Local News Archives for 2022-03

UPDATE:Middleville man shot after attempted home invasion


UPDATE: The suspect has been identified as 39 year old Christopher Worth of Middleville.


Original Story:

Just after midnight on Thursday a suspect armed with a firearm attempted to break into a home along 108th St SW near Wilson Ave in southern Kent County.

The suspect was shot by the homeowner as he was attempting to forcibly get inside. When deputies arrived, they located the subject on the ground, near the home and rendered medical aid.

The suspect was later pronounced deceased. The homeowners were not injured.

The deceased suspect is a 39-year-old male from Middleville, MI. It appears the suspect may have been involved in two other vehicle thefts overnight and was attempting to steal a car along 108th Street.

There is no connection between the suspect and the homeowners, and it appears to be a random incident. Currently, there is nothing to suggest there are any outstanding suspects or threats to the public.

Construction Underway

Construction is well underway now for the new businesses soon to open located off M-43/37  near FlexFab  in Hastings.  One of the businesses  is the popular Starbucks Coffee Center.

Update - Missing Barry Co. Woman found deceased

UPDATE: On March 24, 2022, Angela Mulder was located, deceased, in a field near the area of Hickory Rd and Mann Rd in Barry Township by Barry Township Police Department.  Assisting in the search was the Michigan State Police Canine and Aviation units. 


The Barry County Sheriff’s Office had been trying to locate  Angela Denise Mulder, 39 years old, who was last seen alive on Friday, March 18 at 4am.  Angela left her parents residence on Hickory Road in Barry Township after a physical altercation.  Her family contacted law enforcement on Monday advising Angela had not returned home.




Man sets Hastings City Police cruiser on fire outside City Hall

31 year old Jeremy Scott Dunklee, a Barry County resident, was arrested and charged with third degree arson, malicious destruction of police property, assaulting and resisting a police officer, and habitual offender – fourth offense,  after he poured gasoline on a Hastings City Police cruiser that was parked outside City Hall and set it on fire Monday around 5pm, according to Chief of Police Dale Boulter.


A surveillance video of the parking lot released by HPD clearly shows Dunklee  walking up to the cruiser carrying a gas can, pouring it on the roof and side of the vehicle, then lighting it on fire.


About the same time, Deputy Police Chief  Julissa Kelly had exited an unmarked vehicle in the lot and spotted Dunklee as the cruiser was engulfed in flames. Kelly chased after Dunklee on foot. With help from some bystanders he was caught and taken into custody on Boltwood Street. His bond was set at $200,000.


(UPDATE 03-22-22) Fire at Vinnie's Woodfired Saloon Hastings

HASTINGS FIRE CHIEF  ROGER CARIS TOLD WBCH MONDAY that Fire Inspectors could not find or locate the definite cause of the early Sunday morning fire that destroyed Vinnie's Woodfired Saloon in downtown Hastings.  The Hastings fire department and  six other area departments battled the fire which was discovered around 3:30 am by city police officer Mario Jimenez.


The fire also caused smoke and water damage to three other businesses including "Under the Sun" "Ortwein International", and "Bay to Bay Building Concepts".


Hastings Fire arrived on scene at 3:35 according to Barry County Central Dispatch.  Mutual aid was provided by Thornapple Township Emergency Services, Freeport Fire, Johnstown Fire, Delton Fire, Woodland Fire, Michigan State Police, Barry County Central Dispatch, Hastings Department of Public Works, Consumer’s Energy, Hastings Police and Reserve Officers, Mercy Ambulance and Thornapple Ambulance.


The Hastings Fire Department would like to thank those that brought snacks and drinking water to the scene for the responders.


No one was injured in the fire.



Severe Weather Awareness Week is March 20-26

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has declared March 20-26 as Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness Week, and the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) is calling on residents to take action by participating in a voluntary statewide tornado drill at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 23.


“Last summer in Michigan, we saw the devastating impacts of severe weather, from flooding to tornadoes and straight-line winds,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “Taking steps to prepare now can protect your home, your family and your pets. We ask that all Michiganders do their part to keep our communities safe.”


“With an average of 15 tornadoes each year, this is a very real threat to our Michigan communities,” said Col. Joe Gasper, state director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and director of the Michigan State Police. “This drill will give people a chance to make a plan and put it to the test. By planning now, you can be better prepared when a disaster happens.”   


Businesses, organizations, families, and individuals are encouraged to engage in this statewide preparedness activity but are not required to do so. During the drill residents will observe or hear alerts on NOAA Weather Radios, TV and radio stations. To learn how local alerts are administrated in your community and if your community is participating, contact your local emergency management agency.


The average lead time for tornadoes to develop is 10 to 15 minutes, which means residents need to be ready to react quickly when a warning is issued.


To be ready for a tornado:

Know the difference: Tornado Watch means conditions exist for a tornado to develop; Tornado Warning means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.

Know the signs of an approaching tornado: dark, often greenish sky; large hail; a large, dark low-lying cloud; and loud roar, like a freight train.


Develop an emergency preparedness kit with essential items such as a three-day supply of water and food, a NOAA Weather Radio, important family documents and items that satisfy unique family needs.


Conduct regular tornado drills. Make sure each household member knows where to go and what to do in the event of a tornado.


Stay tuned to commercial radio or television broadcasts for news on changing weather conditions or approaching storms.


For more information about being safe before, during and after a tornado, follow the MSP/EMHSD on Twitter at @MichEMHS or go to

Freeport Fire's Pancake Breakfast on March 19

Freeport Fire Department will be piling up the pancakes on March 19 from 8am- 11am as they host their annual spring breakfast at the fire station.  A free will donation will be taken at the door for the breakfast that will consist of pancakes, eggs, sausage, orange juice, coffee and milk.


The proceeds from this event will go towards the purchase of a new Thermal Imaging Camera. “These camera’s assist firefighters in accurately determining the seat of the fire and its extension. They are also used for victim searches, finding liquid levels and identifying hot spots during overhaul,” states Freeport Fire Chief Jim Yarger. “Two of them that we are currently using do not charge well and they are so old that new charging stations are no longer available.”


Freeport Volunteer Fire Department currently has response area in 4 townships (Bowne in Kent County, Campbell in Ionia County, Carlton and Irving in Barry County). In 2021, the 24 Firefighters and Medical First Responders spent 2,704 hours in service to the community.

Spectrum Health Pennock Receives Funding for Youth Suicide-Prevention Program

The Barry Community Foundation has awarded $14,000 to Spectrum Health Foundation Pennock, which will provide Spectrum Health Pennock the tools necessary to implement the Suicide S.A.F.E. Team Response: School Blue Envelope Program in Barry County schools.


This community-vetted program is a comprehensive suicide prevention and crisis response initiative for K-12 schools. It provides universal training in specific protocols for school staff members to use when a student is having a suicidal crisis. This includes step-by-step guidelines and evidence-based, nationally recognized assessment and safety-planning tools.


The grant will be used to implement the program in both middle and high schools in the following Barry County school districts: Delton Kellogg Schools, Thornapple Kellogg Schools, Maple Valley Schools, and the Hastings Area School System. (Future plans include expansion into all other county secondary schools.)


One of the foundational principles of the School Blue Envelope Program is that suicide prevention is everyone’s responsibility. Consequently, the program provides training to all school staff members, including administrators, teachers, school mental health staff, nurses, coaches, office staff, etc. Youth in the region receive support from the Barry County Community Mental Authority’s Signs of Suicide program, which works directly with students to educate them about how to recognize and respond to suicidal thoughts or ideation among their peers.


The Barry Community Foundation and Spectrum Health Pennock are trusted community partners with a history of effective collaboration, especially in the region’s schools. In 2021, the foundation awarded Spectrum Health Pennock with $22,000 to support its Healthy Kids, Smart Kids program, aimed at improving the health of children by providing school nursing resources for students and staff in Barry County’s K-12 schools. The School Blue Envelope Program is the next step toward providing crucial, holistic, lifesaving care for Barry County youth.


“With the generous and ongoing support of Barry Community Foundation and Spectrum Health Pennock,” says Carl Schoessel, interim superintendent Delton Kellogg Schools, “Our kids are safer. The Blue Envelope Team gave a presentation to both instructional and operational staff members of the Delton Kellogg Schools during a Staff Development Day.  The presentation was excellent and very informative, especially for the veteran school staff members who have dealt with some student suicides here in the past, and the newer staff members who only had heard about the past situations expressed sincere appreciation for the training - several of the newer teachers commented that they understood about how important such training is but that at no time in their preparation to be teachers had the topic of student suicide even been discussed!”


“I am thrilled that the Grant Committee and Board of Directors, of the Foundation, saw the need for this program in our schools.  It is an honor to be able to help facilitate these types of countywide initiatives.”  Amy Murphy, Barry Community Foundation Grants Administrator. 


Spectrum Health Pennock’s School Blue Envelope program is designed to empower school administrators, teachers, and support staff to step in when a student is expressing suicidal thoughts, and to intervene with confidence, knowledge, and competence. This crisis response is an important first step toward protecting secondary school students in the community who are in distress and helps them access the behavioral health resources they need to restore emotional stability and improve their mental health.

Barry Board of Commissioners

County Board Chair Ben Geiger began Tuesday’s Commissioner’s meeting by recognizing the birthday of the county.  On March 15, 1839,  Barry County was officially established by an act of the Michigan Legislature.


Commissioners had a long discussion regarding approval of an additional $380,714 for the Public Safety 800-Megahertz Infrastructure project, due to inflationary increases from Motorola.  911 Director Stephanie Lehman told the Board the original 2-point-4 million dollar budget estimate from last August has increased in cost to a final construction contract price of $2,780,714 if it is done now. The board approved the increase, taking the additional money from ARPA funds, the Diverted Felons fund, and the MMRMA distribution fund.


Commissioners also reviewed and approved the Subrecipient Agreements for the seven projects approved in February for Round 1 funding under the American Rescue Plan Act.

Hastings March Board of Education Summary

The Hastings March Board meeting was held at the Hastings Performing Arts Center on
Monday, March 14, 2022. Principal Teresa Heide presented the students receiving Academic Top Honors to the Board of Education. Ten students received this honor by earning a cumulative 4.00 GPA, or higher, over a semester time span. The recipients included: Ruby M. Barber, Brianna J. Barnes, Hailey Graham, Patrick J. Mallory, Taylor G. Owen, Matthew L. Pattock, Carissa J. Strouse, Emma G. VanDenbury, Hannah G. Vann and Sage A. Winters. These students have earned this elite status and recognition through hard work, integrity and pursuit of excellence.

Superintendent Matt Goebel reported to the Board of Education that there has been a significant decrease in COVID-19 cases throughout the District over the past four weeks. This has allowed: all student activities to resume; volunteers back into our buildings; classroom celebrations; and the lifting of the government mandate on masks on our buses. The production of “Newsies” this past weekend was a raving success as our students took to the stage in song and dance. The skill and talent level our students exhibited in these performances was nothing short of extraordinary, and we look forward to future productions to share with the community. Winter sports came to an end last week, and our spring athletes started practice Monday to prepare for warmer weather competition just around the corner.

The Board approved all virtual course offerings for the 2022-2023 school year as students start to select their individual course schedules for next year. Further, the Board approved a donation of three Adams Octave Silver Vibraphones with field frames from the Hastings Band Boosters at the cost of $9,535. Also, they approved a $500 donation from Dr. Carrie Wilgus to Star School Elementary, and another $500 donation to Northeastern Elementary School from an anonymous donor.

Rep. Calley March office hours

State Rep. Julie Calley has scheduled local office hours from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. this Friday, March 18, at the Barry County Tyden Center, 121 S. Church St. in Hastings.


“Talking with people during office hours helps me gather valuable insight about the issues that matter most to people in our community,” said Calley, R-Portland. “I look forward to hearing your thoughts and answering any questions you might have about state government.”


A legislative update will be provided, with an opportunity for individual meetings following.


Out of consideration for other attendees, one-on-one meetings will be kept to 10 minutes each. If you need additional time, are unable to attend the scheduled office hours, or would like a Zoom meeting, please contact Rep. Calley via email at or by calling (517) 373-0842.

Fatal Crash - Ionia County

Deputies from the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office responded to a single car accident Thursday morning that occurred on W. Peck Lake Road just west of Kyser Road near Saranac.The preliminary investigation showed that a 2007 Toyota Tacoma driven by a 19
year old male subject from the Grand Rapids area was travelling east bound on Peck Lake Rd. at a high rate of speed. The vehicle lost control and struck a tree.

The driver of the vehicle was killed in the crash. The driver was not wearing a seatbelt.
This accident remains under investigation.

The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Michigan State Police, The Saranac Fire Department, Life Ambulance, Mercy Ambulance Services and Reed & Hoppes Towing.

Two plead guilty to Human Trafficking in Wayland area

Two individuals previously charged with sex trafficking pleaded guilty to a felony human trafficking and will serve prison time, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Tuesday.


52 year old Robert Grigsby of Wayland and 40 year old Vanessa Anne Phillips of Grand Rapids were charged with conducting 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. 


Both pleaded guilty to one count of human trafficking, forced labor resulting in commercial sexual activity.


Grigsby was sentenced Monday in Allegan County Circuit Court. Judge Margaret Bakker imposed the maximum term when sentencing him to prison for 57 months to 15 years. 

Phillips will be sentenced March 28.


Wayland Police began the investigation into a human trafficking operation being conducted out of a Wayland residence in October 2018. 


82 year old Barry County man killed in bicycle accident


An 82 year old Barry County man died friday afternoon while riding his bicycle on M-43 near Hastings. The Sheriff's office identified the man as Paul Andrew Sweetland of Hastings.

The Barry County Sheriff's office said Sweetland crashed into a vehicle on M-43 near Mary Lou drive. Sweetland was riding north when he crashed into the back of a disabled vehicle, which was parked along the shoulder of the road.

UPDATE: M-43 closed due to accident

Update:  the accident scene has been cleared and the highway is re-opened/


An accident around 4pm Friday has highway M-43 closed north of Hastings and traffic is being diverted.  The accident occured in the Mary Lou Drive / Welcome Road area. No other information is available at this time.

Serenity Village of Barry County Announces Construction Plan for New Hospice House

The leadership of Serenity Village Thursday announced the Time to Build campaign, a $2.7 million fundraising effort to fund construction of a six-bed hospice house in Barry County.

Since 2015, local community leaders have been working on a plan to bring an end-of-life facility to Hastings.   Currently, the closest hospice house for Barry County residents is nearly an hours-long drive away.  The distance can make it challenging for families to regularly see their hospice family member and presents difficulties for the patient to be far from home, family and friends at the end of their life.


Serenity Village plans to provide an alternative, homelike environment for dying hospice patients where they can continue to be cared for by their family, but also have assistance from professional staff to give the family needed rest and support. Serenity Village will be an independent entity, not affiliated with any particular hospice.  Residents will continue to be cared for by their hospice team with whom they have developed a caring relationship.


Hearing of the plan a few years ago, Al and Pam Jarvis donated some property just east of Hastings Mutual Insurance Company for the construction of Serenity Village.  Two additional anonymous donors provided initial start-up funds for organizing an effort to bring Serenity Village to Hastings.  As planning began to raise funds for the new facility, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and planning was delayed for several months.


By May of 2020, the Time to Build campaign was initiated and has now raised more than $2,300,000, over 85% of the overall $2.7 million campaign goal.  Community donors, local businesses, and area foundations have supported the campaign to date. 


At Thursday’s public announcement of the fund drive, Campaign Co-Chairs Michael Anton (retired pastor, Grace Lutheran Church) and Carla Wilson-Neil (retired COO, Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital) invited the public to join in the fundraising effort which will continue through the summer. 

Wilson-Neil announced that the campaign has already received support from many local foundations, area businesses, and generous community donors.  “This community continues to amaze us with their generosity!  What began as a dream just a few years ago is now very close to reality.  Our Campaign Cabinet joins me in thanking the community for their meaningful gifts and we now invite the broader community to help us complete this campaign effort.  We welcome gifts of all sizes.”


Today's announcement marks the beginning of the public phase of the $2.7 million campaign. 

“If you want to join us in bringing Serenity Village to Hastings, please visit our web site:” said Thomas DeVault, Executive Director.  “We have many ways to give and we are excited to move quickly to our construction phase.”  Construction is anticipated to begin in early 2023.

Wayland Union Superintendent Hinds Announces Resignation

Wayland Union Schools Superintendent, Dr. Christina Hinds, announced her resignation effective June 30th to the Wayland Union Schools Staff and community on March 1st. Dr. Hinds has served as Wayland Union Schools Superintendent since July 2020.  She was recruited to become the next Deputy Superintendent of Northview Public Schools.

Hastings City Council

The Hastings City Council met Monday and adopted an ordinance regarding auto repair shops, gas stations, and car washes in certain zoning districts in order to bring city code up to date.  They also passed a resolution to adopt the 2019 through 2023 Parks and Recreation master plan.


During the meeting, Dave Hatfield, Chairperson of the City Planning Commission, announced he is running for the new County Commissioner seat to represent the City of Hastings.  Last year, a redistricting commission of two Democrats and two Republicans revised the county commission district lines based on population and created an 8th district that covers the city.  This will not be the first time Hastings has had its’ own district…  there were 8 districts from 2002 through 2011. There have been only 7 Commissioner districts during the last ten years.


In other action the City Council approved agreements with the Thornapple Arts Council for 2022 Hastings Live Events and the annual Jazz Festival,  approved Rotary & Kiwanis club agreements for concession stand and beer and wine sales at Thornapple Plaza, and approved the St. Rose of Lima 5K Run, Relay for Life, and Very Barry Family events at Tyden Park.

County Commissioners discuss rule changes

Barry County Commissioners spent much of their Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting Tuesday discussing proposed changes to the Board rules concerning  Public Comment and Open Meetings. Currently, public comment is limited to 3 minutes per individual at designated times, except where extended privileges are granted by the Board Chairperson.


The proposed changes would further require each individual to direct their comments to the Board Chair, and would allow the Chairperson to call to order any person the Chair deems to be behaving in a disorderly, threatening, disruptive, intimidating, disrespectful, harassing, or vulgar manor or for failing to be germaine, for exceeding the time limit, or otherwise disturbing the peace and good order of proceedings of the Board. The rules change would allow the Chairperson to have that individual removed from the room if they refuse to come to order.


Eventually, the Committee decided not to advance the proposed changes at this time while they review legal opinions, and tabled the matter until the next COW meeting in April.


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