Local News Archives for 2018-08

A free day of outdoor recreation for kids offered Sept. 8

Barry County Outdoor Recreation Youth Day is Sept. 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Historic Charlton Park. The free event offers a day of fun where kids can get hands-on experience in many different outdoor activities and features a free lunch for kids, displays, demonstrations, door prizes and giveaways.


A partial list of activities includes archery, camping fishing, target shooting, hiking, trapping, sled dogs, a rock wall, fly fishing, sporting dog demonstrations and much more.

The kids will learn from local experts, and meet local recreation groups.


For details, visit

Take advantage of the Gun Lake Tribe's electronic recycling event Sept.5

The Gun Lake Tribe’s next electronics recycling event will be Wednesday, Sept. 5 from 10 a.m. to 1p.m. at the Tribe’s Government Campus near Gun Lake Casino at 2872 Mission Drive, Shelbyville. Follow signs to the area near the public works building. 


The tribe supports electronic waste recycling because it is a growing concern to our environment.  Electronic waste can leak harmful toxins into landfills, soil and groundwater.

Acceptable items include office and household electronics, cell phones, radios, microwaves, VCRs and TVs, computer laptops, computer monitors, keyboards and mice, printers, speakers and power cords. 


Comprenew uses best practices in electronics recycling and data security and will erase or destroy all computer hard drives. They do not ship electronic waste overseas and the zero-landfill policy requires that all electronics are recycled, refurbished or reused.

The public is encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to properly dispose of obsolete electronic items. 



Extra patrols planned this holiday weekend

Law enforcement officers from police departments, sheriff’s offices and the Michigan State Police will be on the lookout for impaired drivers during the Labor Day holiday weekend, the unofficial end of summer. The federally funded extra patrols are part of the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign, which began Aug. 17 and will last through Monday.


“The Labor Day holiday weekend is a time for many families to travel one last time before the summer ends,” said Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) Director Michael L. Prince. “This traffic safety campaign generates thousands of additional hours of police patrols with a focus on reducing traffic crashes, fatalities, and injuries. Motorists are advised to drive sober as officers will be conducting strict, stepped up enforcement.”


Over the 2017 Labor Day holiday period, in Michigan, 15 people died in traffic crashes. Of the 15 people killed, more than a quarter, 26.6 percent, involved alcohol.


In Michigan, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, although motorists can be arrested at any BAC level if an officer believes they are impaired.  Motorists face enhanced penalties if arrested for a first-time drunk driving offense with a .17 BAC or higher.

In addition, anyone that refuses a breath test for the first time is given a one-year driver’s license suspension. For a second refusal within seven years, it is a two-year suspension.


The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is supported with federal traffic safety funds provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and coordinated by the OHSP. 

Storm Update

53,000 Consumers Energy home and business customers  remain out of power as a result of the storms.  Barry County 8, Ionia County 87, Kent County 208, Allegan County 703. 

By late Friday  power should be restored.


West Nile Virus in Allegan County

A case of probable non-neuroinvasive West Nile virus (WNV) has been identified in an Allegan County resident.

The Allegan County Health Department is reminding residents to protect against mosquito bites; the best way to protect against West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses is to prevent mosquito bites.


Michigan has a total of 10 confirmed and six probable reported cases of WNV as of Aug. 28. Four of the 16 cases have been non-neuroinvasive or WNV fever cases.  West Nile virus is an arbovirus transmitted by the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus by feeding on infected birds and can transmit the virus to other animals, birds, and humans.


Most birds show no symptoms of infection, but certain bird species, such as crows, blue jays and ravens, are more sensitive to the virus. Consequently, these types of birds are more likely to become sick and die when they become infected with the virus.

The peak risk period is late summer and early fall.


Most people who become infected with WNV will not develop any symptoms of illness.  However, some become sick three to 15 days after exposure. About one in five infected persons will have a mild illness with fever, and about one in 150 infected people will become severely ill.


Mild illness may include headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash.

Severe symptoms of neuroinvasive WNV are associated with encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) acute flaccid paralysis, or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord).


"Simple, effective strategies can protect residents:

* eliminate water collecting outside your home in containers and tires that hold stagnant water.

* apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other EPA approved product, following the manufacturer’s directions.

* wear long sleeves and pants outdoors when mosquitoes are most active – from dusk until dawn,” said Allegan County Public Health Officer, Angelique Joynes, MPH, RN.


For more information about West Nile virus activity in Michigan, and how to report a dead or sick-acting bird in your area, visit Additional information on the West Nile virus can be found at



Decision on Barry County Transit improvements moved back two weeks

Barry County Commissioners were decidedly cool to a proposal to wait another six weeks before deciding on a million dollar improvement project at the Barry County Transit.


Transit Manager Bill Voigt asked approval of expansion plans to be paid for by transit funds in May. The commission wanted an appraisal first, part of the process of deciding on where to put a new county jail, and tabled the request.


On Monday, Barry County Commissioners Ben Geiger and Howard “Hoot” Gibson and County Administrator Michael Brown, met with County Sheriff Dar Leaf, County Transit Manager Bill Voigt, Hastings City Manager Jeff Mansfield, Mayor Davie Tossava and Clerk/Treasurer Jerry Czarnecki to update them on the progress on the planning for a new county jail.


“The process has been moving at a rapid pace; the meeting was to let us know what they’re doing,” Mansfield said. “This isn’t new; we’ve been involved all along, talking about commercial development along the State Street corridor.


“State Street goes beyond the city limits; we’ve talked many, many times with the county and neighboring townships about zoning issues, infrastructure needs, our master plan and the impact on the community of all commercial development. We just want to stay involved.”


Mansfield served on the steering committee for the county’s 2015 Facilities Plan. He expects to serve on a future committee when the county develops a new plan.


Geiger asked for the delay Tuesday, saying Hastings officials had concerns about the extent of the appraisal of the transit and jail property that was delivered by appraiser John Meyers last week.


Meyer’s recommendation was the highest and best use for the property at 1212 West State Street was to keep the transit, valued at $700,000, at its present location, demolish the present jail and sell the then-vacant nine acres, valued at $1,150,000, for commercial development.

Geiger said the property is a key piece of real estate and what they do is a, “100 year decision.” His concern is that commissioners “might miss an opportunity or move in a way that closed doors.”


He suggested an analysis by a master planner who could tell them if they should go ahead with Meyer’s assessment, or take another look at what they were committing to. “One thing we can’t do is move ahead, making a mistake,” he said.


Each commissioner had reservations about waiting any longer to move ahead; that the appraiser told them it was the best and highest use of the property, the delay of the transit proposal since May, why Hastings officials brought it up, “after all this time,” that there was no need to hold it up for more opinions after working on it for a year, putting it off would affect construction timelines for the transit with the cost going up, and why they would need another evaluation.


Commissioners agreed Hastings is an important governmental partner, but their main concern is Barry County taxpayers. The discussion continued with more reservations being brought up until Commissioner Dan Parker suggested a one week delay to let Hastings and county officials, and possibly the appraiser by phone, meet to clarify the situation.


Geiger said he liked the idea; commissioners will talk about it again at the committee of the whole Sept. 4, with no action taken until the regular board meeting on Sept. 11. Geiger will try to get the meeting scheduled in the first week.






Are you prepared for an emergency?

September, National Preparedness Month, encourages the public to prepare now and throughout the year for any future emergencies and disasters with a focus on a different way each week to get ready for emergencies.

This year's theme is Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How. Each week in September will focus on a different way to prepare for emergencies:

Week 1: September 1-8: Make and Practice Your Plan.

1.  How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?

2.  What is my shelter plan?

3.  What is my evacuation route?

4. What is my family/household communication plan?

Discuss medical needs, pets, and the ages of the members of your household. Family Emergency Plans are available at: Plan templates can also be found here:

Week 2: September 9-15: Learn Life Saving Skills

Learn basic maintenance skills to stay safe. Take measures to protect homes from flood damage; check and install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, and prepare an emergency supply kit. Suggested emergency supply kit items and tips can be found here:

Week 3: September 16-22: Check Your Insurance Coverage

Take time to understand insurance coverage against flood damage and more, and consider buying insurance, if possible. Information about insurance can be found at under “Be Smart. Take Part. Document and Insure Your Property.”

Week 4: September 23-29: Save for an Emergency

Recovering from an emergency may be expensive. Plan ahead by saving money in case of disaster.  Collect important personal, household, medical, and financial information. Consider opening an emergency savings account. More tips can be found at:

It is important for individuals, families, organizations, and businesses to always be prepared for an emergency. The Barry-Eaton District Health Department suggests that all of these groups have an emergency plan in place. For more information, visit,, or


Coffee with the Chief is Sept. 19 at Hastings Public Library

The next Coffee with the Chief, with Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt, is set for Wednesday, Sept. 19 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Community Room at the Hastings Public Library. The hour is for the public to bring questions and concerns to discuss with the chief.Pratt said one of the topics will be school safety and he’s asking the public for input on the subject.

September is Library Card Sign Up month

“A library card is the smartest card of all,” Hastings Mayor David Tossava said as he proclaimed September Library Card Sign Up Month on Monday.

The Hastings City Council joined the Hastings Public Library in encouraging everyone to sign up for their own library card in September.

Tossava listed the many assets of the library; the roles they play in education and development of children, serving people of all ages from early literacy to homework help to lifelong learning, and empowering people to pursue their interests, discover their passions and achieve their highest potential as learners and citizens.

“Libraries bring communities together, creating welcoming and inclusive places for people of all backgrounds to learn together; and libraries are constantly transforming and expanding their services to meet the needs of the communities they serve libraries promote equity, making digital technology and information easily accessible to all,” Tossava said.

Library Director Peggy Hemerling thanked the council for the proclamation, adding an invitation to the council and the public to an Open House Wednesday Sept. 5 at 6 p.m. Visitors will learn about all the library programs, activities, events and groups of people with like interests.  A recent grant allowed the library to purchase some unusual items not usually found being loaned out at a library, including a metal detector, snowshoes, a paper shredder, drill tool bag and even a sewing machine.


In other business, the council approved a Hastings High School request to hold its Homecoming Parade Sept. 21. The line-up for parade marchers and the step off point has been changed to East State Street and school groups and others have been asked to not congregate in the Ace Hardware parking lot. In the past, the large crowds getting ready for the parade have been disruptive for shoppers at the store, and the city has asked them not to stage the parade there.

The council also approved a request by Pastor Randall Bertrand to hold the first skateboard competition at First Ward Park on Oct. 6. The judged event is to reward skate boarders who are truly athletes, but get no All-Star game or Homecoming Parade, to recognize their efforts, athleticism and dedication to the sport,” Bertrand said.


Mayor David Tossava presents Hastings Public Library Director Peggy Hemerling with a proclamation that September is Library Card Sign Up month.


WBCH radio recognized for 60 years of commitment to Hastings, area citizens

Radio station WBCH, established in August of 1958, was purchased by Ken and Marjorie Radant in 1969.

Since its founding, the station has provided daily, local, state and national news, reported council meetings, church services, parades, high school sports and concerts and public service announcements for non-profits and community organizations, the Hastings City Council noted in an official proclamation Monday.

Reading from the proclamation, Mayor David Tossava said: “Dave McIntyre, who has informed and entertained audiences on WBCH AM&FM since 1959, reports the news, weather and sports on the radio each morning. News specialist Jean Gallup accurately reports news for listeners and on-line viewers. Several radio personalities, including Chad Henry, entertain WBCH listeners, while the station advertising sales and marketing staff connects advertisers to consumers.”

WBCH has become a vital element in helping Hastings and Barry County grow and adapt in commerce and all aspects of life, he added. The station has maintained competiveness in a time when many radio stations face challenges by its commitment to the local economy, embracing the changing technology with listener texting, internet streaming, mobile and  telephone apps, smart speaker delivery and social media, Tossava said.

The council congratulated the station on its 60 anniversary for, “its unwavering and dedicated commitment to bringing news and music to the citizen of Hastings and surrounding areas.” Today, Barry Broadcasting Company is run by Steve Radant, president and general manager, and wife Sue, executive administrator and traffic director.

Radant said the station and staff are proud of being part of the city and county. “Thank you for recognizing and celebrating with us on this milestone,” he said.

In other business, the council approved:

* the Founders Fall Fondo Ride on Oct. 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with about 350 bicyclists. The event is a fundraiser for the Barry County Animal Shelter for the fourth year, and will receive a police escort from Green Street to Cook Road.

* Carla Rizor’s resignation with regret from the Downtown Development Authority.

* the revised final assessment roll for the West State Street Sidewalk District. An extension of the culvert instead of building a bridge over a creek lowered the cost of the project, which is reflected in the final roll.

* adoption of Ordinance 560, applying regulations on outdoor vending operations and material collection bins. City Manager Jeff Mansfield said the operations were regulated at site plan review; the change will give the city more regulatory tools on the operations and facilities.






Accepting the proclamation from Mayor David Tossava (left) are Dave McIntyre, Marge Radant, Sue Radant and Steve Radant. Chad Henry and Jean Gallup were not available for the photo.


County Seat Restaurant closes its doors

After more than 35 years the County Seat Restaurant has closed its doors. Owners Gary and Carla Rizor have decided to retire. " We sincerely have appreciated your patronage and the opportunity to have served you. Hastings has been our home for the past 35 years and we have been proud to have been part of the downtown and will miss this community".  Congratulations to Gary and Carla and best of luck in your retirement.

Seasonal Grille will generously honor County Seat gift certificates until November 1st, 2018

2018 Hastings Summerfest bigger, better than ever

The City of Hastings was filled with residents and visitors for the annual salute to summer over last weekend. This year’s event was dedicated to the late Mike Hallifax, a volunteer who was a guiding force for the activities and events for 40 years. Arts and Crafts sales, live entertainment, Farmers Market, all kinds of food, a parade and activities for every age group and activity level were features of this year’s unofficial farewell to summer.


Click here for the 2018 Summerfest photo album


Summerfest Parade Winners

Here are the Summerfest parade winners in each category.


Float Category:

1st Place: At Home Real Estate

2nd Place: St. Rose School

3rd Place: Creekside Vision & Hearing


Marching/Walker Category:

1st Place: Hastings High School Band

2nd Place: Athletic Sensations Baton Twirling

3rd Place: Barry County Grapplers Club


Mobile/Car Category:

1st Place: Battle Creek Shriners Club

2nd Place: Dad's Little Rascal

3rd Place: Thornapple Manor

Superintendent's Platform

WBCH offers area superintendent's this space to highlight activities in their districts.

This posting is from Hastigs Area School System Superintendent Carrie Duits.


The Hastings Area School System is grateful for the outstanding turnout for the 3rd annual Welcome Back  Teacher Parade. The event was a huge success with parents, students, and community members lining  the streets. The Hastings Marching Band played the school’s fight song while school busses drove teachers  through the welcoming crowd of Saxon Supporters. 


We would like to thank everyone who participated in  supporting the school system and our teachers. This amazing tradition brings an energizing jolt of Saxon  Pride to the beginning of the school year.


We  would  also  like  to  thank  the  many members across the district  spent much of their own time and resources  preparing for the 2018-2019
school year. Teachers have been involved in training sessions and workshops. 


Some teachers participated in training at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute and at various conferences. Several  Several teachers recently participated in a Tech Camp held at  the Hastings Middle School.


In August, Building  Leadership Teams, worked to gear up and fine-tune our district’s support system for all students, with a  focus on literacy and behavior. We  have  approximately  250 high  school  students  involved  in  Fall sports.  Additionally, there  are  136  students who will participate in the Hastings Marching Band. 

Approximately 80 marching band students participate in sports at some point during the school year.Hastings Middle School sports will begin August 27, 2018, during the first week of 



Additional events and dates to look forward to this fall:

*September 17-21, 2018 Homecoming Week 

*October 14, 2018 Hastings Middles School Dedication

*October 20, 2018 Dynamic Planning Retreat

If you are interested in participating in this all-day event, please contact the Hastings Area School System Administration Office at (269)948?4400.

Just an Observation...

This started out as an article on a $2,000 grant to the Hastings Public Library to buy things not normally associated with a library; metal detectors, snowshoes, a paper shredder, drill tool bag and even a sewing machine. After talking to three of the library staff, I found it couldn’t be about everything the library offers, there's just too much going on there, with many, many programs, activities and opportunities.


So, it turned into my observations, which are just my opinions. And, it is my opinion that “Amazing Things Happen at the Library” is a fact. If you haven’t been to the library recently, it’s not your grandparent’s library any more. It isn’t even your parent’s library any more, either.


At 227 East State Street in Hastings for 10 years, the Hastings Public Library has celebrated its one millionth visitor. You don’t attract a million visitors without planning and working for it. The library’s leadership and staff embrace the latest technology available, evolving with the internet, using electronic innovations and the latest technology.


Books, magazines, EBooks, Audiobooks, DVDs and CDs. Wi-Fi and places to work, computers, free photo images, clubs with specific interests to join, programs and activities from babies to seniors and everywhere in between are available.


A library hand-out lists 21 current classes and programs and 10 clubs. The variety of special events the library hosts needs a spread sheet to track all of the events, times and spaces going on at the library. The community room is used by many non-profit groups and rented to the general public for events.


Some programs will let you download items to your electronic mobile device without going to the library. The age span of patrons ranges from assisted-living residents to babies. Women sign up for the program of reading books to their babies when they are pregnant.


A part of your parent’s library was the stress-free atmosphere and that is still prominent today. Along with those with heads bowed reading a book, library-goers are working on computers.


The library feels comfortable and safe, and is actually called “the third place,” after home and school, where children, and everyone else, can always find a new interest, learn a new skill or refresh an old one, explore new hobbies, or just enjoy escapist entertainment in a quiet space.

Those without library cards are welcome to join clubs and use the computers.


A firsthand story of the Dutch Resistance of the Nazi’s in WWII is featured on Oct. 3, and a 12-hour gaming event, featuring all types of games, is on Nov.10. Staying up with the times, the library hosts its second annual electric car event Sept. 15 with drivers of electric vehicles offering information and rides.


Wi-Fi is available in many places and now there is a device that lets you get Wi-Fi wherever you are. That’s the next thing the library is going to get.

You’re invited to stop in to learn much more about the Hastings Public Library.


My thanks to Barbara Haywood, adult services and marketing, Paige Brandli, youth services and David Edelnan, circulation supervisor, for their time and for sharing information on what "Amazing Things Happen at the Library."



Barry County Transit manager looks forward to improving the facility

In May, Barry County Transit Manager Bill Voigt asked the Barry County Commissioners for permission for improvements to the transit facility. He told of plans for a 2,950 square foot addition to the bus garage, a 1,160 square foot addition to the dispatch center and renovation of existing office space for a total cost of $1 million, all to come from transit funds.


However, the commission had just started planning for a new jail and needed an appraisal of the property the transit shares with the jail before they could move ahead, and tabled his request.


Appraiser John A. Meyers Wednesday recommended the county keep the transit where it is, provide it with more parking space and demolish the jail and sell that property for commercial development.

"I am very impressed with the comprehensive appraisal done by John A. Meyer Appraisal Company,” Voigt said. “We agree with his finding as to the value of the transit property and his recommendation to the Barry County Board of Commissioners that our facility remain here.  Mr. Meyer's assertion that our facility is a desirable utilization of the property has us looking to future facility improvements. 


“Special recognition goes to our County Administrator Michael Brown for guiding Mr. Meyer through the process.  I speak for all transit employees in thanking Transportation Board members Hoot Gibson, Jon Smelker and Shawn Winters for their vision and insight. 


“We hope to gain approval of the commission to begin renovations to our facility at no additional cost to our taxpayers."  Commissioner Smelker asked the commission for immediate consideration of the transit planned improvements.



Barry Eaton District Health Department employee salaries questioned

Last week, at the Barry Cuonty Commission meeting, citizen Jack Miner said that the Barry Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) 2019 draft budget hides all employee expenses from the public. He alleged that $4.25 million dollars is being hidden from the taxpayers for fiscal year 2019 and told commissioners that it is time for them to, “start asking some questions.” 


This week, Miner said during public comment that the lack of transparency on budget figures, “is the result of Commissioner (Ben) Geiger’s arbitrary decision to change the health department budgeting process, apparently without consulting with other commissioners or the health board.”

Miner said he has asked repeatedly to be put on a county commission committee of the whole meeting agenda to discuss the topic, and has been denied.


According to Miner, the average wage for a health department employee 2017 was $70,665; in 2018 it was $70,255 and in the 2019 draft budget, it is $76,265 for each employee.

“That’s a year over year increase of $6,010 dollars for each employee a total of over $335,000 next year,” he said.


Commissioner Jon Smelker said he submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the BEDHD for the employee’s salary schedule and got hourly information.

“I get the feeling that I’m being snowballed on this…If you changed something, I’m going to be very upset,” he said to Geiger, “I’m going to be extremely upset.”

Smelker later said he has received a schedule of current salaries from the BEDHD.

"Welcome Back" parade held for Hastings Teachers and Staff

The band played, the public lined State Street and cheered, the horns honked, and all shared Saxon pride as the teachers and staff of Hastings Area Schools rode school buses through downtown Hastings on Wednesday morning.


The third annual 'Welcome Back Teacher' parade included chinese fire drills,  signs and posters with messages of thanks and encouragement, balloons, and noisemakers that made for a fun show of community support. 


Afterward, the annual BIE luncheon was held at Hastings Middle School.



Appraiser recommends demolishing Barry County Jail, keeping Transit

Barry County Commissioners have committed to replacing the aging Barry County Jail. One of the first steps was to find the market value of the jail and Barry County Transit property. 


Appraiser John A. Meyers, from the John A. Meyers Appraisal Company in Grand Rapids, gave a report on his inspection and appraisal of the property at 1212 West State Street Wednesday.  He said the market value of the Barry County Transit on 1.9 acres, is $700,000 and the nine acres the Barry County Jail sits on is valued at $1,150,000. That figure assumes the jail building is gone and the land vacant.


Meyers recommendation for the highest and best use for the properties was to keep the transit, demolish the present jail and bring commercial develop to everything east of the transit building.

During discussion, making the street into a cul-de-sac and keeping as much frontage as possible to add viability for commercial development, was talked about.


Meyers said there are no significant environmental concerns with the property and the site has a good location. His fee for the appraisal and presentation was $3,450. The recommendation will likely be appreciated by transit Manager Bill Voigt.


In May, he requested approval of a 2,950 square foot addition to the bus garage, a 1,160 square foot addition to the dispatch center and renovation of existing office space for a total cost of $1 million, to come from transit funds. His proposal was tabled pending an appraisal. It will be brought up or consideration again at Commissioner Jon Smelker’s request.

The commission will continue planning for a new jail, using the committee of the whole format.




Progress being made on Crooked Lake flooding, more help asked

Barry County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull gave an update on the Crooked Lake flooding at the Barry County Commission Meeting Wednesday. DeWitt Dewatering has been removing water from the lake at a rate of 6,000 gallons a minute since Aug. 16 and, “everything worked just fine…the goal is for six inches of water, and more,” from the lake, he said.


Blocking the culvert on M-43 and backing water into 300 acres of wetlands has raised it by 12 inches, and the water is killing an invasive species of weed, “which is a plus,” Dull said.

He thanked several people and agencies for their response and stepping up and helping, including the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Barry County Road Commission, Michigan Department of Transportation and 87th District Rep. Julie Calley


“That’s not the only thing we’re doing, we’ve got other things going forward. We’ll keep plugging along and keep you updated,” he said.


Lake resident Sharon Ritchie thanked everyone for the progress being made in the short term, saying they are very grateful, but asked commissioners to find more help for Dull, deputy Drain Commissioner Tammy Berdecia and engineer Brian Cenci in finding a long-term solution before winter so the flooding doesn‘t happen again next spring.

“They seem to be doing most of the work; they need more help…this journey’s not over,” she said.

August primary election official, changes do not affect outcomes

With the Board of Canvassers validating the results, the August 7 primary election is official.

Less than a half-dozen totals changed from the unofficial numbers, but none of the changes altered the outcomes.


The results:

Barry County Commission:

District 1: City of Hastings, part of Hastings Charter Township

(I)Howard “Hoot” Gibson, 1,170

He will face Democrat Cathy Young Gramze in November.


District 2: Thornapple Township precincts 1 & 3; Yankee Springs Township, precinct 1

(I)Dan Parker, 1,112 …unopposed.


District 3: Barry, Hope townships and Precinct 1 Rutland Charter Township

(I)David Jackson, 817

Joyce Snow, 597


District 4: Irving Township, parts of Carlton, Thornapple, Rutland townships

(I)Jon Smelker, 1,394

He will face Democrat Samantha L. Jones in November.


District 5: Castleton, Woodland townships, Village of Nashville, parts of Hastings Charter, Carlton townships.

(I)Ben Geiger, 957

Sharon Zebrowski, 282

Geiger will face Democrat Ben Eastman in November.



District 6: Prairieville, Orangeville townships, precinct 2 in Yankee Springs Township

(I)Vivian Lee Conner, 748

Mark Doster, 532

Conner will face Democrat Tonya DeVore Foreman in November.


District 7: Assyria, Johnstown, Baltimore townships, Maple Grove Township, excluding the Village of Nashville.

(I)Heather Wing, 1,245…unopposed.


Townships issues:

Hastings Charter Township: one trustee’s seat: Timothy McNally, 513… unopposed.


Rutland Charter Township, one trustee’s seat:  Curt Cybulski, 158, Gene D. Hall, 223,   Matt Spencer, 317.


Thornapple Township, Curtis Campbell for trustee, 957, unopposed:


Yankee Springs Township, one trustee seat: Michael Boysen, 405, Larry Knowles, 493 



Barry Intermediate School District: an increase of 0.3785 mills for 10 years: yes, 3,736, no 3,543.


Hastings Area School System: a request for .85 mills for 15 years for $11.1 million in bonds: yes, 2,343, no, 2,562.


Penfield School District: a request for 18 mills on non-homestead property for six years: yes, 24, no, 16.

Penfield School District: an additional 1 mill to the 18 mills for six years: yes, 14, no, 28.


Johnstown Township: renewal and increase for a total of 0.50 mills for roads projects: yes, 465, no, 315

Johnstown Township: renewal and increase for a total of 1 mill for fire protection: yes, 494, no, 283.


Hastings Charter Township: renewal and increase for a total of 1.6 mills for 10 years to fund the Hastings Public Library. Yes, 438, no, 451.


Rutland Charter Township renewal and increase totaling 1.6 mills for 10 years to fund the Hastings Public Library: yes, 599, no, 481.

Rutland Charter Township: renewal of the decreased rate of 1.25 mills for fire protection for 10 years: yes, 803, no, 273.


Woodland Township: three millage proposals:

Proposal one, renewal of 2 mills for four years for village operations: yes 55, no 22. Proposal two, renewal of 2 mills for four years for special village operations: yes 59, no 18.

Proposal three, renewal of 2 mills for four years for park operations: yes, 55, no 23.


Yankee Springs Township: a request for 0.75 mills for five years for township fire operations and emergency services: yes, 571, no, 471.







Barry County Board of Commissioners to meet Wednesday

The Barry County Board of Commissioners regular third Tuesday Commision committee of the whole meeting was moved back one day to Wednesday, Aug. 22 to allow commissioners to attend the Michigan Association of Counties Conference in Frankenmuth on Aug. 19-21. More than 300 county leaders were expected to attend the event.


The Michigan Association of Counties is an alliance of Michigan counties working to enhance county government through advocacy, shared services and education, according to its website.

Founded on Feb. 1, 1898, it is the only statewide organization dedicated to the representation of all county commissioners in Michigan.  


Community and Collaboration" is the theme of the 2018 conference held in partnership with the Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council. MAC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advances education, communication and cooperation among county government officials in Michigan. It is the counties’ voice at the state and federal level, providing legislative support on key issues affecting counties, the website said.



Suicide in Barry County Sheriff's Office parking lot being probed

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the suicide of an elderly man in the sheriff’s office parking lot Tuesday morning at 9:50 a.m.


The unidentified man, thought to be in his late 80’s, has no connection with the sheriff’s office that deputies have been able to find  and there were no threats of any kind before the suicide, Undersheriff Matt Houchlei said.


Updates are anticipated as investigators learn more about the man and possibly the reason for taking his life at the sheriff’s office.

You are invited to Hastings Summerfest this weekend

Hastings Summerfest is an all-out celebration of summer held annually in the city’s downtown. Set for Aug. 24-25-26, this is the 41st year of the festival. Visitors from near and far come to Hastings every year to shop the huge arts and crafts show on the Barry County Courthouse lawn, sample a wide variety of food, take in the Farmers Market, concessions, special events and activities for kids and free trolley rides to enjoy the atmosphere around town.


For the more active, there are athletic events; a triathlon, softball tournament, 3-on-3 basketball, Summerfest 10K/5K run and a weight lifting contest.


Grand Marshal David Solmes will lead the Summerfest Grand Parade Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Look for the children's parade, the Hastings Car Club car show and listen to live entertainment, thanks to Hastings Live at Summerfest. The Elks Lodge refreshment tent will be open to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.


Details of activities and a full event schedule can be found on the Hastings Summerfest Facebook page. The chamber’s Summerfest Committee is the event’s sponsor.


New Barry County Jail planning moves ahead (corrected)

Barry County Commissioners committed to moving forward on how to replace the Barry County Jail and the Commission on Aging building earlier this spring. Now they have some basic information they need to continue discussion on the steps to take for a new jail.


An appraisal on how much the jail property and the Barry Coutny Transit  has been received by County Administrator Michael Brown.


In the summary of his report on his inspection and appraisal of the property at 1212 West State Street,  John A. Meyers,  from the John. A. Meyers Appraisal Company in Grand Rapids, said the market value of the transit and its 1.9 acres, is $700,000 and the nine acres the jail sits on is valued at $1,150,000.


The extremely detailed 82-page report covers 30 different areas that went into the assessment, including description, analysis and supportive data for the conclusions, final estimates of value, photographs, limiting conditions and appropriate certifications. The commissioners said they needed the appraisal as the first step in planning for a jail before they could ask for architect’s drawings, prices or even what the jail would look like.


Other county-owned spaces will be considered, if they might be used, if other offices could or should be moved or if should some be sold.

Commissioners will consider a facilities plan from 2015 and use government organizations that can supply valuable knowledge on what other municipalities have done, or are doing, with replacing jails.


They plan to hire a consulting company with experience in building jails and COA-type buildings, to explain issues with those facilities, but not constructing them. Commissioners agreed they will need a professional facilitator to learn much more and to make recommendations, with them making final decisions on each step of the process.


They are working on the project as a committee of the whole and will not use a steering committee or sub-committee approach. 


Schoolcraft man injured, wife dies in one-vehicle crash (updated)

Thomas Bural Phelps, 71, from Schoolcraft, was injured and his wife, LuAnn Phleps,63, died in a one-vehicle crash in Lowell Township at 2:33 p.m. Sunday. The Kent County Sheriff’s Office reports that Phelps was driving a 2014 Ford Edge southbound on Alden Nash Avenue north of 36th Street when he fell asleep at the wheel, ran off the roadway and struck a tree on the passenger’s side.


LuAnn Phelps, a front seat passenger, was pronounced dead at the scene; Thomas Phelps was transported to Butterworth Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, officials said. The couple’s grand daughters, 6 and 3 years old, rear seat passengers, were transported to Devos Children’s Hospital also with non-life threatening injuries.


The crash remains under investigation.

Byron Township 17-year-old injured in crash with dump truck

The Kent County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate a personal injury crash at the intersection of 92nd Street, S.W. and Burlingame Avenue in Byron Township at 10:07 a.m. Friday morning.

Officials report a 2005 Subaru Outback, driven by a 17-year-old young woman from Byron Township, was travelling eastbound on 92nd Street when she collided with a dump truck southbound on Burlingame.


The teen, whose name is not being released, was extricated from her vehicle by Byron and Cutlerville Fire Department personnel. Aero Med launched, however could not land due to weather conditions and she was transported to Devos Children’s Hospital by AMR ambulance with serious injuries.

The dump truck driver, Zachary Douglas Bartman, 22, from Jenison, was not injured.



Public is invited to release of juvenile lake sturgeon into the Kalamazoo River

The Gun Lake Tribe of Pottawatomi Indians has organized the annual release of juvenile lake sturgeon into the Kalamazoo River on Wednesday, Aug. 29 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.  


The eight-inch sturgeon set for release were reared in a streamside hatchery and will be hand-released back into the river at the New Richmond Bridge County Park, 5700 Old Allegan Road in Hamilton. A welcome will be provided by the Tribal Council and the tribal drum group, Sons of the Three Fires, will perform.  The event includes hatchery tours and light dinner for up to 200 visitors.


The public is encouraged to attend the event coordinated by the tribe, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, Kalamazoo River chapter of Sturgeon for Tomorrow, and Grand Valley State University.     


Sturgeon, or Nmé in Pottawatomi, is culturally important to the tribe as the fish represents an animal clan in traditional beliefs.  Sturgeon clan people have spiritual knowledge offered as guidance to others and they live to an old age, just like lake sturgeon. 

The rehabilitation of lake sturgeon is a reflection of the tribe’s present-day progression as a community and a tribal government.


Lake sturgeon is a unique fish species in Michigan and an important biological component of the Great Lakes fish community. Lake sturgeon can grow to weights of up to 200 pounds and lengths of seven feet, with females longer and heavier than males, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.


A typical lifespan is 55 years for males and 70 to 100 years for females.

The species is listed as threatened in Michigan, commercial fishing is prohibited and sport fishing is closely regulated. There are many specific regulations for recreational fishing for lake sturgeon in Michigan, the MDNR said.


Allegan County deputies to carry Naloxone to counter opioid overdoses

Allegan County Sheriff’s deputies will now carry the life-saving drug Naloxone, an opioid overdose reversing drug used to save the lives of those with respiratory failure from opioid overdose, a sheriff’s news release said.


The Naloxone brand of Evzio from Kaleo Pharmaceuticals will be given to the entire patrol, detective and administrative divisions and was made possible by a grant from Kaleo.  Evzio is an intramuscular, auto injectable device that safely and effectively delivers naloxone when administered.


The sheriff’s office worked with the Allegan County Health Department to ensure proper policy on the possession, use, storage and inventory of Evzio.  Three health department nurses are trained as trainers to facilitate on-going training.

The Grand Rapids Red Project was in Allegan and Saugatuck to provide all-inclusive training on Naloxone and how to administer it, along with in-depth information on the ever-growing opioid crisis.


Undersheriff Mike Larsen attended the training.  “This was a collaborative effort with our county partners and our community partners to bring this life saving tool to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office and ultimately the citizens of Allegan County,” Larsen said. “The product and the training that our deputies received will save lives in Allegan County.”


"Welcome Back Teacher" parade to ride through Hastings Aug. 22.

The third annual Hastings schools Welcome Back Teacher parade will be in downtown Hastings Aug. 22.. The community is encouraged to line the downtown route with posters, balloons, and noisemakers.

The public is invited to cheer and share their Saxon pride as the teachers ride big yellow school buses down State Street between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. next Wednesday. At the end of the welcoming parade, teachers will attend the annual BIE luncheon at the Hastings Middle School.

Safe, secure community is topic of Business-Industry-Education luncheon

The Hastings schools annual Business, Industry, and Education luncheon is set for Aug. 22 from noon to 1 p.m. in the Hastings Middle School commons.

Open to the public, the event features guest speakers on the topic of a safe and secure community.  A variety of local leaders who work to keep the community safe will share safety tips toward that goal.


Send your child back to school protected from serious diseases

Back-to-school time is the perfect time for parents to make sure their children are up to date on their vaccines.

To make sure children are protected with all the vaccines they need as they go back to school, the Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) is joining with partners nationwide in recognizing August as National Immunization Awareness Month.


“Getting children all of the vaccines recommended by CDC’s immunization schedule is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children from serious diseases,” Jackie Anderson, immunization coordinator for the health department, said.

“If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to check with your child’s doctor to find out what vaccines your child needs.”


Vaccines protect children, preteens and teens from 16 serious and potentially life-threatening diseases. When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for diseases and can also spread diseases to others in their classrooms and community, including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer or other health conditions.


The health department urges parents to talk to their child’s doctor to find out which vaccines are recommended for them before going back to school, or visit For vaccination appointments at BEDHD, call (517) 541-2630 in Eaton County and (269) 798-4133 in Barry County.


Free panel discussion on HPV and vaccinations Aug. 21 at Spectrum Health-Pennock Hospital

August, as National Immunization Awareness Month, is an annual observance on the importance of vaccination for all ages and raises awareness of vaccines in preventing serious and sometimes deadly diseases, a Barry Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) news release said.


Spectrum Health-Pennock and BEDHD are hosting a free panel discussion and screening of the documentary “Someone You Love” Tuesday, Aug. 21 at 5:30 p.m. at the hospital’s Wellness Center at 915 West Green Street, Entrance 3, in Hastings. Attendees will learn the causes and prevention of the human papillomavirus (HPV). The first 15 families to attend will receive a $25 gift card.


Mike Megyesi from the American Cancer Society and Dr. Woodall, medical director at BEDHD and others from the health department will speak. Parents can have their questions about HPV and the HPV vaccine answered.


"Cervical cancer kills over 4,000 women in the U.S. each year. Every one of these deaths is easily preventable with proper medical care that includes the HPV vaccination,” Woodall said. “Your doctor is trained to treat disease, but it is much better to prevent diseases in the first place. The HPV vaccine is safe and protects both girls and boys from cancer."


To register, which is not required but recommended, or for more information, call Lauren Cibor at 517-541-2624?


Two recognized by City of Hastings for contributions to the community

Steve Reid and Steve Steward, with their families gathered in the Hastings City Council chambers, received official proclamations of heartfelt appreciation for their contributions to the City of Hastings.


Read by Mayor Dave Tossava, the proclamations centers on the music in both men’s lives.

Steward was commended for his willingness to make time to participate in community events, as an active member of the Summerfest Committee, working tirelessly for years to fill the stage at Summerfest every year with top-quality entertainment.


His father was band director at Hastings High School and figured music figured strongly in Steward’s life and is still important to him today, Tossava said.

“Music has always been a passion for Steve. He was a long-time member of “Echo,” an oldie tribute band. Many will remember them playing on the old library steps and as the main act on Saturday night during Summerfest with dancers in the street,” Tossava said.


Now retired, Steward has a true love for community and wants to see it prosper not only for his family, but for all who live and work in the City of Hastings; he is seen at many community events and continuously supporting what makes Hastings great, Tossava concluded. 


Summerfest did not start out as Summerfest; it began as the Blue Gill Festival in 1978. Steve Reid and his wife Joyce moved back to Hastings in 1979.  By 1980, Steve was bringing in groups to provide musical entertainment for the festivities. He remembers when three bands were each paid $53.50 for them to play.


Steve and Steward got together to book, promote and emcee multiple stages during the weekend of fun.

Terry Talbot (Mason Profitt), the Bryds, Dennis Yost and the Classic Four, Barry McQuire, and many other popular Beatle tribute bands, national touring and recording artists, as well as well-known regional and local entertainers filled out the lineup for the next 38 years under the current name of Summerfest.


Steve attends as may concerts as he can, and has kept a diary of music he has enjoyed since 1972.  He hopes to continue in an advisory capacity serving the citizens of Hastings and the Summerfest Committee, Tossava said.


In other city business Monday, Clerk Jerry Czarnecki reported what he learned about a letter from AT&T asking to extend its lease and reduce the rate it pays for its equipment installed on a city water tower. Attorney Jeff Sluggett suggested Czarnecki talk to consultant Andrew Felde of Drew Wireless, Inc. Felde told him the letter was not from AT&T, but a company named MD7 that AT&T  had hired to try to get lower lease rates for its cell towers.

“Andrew stated that if our lease rates were around $2,500, our rates are $2532.26, then they are at the going market rate,” Czarnecki said. Felde said AT&T was not going to remove their equipment since the cost to relocate it would not be worth the loss in savings to AT&T if the city did not lower its prices. Felde recommended the city “stay the course” with their tower lease with AT&T.

The council took no action on AT&T’s request.


The council also approved the Thornapple River Watershed Council holding the 23rd annual Thornapple River Clean-up on Sept.15 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Hastings City Council gets good water report from MDEQ

Hastings City Manager Jeff Mansfield told the City Council Monday that the city’s water supply has been tested by the MDEQ for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)  and none were detected.


“The 'non-detect' results were expected, but still great news,” Mansfield said. “The aquifer that supplies the city’s drinking water is extremely well-protected.” The municipal wells are in a very deep aquifer, overlaid by impermeable material and under pressure, so are protected from contamination from normal surface sources such as spills, old landfills, he said.


According to the EPA, the two chemicals, called PFC’s when combined, are found in commercially-treated products to make them stain-and water-repellent or nonstick, such as carpets, leather, textiles and non-stick cookware.

Contamination is being detected in water wells throughout the country, typically localized to a facility such as an industrial plant where the chemicals were produced or used to manufacture other products, or an airfield or other locations where they were used for firefighting, the EPA news release said.


Also Monday, Councilman Bill Redman reported that a local donor will put up $200,000 toward a skating rink facility in Hastings that Redman initiated.

“When we raise $1 million, they will give us another $300, 000,” he said. “We’re on our way. It’s going to happen.” He will be raising money through crowd funding and other sources, with the Barry Community Foundation as the fiduciary agency.


In other business, the council:

* approved an amendment to the Barry County Airport’s budget, a revised agreement with the airport manager, legal fees, donations and expenditures, and approved by the Airport Commission. It has already been approved by the Barry County Board of Commissioners per a Joint Operating Agreement.


* held the first reading of a draft ordinance on regulation of outdoor vending operations and collection bins in commercial zones. Now regulated at site plan review, the changes would give the city more tools related to the operations and facilities. Second reading is set for the next council meeting.


* set a public hearing at 7 p.m. on Aug. 27, to take comment on the special assessment roll for the West State Street Sidewalk. The amended roll eliminates the bridge over the creek between the Holiday Inn Express and the Dollar Store for a culvert extension to accommodate the crossing instead.


* accepted, with regret and best wishes, the resignation of Tom Wilt from the Board of Review and the Joint Planning Commission effective Aug. 1. Wilt and his wife are moving to Indiana to be closer to family.


* appointed Mayor Dave Tossava as its official representative to the Michigan Municipal League Convention in September and Councilman Don Bowers as alternate.

Questions raised for Barry County Commissioners

Two Barry County citizens used public comment time Tuesday to question Barry County Commissioners, one on the flooding at Crooked Lake and the other on the Barry Eaton District Health Department budget.

Deb Englehardt, who is emerging as a spokeswoman for residents of the Crooked Lake flooding, said she hoped the commissioners would find their questions important enough to find answers for them before the end of the day.


She asked that they put fellow lake resident Sharon Ritchie on a proposed committee to address the flooding; what steps they are going to take to prevent the same type of flooding next spring; if there is any discussion considering on the future of the watershed; and if any short term solution to the flooding has been found.


She said she had heard there is a plan to drain six inches of water from the lake.

“That’s not nearly enough…when this started, we were told it would be a minimum of 24 inches.” If the situation continues as it has, if nothing is done, the flooding will go on into next year, Englehardt said. “That cannot happen.”


Jack Miner asked commissioners what they would do with $4 million dollars.

“What would you do if (Barry County Commission Chair) Ben Geiger told you that 64 percent of the county budget would be hidden from the public?  That is what has happened.

“The Barry Eaton District Health Department draft budget hides all employee expenses from the public. $4.25 million dollars is being hidden from the taxpayers.  It is time for you commissioners to start asking some questions,” he said. //


In county business, commissioners approved:

* accepting a $6,000 grant from the Bissell Pet Foundation to continue the trap, neuter and release (TNR) program.


* contracting with Lansing Tile and Mosaic for $17,700 to replace carpeting in several areas in the courthouse.


* a contract for natural gas from Volunteer Energy for several county buildings at three cents under what Consumers Energy charges its customers.


* temporary MDOT ownership for part of the Paul Henry Thornapple Trail near Nashville in exchange for improving that part of the trail.


* a deficit elimination plan for the drain maintenance fund and submit it to the state.


* an Agriculture Farmland and Open Space Preservation application for Buehler Brothers Beef in sections 5, 9 and 11 in Carlton Township.




Barry County Sheriff reports on managing the Barry County Jail in 2017

Barry County Sheriff  Dar Leaf presented the sheriff’s 2017 year-end report to the Barry County Commission Tuesday, highlighting the people and programs necessary to run the Barry County Jail.


The office has several divisions of trained personnel,  including administrative personnel in the Law Enforcement and Corrections divisions, a Secondary Road Patrol, a K-9 Unit, a Marine Division, a Middleville Unit, Victim Service Unit, a records unit, Reserves and the Sheriff’s Posse, Leaf said.


Accomplishments in 2017 include installing kiosks in housing units, Taser and gun replacements, Corrections Officers training implemented, break away shower curtains installed, handguns replaced and new uniforms purchased.


Leaf said the sheriff’s office officers and employees are amazing, recognizing corrections officers at the jail. The inmate population has increased over the last several years; they were handling about 60 inmates, now they are working with up to 90 to 100.


“They are doing an awesome job…we’ve been sued only four times in the last 10 years and we won them all in the first step. That’s remarkable for a jail,” he said.


Some Enforcement Division statistics from 2017:

*9,027 complaints handled

*1,000 accidents investigated, 973 citations issues

*108 OWI/OWPD arrests

*326 animal control complaints investigated

*547 home checks

*999 sex offender registrations (some multiple times a year)

*71 vehicle inspections.


There were also figures on larcenies (179), retail fraud (17), home invasions (82), controlled substance violations (78), sexual assault (58), suicidal subjects, most asking for help (98), homicides (3), deaths-suicide (6), drug OD (5), and death investigations (42).

Leaf also told of warrants issued, stolen guns, stolen vehicles and “other.”


There was a total of 3,469 inmate admissions in 2017 with 2,956 men and 513 women, and an average daily population of 90. Finger printing, drug screens, visitors and meals served are also duties at the jail. Inmates also have programs available, including medical and mental health care, Forgotten Man Ministries, substance abuse education, community service, cognitive behavior and moral reconation therapy and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

Tentative timeline, process for Hastings clerk/treasurer to replace city manager approved

The Hastings City Council Monday approved letters of understanding between the City of Hastings and City Manager Jeff Mansfield and Clerk/Treasures/Financial Director Jerry Czarnecki that suggests a timeline and an outline on how Mansfield will be replaced by Czarnecki next year.


Mansfield is retiring June 30, 2019 and recommended Czarnecki for the post. The vote was 7-2 with Councilwomen Brenda McNabb-Stange and Therese Maupin-Moore voting no.

“It is not proper just to hand someone the job. Everybody likes Jerry, he’s a great guy, but it’s too early for him,” McNabb-Stange said, echoing an earlier statement. Maupin-Moore said she has heard from constituents who don’t like the move and she would like to see it opened it up for more applicants.


At a previous meeting, the council interviewed Czarnecki and voted to make him the only candidate for the job. A motion by Councilman Bill Redman to appoint a three-person committee to negotiate conditions of employment with letters of agreement, and come back to a closed session and act on the agreement was defeated by a 4-4 tie, with Councilman Don Smith absent.


Members Redman, John Resseguie, Bill Cusack, and Mayor Dave Tossava voted yes;  McNabb-Stange, Don Bowers, Al Jarvis and Maupin-Moore voted no.  McNabb-Stange said they were rushing the process when there was no reason to, and Czarnecki lacks experience as a city manager, especially in laws and legal matters to do with city affairs.


Maupin-Moore said Smith should be present at a vote that important and a new job description should be in place before they fill the position.  Bowers said the opening should be advertised.  “I like Jerry, but this is not the proper way to do it,” he said. Jarvis said he voted no because he didn’t like the three person committee idea.


A second motion by Redman to name Czarnecki as the sole candidate for city manager passed 5-3, with Redman, Resseguie, Cusack, Jarvis and Tossava voting yes, Bowers, McNabb-Stange and Maupin-Moore voting no.  


When Mansfield first brought up the idea, he said Czarnecki adapted quickly to his duties, assumed leadership positions and has a very positive relationship with the staff, council, regulatory and funding agencies and the community. “Jerry has done a truly outstanding job during his time with the city,” he 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 the letters of understanding were chosen instead of a formal contract to provide flexibility if the process turns out differently than their expectations and to assure that everyone has an understanding of how they expect the process to unfold.

The letters, developed by City Attorney Stephanie Fekkes, call for beginning the process to find a clerk/treasurer/financial director immediately, with the goal to fill the position by November.


From November to mid-January 2019, Czarnecki will train the new hire and that person should be formally approved as the clerk/treasurer/financial director on Jan. 14, 2019.

At the same time Czarnecki will be appointed deputy city manager and special projects coordinator while continuing working with the new hire.


Mansfield listed seven special city related projects he and Czarnecki will be working on around the end of this year, and the beginning of next.

Some of the projects are new, some are the result of changes to state requirements and others have fallen behind due to numerous changes in the clerk’s position, Mansfield said.


In January, 2019, Mansfield is to be reappointed as city manager until June 30, 2019, when he will officially retire and Czarnecki will be appointed city manager. The terms of his employment are to be agreed on before July 1, 2019.


Fekkes said the letters are not binding, either side can back out at any time, and nothing is final until the contracts are signed.

Delton Founders Festival was the place to be

The Delton Founders Festival, promoted as a family oriented event, lived up to its promise, not only with rides, games and activities for the kids, but plenty for adults to see and do over the past weekend that celebrated the Delton area community.


Just some of the events were a book sale, scavenger hunt, Boy Scout craft sale, pig roast, karaoke contest, carnival rides, food wagons, live entertainment, a 5K run, pancake breakfast, horseshoes, Barry County Brewfest, magic shows, the traditional parade and fireworks.


Click here for some sights at the Festival


Great Lakes Invitational longbow event is largest in the country

Archery enthusiasts looking for a weekend of fun and friendly competition came to the “greatest longbow-only rendezvous in the country,” the annual Great Lakes Longbow Invitational at Historic Charlton Park, Aug. 10-12.


The event included archery-related activities for all ages and skill levels, including tomahawk throwing, Silver Arrow Shoot, the ‘Ol Sagamore Turkey Shoot, Maid Marion, Sherwood Challenge and a Commemorative Arrow Shoot, and a chance to hear archery experts around the campfire.


A coached children’s range with bows and arrows provided was available for young archers beginning their longbow adventure.


Archery vendors offered custom made items and a trade blanket and barn raffle was held for those looking to barter or pick up archery odds and ends.  Demonstrations include bow building and flint knapping.//

The meet is hosted by the Michigan Longbow Association. 


Click here to see the photo gallery of the 2018 Great Lakes Invitational



Public asked for help locating parole absconder

The Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office is asking for the public’s help in locating Daniel Richard Lee, who has a warrant out for his arrest for being a parole absconder, according to a sheriff’s news release.


Lee is white, born April 21, 1976, is 6 feet tall, weighs 190 pounds and has reddish-blonde hair and blue eyes. He is on parole for a 2009 bank robbery in Kalamazoo, and is a person of interest that law enforcement wishes to speak with regarding two recent bank robberies.


The first was on July 27 at Comerica Bank on East Columbia in Battle Creek and the second was July 31 at the Chemical Bank on West Main St in Oshtemo Township.


A reward of $5,000 is offered for information that leads to the arrest of Lee for his parole absconding warrant. Anyone with information may call the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office or Silent Observer.

Two men shot, one fatally, in Grattan Township

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office responded to the report of a shooting in Grattan Township Sunday and found two men with gunshot wounds, according to a sheriff’s news release.


Robert Morgan, 44, from Belding, was transported to the hospital where he later died from his injuries.

Jacob Vanenk, 22, from Lowell, was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.


The person responsible for firing the gun is known

and is cooperating with police, authorities said.


The incident remains under investigation; however, there is not a threat to the public, the release said.

The shooting occurred near Parle Avenue N.E. and Woodland Park Drive N.E. at 1:32 a.m.

No additional information will be released until the investigation is complete and reviewed by the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office. Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s office or Silent Observer.


Beer truck involved in crash on I-96

On Thursday, August 9, 2018 at approximately 5:17 PM, deputies from the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to a personal injury accident on westbound I-96 Highway near Morrison Lake Road, where a flat-bed semi-truck was broken down on the side of the expressway. A white ford pick-up was stopped to assist with getting the semi back on the road. A beer delivery truck driven by a 40 year old man from Zeeland crossed the fog line striking the pick-up truck. The pick-up truck was pushed into the semi-truck. This caused the beer truck to go over the guardrail into the ditch.


The drivers from the two vehicles were outside of their vehicles and were able to move out of the way of the oncoming vehicle. They received minor injuries.


Assisting the sheriff’s office on scene were Saranac Fire Department, Life EMS, Ionia Central Dispatch and Reed and Hoppes Towing.



National Night Out helps community meet emergency services personnel

The Barry County community took advantage of the second National Night Out in Hastings Tuesday, taking in emergency services equipment, demonstrations, watching kid’s activities, picking up free food and prizes and talking to police, firefighters and ambulance personnel who serve them twenty four hours a day, seven days a week during the year.


Chief organizer Hastings Deputy Chief Dale Boulter said they gave away 1,300 to 1,400 hot dogs, along with chips and bottled water. Two new events, a photo booth and firefighters using jaws to take a car apart were especially popular.


Boulter said he was pleased with the participation by area residents and especially that it brought the emergency services people together in a casual setting too. All the agencies personnel respond when called for mutual aid, but they don’t have a chance to interact in a low pressure setting very often.


“We had the Hastings Reserve Officers and the Barry County Posse members both directing traffic at the entrance to Tyden Park. It was awesome to see.”


What started out nationally as a chance to improve relationships between the public and the police has evolved into all emergency services building relationships with the community and also between agencies, Boulter said.


He credited the success of the event to the emergency services agencies that responded with their equipment and time and people like Barry County Jail corrections Deputy Amber Jansens who pitched in and helped organize this year’s event.

“We’ll be holding a post-event meeting to see what worked and what didn’t. Yes, there will definitely be a third National Night Out and we’ll keep adding new things.”


Click here for a photo album of 2018 National Night Out


Barry County Jail near overcrowding emergency

Official overcrowding of the Barry County Jail is five days with 95 or more inmates at a time, triggering emergency status.

When an emergency is declared by Sheriff Dar Leaf, the procedure calls for a meeting with him, Chief Judge William Doherty and chairman of the Barry County Commission Ben Geiger to come up with a solution, he said.

“We have options. We’ve been down this path before, so we know how to do it.”


Reconfiguring bonds conditions, releasing low-level offenders who have served 90 to 95 percent of their time, or housing inmates in neighboring jails, which has been done in the past, are some options.


“I don’t want to house them outside; it costs $30 to $35 a day plus possible medical costs,” he said. “We’re at 99 inmates right now; two inmates are on parole, they could be sent to prison, two more are sentenced to prison, so that would get us under the 95 again, and the count starts over,” he said.

“We’re at 99, the rule is 95 inmates a day for five days. We’re trying to prevent that…I want a game plan before it gets to an emergency,” he said. “It’s getting close.”


Winners and losers in August Primary

Barry County voters had their say in the August Primary election Tuesday, making decisions that will affect the residents in the county, some for years to come.


County voters supported Lt. Governor Brian Calley 4,421 to 3,655 for Attorney General Bill Schuette, but Schuette won the state-wide nod to run against Democrat Gretchen Whitmer in November.

Third District Congressional incumbent Justin Amash and incumbent 87th District State Representative Julie Calley had no Republican opposition. Democratic U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow will go against Republican John James in November.


Dr. John Bizon will be the nominee in the 19th State Senate seat, defeating former state representative Mike Callton, with nearly 59 percent of the votes. Current Senator Mike Nofs is term limited this year.


At the local level, an $11 million millage request from Hastings schools was defeated, while a renewal and increase asked by the Barry Intermediate School District was approved. There were no upsets of incumbent Barry County Commissioners. The most watched was District 3, where former commissioner Joyce Snow challenged incumbent David Jackson for the seat, with Jackson elected to go on to the November election.


Township voters generally approved new and renewal millages. Rutland Township okayed millage for the Hastings Public Library and fire protection.  Woodland Township voters approved three identical proposals for village and park operations,


Yankee Springs Township voters approved 0.75 mills for five years for fire protection and emergency services. Johnstown Township voters approved millages for fire protection and road repairs. Hastings Township voters were an exception when they turned down the Hastings library millage.


Hastings Schools millage bid fails by 219 votes

The Hastings Schools $11 million millage request failed in yesterday's election by a narrow margin, while the The Barry ISD millage passed. The most watched County Commissiners race, in District 3,  went to incumbent David Jackson who turned back challenger Joyce Snow.


Barry County Commission: For Republicans with another Republican challenger, the top vote getter, goes on to Nov. 6, where some face Democratic opponents.

Those with no opposition will go on the November ballot, as will those districts with one Democrat and one Republican.


District 1: City of Hastings, part of Hastings Charter Township

(I)Howard “Hoot” Gibson, 1,170

He will face Democrat Cathy Young Gramze in November.


District 2: Thornapple Township precincts 1 & 3; Yankee Springs Township, precinct 1

(I)Dan Parker, 1,112, unopposed.


District 3: Barry, Hope townships and Precinct 1 Rutland Charter Township

(I)David Jackson, 707

Joyce Snow, 469


District 4: Irving Township, parts of Carlton, Thornapple, Rutland townships

(I)Jon Smelker, 1,382

He will face Democrat Samantha L. Jones in November.


District 5: Castleton, Woodland townships, Village of Nashville, parts of Hastings Charter, Carlton townships.

(I)Ben Geiger, 957

Sharon Zebrowski, 282

Geiger will face Democrat Ben Eastman in November.



District 6: Prairieville, Orangeville townships, precinct 2 in Yankee Springs Township

(I)Vivian Lee Conner, 748

Mark Doster, 532

Conner will face Democrat Tonya DeVore Foreman in November.


District 7: Assyria, Johnstown, Baltimore townships, Maple Grove Township, excluding the Village of Nashville.

(I)Heather Wing, 1,187 unopposed.



Townships issues:

Hastings Charter Township: one trustee’s seat: Timothy McNally, 513, unoppossed.


Rutland Charter Township, one trustee’s seat:  Curt Cybulski, 158, Gene D. Hall, 223,   Matt Spencer, 317.


Thornapple Township, one trustee's seat. Curtis Campbell, 957, unopposed:


Yankee Springs Township, one trustee seat: Michael Boysen, 405, Larry Knowles, 493 




Barry Intermediate School District: an increase of 0.3785 mills for 10 years: yes, 3,696, no 3,502.


Hastings Area School System: a request for .85 mills for 15 years for $11.1 million: yes, 2,343, no, 2,562


Penfield School District: a request for 18 mills on non-homestead property for six years: yes, 24, no, 16.

Penfield School District: an additional 1 mill to the 18 mills for six years: yes, 14, no, 28.


Johnstown Township: renewal and increase for a total of 0.50 mills for roads projects: yes, 465, no, 315

Johnstown Township: renewal and increase for a total of 1 mill for fire protection: yes, 494, no, 283.


Hastings Charter Township: renewal and increase for a total of 1.6 mills for 10 years to fund the Hastings Public Library. Yes, 438, no, 451.


Rutland Charter Township renewal and increase totaling 1.6 mills for 10 years to fund the Hastings Public Library: yes, 599, no, 481.

Rutland Charter Township: renewal of the decreased rate of 1.25 mills for fire protection for 10 years: yes, 803, no, 273.


Woodland Township: three millage proposals:

Proposal one, renewal of 2 mills for four years for village operations: yes 55, no 22. Proposal two, renewal of 2 mills for four years for special village operations: yes 59, no 18.

Proposal three, renewal of 2 mills for four years for park operations: yes, 55, no 23.



Yankee Springs Township: a request for 0.75 mills for five years for township fire operations and emergency services: yes, 571, no, 471.


All results are unofficial until certified by the board of canvassers.






UPDATE: Police say someone may have tried to help man who died along highway in Byron Township

UPDATE: During the investigation of the Aug. 6 suspicious death, detectives learned of man who may have stopped to help the victim, according to a Kent County Sheriff’s news release.

The man, driving a pickup truck, is a white male, mid-to-late 20s, wearing blue jeans and a T-shirt. The truck, an unknown make and model, may be gray with a dark or dark paint stripe along the bottom.

The sheriff’s office is requesting any information from witnesses who may have seen the victim or the vehicle during this time. Anyone with information is asked to call the Kent County Sheriff’s Office at 616-632-6357 or Silent Observer at 616-774-2345.



The Kent County Sheriff’s Office reports they are investigating a suspicious death on 68th Street near Burlingame that was reported Monday about 6 p.m. The 911 caller said a man was lying near a gray GMC Envoy on the side of the road with an apparent gunshot wound. The vehicle had a tire jack under the car and appeared as if the victim was working on it.


The deceased, a 66-year-old Byron Center man, was found next to his vehicle. Results are pending from an autopsy completed by the Kent County Medical Examiner’s Office Tuesday, officials said. The sheriff’s office is requesting any information from witnesses who may have seen the victim or the vehicle during this time.  


The man may have been seen near his vehicle or walking on the side of the road. He’s described as a white male, medium to heavy build, wearing bright teal gym shorts and a gray T-shirt.

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 616-632-6357 or Silent Observer at 616-774-2345.


Long-time volunteer, recreation and trail advocate leaving Barry County

Patricia Johns, Irving Township, Parks & Recreation Board member and long-time volunteer in Barry County, told the Barry County Commission during public comment Tuesday that she and her husband were moving to Colorado and she was resigning from the board.

Johns said it was her honor to serve on the board, helping and encouraging the commission to develop recreational activities to make Barry County a “recreation destination.”


“You have been relentless in making this county a better place,” Commissioner and Chair Ben Geiger said. He added that she was always pushing for recreation, “sometimes, three minutes at a time…You can leave knowing you will leave this county a better place.” Johns assured Geiger that, “there are more people willing to work to make this a better place to live.”


In other public comment, Charles Krammin and Sharon Ritchie both requested the commission appoint a Blue Ribbon Committee to investigate the Crooked Lake/Watson Drain problems and find temporary and permanent solutions to flooding.


Also, commissioners recommended approving:

* accepting a $6,000 grant from the Bissell Pet Foundation to continue the trap, neuter and release (TNR) program. Director Ken Kirsch the grant allows splitting it up with $4,000 going to TNR for cats and $2,000 used to spay and neuter dogs and cats of those with low income, one pet per family, Kirsch said


* contracting with the only bidder for carpet replacement to Lansing Tile and Mosaic for $17,700. The areas to be replaced are planning and zoning, clerk, accounting, register of deeds and treasurer, all 16 or 17 years old. The first floor hallway is still in serviceable condition. Funds will come from the $20,000 capital budget in the Building Rehabilitation fund, Building and Maintenance Director Tim Neeb said.


* signing a month to month contract for natural gas from Volunteer Energy for three cents under what Consumers Energy offers to its customers. Neeb said they have contracted with Volunteer Energy since 2014; that contract is expired in July. Neeb said either side in the agreement can leave the contract at any time.


*allowing David Shinavier to auction off a 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe with 200,000 miles and a 2007 Dodge Charger with109,535 miles by sealed bids to the highest bidder. They can be seen at the Barry County Sheriff’s office.


* approving Administrator Michael Brown to sign an agreement with the MDOT to allow temporary ownership of a portion of the Paul Henry Thornapple Trail near Nashville in exchange for paving and grading of the trail to be used as a pedestrian walkway while the MDOT replaces the Quaker brook in Nashville.


* submitting a deficit elimination plan required by the state for any fund that shows a deficit. Brown said that fund accounting on the $43,000 price of a mini-grader purchased for the drain commission to be paid off over seven years was recorded entirely in the 2017 year, resulting in a deficit fund balance. Brown said he will submit a plan to the state, taking care of the technicality.


* approving Agriculture Farmland and Open Space Preservation (PA 116) for Buehler Brothers Beef in sections 5, 9 and 11 in Carlton Township.



Second National Night Out in Hastings this evening

Today from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. is the second National Night Out in Hastings at Tyden Park.


Hastings Deputy Police Chief Dale Boulter, who is credited with organizing the national observance locally, said the event is a great way for the public to meet and get to know the people in Barry County who respond to their friends and neighbors during an emergency.


The first night out that attracted between 1,500 and 2,000 people and the second of the hopefully annual event has more participation and longer hours than last year, Boulter said.

Barry Central 911, Hastings and other police departments, Barry County Sheriff’s deputies, Michigan State troopers, area fire department firefighters and ambulance service personnel will bring their equipment and explain what they do in emergency response.


“The event promotes a sense of community, positive public relations, safety and trust between the public and emergency services personnel that serve them,” Boulter said.


Look for special events, displays, prizes, free hot dogs, chips and bottled water.


Photo: Freeport Firefighter Lani Forbes helps a possible future firefighter Dylan Krueger manage a fire hose to knock down the target at last year's National Night Out.


Middleville man dies in motorcycle/vehicle crash

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office reports that deputies were dispatched Saturday at 8:45 p.m. to a personal injury accident involving a car and  motorcycle on Patterson Road near Windy Ridge Court in Thornapple Township.


The initial investigation showed a motorcycle was stopped in the northbound lane of Patterson Road, waiting to turn into a private drive. A northbound vehicle, driven by a 22-year-old Kentwood woman, struck the motorcycle from behind.


The motorcycle operator, a 68-year-old Middleville man, was flown to a local hospital where he later died from his injuries. He was not wearing a helmet, officials said.


The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan State Police, Thornapple Township Emergency Services, Aero Med, Barry County Central Dispatch, and Allegan County Central Dispatch assisted deputies Thomas Heald and Jeremiah Kimbel.


Update - Hastings Police find three persons dead from gunshot wounds

Hastings City Police are investigating the deaths of three familiy members whose bodies were discovered Sunday morning around 8:43am near the 1600 block of Lavender drive in Hastings.


According to Chief of Police Jeff Pratt, police believe that 77 year old Judith Wilson and her 79 year old husband Robert Wilson died due to gunshot wounds that they had received. The 3rd body of Richard Garrett Wilson, who is the son of Judith and Robert, was found deceased due to a self- inflicted gunshot wound. All three of the family members lived at the residence.


Police were originally notified when a family friend went to the residence to check on the Wilson’s when they did not arrive at Church.


Superintendent's Platform

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


The Hastings Board of Education heard how the Barry Career Access Network benefitted students at its semiannual organizational meeting. Many community leaders and employers support BCAN with time, talent and resources with a goal to increase the number of students with post-high school degrees or certificates. The program, working through a BCAN grant with matching local dollars, is making a measurable difference for students, the board heard.


Several actions were taken by the board Monday:

*Teacher Ed Domke was thanked for his dedication, spending countless volunteer hours getting the new CTE lab ready for fall. Domke also refurbished old cupboards and shelves for storage in the new room. The computer lab has all new computers purchased with CTE funds.


*Spectrum Health Pennock has launched a school-based nurse program with the schools to help keep kids healthy and in school while addressing health and medication concerns.


*a series of organizational rules, including meeting calendars, retainer agreements, memberships, tuition charges, accident insurance and meeting minutes were approved.


*the prices for athletic admission passes for 2018-2019 were approved.  Athletic event passes are $40 for students, $80 for adults and $200 for families, available at the athletic office at the high school. Seniors are eligible for a free pass. Individual tickets are $5 for high school sports, $3 for middle school events for adults and $2 for students. Children five and under are free at all events.


*the school offers breakfast during the next year for $1.70 for a full-price breakfast and 30 cents for a reduced-price breakfast. The cost for a full-price, type "A" student lunch is $2.90, a reduced-price for the same lunch is 40 cents and an adult lunch is $4.


*the board accepted a donation of four scoreboards from the Athletic Boosters to be placed in the high school and middle school’s main gymnasiums in September. Other locations and uses are being sought for the old scoreboards.


*Also, the school has a bond proposal on Aug. 7 election ballot addressing concerns raised at a community meeting on safety and security. The bond proposal application was developed using the survey results to ensure it included the wishes of the community. The proposal does not increase school taxes and continues the school tax rate for four more years.



Eaton County launches major public safety radio project

Eaton County officials broke ground Aug.1 for the start of a public safety radio project upgrade that includes four new towers, upgrades to three existing towers, new communications systems for all outdoor warning sirens in the county and new radios for all first responders in the county.


The new system’s cost is $12.8 million with a 10-year warranty on equipment and a 10-year battery replacement program. The project is funded by a 911 surcharge passed by voters in 2017, that specifically funds the radio system and not the general operations of the 911 center.


Tower construction will begin in August at sites located in Sunfield, Delta and Walton townships; a fourth tower is expected to be constructed in Charlotte in October. Equipment will be placed on existing MPSCS towers in Windsor Township and Nashville, and on a privately owned tower in Hamlin Township.


The new project adds infrastructure to the Michigan Public Safety Communications System (MPSCS), a partnership that allows better communication with agencies outside the county and also saves cost as the county is benefiting from existing infrastructure already in place by the MPSCS, including two of its radio towers.


The system is expected to be live in the third quarter of 2019, and will provide reliable communication for first responders for decades to come, officials said.

Motorola Solutions, the company that built and maintains the MPSCS network, was awarded the project.

Several officials gave their full support to the upgrades.//


911 Director Michael Armitage: “The current radio system uses outdated technology and was at the end of life.”


Sheriff Tom Reich: “Anytime we can improve the safety of my deputies and the community with projects like this, it will always have my support.”


Bellevue Fire Chief Mark Jordan: “The new radio system will provide Bellevue with a single solution to communicate with the three countries we operate in. This upgrade will allow for the communication of accurate information in a timely manner, when it matters the most.”


Grand Ledge Police Chief Marin Underhill:  "We believe that communications is the lifeline of emergency services. Our new radio system will strengthen the power of that life line, increasing the levels of safety and service delivered by our first responders,"


Eaton Rapids Police Chief Larry Weeks: “I am excited to be transitioning to a system that will allow police, fire and EMS to communicate more efficiently and enhance the safety of our first responders.”


MPSCS Director Brad Stoddard: “The Office of Michigan’s Public Safety Communications System (MPSCS) is proud of the continued and expanded partnership with Eaton County ensuring the most reliable, secure and interoperable communications for the first responders across the county…”



WBCH's Dave McIntyre Interviews Ginger Zee From ABC's Good Morning America

Dave McIntyre attending the monthly Meteorological Society meeting in Grand Rapids Tuesday evening had the opportunity to speak with and interview Ginger Zee, Chief Meteorologist for ABC's Good Morning America. Ginger was the guest speaker at the Tuesday meeting.

Ginger grew up and went to school in Rockford north of Grand Rapids.  Ginger was also on ABC's Dancing with the Stars in 2016.


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