not more than two (2) Committee meetings, or until the last Committee meeting of the term, whichever is sooner. The Chairperson shall not postpone requests if postponement would result in failure to meet deadlines related to the request, or result in serious financial consequences for the county government. //



The vote for the amended rules was 5-2, with Conner and Gibson voting “no.” Gibson said in his 16 years on the commission delaying an item had never come up and he saw no reason to change it. “We are all commissioners. We’re peers,” Conner said. “I don’t know why you are doing this


The other changes to the rules are:

*Add “Report from State and County Officers” to the board agenda; remove “Legislative Update.”

*Clarify that special mileage reimbursements are allowed only if approved by the committee of the whole or board of commissioners or if the chair requests they represent the commission at an official meeting or event.


Also, the committee of the whole meetings are typically the first and third Tuesdays of the month and regular board meetings the second and fourth Tuesdays. Both are at 9 a.m. in the Mezzanine in the Barry County Courthouse.  The Aug. 21 committee of the whole was moved to Aug. 22; the Dec. 25 regular board meeting was moved to the Dec. 16 committee of the whole meeting of at 4 p.m., and the March 27 regular board meeting was moved to March 26. The meetings were moved for a holiday or state events like Michigan Association of Counties meetings.


Geiger issued a statement later: "I’m pleased the board approved some common-sense tweaks to our bylaws. Today’s action ensures any commissioner can bring an issue to the board, while giving me flexibility to set the agenda in a smart, effective manner."


And, appointments of commissioners as liaison on 38 various committees, boards and authorities are made by the chair. This year’s list of appointments is the same as last year’s, Geiger said.

The first committee of the whole meeting in 2018 followed with one agenda item, a resolution approving a tentative two-year collective bargaining agreement with the Command Officers Association of Michigan/Barry County Sheriff’s Office Command Officers Unit.


Details were given by Brown: “Two percent wage increase in 2018, 2019 and 2020, plus differential increase for sergeants and sergeant detective (positions) in 2018 to 10 percent, in 2019 to 11 percent, and in 2020 to 12 percent above road deputy. and differential increase for lieutenant’s (position) in 2018 to 2.5 percent, 2019 to 3.5 percent, and 2020 to 4.5 percent above sergeant’s (position).”



Fun In The Snow

Pictures of Saturday's Cabin Fever CX & Fat Bike Event at Fish Hatchery Park

in Hastings. 
































The Event went from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Photos Courtesy of Mark Anderson.

Welcome to Barry County's newest citizen, Reid Michael Wallace

Amy and Ryan Wallace of Hastings are the parents of Barry County’s New Year’s baby.

The first baby born in the county in 2018, Reid Michael Wallace, 9 pounds, 4 ounces made his debut at 1:33 p.m. January 1 at Spectrum Health Pennock.


Mom says the baby boy is “awesome” and dad is “pretty excited.” Reid is the couple’s second child; he has an older sister Avery, who will be two and a half the last of this month.  


Amy’s due date was Jan. 10.  Reid was born by C-section, so she will be in the hospital at least a few days. The couple both work in Kalamazoo.


Congratulations from WBCH to the new mom and dad.


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