Local News Archives for 2021-07

The Word "Destructive" being added to Severe Thunderstorm Warnings

Severe thunderstorms can be life-threatening but not all severe storms are the same. Hazardous conditions range from tornadoes, large hail storms,and widewspread straight-line winds called derechoes to cloud- to-ground lightning and flash flooding.

Starting August 2nd  the National Weather Service will better convey the severity and potential impacts from thunderstorm winds and hail by adding a "damaging threat" tag to Severe Thunderstorm Warnings, similar to our Tornado and Flash Flood Warnings.


"Destructive" and "Considerable" Damage Threat Catagories.


We developed three catagories of damage threat for Severe Thunderstorm Warnings.

The Catagories, in order of highest to lowest damage threat, are destructive, considerable and base.

These tags and additional messaging are designed to promote immediate action, based on the threats.


The criteria for a Destructive damage threat is at least 2.75 inch diameter hail (baseball size) and or 80 mph thunderstorm winds. Warnings with this tag will automatically activate a Wireless Emergency Alert on smartphones within the warning area.

The Criteria for a"considerable" damage threat is at least 1.75 inch diameter (golf ball sized hail and or 70 mph thunderstorm winds.  This will not activate a WEA Wireless Emergency Alert.  When no damage threat tag is present, damage is expected to be at base level.  The criteria for a baseline or "base" severe thunderstorm warning remains unchanged. 1.00 inch (quarter-sized hail and or 58 mph thunderstorm winds.

This will not activate a WEA Wireless Emergency Alert when no damage threat tag is present, damage is expected to be at least base level.

Sheriff's Office asking for help locating missing Barry County woman

The Barry County Sheriff’s Office is asking for assistance with locating a missing person.  41 year old Rachel Lynn Hazen was last seen Wednesday, 07/21/2021 at approximately 2pm.  Rachel left her son’s home on Wednesday afternoon and was seen by a neighbor at her residence on Thornapple Lake Rd. later that day.


On Monday, 07/26/2021 at 11:05 am, a close friend of Rachel contacted Law Enforcement because they had not seen or heard from Rachel.


Rachel is driving a 2005 Ford Escape, Silver in color with no plate.   


If seen or located please contact the Barry County Sheriff’s Office (269-948-4801) or Barry County Central Dispatch (269-948-4800).


Voters to consider bond proposal Aug. 3rd for Hastings Area Schools

Voters in the Hastings Area School district will vote on Tuesday, August 3rd on a bond proposal request for $21.9 million dollars that if approved, would result in a net decrease of 0.1 mills from the current rate.


The current millage is set to drop by 0.9 mills this year, while the new bond proposal is for 0.8 mills for a term of 18-and-a-half years. This one bond would be sold in two series to save interest costs and to allow spreading out the purchase of buses and technology.


District wide, the money if approved will be used for student equipment and furnishings, replacement of 3 or 4 buses that date back to 1997, student technology, security cameras and other security measures, mechanical, electrical, and other energy upgrades to save costs, and air purification systems.


Hastings High School, the Middle School, Star Elementary, Northeastern, Southeastern, and Central Elementary each have a list of specific building needs including things like roof replacement at the high school, replacing old single-paned windows, asbestos removal, remodeling bathrooms, upgrades to LED lighting, air purification systems and more.


If approved by voters on August 3rd, work would begin this coming school year and be completed by 2024.

Plainwell T-Mobile Armed Robbery

At approximately 10:40 a.m. Thursday 3 masked individuals entered the T-Mobile store on M-89 in Plainwell  brandishing a firearm.  The three individuals fled the store in a black Ford after robbing the store of an undetermined number of cell phones.  The black Ford vehicle was later determined to be reported as stolen out of Grand Rapids.


The suspect vehicle was located on US 131 by Troopers from the Michigan State Police Wayland Post who pursued the individuals into the City of Grand Rapids until the pursuit was terminated. The suspects were re-located on the S.E. side of Grand Rapids and two of the individuals, both in their teens, were apprehended. The firearm used in the robbery has also been recovered.  A third individual has only been identified as a black male, possibly in his teens or early 20s, wearing a grey sweatshirt and jeans.


The two teens are currently being held at the Allegan County Youth Home pending Armed Robbery charges.  Any tips as to the location or identity of the third suspect can be sent to Allegan County’s Silent Observer.

Motorcyclist killed on Saginaw Hwy

Eaton County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a fatal traffic crash in Delta Township early Thursday morning around 1:40 a.m.  Preliminary investigation reveals a motorcyclist was travelling eastbound on Saginaw Hwy near Mall Dr West.  Witnesses reported the motorcycle going well in excess of the posted speed.  The motorcyclist rear-ended another vehicle that was also going eastbound.  The male motorcyclist was found on the shoulder and was deceased.  He was identified as Vernon Brown, 28 years old, from Lansing.  Brown was not wearing a helmet, and it’s unknown if alcohol was involved.

Delta Variant of COVID-19 Identified in Barry County

An individual with the Delta variant of COVID-19 was identified in Barry County on Monday, July 19.  The individual was not vaccinated against COVID-19 and first tested positive on July 5th. 


At this time, Barry-Eaton District Health Department is urging individuals to continue to take precautions against COVID-19, especially as new variants of the virus become more prevalent. 


These precautions include:


-Get vaccinated for COVID-19 when available and eligible. For the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, this means receiving both doses for the vaccine to be fully effective.

-Wear a mask around others if not vaccinated.

-Stay six feet apart from others if not vaccinated.

-Wash hands often.

-Ventilate indoor spaces.


The first Michigan case of the Delta variant was identified in Ottawa County in June. Several other cases have been identified in Michigan since the first case was announced. Only a small percentage of COVID-19 tests are sequenced to identify the variant strain.  In addition, it takes additional time to perform the genetic sequencing.  Therefore, it is likely that there are additional unidentified cases of the Delta variant in Barry County at this time.


BEDHD continues to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to eligible individuals who work or live in Eaton or Barry counties. Vaccines are available at either BEDHD location in Charlotte or Hastings, and mobile clinics are also offered at various locations throughout the district. Vaccinations can be scheduled online through the BEDHD website, but walk-ins are also available at this time.


Fatal Motorcycle Crash

Troopers from the Michigan State Police Wayland Post are investigating a two vehicle crash involving a Harley Davidson Motorcycle and Chevrolet Impala on Sunday 7/18/2021 at approximately 1:52PM. The crash occurred on US 131 Hwy near 135th Ave in Wayland Township, Allegan County.


Initial investigation shows the Chevrolet Impala was slowing for traffic backup when the motorcycle rear-ended the Impala, ejecting the rider.


The driver of the motorcycle, a 72 year old man from Scotts, MI was pronounced deceased at the scene.  The driver of the motorcycle was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, his name is being withheld pending notification to the family. The driver of the Impala was not injured and released from the scene.


Troopers were assisted on scene by Wayland Police Department, Wayland Fire Department, Wayland EMS, and Michigan Department of Transportation.


Barry County Sheriff Launches Investigation into voting fraud

A number of  local election clerks in Barry County report a private investigator recently questioned them about voting machines used during the 2020 presidential election.

The Barry County Sheriff's office confirmed they launched an investigation after they received a citizen complaint about voting machines connected to the election.

Sheriff Dar Leaf has claimed there was voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Rain and Flood Advisory

Heavy rains and a slow moving Thunderstorm dropped heavy rain in parts of lower Michigan during the night.

The Hastings National Weather Service Recording Station reports. 2.80 inches  of rain at 2:00 am this Saturday morning.

Three miles south of Hastings some locations received 3 inches of rain and the Kalamazoo area between 4 and 5 inches of rain.

A flood advisory is in effect for Barry County through Saturday morning.

BCCMHA Awarded Federal Community Behavioral Health Clinic Grant

Barry County Community Mental Health Authority has been awarded a $3.3 million federal funding grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic expansion program.


It is one of the 100 new federal grants awarded nationwide over the next two years to provide integrated care across the health care continuum. Barry County Mental Health will receive over $3.3 million in funding, beginning August 31, 2021 through August 29, 2023.


The funding will be used to enhance and expand services for Barry County residents with increased access to behavioral health care, increased access to psychiatric services, and development of an intensive Assertive Community Treatment Team. Additionally, program evaluation, RN care management and services for veterans will be expanded. Grant funds will be utilized for these new and expanded programs, and 16 additional staff members will be hired; Barry County Mental Health plans to serve an additional 200 county residents per year.




“It is the mission of BCCMHA to provide accessible and affordable mental health and substance use disorder services focused on prevention, treatment and rehabilitation to county residents”, stated Richard Thiemkey, Executive Director of BCCMHA. “This CCBHC grant allows BCCMHA to do more—to grow our mission--to help our community residents with quality behavioral healthcare”.


Kristyn Kostelec, LMSW, CAADC, Integrated Care Supervisor at BCCMHA and the Project Director for the CCBHC Grant, stated “BCCMHA will now be able to provide an enriched array of services to those in need, with the intent of creating a ‘no wrong door’ environment for those seeking behavioral health or substance use services.” She added, “We can now serve those with mild and moderate needs, while also strengthening services for individuals living with severe mental health challenges”.


“BCCMHA is looking forward to responding to the behavioral health needs in our community. We know this grant and its programs will improve the lives of many in Barry County”, stated Kelly Jenkins, Chief Operating Officer at BCCMHA. “These funds will change lives for the better.”


Barry County Community Mental Health Authority is a licensed and accredited behavioral health agency providing treatment and prevention services to all Barry County residents.  For more information, please call 269-948-8041.


Divers at Gun Lake

On Thursday 39 divers from nine counties did training at Gun Lake in Barry County. They trained in search, rescue and looking for evidence.

The exercise mimics real-life scenarios that law enforcement officials and dive teams would encounter.

Six zones were set up, where they submerged things like kayaks, canoes, dummies and other items in the water, said Lt. Bob Kirk,  Van Buren  County Emergency Manager.

St. Rose Fire Update

Still no official word from fire inspectors as to what caused the fire Tuesday at  St. Rose Church in Hastings. Hastings Chief of Police Dale Boulter told WBCH news they did not find any malicious activity. Cleanup crews  started arriving Wednesday to begin the long procress of cleaning up the fire damage. Thursday a large generator was brought in along with a large blower system as the electicity has been shutoff.

Fire at St. Rose Catholic Church in Hastings. Update

After finishing their investigation of the fire at St. Rose Catholic Church, the State Police 

fire inspectors said they did not find any suspicious activity. 

During their investigation a specially trained State Police dog was used to check for any

accelerant that could cause a fire, and none was found. However, the fire remains under investigation.  The church's insurance company is also sending in its' investigators.

One fireman was overcome from smoke, he was taken to the hospital and is ok.

The ATF was also at St. Rose checking for any threats. None found.


The Hastings Fire Department was dispatched shortly before 4 AM this morning to a report of a fire at St. Rose Church in Hastings. When firefighters arrived heavy smoke and flames were coming from the front door area. Firefighters were able to extinquish the flames. Damages are said to be moderate with mostly smoke and water damage around front door area. Cause of the fire is unknown at this time. The State Fire Marshall is coming to investigate. Hastings fire was assisted with mutual aid from Freeport, Woodland and Nashville Fire Departments.


Mosquito activity on the rise, take steps to avoid illness

With mosquito activity on the rise following recent rains, Ken Bowen of the Ionia Co. Health Dept. offers a refresher on avoiding mosquitoes and mosquito-borne illness. Primary among these illnesses in Michigan are West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).

Most people bitten by a WNV-infected mosquito show no symptoms of illness. However, some people develop mild flu-like symptoms which generally last a few days. These symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, and/or a body rash. An estimated 1 in 150 people infected with WNV will progress to a more severe infection. People 50 and older are more susceptible to severe WNV disease symptoms.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a rare illness in humans. Most persons infected with EEE have no apparent illness. Severe cases of EEE (involving encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain) begin with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting. The illness may then progress into disorientation, seizures, or coma. 

Michigan residents should take the following precautions to avoid mosquito bites throughout the spring, summer, and fall months:

1) Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes out of buildings.

2) Empty water from mosquito breeding sites such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, and old tires.  Anything that holds standing water should be emptied if possible – some mosquito species can breed in a bottle cap full of water!

3) Apply an insect repellent that contains the active ingredient DEET (or other EPA approved repellent) to exposed skin or clothing - particularly during peak mosquito activity periods such as dusk and dawn.

4) If possible, stay indoors at dusk and dawn.
5) Wear light colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.

Barry County Community Health Needs Assessment Survey is live

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) in conjunction with Spectrum Health Pennock and other community organizations have begun the 2021 cycle of the Barry County Community Health Needs Assessment. The purpose of this assessment is to measure health in Barry County, determine what health problems are most prevalent, and the root causes of those health problems.


One of the first stages of this assessment is a community survey that can be completed by anyone who lives or works in Barry County. No identifying information will be collected. The survey can be completed online or on paper, only takes 5-10 minutes to complete, and will be open until the end of July.


This survey gives anyone in Barry County the opportunity to share their experiences with health in the community. Community participation is essential to gather what community members think are the most concerning health issues facing people in Barry County.


The information and perspectives shared on this survey will be used to help prioritize health needs and drive future programs and services. To complete this survey, please visit  or if you would like to complete a paper survey, please visit the BEDHD Hastings Office at 330 W. Woodlawn Ave. Hastings, MI 49058.


Ionia County added to emergency declaration due to severe weather

Governor Gretchen Whitmer amended a recent state of emergency declaration to include Ionia and Huron counties due to tornado damage, and Washtenaw County due to widespread flooding. 


Governor Whitmer declared a state of emergency for Wayne County on June 26 after heavy rainfall caused severe flooding, damaging infrastructure and private property. Ionia, Huron, and Washtenaw counties were added to the emergency declaration following the completion of local damage assessments. 


By declaring a state of emergency, the state of Michigan will make available all state resources in cooperation with local response and recovery efforts in the disaster area as outlined in the Michigan Emergency Management Plan. 


All three added counties declared a local state of emergency activating local emergency response and recovery plans. By requesting a governor’s declaration, these counties and their communities have determined local resources are insufficient to address the situation and state assistance is required to protect public health, safety and property to lessen or avert the threat of an emergency. 

Hastings chooses new City Manager

During a nearly ten hour marathon session on Thursday, the Hastings City Council conducted in-person interviews with the 5 final candidates in the search for a new city manager.  Afterward, the council members commented on the high quality of all the candidates and deliberated, selecting Sarah Moyer-Cale as their top choice.


Moyer-Cale currently serves as village manager, zoning administrator and  DDA director at Paw Paw, Michigan, a position she has held for 4 years. Prior to that, she served in Almont, Michigan as village manager and zoning director and was a planning assistant for the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. She has a master’s degree in urban planning.


Her selection is somewhat historic in that she will become the first female city manager for the City of Hastings.


The council voted unanimously to extend a conditional job offer to her, and authorized Mayor David Tossava and the city attorney to negotiate a contract and compensation package  while the Michigan Municipal League will perform background checks. The council will then have to approve the contract to make it official.


In the meantime, Gregg Guetschow of Charlotte will continue on the job as interim city manager until Sarah Moyer-Cale takes over.

Young boy pulled out of the Thornapple River

On Monday evening, June 28th, Hastings Police responded to Tyden Park near the Broadway Bridge for four children ages 11 to 14 years old swimming down the river. City Police Officer Winick arrived on the scene and saw three of the children on the river bank while one child appeared to be in distress crying for help while still in the river. Officer Winick went into the river and was able to take hold of the child an pull him to safety. Officers waited with the children until their parents arrived.

The river level came up quickly after 4.5 inches of rain fell from June 24th to June 26th.


Monday evening July 5th the Kent County Sheriff's office said  a Mazda and a Ford Fusion were involved in a sideswiping incident on cascade road causing  one of the  vehicles to go into the Thornapple River.


Both 16 year old drivers sustained minor injuries, but refused treatment.

Plane Crashes at Hastings Airport

Around 6:00 p.m. Wednesday night, troopers from the Wayland Post responded to Hastings Airport located in Rutland Township for a report of an airplane that ran off the runaway and flipped over.


The small private airplane was being flown by a student pilot with his flight instructor onboard when they encountered engine trouble about one mile from the airport.  Upon returning to the airport and

attempting to land, the plane went off the runway and flipped over. No injuries were sustained by either occupant, although the plane was damaged.


The pilot was described as a 69-year-old man from Munich.  His flight instructor was described as a 61-year-old man from Caledonia.


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