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Montcalm County Information Technology Director Eric McLaughlin explains how the county’s computer server operates from the basement of the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office in Stanton. McLaughlin recently solicited multiple bids for county computer upgrades and decided on a $54,998 bid from Dell OEM of Grand Rapids for a PowerEdge VRTX Modular Infrastructure, which he says typically retails for $120,000.— Daily News/Elisabeth Waldon

Montcalm County upgrades computer system for $55,000

Montcalm County is catching up with the technological times.

The Montcalm County Board of Commissioners on Jan. 23 approved spending up to $60,000 for a server and storage project at the recommendation of Information Technology Director Eric McLaughlin.

Once built, the Veterans Memorial Park would include a trail, four softball fields, parking lot, concession/restroom building, veterans memorial, pavilion, sled hill, disc golf course, mountain bike course, nature path and amphitheater. But first, the Stanton City Commission must find $596,000 to match the Michigan Department of Natural Resources grant. — Courtesy photo

Stanton looking to fund $5 million park project

There’s a $596,800 grant match looming over the heads of the Stanton City Commission. In December, the city was approved for a $296,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), but the grant only covers a portion of the first phase of a planned Veterans Memorial Park.

John Axe, an attorney with Clark Hill PLC in Detroit, hands out copies of a resolution to the Montcalm County Board of Commissioners on Monday evening authorizing Clark Hill to complete an investigation and make recommendations to the board related to the pursuit of legal claims and filing of a complaint regarding the county’s former auditor Abraham & Gaffney. — Daily News/Elisabeth Waldon

Montcalm County hires law firm to investigate former auditor

Montcalm County has hired a law firm to investigate and possibly bring a civil lawsuit against the county’s former auditor.
The resolution was approved during a regular meeting at 6 p.m. after commissioners met in closed session with Clark Hill attorney John Axe during a prior special meeting for nearly an hour.

From left, Brennan Bunker, 18, Robert Cornell, 16, and Ryan Saxton, 16, work on grinding some Michigan signs students in the welding program at the Montcalm Area Career Center (MACC) are making. The signs the student made will be sold by staff members at the MACC to the local public to raise money for the memorial fund of St. Johns fabricator Curtis Feldpausch, who died Dec. 30 at the age of 22. — Daily News/Emilee Nielsen

Montcalm Area Career Center welding class crafts signs for fundraiser

Funding for education programs at the Montcalm Area Career Center (MACC) comes from the federal and state level, local school districts and donations from people within the community. Students in the welding program at the MACC recently had the opportunity to pay it forward using equipment purchased from a donation to craft and sell signs.

Stanton Community Fire Chief Brian Brasington has worked with the district fire board to purchase a new tanker-pumper to serve Stanton, along with Douglass, Evergreen and Sidney townships. — Daily News/Meghan Nelson

Work underway for Stanton’s new fire department tanker-pumper

The only evidence of the Stanton’s Community Fire Department’s former tanker trunk is a large oil stain on the garage floor. Last July, the tanker truck suffered catastrophic engine failure. After bringing the issue to the Stanton City Commission and having it repeatedly tabled, Fire Chief Brain Brasington brought the issue to the fire board, which is comprised of residents from Stanton and Douglass, Evergreen and Sidney townships.

Congressman John Moolenaar, R-Midland, at left, met with 4th District constituents Tuesday afternoon at the Montcalm County Administrative Building in Stanton. — Daily News/Elisabeth Waldon

Moolenaar hears health care concerns from constituents

Constituents of Michigan’s 4th District braved the icy roads Tuesday to tell their Congressman what scares them even more: Repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without knowing replacement details. Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, met with more than a dozen constituents for an hour at Montcalm County’s Administrative Building, where the ACA — or “Obamacare” — was the pressing concern.

The city of Stanton owned the lot at 111 S. Grove St., but recently received and approved an offer from the owners of the adjacent lot to purchase the property for $5,000. — Daily News/Meghan Nelson

Stanton sells lot once tabbed for city investment to next-door residents

This city has one less parcel for sale. Stanton previously had four city-owned properties for sale. Former City Manager Jake Eckholm planned on using the properties as part of the Stanton Housing Investment Program (SHIP), which would build homes on the property to be resold for the city’s profit and benefit. However, Eckholm left Stanton for another job, leaving the project to fizzle out.

Montcalm County Animal Control Officer Autumn DeVries, at left, and Director Angela Hollinshead groom Bella, an adult female labrador retriever who’s available for adoption through Montcalm County Animal Control. — Daily News/Elisabeth Waldon

Commissioners hear about animals, jail visits, emergency services

New Montcalm County Sheriff Mike Williams gave his first report to county commissioners during Monday’s Law Enforcement & Courts Committee meeting. Animal Control Director Angela Hollinshead and Central Dispatch Director Tim Scott also presented reports to commissioners Monday as part of Controller-Director Robert Clingenpeel’s goal of having more people participate and communicate at monthly meetings.

Montcalm County Sheriff Bill Barnwell jokingly points to a colleague during Barnwell’s retirement party Thursday as his successor, Undersheriff Mike Williams laughs. Barnwell is retiring after 40 years in law enforcement. — Daily News/Elisabeth Waldon

Montcalm County’s longtime sheriff Bill Barnwell retires

Since 1969, Bill Barnwell has either lived at or worked at the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office. Barnwell worked for the Sheriff’s Office 40 years, save a three-year stint to serve in the U.S. Navy. His father, Tom Barnwell, was sheriff from 1969 to 1980, followed by Thomas Hebert from 1981 to 1984 and Don Godell from 1985 to 2000. Barnwell worked for all three sheriffs before being elected sheriff himself 16 years ago.

Memos from Clark Hill, Rehmann Robson and Municipal Financial Consultants Inc. (MFCI) to the Montcalm County Board of Commissioners detail an ongoing investigation into county finances and personnel. — Daily News/Elisabeth Waldon

Forensic probe into Montcalm County personnel over finances is underway

A forensic investigation into the financial activities of Montcalm County personnel is underway to determine whether state or federal law was violated. Clark Hill, a Detroit-based law firm, alerted the Montcalm County Board of Commissioners on Dec. 15 that the investigation began less than 30 days prior, according to documents obtained by The Daily News via the Freedom Of Information Act.