Local News Archives for 2018-02

Barry ISD Regional Spelling Bee 2018 results told

Matthew Pattok, an eighth grade student at Hastings Middle School, won the Barry ISD Regional Spelling Bee Tuesday evening and qualified for the Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee to be held March 27, at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in downtown Grand Rapids.


Pattok will compete against students from all over West Michigan for the honor of spelling at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May in Washington, D.C. He bested 17 other competitors, spelling "sonata" and "retrospective" to win the night. Runner up was Cayden Snow, also from Hastings Middle School, who fell on "pueblo.”


How would you have done? Other words that students misspelled included: workmanship, humble, macaroni, stethoscope, and bungalow. Words missed in vocabulary rounds included: sable, animosity, dungaree, nosh, and innate.


Rich Franklin, Barry ISD superintendent, said that the evening was a great success and a chance for the students involved to show off a little of their academic prowess. "Each student up on that stage is supported by parents, grandparents, teachers, and others in the audience who are so proud that they made it this far, and so glad they're not up here spelling, themselves!" Franklin said.


Other competitors were Jessica Halder and Dale Thompson from Barry County Christian School; Isabella Morey, Tucker Patrick-Swinehart, Allison Shadoff, Madelynn Palmer, Eric Belka, Alekzander Waller, and Elijah Austin from Delton Kellogg Middle School; Connor Lindsey, Keegan Lindsey, Phoebe Birchfield, Lily Comensoli, and Hannah Smith from Hastings Middle School; and Anika Bourassa and Alex Flikkema from Saint Rose of Lima School.


Qualifying but not competing were Stephanie Dunn from Hastings Middle School and Levi Garrett from Delton Kellogg Middle School.


Mary Collier was the pronouncer for the bee once again this year. Judges were Cheryl Bower, Dr. Bob Becker, and Dee Defields. Carol VanDenBerg and Dawn Weeks served as audience advocates and Deb Hatfield was the registrar.


Franklin thanked Delton Kellogg Schools for hosting, especially Mike Wertman for setup and tech support, and Denice Cook for arranging the site. The bee was held in the auditorium/large group instruction room at Delton Kellogg High School.


Kayakers rescued from extreme current in flooding Kalamazoo River

The Kalamazoo River was high and fast Tuesday when a pair of kayaks ran into trouble. An unidentified woman went into the rushing water, and her male companion went in to help her.

The Plainwell Department of Public Safety was dispatched at 4 p.m. yesterday to rescue both of them; they called in the Cooper Township Fire Department.


Bill Bomar, director of the Plainwell Public Safety Department, said the current was too extreme for their small, inflatable boat and the sheriff’s office boats are still winterized and not available, so they called Yankee Springs Township Fire Department to bring their fire/rescue boat.


 “They responded in a timely manner and did a good job,” Bomar said.

The couple had made it to one of three small islands in the river which creates its own turbulence.

“They were extremely lucky. They had a cell phone, otherwise they would have been left screaming for help,” he said.


The couple was checked by waiting ambulance personnel; the woman had a laceration that was treated but other than that, they were fine, Bomar said.


Suspect arrested in false bomb threat at Target store

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office reports a false bomb threat at the Target store on Market Place Drive in Gaines Township last November was made by a woman to cover up retail fraud she was committing.


A phone call received by Target employees said they had eight minutes to evacuate the building before a bomb would blow up. Target and the adjacent store, Staples, were evacuated. Kent County Sheriff’s deputies and Michigan State Police conducted a search of the buildings and did not locate any suspicious packages.


Investigators determined where the phone call originated and suspect Victoria Smith confessed to making the bomb threat in order to divert attention from her retail fraud.  Smith, charged with making a false report of a bomb threat is in custody at the Kent County Correctional Facility being held on a $10,000 bond.

Barry County Sheriff's Dive Team new equipment is more efficient, safer for divers

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office has new diving equipment for its Dive Team that improves safety and efficiency for the deputies using it in their duties. Deputy Steve Lehman and Lt. Pete Nevins recently demonstrated the new gear for Barry County Commissioners.


Before the new gear, communication between diver and on shore personnel  was a series of different tugs on a rope tied to the diver. Now, the diver is wired for voice communication at all times with a rope still attached for backup, Lehman said. A fully-suited deputy is stationed on shore for quick response, it needed.


“Communicating is very important. “It’s reassuring for divers to hear a voice,” Nevins said. With the communication system, the diver has about 200 feet of leeway.

The more spacious outfits are light years ahead of the former simple face mask, part of a completely enclosed system that can safely be worn when gas or other chemicals are in the water.

“We are totally encapsulated from head to toe,” Lehman said. “We don’t get wet.”


Deputies are the only personnel using the equipment; nine full sets are assigned to dive team deputies, led by Sgt. Ryan Argo. An extra set is for an anticipated 10th member of the dive team.

An updated air tank, resembling turtle’s back, can be inflated or deflated by the diver and can carry extra weights for ballast. A new trailer for dive equipment means the divers can arrive on scene, snap on the mask, and go, shaving 15 minutes off the getting ready time.


They have been practicing in local lakes and in the pool at the Hastings High School. The new equipment is compatible with other counties diving gear, an asset in joint operations.  It also increases their ability to be proactive in local lakes and pools, Sheriff Dar Leaf said. “It’s a huge step up for our divers during their work and also for their safety.”


One thing new equipment can’t solve is the visibility. “We sink to the bottom, so we very seldom have clear visibility,” Lehman noted. With underwater flashlights, they can see from inches to two feet. “It’s going to be black anyway, we usually go by feel,” he said.


Lehman said the old equipment let divers stay underwater about 22 minutes. Training with the new equipment, he was under for 58 minutes one time and 41 minute another. It also depends on the depth of the water the diver is working in.


The cost for the upgrade was $5,200, with the sheriff’s office paying half, a grant from the Federal Emergency Management’s Fifth District.




U. S. Supreme Court ends lawsuit against Gun Lake Tribe

The U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday affirmed the D.C. Circuit Court’s dismissal of he lawsuit  Patchak v. Zinke, Secretary of the Interior, et al., against the Gun Lake Tribe on the grounds that an act of Congress mandated the dismissal of the case.


“This decision ends a decades-long struggle, and ensures the tribe can carry on our elders’ vision for growth and self-sufficiency,” said Scott Sprague, chairman of the Gun Lake Tribe. “We are thankful the Supreme Court upheld the many lower court decisions in favor of the tribe.  This is a significant development for not only the tribe, but also all of Indian Country,”


In 2005, the tribe petitioned the Secretary of the Interior to place a parcel of land in southwestern Michigan into trust for the tribe for the purposes of building a casino. The secretary agreed, and the tribe opened a casino there in 2011. A nearby landowner filed a lawsuit challenging the secretary’s decision on statutory grounds.


Following several years of litigation, including a previous trip to the Supreme Court, the district court eventually dismissed the landowner’s suit on the ground that a 2014 act passed by congress, the Gun Lake Act, stripped the court of jurisdiction to hear the case; the D.C. Circuit upheld that decision.


In Tuesday’s decision, the Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal by a 6-3 vote. A four-Justice plurality held that the Gun Lake Act did not violate Article III of the constitution, and two justices concurred in the judgment on the ground that the act validly reinstated sovereign immunity from suit.


Beyond resolving an important issue of constitutional law, today’s decision brings this long-running lawsuit to an end—thereby providing the tribe certainty and security in its crucial land-development efforts.


A team from Akin Gump briefed and argued the case on behalf of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians whose property was at the center of the dispute. The Akin Gump team representing the tribe in this case was led by Supreme Court and appellate practice co-head Pratik Shah, and included litigation partner James Tysse and associate G. Michael Parsons.

Hastings to raze former Moose building, market Michigan Avenue site

Hastings City Manager Jeff Mansfield told the City Council in a memo that Smith Equities, who had presented a plan to develop the former Moose Building on South Michigan Avenue into retail business and apartments, is no longer interested in the project.

Another developer who was initially interested in rehabilitating the building is now committed to other projects, Mansfield said Monday.


“The building is not salvageable; it appears to be at the end of its life,” he said. The DDA has agreed to pay for the demolition of the building, with the request they be reimbursed if the city sells the site for development, he said.


With the council’s enthusiastic approval to demolish the building, Mansfield will develop a plan for interim use for the site for the council to approve.

When they have the final cost of demolition, including disposal of environmentally sensitive materials, if there are any, they will recommend funding for the work, he said.


The site will likely be grass along Michigan Avenue and the extension of City Lot #8 on the west side of the site. There are developers still interested in the site, but not the building. “We believe the site will be more attractive for redevelopment after the building is demolished.”


Despite strenuous objections from Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange that the agreement with the city was vague and lacked many details and specifics, the Hastings Rotary and Kiwanis clubs were approved to run a concession stand for the 2018 Thornapple Plaza season and to serve alcohol at 24 entertainment events.

The agreement is the same as last year Mansfield said, “It was a handshake agreement and worked well,” he said.


David Solmes, representing the Rotary, said he would be happy to work with the city to address any conflicts with other events, and the specific dates and events when they get the 2018 season schedule.


Mayor Exchange Day will be April 23, when Frankenmuth officials visit the city with Hastings returning the visit on May 16.


The City of Frankenmuth, in Frankenmuth Township, Saginaw County, has a population of 5,131. Bordered by the Cass River, it is noted for its Bavarian-style architecture, an Octoberfest and Bronners Christmas Store, billed as the World’s Largest Christmas Store. It has a council/manager form of government.


Also approved were the Hastings Rotary Whiffle Ball tournament/fundraiser at Fish Hatchery Park on June 2; FlexFab’s 10th annual 5K run/walk on June 23 and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life at Tyden Park on Aug. 3 and 4.


Free Succession Planning Workshop for Business owners

The Barry County Chamber of Commerce is partnering with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) of Michigan and local Chamber members Longstreet Elder Law and Principal Financial to bring you a two-part Succession Planning workshop, with Part 1 on February 28th and Part 2 on March 22nd.

Effective succession planning is essential to ensure that your business is prepared to continue on when you want to retire or if something bad happens that prevents you from continuing to run the business. There are many business and legal concerns to address, and these workshops will give you the foundation and tools to make this important future planning a reality for your business!

We invite you to join us for this FREE two-part, educational seminar focusing on the future of your business.  Attendees will learn:
  • How to work ON your business, not IN your business     
  • What to do when you want to retire
  • How to protect your business in case of death or serious injury
  • How to retain key employees & incenting that retention
  • How to plan in a smart way to avoid decisions made in CRISIS—and how to protect that plan
  • What is the difference between business planning and estate planning
Session 1:  Introduction to Succession Planning & Laying the Foundation for Succession Planning
Session 2:  In-depth Succession Planning Discussion
Both sessions will take place from 8:30-9:00am in the Hastings Public Library Community Room.  Continental Breakfast will be provided at both sessions!
Who Should Attend:
  • Small Business Owners such as retailers and service companies
  • Agriculture
  • Light Manufacturing
  • Professionals such as dentists and accountants
FREE to attend; registration required!  Call 269-945-2454 or register online at
This workshop is proudly brought to you by the Barry County Chamber of  Commerce, in partnership with SBDC, Principal Financial Group, and Longstreet Elder Law & Estate Planning.
Travis Alden, President, (269) 945-2454

Barry County 56B District Court offers amnesty program

Are you a Barry County resident?

Do you have an outstanding warrant or fines in Barry County District Court that you haven’t paid?

Are you looking over your shoulder, but don’t dare talk to anyone about it?

Would you like to clear it up, but don’t know how?


Here’s the thing: The Barry County Trial Court is offering amnesty to Barry County residents for the traffic and criminal division of 56B District Court from Thursday, March 1 through Friday, April 13.

If you have late fees, outstanding bench warrants for failing to appear or failing to comply with financial obligations on traffic or criminal cases, you can come to court without fear of being arrested.

Go to 56B District Court, second floor in the Courts & Law Building at 206 West Court Street in Hastings between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. during the amnesty period to make final payments in full on any outstanding balances or meet with a financial specialist.  When you make the final payment, the court will waive the late fees, and/or recall bench warrants and dismiss any future contempt dates or charges for those cases and you will be free to go.


If you have any problem about going in person, just call, said District Court Judge Michael Schipper. “We want to clear up our backlog of cases and give our customers a break. We’ll work with you.

“I’ll try something new. If a program works, we’ll keep it; if it needs tweaking we’ll do that. If it doesn’t work, we won’t keep doing it.”


Interestingly, Schipper said some people may have warrants out on them and not know it. For example, if you paid a traffic fine late, it may have late charges added. If they are not paid, a warrant will eventually be issued, and if a driver get stopped for anything, like a light out, the warrant will come up when officer checks your license status.


There are important notes about the amnesty:

* The program is available to both traffic and misdemeanor case types.

* Payment may be made by cash, credit card, cashier’s check or money order.

* The program applies to Barry County residents only and is for traffic and criminal cases only.


However, if an individual has outstanding warrants or criminal charges in another county or state or for another matter in Barry County, he or she may be taken into custody as a result.


For questions on the program or outstanding balances, call district court at 269-495-1404.

For information on outstanding child support or Friend of the Court business, call 269-945-1283.



2018 Leadership Barry County Coat Drive is on

Drop off your new or gently used coats on Feb. 24 at Spectrum Health Wellness Center from 9 a.m. to noon or on Feb. 25 at Green Street Church from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.


Other drop off locations for coats from now until March 8 include the Trumble Agency, Middleville; Union Bank, Hastings; Hastings High School,  Hastings;  Barry County Chamber of Commerce, Hastings; Flexfab Horizons, LLC (employees only), Hastings  and the Barry Community Foundation, Hastings.


Proceeds will benefit Secondhand Corners free Coat Closet.

Superintendent's Platform

WBCH provides this space to superintendents of area schools to highlight activities in their districts. This post is from Superintend Carrie Duits of the Hastings Area School System.


“Our hearts break for the family, friends, students, and community impacted by the recent

tragedy in Florida. The wounds of all those in our country who have suffered such violent acts in

the past have opened once again; we are a nation in mourning. All of us are seeking answers to school violence and finding new ways to protect our students.


Hastings Area School System works hard to provide safeguards for our students and staff. We are very grateful to the community for passing the 2015 bond that has allowed us to install several improvements and provide additional security in our schools.

Our architects presented us with school security research as we started designing our new

Middle School addition.


A critical feature has been the addition of our secure entrances. Visitors are channeled, through a secured, single point of entry. New windows have provided office staff with a clear visual of anyone entering or exiting the schools. In addition to increased visibility, the entrances are equipped with an intercom and a camera to enable communication between secretaries and visitors prior to allowing visitors access to the building.


Our secure entrances are a beginning, but only one step in the measures we are taking to

better protect our students. We also added lockdown “boots” throughout each building. As we

complete newly remodeled areas, we will assess our buildings again for additional lockdown



We are also adding more cameras at the secondary level, and our fire alarm system has

been, completely replaced and upgraded. Throughout the year students and staff participate in a variety of drills to ensure we are prepared, in the event of an emergency. The Hastings Area School System partners with the Hastings Police Department for drills and security. Please know that we continue to work hard in our efforts to keep our buildings safe and secure for the students of Hastings.


On March 8, 2018, Hastings Area Schools will hold a community forum to gather input on

making our schools more safe and secure. Several needs have been determined, by the Board

of Education Property and Finance Committees.


The meeting is open to the public and will be held at 6:30 pm at the Hastings Middle School. To begin, community members will be invited to view areas of the new Middle School addition and then provide input for next steps in making our district safer and more secure for all.”


Irving Road Bridge, McCann to West State Closed

The Barry County Road Commission has closed the Irving Road Bridge (at Loop Road) and will close McCann Road from Irving to West State Road as precautionary measures.  BCRC Director Brad Lamberg asks motorists to avoid the area.

Spillway at Irving breached, but not designated an emergency

Barry County Emergency Management Coordinator Jim Yarger said Friday that the spillway leading to the hydroelectric plant in Irving Township was breached by the rising Thornapple River, but since they still have some control of the water, it is not classified as an emergency.


The spillway, about 100 feet south of the Irving Dam, has three large openings to carry water but recent rains lifted the river level over the spillway, spreading water into the neighborhood and eating away the earthen part of the spillway, Yarger said.


The department’s new RAVE mass alert emergency notification system was activated to let the 22 subscribers know of the situation. “It worked well. After we pushed the alert we got phone calls asking for more information.”


“It looks like it crested at the McKeown Bridge about midnight, and it crested in Middleville, too. At this time we don’t anticipate it getting any worse,” Yarger said. Years ago engineers told Yarger if the Irving Dam itself failed, it would likely not be an emergency because the uninhabited low lying area below it could handle it.


Red Cross shelter opened in Barry County

The American Red Cross is operaing an emeregency shelter at the Barry County Commission on Aging building located at 320 West Woodlawn Avenue in Hastings.


Jim Yarger of Barry County Emergency Management said the shelter was opened Thursday night for anyone who needs a place to stay due to the widespread flooding.

Barry County to overhaul process of citizen appointments to its boards

In an effort to attract more volunteers to serve on boards of various Barry County committees, boards and authorities, Barry County Commissioner Ben Geiger, who is also chair, Tuesday presented a plan called the 2018 Appointments Reform Plan.


Geiger discussed five areas and gave suggestions for future action in those areas in the year-long incentive. The county has 35 total boards, with 26 requiring citizen appointments, with 198 appointments of 80 citizens at large and 78 qualified citizens at large.


Fewer applications are being submitted and some on boards resign or do not reapply, resulting in a 16 percent vacancy rate, he said. To improve those figures, Geiger proposed training for new board members, working closer with the commission and developing a culture of professionalism to avoid personal conflicts on boards.


The training will include learning about teamwork and accountability and understanding the fundamentals of being on a board. Instead of word of mouth and advertising in the newspaper as it is now, in the future, Geiger plans marketing and community engagement to find more qualified applicants, and work on issues related on chronic vacancies.


Geiger said there are four parts to his plan; outreach and recruitment, training, organizational improvements, and assessment. In the first phase of the new structure of finding and appointing citizens to county boards, each commissioner will volunteer to work in one of three areas; scouting, writing or researching.

Later phases will be rolled out in phase two from April through July and phase three from August through December.


“This won’t be an overnight project,” Geiger said. “The project can’t be delegated to someone else. It requires leadership from the commissioners." The mission of the plan is to enhance our citizen boards to provide community and professional development.



Ionia County in local state of emergency as of 10:10 a.m. Feb. 22

After an initial survey and  monitoring the effects of flooding throughout Ionia County, the Ionia County Office of Emergency Management requested the Ionia County Board of Commissioners to declare a local state of emergency. The commission’s Vice Chair James Banks declared the county in a state of emergency as of Feb. 22 at 10:10 a.m.


A local state of emergency is used to notify state officials that the county is experiencing an incident that is taxing the county’s resources.  The declaration is the first step in tracking activities and damage in case the need should arise to ask for state or federal assistance.


Currently Ionia County is handling the incident with local resources and will request assistance from the state or federal levels of government if it is needed.


Barrry County Sheriff: Don't try going around barricades

Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf is cautioning area motorists not to try to drive around barricades in the roadways.


Barricades are in place around the county where water from the recent rains has risen over a road and will remain there until it is safe for traffic.


“We’ve been pulling cars out of the water for the better part of today (Thursday) ,” he said. “You can’t tell how much of the road is gone, or how deep it is. And, you don’t want to end up with a car full of water. Just don’t go around barricades.”

Barry County Road Closures

The following roads are currently closed due to flooding.

Marshall Road between Lawrence and Maple Grove

Saddlebag Lake Road between Carlton Center and M-66

East State Road between M-66 and Wellman

Cox Road between Clark and Curtis.

Barger Road between Thornapple Lake and Center

Bowler Road between Ragla and Farrel.

108th Street between Patterson and Duncan Lake.

Charlton Park Road between M-43 and Barnum.

Large trees across on Gilkey Road between Enzian and Burchett.

Please use extreme caution while driving, there are many spots with standing water. We have put dozens of lighted type 2 barricades county wide marking water.




Barry, Ionia counties may get more road funds this summer

Roads in Barry and Ionia counties would benefit from legislation approved Feb. 21 by the Michigan House of Representatives and sent to the Senate for consideration, according to a news release from 87th District Rep Julie Calley, who voted for the measure.


The $175 million bill, HB 4321, provides additional money for road preservation and construction across Michigan as early as this summer. In addition to state projects, the bill includes money for  roads throughout Michigan.


Estimated local allocations include Barry County ($539,459), Ionia County ($538,333), the cities of Portland ($32,483), Hastings ($57,157) and Freeport ($5,685), and the villages of Middleville ($24,546), Nashville ($13,545) Woodland ($3,391), Pewamo ($5,504), Lake Odessa ($16,221), Saranac ($10,429), Clarksville ($3,858), Lyons ($8,441) Muir ($5,541) and Hubbardston ($5,336), the release said.


“Our drivers need safe, dependable roads, and the winter is really taking a toll on our streets and highways,” said Calley, of Portland. “Our communities need the funding to combat the seasonal damage and our save roads from further decay.”


The money is left over from a previous state government budget cycle and is already available, meaning no budget cuts or additional fees or taxes are required for the investment. The money included in the bill is in addition to previous changes providing more funding for road and bridge projects across the state.


Ionia County Road Commission closes Maple River Bridge due to rising water

The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office is advising motorist to avoid the area of M-21 east of Muir at the Maple River Bridge in Ionia County.


On Wednesday, Feb. 21 at approximately 7 p.m., the water level in the river began pushing against the deck of the bridge. As a safety precaution the Ionia County Road Commission has closed the bridge until the water recedes.


The Road Commission is asking all class A traffic (commercial trucks and buses) that are eastbound M-21 to travel southbound M-66 to eastbound I-96 to Grange Road exit, North on Grange Road back to M-21.


All westbound M-21 traffic can follow southbound Grange Road to westbound I-96 to northbound M-66 to M-21.


Private passenger vehicles are also encouraged to follow the above listed route due to rapidly changing conditions causing flooding on secondary roads that is leading to short notice road closures.


Financial help offered for children's special health care

Residents who have children with special chronic health care needs may find financial help for medical expenses through Children’s Special Health Care Services (CSHCS), a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services program, according to a Barry Eaton District Health Department newsrelease.


The special health care service helps families of children, and some adults, with certain health care needs to pay for health-related expenses including specialty medical bills, transportation to specialty doctor’s appointments, and, if clients have insurance or Medicaid, co-pays and deductibles. If clients do not have health insurance, CSHCS can provide specialty coverage.


The Barry-Eaton District Health Department is an advocate for CSHCS and provides services to eligible residents in Barry and Eaton counties, working with local families to help them get needed medical-related services to ensure the very best care.//


The health department, with CSHCS, serves as the link between the Michigan Health and Human Services and the specialty health care service, the family and the local community to assist clients in receiving services they need, said program nurse Kindra Reeser-Smith.

 “I’m happy to connect with families to develop a proactive plan of care and community-based care coordination.”


For more, call (269) 798-4115 in Barry County or (517) 541-2696  in Eaton County, or  visit


More than 2,700 chronic physical medical conditions can qualify those under the age of 21 for specialty health services that can include asthma, cancer, cerebral palsy, cleft palate, liver or kidney disease, club foot, deformed limbs, spina bifada, certain vision disorders, paralysis or spinal injuries, cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, insulin-dependent diabetes, muscular dystrophy, certain heart conditions, epilepsy, and many, many other conditions.


Persons 21 and older also may be eligible if they have cystic fibrosis or hereditary hemophilia.

To be eligible for the service, the child or their parent or guardian must be a legal Michigan resident. CSHCS is not based on income or insurance status; any eligible child with an accepted medical condition can use CSHCS, regardless of their family’s ability to pay.

There is a sliding-scale fee to join CSHCS based on family income and family size.


If the client has Medicaid or MIChild insurance or has a court-appointed guardian or is in foster care, the fee is waived.






Grant would increase security in Barry County courts

Barry County courts will have increased security if a Risk Avoidance Program grant is awarded and the county commission authorizes supplemental funds from the diverted felon’s fund. Court Administrator Ines Straube told the Barry County committee of the whole Tuesday that the total cost of the upgrades would be $44.061.


If the grant is awarded, the request would be $29,520.87; if the $14, 540.13 grant is not awarded, her request is for the entire cost of $44, 061 to come from the diverted felon’s fund, she said.


District Court Judge Michael Schipper came to support the request and answer questions from commissioners. “Anytime we can make it safer for the people I’m all for it” he said. There have been instances in and around the courtrooms that required police intervention, and just knowing of the increased security also is a deterrent, he said. A good percentage of people coming to court are “frequent flyers” and will know of the increased security.


The funding would pay for two electronic imaging systems to scan purses, briefcases and other items the public carries when entering the Courts & Law and Barry County Courthouse, bullet resistant glass at public counters in the district and family court offices and video surveillance systems covering the county courthouse and Courts & Law buildings, sidewalks and parking lots.


When emotions run high, parking lots are very dangerous places, Schipper said, and he would like a record of what happens there.


Also Tuesday, the committee of the whole recommended approval of a resolution required to let the County Drain Commission exceed its $10,000 a year spending limit on maintenance of a dam.

Drain Commissioner Jim Dull said the rising water levels at Upper Crooked Lake have been a problem for several years with water going over the weir that should hold it, ruining new landscaping, flooding basements and causing loss of lake frontage.


“Complaints are coming from residents on all four sides of the lake… they definitely have a problem,” Dull said.

Dull said he has contacted engineer Brian Cenci from ENG, Inc. and attorney Doug Kelly from Clark Hill PLC to identify the problem and find a solution.


The committee also recommended approval of the renewal of a proposal from CBIZ Retirement Plan Services for $11,000 to complete the 2017 actuarial valuation of other post-employment benefits for the county. The fee is the same as last years.


Thornapple Parks & Recreation Commission member Catherine Getty was recommended for re-appointment to the Barry County Parks & Recreation Board for a three-year at its request.

New roofs recommended for several Charlton Park buildings

The Charlton Park Board unanimously voted to ask the Barry County Commission for up to $107,657.25 for roof replacement on several Charlton Park buildings with funds from the county’s Building Rehabilitation Fund.


Park Director Dan Patton had approached the commission earlier about the poor shape the roofs were in and was asked to get proposals for the projects.


Patton said five companies contacted them about the work; four companies did a walk through and two submitted bids. The low bidder was Affordable Metal Roofing at $98,615 plus 15 percent, or $14,042.25 for contingencies for a total of $107, 657.25. JC Custom Builders bid a total of $148,597.25, including the 15 percent contingency.


Affordable’s low bid, unanimously recommended by the park’s facilities committee, is:

Carlton Center Church, $28,000; Upjohn House/Office, $22,500; Main Street Complex (General Store, Hardware Store, Print Shop), $26,300; Upjohn Carriage House, $11,500; eaves troughs, $4,315; and insulation, $4,000.  Affordable included a $3,000 discount for doing all the projects at the same time. The committee of the whole recommended approval of the upgrades to the full board.


Also recommended for approval was an application for a $175,000 DEQ Brownfield Redevelopment grant for Stickmann Baeckerei in Yankee Springs Township. Herbert Welz, owner of the bakery/restaurant wants to mitigate environmental contamination and expand his business at 11378 West M-179 Highway.


Jim McManus, representing Barry County Planning/Brownfield Authority, said the expansion would have $500,000 in private investment and create 14 permanent jobs. The property is the site of a former gas station and has ground water contaminated by ethylbenzene, xylenes, naphthalene and other contaminants. The Brownfield Development Authority and Economic Development Alliance are working with Welz, McManus said.




Superintendent's Platform

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


Dear Lakewood Public Schools Staff and Families:

Many lives were lost yesterday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, at the hands of a former classmate.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, victims, and everyone affected by this tragedy. Unfortunately, school shootings and violence are in the news too often.

While the reasons for these senseless acts of violence will continue to be debated, it is important that schools, families, and communities continue to work together to prevent such incidents from occurring. Lakewood Public Schools has worked hard to provide safeguards for our students and staffs if something were to happen, but also minimize the chance of this happening at all. 


In light of recent events, I wanted to relay information about the safety protocols at Lakewood Public Schools. Please know that above all else, student safety is our primary concern.  All entrances are locked and monitored (with the exception of our high school-crews will be installing a locked-entry system next week).


Visitors may only access the building through the main entrance buzzed in by a staff member where I.D. may be required.  You can support us in ensuring the safety of our staff and students by having your I.D. ready when you come to Lakewood Public Schools for any reason. 

Our staff and students have participated in multiple safety drills to ensure we are prepared in the event of an emergency. The district also has liaison officer through Barry County Sheriff Department. 


The many challenges our students face today often lead to stress and mental health issues.  The best defense in the prevention of school violence may be found in a strong school/home partnership.   Communication is the most powerful tool we can use to keep our students safe. Together, as a community, we will continue to move forward and do what is best for our students.


The following resources may help shape our discussion and provide some talking points when dealing with and preventing school violence. 


"Emergency Lesson Plans" for helping children cope with an emergent crisis.


Teaching Tolerance Website



American Psychological Association: Talking with Kids About School Shootings for Parents


Child Trauma Toolkit for Educators


Responding to Traumatic Events: Learn how to help children cope with trauma


Going Back to School After a Tragedy


Nine Tips for Talking to kids about trauma


Please know that we will continue to be proactive in our prevention efforts and in keeping our buildings safe and secure.  You are my eyes and ears in our community and I am always open to suggestions on how we can improve. 

Please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions or suggestions.   You may reach me by phone at 616.374.8858 or at


Allegan County SWAT team takes suicidal man into custody

At about 12:30 a.m. today, Allegan County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a residence in Wayland Township to a situation of a woman and four children inside a home with a suicidal man armed with a gun. The Allegan County SWAT team was called in and after short negotiations,  a 40-year-old man from Wayland Township was taken into custody without incident.  Deputies were assisted by Michigan State Police and Barry County Sheriff’s deputies.


Suspicious death being investigated by Ionia County Sheriff's Office

The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a suspicious death on Charlotte Highway between Cutler and Peake roads in Danby Township.  Deputies were dispatched to the report of a subject in the roadway on Feb.19 at 4:30 a.m. and discovered the body of Nicholas Hoppes, 29, of Portland, lying deceased in the northbound lane of the road.


The death is being treated as suspicious, and is under investigation to determine the circumstances and if the death was caused by a vehicle collision or other means.

Anyone who has information related to this case is encouraged to contact the sheriff’s office via Central Dispatch at 616-527-0400 or Silent Observer at 616-527-0107. 


Armed Robbery Arrest

The Kentwood Police Department arrested 3 suspects in connection to multiple armed robberies at Eastland Apartments. The suspects used Craigslist to set-up a message at the Apartments.  When the victim arrived, the suspects robbed him at gun point and fled in a vehicle.

The suspects were arrested by Wyoming police after a traffic stop a  short time later.

The two adult suspects have been charged with armed robbery, carrying a concealed weapon and using a computer for a crime. A juvenile suspect was also involved in the robbery.

220 people, 53 churches represented at Barry County Safety and Security Summit

Church leaders are more and more concerned about safety and security for their church families these days with news of mass shootings, even in sacred places, now added to other emergencies they need to be prepared to handle.

The Barry County Safety and Security Summit held at Thornapple Valley Church Feb. 16 attracted 220 visitors and representatives from 53 churches in Michigan and Indiana. Presented by the


Thornapple Valley Churches Emergency Services, with help from the Barry County Sheriff’s Office, the event featured speakers from Barry Central Dispatch 911, Barry County Emergency Management, emergency medical services and information dealing with medical emergencies, communications, Smart 911, fires, accidents, severe weather and more.


The audience had advice from experts on how to deal with suspicious and dangerous people, the intoxicated, and domestic issues, how to build and keep volunteer teams and how to develop policies and procedures to address all types of emergencies.


“We no longer live in a world where the church, its people and its property are sanctuaries. As we deal with today’s humans, we are faced with an acceptance that we must also learn to deal with their mindsets as they react to issues and circumstance of life,” the introduction to the summit read. "Together, we can address the myriad issues each of us face. Together we can make a positive difference.”


Lyn Briel, leader of Thornapple Valley Churches Emergency Services since 2002, said when providing security and safety program to a church, every facility is different, but there are also basic similarities.

“It isn’t just about guns; it is any emergency that might happen. If you have a heart attack or other medical emergency, a gas leak, a fire; that’s why we have the emergency people here.

“You want people who are seeking support to feel welcome. Our world is full of challenges, and we have to be prepared,” Briel said.


Pam Dahlke is a member of the TVC Middleville campus. “I’m the TVC guest services leader. I heard about the summit and came to educate myself, learn more about the program. In this day and age, it’s definitely needed.”


Matt Amos, a member of the Living Waters Church in Hastings, lives in Battle Creek. He was asked to attend because, “the topics here are all being discussed in church. We wanted guidance from the summit; we want to move forward with programs that will protect our congregation.

“They are talking about hard and soft targets. We want to make sure the terrorists know that we’re not a soft target. The information is already here, we just need to put it together. I’ve already called my pastor and said, ‘we need to talk.’”


The sheriff’s office has offered security plans for individual churches since the Columbine shooting. Sheriff Dar Leaf said TVC was their first church security project. “We are happy to sponsor and help with the summit,” he said.


When Leaf became sheriff, he expanded the program in Barry County and neighboring counties, involving the Sheriff’s Posse and the Auxiliary.  “The auxiliary really stepped up; they enjoy helping churches,” he said. “The summit drew members from churches in other counties. Our hope is they bring back what they learned to their churches.”


Other organizations provided more information including “Emergency Preparedness…What to Do When Disaster Threatens,” Smart 911; West Michigan Church Security Network, “Strategos International…Church/Workplace Violence,” Compliance One Group, and “Critical Facility Information...How to Create a Profile for Your Organization.”





UPDATE: Police identify Byron Township robbery suspect

FURTHER UPDATE: On Feb. 21, the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office authorized a charge on John Earl Palmer Jr., 50 years old from Grand Rapids, for home invasion 2nd Degree. He was arraigned in 63rd District Court and is in the Kent County Correctional Facility.


UPDATE: The Kent County Sheriff's Office reports several tips from citizens after seeing the surveillance photographs on the news and social media helped them identify a suspect. On Feb. 20 a suspect was arrested in the City of Grand Rapids and lodged at the Kent County Correctional Facility. The name is being withheld until the case is reviewed by the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office and the suspect is arraigned.



ORIGINAL STORY: The Kent County Sheriff’s Office responded to a home invasion report in the 4400 Block of 76th Street S.W. in Byron Township on Feb. 16.

The caller reported that they returned home in the afternoon and discovered a television and money were stolen from their home.


The home owner’s surveillance camera recorded the suspect loading the TV into a purple four-door passenger car, possibly a 2005 Buick LaCrosse. The suspect is a black male, wearing a light brown winter stocking cap, black jacket, blue jeans, and grey and white Nike tennis shoes.


Anyone with information or who can identify the suspect is asked to call The Kent County Sheriff’s Office at (616) 632-6357 or Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345.













(left) The suspect in Byron Center home invasion and robbery

Barry County Commision chairman gives the "State of the County"

**Barry County Commissioner and chair Ben Geiger reported on the “State of the County” Tuesday. He gave a review of 2017 and forecast for 2018, with some personal insights into his philosophy of public service. The following is the speech:


“2017 was a good year across Barry County. As a county government, we are poised to have another great year in 2018. Our bond rating is strong. Our debt level is low. We’re working together. Our goals are set high.


But our success in the year ahead will not be measured in the number of programs we make, laws we pass, buildings we open or dollars we save. Rather, our success will be measured by the trust we have built and maintained here in Barry County. Today, state of the county is strong. And I’m here to share three ways we will remain strong in 2018: relevance, reflection and recruitment.



In 2018, the Barry County Board of Commissioners will continue attending to needs of the community. Since the last time I gave this address, the condition of our jail and our COA building have not improved. And a millage request to fix the latter was not approved. It will be challenging, but together we can find a funding plan for new facilities that both respect   taxpayer dollars, and offer more than short-sighted Band-Aid solutions.


Second, we as a county government will help grow the community. Literally. Did you know industry experts say Michigan needs 25,000 new homes just to keep up with turnover demand? And did you know we're producing only 16,000 houses? That’s because there aren't enough places to build, and not enough workers to build them.

I am so proud of my fellow commissioners for doing their part by investing in skilled trades. By training Barry County students, we will build Barry County's future.



We must learn from the past in shaping public policy for the future.

Ten years ago, Barry and Eaton counties began a new program for well and septic inspections. A program called TOST. This is a bold policy, found only in a handful on communities across Michigan.


But ever since its inception, the program has divided and polarized residents on a topic that should unite us – clean water and less pollution. Now, after ten years of bickering, commissioners in both counties are seeking a fresh start. Last month we began the process to rescind this regulation, but not our desire for safe, healthy, prosperous communities. If we all seek cleaner water, if we all seek less pollution, let’s have a policy we all can stand behind.


In hindsight, we can see that strong public policy is built on strong public support. Not the other way around. From this day forward, we must remember if we demand higher standards of our residents we must demand higher standards of our leaders. 


All officials, elected or appointed, must be able to defend and explain the programs they establish for the people they represent. If they cannot, or if they will not, then we will lose the public's trust once again. It's not wrong to maintain higher standards. It's wrong to think it's easy. 


Only when we understand these leadership lessons, and resolve never to repeat them again, will we be able to adopt a sweeping program like this in the future.


Finally, recruitment.


In temperature and in politics, summer 2012 was brutally hot. I learned this campaigning door to door, in my sister’s purple car that didn’t have AC. So. on a cloudless July day, I pulled up to a ramshackle cabin in a damp, buggy swamp, less than enthused. When I knocked on the door, the shadow of tall, old man demanded I identify myself. I said “I’m Ben Geiger..” He said 'yes, my county commissioner.'


He extended his hand, and welcomed me into his home. After a few minutes sitting there on a harvest gold, plastic-wrapped couch, I garnered this was a man of little wealth, few visitors and limited days. The old man, with a smile on this face, peppered me with questions about everything.


He asked about goals, my aspirations, leadership, and how it felt to serve the public. 

And when he ran out questions, the old man, still smiling longingly gazed out the window and shared seven words I’ll never forget. He said, “I always wanted to be a commissioner.” He said, “I always wanted to help my neighbors.” He said, “I always wanted to make a difference.”


Sometimes I think about that old man. Sometimes I wonder what he'd work on if he had one day in my shoes. He wouldn’t devote his day to politics. He’d devote his day to people.

As county leaders, sometimes our vision is limited. We’re too close for perspective. Sometimes our vision is limited.


That’s why it’s you we depend on, the people. Barry County has 26 boards, commissions and authorities that rely on citizen members. From encouraging recycling, to promoting parks, from protecting mental health to reviewing county finances, county government depends on more than 150 dedicated citizen appointees who don’t hold a title – but do hold a passion to serve.


For too long, we’ve viewed filling these positions more as a hassle than an opportunity.

That changes in 2018. Beginning next week, I will place before the board the components of a new recruitment strategy for our citizen boards. We must seek out new voices with energy, passion and heart.


We must seek people of all ages and backgrounds, who understand our rich history and strong institutions weren't built by a person who pushes their sole agenda; but by a team that pulls in the same direction.


Just imagine the possibilities when our best and brightest step forward in civic duty. Just imagine the possibilities when 150 public servants are handed the tools to make a difference. Just imagine the places they'd lead us. Just imagine this county, our home. With that, thank you for your time. Let's have a great year together.”



Second snowmobile goes through the ice on Gun Lake

Wayland Fire Department got a call for help Feb. 16  at 4 p.m. similar to one a week ago.


A snowmobile had gone through the ice on west Gun Lake, the second such incident in a week. Friday, the snowmobile was still in the water, but the rider managed to get himself out and was walking to shore when the fire department arrived, Chief Joe Miller said.


“He’s doing okay. Yankee Springs Fire Department checked him out while they waited for an ambulance,” Miller said. “He plans on getting the snowmobile out tomorrow.”


He noted the man went through the ice at almost the same place a woman and her husband went into the lake last week. The man made it to shore, his wife waited for rescue standing on the partially submerged machine.


Miller advises snowmobile riders to stay off Gun Lake.


Church Security

Over two hundred individuals from Barry and surrounding counties today Friday attended a Barry County Church Security and Safety Summit held at Thornapple Valley Church.

The program featured a number of speakers including Stephanie Lehman director of Barry Central 911 who spoke on Key Communications,  Eric Olsen on Policies and Procedures, Brandon Hoving Meterologist with the National Weather Service  and Emergency Management Director Jim Yarger speaking on Critical Incidents and Larry jackson and Skip Coryel speaking on building teams.

The all day event was developed as the result of a number shootings and other events involving schools and places of worship that have occured across the country.

Allegan County Sheriff's K9 Lajki now wears body armor

 The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office K9 Lajki has received a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. 


K9 Lajki, with the sheriff’s office for a year, is a 26-month-old German Shephard handled by Deputy Mike Martin. The K9 has already located illegal drugs on several occasions and made several successful tracks. Lajki also spends time in schools and at community events interacting with the public.


“The vest received from Vested Interest will be a great asset for the safety of Lajki.  The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office is very thankful,” Martin said. The sheriff’s office has four teams in the Deputy/K9 Unit.


The donation for one protective vest is $950. Each is valued between $1,744 and $2,283, has a five-year warranty and an average weight of four to five pounds. There are an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s in the United States. The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months old including new K9 graduates and K9s with expired vests.//


Established in 2009, the non-profit has provided more than 2,800 protective vests in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a cost of more than $2.4 million dollars.

The vest from anonymous sponsor is embroidered with the sentiment, “This gift of protection provided by Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.”


Vested Interest accepts tax-deductible donations at or by mail to P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718. For more information or volunteer opportunities, call 508-824-6978.











Photo: Allegan County Sheriff’s Office’s K-9 Lajki models his new vest

Barry County Sheriff reports January activity

The Barry County Sheriff’s January 2018 activity report to County Commissioners, with comparisons with five years ago, showed:                                       

Incidents handled: 

2018--663                    2013--448       

Accidents handled:

2018--107                    2013--107


2018--58                      2013--42


2018--63, 31 F, 57 M   2013--73, 73 F, 53 M

F=felony     M=misdemeanor

Alcohol arrests:

2018--8                        2013--6

The K-9 unit was called on two occasions for drug recovery and apprehending individuals in criminal cases. The office did 67 home checks, assisted the Swift and Sure, Sobriety and Drug courts. Criminal history checks for warrants or warrant requests were run 420 times.


At the jail, 247 persons were booked into jail in January, and released 171 back into the community. Of those booked, 65 were “weekenders.” In 2013, 259 were booked into jail and 194 released.Staff fingerprinted 101 people at the front desk last month, 126 were fingerprinted in January, 2013.


Deputies escorted 71 prisoners to court, and staff administered 110 weekend drug screens to probationers. The kitchen staff prepared and served 7,945 meals to the inmate population at the cost of $1.53 a meal. Costs for the month included $6,408.81 for plumbing repairs, $3,960.43 for HVAC repair and $116 for security repairs.


Barry County Mental Health to be featured at Community Breakfast

The next Community Breakfast will be Wednesday, Feb. 21 from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. in the Barry Community Enrichment Center 215 Broadway, Hastings.


Barry County Community Mental Health will be represented by Jacob Crowell and Erica Enz to discuss the eligibility qualifications, current services and trauma services available to Barry County residents.

The public is invited to attend and learn more about how BCCMH can help someone they know receive help and support.


The free breakfast is sponsored by the Family Support Center, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), DHHS Foster Care and Barry Great Start Coalition BISD to bring awareness of the services available to help in the safety or well-being of our families and youth.


Those planning to attend are asked to call 269-945-KIDZ(5439) or email


Barry County Road Weight Restrictions

Barry County Road Commission announced today that Weight Restrictions will be going on Monday, Februrary 19th at 6:00a.m..  The Road Commission has new permits this year so you will need to complete the new form for approval.  Permits can be found on their  web site at

The Road Commission phones are down at this time and hopes are that they will be up and running soon.




Recall of Yankee Springs officials starts over with language change on petitions

The paperwork required to attempt a recall of two Yankee Springs officials will be redone because of a revision in the wording on the petition forms, Barry County Clerk Pam Palmer said Wednesday.


Both the initiators of the recall petitions, Larry Knowles against Trustee Shanon Vandenberg and Julie Fox against Clerk Jan Lippert have been notified they will need to fill out the new petitions, Palmer said.


A new clarity hearing for Vandenberg has been set for Feb. 26. Lippert’s clarity hearing, set for today, was cancelled and a new date has not been set.


Palmer said the same situation with a petition language change happened in Wayne County. She opted to restart the process to comply with the new petitions before the petition drives got underway, and signatures were gathered.


The procedure for both officials is the same as before: they have 10 days from their hearing to appeal the decision to the Barry County Circuit Court, and no petitions can be circulated during those 10 days. The language on the petition is good for 180 days, the signatures good for 60 days.


All the signatures must be collected within 60 days of the first signature being recorded.

Vandenberg is accused of  being guilty of a conflict of interest when he tried to get approval of his development, corrupting the decision making process by not providing information to various township officials.  


Fox charges Lippert violated numerous provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, making false statements about her and questioning her mental status. Clarity hearings determine only if the reasons for the recall are factual and clear enough to let the officer whose recall is sought and the electors to identify the conduct that is the basis for the recall.



Today is Ash Wednesday


Today is Ash Wednesday and the Hastings Ministerial Association was offering Ashes to go this morning in downtown Hastings.

Superintendent's Platform

WBCH offers this space for area superintendents to highlight activities in their districts.This post is from Maply Valley Superintendent Michelle Falcon


Student Safety

The first priority in every district is to keep students and staff safe on our school grounds. These expectations include numerous procedures to ensure the safety of our students and staff on our school properties.


Michigan requires school to conduct 10 drills per school year: 5 fire, 2 tornado, and 3 lockdown per school year. The lockdown drills include performing security measures appropriate to an emergency "such as the release of hazardous material or the presence of a potentially dangerous individual on or near the premises." At least one of the drills must take place by December 1 and at least one after January 1. 


We have many unannounced drills to measure the response time of our procedures. In our training, we have been taught that people showing up during actual events of this type tend to impede the emergency evacuation. If there is an actual emergency, we will use our communication mediums to notify parents of the situation.


It is our goal to annually review all security plans. We also collaborate with first responders to ensure accuracy of all needed information.  This has been very successful as our district has multiple systems in place to ensure safety. Our safety plans include:

  • Secure entries at each building
  • Liaison Officer support
  • The “Boot” mechanism providing additional level of classroom security
  • Surveillance cameras installed on all school properties
  • Rave Panic Button which assists emergency personnel to pinpoint location of the emergency
  • Rapid response room number placards easily identifying classrooms
  • Outside door numbers clearly indicating the easiest entry point from geo-fenced maps


We are proud in the work we have done to enhance the safety and security of our school buildings.  It takes the cooperation many people to keep our children safe. We will continue to review our processes and procedures to execute the most effective plans possible.



Winterfest celebrates winter fun Saturday, Feb. 17

Gun Lake Winterfest 2018 is Saturday, February 17 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Yankee Springs State Park, 2104 South Briggs Road in Yankee Springs Township.


Winterfest will include many of the classics that have made this festival popular, including an opening ceremony from the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, an ice fishing tournament, the Polar Bear Dip and the Little Miss Gun Lake pageant, And, don't miss new events such as Gun Lake Idol, a beer tasting tent, a disc golf challenge, a 5K Run/Walk and much, much more, according to the DNR website.


On the way out to the celebration of snow and winter, stop in at the firefighter’s pancake, eggs and sausage breakfast from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Gun Lake Community Church.  Look for fire trucks in the parking lot.


If you’re into craft beer, you may want to get in on the .05 beer run to the craft beer tasting tent. First 10 winners get a free t-shirt and one free beer tasting ticket.  Entry into the Fishing Tournament starts at 6 a.m. on the 17th, the tournament starts at 7 a.m. and weigh in is no later than 3 p.m. There will be pike and pan fish categories.


The beer tent will have brewers from several companies to explain the beer making process and how to truly enjoy a bottle of beer. The Home Team Disc Golf Challenge starts at 10 a.m.

The local winners of the karaoke dream competed to be a semi-finalist in January. The top five from the master semifinals go to the platform stage at Winterfest to compete for $500, $250 or $100 prizes.


The ever-popular Polar Dip is set to splash at 4 p.m. with registration from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Fee is $25-$30 depending on shirt size.

For a full list and details of events both onsite and off, visit









Winterfest Logo by Anna Fifelski, Wayland Union School.

Discussion doesn't sway Barry Count Commission, but discussion appreciated (corrected)

An effort to have Barry County commissioners reconsider an appointment they made to the Charlton Park Board didn’t result in a change, but both sides agreed the open discussion let each better understand the others reasoning.

Last week the commissioners recommended Colleen Acker and Robert Spaulding for two open seats on the park board; the Charlton Park board had recommended former board member Lloyd Kilmer.


Park board member Doris Hale offered to step aside to make room for Kilmer; another board member Rick Moore, said Kilmer was an excellent fit for the board, brought great benefit to the park and their recommendation should be given weight because they know the applicants and how they will work.


Park board chairman Sharon Zebrowski said when Kilmer was on the board he provided excellent leadership, forward thinking and “worked on everything that happened in the park.” Kilmer resigned to avoid a conflict of interest with his job of delivering fuel oil in the county, Zebrowski said.


He said he would reapply for a seat when he retired in two years, which he did.

She agreed new blood was needed on boards, but also those like Kilmer, with knowledge to do the job well and who have the experience to be their leader to lead them forward


Commissioner Vivian Conner said the selection was fair, according to Roberts Rules of Order, and they did the right thing. Commissioner David Jackson said they may not have gotten all the information before hand, but noted that the applicants were all exceptional. “I hope he will stay involved with Charlton Park,” he said.


Commissioner Jon Smelker said a majority of the board voted for Colleen Acker, and he couldn’t see the board changing it. Commissioner Howard “Hoot” Gibson asked if Kilmer had volunteered during the two years off the board and learned that he had.


Zebrowski thanked the commissioners for the discussion, agreeing that the decision was theirs, and she was sure that Acker would do a great job for the park.


The commission approved several applicants for county boards:

*Agricultural Promotion Board: Bob Vanderboegh to the agricultural interest seat for three years. Vern Jenks withdrew his name from consideration for a partial term in the natural resources conservation seat.

*Animal Shelter Advisory Board: Tim McGavin in the citizen at large seat for the remainder of term that ends 12-31-18

*Charlton Park & Museum Board: Colleen Acker and Robert Spaulding to citizen at large seats for three year terms.

*Parks & Recreation Board: Don Hutchens as a citizen at large for a three year term. Vern Jenks withdrew his name for consideration for a citizen at large partial term.


A decision on appointing Carrie Larabee to the Community Corrections Advisory Board: for a three year term was tabled to allow Larabee time to schedule an interview.


Also, Tuesday, commissioners approved a $15,000 payment for the MDOT Bureau of Aeronautics to certify the precision approach path indicator lighting system at the City of Hastings/ Barry County Airport. The Hastings City Council approved the expense Monday, required since they are part of a joint operating agreement of the airport with the county. Commissioners also denied the rezoning request text amendment submitted by Lucas Spoor to allow marinas in mixed use zoning districts.






Upgrading, maintaining city infrastructure on Hastings agenda

The Hastings City Council Monday approved a bid of $24,226.20 from Rohr Gasoline Equipment, Byron Center, to upgrade the city fueling station at the fire department. Rohr will supply and install Petro Vend PV200 system with swipe cards and two new Bennet single product dispensers.


The system has been breaking down and they have been using “band aids” but parts are no longer available, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said. After looking at other options, Mansfield said it is in the city’s best interest right now to upgrade the system.

Rohr recently completed updates to the Barry County Road Commission fuel station, he said. Payment will come from the equipment fund and is within the budgeted amount of $25,000. 


Installed in 1989, the station vends gasoline and diesel fuel for city equipment used by the Department of Public Services, police and fire departments. The system is on a generator so the fuel will always be available during emergencies like the 2013 ice storm.


The council approved paying Prein and Newhoff  $8,800 for the creation of a streets asset management plan with a physical assessment of all streets, recommendations for maintenance and replacement for the next three years, timelines and costs with the work to be completed by the middle of May.

The cost of the plan will be split between the local and major street funds. The city maintains 14.81 miles of major streets and 32.39 miles of local streets, for a total of 47.2 miles of streets.

Supervisor of Streets/Construction Jim James with the Department of Public Services, presented the monthly report, saying the city is going full speed ahead with the Storm Water Asset Management (SAW) grant work.

The city has received $119,345.48 from the DEQ for work completed for the project. There is $672,474.52 remaining in the grant to complete the televising, cleaning, and condition assessment of storm and sanitary assets, James said.

With the collected information, city staff can determine the capital improvement needs for the next 15 to 20 years and determine funding that can be generated to complete the necessary improvements.


Also, the public services reportgave updates on upcoming projects for this year. Safe Routes to School project construction dates have been finalized by contractor Kamminga & Roodvoets.  They will install sidewalk, crosswalk, and signage adjacent to Northeastern, Central elementary schools, and the middle school. The work will be done from April through June 14. The total grant from the state is just under $724,000.


The report also said that the street milling and resurfacing projects have been bid and the construction dates have been finalized by Kamminga & Roodvoets. The mill and resurface work will be on Michigan Avenue from Blair to Court streets, Boltwood Street from State to Green streets, and Jefferson Street from Apple to Green streets. The project will also replace some sidewalk and ramps to comply with MDOT standards. The total grant from the state is just under $324,000.

Hastings amended vicious dog ordinance approved

The Hastings City Council Monday approved a revised animal ordinance that removed any mention of the specific breed of pit bulls as vicious dogs, changed to define dangerous actions by any dog.


The change was made after complaints by pit bull owners who said the breed was not inherently vicious. Two people thanked the council for the revision,  in contrast to several previous council meetings about the ordinance with intense discussions by strong advocates for pit bulls and mixed pit bull breeds, and those adamantly opposed to them.


The final version added a classification for working dogs such as law enforcement K-9s and a requirement that an owner of a dog deemed vicious carry insurance and supply the city with an insurance certificate to show they continue to have coverage. Any dog previously verified as vicious will continue to carry the designation.


Councilman Don Bowers and Mayor Dave Tossava voted no, with Bowers saying most dog owners are responsible, but both national and Hastings statistics show it’s not a good idea.

The ordinance goes into effect with its publication.


In other business, the council approved a one-time $15,000 payment to the Michigan Department of Transportation Bureau of Aeronautics to certify the Precision Approach Path Indicator lighting approach equipment at the City of Hastings Barry County Airport. The MDOT recently implemented the fee, and it if isn’t paid in advance, they will not certify the system. If they don’t have the certification, the lights would be turned off. Tossava said it was a service that was free, agreeing with Councilman Al Jarvis that, “we don’t have a choice.”

The Barry County Commission is expected to approve the payment Tuesday as part of the Joint Operating Agreement with the city. The Hastings Airport Board has recommended approval.


In other action, the council:

*approved the annual WBCH Jefferson Street St. Patrick’s Day Parade for Saturday, March 17.


*approved requests by both the YMCA and South Central Michigan Youth Baseball to use the city’s sports fields this summer. There were conflicts with a few dates, but they have been worked out by the groups, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.


*set a public hearing for March 12 at 7 p.m. for comment from property owners in a Special Assessment District that will fund sidewalk and a 50-foot pedestrian bridge along West State Street/M-43 from Industrial Park Drive to the Dollar Store for a total cost of $114,000.


*went into closed session to discuss trial or settlement strategy on specific pending litigation.


Snow update

The  Hastings National Weather Service climatological station.

Snow totals to date

December   29.5  inches

January       12.6  inches

February      18.0  inches

Total to date  60.1 inches


Woman cold, but doing all right when snowmobile goes through thin ice on Gun Lake

A young woman riding a snowmobile with her husband on west Gun Lake went into the lake when their snowmobile went through thin ice about 12:15 p.m. Saturday, according to Wayland Fire Chief Joe Miller.


“Her husband made it to shore; she could not. With help from the Yankee Springs Fire Department we got her out,” Miller said. “She was cold, other than that, she was doing all right. She was standing on the snowmobile; there’s about four feet of water there, so she was just waiting for us to get her out. The ambulance took her in, just to check her out.”


Wayland, Yankee Springs, Orangeville and Martin fire departments responded, as did Allegan County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan State Police, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Wayland Area Ambulance Service.


The DNR has ordered Gun Lake closed to snowmobiles due to  of thin and very weak ice, according to the sheriff’s office webpage.

UPDATE: Middleville bank robbery suspect being sought

UPDATE: Police are still searching for a man who robbed Chemical Bank in Middleville Thursday at 3:39 p.m., Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf said.


The man, who fled on foot in the direction of Sherman and Lem Paul streets in the village, was last seen wearing a camo jacket/zipped up tight, bright orange/black hat, blue jeans and grey colored shoes. Leaf said the man implied he had a gun, but it isn’t clear if he had a weapon or not. He couldn’t say how much money the man stole.


Following protocol, Thornapple Kellogg Schools were put in lockdown after the incident and gradually released when it was determined to be safe, he said. Deputies were present at all schools that held  after school activities.


The Michigan State Police and FBI are working with sheriff’s deputies. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 269-948-4800.





2018 Michigan Hunt winner from Lake Odessa

Don Rademacher, from Lake Odessa,  is one of three winners of the 9th annual Pure Michigan

Hunt, according to a news release from the office of State Rep. Julie Calley of Portland. The winners receive licenses for elk, bear, spring turkey, fall turkey and antlerless deer hunting as well as a base license.


They also have first pick at a hunting location at a managed waterfowl area during that hunting period and they will receive more than $4,000 worth of hunting gear. Every $5 Pure Michigan application purchased helps fund wildlife habitat restoration and improvement efforts.

This year’s drawing generated more than $176,000.


“I commend Don for supporting habitat conservation,” Calley said. “I am so pleased that a local winner was chosen out of over 12,000 participants.” Rademacher and the two other winners will receive their prizes at the Michigan Natural Resources Commission meeting March 15 in Grand Rapids.

Applications for the next drawing will be available starting on March 1. For more information, please visit


Gun Lake Tribe assumes management of casino

The Gun Lake Tribe’s contract with Station Casinos LLC to manage the Gun Lake Casino in Wayland Township expired Feb. 6, pursuant to federal Indian gaming law which limits the term of management contracts to seven years, according to a news release from the tribe.


“This is a significant milestone because we are taking another step toward complete self-sufficiency as a tribal government,” said Scott Sprague, tribal chairman.  “We appreciate the relationship with Station Casinos as it enabled us to open a professional gaming operation from day one.  We also gained valuable knowledge and experience that we will use to continue our success.”       


The tribe diligently prepared to assume casino management responsibility for many years.  A comprehensive transition plan had been developed dating back to the 2011 opening of the casino.  A more detailed plan has been implemented over the last few years which focused on operational personnel and technology, the release said.


“It has been a pleasure working with the Gun Lake Tribe on the management of the Gun Lake Casino for the last seven years, and we wish them the best of success going forward,” said Richard J. Haskins, president of Station Casinos LLC.//


A key step in the transition occurred when the tribe hired Sal Semola as president and CEO of the casino in October, 2017, to finalize the transition of the tribe to operational control by providing a seamless transition in all areas of management of the casino, and working on the master plan, the release continued.


Sid Smith, Bart LaBelle and Jim Fabiano from Mt. Pleasant were early investors in the casino and their support played a key role in its development.    


The casino has over 1,000 valued team members and the tribe has shared more than $100 million with state and local governments over 14 separate distributions since the facility opened, the release concluded.


Health department adds vaccination clinic hours as a result of hepatitis A outbreak

In response to Eaton County recently becoming a hepatitis A outbreak county, the Barry-Eaton District Health Department’s (BEDHD’s) Charlotte office is adding hours when individuals can get vaccinated.


BEDHD’s Charlotte office at 1033 Health Care Drive, will offer walk-in hepatitis A vaccinations Monday through Friday8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The office will also be open late on Wednesdays, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. for walk-in hepatitis A vaccinations. 


Appointments for hepatitis A vaccination are not required.


Clinic hours for other, non–hepatitis A vaccinations will also be offered on Wednesday evenings from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. by appointment at BEDHD’s Charlotte office only. 


To schedule an appointment or for questions about vaccinations, individuals should call 517-541-2630 in Eaton County or 269-798-4133  in Barry County.


Anyone who wants to be vaccinated against hepatitis A can get vaccinated at BEDHD. Most private insurance is accepted. Individuals who don’t have insurance or whose insurance doesn’t cover the vaccine may qualify for a low-cost vaccine if they are in a high-risk group. Those who don’t have insurance coverage for the vaccine and who are not in a high-risk group will be charged $71 per dose.

High-risk groups include:

*Men who have sex with men

*Persons with an acute or chronic liver disease

*Persons with a history of substance abuse

*Persons currently homeless or in transient living

*Persons who are or were recently incarcerated

*Persons who are in close contact with any of the above risk groups

* Household members and/or sexual partners of someone with hepatitis A

*Food handlers

*Healthcare workers with direct patient care


Eaton County has had four cases of hepatitis A since December 2017. One individual has died. Statewide, since the official start of the statewide outbreak in August 2016 through January 31, 2018, 727 individuals have had illness linked to the outbreak. This outbreak has had an unusually high hospitalization rate, with 81 percent of ill individuals being hospitalized. Twenty-four deaths have been reported.


Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, contagious liver disease. It is often spread by eating food or drinking water that is contaminated with infected feces or by oral contact with contaminated objects. Hepatitis A can spread easily among people who live together and sexual partners. 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 information about hepatitis A, please visit For more information about the Southeast Michigan Hepatitis A outbreak, visit


Treasury: taxpayers can check state refund status online

The Michigan Department of Treasury reminds taxpayers who filed a 2017 state return they can check the status of their refund online by going to


Those who e-filed can check their refund status two weeks from the date confirmation that the state return was accepted. Paper-filed tax returns can be viewed from six to eight weeks after postmarking.

To ensure taxpayer privacy and security, information required when checking the status of a refund includes the social security number, tax year, filing status, and adjusted gross income or total household resources.


To protect against tax-related identity theft, treasury selects some state income tax returns for identity confirmation. The selected taxpayer will receive a letter asking them to take a short on-line quiz or submit paperwork. When confirmed, the tax refund will be issued in about a month.


Sandy Pines given suggestions on trapping animals, specifically cats, in the park

Allegan Central Dispatch received a call about a deceased cat that was found in a “live” trap on the grounds of the Sandy Pines Resort and Campground the afternoon of Jan. 25. The caller was very emotional and requested that an officer come to the scene to investigate, according to the Allegan County Sheriff’s office.


The Allegan County Animal Control officer was dispatched and recovered the trap and animal and began an investigation.  The officer inspected all of the other traps in the park that he could find and found no other animals in any traps.  He then notified the Sandy Pines Resort Public Safety director about the situation, officials report.


A detailed investigation was conducted by the sheriff’s office and numerous witnesses were interviewed to try to determine what had taken place.  When the investigation was completed, the report and evidence was sent to the prosecutor’s office for review. 


Although every effort was made to identify a particular responsible person, the investigation was unable to identify one person solely responsible for not tending to or checking the trap in an appropriate time frame, Therefore, no charges will be authorized in this case, the news release said.


The sheriff’s office identified several issues with how Sandy Pines handles the trapping of animals and specifically how they trap cats in the park.  Suggestions were given to them to help improve this procedure and hopefully keep this from happening again, the news release said.


Castleton-Maple Grove-Nashville ambulance back in service following brief shut down

The Castleton-Maple Grove-Nashville EMS station is up and running and again serving its residents.

Suspension by the Barry County Medical Control Board led the State of Michigan to void the ambulance services’ license on Jan. 24. The service was inspected and relicensed by the state and resumed service on Jan. 31.


The service provided the paper work the state required and held meetings to update residents of their service area and answer questions. “Communication was the biggest problem,” board Chair Cheryl Hartwell said. “Communication has improved and we’ll continue to work on that. It’s an ongoing thing.”


Airport to pay MDOT $15,000 to certify lighting system

The Barry County Commission Tuesday  recommended a one-time $15,000 payment to the Michigan Department of Transportation Bureau of Aeronautics to certify the Precision Approach Path Indicator lighting approach equipment at the City of Hastings Barry County Airport.


Airport Manager Mark Noteboom said the MDOT recently implemented the fee, and it if isn’t paid in advance, they will not certify the system. If they don’t have the certification, the lights would be turned off. “So, it’s very important that we have this,” he said. The Hastings Airport Board has recommended approval. The Hastings City Council must also approve the expenditure as part of the Joint Operating Agreement with the county.


The commission also recommended approval of several citizens to county boards:

*Agricultural Promotion Board: Bob Vanderboegh to the agricultural interest seat for three years, and Vern Jenks to the natural resources conservation seat for the remainder of a term that expires 12/31/2018.

*Animal Shelter Advisory Board: Tim McGavin in the citizen at large seat for the remainder of term that ends 12-31-18

*Charlton Park & Museum Board: Colleen Acker and Robert Spaulding to citizens at large seats for three year terms.

*Community Corrections Advisory Board: Carrie Larabee in the communications/media seat for a three year term.

*Parks & Recreation Board: Don Hutchens and Vern Jenks for citizen at large seats, Hutchens for a three year term, Jenks for the remainder of a term expiring 12/31/18.


Also, Planning Director Jim McManus told commissioners that the planning commission recommended denial of a text amendment to the county ordinance requested by Lucas Spoor that would change the zoning in the ordinance to allow marinas in all mixed-use zones.


The commissioners sent the matter to the full board with a unanimous recommendation for denial.

Geiger, who sits on the planning commission, said Spoor applied for the amendment in a request that was 10 words long, and two of the words were his name. He said the request was insufficient to recommend approval…and that, along with other issues, the text amendment was not supported (by the planning commission).



TOST repeal schedule outlined

The process to repeal TOST, a Barry Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) regulation, will be implemented following the way it was initiated, with public hearings set in both Barry and Eaton counties, as well as votes on the repeal by both county commissions and the BDEHD Board of Health.Commissioner Ben Geiger, chair of the commission and the Board of Health (BOH) gave the time line Tuesday.


The repeal process was started Jan. 25 by the BOH.

At 1 p.m. on Feb. 20 the BEDHD will hold a public hearing in Hastings.

On Feb.. 28 at 7p.m. in Charlotte, there will be a public hearing followed by a BOH meeting to make a decision. Geiger noted those in Barry County who want to comment without driving to Charlotte may do so from  Hastings through teleconferencing.

The Barry County Commission will vote March 3 whether to support the BOH decision to repeal, and March 21 at 7 p.m., the Eaton County Commission will vote on if they will support the BOH decision, Geiger said.


If all the entities vote to repeal, it will become effective 45 days later on May 5. Asked what would happen if the Eaton County Commissioners did not vote to approve repeal, Geiger promised “major consequences.” Asked to expand on his promise, Geiger said “Read into it whatever you like…I promise you one way or the other, there will be change.”

Sigmund Rumpf to be resentenced in Barry County Circuit Court

Sigmund Rumpf, of Hastings was sentenced in July, 2015 to 120-180 months in prison for Manslaughter, 24-48 months for Carrying a Concealed Weapon and separately he was sentenced to two years for Felony Firearm.  The sentence was in relation to the shooting death of Steven Kauffman. 


Rumpf will be back in Barry County Circuit Court after the Michigan Court of Appeals remanded the case for resentencing based on Michigan Sentencing Guideline offense variable (OV) 19 “interference with administration of justice.”


Judge Amy McDowell scored OV 19 at 10 points after she found that Rumpf interfered with the administration of justice by telling a witness “don’t tell anyone.” The Court of Appeals found that a preponderance of the evidence did not support a finding that the defendant interfered with the administration of justice. 


Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor Pratt said that their office has reviewed the Court of Appeals decision and is considering its options. Other issues raised by Rumpf on appeal, including the admission of past actions by the deceased victim, ineffective assistance of counsel and error in jury instructions were denied by the Court of Appeals.


A date for the resentencing has not yet been set.



Barry Central Dispatch 911 backup system works as designed

Lack of a telephone number in a nationwide 911 data base was an error, but it showed how the Barry Central Dispatch 911 backup plan is activated to insure a call for help is delivered to the right dispatchers.

The Barry County system, as do all 911 centers, has a default position if anything goes awry. Barry’s back up is Calhoun County Dispatch.


When a homeowner in Yankee Springs Township called 911 Tuesday, Jan. 23 to report a fire, the system did not find the telephone number in the data base for Barry County. That set off the backup system, automatically switching to Calhoun County 911.  Calhoun dispatchers recognized it as an Allegan County call since the Barry County homeowner has a Wayland address. Allegan dispatch immediately bounced the call to Barry County dispatchers.

It sounds complicated, but just takes seconds.


“It shows the system is resilient, it works the way it was designed to work,” said Interim Director Stephanie Lehman. “It’s literally a chain reaction. It’s a challenge; but it is not unique. When it happens, our dispatchers get a handoff from the other with all the information they have.”

Lehman said it happened in the switch over to an all-digital system. Barry County is one of the first in the State of Michigan with the system and others will face the same challenges as they adopt the latest technology.


The missing telephone number has to be entered into the nationwide data base by the carrier, Spectrum Cable, which they have done. The possibility of similar problems may exist for Spectrum Cable customers in Yankee Springs and Thornapple townships.

The cable customers and the company have been notified. “They’re aware of it. We’re working with  Indigital, the digital system providers, and Spectrum Cable to prevent further problems,” Lehman said.

Today is the last day for spring turkey hunting applications


If you are a turkey hunter, this is a last minute reminder from the Michigan DNR that spring turkey hunting applications must be in by 11:59 p.m. tonight.


Applications can be purchased online at E-license or anywhere hunting licenses are sold. The 2018 spring turkey season is from April 23 through May 31, with several hunt periods to choose from.

Hunt 234 licenses go on sale, over the counter with no application required, on March 19. Hunt 234 offers the most days to hunt, valid from May 7-31, and is open statewide except public land in southern Michigan.


The Spring Turkey Digest explains regulations, season dates and hunt units.

For more information about spring turkey hunting, visit

Beginning March 5, applicants can check whether they were drawn for a license

at Any leftover licenses will be sold until the quota is met in each hunt unit and hunt period.


Two injured in Gaines Township traffic crash

Kent County Sheriff’s deputies are investigating a two-car crash at the intersection of 100th Street and East Paris Avenue at 8:45 p.m. last night.

The driver of a Jeep Liberty traveling northbound on East Paris failed to yield the right of way and turned westbound into the path of an eastbound BMW, according to a sheriff’s office news release.

Deputies report the driver of the Jeep sustained a head injury and the BMW driver suffered a fractured right femur.

Authorities did not identify those involved and the crash remains under investigation

Hastings teacher not fired, given 24 day suspension without pay (corrected)

NOTE CORRECTION: The original story said a tenure hearing was held. There was an investigation, not a tenure hearing..


Corrected Story: The situation that caused upset in the Hastings Area School System in January has been resolved, said Superintendent Carrie Duits.


Young 5’s teacher at Central Elementary, Emily Hoke, failed to renew her certification at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year and taught without a certificate until November. The window for certification by the Michigan Online Educator Certification System (MOECS) is Jan. 1 through June 30. Hoke taught into November when a state audit discovered it and fined the school about  $21,000, Duits said.


A January board meeting was filled with Hoke supporters who praised her teaching skills and relationships with their children, wanting to know her future with the school and chastising the board of eduation. Today, (Feb. 1) Superintendent Carrie Duits said there was a thorough investigation and since Hoke was not being terminated, discipline was delegated to her as the superintendent.


Duits letter of discipline for Hoke ordered a total of 24 days of suspension without pay (out of a possible 29 allowed); 10 days for failing to respond to a notice from MOECS to talk to administration and teach as a sub since she was not certified, six days for lack of honesty, four days for use of social media to discredit the school district, and four days for the negative impact on the district’s relations with the community.


The suspension days, usually Fridays, are scattered throughout the rest of the year to minimize any disruption for her students, she said. Also, she issued a letter of discipline for a one-day suspension without pay to Beth Rowse. a secretary in the central office, for not reporting the lapse to the administration.  However, Rowse did e-mail Hoke eight times telling her to submit her renewed certificate to the office, Duits said.


“I’m hopeful we can continue to do the best for our students in her classroom, and the students throughout the district,” Duits said.


Dissention in Yankee Springs Township government escalates

Two recall petitions for Yankee Springs Township officials is a continuation of the rancor that has divided the board for several months. Two officials have already resigned, Trustee Roger Rottschafer and Administrator of Gun Lake Water and Sewer Authority Larry Knowles, but the accusations and name calling continues.


“The Yankee Springs Township Board is fractured,” Supervisor Mark Englerth said. “We’ve done everything we could to bring the board and community together, and I will continue to try to do that.” 


Knowles submitted a petition to recall Trustee Shanon Vandenberg on Jan. 16 that has passed a clarity hearing by the Election Commission, according to County Clerk Pam Palmer, a member of the commission.


Vandenberg has 10 days from the hearing to appeal the decision to the Barry County Circuit Court, and no petitions can be circulated during the 10 days. The language on the petition is good for 180 days, the signatures good for 60 days. All the signatures must be collected within 60 days of the first signature being recorded.


The reason stated on the petition is that Vandenberg was guilty of a conflict of interest when he tried to get approval of his development, corrupting the decision making process by not providing information to various township officials.


The same rules apply to the petition turned in by Julie Fox calling for the recall of Clerk Janice Lippert on Jan. 31. That clarity hearing is set for Feb. 14. Fox charges Lippert violated numerous provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, made false statements about her and questioned her mental status.


Clarity hearings determine only if the reasons for the recall are factual and clear enough to let the officer whose recall is sought and the electors to identify the conduct that is the basis for the recall. The number of signatures required to trigger a recall is 25 percent of the number of votes cast in the officer’s district for all candidates for the office of governor in the last gubernatorial general election.



February is national Children's Dental Health Month

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD), in conjunction with My Community Dental Centers (MCDC), and local dentists, reminds you of the importance of oral health. February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, which brings an increased focus on the importance of regular dental check-ups and a balanced diet. The slogan for this year’s campaign is “Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and clean between your teeth for a healthy smile.”

Fluoride, a naturally-occurring mineral, helps prevent cavities by making the outer surface of the teeth more resistant to the acid attacks that cause tooth decay. Toothpaste with fluoride has been responsible for a significant drop in cavities since 1960. Look for toothpaste with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance to make sure it contains fluoride.

Along with brushing your teeth for two minutes, two times per day, The American Dental Association recommends the following for a healthy smile:

? See a dentist twice every year.

? Drink fluoridated water.

? Place only formula, milk, or breast milk in bottles. Avoid filling the bottle with liquids such as sugar water, juice, or soft drinks.

? Infants should finish their bedtime and naptime bottles before going to bed.

? if a child uses a pacifier, provide one that is clean—don’t dip it in sugar or honey or put it in your mouth before giving it to the child.

? Encourage children to drink from a cup by their first birthday and discourage frequent or prolonged use of sippy cups.

? Serve nutritious snacks and limit sweets to mealtimes.

The Charlotte Dental Clinic, operated by My Community Dental Centers on behalf of BEDHD, focuses on serving persons who are enrolled in Medicaid and low-income uninsured. The clinic is accepting new patients and encourages dental visits by age one. This creates a positive experience and establishes a dental home before problems arise.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 1-877-313-6232.


Gun Lake Casino named Newsmaker of the Year for 2017

The Gun Lake Tribe's Gun Lake Casino has been recognized by the Grand Rapids Business Journal as the 2017 Newsmaker of the Year in Arts & Entertainment. The recently opened $76 million expansion at the casiino was the catalyst for the award.


Tribal Chairman Scott Sprague accepted the award on behalf of the Tribal Council, casino management staff and more than 1,000 valued team members.

“We thank the Business Journal for recognizing the Gun Lake Casino expansion as a noteworthy event in West Michigan,” he said. “This award is possible because we value great guest service, offering excellent career opportunities to our team members and sharing revenue with the local community.”


he Business Journal staff nominated 48 finalists in 16 different categories this year. Three finalists in each category were invited to the 2017 Newsmakers of the Year breakfast at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park before 600 business professionals.


The casino expansion opened in May, 2017 to nearly double square footage and increase of electronic gaming machines. Other amenities include the 300-seat Harvest Buffet, the new Stage 131 entertainment lounge, a high-limit game room and the Chill bar.


The tribe has shared more than $100 million with state and local governments in 14 separate distributions. The fall 2017 revenue sharing distribution saw an increase of 24 percent due to the increased number of electronic gaming machines.


Saint Rose School Observes 100 years.

It was 100 years ago this week that Saint Rose  Catholic school was founded as an educational facility as part of Saint Rose of Lima (leema) Catholic Church in Hastings.

On monday of this week  Hastings Mayor Dave Tossava presented the school with  a proclamation honoring the school on its historic occasion.


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