Local News Archives for 2018-05

Hastings may take a closer look at its overall traffic situation

In response to a citizen complaints of unsafe conditions with congestion and motorists failing to obey yield signs on Taffee Drive, Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt made a report to the Hastings City Council Tuesday. He said he  went to the location and waited for 20 minutes but there was with no traffic during that time. Checking traffic records back to 2014, he found no accidents there.

“We’ll definitely keep this on our radar and work with the Department of Public Services and the city manager…we’ll stay on top of this one and others in the city.”


The traffic likely comes from motorists taking a short cut through the residential area to North Broadway to avoid using the intersection of North Broadway and State Road.

Mayor David Tossava said it looks like its inviting traffic on Taffee Drive with the double yellow line there. “Why is it even there?” he asked.


Several council members brought up other locations in the city that concerned them, prompting City Manager Jeff Mansfield to suggest the city's traffic system might be a good topic for workshops the council holds once a month when members go into depth on issues to do with the city. He said the markings may have been required as part of new bike lanes being installed in the city.


In other business, Mansfield said the city still has some improvements to do on the former Thornapple Arts Council building at Fish Hatchery Park, and when it’s done, they will make the building available for public use. Department of Public Works Director Lee Hays said more work, including painting and replacing lighting, will be done for about $4,000.


“We’ve been working on it for the last couple of years…it’s a really cool space,” Hays said. Meanwhile, Mansfield said, city staff will develop a policy, rules and regulations and a fee structure for rental of the building. “We really want to share these facilities and encourage their use by the community.”


Also, the council approved two contracts to do with the city’s sewer system; one for $26,800 to Hubbel, Roth and Clark for design services for sludge dewatering analysis and design at the wastewater treatment plant and another for $8,000 to Prein & Newhoff for engineering services on a sanitary sewer point of conflict at Market and Green streets.




Michigan State Trooper cleared of any wrongdoing in April Barry County shooting

The Barry County Prosecutor’s Office has cleared Michigan State Police Trooper David Williams of any wrongdoing in connection with the April 2 shooting of Ryan L. Miller of Middleville, a prosecutor’s office news release said Tuesday.


Evidence revealed Williams was acting in self-defense and defense of another when he shot Miller while in the parking lot of the Thornapple Valley Church in Rutland Township in Barry County, the release said.


Miller has been charged with six felonies and one misdemeanor arising from the incident: Felonious assault, resisting and obstructing a police officer, four weapons/firearm violations, and cruelty to animals causing death. He is also a habitual offender-fourth notice.

Miller faces the possibility of a total of 17 years in prison on the first six counts and one year in jail for animal cruelty. The habitual offender, fourth notice, could carry a maximum of life in prison.


A review of witness statements, videos and previous investigative reports revealed that Miller may have been attempting “suicide by cop,” by deliberately behaving in a threatening manner, intending to provoke a lethal response from a public safety or law enforcement officer, according to the release.


Miller was arraigned Wednesday in Barry County Circuit Court by Judge Amy McDowell. His bond was set at $500,000. The high bond was requested because Miller placed everyone in harm’s way during the incident. Miller’s probable cause conference on all charges is set for June 6. //


According to the prosecutor’s office, Williams was attempting to arrest Miller on several outstanding warrants after receiving a tip that he would be in the parking lot of the Thornapple Valley Church south of Hastings.


Miller, who was facing unrelated criminal charges, had left the state with his girlfriend for several days, causing concern among members of both families. When Williams entered the church parking lot, Miller attempted to drive around his patrol car, but Williams was able to block him from leaving.


When Williams got out of his car and ordered Miller out of his car at gunpoint, he refused to comply, instead he opened his car door and began to raise his hands near his head, but then lowered his hands and yelled an obscenity at Williams, while reaching into the upper left breast pocket of his coat with his right hand.


As Williams continued to order him to “get on the ground” Miller pulled what appeared to be a black handgun from his coat.  In fear for his life and that of Miller’s girlfriend, Williams shot at Miller three times. Miller continued to point the hand gun at him so Williams shot at him again, striking him in the right shoulder and left foot.  Miller’s girlfriend was unharmed, however her dog, which was in the back seat of the car, was killed.


Trooper Anthony Adams arrived a short time later and assisted Williams. Adams retrieved Miller’s gun, identified as a black BB gun, and two knives from his pants pockets. Miller was taken to the hospital where he was eventually released and then lodged at the Barry County Jail. 

A full investigation was completed and a report turned over to Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt.


“While we are very grateful that there was no loss of human life, we are disheartened by the death of the dog, and we consider Ryan Miller responsible for that loss.  We would like to thank Dr. Seidel and Seidel Veterinary Hospital for their efforts to save the dog,” Nakfoor-Pratt said.




Hastings deals with rules on churches, storage buildings, entertainment venues

A Hastings ordinance that would allow churches in all B (commercial) Districts by special use permit was sent back to the Planning Commission for clarification on what restrictions could be imposed with a special use permit.

Council members had several questions about specific parts of the change, with Councilman Don Bowers adamantly opposed. “I don’t want to see it done…if you okay it, you have to give it to anyone who asks.”


Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange said she didn’t like that pieces of prime real estate would become exempt from taxes. Bowers motion to deny it failed, the council instead voted unanimously to send the issue back to the commission. “I don’t like to vote against the planning commission, but sometimes you don’t get all the questions answered,” Councilman Al Jarvis said.


Ordinance 555, dealing with temporary storage enclosures, passed unanimously without discussion. The issue had been sent back to the planning commission for additional limits on size, locations and number of structure permitted on any property. The new wording treats the temporary enclosures similar to accessory buildings.

“The Planning Commission did an excellent job on the things I was concerned with,” McNabb-Stange said.


No action was taken on a draft ordinance dealing with entertainment venues in the city. City Manager Jeff Mansfield asked that the second reading be moved to July for more time to work on the draft. The administration and operational issues was more complicated than originally thought, and they would need more comprehensive language dealing with rules, requirements, permits and terms and conditions on the use of city’s entertainment venues. “There are some gaps in there,” he said.


The council did vote to allow a refundable $300 fee in the new ordinance for non-city users that would cover any possible costs of cleanup or repair after an event.



Second National Night Out in Hastings set for Aug.7

With the success of the first National Night Out in Hastings last year, Hastings Deputy Police Chief Dale Boulter and his committee took up the challenge of organizing a thousand moving parts to make it all come together again at Tyden Park from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 7.


Hastings police officers, Barry County Sheriff’s deputies and Michigan State troopers, area fire department firefighters and ambulance service personnel will bring their equipment and demonstrate what they do in emergency response. The event promotes a sense of community, positive public relations, safety and trust between the public and emergency services personnel that serve them, Boulter said.


Boulter is inviting all Hastings and Barry County residents to the event held nationally every year on the second Tuesday of August. With one meeting of the committee so far, Boulter got the go ahead from the Hastings City Council Tuesday.

Free food, 2,000 hot dogs were purchased last year and handed out to visitors, lots of prizes, games, a dunk tank, a free raffle and a bounce house are part of the evening.


“The night is for them to show people the firefighters and police who are on call for them every day,” Boulter said. “It builds on the police-community partnership, and lets the people meet and talk to emergency services personnel in a casual setting.”


Parking will be eased by Barry County Transit buses to shuttle people to and from various spots around town, including city parking lots. Boulter expects at least the same attendance of 1,500 or more visitors this time around. “We think this is going be another great event.”






Road work in Barry County

The Barry County Road Commission will be sealing the following roads. There will be delays as well as temporary road closures.

Saddler Road between Marsh Road and Patterson Road...
Tanner Lake Road between M-37 and Quimby Road

Please seek an alternate route. Thank you for your cooperation!

Suspect Captured in a Pond

Mutiple law enforcement agencies trudged through swamps and lakes before capturing 31 year old Keith Worthington after he eluded police twice the week before.

Michigan State Police Trooper Jereme Miller with the MSP K-9 team finally located Worthington hiding under some lily pads near the Bellevue area.

MSP investigators believe Worthington is responsible for at least 14 different home invasions in Barry, Calhoun and Eaton Counties since mid-April.

Investigators said $50,000 in  jewelry, eletronics, guns and other items were taken from homes.


Tiffany Denton, Worthington's girlfriend was also arrested. It's believed she is linked to the string of home invasions.

New Record High Temperature for Hastings

Tuesday May 29th was another hot day for Michigan including Hastings where a new record high temperature was recorded by the Hastings National Weather Service Climatological Station.

New high temperature 93 degrees.  Old high temperature for the same day in 2006 92 degrees.

Much cooler weather will begin to move in over the next few days.

Hastings City Hall staff to get active shooter training

Hastings City Hall will be closed to the public on Monday, June 11 from 8 a.m. to noon for staff to receive training in an active shooting situation, Police Chief Jeff Pratt said at the City Council meeting Tuesday.

To cover it all could take up to two days and some 16 hours, but they cover a lot of ground in four hours, he said.


Pratt is setting up a two-hour session for council members in the council chamber, but they are welcome to stop in and take the longer course, he said. Jim Yarger, director of Barry County Emergency Management, Rich Franklin, superintendent of the BISD, Barry County Deputy Marti Horrmann and Hastings Sgt. Chris Miller are instructors.


The drop off box will be open while the office is closed but while it will cause some inconvenience, Pratt and others said that getting the training is very important and that all of the staff be available to take it.


In other business, the council approved:

*Bliss Nearing Niagara holding its company picnic on June 23, at Tyden Park


*a request from the YMCA to park the B.Bus Mobile Library in different locations in the city for kids to get books.

“It’s a positive program and I certainly support it,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said. It is also favored by the Hastings Public Library.


*holding Hastings Summerfest on Aug.24-26.


*soliciting request for proposals (RFPs) and requests for qualifications (RFQs) for design services for the Waste Water Treatment Plant, the first step in the updating of the plant.


*the appointment of Joan VanHouten to the cable access committee.


Middleville Lions 61st Memorial Day parade and ceremonies remember all those who served

For the 61st time the Middleville Lions Club sponsored Middleville’s Memorial Day Parade and ceremonies recognizing all those who served in the military, especially the veterans who died serving their country. Below are some photos of the event.




Photos, from upper left:  Grand Marshal for this year’s parade, honored veteran Cpl. Rose (LaBin) Caton, U.S. Marines.


Special parade guest Cpl. Josh Hoffman, U.S. Marines, arrives at Mt. Hope Cemetery for the ceremonies.


U.S. Navy veteran Robert Buys, who served in Viet Nam, goes over his remarks before Memorial Day ceremonies begin at Mt. Hope Cemetery.


Every parade needs a bright red fire engine. This one is from Thornapple Township Emergency Services.


Barry County Transit Trolley carries the community's Gold Star families: the Bob and Donna Roush family, Don and Candice Carver family and Dick and Linda Curtis family, proud parents of Cpl. Nicholas Roush, SPC Dane Carver and Sgt. Ryan Curtis


McFall Elementary second grade students sing and sign the National Anthem with the TK band playing for them.


Sgt. Ryan Curtis’s sister Kelly Curtis lays a wreath at the Thornapple Township Veterans Memorial to recognize and honor all veterans.


Remember all those who served.


U.S. Navy veteran Roberts Buys places a white flower at the veterans monument at Mt. Hope Cemetery during the Memorial Day ceremony following the parade Monday.


Below: A 21-gun salute was performed during Memorial Day services in Middleville to remember and honor all those in the military who died in the service of their country.


UPDATE: Motorcyclists who died in crash with tree limb identified

UPDATE: The Barry County Sheriff's Office has identified the two men as Christian Nederveld, 47, from Wyoming and Jeffery Altena, 55, from Hudsonville.


ORIGINAL: STORY:Two motorcyclists died Sunday just after 8 p.m. on Yankee Spring Road and White Pine Drive when a large tree limb fell on one of the riders and the second rider struck the same limb.

Barry County Sheriff’s deputies report a 55-year-old Hudsonville man died at the scene despite efforts to save his life. A 47-year-old Wyoming man was transported to a local hospital where he later died from his injuries. Both cyclists were wearing helmets.

The crash remains under investigation.


Deputies Shawn Olmstead and Scott Ware investigated; Yankee Springs and Wayland fire departments, Wayland EMS, Michigan DNR, Michigan State Police, Barry County Road Commission and Central Dispatch assisted.


SOS offices closed for Memorial Day

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson reminds residents that all branch offices and the Office of the Great Seal will be closed in observance of Memorial Day on Monday, May 28.

Secretary of State SUPER!Centers normally offer Saturday hours but will be closed on Saturday, May 26.

Residents are encouraged to use online services at, especially on the days after holiday weekends, which are very busy in SOS offices.



Three adults, child injured in Thornapple Township crash

Three adults were transported by ambulance and a child airlifted by Aero Med to area hospitals after a two-car crash on Whitneyville Avenue near Parmalee Road in Thornapple Township. The conditions of those involved, all Middleville area residents, is not known.


A Barry County Sheriff’s Office news release reports deputies responded to the 2.06 p.m. crash on Thursday. Their initial investigation showed a Buick Lacrosse was traveling south on Whitneyville Road when it went into the northbound lane.

An oncoming Ford F-150 swerved into the southbound lane in an attempt to avoid a collision. The Buick swerved back into the southbound lane at the same time and the vehicles collided head on, the report said.

A 42-year-old man and 28-year-old woman were in the pickup; a 70-year-old woman and five-year-old boy were in the Buick.


Deputies William Romph, Richelle Spencer, Scott Ware and Jeremiah Kimbel were the investigators.

They were assisted by Thornapple Emergency Services, Freeport and Caledonia fire departments, Mercy Ambulance, Aero Med, Michigan State Police, Michigan DNR, Barry County Central Dispatch, and Barry County Road Commission


Charlton Park Day salutes its founder and the supporters of the park

Celebrate the official kick-off to summer at the 12th annual Charlton Park Day Saturday, May 26 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Popcorn and balloons are available at the Upjohn House as you enter the village. A lunch of grilled hot dogs, chips, ice cream, and drinks will be provided to all visitors while supplies last.


The entire event is free to everyone with no tax dollars used, thanks to generous community donors. It’s a chance to get reacquainted with everything the park offers if you haven’t been in a while or to be impressed by your first visit.


WBCH 100.1 FM will host a live radio remote from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the Barry County Sheriff’s Posse will fingerprint children. Take a tour of the village buildings and chat with volunteers about their contributions to the park. Take in the Exhibition Hall, with its farm equipment display, and watch for Civil War demonstrations throughout the day.


Master craftsmen will be in action in the blacksmith shop and fiber spinning in the township hall and samples of bread baked on a wood stove in the Bristol Inn will be served. Two bounce houses will be there for the kids to enjoy all day. 


The mission of Charlton Park Day is to honor park founder Irving Charlton and recognize the Barry County residents who have supported the park for the past 82 years. Located at 2545 South Charlton Park Road, the park is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily to swim, boat, picnic or hike.

For more information, visit or call 269-945-3775.


Photo: This boy, pictured at an earlier Charlton Park Day, is digging into his hot dog, chips and drink. There is ice cream for dessert.


May 24th Barry County Road work


The Barry County Road Commission will be sealing/edge sealing the following roads. There will be delays as well as roads closed temporarily. Please seek an alternate route, we appreciate your patience and understanding.

Maple Grove Road from Assyria Road to M-66
Clark Road from Cloverdale Road to M-79
Case Road from Lacey Road to Butler Road
Strickland Road from Hutchinson Road to Waubascon Road

Update - One dies in crash on Coats Grove Road

UPDATE: The Barry County Sheriff's Office has identified the driver of the van who was killed in the crash as 63 year old Susan Sanders of Holt, Michigan.   Undersheriff Matt Houchlei said the accident remains under investigation.


Original Story:

A two-vehicle head on crash Thursday, May 17th, at 7:31 a.m. resulted in the death of the driver of one of the vehicles, according to the Barry County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies investigating at the scene on Coats Grove Road east of Woodland Road found that a van traveling eastbound on Coats Grove with an adult and a child collided with a westbound passenger car carrying three people.


The driver of the van was deceased; a four year old child in the van was transported to Helen Devos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, officials said.


Two occupants in the passenger car suffered minor injuries, but were not transported.


Alcohol does not appear to be a factor at this time. The accident remains under investigation.

The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of relatives. Coats Grove

Road was closed for a time.


Deputies Robert Fueri and Deputy Jeremiah Kimbel investigated the crash.



Update - Barry County Sheriff investigating fatal Kiser Road crash

UPDATE:   The Barry County Sheriff's Office has identified the victim as 77 year-old Jack Hagglund of Middleville.


Original Story:

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office is reporting a 77-year-old man died at the scene of a one-car crash on Kiser Road in Thornapple Township Friday evening. A  passenger, a 78-year-old woman, was trapped in the car.  She was extricated and transported to a Grand Rapids hospital in what appeared to be non-life threating condition.


Investigating deputies said the passenger car traveling northbound on Kiser Road near Adams ran off the road for an unknown reason and struck a tree. Alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the crash. The crash is still under investigation.

Deputies were assisted by Thornapple Township Emergency Services and Barry County Central Dispatch.




Senior advocate's message: Be concerned about seniors, you may be one someday (amended)

Barry County Commission on Aging board member Sharon Zebowski has a message:

You need to be concerned about seniors, because someday, you may be one.

Zebowski attended Older Michiganian Day, billed as a platform for legislative action, on May 16 in Lansing and reported on it to the Barry County Commission Tuesday.


Created by Area Agencies on Aging Associations, the day is a chance to discuss issues that affect elders face-to-face with state legislators she said. This year’s concerns included addressing the shortage of long-term direct care workers, protecting and increasing funding for MI Choice, supporting the direct care workforce and pushing for increased funding for in-home care and preventing elder abuse, Zebowski said.


This is a chance for older adults to talk to their local representatives about their concerns before next year’s state budget is finalized in June. There were short speeches with lunch scheduled from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. so representatives could attend; both Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and Rep. Julie Calley were there, Zebowski said.


Americans over 60 are a fastest growing segment of our population, she said. “In three years, 10 million of us will be 65…and by the year 2030, one in five will be 65 or older.”


Barry County’s COA’s Meals on Wheels program has paid and volunteer drivers and has never missed a delivery for lack of a driver, she said. Contact with a driver is sometimes the only people some elders see; the drivers get to know their people and watch out for them, she said.


There was a waiting list for Meals on Wheels, Zebowski said, however, COA  Nutrition Program Coordinator Elaine Brill said while home services does have a waiting list, the meal delivery program does not..

Many counties do have a waiting list for Meals on Wheels,but because of their fundraising, Barry County does not, Brill said.




Barry County United Way 2018 – 2019 allocations announced

Twenty- Seven programs directly impacting Barry County residents will be funded this year, thanks to the generous contributions made through the Barry County United Way campaign, according to a BCUW news release.


“This is the hardest committee we ask people to serve on,” Allocations Chair Cortney Collison said. “The agencies all provide a great service to our community, deciding what level to fund them at is very difficult. 

“We are very fortunate that the Florence Tyden Groos Endowment Fund held by the Barry Community Foundation supports the administrative costs of the Barry County United Way. This allows all dollars donated to the annual campaign to be distributed to programs and services that directly impact the residents of our community,” Collison said.


Allocations provide support to agencies in four focus areas: helping youth reach their full potential, supporting families to achieve well-being and success, helping seniors find support and maintain independence and addressing urgent and emerging needs.//


Helping youth reach their full potential: 

The Barry County 4H program, $63,000

The Backpack Program, $2,344.05

Barry County Substance Abuse, $17,500

Leadership Youthquest, $3,900

President Ford Boy Scout Council, $7,000

Thornapple Parks and Recreation, $11,000

Toys for Barry County Kids, $1,294.05

YMCA, $90,000

Barry County Imagination Library, $10,000


Supporting families to achieve wellbeing and success:

Court Appointed Special Advocates, $8,000

Day of Caring, $11,438.92

Eaton Clothing and Furniture, $1,900.002

Family Support Center Crib, $8,569

Family Support Center, $40, 000

Habitat for Humanity, $20,000

Safe Harbor, $8,679

The Car Seat Program, $1,318.92


Helping seniors find support and maintain independence:

The Commission on Aging, $15,000

 In Home Services, $6,500

Hastings Community Education and Recreation Center, $5,000


Addressing urgent and emerging needs:

211, $13,500

Food Bank of South Central Michigan, $14,000

Fresh Food Initiatives and kids after school packs, $6,277,

Green Gables Haven, $58,000

Manna’s Market. $4,250

Smoke detector & carbon monoxide detector program, $365.47

Mission United and Barry County veteran’s assistance, $12,260.47

Family Economic Support Office, $8,000


Thirteen out-county not for profit 501(c) 3 health and human service agencies were designated dollars by donors totaling $4,306.  Thirteen in-county agencies that did not request funds were designated dollars by donors totaling $5,587.


Programs that are operated within the Barry County United Way are funded through grants and other types of donations include: Car Seat Education, Dental Clinic Intake, Financial Mentoring, Family Economic Support Office, Continuum of Care – Homeless Prevention and Emergency Assistance including the MEAP Utility Assistance, VSP eyeglass voucher program, Veteran’s Affairs, Volunteers in Tax Assistance (VITA) and The Volunteer Center.


For more on the programs and agencies funded by BCUW, call Lani Forbes at 269-945-4010 or visit





Learn about tick activity and tick-borne illness

With tick activity continuing to increase in Michigan, residents should know how to avoid ticks and tick-borne illness, according to an Ionia County Health Department news release.

Common tick-borne illnesses include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, anaplasmosis, ehrlichosis, and babesiosis. The best way to avoid ticks and prevent tick-borne disease is to do the following:


1) If possible, avoid shady, moist areas with overgrown grass, brush, and leaf litter. If working or recreating in areas known to have ticks, try to stay in well-groomed areas such as lawns and trails.


2) Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave so that ticks can be spotted easily.


3) If conditions permit, wear closed-toe shoes, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck in your shirt and tuck your pants into your shoes or socks.


4) Check clothes and exposed skin frequently for ticks. Perform “tick checks” after being outdoors, even in your own yard.


5) Use EPA-approved repellents such as those containing DEET, Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. Always read and follow the directions on the label, especially when applying repellant to children.


6) Create a “tick-free” zone around your home by keeping your grass mowed and eliminating brush and wood piles, etc. Keep play and recreation areas away from woodland edges and place them on wood chips or mulch instead of grass.


If a tick does bite, remove it as soon as possible. Seek prompt medical attention if illness occurs after a tick bite. For more information on tick hot spots, tick removal, tick identification and testing, creating “tick-free” zones, and symptoms of tick-borne illness, visit and


Michigan State University Extension's value highlighted at Barry County Commission

In a report to Barry County Commissioners Tuesday, Michigan State University Extension District 7 Coordinator Erin Moore gave a broad overview of the wide range of programs, research and resources the extension brings to the county.


Commissioner and dairy farmer Heather Wing introduced Moore, saying she started in the position this spring, replacing Don Lehman who retired. MSUE is for everyone in the community to use its extension programs to help with what the community is doing, Wing said.


Moore said their mission is to create community partnerships. They work through four institutes; Agriculture and Agribusiness, Children and Youth, Health and Nutrition and Greening Michigan, its economic development effort.


The 4-H programs, with 1,000 kids enrolled as members, 42 Barry County Clubs, 761 people taking part in specialtity programs, 80 teen volunteers and 300 adult volunteers, fosters  youth development through entrepreneurship, learning animal science and disease transmission, biosecurity training, the culinary arts, and partnerships with the Barry County United Way and Sunny Crest Youth Ranch.


MSUE supports many more areas in the county through its resources, research, workshops and demonstrations. Dairy production, keeping people healthy, making the most of natural assets, local government finance and policy, food safety and personal finance, agriculture and natural resources are targets of MSUE.


“The network extension has in trainings for businesses, health, is huge, but something we underutilize. I can’t toot extension’s horn enough,” Wing said. “On the agriculture side, we’ve had so much support over the years we sometimes forget all the work they do…but as a community we underutilize it.”

District 7 covers Barry, Kent, Ottawa and Allegan counties. //


The commission also considered several recommendations from last week’s committee of the whole meeting, approving:


*the taxable value report L-4046 and L-4028 given by county Equalization Director Timothy Vandermark,


*recreation grants from the county Parks & Recreation Board totaling $10,000,  awarded to municipalities for recreation projects,


*the creation of a full-time assistant to the Control One Monitor at the county jail,


*the 2017 Homeland Security grant program agreement for Barry County, with Van Buren County as judiciary, and


*budget amendment A-18.


Home lost to fire at Sundago Park

A mobile home at 86 Sundago Park near Thornapple Lake was destroyed by fire of unknown origin shortly after noon Monday.

Hastings Firefighters found a single-wide home fully involved on arrival. Homeowners and animals were out of the home; there were no injuries. 


Hastings Fire Department was assisted by Nashville and Freeport fire departments, Barry County Sheriff’s Office and Michigan State Police. The Red Cross is providing assistance to the family.

All veterans honored with parades, ceremonies on Memorial Day 2018

Most communities hold parades and other observances on or near Memorial Day to celebrate the country’s veterans, with special honor shown to those who sacrificed their lives for their country.  A list of some of the ceremonies follows.


Details of the ceremonies follow the list.



The Hickory Corners Memorial Day Parade will be Monday, May 28 at 10 a.m. sharp at Cadwallader Park. 



The Hastings American Legion Post 45 annual Memorial Day Parade is May 28 starting at 9:30 a.m. at the comer of Boltwood and State streets.



Middleville’s Memorial Day Parade steps off from new starting point on State Street on May 28 at 10:30 a.m.



Caledonia’s Memorial Day Parade will start at noon in the village on May 28. 



The Nashville Memorial Day Parade begins at Putnam Park at 11 a.m.



Yankee Springs Township will honor the nation’s fallen heroes Sunday, May 27 at 4:30 p.m. at the Yankee Springs Fire Station.



A Memorial Day Parade at Clarksville will step off at 8:30 a.m. with visits to three cemeteries to follow.



Orangeville Township celebrates all veterans Sunday, May 27 at 2 p.m. at the Veteran’s Memorial at the township hall, 7350 Lindsey Road.  



Wayland’s Memorial Day parade steps off at 11 a.m. from the Michigan State Police Post.


The details:



The Hickory Corners Memorial Day Parade. which has been held for more than 60 years. will be Monday, May 28 at 10 a.m. sharp.  The procession starts at Cadwallader Park, proceeds through town and ends at the East Hickory Corners Cemetery with memorial services honoring departed comrades. Guest speaker is Col. Daniel J. Whipple, Battle Creek Air National Guard Base. The Simmonds-Williams American Legion Post 484 holds a Chicken BBQ immediately after the ceremony. The morning starts with a pancake breakfast at the Hickory Corners Fire Department from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. The parade usually has 125 to 150 participants, with the Shriner’s Mini-Ts and the Gull Lake and Delton High School bands.

“This is a wonderful parade and one that has taken place for over 60 years.  Each year, the parade gets larger and larger.  Besides the highlights above, we have several tractors, horses/carriages, fire trucks from several surrounding fire departments, floats, classic cars, Boy/Girl Scout Troops, 4-H Participants and local children on their decorated bikes.  There are also a few hundred spectators that come to see our parade!” said Parade coordinator Chris Reed.



The Hastings American Legion Post 45 annual Memorial Day Parade is May 28 at 9:30 a.m.

Starting at the comer of Boltwood and State streets, the marchers will proceed to North Broadway to the Veterans' Memorial where two wreaths will be placed, one honoring all veterans and one a POW- MIA wreath. A new DAV monument will be dedicated. A rifle salute will be followed by TAPS.

At the bridge over the Thornapple River, a wreath will be placed in the waters to honor those who served on and under the seas. The honor guard will fire a rifle salute, followed by TAPS. Riverside Cemetery will be the final stop at the GAR Monument at the end of the Avenue of Flags where memorial ceremonies will be held. The grave of the most recently buried veteran at the cemetery will receive the final wreath and honors of the event.



Middleville’s 61st Memorial Day Parade, sponsored  by the Middleville Lions Club, will step off from State Street on May 28 at 10:30 a.m., travel through the village to Mt. Hope Cemetery for services honoring all veterans and fallen heroes for their sacrifice, ending with a 21-rifle salute and the playing of Taps. Gold Star families will be honored and all area veterans are invited to ride the veteran’s bus, boarding at 9:45 a.m. at 20 State Street. The Grand Marshal is honored veteran Cpl. Rose (LaBin) Canton, U.S. Marines; special parade guest is Cpl. Josh Hoffman, U.S. Marines. Look for a civilian flyover by the Hastings Flying Club. For questions or the full list up of events, call 269-795-9286 or 269-953-3373



Caledonia’s Memorial Day Parade will start at noon in the village on May 28.  Ceremonies include American Legion Caledonia Memorial Post 305 members visiting five cemeteries with short services at each; Alaska at 9 a.m., Blain at 9:45 a.m., Dutton at 10:30 a.m., Holy Corners at 11:15 a.m. and Caledonia at noon.



The Nashville Memorial Day Parade begins at Putnam Park at 11 a.m. travels through the village to Sherman Street, then to Lakeside Cemetery for a short ceremony to honor all of America’s veterans.



Yankee Springs Township will honor the nation’s fallen heroes as well as all veterans with a short service on Sunday, May 27 at 4:30 p.m. at the Yankee Springs Fire Station.



Orangeville Township celebrates all veterans who served in all wars on Sunday, May 27 at 2 p.m. at the Veteran’s Memorial at the township hall, 7350 Lindsey Road.  Following a welcome and invocation, the Pledge of Allegiance is recited and patriotic tunes performed by the Delton High School Band. Several speakers are featured during the approximately 45-minute event.

In the Deceased Honor Roll, the name of every man and woman from Orangeville Township who served their country from the Civil War to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars is read aloud.



Wayland’s Memorial Day parade entrants line up on Dahlia Street at 10:30 a.m.; walker’s line up before 10:40 a.m. in the field across from the Michigan State Police Post on North Main Street to step off at 11 a.m.  The procession  makes its way through the city to Wayland VFW Post 7581 at 753 South Main Street. The public is invited to a luncheon after the parade.



A Memorial Day Parade at Clarksville will step off at 8:30 a.m. Following the parade, Lake Odessa VFW Post 4461 members will travel to three area cemeteries for short services, at Clarksville Cemetery at 9 a.m., Woodland Cemetery at 10 a.m. and Lakeside Cemetery in Lake Odessa at 11 a.m.









Photos: Three file photos of a Memorial Day Parade in Hickory Corners show a colorful parade and a few of its supporters.



Bowling guilty of 1st degree felony murder, other counts, to be sentenced June 26

The jury was out less than two hours deciding the guilt of Ralph Bowling III, on trial for the murder of his estranged wife, Cheyenne Bowling, and attempted murder in the shooting of Nathan Farrell.


Bowling was found guilty of a total of  nine counts, including 1st degree felony murder, assault with intent to commit murder, 1st degree home invasion, 2nd degree arson and five felony gun charges.

Bowling, 41, from Woodland, will be sentenced June 28 at 8:30 a.m. The mandatory sentence is life in prison without parole.


The nearly two-week trial was held in Barry County Circuit Court with Judge Amy McDowell presiding. Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt made the case for the state. Attorney James Goulooze represented Bowling.


After the verdict, Nakfoor-Pratt said she was” shocked, but really happy,” that the jury reached a verdict so soon. “Justice was done,” she said. A telling factor that the jury likely took into account was the premeditation argument she gave in her summation, she said.


Nakfoor-Pratt argued that Bowling had many chances change his mind during the events leading up to his wife’s murder, but did not. In the early morning hours of June 11 last year Bowling went to the home of his wife’s mother and stepfather on Bird Road where Cheyenne and Farrell were watching television.


He watched them for a time, walked back to his truck he had parked a half mile away, drove back to his house on Coats Grove Road to get his 410 shotgun and extra ammunition and returned. He broke into the house, confronted them and shot Farrell, chased Cheyenne into the yard, and shot her, killing her instantly. Nakfoor-Pratt said he “was a man on a mission” who intended to shoot his wife


“It was a crime of passion,” Goulooze said. Bowling didn’t want to hurt anyone, but he got more and more desperate when his wife left him and told him the marriage was “done.”

Bowling was so distraught that he had lost control of his life, what he did was the last ditch effort of a desperate man trying to get his wife to come back to him to be a family again. Goulooze said the gun went off when the two struggled.


During testimony, the jury heard that after he was shot in the neck, Farrell ran out of a back door, found help from a neighbor and was taken to a hospital.

After the shootings, Bowling drove to his home and set the residence on fire, planning suicide, but changed his mind and left the house.  Several hours later, after throwing the shotgun alongside a road in Ionia County, he turned himself in to authorities.




Former Moose building in Hastings coming down

The Hastings City Council made the decision to raze the former Moose building, and hired Pitsch Companies to demolish the longtime land mark at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Apple Street. The work began in a cold drizzle May 11 and continues this week.

The city purchased the building at a tax sale four years ago, and originally had two developers interested in saving it.

A proposed deal by a developer for retail on the first floor and apartments on the second floor fell through, and the other developer had by then had committed to other projects.

The city is expected to use the back part of the parcel to expand city parking lot number 8. The space fronting Michigan Street will be more attractive for development without the building, officials said.

Photos below follow the progress of the demolition as of Wednesday.





























































Letter with white powdery substance sent to 63rd District Court not a threat

A letter containing an unidentified white power mailed to 63rd District Court in Grand Rapids Monday morning disrupted court activity while authorities investigated the suspicious letter delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.


The courthouse was locked down for about three hours while Kent County Sheriff’s detectives, the FBI and Grand Rapids Fire Department assessed the extent of threat and the containment of the unknown substance.


Authorities determined that the substance had been contained and was not a threat to anyone inside or outside of the building. There have been no symptoms of exposure reported by any of the involved parties, officials said.


The investigation is ongoing, and additional testing will be conducted to determine exactly what the substance is.


Anyone with information about this situation is encouraged to call the Kent County Sheriff’s Office or Silent Observer at 616-774-2345.

Bill Porter Charity Golf Classic to benefit local charities

The annual Bill Porter Memorial Golf Outing at the Legacy on Friday, June 15,  will benefit four local organizations that will try for the top spot in the split of the proceeds. 

Green Gables Haven, Barry County Imagination Library, St. Rose School and Manna’s Market will seek the most votes from golfers that will determine what each agency will get from the event. 


The charity receiving the most votes will receive 50 percent of the proceeds; second place will get 25 percent; third place, 15 percent; and the fourth place team will receive 10 percent.


All four charities will have booths at the outing, complete with a voting box. They will recruit golf teams, provide event volunteers, obtain two hole sponsors and door prizes. Each registered golfer has four ballots to vote for their favorite charity, they can use all four votes for one charity or split their votes any way they wish. 


Two more charities:  KickStart to Career and the Family Economic Support Office will receive $500 and share in the proceeds from the Outback. The Youth Advisory Council will sell donuts and coffee prior to kickoff. For the sixth year in a row, lunch will be provided by the Hastings Downtown Restaurant Association. The contribution of the meal means additional dollars for the charities.


“This is a really fun event that has provided more than $350,000 to charities throughout our county,” said Bonnie Gettys, president of the Barry Community Foundation.


Many special events happen during the golf classic, including the big Hole in One, longest drive, 50/50 closest to the hole, closest to the hole on the second shot, closest to the hole, the longest putt closest to the line. Other surprises are also planned this year.  A traveling trophy will be awarded to the winning team.


Numerous sponsorship opportunities are available with many of them including a golf team(s). The cost per team is $200 or $50 for an individual. For more information, call the Barry Community Foundation, 269-945-0526, or the Barry County United Way, 269-945-4010.


Gun Lake Tribe offers free tire collection today, May 16

The Gun Lake Tribe will accept used tires, free-of-charge to the public today, May 16, from 8 a.m. to 5p.m.   Go to the Government Campus, 2872 Mission Drive, Shelbyville and follow the signs to the area near  the public works building.


Each household can drop off a limit of 10 tires during the free recycling event; any tires dropped off  before or after the designated time period will not be accepted.


Questions? Call the Environmental Department, 269-397-1780.



Barry County Parks & Recreation grants recommended for approval

The Barry County Board of Commissioner's committee of the whole Tuesday recommended approval of grants from the Barry County Parks & Recreation Board to three townships, a village and a school.

The grant requests included one from the youngest person ever to apply, Hastings Middle School student Dylan Smith.

Smith, a member of an advisory group at the school, was looking for more to do outside. He and his advisor, teacher Courtney Coats, submitted the request for a Gaga Ball Pit for kids to play in their free time and recess to stop them from arguing or hitting each other. Smith explained Gaga Ball to commissioners. As many students as want to can get into the medium-sized wooden structure and be the target of a student with the ball.


When you are hit with the ball, you have to get of the pit, and the winner gets to start the next game, Smith said. The grant is for $500 and the middle school PTA will help with the project.


Patricia Johns, vice chair of the Park & Recreation Board announced the grants. She said they are available to schools and municipalities to enhance recreation and must be open to all county residents, which mean in the summer months, community kids can play Gaga Ball when schools are not in session.


Johns said they send out letters to all schools and municipalities, the first telling of the grants and a reminder two weeks before the deadline to apply. There were no requests from the east side of the county this year, but she said they will continue to offer them for next year’s cycle.


The board has up to $10,000 to allot in 2018. Grant requests of $2,000 or more require 50 percent in matching funds, she said. The board can increase grants in $500 increments, if they chose.

The other grants are:

Prairieville Township asked for $1,000 for work on two of its parks; the board granted it $1,500 to improve parking areas and add mulch to playground areas.


Yankee Springs Township was grant request was for $2,000 to continue to improve the township park on M-179. “Again, the board added $500 to this grant,” Johns said.


Orangeville Township will use its $2,500 grant to continue the development of a walking trail, working with Pierce Cedar Creek Institute and the DNR to establish a native plant area along the trail to attract birds, butterflies and visitors to the area, she said.


The Village of Middleville plans to buy and install a water bottle and pet bowl water filling station near the pavilion on Main Street. Visitors and residents going to events in the village will have an easier time finding water. The grant was for $3,000 with a 50 percent match from the village.


In other business, the commissioners also recommended approval of:


* the 2018 taxable value and Headlee rollback report by Equalization Director Tim Vandermark.


* budget amendment A-18.  The changes do not affect the General Fund budget totals, Administrator Michael Brown said.


* a full time Control One Monitor at the Barry County Sheriff’s Office. Funding will come from the sheriff’s budget. The full time monitor will replace two part time assistant control monitors. The monitor is responsible for entries into the Lein system, warrants, entry of court orders, bonds, probation conditions, PPO’s, jail access control, answering the telephone, assisting other department officers and much more, Undersheriff  Matt Houchlei said.


* the 2017 Homeland Security grant program funding agreement with Van Buren County as the fiduciary agent for Homeland Security grants awarded to Barry County. The same agreement has been in force for the last several years, it will bring a $7,200 baseline funding grant and $30,000 for equipment and training for District 5.

Hastings city parking lot maintenance special assessment set

The Hastings City Council Monday approved the final special assessment roll with individual assessments in the downtown district that will pay maintenance costs for city parking lots. The total cost is set at $44,984, however the Downtown Development Authority will pay $15,962 of the bills, leaving $29,022 to be spread among business owners.


City Assessor Jackie Timmerman said the amount for each business is calculated by adding or subtracting various factors, including square footage of the lot, a use factor (the activity level) parking spaces the business has and the distance from the door of the business to the nearest parking space.


The result is divided by the total number in the special assessment district, resulting in the amount the individual business owner is billed on summer 2018 tax bills. The assessment roll shows the lowest assessment is for $25.02, and the highest is $2,678.44 and everywhere in between.


After a public hearing on the budget brought no comments from the public, the council approved the 2018-2019 budget. First readings on two proposed ordinances were also held; the first to allow churches as a special use in various zones and changes in the temporary enclosures rules. There will be more discussion on both changes at the next council meeting when the panel will act on the proposals.


A workshop was set for May 21 at 7 p.m. to talk about major improvement projects at the wastewater treatment plant and preliminary results of the Storm Asset Management and Wastewater program. Dennis Benoit, engineer from Hubbell Roth & Clark, will lead the discussion and answer questions.


Poppy days are May 17-19

The Hastings City Council Monday officially proclaimed May 17-19 as American Legion Auxiliary Poppy Days in Hastings. Irene Ames, member of the Lawrence J. Bauer American Legion Post 45 Auxiliary accepted the proclamation.


Post members will be at the entrances of Hastings businesses during Poppy Days, offering red poppies to the public as a way to remember the men and women who served and those who have died for their country. They do not sell them, but donations are welcome.

Mayor Dave Tossava read the proclamation which said the poppy is an international symbol of the sacrifice of lives in war, and the hope that none died in vain.


It was inspired by a poem written during WWI by Lt. Col. John McCrea, a Canadian physician and artillery commander who was appointed medical officer and major of the 1st Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery.


McCrea treated the wounded during the second Battle of Ypres, and wrote the poem after a young soldier friend was killed during the early days of the battle. McCrea was moved by the red poppies at a cemetery; the only plants to grow on otherwise barren battlefields.

After his poem about the military cemetery Flanders Fields, the red poppies came to symbolize the blood shed during battle (see below).


The American Legion Auxiliary is the world's largest women's patriotic service organization, with membership of three-quarter million women directly related to a veteran who served during a time of U.S. declared war or conflict, Tossava read.

The Legion’s mission to serve veterans, the military and their families is carried out through the outreach program services delivered by its members volunteering in more than 9,000 communities for the past 97 years.


In Flanders Fields

By John McCrae, May 1915


In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,


That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.


Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.


If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.


Airport manager's agreement approved by Hastings City Council

The revised City of Hastings Barry County Airport manager’s agreement was approved by the Hastings City Council Monday after being sent back to the Airport Authority for clarification of some wording.

The contract confirms Manager Mark Noteboom’s status as an independent contractor, not an employee, and had been approved by the authority. City Manager Jeff Mansfield said there was give and take and compromise, with both sides giving up some things.

As co-owner of the airport through a Joint Operating Agreement, the Barry County Commission also had to approve it, which they did May 8.


The council also approved replacing Riverside Cemetery fencing on both sides of West State Road, at the request of the Riverside Cemetery Preservation Advisory Board. The $74,000 cost of the project will come from the endowment for the cemetery’s capital improvements held by the Barry Community Foundation.


Fencing will be removed by DPS equipment and labor, except 300 feet set aside for a planned memorial. The rest will be sold to Padnos to help pay for the work. Requests for proposals for the new aluminum fencing will be asked for after July 1.



A request by American Legion Post 45 to hold the annual Memorial Day Parade on May 28 at 9:30 a.m. was approved, as was a request by Spectrum Health Pennock to use the Fish Hatchery parking lot on June 13-14 for its 95th anniversary celebration.


The council got its first look at the draft ordinance and policy regulating the city’s entertainment venues, including the Thornapple Plaza and the Spray Plaza. The policy is the document. First reading of the ordinance was set for the next meeting.


The panel went into closed session before adjournment to discuss specific pending litigation.


Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, 87th District Rep. Julie Calley speak at Hastings Rotary meeting

Lt. Governor Brian Calley and his wife, 87th District Rep. Julie Calley seldom make joint appearances and have never even ridden to work together. Given their working in the legislature in Lansing while raising three young children, they quipped they considered the Hastings Rotary Club lunch visit Monday, “a date.”


Brian Calley, who is running for Governor, had a lighthearted approach in his talk, but dealt with serious issues. He points to statistics that show Michigan is in a better place than in the early 1990s when many, “thought our state was on the wrong path…our state was not doing well.”

Balancing the budget, paying down the debt, setting firm priorities and working to improve the City of Detroit helped push the state’s revival, he said.


With 540,000 new jobs created and filled, placing in the Top Ten states in income growth, inbound migration of young people 25 to 35, and a 17-year low in the unemployment rate are all markers of success in reinventing the state. But there's more to do, he said. Promoting skilled trades is one.


In the next six years, Michigan will need 800,000 people to work in health, information technology and skilled trades fields. There are many tracks to a life-long career, he said. “There are a lot of jobs that provide a very high income that are easy to get into.”


Political divisiveness in politics today is rampant, he said, especially ridiculous is the, ‘I will fight for you’ mantra. “People brag about fighting in politics. Why not say they will work hard to make a difference?’”


His three points during his run for governor include continuing the state’s comeback by building on the foundation that’s here and not making change for change’s sake, having a candidate who can win an election and a real plan for education and economic development.  “Our people make real plans for real results.”


In her remarks, Julie said her priorities are car insurance reform, roads, getting rid of the debt, broadband for rural areas, and economic activity in rural communities.


This year is the first year for full funding from a gas tax and fee increase from January 2017 with an additional $175 millon added to the funding for this year, she said.  She cautioned that undoing 30 years of neglect won’t be done in months.


One thing that she didn’t expect in the legislature was how entangled bills get. A bill with several large reforms doesn’t get done because everyone wants to add to or take something away.

Leadership has said they will only do what benefits the taxpayers: “real savings for real families,” she said. She asked the audience to, “continue being vocal for all of us.”


Brian Calley has a background in banking; he was on the Ionia County Commission before he was elected to the 87th District rep in 2006 for two terms. He has a degree in business administration from Grand Valley State University.


Julie Calley has a degree in business management and a background in real estate management. She served eight years on the Ionia County Commission before being elected to the House of Representatives in 2016.  The Calleys live in Portland.

Green Gables hosts evening with award winning authors

Nibbles, Novelist and New Beginnings, an evening featuring four noted authors and emceed by Teri De Boer, will be presented by Green Gables Haven on May 17 at 5:30 p.m. at the Ever After Banquet Hall and Concert Center, 1230 North Michigan Avenue in Hastings. For more information or tickets, call 269-804- 6021 or


It’s an evening to enjoy cocktails and dinner while networking with colleagues, friends and best-selling authors, organizers say.  Proceeds will help Green Gables serve those in domestic violence and crisis situations.


The authors:

Wade Rouse, an award winning memoirist, writes under the pen name Viola Shipman, his grandmother, whose heirlooms and family stories inspire his fiction. The Charm Bracelet, a 2017 Michigan Notable Book and The Hope Chest have been translated into a dozen languages and become international best sellers.


Katie Hart Smith has been a published author for more than 20 years. People, places and political and social issues inspire her writing of medical, academic, historical non-fiction, fiction, and children’s stories. In 2016, she released Aspirations of the Heart, which was placed in the Georgia Governor’s Mansion Library.


Shenandoah Chefalo, a survivor and alumna of the foster care system, and co-founder of Good Harbor Institute, is a guest speaker on foster care issues locally, nationally and internationally. Author of Garbage Bag Suitcase and an e-book, Setting Your Vision and Defining Your Goals, she is working on a manuscript, Hiking for Stillness.


Mardi Link is a New York Times bestselling author of five non-fiction books, twice winner of the Michigan Notable Book Award, the Booksellers Choice Award and the Housatonic Award for Creative Non-Fiction. Her memoir Bootstrapper has been optioned for film by actress Rachel Weisz.


The evening will be emceed by Terri DeBoer, a staff meteorologist and co-host of eight West, a life style show, on WOOD-TV. A working mom most of her career, DeBoer understands the need to support women and families.





Thornapple Manor 60th Anniversary

Thornapple Manor  will observe its 60th anniversary with a celebration this friday May 18th beginning at 2:00 o'clock. The public is cordially invited to come join in as Thornapple Manor will have presentations, a time capsule, an ice cream social and pop corn located in the employee parking lot.

Graduation time is here for the Class of 2018

Graduation season is here, with ceremonies, open houses, class parties and hundreds of young people assuming the status of alumni as they go forward to a career, college or military service.

Dates for area schools graduation ceremonies are:


* Delton Schools graduation rehearsal will be May 30 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.; graduation ceremonies will take place Thursday, May 31 at 7 p.m. in the high school gym.


* Thornapple Kellogg Schools graduation ceremony for the Class of 2018 is Thursday, May 24 at 7 p.m. Ceremonies will be in the stadium and move to the gym, if necessary.


* Hastings Area School System will hold its graduation ceremonies Friday, May 25 at 7 p.m.


* Maple Valley Schools graduation ceremonies will be Friday, June 1 at 7 p.m. Baccalaureate and graduation rehearsal is Wednesday, May 30.


* Lakewood Schools will graduate the Class of 2018 Thursday, May 24 at 7 p.m.


* Caledonia Community Schools will hold its graduation ceremonies Thursday, May 24 at 7 p.m. at the High School. Tickets are required, eight to a family.


* Wayland Union Schools senior’s graduation is

Thursday, May 24 at 7 p.m. at Wayland High School gym/stadium.

Corrections officers recognized for their work

“National Correctional Officers Week” commemorates the daily contributions of all corrections officers and personnel who work in jails, prisons and community corrections.

Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf would like to remind the public that 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, corrections deputies of the sheriff’s office face unique challenges while dealing with the inmate population in a safe, efficient and professional manner.


“Please remember these outstanding employees during this week of commemoration, and thank a corrections officer for their service if given the opportunity,” Leaf said.


In 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed Proclamation 5187, creating the “National Correctional Officers Week” week in May to provide correctional officers with the respect and recognition they deserve.


Leaders of townships, villages and Hastings invited to roundtable discussions

The Barry County Supervisor’s Association’s "Lunch with Leaders" brought together many of the elected officials of Barry County in a face to face environment.


Jim Brown,  Hastings Township supervisor and chairman of the event, said to improve and expand the concept, they will include officials from the villages of Middleville, Freeport, Nashville, Woodland and the City of Hastings to the meetings the fourth Tuesday of the designated month at 1:15 p.m. in the Tyden building in Hastings. The meetings will end no later than 2:30 p.m.


The agenda for meetings is a roundtable format where officials tell what’s going on in their jurisdictions. Questions or comments could follow the presentations, Brown said, and

other topics could be brought up at the request of members.


“The basic intent is to keep informed on what is going on, no matter what the location or area in the county. Anything that happens, not matter where, in some way, affects us all,” he said.

The concept and format was discussed and approved at the last supervisors meeting in March. 


“As someone once said, ‘the only thing permanent is change,’ and this is just that,” he said.

The name of the event has been changed to “Vision Barry County.”

QVF list check against Social Security death records now law

Legislation sponsored by state Rep. Julie Calley to protect the integrity of elections in Michigan was signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder last week.

Calley’s legislation, Public Act 126 of 2018, requires the Secretary of State to keep the list of people who are registered and qualified to vote in Michigan up to date by checking it against U.S. Social Security Administration’s death records.


The legislation also requires continued participation in a multi-state program that shares information on current address and registration status of voters.


“Election integrity and security are vital concerns,” said Calley, of Portland. “We must do everything we can to ensure them that our qualified voter file is being held to the highest standard possible. When someone passes away or moves to another state, it’s important to update our voter rolls promptly to eliminate the possibility of voter fraud.”


While the Secretary of State already uses the resources to update the qualified voter file, Calley said, it was not required by law. This law ensures the practice continues in the future.

Two other bills recently enacted explain a procedure where absentee voters can change their mind, spoil their absentee ballot and revote. The other clarifies the current list of acceptable forms of identification for elections.


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


Barry County Sheriff gives April 2018 versus 2013 activity report

In his activity report for the month of April, Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf reported the K-9 unit was activated five times, deputies did 67 home checks for the specialty court programs, the jail staff did 491 portable breath tests ordered by the court and 86 sex offender registry transactions were completed.


In the April 2018 Road Patrol numbers, activity was up in incidents, accidents and car/deer crashes compared to five years ago, but arrests were down. In 2018, 627 incidents were handled, 581 in 2013, 62 accidents handled this year, 42 five years ago. Car/deer numbers were 35 versus 17. Sixty-one persons were arrested this April, 68 in the same month in 2013. Officers on patrol arrested six for alcohol related incidents last month, 10 in 2013.


At the jail, Leaf reported, they booked 309 persons into jail, 84 as weekenders, and released 232 back into the community. In 2013, they booked 243 and released 170. This April, 89 public prints were taken, 117 in 2013. Drug screens were up, 95 now to 89 then. Staff served 8,877 meals last month to inmates, and transported 56 to court. There was $5,096.21 spent in plumbing repairs, and $2,105.05 in HVAV repairs.

Bowling murder trial continues in Barry County Circuit Court

Testimony continues today (Thursday) in the trial of Ralph Bowling III, 41, who is charged with the murder of his estranged wife, Cheyenne Bowling, and attempted murder in the shooting of Nathan Farrell, as well as arson and weapons charges.


Bowling, from Woodland, is accused of shooting his wife and Farrell in the early morning hours of June 11 last year in the home of his wife’s mother and stepfather on Bird Road. The parents were out of town. After he was shot in the neck, Farrell ran out of a back door, found help from a neighbor and was taken to a hospital. Cheyenne also fled the house but was shot and killed in the yard.


Bowling is alleged to have driven to his home after the shootings and set the residence on fire, planning to die in the fire, but he changed his mind and left the residence. Several hours later, after throwing the supposed murder weapon, a 410 gauge shotgun, alongside a road in Ionia County, he turned himself in to authorities.

Jury selection was Monday in Barry County Circuit Court with presiding Judge Amy McDowell; it is expected to last until early next week.


Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt is handling the case for the state. Attorney James Goulooze is representing Bowling. He has been held on $1 million bond.

Conviction of the murder charge could bring a sentence of life in prison.

Barry County congratulates Thornapple Manor on 60th Anniversary

The Barry County Commission presented Thornapple Manor with a resolution Tuesday congratulating the facility on its 60th Anniversary. Commissioner Ben Geiger read the resolution with Thornapple Manor Administrator Don Haney at the podium.


The innovative 102 bed Thornapple Valley Home and Medical Care Facility built in 1955 at 2700 Nashville Road in Barry County replaced the “county poor farm.” One of the first of its kind, it was recognized as the “County Facility Second to None in the Nation” by the Michigan Department of Social Welfare and, in answer to demand, added another 36 beds just 18 months later.


In 1986, the residents changed the name to Thornapple Manor to get away from the “poor farm” stigma. As Thornapple Manor offered state of the art in 21st Century services, its expansion continued over the years with the support of Barry County citizens, Geiger read.


Thornapple Cottages, a three-year project with 23 beds opened in 2013, creating private rooms and a more home like atmosphere to meet the need for specialized care for Alzheimer and dementia.


“Thornapple Manor continues to lead the way in 24-hour skilled care, memory care and rehabilitation services, earning the coveted Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services 5 Star Rating,” he read. The facility strives to find ways to collaborate and create partnerships in care delivery to reduce costs while improving care and outcomes for the residents.


“Thornapple Manor looks forward to serving Barry County residents now and in the future, providing person-centered care in a manner that is nurturing and welcoming to its residents, families and the community, recognizing that as care providers it is its duty to provide a safe haven for mind, body and spirit, allowing each individual to have a life lived well, full of encouragement and love,” he concluded.


Haney thanked the commission for the resolution, saying he was humbled by the outpouring of support from the community, adding that the credit all goes to the staff for its outstanding service.


Photo: Thornapple Manor Administrator Don Haney displays the logo for the facility's 60th Anniversary.

Gull Lake School's $64.9 million millage approved

With 11 of 11 Gull Lake School precincts in Kalamazoo County reporting, the school’s $64,955 million bond proposal passed by a vote of 1,322 to 644.

In Barry County, the tally was 126 yes votes and 136 no votes. There are 1,538 registered voters in three precincts in Johnstown Prairieville and Barry townships.

The millage is for building and equipping new buildings, security, technology, playground and parking areas, driveways and sites. The payoff is 2.62 mills for 30 years.

Decision on expansion of Barry County Transit delayed 30 days

A decision on a planned renovation and expansion at the Barry County Transit will be delayed at least 30 days, while Barry County Commissioners wait for an appraisal of the value of the property where the Transit and the Barry County Jail are located in the 1200 block of West State Street in Hastings.


County Administrator Michael Brown has a tentative cost of $4,500 to $5,500 for such an appraisal from a Lansing company. The commission voted to direct Brown to get a written quote from the company, with Commissioner Ben Geiger noting they have to know the value of the property before they can move ahead with planning on replacing the jail.

“It would be foolish to proceed without that information,” he said.


Depending on the appraisal, commissioners could consider selling the property to help pay for a new jail. The commission also approved issuing a request for qualifications from consulting companies with experience in building jails and COA-type buildings to explain issues with those facilities, but not constructing them. Commissioners will pick a qualified company through interviews.


The transit had requested approval of a 2,950 square foot addition to the bus garage, a 1,160 square foot addition to the dispatch center and renovation of existing administrative space for a total of $1 million, to come from transit funds.


In other business, the commissioners approved:

* written policies for receiving and documenting federal funds. Administrator Michael Brown said the county has always conformed to the rules, but the federal government now requires written policies.


* verifying the re-appointment of Patti Richardson to the Animal Shelter Advisory Board for a one-year term as Barry County Humane Society representative.


* approval of an amended contract for City of Hastings Barry County Airport Director Mark Noteboom, verifying that he is an independent contractor, not an employee.  As co-owners, the Hastings City Council also must vote on the changes.


* a contract for $14, 015.28 to Rose Construction, the low bidder, to replace ceiling tiles in the District Courtroom.


* an application for state grants for fiscal year 2019 by the Office of Community Corrections.


* appointments of Douglas C. Klein to the Parks & Recreation Board to a partial term ending Dec. 31, 2018 and Karen Ferrier to the Community Corrections Advisory Board for a three-year- term representing the business community.

* the 2019 budget calendar.  

The commissioners went into closed session to discuss a matter exempt from disclosure by state statute.


Watson Drain project raises questions by "many concerned citizens"

An effort to undertake a repair project of the Watson Drain, which includes parts of Hope, Barry, Prairieville, Orangeville townships, will move forward after it was determined necessary and conducive to the public health, convenience or welfare and was necessary for the public health, by a three-member Board of Determination on May 7 at the Barry Township Hall.


The panel also approved requiring a surveyor to accurately define the boundaries of the land that may benefit by the proposed improvements, and thus be in the drain district.


Commissioner David Jackson attended the meeting and remarked on it at the Tuesday commission meeting. He said it was little confusing because he thought a lot of people came to be informed and be heard because there was no debate, no discussion and no questions asked of the attorney.

“A lot of people expressed concern to me that the result  was baked into it before they got there that it was going to go forward. I confirmed it with Drain Commissioner Jim Dull this morning. He said ‘that’s pretty much their job, to green flag the fact that there is a petition and to put it through, and maybe the discussion from all the people really didn’t matter; that’s the way it is set up.’”


“There is no project or assessment at this point,” Jackson said, “but there are many concerned citizens in that area.”


A paragraph in the required published public notice reads:

 “The presentation is to provide background for landowners and municipalities in the drainage district and to facilitate the dissemination of information and the receipt of testimony of landowners in the drainage district. The Board of Determination will make decisions at the end of the meeting.”


Commissioner Vivian Conner also attended the meeting; she said they did expand a project area, but the drain district may be smaller, “when they decide what the solution is.”

“A lot of people; a lot of different viewpoints…that board was supposed to say whether to go ahead, so they did.” Several people also approached her with concerns, she said.


When questioned last week, Dull said they need five landowners in the district to petition for the work, and they have a dozen. “We mailed 1,215 notices, so it is a big district,” he said.

The MDOT, Barry County Road Commission and the townships involved will share in the cost, he said. “We had (an informational) meeting on March 31 with Upper Crooked Lake residents, we had about 60 people there.”

He said the project will not be done any time soon; at least it will take more than a year.

Man Assaulted His vehicle stolen

A 45 year old man was viciously assaulted suffering severe injuries while launching his boat according to the Ionia County Sheriff.  The attacker jumped into the  unidentified mans vehicle and fled.

 After receiving the vehicle description, central dispatch notified area police who later located the victims truck being driven by 27 year old Gabriel Neff from the Lansing area.

 Neff is lodged in the Ionia County jail. His bond is $15,000 dollars. 

He is charged with Carjacking, Unarmed robbery and Aggravated assault. On the Carjacking charge Neff is looking at up to life in prison

 The victim was taken to a local hospital treated and is expected to make full recovery.

911 displayed on caller ID in possible scam attempt

A resident of a neighboring county received a call stating that a family member was injured in a vehicle accident. The caller ID showed ‘911’ on the screen and the caller requested personal information, according to a news release from Michael Armitage at Eaton County Central Dispatch.


“Please know that, with the exception of text messaging, the caller ID for 911 centers will not appear as ‘911.’ Phone calls from 911 centers will show up with a seven-digit administrative phone number or, in some cases, will display restricted or blocked,” Armitage said.


Eaton County residents who receive a call with 911 on the caller ID should not give out personal information and should report the call to 517-543-3510.  If residents question the validity of a caller representing themselves as 911 or another public safety agency, they can call central dispatch at 517-543-3510, he said.


In cases where the caller’s authenticity is in question, we will work to confirm the validity of the call or connect you with the proper authorities to report it as a scam, Armitage said.


Ionia County deputies break up burglary, arrest three

Ionia County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a breaking and entering in progress in the 10,000 block of West Peck Lake Road in Boston Township on May 5.


Deputies found three people involved at a storage garage with antique corvette items.

Jessica Lynn Nacanceno , 35, from Waterford, waiting in the U-Haul Rental van as a lookout, while Jeremiah Matthew Micallef , 35, from the Royal Oak  area, and  Mark Anthony Aquino, 34, from Lansing pried a main entry door open.


The three were arrested, lodged at the Ionia County Jail and are being held on bonds.


Once inside the storage garage, Micallef and Aquino targeted high value items. Multiple burglary tools were discovered with the two, as well as methamphetamine.  After obtaining a search warrant, the U-Haul van was searched where additional burglary tools and more suspected methamphetamine was found. Ionia County Central Dispatch assisted on the case.

The investigation is continuing.





Two vehicle/pedestrain crashes in less than two hours in Allegan County.

Allegan County was the scene of two vehicle/pedestrian incidents this morning, one reported at 5:50 a.m.; the other at 7:35 a.m. In the first, a driver reported to central dispatch that she was unable to avoid striking a man walking in the roadway at 109th Avenue and 55th Street in Lee Township.

Arriving deputies found the man being tended by first responders. He was unresponsive and had severe injuries. Aero Med transported him to Bronson Hospital where he was listed in critical condition.


The family of the victim, who came to the scene, said he had left the residence while everyone was asleep and was only discovered gone when they awoke for the day. The man, 34, was described by the family as learning impaired and was known to leave the residence at various times for walks.


The driver in the crash, a 20-year-old woman, said she was westbound when she saw the man in the roadway; she tried to stop but was unable to avoid striking the man who was wearing dark clothing.  The crash is still under investigation by the sheriff’s office; however neither speed nor alcohol appear to be factors.  Deputies were assisted by Lee Township Fire Department and Fennville AMR.


The later crash, at 126th and west of 7th Street in Wayland Township, involved a woman apparently on a walk or jog, who was struck by a pickup truck. The initial report said a woman was lying in the middle of the road.  However, when Yankee Springs Fire Department and Wayland Fire Rescue personnel arrived at the scene, she was being treated on the shoulder of the road by Wayland EMS and was conscious and talking.

She was transported to Metro Health Hospital where she is being treated for what officials believe are non-life threatening injuries. The driver of the pickup was not injured. Michigan State Police, Allegan County Sheriff’s Office and Gun Lake Tribe Police also responded to the crash.



St. Rose School

St. Rose School in Hastings observed and celebrated its 100th anniversary Sunday marking the occasion with a special Mass celebrated by  Bishop Bradley, Bishop of the Diocese of Kalamazoo.

Bishop Bradley spoke of the contribution to education that St. Rose School has brought to the community over the 100 years and continues to do so today.

Zebrowski challenges Geiger for Barry County Commission 5th District seat

Sharon Zebrowski, chairwoman of the Charlton Park Board, is running for the Fifth District Barry County Commission seat against incumbent Ben Geiger. Both Republicans, they will face each other in the August primary election. The winner there will compete against Ben Eastman, a Democrat, on Nov.6.


Zebrowski has attended county commission meeting for several years; she serves on the Commission on Aging Board, is involved the Barry County Historical Society, the Tuesday Freeport Library Book Discussion, the Thornapple Wind Band and the Hastings City Band. A Western University graduate with a BS in education, Zebrowski taught in Hastings, Mt. Morris and Hardee County Florida where she worked with Title 1 students, who were mostly migrants.


She traveled with the carnival as owner of a game, a kiddie ride and an elephant ear wagon. “I loved working with the carnival,” she said. “I delivered flowers in Tampa for a couple of years and worked nine years with the Tampa Hillsborough Library.”


She came to Michigan in 2009 after her parents passed away, planning to stay for one year, sell her parent’s house then move back to a warm climate. Now she finds, “I’m way too busy now to get the house ready to sell.”


District 5 covers all of Woodland and Castleton townships and large parts of Carlton and Hastings townships. 

Maple Valley schools ponder: after the inappropriate proposal, what's next?

Maple Valley Superintendent Michelle Falcon released a statement regarding a disturbing social media post by two Maple Valley students last week.


“Tolerance is defined in Webster’s as ‘recognition of and respect for the opinions, practices or behavior of others.’ The idea of teaching tolerance is not new, but Maple Valley Schools is making a deliberate effort to reach out, educate and inspire teachers, students and citizens to value cultural awareness and diversity.


“As our country becomes increasingly diverse, broad-brush communication techniques simply won’t work anymore. Last weekend, we had shocking social media post by two of our students which brought an overwhelming amount of negative attention to the district.


“The implied racist proposal does not represent the beliefs of our student body.  We as a district and as a school community have been processing this in many different ways.


As a staff, we will be integrating ideas such as the following:

*viewing “Bullied” a documentary on the effects of bullying on students

*cultural competency online curriculum for students

*cultural awareness events

*diversity awareness professional development with all staff

*legal ramifications from social media posts

*creation of a bias response team incorporated in with our crisis plans.


“Whenever a discipline incident occurs, the administration must investigate. All staff and students have the right to due process. In addition, there are laws limiting the amount of information that is shared about a situation.


“It is the intent of our school district to follow up with this serious infraction.  We realize there are ways we can address cultural awareness with the support of agencies that have that expertise. We are consulting with Calhoun ISD, Judge Mike Schipper, and other diversity resources to support our efforts.


“Although it is the last month of the school year, we will have activities scheduled this month.  We also plan on embedding events during the school year. These trainings will not only include our secondary building but will include Fuller and Maplewood as well.


“Our goal is to turn this negative situation into a valuable learning experience for our students and staff.”  



Allegan County Dive/Rescue team rescues man from Dumont Lake

Thursday at about 3 a.m., a Dumont Lake resident could hear a man calling for help and called authorities. Allegan County Sheriff’s Office deputies and the Dive/Rescue Team immediately responded to the scene, according to a sheriff’s news release.


The man’s location was unknown and deputies communicated with him every minute or so to locate him. He was found in a sitting position in about four feet of water and transported to a hospital for treatment of hypothermia.


The man had gone fishing around 4 p.m. At some point the canoe overturned and sank and he attempted to swim to the boat launch.  Deputies said because of suspected hypothermic conditions, he was unable to swim any further, however he did make it to an area where he could keep his head above the 56 degree water.

Sheriff’s deputies were assisted by Hopkins first responders and Wayland EMS.


Sandra Englehart Drummond presented Liberty Bell Award at Law Day

The Liberty Bell Award was presented to Sandra Englehart Drummond for her many years of involvement in causes that benefitted Barry County at the Law Day celebration Wednesday.


The keynote speaker was Michigan Supreme Court Justice, Kurtis T Wilder (see related story).


Barry County Bar Association  President Robert Byington presented the award to Drummond, saying she showed her commitment and civic responsibility to the community by giving to many individuals, groups and organizations. He had a list of her accomplishments, but told the audience that is was so long they would fall asleep before he finished reading it.


He instead highlighted her work in coordinating the Ferris State University Dental Hygiene Program, on the Barry County Women’s Festival, the establishment and as the first executive director of Green Gables Haven, the only shelter for victims of domestic violence in the county, Leadership Barry County and establishing the Rumpelstiltskin Trial, where elementary students go to county courtrooms to argue the case of Rumpelstiltskin versus the Queen. 


“Thank you. I don’t even know how to tell you how honored I am,” Drummond said accepting the award. “I’m not a native of Barry County, but I’ve been embraced by Barry County. This is a county that is very inclusive. If you want to say ‘ yes’ to Barry County, you can do all kinds of exciting things.

“The reality of Green Gables is Judge (Richard) Shaw pounded his fist on the table saying, “we are going to do something about domestic violence in this county,’” she recalled. “It was an exciting adventure, because everywhere I went, people were saying ‘yes, we need this.’”


It started without state funding, supported by Barry County. “It opened in 2004 and Barry County is still supporting it, yes, there were big, private donors, but Girl Scouts… people on the street were supporting it and they still are. Thank you, Barry County for letting me participate with you.”//


Barry County District Court Judge Michael Schipper welcomed the group gathered at the Barry County Enrichment Center, saying Law Day is “a neat opportunity to discuss and remember why law is so important in our country and what a foundation it plays in how unique we are.” Also, it allows them to “acknowledge someone in our community who has done great things, many times quietly.”


Byington gave a little history of the event.  The first Law Day was held in 1957 to counter the Soviet Union’s May Day celebration, and to stress to the world the importance the United States places on the rule of law. In 1958, it became a national day of celebration, bringing information and respect for the law. Now celebrated every year across the nation, each president since then has issued a proclamation verifying the rule of law, he said.


(upper left) Sandra Englehart Drummond speaks after accepting the Liberty Bell Award at Law Day.

(middle right) Sandra Englehart Drummond (right) chats with Thornapple Manor Drector of Support Services Lyn Briel (left) and Director of Marketing at Hastings City Bank Nancy Goodin at the reception before the Law Day program.

(left) Sandra Englehart Drummond with her husband Don Drummond, wait for the Law Day program to begin.

Michigan Supreme Court Justice keynote speaker at Law Day

The Separation of Power, Framework for Freedom, was the theme of the Law Day celebration hosted Wednesday by the Barry County Bar Association. The ceremony each year recognizes the rule of law in our country and also  honors a member of the community with the Liberty Bell Award. This year the award was presented to Sandra Englehart Drummond (see related story).


Keynote speaker, Michigan Supreme Court Justice, Kurtis T Wilder (left) was introduced by Barry County Probate Judge William M Doherty.

Doherty noted Wilder had experience as an attorney in private practice, as a judge in the Washtenaw Trial Count and the Michigan Court of Appeals, before he was appointed to the Supreme Court in May of 2017.


Wilder earned a degree in political science at the University of Michigan and a juris Doctor at U of M Law School, is a member of numerous boards, task forces and committees at the state level and is involved in many civic and philanthropic activities as well.


A champion of specialty courts, Wilder goes over and above what is required of judges by working personally with the individual participants, acting as counselors and social workers, which brings positive results, Doherty said.


In his address, Wilder quoted James Madison, one of the framers of the Constitution, as saying that leaving the legislative, judicial and executive powers in the hands of one… is the very definition of tyranny.  

However, most Americans, young and old, have a very limited knowledge of our Constitution and the framework that underpins our government, he said.


The nation’s report card, the national assessment of educational progress, shows that most students have little knowledge of the Constitution.  Just one in 10 students has an acceptable knowledge of the three branches of government; three out of four couldn’t name a power given the congress by the Constitution, he said.


“In a national poll of 1,000 citizens who were asked what the supreme law of the land is, 70 percent couldn’t answer correctly that the law of the land is the Constitution, a concept that has protected our rights for nearly 250 years,” Wilder said. Just one third could name the three branches of government.

“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance. A people who need to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives,” Madison wrote.


Michigan’s Constitution includes an explicit reference to the separation of powers, cautioning that a person in one branch of the three, cannot exercise powers belonging to another branch, Wilder said.

“One may ask why we need the separation of powers or even government at all,” he said.

“Madison wrote the nature of humans is precisely the reason we need government...first enable the government to control the governed, then oblige them to control themselves.”


Photos:(upper right)  Justice Kurtis Wilder with Hastings City Attorney Stephanie Fekkes (left) and Barry County United Way Executive Director Lani Forbes at the Law Day celebration.

(middle right) MIchigan Supreme Court Justice Kurtis Wilder delivers the keynote address at Law Day.

(lower left) Justice Kurtis Wilder (left) talks with Barry County Probate Judge William Doherty, (middle) and Barry County District Court Judge Michael Schipper before his  speech.

Wind keeps fire to the outside of Yankee Springs pole barn

Wayland and Yankee Springs fire departments responded Wednesday morning to a reported pole barn fire at 12760 Bowens Mills Road that was reported by a passerby.

The caller said it looked to be fully involved with a lot of black smoke, Wayland Fire Chief Joe Miller said.

“When we got there the fire was all outside, an old tractor and some tires. If the wind had been from a different direction, it would have been a different story, but the wind was in the right direction to keep it outside the building. We put it out pretty fast,” Miller said. The fire came from a burn barrel, he said.

Barry County Transit expansion proposal put off, will be discussed again

Now is the time to add garage space to get all the Barry County Transit vehicles under cover and remodel the office to make more room for crowded staff and dispatchers to do their work, director of the transit Bill Voigt told Barry County Commissioners Tuesday.


However, Voigt asked right after the commission committed to preliminary planning of steps necessary to replace the county jail, which sits directly behind the transit on the western edge of the City of Hastings.


Voigt’s plans, developed with Bob Vanputten of Landmark Design Group will be on the commission’s agenda next week when they expect to have more information on the value of the property the two units of county government occupy (see related article).


The service now has 16 vehicles and the staff works in crowded, cramped conditions that interfere with a smooth operation, Voigt said.

“We need a facility that suits the future…we’ve just outgrown it.” The traffic control location is perfect and renovation and expansion will get “the best bang for our buck,” he added.


Plans call for adding 2,950 square feet to the south side of the facility for bus storage and maintenance, 1,160 square feet to the dispatch center and renovation of the existing office space to expand the dispatch enter at a cost of $1.50 to $1.75 a square foot. The $1 million total cost will come from transit funds, Voigt said. //


In other business, the committee of the whole recommended:


* written policies for receiving and documenting federal funds. Administrator Michael Brown said the county has always conformed to the rules, but the federal government now requires written policies.


* verifying the re-appointment of Patti Richardson to the Animal Shelter Advisory Board for a one-year term as Barry County Humane Society representative.


* approval of an amended contract for City of Hastings Barry County Airport Director Mark Noteboom, verifying that he is an independent contractor, not an employee.  As part of a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA), the Hastings City Council also votes on the changes.


* a contract for $14, 015.28 to Rose Construction, the low bidder, to replace ceiling tiles in District Courtroom.


* an application for state grants for fiscal year 2019 by the Office of Community Corrections.


* appointment of Douglas C. Klein to the Parks & Recreation Board to a partial term ending Dec. 31, 2018 and Karen Ferrier to the Community Corrections Advisory Board for a three-year- term representing the business community.

State Representative Julie Calley Office Hours

State Representative Julie Calley will hold office hours  for the public to come in and discuss issues and concerns.  Calley will be in Hastings Monday May 14th from 10 to 11 am at the Barry County Court House in the commissioners chambers 220 west state street.

On Friday May 18th Rep. Calley will be in Saranac at the Revival Cafe and Market, 75 North Bridge street from 10 to 11 am.

Ban Marijuana-Infused Beer

State Senator Rick Jones has introduced legislation to prohibit marijuana-infused beer in Michigan.

The products are already available in Colorado.

"Bar owners and bartenders have said that this would be a recipe for disaster,' Jones said. "They have enough trouble  judging intoxication levels now without adding the element of marijuana, especially when you consider that marijuana-infused foods can take an hour to kick in."

Tree falls on vehicle, passenger dies in Lowell Township crash

Kent County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a fatal crash on Grand River Avenue between Bewell and Gulliford Roads in Lowell Township May 1 at about 3 p.m.


The initial investigation revealed that a 2017 Jeep driven by Judith Thumser, 83, from Lowell, was eastbound on Grand River Avenue. Witnesses at the scene said a tree fell and hit another tree; the second tree fell on the windshield and roof of Thumser’s vehicle.


The passenger, Howard Thumser, 90, from Lowell, was pronounced deceased at the scene of the accident. Judith Thumser suffered minor injuries and was transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth by Rockford Ambulance.


Grand River Avenue was closed for an extended time during the investigation and while the Kent County Road Commission removed the fallen tree from the roadway.

Alcohol and excessive speed do not appear to be factors.

The accident is still under investigation.

Barry County commits to replacing too small, crumbling jail

After more than an hour of discussion Tuesday, Barry County Commissioners committed to moving forward on how to replace the Barry County Jail and the Commission on Aging building.


Billed on the agenda as a discussion on recommending a course of action to address current and emerging Barry County facility issues, it quickly centered on a problem the county has wrestled with for years, the aging and inadequate jail.


The other major topic was the COA building that was identified as the second most pressing facility issue facing the commission. The COA is also too small to serve the emerging numbers of seniors in the county and the building is in need of extensive, expensive repairs.


The tone of the discussion was set early by Commissioner Jon Smelker. “We were elected to do this job; it’s time we did it.”


Through discussion, some from the public in attendance, one idea after another was kept in the discussion or discarded in favor of concentrating on the two identified major issues, the jail and the COA.

Choices were narrowed down to what would have to be done to begin substantive progress on the jail issue; they decided that the location would have to be determined before they could ask for architect’s drawings, prices or even what the jail would look like.


The commissioners will work as a committee of the whole and not use a steering committee or sub-committee approach. They will find out how other spaces the county owns might be used, if other offices could or should be moved, if some should be sold. They will need professional help to learn much more and to make recommendations.


They agreed a facilitator would be necessary with commissioners making the final decisions on each step of the process. County Administrator Michael Brown will seek Requests For Qualifications (RFQs ) for facilitating services related to replacing the jail and the COA for the board to interview.


Several people said keeping the public aware of actions the commission was taking was considered critical, and commissioners agreed. “This is going to be the largest project in the county in decades; it’s important to involve those who will pay for it,” Commissioner and Chair Ben Geiger said.


One decision often affects others.

An example: A request for renovation and additions to the Barry County Transit was sent to the full board next week without a recommendation. Geiger said he hoped an already-in-the-works commercial appraisal of the property the transit and the jail share will be available by next week, both singly and as one parcel.


If the property is worth, say $25 million, they may consider selling the transit to help pay for a new jail. If it’s worth $3 or $4 million, they wouldn’t figure on selling it, and the transit would likely be given permission to expanded.


Commissioners agreed that they should go over their facilities plan from 2015 to see what is still valid and hear from groups that have done work on the subject. The sheriff’s office has a committee working on that, and there are government organizations that can supply valuable knowledge on what other municipalities have done or are doing about replacing jails.


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