Local News Archives for 2023-04

Hastings Schools - All Clear

The investigation of the alleged school threat against Hastings Area Schools had been ongoing since Thursday evening and was concluded Saturday evening.


Hastings Chief of Police Dale Boulter said during the investigation, officers interviewed over 50 people about the alleged threats while working closely with school administration. During this process, the department was able to locate where the original conversation and comments took place along with the original post to social media. It was also determined that the implied threat of a school shooting was found to not be a valid depiction of the conversation.


Chief Boulter said "While I cannot divulge the final outcome of the investigation, nor release names, I can say with confidence that there is no threat to the Hastings School District related to reports we received on Thursday. The final report will be submitted to the Barry County Prosecutor on Monday for review."


"Each person in the Hastings School District, the Hastings Police Department and the Hastings School Administration takes each matter of school safety very seriously. This incident caused many disruptions throughout the school district, affected the community and spread the fear of becoming another statistic. The fear generated by these types of incidents is expected due to current events across the nation and here in our own state."


"The safety of each school district depends on students, parents and community members using the correct channels of communication when reporting any type of active violence information. I do not want to discourage anyone from speaking up if they are in fear, or suspect information they’ve received may signify any type of school violence. In such situations, I encourage people to use the proper channels to deliver the information as quickly as possible to law enforcement or school administration. The sooner law enforcement or school staff receives the information, the safer students, staff and community members will be."


Hastings Police investigating an unconfirmed threat to Hastings Area Schools.

Hastings City Chief of Police issued the following news release Friday afternoon:


"On Thursday 4/27/23, the Hastings Police Department was notified of a statement allegedly made by a current High School student implying a potential threat of harm to the school. We have since investigated several social media posts indicating an implied shooting threat by this student. Officers are investigating a chain of social media posts that have led to several individuals with potential information. We have received several tips from the public as well; each tip is being investigated to the fullest potential to ensure all leads are addressed."


While working closely with school officials, the decision was made to close schools while officers continue investigating this complaint. The investigation will continue until our overall risk assessment indicates it is safe to return to school.


The Hastings Police Department will continue to coordinate with Hastings Schools, the Barry County Prosecutor's Office, and other agencies as needed.



No further information is available for release at this time. An update will be provided when available."


Thornapple Arts Council Jazz Fest Friday UPDATE

Thornapple Arts Council Jazz Fest UPDATE: Due to a threat against Hastings Schools, today's (Fri). Jazz Fest performances are cancelled.

Tonights Aubrey Logan concert at 7:30pm has been moved to the First Presbyterian Church, 405 M-37 Hwy. Hastings. Everyone who purchased tickets for this concert will be contacted. 

Saturday's Jazz Festival performances are scheduled to go on as planned.  Please contact the Thornapple Arts Council with any  questions.  269-945-2002.



Hastings Area Schools Closed Friday, April 28

In a post late Thursday night, Hastings Superintendent Matt Goebel said "Hastings Area School System, including the CERC and Daycare, will be closed Friday, April 28, 2023. Administration learned of an unconfirmed threat earlier this evening and have been collaborating with law enforcement to determine its credibility. Out of an abundance of caution and to allow law enforcement time to complete their investigation we determined that taking this course of action was in the best interest of students and staff."

Due to this threat, TAC Jazz Fest performances are cancelled.  A decision about tonight's Aubrey Logan concert at the Performing Arts Center is forthcoming.

Behavior Risk Factor Survey being conducted in Barry & Eaton Counties

Starting this week, some Barry & Eaton County residents will be receiving phone calls asking them to participate in a Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey.

The BRFSS is the nation’s largest health-related telephone survey (landline or cell phone) and is conducted locally every three years. The survey is used to track the health of the population in Barry and Eaton counties, as well as create and evaluate programs to support health and prevent disease. Advantage Research is conducting the survey on behalf of the Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD).


The survey collects data on the prevalence of various behaviors, health conditions, and preventive healthcare practices. The survey questions are based on questions developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). BEDHD partners with the Ingham County Health Department (ICHD) and Mid-Michigan District Health Department (MMDHD) to tailor the questions and wording to the specific needs of the population in Barry and Eaton Counties and the surrounding areas.


The BRFSS is an anonymous survey of randomly chosen residents aged 18 and older living in Barry or Eaton County. The information collected in the survey cannot be linked back to the participants. The data received will be analyzed by race, ethnicity, gender, education, income, location, etc., and used for the Community Health Needs Assessments and Community Health Improvement Plans completed in Barry and Eaton counties.

Intersection near Hastings schools becomes a four-way stop

The intersection of S. Park St. and W. Grand St. is being converted to a 4-way stop starting Thursday, April 27.  Hastings DPS crews will install the new stop signs at approximately 9:30 AM.  The change will affect traffic on S. Park St. requiring traffic to stop at W. Grand.


Increased safety of students crossing at the intersection near the Middle School and Central Elementary was the deciding factor in the change. Notification signs will also be placed prior to the stop signs to increase awareness of the new traffic control devices.


The Hastings Police Department along with Hastings Schools will be monitoring the intersection during morning and afternoon student crossing times. Motorists are reminded to always drive with caution in this and any other school area.

Corewell Health names Alejandro Quiroga, M.D., as president of Corewell Health in West Michigan

Corewell HealthTM has appointed Alejandro Quiroga, M.D., MBA, as president, Corewell Health West, effective May 1, 2023. Quiroga succeeds Darryl Elmouchi, M.D., MBA, who was appointed as chief operating officer of Corewell Health.


As president, Quiroga will lead strategy, operations, clinical oversight and financial performance for 11 hospitals, 120 outpatient locations, telehealth, a large continuing and home care enterprise, and a medical group with 2,000+ provider members in West Michigan. He also will serve as a member of the system leadership team at Corewell Health.


“Ale has been bold and instrumental in helping us reimagine what is possible in health care. His demonstrated history of innovation and solving complex problems will help us better serve our patients in West Michigan and beyond,” said Darryl Elmouchi, M.D., MBA, chief operating officer, Corewell Health.


As a catalyst for health care transformation, Quiroga has directed department and divisional overhauls that improve health. In his most recent position as chief medical officer and head of ambulatory care and population health programs for Corewell Health in West Michigan, he led cross-functional teams in building the population health infrastructure with a value-based care approach, and redesigning its behavioral health, primary care and care management service delivery models. These efforts increased access to care, improved patient outcomes and reduced the overall total cost of care.


“I am as passionate about helping our teams perform at their best as I am focused on reducing the burden of disease for the people we serve. In this new role, I look forward to helping Corewell Health achieve its mission of improving health, instilling humanity and inspiring hope,” said Quiroga.


Born in Medellin, Colombia, Quiroga’s love of learning and of medicine led him to earn his medical degree from Universidad del Rosario – Colegio Mayor de Nuestra Senora del Rosario. He then moved to the United States, completing his residency at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, and his fellowship in pediatric nephrology at Montefiore Children’s Hospital in New York. He earned his executive MBA at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.


After arriving at Spectrum Health in 2011 as a pediatric nephrologist, he quickly ascended as a physician leader. He held several leadership positions at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital including division chief of pediatric specialties and associate program director for the pediatric residency program. He also served as vice president of medical affairs for Spectrum Health Medical Group and as senior vice president of population health before moving into the CMO role of ambulatory care for Corewell Health in West Michigan that preceded his new appointment.

Gordon Johncock honored Monday in Indianapolis

Two time Indianapolis 500 winner Gordon Johncock was honered Monday in a special celebration on the 50th Anniversary of his first Indianapolis 500 win in 1973.

The Borg-Warner Corporation that presents their world famous trophy to the winner of the Indy 500 hosted the event attended by family and friends from all across the U.S.

Gordie was presented with a smaller version of the famous trophy during the celebration.

Johncock was born and raised in Hastings where he started his racing career at the old Hastings Speedway.

During his career he raced sprint, modified and super modified cars before he started racing the indianapolis cars winning two Indianapolis 500's in 1973 and 1982. Overall he won 25 indy car races. He also raced in the Daytona 500.

Johncock is a former National Driving Champion, has been inducted into the International Motor Sports Hall of Fame, The Indianapolis 500 Hall of Fame and the Michigan Sports and Motor Sports Hall of Fame.


Teen injured in Ionia County crash

The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office, Saranac Fire, and Clarksville fire responded to a Personal Injury accident at 3pm on April 19th involvolving a pick-up truck versus a tree.


Deputies to believe the vehicle was traveling south bound on Conklin Rd. at Peck Lake Rd. when the 17-year-old driver lost control of his truckvehicle causing him to crash head on with a tree.


The young driver was not identified. Deputies said there is no evidence of alcohol or drugs involved.


The victim was transported to a nearby hospital by Life ambulance to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries.


Assisting on the scene was Ionia County Sheriff’s Office, Saranac Fire, Clarksville Fire, and Reed and Hoppes.


Hastings Fire Chief Roger Caris Passes

Hastings/BIRCH Fire Chief Roger Caris passed away Wednesday morning, April 19th after suffering a cardiac arrest. Roger served on the Hastings Fire Department for 49 years becoming the Chief in 1981. He loved his family, serving the community and training firefighters across the State.


Mayor Dave Tossava states, “It is a very sad day in the City of Hastings. Roger Caris was an exceptional person, a dedicated firefighter, the type of person that always put his community and its citizens first. I have had the pleasure of working with Roger throughout his career with the City. I would stop at the Fire station and talk to Roger hours at a time. I will miss our conversations, I considered Roger an advisor and a great friend.”


Roger not only served our local community. He was responsible for the many firefighters to take the state written and practical test for over 15 years as the Region Training Coordinator for the Bureau of Fire Service.


Funeral Arrangements are by the Girrbach Funeral Home of Hastings.  Visitation for Roger S. Caris, Sr. will be held Sunday from 2-4pm at the Barry Expo Center and Monday from 12:00 to 1:00pm.  Funeral Service will be Held Monday at 1:00pm at the Barry Expo Center with Interment at Riverside Cemetery at 2:30pm

Barry County Commissioners

Nearly two hours of limited public comment dominated the Barry County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday.  A large number of county citizens spoke on Second Amendment Gun Rights and a proposed resolution by the Barry County Republican Party calling for Barry County to be designated as a Second Amendment Sanctuary County.


Most of the commentors urged Commissioners to support that resolution and to put it on their meeting agenda for discussion and passage.  A few commentors were opposed. Several spoke on responsibility of elected officials to uphold and defend the Constitution as sworn in their oath of office and reminded the Republican commissioners that they were elected on the parties’ platform. 


Approximately 53 Michigan counties have passed some sort of resolution to date stating they either are a Second Amendment Sanctuary County or stating they respect constitutional rights. The local resolutions are not legally binding, but advocates say they are important. It is not known whether sheriffs in sanctuary counties will or will not enforce the new red flag laws and other gun reform regulations enacted by the state.

Adopt-A-Highway collection begins

In an annual rite of spring, volunteers will fan out across lower Michigan to give state highway roadsides their first cleaning, beginning Saturday as groups in the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Adopt-A-Highway (AAH) program pick up litter from April 22-30.   The first pickup for the Upper Peninsula will start May 6.


The Adopt-A-Highway program began in Michigan in 1990. Today, around 2,900 groups have adopted more than 6,000 miles of state highway. In a typical year, these volunteers collect 60,000 to 70,000 bags of trash annually, an estimated $5 million value for the state.


Volunteers pick up litter three times each year. Statewide, there will be a summer pickup from July 15 to 23 and a fall pickup from Sept. 23 to Oct. 1.


Adopt-A-Highway groups wear high-visibility, yellow-green safety vests required by federal regulations when working within a highway right of way. MDOT provides free vests and trash bags, and arranges to haul away the trash. Volunteers include members of various civic groups, businesses and families. Crew members have to be at least 12 years old, and each group must number at least three people.


Sections of highway are still available for adoption. Groups are asked to adopt a section for at least two years. Signs bearing a group's name are posted along the stretch of adopted highway. There is no fee to participate. Go to for more information.

Open Burning Ban in place

With the current Fire Danger rated as Very High, open burning is currently prohibited in Barry County.  Cook/Camp fires are allowed but must be closely monitored.


Warm, dry air and gusty winds are resulting in a higher chance of fires quickly spreading out of control.

Sharing the Joy of Easter Photos

Residents at Thornapple Manor & Cottages,  Woodlawn Meadows, Clearstream Rehab & Nursing Center, and Carveth Village are enjoying the live potted tulips that were delivered to each of their residents a few days before Easter courtesy of WBCH, Spectrum Health Pennock, and the generosity of numerous businesses in the area. “Sharing the Joy of Easter” has become an annual community project. The tulips are now in full bloom and were sourced and delivered by Barlow Florists of Hastings.  Shown here are photos from delivery day. 


For more information see:



Consumers Energy Gas Update

Consumers Energy has nearly finished restoring natural gas service to all 4,500 customers in the Hastings and Nashville areas who had been without service since last Wednesday evening after a gas main beneath the Thornapple River failed.


Consumers Energy says all customers have either had their gas reconnected and pilot lights relit, or were left instructions for scheduling a time to be reconnected by Consumers.


Crews worked all of Thursday and Friday to disconnect gas at the meters to all customers in the affected area while a temporary bypass was constructed. That was followed by the massive re-connection process throughout the Easter weekend and on Monday. Consumers brought in 60 to 70 crews from all over the state to help in the effort.


Greg Moore, Community Affairs Manager for Consumers Energy spoke to the Hastings Rotary Club on Monday and called this gas emergency one of the worst natural gas crises in the company's history. Moore said a new permanent gas transmission line has already been bored beneath the Thornapple River and is being pressure tested.  He expressed Consumers' appreciation for the patience and support of the community.






Hastings City Council news, April 10.

The Hastings City Council held its’ regular meeting Monday and approved  the amended Downtown Development Authority and Tax Increment Financing Plan for the next 30 years.  With the approval the DDA can proceed with the financing for the Streetscape project in downtown Hastings scheduled for this summer


Mayor David Tossava  recognized April  to be Child Abuse Prevention Month in Hastings. A proclamation was given to Linda Maupin, Executive Director of the Family Support Center.


Council approved a Disc Golf Expansion project for the Hammond Hill Park. The Park Committee plans to add a more challenging, more advanced course to the existing disc golf course.


An amendment to the zoning ordinance of the Hastings-Rutland Joint Planning Commission was approved pertaining to child day care homes and qualified residential treatment programs.


 And ‘Girls Night Out’ and Sidwalk Sales were approved for the evening of May 11th in Hastings.

Consumers Energy update on repairs to gas system

As of late Friday afternoon, Consumers Energy workers were in the process of relighting customers’ pilot lights after a natural gas leak in the Hastings area affected nearly 4,500 customers. This work to restore service will continue Friday night and resume Saturday morning. The goal is to restore service to most customers by the end of the weekend.


Workers will knock on doors and request permission to enter to relight pilot lights for furnaces and appliances inside. If a customer is not present, the worker will leave a door tag with instructions to contact Consumers Energy at 800-477-5050 to schedule a time for the relighting to take place.

Consumers Energy Update on Gas Leak

Consumers Energy workers are completing their work to temporarily disconnect natural gas to about 4,500 customers in the Hastings area due to a gas leak. On Friday, they will start relighting pilot lights, with a goal to restore service to most customers by the end of the weekend.


The work in the Hastings area follows a leak on a six-inch steel gas main under the Thornapple River. The leak caused a loss of pressure on the natural gas system that started affecting customers locally on Wednesday night. Crews have since installed a temporary bypass that will allow Consumers Energy to restore natural gas service before making permanent repairs.


“Consumers Energy would like to thank community members who have been understanding and gracious today,” said Christopher Fultz, Consumers Energy’s vice president of natural gas operations. “We have been able to follow our plan that will restore heat to these homes and businesses today, Friday and this weekend, and we are committed to carrying out this job as safely and quickly as possible.”
There’s no indication yet what caused the natural gas leak. Consumers Energy will continue to investigate the situation.


After Consumers Energy workers finish disconnecting homes and businesses, they will then start relighting customers’ pilot lights Friday. Some things to know about that process:


    Workers will knock on doors and request permission to enter to relight pilot lights for furnaces and appliances inside. All Consumers Energy workers carry company badges and will gladly show you them if requested.


   If a customer is not present, the worker will leave a door tag with instructions to contact Consumers Energy to schedule a time for the relighting to take place.


   Customers should not attempt to relight their own pilot lights on their own. 


   Consumers Energy will first reconnect priority customers that include hospitals, nursing homes and public buildings. 


Consumers Energy is Michigan’s largest energy provider, providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.7 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

Barry County Buildings Closed

Because of the Consumers Energy gas problem that has affected Hastings and Nashville all Barry County Buildings and offices will be closed this Friday April 7th.


Barry County Mental Health Building is closed today April 7th.

Those individuals who have appointments will be contacted.

Consumers Energy natural gas leak under Thornapple River

Consumers Energy says a high pressure natural gas leak under the Thornapple River near Nashville began on a six-inch steel gas main Wednesday night. The loss of pressure in the system is causing problems for residents of the Hastings and Nashville areas.


Crews have been working overnight to create a temporary bypass to restore natural gas services before they can make permanent repairs. It is unknown at this time what caused the gas leak.


Consumers Energy will be going door-to-door to area customers starting Thursday morning to temporarily disconnect their natural gas. After that, natural gas will be reintroduced into the system. Natural gas workers will then start relighting customers' pilot lights and continue going door to door until they safely restore natural gas service to everyone.


About 4,500 customers will be affected. They expect to fix the problem by the end of the weekend.


Christopher Fultz, Consumers Energy’s vice president of natural gas operations said “Consumers Energy truly appreciates the patience of our customers during this unusual situation. We are committed to our customers and understand that this will create a hardship. We are in contact with community leaders, and our crews will be working around the clock to safely return full natural gas service to the entire community.”

Cancellations for Wednesday April 5th

The Barry County Fresh Food Inituitive for this morning has been cancelled due to the weather. If you are in need of food, you can call 211 for the nearest food pantry location.

New Administrator for Clearstream

Clearstream Rehabilitation and Nursing Home in Hastings has a new Administrator.

She is Cindy Goodrich who joined the facility on March 29th of this year.

Cindy told WBCH News she's been in Long Term Care for some  27 years.  She also served in the same capacity in Niles and Iron Mountain Michigan.

Cindy who was  born and raised in nearby Charlotte said,  "She is happy to be at

Clearstream Rehab and Nursing Home." 

Clearstream is on North Street in Hastings.



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