Local News Archives for 2018-09

Comment period on Bradford White's mixing zones requests extended to Oct. 31


The Michigan Department of Environmental Resources is announcing the extension of the deadline for public comment to Oct. 31 on the Bradford White Company’s requests for calculation of mixing-zone based groundwater-surface water interface criteria for the south and west discharges  requests. The receiving surface water body is the Thornapple  River, the location of the venting groundwater plume is 200 Lafayette Street in Middleville


Written comments should be submitted by the extended  deadline to David Wierzbicki, DEQ Remediation and Redevelopment Division (DEQ), 350 Ottawa Avenue NW, Unit 10, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.

Copies of Bradford White’s requests may be obtained by calling or writing David Wierzbicki at the above address, or calling 517-420-2605. 








Baltimore Township missing/runaway 16-year-old girl sought

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public’s help in locating a missing juvenile runaway, according to Detective Sgt. Janette Maki.


Michelle Winchell, 16, from Baltimore Township in Barry County, was dropped off in Kalamazoo to visit a friend on Sept. 9 and she failed to return for pickup at her scheduled time. Winchell last had contact with family on Sept. 10.  Winchell is known to have friends in Kalamazoo near the Western Michigan University campus.   


Deputy Robert Fueri is the investigator. Barry Central Dispatch is assisting.

Anyone with information is asked to please call the Barry County Sheriff’s Office at 269-948-4801, or Barry County Central Dispatch, 269-948-4800.












   Michelle Winchell



**Barry County Sheriff Posse donates invaluable service to county residents

**The Barry County Sheriff Posse, formed in 1950’s, has 21 active members, three active honorary members with membership limited to 30 members.

They are true volunteers; they get no pay; they buy their own uniforms, equipment, even the guns they carry.

In its entire history, just 81 people can say: “I was on the Barry County Sheriff Posse.”


Captain Matt Dougherty, with eight years on the posse, joined the group because, “I thought it would be exciting, which it is…I wanted to be able to help people in my community, to give back to my county and community.” 

The depth of the commitment of posse members, current and former, is shown by the donation of more than 80,000 hours of volunteering since they started keeping track of hours. Average now is around 2,500 hours a year.


The all-time leader of volunteers is the late Lloyd Shepard, with 7,720 hours. Tim Allen is next with 5,500 hours and climbing. John Townsend has 4,000 plus. The numbers are really higher than that; volunteers often don’t bother to sign in and out, Dougherty said.


The modern day posse is the same as in the Old West; whatever the sheriff’s asks of them, they do, and more. Their role has expanded from riding with the sheriff tracking down cattle thieves and other outlaws.


These days, they are more likely to be in search and rescue, guarding crime scenes, funeral traffic, parades, inmate transfers, Charlton Park and county school events, parades, bike races or ride alongs with road patrol deputies. The list of their assignments in the community includes 35 to 40 events during the year. A recent detail was filling sandbags at Crooked Lake.


With the expense of buying and maintaining a horse, the posse has morphed into a mechanized unit instead of mounted. Typically, now it’s a Gator, Mule or other all-terrain vehicle, Dougherty said.


The horses were a great draw for children and grown-ups, and built good relations with the community, but it’s expensive and you also have to own property to keep a horse.

“A quad carries two instead of one and the cost of the quad is just once. It’s load it and take it, but we still have the same mission we’ve always had. We’re there to help the sheriff.”


It’s not cheap to be a posse member, either, Dougherty said. After a successful interview and background check, applicants takes three days of training and buy equipment and clothing that can cost up to $2,000.


For example, good boots cost $150, or up; shirts, $65 each, one long sleeved, one short sleeved; pants are $75; a coat goes from $130 to $150, an empty vest, $125. The cost of a gun varies depending on the type, but a holster will go $180. Dougherty carries a 40 caliber Glock 22 he has drawn once and never fired on duty. The vest with needed equipment they wear while on duty weighs about 35 pounds.


Each member is a sworn special deputy. They have the power to arrest as long as they are in touch with a certified police officer, either by voice, radio or telephone, but most likely, they will detain a suspect and a deputy will take them into custody.


The posse as a group, not its members, is paid for some of its work details; but if a member works 30 hours of paid details and 30 hours of unpaid details during a year, they are a member in good standing and are given 5,000 rounds of ammunition they use to qualify in shooting matches and a $60 uniform allowance. The state mandates qualifying in firearms once a year, some posse members shoot up to three times a year.


Warrant Officer Brian McKinley and Sgt. Zach Drake competed in June in a Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards certified qualification shoot, a shoot-don’t shoot situation, and the dim light shoot that starts so late it’s actually in the dark. Both did extremely well.


Drake won overall highest score in High Point Bullseye and McKinley took the overall highest scores in High Point Combat and High Point Combined. As a two-man team, they brought home first places in both Combat, Class A and Bullseye, Class A contests.


The posse has four elected officers; Captain Dougherty, Warrant Officer McKinley, 1st Lt. Ginger Helmus and 2nd Lt. Jack Ward. Three sergeants are appointed. Deputy Bob Fueri serves as the liaison between the posse and the sheriff’s office.


The group meets the first Thursday of the month at the sheriff’s office. The budget of the 501 c3 non-profit is roughly $8,000 for paid details and about $7,300 from a fundraising gun raffle for something under $20,000 a year.


For more information, contact Dougherty at


Photos: (upper left) Barry County Sheriff Posse members 2018.


(middle, right) Warrant Officer Brian McKinley and Sgt. Zach Drake show trophies they earned at a recent qualifying shoot.


(middle left) 2nd Lt. Jack Ward “swears in” Zander and Hadley Corson as deputies for the day (with no arrest powers) at Charlton Park Youth Day.


(right) Posse member Jason Mishler takes fingerprints of kids of all ages at Charlton Park Day.







Posse background:

The Michigan Sheriff's Posse Association was incepted in 1961. Most county mounted divisions were known as "Sheriff's Posse" but with the perception of a posse from the Old Wild West movies, being a group seeking to find a person for lynching, they changed to the current Mounted Division.


Michigan Sheriff's Posse Association met for the first time in October of 1961, in a field near Yankee Springs in Barry County. A total of 18 counties and 250-300 active members were present.

The members were from different posse groups from Michigan and Indiana. Their intent was to try and form a state-wide Posse Association. By July of 1962 they had organized and started the Michigan Sheriff's Posse Association.


With increased law enforcement training and assistance, it was decided to change the name from Michigan Sheriff's Posse Association to the Michigan Sheriff's Mounted Association.

The change in name was prompted in 1999 with the desire to reflect the professionalism of the organization. This group was formed to assist Sheriff's Departments become stronger and to help at the state level when needed.


The Michigan Sheriff's Mounted Association is currently made up of 26 counties, with about 500 active Members.

-information from the MSMA website.


Barry County YMCA Camp at Algonquin Lake to get major upgrades

The “Y” Camp at Algonquin Lake will be getting major improvements in the coming months, Jon Sporer, CEO and executive director of the YMCA of Barry County said Friday.

Architects from Slocum Associates, Inc. from Kalamazoo and three general contractors will visit the camp on Iroquois Trail next week to hear details of the plans before they offer bids. The bids are due on Oct. 15.


A new boat house three times the size of the present one, a new retaining wall along the shoreline, more accessible steps and a new boardwalk between the lake and cabins with a fishing platform are all planned.


“We are extremely excited and we know this project will benefit the youth and families of our community,” Sporer said. “This project could not have happened without the volunteer efforts of our YMCA board and committees.”


The goal is to have construction completed by June 1, 2019, in time for camping season.

The majority of funding will come from two family’s bequests, a grant from YMCA of USA, and will use no taxpayer dollars. They will determine the final cost of the project after opening the bids.


“The YMCA is very thankful for those who have supported the “Y” through the years, Sporer said.




Hastings City Council plans strategic planning retreat

At the Monday council meeting, Hastings Mayor David Tossava said a member had asked for a retreat about a month ago, and with changes in the city coming up, a new city manager and new clerk/treasurer, they have decided to have one.


 It will be Oct. 18 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the YMCA Camp on Iroquois Trail at Algonquin Lake.  The topic will be strategic planning, with Hastings Planner Rebecca Harvey participating.  

“Anybody with ideas about strategic planning, write them down,” Tossava told council members.


“Anyhow, it’s going to be an open affair, anybody wants to come that’s fine…it looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun.”



Crooked Lake

Home owners at Crooked lake in Delton are facing the possibility there maybe no relief to the high lake level despite efforts to bring the water level down.Engineers and county leaders say they're up  against a wall.   According to Barry County drain commissioner Jim Dull several property owners just backed out of a deal to allow pumping water on their land.


For over a month the county has been pumping water from Crooked Lake across M-43 into Glasby lake.  The pumping has now been stopped because the county has reached the limit of how much water they can pump into Glasby lake. Official are keeping their fingers crossed hoping no torrential rains hit the area.

Spectrum Health Announces Pennock Leadership Change

Angela Ditmar, RN, MBA, has been named president of Spectrum Health Pennock and southeast regional market leader, effective Nov. 1.

Ditmar is currently the vice president for cancer health at Spectrum Health. She will assume the new role from Sheryl Lewis-Blake, who announced her plans earlier this year to retire as Pennock’s president on October 1.


“We are very pleased to announce that the exceptional leadership demonstrated by Sheryl over the past 11 years will continue,” said Gwen Sandefur, president, Spectrum Health Hospital Group.

“Angie Ditmar is a highly experienced and dedicated professional who will be a wonderful asset to the Pennock team and she looks forward to becoming part of the community.”


Since joining Spectrum Health in 2011, Ditmar has held a variety of leadership positions, including vice president, operations, women’s health, and director for cardiovascular services. She also previously provided oversight for respiratory care, bronchoscopy and sleep disorder centers.


Ditmar was instrumental in helping to establish the cancer center at Pennock in 2017. “After a diligent and exhaustive process, the search committee members were unanimous in their support of Ms. Ditmar and the recommendation to the Board of Trustees for her to become the new regional market leader and president of Spectrum Health Pennock,” said Nathan Tagg, chair, Spectrum Health Pennock Board of Trustees and co-chair of the selection committee.


“Her qualifications, engaging personality and record of success in other roles within Spectrum Health impressed the committee members. I believe those traits will be an asset to the employees and, most importantly, patients of Spectrum Health Pennock.”


Ditmar earned both her Bachelor of Business and Master of Business Administration from Davenport University. She is currently pursuing her Master of Science in nursing at Ferris State University.

She has participated on numerous professional advisory boards and served as a mentor on the Association of Cancer Executives (ACE) fellowship program. Ditmar is also an active community member, serving as board vice president for Lakeshore Area Radiation Oncology and as past board member for the Davenport Alumni Association and Grand Rapids Chamber Choir.


Photo: Angela Ditmar, RN, MBA is named new president of Spectrum Health Pennock and southeast regional market leader.



Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system, based in West Michigan, offering a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, which is comprised of 12 hospitals, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital; 180 ambulatory and service sites; 3,600 physicians and advanced practice providers; and Priority Health, a health plan that served one million members in fiscal year 2018.

Spectrum Health is West Michigan’s largest employer, with 26,000 employees. The organization provided $434 million in community benefit during its 2018 fiscal year. Spectrum Health has earned recognition as one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems six times by Truven Health Analytics®, part of IBM Watson HealthTM.


Public invited to "The Lofts of Middleville" groundbreaking Oct. 1

The Village of Middleville is proud to announce the commencement of one of the most significant redevelopment projects to occur in our beloved downtown.


The groundbreaking ceremony for “The Lofts of Middleville” represents years of hard work, dedication, and steadfast commitment from both state and local officials and private property owners, in transformation of the vision for rehabilitating the historic 19th century building, into the reality of a redeveloped mixed-use structure engineered to satisfy the demands for the 21st century.


Please join us on Monday Oct. 1 at 11 a.m. at 101 East Main Street in downtown Middleville to be a part of the celebration!


87th District Rep. Calley's plan to establish online voter registration gains House approval

87th District State Rep. Julie Calley’s legislation modernizing Michigan’s voter registration system by giving qualified voters the option to register online was unanimously approved today by the Michigan House.


“In this day and age, there’s no reason registering to vote shouldn’t be just as easy as hopping online to shop or pay bills,” said Calley, of Portland. “Thirty-eight other states and the District of Columbia have established online registration systems. Michigan residents deserve this simple modern convenience as well.”


Calley said the plan laid out in House Bills 5548 and 5549 allows people who are qualified to vote in Michigan to register to vote online if they already have a valid Michigan driver’s license or state identification card. People who register online would still be required to cast their first vote in person and present identification at that time.


“In reality, requiring residents to fill out a paper registration form leaves more room for errors and is less secure than an online system,” Calley said. “An online system would also help local elections officials operate more efficiently, reduce processing costs and build more complete and accurate voter lists.”


The plan includes several measures to ensure system security and prevent unauthorized users from accessing the online system. The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration.


Hastings DPS visits to city resident's homes explained

“You may have seen the City’s Department of Public Services staff knocking on doors in your neighborhood recently,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said today.


The DPS staff members are looking for additional single family residences with lead water service leads entering the home.  Such locations are known in the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s jargon as “Tier 1” sampling sites for the city’s routine lead and copper testing program, he said.


“The MDEQ requires that the city test 20 such Tier 1 sites for lead and copper every 3 years.  We will be sampling and testing again for lead and copper in our water supply over the next few weeks.".

The DPS crews look for Tier 1 sampling sites primarily in the older portions of the city where water services were installed to homes built prior to roughly 1930 (although later in some cases), he said.


“However, even in the case of many of these older homes, the water services are made of galvanized steel or have been replaced with copper piping. 

“And, since the city has been feeding protective phosphate for many, many years, even where lead services do exist the lead does not find its way into the water supply in the home since the phosphate coats the interior wall of the pipe keeping the lead from entering the water,” he continued. 


“The MDEQ’s rules related to lead and copper in community water distribution systems are still evolving at this time.  Once the MDEQ establishes final guidelines for inventorying and addressing lead components in water systems, the city will begin a program to replace lead service leads in the city.

“In the meantime, we will continue routine testing of the city’s drinking water to ensure that all contaminant levels remain well within the MDEQ standards,” Mansfield said.


More information sought on consulting firms for new Barry County Jail, COA

The Barry County Commission held two meetings Tuesday. The first , a regular meeting, had a light agenda, the second a special meeting was to last from 1p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to interview five consulting firms to determine the one that will facilitate the new jail and COA building projects.


At the 1 p.m. meeting, the five firms, DLZ, Tower Pinkster, BYCE & Associates, BFK Group, and Hooker DeJong/Landmark Design made presentations, with no final decision reached by commissioners.


“All were educational, some with different strategies,” Commissioner and Vice Chair David Jackson said of the presentations. “The board wanted more time to delve more into references, some firms were in closer proximity and more familiar with Barry County and the fees for service will also factor into it,” Jackson said. “All the firms are very qualified.” The continuing discussion is expected to be on the Oct. 2 agenda.


In the 9 a.m. meeting, the commissioners paid the bills and approved four items recommended the week before by the committee of the whole:

* a zoning ordinance amendment allowing adult care foster facilities in Rural Residential (RR) districts by special use.

* a State of Michigan Emergency Management Performance Grant and Grant Agreement.

* a PA 116 application request from Richard and Pamela Palmer in Section 29 in Irving Township.

* re-appointment of Teri Enrietti and Steve Buehler to the County Officer’s Compensation Committee for four year terms.


Hastings Scarecrow Contest deadline extended

The Hastings Downtown Business Team Annual Scarecrow Contest will begin October 4th at Hastings Girl's Night Out.

Hastings Businesses and Communty Groups are welcome to participate and compete for the honor of displaying the First Place Traveling Trophy.  Participants are encouraged to decorate and display a Bone Rattlin' Scarecrow.  Scarecrows must be displayed by noon on Tuesday October 2nd. for inclusion in the online voiting!  All voting will take place on Hastings Downtown Business Team Facebook page and will continue through October 30th.  The winner will be announced on Halloween.  Entry forms are available at WBCH Radio, 119 W. State Street in downtown Hastings. or email   Entry forms must be submitted to Sue no later than 1pm, Oct 1, 2018.

Hastings City Council asked: What is the city's role in ice skating rink facility?

The Hastings City Council Monday was asked what they saw as the city’s role in a planned ice skating rink and community venue for family and business events.


Following the success of an ice skating rink at Tyden Park proposed and promoted by Councilman Bill Redman a few years ago, he researched permanent rinks and has put the wheels in motion for an ice skating rink on the basketball courts at Tyden Park that could also be used in the summer for weddings, reunions, birthday parties, business meetings and other group activities.


The total cost is an estimated $6 million, Redman said.  He has a pledge of $200,000 from a donor, “with the promise of $300,000 behind that.” After the facility is built, he said, there would “moderate fees to pay for expenses.” Every city he visited with a rink broke even on expenses, and the state may have grants available. He has asked the Barry Community Foundation to hold the funds, but hasn’t head back yet.


City Manager Jeff Mansfield said now that the group is raising money, the city needs well-documented concepts from anyone who builds on city land that the city will be able to legally defend. Does the city take ownership after it’s built and operate it on a break even basis?  he asked.


Council members agreed there was a lot of work to be done, and specific information was needed to get clear outlines of the city’s responsibilities, or even if they even wanted to commit to another entertainment venue in the city. Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange called for at least a business plan of sorts for the council to study. “Do they know what they will spend in the first year? Donors would like to know that, too.”


Councilman Don Bowers said he didn’t think the city had to money to support it, “I don’t think that it’s reasonable at this time, to keep it running year after year...”.  Councilman John Resseguie also wanted more information on the plans. “It’s kinda hard to come up with dollars and cents with just a little information.”  But he strongly supported the idea, saying the city needs to bring people in during the winter season too, otherwise the city will “dry up.”


If the city does not take over the facility, they will need documentation and those raising money will need to understand they need a well-documented agreement, an organizational setup with attorneys to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, Mansfield said.


“I’m not opposed, but I recommend extreme caution...this is a group with no legal underpinnings…we want to make sure we don’t replicate that situation (with a dog park committee),” he said.

The consensus was for Mansfield and city Attorney Stephanie Fekkes to work on an agreement and, “go from there.”  



Hastings SanitarySewer and Stormwater projects move ahead

The Hastings City Council Monday awarded contracts to Hubbell Roth and Clark to provide design and construction engineering for Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrades and soil borings at the site.


Both projects are parts of extensive improvements of the Hastings sanitary and storm sewer system already underway, with the majority of funding from a Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater (SAW) Program grant.


The total SAW project amount is $791,820; the total SAW grant is $712,639, with a committed amount of $561,671. The City of Hastings match is $79,182, with the city committed amount of $58,880.


The grant, from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, was applied for in 2013, and granted in December, 2016. The grant requires the updates to the sanitary and storm sewer systems be completed by December, 2019.


Also Monday, a request to vacate a portion of the West Mill Street Right of Way (ROW) between Washington Street and the Thornapple River from Doug and Sharon Vickery was turned down by the council. A driveway and one or more one accessory buildings on their property, as well as a city storm sewer line, are inside the ROW.

City Manager Jeff Mansfield said the vacation request would likely have to go before the courts because it is so close to the Thornapple River and for other reasons.

Several council members said they did not want to give up the property because of the storm sewer in the ROW and proximity to Tyden Park. They agreed to consider leasing part of the ROW to the Vickerys.


In other business, the council:


*approved a grant agreement with the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs that will fund part of the community entertainment events next summer. Attendance at this year’s events is estimated at 10,000 and work has begun on Hastings Live, 2019.


*approved Girl’s Night Out on Oct. 4 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. requested by the Downtown Business Team, with a Scarecrow  Contest and sidewalk sales.


*approved the 18th annual roof sit on Oct. 13, requested by Sarah Alden, Youth Advisory Council director. The event is a fund raiser with a donation to different charity each year. This year, it is Habitat for Humanity. Alden said a smaller group of YAC was also holding the event in Middleville this year.


*appointed Mike Hamp to the Cable Access Committee, recommended by Councilman Bill Redman.


*appointed Tim Girrbach to the Board of Review to a term that expires in 2020.


*voted for Robert Clark, mayor of the City of Monroe and Paula Zelenko, mayor of the City of Burton for the Michigan Municipal League’s Liability and Property Pool Board.


Reminder: Detour at Green/Market street intersection in Hastings

The Hastings Department of Public Services will be completing utility work at the Green/Market street intersection in the city starting at 5 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, Sept. 26.

The street will be closed there until 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, with traffic detoured to the south one block.


Spirit's high for Hastings Homecoming activities

Hastings High School Homecoming Week featured a week of activities including the big Homecoming Parade with teacher Jeff Denny as Grand Marshal and the Homecoming football game against Parma Western High School. The week wound up with the Saturday night dance.


Activities during the week kept students spirits up and excited about the weekend. Hall and locker decorating, color day, a powder puff game, and beach day were some of the activities. 


The floats at the parade reflected styles and music over the decades. The freshmen class replicated 1980’s garb, sophomores copied 1920’s fashions, juniors looked like “the way we were” in the 1950’s and seniors copied 1970s fashions.


For parade photos visit 2018 Homecoming photo album

Maple Valley Concrete Products Fire

The Nashville Fire Department with assistants from area fire departments battled a fire at Maple Valley Concrete Products around 5:00 o'clock Saturday aftrrnoon. Flames were seen coming out of the building as firefighters arrived on the scene at 725 Durkee road south east of Hastings. The fire closed a portion of M-66 for about four hours. No information at this time as to what started the fire.





UPDATE:Police give timelines in homicides of two; suicide of their killer.

FINAL UPDATE:The Kent Conty Sheriff's Office has released information on the deaths of two people and the suicide of the man who killed them. Police on a well-check found the two dead.


The latest report reads: Based on the investigation, detectives determined that Bruce Edward Huntley, 33, and his wife, Samantha Lynn Huntley, 33, have a boy, 4 and a girl, 2. following a domestic about a week ago, Samantha went to stay with her mother, Lisa Bradley, 58, at 10036 Rooksby Street N.E. in Spencer Township. Bradley lived there with her long-time boyfriend, James Cole, 54.


The morning of Sept. 22, Bruce Huntley forced entry into the Bradley home and shot and killed Lisa Bradley and James Cole. Bruce Huntley then kidnapped his wife and two children and took them back to their apartment on Stonebridge Road in Wyoming.


When the Kent County Sheriff’s Office realized the wife and children were missing, they immediately contacted the Wyoming Department of Public Safety and asked them to check at the suspect’s apartment.


Bradley’s vehicle was located at the apartment and the Wyoming Department of Public Safety assembled its Tactical Team. Contact was made with Samantha Huntley who confirmed she was in the apartment with her husband and two children and was being held against her will.


Negotiators with the Wyoming Department of Public Safety, with assistance from the Grandville Police Department, negotiated the release of Samantha and the two children. Bruce Huntley had threated to commit suicide and refused to come out. After several hours, the tactical unit entered the apartment and confirmed he was dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.


On Sept. 24, the Kent County Medical Examiner’s Officer conducted autopsies and determined Lisa Bradley and James Cole manner of death was homicide from a gunshot wound. Bruce Huntley’s death was ruled a suicide from a gunshot wound.


The sheriff’s office was assisted by the Wyoming Department of Public Safety, Grandville and Grand Rapids police departments and LIFE Tactical Medics.

UPDATE: A second joint release reports that despite extensive efforts to ensure a peaceful surrender, the man in question was found dead inside the apartment at approximately 12:15 a.m.  He has been identified by investigators as the primary suspect in the apparent homicide in Spencer Township on Saturday. 


UPDATE: A joint media release from the Wyoming Police Department and the Kent County Sheriff’s Office reported that  after  Wyoming police established communication with the possible suspect inside the apartment on Stonebridge S.W., they learned there were three hostages inside, the suspect’s wife and two children, ages 4 and 2.

The three hostages have been released and are speaking with investigators. The man remains inside the apartment and negotiations for a peaceful surrender are ongoing as of this release.


ORIGINAL STORY: A man and woman were found deceased inside their home in the 10000 block of Rooksby Street NE., according to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. At 11:37 a.m. Saturday, deputies responded to the residence on a well-being check after an acquaintance of the couple went to the house and received no response after knocking.


A search warrant for the residence was obtained and investigators are processing the scene. Shortly after the initial response to Rooksby Street N.E. investigators developed a possible suspect  believed to be inside an apartment in the 4200 Block of Stonebridge Avenue SW in the City of Wyoming.


The Wyoming Police Department attempted to make contact with the man, who refused to cooperate and would not come out of the apartment. WYPD is negotiating with the man at the time of this release, and Stonebridge Avenue remains an active scene. Additional updates will be forthcoming.


Superintendent's Platform

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

This posting is from Hastings Area Schools Superintendent Carrie Duits:


“It’s a great day to be a Saxon! What a fantastic week of school pride throughout the community! Students kicked off the week last Sunday with traditional hall decorating followed by painting windows in downtown Hastings. Many thanks to all the businesses who offered their windows for a display of Saxon pride."


The Homecoming parade and game were held Friday with community members encouraged to join the fun and festivities with a free tailgate party of hot dogs, chips and lemonade at Johnson Field.


"At our Board meeting, we thanked our Maintenance Department for all their hard work throughout the summer and into the fall. They are a small and mighty department, working across the district to mow lawns, prepare fields, make a variety of repairs, paint, move furniture and equipment, address leaks and respond to other emergencies.


"Our Maintenance Department does a fantastic job, and they respond at all hours and on the weekends to a variety of needs. They do all this with high-quality customer service. Dan Blair is one member of our Maintenance Department, and he built a Saxon display from “the old high school” just outside the Administration Office. Dan was given an idea of creating a display to incorporate artifacts saved from the old building, and he took the design and improved upon it ten-fold with lights and windows and refurbished doors.


"This unique showcase honors our Saxon history. The display will make its public debut at the Middle School Dedication Ceremony scheduled for Sunday, October 14, 2018, from 1:00 pm- 3:00 pm. During the September 17 meeting, the Board of Education accepted with great appreciation the donations of $2,000 from the Richard B. Messer Trust to the High School Drama department and a donation of $1,600 from the Hastings Community Diving Club for refinishing the diving board at the CERC.


"The Board of Education also voted to add bowling as a Varsity sport for Hastings Area Schools. We have a team of students eager for this new winter sport, and we are excited to offer this additional opportunity for our HS students.


The Board of Education’s next regular monthly meeting will be Tuesday, October 15, 2018, at 7:00 pm in the Hastings Middle School Commons.”

Charlotte woman charged with multiple crimes against an Eaton County Sheriff's deputy

The Barry County Prosecutor’s Office has issued several criminal charges against Kellie Leigh Bartlett, of Charlotte, for allegedly making false allegations of criminal sexual conduct against an Eaton County Deputy, the office said Friday.

The charges stem from a lengthy investigation by Michigan State Police and a Mission Team consisting of detectives from the Allegan and Kent County Sheriff’s Offices.


Bartlett is charged with two felony counts of using a computer to commit a crime; two felony counts of identity theft; three felony counts of unauthorized access to a computer; one count of felony conspiracy; one count of false report of a felony; two counts of misdemeanor stalking; one count of intentional dissemination of sexually explicit visual material, and two misdemeanor counts of using a computer to commit a crime. 


Bartlett, a clerk, and the deputy were employees of the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office when they began a relationship in late 2015.  The relationship ended when the deputy, who is the alleged victim in several of the charges, ended the relationship in the spring of 2017 and requested that the Bartlett cease contact with him.


When Bartlett continued contact, the victim advised his superiors and a Mission Team was assigned to investigate Bartlett for stalking. As of December 2017, Bartlett no longer worked for the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office. In January 2018, she filed a complaint with the Michigan State Police alleging the deputy had sexually assaulted her in March, 2017.


Following an investigation, the Michigan State Police and Mission Team cases were turned over to the Eaton County Prosecutor, who recused their office due to a conflict of interest. The case was assigned to the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office in spring, 2018.


“My review of the evidence from both investigations raised suspicion that the allegation against the deputy could be false,” said Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt. “Considering that the rate of false reports of sexual assault is extremely rare, two to eight percent, a thorough investigation was necessary to ensure a fair and just outcome.


“The material in this case is voluminous and multifaceted and has taken months to review and analyze.  This office thoroughly reviews all allegations of sexual assault, as we do suspected false allegations,” Nakfoor-Pratt said.


Bartlett was arraigned Friday in Eaton County District Court, Bond set at $50,000.


Delton man loses life in single car crash in Gun Plain Township

Allegan County Central Dispatch received a 911 call at about 4:30 a.m. Thursday morning from a motorist saying they had come upon a crash with a person lying outside of the vehicle.  A Plainwell Department of Public Safety Officer arrived on the scene and confirmed that it was a single vehicle fatal crash. 


Allegan County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived and conducted an investigation of the crash. The lone occupant, John Pluymers, 53, of Delton, was pronounced deceased at the scene.


Deputies report the Pluymers vehicle was west bound on 106th Avenue east of 4th street in Gun Plain Township when it left the roadway and crashed into a group of trees, overturning several times and coming to rest against a tree. The crash remains under investigation by the sheriff’s office.

Plainwell Department of Public Safety, Gun Plain Township Fire Department and Plainwell EMS assisted sheriff’s office deputies.


UPDATE: Deadline for public written comment on Bradford White mixing zone is Sept.28

UPDATE: Friday, Sept. 28 is the deadline for written comments to be accepted on a Bradford White request for a groundwater-surface mixing zone discharge under the Environmental Remediation of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, according to a DEQ news release.


The location of the venting groundwater plume is 200 Lafayette Street in Middleville, the receiving surface water body in the Thornapple River.

Copies of the determination request may be obtained by calling or writing:


David Wierzbicki, DEQ Remediation and Redevelopment Division,

350 Ottawa Avenue, N.W. Unit 10,

Grand Rapids, MI, 49503.


Written comments should be submitted by the deadline to him at the above address.

For information, contact:

David Wierzbicki,

Remediation and Redevelopment Division



ORIGINAL STORY: Groundwater contamination with known carcinogenic chemicals is discharging into the Thornapple River and the responsible company in Middleville is asking state regulators to let dilution solve the problem according to an Mlive newspaper story.


Bradford White Corporation, a water-heater manufacturer in Middleville, wants the Michigan Department of Enviromental Quality to consider a pollution exemption that would allow continued discharge of groundwater plumes contaminated with chlorinated solvents into the Thornapple River.


Presently, the contaminant discharges are above the state's Part 201 enviromental cleanup criteria, but Bradford White is asking the DEQ to allow a "Mixing Zone" in the river that would dilute the contamination.


Village Manager Duane Weeks said he was unaware that Bradford White wanted to continue discharging contaminated water into the Thornapple River but knew the company was talking with state regulators about lowering levels of chlorinated solvents in the groundwater.

Upcoming street projects in Hastings told

Supervisor of streets and construction at the Hasting DPS Jim James gave an update on upcoming projects in the city at the latest Coffee with the on Chief Wednesday, including:


*the DPS will be completing utility work at the Green/Market street intersection starting at 5 a.m. Sept. 26. The street will be closed at the intersection until 5 p.m. on Sept. 27, with traffic detoured to the south one block.


*hydrant flushing will be on Sept. 24-25-26. James asks that residents don’t put anything in the curb line during flushing, “especially Michigan Avenue. It makes problems.”


*the annual fall leaf pickup is tentatively set for Oct. 29 into November, depending on the weather.


Also of interest, a medicine take-back project and Household Hazardous Waste Collection (and free disposal of up to 10 household tires) will be at the Barry County Fairgrounds on Saturday, Sept. 22 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For specifics, call the Barry Eaton District Health Department, 269-945-9516.

Hastings school's safety main topic at Coffee with the Chief

Coffee with the Chief, led by Hastings Deputy Chief Dale Boulter Wednesday, brought discussion about school safety, what to do about cars speeding around Hastings schools and improper parking.


School safety is a topic not just here, but across the country, Boulter said. It’s not simple and it’s not a task just for school administrators, but a task for every person involved in the community.

“It’s more than money… law enforcement and the schools have good communication, that’s a number one thing.”


Hastings Schools Superintendent Carrie Duits reported the recent installation of camera systems around the schools makes a difference. Incidents in the areas covered by cameras were solved right away; others without camera coverage took days, she said.

Access to the building is tightly controlled with staff more involved from school opening to closing.

An electronic card reader system does away with entry by key.


Building relationships with law enforcement is critical, enhanced by the liaison officer and the Hastings Police Cadets, Duits said. “The cadet program is growing; it’s a really clear piece evidence that it’s working,” she said.


“Times have changed,” Boulter said. “It’s amazing what they’ve done with the time and resources they have…the issue is at hand and will probably always be with us. We hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”


Also discussed:  

*speeding around school buildings: Police can increase patrols at certain times of day and use the sign trailer that shows the speed of motorists.


*cars parked on both sides of a street at a business that blocks larger vehicles: Boulter will “check it out,” and talk to the owner and customers about parking in permitted areas.


*drivers making so much noise they wake residents at 2 a.m.: residents should feel free to call Barry Central Dispatch and ask them to send a patrol car there.


Hastings Police Department averages four to six thousand complaints a year and the volume of calls to all law enforcement agencies across the county is up 33 percent, Boulter said.

“To date, we have taken 5,300 complaints, and will probably be well over 8,000 this year. Those making non-emergency calls may wait a little longer. We’re hiring new people and working overtime, making sure we’re still giving the best service possible,” he said.


Without a code enforcer since April, newly-hired code enforcer Frank Jesensek starts next week. Boulter said. James will be busy clearing up pending complaints, but residents should still call with problems: “We’ll get to them as soon as we can.”







Barry, Eaton counties provide mental, substance abuse services

Mental health illnesses and substance use disorders affect all communities nationwide, but with commitment and support, those with the disorders can achieve healthy lifestyles and lead rewarding lives in recovery.


By seeking help, they can embark on a new path toward improved health and well-being. September, National Recovery Month, focuses on celebrating their journey with the theme Join the Voices for Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose and Community.


The impact of mental health illness is apparent in the local community.

A 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Survey data showed that 9.4 percent of Barry County adults reported poor mental health. Also concerning is that, according to the most recent (2017-2018) Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth data, 38.4 percent of 9th and 11th graders in Barry County had symptoms of depression  where they felt so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row that they stopped doing some usual activities in the past year.


Recovery Month spreads the message that behavioral health is essential to one’s health and overall wellness, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover, become more aware and able to recognize signs of mental and substance use disorders that can lead to needed treatment.


Managing the effects of these conditions can help people achieve healthy lifestyles, both physically and emotionally, improve the lives of those affected by educating communities of available prevention, treatment, and recovery resources.


In Barry County, Barry County Community Mental Health Authority provides mental health and substance abuse services to Barry County residents. For more information, call (269)948-8041 or visit  For those with insurance, contacting the insurance provider before the visit is advised. For more, visit


In Eaton County, Eaton Behavioral Health (EBH) provides outpatient care for substance use treatment and recovery at the BEDHD Charlotte office, serving both adolescent and adult clients. For information, call (517)543-2580.  For a list of resources available to help on a recovery journey, visit For more on recovery, visit



Barry County taking next step toward new jail,COA

The Barry County Board of Commissioners is ready to take the next step in the planning for two major projects. Next Tuesday at 1 p.m. after the regular board meeting, Commissioners will meet at the Barry Central Dispatch community room to interview five consulting firms with experience in building jails and senior service type buildings, and possibly select one as a facilitator to advise them with all the aspects of planning for a new jail and COA.


In the week between, commissioner will decide specific questions they want to ask the firms and get them to Administrator Michael Brown.

Also, Brown will check with people who have employed the firms for their opinions on their work. Brown emphasized that all of the companies were highly qualified and reputable, and “all can do what you want,” so the commissioners need to look closely at the strengths of each firm and decide which best fits their needs.


One important item is how the plan to communicate with the community, “citizen engagement is critical,” Commissioner Ben Geiger said, and also what experience and ideas they have in local government financing of projects.

A tentative set of questions includes a firm’s experience with law enforcement and senior service facilities, local millage elections, its communication style with constituents, experience with moving departments around a campus or community and relevant construction experience.


In other business Tuesday, the commissioners recommended approval of:

*an amendment of a Barry County ordinance that allows Adult Care Foster Facilities in Rural Residential zones by special use permit. The change will allow Boulters Adult Foster Care Home on Kingsbury Road to grow from a specialized small family home of six to a specialized medium group home of 10. The planning commission has recommended approval.


*approval of a State of Michigan 2018 Emergency Management Performance Grant.


*entry into PA 116, by Richard and Pamela Palmer in section 29 of Irving Township.   

Popular restaurant closing in Hastings

After more than 27 years Mills Landing Restaurant in Hastings will close its’ doors for the final time at the end of business Sunday, September 30th.


Andrea (Curtiss) Purdun, in announcing the imminent closing, posted “We sincerely have appreciated your patronage, the opportunity to have served you and your family, and most importantly your love, kindness, laughs, and tears over the years.  We have been extremely blessed over the years to have a staff that is beyond dedicated and loyal to our family and our business.”


Purdun is encouraging the restaurant’s long-time patrons, “lifers”, to visit one more time before they close.  If you have a Mill’s Landing gift certificate that you will be unable to use before September 30, Purdun requested you mail it to the restaurant with your name, address and phone number no later than October 31st.

Barry County Officers Compensation Commissioners reappointed

When formed by the Barry County Board of Commissioners in June of 2017, the County Officers Compensation Commision members (COCC) were given staggered terms. Terri Enrietti and Steve Buehler, whose one year terms expire on Sept. 30 were reappointed to terms that now expire Sept. 30, 2023.

Members  Chris Lapins and Kim Dufresne’s  terms go to 2019,  Karen Zuver’s term is until 2020 and Brenda Schild’s  term expires in 2021. Tom Enslen has resigned.


Commissioners formed the COCC to decide salaries for elected county officials, other than judges. A seven-member independent body was appointed by the commission chair from a list of names submitted by the other commissioners.


Determinations by the COCC go into effect unless a super majority of the county commission votes against it. If county commissioners do not act, the salaries are effective in the first odd-numbered year after the committee’s determination. COCC members get mileage, not per diems, set their own time table for considering salary increases and their own criteria.


Elected county officials include commissioners, sheriff, clerk, treasurer, prosecutor, drain commissioner, register of deeds and surveyor.

Barry County United Way 2018 officially underway

The Barry County United Way held its 2018 Campaign and Day of Caring kick-off last week, a rally filled with enthusiasm followed by volunteers fanning out across the county tackling all types of improvement projects and marking the official start of the year’s fund raising for the United Way.




BCUW executive director Lani Forbes, who has attended similar events for 20 years, emceed the event with the theme, Live United: Be the One. One person can change a life. She told the story of “Patricia” that showed how all-encompassing the United Way assistance can be and the way just one person can trigger help that changes lives.


“Please consider how you can be the one. It takes a little from all of us. One dollar can purchase six meals. Two dollars and 32 cents per month can place a book in the mailbox of a three-year-old.  “This year, based on the needs of the partner agencies and programs, the goal is $625,000. We have many that have stepped forward as pacesetters to kick this off. As of this morning these pacesetters are kicking us off with $123,979.89,” Forbes said.


“The 34- member board directors of the Barry County United Way work diligently to make sure the needs of the community are met and that we are living our mission of improving lives by mobilizing the caring power of Barry County communities.


“Last year contributions of $628,000 turned into $1.8 million invested back into the community through matching grants, volunteer hours and gifts in kind.

“We hit a milestone in August the BCUW reached a milestone of providing more than $1million dollars in utility assistance. The BCUW had more than 2,493 volunteers impacting every aspect of our community.


“Florence Tyden lives on in the administrative endowment fund at the Barry Community Foundation ensuring that 100 percent of contributions go directly to programming,” she said. The Andy and Kristen Cove family served as campaign chairs this year, the prayer was offered by Reverend Linnea Stifler and the Thornapple Kellogg High School Band kept an upbeat tempo to the kickoff.



Photos: The BCUW staff ffrom left,Courtney Ziny, Ally Owen, Emily Blocher, Morgan Johnson, June Behrendt, Lani Forbes, Devin Hamlin, Pattrick JansensCourtney Ziny, Ally Owen, Emily Blocher, Morgan Johnson, June Behrendt, Lani Forbes, Devin Hamlin and Pattrick Jansens  pose for a photo at the campaign and Day of Caring kickoff.

(photo by Lyn Briel)















Volunteers Josh Wooden, (left) team leader, and Carl Swanson start the cement repairs to the Shack in Delton.












Volunteers Dave Hard (front) and Roy A. Stadel throw cement pieces into the truck. New cement blocks improved the Shack’s exterior during Day of Caring.
















Two Thornapple Kellogg High School volunteers,Kara Burbridge and Anna Benedict, clean up a landscape area for a homeowner. (photo by Lyn Briel)
















Carl Swanson, gets the metal saw to cut out an old air conditioner from the building in Delton.








Patricia's story

At the Barry County United Way Campaign and Day of Caring Kickoff last week, Executive Director Lani Forbes told the story of a woman she called “Patricia.” The BCUW theme, “Live United Be the One” was illustrated perfectly by her story, how “one” after another “one” stepped up to help her become an independent woman succeeding on her own.


This is the story Forbes told:

A Hastings woman, Patricia was being shuttled from one family member or another for a time depending on who needed her Social Security Disability check. She has lived in Nevada, California, New Jersey and now Michigan.


Vern, who works for Hastings Department of Public Works, was the first one of many other ones who stepped up for Patricia. He saw her most valuable possessions on her front porch, then saw her take her items to the end of the road and wait for someone to pull up, load all of the items into the car and be driven away, only to return a few days later.


He saw the items would soon be back out on the porch and the cycle would start all over. Vern stopped Patricia and asked if he could help. He brought her to the United Way, where Emily became the one to find her shelter. The Hastings City Police became the one when they went to her former home, located her missing Bridge card and gathered the rest of her belongings for her.


The Salvation Army was the one who provided overnight housing at the Parkview Motel where Naynika and Victor became the ones.

At Green Gables Haven, Christy became the one, connecting Patricia with legal services, holistic counseling and the prosecutor’s office.

Sue at the Department of Health and Human Services became the next one, making sure Patricia had food and medical benefits.


Next, Courtney became the one, helping her figure out what she could afford for housing and utilities. Together, they figured out a stable plan for Patricia’s future based on her limited income and resources. //


Karri became the one from Barry County Mental Health that helped with underlying and current issue that any of us would face if we had lived the life of Patricia.

Barry County Transit becomes the one, when Patricia chooses to go to the Fresh Food Initiative.


The next one, Jenna of Pine Grove Housing, contacted Patricia to say she had a Housing Choice Voucher available. Patricia, armed with her budgeting plan, and helped by Jenna, searched and found an apartment that met requirements and was affordable. Habitat ReStore provided affordable items needed for her to move into her first apartment.


“What if Vern chose not to be the one?  What if Vern would have been too busy?  Thankfully, Vern chose to be the one,” Forbes said.

“Everyone advocated for Patricia, for her safety and well-being. She was an active participant in making herself successful.


“After her first payment to her landlord, she called Emily, she was so excited, she did it, she had made her rent payment and she said, ‘I feel like a real adult now!’” 

Patricia had not had this amount of outside support in her life. Because of the way those choosing to be the one were involved in her life, she began to believe in herself.

Today, Patricia is living on her own successfully for the first time in 57 years, Forbes said.


“The Barry County community allowed this to happen. Because you all chose to Be the One. Will you be the one?  The Patricia’s of this world thank you.”





Coffee with Chief Pratt 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.


Greenville man dies in motorcycle/car crash in Cascade Township

Kent County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a motorcyclist struck by a passenger car in the 5000 block of Kraft Avenue, S.E. near the airport viewing area Monday just after 7 a.m.,according to a KCSO news release.


The initial investigation revealed that a southbound motorcycle, operated by Michael Wilberding, 58, of Greenville, was struck head-on by a northbound sedan, driven by Andrijana Masnica, 48, also of Greenville.


Wilberding was pronounced dead at the scene; the cause of the accident remains under investigation.


New chairman of Gun Lake Tribal Council named

Bob Peters has been sworn in as Chairman of the Tribal Council of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians (Gun Lake Tribe). The council selected Peters to serve as chairman Sept. 13.


Nicole Overbeck was also sworn in as a newly-elected Tribal Council member.  Peters, Overbeck, and incumbent Jennie Pearl Heeren were all elected as representatives of the Bradley voting district by tribal citizens on Aug. 28.  Each was elected to four-year terms.


“I am honored and humbled to have been chosen chairman by my fellow Tribal Council members,” said Peters.  “I want to thank our tribal citizens for their support in my re-election, and my mother and family for always being there to support me.” Peters values family above all else and is very close with his mother, two sisters and his nieces and nephews.  He is the grandson of the beloved and respected departed tribal elder, Joseph “Shine” Sprague. 


Peters has served on the Tribal Council since 2014, he became the treasurer in 2016.  He has nearly 20 years of experience in casino operations, gaming regulatory and tribal government employment.For the last four years he has been responsible for administering and monitoring all fiscal matters of the tribe, and is a board member of the tribe’s non-gaming economic development corporation, Gun Lake Investments.


Peters is enrolled at Western Michigan University, where he will complete his bachelor’s degree in business, and plans to continue his education by earning a Master of Business Administration.  In 2015, he became a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society.


Recently selected as one of the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s “40 Under 40 Business Leaders” in West Michigan. Peters will accept the award on Oct. 17 in Grand Rapids.  

Tribal Council members are Bob Peters, chairman; Ed Pigeon, vice chairman; Jennie Pearl Heeren, treasurer; Jeff Martin, secretary and Phyllis Davis, Jodie Palmer and Nicole Overbeck.


Two area men die in two-car Eaton County crash

The Eaton County Sheriff’s Office is reporting a Saturday afternoon crash that claimed the lives of two area men.

Earl Richard Miller from Hastings and Eugene Dale Miller from Vermontville died at the scene at the intersection of West Five Point Highway and North Bradley Road.


Officials said it initially appears a brown sedan westbound on West Point Highway was struck by a blue SUV that was northbound on North Bradley Road and ran the stop sign.

Both vehicles ended up in the yard of a residence northwest of the intersection.


The sedan held the two men who died and a third passenger who was flown by helicopter to a Lansing hospital with serious injuries. The driver of the blue SUV, the only occupant, suffered non-life threatening injuries and was transported by ambulance to a Lansing area hospital.


Deputies responded to the crash at 1:44 p.m. Eaton Area EMS and the Charlotte Fire Department also responded. The intersection was shut down for about five hours.  The sheriff’s Accident Team and Detective Bureau continue to investigate.



Home invasion in progress stopped by Allegan County Sheriff deputies

Allegan County Sheriff deputies were dispatched to a home invasion in progress in Monterey Township Sunday about 8:45 p.m. Officers arrived on the scene and found a female hiding in a suspect’s vehicle in the garage.  Another suspect was seen inside the residence.


The homeowner was not on scene, but a surveillance/alarm system alerted the call.  The owner told deputies he had numerous firearms in the residence. When the suspect did not comply when told to come out of the house, Allegan County SWAT was called to the scene. After several more commands, a man came out the home.


A thorough search of the residence found no one else inside. Both suspects were brought to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office for interviews and lodged for home invasion.


The incident occurred at a home on 28th Street north of 134th Avenue.

The deputies were assisted by Michigan State Police, Gun Lake Tribal Police and Wayland EMS.


If anyone who has any information about home invasion or similar incidents in the area, is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 269-67-0500 or silent observer, 1-800-554-3633


Plainwell man dies in motorcycle crash in Yankee Springs Township

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate a fatal motorcycle crash on Briggs Road in Yankee Spring Township on Sunday about 11:30 a.m.


According to a sheriff’s news release, Dennis Corbin, 70, from Plainwell, was thrown from his motorcycle as a result of the crash; he was pronounced dead at the scene. Corbin was wearing a helmet and alcohol and speed do not appear to be factors.


Sheriff’s deputies were assisted by Wayland EMS, Yankee Springs Fire Department, Michigan Department of Transportation, and Barry County Central Dispatch.


***Does Barry County want/need its own health department?

***During and after the contentious discussion and repeal of the Barry Eaton District Health Department Time of Sale or Transfer regulation (TOST), the possibility of Barry County breaking away and establishing its own health department was also promoted by some. The issue has not gone away.


What follows are the opinions of some who are for or against a Barry County Health Department, along with their reasoning.


Barry County Commissioner and Health Board member David Jackson:

“As a Commissioner for the past three years, there have periodically been individuals pushing the discussion on the possibility of a health department separate from Eaton County.   I think it’s my responsibility to be open minded about all ideas that represent the best interest of Barry County families.  With those discussions, I have yet to see a realistic plan than saves the tax payer’s money or provides better level of services for Barry County residents.


Currently we have a Health Department that is structured to share resources with Eaton County with cost allocated based on the population of the two counties.  This affords both counties a tremendous savings by sharing the cost for the health department and not having to pay for all the overhead, payroll and fringe benefits individually.


It’s rare to find effective, cost conscious collaboration between counties that provides a level of service to the tax payer that would be extremely expensive to be replicated by the counties individually.


Our health department is a nationally accredited organization staffed with professionals.  They provide a valuable service to our community protecting public health across many levels. The world continues to become a more dangerous place and the news has no shortage of PFAS water contamination, Hepatitis outbreaks, toxic algae blooms and other increasing health threats to our citizens. 


At this point, creating a separate health department would cost Barry County tax payers substantially more money or dramatically cut services or both. I don’t support putting our citizens at risk and cutting the needed services many of our residents depend on.”



Barry County Citizen Bob Schaffer, former environmental health director at BEDHD (1962 to 1988).

“I support a separate health department for Barry County. There is too much administrative overhead and there would be considerable cost savings if office staff didn’t have to travel to another county. I would be willing to work with anybody who thinks there should be changes; I have some background in that.


When I was there, there was a medical health officer, environmental officer and a director of nursing. They added another layer with a non-medical officer, sometime after I left in 1988.

I think the biggest thing is local control. Your board of health doesn’t need to be all commissioners. With Barry County alone, you could have two from the public and three commissioners for five people on the board.


That would save more money and not have just elected officials on the board; people would know what’s going on. There is so much talk about people unhappy with the health department; there’s this complaint, that complaint. I think the commissioners should appoint an ad hoc committee to study it and bring back a recommendation. I think that would get rid of complaints and people asking all these questions.”


Eaton County Commissioner and Health Board Member Blake Mulder:

“I find it very odd that any group of reasonable people would advocate for the dissolution of the Barry Eaton Health Dept.  First of all, the existence, functions and duties of the county health departments are mandated by State Law, so whether operated as a single county or multi-county district department is a matter of local preference.


As tax paying citizens we are demanding more efficient and cost effective government. Collaboration and shared services decrease administration overhead, information/technology costs, reporting and auditing fees, we are all saving money.


The current BEHD Chairman Ben Geiger has made sure each county is paying their appropriate portion of funding, albeit, that the majority of funds to run the Health Dept. are from the state and federal government.


As a unified health department, staff resources can be moved to the area of need, a Norovirus contamination in Hastings, or Hepatitis A virus outbreak in Eaton. Both countries benefit.

I don’t want to waste my tax dollars, but I do want to know that the restaurant I just had dinner in was inspected by a qualified county sanitarian and that the young, low income mother has nutritious food and vitamins for her baby.

Thank you Barry Eaton Health Dept.”


Barry County Citizen Jack Miner:

“I support Barry County establishing its own health department separate from Eaton County.

We can save between $350,000 and $400,000 annually by having an independent Health Department. The taxpayers of Barry County should not be burdened with the excessive costs of the BEDHD.


In the 2017-18 budget, salaries for five executives of the department were set at almost $750,000, including fringe benefits, in a fiscal year that there were less than 70 employees and a total budget of less than $7,000,000. The director was paid more than $150,000, including fringe benefits; more than Barry County’s administrator is paid. He is tasked with administration of over 250 employees, budgetary management of over $16 million and supervision of over $30 million additional pass thru funds.


The eight mandated public health services are food protection, private groundwater/public water supply, on-site sewage disposal, hearing screening, vision services, sexually transmitted disease control and prevention, immunization and infectious disease control. Cherry Health provides hearing, vision and immunization services locally. There are several other duplications of services and non-mandated services provided by the BEDHD. Dental care and mental health are provided only in Eaton County.  


BC has a world class mental health service that would handle these issues if we had a stand-alone health department. A BCHD could use Cherry Health for the mandated services passing along the funds from the state, saving staff, management and facilities costs.  The Hastings BEDHD building is too large for its present use, yet BC pays more than $130,000 annually for its operating costs. 

Give us a BCHD with local control over costs and three citizen members on its board to help three county commissioners oversee its operation.” 


Eaton County Commissioners and Health Board member Jane Whitacre:
“I think it is financially impractical for the two counties to split. I agree that the counties have their differences. Most of the BEDHD programs are required/ mandated. That infrastructure/ administrative cost is only affordable for us when supported by two counties. 


“The Barry commissioners would short change their county residents by splitting off. They’d have to spend a lot more local money too.  I think we have an excellent health dept. and staff.  They face life and death issues for the public and serve us well. They are the public health experts, not county commissioners.”


Barry County Citizen Larry Bass:

 “Is Barry County best served by continuing participation in the current Barry Eaton District Health Department? After my involvement in the repeal of the Time of Sale or Transfer Regulation (TOST) and attending Board of Health meeting for nearly five years, I believe that Barry County should initiate a comprehensive study to determine if a new direction needs to be forged.


The following questions need to be asked;

1. Are the demographics and needs between the counties still similar enough to continue the current format of the district?

2. Since Barry County’s population is 50 percent of Eaton Counties are the citizens of Barry County getting equal focus on health issues that may arise?

3. Are there programs that are not state mandated being offered by BEDHD and what are the cost associated with those programs? There have been prior requests for this information.

4. A Barry County commissioner has requested that a study be performed to insure that the BEDHD staffing is the right size for the scope of mandated programs. This still needs to be performed.

5. The budget and budgeting process needs to be more accessible to the public in terms of readily providing information without some elements being treated as a need to know basis and you don’t need to know. 

6. The Freedom of Information Act requests need to be treated in more customer friendly basis. Currently, it appears that the process in operated on a basis to discourage requests and add extremely high charges for requests.

7. Are the fees that Barry County residents are being charged in line with those fees in neighboring health departments?

8. Is it fiscally responsible to form an independent Barry County Health Department and would the residents lose health program access if separation occurs?”


Eaton County Commissioner Brian Droscha: “There was some talk last year among the commissioners, however informal, that we might consider separating from the Barry Eaton District Health Department, but that decision would have to be made within the health department; not at the commissioner’s level.”


NOTICE: To those who attended the Michigan Renaissance Festival

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department has learned that visitors may have been exposed to Hepatitis A at the Michigan Renaissance Festival on September 1, 2, or 3.


Vaccination is recommended within 14 days of exposure; the BEDHD is offering walk-in vaccinations for Hepatitis A today, Saturday, September 15 at both locations from 10 am to 12 noon


Hastings: 330 West Woodlawn in Hastings from 10 a.m. to noon.


Charlotte: 1033 Health Care Drive in Charlotte from 10 a.m. to noon.


For more information about possible exposure, read Oakland County’s press release at


Jordan Lake Improvement Board oversight questioned

David Fillion, a Jordon Lake resident, spoke at the Barry County Commissioner’s meeting Tuesday, challenging the Jordan Lake Improvement Board’s oversight. Lake residents deserve better representation than the board gives;  issues like sediment and nutrient loading and spraying herbicides during fish spawning are not discussed with residents, Fillion said.


There is one mandated meeting a year that is held during the daytime when most can’t attend, he said, and the board has created a hostile environment for residents, seeming to value power and control instead of recognizing the honor and privilege of serving its constituents.


Fillion said spraying of chemicals to control weeds in the lake has been done for years; he noticed about three years ago that bluegills were not spawning. He contacted the DEQ Fisheries Division and learned the spray being used by PLM Lake and Land Management Corp., chelated copper and copper sulfate, was toxic to fish, he said.

“I asked for a moratorium on the spraying, but they (the board) declined to do it,” Fillion said.


This year, spraying of chelated copper and copper sulfate on 18 acres of the lake took place on June 1.  On June 2, fish started dying, with a total of approximately 200 Bluegill, 50 Black Crappie and 50 Yellow Perch, all adults with no obvious signs of disease, Fillion said.


A field investigation report from the Department of Environmental Quality Fillion requested said the treatment locations were compared to the map of potential bluegill/bass spawning locations and showed “a lot” of overlap between the treatment areas and the active spawning beds.


DEQ permits mandate no spraying within 20 foot of active spawning beds. PLM denied violating the 20-foot setback, according to the report. “No DNR or DEQ staff were onsite to verify or refute this statement,” it said.  Fillion maintains PLM did spray within the setback, causing the fish kill.


The report noted water temperatures on the St. Joseph River at Niles increased 12 degree from May 24 to June 1 and rapidly increasing water temperatures and spawning activities stressed the fish.

That stress alone may have killed fish, but it is possible the shock from the herbicide treatments increased mortality rates for stressed adult fish, the report concluded.


Ben Geiger, chairman of the improvement board, said the board meets a few times a year to make adjustments to the treatment plan and listen to concerns of residents. “We hired a capable and professional to monitor and assess conditions on Jordan Lake. We rely on their expertise and will continue to do so. Anyone with concerns about the lake will have the opportunity to talk to PLM at the next meeting,” he said. The next meeting date has not been set, but will be announced in the Lakewood News.


About Jordan Lake: According to the DNR website, Jordan Lake is on the southern edge of the village of Lake Odessa. Straddling Barry County and Ionia County lines, it is a manmade lake where Tupper Creek flows into it from Tupper Lake.


Out of Jordan Lake, the Little Thornapple River flows thru Barry County. The lake is 430 acres with recorded depths of 58 feet.  Bullhead, Carp, Catfish, Crappie, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, Sunfish, Bluegill and Walleye inhabit the lake. The lake is animal friendly, with a beach and swimming area, playground and rustic restrooms. 



Crooked Lake flooding comes up again at Barry County board

Crooked Lake resident Deb Englehardt again addressed Barry County Commissioners on the lake flooding, saying it seems that lake resident’s pleas for help have fallen on deaf ears. “What I have to say has not changed,” she said. For the last month the water has remained the same at five feet over the lake’s limit, she said.  “We are not moving fast enough. I urge you to help…”


On the same topic, Deputy Drain Commissioner Tammy Berdecia said Thursday she was scheduled to talk later in the day to property owners who may provide land that will bring a permanent solution to Crooked Lake flooding.


In other business at Tuesday's meeting, commissioners approved:

*buying a commercial dishwasher and convection oven for the county jail kitchen for $23,743.30.

*form 2018L-4029 to allow the collection of winter taxes

*transferring  the title of a 1989 truck utility/vehicle to Barry County at the request of the Law Enforcement Support Office, the agency that originally gave the vehicle to the county.

*an amendment to the airport budget that reduces expenditures by $6,300 to reflect the terms in the revised airport management service agreement.

Attention hunters: Get ready for fall hunting season

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources wants you to know that Michigan is full of fall hunting opportunities, and  squirrel, rabbit, hare, ruffed grouse, woodcock, fall turkey and youth waterfowl hunting weekend all begin Sept. 15.

Small Game

Make sure you take advantage of your base license, which is valid for small game hunting in Michigan. Here are some upcoming seasons: 

Gray and fox squirrel:

Sept. 15 - March 31

Cottontail rabbit and snowshoe hare:

Sept. 15 - March 31

Ruffed grouse:

Sept.15 - Nov. 14 and Dec. 1 - Jan. 1


Sept. 22 - Nov. 5

All woodcock hunters must obtain a free woodcock stamp, which includes registration with the federal Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP).

Sharp-tailed grouse:

Oct. 10 - 31 in Zone 1*  (*See Hunting Digest for details).

Sharp-tailed grouse requires a free sharp-tailed grouse stamp.

Be sure to check out GEMS locations for great hunting opportunities – visit!


Fall Turkey

Don't miss out on fall turkey season, Sept. 15 - Nov. 14.

Hunters may purchase one license a day until quotas are met, and may harvest one turkey per license.

Hunters who did not apply for the drawing may purchase a leftover license, if available, beginning Aug. 27.

Learn more at


Youth Hunting

  • The Mentored Youth Hunting Program allows youth hunters 9 years of age and younger to hunt with a mentor. The mentored youth license is a “package” license to hunt small game including waterfowl, turkey (spring and fall) and deer, trap furbearers, and fish for all species. See the Hunting Digest for more information. 
  • The Youth Waterfowl Hunting Weekend is Sept. 15-16. The Youth Waterfowl Hunting Weekend is statewide for properly licensed youth 16 years of age and younger. Ducks, mergansers, geese, coots and moorhens may be harvested. See the Waterfowl Digest for the details.
  • Youth Liberty Hunt will take place on private or public lands statewide in Michigan open to firearm deer hunting Sept. 22-23. Youth 16 years of age or younger may participate in this hunt. During this hunt, a deer or deer combo license may be used for an antlered or antlerless deer. Antler point restrictions do not apply. The bag limit for this season is one deer. All hunters participating in this season must wear hunter orange. See the Hunting Digest for more details.

Deer Hunting


See the 2018 Hunting Digest for:

  • New 

    Aerial Cover Crop Seeding field day set for Sept. 18

    The Barry Conservation District and Farm Bureau invites local farmers to a field day on Tuesday, Sept. 18, from 8:30 a.m. to noon at Wilson Farms, 9549 Thornapple Lake Road, Nashville.


    Those at the free event will hear about the latest innovations in cover crop seeding, including a live aerial cover crop seeding demonstration by Nick’s Flying Service, and have the chance to talk with other local farmers and industry professionals.


    Details on programs and opportunities for financial assistance through NRCS and the Conservation District will be available, and those who attend the event will fulfill their MAEAP Phase 1 credit.

    Coffee and doughnuts, door prizes and a free BBQ lunch are on tap for the day.


    RSVP to David Comeau at 269-908-4099 or e-mail david.cormeau

    Barry County United Way kick-off, Day of Caring is Sept. 13

    One person can change a life. Live United: Be the One.


    That’s the message from the Barry County United Way for the 2018 campaign kick-off and Day of Caring Thursday, Sept. 13.


    The event begins at 8 a.m. at the Barry County Expo Center, 1350 North M-37 Highway, Hastings.

    You can expect a rousing send off for the Day of Caring, when teams of volunteers head out to community improvement projects all over the county.


    Volunteer Center Director Morgan Johnson said the BCUW faces hard issues, tackling objectives, joining forces and knocking down barriers. At last year’s kickoff, she said: “The Day of Caring with 50 projects throughout the county, the support of 16 local non-profits and the value of the volunteer’s time are examples of great things that happen when people work together. Volunteers can see the impact they make.”


    "What’s given to the United Way are really not donations, but investments in something more valuable than gold, the children and families in Barry County," said last year’s co-chair Gary Buckland. “Nothing is more important. The value of volunteers can be measured in dollars and cents, but, the return on that investment cannot be measured. There is no way of measuring the benefits. They are not donations, but investments to measure with the success of families and young people,” he said.


    Guest Speaker Gary Kimble gave four reasons to volunteer:

    One: Someone has to step up, why not you?

    Two: The feeling helping people gives you.

    Three: The personal pay-back to society. It’s your turn to give back.

    Four: It builds community pride and strength. All volunteers build a community.



    September is suicide awareness, prevention month

    During September, organizations across the country will be calling attention to suicide prevention and awareness. Every year, 41,000 individuals die by suicide nationwide, representing the 10th leading cause of death. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10 and 34.


    Anyone can experience suicidal thoughts, regardless of gender, age, race, or background. However, suicide remains a stigmatized topic, which can prevent individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts from receiving the help they need.


    To recognize this preventable issue, September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, Sept. 9 through 15 is National Suicide Prevention Week, and Sept. 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide prevention aims to help those who are suffering by reaching out, listening, and ending the stigma surrounding suicide and mental illness so that everyone can get the help that they need.


    There are many signs that someone you know may be experiencing suicidal thoughts, but these include:

    ?  Talking about wanting to die

    ?  Feeling empty or shameful

    ?  Pulling away from family, friends, and the community

    ?   Giving away possessions/putting affairs in order

    ?   Mood changes (especially from despair to calm)


    Risk factors that make individuals more vulnerable to suicide include:

    ?  Depression, other mental disorders, or substance abuse disorder

    ?  Some chronic illnesses and chronic pain

    ?  Prior suicide attempt(s)

    ? Family history of mental disorders, substance abuse, violence, physical/sexual abuse, or suicide

    ?  Having guns or other firearms

    ? Recent release from prison or jail

    ?  Exposure to others’ suicidal behavior


    If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255). If there is an emergency, call 911 immediately. More information on suicide prevention can be found at and


    Expedited Partner Therapy available at Ionia County Health Department

    Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are a significant public health problem. In Michigan reported cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia exceed 55,000 annually and numbers continue to increase.


    Rates of infection are highest in men and women under the age of 24, increasing the potential for negative outcomes such as infertility.


    To prevent further spread of chlamydia and gonorrhea, medical providers have an option to ensure that exposed individuals receive treatment. A recent amendment to the Michigan Public Health Code authorizes the use of Expedited Partner Therapy (EPT) for  medical providers to give a prescription or medication that one sex partner can deliver to another without a medical appointment.


    EPT is a useful alternative when a partner is unable or unlikely to seek care. It is a proven effective intervention that is highly recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    The Ionia County Health Department can provide medication to the partners of patients with a clinical or laboratory diagnosis of chlamydia or gonorrhea. The partners of infected clients from within the 60 days prior to client treatment are the best candidates for EPT as they are at the highest risk for infection.


    There is no limit to the number of partners that can be treated through the EPT process. If a partner is pregnant, every effort will be made to contact her for a referral to pregnancy services and/or pre-natal care.


    For more information about EPT or other issues pertaining to STDs or STIs, please contact the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services at and the Ionia County Health Department at 616-527-5341. At the health department, treatment for gonorrhea or chlamydia does not require an appointment – people are seen on a first-come first-served basis by a specially trained professional nurse.

    Barry County Commmissioners vote to move ahead with Transit renovations

    The Barry County Commissioner’s agenda item under unfinished business Tuesday read: “Approval to proceed with the attached addition and renovation project for the Barry County Transit building as proposed by Landmark Design.”


    A note on the agenda read: “This request was recommended for approval at the 5/18/18 Committee of the Whole meeting. It was postponed to the 6/12/18 Board of Commissioner’s meeting and postponed again awaiting completion of a property appraisal. It was postponed again on 8/28/18.”


    The main concern was putting $1 to $1.3 million from the transit’s general fund for renovations and repairs before they know what will be done with the jail and transit property.

    Counterpoint to that was that the county facilities study in 2015 called for a new jail and commissioners have started the planning, delayed long enough and need to go forward.


    Tuesday, after 90 minutes of exhaustive discussion by the commissioners, Transit Director Bill Voigt, Hastings city officials, some in the audience and in public comment, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve the request with a change modifying a proposed parking lot to gravel.


    With the vote, Voigt will start the bidding process on the renovations and repairs.


    “What came out of our discussion is a gentleman's agreement to work together, not independently. Over the next couple months, Transit leaders will move ahead with getting proposals for the proposed construction project. However, if the jail facilitator helps us find a better idea, the county board can still adjust course before construction starts,” Commissioner and Chair Ben Geiger said later.


    At the meeting, Hastings officials and J-Ad Graphics President Fred Jacobs pressed commissioners to delay a decision until they could get more information on the possibilities for development of the approximately 11 acres which now hold the jail and transit, which Jacobs said was the most valuable  piece of real estate in the city. “More cars pass by there than anywhere in Barry County.”


    The assessor’s figures that the market value of the Barry County Transit on 1.9 acres was $700,000 and the nine acres the Barry County Jail sits on is worth $1,150,000, “were far off,” Jacobs said. He advised the commission to get a real estate agent to put a price on the property. “You would be foolish to waste money before you have more information.”  He urged the commission to look at everything, be visionary and, “be a little more patient.”


    Other speakers favored waiting for a facilitator’s input, get more facts, wait until they find out where the new jail would go, and “make a study to make sure we get our money’s worth,” before spending any money.


    Geiger said they will hire a facilitator with expertise in building jails who will help them explore opportunities, and hold community discussions on where to put the jail and the cost.

    “All of this is dependent on informing the community on the cost and location (of the new jail). If taxpayers don’t approve a millage, this is all gone,” he said.


    Also discussed: Would the community vote for millage for a jail, if commissioners put money into the transit building and then moved it to a new location for more money?

    Would a developer pay enough for the property to cover the cost of a new transit somewhere else? Wouldn’t renovating the transit raise its value?


    Commissioner Heather Wing said Hastings and townships handle their own affairs without consulting the county. “Now they want to tell us how to vote to serve them…the ball has started rolling. I don’t think we should stop the ball.”


    Voigt said the transit’s service would not be diminished by waiting a year, but the price would go up.
    “Can it wait six months?” he was asked.

    “Sure,” Voight said. “But what controls are in place for the future (after the six months?). The time to do it is when you can…we can’t see the future.”


    Proposals to wait until after meetings with the facilitator and a 30 to 60 day delay were dropped as was a March 15, 2019 limit for ground breaking. They agreed the project would likely not get started before then anyway.




    Hastings compost site security improvements underway

    The Hastings Department of Public Services has been working on the gate system that will control access to the compost site on State Road, Public Service Director Lee Hays said Monday.

    The city has been looking for months for a way to control the overuse of the site, to stop non-residents from dropping off materials and items being dropped off that far exceed the size of compostable yard waste.


    Availability during the day and the drop site being somewhat screened from the road added to the problem. The council looked at several options and in July, settled on adding gates and secure access to the site.


    The gate into the compost area will be opened by a code that Hastings residents get from city staff to enter the area and drop off yard waste. The new access gates and openers have been installed and Consumers Energy will install power for lighting and the gates, Hays said.  Total cost for the work, budgeted at $7,200, was $6,416.


    In an update on the former Moose property, Community Development Director Dan King said RFP’s for the site were delivered to a broad selection of recipients including the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan Economic Developers Association, but did not result in any RFP’s by the Aug. 31 deadline.


    The council approved King’s recommendation to issue RFP’s again, this time targeted to local realtors and area commercial real estate and construction companies such as Copperrock, Rockford Construction, CD Barnes, and Pinnacle Construction, and making the price “negotiable” instead of an asking price of $135,000.


    In other business, the council approved:

    *local volunteers with the Michigan Ovarian Cancer Alliance  tying teal ribbons on lamp posts downtown and giving out information to businesses during the National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month of September, as requested by Maggie Isenhoff


    *Ordinance 554 that allows tax exempt churches, synagogues and other places of worship with regular assemblies for religious worship or services along with accessory uses, in the B-1 Central Business District and B-5, Mixed Use District by special use.


    *an airport budget amendment that reduces expenditures by $6,300 to reflect the terms in the revised airport management service agreement. The Airport Commission and Barry County have approved the amendment.


    *the appointment of Tracy Baker to a partial term on the Downtown Development Authority expiring Dec. 31.


    * contracts to Dixon Engineering for $9,312.50 for water tower inspections, to Franklin Holwerda Company for $65,700 to install the volute press at the wastewater treatment plant, and $31,000 to H.J. Umbaugh for a SAW financial analysis.


    *set a workshop for Sept. 24 at 6 pm. to discuss the SAW analysis and upcoming major water and wastewater projects.


    Rep. Julie Calley holds office hours in Middleville, Hastings Sept. 24

    87th District State Rep. Julie Calley, Portland, will hold office hours in two area communities on Sept. 24.

    Calley will present a legislative update and then meet with residents one-on-one if they have individual concerns at the Village of Middleville Hall, 100 East Main from 11 a.m. to noon, and the City of Hastings at Hastings City Hall, 201 East State Street from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.


    "I value feedback from residents, along with the opportunity to address their questions or concerns. Together, we will strive to make government more effective, efficient, and accountable," Calley said.


    No appointment is necessary. Residents unable to attend scheduled office hours may send their questions and ideas to Calley via email at or by calling her at 517-373-0842.


    Charlton Park filled with kids and outdoor activities at 2018 Youth Day

    The Barry County Outdoor Recreation Youth at Charlton Park Saturday lived up to its billing, with kids going from one outdoor experience to another, trying their hands at familiar things and confidently facing new challenges.


    The free event, including a free lunch for kids, offered a day of fun where kids experienced many different activities, displays, demonstrations, door prizes and giveaways.


    Archery, camping, fishing, target shooting, hiking, trapping, sled dogs, a rock wall, fly fishing, an obstacle course and sporting dog demonstrations were some of the activities.


    Click here for the 2018 Youth Day photo gallery


    Wayland wins $200,000 MEDC façade grant

    The City fo Wayland’s DDA has been awarded a $200,000 grant through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Façade Restoration Initiative pilot program to be presented Monday, Sept. 10 at 10 a.m. at 120 South Main Street, Wayland.


    “The City of Wayland is extremely pleased to be selected for this grant,” City Manager Josh Eggleston said. "The City of Wayland and the greater West Michigan region is in the midst of some amazing things from an economic sense. The improvements to our Main Street properties that this grant provides will only help to sustain and enhance the city’s economic vitality, curb appeal, and ultimately its quality of life.”


    Wayland has a waiting list of eight owner-occupied projects needing façade repairs, including some buildings that require historic restoration.  The grant will allow the DDA to increase the number of historic properties that will help the community toward its goal of designation on the National Register of Historic Places as a Historic District.


    “We are honored to have been chosen from the many communities that responded to the Request for Information,” said Wayland Main Street/DDA Executive Director Ingrid Miller.

    “Not only does being awarded this opportunity recognize the positive impact of our program to date, it gives us the boost we need to move forward on many projects. The face of our downtown will be radically changed in a relatively short period of time. We are grateful to have been selected.” 


    The $1.5 million Façade Restoration Initiative expands state support for façade improvement projects in Michigan communities by matching funds of up to 50 percent of façade restoration costs to local downtown development authorities, Main Street organizations, principal shopping districts or local authorities.

    To be eligible, communities must have an existing and a locally administered façade improvement program in place.



    Osceola County juvenile detention facility escapees suspects in gun thefts

    The Kent County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate a Sept. 2 breaking and entering where several suspects broke into and stole multiple hand guns from Repocast,  601 Gordon Industrial Court SW in Byron Township.


    Detectives identified two juvenile suspects who had escaped from a juvenile detention facility in Osceola County.  A search warrant executed on a residence in the 900 block of Kalamazoo Avenue SE resulted in a 16-year-old suspect being taken into custody there.


    Another 16-year-old and a 23-year-old man were taken into custody on firearms related charges with a second search warrant on Grand Rapids southeast side Thursday. The second 15-year-old escapee from the detention center is still at large and is believed to be in the Grand Rapids area.

    A small number of the guns have been recovered.


    Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the sheriff’s office or Silent Observer.

    Barry County Jail to get new kitchen equipment

    The Barry County committee of the whole Tuesday recommended several items for consideration at the regular board meeting next week.

    The Barry County Jail was recommended to get a new Hobart Dishwasher and Vulcan Convection oven for the jail kitchen staff who prepares some 9,000 meals a month.


    In August, commissioners approved the sheriff’s office asking for bids for a new convection oven, gas range, dishwasher and three-sink wash station not to exceed $32,000. Lt. Peter Nevins said extensive plumbing upgrades would have to be done before the sink could be installed and the project was put on hold.


    There are no plans to go ahead with the sink or gas range, however the oven and dishwasher are failing and need to replaced, Nevins said. The two units, including installation, from low bidder HPS Great Lakes Food Service Equipment Specialist in Middleville, totals $23,743.30. The equipment has a one-year warranty; funding will come from the building rehabilitation fund.


    Also, to do with the sheriff’s office, the title of a 1989 truck/utility vehicle or Humvee the sheriff office has will be transferred to the sheriff’s office at the request of the federal government.  Undersheriff Matt Houchlei said it’s paperwork the federal government requires of law enforcement agencies that were given equipment through the Law Enforcement Support Office.


    Houchlei said the government is asking for the transfer so they can take an accurate inventory of what they own. The office uses the vehicle as a personnel carrier when a tactical team is needed to respond to a situation, he said. There is a $15 transfer fee that goes to the State of Michigan.


    Also, a budget amendment recommended by the Hastings City Barry County Airport Commission reduces expenditures in the budget by $6,300 reflecting changes in a revised management service agreement. Because of a Joint Operating Agreement, the City of Hastings must also approve the amendment.


    And, Equalization Director Tim Vandermark asked approval of form 2018 L-4029 that allows the collection of winter taxes. The form must be sent to the State of Michigan by the end of September.




    Allegan County fatal fire under investigation by fire marshal

    Despite efforts of an Allegan County Sheriff’s deputy and a neighbor of a resident in a house fire in the 4800 block of 46th Street in Allegan County, the lone occupant died in the fire.


    Allegan County Central 911 dispatched deputies Thursday at 10:13 a.m. on a call of the house on fire, with further information that there was a resident inside the home who was unable to get out.

    The sheriff’s department arrived on the scene to the home fully involved.  Deputy Rob Flokstra and a neighbor attempted to go into the home to aid the lone occupant but the fire and smoke prevented them from entering the house.  


    The occupant was found deceased inside the home after the fire was extinguished. Police did not immediately release the identity of the victim. The fire is under investigation by the Michigan State Police Fire Marshal’s Division and the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office.


    Overisel and Salem township fire departments and Hamilton, Zeeland, and Holland fire departments assisted at the scene.



    Richard DeVos

    One of Grand Rapids' biggest philanthropists, Richard DeVos, died Thursday at the age of 92.


    A spokesperson said DeVos passed away from complications caused by an infection.  He was surrounded by family as he died peacefully at his home in Ada.


    Rich DeVos along with his partner Jay Van Andel co-founded Amway. 


    The DeVos Family's contributions led to the creation of the DeVos Performance Hall in 1980 and the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in 1993 as part of Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital.  Helen DeVos died in 2017.

    More Matters encourages eating more fruits and vegetables


    Fruits & Veggies—More Matters® is a national public health initiative created to encourage Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables—fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and 100 percent  juice.


    More than 90 percent of Americans eat fewer fruits and vegetables than the daily amount recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which ranges from 2 to 6 ½ cups, according to a Barry Eaton District Health Department news release.


    The health department encourages Barry and Eaton county families to increase the daily amount of fruits and vegetables they eat every day as a great way to get the recommended daily value of essential vitamins, minerals and fiber, reducing the chance of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, some cancers, and becoming overweight.


    An easy rule to follow to be sure of getting enough nutrients is to fill half of the plate with fruits and veggies for each meal. In Barry County, the B. Healthy Coalition supports More Matters® by encouraging eating local, fresh, and whole foods as part of a healthy lifestyle and is actively working to ensure healthy choices for all its residents.


    Barry County families can visit for resources and recipes that add more fruits and vegetables to family meals.  A local resource to make sure families in both counties are getting enough nutrients is the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. Qualified individuals have access to Registered Dietitians, nutrition education and meal planning, supplemental foods, breastfeeding support, and referrals to health care.


    During the initial visit, staff will explain how the program works. Those pregnant, breastfeeding, or with an infant or child under five may qualify. To see 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.


    For more nutrition tips and tricks, visit the More Matters interactive website at a helpful, practical, easy to use resource to help families add fruits and vegetables to their plates. The website offers Get Smart! tips, recipes, serving ideas, fruit and vegetable storage suggestions and shopping advice.







    UPDATE: Son-in-law charged with murder of inlaws

    FURTHER UPDATE: On Friday, Sept. 7,  the Kent County Prosecutor's Office issued two counts of open murder and two counts of felony murder against Nathan Board, 33, in the deaths of his in-laws, Patty and Theodore Syrek. Board was to be arraigned in 63rd District Count Friday afternoon.


    UPDATE:On the evening of Sept. 5, the Kent County Sheriff’s Department arrested Nathan Board, 33, of Caledonia Township in connection with the murders of Patty and Theodore Syrek. Board is a son-in-law of the couple. Board is held at the Kent County Correctional Facility without bond awaiting review by the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office.


    UPDATE: The Kent County Sheriff’s Office has identified the couple found dead in their Bowne

    Township home Sept. 4 as Patty Syrek, 62, and Theodore Syrek, 66, of Caledonia.

    Autopsies were conducted Wednesday that gave the manner of death of both as cranial cerebrial trauma-assaulted by other individual(s). The manner of death was homicide.


    The investigation is ongoing and active; no arrests have been made at this time.

    Community members are asked to remain vigilant and to call 911 in case of an emergency or to report suspicious activity.

    Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to call 616-632-6125 or Silent Observer anonymously at 616-774-2345.



    The Kent County Sheriff’s Office is reporting finding a married couple deceased in their Bowne Township home Tuesday morning around 11 a.m.  


    Police were called to the home in the 9000 block of Jordan River Drive, S.E., for a wellness check at the request of a family member. The death of the couple, said to be in their 60’s, is being investigated as suspicious and detectives remain on the scene in the very early stages of the investigation.  

    Barry CountyTransit improvements to be decided next Tuesday

    The Barry County Commission last week discussed a request from the Barry County Transit for a $ 1 to $1.3 million improvement to the facility first brought to them in May, but delayed to wait for an appraisal of the value of the jail and transit property, the first step in planning for a new jail.


    John A. Meyers appraised the property at 1212 West State Street and said the market value of the Barry County Transit on its 1.9 acres, is $700,000 and the nine acres the Barry County Jail sits on is valued at $1,150,000 assuming the jail is gone and the land vacant.

    Meyers’ recommendation was that the highest and best use for the site was to keep the transit and bring commercial development to the rest of the property.


    The transit decision was again delayed last week when Commissioner Ben Geiger asked the panel to consider hiring a master planner to determine if there were better options for the property after some questions were raised by Hastings officials at a meeting updating them on the process.

    Meyers attended Tuesday’s meeting and repeated his recommendation after a brief review of his assessment.


    After discussion, Geiger summed up. “The most profitable use is with the transit building…it will be even more valuable with the additions… if there is a better use down the road and someone wants to buy the whole parcel, this board would be open to it.”

    The transit improvements are on next week’s regular board meeting agenda for a decision.


    Hastings official's comments:

    David Hatfield, chair of the city planning commission, with a background in commercial banking, said it would be difficult to find comparables for the property which brings an “air of uncertainty” in the figures. The appraisal would be extraordinarily difficult, and Meyers did an excellent job, he said. The city wants to participate in discussions and he urged commissioners to, “take the time needed to fully explore all the opportunities.”


    Mayor David Tossava said he supported the city’s land use plans, and wanted commissioners to know “the city is not throwing up roadblocks…we will work with you however we can.”


    The State Street corridor has undergone big changes in the last 55 to 60 years, said Dan King, director of the city’s Community Development Department. “We need to look ahead 55 or 60 years…we don’t know what will happen, but we need to step back, take some time when making these decisions.”  He also noted the good working partnership between the city and county.


    Commissioner’s comments:

    Jon Smelker said if they razed everything in the parcel, they still wouldn’t make enough money to replace the transit. Later, he thanked the Hastings officials for taking an interest and attending the meeting.


    Howard “Hoot” Gibson: “I echo what Jon said.”


    David Jackson said it would be very expensive to move the transit and he would like to see a cost-effective solution to move the building.


    Vivian Conner wondered about the amount of time spent looking for alternate sites. “I can’t see tearing it down and building another.”


    Dan Parker appreciated the city’s view; he served on Middleville planning and zoning for many years. “If it’s important to the city, they can make an offer.  Any other option is not practical…the transit is forward looking; they have a plan…the transit is important to the people of Barry County and will be in the future…I think we should go ahead…” If Meijer came in and wanted it all for commercial use, they would get it, he added.


    Geiger: “We’re considering an investment in the transit property…”you’re saying the most appropriate use is having this building…”

    “Purely economic, yes… that’s all I can say,” Meyers said.


    Hastings Township Supervisor Jim Brown advised the commission to…“look at it from 10,000 feet up. Money is not always the value of what you get.”


    Alto man seriously injured in Morse Lake crash

    A traffic crash Sunday at Morse Lake Avenue and 52nd Street in Lowell Township injured an area man, according to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office.


    The preliminary investigation revealed that a 1987 Suzuki Samurai driven by Tom Burger, 78, from Alto, failed to yield the right of way at the intersection to a 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer driven by Anna Christine Hutchinson, 43, from Caledonia.


    Burger was transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital by Rockford Ambulance with serious injuries. Hutchinson was not injured. The 12:40 p.m. crash remains under investigation.

    Severe Weather

    Strong winds and reports of funnel clouds in southern Barry County and Kalamazoo County Saturday knocked down trees and power lines putting a number of consumers Energy customers out of electric service.  The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids confirmed Sunday that an EF-0 Tornado with 75 mile an hour winds swept through Little Long Lake in Southern Barry County. The Tornado traveled  point 4 miles and was a hundred yards wide.

    There were no reported major injuries.  And most of Consumers Energy Customers are back in service.

    First human case of West Nile virus in Ottawa County

    Last week, the Allegan County Health Department identified a case of probable non-neuroinvasive West Nile virus in an Allegan County resident.


    This week, the Ottawa County Department of Public Health has confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) for 2018 in Ottawa County.

    Health officials urge residents to protect themselves against mosquito bites to reduce their risk for the virus.


    West Nile is most commonly spread to people by mosquito bites. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds and spread the virus to people and other animals by biting them.

     In North America, cases of WNV occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through fall.


    There are no human vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV. Fortunately, most infected people do not have symptoms of illness. About one-in-five infected people will have mild illness which may include fever, headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea or rash.


    About one in 150 infected people will become severely ill and may experience symptoms such as a stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness, convulsions or paralysis. People 60 and older and those with other health conditions are more likely to have severe complications such as meningitis and encephalitis. 

    The best way to reduce your risk of West Nile virus is to prevent mosquito bites.


    Prevent mosquito bites

    • Use insect repellent that contains DEET. 
    • Wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
    • Dress children in clothing that covers arms and legs.
    • Cover crib, stroller and baby carrier with mosquito netting.

    Control mosquitoes inside and outside your home

    • Use screens on windows and doors. Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
    • Use air conditioning when available.
    • Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas. 
    • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air-conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.
    • 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. Check inside and outside your home. Mosquitoes lay eggs near water.

    Be aware of sick-acting or dead birds, especially crows and blue jays, as it may indicate WNV in a community. Residents can report sick-acting or dead wildlife to the DNR by submitting an online report here. 


    Car Crashes into House

    Barry County Sheriff Deputies arrested an individual shortly after midnight Saturday morning after he led them on a high speed chase into Freeport and back into Hastings where he crashed his vehicle into his former girl friends house on East Walnut Street. Hastings Police assisting deputies went to the house  and got everyone out and to safety before the individual crashed his vehicle into the front porch and front door.  The driver of the vehicle was taken to the Hospital  for treatment of injuries and then taken to jail.


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