Friday, October 30:
THREE RIVERS 0
(Hastings will host Paw Paw in round 2)
THORNAPPLE KELLOGG 56
KENOWA HILLS 14
MAPLE VALLEY 22
VANDERCOOK LAKE 6
Friday, October 30:
THREE RIVERS 0
(Hastings will host Paw Paw in round 2)
THORNAPPLE KELLOGG 56
KENOWA HILLS 14
MAPLE VALLEY 22
VANDERCOOK LAKE 6
Due to the increase of COVID cases in Barry County, the Barry County Sheriff's Office front lobby area will be closed for normal business purposes until further notice.
This includes, but is not limited to:
Sex Offender Registry
Car Vs. Deer reports
Walk in complaints
FOIA requests (which can be completed via email or United States Postal Service)
Citizens will be allowed to deposit money in inmate accounts for bond and commissary, and
citizens will be able to drop off purchase permits in the drop box.
Previously, absentee ballots were available only for specific reasons, like health or age.
Also, registering to vote has been extended until the day of the election; absentee ballot voting is already underway.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Thursday revised and extended its epidemic order to contain the spread of COVID-19, as Michigan continues to see a surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Although most of the order is unchanged, new provisions target indoor gatherings where COVID has spread most rapidly.
As part of the newly extended orders, MDHHS today reduces from 500 persons to 50 persons the maximum gathering size for indoor gatherings such as weddings, parties, and banquets which occur in nonresidential settings without fixed seating.
For bars, restaurants, and social events outside private homes, indoor party sizes at a single table are now restricted to six people. Because individuals remove their masks while eating and drinking in indoor settings, seated tables with people from different households create high risks of spread. Like many other businesses in Michigan, bars and restaurants will also be required to take names and contact information to support effective contact tracing if necessary.
“The orders that MDHHS has issued are centered on keeping the public safe and following best practices to reduce the spread of this deadly virus,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “The alarming surge we are now seeing is exactly why we were so worried about the fall season. We must remain vigilant, so we prevent long-term health consequences and unnecessary deaths, and protect our hospital capacity and the health of our frontline health workers.”
Stronger Recommendations for Indoor Social Gatherings Permitted Under the Epidemic Order
Alongside the re-release of Thursday's order, MDHHS today published strong recommendations for indoor social gatherings, including at Thanksgiving. Because no one measure confers complete protection in a gathering, the guidance recommends that individuals take multiple steps together:
-Get together outside whenever possible. You have up to 20 times higher risk of getting sick inside.
-If you do get together inside, include no more than two households and 10 people.
-Limit time inside together—greater duration is greater risk.
-Wear a mask – take it off when you eat or drink, then put it back on.
-Keep six feet apart as much as you can.
-When possible, keep voices down; high volume can increase COVID transmission by 30 times
-Wash hands regularly and try to not to share utensils.
As a result of significantly increasing numbers of patients admitted with COVID-19, Spectrum Health is revising its visitor policies to reduce the number of people in its hospitals and outpatient care sites.
Effective Thursday, Oct. 29, adult patients are allowed one adult family member or guest per patient. This must be the same person for the patient’s entire hospital stay.
In addition, all visitors will be screened and are required to wear a mask that covers their mouth and nose to enter the hospitals and outpatient facilities. Spectrum Health dining rooms will be closed to visitors. Hospital food service will be available in the cafeteria through to-go orders.
The following exceptions will apply:
-Labor and delivery obstetrics patients are allowed two adult visitors. These must be the same two people for the patient’s entire hospital stay.
-Patients with COVID-19 are not allowed in-person visitors, however the care team will work with patients and families to coordinate virtual visits.
-Emergency department patients are limited to one adult guest per patient.
-Adult radiology and laboratory patients at the hospital or outpatient care sites are not allowed guests except for those patients who need assistance with activities of daily living or have cognitive impairments. These individuals will be allowed one adult guest.
-Adult patients at Spectrum Health physician offices and surgery centers are allowed one adult family member or guest per patient.
-Pediatric patients under the age of 21 are allowed two adult family members (parent or guardian or their designee only) per patient stay.
-For pediatric outpatient services, physician offices and surgery, pediatric patients are allowed two family members or guests per patient visit.
-Pediatric radiology patients are allowed one adult family member per patient.
-Pediatric hematology and oncology clinic and infusion center patients are allowed one adult family member per patient.
The Gun Lake Tribe has announced donations that total $500,000 to several local schools and the Allegan County government to assist in mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic. The donations come from the Tribe’s Coronavirus Relief Fund pursuant to the federal CARES Act. The donations will fund school safety mitigation efforts, and a county mobile vaccination unit.
“We are happy to provide our friends and neighbors with additional funding during these very difficult times,” said Bob Peters, Chairman. “The mobile vaccination unit will play an important role in getting our community back to normal, but in the meantime helping to keep our local schoolteachers and students safe is the next best thing.”
The Tribal Council recently decided to forego $500,000 of CARES Act money to instead distribute $25,000 each to eleven local school districts. Allegan County will receive $225,000 to purchase a mobile vaccination unit that will provide area residents with a COVID-19 vaccine once one is available to the general public.
“The donation of the Mobile Clinic serves as another example of the support the Gun Lake Tribe provides for the overall Allegan County community. The Mobile Clinic will be an instrumental tool to help bring various public health services closer to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic and long after,” Robert J. Sarro, Allegan County Administrator.
School districts face many challenges in continuing educational services in a safe environment. Schools can use relief funds to expand broadband capacity, hire new teachers, develop online curriculum, acquire computers and digital devices, and install ventilation and air filtration equipment.
“Allegan County school districts, like all districts nationwide, are being faced with unprecedented situations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The generosity of the Gun Lake Tribe will help ease the financial burden associated with remote learning, PPE, and sanitation procedures. We sincerely thank the Gun Lake Tribe for their unwavering support,” William Brown, Superintendent, Allegan Area Educational Service Agency.
Gun Lake Tribe CARES Act money will be distributed as follows:
Allegan County Mobile Vaccination Unit $225,000
Allegan AESA $25,000
Allegan Public Schools $25,000
Fennville Public Schools $25,000
Glenn Public School $25,000
Hamilton Public Schools $25,000
Hopkins Public Schools $25,000
Martin Public Schools $25,000
Otsego Public Schools $25,000
Plainwell Community Schools $25,000
Saugatuck Public Schools $25,000
Wayland Union Schools $25,000
The Barry-Eaton District Health Department has confirmed a Coronavirus outbreak associated with Liberty Church, located in Grand Ledge. At least 58 individuals are confirmed to have COVID-19 associated with exposures at Liberty Church. Five of these individuals have been hospitalized, and four are currently receiving inpatient care, none in the ICU. The outbreak is still ongoing as cases were still being identified last week. The number of cases and hospitalizations may rise in the coming days due to further spread of COVID-19 and discovery of additional cases.
Some people associated with this outbreak have been reluctant to speak with the health department, and they are requesting that community members please answer the phone and speak candidly with health investigators. The identity of COVID-19 positive individuals is held confidential.
It is believed most individuals were exposed at a worship service on October 11, 2020. Most cases associated with the outbreak began having symptoms the week of October 12th. Mask use was not required at church events, with many attendees choosing to not wear masks.
After more than a year of politicking, a record-smashing turn out is predicted in next Tuesday’s election. Early voting has already begun in many states. Do you plan to vote? Are you going to take part? There are lots of reasons why some don’t vote. If you are on the fence about voting in the 2020 general election, consider the reasons from a few others on why you should cast your ballot.
Thomas Jefferson: “We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate"
Larry J. Sabato: “Every election is determined by the people who show up.”
Plato: “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”
Susan B. Anthony: “Someone struggled for your right to vote. Use it.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower: “The future of this republic is in the hands of the American voter.”
In Michigan, you can register to vote until 8 p.m. on Election Day.
The Hastings Fire Department was called to Spectrum Pennock Hospital in Hastings Tuesday night when smoke was detected in the building.
Fire Chief Roger Caris said an electric motor bearing overheated, causing the smoke.
City Manager Jerry Czarnecki reports on the Monday Oct. 26th Hastings City Council Meeting.
Unfortunately based on the current COVID safety situation and a review of that situation with local officials, the annual New Year's Eve community celebration in downtown Hastings has been cancelled.
The annual event has been a great addition to the Hastings area for the past 11 years.
Assuming that we get beyond all the health and saferty issues, organizer Carl Schoessel, said, "we will work hard to make December 31, 2021, January 1, 2022 New Year's eve community celebration the best one yet!"
In order to discourage large gatherings, the City of Hastings will not be closing Green Street on October 31st this year for Trick-or-Treating. "We are taking this action to avoid any large gatherings, and as you know, Green Street is quite crowded with activities when the street is closed for Halloween" said Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt.
"As far as the traditional trick or treating, we will be leaving it up to the parents to make that decision for their families and to residents to decide if they wish to give out treats."
The City would also like to remind people, who are out on Halloween, to wear reflective material especially if they are out after dark.
Executive Director of Thornapple Manor Don Haney tells WBCH News about steps Thornapple Manor is taking to continue to stop the spread of the Coronavirus.
An Allegan County Sheriff deputy noticed a suspicious vehicle parked along Monroe Rd. just west of the City of Allegan Wednesday morning. The vehicle fled when the deputy approached, and a chase pursued. The suspect vehicle a short time later hit two other police vehicles responding to the area of the pursuit. The suspect vehicle then drove off a steep bank into the Kalamazoo River near the Allegan County Fairgrounds.
An Allegan County Sheriff Sergeant and two Michigan State Police Troopers then went into the cold waters and pulled the suspect from the vehicle as it sank.
The Allegan County Dive Team recovered the suspect vehicle that was submerged in the river.
This incident is still under investigation.
Assisting agencies on scene were Michigan State Police, Allegan City Police, and Allegan Fire.
State Rep. Julie Calley will meet with residents on Monday, October 26.
Rep. Calley will meet with constituents at the following times and locations:
“Listening to feedback is essential in order to represent our common-sense, hardworking communities,” Rep. Calley said. “I appreciate the opportunity to connect with the people I serve.”
No appointment is necessary. Out of consideration for other attendees, individual meetings will be kept to 10 minutes each. If you would like additional time or are unable to attend the scheduled office hours, please contact Rep. Calley via email at JulieCalley@house.mi.gov or by calling her at (517) 373-0842.
City Manager Jerry Czarnecki gives WBCH News a summary of Monday Oct. 19th's Hastings city Council Meeting.
Congratulations to Corbin Ulrich and Hannah Slaughter named King and Queen of the Hastings High School Home Coming Festivities Friday night.
The evening was topped off as Hastings defeated Coldwater 30-29 to win the conference title.
Thursday the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office issued Arson charges against Keigan Sochor, age 21 of Hastings, in connection with the building fire that occurred on October 7, 2020. The Royal Coach Building burned to the ground and is a total loss. Mr. Socher is charged as follows:
Count 1: Arson-Third Degree, MCL 750.74, a felony carrying a maximum possible penalty of 10 years in prison and/or a fine of $20,000 or three times the value of the property, whichever is greater.
Count 2: Preparation to Burn Property-$20,000.00 or more, MCL 750.79(1)(d)(1), a felony carrying a maximum possible penalty of 10 years in prison and/or a fine of $15,000 or three times the value of the property, whichever is greater.
Count 3: Entry Without Breaking with Intent, MCL 750.111, a felony carrying a maximum possible penalty of 5 years in prison or a fine of $2,500.00
Count 4: Entry Without Breaking with Intent, MCL 750.111, a felony carrying a maximum possible penalty of 5 years in prison or a fine of $2,500.00
Habitual Offender- Second Offense Notice, MCL 769.10
Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor Pratt commended Officer Alan Klein and the Hastings City Police Department for their commitment to this ongoing criminal investigation, as well as the responding fire departments for their valiant efforts to save the Royal Coach Building and the adjacent properties and for keeping our community safe.
Mr. Sochor was arraigned Thursday in Barry County District Court. Sochor’s bond is set at $250,000.00 cash or surety. A Probable Cause Conference is set for Wednesday October 28, 2020 at 8:15am in Hastings District Court before the Hon. Michael Schipper.
If you’ve been piling up bags and bags of bottles and cans instead of standing in long lines at a handful of places to return them, you may finally be able to cash in on those deposits.
Effective immediately, all grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, gas stations and other retailers of every kind with bottle return facilities, regardless where such facilities are physically located, and whether serviced by reverse vending machines, staffed by employees, or some combination of the two, must re-open their bottle return facilities and resume the collection of returnable beverage containers and refund of customer bottle deposits.
Retailers may take any or all of the following steps, as they may determine to be necessary or prudent, in order to comply with state-mandated safety protocols:
--Limit the number of beverage containers that may be returned by a single individual per day to a deposit refund amount of $25
--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.
Recycling: Consumers should be aware that they always have the option of recycling their returnable beverage containers if they choose not to return them to a bottle deposit redemption facility.
A woman is dead and her passenger suffered minor injuries in a rollover crash Wednesday night.
The Ionia County Sheriff's Office said it happened around 9:45 pm in Keene Township west of Whites Bridge Road.
The investigation shows the driver, a 27 year old Saranac area woman was driving at a high rate of speed, lost control causing her vehicle to roll over several times. Deputies say the woman was thrown from her car and killed. Her passenger, a 26 year old man from Fenwick, was taken to a nearby hospital with minor injuries.
In an October 12, 2020 news release, Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor Pratt responded to comments made by Sheriff Dar Leaf following the arrests made in connection with the plot against Governor Whitmer.
Nakfoor Pratt wrote “On behalf of the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office, we want to express our deepest sympathy for the public officials and their families, as well as the law enforcement officers affected by the alleged plot to kidnap and harm them. We are grateful to the US Attorney’s Office, Attorney General Dana Nessel, the FBI and Michigan State Police for their coordinated efforts to the keep the Governor, her family, the legislators, the staff of the Capitol, and fellow law enforcement safe. We commend officers for their thorough investigation. The message should be loud and clear: there is no place for crimes of violence in our society. This case is ongoing by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office and the US Attorney’s Office, and all defendants are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
As the chief law enforcement officer for Barry County, I must address the recent statement made by Sheriff Dar Leaf regarding citizen arrests. His statement should in no way be taken to represent the position of this office or the many selfless, hard-working members of the Barry County law enforcement community. Sheriff Leaf is not a lawyer, nor is he licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan, yet he inaccurately cited a law that is inapplicable and is meant to aid the very citizens and law enforcement he is sworn to protect. As a prosecutor, I find this concerning. There is no logical, legal or ethical basis for statements that defend or condone behavior that threatens the safety of Governor Whitmer, fellow law enforcement, or any other citizen in this country.
In Barry County, we have dedicated, fair and honest law enforcement officers in every department. Sheriff Leaf’s statements are his own. They do not and should not tarnish the honor and respect for law enforcement in Barry County and throughout the country. We as leaders should set an example for those that look to us for guidance, strength and hope. I ask for patience with the justice system, support for those whose lives were placed in danger, and that we continue to look out for one another.”
Michigan State Police are warning the public of recent scams involving phone calls, emails, and text messages telling you that you are the victim of fraud and that you must act immediately. They then tell you to purchase gift cards in order to resolve the problem.
These are scams, meant to trick you and to steal from you. Trooper Scott Sharrar of the Michigan State Police in Hastings says if any stranger, unknown person, or message asks you to buy gift cards, it should be a giant red flag. Do not participate, even if you are told you will get your money back. Never buy gift cards to resolve a "problem".
Trooper Sharrar said if you ever have a concern over fraud, hang up, locate the number or address of the company or institution you are dealing with and initiate the call yourself. Do not click on links within suspicious email. If it involves a bank or credit card, hang up, and dial your local branch directly or use the phone number on the back of your card.
Bradford White Corporation, an industry-leading manufacturer of commercial, residential and industrial water heating and storage applications, is offering area students an opportunity to offset the full cost of a two-year college degree while working part-time at the company’s Middleville manufacturing plant.
“We’ve launched the Bradford White Scholars Program as a way to support the local community,” said Haleigh Hielkema, a human resources representative for Bradford White. “Balancing work and education can be a challenge for many people. The program can open a path for someone who might not be able to attend college otherwise. For more traditional students, it can relieve financial anxiety, whether that’s paying bills while you’re in school or long-term concerns like student debt.”
The Bradford White Scholars Program is open to anyone pursuing an associate’s degree program at a community college in the Middleville area. Participants work up to 30 hours a week in manufacturing operations and are eligible for up to four semesters of tuition reimbursement.
“I joined the Scholars Program because I wanted to go to school for welding,” said Scholars participant, Sydney Wolf. “Specifically, for me, the Scholars Program is helping me get an idea of what my future career of welding might be like, while also helping me with tuition expenses.”
Students in the Scholars Program must be enrolled in a local community college and maintain passing grades to remain eligible for reimbursement. Any course of study qualifies. Participants earn between $15 and $15.75 and must be available to work nights and weekends. Summer hours are also available.
U.A.W. Local 1002 Committee Chairwoman, Sara Price said “The BWC Scholars Program is a wonderful program that will benefit our community members, by allowing them to further their education through part time work and tuition reimbursement.”
The Scholars Program is open to up to 30 students at a time. The program reimbursement rate is $175 per credit hour for up to 15 credit hours per semester. All classes must be part of a requirement for an accredited associate degree or certificate program.
For more information or to apply for the Bradford White Scholars Program, text (616) 485-6246 or visit https://bradfordwhitecorporation.com/scholarship/.
City Manager Jerry Czarnecki gives WBCH a summary of Monday's Hastings City Council Meeting.
The Michigan Supreme Court on Monday issued two rulings reversing a lower court's opinion that supported the Governor's use of executive action during the virus pandemic and denying the Governor's request to delay the impact of removing her emergency powers.
The Supreme Court previously ruled in a federal case it was asked to weigh in on that the Governor does not have the authority under state law to continue a state of emergency without the support of the Legislature, effectively ending Governor Whitmer's executive orders.
The Michigan Supreme Court reversed a Court of Appeals decision and ruled Whitmer did not have the authority to continue the state of emergency according a news report from Mlive.
Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf's comments about the alleged plot to kidnap the Michigan Governor and incite a civil war have many individuals taking issue over what he said.
Leaf said, "it's just a charge, and they say a plot to kidnap and you got to remember that."
"Are they trying to kidnap? Because a lot of people are angry with the governor, and they want her arrested. So are they trying to arrest or was it a kidnap attempt? Because you can still in Michigan if it's a felony, make a felon arrest." Leaf told Fox news.
Leaf now says he's not defending the alleged actions of the men.
"I don't want anybody to think I'm sympathetic towards these charges, right, these are very, very serious charges. This is a horrible act; we don't want them to get away with it."
Leaf says he doesn't agree with the men's alleged actions and says he is not defending them.
A protest seeking Leaf's resignation is planned for 8-am Tuesday October 13, has been cancelled.
Thursday evening approx. 6:35pm, Wayland/Yankee Springs Twp. Fire Fighters, Wayland Area EMS, Allegan Co. Sheriff's deputies & Michigan State Police troopers responded to a Car vs. Motorcycle Crash on M-179 (129th Ave) just into Allegan County.
Upon arrival firefighters had to extricate the female driver from the vehicle. West Mi. Air Care Helicopter was called to the scene to transport the female victim trapped in the vehicle to a hospital in Kalamazoo where she later died of her injuries. The motorcyclist was pronounced dead at the scene. No other information is available at this time.
Jon Otis Burnett age 64 of Orangeville Township, was sentenced by Judge Michael Schipper Friday in the Barry County Trial Court, Circuit Division. On August 12, 2020, Burnett was convicted of 34 charges, including 2 counts of First Degree Murder. Below is a summary of his convictions and sentences:
Count 1: First Degree Premeditated Murder, victim Gary Peake: Mandatory life in prison without parole
Count 2: Felony Firearm: mandatory 2 years in prison, to be served prior to the mandatory life sentences.
Count 3: First Degree Premeditated and Felony Murder, victim Bryce DeGood: Mandatory Life in Prison without parole
Counts 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30 and 34 Felony firearm: Mandatory 2 years in prison consecutive to the predicate felonies, but concurrent to the rest of the Felony Firearm convictions
Count 7 Assault with Intent to Murder, victim Joseph Powell: 17.5-50 years in prison
Counts 11, 13, 15, 17, 19 21, 23, 25, 27, and 29 Felonious Assault: 2.5-4 years in prison
Counts 31 and 32 Resisting and Obstructing a Police Officer: 16-24 months in prison
Count 33 Unlawful Imprisonment, victim is Bryce DeGood: 86 months to 15 years in prison.
Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor Pratt said the sentencing, like the trial process in this case, was emotional and difficult for the victims whose lives are forever changed by the senseless and violent acts committed by Mr. Burnett on July 21, 2019. Mr. Burnett without mercy killed Gary Peake, his longtime friend, and Bryce DeGood, a young man working in Burnett’s neighborhood. He then either shot at, held a gun on, or fired rounds in the air to frighten off and discourage all of the brave citizens who stopped to help Bryce DeGood as he lay on the side of Lewis Road. There is no logical explanation for this tragedy. It is our opinion that Mr. Burnett was motivated by anger and vengeance when he committed these selfish violent acts. There is no place in society for Mr. Burnett, we are grateful that he will spend the rest of his life in prison.
In its Friday edition the Detroit News reported, as they allegedly plotted to storm and attack the Michigan Capitol, at least four of the 13 individuals identified by authorities attended rallies at the building earlier this year according to law enforcement.
Carrying firearms, 38 year old Michael Null of Plainwell and his 38 year old brother William Null of Shelbyville were among a group of militia members who stood on the Capitol steps during an April 30th demonstration against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's covid-19 restrictions.
The Nulls who are also members of Barry County's Michigan Liberty militia are each charged with providing material support for terrorist acts, which can bring up to 20 years in prison.
The Nulls are two of the 13 individuals who the FBI and Michigan State Police arrested Wednesday night.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel with the U.S Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, The U.S Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, the FBI and the Michigan State Police announced thursday a joint law enforcement effort that after months of work culminated wednesday night in the execution of a series of search warrants and 13 arrest.
The individuals charged include 38 year old William Null of Shelbyville charged with providing material support for terrorist acts, a 20 year felony, also charged is 38 year old Michael Null of Plainwell. He is also charged with providing material support for terrorist acts-a 20 year felony.
Both were arraigned in Antrim County and are reportedly members of the Barry County based Michigan Liberty Militia.
The suspects, now under arrest, are alleged to have called on the groups' members to identify the home addresses of law enforcement officers in order to target them, made threats of violence to instigate a civil war leading to societal collapse,and engage in planning and training for an operation to attack the state Capitol building, and kidnap government officials including Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Starting Over for Success, or SOS, is a Barry County non-profit with the goal of helping with a successful transition from jail back into society by probationers and parolees.
SOS was founded in 2008 by former Barry County Commissioner Joyce Snow when she saw firsthand how hard it was for those who had been in trouble with the law to rebuild their lives without a job or a place to live. It is administered by a board of seven directors.
“All of the board members have been touched by this population through their employment or friends or family,” Snow said. “We all see the need and the positive results that can occur when people get a second chance. We know that it is not just that one person we have helped, but their parents, their children and the community where they live, the community where we live.”
Operating like a staffing agency the group provides job training, development, searches, and retention and access to community resources. Snow contacts potential employers to discuss their needs, help with interviews and possibly provide transportation.
Clients are temporary employees paid by SOS or directly hired by a company. After the specified length of employment, the company hopefully hires the client. SOS covers all payroll costs including FICA, Workers Compensation, Unemployment, and employee’s W-2 while the client is on the SOS payroll.
The outstanding needs of clients while they re-establish themselves back into the community are jobs, housing and transportation, Snow said.
Some clients are married and have homes; others live with family or friends. SOS partners with landlords for those without a support system in the county to give them a chance to redesign their lives and remove themselves from the justice system, she said.
Employers see the value of offering a second chance to those who have made a mistake. They can work with ex-offenders temporarily before putting them on the payroll, and may apply for tax credits if they hire them. And, SOS can be called in to help with any issues or problems that may arise. “Also, by offering that second chance, they have gained some incredibly good employees,” she said.
For transportation, the board has one van and has hired a driver to bring ex-offenders to and from the job. The transportation is working well and the board is planning for a second van in the near future. The van covers all of Barry County as well as some of the surrounding area.
When Barry County Hope House dissolved last year, the SOS board accepted an offer to assume about $12,000 in Hope House assets, and then established a fund with the Barry Community Foundation for those assets.
Foundation President/CEO Bonnie Gettys said the new fund is an endowment that will provide income and long term protection for SOS. Membership also brings increased awareness of the SOS mission and more support from employers, other service agencies and the public.
“With the dissolution of Hope House, we will continue its focus on housing; it’s our focus as well. It’s a perfect fit. Our priorities continue to be employment, housing and transportation,” Snow said.
She recalls the experience of a young man who worked for one of their participating employers and re-offended, ending up back in jail. “SOS supported his attending a residential program, which he did through the court system. When he was released, he found employment and worked hard for several months, saving as much money as he could. During this time he repaired his family relationships.
“He now has his own business and is doing very well. He credits SOS with helping him and not giving up on him for his success today. I let him know that he was the one who made the changes, SOS was just there for support.”
Three SOS alumni have successfully started their own companies; one in construction, one with a tree cutting service and one with a retail business.
Directors on the board are Chair Ron Heilman, Snow, Treasurer Karen Ferrier, Secretary W. Joseph Mills, Jeffrey Westra, Elizabeth Forbes and Pat Purgiel, all with many years of service on the board.
“Personally, I believe that all SOS board members and staff get a lot of satisfaction when we see someone turn their lives around and know that is some way, SOS was helpful,” Snow said “We get peace in knowing that some children now have a better role model.”
The latest annual report by Heilman shows that in 2019:
*18 companies either took part in employment opportunities or hired directly; another nine area companies have been contacted by SOS.
*162 individuals took part in intake services
*87 of those gained employment, with 15 incomplete for various reasons.
*40 clients went through SOS, 47 were hired directly by companies.
*54 percent of clients were employed, 11 were still participating and carried over to 2020; 35 percent were terminated for different reasons.
*SOS continued to build relationships in the county, including Barry County Commissioners, Drug and Specialty Courts, County Jail, Community Corrections Advisory Council, Michigan Department of Corrections, Habitat for Humanity, Community Action Agency and Michigan Works!.
In 2019 the SOS program ended the year in the black. The board updated its bylaws and restructured its mission statement of “Rebuilding people and communities-one individual at a time” to reflect current goals of job placement, vocational skills training, transitional housing and job site transportation for ex-offenders, the report said.
Most of the SOS clients are referred by the Barry County Adult Specialty Court, Community Corrections and Barry County Michigan Department of Corrections Parole/Probation.
SOS’s income comes from the employers using the services to cover payroll and payroll costs as they do with any staffing agency. Michigan Works! West Central grants and through donations. An internal audit was done last year. With its growth, the board is seeking an independent audit going forward.
“2019 was a busy and productive year for the Starting Over for Success program,” Heilman said. “Our board and staff are amazing, which keeps our program strong, solvent and a force to be reckoned with in the Barry County Community.”
A part of history was taken away Wednesday when fire destroyed the old Royal Coach building next to Hastings Manufacturing Company.
The Hastings fire Department with assistance from other departments battled the fire from early morning and throughout most of the morning keeping the flames from reaching nearby buildings.
Firefighters stayed on the scene for the rest of the day making sure it didn't start up again.
Today all that is left of the historic building is smoldering ashes, and part of the brick structure still standing..
Hastings fire Chief Roger Caris said, "it was not arson."
Some of the long time Hastings residents who came to the fire spoke with WBCH about other big fires over the years in Hastings such as Wayne's Shoe Store, Leary's Sports Center both in downdown Hastings and Alfresco's on South Jefferson street.
The Hastings fire department early Wednesday morning with assistance from other fire departments battled a large fire at the Old Royal Coach Building on East Mill Street next Hastings Manufacturing Company. Hastings Fire Chief Roger Caris told WBCH News, "we started putting water on the other buildings next to the Old Royal Coach building as soon as we arrived, to keep the other buildings from catching on fire as we battled the Royal Coach fire. Caris went to say the building is a total loss."
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Hastings Area Schools were closed today as the fire interupted electric service in the area.
Maple Valley and Barry County Christian schools were also closed.
Power has now been restored to the affected areas.
Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf said his department will not enforce the emergency orders issued this week by the Michigan Departement of Health and Human Services.
It is not law and it's that simple said Sheriff Leaf.
"Our state Supreme Court themselves in a 7-0 ruling said the governor never had the authority to make those orders after a certain date. I believe this is going to have to go through our legislature before we'll do any enforcement on it," Leaf said.
On October 3, 2020, at approximately 9:48pm, the Hastings Police Department responded to E. State Rd near the Hastings City Limits to an accident which involved a car fully engulfed in fire. The accident investigation shows that an eastbound vehicle driven by Heather Lynn Wright 35 years old of Nashville crossed the center line and struck a westbound vehicle driven by a 37 year old Allegan man. The eastbound vehicle, a 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer, immediately burst into flames. The three occupants in the westbound vehicle, including a 2 year old, were immediately evacuated from the vehicle by responding Officer’s and were transported to Pennock Hospital for minor injuries.
The driver of the 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer, Heather Lynn Wright and the passenger, David Jay Wright 37 years old, both of Nashville, were both declared deceased at the accident scene.
Hastings Police were assisted by the Michigan State Police, Barry County Sheriff’s Department, Hastings Fired Department and Barry County Central Dispatch.
City Manager Jerry Czarnecki gives WBCH News a summary of Monday October 5th's Hastings Planning Commission Meeting.
Area High School Varsity Football, Friday Oct. 2:
Hastings 37 - Pennfield 14
Lakewood 43 - Stockbridge 26
TK Middleville 42 - Wayland 28
Lawton 31 - Delton Kellogg 7
Martin 64 - Maple Valley 18
In a historic ruling issued Friday, the Michigan Supreme Court unanimously said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s attempt to continue a state of emergency after April 30, 2020 without legislative approval was illegal. Additionally, in a 4-3 decision, the Court ruled that the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945, which Gov. Whitmer argued allowed her to maintain unilateral control for an indefinite period, is unconstitutional. All executive orders issued after April 30 are null and void, pending an almost certain rehearing request from the governor and other state officials.
The case was originally filed in May by the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, in conjunction with the Grand Rapids-based Miller Johnson law firm. It was on behalf of three medical practitioners who were unable to provide necessary care and a patient who was unable to receive care under the governor’s emergency executive orders. Grand Health Partners, Wellston Medical Center and Primary Health Services were among the health care facilities across Michigan initially prevented from performing elective procedures like endoscopies and surgeries. The justices unanimously held that Gov. Whitmer acted illegally by declaring a state of emergency under the Emergency Management Act of 1976. The law clearly requires the Legislature to approve extending emergencies after 28 days, and Gov. Whitmer illegally attempted to bypass that requirement.
Moving forward, Gov. Whitmer will need to work with the Legislature through the normal legislative process to issue policies related to COVID-19.
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