Local News Archives for 2019-02

Calley holds second photo contest for Barry and Ionia county residents

87th District State Rep. Julie Calley will host her second photography contest for constituents in Barry and Ionia counties with the theme of the four seasons. One winner will be chosen for each season. The winning photos will be displayed in Calley’s Lansing office and the photographers will be invited to join her in Lansing to unveil the pictures.  Four runner-up photos will be displayed in the lobby of her office. 

“Michigan is diverse in its beauty. Every season in Michigan has its own allure, so I look forward to seeing our communities highlighted throughout various times of the year,” Calley said.


Photos may be e-mailed to or mailed to N-1191 House Office Building, P.O. Box 30014 Lansing, MI 48809. Qualified participants must live within the district that Calley serves. Photo submissions should include name, address and contact information of the photographer. The deadline is March 31.

Direct questions to 517-373-0842 or


Saranac farm market awarded $100,000 state grant for expansion

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has awarded 16 Rural Development Fund Grants designed to promote the sustainability of land-based industries and support infrastructure that benefits rural communities.


In Ionia County, the Jones Farm Market in Saranac was awarded $100,000 for an expansion of the facility to increase processing capacity.


“What these grants demonstrate is the commitment of MDARD and the State of Michigan to help ignite impactful projects and efforts in rural communities,” said MDARD Director Gary McDowell. “Through targeted investments and matching funds from businesses, local municipalities and others, we can provide opportunities for thousands of businesses and employees in every corner of the state.”


A wide range of efforts in  rural communities were selected, among them funds to replace influent pumps at a wastewater treatment facility, fund an asparagus sorting machine, develop and implement a strategy for workforce loss mitigation, the creation of a trail head and the installation of video conferencing northeast Michigan.


The department received 66 proposals with requests totaling nearly $5.1 million. Of those, MDARD awarded 16 projects totaling $1,245,500, leveraging a match of more than $1.5 million. The grant funds, Public Act 411 of 2012, are aimed to promote the sustainability of land-based industries (food and agriculture; forestry; mining, oil and gas production; and tourism) and support workforce training, rural capacity building, business development and infrastructure that benefits rural communities.


Eligible counties include those with a population no greater than 60,000 residents or micropolitan statistical areas. Preference was given to projects in Marquette County. The proposals were evaluated through a competitive process.


For more information about the grant program or a complete list of eligible counties, visit


Ice water rescue training prepares responders for real emergencies

A joint ice water rescue training exercise Feb. 24 was a valuable experience for emergency personnel who respond to calls for help from the fire service area’s lakes and rivers.



The Wayland/Yankee Springs Township Fire Department, Yankee Springs DNR Parks Division and Barry County Sheriff’s Marine Division dive team took part in the combined Ice Rescue Training/Dive at the Yankee Springs State Park day use area at Gun Lake.   

The training helps the different units understand what the others units tasks are, to understand their protocols and improve communication.


The DNR and W/YSTFD are on the same radio frequency and can communicate easily. Also, when a call comes in, the fire department calls Lansing and is immediately put on the States Event Channel, so multi-agencies can hear and talk to each other at the same time.


The scenario for the “rescue” had a man through the ice far out in Gun Lake. When “rescuers” got to him, the man told them a second “victim” was also in the water, so they ordered a helicopter. They took the second victim out first because he was in the “worst shape” and were then told another “victim” was under the ice on the other side of the lake. They diverted two responders who “rescued” him.


“Everybody worked together, new divers got some good training and the communication was good. Afterward, we critiqued the incident. We’re pleased with how it went; this will help on a real call,” Miller said. In a real emergency, Orangeville and Martin fire departments would respond; they couldn’t make the training, he added.


“We also put to use the new tracks added onto our UTV. We put it on the ice to carry equipment,” Miller said. “We’re really appreciate the Yankee Springs Township Board and the taxpayers for approving the tracks. Now we can use it year round instead of just eight or nine months of the year.”


(upper left) Wayland/Yankee Springs Fire Department firefighters measure the water’s depth in Gun Lake during the ice water rescue training.


(left) This UTV's tires were replaced with tracks, making it a year around rescue vehicle.




Photos courtesy of Dan Miller


NOTICE: Possible Verizon outage reported; use another carrier to reach Eaton County 911

Eaton County Central Dispatch Director Michael Armitage is reporting an apparent Verizon outage in Eaton County.

“If you call 911 from a Verizon telephone, it may take extra time to reach 911. If possible, please use another carrier to reach 911. We are notifying Verizon of the problem,” Armitage said.


Kids with chronic healthcare needs can get financial help

Area residents who have children with special chronic health care needs may find financial help for medical expenses through Children’s Special Health Care Services (CSHCS), according to a news release from the Barry Eaton District Health Department.


The health care service is a program of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services that coordinates and pays for specialty health care for children and some adults with special health care needs.


It helps pay for specialty medical bills and can cover co-pays and deductibles for those with insurance or Medicaid. For those without insurance, it can provide specialty coverage. Help may also be available for travel expenses related to a child’s specialty medical care, the release said.


The child’s medical condition, not the parent’s income, determines if they qualify for CSHCS. More than 2,700 chronic medical conditions are eligible for CSHCS coverage, including asthma, cancer, cerebral palsy, cleft palate, liver disease, limb abnormalities, certain vision disorders, paralysis or spinal injuries, cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, insulin-dependent diabetes, muscular dystrophy, certain heart conditions, epilepsy, and kidney disease.


The child must live in Michigan and be 20 years old or under, with the exception that there is no age restriction for cystic fibrosis and hemophilia. Families of all incomes can enroll their child, including those with other health insurance.


This means that any eligible child with an accepted medical condition can use CSHCS, regardless of their family’s ability to pay. There is a sliding-scale fee to join CSHCS that is based on family income and family size. If the client has Medicaid or MIChild insurance or has a court-appointed guardian or is in foster care, the fee is waived.


The BEDHD is an advocate for CSHCS and provides services to eligible residents in Barry and Eaton counties, working with local families to help them get needed medical-related services to ensure the very best care.


“BEDHD serves as the link between the health care programs, the family, and the local community to assist clients in receiving services they need,” said program nurse Kindra Reeser-Smith. “I’m happy to connect with families to develop a proactive plan of care and community-based care coordination.”


For more information, call (269) 798-4115 (Barry County) or (517) 541-2696 (Eaton County). Join the program’s Facebook support group at For more information visit


Plainwell man jailed for alleged threat against Delton Middle School

The father of a Delton Middle School student is in Barry County Jail charged with malicious use of a telecommunication device. Joshua John Raulston, 37, of Plainwell, allegedly told a school employee that his son was being bullied and he was going to bring a gun to the school.


The incident was uncovered by School Liaison Deputy Marti Horrmann, of the Barry County Sheriff’s Office, while talking to a school employee on Feb. 21, according a media release from Barry County Undersheriff  Matt Houchlei.


The threat occurred during a phone conversation that morning between the school employee and Raulston, the release said. Barry and Prairieville township police officers detained Raulson at his residence where he was interviewed by both agencies before being charged and lodged in jail.


The incident was investigated by Horrmann, Barry Township Police Chief Mark Doster and Prairieville Township Police Chief Bill Thompson. They were assisted by Barry County Central Dispatch and the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office.


Meijer cookies, Bellisio frozen pork entrée recalled

The recall of two products shipped to Michigan stores has been announced by Meijer and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.



Meijer announced a voluntary recall of its Meijer brand Ultimate Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies because soy it is not properly declared on the label. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to soy run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.


Approximately 720 packages of cookies were sold between Feb. 13, and Feb. 20, in all Meijer stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin with the following UPCs:

*Ultimate Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies - 12 Count.              UPC: 0-41250-14563-9

*Ultimate Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies - 20 Count:              UPC: 0-41250-14564-6


There have been no illnesses, injuries or additional product concerns reported to date. Meijer initiated the recall after a routine inspection determined that the product had been distributed without proper allergen labelling for soy.


Customers who have purchased this product can dispose of it or return the product to the nearest Meijer store for a full refund. Customers with questions can contact Meijer at 800-543-3704, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Consumers with questions or concerns about their health should contact their physician.



The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Monday that Bellisio Foods, a Jackson, Ohio establishment, is recalling about 173,376 pounds of frozen pork entrée products that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically pieces of glass or hard plastic.


The frozen, not ready-to-eat boneless pork rib patties were produced on various dates from Dec. 7, 2018 to Feb. 15, 2019. The following products are subject to recall: 14-oz. black cardboard box packages containing “BOSTON MARKET Home Style Meals BONELESS PORK RIB SHAPED PATTY WITH BBQ SAUCE & MASHED POTATOES” with “BEST BY” dates of 12/07/2019 lot code 8341, 01/04/2020 lot code 9004, 01/24/2020 lot code 9024, or 02/15/2020 lot code 9046, represented on the label.


The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 18297” on the end carton flap of the package. These items were shipped to a Department of Defense facility in Tucson, Ariz. and retail locations nationwide.                                 


The problem was discovered when the establishment received consumer complaints of glass or hard plastic extraneous material in the rib shaped patty. FSIS was notified on Feb. 22, 2019. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions or injuries due to consumption of these products.


Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.  

FSIS is concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them; they should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase. //


FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at


Consumers with questions about the recall can contact Krista Cummings, Consumer Affairs Supervisor, Bellisio Foods at 855-871-9977. Consumers with food safety questions can "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at or via smartphone at


The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.

The online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at:


Sen. John Bizon to meet constituents in Hastings, Friday, March 8

State Senator from the 19th District John Bizon, M.D., R-Battle Creek, will meet constituents on Friday, March 8 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Council Chambers in Hastings City Hall, 201 East State Street in Hastings.

Residents of the 19th Senate District are invited to express their opinions or concerns about state government or to request assistance with a state issue. The 19th Senate District includes the counties of Barry, Calhoun and Ionia.
For more information, contact Bizon’s office toll-free at 855-347-8019 or by email at Residents unable to attend the office hours may write Bizon at Sen. John Bizon, P. O. Box 30036, Lansing, MI 48909-7536.

Barry County moves ahead with professional service agreement to facilitate new jail/COA

The Barry County Board of Commissioners voted last November to hire Tower Pinkster Associates, Inc. to facilitate planning for a new Barry County Jail and Commission on Aging building, but a professional service agreement approval was delayed until Dec. 11, and then postponed again to the second board meeting in February this Tuesday.


After a motion to delay the agreement again to wait for a report on the feasibility of a separate Barry County Health Department failed, the service agreement was approved 5-2 with commissioners Dan Parker, Vivian Conner, Ben Geiger, Heather Wing and Jon Smelker voting “yes” Commissioners Howard “Hoot” Gibson and David Jackson voting “no.”


The majority of commissioners argued the health department issue would make no difference to the agreement with Tower Pinkster one way or another, and it was time to move forward.


The agreement calls for Tower Pinkster to update a facility study they developed for the county in 2015, planned to take 48 hours.  They will provide a facility cost index for the health department building, Friend of the Court, Sheriff/jail and COA facilities following data gathering; walk through of the buildings and facility updates.


The facility cost index will compare the cost of modifications and renovations to the cost of building a new jail/COA, something commissioners asked for.


The $70,000 fee includes $5,000 for the facilities update and facility cost index and $53,000 for planning and public information services, estimated to take 400 hours. Tower Pinkster will provide materials for public information services for $12,000.

All of the billings are plus reimbursable expenses.


Implementation services for bond projects, (after a successful election) include design and construction administration at a yet to be negotiated fee, plus reimbursable expenses, the agreement reads.


In other business, the commissioners approved:

*an agreement for economic development services from the Barry County Economic Development Alliance/Chamber of Commerce for one year for $133.891.

*the purchase of Youth Center Management software

*accepting a $10,000 grant from Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for juvenile detention services

*adopting the Barry County Parks and Recreation five year plan, with several typos corrected.













Hastings "takes a breather," considers banning marijuana businesses

The Hastings City Council Monday asked its Attorney Stephanie Fekkes to write a draft ordinance for them to look at to decide if they want to prevent medical and recreational marijuana facilities and establishments from locating in the city.


The move would keep any such businesses from getting a “toe hold’ in the city during the time local officials wait for clarifying regulations on recreational marijuana to come from the state. If they opt out, they can opt back in at any time if they decide to, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.  


If the city doesn’t ban the businesses, and one sets up shop while the city waits for clarifications, the business may claim they are an established business that is “grandfathered” in.

The draft ordinance is centered on businesses, not individuals, who can legally grow and exchange the drug, he said.


Fekkes said some will say they are going against the will of the majority of voters who approved the use of recreational marijuana or, “voters allowed this.” However, communities are saying “we need a breather here, to get the regulations in place so we can zone appropriately for them. If the community allows them in after the fact, at least it is based on thoughtful zoning and regulation as opposed to someone coming in before you’re able to establish them.”


The latest available figures showed 113 Michigan communities have taken the route of opting out. Fekkes suggested a draft ordinance for the council to look at to consider any action they may take.

Councilman Al Jarvis said the change would be subject to referendum by the people, possibly force a special election “that might be a big expense for the city.”


”I completely understand opting out until regulations come out, but the voters are not going to understand it,” Councilman John Resseguie said. “Once it is written in stone, it will be very difficult to go ahead and opt back in.” He said they were going against the voters... “therefore that could cost the city a lot of money.”

The vote for a draft ordinance was 8-1, with Resseguie voting “no.”


Also Monday, the council heard the city will get new election equipment to convert the election poll book from paper to electronic format at no charge from the state for all four precincts in the city.

Deputy Manager Jerry Czarnecki said converting had been voluntary, but with changes in election law, they have to do it.


“The state provides the equipment, we agree to use it,” he said. The new system will be faster, more efficient and more accurate. As soon as the agreement with the state is signed, the state will move to get the equipment installed to have time for training of election workers before the May election, he said.


The change voters will see is during the first step in voting. A voter's qualification to vote will be verified on a computer instead of by hand in the poll book, and go directly into the state Qualified Voter File.

Hastings to update project plan for WWTP improvements to qualify for bonding or low interest loans

Department of Public Services Director Lee Hays Monday presented a proposal to the Hastings City Council to update the 2012 project plan for the city by Hubbell, Roth and Clark (HRC) outlining needs at the wastewater treatment plant and possible alternatives to addressing the needs.


The council approved hiring the company to update the report to reflect current conditions and prepare a Project Plan to be used as the city seeks funding options for the WWTP update. The plan must be updated every five years to be eligible for bonds or low interest loans from the DEQ, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.


Development of a revised WWTP Project Plan will upgrade the previous plan to include all information required by the DEQ. The update is expected to take six to eight weeks, the deadline for submitting a loan application is July 1, he said.


The Project Plan update, to cost $28,000, would be funded by the Water and Sewer Fund and document the entire WWTP process and collection system as well as all needs over the next 20 years for the entire planning area, including a dozen different functions of the plant.


When the documentation of the existing system is complete, HRC will prioritize immediate needs and future needs over the 20-year planning period. The immediate projects will be analyzed with alternatives, worth analyses and other information required by the DEQ.


In other business, the council directed Deputy City Manager Jerry Czarnecki to provide them with information for the next meeting on the natural gas rates from Consumers Power for the last year and the cost comparisons made three years ago when the company changed providers from Consumers Energy to Interstate Gas Supply Inc.


Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange wanted to know the previous costs, saying he gave them nothing to show them for them to compare…we don’t know if it’s a good idea, now you want us took okay a five year contract.”


Czarnecki had recommended a five-year contract with Interstate Gas Supply, for natural gas at a fixed rate of $3.09 per one thousand cubic feet (MCF). Their previous contract, which expires in April, was a fixed rate of $3.39 per MCF for three years.


Czarnecki said Consumers Energy would not give a fixed rate, the cost this month is $3.14 per MCF, it has been as high as $3.43 and low as $2.86 in past nine months.  Volunteer Energy offered a fixed $3.39 per MCF for a two year or three year contract.


In his monthly report, Police Chief Jeff Pratt said first responders county wide met to prepare for this year's Barry Roubaix race. This year’s event is capped at 3,500; there are already 2,900 racers signed up, 1,200 more than last year’s racers.

This year’s Roubaix is April 13 starting with the 100-mile race at 10 a.m.


Also, Sgt. Karen Larson attended a week-long training in supervision put on by Dolan Consultants and “brought back a lot of good information,” Pratt said. The department is expected join the West Michigan Criminal Justice Training Consortium in the very near future. “The consortium has many training sessions that will prove to be very beneficial to our younger officers and those who desire to become instructors in specialized areas,” Pratt said.


 Larson has volunteered to be the liaison with the police ambassadors. “I met with Larson, Dave McIntyre and John Resseguie and we came up with some good ideas to better our police ambassadors,” he said. Those interested in becoming a reserve officer or a police ambassador are asked to contact the police department for an application.


The council also approved:

*The Hastings Downtown Business Team hosting the Spring Girls Night Out Thursday, May 2 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. with music and sidewalk sales,


*South Central Michigan Youth Baseball using Fish Hatchery and Bob King Parks ball fields again this baseball season. There are no scheduling conflicts with the YMCA.


*setting a workshop March 14 at 6 p.m. to discuss comprehensive utility capital improvement and utility rate recommendations.


*a revised joint Hastings Public Library Board agreement, making it more flexible. The Library Board will now have representatives from the city and Rutland Township, but not Hastings Township since its voters turned down a millage request for library services. The agreement makes it easier for Hastings Township to come back in if they pass a millage in the future.




You're invited to be in the Hastings St. Patrick's Day Parade, the most relaxed parade of the year

It’s coming…the early spring event that everyone can get do with little preparation, have a silly time and see lots of smiling faces. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade down South Jefferson Street in Hastings forms in the alley behind WBCH Saturday, March 16 and steps off at 1 p.m.


Adults and kids with green dogs, hats, beads, feather boas and more elaborate costumes parade to celebrate being Irish, not being Irish, wanting to be Irish, St. Patrick for driving the snakes out of Ireland or just for the pleasure of doing something unscripted that doesn’t take much time, is enjoyable and a chance to see people  dressed funnier than you are.


Bring the kids because someone is always passing out candy. If you are going to be in the parade, you can call WBCH and tell them, or just show up. If you are downtown in Hastings at line up time, you’re welcome to join the ritual.


Be sure to say hello to Grand Marshal Ron Kloosterman. The six-block parade route ends where it began, but you can drop out anytime. It’s in the middle of March, so some might think that means spring weather; doesn’t matter, it may be balmy, snowy, raining, cold or warm, the parade goes on with everyone invited to walk in the parade, and then just go about their business with another of the most relaxed parades of the year under their belts.


The real Irish will probably stop for corned beef and cabbage and a green beer after.

New deputy director named at Eaton County Central Dispatch

Ms. Kelley Flynn, ENP, has been named the new deputy director of Eaton County Central Dispatch (ECCD), effective March 17, according to Director Michael Armitage.


“Ms. Flynn is being promoted from supervisor at Eaton County Central Dispatch. In addition to her experience here at ECCD, Ms. Flynn has impressive educational achievements and is recognized as an industry leader with the Emergency Number Professional (ENP) designation by the National Emergency Number Association,” Armitage said.


Flynn has 12 years of 911 telecommunicator experience at Eaton County Central Dispatch, holding positions of telecommunicator, communications training officer and supervisor. She has an M.P.A. with a concentration in emergency management from Jacksonville State University and a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Ferris State University.


Flynn has three children, Andrew, Addison, and Luella.


Photo: Deputy Director of Eaton County Central Dispatch Kelly Flynn


Eaton County Outdoor Warning Siren Communication System completed

In 2017, voters approved a 911 surcharge to fund a new public safety radio project for first responders in Eaton County, including upgrading communication systems for outdoor warning sirens in Eaton County. 


“Before 2017, central dispatch did not have the capability of activating outdoor warning sirens in the event of a tornado,” 911 Director Michael Armitage said. Before the upgrade, the systems were haphazard, with many communities relying on someone to respond to the fire station to activate a button. 


“We know that weather conditions change rapidly and with dispatch being staffed 24/7, it makes sense for us to have this capability to quickly activate sirens remotely,” Armitage said.


The upgraded system also brings additional benefits, Armitage said. “The system has two-way monitoring, so if there is a problem with the siren, we will be alerted of that.  We want to do everything possible to identify problems proactively, and not when we are going to activate a siren.” 


The system allows dispatch to activate sirens for sections in the county, instead of countywide, in order to prevent sirens being activated in areas that aren’t affected by the dangerous weather.  “We do not want to over-alert residents.  When sirens sound, you need to find shelter as the threat is imminent for your area,” he said.


In addition to the equipment upgrade, policies have also been updated to reflect best practices.  Sirens will be activated for tornado warnings issued by the National Weather Service, verified reports of a tornado by spotter/first responder and for severe storms with winds of 80 miles per hour. 


There will not be any all clear siren activations.  If sirens sound more than once, the threat is still imminent. Sirens will sound for a full three minutes.


Local municipalities are still responsible for the physical sirens, with Eaton County Central Dispatch providing the communication equipment at those siren sites. Participating communities include Bellevue, Eaton Rapids, Grand Ledge, Mulliken, Olivet, Potterville, Sunfield, Vermontville and Delta and Hamlin townships.

Countywide monthly testing starts Saturday, March 2 at 1 p.m. and continues year round.


The City of Charlotte did not participate in the program and will operate its siren system, testing at noon on the first Saturday of the month from April through October.  


It is also important to consider that sirens are meant to be heard outdoors, not indoors.  Eaton County Central Dispatch and Eaton County Emergency Management encourage residents to sign up for Rave Alerts by texting EATON to 67283, or visit our website at, Armitage said.




Just when you thought winter was going away, another powerful storm ripped into Michigan over the weekend. Winds gusting at times to 60 plus miles an hour. Rain and snow have caused icy conditions that have closed a number of  schools across the state and thousands are out of electric service this morning as the high winds brought down trees and limbs taking down power lines.


Tuesday night  through wednesday we could see another four inches of new snow., 

Barry County's First Female Deputy Sheriff Dies


The Barry County Sheriff's Office mourned the loss of their first female deputy on Friday.

Verlie Delcotto, known as sue, made history in November 1978, when she was sworn in as Barry County's first women on the force by Sheriff David Wood.


Delcotto was initially hired as a dispatcher for the Sheriff's Office in May 1976 and then continued her career by attending the Kalamazoo Valley Police Academy.

Thornapple Manor ribbon cutting Feb. 28 celebrates opening its employee daycare center

An idea an employee brought to Thornapple Manor administration has resulted in a recruiting tool, a better way to manage staff overtime and absences and, “is just a good thing to do.”


Third shift nurse Karen Dull suggested the facility start a day care center for its employees, Administrator Don Haney said. “It’s nice that an employee is comfortable enough to bring us an idea; it shows they are engaged.”


Researching the possibility and, “not being experts in that population,” they found the YMCA has experience in day care and after school programs. Working with “Y” Executive Director Jon Spoor, they decided it was feasible to have a licensed day care center.


Haney noted they have 315 employees. 80 percent of them are women and 80 percent of them are in their child-bearing years, “so there definitely is a need, and it’s a just good thing to do.”


“It was couple-year journey, keeping in touch with the “Y” all the time,” Haney said. They eventually found the ideal room in the main hallway of the facility. There are requirements for day cares so they configured the space with the Y’s advice. The Thornapple Manor Auxiliary purchased some of the items in the room.


“We said we’ll underwrite the cost, you just bill us every month, we have kitchen facilities so we’ll provide the food. The employees sign a contract with the YMCA for the daycare.” Haney said they looked at market rates at area day care centers, and set the cost at $30 a day or $150 a week, which Thornapple Manor subsidizes at 10 percent.


The daycare is named Generations and Haney expects inter-generational activities between the two age groups, possibly elders reading stories to the kids. “We’re excited to see how that works out,” he said.


Generations is an effective recruiting tool, easing parent’s minds when they have the children close by, know they are safe and can see to them during breaks and lunch. “We keep a couple of slots open so if we call someone in and they say they have no one to watch the kids, we say, bring them along. It helps us manage overtime,” Haney said.


Expansion of the day care in the future is a distinct possibility. “Depending on the use, it’s entirely possible down the road.”

Already open, the YMCA has three hired staff and the daycare has its first couple of children, who likely will be introduced during the celebration of the official opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday, Feb. 28 at noon at Thornapple Manor.

Eaton County court amnesty program continues through March 31

An amnesty program in three Eaton County courts began  Feb.1, and continues through March 31, according to an Eaton County Trial Court news release.


The 56A District Court, Juvenile Court and Friend of the Court amnesty is a one-time program designed to increase collections and minimize costs to the county. The program offers waivers of late fees, credits and warrant cancellations to individuals upon payments of court ordered obligations.


All the courts programs have restrictions; complete details of each court amnesty program are on the Eaton County website at


The Juvenile Court at 822 Courthouse Drive, Charlotte, 517-543-6003, ext.1246, offers three settlement options; contact the financial division of the court for an account review.


Friend of the Court offers three Wednesdays; Feb. 27, March 20 and March 27, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  for those with bench warrants to come in and work with the court to address child support issues and get the warrant cancelled.


56A District Court will waive late fees and cost to compel fees with payment in full or waivers for those entering a voluntary wage assignment. Go to the court, 1045 Independence Road in Charlotte between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or call 517-543-3359 for specific information.


The announcement does not preclude an individual’s arrest on a valid warrant before his or her appearance at court and after the amnesty program ends, enforcement “will resume in earnest on outstanding warrants," the news release said


Barry County sheriff gives department's January statistics

Comparing statistics from January, 2019 to January , 2014, incidents handled by Barry County uniformed patrol deputies were much higher, 653 to 458, but arrests were down, with 42 in 2019 (14 felonies/33 misdemeanors) to 54 arrests in 2014 (21 felonies/38 misdemeanors), according to Sheriff Dar Leaf’s report to county commissioners Tuesday.

There were 108 accidents in both years; 40 car/deer in 2019, 47 car/deer in 2014, and alcohol arrests were also the same at six,

Twenty-six home checks were made assisting the Swift and Sure, Sobriety and Drug courts; warrant checks and/or warrant request were run 385 times, 75 sex offender registry transactions and 576 court ordered blood test administered. The K-9 unit was activated once.


At the jail, corrections staff booked and processed 243 persons into jail and released 177 persons back into the community in January.  Staff took 65 sets of fingerprints for the public, transported 102 inmates to court, medical facilities or other counties, performed 81 weekend drug screens and served 7,361 meals to inmates for $1.50 per meal. Repair costs for the month of January included $1,200 for plumbing, $1,571 for HVAC and $170 for security.


The average daily inmate population for January was 80.

Barry Eaton Health Department employees put their money where their mission is

Barry Eaton District Health Department employees routinely contribute to a charitable donation fund during the year and then vote on the local charities and organizations that will receive the money, according to a health department media release. The vision of the health department is a community where everyone has the opportunity to live a long, health, and active life. To help fulfill that vision the employees recently donated $3,000 to local schools and humane societies in order to improve the health and wellness of schoolchildren and animals in local communities. 



(above) Kathy Pierce, from Maple Valley Schools, accepts a donation from BEDHD employees to help provide Maple Valley students with healthy eating and activities.


One of BEDHD’s strategies is to improve health; to provide every child with a strong, healthy start in life. To support that goal, employees chose to donate $200to each of the 12 school districts covering Barry and Eaton counties to contribute toward healthy foods and activities.


The funds might be used to pay for school lunches when a family may not be able to afford them, cold lunch packs sent home with students who otherwise might not have a meal at home, gym or exercise equipment, or even a school garden or greenhouse.


The Barry County Humane Society and the Eaton County Humane Society will each receive a $300 donation from BEDHD employees. Pets can contribute greatly to our mental health and well-being, helping to protect the public from possible diseases that can come from stray cats and dogs aligns with BEDHD’s strategy of protecting the community from potential health hazards.


The humane societies make a large impact in lowering stray animal populations through spay and neuter programs and connecting pets with loving homes.













(left) Tim Berlin from the Hastings Area School System, accepts a donation from BEDHD employees to promote healthy eating and activities for students in Hastings schools.


Public hearing set for Barry County Park & Rec 5-year recreation plan

Four public meetings and a comprehensive on-line survey of area residents told the authors of the updated Barry County Parks and Recreation’s Master Plan what the people wanted most in recreation in the county.


The five-year plan, which took more than a year to create, is required by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the National Park Service to obtain recreation grants for the county.

Charlton Park Director Dan Patton and Parks and Recreation Board Administrator Ron Weldon asked the county commissioners to set a public hearing at their Feb. 26 meeting, to be followed by approval of the plan.


The survey had good participation with more than 350 responses, which is very high for a survey, Welton said. The survey will be on the Barry County website, for another week, Patton said.


The things people listed as most important to them in 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 pickle ball courts tied with 25 votes each.


The 27-page plan has an introduction, community description, administrative structure, recreation inventory, planning and input process, needs assessment, goals and objectives, action program and capital improvement schedule, local adoption and certification plan and appendix.


During public comment Tuesday, Doris Hale, two-year member of the Charlton Park Board, resigned the position with a year left in her term, saying she “appreciated working under the able leadership of Sharon Zebrowski” and appreciated the contributions of all board members.


Hale said as a member of the recommendation committee, she was disappointed to see the county commission put aside the committee’s recommendation for Zebrowski to continue on the board and appoint another. Their time and thoughtful efforts should have been considered, especially since they are a governing board, not advisory, she told commissioners.


“I appreciate the work of the current board leadership. However, the focus seems to me to have moved in the direction of facilities without the same focus on the overall park. Facilities is an area in which I frankly have less to offer.

“As such, I am resigning from the board that another may take my place. Of course I will continue to support Charlton Park in every way and wish you all the very best,” she said.

Barry County Economic Development Alliance, county agree on one year contract

An agreement for the Barry County Economic Development Alliance and its parent company, the Barry County Chamber of Commerce, to provide services to the county for $133,891 for one year was recommended for approval by unanimous vote of county commissioners Tuesday.

The funding for the agreement, which is approved every year, is in the 2019 general fund budget.


Travis Alden, president of the organizations, gave an overview of the economic development programs, stressing that they no longer “chase smokestacks” and have a focus much wider than that.


The mission of the BCEDA is “to utilize a progressive approach to create an environment for the retention and expansion of business and industry in Barry County consistent with the preservation of our rural quality of life.” The overall goal of the alliance is to prioritize strategic goals for their impact on Barry County; to build prosperity in the community and improve lives in Barry County.


Alden said the four most important positive impacts the BCEDA strives to have on the Barry County community are: stimulating economic growth, improving quality of life for res.idents, being the catalyst, maximizing Barry County’s potential and being the convener, Alden said.


Aden listed some of the initiatives under the four large goals, noting, “Everything we do is under these four areas.” For more on the BCEDA, go to the county website, scroll to the bottom of the first page and click on “latest board packet.”


Commissioners also  recommended approval of:

*Youth Center Juvenile Case Management software for the Family Division of the Barry County Trial Court that will do away with manual tracking, allow easier compliance of changing rules, increased efficiency for staff, better data collection and more time with juveniles by probation officers. The $3,500 cost for the 90-day trial of the system will be reimbursed by the state.


*also to do with juveniles in the court system, commissioners recommended approval of a Regional Detention  Support Services grant of $10,000 to pay for transportation of juveniles to court or residential facilities by licensed, independent contractors. Transporters must pass background checks, and attend training; they will to be paid $12 an hour and mileage, currently .58 cents a mile.


The recommendations will be acted on at the commissioner’s regular board meeting Feb. 26.


UpdateTwo killed in Vehicle Crash

55 year old Steven Kennedy and his 12 year old son Joseph Kennedy of Hastings were killed Saturday night on Charlton Park Road east of Hastings around 7 p.m..

Michigan State Police Troopers from Hastings said the vehicle left the road and crashed into a tree. Their preliminary investigation said Steven Kennedy may have swirved to avoid and animal in the road causing the vehicle to go out of control and crash into the tree.The accident remains under investigation. 

87th District State Rep. Calley plans local office hours Feb. 25

87th District State Rep. Julie Calley, of Portland,  will hold office hours in two communities Monday, Feb. 25.


Calley will meet with constituents in Lake Odessa from 11 a.m. to noon at the Page Memorial Building, 8239 4th Avenue and from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. in Hastings at the Hastings City Hall Council Chambers, 201 East State Street.


Calley will give a legislative update to attendees. If residents have individual concerns, she will take one-on-one meetings.  “Accountable representation requires consistent feedback,” Calley said. “Office hours present an opportunity for productive dialogue with those whom I serve,” she said.


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


If the school district closest to the office hours location is closed for inclement weather, office hours in that area will also be cancelled.



Cops win b-ball game vs Hastings Police Cadets by one point ; was there help from a scorer?

Charges were flying even before the just-for-fun Cops vs. Cadets basketball game was over last week at Hastings High School.  Leading the complaints was Hastings Police Sgt. Kris Miller, who said he became suspicious when a cadet nailed a free throw and the score jumped five points for the cadets.


Hastings Officer Josh Sensiba posted the score and waved away any protest, but Miller is pretty sure that wasn’t the only time Sensiba boosted the score for the cadets. While pleasant enough, Sensiba had no comment.


According to Miller, some of the referees were former cadets who made some “pretty weird” calls, clearly enjoying their part in the game.


The annual basketball game of Cops vs Cadets is looked forward to by both sides, with abundant back and forth banter, trash talk and outright falsehoods about athletic abilities by both sides before, during and after the game.


In the end, the game was decided by one point.


It couldn’t have been that the cadets were just keeping up with the (much) older cops, could it,” Miller was asked. “No, no, that’s never going to happen,” he said with conviction.


Or, could it be that Miller was trying to “buy” the Cops vs Teacher charity basketball game coming up?  “Well, that could be.” he said. “We’re 0 and 2 against the teachers, and it’s getting old.”


The best advice for Miller: Stop talking. Your team won by one. You get no bragging rights for a one-point win, and it could have been a whole lot worse if Sensiba hadn’t dozed off in the fourth quarter.


The charity basketball game on April 10 at the Hastings High School at 6 p.m. is in honor of Nolan Lucas, a Star Elementary School student who has juvenile diabetes. The cost is $5 to attend the game; t-shirts will be for sale and all proceeds go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.


The game is for a serious cause, but the cops and teachers will still have a great time, adding to the department’s community involvement, with both sides good-naturedly claiming bragging rights, no matter the score, or how they got it.











Photos:  (upper left) Here’s  the Cops vs Cadets 2019 basketball game team, cadets in blue in front, cops in gray. Both sides look forward to the game, talk friendly trash, play hard, have a good time and demonstrate good sportsmanship.


(upper right) Cadet Zack Wells (left) sets and adds two points for the cadets. Cadet Mentor Carson Winnick anticipates the trajectory of the ball to the hoop.


(middle left) At the scorekeeping/announcing table, (left to right) Angie Tinkler, Jeff Tinkler, Hastings Officer Josh Sensiba and announcer Paul Ballinger work the game, amid rumors that Sensiba doesn’t count very well (neither confirmed nor denied).


(left) Max Martz, Class of 2019 Cadet, marches down the floor to the basket with no defenders in sight.



(right) The scoreboard tells the tale. It’s official; no do-overs, no instant replay, no appeal.



Church Safety Conference teaches church security is much more than active shooters

Wayne Pope from Middleville attended the Barry County Church Safety Conference Saturday thinking about becoming a security team member at his church. After attending the conference, that’s what he decided to do.



Pope, retired from Pacific Bell, now AT&T, in San Diego California, took the morning active shooter workshop instructed by Skip Coryell.


“I took an advanced course in that. Coryell is a good instructor." During an exercise, Pope said  he made a mistake and he learned from it. He will apply and, “hopefully, be a security team member for TVC in Middleville.”


Barry County Special Deputy Larry Jackson leads the county Church Safety Team; he has helped set up safety teams in churches in Barry, Allegan, Eaton, Ionia, Kent and Clinton counties. He was also one of the six Instructors at the conference Saturday at the first Baptist Church in Middleville. All of the workshops were filled.


While the classes for active shooter filled up first, there is so much more to church security, Jackson said; it could be anything unexpected, an illness, severe weather or something else.


He tells of  when a woman passed out in the church sanctuary. He has EMT training so he took her vital signs and made her comfortable until the ambulance arrived. “It turned out to be some sort of heart problem. That happens a lot more than you would think,” he said. “You should know what to do.”


“There are bad people everywhere, and that is in the church as well…you don’t know what will happen, but training is useful in most situations,” he said.


Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf agreed. He said active shootings are shocking, but more people are killed from looking down at their cellphone and stepping into traffic than in active shooter situations.


Five main workshops were topics at the event; CPR, AED & First Aid, Active Shooter, Legal, Team Building/Policy & Procedures/Insurance and Violence/Intruder Response (Non-Lethal).

Workshop Instructors, Coryell, Jackson, Michael Maring, Terry Johnson, Jim Yarger and Thomas Conrad each have extensive experience in their specific areas; all are certified by local, state or national organizations.


Leaf listed more than a dozen organizations that provided support for the event hosted by the Barry County Sheriff’s Office and thanked Pastor Nate Archer for providing the church for the conference.


Photos: (upper left) Wayne Pope will apply to be on the security team at the Middleville branch of Thornapple Valley Church.


 (middle left) When a security officer takes down an assailant with a knife, portrayed here by Michael Maring, that’s when you pile on, Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf said. Here, he shows where to hit the attacker for the most effect.


(lower left) Active Shooter workshop attendant (from left) Wayne Pope, and Instructors Skip Coryell and Larry Jackson take a lunch break before the afternoon workshops.


PFAS found at Viking Corporation in Hastings; not found in any drinking water source

A Barry Eaton District Health Department media release is reporting the Michigan DEQ has found the Viking Corporation in Hastings has high levels of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).


The PFAS were found in shallow groundwater environmental monitoring wells, not in a drinking water source, the release said. Currently, there are no known drinking water sources in the flow of the groundwater found to contain PFAS.


The Viking site as well as nearby properties use the City of Hastings municipal water as their drinking water source. Municipal water from the City of Hastings was tested for PFAS in April of 2018, and PFAS were not found.


“We’re aware of the situation and are staying in close contact with both MDEQ and the Barry-Eaton District Health Department,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said. “We have no reason to believe this poses any threat at all to the city’s water supply system.  On the contrary, we’re fortunate to have a public water system serving this area.”


Colette Scrimger, Health Officer at BEDHD said: “At this time, we do not believe that the drinking water in this area is affected by this area of PFAS contamination, and the risk to the public is very, very low,”  


 PFAS were detected on the Viking property, and in lower concentrations in neighboring properties. The corporation is currently working with MDEQ to further investigate PFAS contamination and determine the next steps. Some types of PFAS such as perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) may be harmful to human health when ingested (eaten or drank), the release said.


The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) is a multi-agency action team to investigate and address PFAS contamination in Michigan. To see the results of local PFAS testing, visit MPART’s website at For those with a private well who are interested in testing their water for PFAS, information on sampling and testing can be found at the MPART’s website at


PFAS are thought to be harmful to health only when ingested. Although more research is needed, some PFAS may lower the chance of getting pregnant, increase the chance of high blood pressure during pregnancy, and increase the chance of thyroid disease, increase cholesterol levels, change immune response, and increase the chance of cancer, especially kidney and testicular cancers.


PFAS have many industrial applications, including waterproofing and firefighting foam. The source of PFAS for this site is firefighting foam used between 1998 or 1999 through 2001.


The Viking site manufactured and tested fire suppression equipment, which involved the use of fire-fighting foam containing PFAS from the late 1990’s through 2001. Most companies have stopped using PFOS and PFOA.


For more information on PFAS, visit MPART’s website at  The Barry-Eaton District Health Department can be reached at (269) 945-9516, select 3, and then 5.



Charlotte native newest Hastings Police Officer

Kaitlin Stults comes from Charlotte. The newest hire in the Hastings Police Department came on board Feb. 8 and will be learning Hastings department’s procedures and policies in 14 weeks of field training with another certified officer before she goes out on her own.



Eventually, she would like to be a detective. She’s a community policing advocate, “loves kids,” has been a school liaison officer and would do it again.

A former Gratiot County Sheriff’s deputy, she served as a court bailiff for nine months before coming to Hastings, where she has cousins who live in the area.


Stults applied to the Hastings police because she was familiar with Barry County, “Hastings is a nice little town,” and she wanted full time work. Her family, mom Karen, dad Brian and sister MacKenzie approve of her choice of careers and is excited for her, she said. She said the best part of police work is being able to help people, and contrary to how most officers feel said: “I love to write reports.”


Stults earned her certification as a police officer from MidMichigan Police Academy-Lansing Community College.


Photo: HPD Officer Kaitlin Stults



Two Hastings Schools community forums set for Tuesday, Feb. 19 (corrected)

The Hastings Area Schiool System is hosting two  forums asking for community input on the qualities, experiences and skills that a new superintendent needs. There are two, forums; both on Tuesday, Feb 19;  one at 10:30 a.m. in the middle school library and the other at 6:30 p.m. in the middle school commons area.


Barry County Church Safety Conference is Saturday

Safety and security in places of worship has become an area of concern nationally in recent years.

A church safety conference hosted by the Barry County Sheriff’s Office is designed for church administrators and members with a focus on those who will be, or are, directly involved with security planning.


The conference is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16 at the First Baptist Church in Middleville.


It will provide guidance in the development of strategy in several areas including, first aid, CPR &AED, legal, Smart  911, active shooter, severe weather, insurance, team building and violence/intruder response/non-lethal.


“We help prepare churches for unexpected events. You don’t know when a tornado is coming, but you can be prepared for it,” Sheriff Dar Leaf said. “I’m pleased all of the classes are full; we’ll have another conference in the near future.”


The sheriff’s office gives the presentations as a public service, mostly with volunteers. They have hosted the conferences at several churches in Barry and surrounding counties.




Hastings students may be part of a "Walking School Bus"

Tim Newsted, retired longtime teacher and coach in the Hastings Schools, is in charge of a new program for students in Northeastern and Central Elementary and the Middle School. Its students can be part of a Walking School Bus.


Newsted told the Hastings City Council Monday that as soon as the weather is better, likely after spring break, the kids from Central and Middle schools will be invited meet him at Johnson Field on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and make up a Walking School Bus, walking in a group from there to school.


“It will help reduce traffic problems, hopefully a little bit, and help get the kid’s minds active before school starts...It’s a mini-field trip for the kids before school… anyone can join in,” he said. Elementary students will be awarded charms for a bracelet; middle schoolers will get a snack.

“It’s exciting. I think the kids will like it.” 


Newsted plans other activities, supporting the National Bike to School Day in May and a bike rodeo at a Very Barry Family Event in June, with plans to restart the program in the fall.

“The whole idea is to get some exercise and have fun walking and biking,” he said.


A grant from the Michigan Fitness Foundation, to promote healthy activities for students, was awarded for two Hastings schools. Northeastern; and because they are so close in proximity, the Middle school and Central Elementary are counted as one.


The walking bus program is part of Safe Routes to School, a federal program to make it safe, convenient, and fun for children, including those with disabilities, to bicycle, walk or roll to school, and an easy way for children to get regular physical activity.

Its initiatives also help ease traffic jams and air pollution, unite neighborhoods and contribute to students' readiness to learn in school, according to a Safe Routes to School website.


Hastings received a grant more than a year ago and began improvements to create corridors for safe travel to the city schools.

Bank changes name, services remain the same

Hastings City Bank became Highpoint Community Bank recently and President and CEO Mark Kolanowski came to the Barry County Commission meeting Tuesday with answers to questions about the change.


Kolanowski stressed the things important to customers had not changed; All of the account numbers are good, checks with the HCB logo should be used until they run out and debit and credit cards are still valid.


Also, direct deposits and outside transfers are the same as before the name change. Debit cards and SecurLock on smartphones will automatically update. Coupon books are the same, as are the banks e-mail address and telephone banking.


“It’s the same bank with a new name,” he said.

There are address changes in a few bank programs. To find them and for a full list of frequently asked questions and much more information, visit


Hastings City Bank was formed in 1886, before the state chartered banks.  When that started in 1889, HCB was the second bank chartered by the State of Michigan. The bank now has seven branches in five counties.


Kolanowski said they began the name change process in 2015. “We approach our future with a name that is more reflective and inclusive of all the communities we have grown to serve, one that speaks positively to the type of bank we will be as we move forward, and one that also reminds us pf the rich traditions bound by service to customer and community that brought us to where we are today,” he said.


In other business, the commission approved:

*a grant agreement with the Two Seven Oh, Inc. Foundation for $2,500 to fund spaying and neutering of animals at the Animal Shelter before adoption.


*an Indigent Defense Fund budget for revenue and expenditure line items.

*the purchase of a 2019 Tahoe for the sheriff’s office to replace a vehicle totaled in a car/deer collision.


*re-appointing Cindy Vujea to the Parks & Recreation board for a three year term.


*changes in Community Corrections Advisory Board bylaws.

Split Barry County Commission approves indigent defense attorneys

Barry County Commissioners all had opinions on the staff of 10 attorneys proposed for the new Barry County Indigent Defense Council by Chief Public Defender Kerri Selleck. The commissioners who approved outnumbered those opposed and the list was approved Tuesday, 4-3.


An earlier vote to approve the attorneys failed on a 3-3 vote with one member absent, the panel agreed to take another vote when all commissioners were present.


Commissioners Vivian Conner, Jon Smelker and Howard “Hoot” Gibson all disapproved of attorney Gordon Shane McNeill as a member. Conner said she remembered the turmoil when McNeill served as county prosecutor and resigned under threat of recall, saying  she, “did not want to go down that path again.” Gibson said two constituents had contacted him with objections to McNeill.


Smelker did not go into specific complaints against McNeill, but said he has talked to Selleck, judges, the bar association, attorneys and commissioners from other counties and had not made his decision without considerable thought. He said it is not micromanaging; it is oversight which is a commissioner’s job.


Commissioners David Jackson, Dan Parker, Heather Wing and Ben Geiger supported Selleck’s right to select her own panel. “It’s not my job to do your job,” Jackson said to Selleck. To his questions, she verified all attorneys were in good standing with the Barry County Bar Association and judges said when the attorneys were in court they were timely, prepared and serving their clients to the best of their abilities..

The attorneys have one year contracts and have to reapply for the position every year, she said.


Parker said he talked to all three judges and they are in a position to see any shenanigans by attorneys. “I felt strongly that I don’t want to micromanage. She has the ability to give a pass or fail, we don’t have to.”


Geiger noted that the 10 selected are all qualified attorneys who have experience and have been evaluated.  “This isn’t approving 10 people, it’s approving an Indigent Defense Council…the thing to do is pass this unanimously.”


Two citizens in public comment time threatened legal action if McNeill was approved.

George Hubka challenged the selection process, lack of information available and complained commissioners were approving a $300,000 program for 10 people with less interviewing than when appointing members of the Agricultural  Board.


He wanted to know why Attorney James Goulooze was not put back on as an indigent defense attorney. Goulooze has appealed to commissioners to reverse Selleck’s decision and put him on the panel. Hubka gave Selleck a Freedom of Information request for copies of the applications of the 11 attorneys who applied.


Elden Shellenbarger, who spoke against McNeill on Jan.22, said he would file complaints with either the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission or the Michigan Attorney Grievance Board and it would, “cost you money to have you look at this.”

Hastings encouraging more use of city parks by YMCA

Hastings area residents and visitors will likely see more use of city parks in the near future Department of Public Services Lee Hays told the Hastings City Council Monday.


“I have been working with Jon Sporer from the YMCA with regard to getting more utilization of the city park system from the local YMCA,” Hays said in his monthly report. “For the last several years, the YMCA has been utilizing fields at the elementary schools for their youth sports. Recently, the schools instituted a fee for rental of the fields. This makes the use of the city facilities a more prominent issue at this time.”


The list of fields and areas needed by the YMCA for area youth, adults and church leagues total more than a dozen recreation activities at different fields for soccer, softball/baseball, sand volleyball, T-ball and flag football. “I would like to see more use of our parks,” Hays said.


At Fish Hatchery Park, the older of two restrooms, the one nearest the parking lot, will be demolished and a new structure put in its place using the existing utility leads. The restroom replacement is budgeted as part of the city’s capital improvement plan.


The tennis courts at the park have not been usable for some time and will be removed by public works staff and replaced with grass for six-different sized soccer fields, making a total of seven fields for soccer in the park/ The YMCA will stripe and maintain the fields, Hays said.


The council also approved Ordinance 563 concerning Riverside Cemetery on its second reading. Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange was the only no vote, saying she disagreed with a change that lets residents buy several burial lots that may eventually go to non-residents.


Some changes include:

*each burial space may contain one vault and one cremains, or two cremains.


*Opening or closing a burial space is controlled by the city clerk unless it is ordered by the proper authorities, instead of the local health department.


*Several clerical responsibilities were moved from the director of public services to the city clerk.


*Demonstrations of any kind are prohibited unless authorized by the city clerk.


*Correction of an error will be taken after the burial rights owner has been notified and given 30 days to appeal the action to the city clerk.


For details on all the changes, go to the city website and click on the city council packet for Feb. 11.



Thornapple Plaza will again have beer and wine for sale during entertainment events

The Hastings City Council approved the Hastings Rotary and Kiwanis clubs selling beer and wine again this year at Thornapple Plaza events. The request is now part of the food vending/ concession stand agreement approved by the council at its last meeting.

However, the selling of beer and wine was a request and not part of the agreement, and was amended to become part the legal agreement at the request of Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange.


Changes in the beer and wine sales from last year include selling beer and wine later during the entertainment and removing the two drink limit. Council members and Solmes say there have been no problems with alcohol consumption at any of the events.


The clubs will provide insurance coverage recommended by the city’s insurance carrier.

McNabb-Stange and Councilmen Bill Redman and Donald Bowers voted no. Redman cited a survey question in the Banner showing the majority of people who responded said it should not be sold and approving was “going against the public.” McNabb-Stange again objected to the non-legal drafting of the agreement and Bowers did not give a reason for his vote.


The council also approved a request from the Thornapple Arts Council to solicit donations at the Spray Plaza and the Thornapple Plaza during its 2019 entertainment events.

An announcement is made during performances and a donation can is passed around the crowd. “The amounts are not insignificant,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said. “It’s more than I thought.” The money raised goes back into future programs.


Tom Thompson, from Professional Code Inspectors (PCI), gave the city building report; 88 permits issued worth $8,680,666 in 2018.  In 2017, the numbers were 82 permits, valued at $5,414,617.  PCI inspected 329 rental units. As of Dec. 31, 2018, there were 872 rental units registered in the city. Thompson also provided the names of the permit holders, the type of project and the cost.


Mansfield gave the council the year end city assessment report from Assessing Assistant KristaTietz.  He confirmed that City Assessor Jackie Timmerman, who is recovering from an illness, has retired. It is possible she will come back later, he said. 


Mansfield said he will meet with temporary City Assessor Dan Kirwin, to talk about extending his contract past March Board of Review. An independent contractor, Kirwin is well respected in the assessing community and has been filling in since the absence of Timmerman, who recommended him.


In other business:


*The 15th St. Patrick’s Day Parade which travels down South Jefferson Street, was approved for Saturday, March 16 at 1 p.m. as requested by Steve Radant from WBCH Radio.


*a revised joint Hastings Public Library Board agreement, making it more flexible, had the first reading.  The Library Board will have representatives from the city and Rutland Township. Hastings Township voters turned down a millage request for library services; the agreement makes it easier for Hastings Township to come back in if they pass a millage in the future, Attorney Stephanie Fekkes said.


*Clerk Jane Saurman administered the Oath of Office to Councilman Don Smith, who was reelected to the Third Ward




2019 Winterfest, a celebration of winter not to be missed

Winterfest is packed with things to do and see this Saturday at Yankee Springs State Park with activities for everyone of any age or athletic ability. The family friendly event, set to go, snow or no snow, features familiar favorites of the past and some new events that likely will become old favorites.


Kids and adult games, a Gun Lake Idol contest, magic show, bean bag toss, petting zoo, disc golf challenge, horse drawn wagon rides, chili cook off, raffle drawing and the ever popular Polar Dip are set along with many other attractions for Saturday, Feb. 16.


Stop by for the pancake breakfast hosted by firefighters at Gun Lake Community Church at 8 a.m. before the 9:45 a.m. Opening Ceremonies and flag raising by the Forgotten Eagles and the Gun Lake Tribe at 10 a.m. at the State Park.


Be sure to get a schedule to see what’s happening in the lead-up to Saturday:

*Tuesday, Feb.12 at 6 p.m., Justin Star Legacy vs. Andru at 5 Lakes Brewing, and at 8 p.m. at Red Sports Bar & Grill.

*Wednesday, Feb. 13, Gun Lake Idol semi-finals at Gun Lake Casino Stage 131.

*Thursday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. a Euchre tournament at the Wayland VFW Hall.


The Yankee Springs Recreation Area is at 2104 South Briggs Road, Middleville. There is free parking. For more on Winterfest, go to


Photo: Kaelyn Steenwyk, 12, created the winning logo for Winterfest 2019.































































Michigan State Police::Be cautious with e-mails with "invoice" or "receipt" in subject line

The Michigan State Police (MSP), Michigan Cyber Command Center (MC3) is alerting the public to an increase in fraudulent emails containing malicious links or attachments sent to businesses and individuals across Michigan, according to an MSP media release.


Recent emails have subject lines that include word like “Invoice” or “Receipt” and contain an attachment or link to download a PDF, MS Word or Excel document that contains malware.


Recent infections have been a result of the Emotet virus known to steal contact information from any email address book that the user maintains, which allows the scammer to send spoofed emails to the user’s contacts. Other side effects of the malware include stealing passwords or banking information, encryption of user files and spreading of the virus to other computers that may be connected to the user’s network.


The MC3 recommends carefully screening all emails prior to clicking on links or opening any attachments. Any email with attachments or embedded web links should be handled with care until the recipient can verify the authenticity of the email. Users should consider if they are expecting an email or document from the “sender” prior to opening any attachments or clicking on any links.


Additional information about the virus can be found at


Hastings School Board seeks public opinion on qualities a new superintendent needs

The Hastings Area School System’s Board of Education is beginning the process of hiring a new superintendent following Dr. Carrie Duits retirement June 30.

They are starting by asking for community input on the qualities, experiences and skills that a new superintendent needs, a school media release said.


All interested parties are encouraged to participate in the process. The board is being assisted in its search by the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB), a service organization that supports the work of school boards throughout Michigan.  Donna Oser, CAE, is facilitating the search on behalf of MASB by conversations in the district to give the community opportunity for input.


Parents, community members and interested parties are invited to share their perspectives at meetings on:


*Tuesday, Feb. 12, Cancelled due to Weather Conditions.

*Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 6:30 p.m. in the Middle School Commons Area, 232 West Grand Street.


Input may also be shared via an online survey, available at


The survey, administered by the MASB Executive Search Service, takes about ten minutes to complete. Anonymous individual responses will be combined with those from the face-to-face meetings with stakeholders to provide important community input as the board of education develops its superintendent selection criteria.

The survey will close Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 5 p.m. The new superintendent is expected to assume the position July 1.



Kent County Animal Shelter and partners offer free pet boarding services to shelter occupants

The Kent County Animal Shelter is providing a free-of-charge pet boarding service for residents with pets who are seeking shelter from the winter storm, according to a Kent County media release.. The service is only available only to residents seeking shelter at the four emergency shelters listed below.


Qualifying locations:

*Ottawa Hills High School, 2055 Rosewood Avenue S.E., Grand Rapids.


*Union High School 1800 Tremont Boulevard N.W., Grand Rapids.  *Residents who are oxygen-dependent should go to Union High School.


*North Rockford Middle School 397 East Division Street N.E., Rockford.  *Please note: pets will shelter in place with their owners at this facility.


* Walker Fire Department 1470 3-Mile Road N.W., Walker.


Residents are encouraged to seek other pet boarding options first, as space at these emergency animal shelters is limited. Please note: once residents register at the shelter, animals will be transported to a safe, secure and warm animal boarding facility.


When arriving at one of these facilities with a pet, owners will register their animal with the Kent County Animal Shelter and it will then be transported to a safe and warm boarding facility. Pets will be kept at the animal boarding facility throughout the weekend while owners remain at the emergency shelter.


Pet owners are encouraged to bring identification, vaccination records and any medication the animal is currently taking. Pet owners will also need to sign a release of liability form.

Kent County Emergency Management reports on operations and resources

As a result of this winter storm, Kent County Emergency Management activated its Emergency Operations Center on Thursday, Feb. 7, and as of 7 p.m. gave updated information via a media release on the current situation because of the significant weather event.


Power Outages:

Kent County residents are continuing to experience unprecedented power outages primarily in the north and east areas of the county. Consumers Energy has reported 112,000 people are still without power and they have 366 crews addressing the current outages.

Emergency Management staff remains in contact with the National Weather Service, Consumers Energy, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and several private sector partners.


Emergency Shelter Operations:

Arrangements have been made with the American Red Cross and Salvation Army to address the staffing and operation concerns at four emergency shelters - Ottawa Hills High School, Union High School, Walker Fire Department, and North Rockford Middle School.

The four locations offer free pet boarding by the Kent County Animal Shelter for those with pets. Residents are encouraged to seek other boarding options first, as space at these emergency animal shelters is limited. Please visit for complete details on the boarding process.


Dispatch Center:

Call volumes at the Kent County Sheriff’s Office dispatch center are currently stable. Please do not call 911 to report that your power is out or to see when it is coming back on. Visit for a complete outage map.


Kent County Road Commission:

According to the Kent County Road Commission, most roadways are clear, however many remain snow and ice covered with challenging conditions. Repeat applications of sand/salt deicing mix has been applied to state and primary roads, but the ongoing snowfall and low temps minimize effectiveness. Motorists should call 911 if they encounter an obstruction or emergency while driving.

Please do not report travel emergencies via social media as it may not receive an expedited response.

Portland city manager updates Grand River ice jams, flooding situation

Today, Portland City Manager S. Tutt Gorman provided an update on the ice jams and flooding in the area.

According to his media release, at about 10:22 a.m. Friday,  ice jams on the Grand River broke up and caused additional flash flooding. In collaboration with emergency services personnel and city engineers, the decision was made to close the Grand River Avenue Bridge, the Bridge Street Bridge and the River Trail Pedestrian Bridge.


Several residents were immediately evacuated from affected areas with no injuries reported. Portland City Hall has been designated as a temporary shelter until a permanent shelter is established.


The Grand River continues to flood upstream and evacuations continue. The electric grid is in stable condition, but we may be disconnecting power in the affected areas.


The Wastewater Treatment Plant has been operating at levels far exceeding its design due to excessive storm water that has entered the system.


In order to protect the health and safety of our residents, partially treated or untreated wastewater has been discharged into the Grand River during this event. The city has provided notice to all required agencies.


The city’s water system is fully operational with no issues reported.

City officials have been in further discussion with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who restated that using explosives or other means to break the ice is not effective and problematic under these conditions.


The city, along with county and state agencies, continues to monitor this active situation and will provide more information as the event progresses.


No body contact with the Grand River downstream of Portland wastewater treatment plant

On Friday, Feb. 8, the City of Portland experienced a sewage overflow into the Grand River, according to a press release from the Ionia County Health Department.


The Health Department has issued a Public Health Advisory recommending no body contact with the Grand River downstream of the City of Portland Wastewater Treatment Plant. Testing will take place when conditions allow.


Questions regarding the details of the overflow should be directed to F&V Operations at 616-588-2900.


Questions regarding the Public Health Advisory should be directed to the Ionia County Health Department.


For more information on E. coli in surface water, visit


For more information on sewage overflows in Michigan, visit:


If your home has been flooded, visit

Eaton County Dispatch: Slow down on dangerous roads, give first responders room to work

Michael Armitage, director of Eaton County Dispatch 911, said there are hazardous conditions on the roadways and is asking motorists to slow down. “We’re seeing numerous accidents across Eaton County,” Armitage said in a news release,


“More specifically, there are extremely hazardous road conditions and a significant accident involving multiple vehicles in Delta Township on I-69 near Saginaw Highway (M-43),” he said.


“First responders are reporting numerous issues with cars continuing to travel at 70 miles per hour despite the hazardous conditions as they try to remedy the situation. Please slow down!  First responders need room to work in order to tend to patients and get the roads back open for travel.”




Hastings Area Schools System Make Up Days

Due to the number of cancelled school days, Hastings Area School's System will start making up days this month. February 18, 2019 was originally scheduled as a day off in honor of President's Day. Instead, we will have school on February 18, 2019. 

posting from Hastings Area Schools System Facebook page.

Frito-Lay recalls some Stacy's Simply Naked Pita Chips

Frito-Lay has announced a limited voluntary recall of a very small number of 7 1/3 ounce bags of Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips because they may contain undeclared milk ingredients, according to a media release from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.


People with an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk run the risk of a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume the recalled pita chips.One consumer allergic reaction related to this matter has been reported to date.


The recalled chips were distributed nationwide with a “Use By” date of 23 APR 2019 and a nine-character manufacturing code of “65M127902” below the “Use By” date found on the front of the bag along the top right side. n addition, the recalled bags will also have a UPC code of “028400564632” on the bottom right side of the back of the bag. No other Stacy’s products or flavors are recalled.


The recall was initiated after it was discovered that 228 bags of chips were inadvertently filled with another flavor of pita chips, potentially exposing consumers to undeclared milk.

Frito-Lay has informed the FDA of our actions.


Consumers with the product noted above can return it to a retailer for a refund or contact Frito-Lay Consumer Relations at 1-800-352-4477 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday.


Hastings Performing Arts Center Grand Opening is Sunday

The Hastings Performing Arts Center is a reality and welcomes the community to its dedication and Grand Opening series Sunday, Feb. 10. The Center’s inaugural season debuts with presentations by Hastings School Bands at 2 p.m. and the Hastings School Choirs at 4 p.m.


“The Hastings Performing Arts Center is a community destination for the arts. We are excited to open this amazing facility so our students have an exceptional space to share their talent. We are also hoping to host community events and outside groups as well,” Hastings Area School System Superintendent Carrie Duits said.


A highly anticipated event is the Hastings High School production of “Beauty and the Beast” with Matt Callaghan directing. The musical is set for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 14, 15 and 16 with performances at 7 p.m. all three evenings and a matinee at 2 p.m. on Saturday.


Other programs coming up soon:

*Barry ISD Regional Spelling Bee- Feb. 12

*Thornapple Wind Band Concert with Olivet College- Feb. 22nd

*Mary Youngs Concert- March 2

*Middle School Ensembles Night- March 19

*Hastings Band Celebration- March 22

*Thornapple Arts Council Jazz Festival- April 25-27


Mike Sali, the managing director of the center, is a professional with a bachelor’s degree in technical theater from Aquinas Collage, 15 plus years of experience in theatrical production and eight years of experience in professional theatrical production, Duits said. Originally from Burnips, Sali recently came back home.


“He's very friendly and outgoing with tremendous technical knowledge. We’re fortunate to have him,” Duits said. Kingscott Associates, Inc is the architectural firm for the center, Peter Sarelis, the design architect and Laura Sarelis the chief designer.


Some statistics:

the main entrance has two entries with ticket and concession booths; the four entrances from the lobby to the auditorium are large enough to be used as an art gallery.


There are 820 permanent seats and an 860 seat maximum capacity with regular and raised seating for comfort.  The Center is fully handicap accessible, with an elevator to each floor; full band shell for concerts with full or half set-up options; the band shell ceiling has 10-12 studio LED lights.


A “fly” system, or theatrical rigging, is a system of rope lines, pulleys, and counterweights  that let stage crews fly (hoist) curtains, lights, scenery and sometimes, people, quickly, quietly and safely. The Center has a half-fly system.


The nine-foot deep orchestra pit has a lighted edge for performers and a black cover when not in use. In the control booth, there is a QL5 mixing console, ETC element lighting console, new LED lighting system and a Panasonic projector. It features a clear-com system and upstairs booth for a spotlight. The cost of the PAC was $9 million.

Cancellations & Closings today, Feb. 8

Lakewood Basketball Games Cancelled Friday night.

Hastings Girls Varsity and Boys Varsity basketball at Harper Creek postponed to Feb. 18th.



Due to the weather and for the safety of its members and employees, the Spectrum Health Pennock Health & Wellness Center has cancelled all group and aquatic fitness classes for today, Friday, Feb. 8. The facility will remain open with normal business hours.

All Ionia County offices closing Friday; shelter available

Due to extreme weather conditions, all Ionia County courts and business offices will be closed on Friday, Feb. 8.  The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office, Central Dispatch, and related essential personnel will be working as normal to keep our citizens safe. 


In addition, The Red Cross and Ionia County Emergency Management have opened a shelter at the Ionia Armory at 439 West Main Street in Ionia to those who may need overnight shelter and food due to the cold weather and power outages. Transportation assistance is available by dialing “211”. 










Portland Pastor gives invocation at Michigan House of Representatives

87th District State Rep. Julie Calley welcomes Pastor Gary Coleman (center) from First Baptist Church in Portland to the state capitol to give Thursday’s invocation for the Michigan House of Representatives. House tradition calls for a representative or a clergy member to begin each day’s session with a prayer. Speaker Lee Chatfield (left) joined them at the rostrum.



Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital new surgical center groundbreaking set for early summer

Plans for the new 19,000 square foot surgical center announced last June at Spectrum Health Pennock’s 95th Anniversary celebration continue to move forward, according to officials at Spectrum health Pennock.


The $12 million dollar project, funded primarily through private donations to the Spectrum Health Foundation at Pennock, is slated to break ground in early summer. The new center will include three operating rooms, 15 private patient rooms, five recovery bays and two endoscopy suites.


“The new surgical center will relocate inpatient and outpatient surgery, as well as endoscopy, to one main level suite attached to the west side of the hospital,” Spectrum Health Pennock President Angie Ditmar said.


”The center will then be closer to radiology, lab and sterile processing, which are frequently used during a surgical visit. The current surgical suite is located on the third floor of the hospital; patients navigate halls and elevators for some distance from where they enter the hospital, adding confusion and stress for the patient.


The new center will ensure one-stop shopping with private halls, private rooms and a separate drive up entrance and exit, providing patients a more discreet experience during their most vulnerable times.


“In addition to improved patient flow and privacy, the operating rooms will increase in size to accommodate modern technology that our current rooms can no longer support. These spaces will increase from 400 square feet to 600 square feet, which is industry standard for operating rooms today.

“We are thankful for the support of our donors and Spectrum Health’s investment in Pennock Hospital to make certain we continue to provide high quality, local care whenever possible,” Ditmar said.


The surgical center is projected to open in November, 2020. To make a contribution to the surgical center or to find out what naming opportunities are available, contact Janine Dalman, executive director, Spectrum Health Foundation at Pennock 269-945-651 or


Photo: The proposed new Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital surgery center.






Help your child have a healthy smile

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD), My Community Dental Centers of Charlotte and local dentists invite the public to celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month and bring increased awareness of the importance of regular dental check-ups and  healthy oral hygiene.


Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention one in five children aged five to 11 have at least one untreated decayed tooth.  


Children with untreated tooth decay may develop pain and infections that could lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing and learning. The good news is that tooth decay is preventable.


My Community Dental Centers, on behalf of BEDHD, focuses on providing dental services to Medicaid enrollees and low-income, uninsured residents throughout Eaton County. Routine dental services may be covered if your child is enrolled in a Medicaid plan such as Healthy Kids, Healthy Kids Dental, or MIChild.

For more information on MCDC services or to schedule an appointment, please call 1-877-313-6232. For more information regarding Medicaid enrollment visit or contact the Barry-Eaton District Health Department at 269-945-9516 in Barry County or 517-543-2430 in Eaton County.


It is important to begin an oral hygiene routine early. Parents should brush their child’s teeth when they begin to come in. My Community Dental Centers in Charlotte encourages parents to bring their child in for their first dental visit before the age of one, creating a positive experience and establishing a dental home before problems arise.


The American Dental Association recommends these steps for a healthy smile:

*Brush teeth twice a day for 2 minutes each time.

*See a dentist twice a year – start as early as when the first tooth appears.

*Drink fluoridated water – Community water supplies (CWS) may contain enough fluoride to protect your child’s teeth.


In Eaton County the following communities have community water supplies with enough fluoride to protect oral health; Delta Township, Grand Ledge, Charlotte, Eaton Rapids, and Misty Cove Apartments.

Contact your local municipality to determine if your community water supply is fluoridated or visit  If you have well water, or live in a community without fluoridated water, consider buying bottled water with fluoride added. 


*Put formula, milk, or breast milk in bottles; avoid filling bottles with sugar water, juice or soft drinks.

*If a child uses a pacifier, provide one that is clean – don’t dip it in sugar or honey or put it in your mouth before giving it to the child.

*Serve nutritious snacks and limit sweets to mealtimes.


Meet Lakewood School's newest Board of Education member

When a vacancy opened up on the Lakewood School Board of Education recently, Melissa McClelland was asked by a friend to consider volunteering for the seat. A board member had stepped down, with two years of a term to be filled.


Thinking about it, she said:  “I saw the need. I like to help out when I see a need.” She’s already taken the oath of office and participated in her first board meeting.


“There’s a lot to learn; a lot to know, but I’m ready to do it.”

She’s excited, still meeting everyone, getting familiar with the system and learning about boardsmanship.


McClelland is employed at the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Union Local 2  in Lansing. Husband Duffy is a Real Estate Broker and owner of Lakewood Real Estate in Lake Odessa. They live in Woodland.


They have connections to Lakewood Schools; their daughter graduated from Lakewood High School last year and their son will graduate from Lakewood this year. That was a consideration; the children are old enough now they do not need all of a parent’s time, McClelland said.


She’s looking forward to working with the board members; she has heard when working together on a common goal with a group of people they become like a family.

“Woodland is like a family; I’m happy to give back to the community,” she said.




Commision on Aging dining centers-closed

No Meals on Wheels delivery today.

Attorney General Program at Hastings Public Library is cancelled.

List of public defender attorneys comes up again in Barry County

Attorney Kerri Selleck, Barry County Chief Public Defender, is building a staff of attorneys for an indigent defense program in the Public Defender’s Office. Attorneys represent indigents in cases of felonies, misdemeanors, probation violation hearing in both circuit and district courts, Friend of the Court show-cause hearings and personal protection order violations.


Selleck selected a total of 10 attorneys, a number determined by the size of the county’s case load, and asked commissioners to approve it on Jan. 22.


Three commissioners voted against approval on Jan. 22 because of personal objections to one of the attorneys on the list. With one commissioner absent, the vote failed, but commissioners voted to bring it up again when all seven members were present. That vote is still pending.


Hastings attorney James Goulooze spoke at the commission’s committee of the whole meeting Tuesday saying his not being appointed to the list of public defenders should be reversed.

Goulooze said he was number 11 up for 10 positions on the list.


His main contentions were that he has 30 years’ experience practicing law, the last seven or eight years primarily as a public defender, with experience in serious felony cases, including 1st degree murder, and is well qualified to handle all types of cases.


He claimed one attorney on the list has been “absent” for 10 years and four others on the list are not qualified to handle high severity felonies, such as murders, for lack of experience.

“You have attorneys on that list that never try a case and never test evidence in a case. The one constant is that they are all friends with Ms. Selleck,” he said in a letter given to commissioners.


The application to be on the public defender list of attorneys asked only for years of experience, he said. When he asked for the criteria used in the selection he said he got it two weeks later, it was “full of half-truths, innuendo and conjecture.”


Goulooze said he knew of no animosity from Selleck toward him and said despite what happened, he thought the indigent defense program would work, and he could work with Selleck.//


Dealing with agenda items, the committee of the whole recommended approval of:

 *a grant agreement with the Two Seven Oh, Inc. foundation for $2,500 to pay for spaying and neutering of animals at the Animal Shelter before adoption. Shelter Director Kenneth Kirsch said the county is paying for the procedures now, so the grant will save the county money.


*an Indigent Defense Fund budget for revenue and expenditure line items asked for by Selleck.  A budget is needed for the public defender’s office to manage its funds. The amount of $605,672 comes from the state and funds from local sources that have been budgeted.


*a request from Barry County Undersheriff Matt Houchlei to buy a 2019 Tahoe for $33,546 for the sheriff’s office. It will replace a 2013 Chevy Tahoe totaled in a collision with a deer last December. The county insurance carrier, Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority, will pay the county $12,000 which will go into the vehicle fund, making the total cost for the new vehicle $21,546. The insurance company is selling the car for salvage for $1,575.


*the revised bylaws of the county Community Corrections Advisory Board. The changes made by the advisory board must be approved by the county commission. Tammy Price, administrator of the Office of Community Corrections, said changes include abolishing the secretary/treasurer position, electing the chair and vice chair at the first meeting of the year instead of July and language clarifications.


*re-appointing Cindy Vujea for a three-year term on the Parks & Recreation Board representing the county Economic Development Alliance.

The recommendations will be considered by the commissioners at the next board meeting on Feb. 12.


Allegan County Community Foundation awards utility grants early

In an unprecedented move, the Allegan County Community Foundation (ACCF) is announcing an early 2019 LEGACY grant award of $5,000 each to Christian Neighbors Plainwell, Project Hope and Community Action Allegan County. 


Recent changes in protocol for those needing emergency utility assistance in the State of Michigan has resulted in a profoundly high number of people being denied utility assistance, according to an ACCF media release.


Effective October 1, 2018, those in need of a refill on propane or assistance with a bill too high to manage must apply to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) before they can get assistance through other agencies.


If clients are assisted through DHHS, their payments are made through dollars from the Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP). The new protocol says if they are denied through the state, they can’t seek help from other MEAP grantees, which includes the Salvation Army, TruNorth, THAW, etc. 


“This has had a negative effect on some of our most vulnerable individuals in the county.  They find themselves with nowhere to turn except for local private organizations, which do not have adequate funds to assist the volume of people turned away by the state agency,” the release said.


The collaborating agencies, Christian Neighbors Plainwell, Project Hope and Community Action of Allegan County, applied for funding from the ACCF in order to help those who find themselves with nowhere else to turn.


The grant will fund utility dollars to help prevent vulnerable families from losing heat or water; these agencies may be the last point of hope for many in the county. “It is imperative that we are flexible and sensitive to the urgency of needs placed before us” said ACCF CEO Theresa Bray.

“Our typical cycle would have provided funds in May which is too late to help those in crisis.” 


The ACCF awarded $289,740 in grants to non-profits serving Allegan County last year.  To make a donation toward utility assistance to any of the organizations listed, please contact them directly, the release concluded.



Irving embankment repairs complete; snowmelt, spring rains will bring Thornapple River back to normal

Flood waters last February washed away part of the earthern embankment and around the power canal gate above the hydroelectric plant on the Thornapple River in Irving. What natives call the Irving Dam, technically the bypass gate, was unaffected.



With the earthern berm breached, the backwater above the bypass gate drained away, leaving dead grass and weeds and a very small stream of river.


Repairs are complete and hopefully by March, the outdoor temperatures and the water level will be back to normal, possibly a little sooner than that, said Scott Goodwin, owner of Commonwealth Power of California. His company also owns the LaBarge dam in Caledonia Township and the Middleville dam  


Getting repairs done required a lot of paperwork, and the state and federal agencies have a process they have to use, “but they worked with us,” Goodwin said. “We appreciate the cooperation of the state agencies and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.”


Engineer Brian Cenci, vice president of ENG, Inc. has worked for Barry County on drain issues since 2009; he worked on site and with Commonwealth’s internal engineers on the repairs; the contractors were Jackson Dirt Works from Lake Odessa.


“Cenci is a capable young man, he did a great job. Jackson also did a great job, we were lucky to work with them.”


Photos: (upper left) Before: Part of the embankment is washed away by flood waters, as well as the area around and under the power canal gate (top middle).


(left) After: The embankment has been reconstructed and the power canal gate repaired. The usual snow melt and spring rains will bring the river up to normal levels this spring.

DEQ becomes Department Of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy

Get ready for more acronyms.

Today Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed two executive orders and one executive directive to protect the Great Lakes, clean up the state’s drinking water, and combat the impacts of climate change. 


Executive Order 2019-2 restructures the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) as the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).

At the same time, Whitmer created the offices of Climate and Energy, Clean Water Public Advocate and Environmental Justice Public Advocate, according to a news release from the governor’s office.


The executive order also creates new offices within the department, including the Office of the Clean Water Public Advocate, the Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate, and the Interagency Environmental Justice Response Team. 


Executive Order 2019-3 strengthens the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) as an effort to inform the public about perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), locate contamination, and take action to protect sources of drinking water from these dangerous chemicals. 


Executive Directive 2019-12 enters Michigan into the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of governors from 19 other states that have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. 


“This is about finding real solutions to clean up our drinking water so every Michigander can bathe their kids and give them a glass of water at the dinner table safely,” said Whitmer.


“We have a chance to build a system that really works so we can protect our water and improve public health. We’ve also got to take action to protect our state from the effects of climate change. The science is in, and it’s time we get to work to mitigate the impact of climate change for the sake of our kids and future generations in Michigan.” 


“This executive order will make sure that our state government is more responsive to problems with our drinking water and our environment,” said Liesl Clark, who will serve as Director of EGLE. “By creating offices like the Clean Water Public Advocate, we can get to work solving the problems that dozens of communities are facing with their drinking water. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work with Governor Whitmer to protect Pure Michigan and strengthen our economy.” 


Executive Order 2019-2 also creates a new office of climate and energy that will work with the governor to mitigate the impacts of climate change, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and embrace more sustainable energy solutions. 


The executive order will make state government more efficient, responsive and effective by transferring duties related to process improvement and good government to the Department of Technology, Management and Budget, the release said.


“DTMB is committed to developing and supporting meaningful process improvement and risk management tools across the state to make government more efficient and accountable,” said DTMB Director Tricia Foster. “I look forward to working with all departments to enact Governor Whitmer’s vision of a more responsive and effective state government here in Michigan.” 


Additionally, the executive order will streamline the regulatory process in state government by creating the Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules and by eliminating unnecessary commissions.


Tyson Foods Chicken Nuggets recalled for possible contamination

Tyson Foods, Inc. is recalling some 36,420 pounds of chicken nuggets that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically rubber, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.


The nuggets were produced Nov. 26, 2018. Subject to recall is the 5-lb. plastic packages of Tyson White Meat Panko Chicken Nuggets with a best if used by date of Nov. 26, 2019, case code 3308SDL03 and time stamps 23,000 through 01:59 inclusive. The products subject to recall have the number P-13556 inside the USDA mark of inspection.


The problem was discovered when the Tyson received consumer complaints of extraneous material in the nuggets; the USDA was notified on Jan. 29. The items were shipped to retail locations nationwide. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of the products.


Some nuggets may be in some home freezers; consumers are urged not to consume them; throw them away or return them to place of purchase. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.  


Consumers with questions about the recall can contact Tyson Consumer Relations at 1-888-747-7611. Those with food safety questions can "Ask Karen," available 24 hours a day at or via smartphone at The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-674-6854, is available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.


Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. The online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at:


DNR Free Fishing Weekend is Feb.16-17

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced the 2019 Winter Free Fishing Weekend will be Saturday, Feb. 16 and Sunday, Feb. 17. As part of these weekends, all fishing license fees are waived for two days with residents and out-of-state visitors invited to enjoy fishing on all waters for all species during their respective open seasons.  Please note all other regulations still apply.


Report gives Barry County Jail activity for Dec. 2018

In 2018, the Barry County Sheriff’s Office handled 9,734 complaints, compared to 5,956 in 2013, Sheriff Dan Leaf said in his report to county commissioners. In jail activity for the month of December, 2018, the staff booked 314 people into jail, 87 of them weekenders, and released 242 back into the community, Leaf said.


Seventy inmates were transported to various places during the month with an average inmate population of 93. Staff fingerprinted 47 people at the front counter and administered 127 weekend drug screens to probationers. The office performed 27 home checks assisting special court programs.


Criminal histories were run 336 times for warrant entry and/or warrant requests; 71 Sex Offender Registry transactions were completed. Court ordered blood tests were administered to 468 persons. Kitchen staff prepared and served 8,403 inmate meals at a cost of $1.48 per meal, he said.

Repair costs for the month included plumbing, $1,108.70; HVAC, $905 and security, $7,223.95.


Deputies on uniformed road patrol logged 654 complaints in Dec. 2018, compared to 448 in Dec. 2013. One hundred and five accidents were handled, versus 127 five years earlier. Car/deer crashes were up; 73 compared to 58 in 2013, Leaf continued.


 Deputies arrested 65 persons, resulting in 23 felony charges and 47 misdemeanors in 2018, versus 41 arrests with 13 felonies and 31 misdemeanors in 2013. Eight arrests involved alcohol in 2018, five in 2013.


The K-9 Unit was activated on four occasions, resulting in drug recovery and apprehension of individuals in criminal cases, he said.


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