WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight events in their districts. This posting is from Maple Valley Superintendent Michelle Falcon and Principal Mike Knapp:
“We were made aware of an inappropriate proposal over the weekend which has gone viral on multiple social media platforms. The Maple Valley School District has investigated the social media post originating from its grounds over the weekend, has identified those responsible, and has taken appropriate action. Federal educational privacy laws prohibit the School District from providing further detail.
“The Maple Valley Schools prohibits all forms of discrimination against, and by, its students and staff. We therefore unequivocally condemn the actions which occurred last weekend. Although the actions did not occur during school hours or at a school event, we will use this incident to reinforce the conduct standards the District requires.
“It is our goal to celebrate the diversity of all individuals. The comments made in the proposal do not represent the views of this school district. On behalf of the responsible students, we apologize for this offensive post. We believe it to be completely unacceptable.
“We would like to thank all citizens who made our staff aware of this situation. We received a plethora of communications from concerned individuals about the posting. To our knowledge all postings have been taken down, however, our digital footprint can never be completely erased.
“As an educational entity, we take this very seriously. It is our responsibility to embrace diversity. We will take this opportunity to make a teachable moment out of a very bad situation.”
Maple Valley Schools Superintendent Michelle Falcon announced the closing of the schools on Thursday. She issued the following statement: “It is with deep regret we have lost one of our committed staff members, Karen Coplin. Karen has worked in our school lunch rooms for over 10 years. She was always very positive and friendly. We will celebrate her life on Thursday, May 3, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. It is for this reason, we will not have school.”
Falcon said the district has used their forgiveness days.
“This means we will have our last day of school commence on Friday, June 8, unless the state grants us a waiver, which we are applying for. We will keep you informed if this is approved by the department of education.”
Christopher Lloyd Boulle, 57, is being held on $500,000 bond at the Kent County Correctional Facility on two counts of armed robbery, one count of unarmed robbery and being a habitual felony offender, according to a Kent County Sheriff’s Office news release.
Boulle is the suspect in three separate robberies.
On April 9 deputies were called on an unarmed robbery of the Citgo gas station at 250 76th Street, S.W. in Byron Township. The suspect came to the cash register to pay for an item; when the register was open, he shoved the employee back and stole cash from the register.
With review of video surveillance, investigators were able to develop Boulle as a suspect. Attempts to locate Boulle were conducted, however, he left the state.
On April 24, deputies were sent to the same gas station on the report of an armed robbery. Investigators quickly determined that the suspect from both incidents appeared to be the same. During that incident, the robber said he had cutting instrument, threatened the employee and demanded money from the cash register; the employee complied.
Later on April 24, deputies were sent to the area of 28th Street and Hotel Avenue, S.E. in Cascade Township on a report of an armed robbery of a man who stopped to give panhandler money and had the panhandler steal his wallet from the car seat. When the victim followed the man, he said he had a knife and threatened to stab him. From the description given by the victim, investigators believed Boulle was the suspect.
Early on April 25, after an extensive search, investigators learned that Boulle was in Dundee, MI. The Dundee Police Department was contacted and quickly took Boulle into custody without further incident. Evidence linking Boulle to the three incidents was located at the time of his arrest.
Anyone with information about the cases or additional victims is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 616-632-6100 or Silent Observer at 616-774-2345.
Warm temperatures and strong wind combined with dry grass, leaves and pine needles on the ground have prompted the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to ask residents to restrict outdoor burning Tuesday, May 1.
Conditions are dry across the entire Lower Peninsula and in the southern half of the Upper Peninsula from Iron County to Mackinac County.
“We are currently seeing a significant increase in wildfire activity,” said Paul Rogers, fire prevention specialist for the DNR. “We are asking residents to restrict outdoor burning due to dry conditions.” The DNR also has canceled plans for prescribed burns Tuesday.
Temperatures Tuesday are expected to hit 80 degrees in parts of the Lower Peninsula, with winds gusting up to 30 mph in some parts of the state.
Anyone who plans to burn in the northern Lower Peninsula or Upper Peninsula must go online to michigan.gov/burnpermit to see if a burn permit is needed in specific counties and/or townships. People in the southern Lower Peninsula should check with their local municipalities for burning regulations.
Campfires are still allowed, but if you build one, make sure to have a water source and shovel available to extinguish it.
David Neeson, 70, drowned in Yankee Springs Township yesterday, according to a Barry County Sheriff’s news release. Neeson, who was wheelchair bound, had gone fishing Sunday, and when he didn’t return, family went looking for him. He was found by a relative submerged in waters near Kiser Road and Upton Trail.
The sheriff’s office was notified at 12:01 a.m. Monday. Efforts to revive Neeson failed; he was pronounced dead at the scene. The investigation into the death is continuing.
Assisting deputies were Wayland and Yankee Springs fire departments, Thornapple Township Emergency Services, Barry County MEI and Barry County Victim Services Unit.
On Wednesday, April 24, when Kent County Sheriff’s detectives were investigating a boat and trailer stolen from Spencer Township in Kent County, Anthony James Russo, 31, was developed as a suspect, according to a sheriff’s news release.
Russo was familiar to the detectives who recently dealt with him in connection to stealing tires and rims from car dealerships in West Michigan. When detectives went to make contact with Russo at his residence on Dawes Court they observed a boat motor in the bed of his pickup. It was learned the motor had been stolen out of Barry County a couple of days earlier.
Russo would not answer the door and speak with detectives. A search warrant was
obtained for his residence; but before they could execute the warrant, Russo
opened a window and was seen holding a long gun to his head and threatening to harm himself.
The Grand Rapids Police Department was notified and assisted along with its Special Response Team and negotiators. Russo eventually surrendered and was taken into custody.
Stolen property was located during a search of his residence. He was charged with
receiving and concealing stolen property and resisting and obstructing a police officer and is being held at the Kent County Correctional Facility on $50,000 bond.
The Barry County Bar Association (BCBA) will present the Liberty Bell Award to Sandra Englehart Drummond on Law Day, Wednesday, May 2.
The Liberty Bell Award recognizes outstanding service performed by a non-lawyer citizen who has given of his or her time and energy to strengthen the effectiveness of the American system of freedom under law, in keeping with the spirit of the Constitution.
Keynote speaker at the annual BCBA celebration of Law Day will be Michigan Supreme Court Justice Kurtis T. Wilder. The program begins with a welcome reception for Drummond and Wilder at 11:30 a.m. at the Barry Community Enrichment Center, 231 South Broadway Street, Hastings.
The Law Day ceremony begins at noon with District Judge Michael Schipper presiding. BCBA President Robert Byington will provide introductions; Probate Judge William M. Doherty will introduce speaker Wilder for the keynote address. The Liberty Bell Award will be presented to Drummond by Byington. Following Drummond’s acceptance of the award and her remarks, Schipper will conclude the ceremony.
A Law Day luncheon at the County Seat restaurant is scheduled from 1:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
WBCH offers this space to area school superintendents to highlight activities in their districts. This posting is a letter from Superintendent of Lakewood Schools, Randall Fleenor, to Lakewood families:
“Dear Lakewood families,
Roughly two years ago, the Board of Education approved a new strategic plan which outlined an ambitious roadmap for our district. This plan included, among other important targets, an aggressive set of action steps dedicated toward increasing student supports, raising student achievement, expanding learning pathways for our students, and broadening our support for teachers and staff.
Part of this plan was the development of a full-time position to champion teaching and learning in our district. For many years the district’s responsibility for curriculum development, assessment and student supports has been shared by administrators, each leading different instructional core areas.
This model of distributive leadership has served the district well; however, in order to meet the changing demands in readying students for post-secondary life and provide the very best for our students and staff, full time leadership in this area is necessary.
In March of this year, a position was posted for Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, Curriculum, Assessment & Innovation. We received over 40 applicants from across the state with varying skill sets and experience.
Through a thorough interview process involving administration, support staff and teaching staff, the candidate pool was narrowed to two very well qualified candidates. I am pleased to announce our high school principal, Mr. Jay Larner, has accepted this position and will commence his duties on July 1, 2018.
Mr. Larner brings an authentic care and concern for students, a wonderful ability to work collaboratively with others and detailed working knowledge of our district, allowing him to hit the ground running. Mr. Larner is completing his 13th year in education, serving in administration since 2010. He received his BA from Albion College and his MA on Educational Leadership from Grand Canyon University. Please join me in congratulating and welcoming Mr. Larner to this very crucial post.
It is important to note that this position, while “new” in format is not entirely a new cost on our budget. In fact, a majority of the cost is already structurally in the budget and will be pooled for this position. This is a necessary investment in the future of our students.
We have launched a search for the next principal of Lakewood High School. This posting is located at Principal Application Link. Please pass this along in your circles of influence. The deadline to apply is May 9, 2018.
If you would like to give input on the high school principal search, please complete the survey here: https://goo.gl/forms/ODNmkPCgMy2NEltb2.
For student safety and success,”
Randall J Fleenor
The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office and Michigan State Police were dispatched to a three-car accident on M-66 at Riverside Drive at about 1:30 p.m. today, according to a sheriff's news release.
Preliminary investigation showed a 59-year-old Caledonia man was traveling eastbound on Riverside Drive, when he failed to yield to northbound M-66 traffic. A northbound Chrysler being driven by a 30-year-old Stanton man was unable to stop in time, colliding with the van. After the vehicles collided, they then separated and the Chrysler struck the front of a waiting semi on Riverside Drive.
The Stanton man suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries and was transported by Life EMS to Sparrow, Ionia, while the other subject sustained minor injuries.
All parties were wearing seatbelts and alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the crash. The investigation continues. Assisting on scene were medical first responders from Ionia Public Safety, Life EMS, Rueh’s Towing and Ionia County Central Dispatch.
The state deadline to turn in the paperwork declaring an intention to run as a partisan or non-partisan candidate for election this year passed on April 24 at 4 p.m. A rundown of those running for county, city and township offices in Barry County, supplied by Barry County Clerk Pam Palmer shows:
Barry County Commission
Of the seven county districts, two are without contests. In Districts 3, 5 and 6, there are candidates in the same party, so they will face off in the Aug. 7 primary to determine who goes on the Nov. 6 ballot. Districts with one Democrat and one Republican will go on to November.
District 1: City of Hastings and part of Hastings Charter Township
(I)Howard “Hoot” Gibson R
Cathy Young Gramze D
District 2: Thornapple Township precincts 1 & 3; Yankee Springs Township, precinct 1
(I)Dan Parker R
District 3: Barry and Hope townships and precinct 1 Rutland Charter Township
(I)David Jackson R
Joyce Snow R
District 4: Irving Township and parts of Carlton, Thornapple and Rutland townships
(I)Jon Smelker R
Samantha L Jones D
District 5: Castleton and Woodland townships, Village of Nashville in Maple Grove Township, and parts of Hastings Charter and Carlton townships.
(I)Ben Geiger R
Ben Eastman D
Sharon Zebrowski R
District 6: Prairieville and Orangeville townships; precinct 2 in Yankee Springs Township
(I)Vivian Lee Conner R
Tonya DeVore Foreman D
Mark Doster R
District 7: Assyria, Johnstown, Baltimore townships, Maple Grove Township, excluding the Village of Nashville.
(I)Heather Wing R
Hastings Charter Township, Timothy B McNally, R, is running for trustee.
Rutland Charter Township, Curt Cybulski R, Gene D. Hall R, and Matt Spencer R, are running for trustee.
Thornapple Township, Curtis Campbell R, is running for trustee.
Yankee Springs Township, Michael Boysen R, and Larry Knowles R, are running for trustee. Shanon Vandenberg R, trustee recall.
City of Hastings:
(I)Theresa Maupin-Moore, full term ending 12/31/2022
(I)Brenda McNabb Stange, full term ending 12/31/2022
Terry Stenzelbarton, full term ending 12/31/2022
(I)Don Smith full term ending 12/31/2022
Jordan Brehm full term ending 12/31/2022
Hastings Charter Township seeks 1.6 mills for 10 years to fund the Hastings Public Library. The millage is estimated to collect $135,000 in the first year.
Rutland Charter Township seeks 1.6 mills for 10 years to fund the Hastings Public Library. The millage is estimated to collect $231,233 in the first year.
Rutland Charter Township seeks renewal of 1.25 mills for fire protection for 10 years, raising an estimated $ 184,580.98 the first year.
Woodland Township seeks three millage proposals:
Proposal one is renewal of 2 mills for four years for village operations, raising an estimated $13, 733.25, the first year;
Proposal two is renewal of 2 mills for four years for special village operations, raising an estimated $13,733.25 the first year,
Proposal three is renewal of 2 mills for four years for park operations, raising an estimated $13,733.25 in the first year.
Judges Michael Schipper and William Doherty are non-partisans running again.
Community leaders that included Mayor David Tossava, Hastings City Manager Jeff Mansfield, Township officials, Business and Industrial leaders came together Wednesday evening to begin the process of Updating the Hastings Master Plan.
Discussions centered around improving and getting our streets and sidewalks back in shape. attracting more business and more housing. Developing areas for more manufacturing and more parking space just to name a few of the topics discussed in the two hour session.
Rob Blitchok, incoming superintendent at Thornapple Kellogg Schools in Middleville, starts July 1, and he’s ready to get going. After four years with TK, the licensed, non-practicing attorney was assistant superintendent and pretty familiar with the systems and district.
He says there’s a big difference between being an assistant and a superintendent, and he’s very excited about the opportunity. He looks forward to re-introducing himself to the school district residents.
“I’m very, very humbled and excited, too. I’m ready to go to work,” he said.
Blitchok succeeds Superintendent Tom Enslen, an educator for 35 years and Thornapple Kellogg’s leader for the last six years.
Enslen is leaving the district is in good shape, with the biggest challenge Blitchok sees as managing expected growth intelligently. Blitchok and Enslen made it a practice to take lunch breaks in different parts of the district including Freeport, Gun Lake and Delton.
Born and raised in Grandville, Blitchok has fallen in love with Barry County, with its rural atmosphere, scenic nature, and less traffic and noise. ” I didn’t realize this was even here,” he said. The longer he’s in Barry County, the more he likes it and the less he thinks of all the traffic and noise of a big city, he said.
Blitchok’s experience includes as a social studies teacher, dean, assistant principal and building principal a Forest Hills Schools. He also served on the Grandville School Board of Education for nine years.
Blitchok’s wife Julie works in Kalamazoo. They have four children, three girls and a boy.
The T K School Board offered the post to Blitchok by unanimous vote at a special meeting April 16. Board members agreed that he meets the expectations of the board, staff and community; a collaborative leader who drives continuous improvement in student learning and a transparent leader who will communicate clearly and consistently with the public and staff to keep people informed.
Blitchok holds a law degree from Wayne State University, a Master of Business Administration in Finance from Western Michigan University, and a Graduate Teacher Certification from Grand Valley State University.
Photo: Incoming superintendent of Thornapple Kellogg Schools, Robert Blitchok
The Barry County Road Commission reports the following road closings for repair.
Woodschool Road from Sisson Road to Eckert Road closed through Friday.
East State Road from the Hastings City limits to Durkee Road closed through Friday.
Lawrence Road from M-37 to Charlton Park Road closed to through traffic until the end of May.
Lawrence Road from M-37 to McKeown Road closed completely through Monday April 30th.
Mike Callton announced he is running for the 24th State Senate District seat, now held by Sen. Mike Nofs. Callton, a chiropractor and former Barry County Commissioner, 87th District representative, and U.S. Army veteran, said Nofs is term-limited out.
“I can do a great job as your senator and I am asking for your support,” Callton said at the Hastings City Council meeting Monday. The 24th district covers Barry, Ionia and Calhoun counties, an area with 54 townships, 15 villages and 7 cities.
Callton is trying to visit as many jurisdictions as he can before the Aug.7 primary, and then again until Nov. 6.
Barry County Commissioner Ben Geiger announced today that he will run for re-election to the county commission representing District 5 residents.
He issued the following statement:
“I'm proud of my record as commissioner. I've helped make Barry County leaner, more transparent, and better prepared for challenges today and in the future.
“I'm running for re-election because I care about our future. I'm committed to listening to residents and business leaders to make sure county government is a resource, not a road block.”
Geiger, a Republican, has been a commissioner since 2010 and board chair since 2017.
District 5 covers all of Woodland and Castleton townships and large parts of Carlton and Hastings townships.
Photo: Barry County Commissioner Ben Geiger
The Hastings City Council Monday held a public hearing to take comments and determine the necessity of a Special Assessment District (SAD) in the downtown area to pay for improvements and maintenance of city parking lots in 2018-2019. They approved the resolution calling for the district
Downtown Hastings merchants have paid the special assessments since parking meters were removed from the downtown. For the last five years or so, merchants have paid the same amount because the Downtown Development Authority picked up the tab for increases for materials and labor costs.
This year, the DDA asks the merchants to split the $3,000 increase that is due to inflation, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.
Pete Schantz, of Al & Pete’s Sport Shop on South Jefferson Street, asked the council to consider making parking spaces wider, even if it means giving up a space or two. Most of his patrons drive pickup trucks, and the parallel parking spaces, “just aren’t long enough.”
Marv Helder, of Helder Construction, asked the panel to consider making certain areas eight hours parking for employees who will be at a business for six to eight hours a day to do away with “all car moving.”
He suggested a parking permit, possibly $50 for a year, for eight hour slots. The council has considered designating longer hours before, he said, and he asked them to consider it again.
A second public hearing to confirm the assessment roll will be set, with an explanation of the formula used to determine the amount each merchant pays, asked for by Councilman Don Smith.
A public hearing to hear comment and take action on the city budget for fiscal year 2018-2019 was set for May 14 at 7 p.m.
UPDATE: The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office issued an update on the investigation of a Casco Township woman found with a gunshot wound.
Two suspects have been charged with involvement in the incident: John Allen Redaway, 45, who faces six felony counts to do with firearms and as a habitual offender and Allan Craig Troeger Jr. 26, who is charged with three felony firearm counts and as a habitual offender. The update said the victim’s name in the incident is not being released at this time. Her injuries have prevented her from making a statement and that portion of the investigation is ongoing.
Allegan County Sheriff’s deputies and Michigan State Police troopers responded yesterday afternoon to a report that a woman had been shot at 6777 103rd Avenue in Casco Township. They found a woman with a gunshot wound; she was transported by South Haven EMS to a hospital and is listed in serious condition.
Sheriff’s detectives are interviewing subjects found at the scene and evidence technicians are still processing evidence that was located. A subject is in custody as result of the incident. Sheriff’s deputies were assisted by Michigan State Police and South Haven EMS.
Serious bird watchers as well as people who just like to watch and identify birds, will welcome the chance at the 8th annual Woodpecker Festival Saturday, April 28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in downtown Middleville.
The activities are at the Middleville Village Hall, 100 East Main Street and along the Paul Henry-Thornapple Trail.
Organizers have made it easy for bird lovers with golf cart shuttle rides for a donation. Everything else is free: a craft show to take in, exhibits and seminars and the 1922 train depot will be open.
The paved Paul Henry-Thornapple Trail follows the Thornapple River. The area has an established population of the rare Red-headed Woodpecker as well as all the other five Eastern US woodpeckers. In previous festivals, more than 60 species of birds have been seen.
*9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Beginning birding with apps and software information presented by Cal and Jean Lamoreaux, founders of the Thornapple Woodpecker Festival and members of the Grand Rapids Audubon, Kalamazoo Audubon and Lifetime Members of the Michigan Audubon.
*10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Wildlife photography tips presented by Michael DeBoer. The images he photographs are of non-captive wildlife in their natural habitat in the greater Michigan area
*11a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Michigan Bluebird Society presents how to improve nesting success of the Eastern Bluebirds and other cavity-nesting birds by Kurt Hagemeister and Jonathon Morgan.
*12 noon to 1 p.m. Lunch time or visit craft area.
*1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. Woodpeckers: pecking out a living presented by Curtis Dykstra, a Park Naturalist with Ottawa County Parks since 2013. Dykstra has a degree in Environmental Studies from Dordt College in Iowa.
*2 p.m. Curtis Dykstra will lead a bird walk.
*2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. Do birds fly into your windows? Learn tricks to stop them given by Gail Walter, a former board member and president of the Audubon Society of Kalamazoo, who was the driving force behind the Peregrine Falcon cam in downtown Kalamazoo.
All lectures will be in the village hall.
For more information, go to www.woodpeckerfest.webs.com
Find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Thornapple-
Woodpecker-Festival/189561891069751, or call Jean at 616-293-8666.
The Hastings Fresh Food Initiative regularly held at the Green Street United Methodist Church in Hastings on Wednesday mornings will be held at the Church of the Nazarene, 1716 North Broadway in Hastings. Wednesday. April 25th. The distribution will be back at the Green Street United Methodist Church May 2nd. You may contact the Barry County United Way 269-945-4010 for more information.
“Wonderful things are going on at the Commission on Aging,” Executive Director Tammy Pennington said at the beginning of her annual report to the Barry County Commision.
She read the COA’s official mission statement: “To provide independence, dignity and quality of life to the aging population and their families.”
She also read the COA’s unofficial motto: “If it’s not fun, we’re not doing it.”
To meet those goals, Pennington listed the services they offer: In-home services, senior nutrition programs, adult day services, Medicare/Medicaid assistance programs, community-based services and FUNraisers that help support the COA.
All of the headings have several subheadings with its programs listed; for example, in-home services has five programs within it; community-based services provides seven separate programs.
Pennington stressed her appreciation for the partnerships the COA has with many other county organizations that all contribute to their goals. Alzheimer’s and dementia, financial instability and elder abuse are increasing, as are the COA’s efforts to address them, she said.
Some statistics from 2017:
*1,743 older adults served
*58,387 meals provided
*12,177 in-home care hours provided
*8,422 day services hours provided
*206 community volunteers
*$379,894 grants written and received
*$14,234 in emergency funding for utility shut off notices, prescription, ramps and other necessities and,
*100 percent of Barry County townships and municipalities served.
The focus of the COA for an aging population is decreasing isolation and loneliness, improving health and wellness, increasing support to caregivers and supporting financial stability, Pennington said.
In other business Tuesday, commissioners approved the re-appointment of Jodi Trantham to the Barry County Solid Waste Oversight Committee to the environmental professional seat for a three year term, and accepted the 2018 Barry County Equalization Values Report.
WBCH offers this space to superintendents of area schools to highlight what is happening in their districts. This posting is from guest writer Angel Christopher, Social Studies teacher at Maple Valley Schools:
“We currently have eight teachers signed up and using an effective communication/behavior program called Class Dojo. This program allows teachers to award points for good behaviors and take them for behaviors that need to be worked on.
Most teachers have a reward system based on points in their classrooms.
“This, in itself, makes Class Dojo a wonderful program, but it is so much more. The program allows teachers to take attendance and create random groupings, as well as share character videos and other classroom features. Class Dojo is also a great communication tool.
“Teachers can send messages home to individual, or all, parents of the classroom (once parents have signed up with the available invitations), as well as post photos on individual student “stories” to share with parents. There is also a school “story” portion that allows teachers to share information with parents from all grade levels of the school – i.e., announcements, pictures of notes sent home, upcoming events, etc.
“This year, Maplewood has eight teachers, 296 parents, and 675 students enrolled in the program. We have shared 339 class “story” moments, and sent out 3000 messages. There have been 9918 parent views of updates and 439 likes on posts. Class Dojo has proven to be an invaluable tool in communicating with parents at Maplewood, and I hope to see it grow in the future.”
A car/motorcycle crash yesterday at the intersection of M-40 and Trowbridge Township in Allegan County sent two motorcycle riders to a hospital in critical condition, an Allegan County Sheriff’s news release reports.
Preliminary investigation by deputies showed a passenger car eastbound on 102nd Avenue came to a stop at the stop sign, and failing to yield the right of way, pulled out in front of the southbound motorcycle.
The riders on the motorcycle were not wearing helmets and both suffered serious injuries. They are listed in critical condition.
Marijuana is believed to be a factor for the at-fault driver, officials said. The sheriff’s Reconstruction Team continues to investigate the crash. The sheriff’s office was assisted by Life EMS and Gobles/Pine Grove Fire Department
With approval from the Hastings City Council Monday to buy a professional camcorder setup, the city’s Cable Access Committee will continue its planning to greatly expand cable programing to include city, school and other area events on more outlets than just the WOW cable channel.
Member and spokesman for the committee, Councilman Bill Redman said 20 Barry County businesses have already agreed to have their operations videotaped for a cable show.
The committee is looking into streaming programs on the city’s website and possibly You Tube, Redman said.
School athletic contests and play-offs, entertainment events like performances at Thornapple Plaza and by the City Band, school’s extra-curricular activities like plays, village and township board meetings, school concerts, historic society meetings, and almost any non-profit venture are candidates for cable programing.
The new equipment includes a Panasonic premium professional camcorder and its accompanying equipment, hard drive, tripod, case, memory card, battery and shoulder rig support at a cost not to exceed $6,000.The funds were budgeted at a council previous meeting. The committee is looking for volunteers for all the aspects of cable access programming, Redman said.
In other business Monday, the council approved Southwest Michigan Youth Baseball placing a 10X12 storage shed at the Fish Hatchery Park ball field; sidewalk sales during Girl’s Night out on May 3 and the Gus Macker Organizing Committee’s request to host the Macker 3 on 3 basketball tournaments on July 13-15 in the downtown.
Michigan’s counties, cities and townships are gradually replacing voting systems statewide. In Barry County, the new voting equipment was delivered last week.
Election workers will be trained on election day procedures by County Clerk Pam Palmer in four two-hour sessions, held June 19-22. She is expecting about 275 people total with 25 to 50 in each class. Township clerks and their deputies will receive training on the new system at Thornapple Township, also in June,
Barry County will use the new system for the first time on a limited basis in the May 8 election with a Gull Lake Community School bond proposal in which voters in three Barry County precincts are eligible to vote. “That’s perfect. It will shine a light on one township; it’s a good test,” Palmer said.
The first widespread use comes in the Aug. 7 primary election.
Voters likely won’t notice much difference; they will still follow the same procedures with a paper ballot, she said. The machine’s readout will let the voter know that they have voted successfully or if an error is detected, will ask them if they want to revote.
A significant change is that election results from townships will come to the county clerk through a Virtual Private Network, The figures sent electronically will do away with midnight trips to the county by workers from precincts bringing cards with the totals because they don’t have modem capabilities.
“That will make it easier for election workers. Absentee ballots will continue to be done during the day and by 8:30 p.m., we should have the totals,” Palmer said. //
Michigan Sales Manager Tim Allshouse and Norma Townsend, election support specialist, are with Governmental Business Systems, which works under Dominion Voting Systems, Inc.
Allshouse, Townsend and Palmer spent two days last week making sure new election equipment works perfectly, testing ballot boxes, scanners, touch screens and printers. Palmer said it was all parts of the system were opened, tested and repacked. The equipment was then turned over to the townships.
Allshouse said the new, more efficient, more reliable system is not connected to the Internet, so can’t be hacked, is 100 percent paid by the federal government through the Help America Vote Act and is American with Disabilities Act compliant. Also the touch screen is much more user friendly, he said.
The Bureau of Elections has a 10 year contract with Dominion. GBS services 66 counties in Michigan and also works in Illinois and Indiana, Allshouse said.
County clerks enter into contracts with one of three state-approved vendors; Dominion Voting Systems, Inc., Election Systems and Software, and Hart Intercivic, Inc.
“One reason I went with Dominion was it is locally based. Hart doesn’t have an office in Michigan,” Palmer said.
Photo:Tim Allshouse, Michigan sales manager for Governmental Business Systems, checks a tabulator’s accuracy by ‘voting’ with several sample ballots.
The May 8 ballot has just one issue for Barry County voters, a Gull Lake bond proposal that affects some, but not all, county residents.
Some registered voters in three precincts; 159 in Johnstown Township, 519 in Prairieville Township and 860 in Barry Township, are in the Gull Lake Community School District, according to Barry County Clerk Pam Palmer.
“Johnstown Township voters will vote in Bedford Township, Barry and Prairieville Township voters will vote in Barry Township,” Palmer said.
Voters will decide on the school’s request to issue bonds for $64,955,000 for building and equipping new buildings, security measures, instructional technology, and equipping and improving playgrounds, parking areas driveways and sites.
The millage for the bonds will be 2.62 mills for 30 years, a net increase of 1.63 mills over the prior year’s levy.
State law prohibits the use of bond proceeds for repair or maintenance costs, teacher, administrator or employee salaries or other operating expenses.
Michigan population moved up about 0.8 percent between 2010 and 2017, and the growth came from two factors, there were more births than deaths statewide and immigration according to the latest census numbers.
for Barry County the estimated deaths and births between april 1, 2010 and july 1, 2017 show there were 4,565 births and 3,797 death, a change of 2.4 percent compared to 2010. Barry Countys' population is 60,586.
Hastings resident Bobby Taffee who is a member of the Battle Creek YMCA Swimming Team recently competed in the Michigan Masters Swimming Competition at Eastern Michigan University.
In seven events Taffee came away with all seconds and thirds in the 60 to 64 age group.
UPDATE: The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office reports that Nathaniel Brooks, 17, and Michael Dulyea, 23, of Saranac, have been arrested and charged with multiple destruction of property-$200 to $1000. Brooks is being held on $5,000 bond and Dulyea on a $20,000 bond.
The third person involved in the incident is not being named because he was 14 at the time of the incident; charges are being sought on him through the juvenile courts.The investigation is ongoing.
The sheriff’s office thanked everyone who called with information regarding the case.
Michigan State Police troopers from the Barry County Post and Ionia County Sheriff’s deputies responded to multiple malicious destruction of property complaints in northern Barry and southern Ionia counties on April 11 and 12. The suspects were using a slingshot to launch marbles into victim’s windows.
The multi-agency investigation identified one of the suspects from video footage as a Saranac resident. A vehicle matching the description from the video was located at the suspect’s residence in Saranac and a search warrant was served at the residence as he, and two other suspects, were in the vehicle trying to leave.
Two of the suspects were arrested for the malicious destruction incidents and the third, a juvenile, was released to their parents. Charges are being sought on the juvenile. The suspects were not identified by authorities.
Joyce Snow, Barry County Commissioner in the 3rd District from January 2013 to June 2015, announced Tuesday she will again run for the post. Snow resigned from the commission in June 2015 to accept a position as director of Human Resources in the City of Battle Creek.
“I accomplished what I was hired to do, and due to some personal family losses and the need to take care of that business, I left the city last June,” she said. She discovered her true passion was back home working for the community, she said.
"I have been honored to have many community members ask me to run again and am at a point in my life where I can devote the time necessary to serve,” she said later. “I have a thorough understanding of how the county budget, departments, and committees function and am eager to again work for and with the community.”
While she was chairperson, the commission, with involvement from all county departments and the community, developed the first 5-year Strategic Plan and the Master Facilities Plan, she said. “I look forward to working with fellow commissioners in advancing these two major projects through the next 5 years.”
Commissioner David Jackson was appointed to the 3rd District seat to complete Snow’s term in June, 2015; in November, 2016 he won election to the seat. Both republicans, Jackson and Snow will meet in the Aug. 7 primary when voters will select who goes on the Nov. 6 election ballot.
Jackson filed petitions to run again in early March. He has put his 30 years of business experience and conservative values to work for the people he represents in the 3rd District, he said.
“I led the charge to remove the unpopular and expensive TOST regulation, worked to pay down millions in debt and stood up for our hunters, sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts in the successful push for an ORV ordinance.
“I'm honored to serve, grateful for the tremendous support my campaign has received, and proud to be endorsed by the majority of county commissioners and township officials,” Jackson said.
The 3rd District covers Hope, Barry and Precinct 1 of Rutland Township.
The Thornapple River continues to go down after reaching its crest Thursday of 6.02 feet. The river is now at 5.08 feet. This is the last update unless condition change.
UPDATE:The Barry County Sheriff's Offce reports that Chad Pell, missing since April 8 has been located and no further help is needed.
ORIGINAL STORY: The Barry County Sheriff’s Office is requesting the public’s help in locating a missing/endangered person. Chad Pell, 46, left his residence in Dowling in Baltimore Township on April 8. Pell has a mental condition, and has been off his medication for about a year.
He was last seen driving a black Dodge Ram 1500 crew cab, Michigan registration 3LMM93. Pell may be trying to get to California.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Barry County Sheriff’s Office (269-948-4801) or Barry County Central Dispatch (269-948-4800).
The annual observance of National Infant Imunization Week is to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and celebrate the achievements of immunization. The Barry-Eaton District Health Department and communities around the nation are recognizing the week and recognize the critical role vaccination plays in protecting the health of children, families, and communities.
Infants in the United States are protected against 14 preventable diseases when fully immunized. Vaccines for infants are especially important because some of the diseases they protect against can be especially dangerous for children under the age of two.
It is important to follow the recommended immunization schedule to protect infants and children by providing immunity early in life, before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among children born during 1994–2013, vaccination will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes.
Vaccine-prevented diseases may seem like threats from the past, however children can still get and spread the diseases. The United States is seeing the return of vaccine-preventable diseases—such as measles, whooping cough, and mumps—that had once been considered eliminated. It is extremely important that all infants are vaccinated on time.
It is the responsibility of parents, physicians, and public health providers to make sure that all children are up to date on vaccinations. Parents should talk with their child’s health care provider to ensure that their baby is up-to-date on vaccinations.
If parents cannot afford immunizations for their child or have further questions, they can call the BEDHD Immunization clinic at 269-798-4133 in Barry County or 517-541-2630 in Eaton County.
More information on vaccinations can be found at ivaccinate.org.
Stephan Currie, executive director of the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC), Tuesday updated Barry County Commissioners on several matters important to county officials.
Currie spoke of many legislative issues that affect counties; proper funding of the courts, improving the delivery of child care funds that are sometimes slow.
Michigan’s infrastructure has an additional $178 million in 2018 to add to the gas tax and fee increases approved in 2015 that go into effect in the next few years, he said. Proper funding for Next Gen 911 centers with a fee at the state level passed this year.
MAC continues to work on more stable financing for county government, reform of the tax tribunal, adequate funding in community mental health programs, and managing foster care appeals, calling for more collaboration with courts, not less, Currie said.
Other issues include addressing legislative unfunded mandates and the cost of bills before passing them.
The state budget is still under construction and Currie talked of some proposals, but there are no final figures yet.
Also, broadband internet access, bills triggered by the MSU/Dr. Larry Nasser scandal and asset management of infrastructure with tools to assure better coordination of assets are being worked on, he said.
Currie doesn’t see a state wide program of septic system examination and management, “getting a lot of traction. I just wanted to put it on your radar.” He talked about the functions of county governments and programs offered to counties by the association. They are collecting “best practices” examples for the MAC website and invited the commission to submit some examples from Barry County.
Also, he asked for support for the MAC Pac of $18 from each commissioner in 2018.
In other business Tuesday commissioners approved the 2018 Equalization Values Report given by County Equalization Director Timothy Vandermark and the reappointment of Jodi Trantham to the Barry County Solid Waste Oversight Committee for the position of health associate/environmental professional to a term that expires Oct. 31, 2020.
Barry County Commissioners Tuesday discussed progress in its renewed effort to attract more citizen volunteers to sit on county oversight committees and boards.
The Appointments Reform Plan goals are to provide more information about the different boards and develop better ways to train candidates so they are more comfortable with procedures.
The plan is divided into three sections, research, writing and recruitment. Each commissioner focuses on one area and all commissioners will be recruiting.
Researching the matter with Michigan State University Extension, the Barry County Chamber of Commerce and County Administrator Michael Brown, Commissioner Jon Smelker said they all advised training for new members and guidelines or bylaws for each committee. “MSU has all the tools,” he said.
In her research, Commissioner Vivian Conner contacted the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) and Allegan and Mecosta counties for information. MAC sent her papers on basic procedures.
Allegan County advertises positions and a human resources person holds a brief interview them, and sets up interviews with county commissioners, she said. Mecosta County keeps a file on each applicant for one year and contacts them when there is an opening. “Lack of training seems to be an issue statewide,” she said. She suggested the county needs a human resources director.
“We agree we’re heading in the right direction, but we don’t want to overburden applicants,” Smelker said.
Commissioners Ben Geiger and Heather Wing have written a draft of a new “more user-friendly, streamlined,” applicant questionnaire for the county website with an introduction and descriptions of advisory boards and committees. They are working on a handout for commissioners to take to meetings they attend that will stimulate interest.
Work continues on the writing of the forms, research into training and recruitment and possibly software to manage the program. “The next step is to put together all we have to assess where we are and determine the next steps.” Geiger said.
“We could be a trendsetter for other counties with this,” Wing said.
Programming available on the local cable access channel will be significantly increased according to the plans of the Cable Access Committee. In response to Hastings City Council asking about a request for camera equipment, Councilman Bill Redman, spokesman for the committee and its secretary, outlined the plans at a recent council meeting.
To take cable to the next level, the committee requires a professional camera set up, and have a quote for a Panasonic premium professional camcorder and its accompanying equipment, hard drive, tripod, case, memory card, battery and shoulder rig support, for a total of $5,476.84.
Redman said some 20 Barry County businesses have already agreed to have their operations videotaped for a cable show, and more are being contacted.
The committee envisions streaming a wide variety of programs on the city’s website and possibly You Tube, he said.
School athletic contests and play-offs, entertainment events like performances at Thornapple Plaza and by the City Band, school’s extra-curricular activities like plays, village and township board meetings, school concerts, historic society meetings, and almost any non-profit venture are candidates for the cable channel. “Your imagination is your only limitation,” he said.
The cable committee has been working of the idea for about a year, but it will still “take some time to pull this together,” he said. They will need lots of ideas and volunteers for running programming, taping events and on the access committee itself. Area high school media class members may be interested, he said. There will be no selling of ads for space; they will seek donations for sponsorships.
The access committee is made up of Redman, Chair Randall Schaefer, Vice Chair Dan LaClair, John Clemence, Tom Huis, Jon Hook, and advisor Tony Clark.
Those interested in volunteering for any part of the committee’s effort can contact Redman at 269-838-0893.
Barry County veterans may have problems they don’t know how to resolve, but they also have a network of services that can help them that they may not even know about.
Finding a solution to a problem for a veteran starts by contacting with the Barry County Veteran’s Affairs Office, located in the Barry County Enrichment Center, at 231 South Broadway in Hastings.
Veterans and their families receive the support they have earned by leveraging community resources coordinated through Barry County's Mission United Program and other veteran’s services.
Mission United is the only veterans’s affairs agency in the state affiliated with a United Way, which immediately opens up many resources that are available to all Barry County residents.
Add to that, state and federal program for veterans, and it gives the Mission United paid staff of six many more options to help the veterans, as well as emergency services. And, services centered in one location make it easier to take care of needs.
Pattrick Jansens, Mission United program director, said veterans can always call, but he prefers to talk to the vet and their family personally rather than on the telephone because it promotes clarity and easier understanding.
Often the vet’s original problem is one of several, and solutions may involve more than one programs, Jansens said. “It all depends on their needs; everyone is different.”
Many times everything develops by conversation. “We ask a lot of questions to get to know how to line up help; we try to eliminate barriers.”
Benefits for veteran can get complicated, and it is not surprising that help is needed to get through a maze of unfamiliar requirements and policies, he said.
The VA also helps veterans, but offices are in Grand Rapids or Battle Creek. The VA is a massive organization divided into three entities, veteran’s benefits, the health association and national cemeteries
Some agencies have office hours one day a week at Misson United which means they don’t have to send a veteran to other locations.
The Salvation Army, Michigan Veteran’s Affair Agency, Department of Health and Human Services are there now, and Michigan Works! will begin hours in May. Jansens schedules appointments, replacing the old method of showing up and sitting waiting for a turn to talk to someone about a need.
Barry County Cares, The Family Support Center, CASA and Community Action Agency all work to help veterans. Housing, rental, mortgage and property tax help, transportation, home repairs, utility and food assistance are just some of the resources available.
“We provide guidance and resources; at the end of the day they make the decisions.” Jansens said. “We do our best to help in any way we can. I can’t do it alone, but we can do it together.”
In 181 general cases in 2016, 400 veterans received medical benefits assistance, $19,248 in housing and utility assistance and $8,918 in emergency aid from the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Fund.
For help call 250-945-1296, or visit www/barrycounty.org/veteran_affairs or www.bcunited way.org.
A two-car crash on Morris Lake Road south of West Grand River Avenue about 5 p.m. Sunday resulted in two men being transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries. A third man was taken to Sparrow Ionia by family for a precautionary evaluation.
A sheriff’s news release reports a Chevy Malibu was southbound when the driver lost control, crossed the centerline and collided with a northbound GMC Sierra pickup truck.
The driver and passenger of the Malibu, males aged 28 and 32, were transported to the Grand Rapids hospital; the driver of GMC pickup, a 37-year-old man, was taken to Sparrow.
Assisting on scene were Saranac Fire Department, Life EMS and Reed and Hoppes.
A sure sign spring is here is the annual Vermontville Syrup Festival every year, always held the last full week of April.
Vermontville, the home of the original Maple Syrup Festival in Michigan, starts Friday, April 27, continues on the 28th and 29th with a full schedule of things to do, see and sample:
Two parades, Mid-America rides, craft shows, flea market, talent show, petting zoo, princess pageant, displays, games, free entertainment, pancake derby, arm wrestling and, of course everything maple syrup, candies, crème, cotton candy and pancakes with the real thing.
For a complete schedule and all the details, visit vermontvillemaplesyrupfestival.org
Michigan ranks fifth in the nation for maple syrup production. You can find producers staying with the most traditional methods as well as modern facilities using the latest refinement techniques. All maple trees produce sap, with sugar maples the highest sugar content of two percent, followed by black, red silver and ash- leafed maple with a sugar content of about one percent. It takes 40 gallons of syrup to produce one gallon of maple syrup.
Photo: Vermontville Maple Syrup Queen Alaura Reist, (top, center) and her Court, (left to right) Brenna Simpson, Gracie Fisher, and Grace Guernsey.
Registration for the Barry Roubaix Killer Gravel Road Race in Hastings is still open until noon on April 18, or until the 3,500 racer cap is met.
Serious bike racers as well as those in it for exercise and fun, will be tested by rolling gravel roads, pavement, a mile of rough two tracks, rocks, sand, mud, and possibly snow and ice as they traverse the scenic roads of Barry County.
Rain or shine, snow or fog, the largest gravel road race in the world starts in waves at 10 a.m. on Green Street on Saturday, April 21. Cyclocross, mountain, road, single speed, fixed gear, fat bikes and tandem bicycles are welcome in any category.
Four race lengths challenge riders of all abilities; The 22-mile “Chiller,” 36-mile “Thriller,” 62-mile “Killer” and the 100-mile “Psycho-Killer.” The Fat Bikes have specific categories in 22 and 36-mile races. A Team Competition option is sponsored by Cyclinglawyer.com
Hastings Police Department Ambassadors will be on hand to welcome riders and offer general information, like where to park. City officials have said they enjoy working with the sponsors of the race, calling the bikers as a group the most polite people who are part of an event that brings thousands of people to Hastings.
There are $34,000 in cash and prizes; a huge after party and an awards ceremony for top finishers. Founder's beer and food vendors are available inside the awards party.
The Barry-Roubaix is a participating race in the Michigan Gravel Race Series.
The cops vs teachers basketball game is a really fun for everyone, but it also has a serious purpose. This year’s contest between the teachers in the Hastings Area School System and the local law enforcement (aka cops) will be Wednesday, April 25 at 6 p.m. at Hastings High School.
The event will benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. This year’s game is staged for Karrigan Williams, daughter of Brooke and Brett Williams of Hastings, who has Cystic Fibrosis, Hastings police Sgt. Kris Miller said.
The money raised will go to the Williams family, to be forwarded to the foundation for research in Karrigan’s name. Mom said the Karrigan, 8, is really excited about the evening, and she and Brett are happy about the awareness being raised. The idea came from the first grader’s school, Star Elementary.
“Her school usually does something like this for a child in need, so it all started with the school.”
Sometime during the event, Karrigan will be introduced to the crowd, mom said. She’s pretty shy sometimes so probably won’t make a speech.
While the oldsters catch their breath at half time, the kids will take the floor to shoot baskets and play a version of musical chairs involving successfully shooting a basket, and a three-point shooting contest. There is also a chance to win a kayak, and other giveaways.
Sports announcer Todd Possett promises to keep the game reporting lively, with play by play along with comments and analysis of the local talent. The concession stand will have refreshments available.
"It’s just for fun. It brings the community together, and will raise awareness of Cystic Fibrosis. It gives the families a break, a chance to think about something else, and it’s fun working with the teachers,” Miller said.
He confesses to some angst when he looks at the pool of talent the teachers have to draw from to build a team. “They’ve got some really tall teachers up there. We’ve just got our officers and reserves, Barry County Sheriff’s deputies and Michigan State Police troopers.”
Sports buffs will recognize this as the opposite of trash talk; trying to buy the game by making the teachers overconfident, and then overpowering them.
There is no reward for the players other than bragging rights, at least until the next game, but they all enjoy working for the local community and rising awareness of good cause and neither side will give an inch on the court. Never mind the score; it will be a good game for a good cause and a fun evening.
The cost is $5 at the door, which opens at 5:30 p.m., tip-off is at 6 p.m.
Sponsors of the event include Southside Pediatrics, Total Health Center, Wal-Mart, Miller Real Estate, Bailtek, and Farmers Insurance. “We have 25 donors all told,” Miller said.
Organizers have already raised $1,000 selling t-shirt from Courtside Screen, and $848.54 in a penny war coordinated by Courtney Coats at the Hastings Middle School.
(left) Last year's participants line up for a photo. The game was played for Leo Loeks, who stands in front of the teams.
(below) This file photo shows the intensity of a cop vs teachers basketball game. Look for more excitement at this year's game April 25.
During Jazz Festival April 26-28, Hastings will host thousands of student musicians from 90 schools all over Michigan, all performing jazz in a dozen venues in the downtown area for all three days. Some 10,000 people are expected to take part in the annual celebration of jazz music.
The festival is the largest non-competitive jazz festival in the state, with student and professional musicians in performances and clinics bringing entertainment to the community and jazz education to the students.
The event is free this year, thanks to sponsorships and community support, encouraging as many people as possible to enjoy both professional and student musicians. Headliners this year include The Thornapple Jazz Orchestra, WSC Edye Evans-Hyde, WMU Gold Company and the Michigan Jazz Trail Big Band.
To download a complete schedule of events, visit thornapplearts.org.
Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness Week is April 8–14. It is also when thunderstorms and tornadoes become more common, so everyone should make sure they know what to do to stay safe during severe weather, according to the Barry Eaton District Health Department.
Knowing what to do before severe weather happens is key to safety. “Having an emergency plan and an emergency kit for your household can help you be prepared for and know what to do in severe weather. This can help you get to safety more quickly,” said Clarissa Boggs-Blake, emergency preparedness coordinator at the Barry-Eaton District Health Department.
Residents should sign up to receive text or e-mail weather alerts from local media, a weather provider, or through an app and know the difference between a weather “watch” and “warning.” A watch means that conditions are right for severe weather to possibly occur; a warning means that severe weather has happened or will happen very soon.
When there is a watch or a warning, residents should turn on the weather or a local news radio or TV station a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials to keep up to date on storm information. Residents should follow these tips:
Unplug electronics before the storm arrives. During the storm, do not touch anything plugged or wired into the wall, including telephones.
Avoid using household plumbing, sinks, showers, toilets, washers or lying or leaning on concrete floors or walls, as these can conduct electricity.
When thunder roars, go indoors. Take shelter right away inside a sturdy building, away from windows and doors. If there are no buildings nearby, shelter in a hard-topped vehicle. Stay inside for 30 minutes after the last thunder or lightning.
Do not touch metal objects like farm equipment, golf carts, golf clubs, bicycles, etc.
If outside during a storm with no nearby shelter, avoid hilltops, open fields, the beach, and boats on the water. Avoid natural lightning rods like tall, isolated trees in open areas. For more information on how to help stay safe from lightning while outside, see https://bit.ly/2GPzqb8.
If driving, find a safe spot to park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers if there is heavy rain. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.
If a tornado is around, get low to the ground. Right away, go inside the nearest sturdy building, not a trailer or mobile home. Go to a small, windowless interior room in the lowest area of the building, preferably in a basement; put as many walls as possible between you and the tornado.
Get under a sturdy table and cover your head and neck with your arms and your body as best as you can, with a heavy coat, blankets, pillows.
If in a car or outside with no nearby shelter; there is no best answer for how to take shelter outside of a sturdy building. Options can include: buckle up and drive to the nearest shelter if it is safe.
If there’s no nearby shelter, buckle up in a parked vehicle and cover your head with your arms, cushions, and/or a blanket. Avoid going under overpasses and bridges. Low, flat locations are best.
After a severe weather event:
Avoid downed power lines, utility poles, and trees or coming into contact with standing water—it could be electrically charged or carry harmful germs.
If power is lost, never use a charcoal grill or a generator indoors or in a garage. The carbon monoxide given off can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
If power is lost, follow the FDA’s instructions to ensure food safety: http://bit.ly/2nPwtg6.
For more information on preparing for and staying safe during severe weather events, including thunderstorms, floods, windstorms, and tornadoes, visit www.ready.gov. In Michigan, two of the biggest non–winter weather threats are thunderstorms and tornadoes. Between 1959 and 2015, there were 108 deaths caused by lightning in Michigan. On average, Michigan has 15 tornadoes per year. Since 1950, tornadoes have caused 243 deaths in Michigan.
The Kent County Sheriff Office is reporting a fraud involving a large dollar amount wire transaction and added a caution urging citizens to use caution and make multiple inquiries, either in person or by telephone, before making large value wire transactions.
The victims in this case were in the process of purchasing a new home and were scheduled to close on the home in the upcoming days. They received an email which appeared to be from their bank and one from their builder requesting their down payment be sent by wire rather than bringing a cashier’s check with them to closing. The email appeared to be legitimate and included information such as the address of the home they were purchasing, file number, and their builder’s information.
The victims wired approximately $180,000 to what they believed was the title office. The receiving bank of the wired funds fortunately felt the wire transfer was suspicious and contacted the victim to question it. After realizing the wire transfer destination was fraudulent, the victim contacted the sheriff’s office for help.
Make every effort to contact your builder, realtor, Title Company, and closing office prior to engaging in any transactions not made in person. The stress of purchasing new homes and wanting transactions to go smoothly can make people more susceptible to these scams.
If you feel you have become a victim, it is important to contact law enforcement as soon as possible because there are times the wire transfers can be stopped.
If you have any information regarding this incident, please contact the sheriff’s office at 616-632-6100.
Conagra Brands, Inc., in Russellville, Ark. is recalling approximately 135,159 pounds of Salisbury steak products (poultry, pork, and beef) that may be contaminated with foreign materials, specifically bone, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.
The family-style, heat treated, not shelf stable Salisbury steak and brown gravy products were produced on March 10. The following products are subject to recall:
27-oz. carton containing plastic shrink-wrapped packages containing six pieces of “Banquet Family size, six salisbury steaks & brown gravy made with chicken, pork and beef – grill marks added” with lot code 5006 8069 10 05and a ‘best buy’ date of SEP 01 2019 printed on the package.
The products subject to recall bear the USDA mark of inspection with establishment number “P-115” located on the side panel of the package and were shipped to retail locations nationwide. The problem was discovered after the firm received several consumer complaints and three reports of minor oral injury associated with consumption of the product. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.
FSIS is concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.
FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.
Consumers with questions about the recall can contact Conagra Brands Consumer Affairs at (800) 289-6014. Those with food safety questions can "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov or via smartphone at m.askkaren.gov.
The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. eastern time, Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. The online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/reportproblem.
Jeff Pratt, Chief of Police in the City of Hastings, reports that effective immediately, Hastings Police will not be enforcing the 2am to 6am parking ordinance. But if Mother Nature happens and throw us another surprise, he asks residents to please be courteous to the plows overnight by parking in your driveway and not on the street.
Allegan County Sheriff’s Office K9 Luca will receive a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from the non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. Luca’s vest is sponsored by Sharon Peters of Gross Pointe Shores, and will be embroidered with the sentiment “In memory of Det. Lt. Richard J. Scott.” Delivery is expected within eight to ten weeks.
The vests assist law enforcement agencies with the potentially lifesaving body armor for four-legged K9 officers. The company has given more than 2,800 vests in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a cost of more than $2.4 million.
“The Sheriff’s Office is ever grateful to receive this gift from Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.," said Luca’s partner, Deputy Ryan Rewa. “This will provide needed protection for Luca as he performs his patrol duties.”
Rewa has been with the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office for three and a half years; Luca joined him on patrol six months ago. Rewa and Luca, a 20-month-old German Shepard imported from Poland, went through a five -week training course together before going on patrol and they continue to train on a regular basis to maintain and hone their skills.
Luca is trained in drug detection, tracking, suspect apprehension and handler protection. Along with their duties, Luca and Rewa make regular visits to classrooms and community events to interact with our citizens.
The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies that are certified and at least 20 months of age. New K9 graduates, as well as K9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate.
The donation to provide one protective vest for law enforcement K9 is $950. Each vest has a value between $1,744 – $2,283 and a five-year warranty, with average weight of four to five pounds. There are an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s in the United States.
Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c (3) charity established in 2009, located in East Taunton, MA that provides bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs in law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States.
For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, call 508-824-6978. The company accepts tax-deductible donations of any denomination at www.vik9s.org, or mailed to P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718.
Biking for Bravery, a community event featuring short and long distance bike rides for families and athletes, isn’t until June16, but registration is now open, giving riders a little time to build up endurance for the rides,
The event is held at Littlejohn Lake County Park in Allegan and benefits Safe Harbor, a Child Advocacy Center in Allegan and Barry counties.
All funds raised will help the agency continue to provide awareness, support and hope and healing to child abuse victims in both communities. For more information, visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE: Mercaydes Overbeek, 16, earlier reported to be voluntarily missing, has been located and is no longer considered missing, according to a news update from Barry County Sheriff’s Detective/Sgt. Janette Maki.
ORIGINAL STORY: The Barry County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a missing 16 year old.
Mercaydes Overbeek, 16, who left her Hope Township home voluntarily on the third or fourth of April, indicated she may be suicidal. Mercaydes is believed to be in the Lansing area and in the presence of another teenage female. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Barry County Sheriff’s Office at 269-948-4801.
Seven employees of Barry County were recognized with the first Barry County Employee Service Awards Tuesday. Two more employees were named but were unable to be at the award presentation held during the Barry County Commission meeting.
ntroduced by their department heads, all of employees were credited for being outstanding employees, with many attributes that made them valuable to the county; professional, empathic, mentors to new employees, caring, helpful to co-workers, hardworking, resourceful and committed to public service.
The first employees to earn the awards are:
*Susanne Huebner, planning assistant in the Planning Department,
*Bill Romph, Barry County Sheriff’s deputy,
*Amber Jansens, corrections deputy at the Barry County Jail,
*Karolyn Brower, administrative assistant with the drug court,
*Cece Weatherly, COA office manager,
*Judy Hoolsema, legal secretary in the court system,
*Laurie Krol, senior probation officer.
Barry County Sheriff’s Lt. Jay Olejneczak and Deputy Steve Lehman were unavailable for the ceremony.
In other business Tuesday, the commission appointed Robert Carr, Michael Pratt, Ken Vierzen, Steven Koerber, Randall Jonker and John Bueche to the Barry County Remonumentation Peer Review Board and also approved the Monumentation Surveyor agreements between Barry County and Reynolds Land Surveying & Mapping, P.C. Arrow Land Survey, Pathfinder Engineering, Inc. Crane Land Survey, Carr & Associates, LLC, Exxel Engineering and Jonker Land Surveys PC for 2018. The agreement is the fourth year of a five-year contract with the same language as the previous contracts, according to Rose Anger, mapping technician in the Information Services Department.
Photo: The Barry County Employee Service Award winners and the number of years employed by the county are (from left) Bill Romph, 10 years; Laurie Krol, 25 years; Amber Jansens, 10 years; Judy Hoolsma, 15 years; Cece Weatherly, 15 years; Karolyn Brower, 15 years and Susanne Huebner, 5 years.
Saturday, April 21, Yankee Springs Township will get a spring cleanup for the fourth time by a group of volunteers.
Yankee Springs Supervisor Mark Englerth, with co-organizer John Norris, will meet volunteers at 9 a.m. at the Yankee Springs Fire Station to start the effort.
Norris, and other Dauntless Jeepers members, will meet at Curly Cone for breakfast at 8 a.m. before the event.
“The Barry County Sheriff’s Auxiliary will be there and township trustees Shane Vandenberg and Mike Boysen. I’ve contacted a couple of school districts and everyday citizens from six to 70 will be there, too. Bring gloves, garbage bags, whatever you think will be needed,” Englerth said.
The cleanup will likely last until 1 p.m. or so, and light refreshments will be available, he said.
Mayor David Tossava Monday presented an official proclamation from the City of Hastings to Executive Director of the Family Support Center of Barry County Karen Jousma recognizing Child Abuse Prevention Month
“Child abuse and neglect is a serious problem, ranking as one of the greatest risks to the health and well-being of Barry County children,” Tossava read from the proclamation.
Child abuse and neglect may be the result of various social problems such as inadequate parenting skills, family violence, poverty, family dysfunction, mental health problems, homelessness and crime," he continued.
In Barry County in 2016, 148 children between the ages of 0-17 were confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect by Child Protective Services. The Family Support Center has been designated by Michigan's Children's Trust Fund to lead, with local community based programs, to assist in expediting efforts to prevent child abuse now and in future generations through joint interagency prevention efforts.
“The most precious and valuable asset of our county is our children, and we must dedicate ourselves, our energy and our resources to the nurturing and protection of these most vulnerable individuals,” Tossava said.
“Protecting children and strengthening Barry County families is a shared community responsibility; and community action is needed to help families break the cycle of abuse with small or simple gestures-just by reaching out and showing you care about children in your family and neighborhood demonstrates that we value our children.”
“We know that child abuse and neglect make a difference, and we also know it takes a village to raise a child,” Jousma said.
We can’t turn a blind eye to what’s going on. We need to be supportive of our parents who, out of ignorance, substance abuse or domestic violence, are unable to parent their children. They need mentors, they need support…”
“So, I thank you for this opportunity for this proclamation and to acknowledge that it takes everyone to make a difference in the lives of children.” A Pinwheels for Prevention Garden with 75 to 100 pinwheels will be installed Tuesday outside City Hall to raise awareness of child abuse and neglect.
In other business:
*The city facility on West State Road that accepts compostable materials from city residents is now open and city crews will start the Spring Cleanup, picking up resident’s yard waste placed at curbside, starting Monday, April 16.
* Fire chief Roger Caris encouraged residents to go to the Barry County United Way website, www.bcunitedway.org, fill out the application there, and drop it off at the Hastings Fire Station. A firefighter will be scheduled to visit the home and install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide testers free of charge.
*City Manager Jeff Mansfield was authorized to apply for a PA 202 waiver application that would let the city avoid the reporting requirements all local units of government that offer defined benefits or post-employment benefits typically file. Units like Hastings that have underfunded status may apply for a waiver, as long as they have a payment plan.
A public hearing on a final assessment roll for a Special Assessment District (SAD) to pay for a sidewalk and bridge over a stream on West State Street in front of The Dollar Tree and Holiday Express Hotel was discussed by the Hastings City Council Monday, with no action taken.
City Manager Jeff Mansfield asked to the council to delay a decision to give him time to work with the Barry County Drain Commissioner, Rutland Township officials and others to lower the cost of the crossing of the stream by changing its basic design and possibly eliminating a clear span bridge required by the MDEQ.
When Mike Moyles, owner of the hotel, listed some concerns he had with the plan.
Mansfield assured him they are looking at several options that would change the original plan, including making the stream a county drain. There are no county drains in the city now, and they want to look at the ramifications and cost to other people that would be brought into a drain district. He said he will meet with Drain Commissioner Jim Dull Tuesday afternoon “to see what that entails.”
As it stands now, the Dollar Tree and Holiday Express Hotel are the only entities on the assessment roll, and each would pay half of the estimated cost of $54,000 for the 2,025 linear feet of sidewalk and $60,000 for the pedestrian bridge crossing the creek, for a total of $114,000.
Mansfield said if the two businesses want to develop their own plan for sidewalks and the shared steam crossing, the city is willing to work with them. The council referred the matter back to Mansfield for further study.
Also Monday, the council:
* named Norma Jean Acker to the Hastings Public Library Board for a partial term ending Dec. 31. She replaces Bob Becker who resigned.
* extended its audit contract with Rehmann Robson auditors for an additional three years. Because Jerry Czarnecki is relatively new as city clerk/treasurer, having Rehmann for the next few years would give him continunity working with the same auditors, he said. “After three years, we will seek bids from other companies.”
* set a public hearing for April 23 on the need for a Special Assessment District in the downtown area to pay for some maintenance costs for city parking lots. Mansfield said there would be some changes this year. The DDA, which has paid the cost increases in the assessments for the last five years, thinks the business owners should pay more, he said. A total of $3,000 increase in costs this year will be spread over all the business owners in the special assessment district.
*approved the low $45,700 bid from Pitsch Companies to demolish the former Moose building at 128 North Michigan Avenue. The Downtown Development Authority has agreed to pay up to $50,000 for the work, with the city paying them back for the demolition if the property is sold. There were six other bids for the work, ranging from $54,200 to $129,996.
*scheduled a workshop for 6 p.m. before the April 23 meeting to discuss the 2018-2019 budget.
Safe Routes to School is a federal program to make it safe, convenient, and fun for children, including those with disabilities, to bicycle and walk to school. When routes are safe, walking or biking to and from school is an easy way for children to get regular physical activity.
Hastings children will benefit from construction planned for this summer, with areas improved to create corridors for safe travel to Northeastern Elementary on East Grant Street, Central Elementary and the Hastings Middle School in the Grand Street/Broadway street area.
Normally cities are awarded funding for two schools, but since Central is adjacent to the middle school, Hastings was allowed three projects, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.
Outdoor work schedules always depend on the weather. The projected schedule is below:
The work will be done in three stages; first at Woodlawn and Michigan avenues and Charles Street with traffic control, soil erosion and sediment control, earth work and storm sewer installation from April 16 until April 23. Curb, gutter, and sidewalk installation and hand patching follows, scheduled to be done by May 3.
The second stage begins May 4 at Grant, Hanover and Wilson streets, with traffic control, soil erosion and sediment control, earthwork, and a retaining wall forecast to be finished by May 10. Curb, gutter, sidewalks and hand patching will be complete by May 22.
The final stage at Bond, Madison and Church streets starts on May 23 with traffic control, soil erosion and sediment control and earthwork to be done by May 30. Curb, gutter and hand patching should be completed by June 7.
Restoration, permanent signs and markings will be completed by June 14.
Safe Routes to School funding is 100 percent paid by the Federal Highway Transportation, with no local match required. The MDOT administers the federally-legislated program that pays for educational programs, infrastructure improvements and encouragement activities to help children safely walk and bike to school and increase their physical activity.
In Michigan, the State 911 Committee is privileged to honor the men and women who serve to protect the citizens of our Great Lakes State, paying tribute to telecommunicators and their vital contributions to public safety.
“This is the week we take time to highlight the important role that telecommunicators have in facilitating emergency services and say thank you,” Harriet Miller-Brown, State 911 administrator said.
“It is an honor to celebrate these exemplary individuals who demonstrate the highest levels of professional conduct and extraordinary performance. Their dedication and hard work touches the lives of countless people daily.” 911 centers serve as the primary point for dispatching police, fire, and EMS responses in Michigan.
In addition to answering and dispatching emergency calls, telecommunicators also provide medical pre-arrival instructions, activate weather alerts, additional incident scene response such as Child Protective Service, hospitals, road commission, utility, and public works department notifications; and handle the call-outs for specialized response teams such as search and rescue, activating medical examiners, and hazmat response teams.//
Telecommunicators receive calls through many different 911 dialing systems including wireless, traditional telephones, Voice Over the Internet Protocol, and in some counties, via texts.
“911 is the gateway to emergency services for residents and visitors during their time of need,” State 911 committee Chair Jeff Troyer said. “Our well-trained 911 professionals in the State of Michigan answer this need more than six million times each year. I commend these individuals for their exemplary service.”
Quick Facts about 911 in Michigan:
911 is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. On February 16, 1968, Alabama Speaker of the House, Rankin Fite, made the first 911 call from the Haleyville City Hall.
Today there are 142 Public Safety Answering Points in Michigan.
According to the 2017 annual report, of the counties and service districts that reported, the telecommunicators in Michigan answered: 6,382,487 calls to 911, 4,733 Texts-to-911, and 7,109,529 calls from non-911 lines.
There are approximately 2,000 telecommunicators in Michigan.
In becoming a telecommunicator, individuals first participate in 80 hours of basic and advanced dispatch training within their first 24 months of employment.
Michigan designated telecommunicators maintain continuing education requirements by participating in approved courses and accumulating at least 24 continuing education hours every 24 months.
Forty counties and one Wayne County Service District presently accept Text-to-911 calls which represents 54.92 percent of the population; many other counties are working toward accepting Text-to-911. For a map of current text-to-911 deployments, please visit the SNC website at www.michigan.gov/snc under “Emerging Technology.”
In 1991, the United States Congress designated the second week in April, this year April 8-14, as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.
The State 911 Committee was established in accordance with Public Act 79 of 1999. It is a 21 member organization that works together to promote the successful development, implementation, and operation of 911 systems across the State of Michigan.
Jefferson, Boltwood and Michigan streets in Hastings will get structural improvements this construction season, the next phase of a four-year capital improvement plan begun last year with the upgrading of Court and Church streets.
Jefferson from Apple to Green, Michigan from Apple to Court and Boltwood from State to Green are the areas to be improved.
Department of Public Services Director Lee Hays said work has already begun on projects scheduled from now until June 30. Earthwork, curb gutter and sidewalk work on all three streets is expected to be completed by early June. Milling 1 ½ inches of surface from the streets and resurfacing is set for the last three weeks of June, according to the schedule submitted to the Michigan Department of Transportation.
“The milling and resurfacing will extend the life of the streets and maximize the impact of the money,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said. “The best way is to reconstruct them, but unfortunately, that’s too expensive.”
Funding for the four year improvements comes from Michigan Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration grants, with matching funds from the city.
“With the proposed MDOT grant through 2020, the City of Hastings is scheduled to receive $612,496 in federal grants. With our local match for the projects, engineering (design and construction) and three years of downtown resurfacings, the City will have a total of $427,946 invested into the improvements,” Hays said.
He is working with Consumers Energy to assure needed replacements of utilities will be done before any resurfacing. Consumers is now replacing an aging gas main on Boltwood and Michigan ahead of the MDOT project, he said.
Mansfield said residents may wonder why crews are tearing up curbs that look fine. “A requirement of the federal grant is making curbs and gutters conform to the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), so crews will be reworking several curbs, with widening and sloping ramps for ease of maneuvering and improved painting for the visually impaired.” ADA ramp improvements will be at Jefferson, Michigan and Boltwood streets.
Also this year, crack sealing will be applied to Court and Church streets between Broadway and Jefferson, and State and Center.
“The crack sealing will cure for around a year, and then next year we will chip and fog seal the streets. The end result will be a street that looks freshly paved and the fog seal greatly extends the life of the street and chip seal,” Hays said.
During the annual Jazz Festival April 26-29, work will be done only north of the bridge on Michigan and during the Barry Roubaix bike race April 21 there will be no work on Boltwood.
Is your child ready for kindergarten? April is here, and that means it’s Kindergarten Round Up time. Families who will be enrolling their children for school in the fall are encouraged to attend.
An important part of preparing for kindergarten is making sure kids are up to date on their immunizations. The Ionia County 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.
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 at 616-527-5341.
If you are not sure if your child is up to date, contact their doctor or the ICHD immunization clinic to review their records. 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
It may say spring on the calendar, but there is still the possibility of snow for a while yet, so Hastings police officers continue to enforce the no-parking ordinance on city streets from 2 a.m. until 6 a.m. to accommodate snow removal.
“I would love to be able to give a definite date, as far as not enforcing this year-round ordinance, however, this is dependent on Mother Nature and there is snow in the forecast for the next week,” Police Chief Jeff Pratt said.
Barry County Central Dispatch will test the tornado siren this saturday april 7th at 1:00 pm and the first saturday of every month through september. If Barry County is under a tornado watch or warning the siren will not be tested.
In response to Eaton County’s status as a hepatitis A outbreak county, the Barry-Eaton District Health Department is adding off-site clinics where those at high risk can come to get vaccinated against hepatitis A.
Two off-site clinics have been scheduled for April:
April 5 at 6 p.m. at Real Life Church - 1848 South Cochran Road, Charlotte,
before the Families Against Narcotics (FAN) monthly meeting and April 12 at 10 a.m. at Eaton Clothing and Furniture Center - 135 South Washington Street in Charlotte, at the Eaton Clothing and Furniture Center’s Food Distribution Day
More off-site clinics may be added in Eaton County in April. Information about upcoming clinics can be found at https://www.barryeatonhealth.org/hepatitis-outbreak.
Safe Harbor, a children’s advocacy center based in Allegan County with a satellite center in Barry County, offers a lifeline to kids who have been abused or neglected. Safe Harbor just celebrated its fifth anniversary in Barry County, helping those children toward the ultimate goal, “Every child deserves to be safe.”
Many people worked for some time to bring Safe Harbor to Barry County before it became a reality. Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt was instrumental in the effort. An assistant prosecuting attorney in Allegan County before she ran for prosecutor in Barry County, she worked with the child advocacy center there. When elected prosecutor in 2012, she made it her first priority to help bring a satellite center here.
“Jeanette Maki, Jay Olejniczak, Jeff Pratt, Chris Koster, Dale Boulter, and the late Ray Hoffman; we were all were working for it, Jay the most, I think,” she said. All of those she named are members of county police agencies.
At the sheriff’s office, a child to be interviewed about abuse or neglect would sit in the waiting room and could be sitting next to a sex offender or would be interviewed amid the confusion of a parade of offenders and officers walking by. Being interviewed in the basement of Hastings City Hall also was unpleasant for children.
Now, if it is suspected that a child has been a victim of abuse or neglect, the child meets a forensic interviewer in a quiet room at Safe Harbor with wall murals of deer in a forest and video cameras that look like light switches. The goal is to learn the circumstances and facts in the child’s situation in a friendly, non-threatening atmosphere. Physicals can be scheduled for the children later, if it is indicated.
The interviews are watched in another room by law enforcement officials, prosecutors and mental health professionals, so the re-telling of any abuse by the child is kept to a minimum.
The video goes only to law enforcement; it will go to the prosecutor’s office as part of the law enforcement report. The prosecutor may show it to a defendant and their attorney. Seeing the interview sometimes results in a plea before trail, so the child may never have to go to court.
“A change that I have experienced is that the use of Safe Harbor has greatly improved and organized the investigation of child abuse and neglect cases here with a more team approach.
“We have several agencies with expertise and knowledge, not just in bringing charges, but also eliminating some cases that shouldn’t be bought,” Nakfoor-Pratt said. The Family Support Center of Barry County also collaborates with Safe Harbor on certain projects.
Non-suspect family members and other caregivers are included in the process, kept aware of everything that is going on and what will likely come next, making the process easier for families.
“If charges can’t be brought, for any number of reasons, Safe Harbor continues to help the family, with counseling and other on-going services, which is huge,” Nakfoor-Pratt said.
The center has also worked with some adults with special needs with interviews.
Nakfoor-Pratt makes sure a prosecutor is at the interviews to watch the video to put the department in at the very beginning. “Our team can provide guidance and input. It’s important; we’ve actually seen the results. We also do a monthly case review so nothing slips through the cracks. I think the team approach is key.”
Lori Antkoviak has been executive director of Safe Harbor in Allegan since 2007 and led the expansion into Barry County. “The bad news is that the service is even needed; the good news is that the children are coming and there is a place for them to come,” she said.
She credited Barry County Safe Harbor’s success to the good relationships and strong support from several Barry County agencies; the United Way, Community Foundation, prosecutor’s office, Mental Health Authority, Social Services and local law enforcement. “Many private services also help, assuring all kids get help,” she said. Hopefully, they will soon have a full-time advocate to serve both counties..
Antkoviak gave some statistics:
Allegan County Safe Harbor treated 176 children in 2017; 173 in 2016; 176 in 2015; 177 in 2014 and 156 in 2013.
Barry County treated 129 children in 2017; 132 in 2016; 134 in 2015; and 127 in 2014 and 12 in the two weeks it was open in December of 2013.
Formerly the Child Abuse and Neglect Council in Allegan County, it became Safe Harbor in the early 2000s and was established in Barry County in 2013. Since then, the two offices have made lives of almost 1,400 children safer and helped kids just be kids.
Allegan County had 111,530 residents, Barry County 59,080, according to the 2010 census.
The Allegan Center is at 402 Trowbridge Street in Allegan, 269-673-3791, and in Barry County at 1127 West State Street, Hastings, 269-948-3617.
Nationally, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by the time they reach 18. Safe Harbor is working to stop the cycle.
UPDATE; Michigan State Police today issued this update to Monday's incident:
"The Michigan State Police continue to investigate the details surrounding the officer involved shooting that occurred monday night. The subject involved in the incident is a 36-year-old, white male, from the Middleville area. He is currently still hospitalized but will be lodged on the four felony warrants once he is released from the hospital. The Barry County Prosecutor’s Office will be reviewing the investigation."
ORIGINAL STORY: The Michigan State Police (MSP) is confirming that a suspect who displayed an Airsoft pistol during his arrest was shot by a trooper from the MSP Wayland Post, an MSP news release reports.
Troopers had received information that the suspect, who was wanted on four felony warrants, was in the parking lot of the Thornapple Valley Church at approximately 6:30 p.m. Monday evening.
When the trooper drove into the parking lot to make contact with the suspect, the suspect attempted to leave in his vehicle. The trooper blocked the suspect vehicle with his patrol car at which time the suspect exited his vehicle and displayed
a pistol, the release said.
The suspect ignored repeated commands from the trooper to drop the pistol before he was shot. After being taken into custody, it was learned that the pistol displayed by the suspect was an Airsoft pistol, the release continued.
The suspect is being treated at Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo for non-life threatening injuries. The trooper was not injured in the incident. The names of the suspect and trooper were not released.
The investigation into the incident is being conducted by the Sixth District Investigative Response Team.
Barry County Sheriff’s Office deputies were assisting Michigan State Police with an unrelated incident Monday about 7 p.m. when a vehicle drove past a road block on M-43 and Podunk Road and was subsequently stopped by a deputy, a sheriff’s news release said.
When the unidentified person fled the scene, deputies initiated a pursuit.
The driver ended up crashing the vehicle on Cloverdale Road, east of Kingsbury Road. Both the driver and passenger of the vehicle were transported to local hospitals with non-life threatening injuries. The incident remains under investigation.
Deputies Scott Ware and Barry Brandt are the investigators;
Michigan State Police, Mercy EMS, Delton Fire Department and, Barry County Central Dispatch assisted deputies.
On March 30 the Wyoming Department of Public Safety requested the Kent County Sheriff’s Office investigate a shooting involving an officer from its department, a Kent County Sheriff’s Office news release reports.
Based on the preliminary investigation, it was determined that Joel Thomas Peloquin, 52, from Wayland, was at Resurrection Cemetery, 4100 Clyde Park S.W., threatening suicide.
When the Wyoming officers made contact with Peloquin, he brandished a firearm and two officers fired at him. Peloquin brought the gun to his head and fired a shot. He died later at a hospital.
Three independent witnesses saw the incident, the release said. .
The Kent County Medical Examiner’s Office performed an autopsy on March 31 and determined Peloquin’s cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head and the manner of death was suicide. The three shots from Wyoming officers that struck him were not fatal.
Officials do not expect any further media releases about the on-going investigation until the incident is reviewed by the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office.
Severe Weather Awareness Week is April 8-14 and the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division are encouraging Michigan residents to prepare before severe weather strikes this spring and summer.
“Severe Weather Awareness Week is the time of year to learn what to do before, during and after severe weather occurs,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, deputy state director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division. “In Michigan, severe weather can include flooding, thunderstorms and tornadoes. By taking the initiative to learn about possible hazards and what to do until help arrives, you and your family will be better prepared when an emergency or disaster happens.”
Spring and summer frequently bring fast-changing weather conditions that increase the potential for severe weather. Steps can be taken to prepare before severe weather strikes to minimize damage and ensure safe evacuation or shelter, such as understanding severe weather warnings and terms, preparing an emergency supply kit, making an emergency plan and creating an emergency contact list.
Last year, the state of Michigan experienced thunderstorms and flooding in Bay, Gladwin, Isabella and Midland counties that was severe enough to result in a federal disaster declaration due to the magnitude of the damage.
*Statewide Tornado Drill on April 11
A voluntary statewide tornado drill is scheduled to occur at 1 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 11. Businesses, organizations, families and individuals are encouraged to engage in this statewide preparedness activity, but are not required to do so. Nearly all state of Michigan facilities will participate.
*About Severe Weather Awareness Week
Severe Weather Awareness Week is sponsored by the MSP/Emergency Management Homeland Security Division and Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness to educate the public about the dangers of tornadoes and other severe weather events, including the precautions that can be taken to save lives and protect families.
For more information about what to do before, during and after an emergency or disaster, go to www.michigan.gov/miready or follow the agency on Twitter at @MichEMHS.
Be a part of the severe weather awareness conversation by using the hashtags #miseverewxweek and #mitornadoready.
87th District State Rep. Julie Calley, of Portland, will hold office hours in three communities in April. Calley will give a legislative update and then talk with residents about their concerns at:
*Monday, April 16, from 11 a.m. to noon at the Village of Lake Odessa, Page Memorial Building, 839 Fourth Ave., Lake Odessa;
*Monday, April 16, from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Barry County Courthouse, Commissioners’ Chambers, 220 West State Street, Hastings and,
*Monday, April 30, noon to 1 p.m. at the Village of Middleville, 100 East Main St., Middleville.
“Accountable representation requires consistent feedback,” Calley said. “Office hours present an opportunity for productive dialogue with those whom I serve.”
No appointment is necessary. Residents unable to attend scheduled office hours may send questions and ideas to Calley via email at JulieCalley@house.mi.gov or by calling her at 517-373-0842.
After you have your bowl of cereal Wednesday morning, or when on your lunch hour, why not pick up a couple of boxes of cereal and bring them to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office.
Wednesday, April 4, from 11a.m. to 2 p.m., the Allegan County Sheriff officers will be collecting cereal at their office for the annual Allegan County Community Foundation's Cereal Drive.
With more than 7,000 kids in Allegan County receiving free or reduced lunch during the school year, the sheriff’s office is helping the Community Foundation provide a summer full of breakfast.
Bring a box, or two, or more, of cereal and get a hot dog lunch and an opportunity to see officers, K-9's, SWAT and marine and dive equipment. Also, you can get your picture taken with deputies.