Local News Archives for 2020-06

Governor Whitmer Releases MI Safe Schools Roadmap

Tuesday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer released the MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap, a comprehensive document to help districts create local plans for in-person learning in the fall. The Roadmap outlines a number of safety protocols for schools to implement in each phase of the governor’s MI Safe Start Plan.


“Our students, parents, and educators have made incredible sacrifices during our battle with COVID-19,” said Governor Whitmer. “Thanks to aggressive action against this virus, the teachers who have found creative ways to reach their students, and the heroes on the front lines, I am optimistic that we will return to in-person learning in the fall."


Whitmer's Executive Order requires school districts to adopt a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan laying out how they will protect students and educators across the various phases of the Michigan Safe Start Plan.


In recognition that these protocols will cost money, the Governor also announced that she was allocating $256 million to support the districts in implementing their local plans as part of the bipartisan budget agreement the Senate Majority Leader, the Speaker of the House, and the governor announced Monday.


The safety protocols detailed in the MI Safe Schools Roadmap includes guidance on  the use of PPE, good hygiene, cleaning/disinfecting, spacing in classrooms, screening for symptoms, athletics, and more. The Roadmap also recognizes the impact COVID-19 has had on students and educators’ mental health, and offers guidance on how schools can address this issue. 


On June 3, the governor announced a group of 25 leaders in health care and education to serve on the COVID-19 Return to Learn Advisory Council.  On June 17, Governor Whitmer announced that Michigan schools may resume in-person learning in phase 4 of the MI Safe Start plan, with strict safety measures in place.


The Advisory Council was created to identify the critical issues that must be addressed, provide valuable input to inform the process of returning to school, and ensure a smooth and safe transition back to school. The Council will act in an advisory capacity to the Governor and the COVID-19 Task Force on Education, and will continue to develop recommendations regarding the safe, equitable, and efficient K-12 return to school in the Fall. 


To view the governor’s MI Safe Schools Roadmap, click here. To view Executive Order 2020-142, click the link below: 

Lakewood Public Schools has new Superintendent

Lakewood Public Schools new superintendent, Dr. Steven Skalka, officially begins his new duties July 1st.  Skalka was chosen by the school board following final interviews last Wednesday for his many years of education experience and leadership.


Skalka comes to Lakewood from the Lewisburg Area School District in Pennsylvania where he served as superintendent for the last 4 years. He has worked since 1983 in education and holds a doctorate degree from University of Michigan in educational administration. His administrative experience also includes serving in the Lakeview school district in Battle Creek from 1993 to 2013 as an assistant superintendent, high school principal and high school assistant principal.


Skalka faces big leadership challenges dealing with covid-19 and extreme budget cuts.


Allegan County Fair Cancelled

After many months of deliberation, the Allegan County Fair Board of Directors decided to cancel the 2020 Fair.  The Fair has been cancelled only once before at the commencement of World War II.


The health and welfare of visitors, vendors, carnival and employees is priority. The Coronavirus Pandemic and the resulting mandates of the State of Michigan make this difficult decision necessary.


The Fair Board will work out details regarding 4-H livestock showing and the 4-H sale with MSU Extension and 4-H Leaders. 


If you purchased tickets for Jeff Dunham Show that was to be held at the Fair, September 11th, you may request a refund for tickets and service fees from July 8th to July 20th, 2020. You may also keep your tickets and they will be honored for the Sept. 10th, 2021 Jeff Dunham Show at the Allegan County Fair.  These tickets must have been purchased from etix or the Allegan County Fair. Ticket holders will receive an email July 8th from etix explaining this process. 

Barry County Sheriff's Office conducting Operation Dry Water July 3rd-5th

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office in partnership with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and the U.S. Coast Guard will be participating in the National Operation Dry Water to heighten awareness and enforcement for boating under the influence infractions Over the course of the Holiday weekend.     Boaters will notice an increase of officer patrols on the water and at recreational boating check points. The combined efforts of the participating law enforcement agencies will result in the removal of impaired operators, providing a safe and enjoyable experience for boaters.  Operating a vessel under the influence of drugs and alcohol is illegal on all bodies of water and can lead to serious injuries, death and legal consequences.  In Michigan it’s illegal to operate a vessel with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher.  Boaters should always boat sober and wear a life jacket when on the water. 

Rain Thunderstorms Power Outages

Rain and Thunderstorms packing high winds during the night  knocked out electric service  to Consumers Energy Customers throughout lower Michigan.


Barry County 246

Allegan County 293

Calhoun County 415

Kalamazoo County 1,817

Kent County 4,029.

The Storms dropped 2.00 inches of rain in Hastings.

Spectrum Health Pennock Earns State Recognition for Infection Rate Efforts

Spectrum Health Pennock’s Journey to Zero Infections project was acknowledged Friday, June 25, by the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) with its 2020 Advancing Safe Care Award.


The MHA Advancing Safe Care Award honors health care teams within MHA-member hospitals that demonstrate a fierce commitment to providing care to different patient populations, show evidence of an improved safety culture, lead the charge for quality improvement, and demonstrate transparency in their efforts to improve health care.


The Spectrum Health Pennock team set out to eliminate surgical-site infections in November 2017, when it had a 12% infection rate for colorectal surgeries. They began implementing procedures that resulted in zero complex surgical-site infections for colorectal and joint replacement surgeries between November 2018 and December 2019, and no complex infection rates with hysterectomies since February 2019.


“Safety is always our highest priority in surgical care,” said Andrew Parsons, MD, chief of staff and clinical chair of surgery at Spectrum Health Pennock. “When we noted elevated post-surgical infection rates, we immediately went to work. Great surgical care is a collaborative effort, and as a member of Spectrum Health, we have great access to support. Our local team collaborated with digestive disease specialists and colorectal surgeons within Spectrum Health to strengthen our evidence-based treatment protocols. This involved many disciplines including nursing, nutrition, physical and occupation therapy, respiratory therapy, infectious disease, anesthesiology, the surgical care team, surgeons and many other team members. 


“The amount of effort that went into making these changes has been nothing less than astounding. It truly was a group effort. We are committed to providing the best patient care possible and will continue to take advantage of the collective knowledge of our expanded teams,” Parsons explained.

Mighty tree has new purpose

After being extensively damaged by recent storms, one of the oldest and mightiest trees in Hastings’ Tyden Park is being transformed.  


Hastings City Manager Jerry Czarnecki told WBCH the huge Cottonwood tree has been enjoyed for decades and used as a photo background by area families and visitors, but it needed to come down for safety reasons.


When Hometown Tree Service removed the canopy of the tree and the massive trunk was still standing at a height of around 30 feet, they contacted Jerald Miller, a chainsaw artist who grew up in Hastings. An impromptu meeting of the minds took place to come up with a creative idea to save part of the tree. 


Miller is carving a tunnel through the trunk of the gigantic Cottonwood that will be large enough to walk through.  Miller, who lives with his family in Battle Creek, has previously done projects on trees at Leila Arboretum. Some of Jerald Miller’s creations can be viewed on facebook:

Whitmer signs order allowing Pro Sports to return

Governor Whitmer has signed an order which sets guidelines for the safe return of professional sports in Michigan, without a live audience. The order follows Major League Baseball’s announcement that a shortened 60-game season would begin on July 24 with players reporting for spring training at their home ballparks by July 1. Participants must maintain six feet of distance from one another to the extent compatible with the sport.

Hastings Schools Budget Hearing

Hastings Area Schools annual budget hearing will take place virtually via facebook live at 6:45p.m. Monday, June 29th, followed by the Board meeting, which is when the Board of Education will consider for approval its proposed State Aid Note (Limited Tax General obligation).  The proposed State Aid Note, if issued, will contain the limited tax full faith and credit pledge of Hastings Area School System.

Buskers bring live music to downtown Hastings

Live music has returned to downtown Hastings. Each Friday and Saturday throughout the summer (Thursday and Friday of July 4th weekend) stroll downtown Hastings between 5 – 8 pm to hear street music performed by local and area musicians.


Buskers are part of the Hastings Live program offered by the City of Hastings and the Thornapple Arts Council and paid for in part by a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

Fatal Crash

Troopers from the Michigan State Police Wayland Post are investigating a fatal traffic crash that took place on Wednesday, June 24th at approximately 5:00 P.M. on Marsh Road north of Keller Road in Barry County's Orangeville Township.


The crash involved a Honda Accord driven by a 21-year-old Grand Rapids man and a GMC pickup truck driven by a 76-year-old Battle Creek man. The driver of the Honda Accord succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead on scene. The driver of the pickup and his 77-year-old female passenger were transported to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.


The driver of the Honda lost control of his vehicle and crossed the center line causing the collision. Preliminary investigation indicates that excessive speed was a factor.  Alcohol and/or drug impairment has not been ruled out.


Troopers were assisted at the scene by the Orangeville Township Fire Department and Wayland EMS.  


The Barry Eaton District Health Department Wednesday reported one new COVID-19 case in Barry County. 


There have been 77 total positive cases and currently are four active cases in Barry County.

Monday's City Council Meeting Summary

City Manager Jerry Czarnecki gives WBCH News a summary of what took place at Monday nights Hastings City Council meeting.


Power Outages Barry County


Rain and Thunderstorms that swept across lower Michigan Monday knocked out electric service to Consumers Energy Customers. Trees and limbs that came down from the Storms  high winds are responsible for the power outages. As of this morning there are 29 Barry County Consumers Energy customers out of service.

Lakewood Public Schools to hold second interviews with candidates for Superintendent

Lakewood Public Schools Board of Education moved one step closer to potentially hiring a new superintendent after two days of interviewing five candidates.  The board deliberated and unanimously decided to invite two candidates back for a second interview.


Interviews are tentatively scheduled to take place in the media center at Lakewood High School.  Interviews are open to the public through the zoom sight listed on the school district website at


The interview schedule is Tuesday, June 23rd at 6:30pm with Dr. Steve Skalka, Superintendent at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania and Wednesday, June 24th at 6:30pm with Mr. Kevin Robydek, Superintendent at Potterville.


Dr. Skalka has four years of previous superintendent experience with East China Public Schools.  His administrative experience also includes serving Lakeview school district in Battle Creek from 1993 to 2013.  During this time he served as an assistant superintendent, high school principal and high school assistant principal


Mr. Robydek, has previous administrative experience in Portland, where he served as middle school principal and assistant principal.


Frank Pylowany, Board President stated that the board was impressed with all the candidates that they interviewed. Not only are they outstanding and successful educators, they are outstanding people and have a high degree of integrity and ethics. 

Boating accident

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office Marine Division was dispatched to Pine Lake, Plainwell, for a two vessel collision on the lake.  A ski boat towing a knee boarder collided with a fishing boat, sending two men from the fishing boat into the water.  The two men were helped into the ski boat and were taken to shore.  There were minor injuries reported at the scene.  The incident is still under investigation.


Maple Valley 2020 Senior Convoy

Friday, June 19th the Class of 2020 of Maple Valley School will gather in their cap & gown and receive their diploma’s. The  Senior convoy will depart from the Vermontville Bible Church Parking lot at 6:00p.m  traveling through Vermontville and Nashville. 85 Vehicles chauffeuring Graduates are expected.


Residents and spectators are encouraged to make signs, line the streets for the Convoy and to practice social distancing for the safety of others.


Diploma covers and Diplomas are being distributed during the convoy to ensure seniors who have military commitments are able to have ceremony and recognition.  Many students need their diploma to work, military service and continued education.  Withholding that until a traditional ceremony (which could be held July 24th or August 7th) will not work for students who have commitments.


Graduates unable to participate may pick up their Diploma cover and Diploma at the High School Office on June 22nd or 23rd from 8:00a.m to 2:00pm.   If unable to pick up please contact  Sharon Harris.


Parade route:

Traveling on North Main through downtown Vermontville...Students names will be announced;  the convoy will then proceed on Nashville Highway to Nashville.  To Main Street (m-66) turning on West Washington Street and will continue to Water Alley behind the store fronts where seniors names will be announced.  Then on to west Sherman. The convoy concludes at the Stop Sign (Main St.-M-66.)

Founder's celebration cancelled in Delton

The 2020 Delton Founders Festival scheduled for August 13th-16th has been cancelled due to Covid-19 concerns, the festival board announced.  Many components of the Festival were taken into consideration with the health and safety of volunteers, participants and the community the top priority.


They are still hoping to be present at Delton Oktoberfest, October 8th-10th, 2020.

Lake Odessa among 22 Communities Receiving Nearly $1 Million in Grants for Small Business Recovery Efforts

Twenty-two communities around Michigan have been awarded a total of $993,984 in grants aimed at supporting the COVID-19 economic recovery efforts of small local businesses throughout the state, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced today. The grants are being awarded through an expansion of MEDC’s Match on Main program. A total of 299 small businesses around Michigan are receiving assistance through the program.


The Lake Odessa DDA received a $50,000 grant under the program that will be awarded to support 8 businesses in amounts from $3,000 to $8,000.


“Michigan’s small businesses and traditional downtowns are the heart of our communities, and by providing communities with resources to engage in economic recovery efforts we can help ensure our downtowns not only recover, but thrive,” said MEDC CEO Mark A. Burton. “The Match on Main grants will help Michigan’s downtown businesses recover from the loss of revenue as a result of the COVID-19 virus and support workers they employ in these communities.”


MDHHS Issues Order to Protect Nursing Home Residents and Staff from COVID-19

To help protect residents and staff at nursing facilities from COVID-19, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Robert Gordon has issued an Order requiring regular testing and timely and accurate reporting of cases, deaths, personal protective equipment and staffing shortages.


The Order requires nursing facilities to conduct the following COVID-19 testing for residents and staff:


•Initial testing of all residents and staff.

•Testing of all new or returning residents during intake unless tested within 72 hours of intake.

•Testing of any resident or staff member with symptoms or suspected exposure.

•Weekly testing of all previously negative residents and staff in facilities with any positive cases among residents or staff, until 14 days after the last new positive result.

•Weekly testing of all staff in regions of medium or higher risk on the MI Safe Start Map.

•Testing of all staff in Regions 1 through 5 and 7,at least once between the date of this order and July 3, 2020.


"As we continue working to protect Michigan families from the spread of COVID-19 and lower the chance of a second wave, we must do everything we can to protect our most vulnerable Michiganders and those frontline workers who care for them,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.“ Continuous testing and proper staffing are crucial to that effort. As we continue to safely reopen sectors of our economy, Director Gordon and I will keep working with our partners in health care to ensure protections for our most vulnerable populations and for the brave men and women on the front lines fighting this virus.”

Update: Fatal Shooting in Eaton County on Saginaw Highway

Update: The name of the deceased from the Delta Township shooting is Ronnie Holmes, 26 years old, from Walker, MI.



Monday morning at about 8:25 a.m. Eaton County Central Dispatch received multiple reports from citizens stating there was a black male dressed in a black hoody and jeans with a weapon in the middle of the 6500 block of Saginaw Hwy firing off rounds in the air and also pointing the handgun at motorists.  As Eaton County Sheriff’s Deputies were responding, dispatch advised that a man was down in the road and indications were that he had been shot.  Upon arrival, Deputies found a male with apparent gunshot wounds whom EMS pronounced dead at the scene.  A handgun was found next to his body.


The preliminary investigation indicates that a 22-year-old resident of Delta Township who had been traveling east on Saginaw Hwy, stopped near Brookside Drive as he observed a black male in the middle of Saginaw Hwy who then stepped in front of his vehicle. This male then pointed a pistol at him and the citizen, who is a CPL holder, fired his pistol from his vehicle striking the male who went down in the roadway.  The deceased male is a 26-year-old with a last known address in Walker, MI.  Further information will be updated pending next of kin notification.


Eaton County Sheriff’s Office Detectives are continuing to investigate at the scene and interviewing multiple witnesses.  Because Saginaw Hwy is heavily traveled at that time of day, they are requesting anyone who observed any part of this incident to contact Detective Buxton at 517-323-8484.

Dawn Patrol


The Hastings Flying Association's annual Dawn Patrol at the Hastings Barry County Airport scheduled for July 11, 2020 has been cancelled.

Mark Anderson Assistant  Airport Manager Told WBCH the Association was looking forward to another great Dawn Patrol, but because of the Virus decided to cancel and prepare for next year.

Hastings Summerfest is latest covid-19 victim

The Summerfest Committee of the Barry County Chamber of Commerce has canceled this year's Hastings Summerfest, August 28-30, 2020.  The announcement was made Thursday on social media and marks the first time the popular end-of-summer festival has not been held since it was started in 1977.  It is the latest loss to all the uncertainty surrounding covid-19 and restrictions on public gatherings.

Rain Total


The Hastings National Weather Service Climatological Station recorded 2.01 inches of rain Wednesday. Cooler weather for the next few days with little or no rain expected.

County Parks, Grounds, Recreation Areas open, many special events cancelled

Barry County Parks and Recreation Commission grounds, trails, and recreational areas remain open at this time for enjoying the outdoors and some fresh Michigan air. These include the Historic Charlton Park Recreation Area and Trails, McKeown Bridge Park, and Paul Henry Thornapple Trail sections.


The historic village and museum buildings at Charlton Park are still closed. The Parks Commission previously announced cancellation of the annual Father’s Day Car Show at Charlton Park, and has now cancelled  both the Old Fashioned July 4th Celebration & Veteran’s Barbeque and the 2020 Civil War Muster that was scheduled for July 17-18.


Complying with guidelines concerning large gatherings, and protecting the health and safety of the community, volunteers, and staff ultimately led to the decision.

Storms cause downed trees, power lines

The thunderstorms and winds moving through the area Wednesday morning took done large trees and Great Lakes Energy Power lines in the area of S. Payne Lake Road between M-179 & Cobb Lake Road.  As of 2pm, Asst. Fire Chief Dan Miller said road is still shut down.  


The Barry County Road Commission, Great Lakes Power Co. and Wayland/Yankee Springs Township Fire Department are on the scene.

Barry County to receive Federal Funds to supplement Emergency Food & Shelter programs

Barry County has been awarded federal funds made available through the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS)/Federal Emergency Management Agency under the Emergency Food and Shelter national board program.  Barry County has been chosen to receive $10,476.00 to supplement emergency food and shelter programs in the county through a State Set Aside Fund allocated by the Michigan Association of United Ways.


The selection was made by a national board that is chaired by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency and consists of representatives from American Red Cross, Catholic Charities USA, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, the Jewish Federations of North America, the Salvation Army and United Way Worldwide.  The board was charged to distribute funds appropriated by congress to help expand the capacity of food and shelter programs in high-need areas around the country.


A local board made up by the Salvation Army, Barry County Commissioners, Hastings Area Ministerial Association, Continuum of Care, Commission On Aging and Barry County United Way will determine how the funds awarded to Barry County are to be distributed among the emergency food and shelter programs run by local service agencies in the area.  The local Board is responsible for recommending agencies to receive these funds and any additional funds made available under this phase of the program.


Under the terms of the grant from the national board, local agencies chosen to receive funds must 1.) be private voluntary nonprofits or units of government, 2) be eligible to receive federal funds, 3) have an accounting system, 4) practice nondiscrimination, 5) have demonstrated the capability to deliver emergency food and or shelter programs, and 6) if they are a private voluntary organization, have a voluntary board.  Qualifying agencies are urged to apply.


Barry County has previously distributed emergency food and shelter funds to Manna’s Market, Barry County United Way and the South Michigan Food Bank.


Public or private voluntary agencies interested in applying for emergency food and shelter program funds must contact Morgan Johnson at the Barry County United Way at or call 269-945-4010.  Mail or fax the request to Barry County United Way: Attention: FEMA/EFSP, 231 South Broadway, Hastings, MI 49058.  Fax # 269-945-4536 for an application.  The Deadline for applications to be received is Thursday, July 2, 2020 by 5:00p.m.

Board of Commissioners approves ballot request for new Jail & Sheriff's Office

The Barry County Board of Commissioners approved ballot language for the bond proposal that will appear alongside the November 3, 2020 general election ballot to fund construction, furnishing and equipping a new County Jail and Sheriff Offices.


The bond request will ask voters to approve up to $25-million in general obligation unlimited tax bonds for a maximum of 26 years, from 2021 through 2046.  It is estimated that the levy will be 0.1722 mill for the first year, and an average of 0.4501 mill for the following years until the bonds are retired.


If approved in the November election, a property located in Barry County with a taxable value of $50,000 will pay $8.61 the first year,  and $22.51 per year thereafter until the bonds are retired.

The Board of Commissioners determined that it is necessary to replace the existing facility and construct a new County Jail and Sheriff Offices to provide enhanced security and safety measures and systems; additional needed capacity; improved and updated HVAC and mechanical systems; improved space for inmate processing; accommodations for offices, and space for information technology systems.


The County is considering three alternative project options:   (1) the demolition of the existing facility and construction of the new facility on the existing site; (2) acquiring new property for the construction of the project; or (3) acquiring a site with an existing building and renovating it for use by the Sheriff Department for offices and constructing a new Jail.  The final decision on which option to go with will be made after voters approve the funding for the project, not to exceed $25-million dollars.

Expanded outdoor dining OK'd in downtown Hastings this summer

During the Hastings City Council meeting Monday night, permission was given to downtown Hastings restaurants to work with city staff to use sidewalk space and a limited number of parking spaces in front of their restaurants for expanded outdoor dining through the end of August.  A few restaurant owners made the request in order to help accommodate more patrons while maintaining required distance between tables, and complying with current restrictions on indoor dining capacity. The City Council waved some of the normal fees and ordinance requirements in order to support the downtown restaurants.


In other action,


The Council approved a resolution to increase Water and Sewer rates and service connection fees as of July 1st.  Water rates will increase 16% this year and sewer rates by 5%. The rate hikes are to cover projected costs in the years ahead, particularly for replacing lead service pipes as required by the state in future years.


A separate resolution was approved revising rates for various services provided by the city, effective July 1st, with increases for a few things like fence and driveway permits, and haz-mat recovery fees.

City Council supports incentives for Michigan Avenue development project

The Hastings City Council has voted in favor of partnering with Hastings Michigan Avenue LLC, the company working to put together financing for a housing and retail development at 128 North Michigan Avenue.  The council approved an incentive request that would include the Neighborhood Enterprise Zone tax abatement, Commercial Redevelopment Act tax abatement, and Brownfield Tax Increment financing.


Hastings Michigan Avenue LLC is applying for a $750,000 Community Revitalization Program Grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund, and the support for incentives from the community will help in their chances of securing the grant.


The 4-story mixed-use building is to include 2,500 square feet of retail space on the first floor,  and 18 residential market rate apartments on floors 2-4, a mix of one, two, and three bedroom units. The developer estimates their total investment for the project at $4.3-million.

Search for new Lakewood Schools superintendent

The Lakewood Board of Education is moving forward in the selection of s new superintendent to replace Randy Fleenor, who has left the district to become the new superintendent of Mattawan schools.  The field of 21 applicants has been narrowed to five candidates who have been invited to be interviewed on June 15 and 16. The interviews will be held at the auditorium at Lakewood High School and are open to the public, and will also be available virtually.


The candidates to be interviewed include:


Kevin Robydek, Superintendent at Potterville

Jay Larner, Asst. Superintendent at Lakewood

Dr. Christopher Turner, Technology Director at Brighton

Dr. Steven Skalka, Superintendent at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania

Matthew Goebel, Asst. Superintendent at Hastings


Final interviews are scheduled for June 23, and the Board hopes to have the new superintendent begin in July.

Whitmer allows Hair & Nail Salons, Barber Shops to reopen June 15th

Governor Whitmer Signs Executive Orders Reopening More Regions, Economic Sectors Under MI Safe Start Plan 


Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed Executive Orders to reopen more regions and economic sectors under the MI Safe Start Plan. 


Starting on June 10, Regions 6 and 8 — which include much of northern Michigan and all of the Upper Peninsula — will advance to Phase 5 of the governor’s MI Safe Start Plan. Phase 5 allows the reopening of salons, movie theaters, and gyms, subject to safety protocols and procedures designed to minimize the spread of COVID-19. 


On June 15, personal services including hair, massages, and nails will reopen statewide. Though the remaining regions, 1 through 5 and 7, will remain in Phase 4 under today’s executive orders, the governor has said she expects the entire state will advance to Phase 5 in the coming weeks. 


Under Phase 5, indoor social gatherings and organized events of up to 50 people are permissible. Outdoor social gatherings and organized events are also allowed if people maintain six feet of distance from one another and the gathering consists of no more than 250 people. In addition, outdoor performance and sporting venues will be open with a larger capacity limit of 500, which will allow for some outdoor graduation ceremonies. 


In addition, Governor Whitmer has issued an updated rule laying out new workplace safeguards for gyms, in-home services, hair salons, and entertainment venues. Following these safeguards will ensure that workers and patrons alike remain protected as the state moves to reopen. 



“On behalf of the beauty industry in the state of Michigan, we wish to express our absolute excitement and appreciation for the re-opening of the cosmetology and barbering industry in the state of Michigan,” said Scott Weaver, Owner and CEO of Douglas J. “The cosmetology and barbering industry in Michigan is well prepared to manage and safe guard the health and wellbeing of our clients and the public in general in this reopening. 


Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at and  


To view Executive Orders 2020-114 and 2020-115, click the links below:   


Barry Co. begins Chip Seal season, Paving project on June 8th

The Barry County Road Commission is advising motorists of some projects starting Monday:


Marsh Rd. paving project - Marsh Rd. from Patterson Rd. to Wildwood Rd. and England Point Drive will be closed to thru traffic beginning this coming Monday, June 8, 2020 on weekdays only for two weeks for asphalt resurfacing. Businesses will remain open and residents will have access to their homes. Anyone who's final destination is not within the project limits is asked to detour. 


Chip sealing for Monday June 8 - crews will be Seal Coating the following road beginning Monday, June 8th: 


Powell Road between State Road and Center Road


There will be delays, please seek an alternate route. THANK YOU for your cooperation!

City Compost site to reopen soon

City of Hastings compost drop site is expected to open on Saturday June 13th.


Hours of Operations:

Mondays – 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Saturdays – 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM


DPS crews will be making one final curbside collection the week of June 8th.

Mondays – Residences south of the river

Wednesdays – Residences north of the river


Reminder: Please pile sticks and branches separately from leaves and grass in the yard just behind the curb, not in the street.

City parks open with restrictions

City of Hastings Parks are reopening, but with restrictions in place. Persons experiencing symptoms, or who have been exposed to the virus, should not visit the parks. Visitors are also asked to practice social distancing, sanitize their hands and consider wearing masks when they cannot be physically distant from others.


Below is a list of safety restrictions in place:


• Parks are open but people are required to stay six feet apart from those not in their household.


• All playgrounds are open.


• Hammond Hill disc golf course is open.


• Restrooms will opened as they can be made available while ensuring clean conditions starting the week of June 8th.


• Open shelters and group picnic areas will be available for reservations starting June 13th, with capacity limited to 100 people and social distancing requirements of those not in the same household.


• Enclosed shelters and recreational fields are closed until further notice from the governor’s office.

Nine townships, one school district put millage requests on Aug. 4 primary ballot

Barry County voters will decide millage requests from nine townships to fund public services to township residents in the Aug. 4 primary election. The Delton Kellogg School District is the only school in the county with a request for millage. What follows is an updated report on the ballot.



Barry Township asks for renewal of 2 mills ($2 per $1,000 of taxable value) for fire protection, 2020-2023, which would raise an estimated $260,000 the first year.

Barry Township also asks for renewal of 2 mills ($2 per $1,000 of taxable value) for police protection for 2020-2023 which would raise an estimated $260,000 the first year.


Carlton Township asks that 1.5 mills, reduced to 1.4925 mills by required rollbacks, be renewed and increased to the original voted 1.5 mills and levied for four years, 2020 through 2023, to provide fire protection in the township, raising an estimated $117,000 in the first year. A portion of the millage will be distributed to the Freeport Fire Association, Woodland Fire Association and the BIRCH Fire Department


 Hope Township asks 1 mill for fire protection and cemetery maintenance (.75 mill for fire and .25 mill for cemetery), reduced to 0.944 mills by required rollbacks, be renewed and increased up to the original 1mill for four years, 2020 through 2023, raising an estimated $137,765 the first year, 

Hope Township also asks that 1 mill, reduced to 0.994 mills by required rollbacks, be renewed and increased up to the original 1 mill for four years, 2020 through 2023, for road repair, maintenance and operating expenses, which would raise an estimated $137,765 the first year.


Irving Township asks for a renewal of 1.4566 mills for six years, 2021 through 2026, for fire protection, which is estimated to raise $199,039 in the first year. All or a portion of the revenue will be disbursed to Freeport Rural Fire Association, BIRCH Rural Fire Department and Thornapple Emergency Services.


Johnstown Township asks for renewal of 0.7882 mills for the acquisition, operation and maintenance of fire protection and equipment, including fire and rescue equipment, for the years 2020-2023, which is estimated to raise revenue of $84,845 in the first year.


Maple Grove Township asks for renewal of 1 mill for four years, 2020-2023, for dust control and road maintenance which is estimated to raise $45,000 the first year.

Maple Grove Township also asks for the renewal of 1 mill for four years, 2020-2023, for fire department apparatus, maintaining, housing and operations, raising an estimated $$45,000 the first year.


Orangeville Township asks for renewal of 0.75 mills for five years, 2022 through 2026, for fire department equipment which will raise an estimated $102,121.35 in the first year the renewal millage is levied. This millage becomes effective when the current millage expires in 2021.


Rutland Township asks for a 1 mill increase for five years, 2020 through 2024, to maintain and improve public roads in the township and raise an estimated $158,814.25 in the first year.


Thornapple Township asks for renewal of 1.7169 mills for four years, 2020 through 2023, for fire protection, emergency services and equipment, which will raise an estimated $578,000 the first year.


School District

Delton Kellogg Schools ask renewal of 18 mill levy on non-homestead property for five years, 2021-2025, to continue to receive per pupil foundation revenue and an increase of 0.5 mills for the five years, for operating purposes to restore millage lost as the result of the Headlee Amendment. If approved, the levy is estimated to raise approximately $3,174,000 the first year.


Power Outages Update

 Customers electric service back on line.


Thunderstorms during the night knocked out electric service to 28, 365 Consumers Energy Customers.

Kent County    5,188

Ionia County   1,030

Calhoun County 92

Barry County  88 

Eaton County 85

Gun Lake Tribe Shares $7.9 Million with State and Local Governments

Tuesday, the Gun Lake Tribe announced details of its spring revenue sharing payments.  The State of Michigan received $4,419,006 and the local revenue sharing board received $2,209,503.  GLIMI, an economic development entity, received $1,325,702.  The figures are calculated from electronic gaming revenues reported from October 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020.  The spring revenue sharing distribution is especially critical during the financial crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.    


“This is the most important revenue sharing distribution we have ever made because it comes at a time when all units of government are dealing with terrible financial impacts due to the global pandemic,” said Bob Peters, Chairman of the Gun Lake Tribe.  “The next revenue sharing distribution will suffer a dramatic loss due to the casino closure, followed by limited operations upon reopening.”


The Gun Lake Casino will reopen to the public on June 8, 2020.  The Casino closed on March 16, and when it reopens there will be limited slot machines and table games to adhere to social distancing and other safety plans.  Non-gaming amenities such as the Harvest Buffet will remain closed until further notice.  The loss of revenue has negatively impacted the Tribe, its employees, and many local municipalities.


The Tribe recently commissioned an economic impact study that revealed the tribal government, Gun Lake Casino and other subsidiaries contributed $1.5 billion to Michigan’s economy in the first seven years of gaming operations.  In total, the Tribe employs nearly 1,300 individuals within the government, gaming and investment operations.  The Tribe’s annual direct payroll is over $48 million.  Another $36 million is spent by the Tribe annually on goods and services that are purchased from Michigan-based companies. 


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


The Local Revenue Sharing Board receives and administers the semi-annual payments.  The gaming compact prescribes mandatory funding to local municipalities for: costs incurred due to the operation of the casino; public safety services; and replacement of tax revenue.  The Board established by-laws to govern the distribution process.  The local payments are made under terms of the gaming compact independent of gaming exclusivity.      


Gun Lake Casino opened in February 2011 and now employs over 1,100 team members.  The Gun Lake Tribe has now shared $144,291,552 with state and local governments over nineteen (19) distributions.

Bottle and Can Return Operations to resume June 15th

Monday the Michigan Treasury issued a Notice Regarding Phased Reestablishment of Michigan’s Bottle Deposit Return Program. Beginning June 15, 2020, some retailers must reopen their bottle return facilities and resume the collection of returnable beverage containers and refund of customer bottle deposits. This applies to retailers with bottle return facilities located at the front of the store or housed in a separate area and serviced exclusively by reverse vending machines requiring minimal or no person-to-person contact.


Retailers reopening their bottle return facilities must ensure those facilities comply with all state-mandated safety protocols and restrictions, including the most recent state-mandated safeguards to protect workers


In addition, retailers may take any or all of the following steps: 

  • Limit the number of beverage containers that may be returned by a single individual per day to a deposit refund amount of $25, pursuant to MCL 445.572(10).
  • Establish special or limited hours of operation for bottle return facilities.
  • Limit the number of available and operating reverse vending machines.
  • Periodically close bottle deposit facilities as needed for cleaning and supply management.
  • Implement such other procedures or restrictions as each retailer may determine are necessary or advisable to promote safety and/or efficiency. 

During this initial phase, retailers must limit the volume of weekly returned beverage containers to no more than 140 percent of their average weekly collection volume for the period April and May 2019. 


The collection of returnable beverage containers was temporarily suspended via Executive Order No. 2020-21, issued by Governor Whitmer on March 23, 2020. 

Governor Whitmer Rescinds Safer at Home Order, Moves Michigan to Phase Four of the MI Safe Start Plan 

Retailers, restaurants will be permitted to open with capacity limits, social distancing 


LANSING, Mich. -- Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-110, rescinding her Safer at Home order and moving the entire state to phase four of the MI Safe Start Plan


The governor’s order will allow retailers to reopen on June 4 and restaurants to reopen on June 8, both subject to capacity limits. Day camps for children will likewise be permitted to open on June 8. Effective immediately, groups of 100 or less will be allowed gather outdoors with social distancing. Office work that is not capable of being performed remotely can resume. And in-home services, including housecleaning services, can resume operations. 


“The data has shown that we are ready to carefully move our state into the next phase of the MI Safe Start Plan, but we owe it to our brave frontline heroes to get this right,” said Governor Whitmer. “While Michiganders are no longer required to stay home, we must all continue to be smart and practice social distancing, and encourage those who meet the criteria to get tested for COVID-19. If we all do our part, our goal is to announce a shift to phase five for the entire state prior to the fourth of July. Stay smart, stay safe, and let’s all do our part.”   


Michiganders must continue to wear facial coverings when in enclosed public spaces and should continue to take all reasonable precautions to protect themselves, their loved ones, and the community. And they should continue to work from home to the maximum extent possible. 


“The governor and I, along with a team of experts, have determined that our state is ready to move into the next phase of the MI Safe Start Plan. Hospitalization numbers are down, our frontline workers have PPE to last them several weeks, and the number of positive cases and deaths are declining,” said MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “We will continue to monitor the data and work closely with local health departments to ensure Michiganders practice safe social distancing. On behalf of our health care professionals and first responders on the front lines, we must all be smart and be safe.” 


“As the hardest-hit region in the state, Wayne County and its residents are ready to safely return to greater activity and commerce,” said Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans. “We continue to vigilantly monitor the spread of COVID-19 and will do so to make sure the number of daily cases continues to decline. It’s is been an extremely difficulty three months for all of us, but the social distancing measures we have put in place has slowed the spread of this disease and saved lives. Today is an important step toward returning to some semblance of normalcy, but it is important for all of to continue following that safe distancing and work directives outlined in Stage 4 of the MI Safe Start plan.” 


“I appreciate Governor Whitmer for her diligence and commitment to reopening the state safely. We look forward to reopening Detroit safely and efficiently,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. 


"We know we still have challenges to face, but moving into this next phase acknowledges the huge strides this state has made to slow the spread of this deadly virus,” said Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley. “I appreciate Gov. Whitmer’s caution and proactive response throughout this crisis. Her leadership has undoubtedly saved lives." 


“The last few months have been very hard for everyone. I applaud the Governor for doing everything she can to keep us safe,” said Lansing Mayor Andy Schor. “And now that the curve has flattened and I am very excited that we have moved into phase 4 and can have things start to reopen. Economic issues have been very challenging in Lansing and across the state, but we know it was necessary to save lives. Now we are ready to get back to growing our city here in Lansing and the economy throughout the state!” 


Subject to local regulation, gyms and fitness centers may conduct outdoor classes, practices, training sessions, or games, provided that coaches, spectators, and participants maintain six feet of distance from one another during these activities. Outdoor pools can also reopen, with restricted capacity. 


To view Executive Order 2020-110, Click the link below: 



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