State Rep. Brian Elder faces Republican Timothy Beson for 96th House seat in Bay County

BAY CITY, MI – Voters in Michigan’s 96th House District in Bay County will decide the race between incumbent state Rep. Brian Elder and Republican challenger Timothy Beson.

The 96th District covers areas in central and southern Bay County such as Bangor Township, the cities of Bay City and Essexville, Bangor, Hampton, Frankenlust, Merrit, Monitor, Portsmouth and Kawkawlin Townships.

Elder holds a law degree from the UCLA School of Law, according to Vote 411. Elder is Democratic vice chair of the House Agriculture Committee and is a member of the Judiciary Committee. He is chair and co-founder of the Michigan Legislative Labor Caucus.

According to Beson’s campaign website, he is a lifelong resident of Bay County and the owner of Beson’s Market. He holds a degree in business management from Saginaw Valley State University and is serving as a school board member for Bangor Township Schools.

Beson won the right to face Elder after coming out ahead of two other Republican candidates – Allen Bauer and Martin Blank – during the August primary election.

MLive Media Group has partnered with the League of Women Voters of Michigan to provide candidate information and other voting resources to readers ahead of 2020 elections on Vote411.

Each candidate was given a list of questions relevant to the office for which they are campaigning. The voter guide can be accessed at

Beson did not respond to requests for comment by MLive about his candidacy and did not answer the Vote411 questions. According to his website, Beson’s campaign focuses on standing for parents and teachers in regards to a safe return to in-person instruction, supporting law enforcement and expanding skilled trades programs.

Here are the Vote411 responses given by Elder:

What is your position on the role of public funding of education in Michigan? What measures do you support/propose to improve educational outcomes and accessibility for all Michigan students?

Elder: The purpose of public education in the State of Michigan is create citizens who are knowledgeable about their form of government, understand math, science, literature and the arts, and are prepared to live as functioning adults. Preparing our students for their future careers is important, but so is making sure that we have citizens that can think critically and help our democracy thrive. We, as citizens, pay for such a system through our taxes, but we have shifted the tax burden away from the wealthiest and largest corporations onto the backs of average citizens. That is wrong.

What policies do you support to increase jobs and help Michigan residents improve their economic positions, in general and given the pandemic?

Elder: As a two-term State Representative, I have consistently voted for and sponsored legislation to help businesses compete and create jobs. With appropriate benchmarks, like increasing actual payroll and requiring that local dollars be used for local companies when possible, we can and should help to grow our economy here in Michigan. In addition, I have consistently supported policies like Prevailing Wage that ensure that

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Giant drive-thru haunted house experience opens in Bay Area

Talk about a scary moment.

The Fields family was facing the real possibility of having to cancel its annual Pirates of Emerson Halloween haunt at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, unable make dollars and sense of the reduced capacity and other social distancing restrictions that would need to be in place this year.

“We wouldn’t have been able to put the numbers through to justify opening up,” says Brian Fields, who has helped run this popular haunt with his parents, Patty and Karl, for 29 years.

Instead of throwing in the towel, they decided to do something different — something bold — that would work in this COVID-19 age.

“Being the creative family that we are, my dad Karl, Patty and myself put our heads together and came up with this idea of doing this drive-thru,” Fields says.

So load up the car, remember to buckle in tight and get ready to be scared as the Pirates of Emerson evolves into something new for 2020. This massive drive-thru haunt, which covers nearly 10 acres at the Pleasanton fairgrounds, opens to the public on Oct. 2 and runs Thursday through Sunday through Nov. 1.

  • PLEASANTON, CA – SEPTEMBER 22: Brian Fields, vice president of operations for the Pirates of Emerson Haunted Themed Park, stands next to a structure he built to be used at the drive-thru haunted house at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. This year, due to COVID-19 precautions, the longtime Halloween favorite has become a haunted house drive-thru. Vehicles will wind their way through a marked path as they view themed frights while listening to a soundtrack on the radio. The haunted drive-thru opens on Friday, Oct. 2. All tickets must be purchased in advance. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

  • PLEASANTON, CA – SEPTEMBER 22: A scary skeleton figure at the Pirates of Emerson Haunted Themed Park is photographed at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. This year, due to COVID-19 precautions, the longtime Halloween favorite has become a haunted house drive-thru. Vehicles will wind their way through a marked path as they view themed frights while listening to a soundtrack on the radio. The haunted drive-thru opens on Friday, Oct. 2. All tickets must be purchased in advance. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

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  • PLEASANTON, CA – SEPTEMBER 22: Brian Fields, vice president of operations for the Pirates of Emerson Haunted Themed Park, is photographed at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. This year, due to COVID-19 precautions, the longtime Halloween favorite has become a haunted house drive-thru. Vehicles will wind their way through a marked path as they view themed frights while listening to a soundtrack on the radio. The haunted drive-thru opens on Friday, Oct. 2. All tickets must be purchased in advance. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

  • PLEASANTON, CA – SEPTEMBER 22: A scary wild boar lunges out of the wall

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Masterchef critic reviews The Station Kitchen in West Bay

A popular west Dorset restaurant is celebrating after receiving a rave review from a restaurant critic for The Telegraph and Masterchef.

The Station Kitchen in West Bay, owned by Ross and Claire Moore, was visited by William Sitwell after he had heard good things about the train carriage restaurant and contacted them.

Ross said: “He was a very nice guy and super friendly and so was his partner. He asked lots of questions about the history of the station and the carriage. He even asked why we were called Sausage and Pear. I explained that this was the name of our catering company and also our nicknames.

“After dinner he came into the kitchen and spoke to Claire and I. He said he loved what we had created and was going to bring the whole family back next time he was in Dorset.”

He described The Station Kitchen as ‘a happy place, with great service, and is a breath of fresh air’ and gave an impressive four out of five stars.

The couple were thrilled with the review, but it was touch and go whether they would actually be able to get a copy of it.

Ross added: “When the newspaper went to print, it just so happens that Extinction Rebellion were doing a protest outside the printing factory. This has never happened before and it meant that multiple national newspapers weren’t able to be distributed to most parts of the country, including The Telegraph. This happening the one time we are in it is the embodiment of sods law.

“Not only were our supporters on The Station Kitchen Facebook page happy to help, but after contacting William directly, he duly obliged on sending a copy of the newspaper out to us.

“A very nice guy and we are chuffed with the review.”

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‘The bathroom conversations are now open’: Bay Area artists react to call for change in theater

Director Lauren Spencer works during a rehearsal for “Black Butterflies” at American Conservatory Theater. Spencer is among those not surprised by an online posting about the experiences of people of color in theater. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle 2017

If any white people were surprised by the depth and length of “The Living Document of BIPOC Experiences in Bay Area Theater,” local artists of color weren’t.

When actor, activist and teaching artist Lauren Spencer read the document, she thought, “I guess all the bathroom conversations are now open. So many incidents in that document I knew about.” It reminded her of the candid conversations she’s had often with fellow artists of color about racism in the industry, only now, not behind closed doors.

“There was a sense of sunshine, it pouring over the valley,” which “felt like a relief, a little bit,” she says.

People of color in Bay Area theater demand bold steps toward racial justice in online documents

Others felt it could have gone even further.

“I was honestly surprised there wasn’t more stories of racism,” says Baruch Porras-Hernandez, a writer, performer and stand-up comedian. “When I was trying to work as an actor full time, back around the 2006-ish years, I remember there being absolutely no room for these type of conversations. It was looked down upon. Even bringing it up was considered dangerous by most actors of color. You could be labeled ‘difficult’ and have your ability to get work completely disappear.”

San Francisco Mime Troupe member Velina Brown says the online document reveals how people are afraid to speak up. Photo: Nick Otto, Special to The Chronicle

For San Francisco Mime Troupe member Velina Brown, the “Living Document” demonstrates how “people are afraid to say in the moment, ‘This is not OK.’” It suggests that workers get shut down when they try to speak out. She sees the document as the consequence of getting dismissed over and over: “Those feelings don’t go away,” she says.

* * *

Marin Theatre Company’s Artistic director Jasson Minadakis (left) and playwright Thomas Bradshaw (right) watch actor Mark Anderson Philips during rehearsal of “Thomas and Sally.” The director and playwright were criticized for their handling of the play. Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle 2017

Some local white theater leaders say this document and others circulating online have influenced their companies’ plans.

Marin Theatre Company was mentioned in the “Living Document” and a June 13 statement from a “Coalition of Black Women Professional Theatre Makers in the Bay Area, California.” Both cited its controversial 2017 world premiere of “Thomas and Sally,” Thomas Bradshaw’s play imagining the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, the slave who bore him six children.

The coalition’s statement says Marin Theatre Company failed to follow through on commitments made in 2017: “At that time, they agreed to take accountability for the harmful impacts of their commissioning, development, and production of ‘Thomas and Sally’ by Thomas Bradshaw, and for their responses to gentle and rigorous questioning

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What happens when a Bay Area firefighter’s own house goes up in flames?

Firefighter Geoffrey Keller had just finished a 24-hour shift on Aug. 18 cutting down brush around the blazes in the Santa Cruz Mountains when he received a frantic call from his wife.

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Bay Area political events: Peter Strzok, House members town hall


Racism’s physical, psychological effects: Diversity and inclusion expert Mary-Frances Winters discusses her new book, “Black Fatigue, How Racism Erodes Mind, Body and Spirit.” Hosted by the Commonwealth Club. 9 a.m. More information is here.

Peter Strzok: Former FBI agent and author of “Compromised: Counterintelligence and the Threat of Donald J. Trump,” in a conversation hosted by the Commonwealth Club. 12:30 p.m. More information is here.

Reps. Barbara Lee, Mark DeSaulnier, Jackie Speier: Bay Area Democrats host a town hall meeting on racial justice in America. 6 p.m. Join meeting here.


Worker cooperatives: A roundtable event to discuss how worker cooperatives can provide a viable alternative for people approaching retirement. Panelists include Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Fremont; Democratic Assemblyman Ash Kalra; Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor; Zen Trenholm of the Democracy at Work Institute; Hilary Abell of Project Equity; and Kirk Vartan, worker owner at ASONY. Noon. More information is here.

Sen. Sherrod Brown: Ohio Democrat in conversation on progressive power in the Senate. Hosted by the Commonwealth Club. 3:30 p.m. More information is here.


Libby Schaaf, Kevin Faulconer: Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer discuss fiscal realities for local governments during the coronavirus pandemic. Hosted by the Public Policy Institute of California. 11 a.m. More information is here.

“Suppressed 2020”: A screening of “Suppressed 2020: The Fight to Vote,” followed by a talk with voting rights advocate Valerie Morishige. Hosted by the Piedmont Diversity Film Series. 4:30 p.m. More information is here.

S.F. D1 candidates: Candidates for District One supervisor take part in a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters. 7 p.m. Register here.


Conservation history: An exploration of conservation history of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and how it fits into the larger context of American history of injustices toward indigenous communities and people of color. Hosted by the Peninsula Open Space Trust. Noon. More information is here.

SEPT. 22

Rep. Ro Khanna: Fremont Democrat holds a town hall meeting. Noon. Submit question in advance here; join meeting here.

SEPT. 23

S.F. D7 candidates: Candidates for District Seven supervisor take part in a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters. 7 p.m. Register here.

Art and abolishing the police: Pendarvis Harshaw interviews art curator Ashara Ekundayo about an upcoming show and auction, “Imagine Freedom: Art Works for Abolition,” and the role art plays in the movement to dismantle the policing and prison systems in the U.S. Hosted by KQED. 8 p.m. More information is here.

SEPT. 24

H.R. McMaster: President Trump’s former national security adviser in a discussion hosted by the Commonwealth Club. Noon. More information is here.

SEPT. 28

Election meetup: A Zoom meetup for supporting green candidates and issues in the November elections. Hosted by 6 p.m. More information is here.

SEPT. 29

Juan Felipe Herrera, Naomi Shihab Nye: Former U.S. poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, author of the new book “Every Day We Get More Illegal,” and poet, songwriter and novelist Naomi

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Time for round two for your Bay Area Victory Garden

If your Victory Garden is starting to wave a white flag, no need to surrender. Just make a short retreat and prepare for the winter campaign.

The pandemic, fears of food shortages and just plain boredom led many people in the Bay Area to become first-time gardeners, emulating the World War II-era populace by growing their own vegetables in backyards, porches or kitchen windows.

As the summer fades, so are many gardens, but instead of mourning the loss of tomatoes and squash, look to a future filled with broccoli, cauliflower and beets.

Janet Miller, manager of Our Garden, the Contra Costa Master Gardeners’ Walnut Creek demonstration garden founded by the Bay Area News Group, has tips on finishing up the summer harvest and planting for the winter.

In many ways, Miller says, the winter victory garden is less work than the summer one. Plants grow more slowly, eliminating the need to harvest daily and figure out what to do with all the produce. There are fewer insects to worry about. And with luck, nature will assist with the watering.

What to do now

Take a good look at your garden to see what’s still doing well, what has slowed and what you can live without.

Bush beans and squash, Miller says, have pretty much had their run. Production isn’t near what it was a couple of months ago and the squash likely is developing powdery mildew. Those plants can be pulled out and added to the compost pile.

Did you grow vegetables that you really didn’t care for or didn’t do well? Pull them out, Miller says. There’s no need to grow food you’re not using and no need to spend resources on plants that aren’t delivering.

If your tomatoes and eggplants are still producing, you can leave them for now, but if you’re noticing the tomatoes are getting end blossom rot (dark, mushy spots on the bottoms), you can pull those out, too.

Indeterminate tomatoes varieties will continue producing until the first frost, but the later it gets in the season, the less time those tomatoes will have to ripen. Determinate tomato varieties, which grow to a certain height and produce most of their fruit at one time, are about at the point where they won’t have any more tomatoes and can be pulled up without guilt.

What to plant next

Although we might not be ready to think about winter, your garden thinks it’s time to start planting cool weather crops. Because of our relatively mild winters, there are many crops that we can grow in the winter — far more varieties than we grow in the summer, actually.

The largest plants we grow in the winter — cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower — need time to get established before the cold sets in and the hours of daylight are reduced.

You’ll find seedlings for all these plants in your favorite nursery and garden shops now or, Miller says, you can start plants from seed in pots and trays

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Your guide to keeping food moths, fruit flies, and other horrors at bay in your kitchen

I will never forget my first run-in with them. It felt sort of dirty, and not in a good way. It was a Sunday morning, The Archers on the radio, mixer lifted on to the kitchen counter, oven preheating. I lifted a plastic tub of flaked almonds down from the shelf and to my visceral and skin-crawling horror, well, the tub was crawling, moving, pulsing with tiny white larvae. The top of the container was thick with white webbing.

Do you have the enormous good fortune to be reading this somewhere in the Outer Hebrides? If so, now seems as good a time as any to ask whether you could hear the scream that pierced the calm of my London kitchen. I was surprised no one called the police. In fact, they probably should have as over the ensuing 24 hours I did thousands of utterly merciless murders (sorry-not-sorry, once again, to the man who called me speciesist when I wrote about killing clothes moths).

Food moths – Mediterranean flour moths, Indianmeal moths, Ephestia kuehniella, Plodia interpunctella, whatever you want to call them – no thank you, strictly not welcome here, and I will do everything I can, armed with vacuum cleaner, hot soapy water and bin bags, to rid myself of them. By the powers vested in me by Kilner and Ziploc, be gone from this place.

If you find even the merest hint of an infestation (you may see the tiny moths fluttering about, too), don’t waste a second. Start by taking everything out from the cupboards. Next, give cupboards – and shelves and drawers – a thorough vacuum, then toss the bin bag or empty the cylinder contents into the outside bin. Give everything a thorough wash with hot, soapy water, paying close attention to any dark, hidden places. I thought I had got rid of them all and then found some taking a nice rest cure inside the drawer runners.

Next, inspect everything before you put it back. Look carefully for webbing, larvae and pinprick holes in packaging. Examine under paper labels and packet seals, and around the rims and lids of jars. They love flour, cereals, grains, nuts, dried fruit, some dried herbs and pasta particularly, so pay close attention to them. Toss anything that shows signs of infestation into the outside bin. If you have dried goods such as flour that don’t appear to be infested but which you’re worried about, seal them in a plastic bag, and put them in the freezer for a week to kill any larvae, before decanting them into Kilner or other glass jars, or plastic tubs with tight seals.

When everything is soothingly moth-free and order is restored, stick some food moth pheromone traps up in your cupboards (Demi Diamond Food Moth Traps, £6.99 from These work by attracting the male moths, which stick on to the paper and then can’t mate. They also provide a good way to monitor whether you still have an infestation –

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Florida Attractions – Busch Garden, Tampa Bay

Busch Gardens is undeniably a strong draw for the Tampa Bay area, as it combines an excellent zoo with some of the best roller coasters you'll encounter. Sprawling over 300 acres and the area's biggest theme park draws big crowds. Despite the theme park atmosphere, the real stars are the thousands of animals wandering around African-style environments.

Despite the woolly mammoth-sized admission price, a trip to Busch Gardens is worth it. You should probably pay out $ 16 more per person for a Next-day Ticket, which will entitle you to a visit the following day. Consider a combination ticket to Busch Gardens and Adventure Island.

Stop at the Visitor Information Center (813-985-3601; 3601E Busch Blvd; 10 am-5:30pm Mon-Sat, to 2pm Sun) across from the park for discounted tickets which will save you time as well as money.

You can use the Skyride cable car as an orientation tour. The Hospitality Center overlooking the Serengety Plain has a welcome center where you can get a complimentary 10oz cup of Anheuser-Busch Beer. The Clydesdale Hamlet features trademark Budweiser Clydesdale horses.

In general, lines are far shorter than their Orlando counterparts on a high-season day, you'll probably only have to wait 10 minutes for a ride. Themed shows, performances and craft demonstrations occur several times daily and change often. Check at the ticket window for the day's shows and activities. The same goes for animal acts starring alligators, elephants, tortoises, orangutans, warthogs and tigers; They occur at various villages around the park.

Additionally, in an attempt to stay ahead of the curve, the park is always inventing new rides and theme areas. Check at the gate. Quite a few rides have height restrictions which vary from 42 inches to 56 inches. Plan to spend the whole day at Busch Gardens.

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