10-29-2020 Letters and Commentary


In the October 22, 2020 issue of Tri-City Record, an error was made on Page 5 in the Letters to the Editor. The letter from Dan Hummel indicated he was affiliated with Coloma Community Schools. Mr. Hummel has no connection with the Coloma school district.

Tri-City Record is sorry for any inconvenience or confusion this error may have caused.

Watervliet Township Supervisor election clarification

To the voters of Watervliet Charter Township,

I am writing to clear up a question that has been asked by a number of people, which is can a person vote for a candidate for two offices? In certain circumstances the answer is yes.

A person cannot have his name printed on the ballot for more than one office. However, if a position on the ballot becomes vacated for some reason and there is no other candidate printed on the ballot, that office becomes a write-in vote. A candidate for another position is eligible to be a write-in candidate for the vacated position. If the individual is elected to both positions he must choose the position he is accepting and must resign from the other.

Please vote.

Joe Stepich

Kneeling players express 1st Amendment Rights

Dear Editor,

As a veteran of the United States Army and an educator at Coloma Community Schools for many years, I wanted to address several issues raised in Standup against disrespect for the United States of America; a letter printed in the Oct. 22 edition (Vol. 138 Issue #43).

In his letter, the author assumes that the Board of Education endorses kneeling for the National Anthem. Allowing student-athletes to kneel during the National Anthem isn’t about agreeing with their position ­it’s about standing firmly behind one of Coloma Community School’s core values: RESPECT. Just as we respect the author’s decision to write a letter expressing his opinion on this matter, the Board of Education and the school district are respecting the students’ Constitutional right guaranteed and protected under the First Amendment and affirmed by the United States Supreme Court in Tinker v. Des Moines Indep Sch Dist, 393 US 503 (1969). In short, these students kneeling do not cause a substantial disruption or material interference with school activities and as such is protected.

We cannot teach our students about being active members of a democracy and object if or when they express views that are different than ours. America, and our democracy, was built upon a core set of values and beliefs, which are too often thrown to the side by people who hold a differing opinion or set of ideas. To truly honor American values and beliefs, as outlined in this country’s Constitution, means we have to acknowledge a person’s right to advocate for that which we would spend a lifetime opposing.

The Board of Education is supportive of our veterans and those currently serving our country, thus allowing us myriad rights and freedoms guaranteed under our Constitution. Each year, during our Veterans Day breakfast, we honor and celebrate those who’ve served our country. We also seek out opportunities throughout the year to pay tribute to the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much to protect our freedoms. We value the dedication and service of these individuals to their country and know that they understand what their sacrifices mean for citizens of the United States of America.


David A. Ehlers, Superintendent

Response to stand up against disrespect for the United States of America

Dear Editor,

I’m a veteran and a graduate of Coloma High School Class of 1959. During my time in high school I played football. I always was under the impression playing sports built character, respect and maturity. After reading Mr. Tyler Streu’s letter to the editor [Oct. 22 issue of the Tri-City Record], apparently seven of our football players haven’t acquired these traits.

Not only did the players show total disrespect for their country, but a slap in the face to most citizens in the Coloma community.

As you young men mature into adulthood you’re expected to contribute to building America, not tearing it down. Be aware that your actions have consequences. Strive to be a leader … stay away from the misguided.

The 1st amendment provided you the right to take a knee. I feel the 1st amendment was drafted to be a positive … this was not!

Kudo’s to the Watervliet Football Program.


Fred E. Reeves, Coloma

Taking knee may not represent majority of Coloma students


Regarding those Coloma football players who “took a knee” when the national anthem was played:

Yes, I know it is not illegal to do so. But what end did these young men attempt to achieve? Respect from other players? the attending fans? the communities of Coloma and Watervliet?

Their disrespect for our national flag and anthem is unconscionable and doesn’t accomplish anything more than disdain from our communities.

As a former teacher from Coloma Schools, I am truly disappointed in the young men who took whatever stand they were attempting to accomplish, because I am sure their actions do not represent the attitude of the majority of Coloma High School students.

Julie Smith, Coloma

Thank you to Tyler Streu and our Veterans

Letter to the Editor,

I would like to say thank you to Mr. Tyler Streu for the article in Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 paper “Stand up against disrespect for the United States of America”. It was well written and I’m sure a lot of people said AMEN to it.

I and many more like me will no longer support the Coloma Comets football team for showing such disrespect for our nation and our Veterans.

Also would like to take this opportunity to say “THANK YOU” to all our Veterans. Freedom is not free, and if not for the men and woman that fought and die for us, and those that still stand up and are willing to fight and die for our country we would not be free … May God bless each one of them.

Sharon Teeters

Successful Coloma Drive Thru Trunk or Treat event

To the sponsors & volunteers:

Thank you for participating in the 2020 Drive Thru Trunk or Treat event on Saturday, Oct. 24.

The organizers appreciate the candy/monetary sponsors and the businesses that set up a trunk or table to hand out candy.

Thanks to Salem Lutheran Church, we were able to use their activity field and have families drive thru with their children for a full two hours. During this year of the pandemic we had to be flexible and try something new and we received positive feedback and hope to expand on this event for 2021.

Thank you again and we wish you good health and safety for your family and business: ABC Truck Repair, Cutting Corners, Salem Lutheran Youth Group, Best Way Disposal, Freshwater Community Church, Soulard’s, Big C Lumber, The Friendly Tavern, Todd S. Korabik State Farm Ins., Boulder Design by TJH, Grapevine Nursery, YDC Learning Center Coloma, Brian W. Smith Edward Jones, Hannah Mort, Centsible Heating and Air, Chartwell, Honor Credit Union, City of Coloma DDA, Karla D. Smothers Agency, Coloma Charter Township, LOMA Theatre, Coloma Community Schools, Melanie Cowgill, Coloma Intermediate School, Midway Baptist Church, Coloma Lions Club, North Berrien Community Dev., Coloma Queen and King Court, North Berrien Fire & Rescue, Coloma Public Library, Orchard Hill Landfill, Coloma Public Works, Red Arrow Realty Rhonda Wilson-Strasser, Coloma Township Police Dept., Salem Lutheran Church, Coloma United Methodist Church, Salem Lutheran Preschool.

Chana Kniebes

North Berrien Community Development Coloma Watervliet Area Chamber of Commerce

Vote Jamie Balkin for Coloma City Commission

Dear Editor,

Over 20 years ago I had the opportunity to meet and then work with Jamie Balkin. Jamie is someone who always got the job done and did it in a way that involved others and brought the team together. That’s a rare skill, and one that she will bring to the table to serve her community as a member of the Coloma City Commission.

As a former State Representative and State Budget Director, I have worked with many people over the years on a whole host of issues. I had the opportunity to recruit candidates for office, and I was thrilled when I saw that Jamie was interested in serving her hometown. As a professional at Wightman and Associates and at Cornerstone Alliance, Jamie has a reputation as an excellent communicator, problem solver, and she has a servant’s heart. These are all traits that will serve her well as a City Commissioner.

A number of years ago I was recruiting people to be mentors in the Benton Harbor Area Schools in the HOSTS program, and Jamie was the first volunteer. We mentored for 13 years, helping dozens of young people with reading, writing, and making connections to professionals in the community. No matter how busy she was, how many projects were piling up, Jamie always made time and wanted to serve. We used to say that other than time with our own families, the time with HOSTS mentoring was the best hour of the week. It mattered, and it made a difference.

Jamie Balkin will bring that same dedication to the Coloma City Commission. I really wish I could vote for her, but I urge all of my friends in Coloma to support Jamie Balkin. Vote Jamie Balkin for Coloma City Commission with your absentee ballot or at the polls on November 3rd.

Al Pscholka, Stevensville

(Former 79th District State Representative)

Vote for Welch and McCormack, MI Supreme Court

Dear Editor,

The choices for the Michigan Supreme Court this fall are clear: Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack and Elizabeth Welch.

One endorser said it best: McCormack is an intellectual leader who commanded the respect of liberal and conservative colleagues alike. In January the court’s GOP majority joined with McCormack’s two Democratic colleagues to elect her chief justice, a rare honor for a jurist nominated by the minority party.

That same endorser said this about Welch: An employment law attorney and longtime school board trustee from East Grand Rapids, Welch’s expertise would be especially valuable to a court that is certain to encounter controversies arising from the pandemic and its attendant challenges for employers and employees.

The courts belong to us. That’s why we need to reelect McCormack and elect Welch who will work for us, too!

Don’t give your ballot back until you’ve voted for Welch and McCormack.

Aaron Bell, Royalton Twp.


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

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

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

DON’T FORGET THE OTHER VIRUS… while there are outbreaks of COVID-19, enough for all through the Tri-cities, here’s one I hope you never get.

Unannounced, unwarned, I broke out with a case of shingles, long after the TCR came off the presses, Wednesday night. I will not wish this on anyone, except for a few deserving souls from my distant past.

Much of the treatment is not dissimilar from those long bouts of poison ivy administered by my mom. Including baths of rolled oats, and Epsom salts and unending admonishments, stop itching that! It will leave scars!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN… For all you die-hard Halloween fans, there are celebrations to be had in the Tri-City area. Check out Page 3 for such events, including the annual Watervliet Main Street Sidewalk Parade.

TV AD SALES… Within just days for the dawn of the 2020 Presidential Election, the November 3 event may prove to be a record for turnout, mail-in ballots, ballot counting delays, lawsuits filed and et al.

A couple weeks ago a longtime subscriber Hal Bundy, asked me “How much money do you think Trump and Biden will spend on this election?” Geez Hal, I have no idea. You can bet none of it will be their own money.

According to a recent article on the internet, those days of candidate’s fund raising for their own election are long gone. President Donald Trump and his Democratic opponent Joe Biden are ramping up the number of ads airing on TV just three weeks before the Nov. 3 election. But how much are the candidates spending on TV ads?

According to an NPR analysis, more than $1 billion already has been spent on TV ads for the 2020 presidential election. The latest ad spending data showed that these ads cover only 13 of the country’s 50 states. Biden’s campaign continues to outspend Trump’s campaign by over $240 million in six key states – Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Meanwhile, Trump and his allies have spent much of its money in Georgia, Ohio, and Iowa – states he carried in 2016. A state-by-state breakdown shows Biden dominates the airwaves in Florida, where he and his allies shelled out over $154.1 million in TV ads compared to Trump’s $103.4 million. In Pennsylvania, the Democratic nominee spent over $121.5 million, while the president’s re-election campaign only spent $74.2 million.

Fall harvest a great time to recognize our farmers

Fall in Michigan is spectacular. I was recently driving from Berrien Springs to Sturgis and was reminded of the beauty of the fall harvest. We often take for granted the convenience of purchasing food at grocery stores or restaurants, without giving much thought to its origin. However, local farmers who dedicate their lives to food production are hard at work and deserve our thanks and recognition.

If you have been out and about this season, then you have no doubt seen the flowing amber waves of wheat, soybeans, and rows and rows of corn lining farm fields. Appreciating the beauty of those fields helps us to appreciate the farmers who tend to them — it is a symbiotic relationship akin to an artist and their canvas. A colleague and friend who is a farmer in the Upper Peninsula said farming is a calling that is not simply something someone does but is rather who someone is.

It must be. Our farmers work long, unforgiving hours for less pay than they deserve.

A local Southwest Michigan farmer recently shared with me what life is like for him during the harvest season. He said a typical harvest lasts two months, with days lasting 10 to 14 hours in the field when the weather is good, which allows him to pick 50 to 75 acres of corn, or 100 acres of soybeans each day. But a lot of calculus goes into what is done and when. Limited on-site storage means only so much can be picked until what is stored can be transported to the granary, and that depends on whether the harvested crop is wet and needs time to dry. And if equipment breaks down, more time needs to be factored in depending on how long it takes to fix a problem. Beyond physical limitations, weather is the biggest variable — the work simply can’t be done right when it’s wet, which means more waiting and longer days ahead.

This is just one account from one farm. From field to field and farm to farm, across our state the hard work and dedication of these men and women make up a robust agriculture industry that our state relies on for food and jobs.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development indicates agriculture contributes more than $101 billion to the state economy each year and is responsible for more than one-fifth of Michigan’s entire workforce. These hardworking men and women work more than 10 million acres of land on over 52,000 farms. And our state leads the nation in the production of several crops, including asparagus; black, cranberry, and small red dried beans; cucumbers; tart cherries; Niagara grapes; and squash. In fact, Michigan is second only to California in terms of crop diversity.

Fall is a great time to pause and reflect on these contributions as farmers once again take to the fields for harvest. When your family prays over your next meal, I would encourage you to remember our farmers and consider all they have done to bring that food to your table.

As always, residents can contact my office with any state or local issues by calling (517) 373-6960 or emailing senklasata@senate.michigan.gov.

I don’t understand

There are a lot of things I don’t understand – some technical, some not. I like to understand. Understanding principles, ideas, and how things or ideas work allows us to go forward with assumptions and foundations for living. Mark Twain is credited with claiming it wasn’t the things he didn’t understand in the Bible that concerned him as much as those things he did understand.

I understand from Jeremiah 22:16 that claiming to know God in some special way come with some responsibilities associated with “blessing” the host society. It says, speaking of Josiah: “He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; Then it was well. Is not that what it means to know Me? Declares the Lord.” (NASB). Apparently the new king of Judah, Josiah’s son, didn’t live up to God’s expectations for one claiming to know Him. Specifically, he was not living out the responsibilities of his leadership commitment, one of which had to do with justice for the defenseless.

I don’t understand how this principle is also forgotten by some who claim a relationship with God through Christ when it comes to defending defenseless unborn children. Who is more poor and needy than an unborn child?

We understand that a child’s heartbeat is an early indicator of separate life. It is detectable around week 5-1/2 to 7 in the child’s development. Independent brain waves also develop early. So, we understand this is a person.

Is our problem about roles? Not defining the child as a “child”, we don’t have to define the host as a “mother”, or the responsible party as a “father”? We thereby don’t acknowledge the role of the “family”? Where is the reproductive health justice provided a woman, if there is no similar justice required of the man – or for the child? I don’t understand.

Why should the children suffer?

Expanding high-speed internet service in SW MI

In March, I was with a few students when they learned that – because of the COVID-19 pandemic – the rest of the school year would be done virtually. One of the students turned to me and said that they were not sure how they could complete their studies. They did not have internet at home.

It is 2020. We must do better. We need to be doing everything we can to expand high-speed, reliable broadband service to households across Southwest Michigan and the country.

Last week we took an important step. The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and I announced a nearly $7 million project to expand high-speed broadband service in Southwest Michigan. The funding is part of the ReConnect Program that I supported in 2018.

The funding will be used to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 3,203 people, 40 farms and 27 businesses to high-speed broadband internet in Van Buren, Kalamazoo and Allegan counties.

Too many families – especially in rural areas like here in Southwest Michigan – lack access to reliable, high-speed internet. Especially as many of us work, take classes, and utilize telehealth services from home, we need to ensure all families have access to broadband service. Together, we’ll continue to focus on this priority.

To learn more about important legislative issues, follow me on Twitter at @RepFredUpton or by visiting my website: upton.house.gov. 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).

Lead Poisoning Prevention

Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of children living in the United States have elevated blood lead levels that may damage their health. They can develop behavior and learning problems such as hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems, and aggressive patterns of behavior. Stopping a child’s exposure to lead from leaded paint, house dust, or any other source is the best way to prevent the harmful effects of lead.

To raise awareness of the consequences of lead poisoning among parents and caregivers, especially those who live in homes built before 1978, the Berrien County Health Department is recognizing National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week during the month of October.

This awareness effort underscores the importance of testing your home, testing your child, and learning how to prevent lead poisoning’s serious health effects.

Parents can reduce a child’s exposure to lead and prevent lead poisoning in many ways. Here are some simple things you can do to help protect your family:

Get your Home Tested. If you live in a home built before 1978, you may want to consider getting a lead inspection.

Get your Child Tested. If you suspect your child might be exposed to lead, talk to your doctor or local health department about lead testing. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) covers testing for children on Medicaid, and local health departments offer lead testing for free for all children.

Get the Facts. For more information, contact the MDHHS Michigan Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program by visiting www.michigan.gov/lead or for more information locally, visit www.bchdmi.org.

Smarter plan of action to guide SW MI through remainder of COVID-19 pandemic

Government was meant to be of the people, not one person – and the Michigan Supreme Court rightfully ruled to restore the voice of Southwest Michigan families by confirming that our state’s COVID-19 response needs to be a collaborative effort.

With the resumption of co-equal branches of government, I recently helped introduce a detailed COVID-19 response plan that would give the people of Michigan more certainty and control during these challenging times. The plan relies on science-based, county-level data to guide decision making, keep people healthy and determine appropriate COVID-19 restrictions locally.

This plan was put together by looking to best practices in other states in consultation with Michigan medical and science professionals, including Van Buren/Cass District Health Department Director Jeff Elliott. Director Elliott himself said empowering local health leaders to make decisions – supported by county-level data – will enable a much more rapid response to better protect residents in each corner of the state.

When data supports it, local health officials would have the discretion to modify COVID-19 policies locally, so long as health data remains below certain thresholds that would trigger statewide intervention strategies. Health thresholds allowing local decision-making would be based on five clear scientific metrics: Case rate, case positivity rate, hospital bed capacity, PPE supply and testing ability of each county.

The health of Michiganders should never be politicized – and this plan ensures politics has no place in determining the state’s response to COVID-19. People expect and deserve the governor and the legislature to work in tandem to guide Michigan through the remainder of this pandemic – and this plan allows for that.

By empowering people and listening to science, Michigan will have a safe, sensible and improved response to the virus as we move forward to better days ahead.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office with any questions or concerns. You can reach me toll free at 1-800-577-6212, via email at BethGriffin@house.mi.gov and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RepBethGriffin.


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