Local News Archives for 2022-08

Counterfeit Money Circulating in Barry County Area

Late Friday afternoon ,August 26th, City Police Chief Dale Boulter  reported that they had received complaints from local businesses of counterfeit bills being passed.  The bills look very real at quick glance. The bills have the words "Copy Money" under the seal, and the words" For Motion Picture Purposes" at the very top of the face side of the bills.  Suspects have passed counterfeit $10.00, $20.00 and $100.00 bills. The  assumption is that this counterfeit money is making it's way outside the confines of the City Limits. 

Rep. Calley invites residents to upcoming office hours

State Rep. Julie Calley is hosting her upcoming office hours in Hastings and Saranac.

“Listening to the community helps me understand what concerns our district is facing,” Rep. Calley said. “I am incredibly grateful to have a dialog and open conversation on what issues are impacting you.”


The informal meetings will take place at the following times and locations:

 -- Wednesday, Aug. 31, from 11 a.m. to noon at the Barry County Tyden Center, 121 S. Church St. in Hastings.

 -- Wednesday, Sept. 7, from 11 a.m. to noon at Scheid Park, 455 Main St. in Saranac.

No appointment is necessary to attend.


Calley is also planning a virtual option for community members who are unable to attend in person. Please email or call (517) 373-0842 to schedule a Zoom meeting.

Harvest Pointe open house & retirement celebration for Don Haney

Friday, August 26, is Thornapple Manor's Harvest Pointe open house from 1-3 pm! All are welcome to see our new amazing facility and celebrate the retirement of Thornapple Manor Administrator Don Haney after 16 years of service.


Harvest Pointe is located on McKeown Road near the corner of M-79, just around the curve from the main building on the Thornapple Manor campus. 

It's Tammy Pennington Day!

WBCH is declaring Thursday, August 25th to be Tammy Pennington Day in Barry County! 

Tammy is retiring after 35 years of service as Executive Director of the Barry County Commission on Aging. Under her direction the COA staff has led the community in providing resources and services to meet the changing needs of Barry County’s older adults, including in-home services, senior nutrition programs like Meals on Wheels and congregate dining at friendship centers, Adult Day Services and much more with the help of numerous volunteers.

A retirement party from 3 to 5pm is being held at the COA to celebrate with Tammy on her last day!

Funding grant secured for new Barry County 911 communications tower

Barry County Central Dispatch and Emergency Management will soon receive state funding to build an additional emergency communications tower, thanks to a grant secured by state Reps. Julie Calley and Thomas Albert.


The $3 million project is included in the new state budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.


“The public safety radio system is a vital tool that connects first responders with residents, dispatchers and each other,” Calley said. “If the system isn’t properly supported, there’s a risk it will fail, leaving residents and emergency responders without this vital lifeline during an emergency. Furthermore, additional radio upgrades are delayed until adequate communications towers are installed to allow for the increased connectivity.”


Barry County’s 800-megahertz public safety radio system was implemented in the early 2000s. Because the number of users has increased substantially over the last 21 years, the system is now overloaded, putting it at risk. 


Additional tower sites will increase the system’s capacity, improve coverage, and support the sharing of additional information and data to better meet the needs of police, firefighters, emergency medical responders and the Barry County families they serve.


“This equipment upgrade will help first responders serve their communities and make them safer places to live,” said Albert, who as chair of the House Appropriations Committee plays a lead role in developing the state budget.

Thornapple Kellogg Early Childhood Center will open this fall

Thornapple Kellogg's new Early Childhood Center, located at 3316 Bender Road, will open this fall after nearly 18 months of construction.  The new center was made possible when voters approved the 2019 $42.8 million bond.  The Early Childhood Center is the largest of the bond projects. 

At approximately 33,000 square feet, the new center includes 10 age appropriate classrooms, a sensory room, multi purpose room, offices for staff developement, board of education meetings and other gatherings.  The facility includes secured entryways for safety and a large playground area for students.

The Center will house TK tuition based preschool programs for 3 and 4 year old children, Great Start Readiness Preschool for 4 year olds, Bright Beginnings Playgroup for children ages birth to 5 years old and the before and after school childcare program for TK students in grades Kindergarten through fifth grade.

WBCH Radio Celebrates 64th Anniversary

WBCH Radio in Hastings was established sixty-four years ago today!


Radio Stations WBCH AM & FM  are operated by Barry Broadcasting, a company  owned by the Radant family for two generations. Both stations are community oriented and pride themselves on serving the needs of the listening area.  WBCH-AM originated in 1958 when several prominent businessmen determined the need for Barry County to have its own radio station.  WBCH-FM was added in 1967. 


WBCH has continuously provided daily, local, state and national news, marketing for local businesses, and has broadcast area parades, high school sports and concerts, and  Public Service Announcements for countless non-profits and community organizations.


Since its founding, WBCH has become a vital element in helping Hastings, Barry County, and surrounding areas grow and adapt to their needs in commerce and all aspects of life. 

Annual BIE Luncheon

The Barry County Chamber and Economic Development Alliance and Hastings Area School District are holding the annual B.I.E Luncheon Tuesday, August 16. This luncheon recognizes the importance of partnership between Business, Industry, and Education within the community and will feature Hastings students as the guest speakers.  The event begins from Noon-12:30pm in the Hastings Performing Arts Center,  followed by the lunch in the High School Cafeteria.

Area Schools First Day back to School

WBCH welcomes students, teachers and school staff back to school!

Let’s all help to  make it a safe  return to school  and add caution while driving by watching for bus stops and crossing guards and young pedestrians.

Lakewood Public Schools begin with half day August 17th

Bellevue Community Schools begin August 18th

Starting Monday, August 22nd:  Hastings Area Schools & St. Rose School, Maple Valley Schools, & Wayland Union Schools.

August 23rd is the first day for Caledonia Community Schools & Thornapple Kellogg Schools

August 29th is the first day for Gull Lake Community Schools

And schools beginning after Labor day, on Sept. 6th;  Delton Kellogg Schools & Barry County Christian Schools.

Felonious Assault/Fleeing & Eluding

On Wednesday, August 10, 2022 at approximately 6:30 PM, the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s office was dispatched to the Walmart Store located at 6065 Gull Road in Comstock Township for reports of a man inside the store with a gun. Upon arrival, officers learned that a subject inside the store had threatened a family with a small black handgun during a confrontation. As officers were taking the report, witnesses observed the suspect leaving the store heading toward a black sedan. Officers attempted to stop the suspect in the parking lot, but the suspect refused to follow the officer’s commands and fled the area in the vehicle. Officers quickly caught up with the vehicle, then attempted a traffic stop on the suspect vehicle, however the subject did not comply and fled at a high rate of speed. As the Sheriff’s Office pursued the fleeing suspect, additional Deputies deployed spike strips to disable the suspect’s vehicle. These Attempts were successful in deflating the vehicle tires however the subject continued to flee, placing the motoring public in great danger. As the fleeing vehicle entered a residential neighborhood, an intentional collision was performed by the Sheriff’s Office rendering the vehicle inoperable. The subject then exited and attempted to flee on foot but was quickly taken into custody by a Deputy after a short foot pursuit. A firearm was recovered at the scene and this subject will be facing charges of felonious assault, fleeing and eluding, resisting obstructing officers, and felony firearm. The 17-year-old suspect was lodged at the Kalamazoo County Juvenile Home. Anyone with further information on this incident is asked to contact the Kalamazoo County sheriffs office or silent observer.

Coleman Appreciation Day


Wednesday was a special day for the Coleman Insurance Agency in Hastings and their customers.

The Coleman Insurance Agency hosted "Customer Appreciation Day" to say thank you to their many customers.

Those attending enjoyed refreshment, and gifts present to each individual. 

The Coleman Agency at 312 East Court Street started in Hastings in 1908.

In 1958 the Coleman Agency started advertising on WBCH Radio sponsoring  a number of programs to the present day making it the longest continued advertiser on WBCH.

Currently they Sponsor the latest weather information Monday through Friday in the 6:00  O'Clock morning news.

Staff Members from Left to Right: Lindsey Beard, Chelsey Tibble, Teva Carr, Tammy Daniels


Gun Lake Casino awards Employees over $750,000 in Bonuses

(Wayland, Mich.) – Gun Lake Casino (GLC) announced details of its most recent distribution of team member bonuses of over $750,000.  Such bonus incentive payments are regularly distributed on a quarterly basis as a means of recognizing the essential role of each team member.  Since 2011, GLC has awarded over $22 million through the bonus program to its team members. Along with bonuses, GLC offers an industry leading wage and benefits package to further its commitment to being the best employer in West Michigan.     


“Here at Gun Lake Casino, we have a genuine desire to care for the needs of our team members both professionally and in their personal lives,” said Sal Semola, CEO for Gun Lake Casino.  “Our quarterly bonus program reflects the appreciation we have for our team, which is so integral to our core commitment of providing the best experience for our guests.  Part of our mission is also to improve the quality of life in our community.”


This year, Gun Lake Casino was again acknowledged as one of “West Michigan’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For®” by the National Association for Business Resources (NABR).  This marks three consecutive years that GLC was named to NABR’s prestigious list of employers. Revue magazine recently named GLC as the #1 casino in its “Best of the West” annual awards.  Since opening this past September, two of GLC’s new dining venues also made their debut on Revue’s list.  Shkodé Chophouse was voted top 3 in the “New Restaurants,” category, and CBK was voted top 3 in the “Beer Bar” category.  

Gun Lake Casino employs over 1,100 team members, making it one of the largest employers in Allegan County.

Yankee Springs Fire



Fire Tuesday morning in the Yankee Springs Recreation Gun Lake area destroyed an office building according to the Department of Natural Resources. 

A camper spotted the fire around 5:00 am. 

The Yankee Springs Fire Department put out the fire stating the building is no longer usable.  arson is not suspected.   No word on how the fire started.


Illegally Accessing Voting Equipment

According to the Detroit News Republican Attorney General candidate Mathew DePerno, Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf, and Representative Daire Rendon are among nine Michigan Republicans who could potentially face criminal charges over allegedly illegally accessing voting equipment in a quest to prove false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Power Outage Update




Consumers Energy continues to get their customers back in service after Wednesday's Severe Thunderstorms packing over 70 mile an hour winds knocked out electric service to thousands of their customers.

At one point over five thousand Barry County  Hastings customers lost their electric service as the storms also took down trees, limbs and power lines across the area.

As of this Friday morning six hundred Barry County Consumers Energy customers are still out of service.

Thursday the Hastings Department of Public Service Crews spent the day clearing away the downed trees and limbs.

On wednesday Hastings received 3.58 inches of rain and Thursday Hastings received another .75 inches of rain.

Flexfab update - power restored

The electrical power has been restored to all of the Flexfab factories and offices in Hastings.  ALL 3rd shift factory employees should plan on reporting to work tonight (Thursday 8/4) at their scheduled start time.  ALL 1st shift factory employees and office employees should plan on reporting to work on Friday (8/5) at their scheduled start time.

Thunderstorms and Power Outages

Severe Thunderstorms moved across parts of West Michigan including the Hastings and Barry County area Wednesday afternoon and evening dropping 3.58 inches of rain in Hastings as recorded by the Hastings National Weather Service Climatological Station.

The Storms knocked out electrical service to the following Consumers Energy



Allegan County        7,259

Barry County            5,368  including parts of Hastings.

Calhoun  County      4,022

Kalamazoo County  8,439.


The downed tree is on the corner of Jefferson and Clinton street in Hastings.

Yankee Springs Fire Dept. receives donation of Sonar Unit

The Yankee Springs Township Fire Department is the recipient of a generous donation from a local family. 


Janice Lippert, wife of the late Robert Lippert (a long time Yankee Springs Township Clerk) and their son Byron donated a HELIX 12 Sonar unit to the Township's Rescue Boat, providing the department with enhanced sonar capabilities in under water recoveries.


The sonar unit provides a multitude of different side imaging ranges: 800 ft (455 kHz), 250 ft (800 kHz), 400 ft (MEGA) left and right of the rescue apparatus. The unit features GPS and lake mapping allowing for easier sharing capabilities with dive recovery teams as well as locating things lost in the water providing more effective recovery efforts from the Rescue Boat.


Deputy Chief Dan Miller said the department is very appreciative to receive this piece of equipment from the Lippert Family.

Car Stuck in Wet Cement


The driver of a car failed to see fresh cement in the construction area on West State street in Hastings where construction is on going and drove into it and became stuck.  The driver was not injured, only her wallet. The mishap happened near the State Street Diner.


16,070 total voters in Barry County went to the polls and cast their ballots in  the Republican and Democratic open primaries, but most of the contested races were on the Republican ticket.


Five Republicans were on the ballot for Governor and Tudor Dixon garnered the most votes statewide. Dixon will run against Governor Gretchen Whitmer this November.


In the 2nd US Congressional District, Republican John Moolenaar was the winner and will face Democrat Jerry Hilliard in the general election.


For State Senator in the 18th district covering all of Barry County, Republican Thomas Albert defeated Ryan Mancinelli and will go against Democrat Kai Degraaf.


Gina Johnsen received the most votes in the 78th  State House District.  In Barry County Johnsen had 1,402 followed by Ben Geiger with 1,288.  She will face Democrat Leah Groves in the general election.


In the 43rd State House District, Barry County Republican voters favored Rachelle Smit.


In the 79th State House District the clear primary winner was Angela Rigas, who will face Democrat Kimberly Kennedy-Barrington in November.


In the contested primary races for Barry County Commissioner:    


In District 1,  Bob Teunessen defeated Jim Brown and Brandon Strong, and will face Scott Savage in the general election.


District 2, John Gallagher defeated incumbent Catherine Getty.


District 5,  Mike Callton beat Gary White.  


District 6, Mark Doster unseated incumbent Vivian Conner.  


(There are no Democratic candidates in the general election in districts 2 through 7.)


District 8 (city of Hastings),  David Hatfield beat Charles Hertzler.  Hatfield will be challenged by Democrat Chris Lukasiewicz in the general election.


Ballot Proposals:

Castleton Township passed all three millage renewal requests for Emergency Medical and Fire operations, housing and equipment.


Johnstown Township voters approved two millage renewals for roads and fire operations.


The Thornapple Township EMS millage was passed.


Yankee Springs Township voters approved a renewal request for Fire and Emergency millage, but turned down the Henika Library District millage and also defeated a bonding proposal for the Wayland School District.


Tuesday is primary election day in our state.  The polls are open from 7am to 8pm.  Voters are selecting their party nominees for the General Election in November.


Nearly all of the contested races are in the Republican primary, where five candidates are vying for the chance to run against Governor Gretchen Whitmer this fall:   Tudor Dixon, Ryan Kelley, Ralph Rebandt, Gary Sildano and Kevin Rinke.


In the 2nd US Congressional District, Republicans John Moolenaar and Thomas Norton are facing off today.


For State Senator in the 18th district covering all of Barry County, Republicans on the primary ballot are Thomas Albert and Ryan Mancinelli.


Following Re-districting, Barry County is split between three State Representative Districts:


Three Republican candidates in the 78th  District primary are Christine Barnes, Ben Geiger, and Gina Johnsen. Jon Rocha, who is not on the ballot, has mounted a write-in campaign.


In the 43rd District, which covers a chunk of  of Barry County, there’s a four-way race for the Republican nomination between: Rachelle Smit, Phillip Joseph, Neven Cooper-Keel,  and Lindsay Kronemeyer.


In the 79th District, three Republicans seeking the nomination include Angela Rigas, Ryan Gallogly, and Jeremiah Keeler.


There are contests on the Republican primary ballot for some Barry County Commissioner Seats:    


In District 1,  Jim Brown, Brandon Strong, and Bob Teunessen

District 2, John Gallagher is running against Catherine Getty.

District 5,  Mike Callton and Gary White

District 6, Vivian Conner is challenged by Mark Doster

District 8 (city of Hastings),  David Hatfield and Charles Hertzler


Ballot Proposals:


Castleton Township has three millage renewal requests on the ballot for Emergency Medical and Fire operations, housing and equipment.


Johnstown Township voters will decide on millage renewals for roads and fire operations.


Yankee Springs Township has a renewal request for Fire and Emergency millage, as well as millage for the Henika Library District.

House fire

A state Police fire inspector is looking into the cause of a house fire that happened Saturday morning, July 30, in Barry County.


The homeowner, Craig Hoffman, his wife and their two dogs escaped  from the buring home located in the 500 block of East State Road near Hastings.


Hoffman told central dispatch he noticed a five gallon gas can nearby.


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