Local News Archives for 2018-06

Lots of Fourth of July 4th fireworks displays planned

Many area communities set off fireworks for the 4th of July. This year with the holiday in the middle of the week, some are earlier, some later than the traditional 4th of July.

Following is a list of just some of the places to see fireworks displays on the nation’s birthday.


*Algonquin Lake: July 3 at dusk

*Payne Lake: July 3 at dusk, 10 p.m. with a July 7 rain date.

*Barlow Lake: July 7 at 10:15 p.m.

*Gun Lake: July 7 at 10 p.m.

*Lake Odessa, July 1 at dusk at the Lake Odessa Fairgrounds.


*Middleville: festivities all day Tuesday, July 3, fireworks at TK High School.

*Dorr: July 4th activities from June 30-July 4 with fireworks on July 4 at dusk.

*Hopkins: 4th of July Celebration on Wednesday, July 4 with fireworks at dusk.

*Thornapple Township: activities July 3, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., fireworks at dusk.

*Shelbyville: Fireworks over the lake on Briggs Road at dusk July 4.

*Ionia: 4th of July Celebration at the Ionia Free Fair Grounds on July 3; fireworks start at dusk.

*Caledonia: celebration on 100th Street; fireworks at dusk on June 30.

*Sandy Pines: activities during the day, fireworks at 10 p.m.


Yankee Springs Fire Department hosts first pancake breakfast; invites kids to look at and sit in fire trucks

For the first time, the Yankee Springs Fire Department at the intersection of Payne Lake Road and M-179 is hosting a pancake breakfast and they are inviting kids to look over and sit in the equipment they use to fight fires.

Saturday, July 7 from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. firefighters will serve pancakes, eggs, sausage, potatoes and a variety of drinks for a donation.  Proceeds will go for equipment and uniforms for firefighters.


100 mile an hour pursuit in Barry County leaves one in jail; another sought by police

An effort to stop a speeder in the City of Hastings about 5 a.m. Friday morning turned into a pursuit with speeds up to 100 miles an hour into the southern part of the county by Barry County Sheriff’s deputies and the Michigan State Police.


When it was over, Russell Shaneck, 22, from Hastings was in the county jail, charged with obstructing and resisting police. The driver of the Jeep is known to police; he is a 34- year-old man from Allegan County with two outstanding felony warrants against him, Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf said.


The Hastings officer stopped the chase at the city limits, and notified the sheriff’s office.  Deputy Rosie O’Grady took up the pursuit at Charlton Park Road, Leaf said. With the cooperation of state troopers, the speeding Jeep Cherokee was boxed in.

When they closed in, troopers found an empty car. A K-9 was called in for a track; the dog located the passenger, Shaneck, but not the driver, who is still being sought.


Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall dedicated in Middleville

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall will be in Middleville until July 1, giving everyone a chance who wants to visit it.

The traveling wall, a 3/5 scale of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., stands six feet tall at the center and covers almost 300 feet from end to end.




The wall was escorted to the village by fire engines, police cars and motorcyclists Wednesday evening and set up Thursday in time for the public to visit and the short dedication ceremony by Middleville President and veteran Charlie Pullen.

There was a color guard behind Pullen and an appreciative audience in front of him.

His voice shook a little during the dedication when he recalled losing three classmates and a cousin in Vietnam. “I have a final thought,” he said. “No veteran should live alone, no veteran should die alone and no veteran should ever be forgotten.”


Looking at the visitors at the wall, Pullen said he thought some veterans would wait till later when the crowd was gone to pay their respects to the veterans who died in Vietnam.

Held in the Thornapple Valley Church parking lot off State Street in the village, church volunteers offered cold water to the crowd. The event was sponsored by the Middleville Lions Club; member Jason Bushman publicly thanked the businesses and individuals in the community for coming together to help the Lions with the project.


Barry County Cooling Center open Saturday

The Barry County Commission on Aging Building will be open to the public from noon to 6:00pm, Saturday June 30th for relaxation in the air conditioning.  Bring a book or magazine, your laptop and a snack and keep cool.









Barry County Commissioners hear Charlton Park annual report

Charlton Park’s Director Dan Patton gave the annual report to Barry County Commissioners Tuesday, saying their attendance and revenues remain stady. He included a list of members of the 2018 park board.


Counting educational programs, rentals, special events and other, but not the recreational space users, the park hosted 30,359 visitors last year, with 18,073 of those attending 13 special events, he said. Some 2,400 hours were reported by 145 volunteers,  but he stressed that many volunteers never sign in, so both numbers are really much higher.


A fact sheet showed an unaudited report of revenues of $608,195.56 and expenditures also at $608,195.56 for the park in 2017. Voter approved millage ($431,384.30) and non-millage revenue ($155,218.34) are by far the bulk of its income; big ticket items paid out are for personnel ($400, 534.19), utilities ($25,855.53), capital building and equipment (34,982.67), special events ($37,548.74) and other ($47,846.74).


A collections summary showed the park had a total of 19,380 records with 29,123 images; 940 new records entered and 1, 951 records updated last year. They added 13 artifacts and removed 10 that were broken, in disrepair, missing pieces, duplicates or no longer relevant to the collection.


Patton also called attention to two upcoming special events at the park; the 36th annual Old Fashioned Fourth of July celebration on July4 from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., a salute to veterans, and the 47th Antique Gas & Steam Engine Show on July 13-14.


In summary, the report read: “Historic Charlton Park Village, Museum & Recreational Area continues to be a major attraction for Barry County and an economic engine for our community. Our attendance numbers and revenue remain steady and our commitment to appropriate management has never been stronger…While we celebrate our successes we continue to move our organization forward …We will continue our efforts to preserve Barry County history while supporting activities for families in our community.”


In other business, the commissioners approved spending up to $40,000 for upgrades in the county courtrooms recording and audio equipment from Business Information Systems, Inc., with funding from the Data Processing Fund.



New voting machines means training for election workers

The August Primary election is still about seven weeks away, and the people who conduct the polling are getting training on election equipment and procedures that will be used Barry County-wide for the first time on Aug.7.

Last month, city and township clerks and their deputy clerks received training on the new systems from Barry County Clerk Pam Palmer.  Last week and this week, Palmer held training sessions for the election inspectors on how to process the voters. She estimates 250 people took part in training. Each unit will run accuracy tests on the equipment before the actual election.


The new machines look about the same as the former ones, but are more user friendly and efficient for elections workers. And, not being on the internet, they cannot be hacked.

Voters likely won’t notice much difference; they will still follow the same procedures with a paper ballot.  The machine’s readout will let the voter know that they have voted successfully, or if an error is detected, will ask them if they want to revote.


A significant change is that the election results from townships and the city will come to the county clerk through a Virtual Private Network. The figures being sent electronically will do away with midnight trips to the Barry County Courthouse by workers from precincts bringing cards with the totals because they don’t have modem capabilities, Palmer said.


Absentee ballots will continue to be done during Election Day and by 8:30 p.m.; the county clerk should have the totals. The new voting equipment is funded entirely by the federal government under the Help Americans Vote Act, and are in every precinct in every county in Michigan, Palmer said.





Photos: (upper left) A new voting machine.

(center left) Barry County Clerk Pam Palmer goes over election rules with election inspectors.

(left) Election inspectors gathered at the Tyden Center Thursday for a training session with Barry County Clerk Pam Palmer.

State, Barry County officals working to solve Crooked Lake flooding

In an update Wednesday on the flooding of homes on Crooked Lake, Barry County Commissioner Ben Geiger said state and county officials are working on scenarios for the best way to solve the problem. Whatever they decide to do, it will have to be balanced against the rights of other residents in the area, Geiger said.

“We’ve had flooding before, but the water is not going down. There have been several weeks of rising waters causing the flooding,” he said.


Barry County Emergency Operations Center has been activated; director Jim Yarger said they are doing damage assessment, with 12 homes with sandbags or water up to their doors.

”Everyone on the lake is affected, one way or another,” he said. The Red Cross is standing by to help, and other resources are available by calling 211.


Those who need sandbags can pick them up at self-fill stations on Oak Drive and East Shore Drive or the Barry County Road Commission, 1725 West M-43, Hastings or the ready-made station at Prairieville Township Hall, 10115 South Norris Road. Residents needing help carrying and placing sandbags should call 211.


So far, Yarger has had six calls for help. He doesn’t foresee evacuation of people now, but it could become a possibility, he said. Evacuations would trigger an official local emergency declaration.

Lowering the lake level by moving water may be possible with pumping, but officials have to be very careful of the impact on other residents where the water may go, Yarger said. “Those people have a say; the process takes time.”


The exact cause of the sustained flooding is elusive; all lake levels are high and, “a number of things have changed down there,” Yarger said. “We’ll figure it out; again, we have to get permits…The DEQ has 90 days to respond to a permit request… this has been a lingering issue for a while.”

Crooked Lake residents have been at the last two county commission meetings describing the hardships caused by the flooding and asking for help. For the latest updates, visit the Emergency Management page at


Allegan County Sheriff's Office K9 Luca receives a bullet and stab protective vest

Allegan County Sheriff’s Office K9 Luca has received a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from non-profit organization, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. The vest was sponsored by Sharon Peters of Gross Pointe Shores, MI, and embroidered with the sentiment, “In memory of Det. Lt. Richard J. Scott.”


The donation to provide one protective vest for a law enforcement K9 is $950.00. Each vest has a value between $1,744 – $2,283, a five-year warranty and an average weight of 4-5 lbs. There are an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the United States.


Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c (3) charity located in East Taunton, MA, whose mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States.


The charity was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged K9 officers. Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provided over 3,000 protective vests in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a value of $5.7 million dollars. //


The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age. New K9 graduates, as well as K9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate.


For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, call 508-824-6978. Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provides information, lists events, and accepts tax-deductible donations of any denomination at or mailed to P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718.


Luca and his partner, Deputy Ryan Rewa, have been working together for almost a year.  Luca is trained in narcotics detection, tracking and handler protection/suspect apprehension and is a valuable member of the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office K9 team. Luca, Rewa, the sheriff’s office and the citizens of Allegan County thank Sharon Peters and Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. for the donation.


Spectrum Health Pennock to build new surgical center

Spectrum Health Pennock is announcing development of a new surgical center in partnership with the Spectrum Health Foundation.  

The project is currently in the design phase; Spectrum Health Pennock leadership will begin working with an architect to determine the design and layout of the center. Groundbreaking is anticipated for winter 2019 with opening of the facility as early as spring 2020.


 “We are pleased to announce that the Board of Trustees has approved the construction of a new surgical center. This new facility will allow us to provide better and more efficient care to patients with greater convenience and more privacy for patients and families as all functions touching surgery will be adjacent to each other,” explained Brad Johnson, board chair.


With a shift from inpatient to outpatient care, surgeries that traditionally took days to recover in the hospital are now occurring with same day discharge. Currently, eighty percent of patient care occurs in an outpatient setting.


“Advancements in technology through the da Vinci Surgical System and other improvements make common surgeries less invasive, allowing patients to heal at home where they would rather be.

“Spectrum Health Pennock has worked hard to bring and keep those services used most locally so patients avoid traveling far from home.

“The surgery center is the natural next step in offering our patients the most convenient care possible,” said Steve Marzolf, chief nursing officer at Spectrum Health Pennock. //


Part of the 1923 building remains at the center of the Spectrum Health Pennock surgery department. Surgical functions are located on the third floor of the inpatient hospital with endoscopy across the street in the Wellness Center building, impacting staffing, physician coverage and efficiencies.


“Our current structural capacity is not designed to take us into the future,” Sheryl Lewis Blake, president of Spectrum Health Pennock said. “We have wonderful resources as we are a part of the Spectrum Health system.

“In only three years, the system has invested over $17.7 million into building, infrastructure and technology at Spectrum Health Pennock. This new surgical center will greatly benefit community members who utilize our services.”




Barry County Sheriff's Office will look for drunk and impaired boaters

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office will be conducting heightened enforcement targeting boating under the influence as part of the national Operation Dry Water campaign, a nationwide crackdown on boating under the influence


Operation Dry Water will take place June 29 - July 1, with the mission to reduce the number of alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities through increased recreational boater awareness and by fostering a stronger and more visible deterrent to alcohol use on the water.


“The accidents and tragedies that happen because individuals chose to drive drunk or impaired, on land or on the water, are preventable. The decision lies with the individual on whether they chose to operate a boat or vehicle while under the influence,” said Sheriff Dar Leaf. 


“As law enforcement, it is our job to do all we can to ensure the safety of our recreational boaters and paddlers. That is why the Barry County Sheriff’s Office has joined other states and agencies across the country to do our part in keeping boaters safe and preventing accidents related to boating under the influence,” he said.


Law enforcement will be focused on educating boaters about safe boating practices, which include boating sober, and enforcing the state’s boating under the influence laws. //


With the summer boating season underway, and the July 4th holiday approaching, boaters are reminded that impaired boating is against the law.  Operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal on all bodies of water and can lead to serious injuries and consequences. In Michigan it is illegal to operate a vessel with a BAC level of .08 or higher, the same as it is to operate a vehicle.


Alcohol is the leading contributing factor in recreational boating deaths, and a major contributor to accidents. The sheriff’s office encourages boaters to enjoy the boating season to its full extent by boating sober, wearing a life jacket, and taking a boating education course.


Visit  for more information about boating under the influence.

Lake Odessa Fair is underway June 27 through July 1

The community of Lake Odessa comes alive this week with the annual fair.  The 84th Lake Odessa Fair Grand Parade officially opens the event at 6pm, Wednesday, June 27th.  Lynda Gayle Cobb is being honored by the Lake Odessa Historical Society as the Grand Marshall of this years parade that will travel through the downtown district to the fairgrounds at the north end of the village.


Billed as the "Little Fair with Big Fun", Lake Odessa has incorporated some unique activities and events into the annual event such as a  dodgeball tournament,  volleyball action, human fooseball,  a BB-gun range,  and the “Lake Odessa PickleBowl" tournament  to support the new pickleball court project,  recognizing that pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in America.


The carnival returns to the fair after an absence last year with the Family Fun Tyme Amusements midway.  Youth and adult exhibits, horse shows and livestock exhibits are back as is the petting zoo, Lake Odessa firemens barbeque on Saturday and Beer Barn.


Saturday will feature two new events…  a free all-day music festival for everyone, and a comedy show for adults at the grandstand.  Other grandstand events include a motorcycle stunt show, horse pulls, moto-cross, and demolition derby. 


Fireworks will be held at the fairgrounds Sunday night at 10:30pm.  


Traveling Vietnam Wall visits Middleville June 27-July 1

About 5 p.m. Wednesday, the Traveling Vietnam Wall will pull into Middleville and will stay until July 1, brought to the village by the Middleville Lions Club. The wall will be dedicated in a ceremony Thursday at 7 p.m.


Charlie Pullen, village president and veteran, said they expect an influx of Vietnam veterans, visitors and families of those who served there and, “a very emotional time.”


Preparing for a crowd, Pullen said they will run a shuttle from McFall Elementary school to the site of the wall at the end of Market Street in the former Metaldyne parking lot to ease traffic. Parking by the wall will be mostly for the handicapped.

Volunteers are still being sought to stand guard for two hour shifts 24/7 until the wall leaves, a requirement for the memorial.


The Lawrence J. Bauer American Legion Post in Hastings has volunteered to stand guard on Saturday, but there are still gaps in the coverage, Pullen said. To volunteer for a two-hour stint, call the Middleville Village office at 269-795-3385.


The traveling wall, a 3/5 scale of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., stands six feet tall at the center and covers almost 300 feet from end to end.

The original, designed by Maya Lin, is also called the Healing Wall. To the three million people who visit it each year, it is a reminder of the great sacrifices made during the Vietnam War and is meant to be a reflective, contemplative place that is protective and quiet.

When the veterans and families who lost a father, son, brother or friend in Vietnam visit the wall, just being there helps healing and rekindles friendships.


Hastings contracts with Wickham Cemetery Care for Riverside Cemetery services

The Hastings City Council Monday awarded a three-year contract to Wickham Cemetery Care for operation and maintenances services at Riverside Cemetery for $83,500 a year.


The Cemetery Preservation Advisory Board’s recommendation was seconded by Department of Public Services Director Lee Hays. Hays said the references he checked all commented on the quality of Wickham’s work and the company provides maintenance and burial services for several townships in the county.


The bids for annual services from Hallifax Services, the other bidder, and Wickham were close, $84, 706 for Hallifax and $83,500 for Wickham and also close for spring and summer mowing and maintenance, $1,629 a week for Hallifax and $1,605.77 a week for Wickham.


However, the associated fees were all between $150 and $200 higher from Hallifax than from Wickham. In the most extreme differences, the price for opening and closing a grave for an adult on a Sunday or holiday was $1,500 for Hallifax and $650 for Wickham. Opening and closing a grave for a child on Sundays or holidays was $1,000 from Hallifax and $350 from Wickham.


Councilman John Resseguie said Hallifax Services had done business with the city for a long time and they should continue with them; other council members said the cost savings to the taxpayers was their deciding factor.


Also to do with Riverside Cemetery, the council had the first reading on a change in the ordinance to allow one cremains and one traditional casket in a single burial plot. Before a decision is made after the second reading at the next meeting, they will remove some outdated references and confusing language. //


The Great Start Collaborative and Parent Coalition was approved to place two mini-lending libraries on city property. Councilwoman Brenda McNabb Stange objected, saying the city allows only schools or the city to use city property; if they allowed one private group to do it, they would have to open it up for all.


However, the Great Start Collaborative is a Barry Intermediate School District program and it was approved. Collaborative representatives will work with city staff on the locations for the mini-libraries.



Barry County activates Emergency Operations Center in response to Crooked Lake flooding

Barry County Commissioner Ben Geiger Tuesday activated Barry County’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to monitor and respond to the flooding on Crooked Lake in southern Barry County.


The county EOC coordinates response and recovery efforts by human service agencies and state and local government. “The health and safety of county residents is our top priority, and today’s action helps ensure we’re all working together to help those dealing with flooding.” Geiger said.


For the latest updates, follow Barry County Emergency Management's facebook page at


Bowling is sentenced to life without parole in murder of estranged wife

Ralph Bowling III was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole by Judge Amy McDowell today for the shooting death of his estranged wife Cheyenne Bowling, according to a news release from the Barry County Prosecutor’s office.  He was also sentenced for the shooting of Nathan Farrell.


Bowling was convicted of first degree murder and several other charges by a jury in Barry County Circuit Court on May 18.


“While Mr. Bowling’s action will forever affect Nathan Farrell and his family and the family of Cheyenne Bowling, our hope is that they will find some peace knowing that he will be in prison for the rest of his life,” Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor Pratt said.


A summary of his sentences includes:

*Count 1: first degree murder-life in prison without the possibility of parole;

*Count 2: felony firearm-two years in prison to be served before and consecutive to his sentence for count 1;

*Count 3: assault with intent to murder- 40 to 60 years in prison;

*Count 4: felony firearm-two years in prison to be served before and consecutive to his sentence for count 3;

*Count 5: home invasion first degree-13 to 20 years in prison;

*Count 6: felony firearm- two years in prison to be served before and consecutively to his sentence for count 5;

*Count 7: second degree arson-10 to 20 years in prison;

*Count 8: carrying a weapon with unlawful intent-two to five years in prison;

*Count 9: felony firearm-two years in prison, to be served before and consecutively to his sentence for count 7.


Bowling was also ordered to pay restitution to State Farm Insurance and the estate of Cheyenne Bowling as well as fines, costs and victim’s rights fees.


The murder charges stem from events that unfolded in the early morning hours of June 11. 2017. Court testimony showed that Bowling followed his estranged wife and Nathan Farrell to the home of his wife’s mother and stepfather on Bird Road, threatened them both and shot Farrell in the neck.


Bowling then chased Cheyenne Bowling from the home into the driveway and shot her in the face. After shooting her, Bowling fled the scene and returned to his residence on Coats Grove Road where he set it on fire, intending to commit suicide.

Changing his mind, he ran from the house and, after driving around for several hours, turned himself in to authorities.


Hastings commits to keeping inspections of rental property

The City of Hastings will keep its rental unit inspection program conducted by Professional Code Inspections. The inspections are in local code, not state law, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said, and are not required. The question came up with a change in state law that said unless specified in the renter/landlord lease agreement that they allow it; the renter can deny inspectors entry into the residence. However after discussion with Tom Thompson, from PCI, the council reaffirmed its commitment to keep the inspections.


Thompson said they are not seeing a lot of violations in the 892 units they inspect every two years. Landlords are taking better care of property than they did in the past and tenants are too, he said. Thompson commended the city staff for, “helping us get to where we are now.” He noted some of the larger rental units have staff to do inspections and some are inspected by the state every year. Since no one has any idea how many renters have the new clause in their present lease agreements, Mansfield and Thompson will meet to discuss how to accommodate the law change and also consider inspections going from two to four years for those with a clean inspection record.


“Are the inspections beneficial for the city?” Councilman Bill Redman asked.

“I think so,” Thompson said. “It keeps everybody honest. It deters them from letting the property go down.”


In other business Monday:

*the Central Elementary PTO Walk-a-thon STOMP on Sept 28 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. was approved and will follow the format of last year’s event.


*sidewalk sales on July 13-14, a request of the Hastings Downtown Business Team, was approved.


*a request from Shannon Rybiski to block West Marshall Street on July 3 from 6 p.m. to noon on July 4 to host a block party was approved. Mansfield said they haven’t had such a request for several years, but had allowed them in the past without problems. Police Chief Jeff Pratt also said he didn’t recall any problems with such closures.


*two budget amendments explained by treasurer/financial director Jerry Czarnecki were approved. The changes reflect several last minute “end of fiscal year” expenses for close-out costs at the MDOT Butler Creek project, wastewater treatment plant purchases, legal fees for the police department and the purchase of the sludge dewatering device at the WWTP.


*a two-year contract with the YMCA at $30,000 per year was renewed. The YMCA provides recreation programs for everyone, Mansfield said, but Hastings residents get them at a reduced cost.


*citizens Kay McNeill, Vickie Butler, Denna Smith and Terry Stenzelbarton were approved as the four member Ad Hoc Dog Park Advisory Committee to give input to city staff developing a final draft ordinance with rules and regulations for the operation of the Hastings Dog Park.


Barry County Animal Shelter open house a success, may be a semi-annual event

Cars were parked along both sides of Industrial Drive leading to the Barry County Animal Shelter in Hastings during a well-attended Open House Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.


“The flow of visitors was very steady from 10 a.m. on,” shelter Director Ken Kirsch said.

The day, sponsored by the Barry County Animal Shelter Advisory Committee, the suggestion of member Tim McGavin, was to showcase the facility to the public.


“I got to meet at least 25 different people and had some great discussions. Several county commissioners and the mayor of Hastings were here, I was happy about that.

“Tim and the volunteers did an awesome job; they went above and beyond and blew away my expectations. It was wonderful. We’re hoping to make it a semi-annual or annual event,” he said.


Photos: (upper left) Everyone at the shelter loves Freckles, the Cocker Spaniel. Freckles, who is ready to be adopted, holds his ball and waits for a volunteer or visitor to play fetch during the Saturday open house.


( left) Vicki Mackellar, from Middleville, meets a kitten during the open house at the Barry County Animal Shelter Saturday.












( left)  Refreshments, beverages, popcorn and prizes were part of shelter’s open house Saturday. Face painting, too.  Lana Holguin, who has been painting faces, and arms, since she was 13, decorates Roxanne Harrison. Both are from Hastings.

Hastings City Manager to leave position July 1, 2019, offers help with transition

As retirement or leaving a position announcements go, City Manager Jeff Mansfield’s July 1, 2019 departure from his job with the city is unusual and pretty low key.


As the last item on the City Council’s Monday agenda shows, Mansfield and Mayor David Tossava have been working of a transition plan for Mansfield leaving city employment for, “the last several months.” Mansfield said he, his wife, and the mayor, “have decided that this would be a good time for me to begin to work myself out of a job and move on to other things.” 

He did not elaborate on what his future plans include.


Mansfield said this is was also a good time for the change for city department heads since all have some time in their current positions. He offered to help in any way possible, and committed to working for a transition that is as smooth and efficient as possible.


One path to follow would include qualified internal candidates since they are often the most attractive candidates for promotion and leadership roles, he said. “The mayor and I have discussed at length how internal candidates may be fairly considered and treated during the selection process,” he said.


 Jerry Czarnecki, city clerk/treasurer/finance director, has indicated that he wishes to be considered for the city manager’s position, Mansfield said.


Czarnecki has been with the city approximately 1 ½ years. Previously he spent 25 years with Kelloggsville schools as a math teacher and department head. He was community development director in Hastings before taking his current position.


Mansfield said Czarnecki adapted quickly to both roles and assuming leadership positions. He has a very positive relationship with the staff, council, regulatory and funding agencies and the community, Mansfield said. “Jerry has done a truly outstanding job during his time with the city.”


If the council selected Czarnecki as city manager, the city would have to hire someone for his current position, a process that would take four to six months, or more, to select, hire and train them.

Czarnecki could work with the new hire, and then work with Mansfield for a time before his departure.  He recommended the council consider formally interviewing Czarnecki for the position at a workshop at 6 p.m. on July 9.


If Czarnecki is approved as a qualified candidate for the position, they would produce Letters of Agreement by July 23, outlining  the transition process and what Mansfield and Czarnecki’s “roles and expectations” would be.


The process of hiring a new city clerk, treasurer/ finance director would begin immediately. That person would be expected to be hired by Nov. 1 and train with Czarnecki during November and December and take over the position on Jan.1, 2019. Czarnecki would then work with Mansfield as he transitions into the role of city manager when Mansfield leaves on July 1, 2019.


“If the city council wishes to pursue other options, we will identify a process for soliciting external candidates for the position of city manager,” Mansfield said.


New Surface for Part of Michigan ave & Jefferson Streets

Street improvements in Hastings got underway Saturday as heavy equipment began removing the old blacktop on Michigan avenue from Apple Street to Court street. The old blacktop was removed on Jefferson street from Apple street to Green street.

Signs are posted telling motorist  "No Thru Traffic." 


UPDATE: Holland man is 84th Street Huntington Bank suspect

UPDATE: The Kent County Sheriff’s Office reports by using citizen’s tips and surveillance video from multiple locations, investigators  identified  the suspect in the June 22 Huntington Bank robbery as Marcello Joseph Diaz, 34 of Holland.

Investigators executed search warrants and evidence of the crime was located. Tuesday, the case was reviewed by the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office. Diaz is charged with bank robbery and is in the Kent County Correctional Facility.

Anyone with information on the ongoing investigation is asked to call the sheriff’s department at 616-632-6357 or Silent Observer, 616-774-2345.


ORIGINAL STORY: The Kent County Sheriff’s Office is reporting a man with a gun robbed the Huntington Bank at 2365 84th Street yesterday.

The suspect entered the bank, drew a nickel colored revolver, pointed it at the teller, and demanded money. He fled with an unknown amount of cash and rode a bicycle to the northeast where officials believe he got into a maroon Chrysler Pacifica and left the area northbound on Byron Center Avenue.


There were no injuries reported.


The suspect is described as a medium to larger built man of unknown ethnicity, wearing a hat with “Vans” in white lettering on the front, glasses or sunglasses, a dark bandana, a grey or blue long sleeve shirt with a black short sleeve over shirt, khaki cargo shorts, and bright white shoes.

Huntington Bank is offering up to a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved.


Response efforts were coordinated with the FBI who also responded to the scene and will be handling the investigation from this point forward. Anyone with information pertaining to the

identity of the involved parties is asked to call Silent Observer at 616-774-2345 or the FBI.

Spectrum Health Pennock President Sheryl Lewis Blake to retire Oct. 1


Spectrum Health Pennock President Sheryl Lewis Blake, who joined Pennnock 11 years ago, has announced her plans to retire on October 1.


“Sheryl will be greatly missed by all of us,” said Gwen Sandefur, president, Spectrum Health Hospital Group.

“During her tenure at Pennock, Sheryl has been focused on improving the health of the community, while creating and maintaining an environment where every patient is an individual, receiving highly personalized and compassionate care. Sheryl has been a true community leader, an organizational steward and an influencer of change.”


During her tenure, Lewis Blake’s accomplishments included coordinating, facilitating and leading the organization through the integration process with Spectrum Health.

She also established the Annual Quality and Culture Awards, designed to celebrate and showcase Pennock’s outstanding employees, providers and community members.


Lewis Blake implemented the hospitalist inpatient care model, allowing for continuous, consistent provider coverage for medical patients and attracted new services and technology to Barry County, including robotic surgery and anterior hip surgery.


Her other accomplishments include introducing a midwifery model for women’s health services, establishing and opening the cancer center and sanctuary and leading the organization through an electronic medical record change.

A successor has not yet been named.


Photo: Spectrum Health Pennock President Sheryl Lewis Blake




New technology to be used to improve locating Eaton County 911 cell phone callers

iPhone users in the United States who call 911 will be able to automatically and securely share their location with first responders later this year with iOS 12, if the 911 centers are able to receive that enhanced data; Eaton County 911 has made upgrades and is ready to accept the enhanced information, according to 911 Director Michael Armitage.


Approximately 80 percent of 911 calls today come from mobile devices, but outdated, landline-era infrastructure often makes it difficult for 911 centers to quickly and accurately obtain a mobile caller’s location.


To address the challenge, Apple launched HELO (Hybridized Emergency Location) in 2015, which estimates a mobile 911 caller’s location using cell towers and on-device data sources like GPS and Wi-Fi Access Points.


“It has historically been a challenge to get reliable location information from wireless phones. We hope that this technology will give 911 public safety telecommunicators another tool to quickly get help where it is needed,” Armitage said.


Apple announced it will also use emergency technology company RapidSOS’s Internet Protocol-based data pipeline to quickly and securely share HELO location data with 911 centers, improving response time when lives and property are at risk.

RapidSOS’s system will deliver the emergency location data of iOS users by integrating with many 911 centers’ existing software, which relies on industry-standard protocols.


Eaton County 911 has assisted RapidSOS in the testing of their technology since 2015 and began officially integrating data from RapidSOS through the Smart911/Rave Mobile Safety platform in 2016.


 “Having this connection to the RapidSOS NG-911 Clearinghouse in place at Eaton County 911 puts us in a position to immediately benefit from this supplemental location data once iOS 12 is released,” Armitage said.



Recycling Assessment Report presented to Barry County Commissioners

Iris Waste Diversion Specialist Sarah Archer,  hired by the Barry County Solid Waste Oversight Committee to help find a solution to low recycling in the county, reported on the first phase of her Recycling Assessment Report to Barry County Commissioners Tuesday.


She noted the good and the not so-good state of recycling in Barry County.

“I’m really impressed with what’s going on here, it’s a pleasure to see a lot of recycling here in the county,” she said.


However, the national average of recycling is 30 percent, Michigan and Barry County’s recycle rate is 15 percent. Governor Rick Snyder has set a goal of upping Michigan’s recycling rate from 15 to 45 percent by setting up a panel to to evaluate current solid waste laws and find ways for sustainable management of solid waste to avoid sending it to a landfill, Archer said.


While some waste haulers in the county offer curb side recycling for a fee, few people take advantage of it, she noted. Some townships offer 24 hour open air unstaffed  recycling bins at township halls, some municipalities offer drop-off sites or transfer stations. The waste and recycling stations are gated and have limited hours of operation open only to residents whose municipalities pay for the operation. Waste Management accepts recycle items at the Hastings landfill, charging non-Hastings residents for its use, she said.


“Many opportunities exist for recycling in Barry County; however further research is needed to determine actual participation levels and volume of materials diverted,” she said. “Based on the data gathered for this study and the subjective information provided by municipal officials, a low recycling participation rates is suspected,” she wrote in her report.


Phase two of her analysis, which she will present in October,  will be a comprehensive look at all facets of recycling, with a strong focus on communication and education of county residents and more specific recommendations to the BCSWOC and the commission,  she said.


A county website, an open phone line to answer questions, a recycling guide and eliminating barriers to recycling are some ways that will help increase the recycling participation rate, she concluded.


In other business Tuesday, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve a MDOT offer to pave  a 10-foot wide section of the Paul Henry Thornapple Trail from across the Nashville VFW Post 8260 to Fuller Elementary School as a detour for pedestrians when the bridge over Quaker Bridge on M-66 is replaced.


Barry County Parks & Recreation representative Patricia Johns said the MDOT will pay the $75,000 cost of the project and is also considering funding improvements on the trail going across Nashville VFW’s property.


Rick Moore, also with Parks & Recreation, said he has talked to every property owner along the section of trail and all are in favor of the paving.



UPDATE: Eaton County 911 systems back on line, upgrades go as planned

UPDATE:The planned Saturday morning shutdown of some Eaton County Central Dispatch systems is over with 911 systems back on line and upgrades done as planned, according to 911 Director Michael Armitage.  Some systems at Eaton County Central Dispatch 911 were affected Saturday June 23, starting at 6:30 a.m. because of an electrical shutdown to the building to allow work on the public safety radio project.




Barry County courts to get recording, audio equipment upgrades

Barry County’s District and Probate courtrooms and two hearing rooms will get upgrades to its recording software and the Circuit Courtroom will get both new recording and audio equipment.


If commissioners approve the committee of the whole’s Tuesday recommendation  at next week’s meeting, the equipment could be delivered the fourth week of July, and be in installed in a day or two, IT/GIS Coordinator David Shinavier said. Personnel training will take three to five days and will not disrupt court proceedings.


Business Information Systems, Inc. will provide the equipment, installation and training for $37,570.47 not including sales taxes. Shinavier asked for $40,000 to come from the Data Processing Fund.


Circuit Court Judge Amy McDowell and County Court Administrator Ines Straube told commissioners of failing equipment in all three courtrooms, crashes or delays in systems, causing delays in court trials, and the frustration of the struggling with constant problems.


McDowell said the courts are using up a good deal of the IT department’s time, with System and Network Administrator Aaron Staines being asked to remain in the circuit courtroom during a two week trial because of the frequency of the problems and the interrupting of the trial for him to fix problems.


“Aaron practically lives in the courtroom…that’s why I spoke to David…this has to be addressed,” McDowell said.


The problem seemed to be getting worse since the courtroom was recently remodeled, she said. Shinavier said equipment being moved for the first time in years in the remodel likely contributed to the problem of already failing equipment.


Staines explained how several problems would be corrected with the new equipment and noted that almost everybody in the state uses BIS, Inc. systems.



Come see the "new" Barry County Animal Shelter at Saturday open house

The public is invited to see the result of months of improving the Barry County Animal Shelter on Industrial Park Drive in Hastings at an open house this Saturday, June 23, from 10 a.m. to 1p.m.

Cotton candy and popcorn go with tours of the facility, and meeting Director Ken Kirsch, staff, volunteers and animals will be part of the day.


The event is sponsored by the Barry County Animal Shelter Advisory Board, suggested by board member Tim McGavin. Area vets contributed gifts and prizes that will be given out during the event; McGavin added his talent for woodworking by making bird houses and shadow boxes to be given away.


Visitors will see many changes made in the nine months since Kirsch was hired.

Kirsch said he is happy and excited about the progress he and others have made at the shelter so far, “but, we’ve got a ways to go; we’re still working on it.”


He started with a new set of policies and protocols, a reflection of his years in the U.S. Army. Everything is super organized, put in its place and labeled. Space has been maximized, there is no clutter, the building and outside area is fresh and clean smelling.


Some of the changes include a meet and greet area for adopters and the pets they may adopt to get acquainted; a remodeled kitchen area, new isolation area for dogs, a new ventilation and venting system and cooling in cat’s cages with separate areas for eating and litter boxes, a vet room for all shots and micro chippings for dogs and cats.


 A new bathing and grooming station lets volunteers keep animals clean and presentable.

“Biweekly, we do a grooming clinic. We clean their ears, clip their nails and groom them. We may do a dozen dogs and cats the same day.”


There is no euthanasia available at the shelter, the few animal that must be euthanized are taken to a vet.

In the area behind the shelter, the barn has been emptied, cleaned and organized with storage space and classroom area for teaching programs.


The trees and overgrown shrubs encroaching on the property were pushed back six feet, the area reseeded and several dog runs added.

The City of Hastings donated 22 yards of wood chips that cover the runs and a small pen and a larger puppy pen. Benches and chairs are scattered around the area.


With the runs, the dogs can be out of their pens from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. “It looks like a park, now,” Kirsch said. He has a $12,000 grant for insulation and windows for the barn and a donated furnace to be installed for heat this winter.

The shelter has more than 100 volunteers who wear shirts with a small heart and Barry County logo; volunteers wear blue; staff wears green. The new motto for the facility is: “A Small County Shelter with a Big Heart.”


An upgraded outside drop off is for Barry County Animal Control use only; others who want to surrender an animal come inside and provide proof of ownership.


Kirsch is proud of the training classes he and wife Peggy present together. They give advice about dogs, including canine communication, learning, body language, resistance, motivation, breaking, packing theory and leadership. Fifty eight people have already taken the training. He hopes to offer a dog obedience class yet this summer.


Kirsch has 30 years’ experience in hands-on and management positions with America’s VetDogs in New York, Paws with a Cause in Wayland, Canine Companions for Independence, Woodland Veterinary Clinic in Grand Rapids, and as a kennel master/canine instructor while an MP in the U.S. Army.










































































































































Photos, from top:


Staff and volunteers handle the shelter’s office duties. From left, Brooke Daniels, Marcia Martin and Kim Lynch share a laugh.


 In the cattery, from left, advisory board member Tim McGavin, volunteer Brooke Daniels, and Director Ken Kirsch hold adoptable cats, Magnus, Brook and Sam I am.


The new cattery has cages with more room and ventilation for cats.


Shelter volunteers play with new puppies Dorie and Pugsley in the puppy cage.


Barry County Animal Shelter Advisory Board member Tim McGavin shows a shadow box he made that will be given away at the open house.


Shelter Director Ken Kirsch and advisory board member Tim McGavin stand in the garage, now with room for training classes.


One of several dog runs at the shelter that let dogs stay out of their cages from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


The view of the garage from the back door of the shelter.


Shelter Director Ken Kirsch shows items that the shelter can’t use, so offer it free to the public.





Barry County Road Work today

The Barry County Road Commission will be sealcoating the following roads today, there will be lane closures and delays.

North Broadwa between M-43 to Vedder Rd.

Carlton Center Road from M-43 to North Broadway

Usborne Road & Vedder Road from Brown Road Nash Highway.




Avoiding animal in roadway causes crash on I-96

The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office reports a one-vehicle crash Monday occurred when the driver of an SUV towing a camper swerved to avoid an animal in the road. Deputies said the driver, a 55-year-old Hudsonville man, lost control, went off the roadway and crashed into trees about 3:30 p.m. on westbound I-96 near the Saranac rest area.


The unidentified driver and his juvenile passenger were transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Assisting on scene were Berlin-Orange Fire, Michigan State Police, Life EMS, Reed and Hoppes Towing and Ionia County Central Dispatch.


Hastings Police

The Hastings Police Department added a new officer to their staff Monday as James Mead of Bellevue raised his right hand and pledged to defend the Constitution of the United States, the State of Michigan and the citizens of Hastings. 

Before being hired by the Hastings Police Department, Mead spent a number of weeks in training. 

He also served as a reserve officer with the Department.

He is the son of Cheryl Laws and Chris Mead.

His Grand Parents are Dave & Lois McIntyre of Hastings.

Kellogg, Del Monte issue recalls of cereal, vegetables

The Kellogg Company is voluntarily recalling 15.3-ounce packages of Honey Smacks cereal with the code number 3800039103, with best if used by buy dates of June 14, 2108 through June 14, 2019 and the 23-ounce size of the cereal with code number 3800014810 and best if used by buy dates of June 14, 2018 through June14, 2019 because the products have the potential presence of Salmonella.


Salmonella may result in serious illness, especially young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people may experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain with the illness.


The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most persons recover without treatment, however, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses.


Kellogg launched an investigation with the third-party manufacturer who produces Honey Smacks immediately after being contacted by the Food & Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control regarding reported illnesses.

No other Kellogg products are impacted by the recall.


The affected cereal includes the following varieties distributed across the United States as well as limited distribution in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, the Caribbean, Guam, Tahiti and Saipan. The best if used by date can be found on the top of the cereal box, and the UPC code can be found on the bottom of the box.


Those who have purchased the potentially affected cereal should discard it and contact the company for a full refund. For more information visit or call 1-800-962-1413 Monday – Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. ET.



Monday  Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc. is voluntarily recalling a limited quantity of 6 ounce, 12 ounce and 28 ounce vegetable trays containing fresh broccoli, cauliflower, celery sticks, carrots, and dill dip sold to select retailers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.


The recalled products are in clear plastic containers.



*Del Monte six ounce vegetable tray with dill dip with baby carrots, broccoli, cauliflower  with the UPC code 7 1752472715 2,



*Del Monte 12 ounce vegetable tray with dill dip and baby carrots, broccoli, cauliflower with the UPC code 7 1752472518 9,



*Del Monte 28 ounce small vegetable tray with baby carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and celery sticks with the UPC code 7 1752478604 3.








Del Monte, notified of the outbreak by state agencies, recalled the products because they may be linked to this recent cluster of illnesses and have the potential to be contaminated with Cyclospora, a parasite that can cause the intestinal illness Cyclosporiasis.  


The Centers for Disease Control said the infection usually is not life threatening with symptoms of watery diarrhea (most common), loss of appetite, weight loss, cramping, bloating, increased gas, nausea and fatigue.  Less common symptoms are vomiting and/or low-grade fever.


The recalled products were distributed to: Kwik Trip, Kwik Star, Demond's, Sentry, Potash, Meehan's, Country Market, Food Max Supermarket and Peapod in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin and have "Best If Enjoyed By" date of June 17, 2018 or earlier.


Consumers who have the products in the recall should dispose of the product in an appropriate waste container. For inquires, call the 24-hour customer service line at 1-800-659-6500 or email Del Monte Fresh at

Cooling Station available at Episcopal Church

With another day of oppressive heat,  Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Hastings has opened  its doors to anyone who needs a place to cool off. 


The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids says that following Sunday's hot and humid conditions, the heat index on Monday in Barry County is expected to rise to 95 degrees. 


The church has air conditioning in the Gury Parish House that is open with places to sit and relax,  wi-fi internet service, and an ice machine.


Emmanuel Episcopal Church is located at 315 W. Center in Hastings, at the corner of Broadway and Center Streets.

Summer weather is back, and so is West Nile virus

Michigan communities have been affected by West Nile virus since 2001. Most commonly caused by mosquito bites, those who live in an area with mosquitos are at risk of getting the virus and those who work or play outside at the greatest risk, according to the Barry Eaton District Health Department.


Symptoms of West Nile virus occur three to fifteen days after becoming infected from a mosquito bite and include fever, headache, body aches, and sometimes skin rash and/or swollen glands. In some cases, the virus can cause encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, which can be fatal or cause permanent damage. If anyone develops any of these symptoms, they should call their health care provider.


West Nile virus is not spread from person to person contact such as hugging, kissing, touching, or caring for someone with the virus.


The risk of contracting West Nile virus can be lowered by following these preventative tips:

 *Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. Visit to see what repellents are EPA registered.

 *Wear long sleeved shirts and pants. Dress children in long sleeved clothing as well.

 *Use mosquito netting over strollers, cribs, beds, and when sleeping outside.

 *Install screens, or repair holes in screens around one’s home to keep mosquitos outside.

 *Mosquitoes lay eggs near water. Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers.


Dying or dead birds may indicate West Nile virus in your community, because they are carriers of the virus. If someone sees a dying or dead bird, they should report it to For more information on West Nile virus, individuals can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at or the Barry-Eaton District Health Department’s website at




Lake Odessa man suffers serious, but non-life threatening injuries, in motorcycle crash

Ionia County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a car versus motorcycle personal injury accident near the intersection of Lapo Road and West Eaton Highway in Odessa Township on Friday about 3 p.m., according to a sheriff’s news release.


Deputies determined a 2011 Chevrolet Traverse, driven by a 24-year-old woman from Lake Odessa, was stopped facing southbound on Lapo Road waiting to turn onto West Eaton Highway when her vehicle was struck in the rear by a 2002 Suzuki motorcycle, driven by a 21-year-old Lake Odessa man, the release said.


The motorcycle operator was not wearing a helmet and suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries. He was transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids. Officials said the occupants in the Traverse did not suffer any injuries.


Speed is not believed to be a factor and the crash remains under investigation. Authorities did not identify those involved in the crash. Deputies were assisted on scene by Michigan State Police, Lake Odessa and Woodland fire departments, Life EMS, Ionia County Central Dispatch, and Reed and Hoppes Towing.

Victim in Gun Lake boating accident Sunday identified

UPDATE: The Barry County Sheriff’s Office has identified the victim in the boating accident Sunday as Cameron Cichosz, 20, of Howell. The driver of the boat was Michael G. Butzke, 21, of Allegan. Butzke was lodged at the Barry County Correctional Facility as a result of this incident, officials said.


The doctors who assisted the victim are Dr. Lauren Azevedo, an employee of St. John Hospital of Detroit, and her husband Dr. Ryan Keating of Henry Ford Hospital of Detroit.

Both were visiting family at Gun Lake and on a pontoon boat when they heard the calls for help and swam to the aid of the injured person, who by then was back on board the boat from which he had fallen.



The Barry County Sheriff’s Office, Orangeville Fire Department and Michigan State Police responded to a boating accident on east Gun Lake Sunday at 5:17 p.m., according to a sheriff’s news release.


The report said when a 20-year-old man from Howell went off the side of an inboard boat during a turn, the stern of the boat swung over him and the propeller amputated his leg.

Fortunately, two doctors from St. Johns Hospital and Henry Ford Hospital of Detroit were visiting family, saw the need for medical assistance and quickly swam to help.

They applied a tourniquet to slow the femoral bleeding, likely saving the victim’s life, officials said. 


Orangeville Medical First Responders and other medical personnel visiting the lake also assisted in getting the victim to shore.  He was transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital by Wayland EMS in unknown condition. The accident is currently under investigation by the Marine Division of Barry County Sheriff’s Office, with updates to follow.

Alcohol is a contributing factor, officials said.


Orangeville and Martin Township fire departments, Wayland EMS, Michigan State Police and Barry County Central Dispatch assisted the sheriff’s office.



Caledonia Wins State Championship

The Caledonia Girls High School Softball Team won the division one State Championship Saturday defeating Hartland 6-4 at Michigan State University.   Congratulations on winning the State Softball Championship.

WWII combat veteran of Guadalcanal and Okinawa honored by Delton Rotary

WWII veteran Louie Hall served with the U.S. Marines in the South Pacific on Guadalcanal, one of the southern Solomon Islands and the first major allied offense in the Pacific and he also served on Okinawa in the waning days of the war. Hall was an honored guest of the Delton Rotary Club on Thursday, June 14. The Rotary gave Hall an American flag presented to him by Barry County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Erb.


It is fitting that it was also Flag Day, with a huge American flag crocheted by Rotarian Junior Homister dominating the front of the meeting room. A 30-video of the Battle of Iwo Jima, mostly combat footage, showed the harsh conditions the Americans and their allies endured fighting the Japanese for the South Pacific islands.


Louie was a 17-year-old kid from Comstock when he enlisted in the U.S, Marines the day after his 17th birthday in August, 1942. Why the marines? “I don’t know; I just wanted to win the war…they told me I could finish high school and would not go overseas for a year. With those conditions, my mother signed for me; in October, I was aboard ship heading to the South Pacific.


The U.S.S. President Monroe, an attack transport ship carried him to New Zeeland. From there he was sent to Guadalcanal and his first combat, still 17 years old. “I was scared plenty of times,” he said.


On Guadalcanal he worked with an 81 mm mortar crew, where he pulled a two-wheeled mortar cart loaded with the heavy shells. “I never worked so hard in my life,” he recalled. His most vivid memory was when they came under machine fire and the third mortar they fired back hit the center of the machine gun nest.


He remembers arms and legs and other body parts flying into the air, “and the men all jumping up and down and waving our arms like we’d just made a touchdown.” After four months on Guadalcanal, he contracted malaria and  was shipped home to recover still before his 18th birthday.

While he recovered from malaria, he served on guard duty in the largest dry dock in the world at that time in Bayonne New Jersey, and went to intelligence school.


When he was  sent to Okinawa, “as a scout and observer, I could sit on a hill and make faces at the enemy,” he quipped.  But, he also saw combat. His most intense memory of Okinawa was, “when I saw my best friend killed by a hand grenade to the stomach.”


"That was near the end of Okinawa; when the (atomic) bombs fell, that was the end of all of it.”

When Louie returned home, he was a corporal in the 6th regiment of the 2nd Marine Division. He had also served in the 1st Division.


With a sly smile, he said: “I was in the 2nd division the first time I went over and in the 1st Division the second time when I went over”


Home for good, he went to Western Michigan University for a time, later opened an insurance business, then a printing business, printing all of the Bible Trivia series. He and his late wife June were married for 24 years and parents of Gregory, Terry, Wayne, Phil, Judy and Kathy.


The long-time Delton Rotarian now lives in Battle Creek.

Asked his thoughts about the experience. Looking back 75 years, he said: “Well, I wouldn’t do it again.”


Photos left, top:

Delton Rotary President Wendy Weaver stands with special honoree Marine veteran Louie Hall after a program and flag presentation to him Thursday.


Marine veteran Louie Hall talks with Shirley Kishpaugh before the program honoring him at Delton Rotary Thursday.










Barry County Deputy Kevin Erb salutes Louis Hall after presenting him with an American flag.










Louie Hall, a Maine veteran of combat on Guadalcanal and Okinawa in the South Pacific, smiles as he shows the American flag just presented to him.












WWII veteran Louie Hall and Delton Rotarian Junior Homister stand in front of an American Flag that took Homister 160 hours to crochet.



Superintendent's Platform

WBCH offers this space for area school superintedents to highlight activities in their districts.

This one is different; it is a letter to the school district and community from Maple Valley Superintendent Michelle Falcon announcing her resignation:


To the Maple Valley School Board, Staff, and Community,

It is with much thought and a heavy heart I tender my resignation as the Superintendent of Maple Valley Schools. My tenure in this district has been a highlight in my career and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to be the educational leader.


We have many accomplishments to be proud of. We have updated our curriculum, instructional practices, and assessment plan through a complete school improvement process. With the instructional rigor, our results have been drastic improvements in our student achievement scores.


We have improved our facilities by passing a much needed bond issue by the taxpayers and thanks to the generosity of our community. Re-opening Maplewood gave us more space and building enhancements that has restored pride and a created positive learning environments.


Our innovation in technology has created educational opportunities for our students which weren’t available before. We have implemented programs such as: virtual learning, Marketing with DECA, MV Works Electrical Program, reinstated BFS, AP & Advanced core courses, created life skills, expanded our art program also promoted intersessions, added Robotics, weight lifting, district wide PBIS and MTSS.


The proudest achievement of all is our resilient, dedicated and caring staff who, without them, none of these milestones would have been possible. Our administrators and teachers became student mentors and adopted student support programs such as the Ambassadors of Compassion and Spiritual Care Consultants which has helped hundreds of our struggling students.


Our food service department programs provided three meals a day for our students and even lunches in the summer. Our many years of summer school gave our students additional chances to become academically successful. Our community relationships have improved by creating partnerships. We have also held annual community service days as a way for our students to give back.


Little Lions Childcare and Pre School was created to meet the needs of many families in our community. Under the leadership of Annette Kent, this program has thrived in the two years we have been opened.


I am grateful to the board of education for hiring me for this position and supporting my leadership. You have taken your demanding and thankless role very seriously. Not many of my peers are as fortunate as I have been in the way you have supported me. However,


I believe it is the right time for someone with a fresh perspective to come in and carry out the vision and mission set forth by the district.

All of this boils down to relationships. The professional relationships we have created in the district has proven to persevere through many adversities this school year. I would like to thank you for your loyalty or just the fact that most of you respected the office of the Superintendent. The collegiality is what I will miss the very most.


My next opportunity is not in a superintendent’s position but takes me to Lansing where I will focus on school improvement, curriculum, instruction, and assessment. It is also closer to my home. Consider this letter my two week notice and my last day will be July 2, 2018.


With Kind Regards,

Michelle A. Falcon

Spectrum Health Pennock, community, celebrate hospital's 95th anniversary

 A hospital for the people of Barry County came from a $20,000 bequest by Barry Township farmers Eben and Elvira Pennock in 1913. With more contributions from community businesses and individuals, the new Pennock Hospital opened in 1923.


The couple could not have foreseen what their gift to the community would evolve into through the years; an acute care hospital recognized in a plaque presented to the health service by State of Michigan officials on its 95th anniversary.


A paragraph in the plaque said since its inception, the hospital has become “a vital element in helping Michigan grow and adapt to needs in health care and all aspects of life in Barry County…it has sustained itself through dedication and innovation.”

The plaque was signed by Governor Rick Snyder, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, 87th District State Rep. Julie Calley and 19th Senate District Senator Mike Nofs.


In celebration of its 95th year, the community was invited to the hospital Thursday from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for free fresh vegetables and lunch off the grill, complete with ice cream. Also offered was a chance to learn more about the Health & Wellness Center, the deVinci system of robotic surgery, 3D mammography, innovative Parkinson’s treatment, tours of the Betty Ford Breast Care Services bus and much more.


WBCH conducted a live remote from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., with Dave McIntyre chatting with the Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital President Sheryl Lewis Blake and hospital employees highlighting the services they provide.


Photos, from top: David McIntyre, the “Voice of WBCH” interviews Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital President Sheryl Lewis Blake at the hospital’s 95th anniversary celebration.


The Raffler family from Woodland enjoy a free dinner from the grill at the hospital’s 95th anniversary celebration. Hollie Raffler (center) works in the hospital’s birthing center.


Sandra Parnell, front, and Liz Fischer hand out free fresh vegetables from the YMCA veggie van. Parnell is manager of lab services and Fischer a financial analyst at the hospital.


Kids line up for free vegetables at the Spectrum Health Pennock celebration Thursday. Tomatoes, lettuce, sweet potatoes and apples were given away in a purple Spectrum Health cloth tote.


A plaque recognizing the value of Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital to the community is presented to hospital President Sheryl Lewis Blake (right) by 87th District State Rep. Julie Calley.


Lunch off the grill, along with Moo-Ville ice cream, is served by hospital volunteers (front) Sue Mejeui, from nutritional services and Cindy Bigler, nurse practioneer.


Tours of the Betty Ford Breast Care Services waits for more visitors at the anniversary celebration at Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital Thursday.

B. Bus Mobile Library is coming to Town

The B. Bus Mobile Library, a library on wheels, will be visiting various neighborhoods throughout the area this summer beginning June 18th through August 17th, Visiting Monday thru Friday. At stops participants will have the opportunity to checkout books from children to bi-linqual to adult, listen to stories, and engage in activities. The B. Bus is operated by the 'YMCA of Barry County in colllaboration with Area Schools Hasting Public Library and Thonapple Credit Union.


WBCH will announce the B. Bus Mobile Library location each morning.  or  you can find the schedule on in our Events calendar.


Volunteers are welcome! join the B.Bus at any stop, 15 minutes early, Volunteer 3 or more times and earn an exclusive B. Bus t-shirt.  If you would like to help keep the B.Bus rolling, consider an annual monetary gift visit


Monday-TK Schools

9-10am- Thorn Barry Apartments

10:30-11:30- Cider Mill Mobile Home Park

12:30-1:30pm- Towne Center Apartments

2-3pm- Misty Ridge Subdivision


Tuesday-Hastings Schools

9-10am-Tangle Town/Bob King Park

10:30-11:30am-Hastings Middle School

12:30-1:30pm-Southeastern School Playground entrance @ Dibble

2-3pm- Baltimore Terrace Estates


Wednesday-Delton Kellogg Schools

9-10am-Fine Lake Public Access Site

10:30-11:30am-Cadwaller Park, Hickory Corners

12:30-1:30pm Prairieville Township Park


Thursday-Maple Valley Schools

9-10am- Thornapple Lake Estates Mobile Home Park

11:-12pm- Vermontville Pavilion

1-2pm- 2-3 Together in Nashville

2:30-3:30pm-Meadow Stone Area off Barfield, Hastings Area Schools


Friday- Yankee Springs

9-10am- Yankee Springs Meadows Mobile Home Park

10:30am-11:30am- The Landing on Gun Lake near to Lake Side Pizza









Crooked Lake is "community in crisis" from rising waters

Crooked Lake flooding was not on the Barry County Board of Commissioners agenda Tuesday, but it was discussed by a resident and several commission members.

Sharon Ritchie said the Crooked Lake was a community in crisis, with waters from the lake flooding homes, crawl spaces and basements. She recognized several county officials and Rep. Julie Calley for showing an active interest in solving their problem.


She said it is a health and safety issue that the people are suffering through right now and they need help to prevent more loss of homes.

Ritchie read several comments from residents telling of flooded crawl spaces and basements, damage to electrical appliance such as furnaces, loss of vehicles to the flooding, damage to property, sea walls, and plantings and unknown potential damages.


The Ritchies were supposed to be on vacation in Maine, she said, instead they are at home with 1,125 sand bags around their house, seven utility pumps and two sump pumps running 24 hours a day, seven days a week “trying to save our home from the rising waters of Crooked Lake….this is not the way we like to live at this time in our lives,” she said.

She asked for two things; stop the water from going into Crooked Lake and reduce the lake level 18inches.


Commissioners Ben Geiger, Vivian Conner and David Jackson told Ritchie they, and many others, were working to give help, urging them not to give up, with Jackson saying, “We are with you.”

“County and state officials are working diligently to find a solution for the rising waters on Crooked Lake,” Geiger said later. “Moving massive amounts of water requires careful planning, and presents a real logistical challenge, but it’s a challenge we won’t back down from. It’s my hope that a solution is found in the coming weeks.” //


Also Tuesday, commissioners approved:

* renewal of a one year Barry County Administrative Services Contract with Blue Cross-Blue Shield for Jail inmates.

* renewal of a Consulting Services, LLC agreement for $9,500 for each of three years to provide indirect cost accounting services.

* renewal of the county liability, vehicle, physical damage and property and crime insurance though the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority liability policy for one year for $381,067,

* an amendment to the Municipal Employees Retirement System Hybrid Plan Agreement to change the county’s maximum contribution to 2.2 percent effective Jan. 1, 2018,

* the 2018 L-4029 form for Barry County to collect summer taxes,

* the transfer of a 2001 Chevrolet panel van from the sheriff’s office to the animal shelter.

* the purchase of 12 ballistic resistant vests to replace 12 vests that expire in September from CMP Distributors.

* entry into the Michigan Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program for Jason and Jordan Scamlin in Barry Township,

* increasing the Child Care Fund budget summary from $1,034,001.14 to $1,234,001.14 and increasing the line item in the county budget from $250,000 to $450,000,

* an amendment to MERS hybrid plan to include the non-union Central Dispatch administrative assistant position to the plan effective June 1.



Lansing man drowns in Ionia County

The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office and medical first responders were dispatched about 10:30 Wednesday to Lakeside Resort and Campground, a privately owned campground on Grand River Avenue of Orange Township on the report of a man whom had reportedly drowned in the campground lake. 


Deputies were notified that a man was found in the water and was not breathing, and that bystanders had removed him from the water and began giving him life-saving attempts. He was later pronounced dead at the scene. 


The man has been identified as Pedro Lira, 47 of Lansing Michigan.  Lira had been at the campground to fish with a friend when he fell into the lake.  


Investigation also revealed that there may have been a pre-existing medical condition that caused Lira to go into medical distress and fall into the water.  This incident remains under investigation by the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office in conjunction with the Ionia County Medical Examiner. 




Spectrum Health Pennock Celebrating 95 years of Caring for our community

Spectrum Health Pennock will celebrate 95 years of caring for our community Thursday, June 14th. You're invited to join them in celebrating our past and future, from 3:00p.m. to 6:30p.m.  Enjoy treats from the grill and Moo-ville icecream, the YMCA Veggie Van, take tours of Betty Ford Breast Care Services Mammography bus, tour the Health & Wellness Center,daVinci Robot & free hernia screenings take advantage of the Health fair,and enter the door prizes.  WBCH is proud to congratulate Spectrum Health Pennock 95th year and will broadcast from the celebration from 3 to 6pm.


Informal Dog Park Advisory Committee to help develop Hastings ordinance

The Hastings City Council looked at the first “rough draft” of an ordinance to establish regulations for the Hastings Dog Park Monday and approved forming an informal four-member advisory committee for input on the final draft.


“We will present this draft ordinance to you for initial consideration in the near future,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said. The advisory committee could be formally established after adoption of the ordinance, he added.


The city took control of the popular park last year and agreed to keep it open after the citizens group running the park, the Dog Park Companions Committee, notified the city they were terminating its agreement with the city, disbanding and closing the park.


During public comment time at the council meeting, Kay McNeill asked the council what the Companions Committee is doing with the money it raised during the time they were overseeing the dog park. City Attorney Stephanie Fekkes said that the Companions Committee is a community formed organization and the city is not involved in its financial affairs.


McNeill said the Companions are still asking for donations and have nothing to do with the dog park. “What do we do about that? Sue them?” Fekkes again said the city is not involved in the Companions financial activities.


In other business, questions posed by the council on a planning commission decision have led to a workshop with city planner Rebecca Harvey to explain the special use provisions used by the planning commission. A section of an ordinance allowing churches in the downtown area prompted the council to send it back to the commission for clarification.


Commission Chairman David Hatfield was going to explain the recommendation but after further conversation with Mansfield, they suggested a work session on special uses, what they are and how the commission uses them with Harvey leading the meeting.


Hatfield said they are increasingly relying on special uses in their recommendations to the council because of its flexibility and the control on hours, capacity and parking issues it gives.  He said in the future, it makes sense that he or another commission member be at council meetings to explain their recommendations. Mansfield will contact Harvey for a meeting date according to her schedule.


Also, the council approved the Municipal Employees Retirement System's 457 deferred compensation plan allowing employees the opportunity to save a portion of their wages “tax-free” to supplement the pension benefits that are provided by the city.


Barry County Road work for Wednesday June 13th

Barry County Road Commission will be sealing the following roads today.

Hammond Road & Willits Road from State Road to Willits Road & Township Line

Iroquouis Trail from State Road to Hammond Road

Woodruff Road from State Road to Hammond Road

Woodruff Road from State Road to Solomon Road

There will be lane closures and delays. Please seek an alternate route. Thank you for your cooperation!


Hastings sewer, water rates to go up three percent

Some fees for various Hastings city services were set for the next fiscal year for activities handled by the city clerk, assessor, cemetery, department of public services, planning and zoning and the police and fire departments, effective July 1.

There were very few changes other than the sewer and water rates going up about three percent;  most are the same as last year, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.


The cost of 100 cubic feet of water goes from $1.56 to $1.61. Base charges were also raised; a meter 5/8 to ¾, the smallest meter listed, goes from $6.80 to $7.10. The largest meter, 8 inch, goes from $754.22 to $776.85.

The water system improvement fee for all new or enlarged water service connections will be $2,070, up from $2,009. Sewer rates will be $3.38 for 100 cubic feet of water use, up from $3.28.

A complete list of all the changes is available at city hall.


Also Monday, the council took Chris Morgan up on his offer to donate a piece of land to the city adjacent to the Bliss Park and Riverwalk Trail. Mansfield said the property is almost entirely in the Thornapple River floodplain with many restrictions on its use, but was “a beautiful piece of land” and would be a good addition to the park.


The council approved paying $1,800 for a Phase I Environmental study, $1,000 for a survey and $350 for closing costs. Mansfield will bring the results of the environmental study back to the council.


In other business the city will continue the inspection of rental units in the city by Professional Code Inspections. The company has done the inspections for years, and offered to renew an expiring contract to continue the registration, inspection and compliance of rental units at the same rate as last year.


Mansfield said the state law has been changed to require the tenant to allow permission to inspect the premises instead of the owner/property owner. He and PCI are working on how to comply with the change, and will also work with landlords on gaining access. The city is not required to conduct rental inspections. If the council decided not to continue inspections, it would not affect the PCI contract, they would “just not do it,” he said.


The council also approved extending a contract with Perceptive Services to assess and clean an additional 11,000 feet of sanitary sewer mains and 260 additional manholes for a total increase of $36,325.10 to the contract, leaving $126,000 in the SAW grant for the work, Department of Public Services Director Lee Hays said.



City of Hastings will market Moose property on its own

The demolition of the former Moose building and restoration of the site is nearing completion and ready to be put up for sale Community Development Director Dan King told the City Council  Monday.

King recommended the city revise the city’s original requests for proposals (RFPs) for developers who were initially interested in the Moose property at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Apple Street.


Two proposals were discussed by the council and one was approved, but ultimately both fell through. City officials determined the property would sell better without the crumbling building and had it demolished.


The council agreed to review a revised RFP at its next meeting. If approved, it would be issued immediately. The RFPs would be due back by July 20 to go to the council for consideration at its July 25 meeting. If none of the RFPs are followed up on, the city will consider the sale of the site by a real estate agent or open bidding at a public auction, Mansfield said.


However, public auctions normally result in a sale without any considerations but price, and with the apparent level of interest in the site, a real estate agent may not be necessary and would save marketing costs, he said.

King was confident a developer would be willing to pay market value for the property. The goal is to have the site sold and under development yet this year.



Barry County earns unmodified audit, "....should be proud of the results"

Kim Lindsay, CPA with the Rehmann Group, gave the report on Barry County’s 2017 audit Tuesday, saying the county has an unmodified, or what used to be called a “clean,” audit.

Lindsay said he condensed the 200-page financial report and the 25-page federal grant audit to 15 pages in a slide show.


He covered revenues, expenses, fund balances, accounts, liabilities and more, noting the complete audit will be available on the county website. A good management analysis of the county’s financial status is found on pages six to 13 in the report, he said.

The county’s financial statements are accurate and reliable and that will help them in the decision making process, he said.


Asked about the county’s standing compared with other counties, Lindsay said Barry County is “hanging in there with the best of them.”

Through the years, the county has adjusted to changes, others haven’t. Conservative budgeting and belonging to county associations helps them stay at the forefront, he said.


Auditors found one finding and a suggestion. The finding was on the preparation of a federal work schedule, “quite frankly, not a big deal,” but a few changes were made before they finished that part of the audit, he said.


The suggestion was on the reporting of payroll up to the MERS system; “just to double check. There were a few instances and some small differences” as to what the payroll records submitted showed as to actual payroll for those time periods.


“Things are in great order here,” he concluded. “I’d like to commend your outside CPA firm that provided assistance to the county, they did a great job. The records are in good shape, this is a good audit and the county should be proud of the results.”

Hastings City Council wrestles with composting site overuse

The Hastings City Council continues to try to find a workable solution to the overuse of the city composting site on West State Road. Meant as a service to city residents, the site is being overwhelmed by materials, much not compostable and an unknown amount being dropped off by non-Hastings residents.


The problem is magnified by expectations that the city will provide the service, and despite publicity, many are generally unaware that the site is for specialized materials, is paid for by the city, and is not a landfill, council members said.


In a wide ranging discussion Monday, ideas from stopping the service to farming it out to a contractor were discussed. No action was taken, but most members favored a recommendation by Department of Public Services Director Lee Hays to close the drop off area with access through a gate for residents only by a code given by city staff. Hays gave five options and preliminary costs for staff and rental of equipment for the city council to consider:


Option 1: Bi-weekly pickup on every other Monday at residents home at a cost of $1,280 a week or $17,920 a year.


Option 2: Monthly pickup on the first Monday at residents home for seven pickups a year for $2,080 a month or $14,560 a year.


Option 3: Residents drop materials behind DPS garage

for six man hours a week for $600 a week or $18,480 a year.


Option 4: Additional gates and secured access at site with staff providing weekly code. With materials, labor, equipment rental, and power to the site, $7,200 total cost


Option 5: Staff the site every other Saturday and continue the existing practice for four man hours for 14 Saturdays a year for $540 a Saturday or $7,560 a year.


City Manager Jeff Mansfield will get more definite cost figures on the options and information on contracting for the service and bring it back to the council.

Hayes recommended option 4, saying it is the only option that will control the unauthorized dumping. Hastings residents would come in or call city hall during normal business hours, provide proof of residency and be given the security code, which would be changed every week.//


He said the use by non-residents, the site being open during day for access by city employees and the site being somewhat screened from the road are parts of the problem and no matter which option is chosen, the existing drop-off area should be gated to prevent unauthorized dumping throughout the day.


In a memo to the council, Hays said they have a proposal to process the existing on site material for $30,000 to run the materials through a tub grinder to make wood chip (mulch) sized particles, then put the materials in rows and begin the composting process.


It will take five to 10 years to decompose to become viable compost material and be removed from the site. With the rate the material coming into the site, they will have issues processing all of the material into compost and maintaining compliance with the DEQ permit guidelines, he said.



Hastings Schools Summer Food Service

Monday was the first day of the Hastings Area School System's sponsored Summer Food Service Program. Free meals are available from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm to children 18 years of age and under  or persons up to 26 enrolled in an educational program for mentally or physically disabled that is recognized by a state or local public educational agency. There will be no discrimination and meals will be provided regardless of race, color, national orgin, age, sex or disibility. Additionally, adults may purchase a lunch for $4.00.


To attend at the middle school, use the main middle school entrance. If you are getting lunch at the high school, the entrance is in the back of the school by the greenhouse.


The service will runs from June 11, 2018 through August 17, 2018.  Meals will be provided Monday through Friday from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.  Transportation will be provided from designated locations throughout Hastings. 

Yankee Springs/Wayland Fire Department continues steady growth in third year

Those who live in the Yankee Springs/Wayland Fire Department coverage area get two fire department coverage for the price of one, said Deputy Fire Chief Dan Miller.


When there’s a fire, Barry Central Dispatch tones out both departments at the same time and the combined station responds; they also assists surrounding township departments.

The Yankee Springs Fire Department was formed April 1, 2016, with the approval of the Yankee Springs Fire Committee. The Wayland City Council and the Yankee Springs Township Board contracted with WFD for an initial five year contract.


The satellite fire station on Payne Lake Road was built in the late 1990s; the building of a fire department there and merger with Wayland Fire Department came after years of dissention about the cost of Thornapple Township Emergency Services contracts for fire and ambulance protection.


In a separate agreement, Yankee Springs Township residents are also served by WAEMS ambulance service based in Wayland. In the beginning, from April to October, Miller was at the station 20 hours a week setting up the department, inventory of vehicles and equipment and recruiting. He now works a minimum of 20 hours, or more, depending on demand.


“The biggest hurdle was recruitment. The eight applicants were not certified, so I set up an academy in September 2016 for firefighter one and two to graduate in May of 2017.

In May through August of 2016, they took training to become Medical First Responders (MFRs).

“Medical First Responders are a big asset to the citizens and the service,” he said.

In the first partial year, the department responded to 176 medical calls and 56 fires; in its first full year, 2017, they handled 219 medicals and 75 fire calls.//


To date, the Yankee Springs station has 14 certified firefighters, four probationary. On the medical side they have two paramedics, four EMTs, and six MFRs Miller said.

Equipment includes a Lucas automatic defibrillator, a fire rescue boat, new Genesis Jaws of Life, one engine, one tanker, two Jeeps from the DNR, and a multi-purpose vehicle that pumps water, stores medical supplies and is used for traffic control.


Wayland Fire Department has 26 firefighters with three in training, two EMTs, two MFR and five taking MFR training that Wayland’s Fire Chief Joe Miller and WAEMS Director Bob Hess set up.

Recruitment is ongoing through flyers, social media, and an electronic sign at the Yankee Springs station.

“We are two separate departments with our own identities on our equipment and clothing, but we are one department at the scene,” Miller said. “For the first time, we can help surrounding agencies. Both responding at the same time is a big plus. We work well with Central Dispatch and have since the beginning.


“It does my heart good to see the people who stop in weekly to see us open and having taxpayer dollars spent locally, Miller said. He works closely with the township, without almost daily contact and credits the board for its support in getting it up and running with personnel and equipment.


Miller likes the department being involved in the community. A veterans monument is being installed at the station and a large cardboard sign in the window with either the word High in red or Low in green on burning conditions for residents considering getting a burn permit is set daily by the DNR.


An electronic sign at the corner has general information for residents and visitors including blood drives, cleanup events and other activities. “We also install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors for free and give demonstrations and presentations,” Miller said.


They will be Tyden Park in Hastings for the second National Night Out in August to show the public the equipment they use in their jobs and answer any questions. Eventually, Miller would like to see a crew of 25 at Yankee Springs.





Pole Barn Fire

Three fire departments in Barry County responded to a pole barn on fire on West Guernsey lake road Sunday afternoon.

Orangeville Township, Prarieville Township and the Delton Fire Departments arrived on the scene to find the barn fully envolved in flames.

An Orangeville fire official said the cause in unknown, but the pole barn is being considered a total loss.

There were no injuries.

UPDATE: Body found thought to be missing Orangeville Township man

UPDATE:The Barry County Sheriff's Office is reporting that a body located near the property of the David Lukins residence is believed to be the missing Orangeville Township man. The body was decomposed; there is no indication of foul play at this time.

The death is under investigation and is pending autopsy results, the sheriff's news release said.


ORIGINAL STORY: Friends and family became concerned about David Lukins, 56, of Orangeville Township when they had not heard from him since May 26, and began to miss scheduled appointments.

Barry County Sheriff’s Office was notified on May 31, but attempts to locate Lukins have been unsuccessful. Anyone with information about Lukins is asked to contact the sheriff’s office at 269-948-4801.The matter is being investigated by Deputy Rosie O’Grady and Sgt. Rich Frazer. The Prairieville Township Police Department is assisting the sheriff’s office.


Hastings Police Chief talks school, student safety

Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt became chief four years ago with the retirement of former Chief Jerry Sarver. He came in with the philosophy of community policing which stresses building relationships with the public and schools. All of the officers are encouraged to be out of their cars more and interacting with the people they serve.


One initiative, the Hastings Police Cadet program with students from Hastings schools, is in its fourth year, productive and changing lives, Pratt says, “because we teach them to give back to the community. That was taught to me by Chief Sarver, I just use my approach to it.”


A school liaison officer, dormant for years because of cost, was reactivated with approval of the Hasting City Council. Sgt. Kris Miller is in the schools, interacting with youngsters, building trust of the police. He carries on with that with kids around town during his shift. “Kris is genuine with kids; you have to be, if you’re not, they see right through you,” Pratt said.


The first National Night Out in Hastings held last year drew 1,500 people. “The night is to show people the firefighters and police and ambulance personnel who are on call for them every day,” said Deputy Chief Dale Boulter, organizer of the event. “It builds on the police-community partnership, and lets the people meet and talk to emergency services personnel in a casual setting.” A second National Night Out is set for this year for Aug. 7 with expanded hours.


Pratt responded Thursday to several questions on school safety:


Do you favor teachers and others carrying guns in schools?

“No, so many bad things can happen,” he said. “I worry about how effective their training would be. Their focus is teaching and raising children, not training for an active shooter. I definitely have concerns about teachers or administrators carrying guns.”


Would you put police officers in schools?

“It would be great to have a full-time officer in every school building.”


Do you support a proposed state law mandating schools work with law enforcement on school security to qualify for funding for upgrades?

“Hastings Schools and the police department are currently doing that, especially this year with the bomb threats, which I think come from the school shootings.

“The police department and Hastings Schools have a good relationship. Superintendent Duits held a community forum to get different views and ideas from the public on student safety and invited us.”


What was the outcome of the forum?


“It was good; we listened to them. There were helpful ideas that we’re working on. It demonstrated the need for the public to step up if they want some of these changes. It may take passing a bond issue to get that.”


What do you think is the root cause of school shootings?

“There are numerous causes, and there is no one answer. It all comes down to mental health. Access to treatment has been declining through the years. My hope is that more people can get help when they need it.”

Do you see any positive signs?

“Yes, Hastings schools have done a good job of increasing the number of counselors and area schools have done a good job of protecting entrances, and that’s part of making schools safe.

“With the forum, I think we have community buy in and hopefully, it will provide bond issues for needed facility updates that are all part of student safety.


Your observations?

“When people think about student safety, they automatically think about active shooters, but it is so much more than that. I consider it an ongoing dialogue with schools.

“We’ll keep working on it, not only in schools. We work with businesses, and we’re training our own here at City Hall.

“We’ll just keep fighting the fight, hoping that something like this never happens here, but still being realistic that it may happen here.”



Safe Harbor's Biking for Bravery ready to roll June 16

Biking for Bravery, a community event featuring short and long distance bike rides for families and serious athletes is June 16 at Littlejohn Lake County Park in Allegan to benefit Safe Harbor, a Child Advocacy Center in Allegan and Barry counties.


There are 20, 50 and 80 mile routes. Check in and registration begins at 7 a.m.  The 80 mile riders take off at 8 a.m., followed by the 50 mile riders at 8:10 a.m. and the 20 milers at 8:20a.m. 


Business sponsorships start at “The Starting Line” sponsorship for $150 with website recognition and Facebook recognition; “Giving Hope” for $300, with a company booth at the event, website and Facebook recognition; “Going the Distance” for $500, with a company booth, one biking pass and website and Facebook recognition and “Biking for Bravery” for $1,000, a 4X4 company banner, company booth, two biking passes, website and Facebook recognition.


All funds will help the agency continue to provide awareness, support and hope and healing to child abuse victims in both counties.


Safe Harbor has four key values that they believe supports their vision:

*Children have the right to be heard, nurtured, protected, and supported.

*Education is essential to prevent child abuse and neglect.

*Child abuse affects the entire community and thus requires the entire community to eradicate it.

*Dedicated employees and volunteers are valued and are the key to our success.


In Michigan in 2015, 37, 370 children were victims of abuse/neglect. Nationally, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by the time they reach the age of 18. Safe Harbor works to stop the cycle; it is a lifeline for the most innocent victims.

Safe Harbor relies on volunteers, private grants, fundraising and donations. For more on sponsorships, call Allison at Safe Harbor, 269-673-3791, or at




Gun Lake Tribe shares $7.6 million with state and local governments

 The Gun Lake Tribe has announced its spring revenue sharing payments; the State of Michigan received $4,268,003, and the local revenue sharing board received $2,134,001.  GLIMI, an economic development entity, received $1,280,401. 

The figures are calculated from electronic gaming revenues reported from October 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018.    


“We are proud to continue offering great benefits to the local community in the form of jobs and revenue sharing payments,” said Scott Sprague, chairman of the Gun Lake Tribe.  “These economic impacts are growing through employee wages, vendor spending and state and local revenue sharing payments.”


The Tribe reinvested $76 million into an expansion of Gun Lake Casino that opened May 3, 2017.  The benefits were immediate to the surrounding community with dozens of new construction jobs, and over 100 new permanent employment positions offered.  The expanded gaming area enabled revenue to grow by nearly twenty-five percent.  


The Tribe’s revenue sharing payments are based on a percentage of gross revenue; not on much smaller profit figures.  This results in much larger payments to units of government than corporate tax payments. //


The Tribe’s business operations are also not dependent upon tax abatements as a means to justify reinvestment.  Nor will the Tribe’s operations ever relocate oversees or to other states with lower business taxes. 


As the tribal government and casino operations have grown, so too has the workforce.  The Tribe is now the fourth-largest employer in Allegan County, at 1,300 positions.  These jobs offer very competitive wage and benefit packages. 


The Tribe’s state revenue sharing payments are dependent on the continued preservation of exclusive gaming rights within its competitive market area, as defined by the tribal-state gaming compact, which also includes statewide expansion of certain lottery games.  The market area includes the cities of Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Lansing, as well as the entire counties of Kent, Kalamazoo and Ingham, among others.


The Tribe has now shared more than $75 million with the State of Michigan, which directs the payments to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation which awards grants to businesses to invest in Michigan and create jobs.  One such project is the recently announced plans for an Amazon warehouse near Grand Rapids that will seek to fill 1,000 jobs.  The MEDC has offered Amazon $4 million to locate to Grand Rapids. 


The Local Revenue Sharing Board receives and administers the semi-annual payments.  The gaming compact prescribes mandatory funding to local municipalities for: costs incurred due to the operation of the casino, public safety services and replacement of tax revenue.

The board established by-laws to govern the distribution process.  The local payments are made under terms of the gaming compact independent of gaming exclusivity.      


Gun Lake Casino opened in February 2011 and now employs more than 1,000 team members.  The Gun Lake Tribe has now shared $109, 319,081 with state and local governments through 15 distributions.


BEDHD, farmers, offer Project Fresh produce to WIC participants

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department, (BEDHD) and local farmers are coming together to bring Project Fresh, a program that makes fresh, farmers’ market produce available to low-income, nutritionally-at-risk consumers, to Barry and Eaton County WIC participants who are pregnant, postpartum, or have children ages 1-4 years.  Even though infants 6-12 months do not qualify, all women and children qualify.


A $25 coupon booklet will be given to WIC participants to use at local farmers markets this summer to buy fresh, locally grown produce.

Coupon booklets are available at the Hastings health department office at 330 Woodlawn Avenue on Friday, June 15 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and at the Charlotte health department office at 1033 Health Care Drive, on Thursday, June 14 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  


One booklet will be given per family. No appointment is required, but there is a limited supply of the booklets to be given out on a first-come/first-served basis.

Those with questions, including if you qualify, call the WIC office in Barry County at 269-945-9516, or the WIC office in Eaton County at (517)541-2630.


All farmers participating in Project Fresh will have a laminated yellow poster stating: “Project FRESH Coupons Accepted Here.” //


BEDHD encourages everyone to eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day for better health. Fruits and vegetables are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are naturally rich in nutrients, low in calories and fat, and able to reduce health risks such as cancer, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and other diseases. Fruits and vegetables are the original fast and easy food.


Barry County Commission deals with liability insurance and more

The Barry County Commission’s committee of the whole Tuesday addressed several issues critical to the operation of the county government. The panel recommended approval of several items at next week’s regular board meeting, including:


* renewal of the Barry County Administrative Services Contract with Blue Cross-Blue Shield that lets the county have discounted rates the company negotiates with doctors, hospitals and pharmacies for medical costs for inmates that are in the care, custody and control of the county, from July 2018 to July 2019 with an administrative fee of 11 percent per month,


* renewal of a Consulting Services, LLC agreement for three years to provide indirect cost accounting services incurred by the county with federal and state programs to assure recovery of the costs through underlying grants when possible, for $9,500 for each of the three years,


* renewal of the liability, vehicle, physical damage and property and crime insurance though the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority from July 2018 through July 2019 for $381,067,


* an amendment to the the Municipal Employees Retirement System Hybrid Plan Agreement to change the county’s maximum contribution to 2.2 percent effective Jan. 1, 2018, based on MERS annual valuation of the employer contribution rate to the defined benefit part of the hybrid plan of 7.8 percent. The county’s maximum contribution to the hybrid plan is 10 percent,


* the 2018 L-4029 form for Barry County to collect summer taxes,


* the transfer of a 2001 Chevrolet panel van from the sheriff’s office to the animal shelter. The sheriff’s office does not use the van much since they got a newer vehicle and the animal shelter can use it to carry more animals than the current van,


* the purchase of 12 ballistic resistant vests to replace 12 vests that expire in September from CMP Distributors for $10,260, with a grant of $4,494 from the United States Justice Department to offset part of the cost,


* entry into the Michigan Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program (PA116) for Jason and Jordan Scamlin in Section 35 of Barry Township,


* a budget amendment to the Child Care Fund increasing the budget summary from $1,034,001.14 to $1,234,001.14 and increase the residential line item in the county’s budget from $250,000 to $450,000,


* an amendment to MERS hybrid plan adoption agreement to include the non-union Central Dispatch administrative assistant position to the hybrid plan effective June 1.

D-Day 2018

Wednesday June 6th is known as D-Day. It was 74 years ago on June 6, 1944 the United States and its Allies landed on the beaches of Normandy in France, known as "Operation Overlord.  Over the next year allied  military forces attacked Nazi Germany  bringing World War Two to a close in Europe  with Germany's surrender on May 8, 1945 after four long years of war.

Barry County Road Commision Manager: status of Barry County roads is "great"

Brad Lamberg, managing director of the Barry County Road Commission, gave his annual report to Barry County Commissioners Tuesday.

“The status of the roads in Barry County is great,” he said, thanking “the people who supported us and helped us…townships have supported us, you have supported us…” he said.

The county township’s financial contributions are key to the road commission and they continue to hold steady, he said.


amberg' report presented revenues and expenditures, including a copy of the 2017 financial report, the roadwork selection process, township gravel totals, and county wide crack seals, paving and sealcoating projects.


While revenue of $12.1 million is needed for essential expenses, the BCRC receives $9.8 million, leaving an annual shortfall of $2.3 million. “While our county roads are stable and slightly improving, there is still significant need, but most of the local agencies are in much worse shape,” he said in his report.


He outlined costs to taxpayers and revenue increases of 2018 and applauded state legislators and Governor Snyder for their efforts to increase road funding. The first full year of the 2015 increases raised about $600 million a year, plus a one-time $175 million boost this year. Beginning in 2019, the state’s general funds will begin phasing in an additional permanent $600 million annually. The increases will eventually raise an additional $1.2 billion for roads by 2021, he said.


2017 marked another successful year at the Barry County Road Commission, with routine maintenance, preservation and construction projects completed successfully without significant accidents or injuries, he said, crediting “an extremely dedicated and skilled workforce and professional staff” for further increasing its responsiveness to the needs of the community.


In spite of increasing demands, inclement weather and funding shortages, the commission believes it had provided on of the best county road systems in Michigan, Lamberg said.


Also to do with the road commission, county commissioners recommended approval of a BCRC grant request from the State Disaster Contingency Fund.

The road commission spent $230,000 related to floods this spring; they qualify to apply for $94,000 of the $100,000 grants for gas, materials and overhead.


Celebrate summer; next up, the Fourth of July

Summer offers festivals, warm weather and lots of outdoor activities after months of frigid temperatures and indoor living. It’s not too early to line up your summer plans to make sure you don’t miss your favorites events.


Some Fourth of July fireworks are already set; at Payne Lake on July 3 at dusk, 10 p.m. or so, with a July 7 rain date, Barlow Lake, July 7 at 10:15 p.m. and over Gun Lake, on July 7 at 10 p.m.


For the first time, the Yankee Springs Fire Department is hosting a pancake breakfast.

Saturday, July 7, they will offer pancakes, eggs, sausage, potatoes and a variety of drinks for a donation. Proceeds will go for equipment and uniforms for firefighters.

Church Fire

Hastings Firefighters were called to the Journey Church at 1664 M-37 in Barry County's Rutland township Monday night around 9:55 pm as flames were coming from a vent. According to the  report the building was a total loss. No information on what started the fire but remains under investigation. no reported injuries.

Two injured in rollover crash on I-96 in Ionia County

The driver of a commercial vehicle pulling a covered trailer was eastbound on I-96 Friday when a tire blew and he lost control of the vehicle. He went into the median, overturned and was trapped inside, according to the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office.

The driver was extricated by fellow motorists who stopped to assist along with a Michigan State Police detective. A passenger in the vehicle was able to get out by himself, police said.


While first responders were enroute, an off-duty nurse and doctor assessed the injured men; both were taken to Sparrow Ionia Hospital for nonlife threatening injuries. Westbound I-96 Highway near Sunfield Highway was closed while aid was being given and the damaged vehicle removed.


Sheriff’s deputies were assisted by the Portland Police Department, Michigan State Police, Berlin-Orange Fire Department, LIFE and Portland Ambulance services and Reed & Hoppes Towing.

Delton Wounded Warrior competing in Department of Defense Games

U.S. Navy Diver, Chief Petty Officer Julius McManus, a 1993 graduate of Delton Kellogg High School, has  joined more than 250 seriously wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans at the 2018 Department of Defense Warrior Games June 1 - 9 at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.


During the nine days of competition McManus, the son of the late James and Darlene McManus, who have family in the Hastings area, will compete in shooting, track, cycling and swimming. 

“Participating in the Warrior Games has re-kindled my desire for competition and has helped me to remember that I am more than my injuries,” said McManus. “Learning how to compete using adaptive equipment has reinforced that I am still capable of accomplishing great things and giving back to my country, my community, and my sailors.” 

He was selected for team Navy after the competitive Wounded Warrior Trials in February at Naval Station Mayport in Florida. Team Navy includes service members and veterans with upper-body, lower-body, and spinal cord injuries; traumatic brain injuries; visual impairment; serious illnesses; and post-traumatic stress.


McManus, who now lives in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, will be competing against athletes from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. //

“The coaches have given me the tools to become an athlete and competitor again, the Navy Wounded Warrior (NWW) – Safe Harbor staff have shown me the resources to request assistance acquiring the necessary equipment to become an adaptive triathlete using a hand-cycle and push-rim racing wheelchair,” he said.

“I can honestly say that the adaptive sports program saved my life and has allowed me to be a better husband and father than I have been in many years.”

“Adaptive sports has helped me heal by providing a sense of purpose, comradery, and a family of brothers and sisters who help me feel normal,” said McManus. “As a former athlete who fell into a dark depression and was contemplating ways to terminate existence, participation in the adaptive sports program showed me that I was not alone and that there are still ways to feel alive beyond the pain.”


"Our Navy Wounded Warrior athletes have shown incredible resiliency in their personal roads to recovery through Commander, Navy Installations Command's Adaptive Sports Program. The actions of these athletes demonstrate the Navy’s core attributes of integrity, accountability, initiative and toughness," said Vice Adm. Mary Jackson, commander, Navy Installations Command.  

“The Chief of Naval Operations has said that we will remain the world's finest navy only if we all fight each and every minute to get better.  There is no better example of this performance than what our sailors and Coast Guardsmen in the Navy Wounded Warrior Program do each and every day."


For more about the 2018 DOD Warrior Games, visit Photo: U.S Navy Diver CPO Julius McManus training for cycling competition.


Ionia County Health Department says be healthy and safe in a swimming pool

Have your eyes ever started to sting and turn red when you were swimming in a pool? Did you think it was because of the chlorine in the water? Have you ever walked into an indoor pool area, gotten a whiff of a strong chemical smell, and thought, “Wow, there’s a lot of chlorine in the pool?”


It’s actually not the chlorine. It’s chloramines - what you get when chlorine combines with what comes out of (e.g., pee or poop) or washes off of (e.g., sweat and dirt) swimmers bodies.


These types of chloramines irritate the eyes and respiratory tract and can even aggravate asthma. Healthy swimming depends on what we swimmers bring into the pool—and what we keep out of it. We all share the water we swim in, and we each need to do our part to keep ourselves, our families, and our friends healthy, an Ionia County Health Department news release said.


Here are a few simple and effective safety steps all of us can take each time we swim:

 • Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.

 • Shower before you get in the water.

• Don’t pee or poop in the water.

• Don’t swallow the water. Every hour—everyone out.

• Take kids on bathroom breaks.

• Check diapers, and change them in a bathroom or diaper changing area—not poolside.

• Reapply sunscreen.

• Drink plenty of fluids. //


Just 2 1/2 hours of water-based physical activity a week has health benefits across a lifetime. Water based physical activity can protect the health of pregnant women by helping to regulate body temperature and minimize stress on joints during exercise as well as helping to prevent or control diabetes brought on by pregnancy.


Water based physical activity also improves women’s bone health after menopause and improves older adults’ ability to carry out everyday activities. The health benefits for children are wide-reaching, as well.


Healthy swimming is not just about the steps the pool operators and pool inspectors take—so let’s all do our part to help keep ourselves, our families, and our friends healthy this summer and year-round.


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