Local News Archives for 2021-01

Barry County Transit offers free rides for Covid vaccination appointments

To make it easier for Barry County residents to get their Covid-19 shots, Barry County Transit is now offering free rides to and from your appointment, according to Bill Voigt, Transit Director.


Nobody should delay or skip getting a Covid shot because of lack of transportation. Once you have an appointment to get the vaccine, Barry County Transit will pick you up and take you to your appointment and back home again, free of charge. You must contact the Transit office ahead of time to schedule your ride by calling 269-948-8098.    

New Traffic Signals

The challenge will soon be over for customers going into and leaving the Hastings Walmart Store. 

New traffic signals are now being installed by the Michigan Department of Transportation which will help to better control the traffic flow on the heavily congested M-37 M-43. Ever since Walmart opened it's been a real challenge for motorists trying to enter and exit the Walmart parking lot and neighboring stores from the highway.

Tires Dumped in Allegan County

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources in Allegan County is asking for tips from the public after finding some 500 tires dumped in a number of locations in and near the State Game Area.


More than 300 tires were discovered on Wednesday by local residents who walk in the state game area.  More piles have been located in and near the state game area, as well as along the roads between Allegan and Fennville.


Anyone with information about the tires is asked to call the DNR at 1-800-292-7800 and remain anonymous.

Indoor Dining Reopens February 1st

Governor Whitmer on Friday announced details regarding restaurant and bar reopenings. Effective February 1 - February 21:


-- Indoor dining permitted at a 25% capacity, up to 100 people

-- Bars and restaurants must close by 10 PM

-- Tables must be six feet apart with no more than six people per table

-- Outdoor tents with four sides are permitted under these same rules

-- Personal services requiring mask removal are now permitted

-- Non-residential gatherings of up to 10 people from two households are now permitted


Additionally, a voluntary MI COVID-19 Safer Dining program allows food service establishments to become certified by having their ventilation system inspected and submitting their inspection report to the state indicating they are optimizing airflow.


The Small Business Administration of Michigan (SBAM) says it understands that while this is a step in the right direction, it is not enough. SBAM is among many groups working to determine the next steps to increase capacity, especially for restaurants for which 25% capacity along with take-out still doesn't produce enough revenue to call back employees and pay bills.

Gilmore Car Museum Winter Fun

The winter motoring meet is coming to the Gilmore Car Museum on Saturday, February 20th from 10-am to 4-pm. The winter motoring meet will provide access to the museum's indoor collection of classic vehicles along with some scenic rides.


Those interested can take a ride on the Gilmore campus in antique cars and trucks. Visit the exhibit of vintage snowmobiles, skate at the carving exhibition and enjoy outdoor games.


Food and beverage accompanied by an outdoor fire will also be available with homemade soup, hot chocolate, winter beer and wine.


Prices range from $11 to $16 dollars with free tickets for children and active military.

Cash for Classrooms

PFCU of Portland is honoring teachers with donations through their CASH for CLASSROOMS Program. Now through the end of May, teachers have the opportunity to be entered to win $150 to use toward their classroom.


This is PFCU's first year offering this program. The credit union's goal is to recognize the dedication and hard work of teachers adapting to new classroom norms.


Through PFCU's online submission form, teachers can be nominated by community member or enter themselves for the opportunity to win $150 through  the CASH for CLASSROOMS program.

Harvey Hoskins, CEO of PFCU said, "This is just a small token of appreciation to show our gradtitude to teachers in our CLASSROOMS Program."

State Police Motor Carrier Officers Join Forces to Fight Human Trafficking

During National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Michigan State Police (MSP) motor carrier officers are teaming up with officers from neighboring states to raise awareness of human trafficking.


Now through Friday, Jan. 22, MSP MCOs will join with their colleagues in the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Illinois State Police and Indiana State Police, along with the organization Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), to educate motorists about the signs of human trafficking and to enforce laws that crack down on traffickers.


The goal of this week-long, multi-state human trafficking initiative is to raise awareness and educate those individuals in positions to observe human trafficking taking place, such as commercial motor vehicle drivers, public transportation companies, rest area attendants and truck stop employees. 


The MSP first partnered with TAT in 2015 and has since been recognized as a national leader in human trafficking awareness and education. For more information about TAT, visit   


To report suspected human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resources Center at 888-373-7888 or text BeFree to 233733.

Lakewood Girls VolleyBall

For the second consecutive season, Grand Rapids Christian defeated the Lakewood Girls Volleyball team in straight sets Saturday in the division 2 Volleyball State Championships in Battle Creek.

State Police working with law enforcement partners to secure State Capitol

In advance of anticipated demonstrations at the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Sunday, the Michigan State Police (MSP) has increased both personnel and protective measures, and is working in coordination with local and county law enforcement, the Michigan National Guard and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).


Following the January 6 siege on the US Capitol in Washington, D.C. and the resulting online promotion of marches at capitols in all 50 states, the MSP increased its visible presence at the Capitol beginning on January 11. These additional uniform resources are in addition to the MSP state properties security officers who are assigned to provide security at the Capitol.


“Security enhancements that have been put in place include both seen and unseen measures,” stated Col. Joe Gasper, director of the MSP. “I can assure you that we take our responsibility for safeguarding the Capitol and those who work and visit here seriously and, together with our law enforcement partners, we will be prepared to ensure law and order.”


In anticipation of an unknown number of demonstrators expected to gather on the grounds of the Capitol on Sunday, January 17, the MSP is again increasing its uniform presence by mobilizing troopers from across the state. MSP’s resources will be complemented by uniform personnel from the Lansing Police Department, Ingham County Sheriff’s Office and the Michigan National Guard to ensure that the greater downtown area is also protected.


Details about the number of officers or their specific security missions will not be shared.

“In general, we don’t discuss security measures so as not to provide an advantage to those wishing to inflict harm and cause disruption, but it’s important for the public to know that law enforcement is working together and has a coordinated plan to do everything within our power to ensure safety,” Gasper added. “We remain hopeful that those who choose to demonstrate do so peacefully, without violence or destruction of property.” There will be several road closures in effect for downtown Lansing on Sunday to facilitate ingress and egress.

Lakewood Vikings Advance to State Final in Girls Volleyball

The Lakewood volleyball team made it look easy Thursday  in a division two state semifinal win over Pontiac Notre Dame Prep.

The Vikings were led by junior Maradith O'Gorman who had a game high 21 kills, her sisiter Aubrey added 11 kills.

Lakewood will play Grand Rapids Christian in the division two final Saturday at 2-pm at Kellogg Area in Battle Creek.

Rutland Township seeking input to update Master Plan

Rutland Charter Township is in the process of updating its Master Plan and would like Barry County area residents to complete a survey by February 1, 2021 in order to help plan the future of the township.


The confidential online survey to provide your opinions may be taken using the link (below) on the WBCH website.

Hard copies can be picked up at Rutland Township Hall, located at 2461 Heath Road, to
fill out at your convenience.



Survey link:

Ban on Indoor Dining extended, Indoor Group Excercise allowed

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) updated its epidemic order Wednesday to allow re-opening of a few additional activities where Michiganders can remain masked and socially distanced. This includes indoor group exercise and non-contact sports. The new order is effective Saturday, Jan. 16 and will last until Sunday, Jan. 31.


The epidemic order continues to prohibit indoor dining in bars and restaurants, but they can continue to offer outdoor dining, carry-out and delivery. The working plan is to open indoor dining with mitigation measures, capacity limits and a curfew on February 1, but the ultimate decision depends on data continuing to stabilize. Additional details on the reopening pathway are expected next week.


Colleges and universities can have students return to campus for the winter semester and restart in-person courses as of Jan. 18.   


Previously, MDHHS had identified stabilization or declines in three metrics as critical for relaxing protocols. Although Michigan saw improvements across all three following the “pause” implemented in mid-November, some numbers have plateaued or begun to increase in recent days: 


-Hospital capacity dedicated to COVID-19 patients has been in 13-day decline, with current capacity is at 12% for beds with COVID-19 patients. Peaked at 19.6% on Tuesday, Dec. 4. 


-Overall case rates:  increasing, currently at 266 cases per million. Peaked at 740 cases per million on Saturday, Nov. 14 and declined to a low of 239 on Friday, Dec. 25 


-Positivity rate: plateauing; currently at 9.1% after reaching a low of 8.1% on Monday, Dec. 28 and increasing up to 10% since then.  


Indoor residential gatherings remain limited to 10 people and two households. MDHHS continues to urge families to avoid indoor gatherings or to pick a single other household to interact with consistent with guidance already released by the department. Families are encouraged to stay home as much as possible  to maintain momentum and to protect loved ones. Families are also encouraged to Mask Up, Mask Right, using guidance for what masks to wear and how to wear them. 

Lakewood Girls Volleyball Advances to the State Semi-final.

The Lakewood Volleyball team beat Gabriel Richard in straight sets Tuesday night in Tecumseh to advance to a fifth consecutive state semifinal.


The Viking gals will take on Notre Dame Prep this Thursday at 4:30 at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.

Spectrum opens Covid-19 vaccination clinics in Hastings & other locations by appointment

In response to the State of Michigan expanding eligibility for vaccination, Spectrum Health today began vaccinating adults age 65 and over, and certain Phase 1B individuals such as teachers and childcare workers. 


Spectrum Health will launch vaccination clinics this week by appointment only in Grand Rapids, Greenville, Hastings and Zeeland with additional locations opening as more vaccine becomes available.


“The vaccine is a significant step forward in moving beyond the pandemic and ending the suffering and death so many have experienced because of COVID-19,” said Darryl Elmouchi, MD, President, Spectrum Health West Michigan “We are honored to be helping to distribute the vaccine in collaboration with area health departments and community partners. We are seeing overwhelming demand for the vaccine and ask for the community’s patience as we work as quickly as possible to schedule appointments and set up additional clinics. We understand that the vaccine represents hope for better days ahead, and a sense of normalcy for our lives and the economy.”


Spectrum Health is working with community partners and area health departments to plan additional vaccine sites across the region in the coming weeks—including clinics for under-represented communities—in an effort to make the vaccine as accessible as possible for all individuals.


This week, Spectrum Health will provide a total of more than 21,000 vaccinations to the public as well as to individuals in Phase 1a that the health system has been asked to vaccinate, including independent doctors, dentists and their staff. The vaccine distribution is dependent on vaccine supply, which varies from week-to-week. Scheduling will take place as Spectrum Health receives vaccine doses.


To find out more about scheduling a vaccination, go to Community members are also encouraged to download the Spectrum Health app and sign up for a MyChart account, which is a key step in the scheduling process for a vaccination appointment.


Per the State of Michigan, essential workers, including teachers and others, should work through their employers to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination.

Barry County Commissioners meet for first time in 2021

At the organizational meeting of the Barry County Board of Commissioners held on Monday, January 4th, newly elected Commissioners Bruce Campbell and Catherine Getty joined Commissioners Ben Geiger, Vivian Connor, Howard Gibson, David Jackson, and Jon Smelker for the online meeting held via Zoom.


Ben Geiger was elected as Board Chairperson for 2021, and Vivian Connor as Vice-Chair, both by unanimous vote.


Adoption of Board Rules, Committee assignments, and adoption of meeting schedules followed. The next Commission meeting will be held at 9am on January 12th.

Michigan entering next phase for COVID-19 vaccinations

To help reach the state’s goal of vaccinating 70% of Michiganders over age 16 and bring a quicker end to the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) officials announced Wednesday the state is moving to a new phase of vaccination on Monday, Jan. 11.


MDHHS is moving forward with vaccination of Michiganders age 65 and older; frontline essential workers including police officers, first responders, frontline state and federal workers and jail and prison staff; and preK-12 teachers and childcare providers. To date, 80% of deaths have occurred among those age 65 and older. In addition to vaccinating Michiganders who are 75+ in Phase 1B (Phase 1B, Group A), MDHHS is accelerating to vaccinate individuals 65-74 years old (Phase 1C Group A). MDHHS is accelerating implementation of vaccination of individuals 65-74 years due to concern around disparity in life expectancy by race/ethnicity for this group (Phase 1C, Group A).   


All counties may begin vaccinating residents over age 65 and seniors are urged to visit to find local health departments and other local vaccine clinics near them that are ready to book appointments. Eligible essential workers, teachers and childcare workers will be notified by their employers about vaccine clinic dates and locations. Eligible individuals should not go to any of the clinics without an appointment.


It is important to note that there is limited vaccine available in the state, and so there will be limited appointments available. As more vaccine becomes available, the state will be able to move more quickly through the priority groups.  

Hastings Family receives 25K from personality David Dobrik

A Hastings teen looking to show her appreciation for her older sister has gone viral in a TIK TOK video, getting the attention of well-known youtuber David Dobrik according to Fox 17 News.

Katie Pattok told her family's story explaining to Dobrik why her older sister deserved help and recognition in to the new year. The familty was given  25K from David Dobrik.

Barry County FEMA/EFSP Funding amount Announced

Barry county has been awarded federal funds made available through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/Federal Emergency Management Agency under the Emergency Food and Shelter national board program. Barry County has been chosen to receive $28,764.00 to supplement emergency food and shelter programs in the county under Phase 38 of the program.


Congress has appropriated $125,000,000 to supplement and expand emergency food and shelter programs. The National EFSP/FEMA Board has also included a reallocation of $15 million in the Phase 38 awards. The total available for allocation in Phase 38 is $140 million. Barry County’s award is based upon our jurisdiction's total number of unemployed as compared to the total number of unemployed in all qualifying jurisdictions.


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.


A local board made up of 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 can find the application on our website at or you can contact Morgan Johnson at the Barry County United Way at or 269-945-4010. Please e-mail to Morgan Johnson, mail or fax the request to:  Barry County United Way: Attention: FEMA/EFSP, 231 South Broadway, Hastings, MI  49058 fax number:  (269) 945-4536. For an application. The deadline for applications to be received is Friday, January 22, 2021 by 5pm

New Years Baby update

Barry County has New Years Babies:


Wayne Thomas Laws, the son of Kody and Angelena Laws of Delton was the first baby boy, born at 1:10 pm New Years day at Spectrum Pennock Hospital in Hastings.


But Wayne was not the first new baby of the year at Spectrum Pennock Hospital on News Day... that honor goes to Emma Kathleen Baker born at 1:00-pm to her parents Meghan and Jake Baker of Hastings.


Congratulations to both families.

Power Outage

Ice, freezing rain and snow caused some power outages across Michigan New Years Day.

Consumers energy reports 4 of their customers in Barry County are out of electric service.

Barry Community Foundation

The Barry Community Foundation has helped some businesses that were hit very hard because of the the virus during 2020.  Restaurants in Barry County have been affected the most as the governor said no indoor dining -- only takeout allowed.


The Barry foundation, with the help of donor groups, presented 50 restaurants with cash or purchased gift cards totaling $83,000.


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