Local News Archives for 2021-03

Fire destroys home, garage, pickup, and trailer

Approximately 3:35pm Tuesday the Wayland/Yankee Springs Twp. Fire Department responded to a reported Structure Fire on 5th St. in Wayland Township.  


It was reported that a home, garage, pickup and a 5th wheel camping trailer were on fire. 


Assistant Chief Dan Miller said firefighters arrived to find all of the above engulfed with flames. The high winds hampered the Firefighters. 


Fire Departments assisting were Orangeville, Leighton, Thornapple, Martin Twp..  Others assisting were Wayland Area EMS, Allegan Co. Sheriff Dept, Wayland City Police, Allegan & Barry County Central Dispatch Centers.  

Spectrum Health Announces New Visitor Restrictions

Grand Rapids, Mich., March 29, 2021 – As a result of significantly increasing numbers of patients admitted with COVID-19 and the increase in community positivity rate, Spectrum Health is revising its visitor policies to reduce the number of people in its Grand Rapids and regional hospitals and outpatient care sites.


Effective Wednesday, March 31, 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. 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 here for an obstetric ultrasound or those 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 for surgical sedated procedures, but no visitors unless the patient needs physical or cognitive support.  Patients may contact office staff for extenuating circumstances.

-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 one family member 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 new restrictions apply to the following Spectrum Health hospitals and nearby physician offices and ambulatory care sites:


-Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital

-Spectrum Health Blodgett Hospital

-Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital

-Spectrum Health Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center

-Spectrum Health Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion

-Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital

-Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial

-Spectrum Health Kelsey Hospital

-Spectrum Health Pennock

-Spectrum Health Reed City Hospital

-Spectrum Health United Hospital

-Spectrum Health Zeeland Community Hospital

-Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital


In addition, in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus, 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 continue to be closed to visitors. Hospital food service will be available in the cafeteria through to-go orders.

Wayland Police Department brings Human Trafficking charges against two individuals

Two individuals from the Grand Rapids area were arraigned on charges related to human trafficking, Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Friday.

Robert Henry Grigsby, 51, of Wayland, and Vanessa Anne Phillips, 39, of Grand Rapids, allegedly
conducted a criminal enterprise comprised of prostitution and sex trafficking of numerous women in
Grigsby’s home in Wayland, and other locations throughout the greater Grand Rapids area.

Grigsby was arraigned in the 57th District Court in Allegan County and charged with several counts of Sex Trafficking, Accepting Earnings of Prostitution, Transportation for Prostitution, and Conspiracy to Conduct a Criminal Enterprise.

Phillips was also arraigned in the 57th District Court in Allegan County on similar charges.

Wayland Police began an investigation into a human trafficking operation being conducted out of a
residence in Wayland, Michigan in October 2018. The investigation uncovered evidence of commercial sexual activity and transporting women for illegal activities from which the accused allegedly profited.

“Thankfully crimes like this do not occur in Wayland very often. However, the Wayland Police are
fortunate to have experienced officers and investigators that are up to the task,” said Chief Mark


“The Wayland Police would like to thank the Attorney General’s Office for the time given to
this case, and their relentless persistence in helping us bring two human traffickers to justice.”

“The Wayland Police wish to thank the Human Trafficking Task Force consisting of the Michigan State Police, Allegan County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI. I would also like to add that at least one of these victims has taken the opportunity to turn their life completely around. The fact that we were involved in positively impacting the lives of others and rescuing them is something we are very proud of,” said Chief Mark Garnsey.

TKHS students to transition to remote learning March 29-April 1


Thornapple Kellogg High School has experienced a sudden increase in positive Covid-19 cases. For this reason, Superintendent Dan Remenap said it is necessary to move to remote learning for high school students only, starting Monday, March 29 through Thursday, April 1, 2021.


Outdoor athletic activities may continue as well as practices for individuals who qualified for the
State Wrestling Finals, as these athletes are tested regularly. In the event of inclement weather,
all practices will be cancelled. Indoor practices are not allowed.


Hastings Schools move to remote learning due to increased Covid cases

Hastings Area Schools Superintendent Matt Goebel notified families on Friday that due to an uptick in Covid cases district-wide, Hastings schools will move to remote learning for 3.5 days beginning Monday, March 29.  Goebel said for the safety of students and staff, this was the responsible path to take.


Since Spring Break begins Thursday afternoon on April 1st,  the return to in-person learning will be Monday, April 12.


The daycare will remain open throughout next week and Spring Break.

Missing Person

 Missing from the City of Hastings is WILLIAM GLEN MCDONALD w/m 12/3/1933  5’ 10” approximately 185 lbs.

McDONALD was last seen at approximately 1pm, Tuesday, driving his 2016 light silver Honda Civic, in Hastings. McDonald is in need of medication and may have a difficult time with his memory.

If located, please contact the Barry County Central Dispatch at 269-948-4800, 24 hours  a day,  or the Hastings City Police Department at 269-945-5744 between 8am and 5pm.

Spring arrives Saturday

The Spring, or Vernal Equinox happens Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 5:37 A.M. EDT. In the Northern Hemisphere, this marks the start of the spring season when the sun crosses the equator line for the first time, heading north in the sky.


Equinoxes are the only two times a year that the Sun rises due east and sets due west for all of us on Earth.

Ford Airport One of First in Nation to Offer Rapid PCR COVID-19 Tests

Grand Rapids, Michigan, March 17, 2021 – Buoyed by the initial success of its rapid COVID-19 testing site, the Gerald R. Ford International Airport is expanding its partnership with TACKL Health to offer rapid molecular PCR tests starting Wednesday, March 17, again making it one of the first airports in the nation to do so.


The drive-up, no-appointment-needed site has added a rapid PCR option that provides results in 30 minutes, down from its offering of 24-72 hours. PCR tests are widely recognized as more accurate than rapid antigen tests and are now required by many countries before international travel.


The testing site is open daily from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. Those wishing to be tested do not need to have COVID-19 symptoms or a doctor’s referral.


Increasing demand prompted TACKL to offer the rapid PCR test, which will cost $275 per person. Ford Airport anticipates this test should work for most domestic and international destinations, but guests should consult their carrier or destination to ensure they receive the proper test before departing.


“As travel demand continues to grow, some destinations, especially international, increasingly require a PCR test before entering,” said Stephen Clark, director of commercial development for the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority. “Results for these tests have historically taken 24-48 hours, so the 30-minute turnaround is a huge benefit to our guests.


“We are gratified to be able to expand this much-needed service to our community. Since we opened this site in mid-December, we have had overwhelming demand, with some guests traveling from Chicago, Marquette and Detroit for the peace of mind a test can bring.”


Since opening the testing site in December, TACKL Health has administered more than 4,500 tests.


“We are thrilled with the success of the site,” said Lauren Hetzel, co-founder and vice president of business development for TACKL Health. “Our goal in working with the Ford Airport has always been to provide a service that benefits both the traveling community and the local community as a whole.


“Now, with the introduction of 30 minute PCR tests, we are able to provide that access to international travel. Rather than waiting 24-72 hours for test results, you can have your results within a matter of minutes.” 


In addition to its rapid antigen test, TACKL Health is also introducing a new rapid antibody test that checks for both IgM and IgG antibodies. This test is administered through a finger prick and should have results available within 20 minutes. The test will cost $65 as a standalone service or $45 with the purchase of another service.


“The site continues to be open to all in the community, not just those traveling through the Ford Airport,” Clark said. “We have been pleased that this offering has allowed so many families to gather safely for the holidays and other important events.”


Testing is set up in the Airport’s economy lot and is on a first-come, first-served basis. When guests arrive, they will need to fill out an intake form using a QR code. If they are unable to access the form or need assistance, a technician will be available at the testing site.


Payment can be made within the intake form using credit, but cash can also be accepted. TACKL Health does not currently accept health insurance.


TACKL Health provides full-service workplace health and COVID-19 solutions, including rapid mobilization for large-scale COVID-19 testing. The company is partnering with Grand Rapids-based NxGen MDx for lab testing.


For more information on the testing site, visit or call 616.816.1280.


Hastings Schools suspend Daycare due to staff positive Covid-19 cases

In a letter to Hastings families on Tuesday, Superintendent Matt Goebel said Hastings Area Schools were informed by the Barry Eaton District Health Department that three daycare providers who last worked on March 12th have contracted Covid-19. After contact tracing, a small number of children are in quarantine.


Based on the staff positive cases, the Daycare at Hastings Schools is suspended through March 22nd with a return date of Tuesday March 23.  In the meantime, extensive disinfecting and cleaning of the facility is taking place.

CPL Fingerprinting resumes at Barry Co. Sheriff's office

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office will be resuming CPL fingerprinting for Barry County residents only, on Monday, March 22nd from 1pm until 4pm and will also be offered on the following Monday’s.   


Monday    3/29/21  9am-4pm

Monday    4/05/21  9am-4pm

Monday    4/19/21  9am-4pm

Monday    4/26/21  9am-4pm


Watch the Sheriff's office Facebook page for additional updates.



Matt Goebel selected as next Superintendent of Hastings Area Schools

At its’ Monday meeting the Hastings Board of Education announced the selection of Matt Goebel to be the next Superintendent of Hastings Area Schools. Goebel has worked in the Hastings district for many years and has served as Interim Superintendent since the beginning of 2021, when Dan Remenap left Hastings to become Superintendent of Thornapple Kellogg Schools.


Goebel was evaluated by the board earlier this month, and then a survey was conducted to gather staff and community opinions. The survey drew mostly positive comments about Goebel from the 122 staff members and 341 community respondents. Goebel’s selection by the Board makes a full-scale search unnecessary.

Gun Lake Tribe, Allegan County Donation Ceremony for Mobile Vaccination Unit

Last October, the Gun Lake Tribe donated a total of $500,000 to several local schools
and the County of Allegan to assist in mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic.


The donations came from the Tribe’s Coronavirus Relief Fund pursuant to the federal CARES
Act. Those donations helped to fund school safety mitigation efforts, and a county mobile
vaccination unit.

Eleven local schools received $25,000 each while Allegan County received $225,000 to
purchase the mobile vaccination unit that will provide area residents with their COVID-19
shots once they become available to the public.

On March 17, representatives of the Gun Lake Tribe and Allegan County will hold a
donation ceremony to commence operation of the county’s mobile vaccination unit.,

Sunday is Pi Day

Also known as March 14thPi Day is when mathematicians and math lovers around the world celebrate pi, often approximated to 3.14, which is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. 


Celebrate with a delicious slice of Pi.

Daylight Savings Time resumes March 14

The annual "spring forward" to Daylight Savings Time occurs this Sunday, March 14th.  Be sure to set your clocks ahead one hour Saturday night!

Happy 150th Anniversary!  City of Hastings reaches Sesquicentennial Milestone on March 11th

Thursday, March 11, 2021 marks the 150th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Hastings.  Several Sesquicentennial events are being planned in the coming months with the main community celebration anticipated in August and September.


According to the city’s website, it all started in 1836 when three gentlemen named Dibble, Kingsbury, and Kendall purchased the 480-acre town-site from Detroit banker Eurotas P. Hastings for $3,000. They platted the land into streets and lots and offered inducements to attract settlers. Water powered gristmills and sawmills were constructed along Fall Creek.


Hastings Township was organized on March 6, 1837. The Michigan legislature designated Hastings as the County Seat of Barry County in 1843. By 1848, there was enough of a population to warrant stagecoach service connecting the new town of Hastings with Grand Rapids and Battle Creek


Hastings, with an approximate population of 300, was incorporated as a village in February, 1855. The new village boasted a two-story schoolhouse serving eighty families, a county building, and a jail.


Following the Civil War, Hastings officially became a city, exactly 150 years ago this week.


The Master Plan for the city proclaims “We treasure the old, progress with the new.”


WBCH Radio will kick off the 2021 Sesquicentennial celebration on Saturday, March 13th with a special re-broadcast of the Hastings Centennial Parade from June 5, 1971.  The audio recording of the parade was discovered in the stations’ archives from 50 years ago and was hosted by WBCH’s Terry Edger, Cindy Sage Winters, and Dave McIntyre.

Sheriff's Office to resume handgun purchase permits & inmate visits

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office lobby will begin providing handgun purchase permits beginning March 9th, 2021, on Tuesdays from 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. and Fridays 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. or by appointment. A drop off box still remains in the lobby to drop off the handgun purchase slips (Registry copy).


Visitation for inmates will resume the week of March 15, 2021. Persons wishing to visit must sign up on the inmates visitation day. Sign up is first come first serve and space will be limited to 3 visitation booths.


At this time, SOR verifications will remain over the phone, Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m..


Refer to the Sheriff's Office Facebook page for updates on fingerprints.


Car vs. Deer crash reports- Contact Barry County Central Dispatch (269)-948-4800 to file a report.

Michigan expanding access to COVID-19 Vaccine starting Monday

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. Whitmer and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday that the state is expanding vaccination eligibility beginning Monday, March 8. This change follows the announcement by President Biden that ramped-up production will provide enough doses for 300 million Americans by the end May. 


Starting March 8, MDHHS is moving forward with the vaccination of Michiganders age 50 and older with medical conditions or disabilities and caregiver family members and guardians who care for children with special health care needs. Beginning Monday, March 22, vaccine eligibility will again expand to include all Michiganders 50 and older. To date, more than 40% of Michiganders age 65 and older have been vaccinated.


It is important to note that, while supplies are increasing, there remains a limited amount of vaccine available, so there may be a waitlist for available appointments. As more vaccine becomes available, the state will continue to move more quickly through the priority groups.


Updated MDHHS Orders Expand Restaurant Capacity, Increase Gathering Limits, Allow for Visitation at Residential Care Facilities  

LANSING, MICH. Today, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) updated two of its epidemic orders, allowing for increased capacity limits at restaurants, bars, and various venues, larger residential and nonresidential gatherings and expanded visitation opportunities at residential care facilities. Changes are designed to balance reopening while controlling the spread of COVID-19.


With all residents at skilled nursing homes having been offered their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and a vast majority having had their second dose, the Residential Care Facilities Order goes into effect immediately. The order encourages communal dining and group activities for residents and allows indoor and outdoor visitation in all counties regardless of county risk level. Visitation is allowed as long as the facility has not had a new COVID-19 case in the last 14 days and all indoor visitors ages 13 and older are subject to rapid antigen testing. Testing will help keep residents, staff and families safe while allowing for visitation and an increased quality of life for residents. Visitors will be required to wear face masks or other personal protective equipment when required by the facility at all times. In general, visitors will need to maintain six feet from residents.  


Changes to the Gatherings and Mask Order go into effect Friday, March 5, and remain in effect through Monday, April 19. Capacity changes include:


-Restaurants and bars are allowed to be at 50% capacity up to 100 people. Tables must be six feet apart with no more than six people per table. The curfew is extended to 11 p.m.


-Indoor non-residential gatherings where people interact across households are permitted up to 25 people, allowing public meetings and other small indoor gatherings to resume.


-Outdoor non-residential gatherings where people interact across households are permitted up to 300, allowing larger outdoor events to resume.


-Indoor entertainment venues are allowed to be at 50% capacity, up to 300 people.


-Exercise facilities are allowed to be at 30% capacity with restrictions on distancing and mask requirements.


-Retail is allowed to be at 50% capacity.


-Casinos are allowed to be at 30% capacity.


-Indoor stadiums and arenas are allowed have 375 if seating capacity is under 10,000; 750 if seating capacity is over 10,000. 


-Outdoor entertainment and recreational facilities may host up to 1,000 patrons. 


Indoor residential gatherings are now limited to 15 people from three households, while outdoor residential gatherings can include up to 50 people.


Below is a statement from Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA) President & CEO Justin Winslow:


"We welcome the governor’s decision today to expand restaurant, banquet and meeting space occupancy and consider this change critically important, but the six-week duration of this Order is concerning and significantly too long to adapt to rapidly changing metrics around this virus. We are hopeful that this DHHS Order represents a paradigm shift in the administration’s overall approach to the hospitality industry, accepting that the dramatically reduced hospitalization rate and increased vaccine distribution mean our most vulnerable populations are protected and that reopening should advance in a timely manner. While we are disappointed about the length of the Order given the fragile state of the hospitality industry and improving outcomes, we are committed to working toward collaborative and consistent – emphasis on consistent – progress towards the full reintegration of the industry as Michigan moves more fully into a new phase of this pandemic."

Barry ISD announces Spelling Bee Results

The following students qualified for the Barry ISD Regional Spelling Bee, originally
scheduled for February 23, 2021. Due to COVID restrictions, the bee was held online,
using the new Scripps platform developed to ensure that students nationwide would be
able to compete in spelling bees no matter what the current circumstances. Barry ISD is
proud to sponsor the regional spelling bee, and we look forward to spelling in person
next year!

Barry County Christian School
1. Dale Thompson
2. Samantha Ling-Santos

St. Rose of Lima School
1. Harrison Thomas
2. Isabella Perez


Delton Kellogg Middle School
1. Eric Belka
2. Spencer Graham

3. Danielle Henderson
4. Blythe Caldwell
5. Clayton Pape
6. Trevin Ewing
7. Kaylynn Zwar
8. Summer Brehm


Bold=Regional Online Competitors


Regional Winner/Greater Grand Rapids Competitor: Eric Belka, Delton
Kellogg Middle School

Regional Runner-Up/Alternate to GGR: Dale Thompson, Barry County Christian School

Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee (national qualifier): March 16, 2021

Body of Ice Fisherman recovered from Eaton County lake

The body of a fisherman who fell through the ice was recovered Monday afternoon on Tamarock Lake in northwestern Eaton County.  A caller alerted the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office that someone had gone through the ice around 1:40pm and the Tri-County Dive Team responded to the scene in the Tamarack Lake State Game Area, east of Woodland near St. Joe Highway and Irish Rd. in Sunfield Township.


Officers said that rescuers were hindered by poor ice conditions and were unable to mount a rescue.  Within a few hours, divers recovered the body of 41 year old Jason Eugene Betts, a resident of South Boardman in Kalkaska County.  Betts was fishing by himself at the time. Another person who had come out to go fishing called 911.



According to MDOT the M-179 highway that runs from west of Hastings to US-131 will be designed as a single point urban interchange. This will allow for large volumes of traffic through limited space safely.

The Gun Lake Tribe is financially responsible for most of the project which got underway Monday.   MDOT Grand Region Engineer Erick Kind said, "The generosity from the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians of MIchigan is unprecedented and gives us a great opportunity to rebuild this bridge and interchange for all of Michigan."

Kind went on to say, "Rebuilding and improving this interchange is vital for this growing area and helps meet the vision the Gun Lake Tribe has for their casino."


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