Local News Archives for 2019-05

Bomb threat at Hopkins Middle School a hoax

A threat saying “I will bomb da school” was found written on a stall door in the Hopkins Middle School boy’s bathroom. The Hopkins Middle School administration immediately evacuated the building and contacted law enforcement authorities, according to an Allegan County Sheriff’s news release.


Deputies from the Sheriff’s Office responded,  a Gun Lake Tribal Police K-9 Bomb unit was called and a search was performed to assure that the building was safe. Law enforcement cleared the building at approximately 2:20 p.m.


“Although we had no reason to believe this was a viable threat, all necessary safety precautions were taken to protect the students,” the release said.


Incidents such as this cause a major disruption to the school day and emotional distress to the students. These types of threats will not be tolerated. The Hopkins School District and the sheriff’s office will work diligently to find out who wrote the statement and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law, it continued.


A reward leading to the arrest of the individual responsible for the threat is available through Silent Observer at 1.800.554.3633.

Sheriff’s deputies were assisted by the Gun Lake Tribal Police Department and Hopkins Area Fire Department.  


Hastings city to move to cloud to store data

The City of Hastings will store data on the cloud through Secant technologies with a startup cost of $5,500. The “cloud” uses a network of remote servers on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.


With a standalone server going to the cloud, they won’t need network servers or peripherals. It will save the city money, increase flexibility, and safety and firewall protections. City e-mail will also be in the cloud, Hastings Deputy City Manager Jerry Czarnecki said.

“This is pushing us forward in technology; upgrades can be done all at once.”


The downside is a common fear that they have their information and they might not be able to “divorce” the service, “but Secant has guaranteed we can divorce them,” he said. If the city did leave the cloud, they would need servers to accept its data.

“They do a good job and solve problems immediately,” he said of Secant.


In other business Tuesday, the council heard of changes planned by Clerk/Treasurer Jane Saurman.  “As the 2019-20 original budget has now been adopted, we will begin to implement the changes to our city chart of accounts in order to get off to a running start in the next fiscal year,” she said.

Saurman is implementing some new internal control measures in the Finance Department which currently include remote check capture and ACH and check positive bill payment procedures.


She is closing out the unused DARE account and transferring the balance to the general fund in a special account for police activities to be designated by Chief Jeff Pratt. There is about $133 in the account.


Saurman will set up a Trust and Agency Account for possibly a half dozen specific accounts where the city takes in and then disburses funds to others, keeping a small amount for the transaction.  She also recommends changing the city’s Capital Asset policy by listing only those assets that are valued at least $5,000, up from $1,000.



Michigan DNR free weekend is June 8-9

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is giving everyone three great reasons to get outdoors next weekend.


On Saturday, June 8 and Sunday, June 9, residents and out-of-state visitors can fish in Michigan waters, ride the state's vast network off off-road trails and visit state parks for free.


It’s all part of the DNR’s “Three Free” weekend. “Michigan is home to some of the best outdoor recreation opportunities and most beautiful natural spaces you’ll find anywhere,” DNR Director Dan Eichinger said.


Hastings Community Development Department juggles many projects at once

At Tuesday’s Hastings City Council meeting, Community Development Director Dan King gave council members an update on activities in his busy department. In addition to ongoing commercial and industrial development projects, the department’s other activities include:


Jingle and Mingle

The Jingle and Mingle committee has been working on the annual holiday event since February. The committee will coordinate the flyer and handbill with the billboard north of Caledonia so that a uniform color and content flows for the event, he said. The budget is set and sponsors being lined up and now the committee is looking for volunteers to help with this year’s event. They will ask volunteers to commit to just one event so they can enjoy the rest of the weekend’s events. Those interested in helping can contact Tracy Baker at At Home Real Estate.


Master Plan Update

The Master Plan Steering Committee continues work on the Master Plan update. The housing and business and industry sections of part two of the Master Plan update is in process. The next section to work on will be the partnership/collaboration section. The committee has identified two work tasks that McKenna will be organizing. The final section will pertain to infrastructure, likely to begin in the in the next 45 days.



Diane Haines, from the Thornapple Garden Club, reports she has several new sponsors for corners.  New this year will be a rotating Mayor’s Choice award for the well-maintained beds on a monthly basis. Haines anticipates the awards will instill a great amount of pride in all of the sponsor’s corners, resulting in continued maintenance of the beds all summer long, King said.


Former County Seat Building

The new owner/tenant of the County Seat building is Main Street BBQ and work has begun on the inside of the building. This will be the second location for the restaurant; the original is on Main Street in Lowell. The target is to have the restaurant opened several weeks prior to Summerfest.


Second Hand Corners

King said he was pleased that the Second Hand Corners building did not sit idle very long, with an offer accepted and in the process of being sold in a week. When the new owner is formally announced, his department will work closely with the owner for façade grants and Community Development Block Grant and Downtown Rental Rehab opportunities.


Façade Grants

The Downtown Development Authority has approved several façade grants:


*Jefferson Street Investors/Main Street BBQ--$5,500 for windows and doors on the former County Seat Building.


*Bercier Family Chiropractic --$3,767.50 for new siding, window and doors on their attached building.


*Zwei Bruder Development--$11,000 for the front façade of their two downtown buildings.


Fiscal year to date, the DDA has committed funding of $40,877.50, with just under $10,000 available to commit for the fiscal year ending June 30.



Community development has a total of 4,752 likes and 4,885 followers on Facebook.  For the month, they have reached more than 39,000 with our posts. “Facebook continues to be a fantastic platform to reach both city residents and nonresidents alike,” King said.


Upcoming Events

*City Band at Thornapple Plaza June 5 and Wednesdays thru July 3 at 7:30 p.m.

*Playing at the Spray Plaza June 13 thru Aug. 8 Thursdays at 11 a.m.

*Fridays at the Fountain June 14 thru Aug. 9 at noon


“If you have any questions, concerns, or ideas please feel free to contact me at or 269-945-2468,” King said.






Hastings Wastewater Treatment Plant $9.2 million overhaul moves ahead

The Hastings City Council Tuesday dealt with wastewater and water treatment system issues Tuesday, approving a comprehensive improvement plan for the Wastewater Treatment Plant and learning that the Water Treatment Plant filter media won’t have to be replaced.

The council approved the final Project Plan for the improvements, appointing deputy City Manager Jerry Czarnecki project representative for the city.


The WWTP project, in the works for several years, is a $9.2 million overhaul of the city’s wastewater treatment plant and the Project Plan is required as a condition of securing the project’s funding through a low-interest loan from the State’s Revolving Fund administered by EGLE, the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (formerly the MDEQ).


At the Water Treatment Plant, the ground storage tank passed inspection and was found in good, clean condition. The two filter tanks that were planned to have the filter media changed were also inspected and will not need replacement. The inspectors suggested inspection every five years. “The filter media looks very nice,” Czarnecki said. “The sand is good. Our drinking water system is great…the city provides good drinking water.”


An area in the Fish Hatchery Park parking lot leased to Spectrum Health Pennock for its employees to park could potentially trigger a reverter provision in the deed that originally transferred that part from the DNR to the city years ago. City Manager Jeff Mansfield said he and Spectrum Health will continue working to get the provision eliminated, but it will take some time. The council agreed that in the meantime Pennock employees could park in another area of the park. Most of the park does not have the reverter clause, Mansfield said.


The council also amended the Joint Library Board Agreement to reinstate Hastings Charter Township representatives after township voters approved millage to support the facility in the May election. The township lost its representation on the board after rejecting an earlier millage request. There was no interruption of library services to township residents.


Also, the council approved an agreement with SME (Soils and Materials Engineers)

to provide environmental assessments at the former Hastings Manufacturing Royal Coach site. The $63,000 cost will be paid by a Brownfield Redevelopment Grant from the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (formerly the DEQ).


Hastings bans vaping by those under 18, changes fireworks date to comply with state law

To promote public health, safety and welfare, the Hastings City Council Tuesday banned vaping, prohibiting those under 18 from possessing tobacco or tobacco-less products, and prohibits the sale, giving or furnishing of e-cigarettes, also called electronic cigarettes, e-cigarettes, e-pipes, e-hookahs, or electronic nicotine delivery systems, to minors and also prohibits the purchase, possession, or use of e-cigarettes by minors in the city.


Violations are civil infractions punishable a fines and/or jail. Councilman Don Smith asked if it was banned in parks because he sees a lot of it there and was told it was. Smith suggested signs to let people know of the change.


The state has changed the dates when municipalities can prohibit the discharge of fireworks, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said. Now, Hastings bans fireworks except for the day before, day of and day after 10 specified holidays. The council approved amending its ordinance to comply with the law.


The new times are from:

*11a.m. on Dec. 31 to 1 a.m. on Jan. 1

*11 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. on the Saturday and Sunday immediately before

Memorial Day

* 11 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. on June 29 and 30 and July 1, 2, 3, and 4

* 11 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. on July 5, if that date is a Friday or Saturday

* 11 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. on the Saturday and Sunday immediately before

Labor Day.


In other business, the council approved:

*closing the driveway into Tyden Park to general public during the “Very Barry Summer Event” 10th annual event on June 8 from 9 a.m. to noon, including an hour before and an hour after for cleanup.  It is anticipated that 100 families will attend. There is parking on the small lot above the park and Barry County Transit will provide transportation for folks from city parking lots to the park.


*hosting Summerfest on Aug. 23-25 this year. Organizers asked that Center Street again be closed for events.


*the Walldorff BrewPub and Bistro's request to close South Jefferson street and serve alcohol outside from 2 p.m. Saturday, July 20 to 2 a.m. Sunday, July 21 to host its Blues, Brews and BBQ's street party and mark its 13 years in business.

Hastings Compost site will be opening by code again soon

The Hastings compost site will be ready to return to all-day use as soon as the replacement for the arm that was damaged by vandals is functioning like it should. The city will again issue code numbers to Hastings residents to allow entry to drop off yard waste.

Deputy City Manager Jerry Czarnecki said the site on West State Road will be open from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. today (Wednesday) and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

Also, the city will replace the camera at the site with one with larger capacity than the one that failed to get an image of the vandal(s) because the card was full, Czarnecki said.

Crooked Lake property owner's lawsuit on flooded homes dismissed

In a Show Cause hearing Wednesday, Judge Amy McDowell dismissed the case filed by Upper Crooked Lake homeowners suing Barry County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull and the Watson Drain District for the loss of their homes to the flooded lake as a “taking” without just compensation.


The property owners had asked the court to order Dull and the drain district to immediately commence eminent domain proceedings by making a good faith order of just compensation for their homes.


After about an hour of oral arguments, McDowell asked the attorneys into chambers; when they came out and after more discussion, McDowell granted the motion for dismissal of the case.


Attorneys Doug Kelly and Stephon Bagne with Clark Hill P.C. spoke for Dull and the Drain District. Attorneys Michael Perry and H. Kirby Albright with Fraser Trebilcock Davis & Dunlap, P.C. represented the homeowners. The property owners and their attorneys left the courtroom without talking to reporters.


“I’m happy with the result,” Kelly said after the dismissal.  “We’re still not happy about the flooding on Crooked Lake, Pleasant Lake or any other lake in Southwest Michigan.”

“Everyone has sympathy for the homeowners,” Bagne said.


Dull and Engineer Brian Cenci said they will continue to work on the short term solution they is underway and noted there is an informational meeting scheduled at Delton Middle School on Saturday, June 8 at 10 a.m. to answer questions about the flooding on Upper Crooked Lake and their efforts to remedy it.


The complaint was filed earlier this month by lake property owners Robert and Sharon Ritchie, Michael and Sandra Golembiewski, David and Ann Skender, David and Leslie Bolton, Mark Nelson and Jill Sterling.


The homeowner’s attorneys failed to show that it was outside of Dull’s discretion to replace the Floria Road culvert and that there is no other remedy in law, two elements of the case.



Barry County Commissioner to look at changes on recruiting people to serve on committees

Barry County Commissioners approved three people for Citizen at Large seats on the Commission on Aging Board Tuesday after moving one to a partial term instead of a full term. Gerald Schmiedicke was approved to fill the partial term that expires in six months; Catherine Gramze and Nelly Shephard to three-year terms. There were three openings and three applicants.


The vote had been delayed at the request of Commissioner Ben Geiger who asked for re-advertising of the position, hoping to get more candidates. There were no new applications.
“There are 10,000 seniors in Barry County and we can’t get anyone to run for the COA?” he asked. He urged the commission to look at some of the ways they had tried to improve the process of getting volunteers to apply.


In the coming weeks he said he will bring changes in the recruiting of citizens to sit on various county committees and boards, possibly targeted ads on Facebook.

In other business, the commission approved taking bids to replace the 20-year-old courthouse parking lot.


At the last Committee of the Whole, commissioners asked for more information from the Master Facilities Plan for the area with an eye to replacing the awning, steps and other changes. However, the new planning is not complete, and was the issue was referred back to the committee of the whole. In the meantime, the original parking lot plans will continue, to cost up to $100,000 from the Capital Improvement budget.


 The improvements include extending the lot eight feet to the east, increasing parking spaces from 28 to 31, a new sidewalk along the north edge of the lot for foot traffic and replacing the shrubs next to the mechanical equipment with a decorative fence. The new design calls for removing the middle of three entrances, leaving an in-and-out drive, the sidewalk on the south of the lot to be replaced and the green space graded for better drainage.


MSP reports fewer deaths this Memorial Day weekend

The Michigan State Police say preliminary reports indicate 10 people lost their lives in eight separate traffic crashes during the 2019 Memorial Day holiday weekend. In comparison, 19 people were killed in 15 fatal traffic crashes during the 2018 Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Of the eight deadly crashes:

  • Restraint use was unknown in five.
  • Alcohol use was a known factor in one of the deadly crashes.
  • One involved a motorcyclist; a helmet was worn.
  • One victim was a pedestrian.

“These numbers are preliminary and only reflect those fatalities reported to the MSP as of 11 a.m., Tuesday, May 28,” said Spl/F/Lt. Jim Flegel, MSP Traffic Safety Specialist.

“We continue to urge motorists to make responsible driving decisions and always ensure everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained. Never operate a vehicle impaired on alcohol or drugs and avoid distractions at all times.”

This Memorial Day holiday weekend ran from 6 p.m. on Friday, May 24, through 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 27.



Barry Drain Commissioner to "show cause" why county shouldn't condemn, buy homes at Upper Crooked Lake

Barry County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull and the Watson Drain Drainage District are defendants in a Show Cause hearing in front of Judge Amy McDowell in Circuit Court Wednesday, May 29 at 9 a.m.


The Show Cause order was set in response to a complaint filed earlier this month by Upper Crooked Lake property owners, plaintiffs Robert and Sharon Ritchie, Michael and Sandra Golembiewski, David and Ann Skender, David and Leslie Bolton, Mark Nelson and Jill Sterling.


The hearing is for Dull and the Drain District to “show cause” why they should not be ordered to commence eminent domain proceedings of the plaintiff’s real properties within 14 days of a court order.


The property owners have homes adjacent to Upper Crooked Lake made uninhabitable by the rising lake levels because the drain commissioner replaced a culvert on Floria Road allowing water in the upper portions of Watson Drain District, Mud Lake and others, to enter Upper Crooked Lake which lacks a natural outlet, the complaint alleges.


In a relatively short time, the lake level increased from 922.75 feet to 927.5 feet above sea level.


During the “flooding crisis” Dull publicly posted his determination of the condemnation values of the plaintiff’s properties, the court record reads.


The complaint said Dull knew or should know that the flooding caused the effective “taking” of the plaintiff’s property and admitted that when he publicly posted the condemnation values. Those condemnation values of the homes are listed as: the Boltons, $171,800; the Skenders, $312,200; the Ritchies, $224,200; the Golembiewskis $219,800; Jill Sterling, $138,600 and Mark Nelson, $197,600.


“Despite admitting that Plaintiffs’ properties have been effectively condemned (but without the payment of just compensation) Defendants have failed to initiate eminent domain proceedings under Michigan’s Uniform Condemnation Procedures Act, being MCL 213.51, et al, etseq,” the record said.


While Dull and an engineering firm try to find solutions to the flooding, the property owners homes have become uninhabitable, and they can no longer live in them…so “the court must order defendants to immediately commence eminent domain proceedings by making a good faith order of just compensation,” according to court papers.


If one or more plaintiffs reject that offer, defendants must commence a condemnation action and escrow the amount of the good faith offer; the court will then order payment of the escrowed funds to plaintiffs so they can move and obtain new housing.


Dull said his only comment would be: “Its’ disappointing. Win lose or draw, it’s going to cost money.”


Michael Perry, with Fraser Trebilcock Davis & Dunlap. P.C. represents the homeowners.

Doug Kelly, attorney with Clark Hill P.C. speaks for Dull and the Drain District.

Sisters decide to sing patriotic songs on Memorial Day

If you stayed at the Veterans Memorial for a bit after the parade in Hastings Monday, you could have listened to a small group singing patriotic songs like America the Beautiful, My Country ‘Tis of Thee or Yankee Doodle Dandy. Sisters Faith Byykkonen and Kaylin Rhodes just decided one day they would sing all patriotic songs at the Memorial Day Parade in Hastings and with a few family members, that’s what they do, Shawn Rhodes said.


“They’ve been doing it for the last three, four years…We wouldn’t mind making it a community thing. Everyone likes to sing,” he said. As he spoke, a woman who had been watching the small group walked over and joined them to sing along.


Those interested can find them on Facebook, he said.



(left)The Byykkonen and Rhodes families sing America the Beautiful at the Veterans Memorial after the Memorial Day Parade.


One of "the young guys now" attends Hastings Memorial Day Parade

One of the hundreds who came out for the Memorial Day Parade in Hastings Monday was just one of the veterans there who were honored, but Arthur Hill is special.


He's one of the Greatest Generation, those who served in WWII, came home to parades, went about their lives and mostly didn’t talk about their experiences in the war.

Hill divides his time between Hastings and Banfield.


His memory is getting dim about some things, but he remembers well that at the age of 18, he left school and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1944.  He didn’t wait to be drafted, he was regular Army, and served in Germany. “I’m one of the young guys now,” he said, “I’m 92.”

“This was a nice parade,” he said. “I was here last year, too.” His birthday is next month, so he’ll be 93 at the next Memorial Day Parade when he and all veterans will again be honored; those who served and those who served and didn’t come home.


Thank you for your service, Arthur.


Photo: Arthur Hill, WWII veteran


Hastings Memorial Day parade honors all veterans

The Lawrence J. Bauer American Legion Post 45 Memorial Parade stepped off in Hastings at 9:30 a.m., marched through the city, down North Broadway to Tyden Park to lay wreaths at the Veterans Memorial, perform a rifle salute and the playing of Taps.


At the monument, Jim Atkinson, veteran, long time member of Post 45 and parade chairman, welcomed the crowd and directed the laying of a wreath for Civil War veterans and recognition for all veterans, MIA and POWs.


The marchers continued to the Thornapple River to toss a wreath into the water to honor those who served on and under the sea, a rifle salute, and Taps, then on to Riverside Cemetery at the GAR monument at the Avenue of Flags where more ceremonies were held. The grave of the most recently buried veteran at the cemetery received the final wreath and the final honors of the event. These photos were taken at the monument ceremonies.




























25-year-old man dies fleeing police in Otsego Township

An unidentified 25-year-old man crashed into an unoccupied parked car while fleeing from police and suffered fatal injuries just before midnight Saturday, the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office reports.


When a deputy attempted to stop a vehicle on 102nd Street near 16th Street in Otsego Township, the driver fled at a high rate of speed and crashed into the parked car just east of 12th Street. The man died while being transported to the hospital. He was pronounced deceased on arrival. His identity may be released upon family notification. The crash remains under investigation; however drugs are believed to be a factor, the report said.


The accident scene was processed by Michigan State Police accident investigators. The Plainwell Department of Public Safety, Plainwell EMS and Otsego Police Department also assisted deputies.    


Walmart offers jobs to all Sav A Lot employees when store closes

“It’s a win-win,” Walmart Manager Don Cook said. When he heard the Sav A Lot store right next door to his Hastings store was closing, he offered every employee who would lose their job a position at Walmart.

“I knew quite a few people would be displaced. It was a chance to give them employment in a related field, keep them in the community and we would get people who are trained,” Cook said.


He’s not sure how many are taking him up on his offer.

“A few went with Save A Lot to other stores, so I don’t know, but all of them are welcome. They’re filling out applications now, and I’ll get them in here as fast as I can.”


What if there were 50 needing jobs?

“I’d love it if there were 50…I’d take them all…I can use help with cashiers, in stocking, maintenance and lawn and garden. They need jobs, I need help; its win-win.”

Cook has been Walmart manager for five years and anticipates a long future there.

'Click It or Ticket' Enforcement

Troopers from the Michigan State Police Wayland Post will be on extra patrol through the Memorial Day holiday weekend looking for unbuckled drivers and passengers. The goal is to reduce traffic-related injuries and fatalities when there are more vehicles out on the Michigan roadways.


The official Memorial Day enforcement period begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 24, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 27. Last year, 15 fatal traffic crashes resulted in 19 deaths over the Memorial Day weekend, the most fatalities over the Memorial Day holiday weekend since 2014.


“Three out of four people ejected from a vehicle in a crash will die,” said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director. “Wearing a seat belt is the simplest thing you can do to reduce injuries and save lives. Buckle up for the ones who will miss you - every trip, every time.” Seat belt use is the single most effective way to stay alive in a crash. Buckling up can reduce the risk of serious injury or death in a crash by 45 percent.

State Rep. Calley announces winner of 87th District photo contest

87th District State Rep. Julie Calley, of Portland, welcomed the four winners of her district-wide photo contest to Lansing this week. The winning photographers, who received a tribute in recognition of their talent, are Casey Clark of Portland, Lynette Doele of Shelbyville, Marge Faber of Hastings and Danielle Jorae of Portland.

Their photos now hang in Calley’s office.


The contest theme was the four seasons. One winner and one runner up were selected for each season. The four photos from the runners up are displayed in the lobby of Calley’s office; those photos were taken by Bruce Farrell and Candace Smith, both of Middleville, Roger VanVleck of Saranac, and Stefanie Williams of Lyons.


“I am grateful to the many participants who sent submissions to the photo contest,” Calley said. “The winning pictures were spectacular and I am proud to share our local talent with everyone who visits my office.”

(left) Winners of the photo contest sponsored by Rep Julie Calley are (from left) Marge Faber, Casey Clark, Calley, Lynette Doele, and Danielle Jorae.

(Photo supplied)


Hastings Live summer concert season ready to entertain

Old favorites, new favorites, and those yet to be discovered will take the stage at the Thornapple Plaza, Hastings Spray Plaza and the Barry County Courthouse lawn this summer as part of the Hastings Live summer concert series which includes the Hastings City Band, Community Concerts, Fridays at the Fountain, and Friday Night Features concerts as well as the Playing at the Plaza children’s entertainment series.


Coming up in June:

Hastings City Band--Wednesday, June 5, Beatles and Jazz at Thornapple Plaza, 7:30 p.m.


Playing at the Plaza—Thursday, June 13, Mime Rob Reider at Spray Plaza, 11 a.m.


Fridays at the Fountain—Friday, June 14, Elvis James McKay at Barry County Courthouse lawn, noon.


Friday Night Features—Friday, June 14, Valerie Barrymore and the Foundations of Funk at Thornapple Plaza, 7:30 p.m.

Driving 60 to 80 mph in store parking lot brings police, several charges

A man driving between 60 and 80 miles an hour in the Family Fare Super Market on State Street in Hastings Monday, slammed on the brakes and slid into a pole at 5/3 Bank, according to a Hastings Police Department report.


Hastings police officers, with an assist from Barry County deputies, apprehended the unidentified man, who was arrested and taken to jail. He is charged with resisting a police officer, drunk driving, driving on a suspended license, assaulting the two passengers in his car and parole violation.


Motorcycle crash with deer leaves Battle Creek man on life support

The Michigan State Police/Wayland Post are investigating a serious injury traffic crash that occurred Wednesday night on Norris Road, just north of 4 Mile in Prairieville Township in Barry County. 


Troopers were dispatched to a report of a crash involving a motorcycle at about 9:15 p. m.  The driver, Justin Ryan Skaggs, 33, from Battle Creek, was airlifted to Spectrum Health Butterworth in Grand Rapids by Aeromed.

The hospital social worker advised troopers that Skaggs was going to be taken off life support and was not expected to survive his injuries.


The Initial investigation shows that Skaggs appears to have struck a deer that entered the roadway in front of him.  Alcohol or drugs do not appear to have contributed to the crash. A State Police Accident Investigator was called to the scene and the investigation is continuing. Barry Township Police Department, Delton and Prairieville fire departments, Pride Care EMS, and Aeromed assisted at the scene.


Local baseball player headed to NJCAA Division II World Series

Dillon Heath, a 2017 graduate of Hastings High School, is going to the NJCAA Division II World
Series in Enid Oklahoma with the Kellogg Community College Bruins.


Heath is an infielder for the Bruins, who won the 2019 MCCAA Baseball Championship and are making their 7th appearance in the NJCAA Division II World Series tournament since 1999.


The Bruins, with a season record of 39-3, are riding a five-game win streak and enter the tournament as the number 4 seed. They will take on Northern Oklahoma Enid, the 5th seed, Saturday May 25th in their first round.

Spectrum Health Pennock receives an 'A' for patient safety

Spectrum Health Pennock was awarded an ‘A’ from The Leapfrog Group Hospital Safety Grade, for spring 2019, recognizing Pennock’s efforts in protecting patients from harm and meeting the highest safety standards in the United States., according to a Spectrum Health news release. The Leapfrog Group is a national organization committed to improving health care quality and safety for consumers and purchasers. The Safety Grade assigns an A, B, C, D or F grade to hospitals across the country based on their performance in preventing medical errors, infections and other harms among patients in their care.


“Receiving an ‘A’ rating for another year speaks to our dedication and efforts in advancing patient safety,” Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital President Angela Ditmar said.  “It solidifies our hard work and credits the incredible asset we have with our employees who provide trusted, exceptional health care to improve health, inspire hope and save lives in Barry County.”


Developed under the guidance of a national expert panel, the Safety Grade uses 28 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to assign grades to more than 2,600 U.S. hospitals twice a year. The methodology is peer-reviewed, fully transparent and the results are free to the public.

“To be recognized nationally as an ‘A’ hospital is an accomplishment the whole community should take pride in,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “Hospitals that earn an ‘A’ grade are making it a priority to protect patients from preventable medical harm and error. We congratulate hospital leaders, board members, staff, volunteers and clinicians who work so hard to earn this A.”


To see Spectrum Health Pennock’s full grade details and to access patient tips for staying safe in the hospital, visit and follow The Leapfrog Group on Twitter and Facebook. //

It's High School Graduation Time - Class of 2019

Here are area school’s schedules for the last day of school and graduation ceremonies.


*Bellevue Community School's last day is Friday, May 31.

Graduation is Sunday, May 19 at 2 p.m. in the high school gym.


*Thornapple Kellogg’s last day is Friday, May 31.

Graduation is Thursday, May 23 at 7 p.m. in Bob White Stadium, if weather permits.


*Hastings Area Schools last day is Wednesday, June 5, and is a half day.

Graduation is Friday, May 24 at 7 p.m. in the gymnasium.


* Lakewood Public School’s last day is JUne 5, a half day.

Graduation is Thursday, May 23 at 7 p.m. at the High School gym.


*Maple Valley School’s last day is Monday, June 10.

Graduation is Friday, May 31 at 7 p.m. in the sports complex.


*Delton Kellogg’s last day is Friday, June 7, a half day.

Graduation is Thursday, May 30 at 7 p.m. in the gym.


*Caledonia Community Schools last day is Friday, June 7.

Graduation will be Thursday, May 23 at 7 p.m. at the High School.


*Wayland Union Schools last day is Monday, June 10, a half-day.

Graduation is set for Thursday, May 23 at 7 p.m. in the football stadium.


Crandell Park Waterfest is June 8

Crandell Park in Charlotte is making a splash this June. It’s Waterfest, a fun filled event for the whole family.

Barry and Eaton County Conservation Districts, along with Eaton County Parks, are offering free canoe and kayak rides, water safety education, bank fishing, a stone skipping contest, water and nature education fair, games, activities and much more.


The public is invited to join Eaton County parks and the conservation districts to celebrate local parks and waters at Crandell Park Waterfest in Charlotte on June 8 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Visit their Facebook page for more information.

Spectrum Health Pennock Receives Critical Access Hospital Designation

Spectrum Health Pennock officials are announcing they have received formal acceptance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as a Critical Access Hospital (CAH), also known as the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program.


The Critical Access Hospital status is for small hospitals, such as Pennock,  that are essential to rural geographic areas like Barry County. Under the designation, Spectrum Health Pennock is licensed for 25 inpatient beds. The hospital’s average inpatient census was 18.4 patients per day during the application process.


The model of 25 inpatient beds was tested for two months prior to application for the designation. Hospital officials noted that working under the CAH model allowed Pennock to realize greater efficiencies to provide a consistently high level of care to patients.


The designation directly aligns with the mission of Spectrum Health Pennock; to improve health, inspire hope and save lives in the communities it serves and promotes improved efficiencies for better and safer patient care. It also allows for a higher reimbursement rate from Medicare, further closing the gap between the cost of services rendered and the reimbursement provided.




Barry County Courthouse parking lot replacement sparks more ideas

A proposal to seek bids to replace the parking lot at the Barry County Courthouse at a cost of $100,000 was approved by Barry County Commissioners Tuesday.  Replacement of the more than 20-year-old lot is in the 2019 capital improvement budget, Building and Grounds Director Tim Neeb said.


The drawings  include extending the lot eight feet to the east, increasing parking spaces from 28 to 31, a new sidewalk along the north edge of the lot for foot traffic and replacing the shrubs next to the mechanical equipment with a decorative fence.


The new design calls for removing the middle of three entrances, leaving an in-and-out drive, the sidewalk on the south of the lot to be replaced and the green space graded for better drainage.  Neeb plans to take bids on crack seal for other county parking lots, which will depend on the funding not used for the parking lot.


However, discussion had just started when it expanded into other areas not part of the parking lot project; the canopy over the south entrance, the steps and the entrance, security and future improvement plans.


County Administrator Michael Brown was asked to get information from the design plans and cost estimates for the south exterior of the courthouse in the county’s Master Facilities Plan.


“Well, it would be good to see both drawings, Commissioner David Jackson said. “I’m in favor of the project, but I think if we’re going to do it, we might as well consider all the options…just get it right the first time, so if we have to delay a little to move forward …When were you thinking about implementation of the project?”


“Certainly this summer,” Neeb said, but if needed, they could do some patching and a delay wouldn’t be a problem. Commissioners will continue the discussion at the regular board meeting next week,


Also Tuesday, a recommendation that Nelly Shephard serve a three-year-term on the Commission on Aging Board was to be considered, but action on Shepard will wait until May 28 when two others, who were already recommended, will be also be considered.

The committee of the whole on April 16 recommended appointing Gerald Schmiedicke and Catherine Gramze to two of three open seats.


On April 23, the commissioners postponed a decision for six weeks on filling the vacant positions. Commissioner Ben Geiger proposed the delay, saying he hoped to attract more applicants by re-advertising the positions. Shephard was to be interviewed on  April 16,, but was delayed until May 7 because of a death in the family.


"Charlton Park continues to be a major attraction for Barry County..." Park Director

Historic Charlton Park had 30,327 people visit the park in 2018, and that’s not counting those who used the recreation area, swimming, boating and walking.


“In summary, Historic Charlton Park Village, Museum & Recreation Area continues to be a major attraction for Barry County and an economic engine for our community,” Director Dan Patton said in his annual report to Barry County Commissioners.  “Our attendance numbers and revenue remain steady and our commitment to appropriate management has never been stronger.”


Highlights of the report show collections at the park and museum totaled 20,841, with 35, 569 images, 1,436 new records entered and 2,290 records updated.


The 13 special programs attract 17,688 people to the park and the 84 education programs for school children from a wide area attracted 4,527 in 2018. Facility rentals numbered 59 last year, involving 5,638 people.


Patton has always stressed the importance of volunteers to the park. In 2018, volunteer hours totaled 1,885 by 135 people. The numbers are usually low because some volunteers don’t sign in or report all of their hours.


Park revenue in 2018 was $683,177.09.

Financially, the main sources of income were from millage ($435,804.66), grants and the foundation ($26,233.66), special events ($66,659.08), non-millage ($149,466.43), and transfer-in ($97,906).


Expenses for the year were $620,105.37.

Personnel ($341,795.64), capital building and equipment ($107,227.76), special events ($32,953.97), utilities ($24, 818. 01) and other ($53,916.18) were major expenses during 2018.


“Visitors from near and far are spending their dollars locally acquiring goods, shopping, staying overnight and eating at our local restaurants,” Patton said.

“While we celebrate our successes, we continue to move our organization forward. In the coming year, you will hear about ways you can get involved with our efforts to preserve Barry County history while supporting activities for families in our community.


“We will continue to serve the citizens of Barry County while promoting our economic tourism opportunities to all of West Michigan and the state.”

Seat belt enforcement targets high traffic crash areas in Ionia County May 20-June 2

Ionia County law enforcement will be conducting seat belt enforcement in Ionia and Berlin townships and in the Portland area from May 20 to June 2, according to a sheriff’s media release.

The purpose of the mobilization by deputies and officers is to reduce fatalities and serious injuries caused by not wearing a seat belt.


The Ionia Sheriff’s Office, the Ionia Department of Public Safety and the Portland Department, in cooperation with the Michigan State Police and the Office of Safety Planning (OSP) will target the areas identified by the OSP as high risk traffic crash areas in Ionia County.


Some facts on why seatbelts save lives:

*Three out of four people ejected from their vehicle in a crash will die. Wearing a seat belt the most effective way to stay alive in a crash.


*In 2017, 65 percent of male and 39 percent of female passengers killed in passenger vehicle crashes weren’t buckled.


*Young Adults: Buckle Up! In 2017, more than half (57 percent) of young adults 18 to 34 year killed in crashes weren’t buckled up.


*Driving a pickup isn’t enough to keep you safe. Fifty nine percent of pickup truck occupants killed in crashes in 2017 weren’t wearing a seat belt.


*In 2017, 10,076 vehicle occupants killed in crashes weren’t wearing a seat belt.


*You have only a 50 percent chance of surviving a car crash if you’re not wearing a seat belt.

Hastings wastewater treatment plant improvement project explained

The City of Hastings is in line for a $9.2 million overhaul of the city’s wastewater treatment plant and the City Council heard a comprehensive report from project engineers with Hubbell, Roth & Clark, Inc.

Douglas Urquhart and Dennis Benoit explained the process at a public hearing on the Project Plan at last week’s council meeting.


The Project Plan is required as a condition of obtaining the project’s funding through a low-interest loan, currently at two percent, from the State’s Revolving Fund administered by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (formerly the MDEQ).


Urquhart gave a project overview of the process the city uses to treat wastewater and the need for improvements. The system lacks in several areas with aging equipment at the facility built in the 1930s, expanded to one million gallons a day in the 1970s and to two million gallons a day in the 1998, with some improvements in 2012.


Three options were possible; leave it as it is, construct new or upgrade the existing WWTP. If left as it is, the lack of redundancy equipment for several processes at the plant could lead to treatment problems or water quality issues in the receiving water. Building new would require a new site and was not considered because of the high cost.


Urquhart discussed each of the steps in the project, listing the expected upgrading to the headworks building, waste sludge pumping and service building, aeration system and walkway improvements, ultra violet disinfection and effluent water system, primary settling tank and thickener, and the building expansion


The proposed schedule calls for submitting the final project plan for prioritization by July 1, approval of plans and specification and project bidding by December. The tentative project award would be in February 2020, with State Revolving Fund closing in March 2020 and construction of projects in 2020 and 2021 and estimated completion in October, 2021.


The project’s cost, including engineering, interest and financials comes to $9,250,000 with an annual debt retirement of $566,750. The additional monthly cost to city residents (600 cf/month) is estimated to be $10.25.


Short term impacts include noise, potential for erosion, and increased traffic; Urquhart said guidelines for vegetation removal, dust and traffic control would be met; soil erosion and sedimentation control, flood plain, wetlands and other environmental permits would be obtained and the access to the Dog Park and RV dump station would be via a new road. Jobs would also be created during construction.


The long term impact are substantial operating improvements; ability to meet required permit limits and avoiding regulatory actions, including fines, and reduce energy and water utility costs, Urquhart said.

Hastings WWTP serves the city and parts of Rutland, Hastings and Carlton townships.


“We’ve grown to expect and take for granted reliable, high-quality water supply and efficient wastewater collection and treatment,” Hastings City Manager Jeff Mansfield said. “But these are critically important public services, particularly in urban environments. 


“We have been planning for the upcoming Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrades for several years now.  The project will focus on the construction of a “headworks” or primary treatment facility that will remove debris, grit and other materials from the stream of wastewater as it enters the treatment plant.   


“These materials impede the treatment process and damage the equipment within the plant itself. The project will also include replacement and/or improvement of a number of the older pieces of equipment at the plant, reducing energy consumption and increasing the efficiency of the treatment process. 


“As with any municipal utility, ongoing facility maintenance and improvement programs are required to keep pace with the ever-evolving regulatory requirements that apply to such operations, and to protect the quality of our environment here in Barry County. “




Rep Calley to hold office hours in Middleville, Hastings

87th District State Rep. Julie Calley, of Portland, will give legislative updates to district residents in Middleville and Hastings on Monday, June 3. First at the Middleville Village Hall, 100 East Main Street from 11 a.m. to noon, and then the Barry County Courthouse Commissioners Chambers, 220 West State Street, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

If residents have concerns after the updates, she will take one-on-one meetings.


"Accountable representation requires consistent feedback,” Calley said. “Office hours present an opportunity for productive dialogue with those whom I serve.”


No appointment is necessary. Residents also may send questions and ideas to or call her at 517-373-0842.


Child Car Seat Check

Barry County United Way and Safe Kids from Helen Devos Children's Hospital will be hosting a Car Seat event at Thornapple Township Emergency Services (Middleville's Fire Department) Monday from 4:30p.m. to 8:00p.m.  National Traffic Safety Board certified installer/educators will be available to check car seats for proper fit and installation.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 77% of children's car seats are being used incorrectly.  Appointments are not required but are helpful.  To register or if you have questions call the Barry County United Way at 269-945-4010.

Remembering those who served and died for their country

Area communities hold observances and parades to honor the intent of Memorial Day; to remember America’s men and women in the military who served and died defending their country.

Here’s a listing of services and parades in the area:


*In Hastings on May 27 the Lawrence J. Bauer American Legion Post 45 Memorial Parade steps off from Boltwood and State streets at 9:30 a.m. marching through the city, down North Broadway to Tyden Park to lay a wreath at the Veterans Memorial, one for all veterans and a MIA and POW wreath, perform a rifle salute and the playing of Taps. At the Thornapple River they will toss a wreath into the water, another rifle salute and playing of Taps.

Riverside Cemetery at the GAR monument at the end of the Avenue of Flags is the last stop where Memorial Day ceremonies will be held. The grave of the most recently buried veteran at the cemetery will receive the final wreath and the final honors of the event. To register to take part in the parade, call Jim Atkinson at 269-948-8219.


*Orangeville Township has the honor of having Medal of Honor winner James C. McCloughan as keynote speaker at its Memorial Day Observance on Sunday May 26 at 2 p.m. at the Orangeville Memorial Monument at the township hall.

A native of Southwest Michigan, McCloughan became a Medal of Honor recipient in July 2017 for “gallantry at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty” in May, 1969 during the Battle of Nui Yon Hill in Vietnam. Then a private first class, McCloughan was a combat medic with Company C, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division, when the unit air assaulted into an area near the city of Tam Ky in Quang Nam Province. He repeatedly ran through withering gunfire to reach wounded soldiers and pulled at least ten of them to safety, while wounded himself.

The honor roll of deceased Orangeville veterans from the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean Conflict, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq wars is read at the Orangeville Veteran’s Memorial, along with the laying of wreaths, the Delton High School Band playing patriotic songs and Jesse Morrin playing Taps.


*Prairieville Township hosts its Memorial Day parade on May 27 at 1 p.m. starting at the intersection of Norris and Delton roads, traveling north on Pine Lake Road to Prairieville Cemetery when they will hold a memorial service to honor all in the military who sacrificed their lives in the service to their country..


 *Vermontville’s parade starts at 9: 30 a.m. at the bridge at North Ionia Road and Nashville Highway, travels through the village to Woodlawn Cemetery. Typically, a group of 45-50 people will gather to hear a memorial presentation, listen to the band play, a pastor’s invocation and watch the gun salute.


*The Hickory Corners Memorial Day Parade will be held on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, beginning with a pancake breakfast at the Hickory Corners Fire Department from 7 to 9:30 a.m. The parade begins at 10 a.m. sharp at Cadwallader Park, goes east through town to end at the East Hickory Corners Cemetery where there will be memorial services at the East Hickory Corners Cemetery honoring our departed comrades. The guest speaker is Colonel Frank J. Walker (Ret). There will be a flyover by the Hooligans Flight Team, weather permitting. 

The service will be followed by a chicken BBQ at Simmonds-Williams American Legion Post 484 at 3801 West Hickory Road.

The parade, held for more than 60 years and getting bigger every year, features between 125 to 150 participants, the Shriner’s Mini-T’s,  Gull Lake and Delton high school bands, tractors, horses/carriages, fire trucks from several departments, floats, classic cars, Boy/Girl Scout Troops, 4-H members and local children on their decorated bikes. 


*Nashville area’s Memorial Day Parade will begin at noon following a short ceremony at the bridge over the Thornapple River, then moving south on Main Street, stopping at the fire station to remember our first responders and ending at Sherman Street.


The gathering will then relocate to Lakeview Cemetery for the flag raising and short VFW ceremony. Note that the band will not march to the cemetery.

Everyone is invited to join the parade; walking, riding bikes, motorcycles, ORV's, ATV's or antique cars.  Participants are encouraged to show their patriotism by displaying flags, or something similar, in red, white and blue.

A few volunteers for the rifle squad and color guard are still needed.  If interested call or text 517-852-4435.


*Yankee Springs Township will honor veterans with memorial services and speakers Sunday, May 26 at 5 p.m. at the township fire department on Payne Lake Road. Organizers are still looking for veterans who would like to take part. Call 269-838-1289 anytime.


*Wayland’s annual VFW parade is on Memorial Day at 11 a.m. to noon, and ending at Post 7581 at 735 South Main Street. The VFW Post again hosts a cookout following the parade. The schedule for veterans who visit area cemeteries to honor the war dead starts at Hooker Cemetery at 8 a.m., Hill Cemetery at 8:20 a.m., Native American Cemetery at 8:50 a.m., Germond Cemetery at 9:15 a.m., Sts. Cyril & Methodias Cemetery at 9:45 a.m. and at Elmwood Cemetery at 10:15 a.m.


*Caledonia’s American Legion Post 305 honors veterans at local cemeteries in Alaska at 9 a.m., Blain at 9:45 a.m., Dutton at 10:30 a.m. and Holy Corners at 11:15 a.m.  The parade is May 27, at noon and travels down Main Street to Lakeside Cemetery with a ceremony to honor America’s fallen heroes.



Photo (top left) U.S. Navy veteran Roberts Buys places a white flower at the veteran’s monument at Mt. Hope Cemetery during the 2018 Middleville Memorial Day ceremony 


(left) A Color Guard leads the Middleville Memorial Day parade last year.

Spring Storms

A line of Thunderstorms in advance of a cold front pushing eastward moved across lower Michigan Sunday afternoon bringing with it high winds and brief heavy rain.  At 6:05 pm a Thunderstorm moved east across Hastings and Barry county. As the storm pushed eastward the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids issued a  Torndao Warning for Barry County around 6:25. The event lasted for three minutes. The National Weather Service said it was an EF-0 with 80 mile an hour winds that damaged three barns and dozens of trees.  The tornado path was approximately 1.3 miles in length with a 50-yard width and was located from Dowling to Maple Grove.

The last Tornado in Barry County prior to Sundays Tornado occured on September 1, 2018 at Little Long Lake Southwest of Hickory Corners with peak winds of 75 Miles an hour.

Since Saturday  through this Sunday the Hastings National Weather Service Climatological Station has recorded nearly two inches of rain (1.94). 

The heavy rains will impact Streams,  Creeks and the Thornapple River.

The Rain total for May  to date is 5.08 inches.

Barry County roads stable, slightly improving; significant needs remain

Barry County roads are rated by the state at 6.5 to 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. The Barry County Road Commission borrowed $4.5 million in 2016, and unrestricted some other funds for its projects and is close to not having a backlog of projects, Road Commission Managing Director Brad Lamberg told Barry County Commissioners  in an annual report Tuesday.


The road commission has been relying less on townships for funding in the past few years, he added. However, he said while the county’s roads are stable and slightly improving, there is still significant need, and “most other local agencies are in much worse shape…having enough funding to do the right repairs at the right time would allow the BCRC to address most road needs at an overall lower life cycle cost, saving the taxpayer money in the long run.”


Legislation passed in 2015 began providing money for roads in 2017. He said 2018 is the first full year of new revenue going to roads. Beginning this year, the state is phasing in an additional permanent $600 million and will eventually raise an additional $1.2 billion per year for Michigan roads by the year 2021.


After a decade of shortfall in funds that didn’t cover sharply rising costs on materials, especially from 2004 to 2008, “the new 2017 funding surely will help, especially in Barry County,” Lamberg said.

“However in most areas of the state, that funding was way too little and way too late. Governor Whitmer’s push to fix the roads is definitely needed. The current proposal is for a 45 cent per gallon gas tax increase. Infrastructure and funding discussions in 2019 will certainly be interesting.”


He noted if the 45 cent increase is passed, much of the increase will go to the MDOT, The proposed law would bring $1.5 million to Barry County; the current funding formula would send $5.3 million to the road commission.


When asked what he would like to see for the county roads in five years, he replied he would like “to maintain where we are now.”


The 32 road commission employees are responsible for 344.58 primary roads, 722.18 local roads, 593.45 paved roads, 473.31 gravel roads, 68.01 all season roads, 76.17 subdivision/plat roads, 7.69 seasonal maintenance roads and 10.73 natural beauty roads and 43 bridges.

In addition to Lamberg, the road commission has a three- member board of directors; David Solmes, D. David Dykstra and Frank Fiala.


In other business, commissioners approved spending $206,220 for new law enforcement Records Management System and Jail Management System from CentralSquare Technologies to be paid from the Data Processing Fund and $48,222 to replace the chiller at the sheriff’s office to be paid from the Building Rehabilitation Fund.

Look for free food, family fun at Charlton Park Day, May 25

Looking for excitement this Memorial Day weekend? Celebrate the official kick-off to summer at the 13th annual Charlton Park Day Saturday, May 25 from 11 a.m.  to 3 p.m.


The mission of Charlton Park Day is to honor Barry County residents who have supported the park for the past 83 years.  Thanks to generous community members and local businesses, the entire day is free to everyone.  Free grilled hot dogs, chips, ice cream, and bottled water will be provided to all park visitors while supplies last.


In celebration of Irving Charlton’s legacy and all the supporters in Barry County, the park will celebrate its 83rd year with activities and displays all around the Village, along with crafts, and treats. Watch master craftsmen in action in the blacksmith shop and fiber spinning in the township hall. 


Sample cookies and bread baked on a wood stove in the Sixberry House and the Bristol Inn.  Popcorn and balloons, courtesy of the Hastings Rotary Club and Charlton Park Village Foundation, will be outside the Upjohn House. The steam-driven sawmill will be in operation and just maybe the 1885 Westinghouse Steam Traction Engine will make a couple of rounds.

Cowboy Tommy and His Fancy Roping Tricks will be featured at 12:45 p.m.  Hop aboard one of the Park’s trams for a tour of the Park between noon and 2:30 p.m.


Barry County’s Central Dispatch, Transit Authority, Road Commission, Commission on Aging, Mid MI Color Guard, and others will be attending with goodies and information.  Fingerprinting for children will be done by the Sheriff’s Posse.  WBCH 100.1 FM will host a live radio remote as well. 


“Representatives from the Michigan Longbow Association, Civil War reenactment, Barry County Youth Day and Charlton Park Gas & Steam Engine Club will be onsite to promote upcoming Park events,” Director Dan Patton said.  “The 1890 Corley Sawmill will also be running.” 


The park is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The public is invited to stop by to swim, boat, picnic or hike today. 


Historic Charlton Park is located southeast of Hastings at 2545 S. Charlton Park Road. For additional information, please visit us on the web at or call 269.945.3775.


Photos: (upper left) Free hot dogs, chips and and a drink suits this young man just fine at an earlier Charlton Park Day.


(left) Cowboy Tommy will again dazzle kids with his rope tricks this Charlton Park Day.


Farm Accident

72 year old Robert Othmer died Thursday after being trapped inside a corn silo at his farm on Coats Grove road in Barry County's Castleton township. Michigan State Police in Hastings said family members attempted to pull Othmer from the silo but were unable to do so. Emergecy personnel were able to remove him from the silo, however lifesaving efforts were unsuccessful. Multiple area fire department, first responders, a conservation officer and aero med assisted at the scene.

The Patio offers unique view and more for group events in Hastings

Add The Patio to your list of places to check out when planning a party, meeting or event in Hastings.

A nicely landscaped outdoor space featuring outdoor tables and chairs, the Patio has  a panoramic view of the Thornapple Plaza, rain garden and Thornapple River.

The event location is atop the Hastings Public Library, 227 East State Street.


The Patio features indoor/outdoor space and is designed for parties gatherings up to 20 to 50. The community room is included for indoor activities with Wi-Fi, movie screen and audio/visual capabilities and a kitchenette to keep food warm or cold.


Beer and wine are allowed at after hour events and there is ample parking within a block of the library. Price and reservation applications can be found at:

Photos (upper left) The Patio offers a different view of State Street in Hastings, including the Thornapple Plaza, rain garden and the Thornapple River.


(left) Event-goers at the Patio will have a unique view of Thornapple Plaza concerts.

(photos supplied by Hastings Public Library)

Natural Shoreline Workshop set for May 18

The Barry Conservation District, Pierce Cedar Creek Institute and Charlton Park will present a Natural Shoreline Workshop at the Park on May 18 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Recreation and development along Michigan lakes can cause erosion and reduce natural habitat. Restoring natural shorelines can protect from high wave energy and erosion while promoting water quality for recreation and wildlife habitat for fisheries.


Join the Barry Conservation District and Pierce Cedar Creek Institute staff for the natural shoreline workshop to learn how to get your shoreline to work for you by designing it to protect against , maintain water quality and provide great habitat, all while looking beautiful.


Thanks to grant funding, the workshop is being offered for $10, lunch included. Space is limited so register today with David at 269-908-4099.

. Hastings replaces 12 and 13 year old copiers

Hastings is replacing two of its copiers at city hall, a Ricoh and a Xerox. One is 12 years old, the other, 13 years old.  Noordyk Business Equipment Company from Grand Rapids will replace the pair.


Clerk Jane Saurman said they chose Noordyk for their exceptional service. That they were the lowest bidder of the four bids received was a nice bonus, she said.

Rental is $391.26 a month and maintenance $246.73 a month. Noordyk will provide two new copiers, five new peripheral printers/scanners, maintenance of covered equipment, including current printers, removal of obsolete equipment and toners for the copiers and printers.


The new iPads for council and planning commission members will have protection against damage of their new units. The council opted for an Applecare Plus two-year protection plan at the cost of $100 per iPad at a total cost not to exceed $1,700.


Also Monday, the police department was given the go-ahead for an E-Crash Report System from Nexis Lexis. Officers will be able to write and file reports electronically and send them directly to Lansing, instead of filling out paper reports that are sent in once a month, Chief Jeff Pratt said the electronic system will soon be state mandated and comes at no cost to the department.


The Plucky Knitters plan for a barbeque- style chicken picnic behind their store on South Jefferson complete with a tent and food trucks in city parking lot #2 was tentatively approved. The council generally thought it was a good idea, but the staff will work with businesses that use the parking lot, specifically Hungry Howie’s, to avoid mingling of cars and people.


Last year’s event drew 200 people from all over the world. Organizers have booked 45 to 50 rooms at the hotel for the second annual event Saturday, June 1, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

“This is a great thing. I’d like to see them try it,” Mayor David Tossava said.


The council also approved the 4th annual July Block Party from noon to midnight, July 5 on West Marshall Street. The street would be closed; the city will supply the barriers, the neighborhood people will put them up. With the street closed to traffic, residents can mingle without worrying about traffic. Pratt said he had no concerns about the event.


Hastings Council to consider new fireworks hours, vaping in the city

The Hastings City Council had the first reading of three amendments Monday, will have a second reading and make decisions on them at its meeting in two weeks.

An amendment to Ordinance 571 would regulate the hours and days fireworks can be discharged.


The state has changed the times when it is permitted. The new times are from:

*11a.m. on Dec. 31 to 1 a.m. on Jan. 1

*11 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. on the Saturday and Sunday immediately before

Memorial Day

* 11 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. on June use 29 and 30 and July 1, 2, 3, and 4

* 11 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. on July 5, if that date is a Friday or Saturday

* 11 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. on the Saturday and Sunday immediately before

Labor Day.


An amendment to ordinance 572 would prohibit persons in the city under 18 from possessing tobacco or tobacco-less products. The city has determined that prohibiting the sale, giving or furnishing of e-cigarettes (also called electronic cigarettes, e-cigarettes, e-pipes, e-hookahs, or "electronic nicotine delivery systems,”) to minors and prohibiting the purchase, possession, or use of e-cigarettes by minors is in the city’s best interests and will promote public health, safety and welfare. Violations are civil infractions punishable a fines and/or jail


An amendment to ordinance 573 gives the definitions of vaping devices and related products.


In other business Monday after the required public hearings, the council approved the final assessment roll for the 2019 Downtown Parking Special Assessment District. The special levy on downtown businesses, which drew no comments during the public hearings, helps pay for materials and labor costs for maintenance of city parking lots.


Downtown Hastings merchants have paid the special assessments since parking meters were removed from the downtown. For the last several years, business owners have paid the same amount because the Downtown Development Authority picked up the tab for increases for materials and labor costs.


This year, the total cost for upkeep is $43,650. The DDA offered to pay $15,962 of the assessment, leaving the total assessment for the merchants at $27,688. The assessments vary from a low of $18.70 to a high of $2,214.523.


Also, The American Cancer Society Relay for Life was approved for Saturday, June 1 at Tyden Park, from 11 a.m. to about 11 p.m., with all “the normal activities,” representative Jon Hook said. A silent and live auction, slide show during the Survivor Ceremony, an awards ceremony and several laps around the park with different themes are planned.






Hastings Doctor Thomas Hoffman's office wins three excellence awards

Thomas Hoffman, M.D. has announced that his office has received three MPRO’s 2019 Governor’s Awards of Excellence for Improving Heart Health, management of diabetes and Behavior Health with his patients.



This year, more than 130 Michigan hospitals, physician practices, nursing homes, inpatient psychiatric facilities, ambulatory surgery centers and home health agencies were honored with the Governor’ Award of Excellence.


The awards recognize participants for their dedication and success in improving healthcare quality and patient safety in Michigan. To be eligible for the award, participants must have achieved, maintained and continually improved in specific and rigorous milestones related to the award they received.


“We are fortunate to be able to partner with Dr. Hoffman and all the other dedicated organizations across the state of Michigan,’ said MPRO President and CEO Leland Babitch, M.D. MBA.  

“To be able to recognize these outstanding accomplishments with the Governor’s office highlights the importance of improving healthcare quality.”


“Our goal is to provide innovative patient care which is both cost effective and guides my patients to better health outcomes,” Hoffman said.

“Achieving quality care addresses key concepts such as comprehensive medication management, coordination of care with specialists and addressing both medical and health-related social needs.

“These awards recognize the hard work and dedication of my entire staff to improve health care quality,” he said.


The Governor’s Award of Excellence was first developed in 2003. The current award is based upon work from the 2017-2018 in the following areas:

*improving heart health

*increasing adult immunizations

*lowering the risk of infection in hospitals

*effective reporting and measurement

*improving care in nursing homes

*increasing identification of behavioral health concerns

*improving diabetes management.


Hoffman’s office is located at 225 South M-37 Highway. Nurse Practioneer Della Hughes Carter joined the practice May. 1, and is accepting new patients. Contact the office at 269-945-3401 to request registration information.

Award recipients were honored May 8 at Eagle Eye Golf Course in Bath Township. For more information about the award, including a list of winners, visit


MPRO is a non-profit organization and national leader in healthcare quality improvement and medical review. Our goal is simple-we are helping healthcare get better. For more information about MPRO, visit


Photo: Dr. Thomas Hoffman’s award winning staff includes (front row, from left) Gale Chaffee, Barb Ketchum, Jill Eaton, (second row) Cheryl Cravero, Hoffman, President and CEO of MPRO, Leland Babitch, M.D. and Tammy James.  Lynne Goris is not pictured.

(photo provided)

Poppy Days are May 17-18-19

The Hastings City Council Monday officially proclaimed May 17-18- 19 as American Legion Auxiliary Poppy Days in Hastings. Irene Ames, member of the Lawrence J. Bauer American Legion Post 45 Auxiliary accepted the proclamation


Post members will be at the entrances of Hastings businesses during Poppy Days, offering red poppies to the public as a way to remember the men and women who served and died for their country. They do not sell them, but donations are welcome.


Mayor Dave Tossava read the proclamation which said the poppy is an international symbol of the sacrifice of lives in war, and the hope that none died in vain.


The red poppy as a symbol of respect for those who lost their lives in battle was inspired by a poem written during WWI by Lt. Col. John McCrea, a Canadian physician and artillery commander who was appointed medical officer and major of the 1st Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery.


McCrea treated the wounded during the second Battle of Ypres, and wrote the poem after a young soldier friend was killed during the early days of the battle. McCrea was moved by the red poppies at a cemetery; the only plants to grow on otherwise barren battlefields.


After his poem about the military cemetery Flanders Fields, the red poppies came to symbolize the blood shed during battle. 


In Flanders Fields

By John McCrae, May 1915


In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.


Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die


We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.


“I’m hoping for a great Poppy drive this year,” Ames said. “It all goes to the veterans.”


The American Legion Auxiliary is the world's largest women's patriotic service organization, with membership of three-quarter million women directly related to a veteran who served during a time of U.S. declared war or conflict. The Legion’s mission to serve veterans, the military and their families is carried out through the outreach program services delivered by its members volunteering in more than 9,000 communities for the past 99 years.  




Hastings compost facility on limited hours waiting for gate repair

Vandals damaged the gate to the composting area at the city facility on West State Road two weeks ago and city officials don’t know how long it will take to replace the parts.

In the meantime, Department of Public Services employees will staff the facility on Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon until repairs are made.


However, several council members think the same vandalism will happen again, and will look for other options. City Manager Jeff Mansfield will get cost estimates for monthly curbside pick-up of yard waste and others will come up with suggestions for a solution.


Before deciding on the gate that opened only with code numbers issued by the city, the council spent quite some time discussing several ways for a workable solution to the overuse of its facility; it was being overwhelmed by materials that were not compostable with an unknown amount left by non-city residents.

“There is a camera there. I don’t know why it didn’t get a picture of the vandal,” Mansfield said.

The gate was damaged shortly after the site opened for the season.



Short term solution for Crooked Lake flooding still being sought

A short term solution to the flooding at Crooked Lake is still a work in progress, Barry County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull said Monday.


The Barry County Drain Commission has purchased 23.7 acres of property from Daryl Jones on the north side of Delton Road, have berms in place to form a retention pond and will pump water from Crooked Lake into the holding area. They are waiting for easements and permits right now, he said.

The water level at the lake was at 927.8 last week, when it should be at 922.75, he said.


When they can relieve the flooding in the short term, they will work on a long term fix: installing a 12-inch underground drain tile from the retention pond to move the lake water to the Delton Drain on Pine Lake Road.


A Task Force working on the Crooked Lake flooding met April 29. The Drain Commision is not a member of the group, but after the meeting Dull, two engineers, their legal counsel and representatives from the Department of Environmental, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE), formerly the DEQ, and the DNR answered questions from the group.

“That helped,” Dull said. “It was a good, very productive meeting.”


An informational meeting for residents in the Watson Drain District to hear about the scope of the project is set for Saturday, June 8 at 10 a.m. in the Delton School gym. Dull will be on the dais with the engineers and attorneys. He has invited elected state officials and representatives from the DNR and EGLE. “We’ve already sent out notices to people and told them if they have questions to write them down and we’ll try to answer them.”


The Crooked Lake flooding has defied solution since the spring of 2018, causing ongoing hardships for lake residents and frustration for county officials. Several ideas have been proposed and discarded for various reasons. The Barry County Board of Commissioners approved $500,000 in funding for the emergency in July of last year.



Governor signs bill forgiving four more "snow days," schools reschedule last day

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed a bill that forgives school districts from making up an extra four school days lost during a cold weather emergency from Jan. 29 to Feb. 1. State law already forgives districts six days canceled for “snow days,” and schools can get a waiver from the state superintendent for three additional days.  


Many districts have exceeded the nine-day limit and without the legislation would have to add make up days into June. Here are area school’s schedules for the last day of school and graduation ceremonies.


*Bellevue Community School's last day is Friday, May 31.

Graduation is Sunday, May 19 at 2 p.m. in the high school gym.


*Thornapple Kellogg’s last day is Friday, May 31.

Graduation is Thursday, May 23 at 7 p.m. in Bob White Stadium, if weather permits.


*Hastings Area Schools last day is Wednesday, June 5, and is a half day.

Graduation is Friday, May 24 at 7 p.m. in the gymnasium.


* Lakewood Public School’s last day has not been adjusted yet.

Graduation is Thursday, May 23 at 7 p.m. at the High School gym.


*Maple Valley School’s last day is Monday, June 10.

Graduation is Friday, May 31 at 7 p.m. in the sports complex.


*Delton Kellogg’s last day is Friday, June 7, a half day.

Graduation is Thursday, May 30 at 7 p.m. in the gym.


*Caledonia Community Schools last day is Friday, June 7.

Graduation will be Thursday, May 23 at 7 p.m. at the High School.


*Wayland Union Schools last day is Monday, June 10, a half-day.

Graduation is set for Thursday, May 23 at 7 p.m. in the football stadium.

Grimsby Hollow Meadery coming to Middleville

Dave and Mandy Grimsby, both brewers, started brewing mead in their home brewery, and then moved up to producing mead commercially in Alto. Now, because of demand, the couple is planning the opening of a tasting center for the honey-based wine in the Towne Center in Middleville.


Mead is an ancient alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey and water. It can be light or rich, sweet or dry, or even sparkling. It may be flavored with herbs, spices and flowers.

According to the Urban Dictionary, mead was called the nectar of the gods. It was said to be the Norse God Odin’s favorite drink. Mead predates wine and beer and distilled beverages.


“We’ll have small plates and meat and cheese platters; they pair well with mead,” Mandy said.  Bottles of mead will be for sale with names like Blue Aurora Blueberry Mead, The Beekeeper Oak-aged Traditional Mead, The Legend of Grimsby Hollow Smoked Pumpkin Mead or the Midsummer Night Strawberry Lemonade Mead. “There’s is taste of honey in the mead, but fermenting it makes the taste more subtle,” she said.


The couple looked for a place to expand with a tasting room for some time, Mandy said, and settled on Middleville.

“Middleville has beautiful spaces that are affordable and they really wanted us there.” Mandy has close friends in Middleville that she visits often, so she knows the village quite well.


The move is proceeding on schedule, with site plan approval last week for the Grimsby Hollow Meadery and the permit from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission pending; they hope to open in late June.



(left) David and Mandy Grimsby, shown here at an industry function, are co-owners of Grimsby Hollow Meadery and are working toward opening a tasting room in Middleville.


Photo by Rebecca Leigh Thompson

Hastings Woman pleads guilty to stealing precription drugs

38 year old Amanda Sheridan of Hastings who worked as a medical assistant, pleaded guilty to the charge that resulted in fraudulant  prescriptions totaling over 4, 000 pills, including Norco, Adderall and other highly-abused controlled substances, according to a U.S. Attorney in Grand Rapids.

Sheridan stole a Doctor's prescription pad and used it to obtain the pills.

The U.S. Atorney said in a statement, "That commitment includes federal prosecution of individuals who abuse their position in the medical field to divert prescription controlled substances to the street."

Middleville Heritage Days 2019 theme is "Remember When..."

Middleville’s Heritage Days this year will be three days in August with the theme, “Remember When…”


Event Coordinator Susan Foster and several committees have many activities planned and are looking for help with more ideas and activities that follow the theme of remembering Middleville’s past.

They need volunteers to help and come up with ideas to include during the Aug. 16-17-18 event.


With a wide variety of committees, there is likely a place in one where one can contribute.

One committee is looking for people who can show others how to do what they can do; like make a craft, a perfect pie crust or stained glass window or create a quilt. All-day demonstrations in several locations in the village is the goal. If you have a craft or talent you can demonstrate, you could volunteer for that.


Other areas to think about include helping with old fashioned games, organizing the demonstrations schedule, the old fashioned church service and picnic, create flyers and other printed media, help with the horseshoe tournament, a Saturday night music event, getting village businesses names for tee shirts, the restaurant coordinator, or work a shift in the information booth during the event.


In the planning are a 1950s-60s music group, a Sock Hop on Main Street, a Cruise-in, possibly a horse shoe tournament, old fashioned games for children and adults (almost all non-electronic), the annual parade and an art contest for the logo on a commemorative tee shirt.


If you can contribute an idea or volunteer to help, attend a meeting Thursday, May16 at 5:30 p.m. at Foster’s office, 9426 Spring Creek Court and RSVP by calling 269-838-0060.

Leadership Barry County visits lawmakers in Lansing

State Rep. Julie Calley of Portland hosted Leadership Barry County this week at the state Capitol. Each year, a new class engages in this program to better understand community needs and resources, as well as key aspects of leadership.


Jillian Foster, director of Leadership Barry County said the visit gave the group of about two dozen a better understanding of how government works. Calley was working while they were there; she would visit for a bit and then go back to work.


The group was given a tour of the Capitol, had lunch with some lobbyists and learned how they work. Brian Calley was there and talked to them, answering questions. Foster said the activities “behind the scenes” were interesting. All in all, the 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. time spent at the state’s Capitol was "great.”


Photo: Members of Leadership Barry County gathered for a photo with State Rep. Julie Calley during a visit to the Capitol building in Lansing this week. They are Melissa Brill, Sandy Williams, Emily Churhard, Gary Platte, Kerri Steward, Stacy Mauer, Patricia Garber, Morgan Rademacher, Sarah Scobey, Diane Gaertner, Brenda Bite, Julie Calley (back row) Randy Sykes, Tom Davis, Tanett Hodge, Jenny Cusack, Jim McKelvey, Christopher Taylor, Kellie Smith, Andy Cove, Ashton Strickler, Cathy Hart-Jansma, Stephanie Skidmore and Tim Stevens.




Barry County Jail corrections officers are valuable community asset

This is National Corrections Officers and Employees Appreciation Week, when those in the corrections profession are honored for the importance of their mission, for putting themselves in harm’s way to protect the public.


When proclaiming the first full week in May as National Correctional Officers Week in 1984, President Ronald Reagan said the important work of correctional officers often does not receive the recognition from the public it deserves.


“Historically, correctional officers have been viewed as ‘guards,’ occupying isolated and misunderstood positions in prisons and jails. In recent years, the duties of these officers have become increasingly complex and demanding. They are called upon to fill, simultaneously, custodial, supervisory and counseling roles,” he said.


“The professionalism, dedication and courage exhibited by these officers throughout the performance of these demanding and often conflicting roles deserve our utmost respect. It is appropriate that we honor the many contributions and accomplishments of these men and women who are a vital component of the field of corrections,” Reagan said.


The Barry County Sheriff’s Office has 16 deputies on its corrections staff; Lt. Pete Nevins is in charge, assisted by Sergeants Kellie Smith and Ryan Argo, Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf said.


“We take a wide variety of people out of the community, some with mental or drug problems or health issues, some who have to be separated from society, some who just made a mistake and put them behind brick and mortar and razor wire and tell our corrections staff to take care of them, and they do a fabulous job for the community; they make Barry County look good,” Leaf said.


“It would be awesome if the people want to send a thank you card to the corrections staff. It would be a good reminder that they are not forgotten, that they are an extremely valuable part of our community.” Leaf brings in an ice cream cake or cookies for the corrections staff as a token of his appreciation during every national appreciation week.

Cards can be sent to Corrections Staff, Barry County Jail, 1212 West State Street, Hastings, MI., 49058.



What's next for Hastings Schools after millage fails?

The unofficial vote in Tuesday’s election showed Hastings school's millage request failed while Delton schools and Hastings Township/Library millage requests were approved by voters.


Hastings Area School System district voters rejected a .7 mill request to raise $9.9 million for repairs to all school buildings, including replacing several roofs, by a tally of 2,014 to 1,814.

Board of Education President Luke Haywood said today that addressing the school buildings critical needs, especially the roofs, will be smaller in scope and take longer than if it had been approved.

They will brainstorm with the new superintendent and community members for long term solutions. He said they may consider the limited use of the sinking fund or reduce the general fund, but stressed whatever they do can’t affect the ability of the school to continue to offer its students high quality education. It will be an “all out approach” to find the best long term plan to move forward.


Later, Superintenent Carrie Duits issued the following statement:

"Our strategic plan was developed by community members with an open invitation for anyone to participate. One of the goals in our strategic plan is to provide an excellent learning environment. Another goals is to improve our facilities to inspire excellence and pride.


"We will continue to explore ways to address our facility needs in order to accomplish these goals. This will involve establishing priorities and making some hard decisions. While we wrestle with these decisions, our students will continue to receive an outstanding education from our dedicated staff."


Also in the election, Hastings Charter Township voters approved the library’s request for a 1.6 millage renewal/increase for 10 years, 393 to 320.

Hastings Public Library Director Peggy Hemerling said she was “ecstatic” by the positive vote. “There will be no interruption of library services to Hastings Township residents and in July, Hastings Township representation on the Library Board will be restored,” she said.


Delton Schools approved $23.2 million for building and site improvements, educational technology and district-wide improvements, 1057 to 630.

"The community's approval of Delton Kellogg's bond proposal is a testament to the community's ongoing support of our students and staff,” Superintendent Kyle Corlett said. “I am very excited for our students and for the future of the district, as the bond will support some immediate needs and needs we'll face over the next couple of years.

“On behalf of Delton Kellogg Schools, I would like to thank all of the tax payers. We will work on communicating updates with bond work as soon and as often as possible. If anyone ever has any questions, feel free to contact me."


Hit and run injures bicycle rider in Ionia County

Ionia County Sheriff’s deputies are investigating a hit and run involving a pickup and a bicycle that occurred Monday at about 9:21 p.m. Deputies responded to Jordan Lake and Bonanza roads on a call of a person lying near the road.


The unidentified victim said he was traveling south on Jordan Lake when a dark colored pickup westbound on Bonanza crossed the intersection in front of him. The bicycle rider collided with the pickup at an unknown rate of speed, striking the front passenger door, authorities said.


The victim was transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth in Grand Rapids for non-life threatening injuries. He was wearing a helmet and reflective clothing.


The suspect’s vehicle is said to be a dark color about the size of a Ford F-150. The exact make and model are not known, but there may be damage to the front passenger door.


Anyone with further information on the crash is asked to contact Deputy Foster at the sheriff’s office at 616-527-5737, ext. 527. The sheriff’s office was assisted by LIFE EMS, Lake Odessa Fire Department and Ionia County Central Dispatch.


At risk of hepatitis? Get tested, BEDHD says

The month of May is Hepatitis Awareness Month in the United States. May 19 is Hepatitis Testing Day. The Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) is raising awareness about the hidden epidemic and encouraging those at risk to get tested.


Hepatitis is a serious liver disease most often caused by one of several viruses. In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Millions of Americans are living with chronic hepatitis, yet most don’t know it.

People can live for decades without symptoms, but over time, chronic hepatitis can cause serious health problems. Talk to your doctor about getting tested. It could save your life. //


Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). It is often spread by eating food or drinking water that is contaminated with infected feces or by touching contaminated objects with your mouth. Hepatitis A can spread easily among people who live together and among sexual partners. It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting several months and can result in death.


In August 2016, a hepatitis A outbreak began in southeast Michigan, and has grown to other parts of the state. Anyone can get hepatitis, however those at highest risk are those who use illegal drugs, people who are homeless or move around a lot, people who are or were recently in jail or prison, men who have sex with men and people with existing chronic liver disease.


People can take a short quiz to see if they are at risk for hepatitis A:

 Hepatitis A can be prevented through good handwashing and vaccination, which is available for a low cost at BEDHD. To make an appointment to be vaccinated call (269) 798-4133 in Barry County or (517) 541-2651 in Eaton County. More information about the Michigan hepatitis A outbreak can be found at


Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). It ranges from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe, long-term (chronic) illness that can lead to liver disease or liver cancer. HBV is spread when blood, semen, or another bodily fluid from a person infected with HBV enters the body of someone who is not infected.


This can happen through sexual contact and sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment. HBV can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby at birth. Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all infants and children age 18 and under and adults who are at risk for HBV infection. People can see if they might be at risk for HBV at


Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks (acute) to a severe, lifelong, chronic illness. For most people, HCV leads to chronic infection and may result in long-term health problems or even death. HCV is spread when blood from a person infected with HCV enters the body of someone who is not infected. Today, most people become infected with HCV by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. Before 1992,


HCV was also commonly spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants. There is no vaccine for HCV, but it is treatable. Ninety percent of people who complete treatment will be cured of HCV.  For more information on hepatitis and Hepatitis Awareness Month, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at



Hastings Schools millage defeated; voters approve Delton Schools, Hastings Township/library millage

In the unofficial vote count with all precinct reporting in Tuesday's  election, Hastings school's millage was defeated; Delton schools and Hastings Township/Library millage requests were approved by voters.


Hastings Schools  Yes: 1,814                            

                              No: 2,014

The Hastings Area School System had asked district voters to approve .7 mills to raise $9.9 million for repairs to all school buildings to be paid off in 12 years. A previous .4 millage will be paid off in 2020; approval would have meant taxpayers would have had a .3 mill increase in taxes.


Delton Kellogg: Yes: 1,057

                         No: 630

Delton Schools asked for $23.2 million for facility and instructional environment needs, with a focus on building and site improvements, educational technology and district-wide improvements. The estimated millage that will be levied for the bonds this year is 1.58 mills ($1.58 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a -0- mill net increase over the prior year’s levy. The maximum number of years the bonds may be outstanding is 25.


Hastings Charter Township Library millage: Yes: 393

                                                                     No: 320

The Hastings Public Library asked for a 1.6 millage renewal/increase for 10 years to provide library services to township residents. Township voters defeated the same request last year in the August election.

Stop ticks to avoid Lyme and other tick-borne disease

Ticks carry germs that can cause Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Use EPA-registered repellents to reduce the chance of being bitten by a tick to avoid serious disease such as: Anaplasmosis,  Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Southern tick-associated rash illness, Tick-borne relapsing fever, TularemiaColorado tick fever and Powassan virus infection, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, even on animals, so spending time outside camping, gardening, or hunting could bring you in close contact with ticks. Treat clothing and gear with products containing permethrin which will remain protective through several washings.


Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone.

EPA’s helpful External  can help you find the product that best suits your needs. Always follow product instructions, especially with children.


Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than two months old and do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children under three years old.

After being outdoors, even your back yard, conduct a full body check of you and your children using a hand held mirror.

Remove any ticks and wash clothes or put them in dryer if damp. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, you may need to dry them longer. When washing clothes first, use hot water. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks effectively.


Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and may be effective in reducing the risk of other tick-borne diseases.  Remove the attached tick as soon as you notice it. Grasp the tick with tweezers, as close to the skin as possible, and pull it straight out.


Watch for a rash or fever in the days and weeks following the bite. Your risk of getting a tick-borne disease depends on many factors, including where you live, the type of tick that bit you, and how long the tick was attached. Be sure to see a health care provider if you become sick after a tick bite, have a rash or a fever


Remove leaf litter and clear tall grasses and brush around homes regularly. Place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to keep ticks away from recreational areas. Keep play areas and playground equipment away vegetation.


In your yard, tick control chemicals are effective for a homeowner to use or they can be applied by a professional pest control expert. Remove plants that attract deer and construct physical barriers to discourage them from entering your yard and bringing blacklegged ticks with them.


Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and tick-borne diseases. Talk to your veterinarian about the best tick prevention product for your dog. For more information on animals and health, see Preventing Ticks on Your Pet.


Barry County Sheriff's Office, Central Dispatch to get state-of-the-art records management systems

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office is in line to get a new integrated public safety computer software system with several technological advances in records and system management programs.

Undersheriff Matt Houchlei, who made the request for the sheriff’s office Tuesday, was accompanied by Central Dispatch Director Stephanie Lehman and IT Director David Shinavier.


In April, the Central Dispatch Administrative Board approved purchasing the Zuercher platform for Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system at the same time as the sheriff’s office proposes buying one of its systems for its records.


“By upgrading in the same time frame, Barry County will not only save cost, but will allow the Barry County Sheriff’s Office to be on a compatible system with Central Dispatch that will improve efficiency responsiveness and service to the residents of Barry County.


“It will also continue to provide seamless information sharing between several of the other law enforcement agencies within Barry County,” Houchlei said in his agenda request.

The present jail records system by Superion is separate from Central Dispatch and will not supply any further updates, Houchlei said.


Following about 40 minutes of discussion with Houchlei and Lehman about the benefits of the change, and approval voiced by Shinavier, county commissioners recommended approving the purchase of CentralSquare Technologies Pubic Safety Software Solutions, powered by Zuercher software.


Central Dispatch and the sheriff’s office will have each other’s data immediately with an overall item number for each incident set by the software, instead of different numbers for different departments.


Routine updates will come directly from the cloud with click of a button, instead of physically downloading upgrades into individual laptops as is done now, and if a problem arises, 24 hour a day, seven days a week, a support person will answer the phone no matter what time of day or night it is, Houchlei said.


There is much more detailed information on pages three to 11 in the proposal from CentralSquare Technologies that covers more services and improvements the company provides that is available on the Barry County website in the “latest board packet."


Also to do with the sheriff’s office/jail, Building and Grounds Director Tim Neeb and sheriff’s Lieutenant Pete Nevins explained the need to replace the antiquated cooling unit at the jail for $40,722, from low bidder B&V Mechanical, Inc. in Wyoming.


Neeb also asked to replace the pump motor for $5,000 and $2,500 to replace Freon and contingency items that may come up during the project, for a total of $48,222 to come from the building and grounds fund.


The heat exchanger (built in 2009) and the condenser (2000) on the system that moderates the temperature in the main office and pre-1973 part of the jail is broken, and parts are no longer available.

Neeb said the problems with the heat exchanger would cost $30,000 to fix it with a refrigerant banned by the federal government, but still available.
Without the new system, which would be “absolutely more efficient,” it would be unbearable in the summer, adding, “It’s 80 degrees in the office now.”


In other business, the committee of the whole recommended:

*the 2020 budget calendar, with specific steps to be taken from May 7 to Oct.22 leading to the passage of the 2020 budget.

*the reappointment James French to a six-year-term on the Barry County Jury Board, recommended by Chief Judge William Doherty

*a resolution from MERS establishing which persons in the county sign contracts between MERS and the county, explained by Administrator Michael Brown.

*approval of the 2020 fiscal year Barry County Office of Community Corrections grant application to the Michigan Department of Corrections Office of Community Corrections, as requested by BCOCC Administrator Tami Price.

*approval to appoint Nelly Shephard to a three-year term on the Commission on Aging Board.

Clarksville man killed in Barry County crash

A 32-year-old Clarksville man was killed in a fiery crash Monday afternoon near the intersection of Usborne Road and Brown Road in Barry County’s Carlton Township.


Barry County Undersheriff Matt Houchlei said deputies were dispatched to the scene of the single-vehicle crash shortly before 3 p.m. where they found a Ford F250 pickup truck fully engulfed in flames. Freeport Fire Department arrived on scene to extinguish the fire.

Investigators found one person deceased inside the vehicle, in the driver’s side compartment.  He was identified as James Timothy Flynn from Clarksville.


The pickup was southbound on Usborne Road when it drifted across the left side of the roadway, where it traveled approximately 150 feet and struck a tree. 

The accident remains under investigation; Deputies Kevin Erb, Robert Fueri, Rose O’Grady and Accident Reconstructionist Deputy Scott Ware are the investigators.


Deputies were assisted by Freeport Fire Department, Woodland Township Fire Dept, Hastings Mercy Ambulance, Barry County Central Dispatch and Barry County MEI Phil Clinton.



USDA recalls Tyson chicken strips, Conagra frozen entrees

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has expanded a March recall of 69,093 pounds of Tyson Foods chicken strips and issued a recall of two Conagra frozen entrees.The Tyson expansion now includes a total of 11,829,517 pounds of chicken strips that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically pieces of metal in the product.


The frozen, ready-to-eat chicken strip items were produced from Oct. 1, 2018 through March 8, 2019 and have “Use by Dates” of Oct. 1, 2019 through March 7, 2020,  have the number “P-7221” on the back of the package and were shipped to retail and Department of Defense locations nationwide, for institutional use nationwide and to the U.S. Virgin Islands.


FSIS is aware of six complaints frame involving pieces of metal with three alleging oral injury. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

Consumers are urged not to consume the product, including frozen items, and should throw them away or return them to the place of purchase. Consumers with questions about the recall can contact Tyson Foods Consumer Relations at 1-866-886-8456.


Conagra Brands, Inc. is recalling about 2,094,186 pounds of frozen entrees due to misbranding and an undeclared allergen. The product contains milk, a known allergen, which is not declared on the label. The P.F. Chang’s Home Menu Chicken Pad Thai and Chicken Fried Rice are frozen, heat treated, not fully cooked and not shelf stable.


They were produced on various dates between Oct. 1, 2018 and April 11, 2019, with “Best By” dates of Sept. 26, 2019 through April 5, 2020. The recalled has the number “EST. P-115,” above the nutritional statement as “P115.” The entrees were shipped to retailers nationwide and impacts only the P.F. Chang’s Home Menu Brand products listed. It does not include any product sold at P.F. Chang’s restaurants.


Conagra Brands found the problem during a routine label verification check and determined that the product did not declare milk on the label. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions to the products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.


Customers are urged not to consume the entrees, including those in a freezer; they should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase. Consumers with questions can contact 1-800-860-3498.


Consumers with food safety questions can "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at or via smartphone at The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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

Hastings Township voters to consider Hastings Library millage again

Hastings Charter Township voters will decide Tuesday if they will approve a 1.6 millage renewal/increase for 10 years for Hastings Public Library services after turning it down in the August, 2018 election. With the failure, the residents lost full access to the library.

 “I hope it passes,” Township Supervisor Jim Brown said. “It lost by just 13 votes; I think a lot of people thought it would pass and just didn’t bother to vote.”






Man reported missing in Allegan found safe

 Anthony Lee Wright, reported missing since April 28, has been located and is safe, the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office reports. Anthony Lee Wright, a 49-year-old white man from Mississippi, was last seen in the City of Allegan on April 27.


According to an acquaintance, Wright was staying at the Budget Host Inn for one night, but had nowhere to go after that and indicated on Sunday, April 28 that he was staying in the woods. The acquaintance said Wright told him that he had fallen and hurt himself, but had not arrived at the hospital and had not been in contact with anyone since.


A May 6 sheriff’s media update reported he was located and safe.

Yankee Springs Township trash cleanup finds "a little less trash" this year

Individuals and groups of volunteers met at the Yankee Springs Township Fire Station Saturday, May 4 to take part in a trash clean up in the Barry State Game Area and the Yankee Springs Recreation Area in the township. Dauntless Jeepers members have volunteered for all four of the annual pickups.


Township Supervisor Mark Englerth has organized the effort since its inception.

“There was a little less trash this year, than last year,” he said. “I think we’re winning the war.”

He estimated the number of volunteers at 35.

“We had Randy Heinze from the Barry State Game Area; Andru Jevicks, from the Yankee Springs Recreation Area; State Rep. Julie Calley, County Commissioner Vivian Conner and John Norris, representing the Dauntless Jeepers and individuals from the community, and we thank them all,” he said.

Here are some scenes from the day’s work.



(upper left) R.J. Byers, his wife Gail and Tami Norris, in the Jeep, all Dauntless Jeepers, wait for the rest of the volunteers for the trash cleanup Saturday.

(middle left) Mark Englerth, Yankee Springs Supervisor and organizer of the trash drive, talks to some of the volunteers on pickup day Saturday. (Photo by Gail Byers)

(lower left) Deep into a two track in the Yankee Spring Recreation Area, a volunteer secures trash collected in the area. (Photo by Gail Byers)

(top right) Volunteers pick up garbage bags of trash in open areas as well as in the wooded areas. (Photo by John Norris)

(middle right) Almost anything can be found in the recreation and game areas in Yankee Springs Township. (Photo by John Norris)

Phone problems at Barry County Transit

Barry County Transit has been experiencing telephone problems at their dispatch center Monday, making it more difficult for riders to arrange their transportation.  As of 11:30am, Transit director Bill Voight said some calls are getting through,  and riders can also contact Transit via the website: ,  but should wait for a confirmation call if they leave a message.


They hope to have the phone problems resolved within 24 hours and apologize for the inconvenience.

Spectrum Health Pennock Celebration

  It was a grand evening for those attending the annual Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital  Recognition Celebration Saturday evening at the Gilmore Car Musium with a Kentucky Derby flavor. 

  Ladies were dressed like the ladies at the derby. Most of the gentlemen wore a derby type attire. 

All this with the beautiful classic automobiles made for an exciting evening of fun and entertainment and it got even better after a couple of Mint Julep's.

Photo: Janine Dalman, Executive Director. Spectrum Health Foundation

Protect yourself and your pets from rabies


As spring arrives, the Barry Eaton District Health Department reminds residents that some wild animals may carry rabies, the most common are raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes, and coyotes.

Any mammal can get rabies. Although less common, cats, cattle, and dogs can also carry rabies.


Now, largely because of the routine vaccination of pets against rabies and advancements in medicine, human deaths due to rabies are very rare. The disease is 100 percent preventable, but it is fatal to both humans and animals once symptoms start.


Deaths due to rabies are mostly due to not seeking medical attention while not experiencing symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) an estimated 40,000 people in the United States receive rabies post-exposure treatment each year.


Transmission from bats is the most common cause of rabies in the U.S., so it is important to contact your health care provider for treatment if any possible exposure to a bat occurred. Bats have very small teeth, and a bite from a bat may not be felt. Any direct contact with a bat means a possible exposure to rabies. If possible, capture the bat so it can be tested for rabies.


 If you think you’ve been exposed to a bat, contact the health department at (517) 541-2641 in Eaton County or (269) 798-4152 in Barry County to receive further assistance on steps to follow. The  website also contains information, including a video on how to safely capture a bat:


Rabies can also be prevented by vaccinating pets. Michigan law requires that all dogs must have a current rabies vaccination. In addition, it is recommended that all cats and ferrets be vaccinated against rabies. Along with the statewide rabies vaccination law for dogs, all dogs must have a current Michigan dog license. Some cities also have laws on licensing dogs and cats; check with the city government for these requirements.


*Barry County Animal Control provides one or three year dog licenses, based on the rabies vaccination. Visit or call (269) 948-4885 for more information.

*Eaton County Animal Control dog licenses must be renewed each year. More information is available at or by calling (517) 543-5755.

Keep all pets under direct supervision while outdoors to prevent contact between your pet and a wild animal that might be unvaccinated. If your pet is bitten, call your veterinarian for further instructions.


For more information , visit or or call the health department at the numbers listed above.




Governor expected to sign bill to forgive four more snow days for schools

When Governor Gretchen Whitmer signs a bill on her desk that forgives the need for the state’s schools to replace four extra days at the end of the year, it takes immediate effect, according to  MLive. Whitmer declared an emergency from Jan. 29 to Feb.1, determining the extremely cold weather was a threat to public health and safety. 


The state already forgives schools making up to six cancelled days for emergencies, with a waiver possible for three more. Many schools exceeded the limit and were making plans to extend the school year into the middle or late June to make up the days. School officials will determine the last day of school and notify district parents and the public.


Gun Lake Tribe earns Parker/Gentry conservation award

The Field Museum in Chicago will present the 24th Annual Parker/Gentry Award to the Gun Lake Tribe, also known as the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, at its annual Conservation Celebration  May 7.


Founded in 1996 in honor of late conservationists Theodore A. Parker III and Alwyn Gentry, the Parker/Gentry Award recognizes one individual, team or organization that has made a significant contribution to the field of conservation biology, and whose actions can provide a model to others.


The Gun Lake Tribe drew from centuries’ worth of ancestral knowledge to spearhead numerous conservation initiatives in the Great Lakes region. The Tribe’s Environmental Department administers the Mnomen Conservation program, which re-establishes habitat for mnomen (wild rice). 


“We are honored to receive this award from the outstanding staff at the Field Museum. Credit goes to our excellent Environmental Department staff here at the Gun Lake Tribe for their dedication to preserving our local habitat, so we can continue our tradition of being stewards of the land,” says Bob Peters, chairman of the tribe.


Similarly, the tribe works with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to rehabilitate the lake sturgeon population in the Kalamazoo and Grand Rivers. With efforts ranging from species preservation to environmental education and more, the Tribe’s approach to conservation emphasizes holistic, culturally focused stewardship.


Aasia Mohammad Castañeda, environmental social scientist at the Field Museum, nominated Gun Lake Tribe due to their leadership in “projects that connect their community to ancestral knowledge” and “culturally relevant environmental conservation of lake sturgeon, wild rice, and turtles.”


The Parker/Gentry Award sheds a spotlight on crucial conservation work and the Field Museum is honored to present this year’s award to longtime advocates for environmental and cultural preservation in the Great Lakes region.


Those interested in attending the Field Museum’s annual Conservation Celebration and the Parker/Gentry Award ceremony can purchase tickets for $25; the funds contribute directly to the museum’s conservation work.



(left) The Gun Lake Tribal Citizens participate in the Wishpemishkos Gises (Sweetgrass Moon) Pow Wow. 





(Photo by Holly Henderson Photography)


Grant for environmental assessment of former Royal Coach property in Hastings formalized

A group of people with an interest in developing the former Royal Coach property met Thursday to formally “kick off” a Renew Michigan Grant from the Michigan Brownfield Redevelopment Program for an environmental assessment of the property.


Present at the meeting were:

From Hastings, Community Development Director Dan King and Deputy City Manager Jerry Czarnecki.


Andrea Ryswick, brownfield coordinator and Aaron Assmann, district project manager, both from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), formerly the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.


Jeff Guenther, vice president of business development at Hastings Manufacturing, owners of the parcel.


Casey Smith, senior project geologist in environmental services at SME.


Larry Baum, who owns the adjacent two acres that are also being marketed for development and his associate Chris Cooley.


Ryswick explained the requirements of a $63,000 grant that will fund the environmental assessment of the 10.7 acre parcel by SME.The grant is reimbursable; the city will pay for the work as it is done and then request payment from EGLE.


Requests for disbursements are considered only after a contract between EGLE and the City of Hastings is signed and a work plan with eligible tasks approved. The city is required to file quarterly reports and submit invoices from subcontractors along with the requests for payment.


EGLE withholds 10 percent of the grant from the final payments until all project expenses have been reviewed and reporting requirements are met. The grant contract is for two years, but could be extended in one year increments.


Ryswick also explained the forms to be filled out and offered to be available to visit or by telephone to help during the project if needed.


King said the property has great potential and the grant will be a plus for interested developers. “That’s a $63,000 cost they won’t have to bear...they will know exactly the condition of the property.”

Smith said he is confident that the assessment by SME can be completed within six months.


The development site at 325 North Hanover was used in manufacturing furniture and automotive parts, but has been vacant for several years.

Based on limited assessments conducted on the site, known environmental contamination includes volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile and metals. Also, there is the potential for PFAS and PCB contamination to be present.



Vandalism forces closure of Hastings compost site

|The City of Hastings is announcing on its website that the compost site at 1303 West State Road is closed due to vandalism and will remain closed until repairs are completed. "We appreciate your patience as we begin to repair the gate," the notice said

Dr. Larry Hawkins receives Liberty Bell Award on Law Day

Each year during Law Day observance in Barry County, the Barry County Law Association presents the Liberty Bell Award to a person who has demonstrated a commitment to the community.

Criteria for the award includes promoting better understanding of the rule of law, encouraging a greater respect for law and the courts, stimulating a sense of civic responsibility and contributing to good government in the community.


This year, Dr. Larry Hawkins joins the more than 40 recipients of the award.

Hawkins daughter Rebecca Hawkins introduced her father, saying he taught his four children about their duty to serve the community in all they do by his example. She said they learned at a very young age that his being a doctor meant delaying or cancelling holidays and special outings because someone needed him.


He earned the love and respect as a doctor because he gave his patients his full attention and patience when dealing with them; he was totally focused on them, she said.


Her father was a doctor for 40 plus years which showed his dedication; he also showed his compassion in his work with hospice. He and their mom Diane, raised four kids, all who give of themselves each and every day, she said.


Hawkins was already a doctor when Dr. James Spindler recruited him to work with him. He fell in love with the community. He “sold it” to several other doctors he worked with and they all came to Hastings and joined the medical community here as Thornapple Valley Family Physicians. 


He said Diane had a rough time raising four children with his practice and volunteering, but she supported him through the years.  They will celebrate 50 years of marriage in October.

He recalls the people who were part of his many, many endeavors. “Some are here today. I appreciate that.”


“I asked myself, ‘Why me? How did I get here?’  It’s because I surrounded myself with really good people, skilled people, great staff…”On behalf of all the people in such a wonderful community and the wonderful physicians who all taught me so much, I’ll accept this on their behalf.”


(top left) Dr. Larry Hawkins speaks on Law Day.


(top right) Barry County Bar Association President Robert Byington presents the Liberty Bell Award to Dr. Larry Hawkins.


(middle left) Dr. Larry Hawkins and wife Diane greet their old friend Dr. James Spindler at Law Day ceremonies.


(bottom left) Gathered for a photo with Liberty Bell Award winner Larry Hawkins after the presentation are (from left) daughters Sarah Freiberg and Rebecca Hawkins, wife Diane Hawkins, J-Ad Graphics Editor and keynote speaker Rebecca Pierce, Hawkins, Barry County Bar Association president Robert Byington, Hastings City Attorney Stephanie Fekkes and Chief Judge of Barry County Courts, William Doherty.

Freedom of speech and the press topics of keynote speaker at Law Day

J-Ad Graphics Editor Rebecca Pierce was keynote speaker at the annual Law Day observance in Barry County on May 1, which had the theme “Free Speech Free Press Free Society.”


What follows are some excerpts from Pierce’s remarks about the challenges facing newspapers today.


“In the United States and around the world, freedom of speech and the press are among the most important foundations for a free society. Free speech and free press are prominent topics in public discourse and litigation.

“It is impossible to imagine a free society without these individual liberties, yet historical and current debates surrounding them continually challenge us to consider their boundaries and resilience.


“What we practice here is called community journalism, which is locally-oriented, professional news coverage that typically focuses on city neighborhoods and small towns.

Stories papers publish can have an outsized impact on the decisions made by residents in those communities, and, ultimately, on the quality of their lives.


“By some estimates, community newspapers provide as much as 85 percent of ‘the news that feeds democracy’ at the state and local levels…the fates of newspapers and communities are inherently linked. If one fails, the other suffers.

“Content is what truly engages and serves readers. It's the content – and the people who know how to report and edit content. The number of journalists in this country, in the past decade, has plummeted – from over 400,000 to slightly more than 100,000. The content they produced is missing.”


Pierce said changes in technology have reshaped how free speech and free press work in the everyday world, raising serious concerns about the future of free speech, including “attempts at censorship by government actors critical of comments on social media, the shifting standards of private platforms to censor online expression and the rise of hate and extremist speech in the digital world.”


A two-year study by the School of Media and Journalism at the University of North Carolina noted the emergence of a new type of newspaper owner, very different from traditional publishers -- the best of whom sought to balance business interests with civic responsibility to the community where their paper was located, Pierce said.


“Since 2004, more than a third of the country’s newspapers have changed ownership; some sold two or more times.  Then these new owners cut costs and recoup their investment in only a few short years. Whole newspaper chains have disappeared, acquired by other companies.


“As newspapers confront an uncertain future, the choices these new owners make could determine whether vast ‘news deserts’ arise in communities and regions throughout the country. This has implications not just for the communities where these papers are located, but also, in the long term, for America.


“Strong newspapers enhance the quality of life by producing journalism that documents a community’s life and identifies its issues, while providing advertising that connects consumers with local businesses. But some communities have already become so-called news deserts, having lost their local newspapers.


“For two centuries, newspapers have been an indispensable auditor of democracy at all levels in this county. By documenting the shifting landscape of newspaper ownership and assessing the threat of news deserts, we all need to be aware that we the greater role we all must play to protect and preserve our local news institutions as we address the challenges confronting media and our democracy.


“Concerns about the role and ownership of newspapers have been voiced and debated since the founding of the country. However, the dramatic shift in ownership of newspapers over the past decade brings added urgency to a new version of an age-old question: In the digital age, what is the civic responsibility of newspaper owners to their communities? 


“We need to do all we can to protect and preserve the freedoms we hold dear – and one of those freedoms, of the press, is represented in this community, with the owner here and a staff of reporters and editors on duty right now, just down the street.


“What can you do to protect and preserve it? Invest in this local institution by subscribing, advertising, reading and engaging in the community conversation. Suggest stories. Criticize whatever deserves it. Add your input to make what we do even better,” she said.


Robert R. McCormick, publisher of the Chicago Tribune from 1925 to 1955 said:  “A newspaper is an institution developed by modern civilization to present the news of the day, to foster commerce and industry, to inform and lead public opinion, and to furnish that check upon government which no constitution has ever been able to provide.”


Photo: Rebecca Pierce, editor at J-Ad Graphics, speaks on Law Day.


Law Day celebrates "Free Speech Free Press Free Society"

Barry County  Law Day ceremonies Wednesday started with a welcome from the presiding judge, William Doherty, chief judge of Barry County Courts.



Next on the agenda, Barry County Bar Association President Robert Byington, who gave a preview of the day’s theme: “Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society.”

“Each year, I am privileged to stand before you to greet you on Law Day. It is a day that I look forward to each year,” he said.


“The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right to free speech, along with other rights that recognizes the dignity of individuals to think, believe, worship and communicate how they wish without fear of punishment or oppression. It is difficult to imagine a free society without these individual liberties,” Byington said.


As George Washington once wrote, “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter,” he said.


The First Amendment also recognizes the freedom of the press, which is similar to freedom of speech, protects the rights of people to say what they believe. Freedom of the press, however, has a purpose beyond mere freedom of expression. It is an essential check on government power because it defends the ability of people to understand how their government and other powerful interests are acting, he continued.


He said one of those concepts predates the First Amendment by 50 years.  New York printer Peter Zenger was charged with seditious libel for publishing criticism of the royal government that “would incite public dissatisfaction.”  Zenger was acquitted when his lawyers convinced a jury that the articles were in fact, true, and that New York libel laws should not be the same as English law.


Byington has spoken at Law Day for at least the last 15 years.


Photo: Attorney Robert Byington, president of the Barry County Bar Association

FUNgus Day is Sunday, May 5 at Jijak Camp

Barry Conservation District  invites the public to celebrate spring by joining Conservation  District Forester Ben Savoie as he puts the “FUN” in “FUNGUS” at the Family FUNgus Day, May 5 from 1p.m. to 3 p.m. at Camp Jijak at 2558 20th Street, Hopkins


Families will learn all about mushrooms and forests, and then work together to “plant” their very own mushroom log to take home and grow. All this plus lunch for only $5 per family.


Spots are sure to fill up soon so reserve your spot today by calling the Conservation District at 269.908.4134.  The event is sponsored by the Gun Lake Tribe and the Forestry Assistance Program.


Barry County Prosecutor charges Potterville police chief with three felonies

A news release from the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office today reports actions the prosecutor has taken against the Potterville police chief to do with an earlier case against his wife.


The release reads:

“On April 30, 2019, the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office charged Potterville Police Chief Shane Bartlett, of Charlotte with the following:


"Count I:  Common Law Offense/Misconduct in Office:  a felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or $10,000 fine.

Count II:  Lying to a Peace Officer-Violent Crime Investigation:  a felony with a maximum penalty of four years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.

Count III:  False Report of a Felony:  a felony with a maximum penalty of four years in prison and/or $2,000 fine. (We allege that Shane Bartlett aided and abetted his wife in making the false allegation)


"The alleged offenses occurred in Eaton County.  The Barry County Prosecutor’s Office was appointed by the Attorney General to handle the case when Eaton County Prosecutor Doug Lloyd recused his office, due to a conflict.


"The charges stem from a lengthy investigation by the Michigan State Police (MSP) that began with a complaint by Kellie Bartlett against an Eaton County Deputy for sexual assault. 

As part of the investigation, Shane Bartlett, Kellie Bartlett’s husband, was interviewed by a detective. 


"The case was turned over to the Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor Pratt and in September, 2018 Kellie Bartlett was charged with Filing a False Report of a Felony and several other counts.  Her case is pending in circuit court.


"Suspicions about Shane Bartlett’s statement arose early in the case but it has taken several months to analyze his phone and work computer records.  Kellie and Shane Bartlett are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Shane Bartlett was arraigned today, Wednesday, in Charlotte District Court in Eaton County with his bond set at $10,000 personal recognizance."


**A visit to the Freeport Museum is like being in a time machine

**Walking into the Freeport Museum is like a visit your long ago ancestors. The yellowed photographs could be your grandmother or great-grandmother, wearing the dresses and the hairstyles that were the fashion of the day.                                             


Babies were overdressed in their Sunday best for photographs and dads and brothers were proud to stand with their co-workers in front of where they worked for a living. Students posed in front of their school houses with their teachers. It seems no one smiles in the photos and even those holding babies, who you assume are theirs, look older and worn out.


Both levels of the two-story museum behind the Freeport  Post Office hold parts of someone’s life in an earlier time, some serious, some not serious, just like today.

What your early relatives used in their daily lives are just memories now, except at the museum where they are treasured and preserved. The names of some of their tools are trivia questions,  known only by a few elders.


The people who work to keep the memories and history of Freeport from fading away, the Freeport Historical Society, was founded in 1998. The museum came to its present location in 1999, when the Masonic Lodge moved to Middleville and  the two-story building built in 1926 was put up for sale with the price tag of $4,000.


They didn’t have the money, but Allie Smith who was involved with the museum until her death in 2013 and an honorary lifetime member of the museum, wrote a check for $4,000 and the Freeport Museum had its home.


A two-week community garage sale of donated items was held in the new headquarters soon after, adding to their treasury. The first sale was a pair of old skates, founding member Colleen Smelker remembers.


“Donations to the museum were exceptional.  With a death in the family, no one knew what to do with things…they don’t want to throw them away, so they give them to us, which adds to our history of Freeport,” she said.


Smelker credits Delores Dipp with being the one who got the museum off the ground; she organized a “dump dig,” finding bottles and other relics. “She put something in the paper every week asking people to join and pretty soon they did.”


In 2008, volunteers started compiling obituaries from 1945  and are current to now.

Sherry Graham, “the best thing to happen to the museum,” joined the museum in 2010, Smelker said.


Graham is super organized and has shown a talent to catalogue and inventory items and is now computerizing records. The on-going, up-to-date inventory tells who donated the item, its category and location in the museum. “We have catalogued all area cemeteries, and have business records of early Freeport businesses,” she said.


The members took on significant projects, including unique fund raisers that were popular. The fund raisers all have one thing in common; they are not things associated with a stuffy group guarding the archives. Smelker came up with the idea of competitive hay bale rolling for a Freeport Homecoming activity; they have held barn sales, soup suppers, box socials and cake walks, 5K runs, an antique appraisal fair and at some significant occasions, post cards with special cancellation stamps from the U.S. Post Office.


The most popular effort so far is a 2018 compilation of 100 Women of Freeport, with biographies, photos and the woman’s favorite recipe. The first edition sold 350 copies, the 2019 issue of Freeport Women History & Cookbook is just back from the printers and for sale at the museum.


The idea to highlight Freeport’s women of the past came from Smelker who was aghast to find in Freeport’s history of its women, they were identified only by who their husbands were in their obituaries.  “They didn’t even give the ladies first names.”


The second volume on the ladies was timed to coincide with the 19th amendment to the Constitution passed by Congress June 4, 1919, that gave women the right to vote.

“Many women protested, picketed, and were threatened, beaten and imprisoned and some even tortured to secure their constitutional right to vote.


“Today only 19.6 percent of elected officials in Congress are women and during the 2016 presidential election, one in every three women eligible to vote did not cast a ballot,” she said.

The plan is for a Ladies Tea at the Community Center Aug. 26  in Freeport to mark the momentous event after the amendment was ratified by all the states and signed 100 years ago.


All ladies, groups or individuals, are welcome for an hour or two of fun, cookies and cake at a casual, fun event with lots of chit-chat, fellowship, door prizes and perhaps stories about their grandmothers voting for the first time.  A surprise speaker from history may be there as well at the free event, Smelker said.


Next, they plan to similar issue on 100 men from Freeport’s history, minus the recipes, she said with a smile.


Officers of the FHS are President Jon Smelker, Vice President Sherry Graham, Secretary Colleen Smelker, Treasurer Sue Thaler and Deputy Treasurer Chris Geiger. Gary Thaler, Bill Dipp and Jan Doyle make up the Board of Directors.



Photos: (left, top down)

The Freeport Museum logo.


Colleen Smelker displays the 2019 Freeport Women History and Cookbook, now for sale.


Margaret “Barney” Barnum was featured in this year’s issue of Freeport Women History & Cookbook.


(from left, around the table) Karen Pennington, Jan Doyle, Karren Webb, Chris Geiger, Colleen Smelker and Tim Miner at work at the museum’s regular Wednesday work bee.


Jan Doyle (left) and Karren Webb inspect historical records at the museum.


On the second floor, the projector and seats from the Bonton Theater in early Freeport are placed in front of dresses of the day and the names of Freeport and Hastings businesses.


Households with a carpet needed a way to clean it, so the carpet beater, center.


Sherry Graham displays a 1976 election ballot recently donated to the museum.


(right, from top down) Dr. Peckham’s Croup Remedy, sold by Q.A Hynes, the druggist, “never fails to give satisfaction.” The little girl may, or may not have, been treated with the remedy.


Doctors of the day made house calls and dispensed a limited number of medicines.


Before television and computers, newspapers and the family radio were sources of entertainment and news in the home. Programs like Jack Armstrong, the All American Boy and Sky King were staples for children.


If the family could afford a set of fine china, this is what the table may have looked like for special occasion. The table cover would have been crocheted by a female member of the family.


Freeport School graduates from the 1920’s to 1961 are right inside the entrance of the museum.


Anyone who had to clean a DeLaval Cream Separator never forgets it.












































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