Local News Archives for 2018-12

Wayland/Yankee Springs Township Fire Department responds to two calls hours apart

Wayland/Yankee Springs Township Fire Department was busy Sunday afternoon with two calls; a hiker who fell on a trail in the township and a traffic crash just down the road from the fire station.


A woman from the Hemlock area hiking in the Graves Hill-North Country Trail area with her husband and child Sunday fell and injured her leg, according to the department’s Deputy Fire Chief Dan Miller.


Barry Central Dispatch notified the firefighters about 1 p.m., and using GPS, sent the woman’s approximate location to firefighters who were able to pinpoint the family and bring the woman out to a waiting ambulance.


“We immediately called Hopkins Fire Department for assistance because they have a Utility Terrain Vehicle with tracks which is more stable than our vehicle which has narrower wheels,” Miller said.


Hopkins firefighters brought the woman out to a staging area set up at the Graves Hill trail parking area off Gun Lake Road. The time from the call to central dispatch and when the woman was located and in the ambulance was between 20 and 25 minutes, Miller said.


Wayland Area Emergency Medical Services personnel transported her to a Grand Rapids hospital with a broken leg in the knee area, Miller said. The last word they had on the woman was from an EMT with the ambulance service who texted them to say “the doctors fixed her up very quickly” and thanking the emergency services crews for “their fine work.”


Miller thanked all of the units that responded to the call for help: Wayland Area EMS personnel, Michigan DNR Parks Division and Conservation officers, Hopkins Area and Wayland/Yankee Springs Township firefighters and Barry and Allegan County Central Dispatch centers.


While still finishing the report on the woman, the department was called to assist Barry County Sheriff’s deputies at a traffic crash in front of the Sand Bar Restaurant at 3:21 p.m. that closed M-179 for about two hours.


A vehicle heading east turned into the restaurant in front on an oncoming car, causing a collision. Several people, some from both vehicles, were treated by Wayland EMS personnel at the scene; none were transported, Miller said.

Left: This vehicle was involved in a crash in front of the Sand Bar Restaurant Sunday afternoon.












Photo courtesy of Dan Miller


Ionia County Jail escapee captured in 34 minutes

Gabriel Neff, 28, escaped the Ionia County Jail on Dec. 28 at 2:11 p.m., according to a sheriff’s news release.


Neff fled south from the jail toward the river trail and eventually into the Grand River while being pursued by several correctional officers. Ionia County Sheriff’s deputies, Ionia Public Safety officers and Michigan State Police troopers flooded the area and set up a perimeter around Neff. 


Neff was pursued on foot by officers, eventually gave himself up and was taken into custody without further issues at 2:45 p.m.  He was transported to Ionia Sparrow Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries relating to his exposure while in the river, officials said.


Neff was being held at the Ionia County Jail on charges of carjacking, robbery, and aggravated assault for an incident in May of 2018.  The sheriff’s office will be seeking additional charges of escape and resisting and obstructing an officer.


The nature of Neff’s escape is currently under investigation.  Until the investigation is completed, no further details will be released.  


Assisting with the capture of the fugitive was Ionia Public Safety, Michigan State Police, Department of Natural Resources and Ionia County Central Dispatch. 



Hastings municipal water supply isolated from Pennock Hospital's (updated)

The local health department issued a clarification of last weeek's news release on Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital's water supply.  “The Barry-Eaton District Health Department has no reason to believe this situation is associated with the City of Hastings’ municipal water supply," the release said.


The City of Hastings supplies water to the facility through a system that allows water to go only one way; into the hospital, and doesn't impact the city's drinking water, city officials said.
“We test our water at several locations around the city every day, and it has always come up clear,” Mayor Dave Tossava said.  The testing has been standard practice for years, he said. “We also send detailed reports to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.”


Further, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said..." the city’s drinking water system is isolated from the water system at the hospital facility by devices that allow the water to travel only one-way - into the facility. This protects the City’s drinking water supply from any contaminants that could possibly originate at the hospital.  We will continue to work closely with Spectrum Health – Pennock and the Barry-Eaton District Health Department as they investigate this matter."


Recently, Legionella bacteria was found in Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital’s water distribution system in its plumbing system. Since September, two people were diagnosed with Legionaire's disease while in the hospital; one was treated and released, the other, a 92-year-old, was discharged to a rehab facility where he later died. Hospital officials said it was not possible to determine if he died from the disease.


Spectrum Health Pennock has established a hotline for patients or visitors concerned about Legionella. Call (844) 689-2875 or (616)391-9986.


Kent County Sheriff deputies arrest three suspects in armed robbery

The Kent County Sheriff's Department reports deputies responded to an armed robbery complaint on Alpenhorn Drive in Alpine Township on Dec. 26.

The victim said he was walking to his apartment when he was approached by two black men, one armed with a handgun. They threatened him with the handgun, demanded he turn over his wallet, credit cards and cell phone. They then fled the scene.


On Dec. 27, detectives identified two men and one woman suspect in the case. The subjects were later located by sheriff’s detectives and taken into custody during a traffic stop in Kentwood. Some of the victim’s property as well as a loaded handgun were found in the car during the stop.  


All three were lodged at the Kent County Jail on charges of armed robbery. The case will be sent to the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office for review.

Spectrum Health Pennock has quick response to possible water contamination

“The safety and wellbeing of patients, visitors and staff is our top priority at Spectrum Health,” Spectrum Health Pennock President Angie Ditmar said Friday. “When we learned of possible water contamination, testing was conducted and the presence of Legionella bacteria was confirmed.


At this time, there has not been a confirmed case of a patient contracting Legionnaires’ disease in the hospital,” she said.


Generally, exposure to Legionnaires’ disease occurs when people breathe in small droplets of water that contain the bacteria. “Quick action is being taken to limit exposure and eliminate the contamination. We will install water filters in patient rooms.  Notices have been posted throughout the hospital, and patients and staff are being informed,” she said.


Ditmar said she’s proud of the way the Spectrum Health Pennock team responded to the situation. “We found out about the possible contamination on Dec. 26 and everybody came together for a rapid turnaround.”  Bottled water was delivered within hours, water outlets are being sealed off and filters installed. Those filters are guaranteed for 60 days, which will be a bridge to a new filtration system.


“We were really fortunate to find a vendor in Howell who responded during the Christmas week and is now installing a new filtration system,” she said.


Spectrum Health Pennock is working closely with the Barry-Eaton District Health Department and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and implementing guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


A hotline is available at 844.689.2875 or 616.391.9986. Updates can be found at


Free radon test kits available at several area locations

Radon can't be seen, smelled, or tasted, but high levels of radon gas may be in residents’ homes, increasing their risk of lung cancer. Fortunately, testing is easy and high radon levels can be lowered, according to a Barry Eaton District Department media release.


A naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of radium found in almost any kind of soil and rock, radon moves up through the soil and enterers buildings through cracks and openings in the foundation, floor, or other openings caused by plumbing, wiring, or ductwork.


Outdoors, radon is diluted by the atmosphere to safe levels; however, it can concentrate in indoor air and reach unhealthy levels. The only way to know if a home has high radon levels is to test it.


Easy, do-it-yourself radon test kits are available free to residents of Barry and Eaton counties during the Radon Action Month of January. Kits are available on a first-come, first-served basis with a limit of one kit per address and supplies are limited. Residents can pick up a kit at one of the locations below.

After using the kit, it is sent to the lab for testing, and homeowners receive a report.


Hastings: Health Department, 330 West Woodlawn Avenue--(269) 945-9516, select 3, then 5.

Charlotte: Health Department, 1033 Healthcare Drive--(517) 541-2615.

Lansing: Delta Township Hall, Assessing Department, 7710 West Saginaw Highway--(517) 323-8520.

 Bellevue: Riverside Café, 420 East Capital Avenue--(269) 763-9481.

Delton: Delton District Library, 330 North Grove Street--(269) 623-8040.//


Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, and is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. It is very important for residents to know their home’s radon level and to take action to lower it if it’s too high.


According to a Michigan survey, high levels of radon are expected in one out of eight Michigan homes. In some counties, as many as 45 percent of the homes have had radon levels above the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended action level is 4 pCi/L.  


For more on radon, visit or call or visit the BEDHD in Hastings or Charlotte.


Hastings city councilman honored for service to the city

Retiring Hastings City Council member Bill Cusack was recognized and honored for his dedication to the City of Hastings Wednesday at his last meeting on the council.




Cusack was first sworn in on the council in 1975 and again in 1979, 1983 and 1987. Upon the death of David Jasperse in 2016, he agreed to serve the remainder of his friend’s term on the council, Mayor David Tossava said.

With Jasperse’s term finished this year, Cusack did not run for re-election.

During his tenure, Cusack served on numerous committees including the planning commission, where he is still a member.


“Bill has been a vital contributing part of growing and improving our community over the years through his dedicated service to the city and its citizens,” Tossava said. “He has been, and continues to be, an integral and valued member of our community though his support and encourgment of the many programs and activities throughout the community.”


Whether they knew him from his antenna installing business, as head of maintenance at Pennock Hospital or during his time on the council, each council member thanked Cusack for his dedication and work for the city and for being a pleasure to work with.


Councilman Al Jarvis said Bill has always been a gentleman. Others agreed, saying whenever they met, he always greeted them with a smile.  “I will be forever grateful for the support you have shown the police department and the city. Thank you and congratulations,” Police Chief Jeff Pratt said.


“I love the city for the kindness given to us,” Cusack said, urging citizens to be kind to each other.

“It’s extremely important to continue to be kind to each other.” He said it was his honor to serve David Jasperse’s unexpired term. “He and I were very close. I often sought advice from Dave, I’m extremely grateful for that...Thank you, and if there is anything I can do for you, I will be there.”


Photos: (upper left) Councilman Bill Cusack accepts a City of Hastings Proclamation officially recognizing his long service to the city from Mayor David Tossava.

(left) Retiring Councilman Bill Cusack thanks the council for a proclamation telling of his dedication to the city.


Legionella found in Spectrum Health Pennock water supply; hospital taking steps to protect patients

The bacteria Legionella, which causes Legionnaire’s Disease, has been identified in the water supply at Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital.


In November, the Barry Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) became aware of a second case of Legionnaire’s disease identified in patients at Spectrum Health Pennock, according to a health department news release.

While it is unknown if the two recent cases at the hospital are directly connected to the Legionella found in the water supply, the hospital is taking steps to protect patients from Legionella, the release said.


Primarily, steps include providing alternative water sources, using water filtration as appropriate, and testing additional patients for Legionnaire’s disease. Spectrum Health Pennock sampled the water supply at various locations around the hospital on Dec.18; positive results for Legionella were reported to the health department on Dec. 26.


A spokesperson for the hospital was not available for comment.


Legionnaire’s disease is caused by bacteria called Legionella. The disease is a kind of pneumonia, or lung infection. People can become infected with the disease when they breathe in water droplets containing the bacteria. It cannot be spread from person to person. Symptoms of the disease are cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, headache, and fever.


Legionnaire’s disease can be serious but is treatable with antibiotics. Most afflicted people will need to go to the hospital but will make a full recovery. However, about one in 10 people with Legionnaire’s die from the infection. Those experiencing these symptoms should contact your healthcare provider promptly.


Legionella is commonly found in large, manmade water systems, including those found in healthcare facilities such as hospitals. The health department is partnering with Spectrum Health Pennock to monitor the water supply and protect patients, and will continue to monitor testing results of the hospital’s water system to assure that the situation is resolved once long-term remediation methods have been implemented. More information can be found on the CDC’s website at

Jingle and Mingle royalty visits Hastings City Council

The City of Hastings Wednesday recognized the Prince and Princess of the 2018 Jingle and Mingle Christmas celebration.with an official proclamation,


Honoring the new royalty, Mayor David Tossava noted the contestants wrote essays about what Christmas meant to them.

Princess Hope Carley, 10, in the 5th grade at Central Elementary, wrote about family, traditions and Christmas celebrations in the Netherlands, which she read at the council meeting.

Prince Landyn Neal, 7, in the 1st grade at Star Elementary, wrote about family and the giving and receiving of presents. He asked Tossava to read his.


Hope’s mom and dad are Erin and Brandon Carley; Landyn’s folks are Beth and Anthony Neal. The contest was sponsored by the Hastings Public Library and the Jingle and Mingle Committee.


Photos: (upper left) Jingle and Mingle Princess Hope Carley and Prince Landyn Neal display their proclamations as they pose for a photo with Mayor Dave Tossava


(right ) Princess Hope Carley reads her essay on what Christmas means to her as Mayor Dave Tossava listens.



In other city business, the council approved the contracts for the sale of city property at State Street and Star School Road to Ryan Gillons of Advantage Plumbing, and Clint Neil of CoDee Stamping.


The contracts call for Gillions to pay $20,500 for 4.1 acres with closing on March 12 and for Neil to pay $36,450 for parcels B and C, with a March 19 closing. The property is already zoned industrial, its intended use.


City Manager Jeff Mansfield told the council that Daniel Kirwin, a Michigan Advanced Assessing Officer  will do the assessing for Hastings for the months of January, February and through the  March Board of Review for a fee of $3,000 per month.


Kirwin, who has been filling in since the absence of Jackie Timmerman is “well respected in the assessing community," Mansfield said, adding that Jackie recommended him.

An independent contractor, Kirwin’s contract can be extended for a month or more by mutual consent. “We plan to revisit staffing needs in the assessing department during January and February to determine how we might best proceed on a longer term basis,” Mansfield wrote in a memo to the council.


No action was taken Wednesday; the contract will be reviewed for typos and brought back for approval at the January 14 meeting.


Also, the Hastings Police Department road patrol officers will get new bullet proof vests after approval by the council. Chief Jeff Pratt said a grant will cover one half of the $9,251 cost, with the price set by MiDeal, a state purchasing plan.



Hastings weather for 2018



In terms of weather 2018 was a very interesting year. The Hastings National Wearther Service Climatological Station recorded 17 days when the temperature reached 90 degrees or above.

Rainfall measured 36 inches and snowfall is 48 inches  to date for the year.

Heavy flooding occured earlier in the year with heavy rains and melting snow caused rivers, streams and creeks spill out of their banks.

Man found deceased on shoulder of U.S. 131 identified

UPDATE: Allegan County Sheriff’s Office reports the deceased pedestrian from the Dec. 21 crash has been identified as Roky Ines Vasquez-Vasquez, a 24-year -old Grand Rapids area man. The vehicle driver’s name will not be released pending a review by the prosecutor’s office when the investigation is complete, officials said. 

The case remains under investigation,



At about 8:50 a.m. Friday, Allegan County deputies responded to a call of an individual lying on the shoulder of U.S. 131 just north of the Wayland exit and found a man with obvious signs of trauma. EMS personnel determined he was dead and the injuries were consistent with being struck by a vehicle. Initial crash reconstruction investigation agreed with the observation. 


The investigation determined a vehicle that had been reported driving erratically on northbound U.S. 131 about 2:15 a.m. and had crashed in the same area. The driver had fled and couldn’t be located. Information found on the deceased man confirmed he was likely the driver of the vehicle involved in the crash.

The man was wearing dark clothing with no reflective surfaces and would have been extremely difficult to see in the full darkness.


Later, around 5:30 a.m., a car/deer crash was reported in the immediate area. Officers arrived and could not locate a deer, but officials said the vehicle had damage consistent with hitting a deer and not another car or hard object. In the darkness nothing else was located in the immediate area, which is not uncommon.


The crash is still under investigation by the sheriff’s office; the driver of the vehicle in the car/deer crash is cooperating with investigators. Names of individuals will not be released pending family notifications. Updates will be forthcoming, but may be delayed by the Christmas holiday.


The sheriff’s office was assisted by the Michigan State Police and the Wayland police department, EMS and fire department.  






Christmas lighting contest lights up the season in Freeport

The winners of the Christmas decorating contest in Freeport is the Chop Shop and can be seen at 124 Division in the village. Co-owners of the salon, Lisa Pena and Mindy Beilfuss, spent most of a day putting up the colorful Christmas decorations.


Photo courtesy of Lisa Pena


Hastings woman claims WBCH "One Grand Christmas" prize

Emily Mulder of Hastings, with niece Graycee McCarty in tow, stopped at the WBCH Radio Station Friday afternoon and claimed the $1,000 Grand Prize in the station’s "One Grand Christmas"  contest.


Shoppers visiting 32 different area businesses from Nov. 15 to Dec. 21 filled out an entry blank for a chance for a prize given away every week day starting on Thanksgiving, leading up to the $1,000 check just in time for last-minute Christmas shopping. Thousands of entries were submitted.


Emily, who was “super excited” to learn she had won the top prize, filled out her entry form at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute while at a craft show there. She hasn’t figured out what exactly she will do with her windfall.


Photo: (from left) Barry Broadcasting President Steve Radant, $1,000 winner Emily Mulder, Graycee McCarty and WBCH Executive Administrator Sue Radant, at the "One Grand Christmas" check presentation to Mulder.

Hastings schools to ask approval of 0.7 mill bond in May 2019.

At its December 17 meeting The Hastings Area School System Board of Education approved a bond proposal of 0.7 mills for the May election, which would be primarily used to replace and repair the roofs of all six school buildings, according to Superintendent Carrie Duits. The 0.7 mills, for 11 years, eight months, would result in $9.9 million.


They would also address windows and doors, carpeting, lockers bathrooms, locker rooms and the high school cafeteria, she said.  “The mills are now decreasing each year and with this new bond proposal, the bond millage will still decrease from 8.15 mills in 2017 to 7.6 mills in 2019, a benefit for our taxpayers, Duits said.


A request for 0.85 mills for 15 years for $11.1 million in the 2018 August primary election failed 2,562 to 2,343. Duits said after the failure, “we paid attention to what the people said, sharpened our pencils, and took buses, technology, tennis courts, track, bleachers and press box out of this proposal.”


Superintendent's Platform

WBCH offers this space to area superintendents to update the community on activities in their school districts. This posting is from Superintendent Carrie Duits of the Hastings Area School System.


“During this holiday season, the Hastings Area School System is blessed with thoughtful and giving students, staff and community members. Donations of food, clothing, time and financial contributions, demonstrate Saxon pride throughout our community.


At our Board of Education meetings, I get the honor of sharing the generosity of the community either through my Superintendent’s report or during the action items. I always stress that we accept gifts from our community with “great appreciation.”


"At the December 17, 2018 Board meeting, I extended my sincere gratitude to the GFWC Women’s Club, who donated over 125 sets of mittens, gloves and hats, commemorating their 125th year. I also thanked Dr. Mansky, who spearheaded a boot drive once again this year. 


"The dedicated Athletic Boosters donated $2,150.00 to winter sports. Our students will stay warm and active this winter thanks to this generosity!


"At the meeting, I also commended Hastings Middle School and Central Elementary students and staff for being flexible, patient and positive when a leak recently occurred at Central, requiring an evacuation to Hastings Middle School. We are very proud to have such accommodating staff and students!


"Many thanks were also extended to those who participated in our newly adopted strategic plan—highlighted by a new vision, mission and goals. We had community members participate in discussion groups, surveys and our fall planning retreat.


"Our new mission is, “Achieving Excellence Today, for Tomorrow.” We have a new vision as well, “Hastings Area School System is a world-class learning community that supports every student, every day.”


"In other Board action, we approved the purchase of lockers for one hallway at HHS using fundraiser funds. We are excited and grateful for the effort that went into raising funds to improve our facilities.


"We also approved an application for a spring bond proposal of 0.7 mills. This new proposal will primarily be used to replace and repair the roofs at all six school buildings. We have other needs such as doors and windows that will keep our buildings more safe and weather tight.


"We are grateful for the work that has been accomplished since the 4.0 mill bond in 2015. The mills are now decreasing each year and with this new bond proposal, the bond millage will still decrease from 8.15 mills in 2017 to 7.6 mills in 2019, a benefit for our taxpayers and a benefit of warm, dry buildings for our students.

"The board also passed action items on its first budget amendment with good news about our stable enrollment. In anticipation of the opening of our Performing Arts Center, we revised the fee structure for school facilities.


"What a great day to be a Saxon with all that is happening in our community to support our students! We wish our students, staff, their families and the Hastings community the happiest of holiday seasons and all the best in 2019!”


Keep safe this holiday season

The winter holiday season is traditionally a festive time of year with lots of celebrations, family gatherings and visits from houseguests. However, incidents of home fires and electrical accidents also typically increase during the winter holiday season.


Statistics show that 30 percent of all home fires and 38 percent of home fire deaths occur during the months of December, January, and February.


According to the United States Fire Administration, fires caused by cooking, heating, and open flame all increase during the winter holiday period and tend to be more severe than the average fire during the year.


Holiday decoration and Christmas tree fires are considerably more damaging, resulting in twice the injuries and five times the fatalities per fire as the average winter holiday home fire. Each year, around 260 fires begin with Christmas trees, resulting in 12 deaths, 24 injuries and $16.4 million in property damage. Another 150 home fires were caused by decorative and holiday lights, with candles starting 45 percent of home decoration fires.


About 5,800 individuals are injured from falls involving holiday decorations with more than half caused by falls from ladders or roofs while decorating outdoors. Also, 4,000 people a year suffer from injuries from extension cords, half involving fractures, lacerations, contusions, or sprains from tripping over cords.


For holiday safety tips, go to the National Safety Council at or Electrical Safety Foundation International at


Here are some seasonal safety tips from the National Safety Council and Consumer Product Safety Commission:


  • When buying a tree, check for freshness, green color with needles hard to pull from branches and needles that do not break when bent. The tree should not lose many needles when tapped on the ground. Water the tree regularly.
  • Look for the “Fire Resistant” label on any artificial tree.
  • Decorate the tree with your kids and pets in mind; move breakable ornaments toward the top.
  • Select lights tested for safety by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
  • Always use the proper step ladder.
  • Keep poisonous plants out of reach of children and pets; the national Poison Control Center is at (800) 222-1222.
  • December is the peak time of year for candle fires. Put candles are on stable surfaces, never leave them unattended, do not burn near flammable materials and keep out of reach of children.
  • Clean the chimney and fireplace at least once a year and don't burn Christmas debris in the fireplace.


Spectrum Health Pennock midwife wins Maternity Care Hero Award

Hastings midwife R. Renee Gaiski, CNM, was recently recognized as a Maternity Care Hero by the Economic Alliance for Michigan in conjunction with its new Maternity Care Project.



Gaiski has demonstrated dedication to maternity care and patient safety, innovation in her work, leadership qualities and overall going above and beyond the call of duty.


She has delivered just over 70 percent of the babies born at Pennock Family Birthing Center since 2017 and is one of just three individuals in Michigan to win the award among numerous nominees. 


Elizabeth VanSickle, Kyndra Leonard, Christine Scott, Cindy Piercefield and Kailey VanEngen, all registered nurses, nominated Gaiski for the respected award.  

“We nominated Renee for this award for a multitude of reasons. She is dedicated to the community, her patients and the practice of midwifery, provides evidenced-based, up to date information to the staff for continued education and sees her own patients throughout labor, which is a unique benefit of delivering at a smaller hospital,” Van Sickle said.


“I’ve been working with Renee since she began her career at Pennock as a nursing assistant. It’s wonderful to see her continue to advance her education in the area of women’s health and especially midwifery.”



“We are so proud of Renee and the rest of our Family Birthing Center providers for the excellent care they deliver to our patients,” said Julie Smalley, manager of the Spectrum Health Pennock Family Birthing Center.  


“We strive to provide the highest quality care for our mothers and newborns. The level of care Renee provides to her patients is exceptional. We are very proud to have her on the Pennock team.”//


Gaiski’s award comes on the heels of Spectrum Health Pennock hospital’s Family Birthing Center award from EAM, as it was recognized for excellence in maternity care and delivery outcomes. Spectrum Health Pennock was one of only 11 hospitals in Michigan to receive the award.


The Maternity Care Project provides details for each birthing center in Michigan, providing the mom-to-be invaluable information in making her choice for hospital maternity care.

To compare birthing centers go to


Photo: Renee Gaiski, surrounded by friends and nominators (from left) Kyndra Leonard, Elizabeth VanSickle,  Gaiski, Christine Scott, Cindy Piercefield, Kailey VanEngen




New ice rescue suits arrive at Wayland/Yankee Springs Fire Department

The Wayland/Yankee Springs Fire Department has two new tools to help area residents in the case of trouble during the winter in or on the many lakes in the area.


At its Dec.13 board meeting, the Yankee Springs Township board approved the purchase of two Imperial Ice Rescue suits from 5 Alarm of Wisconsin for $1,050 for the department.


The new suits bring the total of ice rescue suits to six for the department staff of 20, Deputy Chief Dan Miller said.


Designed with input from public safety agencies, the bright yellow suits are more flexible, has easily repaired shell fabric with reinforced wear areas for use in extremely cold environments. A new feature is a button on the suit firefighters can push to expel air from the suit to reduce buoyancy and make it easier to descend deeper into the water.

The suits can be worn by those from 110 to 330 pounds and anyone from 4 feet 11 to 6 feet 6 inches.


Other area fire departments with the new suits include Wayland, Martin, Orangeville, Hopkins, Hastings and Thornapple Township Emergency Services.


“This is a great addition to our fleet to be able to rescue those in trouble, should there be more than one victim in the water,” Miller said. The department appreciates the township‘s support.  “They’ve been good to us. They approved it; we ordered it and got them just in time for ice fishing.”


Miller advises those who fish through the ice and others to avoid going on the ice yet.

“Right now, all of the ice is unsafe.”//


The Michigan Department of Natural Resources does not recommend using a chart as a measure of safety for being on the ice. While a couple of inches of new, clear ice may be strong enough to support a person, a foot of old, air-bubbled ice may not.


Some advice from the DNR: Always presume that ice is unsafe.  Do not go onto the ice before testing the thickness and quality with a spud, needle bar or auger. Ice that is six or seven inches thick in one spot can be only two inches thick close by.


On big lakes, ice cover in some spots may be thick enough to safely hold a car while other areas of ice are little more than an inch thick. Be aware that conditions can change within just a few feet because of currents under the ice.


(upper left) Probationary firefighter/EMT Alex Williams models the newest equipment at the Wayland/Yankee Springs Fire Department.


( left) The new ice rescue suits are easy to quickly fold up and stow away, as probationary firefighter/EMT Alex Williams demonstrates.


Duncan Lake home destroyed by early morning blaze


A single family residence at Duncan Lake near Caledonia was destroyed by fire early Wednesday morning.Thornapple Township Emergency Services responded at 4:25 a.m. TTES Chief Randy Eaton said.

“It was fully involved when we got there. Someone from across Duncan Lake called it in.”


The home was undergoing a complete remodel and was unoccupied. A 45-foot chimney still standing has to be taken down before firefighters can safely enter the area and dig around to determine the cause of the fire, Eaton said. No cost estimate is available yet.


Thornapple Township firefighters cleared at about 10:30 a.m.

“We’ll be back to get hot spots; we’ll take care of things as they come up. It’s unfortunate. The remodel was almost complete and they planned to move in within 30 to 45 days,” Eaton said.


Tankers had to be filled with water at the nearest fire hydrant at Holy Family Church in Caledonia, he said. Fire departments from Gaines Township, Wayland/Yankee Springs, Freeport, Caledonia, Leighton Township and Wayland assisted TTES, mainly with the water shuttle.


Barry Commissioners affirm commissioner's right to submit agenda items without delay

The Barry County Board of Commissioners Tuesday held a committee of the whole meeting in the morning and a regular board meeting in the afternoon to accommodate the Christmas holiday. Two changes in board rules were discussed at both meetings.


Rules making the chair’s position a two year seat instead of one in 2015 and giving the chair the power to delay a commissioner's agenda request in 2018 were both rescinded by unanimous vote.


Commissioner Jon Smelker, who put the proposals on the agenda, maintained that commissioners have the right to submit agenda items for upcoming meetings. If the chair feels an item from a commissioner should be delayed and the commissioner agrees, that’s fine, he said.

“But, if it’s something I feel I want on the agenda, I want the authority to do that. And I think as a commissioner from my district, I should have it.”


When the change was made earlier this year, Commissioner Vivian Conner argued that the commissioners are equals and all have the right to put items on an agenda without delay.


“I agree any commissioner who wants to put an item on the agenda should be able to,” Commissioner/Chair Ben Geiger said. “The challenge is how to do that without three hour meetings.”

He offered a new agenda category; a supplemental agenda with postponed items, unscheduled items and commissioner priority items. Any of those could be taken out if the meeting had a light agenda, or left in the supplemental agenda if the meeting was running long.


“I like to keep it simple,” Conner said. “Our agenda has been working and I don’t see why we need to do the supplemental agenda. I also agree as commissioners we know what’s going on in our districts and sometimes things come at a time when they have to be discussed and dealt with promptly.”


 “I have to agree that up to 2015, we never had any problems,” Commissioner Howard “Hoot” Gibson said. “So what’s the matter with going back to the way it was? We got along that way for years.”


On the chair’s term length, Commissioner David Jackson said  two years for the chair would provide consistency in leadership. “I like predictability in leadership and it keeps politics out of it.”

“One year is fine,” Commissioner Dan Parker said. “If we don’t appreciate the leadership, we can change it at that time. If things are going well, we can appoint them again.”


After the vote, Geiger, who voted against recommending the changes at the committee of the whole meeting in the morning, explained his “yes” vote in the afternoon.

“The more we discussed it, the more it looked like a solution in search of a problem.”


More than 1,000 feral cats in Barry County spayed or neutered

In two meetings on Tuesday, Barry County Commissioners recommended agenda items at the committee of the whole meeting in the morning, than acted on them in the afternoon meeting of the full board.

The first action taken in the afternoon meeting was to approve money to continue a Barry County Animal Shelter program. The shelter has taken part in a Trap, Neuter and Release program that reduces the feral cat population in the county for several years. The program, usually supported by grants, pays to trap and spay or neuter feral and barn cats and then release them back where they came from.


In just the last two years, the shelter has overseen the sterilization of almost 1,000 cats, Shelter Director Ken Kirsch said.


The commissioners approved taking $10,000 from the Animal Shelter Donation Fund for the shelter to continue the TNR program until February, 2019. They have a waiting list of 200 cats. The transferred funds will pay to sterilize 200 cats at a rate of five cats a day for four days a week for 10 weeks.


Kirsch said a grant allowing neutering cats for low income people this year depleted the funding by late November.  He expects more funding from grants and other sources in February.  Kirsch said he has re-established a relationship with C-Snip in Kentwood, a business that performs wholesale spay and neutering, and has a one day a week commitment for the organization to spay or neuter cats at a cost of $45.


They will also continue to use local vets at a charge of $85 for female and $55 for male cats, which is less than the going rate.


Professional licensed feline trappers are called when the shelter plans to gather 35 to 40 barn cats at a time on farms, Kirsch said. He’s finding out about licensed feline trappers, either for the shelter itself or an individual, because C-Snip will sterilize cats for $15, but only if brought in by a professional feline trapper.


In 2017, some 530 cats were trapped, neutered and released. This year, the number is 400.

“The program is working,” Kirsch said. “Some days go by without a TNR request,” something that didn’t happen in the first years of the program.


Also Tuesday, commissioners briefly discussed holding the organizational meeting on Jan. 2, as required by law, and shifting board and committee of the whole meetings in January, using the fifth week in the month. However, since some commissioners said, “We’ll be here already, why not just do it?” they will hold the first monthly committee of the whole meeting directly after the organizational meeting.


The January, 2019 meetings will be as follows:

Wednesday, Jan. 2, organizational meeting at 9 a.m., followed by the committee of the whole meeting.

Tuesday, Jan. 8, regular board of commissioners meeting.

Tuesday, Jan. 15, committee of the whole meeting.

Tuesday, Jan. 22, regular board of commissioners meeting.

The meetings start at 9 a.m.

The yearly calendar of meeting days and times will be approved at the organizational meeting on Jan.2, 2019.


In other business, commissioners approved:

*the Continuum of Care budgets and transferring $2,000 from contractual services to the Continuum of Care fund. The $2,000 is the match for a $21,150 grant for strategic planning for the pilot program that increases the use of in-home care, reducing funds spent on detention and residential placement for those in Juvenile Justice Programs.  Barry County and Muskegon County jointly applied for the grant; Barry County is the fiduciary agent.


*transferring $4,000 into the Court Security Fund from the diverted felons fund to make up a shortfall on salaries for court screeners. Undersheriff Matt Houchlei said $80,668.58 has been spent of the $84,500 budgeted for court security, leaving $3,831.50 for the rest of the year. Houchlei said two trials, both lasting two weeks, caused the shortage. Court security uses $7,333.50 a month, leaving a shortfall of $3,502 for 2018.



Auditors give the City of Hastings an "A"

Rehmann Robson, the auditing firm for Hastings, reported on the 2017-2018 fiscal year audit of the city’s financial practices on Dec. 10 and gave the city a “clean opinion,” which compares to a grade of “A.” 


“Overall, I am satisfied with the findings of the audit.  Moving forward we have already started the process of making improvements to address the recommendations from the auditors,” Director of Finance Jerry Czarnecki said.


The city’s governmental funds reported a combined fund balance increase of approximately $545,000 which is attributed to projects that were not undertaken in the current fiscal year and have been planned for the upcoming year, he said.


The report, in part, read the financial statements prepared by the city staff presented fairly the respective financial position of the governmental activities, the business-type activities, the aggregate discretely presented component units, each major fund, and the aggregate remaining fund information… in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America..


In simpler terms, that means that the auditors found the city’s financial statements for fiscal year 2017-2018 in order and prepared in accordance with the appropriate laws and standards.


Text-to-911 saves Eaton County woman's life.

Eaton County Central Dispatch is reminding Eaton County residents that text-to-911 is available for help.

The service may have saved a life on Monday, Dec. 10, when a 47-year-old resident of Eaton County was having an asthma attack and her breathing treatments were not working, according to a media release from Eaton County 911


She was unable to talk, but knew that text-to-911 was available,


“I would’ve never been able to make a phone call. I was unable to talk,” she said. As the 911 telecommunicator got an ambulance going, the woman  mentioned that there were children in the house. The quick thinking telecommunicator also got law enforcement on the way to help with the children until other arrangements could be made.


“There have been several cases where text-to-911 has been successfully used in our county to get help dispatched,” according to 911 Director Michael Armitage. “This case stood out as the patient reached out to the 911 center on social media to share the impact that the service had for her,” he said. Texting 911 is intended for instances where someone is unable to talk, but can safely text 911.


Eaton County 911 encourages people to call if they can, but text if they can’t.


“This is a prime example on why we launched the service in Eaton County,” according to Armitage.  “This service opens up an avenue for help to those who can’t speak for any reason, whether it be a medical emergency, disability, intruder, human trafficking, or domestic violence as examples.”


Text-to-911 is currently available in several mid-Michigan counties, including Barry, Branch, Calhoun, Eaton, Hillsdale, and Ionia.  Eaton County was the fourth in the state to receive text-to-911 messages in the spring of 2015. 


A complete map of text-to-911 participation is available from the state 911committee:


Gun Lake Tribe gives donations, holds employee food/clothing drive for area charities

The Gun Lake Tribe has announced $20,000 in holiday season donations to several West Michigan charitable organizations, with donations that reached charities in Allegan, Barry, Kalamazoo, Kent and Ottawa counties.


Employees of the tribal government independently held donation drives, collecting food and clothes that were donated to two additional charitable organizations in Grand Rapids and Allegan County.


“During this holiday season we wanted to help local charities achieve their mission of making lives better for those less fortunate,” said Gun Lake Tribe Chairman, Bob Peters. “These seven West Michigan charities are truly deserving of the support provided by the tribe and its employees.” Each was given a $4,000 donation.


*Sylvia’s Place, Allegan County, provides emergency assistance to women and children who are victims of domestic violence:


*Manna’s Market, Barry County, provides food, baby items and clothes for those in need.


*Open Doors, Kalamazoo County, offers programs for homeless men and women, and apartments for low-wage working individuals and families.


*West Michigan Veteran Assistance Program, Kent County, helps homeless and nearly homeless veterans and their families with food, housing, financial/medical needs and other needs.


*Nestlings Diaper Bank, Ottawa County, provides diapers and wipes for low income families.


The tribe has more than 120 government employees who volunteered time and contributed donations to collect more than 1,782 food items for the Allegan County Food Pantry Collaborative, which supports 15 food pantries throughout the county.


Tribal government employees also collected clothing items that were donated to the Ronald McDonald House in Grand Rapids to fulfill Christmas wish lists of needy children.


Barry County children will get Christmas gifts thanks to community's giving spirit

The goal of the United Way’s partnership with WBCH for Stuff Our Station eight years ago was to insure that each child in Barry County, who might otherwise not get anything under the Christmas tree, would find gifts there with their names on them.



Other organizations stopped taking names at Thanksgiving from those who needed help with gifts, Executive Director of the Barry County United Way Lani Forbes said.

But, some families have significant changes in their circumstances and there was no way to respond to those children, so the Barry County United Way teamed up with WBCH and extended the signups until mid-December.


The community’s response to the appeal to donate Christmas toys was, and is, incredible, with individuals, families, businesses, civic clubs, schools, many other sponsors, all donating new, unwrapped gifts as well as money that is used to shop for more, Forbes said. 


This year, there are 360 children already signed up, with 400 names expected before the distribution begins, Forbes said. The toys were collected Friday, Dec. 14 and on Sunday, volunteers from the Youth Action Council will sort the gifts according to age and either a boy or girl.


Parents sign up by calling BCUW at 269-945-4010, and if they qualify, get an appointment, when they are welcome to shop for 15 minutes to select three toys and stocking stuffers for each of their children. They can wrap the toys there, or take the paper and wrap them at home.

“It’s doesn’t  matter when they celebrate the holiday, on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, or a week later; it’s whatever suits the family,” she said.


The system for giving gifts to 350 to 400 kids takes a full week, and works very well.

“We are blessed that we can serve, and it’s only because of our incredible community,” Forbes said. “It’s one thing we can do to take the load off their shoulders in a stressful time.”


One example of the giving: The Michigan State Police Wayland Post/Hastings Detachment was at Wal-Mart last week accepting toys for the program.  “They filled three Tahoe’s and two cruisers; we had to open a side window to start taking the toys out,” Forbes said. 


The following is a list of places in the community where toys were dropped off during the collection.


-Courtside Screenprinting

-Carl’s Supermarket




-Walker Fluke and Sheldon

-Thornapple Valley Credit Union

-Andrew Cove Edward Jones Investments

-Kevin Beck Edward Jones Investments

-Barry County Chamber of Commerce

-Seasonal Grill

-Preferred Credit Union

-Barry County Mental Health

-Woodlawn Meadows (two locations)

-Courtside Screenprinting



-Bradford White

-Snack Shack

-Community West Credit Union


-Village Hall

-Township Hall

-Thornapple Valley Credit Union



-Thornapple Valley Credit Union

-Gilmore’s Car Museum




-Portland Federal Credit Union


Lake Odessa

-Portland Federal Credit Union




-Southside Pediatrics


(top) Volunteers from WBCH and Barry County United Way display a few toys for Barry County kids at Christmas. (From left) are Sue Radant, WBCH; Lani Forbes, BCUW; Steve Radant, WBCH; Devin Hamlin, BCUW; Emily Blocher, BCUW; Pattrick Jansens, BCUW; and Morgan Johnson, BCUW.

(top left) Stuff Our Station they said, and that’s what the community did.

(middle right) WBCH’s Steve Radant and BCUW’s Morgan Johnson move boxes of toys from the radio station.

(lower left) Pattrick Jansens, BCUW, finds a place for a large toy dog to ride to the distribution center.

(lower right) Lani Forbes and Devin Hamlin (BCUW) have a handful of toys that are going to kids at Christmas.

Barry County Sheriff's Office stats for November told

Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf recounted statistics for the month of November for Barry County Commissioners Tuesday. Leaf compared statistics handled by the uniformed patrol in five areas this November, compared to November, 2013.


Last month’s stats are followed by the 2013 figures in parentheses:

Incidents handled, 624 (467)

Accidents handled; 159 (134); car/deer, 96, (95)

Arrests, 50--16 felonies, 40 misdemeanors, (53-- 28 felonies, 31 misdemeanors)

Alcohol related arrests, 9 (5)


Also, the office ran 32 home checks for Swift and Sure, sobriety and drug courts, 425 criminal histories requested for warrant entry or requests, 458 breathalyzer tests performed by court order and 81 sex offender registry transactions completed.  The K-9 unit was activated six times during the month.


During the month of November, the corrections staff booked 242 people (76 weekenders) into jail, released 166 back into the community and transported 115 inmates to court, medical facilities or other counties.


Sixty seven people were fingerprinted at the front desk, 149 drug screens of probationers performed and 8,458 meals served to inmates for $1.49 a meal. Maintenance costs for the month included $5,893.72 in plumbing, $2,700.68 for HVAC repairs and $377.59 for security repairs. The daily average number of inmates was 90.

Two sustain minor injuries in car vs. Pine Rest Clinic building

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office reports that a 51-year-old Grand Rapids woman in a GMC Acadia was parked in a parking space at the Pine Rest Campus Clinic when she stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brake pedal and struck the wall of the clinic. The incident occurred Dec. 13 at 10:30 a.m. at the clinic located at 300 68th Street, S.E. in  Gaines Township.


The driver was not injured, however two passengers, a 23-year-old and a 25-year-old suffered minor injuries and were transported by Life Ambulance to Mercy Health St. Mary’s Hospital. All occupants were wearing seat belts and alcohol was not a factor, police said.


There was moderate damage to the wall of the clinic; the vehicle did not go through the wall into the building and no one inside the building was injured.


Cutlerville Fire Department assisted at the scene.

Four cases of whooping cough confirmed in Ionia County

The Ionia County Health Department is advising citizens to be aware that there have been four confirmed cases of pertussis (whooping cough) in Ionia County since Nov. 30 in children from three to 17 months.

Infants/children are not considered fully immunized until they receive their fifth pertussis vaccination at age 4 or 5, before they start preschool or kindergarten.


Pertussis is an acute infectious disease caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis with an incubation period of seven to10 days with a range of four to 21 days. The illness is clinically divided into three stages. The first stage by the slow onset of runny nose, sneezing, low-grade fever, and a mild, occasional cough, similar to the common cold.


The cough gradually becomes more severe, and the second stage begins after one to two weeks when the diagnosis is usually suspected. The stage usually lasts one to six weeks, but may persist up to 10 weeks with bursts of numerous, rapid coughs, with a long indrawn breath is usually accompanied by a characteristic high-pitched “whoop” at the end.


During such an attack, the patient may turn blue; children and young infants will appear very ill and distressed. Vomiting and exhaustion commonly follow the episode. Infants younger than six months of age may not have the strength to have a whoop, but they do have bursts of coughing. In the third stage, recovery is gradual. The cough becomes less severe and disappears in two to three weeks.


Adolescents, adults, and children partially protected by the vaccine may become infected with B. pertussis but may have milder disease than infants and young children. Pertussis infection in these persons may be without symptoms, or present as illness ranging from a mild cough illness to classic pertussis with persistent cough, lasting more than seven days.//


The whoop is not common in older patients. Even though the disease may be milder in older persons, those who are infected may transmit the disease to other susceptible persons, including unimmunized or incompletely immunized infants.


Older persons are often found to have been the first case in a household with multiple pertussis cases, and are often the source of infection for children. Please consult your physician if you believe that you may have pertussis or have been exposed to it. Close contact is usually necessary for disease transmission.


An antibiotic effective against pertussis should be administered to all close contacts of persons with pertussis, regardless of age and vaccination status. Persons diagnosed with pertussis need to stay home.


If there is a case in a school or day care unimmunized children may be excluded from attending for 21 days, the incubation period of pertussis after the last confirmed case.

For more information, consult your physician or visit:

2018 Athena Award recipients announced

As with any community, strong and meaningful leadership is crucial to that community’s success. That certainly is the case in Barry County, which is why the Barry County Chamber of Commerce serves as the host organization for the ATHENA program.


“The ATHENA program and awards are a way that we are able to bring acknowledgement of internationally recognized female leadership traits here to Barry County.” says Megan Lavell, Past-Chair of the Barry County Chamber and the 2012 ATHENA Young Professional honoree.


In conjunction with the Chamber’s annual awards banquet, two awards are presented to outstanding leaders in the community who embody the ATHENA Leadership Model. This year’s honorees will be presented with these awards at the January 19th Chamber Annual Banquet at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners.


The ATHENA Leadership Model, developed right here in Michigan through a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, identifies eight distinct attributes that are reflective of women’s contributions to leadership: living authentically, learning constantly, advocating fiercely, acting courageously, fostering collaboration, building relationships, giving back and celebrating. These personal traits that tend to be more intuitive to women, and combined with the strongest aspects of traditional leadership - taking risks, assertiveness, hard work - prepare women to be successful leaders in the 21st century.


The 2018 ATHENA Leadership Award recipient is Julie Nakfoor Pratt, Barry County Prosecuting Attorney.   


A native of Lansing, Julie is a 1984 graduate of Michigan State University and was admitted to the State Bar of Michigan in 1988 after completing her Juris Doctor at Cooley Law School.  She began her legal career in Barry County in 1989 and has served in both Barry and Allegan Counties since then, including four years in private practice.


In – and in addition to - her role as County Prosecutor Julie was instrumental in the opening of the Safe Harbor Children’s Advocacy Center in Barry County. Her devotion to this cause has garnered widespread recognition, including her being voted Child Advocate Of The Year twice, in 2006 and 2015. She serves on the Governor’s Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect and is a board member of the Barry County Family Support Center.


Julie also serves on the Barry County Substance Abuse Task Force, the Barry County Suicide Prevention Task Force, the Elder Abuse Work Group and many others.

“Julie knows there is bad in this world, but she always looks for the good in people first,” notes Tammy Pennington, Executive Director of the Barry County Commission on Aging. “She uses her brain, her heart and her intuition to seek justice for people of all ages and all walks of life.”


“She is one of the strongest, most intelligent and compassionate women I know. “says Liz Lenz, Coordinator of the Barry County Substance Abuse Task Force. “I think of Julie as a standing constant…waves and winds and other forces will not keep her from doing her job and living her passion.”


“Julie cares deeply about every person that is involved in a case that comes before her office,” says Kristen Cove, last year’s ATHENA Young Professional honoree. “She dedicates her days to educating victims about the process that they are going through. While Julie has been a prosecutor for decades, she understands that for most families this is a one-time experience.”


“My parents instilled in me the idea that I could be anything I want to be: whether it was staying home to raise my children or having a career or both, and to me that epitomizes what the ATHENA Award is all about,” says Pratt about bring named this year’s recipient. “When my children were young, I was fortunate to do both.  My role as a mother comes first, always!   However, I am fortunate to also have a career that I love, even though at times the subject can be heavy.  My parents also taught me to lead by example.  It is not enough to tell people what is best, but to show them!  A strong foundation of love, trust and respect starts at home and empowers our children to do the same wherever they go.”


Nancy Goodin – 2017 ATHENA Leadership Honoree – will present the 2018 award to Pratt at the Chamber Banquet event.


Kristen Cove – 2017 ATHENA Young Professional Honoree – will present the 2018 ATHENA Young Professional Award to Morgan Johnson.


Morgan is the Director of Outreach and Community Engagement at the Barry County United Way and has been with the organization since 2010, when she began as the Volunteer Center Director.

Born and raised in Hastings, Johnson has a self-professed love for this community. While at Western Michigan University, she interned at Kellogg where she assisted with opportunities for employees to volunteer and participate in the local United Way campaign. After graduating, she went to work at Hands On Battle Creek and attended the Battle Creek Leadership Academy. She felt strongly that she wanted to come back to Barry County and give back to her hometown.


Johnson married her high school sweetheart – Brandon – and have four children: Harper, Kinsey, Bryleigh and Beckett.


Initiatives that she spearheads include the Barry County Annual Day of Caring and the Fresh Food Initiative.  She also serves on the Barry County Resource Network, Great Start Collaborative and the Food Resources Workgroup. During her tenure, Day of Caring has grown to over 500 volunteers at 47 different sites on two different days, and Johnson works with governmental, non-profits, churches and the business sector to ensure the best results for all participating. To contrast what Johnson manages herself, Kent County has 800 volunteers with a staff of four.


“When the floods hit last spring, Morgan helped organize a Multi-Agency Resource Center at Barry County Central Dispatch,” says Lani Forbes, Executive Director of Barry County United Way and a prior ATHENA Honoree. “She brought together the American Red Cross and other organizations that could assist the residents effected by the situation. Morgan has chosen to be available no matter when a problem arises to bring together those needing assistance and the volunteers that want to provide services. That says so much about the quality of her character.”


“Morgan leads with a positive attitude, kindness, and passion. Each day she leads her home through all of their many adventures while managing a full-time career,” says Emily Blocher, Housing Impact Specialist at the Barry County United Way. “Morgan leads her children by setting a strong example for them, showing them how to love your community, love those around you, and give compassion. This is all true for her professional life as well through her leadership of many professional groups such as the Volunteer Advisory Board and the Barry County Emergency Food and Shelter Program Board.”


“I appreciate that my daughter has so many strong women in this community to look up to;

Morgan is one of those women,” notes Courtney Ziny of the Family Economic Support Office. “My teenager sees a woman who values her physical and mental health, who values giving back to her community and who values the importance of family. She is professional and handles crisis’ easily.”


Upon learning of her selection as this year’s ATHENA Young Professional, Johnson says she is “humbled by this nomination and award”. In fact, her actual words when she learned of her selection were: “I’m sorry….who?”


“Being an ATHENA takes on a lot of attributes that are sometimes hard to see in ourselves,” says Johnson. It is hard to take in such an honor personally as I see every aspect of my life – work or at home – as a team effort. I would not be where I am professionally or personally without a great team to support me and without this community that continues to embrace change. Growing up in Barry County, I’ve been fortunate to observe many influential leaders, women leading the charge and change makers. I am proud to be among them as we work together for OUR families, OUR community, and OUR future. I greatly appreciate all who see the leader in me, when sometimes I don’t.”


In addition to these awards, the Barry County Chamber of Commerce also hosts an ATHENA social as well as a Leadership Luncheon each year as part of its annual program. Generous supporters of the annual ATHENA program are Ruby Sponsors Hastings Mutual Insurance, Edward Jones-Andrew Cove and The Walldorff Brewpub & Bistro; and Crystal sponsors Bay to Bay Building Concepts, Carbon Green BioEnergy, Commercial Bank, Hastings City Bank, Spectrum Health Pennock, Thornapple Credit Union and the YMCA of Barry County.


“These awards continue to be a prestigious honor for recipients of both ATHENA awards,” says Kimberly Rodriguez, a Chamber Board member and past ATHENA Young Professional Honoree. “These are the women who continue to do the work that needs to be done in our community to make Barry County a better place. More important than the outcome of their own efforts is the inspiration they provide for other women to be leaders.”


Both ATHENA awards will be presented at the Barry County Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet which begins at 5pm on Saturday, January 19th at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners. Contact the Chamber at 269-945-2454 or at for details.

DEQ, Little Thornapple River drain board/DEQ consent agreement to be signed this week

An Administrative Consent Agreement between an intercounty drainage board and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality outlining the steps to be taken in the restoration of the Little Thornapple Drain is expected to be signed this week by the Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).


“They’re good with it, the DEQ is good with it, we’re good with it, so we’re moving forward,” Barry County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull said. They worked on the restoration as they waited for the DEQ to approve remediation plans submitted by Aaron Snelling, cofounder of Streamside Ecological Services. “We did it, knowing it had to be done… the DEQ is making it official,” he said. “We’re going from no agreement at all two years ago to a signed agreement this week. I’m real happy.”


The signing will lessen the pressure of  “wondering what happens if they don’t come to the table,” he added. His best estimate on the amount of work left on the restoration project is between 30 and 40 percent.


At its November meeting, the board agreed with its attorney Stacy Hissong’s advice to post a $600,000 bond, ask that Streamside complete all actions by the board to do with the project and to approve hiring Paul Forton, an engineer with the Spicer Group, to work with the Barry County Road Commission on a required road crossing.

The intercounty drain board is made up of drain commissioners from three counties; Dull, Ken Yonker from Kent County, Robert Rose from Ionia County and Brady Harrington, chair of the MDARD.


Hastings leaf pickup complete, street sweeper to be out as weather permits

With the conclusion of the annual leaf pick up in Hastings, the Department of Public Services Superintendent of Streets Jim James issued the following statement:

“The Department of Public Services would like to thank the residents of Hastings for their patience during the 2018 leaf pickup. As we all witnessed, it was a challenging event due to the early season snow and ice storms. DPS has completed our second and final round in all areas. Our street sweeper will continue to be out as weather permits.”

Water Leak at Central Elementary School

There is a water leak at Central Elementary School. All students have been transferred to the Hastings Middle School while the leak is being repaired. All students are safe.

Consumers Energy still repairing Middleville gas leak

Middleville village officials have been told that Consumers Energy is continuing to work on repairing a gas leak at Lafayette/Grand Rapids streets in the village. The street is expected to remain closed through Thursday morning. A marked detour in place.

Barry County Jail, COA project agreement decision delayed until late February

Barry County commissioners Tuesday again delayed a decision on a Professional Services Agreement with consulting firm TowerPinkster. It will not be taken up again until the committee of the whole meeting on the third Tuesday in February.


TowerPinkster was selected to facilitate the new Barry County Jail and Commission on Aging projects but commissioners balked last week on having no specific language saying the firm would not only look at building both a new jail and COA building, but committed to reviewing county facilities to see if it would be feasible to move some departments into other spaces and provide room for expanded COA services without building new.


The Friend of the Court and Barry Eaton District Health Department offices were given as prime examples of buildings being under used.


Commissioner/Chair Ben Geiger agreed with the delay. He said he talked to TowerPinkster and was given a new figure of $70,000 for their services, up from $50,000, to include the expanded review. “We’re still negotiating with TowerPinkster,” he said. “They’re still the best for the job; we just want to make sure there’s not something (we’re asking them to do) that we could do for ourselves.”


An ad-hoc committee, made up of commissioners Dan Parker, Jon Smelker and Heather Wing, is assessing Barry Eaton District Health Department operations to determine the feasibility of a separate Barry County Health Department. The study is to be completed by the end of the year.

Parker said he wasn’t sure the results of the study would make any difference in the issue at hand.

“It may not,” Smelker said, but I don’t want to enter a contract without knowing about it.”//


Commissioners also approved numerous applicants to Barry County committees and boards recommended by the committee of the whole last week.


They are:

*Frank Fiala, road commission-six year term

*Craig Stolsonburg, transit-three year term

*Shannon Szukala, Veterans Affairs-four year term

*Tim McKay, Veterans Affairs-four year term

*Paul Wing, Agricultural Promotion-three year term

*Larry Neil, Agricultural Promotion-three year term

*Tim McGavin, Animal Shelter Advisory-two year term

*David Tripp, Building Authority-three year term

*Kristin Cove, Central Dispatch Admin Board-four year term

*Don Bowers, Commission on Aging-three year term

*Sally Shuster Shoff, Commision on Aging-three year term

*Michelle Newton, Community Corrections Advisory-two year term.


In other business, the commission also approved:

*an Audit Engagement Agreement between the Barry County Road Commission and Walker, Fluke & Sheldon for the auditing firm to perform the 2018 road commission audit for $9,000.

*buying two new boilers for the Courts & Law Building for $90,000 by DHE Climate Solutions. *Agriculture Farmland and Open Space Preservation (PA116) applications for Brandon and Derik Schantz in Section 3 of Maple Grove Township and Larry and Tammy Kuperus in section 11 in Irving Township.

*a 2019 agreement between the county and Michigan State University Extension for access to MSUE’s programming.




Grant request for Royal Coach environmental study approved

A request for a DEQ brownfield redevelopment site assessment grant of $62,650 for the former Royal Coach building on Mill Street property will go ahead after Hastings City Council approval Monday.

Community Development Director Dan King said the city is looking for a developer who will revitalize the site with plans for a mixed-use riverfront property with residential housing, retail and commercial uses.


The building was a manufacturing site of Hastings Manufacturing Company (HMC) before being used just for storage. The city is working with HMC, a local philanthropist and the Barry County Economic Development Alliance on the project, King said.


The anonymous benefactor’s funding of a phase one Environmental Site Assessment for $2,900 and a Hazardous Materials Assessment for $7,500 makes up the match for the grant.

Information on any environmental issues at the site encourages developers, giving them “a better handle on costs,” King said


SME, an engineering consulting firm, will do the environmental assessment of the site. In the grant application, the property is described as some 8.2 acres with two warehouse buildings and three sheds that were used for fire suppression equipment, a paint shop and fuel dispensing.


Known or potential contaminants include VOCs (volatile organic compounds), SVOCs (semi-volatile organic compounds, metals, PFAs (polyfluoralkyl substances) and methane. King said he expects a quick turnaround on the grant request from the DEQ.


The council also approved the City of Hastings/Barry County Airport 2019 budget that City Manager Jeff Mansfield said generally reflects standard operations over the course of the year. Revenues are expected to exceed expenditures by $20,000, he said, with most of the airport’s income coming from hanger fees and gas sales.

Barry County Commissioners must also approve the budget as part of a Joint Operating Agreement of the airport with the city.


Mansfield updated the council, reporting that the state granted an extension for the city to submit a Corrective Action Plan related to retirees health care benefits and the final plan has been sent to the state.


The city was not in compliance with the state’s recently established limits on the amount of unfunded liability and payments that municipalities are allowed to make for health care benefits for retirees. The city’s conversion to Blue Care Network and Blue Care Network Advantage Plans for eligible retirees brings the city into compliance with the state’s standards, he said. Now, they wait to see if the state approves the plan, which Mansfield thinks will be the case.



Hastings New Year's Eve Ball Drop celebrates 10th year

Hastings downtown New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, always a part of the city’s holiday celebrations, is on  track for its 10th year with unanimous approval of the Hastings City Council Monday.


Speaking for the organizers, Carl Schoessel said this year’s event will again have a big tent at the corner of Jefferson and State streets, a fire pit, an interactive ice sculpture and groups with displays and possibly items for sale.


WBCH’s Dave McIntyre will emcee and John Anderson will be the DJ until midnight, when illuminations will create “oohs” and “aahs” as the ball drops at midnight Dec. 31 to say good bye to 2018 and welcome to 2019.

A wedding and David Tossava’s swearing in as mayor of Hastings have occurred at previous ball drops. The event attracts around 1,000 people, and is growing. It's all made possible by the “generous” Downtown Development Authority, Barry County Chamber of Commerce and volunteers and sponsors, Schoessel said.


In other business Monday, the council gave tentative approval to a revised agreement with the Hastings Public Library, the City of Hastings and Rutland Township, an action taken with the failure of Hastings Township residents to pass millage to support the library.


Without the millage, Hastings Township residents will not have unlimited access to the library, though they can still buy non-resident cards and have library’s services. The document has been made more generic and flexible, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.


The library’s board of trustees has also given tentative approval of the changes, including removing Hastings Township representatives from the library board. The agreement will now go to Rutland Township for its review and approval. Mansfield said Rutland Township attorney Craig Rolfe will likely want to examine the agreement, so the council would get it back in January.


The new agreement is flexible enough to let Hastings Township re-enter the agreement without amending the document, should township residents pass millage in the future, city attorney Stephanie Fekkes said.




State Police Troopers Spend Saturday at Walmart

In keeping with the spirit of the Christmas Season State Police Troopers from Hastings and Wayland spent Saturday at the Hastings Walmart collecting gifts for those in need. The annual event is known as "Stuff the Blue Goose."

Shoppers stuffed the patrol cars with food, clothing, toys and many other needed items. Four patrol cars were packed full after spending from 9-am to 7-pm at Walmart. Trooper Scott Scharrar told WBCH News "It was a very good success, and thanked everyone for their generosity."

At the end of the day the gifts and Food items were taken to Barry County United Way.

Barry County residents tell what they want more of in recreation

Developing a five-year recreation plan for Charlton Park and Barry County Parks & Recreation created widespread interest from area residents and the feedback from the public was all positive, Parks & Recreation’s part-time Administrator Ron Welton said.


The public provided its opinions mainly through a survey and two input meetings. One of the questions on the survey asked, “Which of the following activities would you like to see expanded in the county?” on a list of 23 options. That question garnered more than 300 responses. “That’s a very good number for a survey, it shows a lot of interest,” Welton said.


Two public meetings brought more input from the public.  Welton said everyone’s ideas and thoughts were welcome. “We’re all stakeholders.” With the information gathered, parks officials will write the recreation plan with results based on the public’s responses.


When the boards approve a draft document, a copy will go to the Barry County Commissioners for preliminary approval, followed by a 30-day public comment period and then final approval.

The recreation plan, renewed every five years, is required to apply for state and federal grants. “This is why the DNR requests the plan, to ensure broad-based support,” Welton said.



Respondents treasure the county’s natural features.

“Barry County is still pretty rural, and the people like it,” Welton said. Some of the things people listed as important to them for recreation had a heavy emphasis on enjoying the outdoors, as shown by the top five items, all with more than 100 “likes.”

In order: walking trails, natural areas, wildlife viewing, canoeing/kayaking, and biking trails.


The second tier of five most popular activities to expand includes campground/camping, swimming and picnic facilities, each with 80 “votes,” dog walking areas and playgrounds.


Of less importance to survey takers were with the bottom five (leaving out “other” at 18 votes), football fields, skateboard park, basketball courts, sand volleyball and tennis and pickleball courts tied with 25 each.



Based on the total responses from all the survey questions and public input, the board is planning its top priorities, Welton said.

*The Paul Henry Trail; paving a three-mile stretch in Nashville with a long term goal of filling in the gaps in the length of the trail.


*McKeown Park; improving the boat launch, fishing area and expand parking.


*Charlton Park; study the feasibility of either rustic or modern campgrounds, improvements to the beach area and improving the boardwalk in the village.

Pearl Harbor Day


It was 77 years ago on December 7, a Sunday Morning in 1941 when Japanese war planes attacked the Naval Base at Pearl Harbor Hawaii without warning and without  a declaration of war . The Attack killed 2,403 American Servicemen and Civilians plunging the United States into a four year long war against Japan.

On August 15, 1945 Japan surrendered.

Friday Aboard the Battleship Arizona Memorial at Pearl harbor a Special ceremony was held.

It's not too late to get your flu shot

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department is observing national Influenza Vaccination Week Dec. 2-8. It’s not too late to protect yourself and your family from influenza this season and get vaccinated.


The vaccine may take up to two weeks to provide full protection so it is advised individuals receive the vaccine as soon as possible.  It’s the first and most important step to fight the flu; everyone six months and older is recommended to receive the flu vaccine.


Anyone can get the flu. Symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. Flu symptoms usually appear suddenly and for most people last from a few days to two weeks.


Those 65 and older with certain chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, pregnant women  and children younger than five years old, especially infants, are at greater risk of more serious illness.


A flu vaccination is the most effective method to prevent the flu. If you are vaccinated and still get the flu, the vaccine may make the symptoms milder. It will also prevent you from spreading the flu to others, including those at risk of more serious illness.  


Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, health departments, pharmacies, health centers, and travel clinics, as well as by many employers and schools. 


The health department offers flu vaccinations to those six months to 18 years. For more, visit Call 517-541-2630 or 269-945-4133 to schedule an appointment.


Gun Lake Tribe shares $9 million with state, local governments

The Gun Lake Tribe has announced its fall revenue sharing payments. The state of Michigan received $5,221,249 and the local revenue sharing board received $2,261,699.  GLIMI, an economic development entity, received $1,566,375.  The figures are calculated from electronic gaming revenues reported from April 1, to Sept. 30, 2018.    


“This revenue sharing distribution validates development decisions made by Tribal Council and casino management to study market demand and place value on guest experience,” said Bob Peters, Chairman of the Gun Lake Tribe.  “Our economic impact study confirms that our success supports thousands of great jobs while providing substantial benefits to Michigan’s economy.”


Last week, the tribe released the findings of an economic impact study showing  the tribal government, Casino and Gun Lake Investments added $1.5 billion to Michigan’s economy from 2011-2017.  The tribe’s annual economic impact contributes $228 million to the state’s economy while supporting 2,600 jobs. 


The tribe has shared more than $80 million with the State of Michigan, which directs the payments to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.  The MEDC awards grants to businesses to invest in Michigan and create jobs. 


 Gun Lake Casino opened in February 2011 and employs more than 1,000 team members.  The tribe has now shared $118,368,404 with state and local governments over 16 distributions.


Hastings rental unit inspection change, code compliance discussed

Hastings Code Compliance Officer Frank Jesensek, hired last fall, is a great addition for the city, Police Chief Jeff Pratt said.


“Frank has a great ability to communicate with people and explain the codes we’re trying to gain compliance. The goal with our codes is to gain compliance and not to have to enforce, or issue citations. As long as there is good faith effort by a person to correct an issue we’ll work with them for full compliance.”


Unfortunately, he said, there are times when people will not want to comply, and then they are forced into an enforcement action.

“If anyone has any questions about a city ordinance, they are encouraged to contact Frank,” he said.


Pratt said he and Jesensek met with Professional Code Inspections to go over a change in rental inspection laws.  PCI has done rental inspections with registration, inspection and compliance of rental units for Hastings for years.


Enacted the first of the year, the law requires tenants to give an inspector permission to inspect the premises, instead of the owner.


In a letter sent to landlords on upcoming inspections, PCI includes a letter required to be signed by the tenant that allows the rental inspection.

Inspections of rental complexes in the city will continue to be waived as long as they pass the state inspections, Pratt said.


The new law mandates that landlords make a good faith effort to obtain the consent from a tenant by a written letter to the landlord when the city notifies the landlord of an inspection; a written letter giving permission as part of the lease; or putting the consent into the lease, so when the tenant signs the lease it is considered consent.


Hastings is not required to conduct rental inspections. If the city council opted not to continue inspections, it would not affect PCI’s contract, they would just not do them.

UPDATE: Hastings woman who died in collision with deer identified

UPDATE:The Allegan County Sheriff's Office has identified the woman who died in Wayland Township Monday evening as Kendra Kaye Ohler. 27, from Hastings.


ORIGINAL STORY:Monday about 6 p.m. a Wayland City Police officer and an Allegan County Sheriff’s deputy responded to a report of a car in the ditch on 135th Avenue near 7th Street in Wayland Township and found an unresponsive woman in the vehicle, a sheriff’s media release said.


The investigation of  the single car crash by the sheriff’s office reconstruction team determined that the vehicle was traveling eastbound and struck a deer, causing fatal injuries to a 27-year-old woman from the Hastings area.


Speed and alcohol do not appear to be a factor. The victim’s name is not being released until family is notified, the release said.


Wayland City Police, Wayland Fire Department, Yankee Springs Fire Department, and Michigan State Police assisted sheriff’s deputies. 


Celebrate Of Christmas Past at Charlton Park this weekend

Children and the young at heart will delight in the holidays of yesteryear during the Of Christmas Past event at Historic Charlton Park Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8 and 9 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.


The Park’s turn-of-the-century village and museum will be staffed by volunteers and adorned with festive decorations; including a train display and fresh evergreens.  Take a wagon ride, and then visit with St. Nicholas who has plenty of candy canes for good boys and girls.  In celebration of the season, guests are encouraged to make holiday crafts, including a candle and yarn doll. 


Traditional food and drink samples will be available throughout the village, such as wassail, roasted chestnuts, cinnamon & sugar apples and popcorn. The Charlton Park Foundation Board is providing coffee and cookies at the Sixberry House.  Live holiday music will ring through the Carlton Center Church courtesy of the Thornapple Valley Dulcimer Society.


The park gift shop will also be open.  Daily admission cost is $6 for ages 13 and up; $4 for ages five to 12 and children four and under are free.  For more, visit  The park is southeast of Hastings, north of M-79, at 2545 South Charlton Park Road.




Hastings attorney to be first Barry County Chief Public Defender

Hastings Attorney Kerri Selleck is in line to be Barry County’s first Chief Public Defender. The Barry County Board of Commissioners committee of the whole Tuesday unanimously recommended Selleck for the position, part of the county’s compliance plan with the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission Act.



The act proposes minimum standards so all county legal systems providing indigent defense meet constitutional obligations, work with counties to implement compliance plans to meet the standards and award state grants to county systems to bring them into compliance with the new standards.


“We needed to up our game …we’ve gone through the process to provide better (legal) representation for people who can’t afford it,” Commissioner/Chair Ben Geiger said.


“I’m excited,” Selleck said. “Barry County already has a good foundation to build on for representing indigents...Barry County could be a model for other counties…We are on the forefront, we’re ready to go.”


Barry County indigent services can access resources they couldn’t before; they will be able to get most of the resources available to prosecutors, she said.

The Chief Public Defender responsibilities include: managing the assigned counsel contracts, implementing, monitoring and maintaining compliance with MIFC standards, oversight and reporting on implementing the standards and grant accounting.


One of the differences Selleck said is that she or another attorney will be at an arraignment and bail setting for everyone accused for a crime, big or small, something that has not been the case in the past.


The position to head the program was advertised state-wide. Based on resumes submitted, interviews, and background checks, Selleck is recommended for approval for the post at the Barry County Commission’s Dec.11 meeting.


Selleck had a private law practice on Hastings for 11 years, has been on Barry and Kalamazoo county’s Criminal Indigent Defense list for 12 years, was Barry County assistant prosecuting attorney for three years and a member of the compliance planning team representing the Barry County Bar and the Barry County Bar Criminal Defense attorneys who wrote the county’s compliance plain


Selleck holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice and public law from Western Michigan University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Dayton School of Law-Dayton Ohio.


Included in her resume were letters of recommendation from Hastings Attorney Nathan Tagg and former Barry County Prosecutor Gordon Shane McNeill. Both praised her dedication, fairness, integrity, saying she is absolutely qualified and would do a fine job heading the Indigent Defense team in Barry County.

Her message to those who do not have the money for an attorney: “We are here to help. Use us.”


Photo: Hastings Attorney Kerri Selleck

Barry County Commission recommends eleven committee assignments

The Barry County Board of Commissioners interviewed and recommended applicants for seats on the Barry County Road Commission, the Transit Board, and Veterans Affairs Tuesday.


They also recommended eight others, all without competition, for positions on other committees. Names of all of those selected by consensus will be forwarded to the commission for consideration at the next regular board meeting.


They are:

*Frank Fiala, road commission-six year term

Joyce Snow, Craig Stolsonburg and Russ Yarger also applied.

*Craig Stolsonburg, transit-three year term

Shawn Winters also applied

*Shannon Szukala, Veterans Affairs-four year term

*Tim McKay, Veterans Affairs-four year term

Frank Williams and Ron Felder also applied.


Recommended without interviews:

*Paul Wing, Agricultural Promotion-three year term

*Larry Neil, Agricultural Promotion-three year term

*Tim McGavin, Animal Shelter Advisory-three year term

*David Tripp, Building Authority-three year term

*Kristin Cove, Central Dispatch Admin Board-four year term

*Don Bowers, Commission on Aging-three year term

*Sally Shuster Shoff, Commision on Aging-three year term

*Michelle Newton, Community Corrections Advisory-two year term.


In other business, the commission recommended the full board approve:


*the Audit Engagement Agreement between the Barry County Road Commission and Walker, Fluke & Sheldon for the auditing firm to perform the 2018 road commission audit for $9,000.

*buying two new boilers for the Courts & Law Building for $90,000 by DHE Climate Solutions. The plan to install one boiler and then the other can’t be done, so to keep the courts operating, the installation of both will be done at the same time over a weekend, requiring overtime.


*Agriculture Farmland and Open Space Preservation (PA116) applications for Brandon and Derik Schantz in Section 3 of Maple Grove Township and Larry and Tammy Kuperus in section 11 in Irving Township. Both applications were considered by the Barry County Planning Commission with recommendations for approval.


*a 2019 agreement between the county and Michigan State University Extension to bring all of MSUE’s programs and resources to Barry County residents. The same agreement as last year, the agreement is for $55,145 for operating expenses and the 4-H program and $63, 463 for a clerical person in the Hastings MSUE office.











Be aware: new scam is making the rounds

Michigan taxpayers with past-due tax debts should be aware of a new scam making the rounds through the U.S. Postal Service, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.


In the scheme, taxpayers are sent what appears to be a government-looking letter about an overdue tax bill, asking the taxpayer to immediately contact a toll-free number to resolve a tax debt or face asset seizure. The piece of correspondence appears credible to the taxpayer because it uses specific personal facts about the outstanding tax debt pulled directly from publicly available information.


The scammer’s letter attempts to lure the taxpayer into a situation where they could make a payment to a criminal.


“All taxpayers need to be aware of this scam,” said Deputy State Treasurer Ann Good, who oversees Treasury’s Financial and Administrative Services programs. “If you have questions about an outstanding state debt, please don’t hesitate to contact us. The state Treasury Department’s correspondence involves official letters sent through the U.S. Postal Service, including several options to resolve your debt and information outlining your taxpayer rights.”


To learn more about Michigan’s taxes and the collections process, go to or follow the state Treasury Department on Twitter at @MITreasury.


Veterinarian dies in silage collapse at dairy farm

A Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) media release gave a preliminary summary of an incident on Nov. 30 when a 35-year-old veterinarian was found buried under a pile of silage at a dairy farm.


The silage was outdoors on the ground; a farmhand and another employee pulled the veterinarian from the silage, started CPR, and called EMS.  The man identified as John Garth Cummings, of Middleville in news reports, was later pronounced dead by the county medical examiner's office at the hospital. 


It is believed that the silage collapsed onto the veterinarian while he was perhaps taking a sample of the silage for analysis. The farmhand who found him was moving silage with a front-end loader from the silage pile to a mechanical spreader that filled the feeding bins, the release said.


According to the farmhand, the location of the veterinarian’s body indicated that he had been near the sheer face of the silage pile that was being removed by the front-end loader. There were no witnesses to the actual collapse of the pile onto the veterinarian.


The release said Cummings was the 34th worker death this year, and listed to area of the dairy farm as Grand Rapids.


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