Local News Archives for 2018-03

Allegan County Sheriff's Office offers boat safety classes

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office offers several boater safety courses throughout the county again this spring and summer to help the public be ready for the upcoming boating season, according to a sheriff’s news release.


Boater safety classes are taught annually by marine deputies allowing students to earn their Boating Safety Certificate. Upon the successful completion of this class, attendees receiving their Boater's Safety Certificate will be able to operate a motorboat or personal watercraft (PWC) in the State of Michigan. Boater safety is not only a good idea but is a legal requirement for almost everyone, the release said.


All classes are free of charge and only require little time to complete.  Classroom learning has the benefits of live instructor based learning, one-on-one assistance with an instructor and the ability for students to ask questions and seek clarification on various topics and boating laws.


Upon the successful completion of the boater safety course, attendees will receive their Boater Safety Certificate. Courses are open to those 12 or older. Those under 12 are required to have a parent or adult with them. All course materials are provided and attendees need only to attend and complete one of these courses to receive their Certificate. Upcoming classes are listed below and can also be found on the sheriff’s office website at: //


Class Schedules:

Saturday, April 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Plainwell Middle School, 720 Brigham Street, Plainwell.  Bring a #2 pencil and a sack lunch.  No fees or costs. Register online at or call Kari at 269-673-0500 ext. 4234.


Saturday, April 28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Allegan High School, 1560 M-40 Highway, Allegan. Bring a #2 pencil and a sack lunch.  No fees or costs. Register online at or call Kari at 269-673-0500 ext. 4234


Tuesday, May 1 and Wednesday, May 2 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Wayland Union School’s transportation building, 851 Wildcat Drive, Wayland.  Registration is required. Contact Tammy Kohtz at (269) 792-9153 to register.  Participants must attend both classes to complete the course.  Bring a #2 pencil.  There is a fee of $10 payable to Wayland Schools for use of their facility. Additional information can be found online at


Saturday, June 2 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Green Lake Calvary Church, 608 145th Avenue, Caledonia (Leighton Township), sponsored by the A-Round Green Lake Association. Bring a #2 pencil and a sack lunch.  No fees or costs. Register online at or by calling Kari at 269-673-0500 ext. 4234


Wednesday, June 13 and Thursday, June 14 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Saugatuck Yacht Club. Registration is required. Bring a #2 pencil. No fees or costs. Register online at or call Kari at 269-673-0500 ext. 4234.  Attendees must attend both classes to complete the course. 


Saturday, June 16 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Gun Plain Township Hall, 381 8th Street, Plainwell.  Class is sponsored by the Lake Doster Association. Bring a #2 pencil and a sack lunch.  No fees or costs. Register online at or call Kari at 269-673-0500 ext. 4234


Tuesday, July 10 and Wednesday July 11 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Saugatuck Yacht Club.  Registration is required.  Bring a #2 pencil.  No fees or costs. Attendees must attend both classes to complete the course. Register online at or call Kari at 269-673-0500 ext. 4234.



BEDHD Board of Health discusses maternal health

Barry Eaton District Health Department Health staff reported on the progress of strategic plans in building parent’s skills and involvement to its Board of Health at the March meeting, acccording to a BEDHD news release.


Nurse Kindra Reeser-Smith explained how the health department will be improving involvement of families of children with specialty health care enrolled in the Children’s Special Health Care Services program.


Laurel McCamman, WIC Coordinator, reported that the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program now offers access to an international board certified lactation consultant for breastfeeding moms who need additional support. 


In early 2017, the Barry County Baby Café breastfeeding club kicked off at the Hastings Public Library where it meets every Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon.  The Baby Café is an informal, comfortable place where breastfeeding moms meet to offer support and advice on common infant feeding issues.


WIC, the nutrition-support program for pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under 5, is seeing a decline in enrollment and utilization, which is a pattern seen across the state.

Also, in response to Eaton County’s hepatitis A outbreak, the department has offered several clinics to vaccinate high-risk populations, including Eaton County jail inmates.


Hollard area woman dies in M-40/140th Avenue crash

Allegan County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a two-vehicle crash on M-40 at 140th Avenue in Fillmore Township at 4:12 a.m. Thursday morning. 


Julie Ann Shaffer, 30, from the Holland area, died as a result of the crash. The driver of other vehicle involved in the crash, a 60-year-old man from the South Haven area, suffered non-life threatening injuries.


The crash occurred in the intersection and involved a semi-truck and trailer combination and a Ford Escape.  The semi-truck, southbound on M-40, struck Shaffer’s Ford, westbound on 140th Avenue, in the passenger’s side.


The semi-truck and trailer ended up in a field southwest of the intersection and the Ford ended up on the east side shoulder of the roadway.  Initial investigation indicates the Ford may have failed to stop at the intersection of 140th Ave and M-40.

The crash is still under investigation. AMR ambulance and the Overisel Township and Hamilton fire departments assisted at the scene





Superintendent's Platform

WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight activities in their districts. This posting is from Rich Franklin, BISD superintendent.


“Hastings Middle School eighth grader Matthew Pattok competed in the Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee Tuesday night, in a long bee that featured several entertaining moments.  A number of Mexican-style foods came up in the word list, including chimichanga, quesadilla, tortilla, and mole. Pattok had the ironic experience of being asked to spell "paddock," which he did correctly!


Another student, in separate rounds, drew the words "taj" and "mahal." The grueling contest was won by Jack Lado, a seventh grader from East Grand Rapids, who correctly spelled “typhlology” and “bollo” to win after last year’s winner, eighth grader Aashray Mandala from Grand Haven, stumbled on “myringitis.”  


See if you could have spelled some of the other words that students went out on: flexure, chalupa, unmelodious, shirring, wineskin, bequeath (vocabulary round), bevel (vocabulary), wikiwiki, chronic, centrality, pfeffernuss, entomologist, worrisome, indescribable, graffiti, hibachi (vocabulary), and schadenfreude.


The Barry ISD hosted the regional spelling bee in February which Pattok won to go on to the national-qualifying bee in Grand Rapids. The winner of the Greater Grand Rapids bee will now compete at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., May 27-June 2.”


BEDHD environmental health staff wins state awards

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) announces that two of its staff last week received high recognition at the Michigan Environmental Health Association’s (MEHA’s) annual conference.


Regina Young, R.S., BEDHD’s environmental health director, was awarded the LaRue L. Miller Life Achievement Award and Kasey Swanson, an environmental health sanitarian, was awarded the David H. McMullen Young Professional of the Year Award.


Young’s award, the most prestigious granted by MEHA, is for exceptional contribution(s) to MEHA and to the environmental health profession over the course of their career, with special attention given to their activities and service which bring meritorious recognition to the environmental health profession, highly beneficial contributions and commitment on behalf of MEHA, and professional involvement and contribution to community health.

Young, a Ferris State University graduate and Barry County resident, is a 30-year veteran of environmental health.


She has served as a MEHA representative on several committees, including wastewater conference planning, the Technical Advisory Council for on-site wastewater treatment (TAC), and the MDEQ groundwater permits improvement process. She also has served as the Secretary for the Michigan Association of Local Environmental Health Administrators, is a member of the Barry County Solid Waste Oversight Committee and served many years as a board member on the Charlton Park Historic Village, Museum, & Recreation Area.  


Young’s skills and contributions were recognized in 2008 by the Barry County Conservation District’s Award for Service and Leadership in Natural Resource Conservation. In 2010, she was awarded the Samuel M. Stephenson Sanitarian of the Year Award by MEHA.

She believes that the cause of public health and of environmental health must be furthered through education and a common future direction.


Young and her husband, George and daughters, Rachel and Mikayla, enjoy the natural beauty and the water environment that abounds in southern Michigan and enjoys hiking, biking, caring for her family, and gardening.


Swanson’s award recognizes the recipient’s “outstanding accomplishment(s) to the environmental health profession within the first five years of employment and demonstrated quality work, dedication, innovation and potential leadership abilities.


Swanson was born in Alaska and, after her family moved to Michigan, attended Grand Ledge public schools. She received a degree in biology from Northern Michigan University and earned a degree in environmental law.

Kasey works on the Water Protection Team at BEDHD because she wants to use her interest in science to give back to her community. In her free time, Kasey enjoys spending time with her husband and year-old son.



Barry State Game Area introduces new Turkey Tract kiosk

The National Wild Turkey Federation and Michigan Department of Natural Resources will introduce the third Turkey Tract in southern Michigan at the Barry State Game Area in Barry County on Friday, April 13.


The event will be at 1:30 p.m. at the new Turkey Tract location, off M-179 (north side) just west of Yankee Springs Road, at 8386 M-179, Middleville.

“We are excited to share this hunting opportunity with everyone,” said Randy Heinze, DNR wildlife biologist for Barry, Eaton and Calhoun counties.


“The partnership between NWTF and the local businesses is extremely important, and we are happy to be working with them.”

A large kiosk, giving hunters area information and local business discounts, will be unveiled at the new Turkey Tract site. Surrounding businesses provide a discount when hunters take a “selfie” with the kiosk. 


“Turkey Tracts are designed to promote and highlight public access to quality turkey hunting, educate the public of ongoing habitat management and the impacts on wildlife and people, and build a connection with the users of these Turkey Tracts and local community businesses,” said Ryan Boyer, district biologist for the National Wild Turkey Federation.


Wild turkeys are found in all 68 counties of the Lower Peninsula and most counties in the Upper Peninsula, where the species has continued to expand its range. In 1977, only 400 turkeys were taken during the Michigan hunting season. However, by 2014, annual numbers of turkeys taken had reached 30,000 birds. Michigan is now ranked eighth in the nation for number of turkeys taken by hunters.//


“We’ve had hunters from all over the country and many international hunters come to Michigan to hunt turkeys,” said Al Stewart, DNR upland game bird specialist “The comeback of the wild turkey is one of the greatest wildlife conservation stories, and we are happy to share our success with others!”


Boyer will give a tour of the new Turkey Tracts area, describing habitat management practices that benefit turkeys and other wildlife within the game area. Management practices include timber cutting, selective use of herbicides, invasive species treatment and removal, selective annual and perennial plantings, and prescribed burns.


Boyer will also speak on the importance of partnerships.

“Because of the partnership NWTF has with the DNR and local supporting businesses, we are able to make these Turkey Tracts happen which allows hunters to experience turkey hunting in a way they may not have been able to in the past,” he said.


NWTF CEO Becky Humphries said, “Habitat work is so important to the success of these Turkey Tracts. This work parallels with NWTF’s Save the Habitat Save the Hunt initiative.”


Safe Harbor's 10th Lifeline Event is April 26

The Gilmore Car Museum will be the location of the 10th Annual Lifeline Event to benefit Safe Harbor Children’s Advocacy Center on Thursday, April 26 at 6 p.m.


Safe Harbor provides a lifeline to neglected and abused children in Allegan and Barry counties.


The evening has a Roaring 20’s theme, with 20’s attire optional, and an evening full of fun and great food. The free occasion has a limit of the first 160 guests who RSVP before April 5


To reserve a spot, call 1-269-673-3791; e-mail; or visit

Gilmore’s is at 6865 Hickory Corners Road, Hickory Corners.

Structure fire destroys garage

Hastings Fire Department, with assistance from Freeport and Woodland, was called to a  structure fire at 2340 East State Road Tuesday afternoon.  A detached garage, owned by Barb Haywood was destroyed in the fire, there were no injuries.


Thornapple Manor residents, Pennock Spectrum benefit with shared patients

Having Spectrum Health Pennock as its medical director providing medical services in a win-win for Thornapple Manor residents, the hospital and the community, Executive Director Don Haney told the Hasting City Council Monday.


There were inherent problems with the former provider, located on the east side of the state, with patients being admitted to the emergency room at Pennock for treatment and then readmitted to Thornapple Manor, Haney said.


Although the premier medical provider in the state, they didn’t know the Hastings facility or its residents. If a resident was in distress or with symptoms after 5 p.m., the call would go to an on-call doctor who didn’t know the resident or have enough information to suggest treatment, so they would say, “send them to emergency, which we did,” Haney said. It became almost automatic, he said.


Four years ago, after research and reviewing independent data on readmissions, they switched to Pennock Spectrum. With Pennock doctors coming in and providing services and mid-level practioners in the building five days a week, they get to know the patients and reduce trips to the ER when it isn’t really necessary, Haney said.


“During a test period, readmissions were cut by 90.6 percent, which is substantial. This is very, very unique. To our knowledge, this is the first in the state, let alone the whole country.”

An article on the arrangement published in the national Healthcare Financial Management Association magazine has generated favorable publicity.


Both facilities benefit financially from shared patients; Pennock by providing and expanding its health services, Thornapple Manor by keeping its occupancy rate up and its residents getting treatment at the facility.


The cost of an ambulance ride to and from the hospital, emergency room care, three to five days admission costs are all cut, Haney said. "The patient stays at home, gets the same quality care as in the hospital and that’s good for the residents. It’s all centered on the residents.”

Keep yourself and your family healthy around animals this spring

Do you plan on getting baby animals for Easter or to raise for the upcoming fair season? Are you thinking of taking some spring family photos that include animals?

If so, it is important to remember that many different types of animals, including small mammals such as mice, rabbits, and rats, backyard birds such as chickens, ducks and turkeys, and various livestock animals including cows and pigs, can potentially carry bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli.


People can catch these diseases from animals, and unfortunately these diseases can cause people to become seriously ill.

Here are a few steps that can help you protect yourself and your family from some of the germs that animals can carry.


Keeping our hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick from animals and spreading germs to others. How should you wash your hands? Follow these steps: · Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap

· Lather the soap in your hands by rubbing them together, making sure to rub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails

· Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds or as long it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice

· Rinse your hands well under clean, running water

· Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.


Here are some other important steps to remember:

· Don’t snuggle, kiss, or touch your mouth to small mammals, chicks, or ducklings

· Children under 5 years of age should avoid touching baby chicks and ducklings completely

· Don’t give live baby chicks and ducklings to young children as gifts

· Do not bring baby chicks or ducklings into schools, childcare centers, or nursing homes

· Do not keep baby chicks or ducklings inside the house where people live, eat, or sleep

· Keep animals away from areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored

· Pregnant women, immune-compromised persons, and persons with HIV/AIDS should take extra precautions when choosing and handling pets.


For more information on how to safely keep and interact with animals, please visit the following CDC websites:

· Farm animals:

· Poultry:

· Small mammals:

Eaton County in top 25 percent of County Health Rankings

The 2018 County Health Rankings, released March 14, showed Eaton County ranking high on overall health, coming in 16th out of 83 Michigan counties for health factors and 21st for health outcomes, in the top 25 percent of all counties.


Rankings are based on a model of population health that focuses on factors that, if improved, can help make communities healthier. Health outcomes are based on sickness and death in a county, while health factors are based on measures that can affect future health outcomes.


Rankings show where Eaton County is doing well and provides information about what is working.

The county is strong in the areas of clinical care and social and economic factors, where it ranked 11th and 12th, respectively, in the rankings.


The report can be used to build on successes and encourage community leaders to take action and create programs and policy changes in areas to be improved. 

For example, the Eaton County Great Start Collaborative is working to increase social support to parents, reduce child poverty, and increase school readiness to improve educational outcomes.  For more, visit //


The rankings also show factors that are making residents unhealthy and what more can be done to make the county a healthier place:


*Eaton County is at risk for poor health when it comes to behaviors that affect health; smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity, where it ranked 34th out of 83 counties.


*Rankings show the county needs to do more to improve health behaviors and parts of the physical environment that discourage physical activity. Potential action steps include stepping up efforts for substance abuse prevention and obesity prevention and increasing the number of sidewalks so people have more options for physical activity.


The rankings also highlight the importance of physical environment to health:

*Eaton County ranked poorly at 73rd in the state for the physical environment, with scores that include measures of air pollution, drinking water violations, severe housing problems and motor vehicle driving commutes.


The ranking was partly driven by municipal drinking water system violations, which were appropriately reported and addressed which shows why water providers and regulatory agencies monitor and oversee municipal drinking water systems.


Rankings help the community learn about steps being taken to improve resident’s health in the county:

*Eaton Rapids Health Alliance, an Eaton Rapids based coalition has a focus on increasing physical activity, access to healthy foods, improving access to mental health resources, and decreasing smoking and substance use. For more, visit


*The Eaton County Substance Awareness Advisory Group focuses on improving health by reducing the negative effects of alcohol and substance misuse, tobacco use, and prescription drug misuse. For more, visit


Everyone in the community has a stake in being healthy. Working together, county residents can make the community a healthier place to live, learn, work, and play. Learn more about the 2018 County Health Rankings at



Michigan's 2018 fishing license season kicks off April 1

For those interested in going fishing in Michigan, a new license is required starting Sunday, April 1. That day is the kickoff to the state’s 2018 fishing license season, as well as the new fishing regulation cycle.

All 2018 fishing licenses are good through March 31, 2019.

Anglers have eight options to choose from when making their purchase. All fishing licenses are good for all species.

  • Resident annual - $26
  • Nonresident annual - $76
  • Senior annual (for residents age 65 or older) - $11
  • 24-hour (resident or nonresident) - $10
  • 72-hour (resident or nonresident) - $30
  • Resident combo hunt/fish (base, annual fishing, two deer) - $76
  • Senior resident combo hunt/fish (base, annual fishing, two deer) - $43
  • Nonresident combo hunt/fish (base, annual fishing, two deer) - $266


Several regulation changes also go into effect April 1. For more information on licenses and regulation changes, see the 2018 Michigan Fishing Guide at license retailers or at


To buy a fishing license, visit a local license retailer or DNR Customer Service Center in person or use the E-License system to buy a license online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Visit on your computer, smartphone or tablet to get started.



Spring is here, Hastings compost facility opens

The city-owned compostable material drop-off site has Hastings staff, “tearing their hair out,” trying to find for a good plan for the facility, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.

The sheer volume to be treated, things left in the wrong place, items that aren’t compostable, oversized compostables and non- residents using the West State Road facility, are the problems.


City staff is looking for solutions; changing the hours, moving it back behind the city garage or a different location and having city police swing by at random times have been discussed, and they’re looking for more suggestions, Mansfield said.


As it opens in the spring, operating hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. when an operator will be there.


“We’ll give it a try to see if it works, if it doesn’t, we’ll come back,” Mansfield said.

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


Also on Monday, the council sent a revised agreement between Hastings City Barry County Airport Manager Mark Noteboom and the Airport Authority back to the authority, “to look at it.” The contract clarified Noteboom’s status as an independent contractor, and had been approved by the authority. As co-owner of the airport by a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA), Barry County and the city both have to approve the contract. The county commission tabled it Monday to give Hastings Mayor Dave Tossava time to address his concerns.


Tossava said the council had asked for a “clean up” of the language in the agreement, such as spelling and double negatives, but had added changes, which could change the meaning of the whole agreement. “I can’t understand the rewording” after the contract

was cleaned up, Tossava said. Councilman Bill Redman’s motion that an attorney also clarify some unclear language in the city/county JOA was approved.


The council also approved Spectrum Health Pennock CEO Sheryl Lewis Blake’s request for the use of up to 50 parking spaces at Fish Hatchery Park from April 30 to May 14 for out of town guests during training on new multi-million dollar computer conversion of its medical information system. Lewis Blake said the facility would celebrate its 95th anniversary in June with special events. //


Other approvals:

*the YMCA’s use of the city’s two sand volley ball courts and skate park this summer,


*a mountain bike team relay race at Hammond Hills Trail Aug. 25, during Summerfest. Staff will work with organizers on additional parking for the event.


*voting to approve amending the Grand Valley Metro Council’s articles of corporation to allow Caledonia to become a member. All GVMC members must vote for applicants to become members.


Superintendent's Platform

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


Academic Top Honors:

Monday evening our Board of Education honored eleven students with Academic Top Honors from the Class of 2018. While being involved in many activities inside and outside of school, all of these outstanding students earned a cumulative GPA of 4.0 or higher. Listed below are the names of the students and their parents.


Academic Top Honors Students                         Parents


Abby J. Burroughs                                              Louis Burroughs and Nancy Cotant

Kayla A. Carlson                                                 Dr. Troy Carlson and Kathleen Carlson

Zoe C. Engle                                                       Mike and Cathy Engle

Shayli R. Hinkle                                                  John and Petra Hinkle            

August A. Miller                                                 Tony and Alicia Miller           

Sydney N. Nemetz                                              John and Tammy Nemetz

Aaron M. Newberry                                            Aaron and Kelli Newberry

Emma A. Post                                                     Joseph and Susan Post

Aubree R. Shumway                                           Aaron Shumway and Kelly Voshell

Eliza J. Tolles                                                       Brad and Jacquelyn Tolles

Lillian A. Wierenga                                             Louis and Mary Wierenga


The school system is very proud of these students, and we know that the entire community benefits from their leadership. Hastings Area Schools would like to thank each of them for all of their hard work and dedication over the duration of their school careers.


MTSS Report from Northeastern:  Eric Heide, Principal of Northeastern, shared outstanding results from the implementation of the MTSS (Multi-Tier System of Supports). The reading scores at Northeastern are commendable:


  • In literacy Northeastern has increased student proficiency from 66% this past fall to 73% this winter!
  • Most outstanding were the kindergarten results with an assessment goal of 80%, and a result of 94% of students meeting the benchmark in reading.
  • Student behavior was also highlighted with a school-wide focus on building relationships with all students.


Bond Proposal:  The Board of Education approved the Preliminary Qualification Application for an August 2018 bond issue. This proposal would be a no-mill increase (no tax increase from the current tax levy) addressing critical facility needs such as roofs and increasing safety and security. This no-mill increase is an opportunity for $11,100,000. The District used input from several meetings, the community forum, and surveys to identify critical needs that should be included on the application. A survey is still available on the school's website and Facebook page, and we look forward to additional feedback and input.


Donation of $1000:  Advance Packaging Corporation donated $1,000 to the Hastings Middle School track program. The award was given through a program offered by the company allowing employees to apply for high school sports donations. Andrew Miller, parent of two middle school students, applied for and received this sponsorship. 


HEEF Donation:  The Hastings Education Enrichment Foundation’s Board of Directors donated funds totally $4381 to help defray the cost of several enrichment programs and activities for students in the Hastings Area School System. HEEF makes a donation quarterly to the school district.


Dynamic Plan 2.0:  Mark Dobias, from the MASB, is facilitating the development of a new three to five-year strategic plan for Hastings Area Schools. The purpose of the process is to develop goals and strategies to help the school system continue to offer an excellent education for students while using scarce public education resources, most effectively and efficiently. There is a survey on the District website and Facebook page for community input. The community is also invited to participate at one of two meetings:

  • 6:30 pm on April 17 in the Hastings Middle School Commons, or
  • 6:30 pm on April 25 in the Hastings Middle School Commons


Barry County first in state with jail diversion program for mentally ill

The Barry County Board of Commissioners today approved the establishment of the Barry County Stepping Up Task Force, a jail diversion program for individuals with mental illness, intellectual disabilities and substance addiction to lower their involvement with the criminal justice system and reduce recidivism.


Ashley James, jail diversion services manager and Richard Thiemky, executive director of the Barry County Community Mental Health Authority presented the concept to commissioners on March 20.


The authority was awarded a Jail Diversion Pilot Program grant in December of 2013, Thiemky said. “One of the benefits of the grant is the enhanced collaboration between Barry County Community Mental Health, local law enforcement and jail providers. The statistics prove that the pilot program is benefiting Barry County residents.”


A study conducted by Michigan State University indicated  BCCMHA has seen a 17 percent increase in treatment engagement, meaning more people are receiving treatment for their mental health needs. The increased treatment led to 38 percent of the individuals in the Jail Diversion Pilot Program never returning to jail or prison, James said. 


The Barry County Stepping Up Task Force, with 13 members from eight county agencies, will coordinate a county-wide strategy with existing personnel. The group will review current practices and adopt policies, programs and practices that will reduce the number of people with mental illness booked into jail, increase connections to treatment, reduce the length of time spent in jail and reduce recidivism.


Barry County is already known as a model for other counties in the state for streamlining and unifying its court system and initiating an Adult Drug Court, Sobriety Court and Swift & Sure Sanctions Probation program.


Task force members will be representatives from the Barry County Board of Commissioners, Barry County courts, Barry County Sheriff’s Office and Jail, Barry County Community Mental Health Authority, Barry Central Dispatch, Hastings Police Department, Michigan State Police, Barry County office of Michigan Health and Human Services, Barry County United Way, Child Protective Services, and consumers, or their advocates.//


Nationwide, an estimated two million people with mental illness, three quarters of those with substance abuse disorders, are booked into county jails. They tend to stay longer, have a higher rate of returning, and jail administrators spend two to three times more on those with mental illness, according to the national organization, StepUpTogether.


“Federal and state policy and funding barriers, along with limited opportunities for law enforcement training and arrest alternatives in many communities have made community and other local jails the de facto mental health hospitals for people who cannot access appropriate community based  mental health treatment and services,” the national StepUpTogether organization said.


The Barry County task force will use resources from StepUpTogether, including monthly webinars and networking calls, education workshops, a project coordinator handbook, guidance on measuring the number of people with mental illness in jails, and more.

“There will be fewer people with mental illness in our jails tomorrow than there were today,” is their goal.

Barry County commissioners hear drain commissioner's annual report

The Barry County Commission Tuesday heard Drain Commissioner Jim Dull’s annual report of activities in his department, with photos of completed drain projects..

The department received four petitions for drain extensions in the year and inspected 32 drains. Smaller obstructions were cleared by using chain saws and the mini-excavator, and larger jobs “were subbed out,” Dull said.


An administrative contract order that must be approved by the DEQ and the Attorney General’s Office on the Little Thornapple Drain, is 90 percent complete and at the attorney general’s office. It is expected back next week, Dull said.


Jobs using the mini-excavator is saving the department money he said, with the jobs using the recently purchased equipment costing under $1,000. Outside bids are typically $3 a foot, plus a mobilization fees of $1,000, so just a 1,500 foot section means substantial savings for the county by using the mini-excavator.Dull said he is finding many good people to work with and cooperation among neighboring counties is also good.


In a drain related issue, the commission approved the purchase of a new tracked Case loader for $29,500. Dull said it would be paid for by $15,000 from department funds, $7,000 to $8000 from the sale of a John Deere 625i Gator and a loan from the capital purchase fund for the rest.


The commission tabled Hastings City Barry County Airport Manager Mark Noteboom’s proposed three-year agreement with the Airport Commission that clarifies his status as an independent contractor.  The Airport Commision has approved the agreement, but the Hastings City Council, as part of a Joint Operating Agreement with the county, must also approve the contract and said they wanted some minor changes in the language. The council will review the matter at tonight’s meeting.


The commission acted on several recommendations from the committee of the whole meeting on March 20, and approved:


*Re-appointing Craig Stolsonburg to a one-year term on the Tax Allocation Board, with Commissioner David Jackson as the commission representative,


*Re-appointing Bob Becker, Deborah Hyatt, Linda Maupin and Gerald Pattock for three-year terms on the Community Health Authority Board,


*Appointing Frank Jesensek to the remainder of a three-year term on the Parks & Recreation Board,


*Appointing Joyce Snow to the Planning Commission for a three-year term,  


*Re-appointing Pam Strode to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a three-year term.


*applications for PA-116 for Jeffrey and Stacey Morton for property in Section 2 of Hastings Township and Robin Flessner in Sections 15 and 16 in Woodland Township,


 *a three-year contract for broadband internet and telecom services for the county with MEI Telecommunications, Inc. of Delton, and also the purchase of a 2018 Ford Escape for $19, 209.90 through MiDeal for the IT department.


The commission meeting was held Monday instead of Tuesday to allow commissioners to attend the Michigan Association of Counties Conference.




Yankee Springs Inn Historic marker to be re-dedicated April 7

In its history, the Yankee Springs Inn Historic marker was stolen, returned, lost and found again. On April 7, it will be rededicated at 11 a.m. on the North Country Trail trailhead on South Yankee Springs Road, just south of Gun Lake Road. A hike on the old stagecoach road (Norris Road) will leave from the trailhead at 9 a.m., followed by a reception at Long Lake Recreational Center, 10370 Gun Lake Road featuring author Carolyn Strite and artist Gus Swenson.


Community turns out for Freeport firefighter's pancake breakfast

The Freeport firefighters hosted its annual spring pancake breakfast this weekend, serving pancakes, eggs, sausage, orange juice, coffee and milk to a full house of area residents.  They raised $3,000 that will go toward a new brush/grass truck for the department, replacing one that is more than 15 years old.


Next up:  Freeport firefighters will host their annual Easter Egg Hunt for kids up to 10 years old at the Freeport Community Center Saturday on March 31 beginning at 10 a.m...


Here are some photos of the pancake breakfast.



Fom top: Joe Thompson, who says he will be 85 in June, gives volunteer pancake-server Lyn Briel a hug.


KyliJo Godfrey, 2, left, and brother Prestyn Joe Godfrey, 6, tackle sausage at the Freeport Fire Department breakfast.


Aaron Buehler handles the  sausage detail at the pancake breakfast.


The Freeport Fire Station is filled Saturday morning with families ready for the annual firefighters breakfast of pancakes, sausage and eggs.


Volunteer firefighter Lani Forbes visits with likely future firefighter Larsen Welker, 10 months, while mom and dad, Layn and Emily, fix their plates for breakfast. Layn is a firefighter with the Freeport Department.


The serving line was busy all morning at the annual pancake breakfast put on by an all-volunteer crew.


Head pancake flipper, volunteer J. D. Forbes, provides plenty of  the pancakes for the crowd that came for breakfast at the Freeport Fire Station.



17-year-old student charged in Hastings High School bomb threat

The Barry County Prosecutor’s  Office on March 22 issued charges against a Hastings High School student in connection with a false bomb threat at the high school, according to a news release from the prosecutor’s office.


The 17 year, whose name is being withheld pending his arraignment, is charged as follows:

Count I:  False report or threat of terrorism, a felony carrying a maximum of 20 years in prison,

Count II:  False report or threat of bomb/harmful device, a felony carrying a maximum of four years in prison,

Count III:  False report or threat of bomb/harmful device, a felony carrying a maximum of four years in prison

The charges stem from an incident on Feb. 28, when the student allegedly made a threat in writing on a bathroom wall at the school.  The threat gave a specific date, which eventually resulted in the decision to close the Hastings Area Schools on March 5.

Hastings city police has been investigating the case for the past several weeks, interviewing witnesses and submitting handwriting samples to the Michigan State Police crime lab for analysis. 

“The prosecutor’s office is working closely with law enforcement to address each report and/or threat received by the schools,” the release said.

“This type of behavior is dangerous, disruptive and unacceptable.  We recognize that a person charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty,” it said.

“Our goal is to ensure the safety of the students and staff at our schools. Our intention, upon a conviction, is to request that the student reimburse Hastings Area Schools for the day officials closed the schools as well as other expenses incurred in the case,” it concluded.


*Just an observation

**In its 10 years in existence, the arguments to keep or do away with TOST never changed.

The Barry Eaton District Health Department said the regulation discovered and required repairs on thousands of failing water wells and septic systems, keeping ground water clean and the environment safer for current and future county residents.


Critics, especially in Barry County, said administration of the rule was capricious, arbitrary, an unconstitutional taking of individual’s rights, used to bring all systems up to present day codes with costs that were a way for the health department to increase its income.


That’s all history as the regulation is no more, with the Eaton County Commissioners taking the final step and voting Wednesday for its repeal. But, water quality and the efficiency of sewer systems in both counties still must be monitored and maintained.


What comes next will not be easy. With assurances from officials who voted against it, the communities wait to see what will replace the unpopular rule.


The point is valid that those buying or selling homes, by requirements of lending institutions, Realtors or buyer/seller agreements, will have inspections of the systems.

However, so is Barry County Commissioner David Jackson’s comment that with limited house sales in Barry County, overall compliance would be a multigenerational effort for the needed environmental protections for the county.


A task force that would hold public hearings, with residents encouraged to contribute ideas, should be formed immediately with accompanying transparency, and interim reports on progress, posted on the counties and health department websites in separate sections, and also other places, even if they have to pay for the exposure.  


A contact person or website should also be available to the public to direct questions and make comments.

And, yes, it might be uncomfortable and more work, but the public has a right to see and have input in any plan to protect our water and other resources that they will have to live with.


Also, a step by step progress report lets the people know what’s coming up and minimizes problems and questions when the future plan is ready to be put in place. Lack of public support for TOST is what eventually brought it down. Officials said to be effective, a regulation must have public support; that should be a goal of the new program.


It’s up to the Health Board to lead the effort, to set up a diverse group of residents and county and health department officials from both counties, to devise a replacement for TOST and show the community they can develop a better, more acceptable program  and let the Barry Eaton District Health Department get back to its mission.


Barry County in top 15 percent in health rankings

The 2018 County Health Rankings shows Barry County ranking 10th out of Michigan’s 83 counties in overall health, and 15th for health factors, putting the county in the top 15 percent of counties, according to a Barry Eaton District Health Department news release.


Rankings are based on population health that focuses on many factors that, if improved, can help make communities healthier.

Health outcomes are based on the sickness and death in a county; health factors are based on measures that can affect future health. The report can be used to build on successes and encourage community leaders to create programs and policy changes in areas that need improvement.


The county ranked 6th in the area of social and economic factors; education, income and poverty, household and social structures, crime, and injuries.


The Barry County Great Start Collaborative is working to increase social support to parents, reduce child poverty and increase school readiness to improve educational outcomes. Visit for more information.


The county ranked 27th, or at medium risk for poor health in areas of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity, showing that more needs to be done to improve health behaviors and physical environment. Potential ways to do this are by stepping up efforts to help residents quit tobacco; prevent obesity; improve access to dentists, mental health, primary care providers and increase opportunities for physical activity.


At 61st, the county ranked poorly for physical environment, which includes measures of air pollution, drinking water violations, severe housing problems, and motor vehicle driving commutes. It was partly driven by below average measures of air pollution and the percentage of commuters who drive alone and who have a long commute.


Steps are being taken to improve the health of county residents. The B. Healthy Coalition is working to prevent and control obesity and chronic disease through policy and environmental change and to increase awareness of healthy lifestyles.

For more, visit


The Barry County Tobacco Reduction Coalition has a strategic plan to improve the health of Barry County by reducing exposure to tobacco, cigarettes, and environmental tobacco smoke.  For more, contact Lauren Cibor at (517) 541-2624.


The Barry County Substance Abuse Task Force is focused on improving health by reducing the negative effects of alcohol and substance misuse and prescription drug misuse. For more, visit


Everyone in the community has a stake in being healthy. Working together, Barry County residents can make their community a healthier place to live, learn, work, and play. For more on the rankings, visit


Eaton County votes to repeal; TOST is over

After 10 years of controversy, a Barry Eaton District Health Department regulation mandating inspection of on-site water and sewer systems and repair or replacement  if it is deemed failing before property can be sold or transferred is officially over.


The last step in the repeal of the time of sale or transfer or TOST was approved Wednesday by the Eaton County Board of Commissioners in a nine to 6 vote. With public hearings and votes to repeal by both county commissions done, the repeal becomes effective in 45 days.


Chairman of the Barry County Commission and also the Health Board, Commissioner Ben Geiger issued this statement:

"A long, dramatic chapter of our history is over. With the repeal of TOST now official, we can finally come together and seek out new and better ways to protect our environment without rehashing the fights of the past.


“This decade-long controversy was never about the quality of our natural resources. It was about the quality of our public policies.

“May county leaders, today and in the future, never forget the lessons made clear today - strong public policy requires strong public support, and when we demand higher standards of our residents, we must demand higher standards of our leaders.


“I applaud the Eaton County Board of Commissioners for taking action and putting this saga behind us. Together we can find a strategy for protecting public health, the landscapes we all love, and the rights we all cherish.”

Hastings schools to decide on bond proposal in April

The Hastings Board of Education approved to submit an application for a no-mill increase bond proposal, Superintendent Carrie Duits has confirmed.

'In April, the Board will vote on whether or not it goes on the ballot,” Duits said. “The application includes roofs and safety/security improvements throughout the district."

More information will be in an upcoming Superintendent’s Platform, Duits said.


Coalition of law enforcement, education professionals support school safety proposal

A coalition of Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, the Prosecuting Attorney Association of Michigan and the professional educational community have agreed to move its proposal for school safety forward to the state legislature, according to Blaine Koops,  former sheriff of Allegan County.


“Currently, there are 32 pieces of legislation on guns/safety in school. Rather than confronting all 32 pieces of legislation, our coalition of law enforcement, school officials and school mental health professionals have agreed on the legislation we will support,” Koops said.  


“School shootings and bomb threats dominate the headlines. Violence is followed by mourning, outrage, and calls for reform–time and again, the cycle repeats itself without any meaningful change.

“Michigan sheriffs, police, prosecutors, and school leaders agree– enough is enough. It’s time for change. The Michigan School Safety Reform Plan protects Michigan students and makes our schools safer,” Koops said.


The following is from a news release explaining the coalition’s school safety reform plan:


More “School Resource Officers” – sheriffs and police – in our schools. Michigan’s men and women in uniform dedicate their lives to keeping our communities safe. In an emergency or a shooting situation they’re our children’s best hope. It’s time to give schools increased protection by police.


• The Michigan Student Safety Reform Plan creates a grant program to empower school districts to contract with local sheriff or police agencies for new and additional school resource

officers (SROs).


• Putting more sheriffs and police on school property and in school buildings will keep our children safer – and help prevent tragedies before they happen.


More school mental health professionals to identify problems early. School shooters often show signs of trouble long before an attack. School counselors and mental health professionals are the first line of aid and defense.


• Placing additional counselors and mental health professionals in our schools is a critical step in identifying and helping troubled students before it’s too late.


• The Michigan Student Safety Reform Plan gives school districts access to funding to hire additional school mental health professionals increasing the ratio of mental health professionals to students in districts statewide.


Safer Buildings for Students and Teachers.

Protecting students requires being proactive in securing school buildings.


• The reform plan requires a walk through by law enforcement officers of every school building in the state to identify safety issues and opportunities to harden schools against threats.


• Schools can use the results to apply for emergency funding to address safety liabilities.


Mandatory reporting, tougher penalties to stop shootings

before they happen. Reporting threats to law enforcement can stop tragedies before they happen, but too often threats and troubled students fall through the cracks.


• It’s time for mandatory reporting of threats against schools to law enforcement.


• A new graduated penalty range is needed for those who threaten schools and students to make reporting more likely and effective.


• Finally, let’s provide the ability to mandate mental health evaluations for every individual making a threat to better provide options for intervention and treatment.

Barry County man killed in crash

Michigan State Police say 62 year old Fred Barry, a resident of Barry County, died from injuries resulting from a crash that happened around 8:45pm Tuesday night on East State Road near Becker Road east of Hastings.


Barry was driving westbound on State Road when his Ford pickup truck left the roadway and struck a tree. He was pronounced dead at the scene. There were no other occupants in the truck. The cause of the crash remains undetermined.


State Police were assisted at the scene by the Barry County Sheriff’s office and the Hastings Fire Department. The crash remains under investigation.


Improving health and well-being of Barry County residents topic at free forum

Barry County residents are invited to join a discussion on the state of health in Barry County and how to improve the health and well-being of its residents and employees.


A Leadership Forum, sponsored by the Barry County Chamber of Commerce and B. Healthy Coalition on Friday, March 23 begins at 8 a.m. with breakfast, followed by a program and question and answer period from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.


The forum will discuss the possibly of Barry County becoming a Blue Zone; a systemic approach to improving well-being based on principles identified  during a 10-year, worldwide study by National Geographic and detailed in Dan Buettner’s book titled “Blue Zones.”


Tony Buettner, senior vice president of Blue Zone, is keynote speaker.

The mission of B. Healthy coalition is to foster an active, healthy community with policies and environmental changes that make the healthy choice the easy choice for all Barry County residents.


The event at the Barry County Enrichment Center, at 231, South Broadway in Hastings is free, however there is limited seating. Register at For more, visit

Barry County citizen's committee and board positions filled; airport manager's contract amended

The Barry County Commission Tuesday recommended amending Hastings City Barry County Airport Manager Mark Noteboom’s three year agreement with the Airport Commission to clarify his status as an independent contractor in matters to do with local, state and federal law.


The airport board has approved the agreement, which provides for management services at the airport. County Commissioners who sit on the board, Jon Smelker and Vivian Conner, stressed that the $79,000 Noteboom will get annually is not a raise in salary becasue Noteboom will pay for gas, oil and insurance as an independent contractor.


With the modification of the agreement, it fully meets the IRS requirements for Noteboom's  independent contractor status, which Noteboom requested, County Administrator Michael Brown said.

The Hastings City Council, as part of a Joint Operating Agreement of the airport with the county, must also approve the amended contract.


In other business, several citizens for positions on county boards and committees were recommended which includes:


*reappointing Craig Stolsonburg to a one-year term on the Tax Allocation Board, with Commissioner David Jackson as commission representative.


*reappointing Bob Becker, Deborah Hyatt, Linda Maupin and  Gerald Pattock for three-year terms on the Community Health Authority Board.


*appointing Frank Jesenek to the remainder of a three-year term on the Parks & Recreation Board that ends 12/31/2018, filling one of two empty seats.


*appointing Joyce Snow to the Planning Commission for a three-year term. Michael Barney withdrew his application for the second open seat.


Other recommendations for approvals include:

*applications for the Michigan Department of Agricultural Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program (PA-116) for Jeffrey and Stacey Morton for property in Section 2 of Hastings Township and Robin Flessner in Sections 15 and 18 in Woodland Township, recommended by Planning Director James McManus.


 *a new three-year contract for broadband internet and telecom services with MEI Telecommunications, Inc. of Delton for a one-time $5,000 payment and $1,177.75 monthly service charge. The $5,000 initial startup and hardware fee would be waived if the internet and telephone service is bundled and a contract signed within 30 days of March 13.  IT Director David Shinavier said going with MEI will result in speeds up to 10 times faster and improved stability and reliability than from the previous provider iserv.


*permission to purchase a 2018 Ford Escape for $19, 209.90 through MiDeal for the IT department, paid for by the vehicle fund, also requested by Shinavier.

The board will act on the committee of the whole’s recommendations at the March 27 regular board meeting



Freeport firefighters are flipping pancakes Saturday

The public is invited to join the Freeport firefighters at the fire station this Saturday, March 24 from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. for their annual spring breakfast featuring pancakes, eggs, sausage, orange juice, coffee and milk. A free will donation will be taken at the door


“The funds raised from this breakfast will go toward a new brush/grass truck we are currently building” said Fire Chief Jim Yarger. “Our previous truck has served us well for over 15 years but, it’s time to replace it.”

Smoke detector and carbon monoxide applications will be available at the breakfast.

“This has been a very successful program that makes our community safer,” Yarger said.

“To date, the Freeport Firefighters have installed over 200 smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the Freeport area.”


When an application is complete and returned, the fire department will set up a time with the homeowner to inspect the current smoke detectors in the home, replace any old detectors and install any additional detectors that are needed. Also, Freeport firefighters will host their annual Easter Egg Hunt at the Freeport Community Center Saturday, March 31 beginning at 10 a.m. for kids ages 0 to 10.


Freeport Volunteer Fire Department has 24 firefighters and Medical First Responders who cover territory in four townships; Bowne in Kent County, Campbell in Ionia County, Carlton and Irving in Barry County.



Superintendent's Platform

WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight activities in their districts. This post is from Michelle Falcon, superintendent of Maple Valley Schools.


“Beginning in mid-April, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) will administer the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP). Like last year, the M-STEP will be given online and will measure current student knowledge on Michigan’s standards in English language arts (ELA), mathematics, science, and social studies.


“This year, based on feedback from students, parents, and educators, we have made several enhancements to M-STEP:

  • The test is now shorter for most students, who will spend no more than 3-6 hours total on 2018 state assessments.


  • The PSAT is being offered to high school students in grades 9 and 10. The PSAT prepares students for the SAT taken in grade 11.


  • High school students in grade 11 will take the SAT, which will serve as both a college entrance and the state English language arts (ELA) and mathematics assessment.



  • Schools will have flexibility in scheduling the amount of time students spend in a single test session.


  • Schools will have access to preliminary student test results within a few days after testing is complete. This preliminary data is a first look for school use only until final results are available.


  • Final results should be available to schools prior to the beginning of the next school year. This will include M-STEP parent reports to be distributed by districts.


“We want your child’s experience to be relaxed, healthy, enjoyable, and stress-free. Your positive outlook and supportive manner going into these assessments will also influence your child’s experience. Content areas tested and grade levels are listed below:



Content Area


Grade 3

Mathematics, English Language Arts (ELA)


Grade 4

ELA, Mathematics


Grade 5

ELA, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science


Grade 6

ELA, Mathematics


Grade 7

ELA, Mathematics


Grade 8

ELA, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science 


Grade 11

SAT with essay – Serves as both a college entrance and


Michigan’s English language arts and mathematics assessment;



M-STEP science; M-STEP social studies; ACT WorkKeys™















M-STEP online tests anytime within a four-week time frame for each grade level. Schools will administer the subject area tests described above during the following windows:


Grades 5, 8, 11:

    April 10 – May 4

Grades 3,4,6,7:

    May 4 – May 25


Grades 9, 10 (PSAT):

April 11

Grade 11


April 10

Grade 11


April 11



Barry Central Dispatch 911 is 85 percent converted to NG-911

Stephanie Lehman, new director of Barry Central Dispatch 911, attended a recent Hastings City Council meeting to give the panel an update on the progress on the increased capabilities of the dispatch service that began in 1992.



Barry Central Dispatch is about 85 percent converted to the next generation 911 phone system, replacing the copper wire system from the 1960s with digital, and shared with Calhoun and Lenawee counties. Kalamazoo and Hillsdale counties expected to join the three counties this year.


With technology improving, “We need to respond with technology for more user friendly and responder safety,” Lehman said.


NG-911 has many advantages, including the efficiencies in 911  technology, meeting changing consumer habits and expectations, increased safety for first responders with enhanced data access, and boosting the resiliency, reliability, survivability and flexibility for the system, she said.

Improvements in transferring misrouted calls, location delivery with calls, text/multimedia, data sharing across regions and back up capabilities also will come with NG-911, Lehman said.



Lehman suggested Barry County residents sign up for Smart 911, a free service of Central Dispatch. The program has  a secure, private website with a user-provided Safety Profile with information they want first responders to know; if there are handicapped in the home, the number of children, where they sleep, how many dogs and cats should be in the house, and anything else they think would help firefighters or ambulance personnel help them.


The profile comes up only when the Smart 911 user calls 911, is relayed to emergency personal and accessible to dispatchers for one hour before it disappears.



A Rave Facility is a program similar to Smart 911, but for businesses and campuses. Information provided by users is securely stored by Rave Mobile Solutions and never sold or given to any second parties, Lehman said.



During 2017, Barry County Central Dispatch handled a total of 36,731 calls for service; 22, 360 calls for police, 1,627 for fire, 1,757 for medical first responders, 6,792 for emergency medical service and 4,195 non-emergency calls.



John Calgaro sentenced to 25 to 75 years in prison for murder

On Friday, March 16, 2018,  John Joseph Calgaro was sentenced Barry County Circuit Court to 25 to 75 years in prison for Second Degree Murder in the death of Matthew Morin.  His sentence is to run consecutively to the sentence he received for a probation violation in Van Buren County in 2016. 


Last week Calgaro pled no contest to Second Degree Murder in the death of Morin, of South Haven. Morin went missing in early July 2016.  His body was discovered by Michigan State Police in a remote area of Pine Lake Road in Barry County. 


Calgaro later admitted to running over Morin twice with his vehicle on July 5, 2016, claiming it was an accident.  However, the investigation revealed that Calgaro returned to the scene to bury Morin’s body and stole Morin’s identity, leading to a charge of Open Murder.


In exchange for Calgaro’s plea to Second Degree murder, Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor Pratt dismissed the less serious charges of Unlawfully Driving Away of a Motor Vehicle, Identity Theft and Possession of a Financial Transaction Device, as well as the Habitual Offender notice.

State House approves Calley bill to protect election integrity


Legislation sponsored by state Representatvie Julie Calley to protect the integrity of elections in Michigan was overwhelmingly approved Thursday in the Michigan House.


House Bill 5646 requires the Secretary of State to keep the list of people who are registered and qualified to vote in Michigan up to date by checking it against U.S. Social Security Administration’s death records. The legislation also requires continued participation in a multi-state program through which information is shared about the current address and registration status of voters.


“People are more concerned than ever about the security of our elections,” said Calley, of Portland. “We must do everything we can to ensure them that our qualified voter file is being held to the highest standard possible. When someone passes away or moves to another state, it’s important to update our voter rolls in a prompt and efficient manner to eliminate the possibility of voter fraud.”


While the Secretary of State currently utilizes these resources to update the qualified voter file, Calley said it is not required under current law. Her legislation ensures the practice continues in the future.


In addition to Calley’s bill, the House also approved two other bills clarifying current practices of the Secretary of State. House Bill 5644, sponsored by Rep. Tom Barrett, spells out the procedure by which absentee voters can change their mind and spoil their absentee ballot. House Bill 5669, sponsored by Rep. Aaron Miller, clarifies the current list of acceptable forms of identification for election purposes.


“Establishing these current practices as law ensures the Secretary of State and local election officials are all on the same page, and provides residents with confidence in the database of qualified voters,” said Calley, who serves as vice chair of the House Elections and Ethics Committee.


House Bills 5644, 5646 and 5669 now move to the Senate for consideration.


Stephanie Lehman chosen for 911 Central Dispatch Director

The Barry County Central Dispatch Administrative Board has named Stephanie Lehman as the new director.  “After a nationwide application process, we ended up finding a great fit in our own backyard.”  Personnel Committee Chairperson, Cindy Vujea, said.


Lehman becomes the third director since the creation of Barry County Central Dispatch in 1991. “I am very honored and humbled to be given this opportunity.  As 911 technology continues to grow and evolve, I look forward to continuing with the tradition of being on the front end of these advancements" Lehman said.


Stephanie joined Barry County Central Dispatch 911 as a dispatcher in June of 2008. From 2009 through 2013 she was elected by her fellow employees to serve as the union steward. In 2013 she became a Dispatch Supervisor which included oversight of the Communications Training Officer Program. Stephanie was named Interim Director in November of 2017.


Stephanie holds a Bachelor’s of Applied Science, Occupational studies degree from Siena Heights University and an Associate’s Degree in criminal justice from Delta College. She currently serves as the secretary of the Michigan Chapter of National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and is a member of Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO).

Stephanie and her family reside in the Middleville area.


Private Property accident at TK Middle School

The Barry County Sheriff's Office is investigating a private property accident that occurred Thursday between a car and a student who was walking in the parking lot at Thornapple Kellogg Middle School.


Undersheriff Matt Houchlei said the student was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. No other details were available.

Survey damage in Eight lower Michigan Counties including Barry

The U.S. Small Business Administration is working with Michigan State Police and local emergency managers to conduct damage assessments over the next week in eight lower michigan counties including Barry County affected by flooding from February 19th to the 21st.


This is a necessary step to receive SBA assistance, according to Michigan State Police Captain Chris Kelenski Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

If approved the Small Business Administration disaster assistance program would make low-interest loans available to eligible residences and businesses affected by heavy rainfall and snow that resulted in widespread flooding.


The SBA disaster assistance program provides low-interest loans for homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinary and equipment.

For more additional information contact 517-284-3962.

State Police to Focus on Impaired Driving during St. Patrick's Day

During the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day festivities, the Michigan State Police is reminding motorists to make safe driving choices. This Saturday, troopers will join their counterparts from across the country in Operation C.A.R.E. (Crash Awareness and Reduction Efforts).


“We encourage everyone to celebrate safely this St. Patrick’s Day,” said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the MSP. “As always, our troopers are taking a zero tolerance approach to those who choose to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Plan ahead and designate a sober driver.”


The enforcement period begins at 12:01 a.m., on Saturday, March 17, and will end at 11:59 p.m.




House passes bill providing counties grants for veteran services

The Michigan House of Representatives approved legislation Wednesday encouraging Michigan counties to establish and maintain veteran service offices through a new grant program. The bill now advances to the Senate for further consideration.


Under the legislation, co-sponsored by State Representative Julie Calley, each county with a veteran service office that satisfies pre-approved requirements will receive $25,000, plus an additional amount based on the number of veterans in the county. To continue receiving the grant, an established county veteran service office must meet benchmarks for staff performance and reporting while maintaining the previous year’s funding level.


"These services must be readily available for veterans,” said Calley, of Portland. “It’s a great way to deliver services in support of our veterans across Michigan.”


Depending on the county, a Veteran Service Officer may only be available for a few hours each month at a single location. There are 11 Michigan counties currently without a county veteran services department.


Prevent Accidental Poisoning with These Tips


National Poison Prevention Week is March 18–24. The week brings focus to the dangers of poisonings for people of all ages and is a chance to raise awareness, reduce unintentional (accidental) poisonings, and promote poison prevention.


A poison is anything, including medication, that is harmful to someone’s body if too much is eaten, breathed in, injected, or absorbed through the skin. Accidental poisoning occurs when a person taking or giving too much of a substance did not mean to cause harm.


In Barry and Eaton counties between 2009 and 2014, there were 91 deaths from accidental poisoning. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), half of all calls to poison control centers about contact with potentially harmful substances involve children under the age of 6. Adults aged 20–59 make up the next biggest group, with about a quarter of the calls.


Residents can help prevent poisonings by following the below tips. Additional important poisoning prevention safety tips can be found at


  • Lock them up and away. Keep medicine, household cleaners, chemicals (e.g., laundry pods), and other toxic products in their original containers and in a place where children can’t see or get them.
  • Read the label. Make sure to read all the warning labels on medicines, household cleaners, chemicals, and other toxic products. Some medicine isn’t safe to mix with others or with alcohol.  Never mix chemicals or household products (e.g., ammonia, bleach) together.
  • Don’t keep it if you don’t need it. Safely dispose of prescription and over-the-counter medicine, vitamins, and supplements that aren’t used or needed or that are expired. To dispose of medicines, mix them with coffee grounds or kitty litter and throw them away. You can also turn them in at a take-back event. Visit to see when there are take-back events in Barry and Eaton counties.
  • Know what to do. Call 911 if there is a poison emergency and the victim has collapsed or is not breathing. If the victim is awake and alert, dial 1-800-222-1222 (the nationwide poison control center phone number). Try to have the victim’s age and weight, the container of the poison, and the time and address where the poisoning occurred.



Is your child ready for Kindergarten?

The Barry Eaton District Health Department is urging parents who will be be enrolling their children in Kindergarten this year to attend Kindergarten Roundups, and to make sure kids are up to date on their immunizations. The Barry-Eaton District Health Department wants to make sure that every child is protected before entering school in the fall. 


“Immunization is the single most important way parents can protect their children from serious disease,” said Jackie Anderson, RN, BEDHD’s Immunization Coordinator. If your child has not yet received all of the immunizations required for school entry, don’t wait! Take action now to get them protected before school begins. Make an appointment with your child’s doctor, or call the health department’s immunization clinic. 


A child who is fully immunized and ready to start Kindergarten in the fall will have had these vaccinations:

  • 4 doses of DTap (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis)
  • 3 doses of Hepatitis B   
  • 2 doses of MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella)     
  • 4 doses of Polio              
  • 2 doses of Chickenpox (Varicella)


The following immunizations are highly recommended, though not required, for a child ready to start Kindergarten in the fall:

  • Influenza (flu)
  • 2 doses of Hepatitis A

M-43 @ Cloverdale Lane Open

- Per MDOT, The Barry County Road Commission says M-43 @ Cloverdale Road now has one lane open!

Why they voted the way they did on TOST, part three

This is the third of three articles on why officials in Barry and Eaton County voted the way they did to repeal, or keep, the Barry Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) time of sale or transfer (TOST) regulation.


The district health department is controlled by the Board of Health (BOH), made up of three commissioners from both Eaton and Barry counties. Barry County is represented by Commissioners Ben Geiger, David Jackson and Dan Parker; in Eaton County by Commissioners Blake Mulder, Jane Whitacre and Joseph Brehler.


The vote by the BOH Feb. 28 to end TOST passed with Geiger, Jackson, Parker and Mulder voting yes, Whitacre and Brehler voting no. This is Brehler’s perspective:



“We live in difficult times, despite macro-economic success; many people still face hardship and uncertainty. Michigan’s standard of living has eroded over the years with the income gap steadily growing between the very rich and the rest of us.


“People are uncertain of the future both for themselves and their children.  Cynical political groups have played on those fears in several different ways, including asserting that government is the enemy. 

“I believe that TOST is caught up in that struggle. We live in a community that is interconnected, all of us can benefit or be harmed be the decisions which we as a community make through our governmental bodies. 


“All of us must be willing to make compromise between our own self interests and that of the whole for all of us to be successful. Water is a precious and limited resource, which all of us need to survive.  Even in this country, there all areas of drought and in some places in the world, worse. 

“One of the futures national security concerns will be about those nations and peoples who have access to clean and drinkable water and those who do not.


“We as a people have not appreciated and protected this valuable resource as we should have over the years but we are better than we were even 50 years ago.  TOST is one of those efforts. 

“It is a ‘light touch’ program to protect our local ground water, rivers and lakes.  It is not the 'answer'  but it is an important piece. 


"The program has been successful and has improved our water, here locally, benefitting not only the people of Eaton County but our surrounding neighbors as well. No program like TOST will be successful if left only to voluntary compliance.  That is unfortunate but reality.


"TOST is a successful and necessary program which should be continued.” 



Why they voted the way they did on TOST, part two

The second of three articles on why officials in Barry and Eaton counties voted the way they did on the Barry Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) TOST regulation quotes Eaton County Commissioner Jane Whitacre.


The BEDHD is controlled by the Board of Health which is made up of three commissioners from both Eaton and Barry counties. Barry County Commissioners are Ben Geiger, David Jackson and Dan Parker; Eaton County Commissioners are Blake Mulder, Whitacre and Joseph Brehler.  

Whitacre lists her reasons for voting to keep TOST at a Feb. 28 meeting.



  1. “It is my perspective that government should work for the people paying for it.  However, it is also the responsibility of a county commissioner to balance facts, science and the best information available to make an informed decision.
  2. “This issue has been festering for years.  It has eaten up a tremendous amount of time, energy, resources and attention. 
  3. “This issue is complex.  There are several lenses from which people are viewing it:  Personal / Property rights, cost to the property owner, public health prevention, water quality and safety and TOST's administration by the Health Department to name a few.  Individual factions formed around these various lenses that couldn't or were not willing to consider the others.
  4. “People are entitled to their own opinions but not to their own facts.  The use of a commonly accepted set of facts and data has never been agreed upon, hence deepening the divide.  It often feels like we live in very different realities despite other commonalities we have as people.
  5. “Commissioner Geiger commandeered a community survey about TOST that was in my opinion subjective and biased (no real scientific validity) and used it to document the public sentiment in Barry County.  Eaton County was not included nor invited to.  That should have been considered if a true understanding of public sentiment was to be objectively considered.
  6. “At the March 1 hearing in Charlotte, some of the members of the BEDHD promised that when TOST is gone, BEDHE will invent another, better program to safeguard our people and water.  Prevention was the goal of health department in TOST.  Not inspecting watersheds or farms or environmental clean up.  The health department will be reducing staffing and its budget when TOST is gone.  There's no real capacity nor responsibility for the health department to start something new to replace it now.  That's not happening.
  7. “The Barry Eaton District Health Department did not create TOST to generate revenue or to control the public.  Elected officials on community boards voted to approve the implementation of a TOST program for Barry and Eaton counties for public health prevention reasons.  Contaminated water can kill people.  It is serious stuff.  Accusing and vilifying the staff of BEDHD is inappropriate and undeserving.    
  8. “I feel strongly that my vote against the repeal of TOST reflects the perspective of my constituents in suburban Eaton County. But I also care about rural Eaton County and Barry County.  We share the same region, state, nation and planet.  We are all steward of God's green Earth, not just our own backyards. 

“I wish we could have found more common ground because I believe we have a lot more in common as individuals and families than we do differences.  And I appreciate the passion and effort of everyone involved in this long, drawn out process, but I don't want feces in our drinking water.”


Barry County votes to repeal TOST; Eaton County to vote March 21

Barry County Commissioners today voted to repeal TOST by a unanimous vote. Commissioner David Jackson was absent. One step remains if the regulation is to be rescinded, a vote to repeal by the Eaton County Board of Commissioners on March 21.


The controversial Barry Eaton District Health Department requirement mandates inspection of on-site water and sewer systems in both counties, and repair or replacement if they are found to be failing before the sale of property can be finalized.


The Barry Eaton District Health Department is controlled by the Board of Health (BOH) which is made up of three commissioners from each county. Commissioners Ben Geiger, David Jackson and Dan Parker are from Barry; Commissioners Blake Mulder, Jane Whitacre and Joseph Brehler represent Eaton.


In this article, the first of three parts on why officials voted the way they did, Jackson spelled out his reasoning at a Feb. 28 public hearing by the (BOH) before voting to start the process to end the 10-year-old rule. The other two parts of the series are the opinions of BOH members Whitacre and Brehler, who voted to keep the regulation. //



“I sincerely appreciate everyone who took the time to attend tonight’s meeting and voice their thoughts on the Time of Sale regulation.  When our citizens participate in government, everyone wins. Thank you.


“What I hope everyone here tonight can realize is that we are all on the same side.  Every member of the board of health in both Barry & Eaton counties all want clean safe water for drinking and recreation.  We all want wells that are safe for our families and septic systems that work property and don’t pollute our lakes and streams. We all want programs and policies that protect our environment.


“What many in attendance don’t realize is that for as long as the T.O.S.T. regulation has been enacted (10 years), there has been a constant flow of complaints and criticism about the expense, the heavy handedness, the delay in property sales, and the issue of your health department not allowing you to sell your property without their permission, until you pass a well and septic inspection.


“Our health department, which has always been a great customer service organization, took on the role of an enforcement agency, seeming to many to now be working against the very citizens they work so hard to protect.


“The many great things our health department does has been overshadowed by one program. We have tried to fix TOST, we have tried to move TOST to an optional or voluntary program, but TOST is a regulation.

“Regulations are not optional, just like speed limits are not suggestions, they are laws.  After years of ongoing review and debate, it is clear to me that TOST has become a block to innovative, forward thinking ideas to protect our environment. 


“Although TOST is a way to evaluate onsite water and septic infrastructure, it is perhaps the slowest possible method in doing so. 

“With the limited number of homes that sell each year in Barry & Eaton counties, we are looking at a multi-generational evaluation process that in reality is a turtle for environmental protection.  I believe we can do better.


“My vote tonight to repeal the TOST regulation is not a vote against our environment or against clean water.  It’s a vote to close one chapter and start a new one. 

“It’s a vote to start again with clear, forward thinking ideas and a fresh look at some of the best program on a state and national basis for protecting our water resources. 


“We need program & policies that respect both the pocket books and the property rights of our citizens.  We now live in an era where inspections are being driven by banks, realtors and home buyers, not by the health department.


“It’s rare that a bank or realtor would allow a client to buy a property without an inspection. We have trained, certified professional evaluators for onsite well & septic inspections available to all citizens of Barry & Eaton counties. 


“I believe we can build a better mouse trap, but it’s nearly impossible to do so when all the focus remains on the current mouse trap called TOST. 

“Again, we want the same things clean water, safe water, protections of our environment. I believe every commissioner on this board will continue to work towards that goal.

Thank you again for your well thought out comments regarding the TOST regulation.”











Disaster Declaration

Governor Rick Snyder on Monday issued a disaster declaration for 17 Michigan Counties including Barry County as a result of the recent melting snow and heavy rains. The declaration made state resources available to those areas, including grants of up to $100,000 for reimbursement of local response costs to the flooding that occurred February 19th through the 21st. Other Counties in the disaster declaration included Allegan, Arenac, Berrien, Cass, Clare, Eaton, Ingham, Ionia, Kalamazoo, Kent, Mecosta, Newaygo, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Ottawa, and St. Joseph. Grand Rapids and Lansing were also included in the declaration.

Barry County man pleads no contest to murder charge

John Joseph Calgaro, who's trial for Open Murder was to begin today (Mon),  pled no contest to Second Degree Murder in Barry County Circuit Court on Friday, March 9th in connection with the death of Matthew Morin of South Haven.  Morin went missing in early July 2016.  His body was discovered by Michigan State Police in a remote area of Pine Lake Road in Barry County. 


Calgaro later admitted to running over Morin twice with his vehicle on July 5, 2016, claiming it was an accident.  However, the investigation revealed that Calgaro returned to the scene to bury Morin’s body and stole Morin’s identity, leading to the charge of Open Murder.


Second Degree Murder carries a maximum of life in prison or any term of years.  In exchange for Calgaro’s plea to Second Degree murder, the Prosecution will dismiss the less serious charges of Unlawfully Driving Away of a Motor Vehicle, Identity Theft and Possession of a Financial Transaction Device, as well as the Habitual Offender notice.


Calgaro will be sentenced Friday March 16, 2018 at 1:30pm in Barry County Circuit Court. 


Hastings Boy Scout meets Hastings City Council

Christian Owen of Hastings, a Boy Scout working toward his Citizenship in the Community Badge, attended a recent Hastings City Council meeting and was introduced to the council and audience by Mayor David Tossava.


Christian, 12, is working toward the 13 of 21 badges that are required for an Eagle Scout ranking. The other eight badges needed to qualify for the Boy Scout’s highest honor are optional choices.


Darrick and Darcie Owen’s son, a member of Hastings Troop 175, has already met with Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf, worked in a soup kitchen and helped on a project at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute. “He’s enjoyed his community service,” mom said.


At the same time Christian is earning his Citizenship in the Community Badge by attending a civic meeting, he was also earning Environmental Sciences and Family Life badges.

“Next week, he will meet with Dr. Tom Hoffman and get his Physical Fitness Badge,” dad said, making a total of 9 of the 13 required. This summer at Scout camp in early July at Clare, Christian will work on the Citizenship in the Nation Badge, another step toward becoming an Eagle Scout.


Dad said he signed up as a Boy Scout as a youth, but with wrestling, football, band and driving distances, it didn’t work out, so he’s happy to see Christian involved in Scouting and, ”help him along. Sometimes, kids can pick up where you left off. We’re both very proud of him.”


Alexia, 10, and Drew, 7, round out the Scout-oriented Owen family. Alexia is a Girl Scout, Darcie is a Girl Scout Leader of 9-11 year olds in Troop 80517 and dad volunteers at Scout campouts.


Hopefully in the future, Christian can attend a National Scout Jamboree with thousands of other Boy Scouts. Usually held every four years and organized by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the first national jamboree was held in Washington, D.C. for ten days in July 1937 and attended by 25,000 Scouts. Originally scheduled in 1935 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Scouting, it was postponed due to a polio outbreak.


Photo: Christian Owen, Boy Scout of Troop 175, is welcomed to a Hastings City Council meeting by Mayor David Tossava.


Three fatalities, several more injured in Eaton County crash

The Eaton County Sheriff’s Office responded to a Fatal Accident on west bound I-496 between Waverly and Snow Road Tuesday evening.  Three cars were involved in the crash resulting in nine people being taken to area hospitals with numerous injuries.  Two passengers were deceased upon the arrival of the deputies, a third passenger succumbed to their injuries at the hospital.  


It is unknown if alcohol was a factor in the crash, but seatbelts were not utilized by all occupants.  Police say the accident was not weather related.   


The crash occurred after a vehicle was attempting to assist a disabled vehicle on the side of the expressway and pulled back into the lanes of traffic and was struck by oncoming traffic.


The three victims that suffered fatal injuries are:

          Kelly McNamara, 59 years old from Lansing

          Linda Foote, 66 years old from Lansing

          Kevin Trusty, 57 years old from Lansing


The accident remains under investigation by the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office Accident Investigation Unit. 


Anyone with information concerning the crash is requested to contact Det. Jim Maltby or Det. Rick Buxton at 517-323-8492.


Wheel theft at Ionia car dealership

The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office, working in conjunction with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, apprehended a male suspect in a recent rash of wheel thefts from dealerships. 


Ionia County Deputies got tipped off that the subject that was suspected of multiple wheel thefts in Kent County was operating in Ionia County.  Deputies responded to Young’s Chevrolet of Ionia early Wednesday morning to find a 2018 Chevy Tahoe with the wheels removed. 


Deputies stopped the pickup truck of the suspect and found the stolen wheels in the bed of the truck.  He was arrested and taken to the Kent County Jail awaiting charges and arraignment.



Time Change This Sunday

Don't forget to set your clock ahead one hour before you go to bed Saturday night. Daylight savings time officially begins at 2:00 AM this Sunday March 11th.

Barry County Tobacco Reduction Coalition to observe Kick Butts Day 2018

The 22nd annual Kick Butts Day, a day of national activism, will be held this year on March 21st. Organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Kick Butts Day encourages and empowers youth to stand up, speak out, and seize control against Big Tobacco.


Each year, 10,300 Michigan children become regular, daily smokers, of whom one-third will die prematurely because of their addiction, according to Lauren Cibor, Community Health Promotion Specialist for the Barry Easton District Health Department.


In honor of Kick Butts Day, the Barry County Tobacco Reduction Coalition is seeking participation from Barry County youth to participate in a one day after-school project the week of March 21 to discourage youth from starting tobacco use. Youth will determine what project they would like to engage in.


For more information and to participate, youth may contact Lauren Cibor at the Barry Eaton District Health Department. 


Information about the national initiative can be found at:

Allegan County names new Prosecuting Attorney

Chief Circuit Judge Margaret Zuzich Bakker Tuesday announced the appointment of Myrene Koch as the new Prosecuting Attorney for Allegan County.
Koch has served as an assistant prosecutor since July of 2002 and has been the Chief Assistant Prosecutor in the office since June of 2017.  She is a graduate of Michigan State University and Cooley Law School.
Koch will begin her duties as Prosecutor effective March 19, 2018. The vacancy was created when current prosecutor, Roberts Kengis, was appointed to the Circuit Bench by Governor Snyder.

Hastings Area Schools Resume Classes After Threat

Hastings Area Schools students are back at school after classes were cancelled on Monday due to a threat made to the high school.


Dr. Carrie Duits, Superintendent of the Hastings Area School System, thanked parents, students, and staff for their understanding as the school threat was investigated.


"We had a bomb threat at our high school for the specific date of March 5. To investigate this threat, we worked collaboratively with the Hastings City Police, Michigan State Police, Michigan State Police Canine Unit, and the FBI. The bomb threat has been proven not credible" Duits said. "The canine unit searched the building with three explosive-trained dogs from the Michigan State Police. We are currently working with law enforcement, who have developed a person of interest regarding this threat. We will continue to take every precaution necessary while working collaboratively with law enforcement agencies regarding any safety concerns."


Barry County Updated Road Closures

 Barry County Road Commission's updated Road Closures

The following roads are still closed.

Dowling Road between Banfield and Gurd.

Charlton Park Road between M-43 and Jordan.

River Road between Mathison and Charlton Park.

M-43 @ Cloverdale Road until further notice per MDOT.


**Lakewood Area Choral Society Seeking New Members

Did you sing in high school or college?  Do you miss the thrill of singing with a large group?  Now is the time to join the Lakewood Area Choral Society in it's 33rd season. The choir is seeking new altos, tenors and basses.  Membership is open to anyone with choral experience who loves to sing.  Monday March 12th, prospective new members may attend a Get To Know Us, No-Committment Choir Rehearsal at 7:00p.m. at Lakewood High.  For Further information visit or call 269-967-7246 or email Joanie Oster at

Hastings Area Schools closed Monday, March 5th

All Hastings Area Schools are closed Monday, March 5th.  The CERC and daycare are also closed.  Assistant Superintendent Matt Goebel told WBCH that the schools are working with several law enforcement agencies and made the decision as a safety precaution.  The school system notified parents of the closing after an unspecified threat to Hastings High School was received over the weekend. 

Barry County elected officials will get raises in 2019-20

Barry County Commissioner and Chair Ben Geiger Tuesday read the determination of the Barry County Elected Officers Compensation Commission listing the raises they decided elected officials of the county, excluding judges, would receive in 2019 and 2020.


Theresa Enrietti, chair of the pay commission, wrote that the panel valued the work of elected officials and, believed “maintaining adequate and competitive salaries is vital to providing quality public service,” and they “also feel a strong responsibility to the citizens and taxpayers of Barry County.”


Commissioners: $11,101 in 2019 and $12,607 in 2020.


Commission chair: $12,106 in 2019 and $13,607 in 2020.


Sheriff: $90,616 in 2019; $92,428 in 2020.


Drain Commissioner: $64,142.26 in 2019 and $67,870 in 2020.


Treasurer: $66,196.37 in 2019 and $71,002 in 2020.


Surveyor: $9,484.38 in 2019 and $10, 205 in 2020.


Prosecutor: $101,203.52 in 2019 and $103,227.59 in 2020.


Clerk: $66,624.15 in 2019 and $67,956.63 in 2020.


Register of Deeds: $66,624.15 in 2019 and $67,956.63 in 2020.


Enrietti said in setting raises, they tried to ensure equality between county officials with similar jobs and also with the officials from other counties that they were compared to. Because it has the authority to overturn a compensation board’s action by a two-thirds vote, the final decision on any decisions is a county board responsibility.


The county board only considers the compensation commission actions upon a motion to reject.

If the county board takes no action, the pay board’s decision takes effect with the beginning of the next odd-numbered year. If the county commission rejects the action, the previous compensation remains in effect. The county board did not move to reject, so the listed salary schedule will go into effect.


Compensation commission members are appointed by the county commission for four-year-terms and meet only in even numbered years.




NOTICE: American Red Cross to provide flood clean-up kits

The American Red Cross has completed its assessment of flood damage.


On Monday, March 5 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., they will be at the Barry County Central Dispatch Community Room, 2600 Nashville Rd, Hastings, providing flood clean up kits.


They will also assist those families that its damage assessment crews have identified as having minor to major damage.


Questions?  Please call the American Red Cross at 616-456-8661.




BEDHD Board of Health votes 4-2 to repeal TOST

A divisive regulation mandating inspection of on-site wells and septic systems and repair or replacement of any system deemed failing before closing on the sale of property in two counties moved one step closer to repeal Wednesday.


The controversial Barry Eaton District Health Department’s 10-year-old time of sale of transfer regulation, or TOST, was the subject of a public hearing at the Board of Health meeting before the members voted 4-2 to repeal it. The board is made up of three Barry County Commissioners and three Eaton County Commissioners.


Barry commissioners Ben Geiger, Dan Parker and David Jackson, and Eaton Commissioner Blake Mulder voted for repeal; Eaton Commissioners Jane Whitacre and Joseph Brehler voted against repeal. About 70 people attended the meeting, with speakers almost evenly divided pro and con, Geiger said.


The next step in the process of rescinding the regulation is consideration by both county commissions. If both panels concur with the Board of Health, the regulation will be repealed.

Eaton County has tentatively set its meeting date on March 21.


“We will have some procedural issues at the committee of the whole meeting on March 6,” Geiger said, “but, the review of the agreement on March 13 will be Barry County’s conclusion of the agreement. We have worked through the process to the conclusion on to repeal on the 13th.


“TOST has done a lot of good in protecting public health, but it also seriously polarized our communities. We need a process that brings us together on public health and in clean water; we need a new policy that protects the environment and the rights of home owners,” Geiger said.//


In the Barry County Commision meeting on Tuesday, commissioners approved:

* A MDEQ Brownfield Grant application for Stickmann Baeckerie in Yankee Springs

* A one-time expenditure of $107,657.25 to replace several roofs for Charlton Park buildings.

* Appointment of Carrie Larabee to a three-year-term on the Community Corrections Advisory Board.

* A Risk Avoidance Program Grant application and funding for court security improvement.

* A resolution to allow the County Drain Commission exceed its $10,000 a year spending limit on maintenance of a dam at Upper Crooked Lake.

* The Renewal of CBIZ Retirement Plan Services for $11,000 to complete the 2017 actuarial valuation of other post-employment benefits for the county.

* A Thornapple Parks & Recreation Commission request to reappoint Catherine Getty to the Barry County Parks & Recreation Board for a three-year term.


Yankee Springs Inn historic marker to be rededicated

On May 15, 1966 the Yankee Springs Inn historic marker was dedicated. Then it was stolen, returned, lost and found again.  On April 7, it will be rededicated at 11 a.m. on the North Country Trail trailhead on South Yankee Springs Road, just south of Gun Lake Road.


A hike on the old stagecoach road (Norris Road) led by North Country trail leaders will leave from the trailhead at 9 a.m.  Following the rededication, there will be a reception in the main lodge at Long Lake Recreational Center, 10370 Gun Lake Road.


Author Carolyn Strite will be selling and signing her book, “Yankee Springs Stagecoach Inn.” Artist Gus Swenson will have copies of his stagecoach paintings and greeting cards for sale and photos and memorabilia will be on display.


The event is a cooperative effort of Barry County Historic Society, Chief Noonday Chapter of the North Country Trail, Gun Lake Women’s Club, Yankee Springs State Park, Long Lake Recreational Center and Yankee Springs Township. Please join us in keeping history alive.


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