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10-22-2020 Letters and Commentary

HAPPY HALLOWEEN HAPPENINGS… look for the orange pumpkin in this week’s issue (and next). Beginning this Saturday, with the Coloma Trunk or Treat from 3 to 5 at Salem Lutheran Church. The event is drive through only. Halloween is on a Saturday, October 31. You can expect that’s where most of the ghoulish will be, including Coloma, Hartford and Watervliet. On Friday October 30, Watervliet will be hosting their famous Downtown Halloween Sidewalk Parade from 3-5 p.m. For those with kiddies in costume from school day events, bring them down town for the traditional “begging” in the safety of daylight hours. I think it’s important to keep life’s cultural moments alive, especially holidays, trips, birthdays and such. I love standing at the Record’s door and passing out candy. It’s a good idea to have masks on everyone. I even have a pumpkin mask.

New benefit verification letters We are excited to announce the release of a new, standardized Benefit Verification letter. People receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits can obtain their letter by using their personal my Social Security account. You can use the letter as proof of income for loans, housing assistance, mortgage, and other verification purposes. Please create your personal my Social Security account to access your new Benefit Verification letter online in a safe, quick, and convenient way without needing to contact us. People not receiving benefits can use their account to get proof that they do not receive benefits, or proof that benefits are pending, in the same standardized letter. Individual representative payees can also use the new my Social Security Representative Payee Portal to access the new Benefit Verification letter online for themselves or their beneficiaries. You can access your Benefit Verification letters at If you don’t want to use your personal my Social Security account, you can call our National 800 Number to speak with a representative or to use the Interactive Voice Response system. You can also contact your local office. Use our Social Security Office Locator to find your local office telephone number at Vonda Van Til is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at

Let’s vote As we gear up for the election in just twelve short days, I wanted to use this column before Nov. 3 to thank the Tri-City Record readers for spending time reading my updates from our state capitol. I also want to thank the Tri-City Record for allowing our local elected officials to speak directly to the hardworking people we serve. In an era where there is a lot of noise coming from every direction, I think it’s helpful to hear directly from the source about events happening in and around our community and in Lansing. Working together, we’ve accomplished so much in such a short amount of time. In what seems like a lifetime ago, Republicans and Democrats finally came together and passed the first meaningful auto-insurance reform package in our state’s history. I’ve also had the opportunity this term to work on major issues and helped lead our state through a global pandemic. Some of the highlights from my first term include: Leading our state and nation with bipartisan criminal justice reforms; Protecting our Great Lakes, precious natural resources, and the 1,800 jobs that depend on Southwest Michigan’s sportfishing industry; Defending the integrity of our elections; Assisting Michigan’s professional license holders by providing a credit on the renewal of their license; Opposing the dangerous policy of defunding local police departments; Protecting our most vulnerable residents from the administration’s dangerous nursing home policy; and Supporting Michigan small business owners by providing protections from frivolous lawsuits and helping them through the pandemic safely. It’s an honor serving our community as your state representative. On November 3rd, I’m asking every member of our community, Republican, Democrat, or Independent, to get out and exercise their right to vote. If I can ever be of assistance to you, you can reach me via email at or by phone at 517-373-1403. You can also visit my website at

From Bab-ilim to Babel There is a proverb that warns: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25, NASB) Another more expanded translation reads like this: “You can rationalize it all you want and justify the path of error you have chosen, but you’ll find out in the end that you took the road to destruction.” (TPT – The Passion Translation) That’s pretty sobering. “It seemed like the thing to do at the time” may not stand the test of time when we finally stand before the Lord. It seems like Nimrod should have chosen differently in his day. There’s a bit of fog surrounding the story of Nimrod, an early Mesopotamian king who founded a city called Bab-ilim, or “gate of God” a few thousand years ago. Today that city lies about 56 miles south of Baghdad – Babylon. Babylon is in ruins today, but it was once the biggest, most luxurious and most populated city in the world, with 200,000 people in an area of over 2000 acres. It is said to have been built by Nimrod, the “great hunter before the LORD”. Josephus, and other historians, paints a not-too-pleasant picture of this descendant of Noah. He was, by their account, angry about the flood and rebellious against the God who did it. The tower he had built was to be an expression of rebellion against God’s clear instruction to spread out and repopulate the earth after the flood. Nimrod effectively said, “No thanks. We will do this instead.” What was to be the gate of God, however, became pure confusion – “Babel”. Ultimately all rebellious “Babylon” systems that man can invent will end in confusion and destruction. Revelation 17 and 18 reveal that anti-God religious and economic systems will not survive. And those who implement them will realize that they did not choose wisely.

A new opportunity to combat COVID-19 The state Supreme Court recently ruled that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency declarations and executive orders issued after April 30 were unconstitutional. The court’s ruling is a win for Michigan families and the democratic process. Throughout this pandemic, I have received input from thousands of constituents. They deserve to have their voice and concerns represented in this decision-making process and now they will. The court’s ruling provided us a new opportunity to combat COVID-19 and lawmakers recently approved, with bipartisan support, bills that would preserve critical unemployment benefits, safeguard seniors in nursing homes, protect local government officials and health care workers, and extend the deadline for people to renew their driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations as we continue to fight the coronavirus. Specifically, Senate Bills 886 and 911 would continue the unemployment benefits of eligible people out-of-work due to the COVID-19 pandemic for up to 26 weeks. SB 1108 would allow boards of local governments and other public entities to meet electronically for a limited time. SB 1094 could help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes by implementing recommendations of the Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force. Among other things, this bill requires the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to implement a process to create Care and Recovery Centers within nursing homes for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. Additionally, House Bill 6159 would provide liability protections for health care providers for services related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and HB 6192 would extend expiration deadlines for Michigan driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations until Dec. 31, 2020. Southwest Michiganders expect their elected officials to work together to solve problems and get things done. With this new opportunity following the state Supreme Court ruling, the Legislature isn’t wasting time to make sure the voice of the people is being heard at the Capitol. As always, residents can contact my office with any state or local issues by emailing senklasata@senate.mich or calling (517) 373-6960.

We can’t take our foot off the pedal yet Following several months of encouraging reports, COVID-19 cases are sadly increasing nationwide, including here in Michigan. Just last week, the United States reported roughly 70,000 new cases of coronavirus in a single day, and in Michigan alone, we saw nearly 1,800 cases – our highest daily count since March. While this is a tragic development, it is also a reminder for us all to continue taking the proper steps to protect ourselves and our families like wearing our masks, washing our hands, and social distancing from one another. These simple precautions can truly save countless lives. In Congress, I’ve been working to provide critical relief to American workers and families. Folks are struggling, which is why I continue to work day and night with my colleagues in the Problem Solvers Caucus on a bipartisan COVID relief package that would provide a second round of stimulus checks to hard-working folks, fund the job-saving Paycheck Protection Program, and expand COVID-19 testing across the country. We know that we are not out of the woods yet. We all hope to see a vaccine safely developed soon. But until then, we must all pledge to do our part to protect our communities and defeat this vicious virus once and for all. To learn more about important legislative issues, follow me on Twitter at @RepFredUpton or by visiting my website: You can also call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/ Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

Letters Editors

Re-electing Mayor Dave Brinker is what Watervliet needs

To the voters of the city of Watervliet,

From my own observations at City Hall I have found this to be true: Real progress here requires the mayor and the city manager to be able to work well together. The work relationship between Mayor Brinker and City Manager Dotson produced a fundable, four-year plan to address infra-structure issues, that have been “kicked down the road” for far too long … like the South Drain project.

Dave Brinker has remarkable intimacy with our mechanicals; for many years now, Mayor Brinker has contributed so much to our understanding of “under ground”. He has been keeping a close eye on so many city projects over the years.

The only thing Watervliet needs most of all, is one final term for Mayor Brinker to help make it all happen. He has the time to invest and would really like to see this through!

I believe Deah Muth would be a great mayor … in the next cycle perhaps. I believe that the new four-year plan is happening. I believe re-electing Mayor Dave Brinker is what Watervliet needs now!

Dan Hummel

Introducing Watervliet Twp. Supervisor write-in candidate Quinn


As I announced earlier I am a write-in candidate for Watervliet Township Supervisor. Now I would like to introduce you to my past and present involvement in the city and township of Watervliet. Provide my insight on the future of the township.

I have served on the township board as trustee. I have also been on the Planning Commission eight years and one year Zoning board. I graduated from Covert High School, and in 1999 I was appointed for the Covert Hall of Fame.

I was asked to start up an ambulance service then named, STAT Ambulance. A year later, I then helped with the transfer to change over to the community based Watervliet Ambulance. For 18 years, I served the community on the Watervliet Ambulance full time. I also volunteered on Watervliet Fire Department and held at one time, the rank of Captain. I also volunteered on Coloma Fire Department as a volunteer until my medical retirement.

I have lived in Watervliet for 45 years. I have worked and supported our community for many years. Helping out at the 4th of July festivities, recently helping as a volunteer driver for HOPE Resources, and I have been soccer coach and little league baseball coach, when my children were little.

My focus will be for all the people, not the few. Our residents of the township, Paw Paw Lake/ rivers, and business, are our assets of our community and need to be protected and developed.

A supervisor position requires being accessible to the residents, with my retirement I would be available and have times and appointment for the residences of the township. I will listen to your concerns and if needed, render recommendations and or changes as appropriate.

The Community also requires the board to be up front and forthright. I would work to get our minutes on the web more timely with appropriate didactic information of names as appropriate. The residences of the township are in a busy world and have difficulty attending meetings. By putting the information on topic discussions for meeting and meeting minutes available for those to read, will help with the who, what and why of the decisions that were made.

Getting the board certified in incident command (most classes are on the web), will prepare our board for any future planning for emergencies and put us in position for certain grants.

I did run in the primary; there were over 600 votes casted but only half were votes cast for the supervisor position. At that time the late Mr. Hutchins took the majority of those votes that were casted for supervisor; hence, why I am running again as a write-in candidate.

I would appreciate you WRITE-IN for Supervisor.

Richard Quinn

Farm fresh vegetables

Dear Editor,

I would like to thank the farmers who brought in fresh vegetables to the North Berrien Senior Center. It not only saved us money by not having to purchase them at the grocery store but we had the satisfaction that the produce was fresh off the farm.

Thank you for your generosity. It is much appreciated.

Dawn Consolino, Coloma

Whitmer and masks

Dear Editor,

Does this Governor not understand? She continues to be a dictator.

The definition of a mandate is a rule put in place by elected officials. The director of MDHHS (Robert Gordon) is not elected. He was appointed by Whitmer; which also means Whitmer is not following the ruling of the State Supreme Court. I see no difference that Gordon is following directions from Whitmer or Whitmer sends down her own rules.

Initially when the mask directive was issued it was made very clear that you wearing a mask didn’t so much protect you as it did the other person. Why was it worded this way? It made us police ourselves, which has caused some very extreme conflicts across the country.

There have been many experts that have reported masks are not useful in protecting us from COVID. I will continue to pretend I live in a free country and go mask less. Those of you that desire to wear a mask are perfectly fine with me, God Bless You.

Dennis Bachman, Benton Harbor

Coloma: A Connected Community

To the Coloma Schools community,

The Coloma community has always been a strong one. That strength has never been more evident than over the past six months, as friends and neighbors have come together to support those impacted by the global pandemic. This strength was also obvious across Coloma Community Schools, as students, faculty and families worked in collaboration to ensure a safe and smooth return to school for our children.

Coloma’s commitment to its children has never wavered; its connection to the schools at the heart of the community has remained steadfast. For that, I am grateful. Without the support of our families, as well as local residents, organizations and businesses, challenging times would have been far more difficult to navigate. Still, as reports surface about a pending second wave of the pandemic, we must remain diligent in following the safety guidelines and protocols in place in our schools and throughout the community. We must also remember that another school shutdown is possible. In the event of another shutdown, we have a plan for the transition in place. We know things can change quickly, but we will do all we can to make the transition a smooth one.

Each and every day, we are reminded of the importance of further strengthening the connections across Coloma – for our community will only be as strong as our schools and our schools only as strong as our community. To that end, at Coloma Community Schools, we benefit greatly from the many partnerships we’ve developed, including with the North Berrien Fire Department, Coloma-Watervliet Chamber of Commerce and the Coloma Lions Club, to name a few. The support we receive from these organizations is essential to our students’ continued growth – academically, socially and emotionally.

It’s not just organizations that have stepped up to help the school community, as individuals like Officer Dan Stuglik play a vital role across the district. Officer Dan, as he is affectionately known by our students, serves as a school resource officer. While his first objective is the safety and well-being of the children we are privileged to serve, his connection to our district goes far beyond that.

Officer Dan understands that he has an opportunity to serve as a role model to our students. Thus, he is often involved in school activities, has lunch with students, answers their questions, and talks to them about the dangers of social media. He, like so many of the individuals we are blessed to have working or volunteering in our schools, is making connections that will have a lifelong impact on the development of our students.

While public engagement and interaction with our schools is limited at this point in our school year – due to the pandemic – I hope that you will stay connected to Coloma Community Schools by following the district on social media and seeking out ways in which you can contribute to the growth of our community’s children. Only by working together will we successfully defeat the coronavirus. As I like to say: once a Comet, always a Comet, and that has never been more important than today.

Superintendent Dave Ehlers

Coloma Community Schools

Stand up against disrespect for the United States of America

Dear Editor,

Last Friday I arrived at my local high school for the first time since graduating this spring, to watch the rivalry between the Coloma Comets and Watervliet Panthers.

Preparing myself for the great game that was ahead of me, I continued to talk and greet people I had not seen in months, as what happens at small town events. As I arrived at my seat, settled down, and prepared to watch the game that was ahead of me the Coloma Marching Band entered the track to perform the national anthem. Soon to follow the announcer came over the loudspeaker stating, “Please rise and gentlemen remove your caps for the playing of our national anthem.”

As I always have since I was a kid, I stood up, put my hand over my heart, and thanked God I was born in the United States of America. Words could not come to mind when I saw seven Coloma football players kneel on their knees when the first roll of the snare drum began. I did not know what to think, I could not believe this was truly happening at Coloma High School. The complete disrespect, rudeness, and disregard for our great nation and to the veterans that served and serve our country.

Then I looked across the field to see not one Watervliet football player kneeling. I could not have been more embarrassed and humiliated to be a former Coloma Comet. The endorsement by the school board and coaching staff to allow this to happen is sickening. There are punishments for kneeling in professional sports such as in the NFL, so why is this acceptable in high school sports?

It was no longer about football; I had no interest in the game as one should not after witnessing such direct disrespect, ungracious, and ill­-mannered behavior towards a larger cause than a game. As a community, I ask that we stand up to this behavior and not allow this to be one of the behaviors and acts we support.

I call upon the Coloma School Board and Coloma football coaching staff to put an end to this complete disrespect to the United States of America. Our football team travels all over our southwest region of Michigan and this is the way people see Coloma. I ask you, is this how we want to represent ourselves to surrounding communities?

Sincerely, Tyler Streu

Rep. Griffin serves as effective voice for Van Buren County

Dear Editor,

State Representative Beth Griffin works hard for our community, supporting critical supplies during coronavirus, volunteering at her local food pantry, and standing up for seniors in nursing homes.

As we confront coronavirus and the challenge of rebuilding our economy, we can trust Beth Griffin to effectively work for our families, small businesses, and community. While the opposition is continually pushing massive tax increases and job-destroying regulations, Beth will advance common sense policies to stay safe, build a healthy economy, and support important priorities like schools, law enforcement, and rural broadband access.

Representative Griffin works hard, cares, and serves as an effective independent voice for Van Buren County. I strongly endorse Beth Griffin’s re-election and will be voting for her on Tuesday, November 3rd.

Aric Nesbitt, State Senator

Michigan deserves 2nd term of Pauline Wendzel


I would like to take some time to provide our community with some information on why I support Pauline Wendzel’s continued representation of our communities.

As a criminal defense attorney, I can tell you firsthand how desperately our state needed to reform our expungement process. Data from the University of Michigan has shown that of those legally eligible for expungement, just 6.5% obtain it within five years of becoming eligible. This is a shockingly low number and shows just how intimidating the process is for those without a legal background. Secondly, those who do obtain expungement have extremely low subsequent crime rates. Individuals, who go through the process of obtaining a set-aside, after paying their debt to society, are no more likely to commit a crime than those without a criminal record. Finally, those who obtain an expungement experience a sharp increase in their wage and employment trajectories; on average, within two years, wages go up by 25% versus the pre-expungement trajectory.

One of the most influential pieces of legislation passed in the last decade has been Representative Pauline Wendzel’s bipartisan expungement package. Pauline worked with Republicans, Democrats, and more than fifty different stakeholders to craft legislation that would reform Michigan’s broken criminal justice system and make it fairer and more equitable for everyone. Thanks to Pauline Wendzel’s bipartisan package, hundreds of thousands of our fellow Michigan residents will be given the opportunity to have low-level offenses removed from their records. Pauline Wendzel’s legislation will give these hardworking people who have already paid their debt to society access to new and better career, housing, and educational opportunities.

Pauline Wendzel has made criminal justice reform a top priority. She’s working hard, delivering results, and serving our community with honor. Our state and community deserve a second term of Pauline Wendzel’s service and focus on criminal justice reform, which is why I’m voting for her on November 3rd. I encourage all of you to do the same.

Respectfully, Jessica E. LaFond, Esq.

Dan Vandenheede “best candidate” for 78th District Rep


It seems like the only reliable trend in politics is how often we’re forced to vote for “the least worst” candidate. Fortunately that’s not the case in this year’s 78th District race for State Representative. Incumbent, Brad Paquette, has been so overshadowed by challenger, Dan Vandenheede; I recommend everyone compare their qualifications.

Start first with their local experience. Vandenheede grew up in the district, and returned after college to teach school there for 25 years. He’s been married for 32 years, raised three healthy productive kids, and been elected to the Niles City Council five times in a row. At only 52 years old, he also made time to coach cross country and track for 20-plus years, renovate their 100-year-old home, start a small vacation rental business, indulge his passion for vintage cars, write a column for the local paper, spearhead Niles community garden effort, serve on its parks and airport boards, and chair the city’s ordinance committee.

In contrast, Paquette grew up in northern Michigan, and mostly attended college until 2012. After a short teaching stint in Niles, and serving two years on its Planning Commission, he won the 2018 race for State Representative, even after refusing to debate his opponent at a League of Women Voters forum. In his two years representing the 78th District, Paquette has sat on four house committees, and recently opposed Gretchen Whitmer’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 by posting interviews with small business owners critical of her actions on his Facebook page. Paquette is unmarried, has no children, and according to his Wikipedia page, was born sometime around 1987.

To say Dan Vandenheede is the more experienced candidate would be an understatement, but it’s his work ethic, honesty, and community involvement that make him a true “best candidate”.

Warren Stewart, Stevensville

Who’s doing the rigging?

Dear Editor,

Donald Trump cites a “rigged election” about which he and his Republican supporters should be well acquainted as they have pulled out all stops to suppress the vote in every state.

It began when he appointed his powerful campaign donor, Louis DeJoy, as Postmaster General. Immediately, top administrators in the USPS were fired, sorting machines were removed and disabled, and routes delayed. All moves were the first steps to slow mail delivery, and therefore impede the voting process ever more popular this year, especially with COVID-19 (which has caused the deaths of a quarter of a million Americans.)

Governor Abbott of Texas ordered all absentee drop boxes to be restricted to one per county. One drop box alone would have to service four million voters IF a person could drive far enough to get there!

In California, the Republican Party placed counterfeit ballot drop boxes in highly Democratic counties.

It is not clear what they intended to do with these ballots, but this was an illegal crime deserving prosecution!

In Michigan, the Republican Party has pushed back against our mail-in voting option so much that as it stands now, the ballots may not be opened as they arrive, nor counted early, and that all mail-in ballots must be received by Election Day, even if postmarked early, in order to be counted. This puts enormous burden on our diligent poll workers.

Please vote early and deliver your ballot to one of the convenient official Michigan ballot drop boxes, or deliver them personally to your local clerk. Let’s answer these suppressions and allegations with a “Blue Tsunami!”

Cynthia Miller, Benton Harbor

Trump’s dishonesty and incompetence know no bounds


Every day, Donald Trump demonstrates increasing degrees of dishonesty and incompetence. He disregards the advice of public health experts by continually holding large rallies with no social distancing and very little mask wearing. These rallies have been labeled “super-spreader events” by the country’s most respected public health doctors, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the Infectious Disease section of the National Institutes of Health.

On Monday, Oct. 19, Trump referred to Dr. Fauci as a “disaster” and said “people are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots.” Actually, what people are tired of is Trump’s constant lying about COVID-19, which has now killed more than 220,000 Americans. The United States has 4% of the world’s population and more than 20% of the world’s COVID-19 deaths.

Trump’s incompetent response to the pandemic has resulted in many thousands of preventable deaths.

In recent polling, 64% of registered voters rated Dr. Fauci’s handling of COVID-19 as “excellent” or “good” compared with 39% who said the same for Trump.

In addition to his incompetent response to the pandemic, Trump has also fomented violence by his supporters. He has refused to condemn right-wing extremists like the “Proud Boys”, which has been designated a violent hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and by the Anti-Defamation League. At the end of the first presidential debate, Trump said that his message to the Proud Boys in regard to the election results was “Stand back but stand by.” The clear implication of these words is that if Trump loses the election he would encourage violence by his supporters.

Donald Trump is a dishonest, incompetent, and dangerous president. He presents a clear and present threat to our nation. We the people must remove him from office in this election. If we want to preserve our democracy, we must elect Joe Biden as our next president.

Dr. Larry Feldman, Lakeside


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