Local News Archives for 2019-06

Child Passenger Safety – Car Seat Check

Troopers and deputies from the Michigan State Police and Allegan County Sheriff’s Department will be conducting a car seat check on July 9, 2019 from 10:00 AM until 1:00 PM at the Gun Lake Tribal Public Safety garage. Representatives from Gun Lake Tribe and Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital will be assisting with the event. This event is free and open to the public for anyone who wishes to have a child’s car seat or booster seat checked or installed.


Car crashes are the leading cause of injury and death for children aged 3-14 years old according to the CDC. Correct car seat use can reduce injury to children 71%-82% compared to seat belt use alone.


The Gun Lake Tribal Public Safety garage is located at 2872 Mission Dr. Shelbyville, MI. Although an appointment is recommended walk-ins are welcome.


For further information, or to set up an appointment to have your child’s car seats checked contact the Wayland Post, 269-792-2213.

UPDATE: Authorities searching for missing Barry County girl

UPDATE: Beyonca Molson has been located by an Eaton County Sheriff's Deputy and returned safely to her home.



Authorities are searching for a missing girl in Barry County.


Beyonca Molson, 15, was last seen June 20 at her home in Nashville. She is described as being 5-foot-7 and weighing 130 pounds with purple hair and brown eyes.


In a facebook release, authorities said she is known to have friends in Battle Creek.


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

Interested in wildlife? Check out these fall employment opportunities

Fall is a busy season for the DNR Wildlife Division.


The department hires more than 100 seasonal employees to work at various locations throughout the state, including DNR field offices and customer service centers, state game areas and the DNR wildlife disease lab.


These positions involve duties like CWD surveillance, banding geese and ducks, entering database information, posting hunt areas, assisting the public with questions and more. The jobs are perfect for college students, those looking to re-enter the workforce and seniors or retirees interested in getting more involved in the outdoors.


Get more details (including contact information) on these seasonal wildlife job opportunities by visiting and scrolling to the Seasonal and Temporary Positions section. 


All fall positions will be posted during July and August at, where you can search for job titles or filter by the department name.

Public Health Advisory Lifted for Grand River

On June 24th the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy sampled the Grand River in Saranac and Portland for E. coli. After several weeks of high E. coli levels, the most recent sampling results are below the limit recommended for full body contact. 


The Ionia County Health Department is therefore lifting the Public Advisory for the Grand River in Ionia County effective June 26th, 2019. Residents and visitors may engage in activity on the river without a significant threat from E. coli. 


The next round of sampling is set for July 1st, 2019.

Lake Odessa fair 2019: Small fair, big fun

The first fair of the season is underway in Lake Odessa June 26th thru June 30th, the start of an annual summer tradition that celebrates country living in the whole state.


Organizers are promising, “endless possibilities of fun activities you can share with your family with livestock shows, amusement rides by Family Fun Tyme Amusements,  live action sports and grand stand events every night.”


Be sure to watch the parade, sit in for some Bingo, attend a grandstand show or two , stroll along the midway, examine the 4-H/youth exhibits, get some fair food and relax at the Beer Barn.


It’s all at 1640 4th Avenue (Fairground Road), Lake Odessa. For details on many more events and activities, visit the fair’s webpage:






Kid’s Mud run photo: Kaden Smith PC: breaking bread photography


June 27th is National HIV Testing Day


On June 27th every year, the U.S. celebrates National HIV Testing Day to raise awareness of the importance of getting tested for HIV. The Barry-Eaton District Health Department will be recognizing the importance of this day by encouraging everyone to know their HIV status and offering FREE and confidential walk-in HIV screenings. Walk-in screenings will be available at both health department locations in Charlotte and Hastings on June 27th from 1:00pm until 4:00pm. Individuals who get tested will receive a free gas card while supplies last.  


Around 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and one in seven people don't know they have it. In Michigan, 184 out of 100,000 people are living with HIV but only 54.5% of people have ever been tested. Getting tested, and knowing your HIV status is crucial as it leads to earlier treatment and protects others from the spread of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 90% of new cases could be prevented by testing and diagnosis.


The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13-64 get tested for HIV at least once. Women who are pregnant should be tested to protect their health and to prevent the spread of HIV to their baby. Those with certain risk factors should be tested at least once a year. These risk factors include:

  • People with more than one sexual partner
  • People that have contracted a sexually transmitted disease (STD)
  • People who inject drugs
  • Sexually active gay and bisexual men


The Barry-Eaton District Health Department offers free and confidential HIV screening year-round with an appointment during clinic hours. To make an appointment in Barry County call (269) 798-4133, or in Eaton County call (517) 541-2651. People may also receive HIV testing through their regular health care provider. To learn more about HIV and the importance of testing, visit

Hastings compost site open for limited hours

The City of Hastings will have the compost site open and staffed on Wednesdays from 3:30pm-6:00pm and Saturdays from 8:00am-11:00am.  Please bring your appropriate yard waste during these times.

Green street closure for road work

Hastings Department of Public Services will shut down Green Street between Washington and Market for service work starting Wednesday (June 26) at 5:30am and will reopen Thursday morning.

Thornapple River Flooding and Conditions

Minor flooding is occurring on the Thornapple River due to the recent rainfalls. The river crested Monday at 7.01 Feet and is slowly beginning to go down. Barry County Sheriff's Office is advising everyone that river conditions are dangerous due to the high water levels and fast current and are asking for everyone to stay off the river until conditions improve.

Suspect arraigned, charged in Barry County double homicide

63 year old Jon Otis Burnett, the suspected shooter in a double homicide in Orangeville Township on June 21, was arraigned Monday afternoon on two counts of Open Murder, Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, Assault by Strangulation and four counts of Felony Firearm. 


Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf said Burnett lived in the area of the murders, as did the first victim, identified as Gary L. Peake, 73, from Plainwell. The second victim, Bryce N. DeGood, 21, was from Haslett.  Authorities said Burnett also attacked his wife and allegedly tried to strangle her.


There is no clear motive for the slayings, Leaf said.  Bond was set at ten million dollars, cash or surety. A Probable Cause Conference was set for July 3, 2019 at 8:15 a.m.


The shooting happened about 2 p.m.  Friday near Lindsey and Lewis roads northwest of Delton in Orangeville Township. One victim was deceased in a nearby residence; the other was outside in the roadway. Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene quickly and arrested Burnett. 


Investigators are Deputy Kevin Erb, Deputy Brian Hansford, Det. Sgt. Janette Maki and Det. Jeremiah Kimbel.


Deputies were assisted by Michigan State Police, Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Prairieville and Barry township police departments, Orangeville Fire Department, Wayland Ambulance Service and Barry County Central Dispatch.


Hastings compost site closed again due to vandalism

The City of Hastings compost site is closed again due to vandalism.  Jerry Czarnecki, Director of Public Services, said the entrance gate was damaged by a vehicle pushing on it. This is the second time the gate has been vandalized since the system was put in place earlier this year. Czarnecki said they are trying to identify who caused the damage and how to proceed.


The city-owned compost site is supposed to be a service provided for Hastings residents only, but non-residents were using the site to drop off unauthorized debris and dumping other materials that are not allowed, resulting in significant expense to the city. 


A keypad-operated gate was constructed and residents were required to call Hastings City Hall each week to obtain the current code to open the gate.  The site just returned to regular operation in mid June following the first instance of vandalism.

UPDATE: Tequila's Mexican Grill closed again

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) closed Tequila’s Mexican Grill again at 11:45 a.m. on Friday, June 21 after receiving additional information from the investigation and epidemiology that suggests the illness is not norovirus.


Based on the information, BEDHD staff reviewed additional food handling procedures at the restaurant and determined it was in the best interest of public health to again close it. The health department staff will continue working with Tequila’s Mexican Grill to assure food handling standards are being met. Once all requirements are implemented, the health department will consider re-opening the restaurant. 


BEDHD is continuing to investigate the outbreak by analyzing the data collected so far. Individuals who reported their illnesses greatly assisted the investigation. The source of the illness is still unknown and the investigation is ongoing.


Those with questions or concerns about the outbreak, can contact BEDHD’s Environmental Health Division at (517) 541-2615 during business hours; Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1p.m. to 5 p.m. Those feeling sick may also contact their health care provider.


BEDHD will provide updates on the investigation as information becomes available at


Long-time Barry Central Dispatch employee honored for dedication, service

A resolution recognizing and honoring the late Suzanne Rose, an employee at Barry Central Dispatch 911, for her commitment, dedication and service to Central Dispatch and the safety of Barry County was unanimously adopted by the Barry County Commission Tuesday.


Central Dispatch Director Stephanie Lehman said Sue Rose was a crucial part of Central Dispatch as the first person hired by the director at the new facility. A Dispatch employee for more than 25 years, she recently passed away after a difficult health battle.

“We would like honor her service to Barry County with this resolution,” she said.


As administrative assistant from Nov. 9, 1992 until her retirement April 30, 2018, Sue earned certifications in many areas, including EMD, LEIN, CPT and Dispatcher Telecommunicator Manager Training, which allowed her to assist telecommunicators when needed. She also served on the Central Dispatch Administrative Board and Technical Advisory Committee, the resolution read.


Sue created and implemented many procedures that are still used for the administrative office, including a filing structure for vendor records, built database documents to track accounts payable and established a system to retain employee files.


Her keen attention to detail and superior accounting skills helped her track and balance the yearly budget, keep payments timely, process expansive State of Michigan expense and training reports and ensure that payroll for her team was accurate, the resolution continued.


A beloved member of the public service community, in her long career Sue crossed paths with hundreds of professionals in police, fire, EMS fields and 911 associations. Suzanne was described by them kind, compassionate, devoted, dignified and professional.


In other business, commissioners recommended the clock in the Barry County Courthouse clock tower be repaired and modernized at a cost of $21,000 to be paid from the Building Rehabilitation Fund.


Building and Grounds Director Tim Neeb recommended the repair. The clock has four independent motors and faces, one is four minutes ahead of the other, and all are at the end of their 20-year lives. Replacing the four would cost $7,000 each, he said.


Neeb recommended the four motors be removed and replaced with one central motor for all faces, making more accurate time and resetting easier than it is with four.

Because of the clock face angles, it is hard to reset the clock, something they have to do by hand because the clocks don’t recognize time changes.


The new controller is computerized making changes easier. New hands are also needed, there will be three or four models to choose from, he said.

Ionia County Sheriff's Office: New twist to an old scam impersonates police officers

For the last several weeks, Ionia County residents have been subject to a telephone call scam in which the caller claims to be a police officer or deputy sheriff and instructs the recipient of the phone call to purchase pre-paid gift cards to pay off a bond on a warrant or that they will be arrested, a media release from the sheriff’s office said.


No law enforcement agency will ever take bond money by phone by credit/debit card or via any sort of pre-paid gift card, iTunes gift card, Green-Dot, or Moneygram, according to the sheriff’s office.


The scammers have also started using real names of Ionia County Sheriff’s Office members, specifically using the name of Det/Sergeant Phillip Hesche.  Subjects are then directed to call a telephone number that is “spoofed” making it appear local, when in actuality the calls are originating overseas.  Subjects of the scam are told the call reception is poor because police use satellite phones. 


However, as a new variation to this old scam, the current calls are directed at residents on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry (SOR) who are being specifically targeted and made to believe they have violated the terms of their SOR and subject to arrest.


The scammers will take information off of the MI-SOR to target specific people in the community.  They are sophisticated enough to use  realistic sounding court docket numbers, and often tell the subjects they need to provide a DNA sample for their non-compliance.

 All of this leads the scammer to trick the resident into providing money by the means noted above.


If you receive such a call, and suspect that call to be a scam, hang up and call your local police agency to verify that no call was placed by them. 


UPDATE: Barry Eaton Health Department reopens Tequila's Mexican Grill in Charlotte


The Barry Eaton District Health Department is continuing to investigate reports of digestive illness in individuals who ate at Tequila’s Mexican Grill in Charlotte between Saturday, June 15 and Tuesday, June 18. The restaurant is cooperating with the investigation; all ready-to-eat food that had been prepared between Sunday, June 16 and Tuesday, June 18 was discarded. Environmental cleaning was completed June 19 and the health department interviewed all staff, according to an update from the health department.


On Wednesday, June 19 the restaurant completed environmental cleaning and the health department completed interviews with all staff. “After these public health interventions BEDHD allowed Tequila’s Mexican Grill to re-open with health department oversight at approximately 12:30 p.m. on June 19,” the update said.


Thirty nine individuals have reported feeling ill after eating at the restaurant. BEDHD is interviewing individuals that reported feeling well, and those who reported feeling ill, after eating at the Grill. The source of the illness is still unknown and the investigation is ongoing, according to the update from the department.


Those who ate at the Grill at 430 N Cochran Ave, Charlotte on Saturday, June 15 through Tuesday, June 18 and are feeling ill, especially with nausea, abdominal cramping, vomiting, or diarrhea, are asked to contact BEDHD’s Environmental Health Division at (517) 541-2615. Those feeling sick may also contact their health care provider.


BEDHD will provide updates on the investigation. To access this information visit the Barry-Eaton District Health Department’s website at


ORIGINAL STORY: On the evening of June 18, the Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) temporarily closed Tequila’s Mexican Grill in Charlotte. The closing was ordered after gastrointestinal (digestive) illness was reported by 10 individuals who ate at the restaurant for lunch on Sunday, June 16. BEDHD is conducting an investigation of the restaurant and the illnesses, according to a news release from the health department.


The BEDHD received the first complaint the morning of June 18 and a second later in the day after an investigation had begun. The restaurant will not open before employees are interviewed by health department staff as part of the investigation. Next steps for Tequila’s Mexican Grill will be decided based on the results of these interviews. The restaurant is cooperative and participating in the investigation.


All known individuals who were ill report feeling better.


Those who ate at Tequila’s Mexican Grill at 430 North Cochran Avenue from Sunday, June 16 through Tuesday, June 18 and are feeling ill, especially with nausea, abdominal cramping, vomiting, or diarrhea, are asked to contact BEDHD’s Environmental Health Division at 517-541-2615. They should also contact their health care provider.



Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf: Know the new fireworks days and hours

Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf is reminding Barry County residents that Michigan’s fireworks law was recently changed, and the changes affect when local communities can allow the use of legal fireworks.

Prior to the change in the law, there were 30 days a year that local governments could allow people to set off fireworks displays on or around federal holidays. Now, there are 12 days, Leaf said.


They are:
*Dec. 31 until 1 a.m. on Jan. 1.
*Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend until 11:45 p.m...
*June 29 to July 4, and July 5 if the date falls on a Friday or Saturday, until 11:45 p.m.
*Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend until 11:45 p.m.


Leaf encourages Barry County residents to use fireworks in a safe and cautious manner at all times.


Heavy Rain


Flood advisories remain in effect for a number of counties including Barry County through 11 o'clock this Thursday morning.

The Hastings National Weather Service Climatological Station has recorded three inches of rain with most of it since midnight.

This now brings our June total to date at 5.89 inches with more rain forecast for the next few days.

The heavy  rains will impact streams, creeks, rivers and lakes. Even some homes will find water in their basements.

Citizens comments on serving on Barry County boards are direct, frank

The Barry County Board of Commissioners Tuesday approved a new process to encourage citizens to serve on various county boards and committees.

A three-person committee of commissioners would interview all applicants three times a year in an informal setting, explain what boards do, help find the right fit for the person,  answer questions and generally put applicants at ease.


The candidate they thought was right for a board would be moved forward to the full board for a normal interview. The applications of the ones who were not forwarded would be held for consideration of future openings as they occurred (see related story for details). More advertising and a Facebook page are included in the plan.


In public comment time at the end of the meeting, four citizens gave the commissioners their opinions.


Cathy Gramze said she recently went through the former interview process and finds Geiger’s process much friendlier, but it doesn’t go far enough.

“People don’t read the Banner; people don’t read the Reminder. In fact, a great number of people don’t get the Reminder because of delivery issues. People read Facebook.


“They don’t listen to the radio, they don’t get local news on TV, they go to Facebook. The county needs a dedicated Facebook page." On Facebook, they could get information immediately to thousands, she said.  


“Ben is on the right track, but I think he needs to go even a little bit further if he wants to engage with the people under the age of 40 in Barry County. She later asmended that to 60.

“Yeah. Newspapers and radio are not advertising revenue sources anymore like they used to be or we wouldn’t have so many huge newspapers going under. We’re lucky we still have the Reminder.”


Sharon Zebowski said the new process was a step in the right direction…” I hope there are several steps to follow. Don’t stop there, keep going.”

When she’s asked people to consider serving on county boards, she said the response is: “Why on God’s green earth should I want to waste my time on a board where nobody knows what they are supposed to do, and if they should do something, the commissioners will put a stop to it.


“You show no respect and often are flat out insulting, and if I tell them I‘m on a board they laugh and think I’m crazier than a loon. Until you take a good hard look at the purpose of the board, what you want the boards to accomplish, how they help you govern and you show them the respect they deserve, you are still going to have problems getting people to serve, she said.


“People want to know what is expected of them, how they are helping, that they are appreciated and treated with respect. There are many other places to serve-you are competing with all of them.”


Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf: “The idea of getting more people to serve; I’d like to see when you look up on the Barry County website, to see ‘What does a drain commissioner do?’ Click on it and it will tell you what the drain commissioner does...just stuff like that…What is this board ? What do they do? What is their function?


“They should be able to read up on or even see a little video of what they do…the reality is you have to start reaching out to the younger group, the younger generation. You guys are no different;  we’re having a hard time recruiting for full time employment for law enforcement and corrections.


Ben Eastman agreed with Commissioner Vivian Conner who objected to a three commissioner panel interviewing applicants and deciding whether to forward them to the board of commissioners for a formal interview. “As far as selection, I don’t think you should have a subcommittee selecting these people and choosing who moves on and who doesn’t… I would like to see these decisions made in a public forum.


“I don’t think anyone is going to admit in this public forum that they have a personal agenda in that process, but I think the opportunity is there for that.”

Barry County Courthouse parking lot improvements pushed back to spring

Barry County Commissioners approved the concept of resurfacing and improving the Barry County Courthouse parking lot and other changes, but the work will wait until next spring.

Tim Neeb, director of Building and Grounds proposed the work on May 21, but commissioners asked for estimates on a canopy over the steps into the courthouse and other changes.


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.

Gathering the information took some time and pushed the project back toward the end of the construction season.


Brown suggested the board accept the concept and wait until spring when they would to get better prices.

“It’s late in the year,” Neeb said. “If you approve it now, we can get bids out in early spring.”


Replacement of the more than 20-year-old lot is in the 2019 capital improvement budget, Neeb said when he brought the proposal to the commission. The work would extend the lot eight feet to the east, increase parking spaces from 28 to 31, put a new sidewalk along the north edge of the lot for foot traffic and replace the shrubs in front the mechanical equipment with a decorative fence.


The new design also calls for removing the middle of three entrances, leaving an in-and-out drive and the sidewalk on the south of the lot replaced. There are two alternatives for a canopy; one covering the entrance to the building and another with the canopy over the south entrance, the steps and the entrance.


Questions raised about the width of handicap spaces can be resolved later in the process, Commissioner Heather Wing said, pointing out that it is just paint.


In other business, the commission recommended:

*approval an amendment to its board rules to allow any board member on active military duty to attend meetings by videoconference or telephone. They would take part in discussion and have a vote, but would not be considered part of a quorum. Brown said it hadn’t happened in his years in Barry County, but there is now a mechanism to do it, if it comes up. The action is needed by a change to the Open Meetings Act law.

*continuing its subscription to Granicus software, the program that tracks and manages county boards and committees for at least another year for $7,560. Brown said they could replace if needed by the reformed application process, and it is a very reliable platform, but Geiger said it is a useful part of his plan and asked to keep it for one more year.

Barry County will likely change system to attract citizens to serve on committees and boards

The Barry County Commission’s committee of the whole is recommending a change in the way they recruit citizens to serve on its boards and committees developed by Commissioner Ben Geiger.

The new format is designed to be less intimidating and more effective in attracting candidates for positions. “It is friendlier, easier to get people in the door, let them know what the county is about and find a place for them,” Geiger said.


All applicants would be interviewed in one of three sessions a year by a subcommittee of three commissioners, newspaper ads would still be used, but also an emphasis on targeted ads in Facebook, Geiger said.


Applicants would meet with two or three commissioners for a 15 minute information/interview on a Friday, Saturday or Monday morning, afternoon or evening. They would tell the committee what their interests were and what board they were applying for.


The commissioners could walk them through the application process, tell them what a board does, help them fill out an application and determine where they would likely be a good fit, Geiger said.

Applications would be kept for future openings for another position if not selected initially; now it is discarded if the applicant is not selected for a specific position. Since it would good for many vacancies instead of specific seats, it lends more flexibility, he said.

The short interview sessions would be held three times a year, the first in March to get away from interviewing so many in January. The program has an expiration date of March.


All of the applicants recommended by the subcommittee would be forwarded to the committee of the whole or the board of commissioners for a second interview and selection.

That was the main concern of Commissioner Vivian Conner, who was adamant that all prospects be interviewed by the full board, not a subcommittee of three.


“I don’t want to change the process, I don’t want three people making recommendations; that’s up to all of us...I won’t vote for that; we need the full board.”


Commissioner David Jackson said it was step in the right direction. “It’s got an expiration date. What we’re doing now is not working. If they want to meet with us before interviewing, we can forward everyone who has an interest…I don’t see this board voting people off the island… Maybe this will open some new doors, with marketing, get more good people. “


If the county does go to Facebook, Commissioner Heather Wing said they must have with a strict policy and control. “It’s an important thing; we have to be very careful.”



Ionia County Health Department: STI's have potential to cause serious health problems if not diagnosed and treated early

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that there are more than 19 million new Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in the United States each year, the Ionia County Health Department said.


The infections have the potential to cause serious health problems, especially if not diagnosed and treated early. Young people ages 15-24 account for half of all new STIs even though they represent just 25 percent of the sexually active population, according to a health department news release.


CDC analysis reveals that the annual number of new infections is roughly equal among young women and young men. 49 percent occurs among young men vs. 51 percent among young women.


Four of the STIs included in the CDC analysis are easily treated and cured if diagnosed early: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. However, too many of these infections go undetected because they often have no symptoms, the release said.


Undiagnosed and untreated chlamydia or gonorrhea can put a woman at increased risk of chronic pelvic pain and life-threatening ectopic pregnancy, and also decrease a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant later in life, the release said.


The CDC estimates that Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) accounts for the majority of newly acquired STIs. While the vast majority, 90 percent, of HPV infections will go away on their own within two years, some will lead to serious diseases such as genital warts and cervical cancer.


Most sexually active men and women will get HPV at some point in their lives. This means that everyone is at risk for the potential consequences of HPV and many would benefit from the protection that the HPV vaccine provides, it said.


HPV vaccines are routinely recommended for 11 or 12 year-old boys and girls and protect against some of the most common types of HPV. The CDC recommends that all teen girls and women through age 26 get vaccinated, as well as all teen boys and men through age 26.

HPV vaccines are most effective if they are provided before an individual ever has sex.


Abstaining from sex, reducing the number of sexual partners, and consistently and correctly using condoms are all effective STI prevention strategies. Safe, effective vaccines and free condoms are available at the Ionia County Health Department.


 If you suspect that you have an STI, confidential testing and treatment is also available at the health department. Appointments are accepted Monday through Friday by calling 616-527-5341, extension 295. More information regarding ICHD is available at

Ionia Count Sheriff's Office issues scam alert

The Iona County Sheriff’s Office website is warning area residents of scams inundating the Ionia area, with scam calls regarding several issues involving registration and licensing.


If anyone saying they are a government agency requires payment in iTunes, Moneygram, Western Union or prepaid credit cards, they are not a real government representative, the post says.

The government generally corresponds in these matters via the mail and other forms of contact (i.e. in person).


The sheriff’s office advises reporting any suspicious calls to local law enforcement and not to obtain any suspicious forms of payment until after  talking to local law enforcement.

BEDHD recognizes June as Men's Health Month

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department in recognizing June as Men’s Health Month with the goal to educate the public about the many preventable health problems that affect men and boys and empower them and their loved ones to move toward a healthier, happier life.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention men die five years younger than women, on average, and die at higher rates for nine of the top ten causes of death. Men are the majority of workplace injuries, less likely to be insured and far less likely to see a doctor for preventive care, which impacts their ability to be an involved father, supportive husband and engaged member of their community.


To stay healthy and live a long life men should:

·         People who eat a healthy diet and engage in physical activity live longer and are at lower risk for serious health problems such as heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. For tips on eating healthy visit

·         Smoking causes heart disease, cancer, and stroke—the first, second, and fifth leading causes of death among men in the United States. For more information on the benefits of quitting smoking, and how to quit visit .

·         Certain diseases and conditions may not have symptoms, so checkups help identify issues early or before they can become a problem. For recommended checkups and screenings visit .

·         If you think you or someone you know is having a heart attack call 911 immediately. Major signs of a heart attack include pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back; feeling weak, light-headed, or faint; chest pain or discomfort; pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder and; shortness of breath. More information about heart disease and heart attacks can be found at .

·         Depression is one of the leading causes of disease or injury worldwide for men. Signs of depression include persistent sadness, grumpiness, and feelings of hopelessness, tiredness and decreased energy, and thoughts of suicide.


This month is a reminder for men to take steps to be healthier, but they don’t have to do it alone. One can help support the health and safety of men in their life whether it’s your husband, partner, dad, brother, son or friend Anyone can be supportive and help men make that first step toward living a longer, healthier life.



Kalamazoo County Sheriff fires staff member for criminal activity

The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office reports it discovered that a staff member had been involved in possible criminal activity on May 23. The Michigan State Police were contacted and asked to investigate while the sheriff’s office conducted an administrative investigation, according to a news release..

The sheriff’s office administrative investigation was completed on May 30 and on May 31 Sheriff Richard C. Fuller III fired the employee responsible for the criminal activity.  


The state police investigation continues.

It is very important to the sheriff to prove to our citizens that we are an organization that values transparency but until all investigations and possible criminal proceedings are complete there will be no further statements, the release said.

SEC0ND UPDATE Suspect identified, arraigned in Allegan County car-jacking spree


William Thomas Travis, 22, the suspect in the  carjacking spree was arraigned today in 57th District Court on felony charges of home invasion, attempted murder, felonious assault and carjacking. He is being held at the Allegan County Jail on about $650,000 in bonds.



UPDATE:Today several felony charges have been issued for the suspect in this case and more charges will be forthcoming.  His name will not be released until he is arraigned which is scheduled for Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in the 57th District Court,according to the Allegan County Sheriff's Office.




                                                           (Photo) William Thomas Travis



ORIGINAL STORY:The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office has released preliminary information on a situation involving a suspect in a car stealing spree in Martin, Hopkins and Wayland and threatening homeowners with an assault rifle in Manlius Township.


A news release from the sheriff’s office said the suspect first stole a vehicle in Martin Saturday (June 15) about 7 p.m., later abandoned it and then stole another from the Wayland area, crashing it in the Hopkins area. Deputies tried to track the suspect with a K-9 but were unsuccessful, the news release said.


This morning, Sunday, around 7 a.m. the suspect car-jacked another vehicle while armed with an assault rifle. He was reported in the 128th Avenue and 56th Street area in Manlius Township shooting at houses. He entered a residence and held occupants at gunpoint while he tried to steal another vehicle.


Deputies confronted the man as he was leaving the residence in the family’s car. He refused to obey commands and was heading back into the house when deputies engaged him in gunfire. The suspect was injured and transported to the hospital. No deputies were injured according to the release.


“At this time the information is preliminary as the investigation is underway,” officials said.














UPDATE: Deceased in Johnstown Township crash identified

UPDATE:The Barry County Sheriff''s Office has identified the man who died in a Wednesday crash as Philip Hanshaw, 58, from Union City. Rebecca Roush, in the other vehicle in the crash, is listed as 74 years old.


ORIGINAL STORY: The Barry County Sheriff’s Office is reporting that deputies responded to a two-car fatal accident on Banfield Road north of Baseline Road in Johnstown Township at 3:25 p.m. today.


Preliminary investigation showed the southbound vehicle, a 2006 Saturn Ion, crossed the center line and struck a northbound 2002 Chevrolet Trailblazer.  The driver of the southbound vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene. The name of the deceased will not be released until family has been notified.


The driver of the northbound vehicle, identified as Rebecca Rouse of Delton, was transported by LifeCare Ambulance to Bronson Hospital, in Kalamazoo for treatment of non-life threatening injuries, officials said.

Both drivers were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash. The crash remains under investigation.


Johnstown and Bedford township fire departments, LifeCare Ambulance, Barry County Central Dispatch and Barry County MEI Tom Wodarek assisted at the scene.


Deputy Robert Fueri, Accident Reconstructionist Deputy Scott Ware and Deputy Rose O’Grady are the investigators. Released by Sgt. Jason Sixberry/Undersheriff Matt Houchlei


DNR invites you to Allegan State Game Area Open House


The Department of Natural Resources invites the public to visit Allegan State Game Area during an open house Wednesday, June 26, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the game area headquarters, located at 4590 118th Ave. in Allegan.


Area managers will discuss game area management activities, including Echo Point Shooting Range updates and upcoming timber sales.


The Echo Point Shooting Range, at 3682 Monroe Road in Allegan, offers an outdoor rifle and handgun range that will have stations at 10, 25 and 100 yards.

The range is closed through Aug. 31 while undergoing renovations and improvements. Improvements will include a new parking lot, pathways accessible to those with disabilities, new structures and benches for shooters, new berms and ricochet baffles to improve safety, and sound abatement measures to decrease the sound impact to surrounding properties.


Additional information is available on the DNR shooting range updates page.

Handouts and maps with more information about the game area will be available at the open house. You also can find information on state game and wildlife areas and other hunting locations throughout the state at

Information about DNR shooting ranges is available at


Park and recreation grants go to enhance recreation in Barry County

Recreation grants awarded by Barry County Parks & Recreation Board totaling $10,000 were approved by county commissioners following a recommendation by the committee of the whole last week.


Barry Township will receive $5,000, the Village of Freeport will receive $3,000 and Central Elementary school in Hastings, $2,000.


At Central Elementary, the funds will be used to paint activities on the existing pavement at the school to include four-square courts, hopscotch, basketball court keys, fitness paths, yoga poses, a peace path and the U.S. map. Also, they will have picnic tables and storage for playground accessories.


The schools sees it as “an affordable,  achievable, low maintenance option for enhancing the experience and appearance of the outdoor space used by school children during the school year and as a local park by the community during the year.”


The Village of Freeport will use its grant to remodel both the men’s and women’s bathrooms at CJ Moore Park to be handicapped accessible. The total project cost is $4 360, the difference will come from rentals of the Community Center.


Unless the community center is open or the village office opens for a meeting, there are no handicapped accessible bathrooms available to the public near the park. Village officials expect more generations will use the park, not just children with disabilities.


Barry Township will put its grant toward a playground set that provides free entertainment and recreation for area families in an ongoing project in William Smith Park in Delton. When the township committed to an amphitheater for the park as part of a five parks & rec year plan, they quickly realized they would need a safe and fun place for the kids to play while the family listened to music.

They expect more use of the park for family reunions/gatherings, and to be a starting point for families that want to walk, bike or relax in Delton.



In other business Tuesday, the commission approved:

*a Microsoft replacement server for the Register of Deeds Office for $7,630.26with funds from the Automaton Fund.

*renewal of liability, vehicle damage and property and crime insurance coverage from MMRMA for one year for $395,227.

*an amendment to the Swift and Sure Sanctions probation program between the 5th Circuit Court and the Michigan State Supreme Court.

*form L4029 to allow Barry County to collect summer taxes.

State Board of Education alleges irregularities in BISD accounts; superintendent says it's not so

A report from an on-site fiscal monitoring review conducted at the Barry Intermediate School programs by the State of Michigan Department of Education has charged the ISD with several irregularities, with “further action” required.


Noted in the 19-page report are a lack of internal controls in most areas, inability to match budget figures with actual expenses in several areas, inconsistencies in benefits charged to salaries, $129,58.83 in questioned costs and $34,849.14 in misclassified costs.


The report said approved costs reclassified into a different budget years were noted.  In one example, Support Services, salary expenditures were overstated in the general ledger by $7,581.61, a variance of 48.26 percent.  Benefits were overstated by $3,557.72, a variance of 70.84 percent, according to the report.


BISD Superintendent Rich Franklin disputes the reviews methods and conclusions.  He points to the district’s 2018 audit, required annually by law, from Briggs, Hausserman Thompson & Dickinson.


Their report said: “In our opinion, the financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the respective financial position of the governmental activities, each major fund, and the aggregate remaining fund information of the Barry Intermediate School District, as of June 30, 2018, and the respective changes in financial position thereof for the year then ended in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.”

“Our auditors said we were clear; there were no flags…we don’t think there is even an accounting problem, it’s a technical report, with technical compliance with grant requirements and standards.


“Much of the report focuses on discrepancies between state and school fiscal years...there was no charge of misconduct,” Franklin said Wednesday. “They gave us “X” number of dollars; we can show we spent every dollar on the programs as we submitted to the state grant system.”


On April 10, a five member team from the Department of Education came on an unannounced fiscal monitoring visit and worked in the conference room for two days, he said.

“They said I would get a written report, but wouldn’t give a timeline. I got the report June 6.”


“I am confident of the facts and the truth is on our side. I still think when you are honest and do your job, you will be vindicated. We have some angry parents and staff; I’m only sorry we can’t give better answers to the parents, local school and our staff.”


The report also recommends moving the programs to another ISD. “I know in my heart and head that we have run great programs for kids; I don’t see anyone, schools or otherwise that could fill that gap.”

The BISD can appeal; they have to make a decision by June 20 and then will have another two weeks to actually appeal.


“We have to analyze it, figure out what is going on. We just got the working papers, the documents that accountants use as their reasoning when they write reports, so we’ll get into it.. It looks like we’ve done some horrible things; we don’t think we’ve done anything wrong…this is so bizarre that I’m having trouble making sense of it.”


Barry ISD provides Early On services to young children with special needs, Great Start Collaborative and Great Start Parent Coalition services to children and parents and in cooperation with many community partners, and Great Start Readines Preschool programs in Delton Kellogg, Hastings Area School System and through Community Action Head Start.

Barry County Mental Health Authority learns, develops plans to address 2019 priorities

Rich Thiemkey, executive director of the Barry County Community Mental Health Authority, gave county commissioners a review of the authority’s annual report and its 2019 community assessment needs Tuesday.


Over the past year, the authority exceeded every professional standard set by the State of Michigan, such things as access to service and hospital recidivism rate.


In addition, the authority continues to be a leader in the use of validated tools such as the Child and Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale, the Supports Intensity Scale, the Level of Care Utilization System, and the American Society of Addiction Medicine.


Whatever services they are providing, Thiemkey said, “our goal is to provide the right service, at the right time and in the right amount.”


The 2018 assessment defined five priority issues. They are below with some, but not all, of the ways mental health will work to meet the challenges.


1. Services to schools named a priority for an increase in anxiety and depression among younger students, suicidal thoughts or self-harm. Efforts include the authority website link for schools to put on their websites, continue the Signs of Suicide presentations, additional funding for services in schools, and take part in a professional development day for teachers.


2. Psychiatric needs have an increased demand/need in adolescents and a provider shortage. The authority will continue to search for an additional psychiatrist and partnerships with e-psychiatry, a warm hand off to other community agencies and Cherry Health grant exploration.


3. Substance use disorder services are a priority because of an increase in marijuana use by multiple stakeholders and other substances (vaping). Efforts will be to explore research-based treatment like acupuncture, additional prevention programs for schools and additional partner/community education sessions.


4. Individuals with mental illness being incarcerated are a priority because people are jailed instead of receiving treatment for mental health issues. The authority will expand jail diversion services and Stepping Up Program and continue to enhance the communication plan between the court/jail and mental health.


5. Awareness and communication of available mental health services is a priority because of the knowledge gap of eligibility criteria for receiving services between the community and community mental health. The authority will continually update its website, and arrange face-to-face meetings with community partners.


In 2018:

Barry County residents served …. 2011

Expenditures by client population, intellectual and development disability… 51.4 percent

Mental Illness adult….23.4 percent

Mental Illness child….12.2percent

Substance Abuse Disorder….6.4 percent

Administration…6.6 percent.


Some statistics:

*1083 requested mental health services

*983 were scheduled for an assessment

*708 met eligibility criteria.

Answering a question from Commissioner David Jackson, Thiemkey said if someone doesn’t qualify, perhaps because the facility does not offer a program for their problem, “We’ll connect you to someone who can help you.”

Hastings native is new Department of Public Services director

Matthew Gergen was approved as the new director of the Department of Public Services by the Hastings City Council Monday. Gergen is a Hastings native, a graduate of Hastings High School, resides in the area and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Management from Michigan State University, City Manager Jeff Mansfield said.


Gergen also has extensive experience in the field of commercial construction, having worked for a number of years for both Rockford Construction and Lakewood Construction as a project superintendent on many large private and public sector projects, he said.


Mansfield, Deputy City Manager Jerry Czarnecki and Police Chief Jeff Pratt interviewed several candidates for the position and recommended Gergen.  

“We expect that Matt will be a terrific addition to the city team,” Mansfield said.

Gergen is out of state, but is expected to be at the June 24th council meeting. He replaces former director Lee Hays, who resigned in early March.


In other business, the council approved a one-year independent public official’s contract for construction code administration and enforcement with Professional Code Inspectors for the same conditions as last year.


The inspections will be the responsibility of Tom Thompson, as building official/inspector/rental inspector, Glenn Stoneburner as rental inspector and Josh Case as building inspector/rental inspector as independent contractors.


There are no specific wages or fees listed, instead, the contract reads: “officials shall receive, as compensation for the services performed under this contract, all revenues from the fees charged in connection with said services. The fees charged by said officials shall be in accordance with Chapter 18 of the Hastings City Code.”


Also, the council also extended contracts by one year with Hallifax Services, who provide cleaning, and maintenance services at city hall, and B&L Outdoor Services, who provide mowing and maintenance services for city parks.


And, a public hearing was set for June 24 at 7 p.m. to satisfy a new requirement for Community Development Block Grants. Community Development Director Dan King said a second public hearing was added to the conditions of the federal grants administered by the state.







Hastings adjusts fees for services

The Hastings City Council has revised its fees for various services and changed the structure for some planning and zoning services. What follows are some of the changes approved by the council Monday.


The full list of city fees for services can be found on the city’s website in the June 10 council packet. All rate changes take effect July 1.


Planning and Zoning site plan applications go to $250, down from $475; however, site plan review escrow of $1,000 is added. The $250 pays for the application; the escrow account set aside for publishing, planners and other expenses, Deputy City Manager Jerry Czarnecki said.

Special use permit applications are $250, down from $600, with $500 for special use escrow.


“We’re trying to get it more representative of the actual costs,” he said.  Any escrow funds not used will be returned to the applicant.


Re-zoning requests: Residential applications are $250, down from $390, with residential escrow of $500; commercial requests are $250, down from $490, with commercial escrow of $750.


Zoning Board of Appeals:  Requests for a residential variance are $300, up from $200; commercial variance requests are $675, up from $450.

Plat Review: vacating a public right of way application is $300, with escrow of $1,000.


Other changes include more for copies of some paper documents: Master Plan, $50, up from $25; zoning map, original plats and city maps from plotter, all $15, up from $10 and a copy of the budget, $50, up from $25.


In entertainment venues, small entertainment refundable security deposits and charges have not changed. For large entertainment venues, the refundable security deposit is $300; the charge for up to four hours is $200 for residents, $300 for non-residents and $50 for additional hours.


The Fish Hatchery Park building’s refundable security deposit is still $300, but the price of a four hour rental of the building has been reduced from $300 to $150 for residents and from $400 to $200 for non-residents. Czarnecki said the building needed some esthetic upgrades, and the price was lowered until they were completed.


Water rates: Charges for water go from $1.61 cents per 100 cubic feet to $1.90.

Minimum water monthly fees also go up; meters 5/6 and ¾ go from $7.10 a month to $8.38. Larger meters, for example, a 1 ½ inch meter goes from $35.49 to $41.88; four inch meters go from $177.61 to $209.58 and eight inch meters from $776.85 to $916.68.


Connection fees for new water hookups: 5/8 size meters service goes from $1,805 to $1,875, the meter from $251 to $260 for a total of $2,135. The other sizes also go up. The largest listed, the two inch meters, are $2,250 for service and $795 for the meter, for a total of $3,045. Any construction connections larger than two inches are typically done by contractors and they handle the larger units.


Sewer rates: Sewer service goes from $3.26 to $3.50 cents per one hundred cubic feet of water used a month. Service for 5/8 and ¾ meters goes from $14.31 to $14.81, a two inch meter, from $114.56 to $118.57, a four inch meter from $358.01 to $370.54.


The largest meter listed, one eight inches, goes from $1,572.75 to $1,627.80. Connections on a 4” paved street go from $1,700 to $1,750, on a 4” gravel street, a connection goes from $495 to $525.




Also, the council got the first look at the contract proposed for Jerry Czarnecki when he goes from deputy city manager to city manager of Hastings on July 1. The pact calls for Czarnecki to get $85,000 a year, a $400 allowance for a personal car for city business, and the same percentage increase other non- union employees receive, if any.

He will get a $50,000 life insurance policy, Blue Cross Blue Shield medical health insurance coverage and 20 days’ vacation annually. Czarnecki gets other benefits at the same rates as any city employee. Councilman Don Bowers objected to accruing sick leave, saying, “This should not be in this contract.” The document will be back at the next meeting for action...


Hastings compost entry repairs complete, call for code numbers

The recent vandalism to the entrance to the Hastings compost site on West State Road has been repaired and the gate system is working well, deputy City Manager Jerry Czarnecki said Monday.

Ironically, he said complaints he is getting are not about getting in, it’s about getting out. The system works on motion and weight, he said.

 “There’s a line painted on the ground. Park there and the gate will open; it takes a few seconds,” Czarnecki said.

The city is purchasing a new larger capacity camera for the site to deter further vandalism.



Hastings storm cleanup continues

Hastings DPS crews have completed the cleanup from the recent storm south of the river and the clean-up will continue north of the river, with plans to complete the cleanup by 3 p.m. Tuesday, June 11.

City residents are advised to contact City Hall (945-2468) for the code to access the compost site on West State Road. Residents can always bring appropriate material to the compost site.


Have you seen a white Corvette with a blue hood scoop?

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public to keep an eye open for a 1979 Corvette that was stolen Wednesday, June 6, between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. from the owner’s residence in Gun Plain Township in Southeast Allegan County, according to the sheriff’s office web page.


The 1979 Corvette was on a flat-bed trailer that was also stolen.  

Anyone who has seen this vehicle or knows where it is, please contact Silent Observer at 800-5543633 or Deputy Cory Harris at 269-673-0500, extension 4308 or the general line at 269-673-0500, extension 4219.


Wayland man arrested for child sexually abusive activity

Matthew Bennett, 28 of Wayland, has been arrested on charges of child sexually abusive activity, child sexually abusive material possession, using computers to commit a crime, and being a habitual offender, according to a media release from the Michigan State Police Computer Crimes Unit, Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.


The investigation was initiated when a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) was forwarded to the Fifth District Computer Crimes Unit. Detectives learned that Bennett was a sex offender and possessed child sexual abusive material.


The MSP computer crimes unit encourages parents to speak to their children about the safe use of the internet. There are many resources available to parents to assist in keeping children safe online. The NCMEC provides a comprehensive list of resources on their website at


If you have information regarding possible child sexual exploitation, report it to the CyberTipLine at


Watson Drain information meeting attracts hundreds

The Watson Drain public informational meeting, which drew an estimated 225 to 250 people to the Delton Middle School gym Saturday, was billed as information only, with no decisions made and a time for public comment at the end.


Panel members were Drain District Attorney Doug Kelly, Drain Commissioner Jim Dull, Deputy Drain Commissioner Tammy Berdecia and engineers Brian Cenci and Nick Desimpelare from ENG. Inc., Engineering & Surveying.


“We will do our best to disseminate information as we go along…we may have another meeting down the road,” Kelly said.


Cenci and Desimpelare gave a two-hour presentation with extensive background of area lakes over the years.

 Cenci, an engineer since 2005, said he has “worked on over 200 projects like this and this is the most challenging.”


The main causes of the flooding are historic rainfalls, especially in Southwest and Southeast Michigan, and the housing development around the lakes, he said.


He showed several examples over the years of increasing growth around area lakes, noting that every homeowner changed the equation, even if it was minute, and it was magnified by the number of changes; putting in cement driveways and larger houses taking up infiltration space.

Thursday it was announced that Lake Michigan was is at its highest level in history.


Cenci pointed out that rainfall events are cyclical, roughly every 15 to 20 years, and with the current upswing starting about 2008, he cautioned we may be in for even more frequent and heavier rainfalls before the cycle starts to wind down. The drain commission and engineers’ task is to find a cost effective, short term and long term solution to the flooding on the lakes. “Ultimately, it has to work,” he said.


Upper Crooked Lake is like a bathtub with no drain that is running over. They have to in effect, “punch hole in the tub.” But where do they put the water? They can’t send it to other lakes, deluging them. Property owners are not receptive to selling easements to property that could be used for a plan to mitigate the flooding.


Early attempts were unsuccessful for a variety of reasons; adverse environmental impacts, permitting restrictions, high cost or extensive land acquisition.

The drain district was able to get a permit to dam up a culvert under M-43 and retain water in Glasby Lake/marsh until it reached its limit.


Meanwhile the waters flooded Upper Crooked Lake homes and kept rising, forcing the use of sand bags and around the clock pumping to keep the waters out of homes and basements and generally causing havoc with home owners’ lives.


Right now, the drain commission has received a permit from EGLE, (Environment, Great Lakes and Energy) formerly the DEQ, and is boring under Delton Road to temporarily pump water from Upper Crooked Lake into a pond owned by the drain district. The long term plan calls for permanent infiltration areas to the south. Both projects are needed for permanent relief, Cenci said.


They can’t estimate the cost, but is will be substantial, he said. Permitting from state agencies are factors in the time it takes to move on any plans, though he said they were getting an expedited review of their permits. (See related story on the project’s timeline.)


If a property owner is in the Watson Drain District and thus subject to a special assessment to pay for the work, they will be notified by letter, however Cenci said property owners are not alone in paying for the mitigation; the Michigan Department of Transportation, Barry County and the four townships involved, Barry, Orangeville, Prairieville and Hope, also will pay a share.

He stressed it was not a one-time payment for homeowners, but spread on property taxes, likely over 20 years, with an option to pre-pay.


They are working on the possibility for state and federal financial assistance after the work is completed. Jim Yarger, head of Barry County Emergency Management is now assessing the damage to property for financial requests.


The panel answered 50 questions submitted before the meeting, some already explained in the presentation. Eminent domain came up, but was said to be too expensive and not a wise use of taxpayers’ money.


A recent lawsuit by several Upper Crooked Lake property owners asking the drain commission to declare the state’s eminent domain and buy their houses was recently dismissed. Several questions dealt with why a certain property in the district will have its taxes raised.


The answer is that anyone who “derives benefit” from the work on the drain will be assessed. If a property is on the lake, the way it’s used, if there are driveways, a lawn, a small or large house, its location and more are used to determine an assessment. The cost of the property does not figure in the assessment.


A comment section after the presentation brought a few more questions; the crowd earlier was asked to give their name and address on a sign-up sheet and the answers will be sent to them via e-mail or regular mail.


Watson Drain project anticipated time line given

At an informational meeting Saturday on the Watson Drain project, the Barry County Drain Commissioner’s office passed out a timeline and flow chart for the project that was updated in March of this year.


Officials project that from late March into summer, they will install a Piezometer, conduct a groundwater monitoring study and take aquatic vegetation surveys and water quality samples in spring and late summer, all required by EGLE (formerly the DEQ) for a permit. During that time they will take a site walk of the proposed north and south routes with EGLE officials.


They estimate that by July, they will make a determination of a drain route and solution for flood water and prepare a surveying, preliminary design and EGLE permit application, likely to take a month.


They plan to submit the permit in September and anticipate a response from EGLE for corrections of the permit application. An EGLE permit involves a review and a public notice, taking from four to six weeks. A public hearing on the EGLE permit applications will take about four weeks.


At the same time, initial discussions with landowners for easements and land acquisition will begin, expected to take six months.


Land acquisition and obtaining easements and obtaining the final design will start in December, with the best case forecast of four months to compete in April 2020 or worst case, in June 2021.

When they get the EGLE permit, they will let bids. Bids will be opened, and a contractor selected.


A day of review of apportionments may take up to seven to 10 days after bid opening; a time is then set for appeal of apportionments. 

If there are no appeals, the Drain Commissioner Jim Dull will ask Barry County Board of

Commissioners to pledge the county’s full faith and credit for bonding, which will take up to two weeks. The process of financing a 20-year bond will take another four to five weeks.


The estimated construction time is six to 18 months.

Best case of obtaining easements: begin construction in September, 2020.

Worst case for easements: begin construction in November of 2021.




**Hastings High School's Track and Field history coming back to Hastings

**Wayne Oom was a student at Hastings schools and remembers the record boards on the gym wall. “I wanted to be up there someday—whether I got there or not is not the point, the fact is, it motivated me to work hard, keep my grades up and stay out of trouble.”




The presentation of two records boards with the history of Hastings High School Track & Field history was held at the HHS Track and Field Team Awards Ceremony and Record board unveiling at the Performing Arts Center June 3.


Creating the boards, one with the current Track & Field records, and another listing of each all-state Track & Field athlete, and both with Cross Country athletes, was a “big team effort,” Oom said.


The response to the boards is gratifying for the team that put it together.

“What is most exciting is that younger kids are enthuasiastic; they are excited about it too. We have really strong teams this year,” Oom said. “I want these boards to be the same motivator for the current and future student athletes at HHS.”


Coaches Brian Teed, Lin Nickels, Steve Collins and AD Mike Goggins, along with Paul Fulmer, Wayne’s former track coach, all were on board. Carrie and Tom Duits, Karla Kruko, Tammy Foltz Pennington, Eddie McKeough, Bob Branch, Dave Wilcox and Wayne’s parents Bernie and Sue Oom, also worked on the team.


Some 95 percent of their research was done through the Hastings Banner and Hastings Public Library and its microfilm dating back 100 years, with a few visits to Grand Rapids Press, Grand Rapids Herald and the Grand Rapids Public Library.


“How hard could it be?” Oom remembers thinking. “We’ll put it together in a couple of months, in time to display it at the first football game…two years later, here we are…”

The aluminum “boards” will get a polycarbonate finish and then will be installed, one on each side of the entrance to Johnson Field, by the time school starts in the fall.


The group decided to work on records from 1925 forward, the first year the MHSAA began having state track meets for boys. For girls, it was not until 1975, Oom noted.


Looking at the boards, they seem quite simple, and you realize some of the names are from families you know. But keep looking. The boards are incredibly detailed, with names, dates, events, times, with small banners denoting team winners at state, times converted from yardage to metric with a small “c” beside them, and more.


Some names appear again and again, some just once.


There are stories behind many of the athletes, like Tom Duits, Oom  said.

Duits broke Greg Meyer’s record in 1974 with a 4:13 mile. He also ran a 4:09 mile and a 9:03 two mile at regionals; both would have been state records if run at the state meet.


Duits was the first Michigan native to break the four-minute mile in college. When running for team USA, he held an American record in a 4X1500 m relay. During the 1979 tryouts for the 1980 Olympics, Duits was named “number one hopeful” for the 1500 metric mile for the upcoming games.


Politics and the “cold war” dashed his hopes; the United States boycotted the games and his opportunity for international recognition was gone.                                        


Brothers Bob and Ray Branch in 1947 were the two fastest sprinters in the state; they were local celebrities and were called by their first names in news stories. Bob Branch was the biggest star; he was all-state four separate years, freshman through senior,  from 1945-1948. He was all-state in the high jump as a freshman.


In ’47, Ray Branch won the 100 yard dash. In the same meet, he finished second in the 220 yard dash. You can guess who came in first. Yes, it was Bob, the state champ in the 220.

“Pretty impressive, having two brothers take first and second place in the state meet event,” Oom said.


The 1940’s were the “Golden Era” for Hastings High School boys track, with 24 all-state performances in five consecutive years the team placed 5th, 4th, 6th, 2nd and 13th in the state.


The mid-70’s teams were the girls track “Glory Days” when the 1975 girl’s team included 10 all-state, or future all-state, athletes. The team placed 10th in the state in ’76 and 2nd in ’77. Two of the girls, Cindy Nelson and Diane Arens, were all-state for three separate years.


Oom attends both the boys and girls track meets and cross country meets. He’s especially excited about what he sees for this year’s prospects. “This year’s boys cross county team could be the best team we’ve ever had,” he said. “We’re excited about both cross country teams.”

There’s room for more outstanding Hastings athletes on the boards and it can be expanded in the future.


“The math says the girls are filling up the board at a faster rate that our boys--that’s why we left more open spaces on the girl’s side. I’m curious to see who fills their side first,” Oom said.

He closed the presentation by quoting Duits,

“Tom said  ’every record is breakable,’  so, we want to see the younger kids break some records. Let’s get some new names up here. We’re pulling for you.”


A little about the Ooms: The Oom family were athletes; Wayne in running, Dave in tennis, Laura in softball.  Dad Bernie is a well-known longtime coach.

Carrie Duits said Wayne was an outstanding runner in High School; he is more modest, saying: “I think my best times were pedestrian since my freshman son has already beaten nearly all of them.” His wife Kate was in multiple sports as a child and the fine arts in high school and is a great supporter of their kid's activities. Son Josh, 15, is a freshman in track, and Rachel, 12, a figure skater and cross country runner.                                                        




Photos: (upper left) The girls 1975 track team included 10 all-state, or future all-state, athletes. The team placed 10th in the state in ’76 and 2nd in ’77.


(upper right) Wayne Oom stands with the records boards, the results of a team working together.


(middle left) Ed Vandermolen clears the bar at 6’ 3’’.  Ed held the school record since 1997.


(middle left)1600 m. relay record holders (from left) Tracy Heath, Melinda Hare-Shults, Katy Peterson and Heidi Herron Dickens at 4:04 in 1988. These ladies could fly.


(lower left) Bob Branch stands with the records boards that have his name on them several times


(lower  left) The new Performing Arts Center fills with people attending the HHS Track and Field Team Awards Ceremony and Record Board unveiling June 3.


(bottom left) A news article about  Bob and Ray Branch at the state meet in 1947.


Find many more photos at

State Rep. Calley announces summer reading contest for area kids

87th District State Rep. Julie Calley, of Portland is teaming with several libraries in the district for a summer reading contest for children first through fifth grade in Barry and Ionia counties.

The winners, along with their family members, will be guests of Rep. Calley at the state Capitol to be a Legislator for the Day.


Libraries in Clarksville, Delton, Freeport, Hastings, Lake Odessa, Portland, Nashville, Saranac and Middleville are all participating.


“My goal is to support a lifelong love of reading,” Calley said. “Strong literacy skills are the foundation to a successful education.”


Children are encouraged to read as many books as they can through August. Students or their parents should record the titles of completed books and the number of pages read on a bookmark provided to the libraries by Calley or downloaded and printed from her website at


To be eligible to win, readers must submit the bookmarks in the contest box at local libraries or mail them to Calley’s office by Aug. 31.

Gun Lake Tribal Police Department's K9 Darka to get body armor

K-9 Darka, the Gun Lake Tribal Police Department’s police dog, will receive a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.

K9 Darka’s vest is sponsored by Sharon M. Peters of Grosse Pointe Shores,  and will be embroidered with the sentiment “In memory of Det. Lt. Richard J. Scott.” 

Delivery is expected within eight to ten weeks.


“The safety of all of our officers is of utmost importance to us, this includes our K9 Darka,” said Gun Lake Tribe Public Safety Director Rick Rabenort.  “The donation of this protective vest from Vested Interest in K9s will ensure Darka is protected in the line of duty.”


The non-profit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged K9 officers. Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provided over 3,400 protective vests, in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a value of $5.7 million dollars.


The donation to provide one protective vest for a law enforcement K9 is $950.  Each vest has a value between $1,744 and  $2,283,  a five-year warranty and an average weight of four to five pounds.  There are an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the United States.


The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age.  New K9 graduates, as well as K9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate.


Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c (3) charity in East Taunton, MA whose mission is to provide vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States. 


For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, call 508-824-6978.

Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provides information, lists events, and accepts tax-deductible donations of any denomination at or mailed to P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718



Stay informed during the Delta fireworks with alerts

This year Eaton County 911, in conjunction with Delta Township, is offering a text message alert system for those attending the Delta Fireworks on July 3. The service will provide event-goers real-time notifications in the instance of an emergency, as well as information relating to the event, including any potential weather delays, road closures in the area and so on.


To sign up for notifications for leading up to the fireworks display, just text DELTA to 67283

“Having real time event and emergency information immediately available to you is critical in any situation. We strongly urge everyone attending the July 3rd celebration and fireworks to sign up for these timely and important messages, according to Delta Township Fire Chief Gregory Ginebaugh,”


Attendees are encouraged to text DELTA to 67283 prior to viewing the show, but can sign up for the service at any time. They can also register for these alerts, as well as countywide emergency alerts, by starting a safety profile at


Groundbreaking for $12 million Baum Family Surgical Center celebrated

The bright, sunny day Wednesday matched the mood of the people who gathered at Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital for the groundbreaking of the Baum Family Surgical Center.

The event was filled with thanks to the hundreds of people, indeed the entire Barry County community, who helped make the facility a reality.


The crowd was welcomed by Spectrum Health Pennock Board Chair, Nathan Tagg, who noted the Spectrum Health Foundation Pennock had pledged $8 million to get the state of the art facility “off the ground.” Eighty four percent of the goal of an additional $4.5 million has been raised for the 19,000 square foot, $12 million state of the art center.                                                    


Tagg was followed by remarks from Angela Ditmar, president of Spectrum Health Pennock, Andrew Parsons, MD, chief of staff and chief of surgery, David J. Tossava, mayor of Hastings, Janine Dalman, executive director of the Capital Campaign, Maggie Coleman and Dan King, campaign co-chairs and donors David Baum, Earlene Baum and Jim DeCamp


Special appreciation went to the City of Hastings for its cooperation and the project’s Steering Committee, Spectrum Health Foundation Board of Trustees, Capital Campaign Committee and Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital Board of Trustees for their work.


Dave Baum, spoke for his father Larry, who couldn’t be there. He added a light note when quoting his father’s response to the question of if he would still support the hospital when it became Spectrum Health Pennock.


Noting his father sometimes didn’t have much of a filter, he said Larry said: “I don’t give a d*** what name is on the side of the building…I just want quality health care…why wouldn’t I support them to keep them in the community?”                                                                                                  

“We love Hastings,” Earlene Baum said. “We’re fortunate to be able to help improve local health care.”




King, co-chair of the capital campaign, spoke of the several times he used the services at Pennock Hospital in the past and predicted that judging by the way his two grandsons, 2 and 5, fight he was sure they would “end up there at times, too.”


Dalman credited the late Mike O’Mara for his nine-year tenure on the Foundation Board, the last three as chair. His leadership and dedication and capital campaign mentor were invaluable, as well as with the integration process with Spectrum Health, she said.



Speaking for the city, Tossava said, “This is an example of what we can do together.”


“In 1952, Pennock Hospital opened its state-of-the-art operating         

room, giving Barry County residents access to leading-edge care,

close to home,” a statement on the agenda read.


“Today, we break ground on the Baum Family Surgical Center,

which will expand the depth and breadth of care available right

here in our community.


“The innovative Baum Family Surgical Center will increase efficiency and provide access to laboratory, imaging and surgical procedures in one convenient location.


“From ease of access with a separate entrance close to parking to advanced technology, patients and their loved ones will have peace of mind as they approach what is already a stressful time.


“The Baum Family Surgical Center will provide a new level of

health care, positioning Spectrum Health Pennock for the future

of surgical care delivery and reaffirming our commitment to

improve health, inspire hope and save lives.”




Photos: (upper left) A few of the people who worked to make the Baum Family Surgical Center a reality turn over a shovelful of dirt to signify the groundbreaking for the new facility. They are, from left, Jeff Mansfield, Jim DeCamp, Katie DeCamp, Maggie Coleman, Margaret DeCamp, Earlene Baum, Dave Baum, Nathan Tagg, Dan King, Dave Tossava, Noah Schneider, Andrew Parsons, Angela Ditmar, Steve Marzolf and Tod Champion. Dave Potter is in back.


(upper right) Board Chair of Spectrum Health Pennock Nathan Tagg welcomes guests to the official groundbreaking of the surgical center.


(middle left) Hastings Mayor Dave Tossava addresses the crowd at the groundbreaking Wednesday.


(middle right) Dave Baum, standing in for dad Larry Baum, Earlene Baum and Jim DeCamp added personal stories about Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital.


(middle left) Hastings Community Development Director Dan King and Maggie Coleman, campaign co-chairs, praised what the people of Barry County do when they decide to.


(middle right) Spectrum Health Pennock President Angie Ditmar thanked the people who worked so hard on the project. She recognized former President Sheryl Lewis Blake for leaving her “a great legacy.”


(lower left) Former Spectrum Health Pennock President Sheryl Lewis Blake chats with guests at the groundbreaking for the new surgical center.


(lower left) The tent shielding guests from the sun was filled for the ceremony denoting the building of the new surgical center. The tent is where the new facility will be.




NOTICE:Green Street in front of the hospital to be closed Friday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

A small part of Green Street in Hastings will be closed from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. this Friday, June 7 to allow the connection of Spectrum Health  Pennock’s  new surgical center to the city sewer system.


The street will remain open to local traffic, however it will not be passable between the entrance to Fish Hatchery Park and the ambulance entrance to the hospital.


Note: those looking to get to the hospital during Friday will need to approach it from the east on Green Street; those going to Fish Hatchery Park will be able to get to the park coming from the west on Green Street.


Ionia County Health Department shows risks of first, second and third hand smoke on babies

Secondhand smoke is the combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and smoke breathed out by smokers, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),


Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of which are toxic and approximately 70 of which are known to cause cancer. Secondhand smoke causes numerous health problems in infants and children, including more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).


Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the sudden, unexplained, unexpected death of an infant in the first year of life. SIDS is the leading cause of death in otherwise healthy infants. Smoking by women during pregnancy increases the risk for SIDS, and infants exposed to secondhand smoke are also at greater risk for SIDS.


Chemicals in secondhand smoke appear to affect the brain in ways that interfere with the regulation of infant breathing and infants who died from SIDS had higher concentrations of nicotine in their lungs and higher levels of cotinine (a biological marker for secondhand smoke exposure) than infants who died from other causes, according to the CDC


Parents can help protect their babies from SIDS by taking the following actions:

*do not smoke when pregnant

*do not smoke in the home or around the baby

*do not allow anyone to smoke in your car, even with the windows down

*make sure your children’s day care centers and schools are tobacco free

*look for public places that do NOT allow smoking – “no smoking sections” do not protect you or your children from secondhand smoke

*put the baby down to sleep on their back.


Smoking is one of the most important causes of fetal/infant morbidity and mortality in the United States. As a result, in 2017 the health department began the Smoking Cessation and Reduction in Pregnancy Treatment Program in collaboration with our Safe Sleep initiative. The program assesses an individual’s exposure to tobacco smoke and counsels pregnant smokers on the dangers of first, second, and third-hand smoke.


The objective of the program is to inform pregnant women about the risks of smoking and to help her to significantly reduce her smoking levels for her health and the health of her baby through counseling and testing.


The use of a carbon monoxide monitor provides accurate data as a tool to educate and measure progress toward reducing smoking hazards and promoting a healthy environment for the infant and mother.

For more complete information on secondhand smoke, contact our office or visit the CDC at For e-mail updates on smoking and health, e-mail a request to

Summer weather is back and so is West Nile virus

Michigan communities have been affected by West Nile virus every year since 2001. The illness is most commonly caused by mosquito bites. Those who live in an area with mosquitos are at risk of getting the virus and those who work or play outside are at the greatest risk.


West Nile virus is not spread from person to person contact such as hugging, kissing, touching, or caring for someone with the virus. Seventy to 80 percent of those who have been exposed to West Nile virus do not get sick. Symptoms occur three to fifteen days after becoming infected from a mosquito bite and include fever, headache, body aches and sometimes skin rash and/or swollen glands.


In some cases, the virus can cause encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, which can be fatal or cause permanent damage. Those who develop any of the symptoms should call their health care provider.



The risk of contracting West Nile virus can be lowered by these preventative tips:


The risk of contracting West Nile virus can be lowered by these preventative tips:


*use Environmental Protection Agency registered insect repellents. Visit to to see what repellents are registered.


*wear long-sleeved shirts and pants and dress children in long-sleeved clothing.


*use mosquito netting over strollers, cribs, beds and when sleeping outside.


*install screens or repair holes in screens around the home to keep mosquitos outside.


*once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, tightly cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots or trash containers. Mosquitoes lay eggs in water; be sure to repair cracks or gaps in septic tanks..


*indoor and outdoor sprays to kill mosquitoes are available; follow instructions carefully.


*dying or dead birds may indicate West Nile virus because they carry the virus. Those who see a dying or dead bird, they should report it to


For more information on West Nile virus visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at or the Barry-Eaton District Health Department’s website at


Pennock Surgery Center


A groundbreaking ceremony will be held today (wednesday) at 1:30 for the new Surgery Center at Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital at 1009 West Green Street in Hastings.


The state-of-the-art facility will provide all surgical services in one location.

The event will be held in the back parking lot where the construction fence is set up.

Gun Lake Tribe shares $8.2 Million with state and local governments

The Gun Lake Tribe announced its spring revenue sharing payments that continue to benefit schools and the community. The State of Michigan received $4,603,777, the Local Revenue Sharing Board received $2,301,883 and GLIMI, an economic development entity, received $1,381,130. 

The figures are calculated from electronic gaming revenues reported from October 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019.    


“We are pleased to continue sharing revenue with the local community,” said Bob Peters, chairman of the tribe. “The compact payments fund important local services, and K-12 public education programs that greatly enhance the quality of life in our area.”


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


The Local Revenue Sharing Board receives and administers semi-annual payments.  The gaming compact prescribes mandatory funding to local municipalities for costs incurred due to the operation of the casino, public safety services and replacement of tax revenue.

The board established by-laws to govern the distribution process.  The local payments are made under terms of the gaming compact independent of gaming exclusivity.      


Gun Lake Casino opened in February, 2011 and employs over 1,100 team members.  The tribe has shared $126,655,194 with state and local governments over 17 distributions.


The tribe’s state revenue sharing payments are dependent on the continued preservation of exclusive gaming rights within its competitive market area, as defined by the tribal-state gaming compact, which also includes statewide expansion of certain lottery games. The market area includes the cities of Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Lansing, as well as the entire counties of Kent, Kalamazoo and Ingham, among others.




$10,000 in recreation grants recommended in Barry County

Ron Welton, speaking for the Barry County Parks & Recreation Board, requested the Barry County Board of Commissioners committee of the whole approve a total of $10,000 in recreation grants the recreation board has recommended for 2019. They received 10 requests for $33.000, Welton said, all were deserving projects.


The committee of the whole Tuesday recommended approval of the Parks & Recreation board’s choices:


*A $5,000 grant to Barry Township to create a playground at William Smith Memorial Park in Delton to provides recreation and entertainment for Delton families and visitors. The project is to be ongoing; the grant will fund the first phase of the $20,000 project.


*A $3,000 grant to the Village of Freeport to upgrade the men’s and women’s bathrooms at CJ Moore Park to handicap accessible to benefit village and Irving Township residents. The only handicap accessible bathrooms at the park now are at the Community Center, available only when the Freeport District Library is open.


*A $2,000 grant to Central Elementary School, Hastings Area School System, to improve the school playgrounds by painting paved surfaces, adding picnic tables and storage space.


In other business, the committee recommended:


*renewal of the $396,465 liability, vehicle physical damage and property and crime insurance coverage though the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority (MMRMA) for one year, requested by Administrator Michael Brown.


 “There were no significant changes from last year; the coverages are the same,” Brown said. There will be an adjustment of $1,200 in the premium because two county vehicles had been sold, so the effective premium is “closer to $395, 265,” Brown said.


The county gets a substantial refund every year and expects about $130,000 this year. MMRMA is a public entity self-insurance pool that provides liability and property coverage to municipal governments across Michigan, with more than 400 local municipalities as members, he said.


*approval of the county’s taxable value and Headlee Rollbacks and also the 2019 L-4029 form to allow the county to collet summer taxes. The form is sent to all local treasurers so taxes can be collected, Equalization Director Timothy Vandermark said.


*amending a contract with the state to increase its Swift and Sure probation program grant by $3,000 for a new total grant of $123,000, requested by Tammi Price, manager of the courts adult specialty court programs.


*buying a Microsoft SQL Server from low bidder CDW-G for $7,630.26  to replace an 11-year-old server in the Register of Deeds Office, as requested by IT Director Dave Shinavier, speaking for Barb Hurless, Register of Deeds, with funds to come from the office automation fund.


The committee of the whole’s recommendations will be addressed at the next regular board meeting.




Hastings begins debris cleanup after storm

The City of Hastings Department of Public Service will begin cleanup from the recent storm today, with the main focus on opening roads that have been closed. Residents who have tree debris from the storm can either put it on the backside of the curb (not in the road or on the sidewalk) or contact city hall at 945-2468 for the code to the gate at the city compost site on West State Road.

We appreciate your patience as we work to address the remains of the storm.

Dr. Duits led Hastings schools with vision, leadership, determination

Superintendent of Hastings schools Carrie Duits was honored at a retirement party Friday as she stepped down from the district after five years at the helm. Duits attended Hasting schools, graduating in 1975.


“It has been a blessing to our community to have Carrie return home to Hastings and finish her career and leave an everlasting impression on our district,” said Board of Education President Luke Haywood.     



“She made Hastings her school of choice, stepped in to lead our district and help our administration team get us back on track and put us in the good position we are in today…She has been a real visionary in helping us create and update our dynamic plan to help lead our district down the right path.”


Others who spoke during the event used words like leadership and determination often. Students from all the district schools made presentations for Duits, with gifts that fit their grade level.

Duits kept her composure thanking everyone for their thoughtfulness and support and helping make her dream come true. 

“I told myself I’m not going to cry," she said, tearing up.                 


She and husband Tom will stay in Hastings with frequent trips to Colorado see family and grandchildren. She will help with the transition with incoming superintendent Daniel Remenap and offered to help the district with anything they ask in the future. “Anything but drive a school bus,” she quipped. “I won’t drive a bus.”











Photos: (upper left)

Superintendent Carrie Duits maintains her composure while thanking the crowd for helping her dream come true at her retirement party Friday.


(middle left)  Superintendent Carrie Duits (left) stands with school board members Dan Patton, Valerie Slaughter, Lois Wierenga Jr and Jennifer Eastman as board president Luke Hayward speaks.


(top right) Dylan Krueger, from Star Elementary,  gives retiring superintendent Carrie Duits a bouquet at her retirement party.


(midddle right) Hastings High School representatives found the perfect gift for strong Saxon supporter Superintendent Carrie Duits, a Saxon flag.


(lower left) The commons at the Hastings Middle School is filled with well-wishers at Superintendent Carrie Duits retirement party.


(lower right) Eva Rowley, left, and Madison Chipman, Northeastern Elementary sudents, present a painting and hand made flowers to retiring Superintendent Carrie Duits.




Severe Thunderstorms packing high winds, hail and rain swept across lower Michigan Saturday evening bring down trees, limbs and power lines.

The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids flashed warnings of the storm as it pushed eastward ahead of an advancing cold front.


The Hastings National Weather Service Climatological Station recorded 42 mph winds, pea size hail and heavy rain which totaled 0.87.   The Hastings Barry County Airport recorded winds at 42 mph during the storm. Tree and limb damage also reported by Hastings Residents as they cleanup the mess.






Hastings recognizes value of retiring and long-time employees

Rick Krouse was honored by the City of Hastings at his retirement from the Hastings Department of Public Services and Assistant Fire Chief in the Hastings/BIRCH Fire Department. Mayor David Tossava presented Krouse with an official Proclamation from the city recognizing his long service and dedication to the city and its residents during a retirement get together at the city garage Friday afternoon.


“Rick has been a valuable contributing part of growing and improving our community over the years through his dedicated service to the city and its citizens and we recognize and honor Rick Krouse for his many years of dedicated service to the city,” Tossava said.


A volunteer firefighter since Aug. 1984, Krouse was promoted to lieutenant in March 1994, and made assistant fire chief in March, 1996. He chaired of the Barry County Fire Association and oversaw Firefighter I and II training.


Hired full time as an Operator 3 at the DPS in March, 1996, Krouse was promoted to Operator 2 in 1999 and Operator 1 in 2000.


At the city council meeting Tuesday, Tossava recognized other city employees who have reached significant milestones in their service.


Each received a certificate of appreciation from the city:

*Barbara Haywood, Hastings Public Library..10 years

*Pamela Englerth, Hastings Public Library….15 years

*Peggy Hemerling, Hastings Public Library…20 years

*Dennis Lajcak, Hastings Police Dept………..20 years

*Josh Sensiba, Hastings Police Dept………… 20 years

*Jeff  Pratt, Hastings Police Dept…………….30 years

*Frances Brummel, City Treasurer’s Dept….. 30 years

*Bruce Conen, Hastings/BIRCH Fire Dept…..40 years.


Rick Krouse, left, accepts an Official Resolution from the City of Hastings honoring him for his long service to the city. Mayor David Tossava presented it to him on his retirement from the Hastings Department of Public Services and the Hastings/BIRCH Fire Department.




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