top of page

11-08-2018 Letters and Commentary

Helping veterans and active duty military members Every year on Veterans Day, we honor the people who risk their lives to protect our freedom. Social Security honors veterans and active duty members of the military every day by giving them the respect they deserve. Social Security’s disability program is an important part of our obligation to wounded warriors and their families. For military members who return home with injuries, Social Security is a resource they can turn to. If you know any wounded veterans, please let them know about Social Security’s Wounded Warriors website. You can find it at woundedwarriors. The Wounded Warriors website answers many commonly asked questions, and shares other useful information about disability benefits, including how veterans can receive expedited processing of disability claims. Benefits available through Social Security are different than those from the Department of Veterans Affairs and require a separate application. The expedited process is used for military service members who become disabled while on active military service on or after October 1, 2001, regardless of where the disability occurs. Even active duty military who continue to receive pay while in a hospital or on medical leave should consider applying for disability benefits if they’re unable to work due to a disabling condition. Active duty status and receipt of military pay doesn’t necessarily prevent payment of Social Security disability benefits. Although a person can’t receive Social Security disability benefits while engaging in substantial work for pay or profit, receipt of military payments should never stop someone from applying for disability benefits from Social Security. Social Security is proud to support veterans and active duty members of the military. Let these heroes know they can count on us when they need to take advantage of their earned benefits. Our web pages are easy to share on social media and by email. Vonda VanTil 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

THANKS FOR YOUR SERVICE… November 11 is Veterans Day; the day America sets aside to honor all its veterans of all branches of military service. It’s a certainty that a family member or friend has worn the uniform of the armed forces of the United States of America. They didn’t wear it for the badges and medals; they wore it to serve our country in war and peace. When you see them, especially this Veterans Day, thank them for their service. And to the Veterans reading this… Thank You for your service. Since Veterans Day, November 11, is on a Sunday this year, local services are being held on Friday and Saturday, see the front page of the Record for the date, times and location of the events.

DRUG PROBLEM… A reader of last week’s Record observed an error in a headline last week. It should have been “arrests made in Lawrence meth raid”, not in Hartford meth raid. I apologize for the error and for any confusion it may have caused. The reader also observed that some folks were concerned about the Record’s coverage of pot issues and marijuana. There was also a perceived impression that I was picking on Hartford. I have no preconceived notion of any illicit activity in any community. My reporters and I cover the news as it occurs and is reported to us, through public meeting coverage, news tips, and contacts with the local police departments, the Berrien and Van Buren County Sheriff’s Departments and the Michigan State Police. Those of you that have heard my explanation of the Tri-City Record’s “news hole” know… the Record seeks to cover all the news that occurs in the Tri-City Area, which basically is comprised of the communities that are included in the Coloma, Hartford and Watervliet School districts. That includes the city and township governments and the three school boards. All the “police news” sent to the Record is forwarded to senior correspondent Annette Christie who compiles the information, contacts the various police departments (and fire departments) and writes the weekly Police and Fire Reports over her byline each week. I discuss with her, weekly, the police and fire reports coming in, and updates that she is working on for the week’s paper. We have no control over the “police news” and endeavor to report it in an objective manner. If there is any consensus at all, it is all of us here at the Record have a sincere regard for the health and welfare of all in our Tri-City community and do our best to report to our readers the hometown news. That includes police news and the reports of illicit drug and alcohol use. We should all be concerned over the widespread use of illegal drugs in our community. Such use is on the increase and is a concern of law enforcement. I’m not seeking to open a discussion of marijuana or its legality… right or wrong … it is here to stay. Its abuse… like alcohol abuse does cause social issues that impact us all. I do have issues with the increase of drug abuse and have made a conscious effort to highlight the police and court activity as it pertains to our area by making it a headline event. I realize there are some who may take issue with this, especially those who have a family member that was named in a police report. Some time ago I had a phone call from a distraught person…. “Do you know the pain you have caused my parents by publishing my brother’s arrest and name in your paper?” My reply… “Isn’t that your brother’s fault?” All the police I have talked to about drug use in our area have expressed concern that it is on the rise. All also expressed reservations about passage of the recreational marijuana ballot issue. I could surmise, had I asked, all would have expressed reservations about alcohol abuse as well. I guess there are few in law enforcement that would miss dealing with anyone who is impaired by alcohol use or marijuana. Sadly, I suspect, there will always be a need for a police report.

ELECTION PREVIEW… I had a couple comments about the election preview in last week’s Record. All expressed appreciation that their “little” paper would provide so much space to the elections. It’s the biggest news of the week is always my reply. This week will have more of the same, as we publish the results of the local and state issues. One reader had an interesting comment; she said she was an early voter and she would have appreciated the Record election preview a few weeks earlier, especially Annette’s report of the marijuana issue. She felt more early voters would have the same concern. My thought is that folks to vote early would be prepared none-the-less. Another is when is early, early enough? That is something Amy and I will talk about before the presidential elections in 2020. Who knows, there could be a whole new batch of issues to address by then, including more accessible voting and registration via smartphones and the internet, or something we haven’t even thought of.


 In the November 1, 2018 issue of Tri-City Record, an error was made at the top on the front page. Arrests made in Hartford meth raid should have read Lawrence meth raid.

 Also an error was made in the Nov. 1 issue on Page 15 in the photo caption for the service award to Jack and David Clark. Jack is on the left in the photo and David is on the right.

 Tri-City Record is sorry for any inconveniences or confusions these errors may have caused.

Win a Thanksgiving turkey!

Make sure to enter the Record’s free Thanksgiving Turkey drawing. Look for merchant coupons on Page 7 of this week’s Tri-City Record.

Here is how to enter all the drawings… Fill in the turkeys with your name, address, and phone number. Cut the turkey entries from the paper and drop them off at the participating stores (one entry per visit, please). The winning entries will be drawn Monday, November 19, 2018 at 12:00 noon. Winner will be contacted by phone by the sponsoring business, and the names of all the winners will be published in the Thanksgiving edition of the Tri-City Record.

Store employees and their families are not eligible to win their employer’s prize; however, they may win turkeys from other participating businesses. Please drop off your own entry in each store! You must be at least 18 and you do not need to be a subscriber to enter!

For a free copy of this coupon page, send a stamped self-addressed envelope to the Tri-City Record, Box 7, Watervliet MI 49098, or stop by the office at 138 N. Main St., Watervliet.

Hunting & Fishing Reports are helpful

Dear Editor,

Hi, I just wanted to thank you for having a hunting and fishing section in your paper. I think it is great and very helpful to local hunters that you take the time to add this in your paper. I feel that the many people who receive your product like it because now they don’t need to buy a booklet with the current season dates they can just pick up a paper.

I would also like to thank you for adding your contact information on the paper because now I can send you this note and receive a Merit badge that will help me toward my eagle rank.


James Miller

Troop 696

Thank you from Van Buren County United Way

Dear Editor,

Van Buren County United Way would like to thank everyone who supported our 7th Annual Stuff the Bus Food Pantry Drive on November 3.  Winter is just around the corner and as many families face difficulties with keeping up with higher utilities bills and feeding their children when schools close for the holidays, they will be looking to our local food pantries for assistance.

We are most grateful to the many individuals and businesses who stepped up to help us this year.  The grocery store managers at Harding’s, Wagoner’s, Family Fare and Village Market, as well as the Dollar General in Covert welcomed our efforts and posted signs announcing our event.  All our local school districts agreed to provide buses and drivers from throughout the county to volunteer their time to drop off and pick-up buses.

Troops from Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan, local Honor Society students and faith-based youth groups staffed the entrances of the grocery stores along with others, greeting shoppers and handing out food pantry wish lists.  Many also helped shoppers carry their bags, and helped load donated items for delivery to the food pantries.  United Way Board members showed their support by visiting the sites and greeting participants. In addition, we sincerely thank Jake Berent from WWMT Channel 3 News for their coverage of Stuff the Bus.

And of course, we want to thank the many, many citizens of our community who gave so generously – from caring seniors to little children who brought donations from their piggy banks.  The bags and bags of food filling every seat on every bus are a testament to what a great community we live in.

We thank you all – you are the embodiment of United Way’s mission: LIVE UNITED.


Vera E. Tanier-Sebree

Executive Director

Van Buren County United Way

Veteran homelessness in Michigan declines more than 10 percent

Number of homeless vets in Michigan drops 10.3% since last year and by 28% since 2010

Veteran homelessness in the U.S. continues to decline according to a new national estimate announced by U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson.  HUD’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report finds the total number of reported veterans experiencing homelessness in 2018 decreased 5.4 percent nationally since last year, falling to nearly half of the number of homeless veterans reported in 2010.

In announcing the latest annual estimate, HUD Secretary Ben Carson and U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie noted that local communities are reporting reductions in the number of veterans in their shelter systems and on their streets.

“We owe it to our veterans to make certain they have a place to call home,” said HUD Secretary Carson. “We’ve made great strides in our efforts to end veteran homelessness, but we still have a lot of work to do to ensure those who wore our nation’s uniform have access to stable housing.”

“The reduction in homelessness among veterans announced today shows that the strategies we are using to help the most vulnerable veterans become stably housed are working,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.  “This is good news for all Veterans.”

“In Home, Together, the new federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, we redouble our commitment to ending homelessness among Veterans and among all Americans,” said Matthew Doherty, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. “Working together at the federal, state and local level, we can and will continue to make progress until all Americans have a stable home from which they can pursue opportunity.”

Each year, thousands of local communities around the country conduct one-night ‘Point-in-Time’ estimates of the number of persons experiencing homelessness—in emergency shelters, transitional housing programs and in unsheltered locations.  This year’s estimate finds 37,878 veterans experienced homelessness in January 2018, compared to 40,020 reported in January 2017.  HUD estimates among the total number of reported veterans experiencing homelessness in 2018, 23,312 veterans were found in sheltered settings while volunteers counted 14,566 veterans living in places not meant for human habitation.

HUD also reports a nearly 10 percent decline among female veterans experiencing homelessness.  In January 2018, local communities reported 3,219 homeless female veterans compared to 3,571 one year earlier.

The decrease in veteran homelessness can largely be attributed to the effectiveness of the HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program, which combines permanent HUD rental assistance with case management and clinical services provided by the VA.  HUD-VASH is complemented by a continuum of VA programs that use modern tools and technology to identify the most vulnerable Veterans and rapidly connect them to the appropriate interventions to become and remain stably housed.  Last year alone, more than 4,000 veterans, many experiencing chronic forms of homelessness, found permanent housing and critically needed support services through the HUD-VASH program.  An additional 50,000 veterans found permanent housing and supportive services through VA’s continuum of homeless programs.

To date, 64 local communities and three states have declared an effective end to veteran homelessness, creating systems to ensure that a veteran’s homelessness is rare, brief, and one-time.  Rockford, Illinois was the first community in the nation to effectively end veteran homelessness, also attaining functional zero ending chronic homelessness. Kent County was the only Michigan jurisdiction that has effectively ended veteran homelessness to date.

HUD and VA have a wide range of programs that prevent and end homelessness among veterans, including health care, housing solutions, job training and education. More information about VA’s homeless programs is available at

Veterans who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless should contact their local VA Medical Center and ask to speak to a homeless coordinator or call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 1-877-4AID-VET.

Report shows local gas prices lowest in the state

Michiganders are finding the lowest prices at the pump since April. The state average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.72; 39 cents less than this year’s high, and the same as this time last year.

Gas prices continued their downward trek last week, declining another 9 cents.  The state average declined for the 10th consecutive day on Sunday, for a total discount of 12 cents.

The most expensive gas price averages were found in Marquette ($2.89), Ann Arbor ($2.81), and Metro Detroit ($2.76).

The least expensive gas price averages were in Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland ($2.65), Benton Harbor ($2.66), and Jackson ($2.66).

“Michiganders are saving 40 cents per gallon, compared to when gas prices peaked during Memorial Day weekend,” said Nancy Cain, spokesperson, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Gasoline is becoming less expensive to produce-and-sell thanks to lower crude prices and cheaper-to-produce winter blend fuel.

Retail prices have not quite caught up with declines on the wholesale side, so motorists should see another round of discounts this week. However, fuel prices definitely have the potential to reverse course based on any fluctuations in the stock market due to Election Day and the activation of U.S. sanctions against Iranian crude. Regardless, AAA believes the highest prices of the year are behind us.”

Crude oil prices are hovering near 7-month lows. On Friday, WTI settled at $63.14 per barrel – nearly $4.50/b less than the week before, and the lowest daily settlement since April 6, 2018. The weekly average price for U.S. crude has declined the past four consecutive weeks. Before then, crude prices faced upward pressure amid growing concerns that U.S. sanctions against Iranian crude would cause a global supply shortage. However, those concerns are being quelled by increased production by countries like the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Russia.

Crude production in the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Russia all remain strong. U.S. oil inventories rose for the sixth consecutive week, according to weekly data from the Energy Information Administration. Domestic supplies rose 3.2 million barrels from the week before. Meanwhile, gasoline inventories dropped by 3.2 million barrels and OPEC production levels for October reportedly reached the highest output levels since 2016 as some members boosted production in preparation of the Iran sanctions.

Give thanks for good health by giving blood or platelets

The American Red Cross urges people to share their good health this holiday season by donating blood or platelets for patients in need.

A decline in donations occurs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day when donors are busy with holiday activities and travel. However, medical treatments and emergencies that require blood don’t stop for the holidays. The Red Cross is thanking those who carve out time to give Nov. 21-24 with a long-sleeved T-shirt, while supplies last.

By giving blood or platelets, donors may give patients more time – and more holidays – with loved ones. Make an appointment to donate blood or platelets by downloading the free American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Another way to help keep the blood supply strong this winter is to host a Red Cross blood drive in December, January or February. To learn more about hosting a blood drive and to sign up, visit

 Upcoming blood donation opportunities on Friday, Nov. 23: 12 p.m. – 5:45 p.m., Hilton Garden Inn, 1300 Cinema Way in Benton Harbor, and 12 p.m. – 5:45 p.m., Federated Church, 65418 Red Arrow Hwy in Hartford.

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at or use the Blood Donor App.


Related Posts

See All

Last week, the Michigan Public Service Commission voted to approve a $368 million rate increase for DTE Energy to pay for clean energy infrastructure. This comes on the heels of Govern

RIP BOB... Received word this last week that longtime Watervliet resident and friend, Bob Becker had passed away. I have sat on many boards and committees with Bob. His commitment to Watervliet made h

Last week, I testified before the House Budget Committee on my Fiscal Commission Act. I introduced this bipartisan bill in September as a way to get our nation’s fiscal house in order.

bottom of page