01-11-2018 Letters and Commentary

Submit, or surrender?

“Forcing your way against a will, leaves the person of the same mind still.” So goes the short proverb about imposing your will on someone else. This applies to everything from doing homework to what religion to follow. Someone may submit to an outside influence, but submission does not change the person. Only surrender does that. And those who insist on submission must understand that their efforts are in the long-term useless at best.

There is no peace in submission, not for the one being imposed upon and not for the imposer. There is just conflict. Sometimes that tension will not be revealed until later. Perhaps when the child is no longer under the direct control of a parent, or later, when someone makes new spiritual discoveries that take them past mere rules of conduct and into a life of the glorious discovery of surrender.

When Jesus Christ was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying to His Heavenly Father about His imminent crucifixion, He made the statement “Not My will, but Thine be done.” It was more than submission. He surrendered His whole being to His loving Heavenly Father. It wasn’t a matter of rules. It was a matter of trust and entrusting. It was surrender.

And so it is with us. There is no peace in merely submitting. There is only peace in surrender. Surrender of our ability to save ourselves. Surrender of our wisdom alone to guide our lives. Surrender of our priorities and our pride. Surrender of our kingdom for His.

If God is trustworthy, and He is, and if He loves us, and He does, doesn’t it make perfect sense to entrust ourselves to Him without reservation? Yes, it does.

First we surrender to Him. Then submission to His will is a joyous choice. That’s what makes the Gospel such good news!

Celebrating our nation’s diversity

 January 15 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday and a day of remembrance. Martin Luther King Jr. dedicated his life to creating and fostering equal rights for African Americans, and he died during his efforts to make his dream a reality.

Diversity of skills, knowledge, and perspective is what you want when putting together a strong team. In a way, America is a super team of diverse members, all of whom dream of prosperity and success. Many people honor Martin Luther King Jr. for dedicating his life to showing us that diversity is a strength.

Social Security’s “People Like Me” website has custom information for preparing for your future. Our diverse country is made up of countless backgrounds, ethnicities, and nationalities, yet we all want the same thing — a secure future. You can see the many diverse people we serve at www.socialsecurity.gov/people.

Younger people need to know that the earlier you start saving, the more your money can grow. Our website for young workers at www.socialsecurity.gov/people/youngpeople/saving.html has many resources that can help you secure today and tomorrow.

Veterans and wounded warriors, as well as their families, sometimes face unique obstacles when saving for their future. Our website has great resources and information at www.socialsecurity.gov/people/veterans.

Social Security values your diverse skill set and knowledge. That’s what makes our country a world leader. Now you can take the lead and show your friends and family what Social Security has to offer.

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 vonda.vantil@ssa.gov.

STORM’S END FOR NOW… By my observation, I think we had snow every day from Christmas to Monday, January 8, adding to the flummox were sub freezing temperatures for much of those days as well. I guess the few days of warm and sun this week is Mother Nature’s way of catching her breath for the next onslaught.

I know Anne and I needed the respite, we have both been battling the flu and colds for almost as long. The doctor at the Watervliet Hospital last week said we were in a “flu epidemic.”

The little bit of sun these past few days was welcome and took the edge off a bit. Not as much as a trip south might do, but every little bit helps.

Speaking of help… keep in mind snow is heavy and shoveling it can be risky even for those in the best of health. Ask for help shoveling.

Thanks to son-in-law Bill Loshbough for digging out our back deck earlier this week. The snow was well over 2-foot deep and the snow on the eaves overhead nearly touched what was on the ground. I got behind with the shoveling while nursing a bad cold and Bill cleared the deck and gave me a new head start. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep up the rest of the season.

With the warm up, I’m hoping to get the last of the outdoor lights down off the house and off the tree in the back yard. What isn’t removed by the weekend may have to remain in place until Valentine’s Day!

Not everyone, I assume, found fault with the recent white onslaught. Kids and parents got extra days of holiday vacation, snowmobilers were riding in their own backyards, and snowplow drivers were getting extra work. That’s what’s fun with Michigan weather, it is ever changing and there is always something to please (or displease) everyone.

PAPER MILL REUNION PLANNED… The North Berrien Historical Society is planning a Watervliet Paper Mill Reunion for Saturday, July 14.

While details are still in the planning stages, organizers are asking former mill employees and family members to share any items, photos, and documents of the mill. Call the Historical Society Museum at 468-3330 or email info@northberrienhistory.org.

The mill ceased paper production in 1994 and demolition began in December 2001. Over the 4-month long demolition project, I began collecting paper mill artifacts and memories from the many mill employees and family members for a special commemoration edition.

I was amazed and pleased by the response from so many people who had been touched by the mill experience. I had boxes of photos, notes, and memorabilia that spanned the entire century the mill dominated the landscape of Watervliet.

When the commemorative issue was published in April 2002, there were many artifacts still unclaimed. When I would contact a person to pick up something, more often than not, the comment was… “You keep it.”

When I demurred and suggested it belonged in a museum; the comment was “go ahead, give it to the museum.”

After awhile, everything that was left at the Record as part of the project, ended up returned or donated to the museum.

Now the museum is seeking more artifacts and memories. Hopefully folks with pictures and other mementoes will share them for the reunion this summer.


Miss Watervliet 2017 thanks community for support and opportunities throughout reign

To the community of Watervliet,

As my year as Miss Watervliet 2017 comes to a close, I have found myself reflecting on the many things that I have been able to do as queen. In this year I was able to ride in countless parades, go to volunteer events as Miss Watervliet, and make a difference in the atmosphere of my hometown.

Many of the opportunities I was chosen for this year would not have been made possible without the support of the members of this lovely town. With that being said I have a lot of people to thank. I would like to begin by expressing my gratefulness to my chairperson Angela Widdis as well as Debi McVay, Erin Faultersack, Debbi Hall, Rebecca Yazel, Karla Liles, Gale Morales and all others who have helped support the Watervliet Pageant Organization.

A big thank you goes to Shawn Mead for capturing the memories this year at our court photo shoot and events. I would also like to express my gratefulness to the Morlock family for the float’s parade flowers, and the lovely gifts I received during the year.

I am also very grateful for the hard work that was dedicated by the parents of my court members that was put into the float. Thank you all for driving us to events, pulling the float and all the other hard work you put in to making this year a good one for my court and me. Thank you to all the local businesses and people in Watervliet who donated money or supplies to make our float as stunning as it was.

Thank you to my court, Katie Schultz, Mercede Daughtery, Maggie Lynch, Brent Simmons and Hayden Richard. My court has become a second family, and I appreciate the memories we made this year.  I would also like to thank my past Miss Watervliets including Elizabeth Fellows, Mattie Troyer, and Karlee Liles for being incredible role models to me.

A huge thank you goes to my family whose love and support only grew stronger as I walked through this amazing year.

If there is anyone who I had not mentioned above please know that does not mean I do not appreciate all the support you gave.

Thank you all for the warm welcome you gave me as Miss Blossomtime when my sister queens and I visited Watervliet during our Tour Week.

Thank you all for making my fairytale dreams come true. Lastly, but most importantly thank you to my king Jesus for blessing me with the opportunity to shed light into my hometown of Watervliet.


Kaylee Chapin

United Way rallies Berrien and Cass counties for MLK Day of Service

 On January 15, many area residents will be making the annual Martin Luther King Jr. holiday a ‘day on’ instead of a day off. The MLK Day of Service inspires thousands of people to defy the cold and serve others in ways ranging from providing meals, holding food, diaper, or coat drives, or just getting out and helping people in their neighborhood.

For many, this federal holiday, established as a national day of service by Congress in 1994, has become the perfect opportunity for Americans to honor Dr. King’s legacy through service. People of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities throughout our community will come together on this day to serve others.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others? This was one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous quotes. This is something we asked ourselves at United Way – how are we using this Day of Service to help others?” explains United Way of Southwest Michigan President, Anna Murphy.

United Way of Southwest Michigan is inspiring the community to get involved on January 15 by engaging in a volunteer event. The local non-profit that serves Berrien and Cass counties has set up a webpage with a   list      of volunteer ideas, from organizing a food drive to gathering a group to shovel snow for seniors. The web address is: www.uwsm.org/mlkday.

“Many people would like to help on MLK Day but lack the guidance or information on how to get involved,” adds Murphy. “We hope we can help steer people in the right direction so they can get out there and make a difference.”

Please email or call United Way’s Volunteer Engagement Manager, Julee Laurent, with questions or for help with your project: julee.laurent@uwsm.org or 269-932-2566.

Red Cross blood shortage prompts urgent call for blood and platelet donations during National Blood Donor Month

Severe weather forces blood drive cancellations causing thousands of donations to go uncollected

This January, National Blood Donor Month, the American Red Cross has an urgent need for blood and platelet donors of all blood types to make an appointment to give now and help address a winter blood donation shortage.

Severe winter weather has had a tremendous impact on blood donations already this year, with more than 150 blood drives forced to cancel causing over 5,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected. This is in addition to seasonal illnesses, such as the flu, and hectic holiday schedules collectively contributing to more than 28,000 fewer donations than what was needed in November and December.

“Even temporary disruptions to blood and platelet donations can diminish the availability for hospital patients,” said Todd Kulman, external communications manager of the Great Lakes Red Cross Blood Services Regions. “It’s the blood on the shelves that helps save lives in an emergency, and that’s why we’re asking eligible individuals to make an appointment to give blood or platelets today.”

While serving local hospitals is the first priority, the Red Cross can move blood products to where they’re needed most. This allows generous donors throughout the country to contribute to the national blood supply and potentially help patients locally and in storm-affected areas.

While all blood types are urgently needed, there is a more critical need for the following blood and donation types right now: Platelets – The clotting portion of blood primarily given to cancer patients during treatment and always in great demand; Type O negative – The blood type that can be transfused to almost everyone and is what doctors reach for in trauma situations; Type B negative – The blood type that can be transfused to type B Rh-positive and negative patients; Type AB – The plasma type that can be transfused to almost everyone and can be donated through a platelet or plasma donation, where available, or during a regular blood donation.

Eligible donors can find a blood or platelet donation opportunity and schedule an appointment to donate by using the free Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass are encouraged to help speed up the donation process. RapidPass lets donors complete the pre-donation reading and answer the health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, by visiting redcrossblood.org/rapidpass from the convenience of a mobile device or computer, or through the Blood Donor App.

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. The Red Cross must collect more than 13,000 blood donations every day for patients at approximately 2,600 hospitals across the country.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities include in Berrien County on Monday, Jan. 22, 9:00 a.m. – 2:45 p.m., Lake Michigan Catholic High School, 915 Pleasant, St. Joseph and Van Buren County on Friday, Jan. 26, 12 noon – 5:45 p.m. at Federated Church, 65418 Red Arrow Hwy in Hartford.

Secretary of State Johnson encourages lawmakers to take action on driver fees

 Secretary of State Ruth Johnson made the following statement about Driver Responsibility Fees as lawmakers return from winter break.

“Michigan residents have waited long enough for relief from these burdensome fees that are hurting families and job growth across the state,” Johnson said. “I encourage House and Senate members to work together with the governor to reach a deal right away to forgive the fees. Driver Responsibility Fees are not enforcing traffic safety. Because of this automatic double-penalty, too many Michigan residents have lost their licenses because of Driver Responsibility Fees. They can’t take their kids to school or get to work, disrupting their families and harming local businesses who can’t find enough qualified employees.”

As a state representative in 2003, Johnson voted against Driver Responsibility Fees. As secretary of state, she has pushed for repealing the Driver Responsibility Fee law, successfully advocating that lawmakers eliminate the most common fees in 2011, create a community service option for certain fees in 2015 and begin phasing out all fees.

Driver Responsibility Fees are an additional fee automatically charged for various traffic violations, including non-moving violations, on top of regular traffic citation fines and court costs. Unlike traditional court fines and fees in which a judge can take into consideration a driver’s ability to pay and order alternatives, such as payment plans or community service in lieu of payment, the automatically assessed Driver Responsibility Fees cannot be waived or reduced by a judge.


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