Local News Archives for 2019-09

Heavy Rain Over the Weekend

Mother Nature let go over the weekend with Thunderstorms and heavy flooding rain.

The Hastings National Weather service Climatological Station recorded 2.86 inches of rain bringing the September rain total  to date at 7.32 inches. 

Blue Zones and Barry Community Foundation launch groundbreaking countywide transformation

The Barry Community Foundation and other local leaders have joined forces with Blue Zones to begin a countywide well-being transformation in Barry County through the Blue Zones Activate program. Blue Zones uses scientifically proven lessons of longevity, health, and happiness to boost the well-being of entire communities.


Barry County is proud to be the first community in Michigan to partner with this innovative approach to increase community health and wellness. Blue Zones Activate is based on research and principles developed by Dan Buettner, National Geographic Fellow and New York Times bestselling author, who identified the cultures of the world—or blue zones—with the healthiest, longest-living populations.


Blue Zones focuses on the single largest determinant of our health: the place we live. By focusing on the places where people live, work, learn, and play, Blue Zones has been able to help communities move the needle in improving overall population health and reducing healthcare costs in hundreds of places around the country. The innovative strategy is built on the foundation of improving food and built environment policies that impact public health and health inequalities to increase the availability of healthy choices within the community


By optimizing the places where people spend most of their time, Blue Zones Activate helps communities with policy initiatives to create environments where healthy choices are easier and accessible to everyone. As a result, people can live longer and better, and communities can lower healthcare costs, improve productivity, and boost their city's national recognition as a great place to live, work, and play.


The Barry Community Foundation is the lead partner, with primary sponsorships from the MTC Community Fund, Spectrum Health Pennock, and Hastings Fiberglass, and supporting sponsorships from Highpoint Community Bank, Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, the DeCamp Foundation, Barry Community Foundation, Barry Eaton District Health Department and Barry County.



Aerial spraying to start Sunday night in 14 counties to combat EEE

Due to the large geographic distribution and number of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) cases in humans and animals, coupled with warm weather projections, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and 12 local health departments have decided to conduct aerial spraying in high risk areas to combat further spread of the deadly disease EEE.


Spraying is scheduled take place starting Sunday, Sept. 29 starting at 8 p.m. However, the ability to spray is weather dependent and the schedule may change. Residents are encouraged to visit for up-to-date information.


Spraying will occur in the following 14 counties: Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Montcalm, Newaygo, St. Joseph and Van Buren. All of these counties have cases of EEE in people, animals or both.


Aerial spraying is conducted by low-flying aircraft, beginning in the early evening and continuing up until 4:30 a.m. the next morning, in areas of concern. Mosquito control professionals will apply approved pesticides as an ultra-low volume (ULV) spray. ULV sprayers dispense very fine aerosol droplets that stay suspended in the air and kill adult mosquitoes on contact. This is a tactic other states, including Massachusetts and Rhode Island, have recently employed to combat EEE.

“We are taking this step to help protect the health and safety of Michiganders in areas of the state that are being affected by this dangerous mosquito-borne disease,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “The continuing number of cases in both people and animals indicate an ongoing risk for EEE exposure. We continue to urge residents to protect themselves against mosquito bites until a hard frost.”


The pesticide being used is Merus 3.0 which is an organic pesticide containing 5 percent pyrethrin. Pyrethrins are chemicals found naturally in some chrysanthemum flowers. They are a mixture of six chemicals that are toxic to insects. Pyrethrins are commonly used to control mosquitoes, fleas, flies, moths, ants and many other pests. Pyrethrins have been registered for use in pesticides since the 1950s.


In general, health risks are not expected during or after spraying. No special precautions are recommended; however, residents and individuals who have known sensitivities to pyrethrins can reduce potential for exposure by staying indoors during spraying. Aerial spraying is not expected to have any impacts on surface water or drinking water.


Aerial spraying will be conducted in the nighttime hours as this is when mosquitos are more active. It is also when fish are less likely to be at the surface feeding and honeybees are most likely to be in their hives. However, owners should cover small ornamental fishponds during the night of spraying. While it is not necessary to bring animals indoors during spraying, concerned pet owners can bring animals inside during spraying.


Additional information about aerial spraying and other health-related information is available in a Frequently Asked Questions document at


As of Sept. 27, EEE has been confirmed in nine people, with three fatalities, in Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties. In addition, cases have occurred in 27 animals from 13 counties: Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Genesee, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Montcalm, Newaygo, St. Joseph and Van Buren. There is an EEE vaccine available for horses, but not for people. Additional animal cases are under investigation.


MDHHS is continuing to encourage local officials in the affected counties to consider postponing, rescheduling or cancelling outdoor activities occurring at or after dusk, particularly activities that involve children. This would include events such as late evening sports practices or games or outdoor music practices. The MDHHS recommendation is being made out of an abundance of caution to protect the public health and applies until the first hard frost of the year.


EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States, with a 33 percent fatality rate in people who become ill. People can be infected with EEE from the bite of a mosquito carrying the viruses. Persons younger than age 15 and over age 50 are at greatest risk of severe disease following infection.


Although the aerial spray is considered necessary to reduce human risk, it will not eliminate it. Residents must continue to protect themselves from mosquito bites by:


• Avoid being outdoors from dusk to dawn when mosquitos that carry the EEE virus are most active.

• Applying insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved product to exposed skin or clothing, and always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.

• Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Apply insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites.

• Maintaining window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes outside.

• Emptying water from mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes may lay eggs.

• Using nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas.


Signs of EEE infection include the sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches which can progress to a severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis. Anyone who thinks they may be experiencing these symptoms should contact a medical provider. Permanent brain damage, coma and death may also occur in some cases.


Fatal moped accident

The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department responded to a single motor vehicle fatal accident in the 4300 Blk of East Gull Lake Dr. on Thursday, 09/26/19. A moped driven by a 39 year old male from the Kalamazoo area left the roadway and struck a tree. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene. The accident remains under investigation. The Sheriff’s Department was assisted on scene by Ross/Augusta Fire Department, Richland Fire Department and Life Care Ambulance.

Another phone scam attempting to get money from victims

The Kalamazoo County Sheriff Office received a report of an attempted fraud of a Portage

resident.  The potential victim reported that an unknown caller identified themselves as a member of the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office and told them they had pending charges for contempt of court, with a fine of $3600.00. 


The potential victim was told that they could pay this at the Sheriff's Office in Kalamazoo County.  The caller asked the victim to bring 2 pieces of identification along with the cash and meet them at the sheriff’s office after 6:00 PM.  The name that the caller gave was a real Law Enforcement person and the caller ID indicated the call was coming from the Sheriff’s Office.    The phone number on the caller ID was spoofed as an actual number for the Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Fuller would like to make it clear to citizens that no law enforcement agency would contact someone asking them to bring cash to pay fines or charges and no law enforcement agency would ask someone to pay fines and costs afterhours.   


If a citizen receives a call like this, call your local law enforcement authority. 


Nashville Police Chief Chris Koster killed in single-vehicle crash

A traffic crash Thursday morning claimed the life of Chris Allen Koster, the Police Chief of the Village of Nashville.  The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that Koster died as a result of injuries sustained in the single-vehicle accident that occurred on North 32nd Street, north of EB Avenue in Richland Township


Koster, who was 59, lived in Plainwell. It is believed he was on his way to work Thursday morning when his vehicle went off the roadway around 8:30am, striking a tree. No other passengers were in Koster’s vehicle at the time of the crash.


Koster has been the Nashville police chief since April, 2015. The village office was closed Thursday after officials and staff learned of his death.  Alcohol is not believed to be a factor in this incident. The accident remains under investigation by the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office.

Two Vehicle Personal Injury Accident

The Barry County Sheriff's Office responded to a two-car serious injury crash on M-37 Highway near River Road around 6:00 PM Wednesday night. Initial investigation showed a Ford Ranger was traveling North on M-37 and crossed the centerline and struck a southbound Suburu Outback head-on. The Ford Ranger was occupied by a 28 year old Hastings man and a 48 year old Nashville woman. The Suburu Outback was occupied by a 41 year old Woodland man. Both males were airlifted to area hospitals, the female was transported by ambulance to an area hospital. All three occupants sustained serious injuries as a result of the crash. Investigation is ongoing and all names are being withheld at this time.

Less than a week to apply for Home Heating Credit

Qualified homeowners or renters have less than a week to apply for Michigan’s Home Heating Credit, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.


Low-income, deaf, disabled or blind persons, disabled veterans and senior citizens may qualify for the credit to help pay their energy bills. Applicants do not need to file a Michigan income tax return to get the Home Heating Credit.


All applications for the credit must be received by Sept. 30, 2019.


“Eligible individuals should not wait to apply for the Home Heating Credit,” State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks said. “This important tax credit can provide some relief as we enter into the fall heating season, leaving more money available for other critical needs.”


The state Treasury Department has been processing Home Heating Credit applications since Jan. 28, 2019. To date, the average credit is $195, for a total of nearly $57 million paid out through the end of August.


The Home Heating Credit (MI-1040CR-7) form can be obtained at or by calling 517-636-4486

City Council approves PUD, rezoning, fall events

The Hastings City Council voted Monday to amend the city zoning ordinance to create the Royal Coach Planned Unit Development district, the site along the north side of the Thornapple River near Hastings Manufacturing Company where a new 73-unit housing development is to be built. They also passed an ordinance to re-zone two parcels of land near the Thornapple River from rural-residential to flood-plane district.


The Council gave the go-ahead for the fall ‘Girl’s Night Out’ in downtown Hastings on Thursday, October 3rd from 5 to 8pm.  The Hastings Downtown Business Team hosts the popular shopping event with promotions inside businesses, music, sales on the sidewalks, and the annual scarecrow contest.


Also approved was a request from Fun Promotions, LLC. to hold a weekend bicycle Cyclocross event at Fish Hatchery Park on November 23rd and 24th.  The family event will offer races for all age groups and expects up to 200 participants on Saturday and around 100 riders on Sunday. A course of 1.3 to 1.5 miles long will be set up inside the park.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis remains an ongoing threat in Southwest Michigan

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has confirmed Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in an adult resident of Calhoun County. Eight cases of EEE have now been confirmed in residents of Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, and Van Buren counties, including three deaths.


"The increasing geographic spread and increasing number of EEE cases in humans and

animals indicate that the risk for EEE is ongoing," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief

medical executive and chief deputy for health. "We continue to urge Michiganders to protect

themselves against mosquito bites until the first hard frost."


Additionally, testing at the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has

recently identified EEE in one animal each in Calhoun, Jackson and Montcalm counties. As of

Sept. 20, EEE has been confirmed in 21 animals from 11 counties: Barry, Berrien, Calhoun,

Cass, Genesee, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lapeer, Montcalm, St. Joseph, and Van Buren. There

is an EEE vaccine available for horses, but not for people. Additional animal cases are under



MDHHS is encouraging local officials in the affected counties to consider postponing,

rescheduling or cancelling outdoor activities occurring at or after dusk, particularly activities

that involve children. This would include events such as late evening sports practices or

games or outdoor music practices. The MDHHS recommendation is being made out of an

abundance of caution to protect the public health and applies until the first hard frost of the



EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States, with a 33

percent fatality rate in people who become ill. People can be infected with EEE from the bite of

a mosquito carrying the viruses. Persons younger than age 15 and over age 50 are at greatest

risk of severe disease following infection.


Across Michigan, residents can stay healthy by following steps to avoid mosquito bites:


· Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other U.S.

Environmental Protection Agency-approved product to exposed skin or clothing, and

always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.


· Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Apply insect repellent to

clothing to help prevent bites.


· Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes outside.


· Empty water from mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as buckets, unused

kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes may lay eggs.


· Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas.


Signs of EEE include the sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches which can

progress to a severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures and

paralysis. Permanent brain damage, coma and death may also occur in some cases.



State Police Launches Free Smart Phone Mobile App

Michiganders can now download a free mobile app that allows users to follow the MSP post that covers their area to receive breaking news and information. The app, called MSP Mobile, is available for download in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store by searching for “Michigan State Police.”


With 30 MSP posts statewide, MSP Mobile was designed to allow users to follow the post that serves their community or any post of their choosing. Users can opt to receive push notifications that will instantly alert them to traffic crashes, arrests, criminal investigations, community events and other education and prevention information.


Notably, the app also allows users to submit crime tips direct to the MSP, allowing for the easy upload of photos or video to support the tip.


Other key features of MSP Mobile include:

  • Profiles of Michigan’s most wanted fugitives
  • Search the Michigan Public Sex Offender Registry
  • Help solve cold cases
  • Contact information and driving directions for MSP posts and districts statewide in a format that is GPS-enabled and sortable by city/address

Wayland Post Seeking "Angel" Volunteers

The Michigan State Police Wayland Post is seeking volunteers to assist with the Angel Program, which allows an individual struggling with addiction to walk into any post and ask for assistance without fear of arrest or investigation.


Angel volunteers respond to assist MSP post personnel in locating the appropriate treatment option and with transporting the participant to a treatment center. Volunteers are reimbursed for mileage and meal expenses and once eligible (after 20 hours of service), receive an hourly stipend.  Angels will be trained by MSP personnel on the responsibilities and expectations of being an Angel.


The MSP Angel Program is supported by P.A.A.R.I. (the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative) and is modeled after a similar initiative developed in 2015 by the Gloucester, Massachusetts Police Department. 


The Wayland Post will soon be conducting training for new volunteers. If you are interested in learning more about the MSP Angel program or becoming an “Angel” volunteer, please contact the Wayland Post at 269-792-2213 or visit 

3 children killed, 1 hurt in Vehicle-buggy crash

The Eaton County Sheriff's  Office say three children are dead and a fourth seriously injured after a vehicle crashed into their Amish buggy around 3:19 Wednesday afternoon.  The crash occured on Vermontville highway near Bradley Road in Vermontville Township just east of Barry County.


The Sheriff's Office said the buggy was struck from behind. The driver of the vehicle was also taken to an area hospital for evalutation. The children were on their way home from school when the crash happened. The children are all siblings from a local family between the ages of 6 and 13.


The Eaton County Sheriff’s Office Crash Reconstruction Team and Detective Bureau are investigating the crash.


Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich stated –


“It is difficult to find words to describe this horrific tragedy.   Our hearts and prayers go out to the parents who are enduring such unimaginable loss and grief, and also to their extended family and close community. Our Victim Advocates are assisting the family, and we will continue to provide our support and resources.  We grieve with them.”


Athletic events re-scheduled to reduce risk of EEE virus

Schools in southern Michigan are in the process of re-scheduling athletic practices and events to earlier start times in response to recommendations by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to help combat the spread of Eastern Equine Encephalitis which can be carried by mosquitos.


Update:  TK Varsity Football game at Wayland Friday night will be moved to begin at 5:30pm.


Hastings High School has moved the start times for Freshmen and Junior Varsity games up one hour and will start the first contest at 3:30pm.  So far no change has been announced for the Varsity Football game this Friday night at Marshall.


Delton Kellogg will play their JV football game this Thursday, Varsity Soccer on Friday, and Varsity Football on Friday all starting at 5:30pm.


Lakewood will kick off their JV game Thursday and Varsity homecoming football game Friday at 5:00pm. Lakewood is moving all athletic practices earlier and will try to end outdoor events by 7pm.


WBCH will let you know as soon as we learn start times for other schools/contests.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in Southwest Michigan, Including Barry County

Southwest Michigan is experiencing activity of a rare, deadly mosquito-borne disease known as Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). As of September 17, there have been 7 confirmed cases of EEE in humans, including one (1) case in Barry County. The Barry-Eaton District Health Department would like to remind residents that human cases of EEE are rare, usually averaging around 7 cases per year in the United States. However, the presence of EEE activity in the Southwest Region of Michigan is of concern, thus, precautions to prevent exposure to mosquitos should be taken.


People can become infected with the EEE virus from the bite of a mosquito carrying the virus. Most who are infected with the virus that causes EEE do not become ill. However, persons below the age of 15 or above the age of 50 years have greater risk of developing a severe infection that has high potential for permanent brain damage or death. Barry County residents will continue to be at risk for EEE infection until the first frost decreases mosquito populations. The risk of bites from infected mosquitoes is highest for people who work or play outdoors in these areas. Wearing insect repellent containing the active ingredient DEET, or one of the other active ingredients listed below, when outdoors (especially at dawn and dusk), is important to prevent EEE.


Early symptoms of EEE include the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, body and joint aches. Symptoms usually appear 4-10 days after exposure. EEE can develop into severe encephalitis (brain swelling), resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis. Permanent brain damage, coma and death may also occur in some cases.


All residents of and visitors to areas where virus activity has been identified are at risk of infection with EEE. To prevent mosquito bites, the following precautions should be taken:


  • Use an insect repellent registered by the EPA, containing one of the following active ingredients; DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, Para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone on exposed skin and/or clothing. To find out if an insect repellant is registered by the EPA, visit
  • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old. Instead, dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs. Cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting. Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old.
  • Avoid outdoor activities from dusk until dawn
  • Wear long-sleeves, long pants, and socks with shoes when weather permits.
  • Have secure screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
  • Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets, barrels and other containers.

Three dead amid mosquito borne virus

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is reporting that two more people have died from the mosquito borne virus Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

Human cases of EEE have been confirmed in Barry, Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo and Van Buren Counties. State health officials are encouraging local leaders in Barry, Berrien, Cass, Genesee, Kalamazoo, Lapeer, St. Joseph and van Buren to consider postponing, rescheduling or canceling outdoor activities particularly those involving children, in an effort to protect public health.

Michigan is currently experiencing its worst Eastern Equine Encephalitis outbreak in more than a decade.


Judge McDowell's Replacement


With Barry County Circuit Judge Amy McDowell's retirement from the bench, Barry County  Chief Judge William Doherty moved quickly in replacing McDowell until the Governor appoints a replacement.


On Tuesday in a written announcement, Judge Doherty said retired Judge Donald Johnson will sit as a visiting Judge for the time being. Doherty said Johnson's assignment is effective immediately and will continue through December 31st.


Judge Johnson seved 10 years as District Judge and 30 years as Circuit Judge in Kent County.

Skateboarder injured when struck by car

The Hastings Police Department responded to a personal injury accident at approximately 3:30pm  Monday afternoon involving a skateboard and a motor vehicle. 


The accident occurred as an 18 year old Hastings man,was riding on a  skateboard, eastbound on Center St, approaching Boltwood St. The skateboarder failed to stop at a stop sign and was hit by a southbound vehicle on Boltwood St. driven by a 42 year old Hastings woman. The 18 year

old was flown to Borgess hospital for treatment. The driver of the motor vehicle was not injured.


The Hastings Police were assisted by Hastings Fire Department and Barry Central Dispatch.


Barry County Circuit Court Judge resigns

Barry County Circuit Court Judge Amy McDowell has stepped down, her last day at work was September 6th, 2019 according to the court administrator.  Judge McDowell’s retirement from the bench will become official when Governor Gretchen Whitmer formally accepts her letter of resignation.


McDowell was originally appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder in June, 2011 following the retirement of Judge James Fisher. She was subsequently elected in 2012, and then re-elected to a six-year term in 2014. Before that, McDowell was an attorney in Barry County for over 17 years. She  held positions with the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office as Assistant Prosecutor, Chief Assistant Prosecutor, City of Hastings Attorney, Juvenile Drug Court Attorney, and an Adjunct Professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School.  She was the Judge for Barry County’s Adult Drug Court and implemented the Swift and Sure Sanctions Program.


There is no information available yet on how or when the court vacancy will be filled.

HPD investigating thefts from motor vehicles

The Hastings Police Department is  investigating a rash of thefts from motor vehicles that have occurred throughout the City  at all times of the day and night. Residents and visitors are encouraged to lock their vehicles as the majority of these thefts are occurring to vehicles that are left unsecured.


Please help by reporting all suspicious activity and crimes. HPD strives to provide the best service possible, and asks for your help in making that possible.


You can contact Barry County Central Dispatch, 24 hours a day, at 269-948-4800 or Silent Observer at 1-800-310-9031.

Storm Update

Officials with the National Weather Service In Grand Rapids concluded their survery on Wednesday's storms.  The survey team did not see conclusive evidence of a tornado touchdown in the area. In  tracking the storms path, damage was observed from U.S. 131 in Grand Rapids east towards Woodbury and Lake Odessa, Ada and Lowell where wind speeds were  estimated between 70 and 80 mph.





A line of  Thunderstorms some severe moved through Lower Michigan  Wednesday night bringing down trees, limbs, and  power lines. No injuries reported. Utilities companies are out restoring electric service to over 50-thousand homes and businesses who lost their power. At one time some 1,569 Barry County customers were with out power.. 

Here in Hastings the National Weather Service Climatological Station recorded two inches of rain from the storms after a high of 88-degrees on Wednesday.

Where There's a You, There's A Way - United Way Kickoff and Day of Caring

The Barry County United Way will kick-off the 83rd campaign on September 12th, 8am at the Barry County Expo Center. This year’s theme “Where there’s a You, There’s a Way” speaks directly to the heart of how donor dollars change lives in our community. Last year, over 60,000 times residents of our community accessed programs and services funded by donor contributions.


Campaign Co-Chairs Jim DeCamp and Bill Rohr are challenging residents to become a partner with United Way.  “Your investment goes so much further with Barry County United Way. 100% of the contributions are utilized for programming right here in Barry County, thanks to the Florence Tyden Groos Endowment Fund that covers administrative costs,” says campaign co-chair Bill Rohr. “This year our goal is $650,000 based on the needs of the programs and services that request funds through Barry County United Way,” states campaign co-chair Jim DeCamp.

Thirty four programs rely on the support of the United Way campaign in Barry County.



Right after the kickoff, over 400 volunteers will join forces to volunteer on a variety of both indoor and outdoor opportunities. Indoor events include archiving at Gilmore Car Museum, office cleaning at Hope Network, sorting clothes for the changing seasons at the Shack in Delton and playing BINGO with the residents at Thornapple Manor. Outdoor activities include cleaning up the Riverwalk Trail in Hastings and the Paul Henry Trail in Middleville, playground painting at Central Elementary, building a therapeutic horse shelter at Camp Manitou-Lin, gardening at Charlton Park to create shoreline garden, and sanding and sealing a wooden ship in Freeport.  We are still in need of more volunteers for both Thursday and Saturday projects. If you are interested in helping, please call Morgan at the Volunteer Center, 945-4010 “It is great to witness how eager our community is to volunteer at so many organizations”, says Morgan Johnson, Volunteer Center Director. “According to the Independent Sector each volunteer hour is worth $25.43, therefore the hours put in by these volunteers is equal to over $40,000 to our community. Day of Caring will take place on Thursday, September 12th and Saturday, September 14th.  Thornapple Valley Church has combined their Blitz Day with United Way to show the value of partnerships throughout the community. “This enables us to partner with many individuals and families that are not available during the work week”, says Johnson.


Update: Missing Kalamazoo man

UPDATE: On September 12, 2019 Frank Farthing was located in Avoca Iowa. The Avoca Iowa Police Department spoke with Frank Farthing. They determined that he was alive and well and not in any danger. The family has been notified and made aware of his location and condition.


ORIGINAL STORY: The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office is attempting to locate 60 year old Frank Farthing of Kalamazoo. Farthing left his residence on Reisling St in Texas Township in the afternoon of September 10, 2019 driving a 2013 Ford Mustang, silver in color, with Michigan Registration HY93L.


The family is concerned for his safety and wellbeing as this is unusual for him not to return home. If anyone has information about Farthing or locates his vehicle, they are asked to contact the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office or Kalamazoo Consolidated Dispatch at 269-488-8911.


BEDHD offers tips for Septic Smart week

September 16th-20th is Septic Smart Week, and Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) would like to remind septic system owners to be SepticSmart! Follow these tips to keep your septic system working properly!


  • Think at the Sink! What goes down your drain has a big impact on your septic system. Avoid harsh chemicals and use any cleaners, detergents, and especially drain cleaners in moderation.
  • Don’t Strain your Drain! Use water efficiently and stagger use of your washing machine to avoid overloading your system causing a back-up into your house. It is better to do one small load a day than save everything to wash all at once.
  • Shield your Field! Tree and shrub roots, cars, and livestock can damage your drainfield. Don’t plant woody trees and shrubs near your septic system and never drive a vehicle over any portion of it.
  • Protect It and Inspect It! Regular septic system maintenance can save homeowners thousands of dollars in replacement costs and protect public health by identifying potential problems before they become irreversible. Have your system evaluated by a professional.
  • Don’t Overload the Commode! Don’t treat your toilet like a trash can. Disposable diapers and wipes (even those labeled “flushable” or “septic system safe”), feminine hygiene products, cigarette butts, cat litter, and much more can damage your septic system if you flush them down the toilet. Only flush human waste and toilet paper, everything else should go in the trash.
  • Pump Your Tank! Have your septic tank cleaned out at regular intervals by a licensed septage hauler. This should be done once every five years or so, depending on use and the size of your septic tank.


Septic system owners also should take special care during flood conditions. BEDHD recently added information on our website about septic system safety during a flood. This information can be accessed at

Fire destroys semi on I-96

Ionia County Deputies responded to a vehicle fire on east bound I-96 near mile mark 71, Tuesday at 7:30pm. The investigation showed that a semi-truck was traveling east on I-96 when an unknown mechanical failure cause the truck to catch fire. The driver was able to pull the truck onto the shoulder and escape safely. The truck was a complete loss. I-96 was closed for about an hour and a half while the investigation was conducted.

The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by Berlin Orange Fire Department, Ionia County Central
Dispatch, and Reed and Hoppes Towing.

County Commission approves Blue Zones agreement with Health Department

The Barry County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved a revised letter of agreement between the Barry Eaton District Health Department and Blue Zones, LLC,  that will allow the Health Department in Hastings to provide office space for Blue Zones to establish the program in Barry County.


The original letter of agreement was turned down by Commissioners on a 4-3 vote in August over concerns about data security and technology. At the Committee of the Whole meeting September 3rd, the issue was re-visited when the provision of a laptop computer, Health Department I-T support services, and access to the Health Department copier/printer and web conferencing system were removed in the revised agreement.


Several citizens and community leaders spoke during public comment in support of Blue Zones, 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.  Barry County would be the first in the state to implement the initiative to change the health and wellbeing of all citizens.




The Commission also approved a bid for application of epoxy flooring in specific locations at the Sheriff’s Office in the amount of $60,563 from the Building Rehabilitation fund.


The hiring of a temporary part-time person in the County Clerk’s department for up to 10 hours per week was approved, to be paid from the Concealed Pistol Licensing fund. The hire will assist with the Concealed Pistol License workload and  miscellaneous other tasks.

Two Vehicle Crash Child Dead

Barry County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to the intersection of Eckert Rd and Woodschool Rd for a two car fatal crash.  Preliminary investigation, showed the northbound vehicle, 2001 Ford Taurus, disregarded the stop sign on Woodschool Rd and was struck by an eastbound vehicle, 2007 Chevrolet Suburban, traveling on Eckert Rd. The Ford Taurus was occupied by a 26 year old female driver and two 3 month old female children.  One of the children was pronounced deceased at the scene.  Both children were secured in car safety seats. This crash remains under investigation.  The name of the deceased child will not be released at this time.

Hastings City Council meeting, Monday, September 9

In a short meeting Monday the Hastings City Council approved a tax exemption ordinance and passed a resolution of community support for a proposed housing project on the old Royal Coach factory site located along the north bank of the Thornapple River on Mill Street.


The council had the first reading of a separate ordinance to re-zone the property to create the Royal Coach Apartments - Planned Unit Development (PUD) as recommended by the Planning Commission on September 3rd.


The PUD calls for 45 single-bedroom apartments and 9 two-bedroom units to be built inside the existing Royal Coach structure. Additionally, 19 three-bedroom units would be constructed in new Townhouse buildings.


The proposed development by Wisconsin based General Capital Group will be known as Royal Coach Landings and will offer affordable and middle income housing on 8.2 acres formerly owned by Hastings Manufacturing Company across the river from Thornapple Plaza.


In other business the council:


Approved resolutions to adopt and implement a local Pavement Warranty Program to comply with state requirements.


Approved a request from Brian Shumway of American Legion Post 45 to use the Veteran’s Plaza at Tyden Park on Monday, September 30th, to hold  a memorial event for Ernest Cassius Belson, a Barry County resident who died of malaria while serving in World War II, but was never recognized for his contribution to the war effort.


Approved the tying of teal colored ribbons around city trees during September to promote awareness of ovarian cancer.


Approved the Hastings High School Homecoming parade in downtown Hastings at 5:30pm on Friday, October 18.

Emmanuel Episcopal Church celebrates installation of rooftop solar array

Installation of 62 rooftop solar panels begins September 9, 2019 at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Hastings. The solar array is projected to supply over half of the electric needs of the church.


Emmanuel parishioners  signed footings that attach the panels to the roof on Sunday, September 8, and a blessing of the materials and prayers for the workers will be held at the site at 8:00am, September 9. “Acts of Transformation: A Solar Celebration” is planned for Wednesday, October 23, 2019 beginning at 3:30pm at the church, when the system will “go live,” and the church will be plugged in to the Consumers Energy power grid.

Solar Winds Power Systems, LLC of Shelbyville, Michigan was awarded the project.


“We learned of Solar Winds through Michigan Interfaith Power and Light, an organization whose mission is ‘to inspire and equip people of faith to exercise stewardship of and love for all Creation,’ and which helps houses of worship with practical ways to put faith into action by promoting energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other sustainable practices that lead to a cleaner, healthier, and more just world. We found Mike Linsea, of Solar Winds to be very knowledgeable and generous with his time and attention as we began to explore this action toward solar energy for Emmanuel. He has worked with other churches in western Michigan and supports our faith-based commitment to Creation Care,” stated The Reverend Linnea Stifler.


Solar Winds has been providing both residential and commercial solar for eleven years and provides turnkey solutions ranging from design, engineering, material, labor, installation, and web monitoring. Some of Solar Winds references include Church of the Servant, United Church of Christ, St. James Apartments and Townhomes, Apex Stamping, and the Michigan Public Service Commission/ Michigan Agency for Energy.


The 20-kW system to be installed at Emmanuel includes  sixty-two 325-watt Panasonic solar panels, SolarEdge Invertors and Optimizer, an IronRidge roof mounting system, and features a web-based monitoring system. A special feature of the SolarEdge power optimizer is a DC/DC converter which turns the solar modules into smart modules, increasing the energy output from the PV system by constantly tracking the maximum power point of each module individually.

UPDATE: Attempted Murder


UPDATE: 29 year old David Gene Krebs II of Vermontville was arraigned today(Friday) on attempted murder and habitual offender charges. The next court appearance is scheduled for September 18th


The Barry County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating a stabbing incident that occurred in a moving vehicle between occupants on Barber Road south of M-43. The front seat passenger of the vehicle was stabbed multiple times by a back seat passenger. After stopping the vehicle, the injured passenger was able to flee to a nearby residence, and the homeowner then reported the incident. The suspect fled on foot from the vehicle, but was later taken into custody by deputies after being tracked by the Barry County Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit. He is currently lodged at the Barry County Jail while charges are being filed.  The victim was transported to Butterworth Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Barry County Missing Juvenile



The Barry County Sheriff's Office is asking the public's assistance in locating a missing juvenile runaway.

On September 1st, 15 years old Jah'lell Stephenson was last seen at her home in southeast Barry County. Jah'lell is known to have friends in the Bellevue area.

She is five feet four inches tall, 220 pounds with short black hair, brown eyes and black glasses.

 If you can assist the Sheriff's Office in this matter call 269-948-4801 or Barry County Central Dispatch.

Hastings Kmart Closing

A total of eight-Michigan Kmart stores including Hastings are due to close by the end of the year.

Larry Costello, public relations director for Sears and Kmart said "after careful review, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to close the Kmart stores in Hastings, Belleville, Menominee, Midland, Clio, Grayling, Oscoda and Marine city."

Liquidations sales are expected to begin  this month, with a plan in place to close the stores by mid December. 


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