About “The Portland Beacon”
The mission of The Portland Beacon is to brief the residents of Portland, Michigan, about the current affairs of this community, by serving as a fair, accurate and transparent information source. Our goal is to serve as a steward of the community by educating citizens so as to encourage a more engaged and vibrant community.
We began operations in August of 2017 to serve as a local news source for Portland, Michigan, and neighboring communities. This independent hyperlocal online only news service was created largely in response to a lack of local news coverage that the community was getting from established print publications. We cover local news and events featuring the people, schools, non-profits and businesses that call Portland home.
We are unlike traditional printed newspapers in that we are a dependent on a mix of advertising as well as reader contributions to fund our operations. Our network of paid and volunteer contributors writes content for the site on a part-time basis.
If you should have any comment, a news tip, and any other feedback you want to share, please email Jim@theportlandbeacon.com.
Originally from Livonia, MI, Jim has called Portland home since 2000. After meeting his future wife Sarah (Lefke) at Alma College, the couple decided to start their young family in Portland, and today their three children attend the Portland Public Schools.
A self-described “news dork,” Jim regularly follows regional, state and national news using a variety of online, TV and radio sources.
Jim said, “When I moved here, I fell in love with the printed local newspaper at the time. I loved the local focus and small-town feel. But since then, that newspaper has morphed into something that rarely covers true local news. Today it seems to primarily repackage news stories from Lansing and other communities in Mid-Michigan. It often seems like it has forgotten about Portland.”
He added, “I started The Portland Beacon to fill that void. To cover local high school sports. To share what is going on at City Hall and at school board meetings. To promote local small businesses. To give this community a true local news source again. We have a lot of great things going on here and I what to help spread the word.”
Jim is an analyst for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and leads the operations of the Beacon in his spare time. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Portland native, Pete became the first regular contributor to The Portland Beacon when he began covering PHS football in the fall of 2017. Today, he still leads coverage on Raider football, and also assists in covering other PHS teams and athletes when possible.
Pete is a die-hard Raider supporter. He is the former board president of Portland Tackle Football Association (Jr. Raiders) and has coached numerous youth sports teams in the community.
Jordan D. Smith
Originally from the Cadillac area, Jordan moved to Portland in 2009, when he was hired as a high school science teacher at St. Patrick Catholic School. He still teaches at the school today.
Jordan has been contributing to The Beacon since December 2017. He writes on a wide range of general interest topics in the community.
When asked why he thought local journalism was important for our community, Jordan said, "In order to be engaged citizens, we have to know what is going on in our community. How can we know what local government policy issues we care about if we aren't aware that those issues are being discussed in the first place? How can we know what local charities we wish to support by giving of our time and money if we don't even know about the need? Local journalism is a critical factor in forming informed citizens, and an engaged community."
Jordan can be reached Jordan@theportlandbeacon.com.
Robert S. Lathers, is a volunteer contributing writer for the Beacon. He will specialize in covering various local government issues, as well as Portland school athletics and programs, along with occasional editorials about children, families and community life.
For the past several years he wrote a weekly "Community Wellness" column for the Ionia Sentinel-Standard Weekender Edition.
He recently retired after serving for 17 years as CEO for The Right Door for Hope, Recovery and Wellness (formerly known as Ionia County Community Mental Health). Mr. Lathers has been an Adjunct Professor at the GVSU Graduate School of Social Work for the past 10 years, teaching Public Policy and Non-Profit Administration Classes, a role he will continue in retirement.
Mr. Lathers has received numerous awards during his 40+ year social work career including Ionia County Citizen of the Year in 2005, Ionia County 2018 Child and Abuse & Neglect Council's Person of the Year, and most recently the 2018 Hal Madden Distinguished Service Award from the Community Mental Health Association Michigan given annually to the person its members choose who has made significant long-term contributions to the Public Mental Health system. Upon his retirement in March he was given a "Special Tribute" from the Michigan Legislature recognizing his outstanding service to the citizens of Ionia County as CEO of The Right Door for Hope, Recovery and Wellness.
Mr. Lathers grew up in Ludington where he delivered the Detroit Free Press for many years while a student athlete. He and his wife Krista have been Portland residents since 1998. They are the proud parents of Teaghan, a freshman at Portland High School, and Dan, a retired U.S. Marine. Mr. Lathers is an Honors Graduate of GVSU and earned his MSW at Western Michigan University.
Mr. Lathers can be reached at Robert@theportlandbeacon.com.
Born and raised in Portland, Amy has always prided herself on being a Raider. She graduated from PHS in 1997 along with her future husband Patrick. It was never a question of where they would choose to raise their two children as they wanted their kids to grow up in the same tight knit community that they had both enjoyed.
While coaching and sitting through countless hours of sporting events for her children, Amy developed a passion for documenting and capturing memories that could be cherished long after the season had ended.
Amy said, “As we grow older we can fondly reflect on memories that we made in our childhood but over time these memories become more distant and details are forgotten. I love capturing non-traditional shots that show the emotion of the player, excitement of the crowd and environment of the game. My hope is that through these photographs parents and players will have sharpen memories to reflect on. ”
Amy is a graduate of Northwood University. As the Chief Administrator at SET SEG, she has dedicated the past 11 years of her career serving and protecting the interests of over 500 Michigan public schools.
Benjamin Rex Cross
Benjamin Rex Cross was born and raised in Portland, and graduated from St. Patrick's in 1994. He married Trisha Fedewa in 1999, and have 2 children, Chloe (18) and Connor (15) who both attended St. Patrick's as well.
Benjamin is a Refrigeration Coordinator for Techmark Inc. out of Lansing, and also coaches football at St. Patrick's. He began writing a few years back, and uses his full name out of respect for his maternal grandfather, Rex Avery Bennett who also wrote extensively in local newspapers and who Benjamin was named after.
Benjamin and his family attend St. Patrick's parish, and are very involved in the Catholic community, he enjoys going to the Men's faith group at St. Patrick's and describes his coaching position as being a "Youth Minister". Benjamin loves the town of Portland, the people, the history, and the family, and he doesn't plan on ever leaving. In his spare time, he enjoys landscaping, permaculture, and reading.
He can be contacted at email@example.com.