No icon

In My Opinion


I’m makin’ my list of who’s naughty or nice


Most people think Santa is the only person who keeps a list each year thinking about what to give those who’ve been naughty or nice. Well, Santa may have been the original list maker, but I’m not far behind with my own special list I’ve kept for several years of people and organizations that may need a little attention as we turn the last calendar page on 2019.

I don’t count winners or losers on my annual list. No, my job is to remind readers of what happened in the past year or the things that shouldn’t be forgotten. Looking back on the previous year often leads into resolutions for the new year which might mean a whole new start or even an acceptance of what is.

“I’ve learned a lot this year,” Philadelphia author and television producer Jennifer Weiner said. “I learned that things don’t always turn out the way you planned or the way you think they should. And I’ve learned that there are things that go wrong that don’t always get fixed or get put back together the way they were before. I’ve learned that some broken things stay broken, and that you can get through bad times and keep looking for the better.”

So, let’s not look back and cry about all the dumb things we did in 2019, let’s look to the new year and say, “I’m going to stop complaining and appreciate that I have the ability to make things better in the new year!”

It’s hard to believe that will be the resolution of our political leaders in Washington, D.C., to whom I had some nasty “gifts” due to their outrageous behavior. But, I’ve decided to stay local. The writer Oscar Wilde once said, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

So, here’s my 2019 gift list for the people and groups who deserve some talking about:

• For David Hatfield, chairman of the Hastings Planning Commission – A basement to hold all the zoning changes that cause a ruction with city officials.

• For the eight members of Girl Scout Troop 4632 in Lake Odessa – the “Determination Award” for getting an $18,000 special-needs swing installed at the village park through sheer persistence, even though adults suggested they pursue an easier project. (Sometimes, it's the children who show us the way. Are we paying attention?)

• For Dutch and Vonda Cappon – a case of grapes, if for some reason I’m not around, to chew on in the new year.

• For Hastings Township Supervisor Jim Brown – A sorting machine to handle his township’s recycling so that precious waste won’t get contaminated with bad stuff.

• To Barry County Transit Manager Bill Voigt – the “Great Garage Award” for spending over a million dollars on his new bus garage. All of my trucks are still outside in the cold.

• To Hastings City Council member Jim Cary – the “Confidence Award” for making it through his first year on the city council without a major mistake.

• To Congressman Justin Amash – the “Dumb and Dumber Award” for jumping ship on the president and his party, but everyone knows you’re always right?

• To the Women’s Giving Circle – the “Generosity Award” for all of the organizations it has given to so graciously throughout the year.

• To Hastings voters and school board members – the “Artful Award” for supporting and building the new performing arts center at Hastings High School – kudos.

• For Doug and Margaret DeCamp and the DeCamp Family Foundation – A big thanks for their gift of a free Grand Rapids Symphony concert as a holiday special for so many of us to enjoy in the new performing arts center. What a great concert.

• For Jim Dull, the county drain commissioner – A military-type pump that could empty a lake in hours so he can keep up with the water levels in the new year. Plus, a truckload of pipe to run Barry County’s excess water south and away from Lake Michigan which is already overflowing.

• To county commissioners – their own 12-volume set of “Experts in the Field,” making it easier to find these experts. They could also loan the book set out to other governmental bodies throughout the county who all seem to be looking for “experts.”

• For the engineering firm Tower-Pinkster of Kalamazoo – the “Royal Boot Award” before it uses up all the excess cash county commissioners plan to spend on “expert advice.”

• The “Can-Do Award” goes to Spectrum Health Pennock officials and everyone who donated toward the upcoming new surgical center for future patients.

• The “Bob the Builder Award” goes to developer Marv Helder for all of the buildings he’s chosen to rehab in downtown Hastings and for the patience while unraveling all the bureaucratic red tape.

• The “Tug-of-War Award” goes to the county commissioners and the health department as they keep trying to find a once-and-for-all winner in the fight to control the health department.

• To Brad Lamberg, managing director of the road commission – A box of “No Wake” signs to put along county roadways covered with water in the new year.

• Special recognition goes to the Family Promise organization that worked diligently to get its special housing program up and running for the homeless in Barry County.

• Kudos to the YMCA Barry County for its $1.2 million waterfront renovation at Camp Algonquin -– which isn’t under water, by the way.

• To the state highway department – the “Diversion Award” for rerouting traffic off M-43, one of the busiest roads in Barry County. Plus, I’m offering the department construction plans to build a bridge that will keep traffic moving in the new year.

• This year’s “Atta-Boy Award” goes to Flexfab for remodeling its offices along M-43, making it more attractive for everyone visiting our city. The new look complements the company’s continued support of many community activities throughout the year.

• For Yankee Springs Township Supervisor Mark Englerth and Trustee Larry Knowles – Mattel’s Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots toy, so they can take out their aggressions toward each other before the board meetings.

• The “Brick Award” goes to Hastings Fiberglass for 60 years of continuous service to its customers and the citizens of Barry County – now in its completely new facility.

• The “Centennial Award” goes to the American Legion Post 45 in Hastings for celebrating 100 years as proud members of the American Armed Forces.

• A “Generosity Award” goes to the anonymous donor who supported building an amphitheater in Delton for everyone to enjoy in the downtown park.

• The “Leadership Award” goes to Hastings Schools Superintendent Dan Remenap, for eliminating vaping and the use of cellphones during the school day. Go, Dan, go!

• To the Barry Intermediate School District – a brand-new Texas Instruments calculator to help with audits and bookwork. (I found one on eBay).

• The “Sesquicentennial Spirit Award” goes to the small committee of Nashville residents who spent well over a year planning the three-day celebration to mark the village’s 150th birthday in early August.

• The “Rescue Award of Merit” goes to the Barry Community Foundation for saving the deal on the Royal Coach Development – and making Larry Baum’s dream of additional housing for Hastings a reality.

• The “Fanatic Fan Award” goes to Larry Baum for his contributions to Hastings Schools to update bleachers, the track and tennis courts and purchasing a Steinway grand piano for the performing arts center.

• The “Outstanding Service Award” goes to the many volunteers who fought hard to bring the Blue Zones project to create a healthy Barry County for all of us.

• The “Gladiator Award” goes to interim Judge Donald Johnston who filled in after to the retirement of Amy McDowell.

• It’s no gamble, the “Giant Dice Award” goes to the Gun Lake Casino, which is spending big bucks to increase the size of the casino – more than $100 million donated by its losers.

• The “Shame on You Award” goes to the Michigan Liquor Commission for allowing the supply of liquor to run so low.

• The “Trump That Award” goes to the Republican Party for bringing the president and vice president to Battle Creek. Who would have ever thought they both would meet on stage in the Cereal City?

• For Rose Lambert, the Hastings High School student who is losing her job at the Hastings 4 for the sole reason that she’s not yet 18 – A better job with a much better boss who cares about our young people.

• And for Bob Goodrich, owner of Goodrich Quality Theatres which operates the Hastings 4 – A stocking full of coal for denying teens an opportunity to get some needed job experience.

• For Phyllis Wordhouse, the Yankee Springs Township pickleball enthusiast – A year-round facility where people can learn the fastest-growing sport in America.

• To farmers locally and across the country – the “Faith Award” for what they do every day, all year long, ensuring that we all have food on our tables – never knowing how the season or year will end. (I also wish, and pray, that they are rewarded ideal weather, high yields and hearty livestock in the 2020s.)

• For organizers of the Barry-Roubaix gravel road race – An ESPN crew to do a “30 for 30” documentary on the world’s largest gravel road race.

• To Sheriff Dar Leaf – a CD with all the recent episodes of the “Fixer Upper” with all kinds of ideas on how to revamp old buildings. I think he’ll find it interesting.

• To the residents of Barry County and beyond – A box of “chill pills” to calm the emotions. It seems like it doesn’t take much to set people off these days, so taking some calming medicine might help.

“Each of us is here for a brief sojourn,” physicist Albert Einstein said. “For what purpose we know not, though sometimes we sense it. But we know from daily life that we exist for other people first of all, for whose smiles and well-being our own happiness depends.”

There’s no question that our country seems to be fractured along big divides in the way we look at religion, politics and social issues. Those differences seem to be driving us apart rather than bringing us together to find some of the answers we face as a country and as a county. It’s my hope that in the new year, we might become more forgiving, more patient with one another and more intent to not allow every little issue to fuel so much anger and discontentment.

We all have so many reasons to be thankful. It’s just become a little harder for us to accept the fact that we all have different ideas on a whole host of subjects. If we’re going to get along, then we need a little more patience. “To lose patience is to lose the battle,” Mahatma Gandhi said.

Let’s begin the new year focused on listening and doing more for others. That way, 2020 will be a great year for all of us.

Happy New Year, one and all!



Fred Jacobs, CEO,

J-Ad Graphics Inc.



Comment As:

Comment (0)