Local News Archives for 2019-03

Park project bids too high, Hastings starts over

The Hastings City Council rejected two construction bids for a restroom at Fish Hatchery Park which came in at $131,000 from McGraw Construction and $105,821.18 from Pel Construction, well above the $75,000 budgeted for the project. And that does not include removal of the tennis courts that are also part of the project.


Deputy City Manager Jerry Czarnecki, who is also acting director of the DPS, said they will seek bids for removing the asphalt tennis courts by milling and keep the millings for other projects instead of city employees breaking it up and hauling the chunks away.


Czarnecki said they will also take bids to repair the roof on the other restroom there because it is in bad shape. If the bid comes in less than budgeted, they will take the money they don’t use this year, add the $65,000 planned for improvements next year, re-engineer the project and move forward, he said.


The city is in talks with Spectrum Health Pennock regarding the use of 75 lots in the park for their parking with Spectrum resurfacing the entire lot as part of the agreement. If that comes about, Czarnecki said they want to have the tennis courts done first to prevent using heavy equipment on a new surface. He will bring the bids back to the council for approval.


Also Monday, the council accepted a $35,000 donation with thanks from the Baum Family Foundation for improvements at Thornapple Plaza, including the installation of a LED sign with changing messages, like the one at Cook Road,  a new water heater and awning at the concession stand window.


And, Clerk/Treasurer Jane Saurman said she is very pleased that eight people have stepped forward to be election workers during the May 7 Hastings School’s millage election. “For us, that’s a major thing,” she said. The workers will take training from the county and city before the election.


Keep healthy around animals this spring

Do you plan on getting baby animals for Easter or to raise for the upcoming fair season? Or are you thinking of taking some spring family photos that include animals? asks the Ionia County Health Department in a news release.


If so, the health department says, it is important to remember that many types of animals, including small mammals such as mice, rabbits, and rats, backyard  birds such chickens, ducks, and turkeys, and various livestock animals including cows and pigs, can potentially carry bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli.


People can catch these diseases from animals, and unfortunately these diseases can cause people to become seriously ill. Here are a few steps that can help you to protect yourself and your family from some of the germs that animals can carry.


Keeping our hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick from animals and spreading germs to others.

Follow these steps to wash your hands. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), then apply soap andlather hands by rubbing them together, rubbing the bcks hands between yor fingers and underthe nails.


Lather the soap iby rubbing them together, making sure to rub the backs of your hands, between the fingers, and under the nails. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds (as long it takes to sing  “Happy Birthday” twice). Rinse well with clean, running water, and air dry or dry with a towel  


Here are some other important steps to remember when around animals:

*Don’t snuggle, kiss, or touch your mouth to small mammals, chicks, or ducklings

*Children under five should avoid touching baby chicks and ducklings completely

*Don’t give live baby chicks and ducklings to young children as gifts

*Do not bring baby chicks or ducklings into schools, childcare centers, or nursing homes

*Do not keep baby chicks or ducklings inside the house where people live, eat, or sleep

*Keep animals away from areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored

*Pregnant women, immune-compromised persons and those with HIV/AIDS should take extra

precautions when choosing and handling pets.


For more information on how to safely keep and interact with animals, visit the following CDC websites:

Farm animals:  


Small mammals:


Calley to hold office hours at four locations in April

87th District State Representative Julie Calley will hold office hours in four locations in April:


*Friday, April 12, from 11 a.m. to noon at the Revival Café and Market, 75 North Bridge Street, Saranac,


*Monday, April 15, from 11 a.m. to noon at The Local Grind, 117 South Grove Street, Delton,


*Monday, April 22, from 11 a.m. to noon at The City of Portland, 259 Kent Street, Portland,


*Monday, April 22 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Hastings City Hall, 201 Eat State Street, Hastings


Calley, of Portland, will give a legislative update and talk to residents with individual concerns.

"I deeply appreciate the insight that I receive during local office hours," Calley said.  “The recent budget proposal has sparked substantial feedback, and I am eager to hear from more community members.”


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


County Health Rankings: Eaton County in top 25 percent

The 2019 County Health Rankings were released mid-March with Eaton County ranking high on overall health, 14th out of 83 Michigan counties for Health Factors and 21st for Health Outcomes, putting  the county in the top 25 percent of Michigan counties, according to a Barry Eaton District Health Department news release.


In the past five years, Eaton County’s overall health outcome ranking was within the range of 16th to 21st in the state. The overall health factor ranking stayed between 13th and 16th in the state.


The rankings are based on a model of population health that focuses on many factors that, if improved, can help make communities healthier places to live, learn, work, and play. The Health Outcomes are based on the sickness and death a county is experiencing, while the Health Factors are based on a variety of measures that can affect future health.


The rankings show where Eaton County is doing well and provides information about what is working: The county is strong in the areas of Clinical Care and Social and Economic Factors, where it ranked 17th and 14th, respectively. The report can be used to build on successes and encourage community leaders to take action and create programs and policy changes in areas that need improvement.


* The Eaton County Great Start Collaborative is working to increase social support to parents, reduce child poverty and increase school readiness to improve educational outcomes. Visit for more.


* Rankings show the county is at risk for poor health when it comes to behaviors that affect health; smoking, obesity and physical inactivity, where it ranked 28th in the state.


*Rankings also show that Eaton County needs to do more to improve health behaviors and aspects of the physical environment that discourage physical activity. Potential steps include more effort for substance abuse and obesity prevention and more sidewalks for more options for physical activity.


The rankings also highlight the importance of the physical environment to health: Eaton County ranked poorly for physical environment, 48th in the state. The score includes measures of air pollution, drinking water violations, severe housing problems, and driving commutes.  The ranking was partly driven by municipal drinking water system violations, which were appropriately reported and addressed. The example shows why water providers and regulatory agencies monitor and oversee municipal drinking water systems.


Some steps being taken to improve the health of county residents:

*The Eaton Rapids Health Alliance is an Eaton Rapids based coalition improving health by increasing physical activity and access to healthy foods, improving access to mental health resources, improving safety, and decreasing smoking and substance use. Visit for more.


*The Eaton County Substance Awareness Advisory Group focuses on improving health by reducing the negative effects of alcohol and substance misuse, tobacco use, and prescription drug misuse. Visit for more.


Everyone in the community has a stake in being healthy. Working together, Eaton County residents can make their community a healthier place to live, learn, work, and play. For more on 2019 County Health Rankings at

County Health Rankings: Barry County in top 20 percent

The 2019 County Health Rankings were released mid-March, with Barry County ranking very well on overall health, ranking 11th out of 83 Michigan counties for Health Outcomes and 15th for Health Factors, putting the county in the top 20 percent of counties, according to a Barry Eaton District Health Department news release.


The rankings focuses on factors that, if improved, can help make communities healthier places to live, learn, work and play. The Health Outcomes are based on the sickness and death in a county; Health Factors are based on measures that can affect future health.


Barry County’s health ranking has improved from 21st in the state in 2015 to 11th  in 2019. The health factor ranking was within the range of 13th to 18th in the state for the past five years.


The rankings show where the county is doing well and provides information about what is working: The county ranked 11th in social and economic factors that measure education, income and poverty, household and social structures, crime and injuries. The report can help build on successes and encourage community leaders to create programs and policy changes in areas in need of improvement.


*Barry County Great Start Collaborative works to increase social support to parents, reduce child poverty and increase school readiness to improve educational outcomes.  Visit  for more.


*Barry County is at medium risk for poor health to do with behaviors like smoking, obesity and physical inactivity, where it ranked 29th in the state. The county needs to do more in stepping up efforts to help residents quit tobacco, prevent obesity, improve access to dentists, mental health and primary care providers and increase opportunities for physical activity.


The county ranked poorly for the physical environment, 57th in the state; the score includes measures of air pollution, drinking water violations, severe housing problems and driving commutes.


Some steps taken to improve the health of residents:  

*The B. Healthy Coalition is working to prevent and control obesity and chronic disease through policy and environmental change and to increase awareness of healthy lifestyles.

Visit for more.


*The Barry County Tobacco Reduction Coalition works to reduce exposure to tobacco, tobacco smoke, cigarettes, and nicotine.

Call Lauren Metcalfe at (517) 541-2624 for more.


*The Barry County Substance Abuse Task Force focuses on reducing the negative effects of alcohol and prescription drug misuse. Visit for more.


Everyone in the community has a stake in being healthy. Working together, Barry County residents can make their community a healthier place to live, learn, work, and play. 

For more on 2019 County Health Rankings, visit



Thornapple Manor Rehab Center has 94 percent overall patient satisfaction rating

The Rehab Center at Thornapple Manor’s just released 2018 annual report has good news for the Five Star rated facility.


“Last year’s customer satisfaction scores for the Rehab Center at Thornapple Manor are in and I am pleased to announce that we received a 94 percent overall patient satisfaction score,” Administrator Don Haney said.


“We received 99.1 percent for our above average staff in courtesy, helpfulness and respect. 97.3 percent of patients reported they would recommend Thornapple Manor.  “Again, this reflects on our entire loving, caring, and compassionate staff. Their commitment to our residents and residents’ families is second to none.”


The patient survey showed when it came to encouragement, the rating was 97.3 percent, 97.3 percent of patients would recommend them to family and friends and 96.4 percent rated them above average in clear instructions.  The rehab patients rating that their rooms were kept above average in cleanliness and order was 94.6 and 93.7 percent said their accomplishments in rehab were above their expectations.


The rehab staff of physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, nurses, certified nursing assistants, occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants and speech language pathologists treat patients in cardiac rehab, ergonomics, low vision rehab, Parkinson’s therapy, neurological rehab post-orthopedic, spinal care, stroke recovery, therapeutic modalities and vestibular rehab.


The FIM scale is the most widely accepted functional assessment system in medical rehabilitation; in 2018, the functional improvement of rehab patients increased, regardless of their incoming diagnosis, the report said.


The report also announced expansion of outpatient therapy service at the Rehab Center in physical, occupational and speech therapy in one location for those who may need more therapy after returning home from an inpatient stay or whose physician referred them for therapy.


“We are proud to be a 5 star rated facility, the highest rating from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare, for our excellent care in above average quality measures, R.N. staffing, in staffing as well as overall. This is a direct reflection on the incredible staff we have at Thornapple Manor,” Haney said.


Fire claims the life of 23-year-old Allegan County man

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office reports they assisted at a fatal fire at about 12:15 a.m. Thursday at a residence on 117th Avenue near 43rd Street in Valley Township. 


The single-wide mobile home was reported to have fire coming from the structure. A short time later a sheriff’s deputy arrived and found William Hedges, 23, lying about 15 feet from the home with obvious burn injuries. Hedges lived in the home with his parents.


The officer and several family members helped move him to safety as he was unable to move on his own due to his injuries.  He was transported to the hospital where he later died from his injuries.


Several family members were in the home when they noticed a fire had started in the kitchen area of the home.  They were trying to get everyone from the home when they located Hedges and several members of the family helped pull him from the home, officials said.


The other people in the home all suffered varying degrees of smoke inhalation and received treatment at the scene and at the hospital.


The fire is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Michigan State Police Special Investigations Division (Fire Marshal). Clyde, Lee, and Hamilton township fire departments extinguished the fire before it destroyed the home.  


The sheriff’s office assisted the Clyde, Lee and Hamilton township fire departments, Life EMS, AMR Ambulance and the Michigan State Police Special Investigations Division.


Area schools receive grants to boost safety and security

The Michigan State Police has announced that 135 public school districts, 66 non-public schools, 20 public charter schools and nine intermediate school districts / regional educational service agencies will receive $25 million in state grants from the 2019 Competitive School Safety Grant Program to improve the safety and security of students, staff and school buildings through the purchase of technology and equipment.


In the WBCH listening area, the following schools will receive grants with no matching funds required: Thornapple Kellogg in Middleville, $135,045; St. Rose Catholic School in Hastings, $6,935; Martin Public Schools, $15,473; Glenn Public Schools, $48,770; Allegan Area Educational Service Agency, $105,038; St. Mary’s Visitation School in Dorr, $46,478; Plainwell Public Schools, $62,406; and St. Michael’s Catholic School in Grand Ledge, $26,980.


Grant awards with matching funds required include:

Eaton Rapids Public Schools, $442,773; Potterville Public Schools, $149,844; and Hudsonville Public Schools, $235,124.


“Safety for our children should always be a top priority,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said. “Every parent should have the peace of mind that their children are receiving an education that allows them to achieve their dreams under the safest possible conditions.”


Grant applications were reviewed by a committee of representatives from the Michigan State Police, Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, Michigan Sheriffs’ Association, Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Association of Non-Public Schools and other school safety professionals.


In total, 366 applications were received, requesting over $46 million in funding for security enhancements. Per the appropriation, priority was given to applicants who had not received school safety grant funds in the past. Grant recipients have until June 1, 2020, to spend their awards.


The list of award recipients is available at

United Way study: Thirty seven percent Barry County households fail to make ends meet

The Barry County United Way and the Michigan Association of United Ways are releasing the Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) study on the condition of Michigan’s working families, according to a United Way news release.



The report found that ALICE households now make up 37 percent of Barry County and 43 percent of all Michigan households, with low wages, reduced work hours and depleted savings among the challenges facing working families.


Despite overall improvement in employment and gains in median income, 8,747 Barry County households could not afford the basic needs of housing, child care, food, transportation, health care and technology.


The cost of the average Michigan family budget increased by 27 percent from 2010 to 2017, despite a low rate of inflation nationwide of 12 percent during the same time.

“Here in Barry County we know all too well the challenges ALICE families face,” said Lani Forbes, executive director of the Barry County United Way.

“It’s critical that community organizations, business leaders and policymakers work in tandem to help Michigan’s hardworking families overcome the obstacles to make ends meet. The ALICE Report is an important step toward paving a path forward for our state.”


Although unemployment rates are falling, the report found that low-wage jobs dominate the employment landscape, with 61 percent of all jobs in Michigan paying less than $20 an hour.

At the same time, an increase in contract jobs and on-demand jobs is leading to less financial stability. For the many households that earned slightly above the ALICE threshold in the past, increases in the cost of living and flat wages have pushed them below the threshold and into financial hardship.


The ALICE report released two years ago led Barry Community Foundation and Barry County United Way to partner to create the Family Economic Support Office.


United Way staff works to help individuals and families to achieve financial independence by empowering them with the tools and skills necessary to maximize their income, build their savings and gain or increase their assets.


Today, United Way staff is on-site at four local employers in order to meet with employees, giving them the opportunity to access social services and be connected to local resources without missing valuable work time. 

Staff is also on-site at the Office of Community Corrections to connect those community members to resources as they search for housing and/or employment.//


“While a family of four may be able to survive on $52,000, they are still one tiny emergency away from financial crisis,” said Courtney Ziny, success coach in the Family Economic Support Office.

“The car breaks down…an unexpected illness…repairs to their home.  Households struggling to survive are not equipped with savings to recover from these emergencies. 


“Our goal should not be for Barry County families to be merely surviving – we want everyone to have the financial stability needed to create a strong local economy,” Ziny concluded.



While working families are struggling, over the past two years, five of Barry County’s 16 townships actually lowered the number of households they have living below the survival budget.

“There is absolutely no shortage of opportunity here in Barry County,” Barry County Chamber of Commerce President Travis Alden said.


“In fact, there may not be a better time for community members to find opportunity within employers for advancement.”  Employers are investing in training and education in order for employees to move into the higher paying positions, he said.


These opportunities for career advancements will help families move out from below the ALICE threshold.  Wages in Barry County are on the rise, particularly in the manufacturing field due to the current competition for talent being driven by the low unemployment rate.

That makes partnerships with MI Works and programs like Gilmore Garage Works, the Culinary Arts and KAMA so important as our next generation moves forward.


“Nobody working more than 40 hours a week should be struggling to take care of themselves and their families,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said.  She said she has proposed a budget that will double the Earned Income Tax Credit and repeal the Retirement Tax, saving families hundreds of dollars a year, and making the biggest investment in K-12 education in a generation of kids. I’m eager to work with my partners in the legislature to pass a budget that will help lift Michigan families out of poverty and ensure everyone has a path to a good-paying job.”


In Michigan, the Consumers Energy Foundation granted $25,000 to fund the study. “At Consumers Energy, we are committed to helping Michigan succeed. The ALICE Report is important because it provides policymakers, community leaders and businesses with detailed data to shape good decisions that serve the people of our state,” said Brandon Hofmeister, president of the Consumers Energy Foundation.


The Michigan Association of United Ways joins with roughly 450 United Ways from 15 states across the country to better understand the struggles of ALICE. Organizations across the country are using the data to better understand the needs of their employees, customers and communities. To produce the United Way ALICE Report for Michigan, a national team of researchers collaborated with the Michigan Research Advisory Committee, composed of representatives from across the state, which advised and contributed to the report.


The report focuses on providing objective, comprehensive county-by-county data that identifies the size of the ALICE population in Michigan and works to identify the obstacles that keep these residents from achieving financial independence.


The current report builds on data found in the 2017 ALICE study, showing not only continuity but also highlighting United Way’s commitment to this data.


United Ways currently work to provide some short- and medium-term solutions for ALICE households, such as offering scholarships to access quality child care, free tax preparation and financial and career mentoring.


In shedding light on the underlying causes keeping ALICE households from getting ahead, MAUW provides information that will inform discussions with businesses, government agencies, other nonprofits, the faith-based community and residents to create solutions for a stronger Michigan.


About the Michigan Association of United Ways:
The MAUW is a partner in developing powerful responses to current and emerging issues in local communities. The state association provides leadership in policy influence and capacity building to affect positive change. MAUW serves approximately 60 local United Ways that represent the largest network of non-governmental service providers and service funders in Michigan, collectively raising and distributing significant resources to support local health and human service organizations.


Maintaining clean water is pricey; Hastings votes to pay the bill

Some Hastings City Council members grumbled Monday about the cost of improvements at the water treatment plant, balking at the $183,729 cost for Tonka Water for the replacement of the filter media for the two high pressure filters at the plant, with an additional $7,900 to have a registered water service technician required to be on site.


Councilmen Don Bowers and Al Jarvis said they really wanted to vote “no” but reluctantly voted “yes.”

Deputy City Manager Jerry Czarnecki explained the procedure to replace the filter media that is about eight feet deep at the two high pressure filters, would take five to six weeks to complete.

All of the processes have to meet state requirements and testing will be done before the filters are put back into service.  


Equipment rented to place the filter media over the walls that surround the tanks will also be needed, he said. City employees will do some of the work on the project. The capital improvement plan anticipated the project would cost $200,000.


With the rental of the equipment, the project should be very close to the expected cost, Czarnecki said in his request. Tonka Water provided the original equipment, two other firms were invited to bid on the project, but did not respond, he said.


Also, the council approved a contract with Assessor Daniel Kirwin of Darwin Appraisal Services for his services from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020 for $3,800 a month, with the option of one or more years extension of the contract by mutual agreement. Kerwin will be in Hastings one day a week, work offsite and be available online. Hearing the cost, Councilman Bill Redman said, “Kinda stiff, isn’t it?”


“We would like him to be here more often, but he’s doing a good job…he is extremely well qualified,” Mansfield said. Kerwin lives in Big Rapids and the drive time is two hours, he added.

Asked about finding a permanent assessor, Mansfield said it is “extremely difficult to find anyone out there. There are not many qualified at that level.” Some cities and many townships share assessors with other municipalities, he said.


Czarnecki has agreed to serve as acting Director of Department of Public Services until the city finds a replacement for former DPS Director Lee Hays, who resigned earlier this month. Monday, Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange objected when he was also named Street Administrator for the Michigan Department of Transportation.


Czarnecki is supposed to be training with City Manager Jeff Mansfield to become city manager when Mansfield leaves the position, and now he’s talking on a new job three months before Mansfield leaves, McNabb-Stange said. “That’s just the wrong thing to do.”


“Jerry can do it, it’s light duty, just signing forms for the MDOT…It’s not ideal, we’re doing the best we can. It’s the best plan we could come up with and he’s doing a great job.” Czarnecki said he was comfortable taking the new job; the vote to approve it was 7-2 with McNabb-Stange and Councilman Al Jarvis voting "no". Mansfield was urged to expedite the search for a new DPS director.


In other business, the council:


*approved paying $50,168.80 as the final payment to do with Safe Routes to Schools project engineering services by Williams & Works. The city disputed some charges put forward by the engineering firm and negotiations with Dave Austin from the firm resulted in the agreement on the final payment.


*heard the city spent $15,045 for emergency repairs to the Hastings Fire Department aerial truck to keep the equipment in service. Money can be spent in such an emergency, but the council has to be notified.


*approved spending $15,384 for three Optima QLS raw samplers to replace three at the wastewater treatment plant that are 12 and 13 years old.


*approved holding the eighth annual Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournament in downtown Hastings on July 12-14.


*adopted ordinance 565 to rezone all parcels on Woodlawn/Broadway from A-O Apartment Office to B-4, West Business District and also ordinance 566 to allow additional housing in the B-1 Central Business District, both recommended by the planning commission.




Statewide outdoor tornado siren warning drill is tomorrow at 1 p.m.

The Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division reminds Michiganders that outdoor warning siren use will be limited during the 2019 statewide tornado drill at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 27.


In Michigan, outdoor warning sirens are independently controlled by local officials in townships, villages, cities and counties, varying by community. Many communities have different plans, procedures and requirements for sounding sirens. This may prevent some communities from activating their sirens during the tornado drill, according to an MSP news release.


Barry and Allegan counties have monthly tests of their siren systems; Barry on the first Saturday of the month at 1 p.m., weather permitting and Allegan on the fourth Friday of the month at 11 a.m.

To avoid any confusion, both counties follow their monthly testing cycle and don’t partcipate in the Wednesday tests.


“Outdoor warning sirens are designed to alert residents who are outdoors about an approaching threat,” said Capt. Emmitt McGowan, deputy state director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD.

 “To be better prepared to hear an alert indoors, you should look to your NOAA Weather Radio and local alerts for hazard information.”


During the statewide tornado drill residents will observe or hear alerts on NOAA Weather Radios, TV and radio stations. To learn how local alerts are administrated in your community and if your community is participating, contact your local emergency management agency.


The statewide tornado drill is a part of a seasonal effort to encourage Michigan residents to prepare and practice emergency plans. For more information about being safe before, during and after a tornado,  visit Twitter at @MichEMHS or go to


UPDATE: Hastings composting site opens for city residents

UPDATE:  The City of Hastings compost drop-off area on West State Road is now open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily and weekends.


Hastings residents who have compostable materials may obtain temporary access to the site by calling the city at 269-945-2468 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday with proof of residency within the city limits.

A temporary code for access to the site will be issued. The code is changed every Monday, so you may need to call for that week's code.


Rules regarding the use of this site are as follows:

*The site is only for compostable materials originating from property within the City of Hastings

*Only the following materials may be dropped off:  Branches less than three inches in diameter and no more than four feet in length, leaves and grass clippings and no treated lumber or building materials.



ORIGINAL STORY:The Hastings composting site on West State Road will be open as soon as site conditions allow, possibly as soon as today or tomorrow, deputy City Manager Jerry Czarnecki said Monday.

The city is waiting for the drop-off area to dry out before opening the season.


When it opens, Czarnecki will notify residents on, other local media and the city’s website.


A key pad and electric gate system has been installed and tested. Signs are being placed at the site to help residents use the new system to enter the site, he said. The code for the site will be reset each Monday morning. Residents can call Hastings City Hall during office hours for the code.


They will be asked for their address to verify they live in the city and will then be able to access the site from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day of the week, and weekends. Czarnecki said the city would like to get the facility open by spring break.


Also, the annual spring cleanup will begin on April 15, with city crews making one swing through the city, picking up compostable yard waste, small branches and twigs.


Czarnecki stressed that homeowners put the yard debris in the area between the sidewalk and streets, not in the roadway. The crews are sweeping the streets and going around a pile of yard waste defeats their efforts.


Questions can be directed to Czarnecki.


Hastings City Council gets first look at recreational marijuana ordinances

Ordinances 567, 568, 569 and 570, all to do with recreational marijuana and related to temporarily opting out of permitting marijuana establishments and facilities in the city, had a first reading at the Hastings City Council Monday.


First readings of ordinances allows the council the two weeks between meetings to find out more about the changes proposed in the ordinances, with action expected the next regular meeting of the council.


The main point in the changes to the ordinances: all marijuana facilities and operations in the city are banned for one year, until May, 30, 2020, unless the council extends it.


Michigan voters approved legalized recreational marijuana for use and possession of specified amounts for those over 21; the Michigan Department of Licensing Affairs will develop administrative rules to govern the new facilities, however, the rules will not be in place until late this year or early next year.


The act allows cities and villages to completely ban or limit marijuana facilities and it is inadvisable to have unregulated facilities in the city. It is recommended the city opt out until the state develops the rules to regulate the establishments.


Unlike medical marijuana facilities, municipalities must opt out of the recreational marijuana facilities. Medical marijuana facilities are allowed only if a municipality opts in; Hastings did not opt in and no medical marijuana facilities are allowed in the city.  All of the ordinances changes are to the Hastings Code of 1970.


Ordinance 567 adds an article prohibiting the establishment or operation of any and all categories of marijuana establishments in the city.


Ordinance 568 adds an article explaining the recreational marijuana law and the recommendation that the city opt out of permitting recreational marihuana establishments until the state develops rules to regulate the establishments at the state level.


Ordinance 569 adds an article that lists definitions relating to marijuana.


Ordinance 570 adds the prohibition of marijuana facilities to Section 90-780 of Article IX of Chapter 90 of the Code of Ordinances.







Watch out for this classic check scam, now they're in newspapers

The public has to stay alert for scams with new ones surfacing and old ones resurfacing all the time. This caution comes from Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt.


The BBB Serving Western Michigan is warning the public about a classified ad published in a local newspaper that is advertising a car-wrapping scam. A Hastings woman contacted the BBB after falling victim to the scam.


The classified ad promises people can make $300-$400 per week by simply driving their car. According to the victim, after responding to the email address in the ad she was sent a check. The instructions were for her to cash the check, keep several hundred dollars as her first payment, and forward the rest to a third party.


This is a classic check scam. The check she deposited turned out to be fake, and she is now responsible for paying back the bank for the full amount withdrawn.


 “We hear about these scams coming by email or social media, but finding the scammers in the classified section of a newspaper is unusual,” said Phil Catlett, president of the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan.


“This is a good example of how scams can be found anywhere.” The publisher of the newspaper tells the BBB a local resident placed the ad, but it is unclear if they knew it was a scam or how they became involved. BBB investigators have found the same email address used in this ad in others posted in newspapers around the country for similar car-wrapping schemes and for a job as a personal assistant.


Check scams were among the riskiest scams reported to the BBB ScamTracker in 2018. The median loss in check scams reported to BBB was $1,500, among the highest losses of any type of scam on the 2018 list.


The BBB has the following tips for those who come across offers such as this:


*Most car wrap offers are scams. While there are some companies that do legitimately advertise by wrapping cars, they are going to want specific information about you and your car up front. This includes information about how much you drive, when and where you drive, and information about your vehicle. Many legitimate companies will cover the cost of wrapping the vehicle for you.


*The check should be for the exact amount. A paycheck should be for the expected amount. If you are asked to cash a larger check and forward much of the money on to someone else, it is likely a scam.


 *Beware of wiring money or buying gift cards. Often scammers ask you to wire the money or purchase prepaid cards and send them pictures of the code on the back. This is a red flag that you are involved in a scam.


Report comparing BEDHD to three other counties health departments given to Barry County Commission

A comprehensive report on comparisons of the Barry Eaton District Health Department to three counties with single health departments in counties of about the same size was presented to the Barry County Commission meeting Monday.


The purpose of the ad hoc committee was to review budgets from three comparable sized counties, review the Barry Eaton District Health Department, determine the minimum requirements for a public health department and report its findings to the board of commissioners.


The committee was insisted on by Commissioner Howard “Hoot” Gibson last October. Gibson, and others, support a Barry County Health Department, separate from Eaton County.

Commissioners Heather Wing, Jon Smelker and Dan Parker made up the committee.

The directive did not ask for a recommendation and the committee did not provide one.


The committee’s full report, which “contains a smattering of the documents we’ve all looked at,” Wing said, is available on the county website at this link:

Report from Special Ad-hoc Committee on Health Department Budget


Parker said at first, he was concerned it might not be easy to get information from other departments, but found all four departments they visited and interviewed were willing to give out information.

“They were all very open with us,” he said.


 “We have a health department that is willing to work with us…its complicated, but as long as they answer questions we can work with them,” he said. In the process, he said he found there can be improvements at the health department.  “I’ll be bringing it up… some things they are already working on.”


The report on the BEDHD and Ionia, Shiawassee and Tuscola county health departments , listed services mandated by the state as well as the programs provided by each county, the county’s population, budget, general fund appropriation, number of staff, the department’s fund balance, general fund cost per resident and the minimum general appropriation level set for the department in the 1990s.


Parker and Smelker said they met two former staff members who had worked in the past for the BEDHD and now work for single county health departments, and when asked for advice, both said Barry County,  “should stay where they’re at.”


Commissioner David Jackson asked if the committee was comparing apples to oranges in staff, budget and programs. All of the departments provide pretty much the same services, but had some differences in programming, financial structure and initiatives, “with little tweaks for their special needs,” Wing said.


“We have much better health department services than some we looked at,” Smelker said. Wing agreed, noting the BEDHD is “one of the better health departments in the state.”


Wing outlined some obstacles to building a single health department for the county. There are many steps leading to accreditation by the state. “For us to do that on our own… it’s not an easy takes a long time for accreditation for programs.” She said they have the infrastructure, that’s not a problem, its hiring staff and the right equipment, manuals, applications… connections and policies, she said. The BEDHD is accredited nationally and by the state.


All health departments cooperate with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.


Smelker said he learned a lot he didn’t know about the district health department and is quite comfortable with working with them. “When we talked to “Collette (Scrimger, BEDHD health officer,) she told is everything we asked for…I didn’t see any wrongdoing in the budget...compared to other counties our administration is a little top heavy.”


Parker said the BDEHD was good “at orchestrating grants; this health department runs on grants.”

He thanked Administrator Michael Brown for the many hours spent helping the committee “decipher what we couldn’t.” Jackson thanked the committee for the amount of work and time they dedicated to the report.


Ionia County Jail inmate collapses and dies (with corrected first name)

Friday March 22 at  about 4:53 a.m., Ionia County Correctional Officers were told by an inmate that he was not feeling well.  Stewart Nelson Hill, 48, of Portland spoke with correctional staff and was placed in a holding cell for observation, and medical staff was contacted, according to a sheriff’s news release.




At approximately 5:30 a.m. Hill had just received his breakfast tray when he collapsed to the floor. 


Ionia County Correctional Officers immediately called for EMS to respond to the Ionia County Jail and also began CPR and first aid procedures including the use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), until LIFE EMS paramedics arrived and took over primary patient care for Hill.  He was transported by LIFE EMS ambulance to the Sparrow Ionia Hospital.


Life saving measures were continued on the way to the hospital, however they were not successful and Hill was pronounced deceased.


The death is currently under investigation by the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office Detective Bureau in conjunction with the Sparrow Lansing Medical Examiner’s Office where an autopsy will be conducted.

Hill has been lodged in the Ionia County Jail since March 19 on Friend of the Court warrants. 


The Ionia Department of Public Safety, Ionia County Central Dispatch, LIFE EMS, Lehman Funeral Homes and the sheriff’s Victim Advocates assisted the sheriff’s office.


Photo: Stuart Nelson Hill

USDA announces Tyson chicken strip recall

Tyson Foods, Inc., a Rogers, Ark. establishment, is recalling about 70,000 pounds of frozen, ready-to-eat chicken strip products that may be contaminated with pieces of metal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.


The frozen, ready-to-eat chicken strip items were produced on November 30, 2018. The following products are subject to recall:

  • 25-oz. plastic bag packages of frozen “Tyson FULLY COOKED BUFFALO STYLE CHICKEN STRIPS CHICKEN BREAST STRIP FRITTERS WITH RIB MEAT AND BUFFALO STYLE SAUCE” with “BEST IF USED BY NOV 30 2019,” case codes 3348CNQ0317 and 3348CNQ0318, and individual bag time stamps from 17:00 through 18:59 hours (inclusive).
  • 25-oz. plastic bag packages of frozen “Tyson FULLY COOKED CRISPY CHICKEN STRIPS CHICKEN BREAST STRIP FRITTERS WITH RIB MEAT” with “BEST IF USED BY NOV 30 2019,” case codes 3348CNQ0419, 3348CNQ0420, 3348CNQ0421, and 3348CNQ0422, and individual bag time stamps from 19:00 through 22:59 hours (inclusive).

The recalled products have establishment number “P-7221” on the back of the package. For product clarification, the last two digits of the product case codes correspond to the hour produced and will match the first two numbers of the time stamp (as depicted on the label).


These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide and for institutional use in locations in Michigan and Washington. The problem was discovered when FSIS received two consumer complaints of extraneous material in the chicken strip products.


There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Those concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.  


FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products 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 can contact Tyson Foods Consumer Relations at 1-866-886-8456.


Better Made Snack Food potato chips recalled

As a preventative measure, Better Made Snack Foods of Detroit  is recalling 10-ounce packages of Original Potato Chips because they may contain undeclared milk.


People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.The recalled 10-ounce Original Potato Chips were distributed nationwide in retail stores and through mail orders.


No illness associated with the recall have been reported to date.


The 10 oz.  $3.99 Original Potato Chips come in a yellow flexible pouch bag and are marked on the top right corner with the following information:

Lot # 62090431442 thru Lot # 62090431520
Lot # 85100431442 thru Lot # 85100431520


The use by date is 10 AUG 2019 with the UPC code 041633063048. The recall was initiated after it was discovered that a package of 10-ounce Original Potato Chips dated 10 AUG 2019 did not contain Original Potato Chips but instead contained Cheddar and Sour Cream Potato Chips which contain milk.


An investigation indicated the problem was caused by a temporary breakdown in the company's production and packaging processes which may have affected 660 bags of 10-ounce Original Potato Chips.


Sale and distribution of these items should stop immediately and any product remaining in the market removed. Consumers who have purchased 10-ounce packages of Better Made Original Potato Chips are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.


Consumers with questions may contact Better Made Snack Foods at (313)-925-4774 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. No other Better Made Snack Food products or flavors are recalled.




A welcome sign of Spring: 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. parking ban lifted in Hastings

After looking at the extended weather forecast, Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt is lifting the enforcement of the 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. parking  ban on city streets.

However, being in Michigan, Pratt said the lifting of the ban “will probably guarantee us a big snowstorm, and if it does, I would encourage city residents to park their vehicles in their driveways.”

Barry County Commission to meet Monday, March 25 instead of Tuesday

There are two changes to the agenda of the Barry County Commissions last meeting of the month.


To avoid a conflict with a Michigan Association of Counties Conference in Lansing held from Monday afternoon through Thursday, March 25-28, the commission will meet Monday next week instead of the normal Tuesday.


Also, a report will be given by the ad hoc committee that studied the idea of a separate Barry County Health Department.


At the request of Commissioner Howard “Hoot” Gibson last October, the Barry County Commission approved forming an ad hoc committee of three commissioners to look into the finances of the Barry Eaton District Health Department and determine the feasibility of establishing a separate Barry County Health Department.


Commissioners Dan Parker, Heather Wing and Jon Smelker were named to the committee to talk to the health department about its budget and report back to the board in writing by Dec. 31. Wing is to give the report under unfinished business at the meeting Monday.



Just an Observation...

Hastings City Manager Jeff Mansfield is leaving his position as city manager of the City of Hastings in a couple of months. I think he is likely way undervalued for the work he’s done, for his foresight and years-long efforts for the future of growth in Barry County.


Your grandchildren can thank him and guys like Jim Carr for the natural beauty of the county that will still be here in 25 to 50 years.


But, there’s a big if in there. That’s if current and future officials recognize the groundwork put in place, working with others, and years of effort to control commercial and industrial development in a logical way and out of the natural areas in our county.


I’ve known Jeff since the late 1980s, but I don’t know anything about him. He never offers, I never ask. I know he’s a Yooper, and married, only because he mentioned his wife is from Delton a couple of months ago.  And, I know he has at least one child, a son I met reporting on a science project at Hastings High School years ago.


That’s it.


Jeff will tell you he is open and transparent, but he is neither about anything outside of his position as city manager for Hastings. He will go into great detail to provide an accurate description of a city issue, some say too detailed, but for some reason it never gets personal, and he’ll go over it again if you don’t get it.


If you are a reporter and want to go up in the Freeport Fire department bucket to get an amazing photo of the first massive crowd at the Barry Roubaix, you can ask Jeff. He’ll say no. Liability.


You ask former Mayor Frank Campbell, he’ll help you onto the platform and push the button to send you up. And, you get the picture.


But, if you want a guy who will tell upset city higher ups that he said it was okay for me to take a photo of kids playing ice hockey on a Fish Hatchery pond, when they were angry and all ready to come after me, Jeff is your guy.


Jeff sees the humor in anything a little ahead of anyone else. I’m told he has a flaming temper, but all I’ve ever seen is a quick, deep reddening of his face once or twice and a really quick tightening of the jaw.  I don’t think I’d want to see more, either.


He has always been more than fair with me, generous with information, makes fewer mistakes than I do, and is an incredibly hard worker. After 30 some years, it's going to be different with Jeff leaving the city for other pursuits.


The council cannot expect the next city manager to have the depth of knowledge Jeff has of the city, its inner workings, his expertise in planning and zoning, legal issues to do with city government and the command he has of the million small threads that keep a city sewn together.


He will be greatly missed by the city and I will miss him for the help he has given me for years.  But, I still don’t know much about him. My best to you in whatever you decide to do next, Jeff.


Cops vs. Teachers basketball game to benefit diabetes research; honor Star School Elementary third grader

Cops vs. Teachers is a charity basketball game to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation helping to find a cure for the childhood disease, Type 1 diabetes.


It’s a fun evening with a serious purpose, the Hastings Area School System teacher’s team will play their hardest against area law enforcement, sponsored by the Hastings Police Department.

Cost at the door on Wednesday, April 10 is $5, tee-shirts are $17 and will be on sale to raise more for the cause.


Doors open at 5 p.m., tip-off is at 6 p.m. at Hastings High School, 520 West South Street in Hastings. All proceeds will be donated to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in honor of Nolan Lucas.


Nolan is an eight-year-old, third-grade student in Brynlee Carlton’s room at Star Elementary. Nolan smiles a lot and is very soft spoken. He wants to be a Paleontologist when he grows up - he has loved dinosaurs since he was a toddler.

Honoring Nolan and raising money for the JDRF at the third annual charity Cops vs. Teachers game was suggested by Star School Counselor Megan VanWyk.


Nolan was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when he was six years old. It’s a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow sugar to enter cells to produce energy, Nolan and many like him, need help to raise fund to find a cure.


Leah and Nick Lucas also have a daughter, Addison, 5. Nolan is excited, but a little shy about the attention he is getting,  but  “he can handle it,” Mom says. Leah is a social worker at Central Elementary and Nick is fleet mechanic at the Pepsi Company.


Central and Star Elementary are holding “penny wars" to help Nolan raise money. The class in each school that raises the most pennies will win a pizza party with Hastings Police Sgt. Kris Miller.

Nolan eyes light up at the idea of a pizza party, he’d like to win that. He’s not sure if he will play any basketball at the benefit game, or if he will be in the tip off, though Miller says he might be.


The funds collected from sponsors, tee-shirt sales, donations and the gate at the door will be presented at the conclusion of the game to JDRF team member Jillian Breneman by the Lucas family.

“JDRF works tirelessly to find better treatments, preventions and ultimately, a cure for type 1 diabetes (T1D) and its complications through critical research. Every dollar we are able to direct toward this research comes from donors. Your generosity fuels real progress toward a world without T1D,” its website says.


Leah explianed how they discovered that Nolan had diabetes.

"He lost weight very quickly, was excessively drinking water, needing to use the restroom excessively, having severe mood swings, and just wasn't himself.


"We were lucky enough that I realized something was amiss early and he was not in full blown Diabetic Ketoacidosis by the time we went to the hospital in November 2016. Helen DeVos hospital has been a huge support and took the time to teach us how to take care of our sweet boy!

"My advice to other parents is to trust your gut - pediatricians do not check for diabetes unless you ask."

The win-loss record in the Cops vs Teachers contests is 0-2 with the teachers holding the winning record. “We’re hoping this is the year,” Miller said.//


Sponsors so far include Total Health Center, Spencer’s Towing, Edward Jones, the Coves, FlexFab Inc., M-43 Auto, Priority Collision, Miller Real Estate, Detail Dr. and Laser Wash, Tripp & Tagg Law Offices, Bradley Ortega & Family, Thornapple Credit Union, Southside Pediatrics, BailTek, Pepsi Grand Rapids, Bellabay Realtors-KellyBrown.                                                         


Diabetes can’t be cured, but it can be managed, according to the following information from the Mayo Clinic. Type 1 diabetes in children is a condition in which your child's body no longer produces an important hormone (insulin). Type 1 diabetes in children used to be known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes.


The diagnosis of type 1 diabetes in children can be overwhelming at first. Suddenly you and your child — depending on his or her age — must learn how to give injections, count carbohydrates and monitor blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes in children requires consistent care, but advances in blood sugar monitoring and insulin delivery have improved the daily management of the condition.


The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown, but in most people with the disease, the body's immune system, which normally fights harmful bacteria and viruses, mistakenly destroys insulin-producing (islet) cells in the pancreas. Genetics and environmental factors appear to play a role in the process.


Insulin performs the critical job of moving sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream to the body's cells. Sugar enters the bloodstream when food is digested. Once the islet cells of the pancreas are destroyed, your child produces little or no insulin. As a result, glucose builds up in your child's bloodstream, where it can cause life-threatening complications.


While there's nothing you could have done to prevent your child's type 1 diabetes, you can help your child prevent its complications by helping your child maintain good blood sugar control as much as possible.


Teach your child the importance of eating a healthy diet and getting regular physical activity and schedule regular visits with your child's diabetes doctor and a yearly eye exam beginning no more than five years after the initial diabetes diagnosis


The signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children usually develop quickly, over a period of weeks. Extreme hunger and unexplained weight loss is often the first sign of type 1 diabetes to be noticed in children. Other symptoms include increased thirst and frequent urination, fatigue, irritability or behavior changes, fruity-smelling breath, blurred vision, and yeast infection in girls.


See your child's doctor if you notice any of the signs or symptoms of type 1 diabetes.

Complications of type 1 diabetes develop gradually. If blood sugar levels aren't well-controlled over a prolonged period of time, diabetes complications can eventually be disabling or even life-threatening.


Complications can include heart and blood vessel disease later in life, nerve damage especially in child legs, which usually happens gradually over a long period of time, kidney damage, eye damage, skin conditions and osteoporosis as an adult. 


The Lucas family, dad Nick, mom Leah and children Addison and Lucas at the Hastings Police Department.


UPDATE: Missing Gaines Township man found dead

UPDATE: Sunday, March 31 about 9:50 p.m., Russell Anderson, was found deceased in his unattached garage by family members, the Kent County Sheriff’s Office reports.


The garage was searched several times by law enforcement and family members after Anderson was reported missing with negative results, oficials said.


At some point after he was reported missing on March 18, Anderson returned to the garage without notifying his family. There was evidence of drug use found at the scene. An autopsy was conducted Monday and there were no signs of foul play. The final results of the autopsy are pending toxicology. The date of death is estimated to be on or about Thursday, March 28.


ORIGINAL STORY:A Gaines Township man has gone missing after leaving his house on a bicycle Monday morning around 9 a.m., according to a Kent County Sheriff’s Office news release.


Russell Anderson, 56, routinely leaves his home on a bicycle to ride around the area looking for returnable cans. He has not been seen since he left home which is unusual according to family who said Anderson always returns home to care for his ailing father, police said.


Anderson was last known to be wearing an orange reflective vest and jeans. He was likely wearing a hooded sweatshirt of an unknown color. His bicycle was described as a mountain bike of an unknown make, model, or color.


Residents are encouraged to keep an eye out for Anderson and call 911 if he is located. Those with information pertaining to his whereabouts are asked to call 616-632-6339; anonymous tips can be called in to Silent Observer at 616-774-2345.



Family Promise plans Grand Opening in Hastings April 8

The Family Promise Network, a program that brings shelter, meals, and support services to homeless families, will celebrate a Grand Opening, complete with ribbon cutting, Monday, April 8 at 4 p.m. signaling its readiness to begin serving area families in Hastings.


The ceremony will be at Hope United Methodist Church at the intersection of M-37 and M-79 south of the city. “It’s been a long haul,” said Executive Director Martha Gibbons. “We’re very excited to start taking families.”


The hosting of homeless families rotates weekly among 11 Host Congregation area churches, with the possibility of 12 in the Network, where families are provided lodging, three meals a day and caring hospitality three or four times a year, she said.


Volunteers are essential to success and provide a wide range of services like cooking and serving meals, playing with children or helping them with homework, interacting with guests with respect and compassion and providing overnight security.  “The churches supply dozens of volunteers working behind the scenes,” Gibbons said.


Churches that may not have the space needed to be a Host Church, but can provide much needed volunteers, supplies and finances as Support congregations. Families in the program will be able to use a Day Center in the second floor of Hope Methodist Church from about 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, where the director, in this case Gibbons, provides case management services. Guests look for employment, tend pre-school children, shower and do laundry.


The Center gives guests a mailing address and a base for housing and employment searches. Many guests are employed during the day, while older children attend school, usually the school they last attended or the school closest to the Day Center.


The Family Promise Network has a van, donated by Broadmoor Motors in Caledonia, to transport guests to and from the Day Center. It may be used to collect donations and carry bedding and personal belongings to the next host congregation.


Facilities at the Day Center include a lounge area for families, a play area for children, a small room or cubicle for the director who will provide most of the supervision of the day center and showers and, if possible, a washer and dryer.


Host facilities include a lounge area with sofa, chairs, tables and TV, a dining area, a kitchen, bathrooms, and sleeping accommodations. Ideally, congregations provide a separate room, such as a classroom, for each family. If that isn’t possible, a fellowship hall or other large space will do.

Sleeping accommodations are dedicated to the families for the entire host week.


When guests arrive on Sunday, they come with their belongings and perhaps a few of their children’s favorite toys. They want to arrange their space as if it were their home.


The guest guidelines call for a maximum stay of 30 days. However, Network directors often extend the stay as long as families are making good-faith efforts to find housing. In some communities, families can find housing within 30 days. In other communities—where there is a severe shortage of affordable housing and waiting lists for public housing, finding a home can take 60 days or more.  In Networks, about 76 percent of the guest families find permanent housing, often with volunteers help.


Host congregations change every week or two, but the Day Center at Hope Methodist Church remains the same, providing a home base. Homeless families come through referrals from many places, Gibbons said. “We talk to the Barry County United Way, the schools, churches and individuals.”  


Family Promise is a nonprofit 501(c) 3, so funds are raised through grants and fundraising and from individuals, congregations, and corporations. Local or state foundations may also provide seed money.  As an organization for families in transition, Family Promise has more than 192 affiliates in 39 states and 6,000 congregations and 160,000 volunteers in the Networks.


Eaton County part of statewide tornado drill during Severe Weather Awareness Week

Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness Week this year is March 24-30, with the annual voluntary statewide tornado drill Wednesday, March 27 at 1 p.m.

Tornadoes can and do occur in our area; in fact the last major tornado to hit Michigan was in Eaton County on April 22, 1977. Since 1950, there have been 25 tornadoes confirmed in Eaton County. 


Following the warning siren test, residents are strongly encouraged to fill out a form at the link  with your location and your observations.

These generated reports will be used to analyze our effective warning siren coverage.


Departments, businesses, organizations, families and individuals are encouraged to be a part of this statewide preparedness activity. Many communities in Eaton County will be participating by activating their outdoor warning sirens...   


“Eaton County Central Dispatch and Eaton County Emergency Management will take this opportunity to practice our procedures as if it were an actual tornado warning,” 911 Director Michael Armitage said.  In addition to participating in the drill, residents of Eaton County can also prepare by creating a Smart911 account and registering for emergency alerts at or  Residents can also register for alerts by texting the word EATON to 67283.


Central dispatch and emergency management wants to ensure that you and your family are adequately alerted by our warning siren system if and when dangerous weather conditions head our way this severe weather season. Therefore, we are asking for your help in assessing the effective range our warning sirens by submitting a status report..

Statewide Severe Weather Preparedness/Awareness Weeks are an opportunity to increase awareness of and response to severe weather hazards. They are scheduled throughout the spring, targeting a time before the spring severe weather "season" typically begins in that state. Most states also conduct a tornado drill during their awareness week, when test tornado warnings are issued at a predetermined time. Please mark your calendar and plan to participate in the drill for your local area, as this is an opportunity to test your communication methods as if it were a real situation.


For more information about being safe before, during and after a tornado, go to



Barry County United Way "Souper Victory Celebration" set for April 11

The Barry County United Way & Volunteer Center is hosting a 2018-2019 “Souper Victory Celebration” Thursday, April 11 at noon at the Barry Community Enrichment Center, 231 South Broadway in Hastings.




“By choosing to be the one…a child is performing better in school, a struggling family is back on their feet and a senior citizen was able to have a meal today.

“Join us for soup luncheon and award presentation as we celebrate the lasting change that has been created from you all choosing to be the one…It only takes one…thank you for choosing to be the one,” the BCUW invitation read. 


RSVP to 269-945-4010 or e-mail morgan@bcunited

Barry County begins move of Friend of the Court to Courts & Law building

A 2015 Barry County Master Facilities Plan recommended moving the Michigan State University Extension office out of the Courts & Law building and moving Friend of the Court (FOC) offices into the newly vacated space, along with other recommendations.


The MSEU office has been moved and now the County Commission is ready to begin the FOC move, recommending Commissioners Jon Smelker and Vivian Conner as an advisory committee of two to work with county staff and Landmark Design Group to prepare a plan and budget for the project.


The ad hoc committee, a system the county used in earlier construction projects that worked well, will help keep the project moving, provide a timeline and feedback to the commission on a regular basis, and keep the project on budget after the budget is determined, Administrator Michael Brown said.


Brown said the project had been talked about for several years but the court administrators at the time of the study were concerned there might not be enough room to move the FOC from 102 South Broadway into the vacated MSUE space. Reimbursement from the state also played a part in the delay.


The current court administrators believe there is enough space, “with not any extra,” Brown said. The goal is to keep the programs that function in the court system in that building, as well as those programs that have heightened security needs.


“More importantly…it’s just too important not to. To have all the staff in one location is a goal and propriety with them.”

The new Indigent Defense Department is in the Courts & Law building.


The committee will begin the process and bring back a recommendation to the board with a plan to actually move the FOC over, with a time frame, ultimately to get the project bid out, with at least some of it done internally, he said.


Other recommendations in the study, the renovations to the former Hastings Library building and moving the MSUE office there, and improvements to the Circuit Courtroom in the Barry County Courthouse, have been completed.


A new Barry County Jail and Commission on Aging building, also recommended by the study, are in the active planning stages.


In other business Tuesday, the commission recommended approval of the first budget amendment of 2019, that did not include any amendments that affected the bottom line of the General Fund, and approval of PA116 requests from Spring Creek Farms for parcels 18-16, 18-17 and 18-18 in Sections 2, 14 and 21 of Johnstown Township.

The commission is expected to act on the recommendations at its next meeting.

Is your child ready for kindergarten?

Is your child excited to start kindergarten this fall? Families are encouraged to attend Kindergarten Round Ups at their child’s school to prepare, according to a Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) media release.


An important part of preparing for kindergarten is making sure kids are up to date on their immunizations. The health department wants to make sure that every child is protected before entering school in the fall.


“Immunization is the single most important way parents can protect their children, classmates and the entire community from serious disease,” said Jackie Anderson, RN, BEDHD’s immunization coordinator.


Thanks to vaccines, most of these vaccine-preventable diseases have become rare in the United States. However, when schools have low vaccination rates, these diseases can make a comeback. When this happens children can become very sick, leading to missed days of school and missed worked for parents.


To prevent outbreaks from occurring in schools and places where children congregate, a high percentage of children must be immunized. To protect all students enrolled in school, children who do not receive the required immunizations may be excluded from school if an outbreak occurs.


Before the first day of school a child entering kindergarten must have:

*4 doses of DTap (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis)

*4 doses of Polio

*2 doses of MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella)

*3 doses of Hepatitis B

*2 doses of Chickenpox (Varicella)


In addition to the required immunizations, the influenza (flu) and two doses of Hepatitis A are highly recommended.


If your child has not yet received all of the immunizations required for school entry, don’t wait. Take action now to get them protected before school begins. Make an appointment with your child’s doctor, or call the health department’s immunization clinic at 517-541-2630 in Eaton County or 269-798-4133 in Barry County.


If you are not sure if your child is up to date, please contact their doctor or the BEDHD immunization clinic to review their records.


Driving Information

Upon approaching and passing a stationary authorized emergency vehicle that is giving a visual signal by means of a flashing, rotating or oscillating red, blue, white or amber lights the driver of an approaching vehicle shall proceed with due care and caution.

On a public road with at least two adjacent lanes proceeding in the same direction of the emergency vehicle, the driver of the approaching vehicle shall proceed with caution, reduce  his or her speed by at least 10 miles per hour below the posted speed limit, and yield the right-of-way by moving into a lane at least  one moving lane or two vehicle widths apart from the emergency vehicle, unless directed by a police officer.

A driver who violates this is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more that $500.00, or imprisonment for not more that 90 days, or both.

The American Legion celebrates 100 years

In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the American Legion, Barry Wood, who has held many local, regional and state level positions in the American Legion organization, gave part of its history at the last Hastings City Council meeting. Parts of Wood’s presentation are highlighted here:


The American Legion was formed March 15-17, 1919, by combat troops of the American Expeditionary Forces in Paris, France. Weary and homesick, these American Legion founders restlessly awaited passage back to the United States and a return to their civilian lives after World War One.


As they waited, they had time to think about what they would do after discharge from support of their wounded comrades, to honor the fallen, to care for the surviving spouses and orphans, and to protect the democracy they pledged their lives to defend.


They envisioned a different kind of veteran’s association that would be like none before it, nor any that would follow; the American Legion would be built on strengthening the nation, not serving themselves, through four pillars of volunteer work on behalf of veterans, defense, youth and Americanism.


The early American Legion fought for creation of the U.S. Veterans Bureau in 1921, the Veterans Administration in 1930 and the Department of Veterans Affairs in 1989. In 1919, they organized an army of expert service officers to provide free health-care and benefits assistance to veterans and their families. In the 1920s they found jobs for hundreds of thousands of veterans and fed entire communities during the Great Depression.


egionnaires conceived, drafted and pushed to passage the GI Bill of Rights, legislation that changed the world, transforming higher education and home ownership for average Americans. The G.I. Bill built more than a half-century of economic prosperity, advanced civil rights, created the American middle class and became known as the most significant social legislation of the last century.


The Legion’s research helped countless veterans suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder and health problems related to atomic radiation, Agent Orange, Gulf War Illness, burn pits and other service-connected exposures to veterans.


Legionnaires have also proven uniquely well-suited to handle life-threatening catastrophes, fires, floods, tornados, mine disasters, superstorms and even a terrorist attack. Deadly hurricanes devastated countless homes and lives, and legionnaires responded quickly with tens of millions of dollars in grants from its National Emergency Fund. //


The Legion strengthened the nation by promoting education, good citizenship and respect for the U.S. flag. In 1923-1924, they established the first-ever standard rules of respect for the flag.

They worked with the National Education Association to keep kids in school, teach good citizenship, respect law enforcement, understand the U.S. government and appreciate the Constitution.


Out of these interests came many citizenship programs for immigrants like Boys State and Boys Nation, American Legion oratorical contests, Junior Law Enforcement cadet programs, a national youth baseball program, Junior ROTC programs, Boy Scout units and Junior Shooting Sports teams.


The American Legion was instrumental in the creation of the modern reserve component of the U.S. military and the National Guard, which have proven vital to American strength, especially in the War on Terrorism. Continuous advocacy for an effective defense system has built the strongest, and most responsible, military the world has ever known.

The American Legion Family, which grew to include the Legion Women’s Auxiliary, Sons of The American Legion and most recently, The American Legion Riders, has positively impacted tens of millions of lives.


New American Legion posts are taking shape on campuses across the U.S. to support student veterans using their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. As new posts begin their journeys into the Legion’s second century, they inspire a renewed vision that is timeless and built to serve generations of Americans yet to come.


The Lawrence J. Bauer American Legion Post 45, chartered in 1919, appreciates the long-entrusted relationship with the City of Hastings and the surrounding community. We know this relationship will continue, Wood said.


Photo: Barry Wood


Barry County Sheriff's Office encourages boaters to "Keep Your Edge" this boating season

It may not feel like boating season yet, but Barry County Sheriff’s Office along with boating safety advocates nationwide, are urging boaters to #KeepYourEdge by enrolling in a boating education course this spring, according to a sheriff’s media release.


The sheriff’s office is participating in the national Spring Aboard – Take A Boating Education Course campaign, encouraging boaters to get educated prior to the kick-off of the boating season so they can make the most out of their time on the water.


A boating safety course provides critical boating knowledge that anyone who plans to get out on the water should have, and better prepares you for the risks you may face while boating. U.S. Coast Guard statistics indicate that of the accidents where the level of operator education was known, 81 percent of boating deaths occurred on boats where the boat operator had never received boating education instruction.


“Education is the key to having a safe and enjoyable day on the water,” said Sheriff Dar Leaf. “Even though the operator has the ultimate responsibility for the safety of the vessel, its crew and passengers, everyone who plans to be onboard should consider taking a boating safety course to prepare for their time on the water.


If a boater has taken a boating safety education course the likelihood of their time spent on the water being a safe and enjoyable experience is much greater. Spring is the perfect time to take a course before the summer boating season begins.”  


Those born on or after July 1, 1996 may legally operate a boat only if they have been issued a boating safety certificate and have it on board.

Those born before July 1, 1996 may legally operate a boat without restrictions.  Those at least 16 years of age and born after Dec. 31, 1978 may legally operate a PWC only if they have obtained a boating safety certificate.  


During the week of Spring Aboard, March 17-23, 2019, boaters are encouraged to take a boating education course if they have never taken one before, or to take a course as a refresher in order to prepare for the boating season ahead. Find out about more available courses by visiting or .


With today’s wide variety of courses available, from classroom courses to online offerings, there’s a course for every boater and every schedule. //


The Barry County Sheriff’s Office is partnering with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) to inform boaters about the benefits and necessity of taking a boating education course. In Michigan,


The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators is a national nonprofit organization that works to develop public policy for recreational boating safety. NASBLA represents the recreational boating authorities of all of the U.S. states and territories.

Through a national network of thousands of professional educators, law enforcement officers and volunteers, NASBLA affects the lives of over 73.5 million American boaters.'s%20department&epa=SEARCH_BOX



Irish turn out for Hastings St. Patrick's Day Parade

Saturday afternoon was cold and windy but that didn't stop one of the rituals of late winter, while everyone waits for spring. The St. Patrick's Day Parade is billed as the biggest little parade of the year in Hastings, with everyone welcome to take part. No captions are needed for the photos that show some of the parade.









FDA issues three recalls Friday, check your shelves

The FDA issued three recalls Friday involving Pillsbury All-Purpose Flour, Butterball raw ground turkey and Monogram Meat ready-to-eat-pork sausage, according to a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development media release.


The First Recall: The Hometown Food Company initiated a limited, voluntary retail-level recall on two specific lot codes of its Pillsbury® Unbleached All-Purpose 5 lb. Flour (UPC 51500-22241)because it may be contaminated with Salmonella. Only Best If Used By Dates APR 19 2020 and APR 20 2020 are impacted.

Roughly 12,245 cases of impacted Pillsbury® Unbleached All Purpose Flour product were distributed through a limited number of retailers and distributors nationwide.   The only product lots affected by the recall are as follows:

Item Name

Case Item Code

UPC Item Code

Lot Code


Pillsbury® Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

0 5150022241 3

0 5150022241 6

8 292

APR 19 2020

Pillsbury® Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

0 5150022241 3

0 5150022241 6

8 293

APR 20 2020

Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased. Consumers should not consume the recalled product.


The Second Recall: Butterball, LLC, a Mount Olive, N.C. establishment, is recalling approximately 78,164 pounds of raw ground turkey products produced on July 7, 2018 that may be contaminated with Salmonella Schwarzengrund, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Friday.

The following products are subject to recall:

  • 48-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing “BUTTERBALL everyday Fresh Ground Turkey WITH NATURAL FLAVORING (85% LEAN/15% FAT)” with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188, and UPC codes 22655-71555 or 22655-71557 represented on the label.
  • 48-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing “BUTTERBALL everyday Fresh Ground Turkey WITH NATURAL FLAVORING (93% LEAN/7% FAT)” with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188 and UPC code 22655-71556 represented on the label.
  • 16-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing “BUTTERBALL everyday Fresh Ground Turkey WITH NATURAL FLAVORING (85% LEAN/15% FAT)” with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188 and UPC code 22655-71546 represented on the label.
  • 16-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing “BUTTERBALL everyday Fresh Ground Turkey WITH NATURAL FLAVORING (93% LEAN/7% FAT)” with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188 and UPC codes 22655-71547 or 22655-71561 represented on the label
  • 48-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing “Kroger GROUND TURKEY FRESH 85% LEAN – 15% FAT” with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188, and UPC code 111141097993 represented on the label.
  • 48-oz. plastic wrapped tray containing “FOOD LION 15% fat ground turkey with natural flavorings” with sell or freeze by date of 7/26/18, lot code 8188 and UPC code 3582609294 represented on the label.

The products subject to recall have establishment number “EST. P-7345” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to institutional and retail locations nationwide.

Multiple agencies have been investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Schwarzengrund illnesses involving five case patients from two states. 


Wisconsin collected three intact Butterball brand ground turkey samples from a residence where four of the case patients live.  The case patients and ground turkey Salmonella Schwarzengrund isolates are closely related, genetically.


Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased. Consumers should not consume the recalled product.


The Third Recall: Monogram Meat Snacks, LLC, a Martinsville, Va. establishment, is recalling approximately 191,928 pounds of ready-to-eat pork sausage products that may be adulterated due to possible product contamination, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today. This recall is being initiated due to product tampering, following the production process.


The ready-to-eat pork sausages are heat-treated and shelf-stable. The items were produced and packaged for Conagra Brand / Duke’s Meats Corp. on various dates between Jan. 16 and March 7, 2019.  The following products are subject to recall:

  • 5-oz. plastic pouches of “DUKE’S HICKORY PEACH BBQ SMOKED SHORTY SAUSAGES, Made with A PEACH BBQ RELISH,” that contain a package and case code of 1580002003, and various BEST IF USED BY dates from Jan. 16, 2019 through Jan. 27, 2020.
  • 5-oz. plastic pouches of “DUKE’S HOT & SPICY SMOKED SHORTY SAUSAGES, Made with FRESH-DICED SERRANO PEPPERS,” that contain a package and case code of 1601201052, and various BEST IF USED BY dates from Jan. 16, 2020 through Feb. 3, 2020.
  • 16-oz. plastic pouches of “DUKE’S ORIGINAL RECIPE SMOKED SHORTY SAUSAGES, Made with A CLASSIC BLEND OF SPICES & FRESHLY-CHOPPED HERBS,” that contain a package code of 1601201182, various BEST IF USED BY dates from Jan. 11, 2020 through Feb. 27, 2020, and a case code of 1580002130.
  • 5-oz. plastic pouches of “DUKE’S CAJUN STYLE ANDOUILLE SMOKED SHORTY SAUSAGES, Made with ROASTED RED PEPPERS & CAJUN SPICES,” that contain a package and case code of 1580002073, and various BEST IF USED BY dates from Jan. 10, 2020 through Feb. 13, 2020.
  • 5-oz. plastic pouches of “DUKE’S ORIGINAL RECIPE SMOKED SHORTY SAUSAGES, Made with A CLASSIC BLEND OF SPICES & FRESHLY-CHOPPED HERBS,” that contain a product and case code of 1601201051, and various BEST IF USED BY dates from Feb. 14, 2020 through Feb. 29, 2020.
  • 5-oz. plastic pouches of “DUKE’S HATCH GREEN CHILE SMOKED SHORTY SAUSAGES, Made with ROASTED & DICED HATCH CHILES,” that contain a package and case code of 1580002002, and various BEST IF USED BY dates from Jan. 13, 2020 through Feb. 3, 2020.
  • 5-oz. plastic pouches of “DUKE’S ORIGINAL RECIPE SMOKED SHORTY SAUSAGES, Made with A CLASSIC BLEND OF SPICES & FRESHLY-CHOPPED HERBS,” that contain a package code of 1601201051, various BEST IF USED BY dates from Feb. 17, 2020 through March 1, 2020, and a case code 1601201272.
  • 5-oz. plastic pouches of “DUKE’S HOT & SPICY SMOKED SHORTY SAUSAGES, Made with FRESH-DICED SERRANO PEPPERS,” that contain a package code of 1601201052, various BEST IF USED BY dates from Jan. 16, 2020 through Feb. 24, 2020, and a case code of 1601201274.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 795” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide. The problem was discovered on March 11, 2019 when the establishment confirmed that the product was distributed into U.S. commerce. 


There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased. Consumers should not consume the recalled product.





MSP Troopers will be looking for impaired drivers on St. Patrick's Day

During the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day festivities, the Michigan State Police (MSP) is reminding motorists to make safe driving choices.This Sunday, March 17, troopers will join their counterparts from across the country in the international traffic safety initiative, Operation Crash Awareness and Reduction Efforts (C.A.R.E.), acccording to a MSP media release.


“Don’t rely on luck. If you plan on celebrating, plan ahead by designating a sober driver or scheduling a ride on St. Patrick’s Day,” said Col. Joe Gasper, director of the MSP. “We want the roads safe for everyone using them. Troopers will be out looking for impaired drivers.”


The enforcement period begins at 12:01 a.m., on Sunday, March 17, and will end at 11:59 p.m.

Operation C.A.R.E. began in 1977 as a collaborative effort between the MSP and the Indiana State Police, and is one of the nation’s longest-running traffic safety initiatives. It focuses on deterring the three main causes of highway fatalities: aggressive driving, impaired driving and failure to use occupant restraints.


State police and highway patrol agencies from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Ontario Provincial Police, Quebec Police Force and the U.S. Virgin Islands will be participating in this lifesaving traffic safety initiative. Operation C.A.R.E. also includes participation from police agencies affiliated with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP).


Hastings Kiwanis Key Club Student of the Month named

The Kiwanis Club of Hastings is pleased to announce the receipts of the Key Club Student of the Month for January and February. Dr. Bob Becker presented the awards to two very outstanding members of Hastings High School Key Club.


January Student of the Month is junior Blake Harris, the son of Rebecca and Kenneth Harris.

During his first year as Key Club member, Blake made great strides in bringing attention to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. In honor of his sister,


Blake is donating his award money to that organization. He plans to continue to make a difference in the lives of others through community projects with the Key Club and his commitment to educate others about challenges faced by those with juvenile diabetes.


February Student of the Month is freshman Grace Kurr, the daughter of Anne Wilcox-Kurr. When the Key Club decided to make toys for the Barry County Animal Shelter, Grace found her passion in helping make a difference at the shelter.


She enjoyed learning about the different opportunities for impacting the community through service with the Key Club. Grace has selected the Barry County Animal Shelter to receive her Kiwanis donation.

Hastings Kiwanis congratulates both young adults and looks forward to what they will bring to the future of the community with their attitudes of service to others.  


Photo: (from left) Anne Wilcox-Kurr, her daughter Grace Kurr, Kiwanis President Dr. Bob Becker, Blake Harris and his mother Rebecca Harris at the Kiwanis Club recognition. Harris and Kurr were January and February Key Club Students of the Month from Hastings High School.





Know the truth behind vape devices, including JUUL

Tough classes, sports and music practices, social events, family obligations, college applications — middle and high school students have enough on their plates. Enter: JUUL, a vape device disguised as a computer flash drive. Imagine how hard it is to avoid vape devices, also known as e-cigarettes, when one in five Barry County teenagers are using them, according to a media release from the Barry Eaton District Health Department.


The Barry County Tobacco Reduction Coalition (TRC) is taking a stand to say “enough is enough” to the e-cigarette epidemic. Joining thousands of activists across the country participating in Kick Butts – and JUULs - Day on March 20, the TRC encourages local kids, teens, parents, and educators to commit to setting aside just 10 minutes of their day to know the truth about vapes, including JUULs. Kick Butts Day is a national day of youth advocacy sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the release said.


There are well over 15,000 flavors of e-cigarettes and cigars, with flavors like butter crumble, berry, bubble gum, cotton candy, gummy bear, grape, and menthol.  These flavors are meant to attract kids into trying tobacco products — 81 percent of youth e-cigarette users started with a flavored product.


Tobacco and e-cigarette companies, including JUUL, see kids and teens as their “replacement smokers,” and use flavors to make their products more appealing to beginners, to keep them coming back for more.


Most notably, flavors hide the fact that the devices contain nicotine, and lots of it – each JUUL pod has as much nicotine as is in 20 cigarettes! Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances and interferes with healthy brain development,  development that may continue into the mid-20s, according to the health department.


Before kids and teens realize it, they can have “NicoTeen brain” and a lifelong addiction. This has been the story for 3.6 million youth who now use e-cigarettes, including Barry County middle and high school students with bright futures ahead of them. It’s time to support our kids. It’s time to know the truth. 


To know the truth about JUUL and other vape devices, visit,,, or

Trying to quit? Visit or for text-based assistance.



Gravel road update Barry County Road Commission

The following update of the condition of gravel roads in the county is from Jake Welch, Director of Operations at the Barry County Road Commission


“We are very aware of the poor conditions of the gravel roads. “I spoke at length with our superintendent last evening about the current conditions as well as our plan moving forward.  The current moisture levels are too high for our trucks or graders to be able to make any improvement to the roads. 


“We have taken graders out and checked areas and there is still frost under the mushy gravel on the surface.  This is problematic in that it doesn't allow the water in the gravel to migrate down into the ground so the gravel just stays wet.  Also they are calling for 1 inch, plus of rain tonight and into tomorrow. 


“He has spoken with our crews and we are prepared to go out anytime this weekend to make any positive headway we can however it will be largely dependent on Mother Nature.

“Thank you for your patience we realize that this is a major inconvenience and we will be out in full force as soon as improvement can be made.”

Consumers plans to interrupt service to 2,400 Middleville area customers Saturday

Consumers Energy has mailed all Middleville area customers postcards with information that beginning about 2 a.m., Saturday March 16, some 2,400 of its customers will experience a three-hour scheduled power outage to allow the safe repair of equipment.


Customer’s service will be interrupted to make repairs to an electrical substation that serves portions of the Village of Middleville and surrounding areas that include Thornapple, Irving and Rutland townships in Barry County and southeastern Caledonia Township in Kent County.


The general area affected is bordered to the north by 100th  Street, M-37 to the south, Wood School Road to the east and Ashley Lane to the west.


The postcard says if for some reason they’re unable to complete their work on that day, they will reschedule for March 17, beginning at 2 a.m. for about three hours.


Customers with questions about the scheduled outage can call Consumers Energy at 800-805-0490 for businesses and 800-477-5050 for residential customers.


Hastings to pay $233,521 to MDOT for Safe Routes to School cost overruns

The City of Hastings will pay invoices for $230,000 from the Michigan Department of Transportation for work done on the Safe Routes to Schools project that went over the contractual cap of $698,000 on funding for the project.


Officials were caught off guard and didn’t realize they owned the money until invoices started coming in after the project was completed, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.

Councilman Al Jarvis said he had “asked a couple of times” if there were going to be cost overruns during construction and was told no.


“That’s a lot of money; the whole project cost $698,000 and we get a bill for a third of that we were not expecting. To me, $230,000, that’s a heck of a screw up. We have egg on our faces. I don’t understand an explanation of what happened.”


Mansfield said he could give a brief explanation. There were many changes in the scope of work on the Safe Routes to Schools during the project for a variety of reasons; problems that came up and that had to be addressed and a lot of additional work was done, he said.


“A city staff member actually approved the additional work,” he said. It was all needed, legitimate work that was done, and it benefitted the community, “but, it was somewhat discretionary, and if we elected to do ‘this’ work, we had the discretion to change other work to stay within the project’s budget. Which is exactly what should have happened.


“Yes, you’re right…we all have eggs on our faces, but it was approved by city staff. It is an expense we will have to bear…The MDOT will be compensated for the work.”

Jarvis asked if it fell on Williams & Works, the company that did the design work.

“We will be talking to you about Williams &Works and expenses, but we do not anticipate paying them in full for additional work that they had to do.”


Councilman Donald Bowers was adament that Williams & Works should be held completely accountable for not providing the city with the real costs. Mansfield disagreed.  “Williams & Works did have some shortfalls in their design. They acknowledged that, but those costs were in addition to that and were authorized by city staff.


“I think that several critical points were missed and there was an opportunity to control this, and we didn’t avail ourselves of that opportunity.”

Mansfield said the city was taking steps to prevent anything like that from happening again.


“I understand we are robbing Peter to pay Paul, what else can we do? It’s frustrating,” Jarvis said. Councilman Jim Cary asked if they should spread out the payments over time, Mansfield said the city has the funds to cover it, “It just means other work this summer will not be done.”


Bowers asked if the unidentified staff member who approved the change orders had been reprimanded, Mansfield replied “yes.” The vote to amend the budget to decrease spending on streets to pay for the total invoices of $233,521.18 invoices passed, 7-2, with Jarvis and Bowers voting “no.”


Barry County Chamber takes no position on proposed gas tax hike

The Barry County Chamber of Commerce has issued a statement regarding the proposed gas tax proposal from Governor Gretchen Whitmer.


While the Michigan Chamber of Commerce has come out in support of recent gas tax proposals from the governor's office, the Barry County Chamber has no official position on this tax proposal, the statement reads.


“In fact, it is rare that we take a public position on any proposed legislation or state/federal initiative, and we never take sides with candidates,” it continues.


“Furthermore, we have not been a member of the Michigan Chamber for a number of years, specifically due to its lobbying/taking positions on controversial issues...some of which could have negative impacts on our local member businesses and organizations.”


Invitation to the area residents:

You are cordially invited to participate in the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade down South Jefferson Street in Hastings on Saturday, March 16 at 1 p.m. You may bring as many guests as you like to march with you and children and animals are especially welcome.



There are no rules about costumes for the parade, except you should wear something green, the greener the better. Outrageous is fine.


Line-up is a little before 1 p.m. in the alley behind WBCH. You can call Sue at WBCH, 269-945-3414 and tell her you will be in the parade, you know, if you are planning to drive a green Sherman tank; otherwise you can just show up.


Even if you just happen to be downtown Hastings, you’re welcome to walk along and wave to the crowd. The Grand Marshal for this year’s parade is Ron Kloosterman. The six-block parade route ends where it began, but you can drop out anytime.


If you are all Irish, part Irish or no Irish at all, and are sporting anything green, you’re welcome to join the biggest little parade in Hastings for just a silly time. You’ll see lots of smiles, guaranteed.


We don’t know why St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17, the day of his death, but we are grateful he drove all of the snakes out of Ireland.



State Rep. Julie Calley sets office hours in Hastings, Lake Odessa March 26

87th District Rep. Julie Calley, of Portland, will present a legislative update and then talk to residents one on one if they have individual concerns in two area locations on Tuesday, March 26.


From 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Calley will be at the Page Memorial Building, 839 Fourth Avenue in Lake Odessa and from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. in the county commission chambers in the Barry County Courthouse, 220 West State Street in Hastings.


"I deeply appreciate the insight and feedback that I receive during office hours. I am grateful for engaged community members," Calley said.


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


Special Barry County Commission night meeting moved back to April 11

A special Barry County Commission night meeting set for late March has been moved back to April 11 at the Tyden Center at 7 p.m. Commission Chair/Commissioner Heather Wing said that an unresolvable conflict forced the change.


The meeting is to take public opinion on amendments to the Agriculture Preservation Board ordinance and establishing an Open Spaces Ordinance, both dealing with the buying of development rights from property owners.


The committee of the whole meeting is not an official public hearing, but to give the public a chance to learn about the changes, weigh in with their opinions and ask questions. During discussion at last week’s commission meeting, several commissioners had concerns about the changes, leading to the special meeting.


Stacy Byers, on the staff of the Kent County Agricultural Preservation Board and the Agriculture and Open Space Preservation Board in Ingham County, was with chairman of the Barry County Agriculture Promotion Board, Paul Wing, to explain the changes in the ordinance.


Since the issue was complex with many variables, the meeting, “will answer all the questions and concerns. It’s a good practice that leads to making good decisions,” she said.


In other business Tuesday, Administrator Michael Brown said auditors Gabridge & Company PLC has completed two weeks of field work and everything “seems to be going well.” The firm will prepare a draft review leading up to a report to the board, Brown said. //


Also, commissioners agreed to:

*provide a resolution for full faith and credit for an irrevocable line of credit for the Little Thornapple River Intercounty Drain

*reappoint Jack Nadwornik to the planning commission

*change notice #1 for an Office of Community Corrections grant

*buy replacement bullet resistant vests for the Sheriff’s Office with funds coming from the Diverted Felon’s Fund.

*appoint Nancy Kinney, Barbra Scott and Patricia Giar to the Animal Shelter Advisory Board.

*re-appoint Don Bowers and Ruth Perino to the Community Health Authority Board and re-appoint Jack Nadwornik to the Planning Commission for a three-year term.

*re-appoint Craig Stolsonburg and Commissioner David Jackson to the Tax Allocation Board and also Jackson to the Brownfield Development Authority.

*appoint Jim Brown and Stuart Cowan to the Solid Waste Oversight Committee.

*agreements between the county and Reynolds Land Surveying and Mapping P.C, Arrow Land Survey, Pathfinder Engineering, Inc, Crane Land Survey, Carr & Associates LLC, Exxel Engineering and Jonker Land Surveys PC for 2019.

*appoint Robert Carr, Michael Pratt, Ken Vierzen, Steven Koerber, Randall Jonker and Cindy Koster to the Barry County Remonumentation Peer Review Board.


This article was amended to correct the Barry County auditor's company name









Citizen asks support for separate Barry County Health Department

Barry County citizen Shirley Barnum read a statement at last week's Barry County Commission meeting, asking the commissioners “to support an effort to bring the Barry County Health Department home to Barry County”  The Barry-Eaton District Health Department now serves both Barry and Eaton counties.


Barnum said she worked in the accounting field for 27 years, “and I understand numbers. We know this will save in the range of $300,000 to $400,000 a year in taxes. We need to have oversight o our health department's spending, which we do not seem to have at this tiime."


Barnum is inviting people to attend the next health department board meeting in Hastings at 330 West Woodlawn Avenue on March 28, at 9:30 a.m. She also plans to write a letter to the editor asking those interested to come to a meeting in the Tyden Center to see how much interest there is separating from Eaton County. “We’ll see what happens…the health department budget is $6 million to $7 million a year...we need to start saving money." 


In October last year, Commissioner Howard “Hoot” Gibson requested the commission appoint an Ad Hoc committee to study the feasibility of Barry County having its own health department; Commissioners Jon Smelker, Dan Parker and Heather Wing made up the committee. The results of their study will be given at the March 26 commissioner’s meeting, Smelker said..


Originally funded by the Kellogg Foundation, the Barry County Health Department began operating in a wing of Pennock Hospital in 1931. Barry and Eaton counties became a district health department around 1966 to increase its population and  be eligible for more state and federal funds.


Donations Wrap Spectrum Health Pennock Cancer Center Patients in Warmth, Provide Mental Break

Cancer Care bags recently donated to Spectrum Health Foundation at Pennock for the Cancer Center will provide patients with warmth, comfort and personal notes of encouragement.


“Donations such as this provide our patients with items they may not have when in for appointments; to know the community is thinking of you when going through a tough treatment is encouraging,” explained Janine Dalman, executive director, Spectrum Health Foundation at Pennock. “These Cancer Care bags are deeply appreciated.”


As part of a monthly project, the TK Senior Center, run by Thornapple Kellogg Community Enrichment, chose to make these goodie bags to benefit patients at the center. Each bag included a small fleece lap blanket, fleece “toasty toes” foot sack, tissues, toothbrush and toothpaste, mints, crossword puzzle book, ginger tea, lip balm, hand sanitizer and a card with words of encouragement. 


“The group of senior citizens had a wonderful time creating these Cancer Care bags, knowing they would be given to patients locally. They spent the afternoon putting together the bags, making blankets and writing thoughtful notes for each individual who will receive a bag,” stated Laura Munjoy, TK Community Enrichment Administrative Assistant. “Contents of the bags were donated by community members and supplies were made possible with a grant from Barry Community Foundation.”


In 2018, the Cancer Center hosted 690 provider visits, 699 infusions and 325 chemo therapy treatments.

Lowell woman and child killed, husband injured in weekend crash

A 36 year old Lowell woman, Dana LaHaie was killed in a two vehicle  crash over the weekend on I-96 in Clinton County.  Her husband 38 year old Ryan LaHaie is listed  in critical condition in Sparrow Hospital in Lansing. Their 3 year old son was placed on life support, but died Monday at Sparrow Hospital.  The Clinton County Sheriff's Office said 55 year old Thomas Hahn from Ottawa, Illinois crossed the median and struck the LaHaie vehicle head on.

Nashville names Lois Elliston Sesquicentennial Parade Grand Marshal

The Village of Nashville will recognize its 150th birthday Aug. 2-4.

Part of the planning is naming a prominent person to preside over the event’s parade.


Organizers of the celebration have announced that Lois Elliston, a 43- year employee of the village, will be the Grand Marshal for the Sesquicentennial Parade.


Stan Graham nominated Lois for the honor because of her behind-the-scenes leadership and quiet dedication to the community. “She collects all of the baskets at Christmas from the various organizations. 


“She personally wraps each gift to be delivered to local children, and her home is the most decorated home in town during the holidays... she and her husband always gave out those individual cereal boxes at Halloween,” Graham  said.


Lois became the organizer of the Christmas Project 38 years ago. She makes sure each participating family gets a food basket and each child in the family gets two gifts. She served on a citizen’s committee that created Nashville Riverside Park, rebooting the Nashville Harvest Festival as a fundraiser for the project. 


The daughter of Harold and Leah Phillips, Lois moved to Nashville in 1949 as a freshman in high school. She and her high school sweetheart, Richard Elliston, were married following their graduation in 1954.  They raised three children, Cheryl, Cindy, and Richard II. 


Richard II wasn’t yet in school when he walked in the children’s parade at the Nashville Centennial Celebration in 1969. Richard passed away a few years ago. There are now five grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and a large number of beloved nieces and nephews.


Lois retires from the village June 28. She looks forward to bowling, gardening, meeting friends for tea on Tuesdays at the Country Kettle and finding new ways to interact with the community she loves, possibly including Euchre Night with the ladies at Two J’s on Wednesday evenings.


Photo: Lois Elliston, Nashville's Sesquicentennial Parade Grand Marshal

(photo provided)


Roads main topic in conversation with State Senator John Bizon

State Senator John Bizon, M.D. from the 19th District, visited Hastings City Hall Friday to talk with constituents. About 30 people were in the Council Chambers for the hour-long meeting.

Bizon and his Chief of Staff, Jake Jelsema gave their opinions and outlook, told how to appeal to state agencies for help in some situations and were invited to come back again.


The public had a wide variety on questions, including revenue sharing to cities, child abuse prevention funding, recreational marijuana, the opioid crisis, trust in government, young people vaping, PA 116, Firekeepers Casino revenue sharing, propane price gouging, rural internet accessibility and insurance and health care costs.


The first 25 minutes were devoted to Michigan’s roads and Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed 45 cent increase on gas taxes, “to fix the damn roads.” Bizon said he had 150 telephone calls about the plan, with one person supporting it; he contacted 87th District Rep. Julie Calley and said she had the same experience.


Bizon said the need for money came because roads are expensive, the state doesn’t use technology and innovation as much as it could and doesn’t enforce contractor’s warranties when roads don’t live up to expectations. Some states and Canada use rubberized asphalt that is initially more expensive to lay, but last twice as long, so costs half as much, he said.


“We need to talk to other states and further explore that,” he said. Barry County’s Road Commission lets some roads go back to dirt which costs less to maintain. Bizon explained Act 51, the formula that distributes gas taxes for roads, noting the framers made it to benefit rural communities like Barry County.


The latest increase in the gas tax and fees dedicated to roads was also used to pay down debt, something Bizon did not agree with. “I was the only one who voted against it…I thought it was bait and switch telling constituents that it would all go to roads.”


State Senator John Bizon, right, listens as his Chief of Staff Jake Jelsema answers a question from a constituent.























Daylight savings time is here

Love it or hate it; daylight savings time is here again. Spring ahead, fall back.



Sunday March 10, clocks are set ahead one hour, resulting in more daylight at the end of the day and more darkness in the morning.




Best to set the clocks ahead before bed Saturday.



Allegan Dive Team member, Martin firefighter pull woman from Gun River

An Allegan County Dive Team member and a Martin firefighter saved the life of a 68-year-old Plainwell woman by pulling her from Gun River after her SUV went into the river Thursday.


An Allegan County Sheriff’s Office news release reports deputies were dispatched at 9:52 p.m. to a vehicle submerged in the water at 2nd Street, south of 116th Avenue in Martin Township.

Deputies, a Michigan State Police Trooper, and the Martin Fire Department responded to find a SUV almost completely submerged in the river after what appeared to be a single vehicle roll over crash. 


The unidentified woman was seen floating with the current of the river and struggling to stay afloat.  After attempts were made with ropes to help retrieve her, rescuers went into the river and pulled her to safety.


She was transported to a Kalamazoo area hospital and is listed in serious but stable condition.  Alcohol is believed to be a contributing factor to the crash, officials said.


The sheriff’s office was assisted by Allegan County Dive Team, Martin Fire Department, Wayland EMS, and Michigan State Police.


Eaton County Central Dispatch begins NG 911service today

Eaton County Central Dispatch began taking calls on the new Next Generation 911 system Thursday, March 7, according to Central Dispatch Director Michael Armitage.

“This is a huge step for our agency and county,” he said.


Armitage answered a few basic questions: 


What does this mean?

“We are transitioning the phone infrastructure from the original technology built in the 1960s to modern IP-based technology. This will allow for a 911 system built for today's wireless and mobile environment, instead of fixed landlines.”


What will residents notice?

“The most immediate improvement will be the shorter amount of time it takes to connect to the 911 center, once a call is placed.”


What will it do?

“In the future, this network will carry our text-to-911 service, open up opportunities to share data including photos and videos from the public, and allow for more data sharing between 911 centers and also the public.”


More information on NG-911 is available at


Scammers say they are from "the health department" Just hang up

Attorney General Dana Nessel and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon are warning Michiganders about phone scammers posing as public health officials. The warning comes during National Consumer Protection Week.


Several health departments – including Central Michigan, Chippewa, Kent, Livingston, Macomb, Midland, Mid-Michigan, Ottawa and Washtenaw – have received reports from residents about calls from individuals seeking personal information that could be used to steal someone's identity.


The callers claim to be from a local health department or Medicare and appear to be calling from health department phone numbers. Anyone who receives one of the calls should hang up immediately. No one should give out personal information to an unsolicited caller.


"Scammers use every tool they have to take advantage of anyone they can,” Nessel said. “It’s important residents remember they should never give personal and confidential information to unsolicited callers. Simply hang up and report the call to our office.”


“Local public health and Medicaid officials will not call you and request account information, Social Security numbers or passwords over the phone,” Gordon said. “If you receive one of these calls, we urge you to hang up.”


To report a call contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. A complaint can be filed online or by calling 877-765-8388.


Barry Commissioners review of Ag Preservation, Open Spaces goes to a special night meeting for public input

The Barry County Board of Commissioners discussion on amendments to the Agriculture Preservation Board ordinance and establishing an Open Spaces Ordinance, both dealing with the buying of development rights from property owners, was well underway Tuesday when Commissioner Ben Geiger asked to send both proposals to a night commission meeting to give the public a chance to learn about the changes, weigh in with their opinions and ask questions.

(For more information of the ordinances see related story).


“It’s a worthy cause, but I remember the Cabinet Building (now the Tyden Center). We needed more time to hear about it,” Geiger said.

Commissioners Vivian Conner and David Jackson supported a meeting since they had reservations and wanted to know more.

Commissioner Dan Parker was not opposed to a meeting, but insisted they set the date for the meeting very soon to avoid, “kicking the can down the road.”


The meeting, not a public hearing, “call it a town hall meeting,” Geiger said, is set for Thursday, March 28 at 7 p.m. at the Tyden Center.


Stacy Byers, on the staff of the Kent County Agricultural Preservation Board and the Agriculture and Open Space Preservation Board in Ingham County, was with the chairman of the Barry County Ag Promotion Board, Paul Wing to explain the changes in the ordinance.


The preservation of farmland stalled when the state did not allocate funding for the programs; the state now has some money available through grants on Oct. 1 Wing said. The ag promotion board will be “taking steps to access some of it to preserve some farm land here in Barry County,” he said.


Funding was a concern for Conner and Jackson. “You’re talking about the county buying and holding property; we’re not a real estate company,” Jackson said. Also, he speculated the taxpayers might be asked for another millage. “We need more support and understanding of it. Without public input, it will come back to bite us; a meeting would be prudent,” he said.


“I see issues,” Conner said. “We’re looking at two large financial commitments with the jail and the COA…purchasing rights, it puts the county government inside what property owners do with their property forever, and it is forever.”


Byers agreed it was logical to have a public hearing on the complex issue with many variables. “It will answer all the questions and concerns. It’s a good practice that leads to making good decisions.”



Barry County farmland, open space preservation ordinances may be changed

The intent of any agricultural land preservation effort is to prevent development of farm land for any other purpose than agricultural in perpetuity. The process lets farmers sell their property’s development rights with the provision that in the future, the land can be sold for only agriculture use.


A town hall meeting is set for March 28 at 7 p.m. at the Tyden Center to supply more information, answer questions and take comments from the public on proposed changes in the Agricultural Preservation Ordinance and a proposed Open Space Ordinance.


Some parts of the revised Agricultural Preservation Ordinance proposed at the Barry County Board of Commissioners Tuesday are below. The full text of the 12-page proposed ordinance is available at in the March 5 commission meeting packet.



Agricultural investment is not sustainable when the market value of farmland exceeds its agricultural value.  Farmland which has greater development potential and market value than its agricultural value does not attract sustained agricultural investment and eventually is sold to non-farmers and removed from the agricultural use.


The present board will change to the Barry County Conservation Easement (BCCE) board, with one member from the planning commission, three with agricultural interests, one with real estate or development interests, one with local conservation interests, one township official and one non-voting county commissioner.


The County Board of Commissioners is authorized to purchase the development rights throughout the county by purchase, gift, grant, bequest, devise, covenant or contract.


The County is authorized to seek grants from federal and state governments and private foundations, organizations and individuals for funding expenditures incurred in carrying out this ordinance.


The BCCE will recommend a points based appraisal formula, score all applicants, prioritize applications, recommend a price to be offered to the property owner, establish monitoring procedures, prepare recommendations to the County Board for applications for state, federal or other sources of grant funds and assist the purchase of development /agricultural conservation easements.


The BCCE will give notice of the application cycle at least 90 days before the application deadline with ads in a newspaper of general circulation and the county website.


Upon agreement of the purchase and sale or acquisition of development rights by the property owner and the Board of Commissioners, the County and the property owner shall execute an agricultural conservation easement approved by the BCCE and the County Board of Commissioners that will perpetually protect the parcel’s agricultural value or use of the farmland.


The value of development rights is determined as the difference between the fair market value of the property with development rights and the fair market value of the property based on its agricultural use.


Funds from the repurchase of development/agricultural conservation easements go into a special BCCE fund to be used to purchase additional development/agricultural rights.


After review of the application, county commissioners may approve, approve subject to specific conditions, deny it, stating specific reasons, or postpose action on the application to a specified date.


An Open Space Preservation Ordinance, once proposed by the Agricultural Preservation Board, but not approved by commissioners, is also proposed.


The ordinance is to protect open space to preserve the rural character and scenic attributes of Barry County through permanent conservation easements prohibiting development and has similar conditions for obtaining the easements.


Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital water tests free of Legionella bacteria

Spectrum Health Pennock today announced that continued water testing shows zero evidence of Legionella bacteria in the hospital’s water, according to a Spectrum Health media release.


Results of water testing received on Dec. 26, 2018, showed that water samples taken from the hospital tested positive for Legionella bacteria. While the risk of getting pneumonia from exposure to this bacteria is generally low, hospitalized people can be at greater risk due to their pre-existing health conditions.


Therefore, hospital officials addressed this risk in the short-term by installing filters on faucets and showers, followed by installing a water treatment system for long-term control.


“The health and safety of our patients, community and employees is of utmost importance to us,” Spectrum Health Pennock President Angie Ditmar said. “We acted quickly when we learned of the problem, and we are committed to making sure the water remains safe and clean.”


Hospital officials continued to monitor the water by submitting water samples to Special Pathogens Laboratory, a lab specializing in testing for Legionella bacteria.


All tests have confirmed that water samples taken after these prevention measures tested negative for Legionella bacteria.



Barry County okays bullet resistant vests, fills positions on committees, boards

The Barry County Commission’s committee of the whole had a full agenda Tuesday, recommending approval for a variety of requests, including two from Barry County Undersheriff Matt Houchlei.


The first was for two Armor Express Vortex Level 11 bullet resistant vests for $905 each, or total of $1,810, to replace one vest passing the five year time limit and one for a new employee.

A second was for ten sets of Armor Express Threat Level 11 bullet resistant panels only at $499 each, or $4,990. The panels can be trimmed to fit into slots in the vest for added protection


Houchlei said the purchases are the second phase of replacing vests, this time for corrections officers, part of a general upgrade over time. The corrections officers wear the protective vests only when outside the jail transporting or guarding inmates, so last longer periods of time, Houchlei said. Funding will come from the Diverted Felons Fund.


The number of appointments recommended was long. They include recommendations:


*To appoint Nancy Kinney and Barbra Scott to one-year terms, and Patricia Giar to a two-year term on the Animal Shelter Advisory Board, all in Citizens at Large positions.


*To re-appoint Don Bowers and Ruth Perino to the Community Health Authority Board for three-year terms and re-appoint Jack Nadwornik to the Planning Commission for a three-year term.


*To re-appoint Craig Stolsonburg Citizen at Large and Commissioner David Jackson as a commission representative to the Tax Allocation Board for one year terms. Jackson was also recommended for re-appointment to the Brownfield Development Authority for a three-year term.


*To appoint Hastings Township Supervisor Jim Brown as General Public and Stuart Cowan from the solid waste industry on the Solid Waste Oversight Committee for the remainder of three-year terms that expire on Oct. 31, 2020.


*To approve the fourth year of a five-year contract of Monumentation Surveyor Agreements between the county and Reynolds Land Surveying and Mapping P.C, Arrow Land Survey, Pathfinder Engineering, Inc, Crane Land Survey, Carr & Associates LLC, Exxel Engineering and Jonker Land Surveys PC for 2019, requested by County Surveyor Brian Reynolds.


*to approve appointments of Robert Carr, Michael Pratt, Ken Vierzen, Steven Koerber, Randall Jonker and Cindy Koster to the Barry County Remonumentation Peer Review Board and authorize the 2019 peer review agreements for state reimbursement, also requested by Reynolds.



Notice: Barry County tornado sirens to be tested 1 p.m. Saturday April 6

Barry County Central Dispatch will test all tornado sirens in the county on Saturday April 6, at 1 p.m. and on the first Saturday of every month after that through September, Hastings Fire Chief Roger Caris said.

Central Dispatch has the ability to set off sirens in Middleville, Freeport, Nashville, Hastings, Woodland and Orangeville and Yankee Springs townships.


Ideal sustainable Resource Recovery plan sought in Barry County

Frank Fiala, chairman of the Barry County Solid Waste Oversight Committee, (SWOC) asked the Barry County Board of Commissioners Tuesday to adopt a resolution supporting a plan to develop a mission for the future of recycling in Barry County.


Fiala plans to ask all the county units of government to support a plan for a sustainable resource recovery program in the county by approving the resolution.


The plan is the result of the committee working with Iris Waste Division Specialists, as a part recycling coordinator since 2016, in three phases, staring with introductory meetings with local units, finding the status of resource recovery, continuing with a recycling assessment, finding low or no cost ways to provide the public with recycling information and maintaining the Michigan DEQ Online Recycling Directory.


The third and final phase of the contract with Iris Waste is underway and includes researching similar programs, potential collaborations and ways to fund resource recovery in the county.


A Recycling Forum with local government officials to talk about opportunities and gauge commitment to a plan for resource recovery in the future will be held. The outcomes of the forum will influence the recommendations to the SWOC and county commissioners.


The details page of making the plan, expected to take from 12 to 18 months, includes finding units that are willing and ready to take part as shown by approval of the resolution. They will identify options for resource recovery for them, including private, public and private-public options and development of an ideal option.


Participants are expected to identify a sustainable resource recovery program, with data to support its analysis, identify a strategy and advocate for that strategy. The BCSWC will supervise the project to insure progress toward the goals and help as needed.


The details page concludes by noting it is important to recognize that the project will be driven by the local units and there are no preconceived ideas about the leadership, management or type or organizations that may be identified as the “ideal” solution for a sustainable resource recovery program.


The program’s timeline anticipates resolutions from participating units will be back in April, a presentation of outcomes of the Recycling Forum and recommendations to the Board of Commissioners will be presented in May and the kick off the project and beginning the process of identifying and evaluating resource recovery program options in June/July.


Fiala also said in a lame duck session, the Michigan Legislature approved $69 million to the Renew Michigan Imitative. Of that, $15,000 will go to recycling. “We’re hoping to take advantage of that,” he said. The rest of the funding will go into brownfield remediation ($45 million) and landfill oversight ($9 million).



Michigan follows IRS, waives tax penalty to farmers and fishermen

The Michigan Department of Treasury is following the Internal Revenue Service and waiving the estimated tax penalty for any qualifying farmer or fisherman who files a 2018 stateincome tax return and pays and tax due by Monday, April 15, according to a treasury news release.


The tax relief is being provided by the IRS and the state treasury because certain federal rule changes have caused difficulty for many farmers and fishermen to accurately determine their tax liability by the March 1 deadline that usually applies to them.


For the 2018 tax year, one who has received at least two-thirds of their total gross income from farming or fishing during 2017 or 2018 qualifies as a farmer or fisherman.

“I strongly encourage eligible Michigan farmers and fishermen to take advantage of this tax relief,” said Deputy State Treasurer Glenn White, who oversees Treasury’s Tax Administration programs. “Like the IRS, we will waive the estimated tax penalty.”


To be eligible for the waiver, qualifying Michigan farmers and fishermen must attach IRS Form 2210-F to their 2018 state income tax return. The taxpayer’s name and identifying number, usually a Social Security number, must be entered at the top of IRS Form 2210-F.

The waiver box—Part I, Box A—should be checked. The rest of the form should be left blank.


No additional state tax form needs to be completed to receive the tax relief.

Barry County asked to back part of $600,000 irrevocable line of credit for drain work

A consent agreement between the Intercounty Drainage Board and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality calls for a $600,000 bond to assure the remaining work on the Little Thornapple River drain is completed to its satisfaction.


Drain Commissioner Jim Dull told the Barry County Commission Tuesday that they couldn’t get a bond; “no history, no construction, no bond,”  however, the DEQ will allow a $600,000 irrevocable letter of credit with the three counties involved, Barry, Ionia and Kent, each according to its percentage of the area of the drain district.


Highpoint Community Bank has agreed to provide a two-year $600,000 line of credit for $7,500, if all three counties agree to pledge its full faith and credit, Dull said. “If everything goes wrong,” he said, Barry County’s share to pay would be 63.48 percent.  Ionia County would be responsible for 36.31 percent and Kent County, for 0.37 percent.  


Stacy Hissong, attorney for the Intercounty Drainage Board said if they don’t get approval from the three counties, it goes against the consent agreement and they will be fined, likely $5,000 a day and they are working to get the line of credit approved in an extension of a deadline. The remaining work on a small area of wet lands to be recovered would not cost anywhere near the $600,000, Hissong said; the DEQ set the high figure.


The county commission’s committee of the whole voted unanimously to recommend approval by the board at its regular meeting on March 12.


The majority of the repair of what angry property owners along the drain and trout stream called excessive clearing of trees in 2014 causing erosion along the river banks and more damage to the 14-mile long inter-county drain was done before the consent agreement was reached.

With the approval of the agreement, the DEQ has approved all of the work done so far. //


No assessments were levied last year for the Little Thornapple River Drain work.

This year, the drain commissioner in each county, using a number of factors, will set the individual assessments for the assessment roll that is subject to public review.


Barry County residents are scheduled for a review meeting on May 8, Ionia County residents on May 7 and Kent County on May 9.  Everyone affected will be notified by letter confirming the dates, meeting place and times.

If a person disputes their assessment, they can file an appeal with the probate court within 10 days of the review. The final special assessments will be levied on the 2019 winter tax bill.


The Intercounty Drain Board consists of three drain commissioners; Jim Dull from Barry, Ken Yonker from Kent and Robert Rose from Ionia County. Brady Harrington, chair of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, chairs the Intercounty Drain Board. Streamside Ecological Service developed the remediation plans that were submitted to the DEQ.


**First female Barry County deputy gave respect, got respect and lived life on her terms

**Two of Sue Del Cotto’s three children sat at the kitchen table last week, talking about their mother. Melissa and Mike, with his wife Audrey, had time off from work. Steve Del Cotto and Melissa’s husband Rich Furlong were at work.


Sue Del Cotto was 75 when she died Feb. 22 from a heart attack.

The pain of her death was evident as Mike, Audrey and Melissa, always called Sissy, talked and remembered, but there were smiles and special memories of her, too.

Sue was the first woman deputy in the Barry County Sheriff’s office, a position she held for 25 years before retiring in June,  2001.


She lived in an orphanage until at 15, her sister took her to live with her and her husband. Sue suffered the loss of first born child, son Todd at 12 from leukemia, and as a single mother of four, raised her children alone. “Things were different back then. She lost everything when Todd died; she had to start all over.” Sissy said.


“She was the strongest person I know. She lived life on her own terms; I think she was tough because she had to be,” Audrey said. Mike agreed she had to be strong, but, she had a big heart. She was a member and worked at the Elks lodge for many years, always ready to provide food for occasions, and in a hundred other ways, he said.


She was famous for her authentic southern corn bread, made in a cast iron frying pan. She taught all of her children to cook from scratch and every kid in the house knew how to play Euchre.

Going through mother’s things was painful, and yielded some surprises. Sue never talked about her work, about what it was like being the first woman in a completely male-dominated field or the things she saw.


Sue and Sgt. Ken DeMott won an Achievement Award for their “determination and toughness” in apprehending a couple who had killed a man in Muskegon and ended up in Barry County. DeMott and Del Cotto arrested the pair, sent them back to Muskegon for first degree murder charges and testified against them at trial.


Another time, she and her partner talked a suicidal man out of pulling the trigger of a shotgun he was holding to his head. Sissy found that besides the two ceremonies for those awards, her mother had more than a dozen certificates for advancements in her field they knew nothing about.


Mom never talked about her work, but she suffered from bad dreams, Sissy said. “I’m sure she had PTSD, from the things she saw on her job.”


Audrey found when she married Mike, there were no in-laws, step or half-sisters or brothers; you were a daughter or son, grandson or granddaughter with no other qualifying title; she was now Sue's daughter. The children say they were well aware she was both mother and father to them. “Every year, it was always flowers on Mother’s Day and she got a card on Father’s Day,” Mike said. “Every year.”


When Sue had a stroke 10 years ago, the children decided to move into the family home on North Broadway in Hasting to care for her.

“She wasn’t afraid of anything, except going into a home. She did not want to go into a home. We promised her she wouldn’t have to,” Sissy said. The arrangement was very successful; Sue found great joy with her children and grandchildren around her. “She got a little mellower when she was older,” Sissy said.


Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf was a rookie deputy when he met Sue, who by then had moved up from matron and dispatcher at the jail to deputy as a certified law enforcement officer.


“Everybody was a friend of hers; she knew everybody, I was about the same age as her children; she treated me just like them. She was a mentor, her language was a little rough, but she taught me lessons I've used throughout my career.” He remembers one especially.


She called me one morning when we both had the day off and told me to ‘get my skinny butt out of bed because we were going to play Euchre.’ I told her I would look at my plans and she said, ‘I don’t care what your plans are, we’re going to play Euchre.’”

“We played Euchre out at the Blarney Stone from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. She had a couple of drinks and threw me the keys to the car. I was driving and she slugged me on the shoulder and said, ‘Did you get the lesson?’ I had not.”


“She said: ‘Here’s the thing; those people back there are all people too; treat them like people.’ That helped me immensely in my career.” Sue was a mentor to most of deputies, including Leaf, who treated her with respect, just like the respect she gave the people she handled during an incident.


“Even teens…they would get a hug…it was always, Mrs. DelCotto…Sue paved the way for the women deputies in Barry County and she was a great role model,” Leaf said.


She was an effective deputy, likely because she took training from 1979 to 1999 in 45 special areas that helped her deal with almost any situation she faced. Leaf smiles as he recalls how Sue claimed to be 4 feet 3 inches to her co-workers. “No, no, she was never that tall. But, she didn’t have to be,” he said.


She told the family she was 4 feet 2 inches tall. “Oh, she was 4 feet, nothing,” Mike said. The lack of height did not affect her job. With young people on the streets, she was the “tough mom” especially when that young person was about to, or was, getting into something they shouldn’t be doing, he said.


“She knew everybody. She’d give them a talking to, tell them to get on home and that she was going to call their mother,” Missy remembers.

“She had a great sense of humor… she had to have with the bunch of guys she worked with…it wasn’t unusual for one of us to get up in the middle of the night and see mom and deputies all around the table, playing Euchre or poker.


“They can’t do anything to her now, but many is the time she pulled someone over who had been drinking, took their keys, put them in her car and took them home.” She came on one who guy had too much to drink and fallen asleep. “She took the keys and hid them in the car so he couldn’t find them. He thanked her later.”


Sue specifically said she wanted no funeral and to be cremated. “So that’s what we did. We have her ashes next to Todd’s in the front room, so she’s with him again,” Melissa said. “But, she didn’t say anything about a Celebration of Life. We had it at the Elks Lodge here in Hastings Sunday,” Missy said.

“It went really well. A lot of people were there; it was a hard day, but it was good. It just showed how many people loved her. That was her last visit to the Elks.”


Photos: (upper left) Michelle DelCotto Furlong and her son Levi Dykstra show the picture board they made for  a Celebration of Life for their mother and grandmother Sue Del Cotto.


(center right) Michelle Del Cotto Furlong looks at some of the awards earned by her mother Sue Del Cotto, Barry County’s first woman sheriff’s deputy. Mike Del Cotto is in the background.


(middle left) Sue DelCotto, the first woman to wear a Barry County Deputy's uniform.


(lower left) Audrey Del Cotto, husband Mike Del Cotto and Melissa Del Cotto Furlong pose by an autographed photo of Deputy Barney Fife of the Andy Griffith show. Barry County deputies teased Sue Del Cotto about being so petite and nicknamed her “Barney.”




Spectrum Health Pennock physician completes 100 robotic surgeries

Spectrum Health Pennock has reached another landmark in its use of robotic surgery.


 J. Daniel Woodall, DO, an OB/GYN, performed his 100th robotic surgery case with the da Vinci® Surgical System in November, completing a complex and successful robotic hysterectomy, a news release from Spectrum Health Pennock said.


Spectrum Health Pennock surgeons utilize the da Vinci® Surgical System, which allows them to operate through a few small incisions with a 3-D high-definition vision system and wristed instruments, which act more efficiently than human hands. 


“We’re very proud of  Dr. Woodall and the entire surgical team for this milestone,” said Douglas Smendik, MD, regional division chief at Spectrum Health Pennock. “As a rural community, we are fortunate to have a strong women’s service line and advance robotic technology that allows us to provide surgical services our patients would otherwise have to travel out of town for right here at Pennock Hospital.” 


Patient Tina Sauers received a robotic hysterectomy sparing the ovaries after experiencing symptoms she believed to be due to her permanent contraceptive implant. “A friend posted on Facebook that she was having her EssureÒ device removed because of her symptoms,” explained Sauers.


“I had many of the symptoms she and other women were experiencing for years, but never connected it to the device. After seeing my friend’s post, I went to see my doctor and he referred me to Dr. Woodall, who agreed some of my symptoms were similar to those from the device.” 


Sauers agreed to surgery utilizing the da Vinci® Surgical System, which would assist Woodall in removing her implant safely. “I was very satisfied with my recovery post-surgery. All I needed was low-dose medication to manage the pain for less than a week and, best of all, since surgery all of my symptoms are gone!”


Patient benefits of robotic-assisted surgery include a shorter hospitalization period, quicker healing and return to normal activity, reduced blood loss and reduced post-procedure pain. For the physician using the robot, advantages include an enhanced and magnified view of inside the patient’s body, instruments that bend and rotate farther than human hands and overall enhanced precision and control. 


At Spectrum Health Pennock the da Vinci® Surgical System is utilized for many surgeries from hernia repairs to gynecological care.  Andrew Parsons, MD, FACS, chief of staff and section chief and clinical chair of surgery at Spectrum Health Pennock explained,  “Dr. Rappaport and I became certified in robotic surgery when we brought the da Vinci® system to Pennock in 2013. 


“We perform a wide variety of basic and advanced general surgery procedures with the robotics system and we are very proud to have the addition of Dr. Woodall to expand robotic surgery options to include gynecological services.


"We strive to provide the highest quality care for our patients at all times and with advanced technology, such as the da Vinci® Surgical System we are able to achieve this goal right here in Barry County.”

Combined, Parsons and Rappaport completed 216 surgeries with the da Vinci® robot in 2018; while Woodall completed 50 gynecological surgeries with the robot this past year.


“This robotic technology allows me to provide better results for patients including less pain, a quicker recovery and an overall more successful outcome. It is wonderful for our patients to have the benefits of the most advanced surgical system close to home,” Woodall said.


Photo: J. Daniel Woodall, MD, an OB/GYN, has performed his 100th robotic surgery with the deVinci Surgical System.


Motorcyclist injured in collision on Cascade Road S.E.

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office and the Grand Rapids Township Fire Department responded to a personal injury crash Sunday at 7:29 p.m.  in Grand Rapids Township, according to a sheriff’s media release.


Preliminary investigation indicates a 2005 Suzuki motorcycle traveling westbound on Cascade Road, collided head on with a 2005 Chrysler 300 that was turning from eastbound Cascade Road to northbound Forest Hills Avenue.


The driver of the motorcycle, a 39-year-old man from Grand Rapids, was transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth by Rockford Ambulance and is currently in stable condition.

He was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.


The driver of the Chrysler, a 48-year-old woman from Muskegon Heights, was not injured. Alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the crash.  The crash remains under investigation.

Hastings Downtown Business Team's website goes live

The Hastings Downtown Business Team marched down State Street in Hastings Friday afternoon, carrying colorful balloons and stopping in downtown businesses to invite them to visit the web site that is now live, and to like their Facebook page “shop downtown”  The group hopes all of Hastings downtown businesses will participate in the website and join the team.  


Karen Heath is the Hastings Downtown Business Team captain. Members are Kendy Varble of the Sugar Ribbon, Tracy Baker of At Home Real Estate, Jenny Sykes of Bee Eclectic Porcelain Dolls, Kathy Conklin of Gilmore Jewelers, Scott Oman and Teresa  Smith and Sue Radant from WBCH Radio.


(left) Members of the Hastings Downtown Business Team attract attention on their walk in downtown Hastings inviting business owners to join the team.


Superintendent's platform

WBCH offers this platform to area school superintendent's to highlight activities in their school districts. This posting is from Hastings Area  School System Superintendent Carrie Duits.


"I am seeing more sunlight each day, which means spring is close and warm weather is ahead. Hopefully, the snow days are behind us for the school year. To date, we have had 13 cancelled days of school throughout the district, with Central having 14 because of a water leak.


"The state of Michigan forgives 6 days, with the opportunity of an additional 3 days once a waiver request is submitted. Hastings Area Schools already submitted the request and was approved for the 3 additional days. That means we have 9 forgiven days of the 13/14 days we’ve cancelled. In addition, we made up 1 day on February 19. A piece of legislation (HB-4206) may provide additional days during the “state of emergency.” We are waiting to see how this impacts our last day of school for 2018-19. In the meantime, let’s all hope for better weather ahead!


"The search for a new Hastings Superintendent is underway. Donna Oser, Director of Leadership Development for MASB met with the Hastings Board of Education to communicate the survey results from multiple forums, and to narrow the language for the selection criteria. Ms. Oser led a work session with the Board to discuss attributes that they would like to see in the next Superintendent. This information was gathered by Ms. Oser. She will be creating the document and adding the specific selection criteria to the posting for candidate viewing.


"I am also grateful to report that Hastings Area School System has once again received generous donations from the community. Miller Real Estate donated $3,500 to offset the cost of the new baseball scoreboard.


"This donation covers half the cost of the scoreboard. Additionally, we received an anonymous donation in the amount of $8,250 to purchase and install bulkhead safety railings at the CERC swimming pool. This was a safety concern and thanks to this donation, we will provide a safer environment in the swimming pool venue.  


"Matt Goebel, Assistant Superintendent of Achievement, gave a presentation on the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) district data review. Currently, Hastings Area School System--as measured by the District Capacity Assessment--scored a 98 percent.


"This is the best capacity score in the state of Michigan! Hastings was also invited to present this information at the state school improvement conference and the state MiBLSi conference, which focuses on behavior and literacy integration. All Hastings staff should be celebrated for their exceptional work within this area.


"Supporting a system change can only be done through collaborative team work. Our team of administrators, teachers and staff help make every day a great day to be a Saxon!"




2024-02 | 2024-01 | 2023-12 | 2023-11 | 2023-10 | 2023-09 | 2023-08 | 2023-07 | 2023-06 | 2023-05 | 2023-04 | 2023-03 | 2023-02 | 2023-01 | 2022-12 | 2022-11 | 2022-10 | 2022-09 | 2022-08 | 2022-07 | 2022-06 | 2022-05 | 2022-04 | 2022-03 | 2022-02 | 2022-01 | 2021-12 | 2021-11 | 2021-10 | 2021-09 | 2021-08 | 2021-07 | 2021-06 | 2021-05 | 2021-04 | 2021-03 | 2021-02 | 2021-01 | 2020-12 | 2020-11 | 2020-10 | 2020-09 | 2020-08 | 2020-07 | 2020-06 | 2020-05 | 2020-04 | 2020-03 | 2020-02 | 2020-01 | 2019-12 | 2019-11 | 2019-10 | 2019-09 | 2019-08 | 2019-07 | 2019-06 | 2019-05 | 2019-04 | 2019-03 | 2019-02 | 2019-01 | 2018-12 | 2018-11 | 2018-10 | 2018-09 | 2018-08 | 2018-07 | 2018-06 | 2018-05 | 2018-04 | 2018-03 | 2018-02 | 2018-01 | 2017-12 | 2017-11 | 2017-10 | 2017-09 | 2017-08 | 2017-07 | 2017-06 | 2017-05 | 2017-04 | 2017-03 | 2017-02 | 2017-01 | 2016-12 | 2016-11 | 2016-10 | 2016-09 | 2016-08 | 2016-07 | 2016-06 | 2016-05 | 2016-04 | 2016-03

Listen Live





On Air Now

Best Country Hits
Best Country Hits
12:00am - 12:00am
Weekend Show