Local News Archives for 2023-01

UPDATE: Three Vehicle Fatal Crash in Barry County

UPDATE:  The transit van involved was NOT a Barry Country Transit vehicle.


62 year old Matthew Fuller of Jenison was killed Friday afternoon in a three vehicle crash on M-37 near the Barry Expo Center.


The Barry County Sheriffs Office said a pickup truck traveling east crossed the centerline near Whitmore Road and hit a westbound transit van, driven by Fuller, head-on. 


Another car traveling westbound struck the pickup before coming to a stop.  The drivers of the pickup and car had minor injuries.  The driver of the transit van, Matthew Fuller, was pronounced dead at the scene.


The crash remains under investigation and alcohol is believed to be a factor in the crash. 

North M-37 re-opened following crash between Irving & McCann Roads

The Michigan Dept. of Transportation operations center reports that M-37 highway is re-opened in both directions between Irving and McCann roads, near the Barry Expo Center.

The highway was closed around 1:30pm due to a crash.

Several emergency vehicles responded to the scene, but no information about the crash has been released by the Barry County Sheriff's office.

Snow Update 01-29-23

The Hastings Department of Public Service crews  started cleaning up Hastings roads this Thursday morning at 4-am. 

The Hastings National Weather Service Climatological Station is reporting a total of 5.5 inches from the system that moved through the area  Tuesday and Wednesday and Saturday through early Sunday morning the 29th

Season total to date  50-inches.

Marshall man facing multiple charges after high speed chase

The Barry County Prosecutor’s Office issued multiple charges against Michael J. Bilbrey of Marshall, stemming from a multi-county police pursuit involving law enforcement in Calhoun, Eaton and Barry Counties that occurred on Tuesday.


Bilbrey was pursued by police after it was reported that he stole a Ford F-450 work truck, which had an attached flatbed, from a citizen in Calhoun County. 


Bilbrey was pursued from Calhoun County, throughout Barry County and into Eaton County until he was arrested in Charlotte.  He allegedly drove towards several individuals, drove through red lights and stop signs, over barriers and off the road, frightening many people.  He also allegedly hit a citizen twice, causing damage to the person’s car and leaving the scene both times. 


Barry County Prosecutor Julie Knakfoor Pratt said Bilbrey was arraigned Wednesday and bond was set at $100,000 cash or surety. His Probable Cause Conference will be on February 2, 2023 at 8:30am in Hastings District Court.  The  Prosecutor’s Office is awaiting further investigation before deciding whether to issue additional charges against Mr. Bilbrey. 



The charges are listed below:


COUNT 1: POLICE OFFICER - FLEEING - THIRD DEGREE -MCL 257. 602a(3), FELONY, max  penalty 5 Years prison and/ or $ 1, 000. 00 fine.


COUNT 2: POLICE OFFICER - FLEEING - THIRD DEGREE - MCL 257. 602a(3), FELONY, max penalty 5 years prison and/or$ 1, 000. 00 fine.


COUNT 3: POLICE OFFICER - FLEEING - THIRD DEGREE - MCL 257. 602a(3), FELONY, max penalty 5 Years prison and/ or $ 1, 000. 00 fine.


COUNT 4: ASSAULT WITH A DANGEROUS WEAPON (FELONIOUS ASSAULT)-MCL 750. 82, FELONY, max penalty 4 Years prison and/ or $2, 000. 00 fine.


COUNT 5: ASSAULT WITH A DANGEROUS WEAPON (FELONIOUS ASSAULT)-MCL 750. 82, FELONY, max penalty 4 Years prison and/ or $ 2, 000. 00 fine.


COUNT 6: ASSAULT WITH A DANGEROUS WEAPON (FELONIOUS ASSAULT)-MCL 750. 82, 82]. FELONY: max penalty 4 Years prison and/ or$ 2,000.00 fine.


COUNT 7: ASSAULT WITH A DANGEROUS WEAPON (FELONIOUS ASSAULT)-MCL 750. 82, FELONY, max penalty 4 Years prison and/ or $ 2, 000. 00 fine.


COUNT 8: DRIVING – RECKLESS-MCL 257. 626. MISDEMEANOR, max penalty 1 year jail and/or $500.00 fine.


COUNT 9: FAILURE TO STOP AFTER COLLISION -MCL. 257. 620, MISDEMEANOR, max penalty 90 days jail and/or $ 100. 00 fine.


COUNT 10: FAILURE TO STOP AFTER COLLISION- MCL. 257. 620, MISDEMEANOR, max penalty 90 days jail and/or $ 100. 00 fine.


COUNT 11: OPERATING - LICENSE SUSPENDED, REVOKED, DENIED-MCL 257. 904(1), MISDEMEANOR, max penalty 93 days jail and/or $ 500. 00 fine.


 COUNT 12: OPERATING WHILE INTOXICATED-MCL 257. 625(1), MISDEMEANOR, 93 days jail and/ or $100. 00-$500. 00 fine and/or 360 hours community service; rehabilitative program(s).


HABITUAL OFFENDER - THIRD OFFENSE NOTICE-MCL 769. 11, twice the maximum sentence on primary offense or a lesser term.

Louis Wierenga Jr. named Master Farmer of the Year

Each year for the last 19 years, Michigan Farmer has bestowed the prestigious Master Farmer on three individuals including Louis Wierenga Jr. of Hastings.

Wierenga is currently farming 960 acres at Maple Knoll Farms, raising alfalfa, corn and soybeans.

For 25 years, Wierenga has planted test plots for seed companies to collect information, as well as research plots for new products.

He has created strong relationships with local agribusinesses, including supplying corn to Herbrucks Poultry for over 39 years and Carbon Green Bioenergy Plant for more that 10 years.

Cancellations for Wednesday January 25th

Barry County Fresh Food Initiative cancelled today due to weather.

Barry County Commission on Aging dining centers closed and no meals on wheel deliveries today.

Hastings City Council

WBCH Radio will hold the 2023 Hastings St. Patrick’s Parade on St. Patrick’s Day, Friday, March 17th at 4:00pm on South Jefferson Street.  The Hastings City Council enthusiastically gave unanimous approval for the parade at their meeting Monday night.


Another big annual event, the Barry Roubaix Bicycle Race, which is considered the world’s largest gravel road bike race, will be held on Saturday, April 15th.  Council approved plans by Pavement Ends, Inc. for the event.  This year there will also be pre-race events on Friday, April 14th. The race cap has already been reached with around 4,500 riders registered to participate.


Before the meeting, the City Council held an open workshop to discuss future and past practices, goals, and policy issues for Fiscal Year 2023- 2024.


Other items of business Monday included:


-Approval of a new Poverty Exemption Policy for eligible individuals and families living in poverty to receive a reduction of their taxable value up to 100%


-Approval of Mayor’s appointments to a Development Area Citizens Council, which is needed as part of the Hastings DDA’s district renewal process.

State Police Investigating Serious Injury Crash

Troopers from the Michigan State Police (MSP) Wayland Post are investigating a single vehicle crash involving a Chevrolet Tahoe today January 18 around 7:00 a.m. on Bender Road in Thornapple Township.

Preliminary investigation shows the Chevrolet Tahoe was traveling south on Bender Rd when it left the roadway and struck a tree. The only two occupants on board were trapped in the vehicle and had to be extricated by Thornapple Township Emergency Services.

The 18-year-old male driver of Freeport and his 16-year-old female passenger also of Freeport were transported by TTES ambulance to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids for medical treatment. Injuries were reported as serious but non-life-threatening for both occupants.

Troopers were assisted on scene by Barry County Sheriff’s Department, Thornapple Township Emergency Services and Caledonia Fire and Rescue.

This crash remains open pending further investigation.


Hickory Corners Firefighter


A Hickory Corners Barry County firefighter Greg Garrett is in  the intensive care unit in a nearby hospital. Garrett was diagnosed with Influenza-A around christmastime.



Rep. Johnsen takes oath at Capitol ceremony

State Rep. Gina Johnsen took the ceremonial oath of office on Wednesday as a state representative in the Michigan House. Clerk Gary Randall administered the oath in the state Capitol in Lansing.


Joining Johnsen at the event were John Scheppele, Ken Hyatt, legislative staffers Josh Haley and Robin Stearns, of Saranac; and Jasper and Diane Miles of Nashville.  


Johnsen said she looks forward to listening to the concerns of her constituents while working to restore people’s constitutional freedoms, improve K-12 education, and strengthen Michigan’s economy.   


The 78th District legislator represents people living in portions of Kent, Ionia, Barry and Eaton counties.  


Sen. Albert takes formal oath of office

State Sen. Thomas Albert on Wednesday took the formal oath of office as the new session of the Michigan Legislature began at the state Capitol.


Albert joins the Michigan Senate after serving six years in the state House of Representatives. He represents the Senate’s new 18th District including Barry County and portions of Allegan, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Kent, and Ionia counties.


In opening ceremonies, Albert was sworn in by Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Elizabeth T. Clement. Albert was joined by his parents Jim and Edna, wife Erica and their five young children.


Residents may email Albert’s Senate office at Callers may dial 517-373-1734 or toll-free at 855-347-8018. Albert’s office is located in Room 4500 of the Binsfeld Office Building, located at 201 Townsend Street in Lansing, across from the state Capitol. The mailing address is Sen. Thomas Albert, P.O. Box 30036, Lansing, MI 48909.

Hastings City Council

The Hastings City Council met Monday night for the first time in 2023.  New council members Mandy Furrow and Norman Barlow, and re-elected incumbents  Jim Cary and Bill Nesbitt were sworn in. First Ward Councilman Bill Nesbitt was elected Mayor Pro Tem.


Housekeeping items such as City Council Rules of Procedure, and 2023 meeting schedules were set,  and Mayor Dave Tossava’s appointments to city boards and commissions were approved. Also approved was City Manager Sara Moyer-Cale’s appointment of Christopher Bever as Deputy City Manager.


Council okayed the purchase of two new GMC Pickup trucks for DPS Superintendents through the MiDeal program for $101,738.00.


The next City Council meeting will be on Monday, January 23rd. Meetings are held the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month except on holidays.

Pick-up Free Radon Test Kits during Radon Action Month

Radon can't be seen, smelled, or tasted, but high levels of radon gas may be in residents’ homes, increasing their risk of lung cancer. Fortunately, testing is easy and high radon levels can be lowered. With COVID-19, flu, and RSV, individuals and families are spending more time at home this winter, making it even more important to check for high radon levels.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. Radon moves up through the soil and enters buildings through cracks and openings in the foundation, floor, or walls, including at floor/wall joints, sump openings, and other openings caused by plumbing, wiring, or ductwork.

Outdoors, radon is diluted by the atmosphere to safe levels. However, radon can concentrate in indoor air and reach unhealthy levels. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, and is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. It is very important for residents to know their home’s radon level and to take action to lower it if it’s too high.

According to a Michigan survey, high levels of radon are expected in one out of eight Michigan homes. The only way to know if a home has high radon levels is to test it. Homes should be tested every 2 years for high radon levels.

Easy, do-it-yourself radon test kits are available for free to residents of Barry and Eaton counties during January, which is Radon Action Month. There is a limit of one kit per address. Kits are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and supplies are limited. Residents can pick up a kit at one of the below locations. After using it at home, residents should send it to the lab for testing.

Hastings: Health Department, 330 W. Woodlawn Ave. 
Charlotte: Health Department, 1033 Healthcare Dr. 
Lansing: Delta Township Hall, Assessing Department, 7710 W. Saginaw Hwy. 
Delton: Delton District Library, 330 N. Grove St.

State Street Diner


In spite of rumors that are circulating in and around Hastings the State Street Diner has not been sold at this time.  Lee Campbell owner of the Diner told WBCH News  he has been approached by "White Water Car Wash" which was given the green light by the planning commission at Tuesday's city council meeting to move forward.

Campbell said, "We are still talking and if it comes to pass it will be May or June before it's completed."

Campbell purchased the restaurant from Elias Big Boy in 1995 after the Big Boy Restaurant was built in 1981.


Barry County Commissioners


The Barry County Board of Commissioners held their first meeting of the new year Tuesday.

David Jackson was elected as Chair  of the commission. David Hatfield elected as Vice-Chair

New Years Baby


Barry County Has A New Years Baby..

The New Arrival was born 53 seconds after midnight January 1st at Spectrum Pennock hospital in Hastings.


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