10-29-2020 Hartford Schools suspend in person classes; Election 2020 preview; COVID

HALLOWEEN COSTUME PARADE last year, was a bit blustery, but was still great fun for the youngsters. There should be more of the same for the Watervliet Downtown Sidewalk Parade Friday afternoon. See the Halloween Hometown Happenings for the local “begging times” on Page 3

Hartford Schools suspends in-person classes over COVID concerns

By Jon Bisnett

Officials at Hartford Public Schools (HPS), working in concert with the Van Buren Health County Health Department, have suspended face-to-face, in-person classes from Friday, Oct. 23 to Friday, Nov. 9, 2020.

The decision comes following the discovery of two Redwood Elementary staff members and one unrelated middle school student that have tested positive for the virus.

The health department protocol of a 14-day quarantine led Superintendent Andy Hubbard to move the entire district to remote learning. Hubbard went on to explain the need to allow the V.B. Health Department to complete their contact tracing investigation and with an increased number of students and staff expected to be quarantined, the situation leaves the district short on staff to safely and properly run the district. The area pool of substitute teachers is quite low as well.

Custodians will immediately go to work and conduct a deep clean sanitizing of the buildings. Although the high school is essentially unaffected, Hubbard says he recognizes the community dynamic whereby older students often look after their younger siblings after school in households where both parents work, thus prompting the decision to close the campus as well.

Teachers were prepared for the temporary closure working two weeks ahead on lesson plans, and will be distributing paper work packets while the district waits on a back order of an additional 1000 Chromebook computers from the manufacturer.

HPS Food Services are ramping up to offer multi-location meal pickup for students.

In a joint communication to the residents of Van Buren, area school superintendents said the following in part: “A report shared from the Van Buren/Cass District Health Department shows the county has gone from High Risk to the Very High Risk Determination Level in just the past week. The consideration of school closures for face-to-face learning has increased exponentially. The actions we all take in the next few weeks and months will have a direct impact on our schools. Following mitigation protocols now, and throughout the upcoming holiday season, will help us keep students in school. Together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Election Nov. 3; from president to trustee candidates previewed

By Annette Christie

On November 3, 2020, voters are able to participate in the general election. Although Michigan’s Secretary of State offered the option of absentee voting for all registered voters due to COVID-19, polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Presidential candidates

The 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump is looking for re-election to the Office. The New York born businessman and real estate developer has leant his name to casinos, hotels, golf courses, a television show and ultimately the White House.

Trump, 74, married wife Melania in 2005. Together they have a son and President Trump has four other children from previous marriages.

In his first bid for an elected office, he defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election.

His Vice President, Mike Pence, was born in Columbus, Indiana. His education includes a bachelor’s degree in history and a law degree. In addition to serving in private practice, he was a Congressman in 2000 followed by being the Governor of Indiana.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is the Democrat challenging Trump. He was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He attended college and majored in history and political science prior to earning a law degree. He served the public as a County Councilman before being elected as a Senator in 1973. He served eight years as the Vice President to President Barack Obama.

Since the Vice Presidency, he returned to his home in Delaware and concentrated on the Biden Foundation, the Biden Cancer Initiative, Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy & Global Engagement, and the Budget Institute at the University of Delaware.

California native Kamala Harris is joining the Democratic ticket with Biden. She was the second Black and Indian American woman to represent California in the Senate. She also served as the State Attorney General. Early on, she was one of the Democrat candidates challenging Biden before dropping out of the race in December 2019.

U.S. Senator

Gary Peters, Democrat, faces challenger John James for the Senator seat.

Peters, born in Pontiac, is a college graduate with degrees in political science and finance. He received his law degree from Wayne State University. He has experience as an investment advisor and volunteered for the U.S. Naval Reserve where he rose to the rank of Lt. Commander.

Peters was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2008 and has also served as the Michigan State Lottery Commissioner. He and his wife live in Oakland County with their three children.

John James, a Detroit native, is a graduate of West Point. He served his country during Operation Iraqi Freedom and earned a Combat Action Badge and two air medals. After his eight years of service, he returned to Michigan and joined the family business, James Group International.

James has served on Rick Snyder’s Mobility Council, the Veterans Trust Committee and on Detroit Mayor Duggan’s Workforce Development Council. He has a Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Michigan. He and his wife live in Farmington Hills with their three sons.

Representative in Congress

Fred Upton has represented Southwest Michigan for the last 34 years. He is a Republican. Prior to his election to Congress, he worked for President Ronald Reagan in the Office of Management and Budget.

Upton has served as Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, he has a bipartisan track record of successful initiatives including over 130 pieces of legislation into law and over 40 bipartisan bills being signed into law during the previous session of Congress.

Upton is a graduate of the University of Michigan. He and his wife have two children.

Jon Hoadley, a Democrat, is seeking to replace Upton. He and his partner Kris reside in Kalamazoo. Hoadley has served as the State Representative for the 60th District (Kalamazoo and Kalamazoo Township) for the past five years. He has served on the Appropriations Committee, the committee responsible for building the State’s budget.

Representative 79th District

Berrien County

Pauline Wendzel is seeking re-election as the representative for the 79th District. Wendzel is a lifelong Watervliet resident from a 4th generation Bainbridge Township farming family. She is a graduate from Watervliet High School and Michigan State University.

Her experience prior to seeking an elected office includes Programs Director at the North Berrien Historical Museum, Assistant Deputy Clerk for Bainbridge Township, and a Product Brand Development Manager at Coloma Frozen Foods.

In Wendzel’s time in Lansing, she has supported or sponsored legislation that would allow licensed child care homes to care for more children during the hours before and after school; changed the expungement policy; adjusted civil forfeiture laws that prevents law enforcement from keeping personal property for an individual who is not charged with a crime; and helped local brewers by allowing them to distribute more of their own product.

Chokwe Pitchford, 20, of Benton Harbor is challenging Wendzel. He was born in New Orleans; however, his family moved to Atlanta prior to returning to his parents’ hometown of Benton Harbor. He is a student at Lake Michigan College and recently finished his degree in political science.

Pitchford describes the State’s threats to close Benton Harbor High School as the thing that prompted him to want to make change happen. He wants to be the representation for his community. If elected, he hopes to unify the community and wants to work on the costs of prescription drugs and to fix the injustices in the criminal justice system.

Representative 66th District

Van Buren County

Beth Griffin is seeking to be re-elected to the seat that she won four years ago. Griffin, who resides in Mattawan with their two children, was previously a Van Buren County Commissioner and a teacher. She has a master’s degree from Old Dominion University and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Indiana University-Purdue University of Ft. Wayne.

In her two terms at the state level, Griffin has promoted or sponsored action that supports responsible budget decisions, supporting job creators, and investing in children’s education.

She hopes to continue to work on maintaining funding for local government and schools, working to expand transparency to include the Governor’s office and state elected officials; and to continue the support of local police departments and specialty courts.

Abigail Wheeler, also of Mattawan, hopes to take her experiences from the fire house to the state house. Wheeler is a 3rd generation growing up in Mattawan. She became an EMT/Fire Fighter in 2017 and is employed by Texas Township. She is also a volunteer fire fighter for the Mattawan Fire Department. She was elected for the Mattawan Village Council.

Her priorities if elected include lowering prescription drug costs, protecting water, and creating a more transparent government.

Berrien County Offices

Many of the offices for Berrien County government have only one candidate to vote for at this general election.

Steve Pierangeli is seeking the position of Prosecuting Attorney. Pierangeli, a Republican, has been the Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney since 2018. Mike Sepic, current Prosecutor, is not seeking re-election.

Sheriff L. Paul Bailey is seeking another term as Sheriff.

Christopher Quattrin is seeking another term as Drain Commissioner.