Local News Archives for 2019-08

Michigan Queen

Diane Strang of Hastings was crowned the Michigan Queen at the summerfest parade after losing 120 pounds.

Diane joined the tops club inc. the non-profit weight loss support organization in june 2015 weighing 284 pounds.  She lost over 13 pounds through 30 days, but by march 1st she gained it all back, but one pound. After starting a new food plan of no flour, sugars or caffeine and attending tops events she now weighs 161.5 pounds and wears a size  eight.

she went on to say, "I am no longer diabetic, and take no medication, my diagnosis of non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver is gone.

She is greatful for the encouragement of my tops chapter and god.

Board of Commissioners

Barry County Commissioners met Tuesday and approved several items that were recommended by the Committee of the Whole.


Sheriff Dar Leaf presented his 2018 Annual Report,  and Eric Hackman, Senior Project Manager for Tower Pinkster, updated commissioners on the preliminary work plan and timeline regarding a new Barry County Jail and Commission on Aging.  Voters will likely decide on funding for new facilities at the August 2020 election.


A public hearing was held on the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program Income Emergency Repair Guidelines.


Stacey Graham and James Alden were appointed to serve on the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis in Barry County

 The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services confirmed a case of a mosquito-borne disease in a resident and suspected three others according to the Detroit News .

The confirmed case was in Genesee County while, three cases of the disease are suspected in residents from Kalamazoo and Berrien Counties.

Through Monday, six cases of E.E.E  had been diagnosed in deer in Barry and Cass Counties.

Eastern Equine Encephalities is amond the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States.

It has a 33-percent fatality rate in people who become ill and 90-percent fatality rate in horses.

Hastings City Council approves downtown housing and retail project

Hastings City Council held a workshop prior to their regular meeting Monday night to ask questions and discuss proposals from A.J. Vaneklasen, Inc. and Kevin Moore & Company,  the two developers that would like to build housing developments in downtown Hastings at the corner of North Michigan Avenue and Apple street.


The proposal from A.J Vaneklasen was selected by council vote.  Vaneklasen is proposing to build a 4-story building with 30 market-rate apartments on the upper floors, and retail and parking on the ground floor. The project would take about 9 months to complete and would open in early 2021. Vaneklasen also proposes purchasing 18 outdoor parking spaces from the city, however the parking portion is still under consideration.


The Council heard from Martha Gibbons, Executive Director of Family Promise, about “A Walk in Homeless Shoes” that will be held September 4th on the courthouse lawn.


Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt was appointed by the city council as Deputy City Manager, in addition to his role as Chief.

Eaton County authorities investigate domestic violence incident

On Monday 08/26/19 at 11:58 a.m. Eaton County Deputies assigned to the Delta Township patrol responded to the 4000 Block of West Saginaw Hwy for the report of a possible abduction.  A witness reported seeing a male approach a female on foot, grab her by the neck, and drag her across the parking lot to a vehicle.  The witness was able to obtain detailed information at the scene, which assisted Deputies, with the assistance of the Michigan State Police, to identify the suspect and victim.


The victim was located, safe, a short time later.  The suspect was also located at a different location and taken into custody.  The victim and suspect are known to each other and this was not a random act.  


Eaton County Deputies were assisted by the Michigan State Police as well as the Michigan State University Police in this investigation.  Detectives from the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office continue to investigate this incident.  At this time Detectives will be seeking charges for domestic violence at a minimum and the Eaton County Prosecutor’s Office will determine if additional charges are warranted.

Break-in at Al & Pete's Sport Shop in Hastings

Sometime Thursday night some Hastings Area School students broke into Al & Pete's Sport Shop in an attempt to steal guns.


Store Owner Pete Shantz told WBCH News,"he hasn't found anything missing at this time."


The students told authorities they wanted to take the guns and sell them for money and nothing more.

The students also broke into and vandalized the school  concession stand.


Senate bill introduced to restrict use of dangerous kratom

Sen. John Bizon, M.D. introduced a bill on Tuesday that would regulate the use of the plant kratom in Michigan.


Senate Bill 433 would make kratom a Schedule 2 controlled substance, which means it could be obtained only through a prescription.


“The currently unregulated drug kratom is both dangerous and addictive,” said Bizon, R-Battle Creek, the only physician in the state Senate. “There has been an alarming increase recently in the number of deaths from this relatively unknown drug. We must take measures to help prevent such tragedies and the continued abuse of this drug.”


Kratom is a tropical tree found in southeast Asia that users consume in a capsule or powder form. It affects the same opioid brain receptors as morphine, and some opioid users claim it has helped them curb their addiction.


But the drug, which currently is legal for sale to minors, appears to have properties that expose users to the risks of addiction, abuse and dependence. In addition, kratom can cause serious interactions when taken with prescription drugs. Its reported side effects include seizures, hallucinations and symptoms of psychosis.


There have been five deaths from kratom use in Kent County since 2018. In May 2019, Troy police issued a warning about the substance, and on May 8, a Royal Oak man was sentenced to two years in prison for illegally smuggling the substance and selling it unlawfully.


Bizon said six states, including Indiana and Wisconsin, have banned kratom. Four other states now regulate the drug.


Gun Lake Tribe celebrates 20th anniversary of federal re-affirmation

The Gun Lake Tribe,  Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, announced it will celebrate 20 years of federal re-affirmation by the United States of America.  The Tribe has a unique history which is well documented under several treaties signed by the United States government, a historic reservation in present-day downtown Kalamazoo, and an affiliation with the Methodist Church that created an Indian community that has endured since 1838.        


“Today we celebrate a remarkable history of perseverance, community, and culture,” said Bob Peters, Chairman of the Gun Lake Tribe.  “We also recognize the tremendous hardships our ancestors endured, which our present-day elders did as well, to keep the Bradley and Salem Indian communities, and families, intact.  We are a proud people with a bright future, but we honor our past on this day.”


In the early 19th century the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band inhabited the Kalamazoo River valley.  Chief Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish signed the 1821 Treaty of Chicago that created a three-mile square reservation for the Band at present-day downtown Kalamazoo.  The City of Kalamazoo recently installed new street signs that feature 1821 reservation boundary markers.


The Chief would also sign the 1827 Treaty of St. Joseph which required the Band to relinquish the newly created reservation to the federal government in exchange for a promised payment and a new home.  The Band received neither, and instead a difficult era of relocation ensued.


The Band avoided forced removal west of the Mississippi River, known as the Trail of Tears, by moving north to several temporary locations.  The Band found protection under the Church through the creation of the Bradley Indian Mission settlement in 1838.  The Salem Indian Mission would be established nearby. 


After years of petitioning for federal recognition the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, known as the Gun Lake Tribe, achieved formal re-affirmation on August 23, 1999.  The Tribe’s citizens would later vote to adopt a Tribal Constitution which established a democratically elected governing body of seven Tribal Council members. 


Today the Tribe strives to provide services to its citizens such as health care, education and language and cultural preservation.  The Gun Lake Casino opened in 2011 and now provides government gaming revenue that allows the Tribe to fund these important programs to maintain its self-sufficiency.      


To read more about the Tribe’s history and watch a narrated video visit the Heritage page online at


To learn more about the 1821 Treaty reservation boundaries located throughout Kalamazoo visit the City’s news section, online at   

Public Health Advisory on Potentially Harmful Algae in Morrison Lake

The Ionia County Health Department has issued a Public Health Advisory about potentially harmful algae identified in Morrison Lake in Ionia County. People and pets should avoid direct body contact with scummy water in the lake, with water that looks like spilled paint, and water that has a green sheen to it. 

These scums may contain flecks, foam, or clumps. People and pets should avoid swallowing lake water.


This cautionary advice is based on water samples taken on August 20th, 2019. Advice may change as
more information becomes available. Also, the amount of algae present in the lake could change



Business, Industry, Education


The annual Business, Industry, Education Luncheon was held today Wednesday at the Hastings Middle School Commons.


Travis Alden, President of the Barry County Chamber of Commerce and Barry County Economic Development Alliance, welcomed the large gathering.





Superintendent of the Hastings Area School Dan Remenap also extended a warm  welcome to all. The guest speaker  Sarah Alden, Manager of Human Resources at Hastings Fiber Glass Products spoke on  21st Century Skills.

Spirit Parade, BIE Luncheon kick off school year in Hastings


Saxon fans, students and staff celebrated Wednesday morning in downtown Hastings with the annual ‘Welcome Back to School’ parade.   The Saxon marching band played the fight song, horns honked, and crowds cheered to welcome and support the Hastings teachers and support staff who arrived on school busses.


After the parade, the annual BIE luncheon was held to recognize the important partnership between Business, Industry, and Education in the community. The collaborative event between the Hastings school district, the Barry County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Alliance featured guest speakers on ‘Essential Skills for the 21st Century’.  Hastings Area Schools classes begin on Monday, August 26.

Barry County fills vacancies on Zoning Board of Appeals

The Committee of the Whole (COW) met Wednesday and completed interviews for the Zoning Board of Appeals.  There were three applicants to fill two vacancies on the ZBA.   Stacey Graham was recommended to fill a partial term that ends March 31, 2021  and James Alden was recommended to fill a term ending March 31, 2022.


The committee voted to authorize the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority Board to administer a $300,000 grant from the EPA to assess potentially contaminated sites throughout Barry County.

A letter of support was approved concerning the application by for a state grant that would be used to expand broadband access in Barry County.  ACD is exploring the possibility of expanding and improving high speed broadband infrastructure in underserved areas.


Also approved were changes to the Solid Waste Oversight Plan to remove the county residency requirement for the Barry-Eaton Health Department representative on the board, the Environmental Health Association representative, the City of Hastings representative, waste industry, and recognized recycle program representatives.  The Solid Waste Oversight committee will also be expanded to include a member of the County Board of Commissioners.

Sheriff Leaf says to be aware of gift card scam

Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf is cautioning area residents to be aware of a new telephone scam that occurred just one county away. Calhoun County detectives are investigating a crime which cost a victim $2,900 in one payment to crooks and $13,000 in subsequent payments, all in gift cards from Target and Walmart, Leaf said.


The victim answered a telephone call from a person who said he was a DEA agent and the victim in the scam was found to be involved in a big drug deal in Texas. Supposedly, the victim was guilty of drug trafficking and money laundering and the caller said the DEA was going to freeze his bank accounts and put him in prison for 10 years unless he gave them $4,500 in gift cards.


“Police don’t work that way,” Leaf said. “The victim has never been involved in money laundering and even if he was, the police don’t deal with gift cards. “Anytime anyone asks for money over the phone, call our office, we’ll investigate it for you.”

Ionia County participates in S.T.O.P.P.E.D. program

Sheriffs Telling Our Parents and Promoting Educated Drivers (S.T.O.P.P.E.D.) is a voluntary program for parents who would like to be notified when their child is involved in a traffic stop by an Ionia County Sheriff’s Deputy.


For over 14 years, the Michigan Sheriffs Association has partnered with law enforcement and parents to promote safe driving by teens.  Previously, notification to the parents of a traffic stop was completed by regular mail.   According to Sheriff Charlie Noll, “the enhanced system will fully automate the process. In the event a deputy makes a traffic stop with a young driver, the deputy locates the STOPPED sticker, puts the corresponding number into an internet based program and hits the send button.  The deputy than tells the driver that their parent will receive either a text message or e-mail regarding the traffic stop.  This system allows for not only notification but accountability between young driver student parent and the Ionia Sheriffs’ Office “


For more information on the STOPPED Program or to register a vehicle, please visit the MSA website at

Amash announces stops in Grand Rapids, Gaines Township, and Hastings

Representative Justin Amash (I-Mich.) announced the times and locations for constituent meetings in the Third District on Wednesday, August 21. Third District residents are encouraged to attend.

9:30 a.m.
Rising Grinds Café
1167 Madison Ave SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49507


10:45 a.m.
Common Ground
1319 Fulton St E
Grand Rapids, MI 49503


12:00 p.m.
New Holland Brewing - The Knickerbocker
417 Bridge St NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504


2:15 p.m.
Railtown Brewing Company
3595 68th St SE
Caledonia, MI 49316


4:00 p.m.
Walldorff Brewpub & Bistro
105 E State St
Hastings, MI 49058

You are invited to Hastings Summerfest this weekend

Hastings Summerfest is an all-out celebration of summer held annually in the city’s downtown. Set for Aug. 23-24-25, this is the 42nd year of the festival. Visitors from near and far come to Hastings every year to shop the huge arts and crafts show on the Barry County Courthouse lawn, sample a wide variety of food, take in the Farmers Market, concessions, special events and activities for kids and free trolley rides to enjoy the atmosphere around town.


For the more active, there are athletic events; a triathlon, softball tournament, 3-on-3 basketball, Summerfest 10K/5K run, a fun run, and a weight lifting contest.


“Nursery Rhymes” is the theme of the Summerfest Grand Parade Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Look for the children's parade, the Hastings Car Club car show and listen to live entertainment, thanks to Hastings Live at Summerfest. The Elks Lodge refreshment tent will be open to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.


Details of activities and a full event schedule can be found on the Hastings Summerfest website, you’ll find a link at wbch-dot-com. The Barry County Chamber’s Summerfest Committee and Economic Development Alliance are the event’s sponsors.

Barry County KAMA Fall Cohort open registration

With local unemployment rates at historical lows, the demand for talent is increasing.  This means outstanding opportunities for Barry County youth and young adults. Multiple collaborative initiatives in Barry County are actively moving the needle when it comes to talent development says Travis Alden, President of the Barry County Chamber of Commerce & Economical Development Alliance.  For a small community, there's a lot going on.


The Kellogg Advanced Manufacturing Assembly (KAMA) training program has seen three successful cohorts of graduating high school seniors not only gain necessary hard and soft skills, but also employment at local manufacturing firms immediately after completing the program.   The KAMA Curriculum which is continually improved by Kellogg Community College staff with collaboration from local stake holders, includes conponets ranging from financial literacy, team work, to hands on math, measurement and safety.  The experierce culminates in a multi-week manufacturing simulation capstone that immerses students in a real world manufacturing experience.


Through a new, innovative partnership with West Michigan Works, Barry County will host a KAMA program this fall. This cohort is focused on adults who wish to up-skill for a successful career in manufacturing.  This crash course in advanced manufacturing basics will run approximately 5 weeks, from Sept. 3rd through October 10th.  Sessions run Monday through Thursday, 8am to 4:30pm at the KCC Fehsenfeld Center in Hastings.  Anyone interested in the fall program should contact Tina Wescott at the West Michigan Works office in Hastings. Registration deadline is Friday, August 23rd.    West Michigan Works will potentially cover all tuition costs for qualifying applicants, based on eligibility.


Gun Lake Tribe to Release Lake Sturgeon into Kalamazoo River

The Gun Lake Tribe has organized another annual release of lake sturgeon into the Kalamazoo River.  Participating parties include the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, and the Kalamazoo River chapter of Sturgeon for Tomorrow, and Grand Valley State University.  This year, more than two hundred (200) young sturgeon will be hand-released back into the river, which is the highest amount of fish the Tribe has ever released.


The release will take place Wednesday, August 28, 2019 from 5 pm to 7 pm at the New Richmond  Bridge County Park, 5731 Old Allegan Road, Hamilton, Michigan.


Sturgeon, or Nmé in Pottawatomi, is culturally important to the Tribe as the fish represents an animal clan in traditional beliefs.  Sturgeon clan people have spiritual knowledge offered as guidance to others and they live to an old age, just like lake sturgeon.  The rehabilitation of lake sturgeon reflects the Tribe’s present-day progression as a community and a tribal government.


A welcome will be provided by Tribal Council.  Tribal drum group, Thunder Buddies, will perform.  The Tribe’s Language and Culture Department will give an oral teaching about the sturgeon.  The event will also include park tours, hatchery tours, Central Michigan University interpretive mussel trailer and light dinner for up to 200 people in attendance.  The general public is encouraged to attend this event.    

Missing teen and daughter located in Kalamazoo

On Friday 08/16/19 the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office located a missing teen and her 2 year old daughter.


The pair were reported missing out of Alcoa Tennessee. They were located on N. 30th ST. in Comstock Twp. Both were found uninjuried and in good health.

Area Back to School Dates

It’s back to school time in West Michigan.  WBCH wishes all area students, school staff and families a great school year!   Remember, be aware and extra cautious with school busses and walking students.


August 19th:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Bellevue Community Schools

Charlotte Public Schools

Grand Ledge Public Schools

Maple Valley Public Schools

Otsego Public Schools


August  20th

Caledonia Community Schools

Lowell Area Schools

Thornapple Kellogg Schools


August 21st

Ionia Public Schools

Portland Public Schools


August 26th

Hastings Area Public Schools

Lakewood Public Schools

Saranac Community Schools

Wayland Union Schools


August 27th

Martin Public Schools

August 28th

Faith Christian School


September 3rd

Barry County Christian School

Delton Kellogg Schools

Gull Lake Community Schools

Hopkins Public Schools



Aggravated Stalking


After a preliminary hearing, Kellie Leigh Bartlett was bound over in Barry County District court on charges of aggravated stalking, which carries a maximum of five years in prison. A second charge of using a computer to commit a crime was added. This offense carries a  maximum of  seven years in prison.


Prosecutors alleged that Bartlett violated a court order by having a third party contact a victim in a pending case.


The offense's are alleged to have occured in Eaton county.  However the Barry County Prosecutor;'s Office was assigned by the Attorney General as a speciial prosecutor as the Eaton County Prosecutor's Office had a conflict of interest and recused itselt.


No date has been set for a pre-trial in the case.

American Legion Post 45 celebrates 100th year with the community

The Lawrence J. Bauer American Legion Post 45 is celebrating its 100th Anniversary Aug.16-17, and inviting the community to celebrate along with them.


In a Friday, Aug. 16 celebration at Thornapple Plaza, hot dogs, chips and lemonade will be served from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.  A proclamation by Mayor David Tossava at 6:45 p.m. will be followed by Happy Birthday sung by the audience and dessert; servings of the 100th year anniversary birthday cake and ice cream. A concert by the 338th Army Band begins at 7:30 p.m.


On Saturday, Aug.17, the post will host a Centennial Open House from noon to 4 p.m., and will feature Bingo from 10 a.m. to 1p.m. From 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. the American Legion Riders will do a Cruise and show of their motorcycles and military vehicles.


A welcome from Post Commander Steve Carr is at 1:30 p.m. and remarks by invited dignitaries District Commander Barry Wood, Sen. John Bizon, Representative Julie Calley, Mayor David Tossava and Ron Bauer. A free hamburger dinner is served at 2 p.m. and the music also starts then.


From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. there are games, music and raffles as well as tours of the renovated post at 2160 South M-37 Highway. Activities include a corn hole tournament and possibly a bounce house for the kids. A mortar, a recent addition, is now on its pad at the post and can be inspected.


“Free to all-it’s our Centennial Celebration,” the post’s invitation reads.


*Post namesake Lt. Lawrence J. Bauer: Born March 29, 1894 to James M. and Grace Garrison Bauer, Lawrence was raised in Hastings, graduated president of his high school class in 1913 and entered college, first at Michigan State College and then at the University of Michigan.


When war came he enlisted as a bombing observer and taught at the flight school in France before being commissioned. In 1918 he flew with the 11th Aero Squadron during the Meuse Argonne offensive and was there at the armistice.


Two days later, however, he was killed in a wind shear accident while taking off for an observation flight. He is buried at the Meuse Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial near the village of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon France, which lies about 26 miles northwest of Verdun.

(Courtesy of Post 45 archives).


*The 338th Army Band was originally formed in 1943 at Camp Siebert, Alabama, as part of a support group for General Patton's 3rd Army in Europe. The band was deactivated before overseas deployment in 1945. The 338th was reactivated in 1952 as part of the Second United States Army, according to Wikipedia.


*A mortar is usually a simple, lightweight, man portable, muzzle-loaded weapon, consisting of a smooth-bore metal tube fixed to a base plate with a lightweight bipod mount and a sight. They launch explosive shells in high-arching ballistic trajectories at close targets.





Celebrate Middleville's Heritage Days Aug. 16-17-18, and "Remember When..."

Middleville’s Heritage Days are August 16, 17 and 18 with the theme, “Remember When…”




This year’s Heritage Days promises to be an event packed with ongoing demonstrations and activities of interest area residemts in three days of celebrating the best of small town living and remembering the village’s past.


Those who come to enjoy any of the events any or all of the day’s events, will need a schedule, available at .  Be sure to check back for updates and additions.


Some highlights: Friday features are a Classic Car Cruise in, music by the “Whatabouts Band” and The Jungle Book at the “Pajamas in the Park” movie.

Saturday has non-stop activities and a dozen demonstrations in several locations in the village repeated during the day so visitors can attend all the ones that interest them.


See how to make a perfect pie crust, a stained glass window or make balloon animals, create a quilt, make perfect pizza dough and much more.  Some demonstrations teach a talent, others are just for fun, like the ventriloquist who will put on two shows.


Runners can sign up for the Heritage Days 5k/10k trail run and Youth Fun Run. How about a guided tour of the trail? Or, just sit and watch the Rotary Duck Race.


Old-fashioned, (not electronic) adult and children’s games, pie baking contest and pie and pizza eating contests, it’s all there, and more. Middleville restaurants are part of this Heritage Days; most will feature specials, like a chicken croissant, chips and a drink for $5.


Look for the Sock Hop on Main Street, the nature walk, corn hole tournament, the Jersey Pete & Java Joe Band, and of course, plan to take in the Middleville Rotary Club parade, complete with floats, that will be judged with awards given.


Sunday morning, enjoy an old-fashioned church service and (bring your own) picnic.




New Jailbreak 5k Benefits Child Abuse Victims

Think you can outrun the police? Prove it!


Safe Harbor Children’s Advocacy Center partners with law enforcement to host their second Badges and Bravery 5k on Saturday, September 28, 2019 at Camp Jijak


Last year Michigan State Trooper, Blaine Bachman, partnered with Safe Harbor to create the first Badges and Bravery 5k. Registration was only open to first responders in Allegan County. The group of participants helped raise over $10,000 for the children’s advocacy center to help continue providing hope, help, and healing to the children in their community.


This year the Badges and Bravery 5k is opening up to the public and will allow civilian racers the opportunity to run from the police. Civilians will be given a head start after escaping from the race jail. Law enforcement and other first responders will need to catch up to “capture” the escapees before they finish the race. All proceeds from the event will help Safe Harbor provide a lifeline to child victims of abuse and neglect. To register visit,


Safe Harbor Children’s Advocacy Center is a nationally accredited, nonprofit organization that provides hope and healing to child victims of abuse and neglect in both Allegan and Barry Counties. Through teaching and training, coordinating funds and services, providing protection, offering medical care and counseling, investigating and prosecuting those responsible, and by offering children a safe harbor from further abuse, children find the hope, help, and healing they need at Safe Harbor CAC. Learn more about Safe Harbor at

Doctors, health officials urge Michigan parents to put immunizations on their kids' back-to-school checklist

 As the start of a new school year approaches, Michigan health officials are urging families to make sure they are up to date on all immunizations, to ensure their loved ones are protected. 

“Vaccines protect our children from serious and preventable diseases,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief deputy director for health and chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Now is the time to visit your local health department or family doctor for immunizations, to help your kids start the school year on the right foot.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently designated August as Immunization Awareness Month in Michigan.

Two Vehicle Accident

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office responded to a two vehicle serious injury crash on M-37 Hwy, near Pinecone Drive Wednesday Night.

The initial investigation shows a Toyota Highlander was traveling east on M-37 Hwy and a Motorcycle was traveling west on M-37 Hwy. The driver of the Highlander turned north on to Pinecone Dr in the path of the motorcycle. The westbound motorcycle crashed into the eastbound Highlander.


The Highlander was occupied by a 39 year old female from Hastings. The motorcycle was occupied by a 29 year old male from Plainwell.


The operator of the motorcycle was air lifted to an area hospital. The driver of the Highlander was not injured. This incident remains under investigation.

Eight persons charged in Crystal Meth ring in Hastings

The Southwest Enforcement Team (SWET) conducted a months-long investigation into a drug trafficking organization that was distributing crystal methamphetamine in the City of Hastings.  As a result of the investigation, eight people were charged with 15 counts of delivery of methamphetamine by the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office.  To date, seven of the individuals have been arrested and lodged at the Barry County Jail. 


The following have been arrested and arraigned:


Timothy William Stube, 42 years old

Delivery of methamphetamine (3) counts. Timothy Stube is being charged as 2nd offense


Marc West Wright, 45 years old

Delivery of methamphetamine (2) counts.  Marc Wright is being charged as 2nd offense


Michelle Marie Otoole, 38 years old

Delivery of methamphetamine (2) counts. Michelle Otoole is being charged as habitual offender 2nd


Gary Robert Willavize Jr., 37 years old

            Delivery of methamphetamine.  Gary Willavize is being charged as 2nd offense


Kevin Duiane Abbott, 51 years old

Delivery of methamphetamine (3) counts.  Kevin Abbott is being charged as habitual offender 4th – 2nd offense.


Nicholas James McClelland, 29 years old

            Delivery of methamphetamine


Tina Marie Noble, 42 years old

            Delivery of methamphetamine (2) counts.  Tina Noble is being charged as 2nd offense


The Southwest Enforcement Team (SWET) is a multijurisdictional task force that has been operating in Southwest Michigan since 1981.  SWET-North is a newly-formed team dedicated to serving the specific needs of Allegan and Barry Counties.


Southwest Michigan has seen an alarming increase in the availability of crystal methamphetamine that has been trafficked into our area in the last two years.  The increased availability and the low cost of the product has presented a challenge for law enforcement throughout Southwest Michigan.  Combating the spread of the methamphetamine epidemic has been a primary focus of SWET-North. 


The Southwest Enforcement Team (SWET) is comprised of sworn law enforcement personnel from the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office, Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office, Covert Township Police Department, Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office, Kalamazoo Township Police Department, Michigan State Police, South Haven Police Department, Saint Joseph County Sheriff’s Office, and Sturgis Police Department.

Juvenile Runaway

15  year old Ethan Valdez ran away from home Wednesday afternoon and has not been heard from or seen.

Ethan lives near Orangeville and attends Thornapple-Kellogg schools in Middleville.

He is possibly wearing an orange and gray striped shirt and black Adidias tennis shoes. Ethan is 5-feet, 9-inches tall and is 165 pound, with short, black hair and wears glasses. He is of mixed race and appears Hispanic.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is ask to contact the Michigan State Police Wayland Post 269-792-2213.

Groundbreaking for new amphitheater in Middleville

The Village of Middleville will break ground for construction of a new Amphitheater in the green space behind the Pavilion, on the bank of the Thornapple River. The project is a collaborative effort between the village and My Middleville DDA and is part of the greater Parks Master plan. The amphitheater is expected to be completed by mid-October.  A groundbreaking celebration will take place Monday, August 19th at 9am.

Thornapple Manor Resolution, Blue Zones, and committee appointment considered at County Commission meeting

The Barry County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday to approve the consent agenda items recommended by the Committee of the Whole last week, and heard a presentation by Sarah Nelson, Executive Director of the Barry Conservation District about invasive species plants in the county, especially in county rights of way.  Nelson requested that funding be included in next year’s budget for eradication or reduction efforts of specific invasive plants in some rights of way.


The Board approved a resolution supporting Thornapple Manor exploring the addition of independent and assisted living units for seniors, as well as adult day care services at Thornapple Manor.


However, the Board of Commissioners did not approve a Letter of Agreement between the Barry-Eaton District Health Department and Blue Zones LLC that would have allowed Blue Zones to use a small amount of office space inside the Health Department building in Barry County.  The vote was 4 to 3, with Commissioners Geiger, Jackson, and Parker in support, Commissioners Connor, Gibson, Smelker and Wing against. Much of the opposition was over I-T services that the Health Department would have provided, such as a laptop computer, information storage, a direct dial phone line and email address, and access to a copier or printer.


The Blue Zones Initiative is a public health initiative that the Barry community has agreed to pursue. It has financial backing from multiple community partners and the health care community and is just getting established in Barry County.


Commissioners voted to appoint Michael Spangler to serve on the Barry County Veteran’s Affairs Committee. Spangler was one of four individuals who applied for the remainder of a four year term on the committee that expires 12/31/2020.

Hastings City Council meeting, Monday, August 12

Brian Shumway, post historian, gave a presentation on the American Legion Centennial Weekend festivities at Monday night’s regular Hastings City Council meeting.  The Lawrence J. Bauer American Legion Post #45 in Hastings is hosting a celebration of its’ 100th anniversary this Friday evening, August 16th at Thornapple Plaza starting at 6pm that will include a  picnic for all with free hot dogs, chips, lemonade, cake and ice cream, followed by a concert at the plaza with the 338th Army Reserve Band. Saturday, the post will host an open house from 10 to 4 with tours, bingo, a cruise-in show by the American Legion Riders, and remarks from dignitaries recognizing the history, accomplishments, and ongoing service of Legion members.


The council received two letters of intent for development projects at 128 North Michigan Avenue in downtown Hastings, at the corner of Michigan and Apple:


One of the developers, A.J. Vaneklasen Inc., proposes a mixed-use project that would include a four story building with 27 two-bedroom market-rate apartments on the upper floors,  and retail, restaurant, or office space on the main floor. The project concept includes some on-premise parking below the main level.


The other developer, an investment group headed by Nathan Heyboer of Hudsonville, is interested in purchasing the parcel from the city for construction of a three-story building with 42 housing units. Kevin Moore of Moore & Company, a commercial real estate consulting firm, said that project would include a mix of barrier-free, 1-bedroom, and 2-bedroom affordable and market-rate apartments.  The project would require a special use permit to allow residential use on the ground floor and would not have on-premise parking, requiring a parking agreement with the city.


After discussion, the City Council directed staff to work with both developers to bring detailed proposals back before the next council meeting, and set a workshop an hour prior to their next meeting to consider the proposals. The council plans to select one of the projects at the August 26 meeting.


In other business:


-Council approved  extending the current  agreement with West Michigan Recreational Outfitters, which operates the U-Rent ‘Em Canoe Livery,  to continue use of city owned land next to the canoe and tube equipment rental business for the remainder of their current business season to allow additional parking for guests. Julie Fox, owner, told about her business activities as an asset to the community and answered questions regarding complaints over the parking situation. Fox said she is working toward long-term parking solutions to have in place before the 2020 season.


-The council approved a request from the Youth Advisory Council to hold their annual Roof Sit fundraiser on October 12.


-Gave the City’s approval for the Airport Commission to purchase a new lawnmower for use at the the airport.


-Authorized purchase of a Hot Patch trailer for $29,090 and a wood chipper for $37,164  as recommended by the Department of Public Services staff that were planned for in the 2019-20 budget. Both purchases will be made through the Mi-Deal program.

Alchohol believed to be contributing factor in Ionia County accident

Sunday, August 11 at approximately 11pm, deputies from the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene of a two vehicle personal injury accident. An Ionia Man traveling on Fourth Street near East Bluewater Highway (M-21) was attempting to turn eastbound on M-21 and collided with a vehicle, driven by a subject from the Village of Pewamo. One driver sustained significant injury to his head and ankle as a result of this collision, and was transported to the Sparrow Main Hospital for treatment.


Although this incident is still under investigation, alcohol is believed to be a contributing factor.


Assisting on scene was: Ionia Department of Public Safety, Life EMS, Rueh’s Garage, I-96 Towing, and Ionia County Central Dispatch.

Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign begins Aug. 14

During the 2019 Labor Day holiday weekend, police departments, sheriff’s offices and the Michigan State Police are encouraging motorists to celebrate the end of summer safely and make smart driving decisions. Law enforcement will continue to show zero tolerance for drunk and drugged driving during the three-week enforcement period August 14-September 2. Increased messaging about the dangers of driving impaired, coupled with increased enforcement on the roads, aim to drastically reduce serious injuries and deaths caused by impaired driving.


“Labor Day should be a time for friends and family to enjoy the last days of summer,” said Michael Prince, Office of Highway Safety Planning director.  “As always, officers will make zero exceptions for impaired driving. There are no excuses. Driving a vehicle while impaired is dangerous.”


Throughout the end of the summer Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement period, officers will be on the lookout for motorists under the influence of drugs and alcohol. In Michigan, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, although motorists can be arrested at any BAC level if an officer believes they are impaired. Michigan has what is commonly referred to as a zero-tolerance drugged driving law.


In Michigan, the percentage of alcohol-related fatalities was approximately 11 times higher than fatalities in all crashes and the serious injury level was about six times higher. During last year’s Labor Day holiday, there were 12 fatal crashes, with six crashes involving alcohol.


On average, a DUI can set you back $10,000 in attorney fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work, higher insurance rates, car towing and repairs, etc.


A new impaired driving ad is airing in August. It focuses on the role of first responders and what they see when responding to a crash with an impaired driver. A link can be found at:


The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is supported with federal traffic safety funds provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and coordinated by the OHSP.

Drowning on Thornapple River

 Saturday Night the Barry County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Thornapple River near Rivers Edge Ln and Parmalee Rd in Thornapple Township. A group of Kayakers reported finding a body in the river. Upon arrival, Deputies and Thornapple Township EMS and First Responders were able to remove the body from the water and bring him to shore.


The person recovered from the river is an 87-year-old man who lived in the area. It is unknown at this time how the individual ended up in the water, but there were no signs of foul play. The name of the individual is being withheld pending notification of relatives.

Rep. Calley invites residents to attend local office hours

State Rep. Julie Calley welcomes residents to office hours in two communities in August.


Rep. Calley will meet with constituents at the following dates:

  • Friday, Aug. 23 at Revival Café and Market, 75 N. Bridge St., Saranac, individual meetings from 11 to 11:30 a.m. then a legislative update 11:30 a.m. to noon; and
  • Monday, Aug. 26 at the Barry County Courthouse, Commissioners’ Chambers, 220 W. State St., Hastings, individual meetings from 1 to 2 p.m. then a legislative update from 2 to 2:30 p.m.

“Community members may stop by for individual meetings, arrive in time for the update, or attend both segments,” Rep. Calley said. “Our revised format is intended to make it more convenient for those I serve.”


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

Coming soon

A reminder of what's soon to be. Sooner then we want!   

Thornapple Manor exploring feasibility of adding senior housing and adult day care services

Don Haney, Administrator of Thornapple Manor, went  before Barry Commissioners at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday requesting recommendation for approval at the next Board of Commissioners meeting, of a resolution supporting Thornapple Manor’s exploration into adding Independent and Assisted Living Units and Adult Day Care Services.


Haney said that housing in Barry County is a big need across all age and income levels,  and gave a summary of a market analysis that was completed in June by the Plante Moran Living Forward group for Thornapple Manor.  According to the high level market study,  Barry County currently needs 280 independent senior living units and 60 assisted living units.  22 adult day care slots are needed, according to the study.


Haney stressed there is no planned project at this time, but with approval of the resolution by the Commission, Thornapple Manor will spend the money to continue exploring the possibilities, feasibility, and cost projections of adding some combination of Independent and Assisted Living units and adult day care services.


The resolution states that Thornapple Manor will not move forward with any project that is not financially self-supporting to repay any debt required for construction.


In other business the Committee of the Whole:

-Interviewed four applicants for the Veterans Affairs Committee. One person will be recommended to the Board for appointment to one open partial term.


-Interviewed two applicants for the Zoning Board of Appeals. There are two open positions, and a recommendation was deferred until after a third applicant is available to be interviewed.


-Recommended approval of a request by Blue Zones LLC  to use office space at the Barry Eaton Health Department building in Hastings.


-Voted to move forward for approval a request to replace concrete steps at the rear entrance of the Barry County Sheriff’s Office for $5,837 from the building rehabilitation fund,  and a budget amendment and purchase request for a new mower for the Hastings-Barry County airport for $6,524.


-Recommended approval changes to the by-laws for the Barry County Conservation Easement Board,  changes to the Farmland Preservation Selection Criteria, and changes to the Open Space Preservation Selection Criteria.

Hastings' 3rd National Night Out is Aug.6

Hastings third annual National Night Out on Aug. 6 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. is a chance for the public to see the equipment of Barry County’s emergency services providers, watch kid’s activities, enjoy free hot dogs, chips and a drink, win prizes and talk to police, firefighters and ambulance personnel who serve them twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.


What started out nationally as a chance to improve relationships between the public and the police has evolved into all emergency services building relationships with the community and between agencies.


Deputy Police Chief Dale Boulter, chairman of the “night out” committee, told WBCH in June,

“The Hastings Police Department is excited and once again ready to take on this challenge”,  adding  “We have many hours of preparation and planning to make this a great event for Hastings and all Barry County residents.”


After last year’s event, Boulter said he was pleased with the participation by area residents and especially that it brought the emergency services people together in a casual setting. All the agencies personnel respond when called for mutual aid, but they don’t have a chance to interact in low pressure settings very often.


“We had the Hastings Reserve Officers and the Barry County Posse members both directing traffic at the entrance to Tyden Park. It was awesome to see.”


This year, the parking lot above the entrance of the park will be reserved for the handicapped, elderly and expectant mothers, and general vehicular traffic will be banned during the event day to allow the setup of the equipment. Use of the park and River Walk would be allowed during the day.


Photos: (left, from top)

A popular activity at last year’s National Night Out was kids putting their hand prints on a huge, white snow plow blade. Here, Constance Volosky adds hers.


Gaige, Trey and Cal Beard are dwarfed at the 2018 National Night Out  by equipment used by Barry County emergency services personnel.


Demonstrations are part of National Night Out, where emergency services members show what they do. This photo from last year’s event shows how firefighters use the Jaws of Life to free people trapped in a car.

Domestic assault near Hopkins ends after multi county vehicle pursuit

Allegan County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to domestic assault occurring in a vehicle while traveling in the area of 135th Ave and 18th St in Hopkins Township early Sunday morning.  The male suspect had assaulted the female victim and was refusing to let her out of the vehicle while making threats against her life.  The female victim was able to call 911 and provide some locations they were traveling.  Deputies located the vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed going through Village of Hopkins.


A traffic stop was attempted but the suspect refused to stop and fled.  The pursuit continued towards US-131 and the southbound on the freeway.  Stop sticks were deployed by Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office and Michigan State Police on US-131 near West Main where the male suspect continued to travel southbound with deflated tires and then on to eastbound I-94.


The vehicle finally came to a stop against the median cable barriers on I-94 near the Calhoun/Kalamazoo County line.  The male suspect was placed in to custody and the female victim was safely removed and brought back home.  The male suspect was lodged at Allegan County on numerous charges that are being reviewed by the Allegan County Prosecutor.  Both the male suspect and female victim’s name are not being released pending arraignment.


The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by Gun Lake Tribal Police Department, Plainwell Department of Public Safety, Michigan State Police, Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office, Western Michigan University Department of Public Safety, Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, Portage Police Department, Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office, Pride Care Ambulance, and Galesburg Fire Department.

Live grenades discovered at storage facility

Eaton County Sheriff’s Deputies responded Sunday, August 4, to a storage facility located in Hamlin Township in regard to a possible explosive device being discovered.  A citizen reported locating what he believed to be a grenade which was contained inside a military shipping container.  Deputies arrived on scene and the citizen advised he located the item while sorting through his father’s belongings and believed the grenade was from the World War II era.


The Eaton County Sheriff’s Office contacted the Michigan State Police Bomb Squad who responded to the scene.   Through their investigation, two live grenades were located and seized for proper disposal.

Drowning on Kalamazoo County lake

The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a drowning that occurred Sunday afternoon at Twin Lake off Ravine Road in Alamo Township.  According to the Sheriff’s Office, 51 year old Richard John Weston of Kalamazoo was kayaking on Twin Lake when he fell into the water and   drowned.


Deputies were assisted by Cooper Fire/Rescue. The incident remains under investigation.

Barry Central 911

Dispatchers  at Barry Central Dispatch 911 were  kept busy over the weekend as they received some 390 calls. The calls included 218 for police, 70 for ambulance and 39 fire calls plus 63 public service calls.





Large Yankee Springs Township field fire draws multiple fire departments

Yankee Springs Township/Wayland Fire Departments, Orangeville, Leighton, Martin township fire departments, Thornapple Township Emergency Services, Hopkins Area Fire Department, DNR Forest Fire Division, Wayland Area EMS, Michigan State Police and Barry County Sheriff’s Office worked together to put out a large field fire in Yankee Springs Township today (Friday).

“They all worked together, they did a good job. We knocked down the fire in about 45 minutes to an hour and spent the rest of the time putting out hot spots,” Wayland Fire Chief Joe Miller said. Firefighters were on the scene from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.


The 7.95 acres of burning brush at a former gravel pit was stopped before it reached the woods at North Yankee Springs and Bowens Mills roads, Miller said.


As of 11 a.m. this morning a burning ban is in effect. No burn permits are being issued.

UPDATE: BEDHD Tequila's Mexican Grill outbreak investigation complete

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department has completed its outbreak investigation at Tequila’s Mexican Grill in Charlotte, according to a health department news release.


The investigation included an assessment of the restaurant environment concerning the most common risk factors for foodborne illness, an assessment of the food histories collected for both ill and well persons and laboratory analysis of food samples and a single stool specimen.


Results of laboratory testing were inconclusive in pinpointing what caused the illnesses, which is not uncommon in foodborne outbreak investigations. Much of the food served at the onset of the outbreak was no longer available for sampling, so it is possible the food collected and tested was not the source for the illnesses.


Additionally, the single stool specimen tested did not reveal what caused the illness. Analysis of the food histories of both ill and well persons did not identify any one specific food item as being highly suspect for the reported illnesses.  It is quite possible that more than one food item may have been the source for the reported illnesses.


The initial closing of the restaurant occurred June 18. During the investigation there were several significant food code risk factors for foodborne illness related to food handling and storage found.


As the investigation progressed, the continued presence of these violations contributed to the second closing of the restaurant on June 21 alongside the determination that norovirus was an unlikely cause of the illness, the release said.


The restaurant was allowed to reopen on July 8, but with continued oversight by the restaurant’s hired food safety consultant and the health department. The update history regarding the outbreak can be accessed at


Ionia County Health Department clarifies temporary restraining order issued to KMI in Belding

In a news release today, the Ionia County Health Department said it has received numerous media requests regarding the temporary restraining order issued July 26 to Kassouni Manufacturing Inc. (KMI).


The department is clarifying the scope and intent of the order.


The order was sought by the health department following the July 19 fire at the facility to

address the necessity for the safe-handling of trichloroisocyanuric acid; it was to address

only the portion of the manufacturing process that involves trichloroisocyanuric acid, according to the release.


The health department is aware that there are aspects of KMI’s business that do not use or handle trichloroisocyanuric acid. The department does not intend or interpret the temporary order to apply to all of KMI’s manufacturing operations.


The department’s goal, stated in paragraph 15 of the order says:  “The department moves pursuant to MCR 3.310 and MCL 333.2465 for injunctive relief, requiring defendant, its agents and employees, and all persons with notice, to cease all production involving trichloroisocyanuric acid at its 815 Front Street Belding, Michigan manufacturing plant and to take immediate steps to secure all trichloroisocyanuric acid such that it does not pose a risk of explosion or potential harm to the public...”


“Thus, the health department wants to clarify that the temporary restraining order did not  shut down all operations at KMI but only those that involve  trichloroisocyanuric acid,” the release said.


The next step in the legal process is a show cause hearing before Judge Ronald

Schafer on Aug. 12 in Ionia County Circuit Court.


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