Local News Archives for 2019-12

Update - Missing Couple

UPDATE: James and Dora Boulter were located Thursday afternoon 12/26/19 in Oceana County by a local resident. Preliminary reports indicate both are uninjured.




Original story:  The Barry County Sheriff’s Office is asking for assistance with locating a missing elderly couple.  James Boulter and Dora Boulter were last seen in Plainwell, Michigan on 12/24/2019 around 10:30 pm.  The couple left a friend’s home and was traveling back to their home in Orangeville Township, Barry County. 


On 12/25/19 at 5:19 pm, family members contacted Law Enforcement because the Boulter’s did not return home. The couple was last seen driving a yellow, Jeep Renegade.  Michigan license plate number 8MBJ29.


Animal Fire Deaths


Michigan led the nation in reported animal deaths caused by barn fires in 2019.

According to the animal welfare institute 253,000 animals died in 14 fires across Michigan.

The largest fire was April 30th this year that occured at Herbruck's Poultry Ranch in Saranac in which an estimated 250,000 hens were killed.

Michigan was followed by North Carolina with 42,000 deaths in five fires.

Nashville woman claims WBCH "One Grand Christmas" prize

Sara DeWyse of Nashville claimed the $1,000 Grand Prize Friday morning in the station’s "One Grand Christmas"  contest.



Shoppers visiting 31 different area businesses from Nov. 11 to Dec. 19 filled out an entry blank for a chance for a prize given away every week day starting just before Thanksgiving, leading up to the $1,000 check just in time for last-minute Christmas shopping. Thousands of entries were submitted.



Sara, who was at work in Hastings when her name was announced on the radio, was alerted by a co-worker who was listening to “call WBCH right away” and was excited to learn she had won the top prize. Sara entered the free drawing at the Cookie Store in Hastings.


Photo: Barry Broadcasting President Steve Radant and $1,000 winner Sara DeWyse.

Hastings Police and Johnny's Shell Station


Thursday night was special for customers of Johnny's Shell Station in Hastings.

Hastings police Officers, Police Cadets,and the Police Ambassadors with gas cards, welcomed customers with smiles and holiday greetings and pumped their free gas and cleaned their vehicle windows. It's one of those special times of the year,   The Christmas Season!

Police Report

Hastings Police arrested a Hastings individual when they learned there was a warrant for his arrest in addition to finding in his possession a glass pipe that tested positive for meth.

Police also arrested a Hastings resident during a traffic stop when Central dispatch informed the officer he was driving on a suspended license and there was no license plate on the vehicle.

The police during the traffic stop also  found the individual was carrying pills that he said were for his dog, but turned out to be anti-depressant pills but not for a dog.

Both incidents are now in the hands of the Barry County Prosecutor.

New Barry County Judge

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has appointed Vicky Alspaugh as Barry County's new Circuit Judge Replacing Judge Amy McDowell who resigned October 15th.

Alspaugh's term will begin January 1, 2020 and expire at noon January 1, 2021.

To run for a full six year term she will be required to run for re-election in November 2020.

Appointments to new Barry County Parks and Recreation Commission

As of January 1st, 2020,  Barry County will have a new 10-member Parks and Recreation Commission after County Commissioners decided in November to combine the current Charlton Park Board with the current Parks and Recreation Board. It is anticipate that the new Commission will be able to leverage more state and federal grant money for the county parks system.


Tuesday, the Committee of the Whole recommended approval to appointments of:


Catherine Getty and Doug Klein from the current Parks and Recreation Board to 1-year and 2-year terms on the new Commission.


Russ Yarger and Colleen Acker to serve 1-year and 2-year terms on the new Commission from the current Charlton Park Board.


Daryl Cheeseman to represent the Charlton Park Gas & Steam Club and Rick Moore to represent the Thornapple Trails Association, both for 3-year terms.


The Parks and Recreation Commission will also include County Commissioner Dan Parker,  Frank Fiala from the County Road Commission,  Drain Commissioner Jim Dull, and Clyde Morgan from the Planning Commission.

New Hours at Barry County Animal Shelter

Barry County Commissioners approved changes to the office schedule and open public hours for the Kennel and Cattery at the Barry County Animal Schedule in order to make it easier for volunteers and staff to complete the many ongoing tasks of caring for the animals, operating the facility and serving the public.



New Office Hours:

Monday-Tuesday-Thursday-Friday           Open 8:00am – 12:30pm  and 1:30pm – 5:00pm

Wednesday                                               Open 1:00pm – 5:00pm

Saturday                                                    Open 8:00am - Noon


New Kennel & Cattery Hours:

Monday-Tuesday-Thursday-Friday           Open 9:30am – 12:30pm  and  1:30pm – 4:30pm

Wednesday                                                Open 1:00pm – 4:30pm

Saturday                                                    Open 9:00am – 11:30am

Drive Merry and Bright This Holiday Season

Christmas and New Year’s Day are fun, busy times to celebrate with family and friends. It is also one of the deadliest times of year for drunk-and drugged-driving fatalities. This is why law enforcement officers, in partnership with the Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP), are encouraging safe, sober driving this holiday season.


The national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign runs from Dec.18 – Jan. 1. Increased enforcement, along with statewide messages about the dangers of impaired driving, aim to drastically reduce traffic crashes, fatalities, and injuries on the roadways.


“The holidays should be an enjoyable time to spend with loved ones,” said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director. “It’s important for people to drive sober this holiday season – and every day. If you’re impaired by any substance, you shouldn’t drive.”  


In addition, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proclaimed December as Impaired Driving Prevention Month in Michigan.


In 2018, one person was killed every 50 minutes by a drunk driver on our nation’s roads.

In Michigan, of the 905 fatal crashes in 2018, 31.7 percent involved alcohol. 


Officers during this campaign will be on the look-out for motorists under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Impairment of any kind while driving is illegal. If a person chooses to drive while impaired, they can be arrested for a DUI and could face jail time.


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. 

Fire Suppresion System


Community Development Director Dan King tells WBCH News  Monday the owners of the former Second Hand Corners building had a lateral fire suppression system installed.

Due to the nature of the equipment required, the sidewalk,  in front of the building is barricaded for saferty  purposes until the installation is complete.

Be careful of Scam Calls

Kalamazoo County residents have reported being called and threatened to pay fines for outstanding warrants. The callers are identifying themselves as members of the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office administrative team and threatening residents that they have a warrant for their arrest. They are then instructed to pay their fines to avoid being arrested by purchasing gift cards.


This is a usual scam that reappears in Kalamazoo County and in many other counties in Michigan and throughout the country. The Sheriff’s Office would remind everyone to simply hang up on these calls.  


A common indicator of a scam is that the caller will give instructions to purchase gift cards and read the numbers to them. Common scams such as this, or calling and pretending to say your grandchild is in jail, or your computer needs repair are very typical. If you receive such a call it is a good reminder check with family, friends or your local law enforcement agency to verify it the call is legitimate

State hires auditors to look into Barry ISD


The State of Michigan has hired auditors to conduct an independent audit into the early childhood programs run by the Barry Intermediate School District.

The audit comes after a report by the Michigan Department of Education earlier this year recommending the program be removed from Barry County ISD and operated by another school district.

Barry ISD has been running early childhood programs for Barry County with state funding since the beginning of the school year as usual.

Officials from the Department of Education conducted a financial review of the early childhood programs in April.

Among the red flags in the report were nearly $130,000 in unallowable or questioned cost and $35,000 in misclassified costs.

The report recommended another school district take over the Barry County early childhood programs

Barry ISD appealed that decision in June..

Hastings Police Report


A local individual was arrested by Hastings Police after they learned of a warrant for his arrest out of the Battle Creek Police Department.  During their investigation the driver of the  pickup truck did not have a valid drivers license and the license plate on the pickup had  expired.

The individual who's name was not released was taken to jail.

Charlotte woman pleas guilty to filing false report of criminal sexual conduct and other charges

Kellie Bartlett of Charlotte pled guilty Wednesday to felony counts of Filing a False Felony Report, Unauthorized Access of a Computer, Identity Theft,  and to misdemeanor charges of Stalking and Lying to Police.


Bartlett admitted in court that she filed a false report of Criminal Sexual Conduct against an Eaton County Sheriff’s Deputy who she had been dating. In January, 2018, Kellie Bartlett filed a complaint with the State Police alleging that the deputy sexually assaulted her in March, 2017.


The case was assigned to the Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor Pratt by the Attorney General after the Eaton County Prosecuter recused his office due to a conflict.


Bartlett was charge with filing a false report after phone records and other evidence indicated she made up the assault allegation in retaliation against the deputy when he ended their relationship.


Bartlett also admitted to accessing a computer without authority at the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office where she worked until December, 2017,  to identity theft when she forged the signature of an employee at the office of a Lansing area Cardiologist, and to stalking the woman that the deputy eventually married.


A sentencing hearing is set for January 30, 2020 in Eaton County Circuit Court.

Rep. Calley invites residents to local office hours

State Rep. Julie Calley welcomes residents to office hours in two communities on Monday, Dec. 16.

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

  • 10 to 11 a.m. at Portland City Hall, 259 Kent St. in Portland; and
  • Individual meetings from 1 to 2 p.m. followed by a legislative update from 2 to 2:30 p.m. at the Barry County Courthouse, Commissioners’ Chambers, 220 W. State St. in Hastings.

“I look forward to meeting with community members and listening to their insight,” Rep. Calley said. “Monthly office hours have provided a great opportunity to connect with the people 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.

Celebrate 'Of Christmas Past' at Charlton Park this weekend

Children and the young at heart will delight in the holidays of yesteryear during the Of Christmas Past event at Historic Charlton Park Saturday and Sunday, Dec.14 and 15 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.


The Park’s turn-of-the-century village and museum will be staffed by volunteers and adorned with festive decorations; including a train display and fresh evergreens.  Take a wagon ride, and then visit with St. Nicholas who has plenty of candy canes for good boys and girls.  In celebration of the season, guests are encouraged to make holiday crafts, including a candle and yarn doll. 


Traditional food and drink samples will be available throughout the village, such as wassail, roasted chestnuts, cinnamon & sugar apples and popcorn. The Charlton Park Foundation Board is providing coffee and cookies at the Sixberry House.  Live holiday music will ring through the Carlton Center Church courtesy of the Thornapple Valley Dulcimer Society.


The park gift shop will also be open.  Daily admission cost is $6 for ages 13 and up; $4 for ages five to 12 and children four and under are free.  For more, visit  The park is southeast of Hastings, north of M-79, at 2545 South Charlton Park Road.

Stuff the Blue Goose

The Michigan State Police (MSP) Wayland and Hastings Post is hosting its annual “Stuff The Blue Goose” food and toy drive on Saturday, December 14, 2019 from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. The drives will be hosted in two locations; Wal-Mart in Plainwell and Wal-Mart in Hastings, MI. Both locations will be staffed by Michigan State Police Troopers collecting much needed non-perishable food and toys for families in need during the holidays.


Many food banks see a daily increase requesting food assistance during the lead-up to the Holiday season. The most commonly requested items during this time of year are canned fruit and vegetables, canned meat such as tuna and chicken, boxed potatoes, peanut butter, and cooking oil. All food and toy donations will be accepted and distributed to families in need in order to help everyone celebrate during this time of year.


Donations in Allegan County will be delivered to Christian Neighbors Food Pantries in both Plainwell and Wayland, with toys being donated to Community Action of Allegan County. Hastings food donations will be delivered to Barry County Cares and toys delivered to Barry County United Way.

New law aims to help patients with eye drop prescriptions

State Rep. Julie Calley’s legislation requiring insurers to cover early prescription eye drop refills was signed into law this week.


Calley said that more than two-thirds of people, especially seniors and young children, have trouble administering prescription eye drops, which causes them to run out of the prescribed medication sooner. Because prescription eye drops are written for the precise amount of drops, this can pose a significant problem. Patients are faced with going without their eye drops, which endangers their vision, or paying full retail price for an early refill that may cost hundreds of dollars.


Calley’s legislation requires that insurers cover eye drop prescription refills if 21 days have passed from the most recent refill or prescription distribution or if 70 percent of the dosage has been utilized.

“Prescriptions are expensive, and without this change many people will go without their necessary prescriptions because they can’t afford to pay for them without insurance,” Calley said. “Insurers must step up to ensure patients have regular access to the prescriptions they need.”


House Bill 4451 is now Public Act 139 of 2019.

December 7th Pearl Harbor Remembrance

Today Saturday December 7th  is Pearl Harbor Remembrance day.  It was on this day 78 years ago on December 7,1941 Japanese war planes attacked the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor Hawaii plunging the United States into war against Japan.

Four Years later  in defeat Japan surrendered to the American forces aboard the U.S. Battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay ending World War Two in the Pacific.

Restrictions on cellphone use in Hastings Area Schools

Parents and Guardians of the Hastings area School System  received notice that cellphone use by students during school hours will not be allowed beginning the second semester pending approval by the Board of Education.


This policy shift is based on many things such as the overwhelming and continued misuse of these devices by students during the day. Banning use of cell phones during the school day also supports Michigans Anti-Cyberbulling laws and supports Hastings' continued commitment to educational excellence.


The new policy states that on a first offense, if seen, phones will be confiscated and returned at the end of the day.   The second offense will require a parent or guardian to come to the school to retrieve the phone. A third offense could result in suspension from school.

Hastings Jingle & Mingle celebrates the holiday season Dec. 6-8

Hastings will celebrate a small town Christmas in a big way this weekend. For the fifth year, residents and visitors are invited to take part in the music and magic of Christmas in downtown Hastings.


“In past years the weekend, particularly the parade, had a magical almost modern-day Norman Rockwell feel to it,” said Jingle and Mingle Events Director Tracy Baker. “We’re recreating that happy, joyful atmosphere again this year. Downtown Hastings is a great place any time of year, but during the holidays it is really special.”


The Hastings Rotary Club parade on Saturday, Dec. 7, at 5:30 p.m. features dozens of entries, a galaxy of twinkling Christmas lights and free light-up canes for both the young and young at heart.


Other events to help ring in the holiday season include a performance by the Chime Choir from Grace Lutheran Church in the community room of the Hastings Public Library, a Santa Dash, free carriage and trolley rides (tickets required), visits with Santa, children’s crafts and activities, reindeer petting zoo, tree lighting ceremony, broomball tournament, chili cook-off, and more round out the weekend of festivities.


Everyone is invited to take in the festivities and unique shopping and dining in the small-town atmosphere of downtown Hastings during Jingle & Mingle and throughout the holiday season, Baker said.


For more information, log on to or text “SANTA” to 269-945-3414 for a link to the schedule.

Bank Robbery suspect arraigned

On Monday, December 2,  55-year old Gilbert Crispin Noel was arraigned on a charge of bank robbery for the incident at the Chemical Bank branch in Middleville last week.


Noel allegedly entered the bank on November 26 and demanded cash from the tellers.  He exited the bank and got into a gray sedan with an undisclosed amount of cash. Surveillance cameras showed the suspect wearing black pants, a black coat with the hood pulled up and sunglasses. 


The investigation by the Barry County and Kent County Sheriff’s offices and FBI agents along with tips from the public led to Noel’s arrested on November 27. Noel was given a $500,000.00 cash/surety bond.

Boy struck by vehicle near Caledonia

The Kent County Sheriff's Office responded to a Car vs. Pedestrian accident on Whitneyville Avenue in Caledonia Township at 7:30 Monday morning. Officers say a Caledonia School Bus came to a stop on Whitneyville Avenue to pick up an 8 year old boy for school. The boy did not show up at the bus stop and the school bus pulled into a parking lot across the street from the boy's house to pick up more children. The boy then ran across Whitneyville Avenue to get on the bus and he was struck by a Ford Escape travelling northbound on Whitneyville. The boy was treated at the scene by Caledonia Fire Dept and Thornapple Ambulance before being flown by Aero Med to Devos Childrens Hospital with serious injuries.


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