Local News Archives for 2021-12

Update: Fatal Crash

Police have released the names of the two individuals who died in a crash on December 24th near the intersection of Hastings Road at M-50.


Michigan State police identified the two 68 year old Jill Zakett of Hastings, and 34 year old Thomas Zakett of Beaverton. 


State police say a Pontiac Vibe driven by Jill Zackett was northbound on Hastings Road Friday morning when she did not stop at the intersection and was struck by a GMC pickup truck that was eastbound on Thompson Road (M-50).


Both Jill and Thomas Zackett were pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the pickup truck, who was not identified, was taken to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries.


The highway was closed between Hastings Road and Bell Road while emergency responders were on the scene. State police said the foggy weather on Friday may have contributed to the crash, which remains under investigation.

Sailor wishes her family in Hastings a happy holiday

MILLINGTON, Tenn. – Sailors help maintain America’s advantage at sea. This means they do not always get to celebrate holidays with their loved ones. A Hastings, Michigan, native serving in the United States Navy will celebrate the holidays with shipmates in Guam.

“The holidays are a time to take a break and enjoy time with friends and family,” said Seaman Breana Leonard.

Leonard wants family back home to know that they are loved and missed.

“Thank you for standing by me,” said Leonard. “I love you and I miss you all.”

Leonard serves as a gunner's mate aboard USS Emory S. Land. As a member of the U.S. Navy, Leonard, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance.

“Serving in the Navy means that I'm setting myself up for success in the future,” added Leonard.

Downtown Wayland gains Historic Designation

Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) have announced that the downtown commercial districts of three Michigan communities have been added in the National Register of Historic Places administered by the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. The Register is the federal government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation for their historic significance. 


The three downtowns added are Wayland, Negaunee, and Ispheming.


The Wayland Downtown Historic District is a small “four corners” district centered on the intersection of Main and Superior streets and radiating out from a half to a full block in each direction. Unique within the district is the 1899-built Richardsonian Romanesque-style Henika Library, which after careful expansion and sensitive restoration continues to serve as a central community gathering place. 


“Historic preservation has been an essential function for Wayland Main Street during our 12-year history, with over 40 buildings in our 8-block district receiving façade or building restoration work,” said Wayland Main Street/DDA Executive Director Teryl Shields. “Having downtown Wayland listed in the National Register of Historic Places is not only an honor and something of which to be proud, but it also continues to offer our building owners a further economic incentive to continue to rehabilitate and maintain their buildings. We’re excited to share our town’s rich history by continuing to preserve its lovely historic buildings.” 


photo:  Henika Library in Wayland


Spectrum Health Pennock recognized as top maternity hospital

Spectrum Health Pennock has been recognized as one of the nation’s best maternity hospitals, according to the inaugural list of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals for Maternity.


The Pennock Family Birthing Center is one of 12 hospitals in Michigan that U.S. News recognized for high performance in maternity care. Out of the 2,700 hospitals across the United States that offer maternity services, 237 were identified as “high-performing.”


The Best Hospitals for Maternity evaluation looks at hospital data relating to uncomplicated pregnancies at five different factors:

-Scheduled early deliveries

-C-section rates in low-risk women

-Newborn complications

-Rate of exclusive breast milk feeding

-Option for vaginal births after cesarean.

-Participating hospital profiles also include a variety of relevant information on services and amenities, like private rooms, valet parking and availability of child birthing classes.


Three of Michigan's Rural Hospitals were recognized as High Performing in Maternity Care, all of them Spectrum Health hospitals: Spectrum Health Big Rapids, Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial and Spectrum Health Pennock.


“Spectrum Health Pennock is truly honored to join some of the best hospitals in the nation for maternity care and the recognition speaks volumes about the outstanding care our OB/GYNs, certified nurse midwives, nurses and entire team provide to the families we serve,” said Pennock president Angela Ditmar. “Pennock’s maternity team truly reflects Spectrum Health’s commitment to providing personalized, exceptional care. We are extremely proud that we can help improve health and inspire hope in the community we serve.”

Armed Robbery in Hastings

Michigan State Police are looking for two male suspects who robbed the T-Mobile store in Hastings on Tuesday afternoon around 12:35pm. 


The men were armed with guns when they entered the store on W. State Street in the West Side Plaza.  They stole an undetermined amount of merchandise.  MSP said no one was injured during the robbery. 


The suspects fled the scene driving a black SUV.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Wayland MSP post at 269-792-2213.

Grand Prize Winner

Kathy Smith is the lucky Grand Prize Winner of the WBCH "One Grand Christmas" Shoppers Sweepstakes.  Kathy was listening Wednesday morning when WBCH's Chad Henry drew her entry form and announced her name on the radio. Kathy called the station within the 5 minute time window to claim the $1000 prize. 


The participating businesses each gave away gift certificates or other prizes during the annual "Shop Local - Win Local" promotion.


photo: Kathy Smith of Middleville accepting her prize check from WBCH's Chad Henry.


Stuff Our Station gifts for Barry County Kids

WBCH's annual "S.O.S. - Stuff Our Station" drive is over and a huge Thank You goes to everyone who donated toys and gifts for distribution by Barry County United Way's "Barry County Kids" program.


Lani Forbes, United Way Director, said around 500 kids from infants to teens will benefit from the program and will have gifts under their trees this holiday.


Local SOS sponsors include Southside Pediatrics in Hastings, PFCU of Lake Odessa and Caledonia, and Les's Sanitary Service in Hastings who all collected toys in addition to the gifts that were dropped off at WBCH.


photo:  Volunteers and staff of Barry Co. United Way, shown here with Steve & Sue Radant of WBCH, picked up the gifts for distribution to Barry County Kids.


Hastings City leaf pickup Completed!

The Hastings DPS crews have completed leaf and brush pickup for this fall. The compost site will be closed beginning Tuesday 12-21-21 until the spring (Date to be determined)

City of Hastings parking violation prices increase beginning January 1st

Effective January 1, 2022, most parking fines will change to $15 when paid within the first 10 days of the violation. If the ticket is paid more than 10 but less than 29 days after the violation, the fine increases to $20. Parking tickets paid more than 29 days after the violation are $25. Fines for parking in an area designated for handicapped parking start at $75. The City would like to remind everyone that parking is not allowed on city streets between 2:00 AM and 6:00 AM during the winter months. Please contact the Hastings Police Department with any questions about parking regulations or fines.

Shooting incident - Eaton County

Eaton County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched Wednesday morning to a home on East Five Point Hwy between Charlotte and Eaton Rapids in reference to a Man with a Gun call.  It was reported an adult male subject shot a woman outside of a residence and a child was inside the house. 


Law enforcement rescued the female victim from the scene she was transported to a local hospital for treatment for non-life threatening injuries.  The child was also able to leave the home and was moved to an area of safety.


The Eaton County Sheriff’s Office was still on the scene late Wednesday afternoon actively investigating the incident with assistance from the Michigan State Police, Charlotte Police Department, Eaton Rapids Police Department and Negotiators from the Lansing Police Department.

Dan Remenap steps down as TK School Superintendent

The Thornapple Kellogg Board of Education announced that at their December 13 meeting they accepted the resignation of TK Superintendent Dan Remenap, effective December 31st, 2021.


Remenap has been on a medical leave of absence since early September, then was placed on administrative leave in November.  His resignation announcement comes just over a year from the time Remenap took the position at Thornapple Kellogg Schools. He previously served as superintendent at Hastings.


Asst. superintendent Craig McCarthy handled the superintendent duties on an interim basis while Remenap was on leave. An email from the school board indicated Craig McCarthy will continue to serve as interim superintendent for the remainder of the school year.


House approves plan to help Michigan communities bolster jobs

State Rep. Julie Calley this week helped lead the House in approving a $1.48 billion investment to offer relief to employers that continue to struggle from COVID shutdowns and help Michigan compete for economic development projects that bring new jobs to the state. 


The measure, approved by both the House and Senate with bipartisan support, provides relief for existing Michigan employers that continue to grapple with the lingering effects of the shutdowns – offering grants for the businesses hurt the most by the pandemic. The plan increases the small business personal property tax exemption from $80,000 to $180,000 and provides reimbursement to the local units of government. It also establishes a new fund the Legislature will be able to utilize to create incentives and prepare sites to attract new and growing businesses. It is funded entirely by federal COVID relief dollars allocated to the state.


Last week, the House approved creation of the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) Fund, where the Legislature is now setting aside funding to compete for economic development projects. In addition to economic assistance for critical industries, the fund could be used to prepare future job sites for development and create workforce training opportunities. Calley said. “Job providers want shovel-ready sites with access to things like high-speed internet, reliable utility lines, dependable roads and bridges, and a pool of trained, knowledgeable people ready to get to work.”


The economic development plan now advances to the governor for her expected signature.

Update - Senator John Bizon to be arraigned

UPDATE:  The arraignment originally schedule for Monday, Dec. 13th was delayed. No new date has yet been set.


State Senator John Bizon of Battle Creek, who represents the 19th District that includes Calhoun, Barry, and Ionia counties, is scheduled to appear in Calhoun County District Court Monday morning. Bizon will be arraigned on an assault charge for allegedly grabbing a nurse practitioner around the waist during a medical examination. According to a report from the Marshall Police Department, the alleged incident occurred August 14th at the Oaklawn After Hours Express in Marshall.


Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor Pratt is handling the case after the Calhoun County Prosecutor recused himself. Senator Bizon has not made a public statement regarding the accusation against him.

Update: Maple Valley Schools - teen identified for making threat

Maple Valley Schools were alerted Monday morning to a rumor of violence in their district. Actions were taken in an abundance of caution and parents were alerted. Students and staff sheltered in place while law enforcement was summoned.

A short time later Junior & High School  students were released at 9:15am without back packs or coats.  The Elementary schools released at 9:30am.



Eaton County Sheriff Office said their investigation led them to a 13 year old juvenile student from Barry County who had made threats of violence toward the school on social media.  The 13 year old was secured and taken to the Eaton County Youth Home.  The case was forwarded to the Eaton County Prosecutor's office for issuance of formal charges.

Delton Kellogg School Board Hires Interim Superintendent

The Delton Kellogg Board of Education has announced the hiring of Carl Schoessel as Interim Superintendent at Delton Kellogg Schools.  Mr. Schoessel previously served as interim superintendent in the district.  His first official day will be December 13th.

Flags Lowered for Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has ordered flags to remain lowered to half-staff within the State Capitol Complex and upon all public buildings and grounds across the State of Michigan on Tuesday, December 7, 2021, to honor the 2,403 Americans who lost their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. 


"On Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, our state takes time to remember the courage and bravery of the men and women at Pearl Harbor. This day serves to honor the thousands of Americans who paid the ultimate price during the attack on our nation," said Governor Whitmer. "Pearl Harbor is a reminder that, as Americans, during times of great adversity we come to together as one.”  


The State of Michigan observes Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day by lowering flags to half-staff. Michigan residents, businesses, schools, local governments and other organizations are encouraged to display the flag at half-staff.   


To lower flags to half-staff, flags should be hoisted first to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The process is reversed before the flag is lowered for the day.   


Flags should remain lowered until further notice to honor victims of the shooting in Oxford. 

Local Business Owner Spreading Misinformation About Covid 19

Barry County Health Officials are saying a local Barry County business owner is spreading Covid 19 misinformation by posting a large sign criticizing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Doctor Fauchi. The sign is in front of his business at Main street and South Grove street in Delton.


Rodney Dye, owner of Amercian Precision 3D in Barry Township, said he installed a sign that depicts a snake from the Garden of Eden giving the forbidden apple to Eve, with lettering referring to Fauchi and the CDC as, "Serpents..That are not to be trusted."

Dye said, "it's free speech. A lot of the community doesn't have a voice."

Michigan's Minimum Wage Set to Increase on January 1

Michigan’s minimum wage rate will increase to $9.87 on January 1, 2022, an increase from the current $9.65. Michigan’s Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act of 2018 establishes the annual schedule and increases.


The Michigan Wage & Hour Division announced that while the law does prohibit scheduled increases when the state’s annual average unemployment rate for the preceding calendar year is above 8.5%, it is highly unlikely Michigan will exceed this threshold causing another delay as occurred in 2021.


The annual average unemployment rate for 2021 is expected to remain well below 8.5%.


Effective January 1, 2022:

- Michigan’s minimum wage will increase to  $9.87 an hour.

- The 85% rate for minors aged 16 and 17 increases to $8.39 an hour.

- Tipped employees rates of pay increases to $3.75 an hour.

- The training wage of $4.25 an hour for newly hired employees ages 16 to 19 for their first 90 days of employment remains unchanged. 

Health News: Spectrum Health Pennock offers acid reflux relief procedures

Those suffering from chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may find relief with an advanced endoscopy surgery now offered at Spectrum Health Pennock General Surgery – Hastings.


An estimated one in every five American adults suffer from GERD. It is a chronic condition where the individual may experience heartburn frequently with a possibility of additional symptoms. Left untreated, GERD can be a lifelong disease. It can lead to bothersome symptoms, which can vary from mild or moderate to severe depending on the individual.  Our skilled surgeons offer the transoral incisionless fundoplication (TIF) to treat GERD without surgery. 


“TIF is a safe, effective and lasting solution for those suffering from GERD. The procedure offers a quick recovery time and fewer side effects than traditional anti-reflux surgery,” explained David Dargis, DO, Spectrum Health Pennock General Surgery – Hastings. “GERD occurs when the valve between the stomach and the esophagus is not working properly and fails to keep contents in the stomach from washing back up into the esophagus. Medications may offer mild to intermittent symptom control, but they do not stop or prevent reflux. If current medications are not working well, an alternative endoscopic therapy like the TIF procedure for reflux could be right for you.”  


This minimally-invasive surgery is offered by David Dargis, DO, Max Rappaport, MD and Andrew Parsons, MD. If you’re interested in learning more about TIF, contact your primary care provider or call Spectrum Health Pennock General Surgery – Hastings.




left: Dr. David Dargis, DO

Union Block Street Party

The Union Block mural located on the side of the former Secondhand Corners building at the corner of Jefferson and State streets in Hastings is finished and a street party to mark the completion is set for Thursday, December 2nd .


The mural project was commissioned by the Thornapple Arts Council and created on wall space generously donated by building owner Tom Kramer.


Hastings artist J. Maizlish Mole designed and painted the Union Block, a dramatic all white-filled outline of the United States on a black background, with a large red asterisk highlighting Hastings.


The Project was  funded by Tom Kramer; the Barry Community Foundation; local philanthropy group Guys Who Give; Wightman Inc.; and three anonymous donors.


The public is invited to attend the Street Party December 2nd for food, drinks, fire, and a celebration of the finished mural from 4:00 to 7:30pm!  The celebration is presented by the Thornapple Arts Council, Jaqua Realtors, and mural artist J Maizlish Mole.



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