01-12-2017 Letters and Commentary

VFW extends thank you for help with Needy Family Christmas program

Dear Editor,

On behalf of V.F.W. Post 6803, I would like to extend a big thank you to all those who made a donation of non-perishable food items or a monetary donation to our annual Needy Family Christmas program.

Your generosity helped us deliver food baskets to six Tri-City area families and present gifts to 13 children.

Again, a big thank you to all those who helped make Christmas a little brighter for these six families.


Corky Openneer, Commander

First responders thanked

Dear Editor,

I would like to take time to thank all the rescue, fire and ambulance people that helped rescue me and three friends from Duck Lake on December 21. You guys are all terrific and you all got to the scene in record time by using the GPS from my friend, Tom’s phone from the 911 call I asked him to make.

Also I want to give a very special thank you to my friends, Jamie, Jason and Tom, for making a human chain to rescue me from the freezing 12ft. deep water. It took all three of them to get me out of the water.

Everyone in this thank you letter is a hero to me, great job everyone and thanks again!

I would like to say congratulations to my brother, Rich Wallace on retiring from V.B.C.S.D. last week, after 39 years of service, you deserve it! Congratulations again, Rich!



Response to Feldman letter

Dear Editor,

In response to Mr. Feldman’s letter in the December 15 paper, I would like to ask these questions.

If the policies of President Obama have made the US economy so great, then why are we filling potholes and not building new roads? Why is there so many more people getting government assistance? Why has the National Debt increased to a tremendous amount? Why haven’t those on Social Security received increases each year? These are just a few of my questions.

I know there are some statistics that may support Mr. Feldman’s letter. It may be true that figures don’t lie, but it is also true that liars can figure.

Roy Jeffery, Coloma

The Ripple Effect

Dear Editor,

Congratulations to the North Berrien County community for coming together to help secure funding for reinvestment in the new Berrien County-Watervliet Park.  We came together as citizens, businesses and local organizations to raise $25,000 in private funding.

These local efforts created momentum that started a ripple effect of additional funding coming into our community.  The County has doubled their funding commitment for building the new park to a total of $300,000 which helped position us for the competitively awarded state grant of $295,000.

In addition, the state has also awarded a $100,000 grant to help establish the Paw Paw River Water Trail which will intersect with the new park.  In total our community will see a combined investment of almost three quarters of a million dollars.  This near term public investment will hopefully help to spur on new economic development and provide a wonderful community benefit for the people living in our community today.

Rick Rasmussen

Volunteer Project Coordinator

Chana Kniebes

Community Development Coordinator

School Board Recognition Month

Dear Editor,

January is School Board Recognition Month—a time to salute the work of our volunteer school board members and to celebrate public education.

The theme, “School Boards Lead,” reflects our combined commitment to leadership and accountability, assuring that ALL children succeed.

It’s an exciting and challenging time in public education. School board members at Coloma Community Schools develop policies and make tough decisions that help shape the future of our education system. They bear responsibility for an annual budget of $15 million, over 1500 students, nearly 200 employees and four school buildings. They are citizens whose decisions affect our children and build our communities.

Our board of education, and the hundreds like it across the state, preserve the core of our democracy—public education. They ensure that decisions on school programming are made by people we’ve elected to represent our community’s values, culture and circumstances.

Showing appreciation for the important work of school boards should be a year-round process, but too often we neglect to recognize the dedication and hard work of these men and women who represent us. This January, the staff and students of Coloma Community Schools are asking all members of the community to take a moment and thank a school board member.

Thank you to the men and women who dedicate countless personal hours to ensure the needs of our community are met by our public schools. We salute the public servants of Coloma Community Schools whose dedication and civic responsibility make local control of public schools in our community possible. We applaud them for their vision and voice to prepare today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders.

The men and women serving Coloma Community Schools are: Heidi Ishmael – Board President, Apryl Watson – Vice President, Doug Kraemer – Secretary, Bob Hirsch – Treasurer, Bill Stowers – Trustee and Kelly Clements – Trustee.

And a special thank you to Dave Vollrath, who recently resigned from his position on the Board after serving our community for over 18 years!! We wish him luck as he assumes his new position serving as a Berrien County Commissioner!!

Peter W. Bush, Superintendent

Coloma Community Schools

School choice matters for Michigan families

Dear Editor,

In our country, we love to customize, whether it’s a new addition to the house or the colors and fonts surrounding our text messages. We choose everything, from our line of work to our preferred place to grab lunch (where we probably customize our lunch order). So it’s easy to understand why parents want more choices in their children’s education.

Parents understand that education options open doors for their children. Every child is unique, with distinct interests and learning styles. Moms and dads know that a school that might work for one student might not be a good fit for another. They know their child best and should be empowered to select the right school.

In many states, Michigan included, lawmakers have taken action to provide a more diverse variety of school choices for families.

From January 22-28, millions of Americans will raise awareness about the importance of school choice at an unprecedented 21,000 events – including more than 700 events in Michigan. These events are planned to coincide with National School Choice Week, the largest celebration of opportunity in education in U.S. history.

For families in the Great Lakes State, National School Choice Week provides a good opportunity to review the different types of education options available to their children.

Michiganders can choose traditional public schools for their kids, and the state allows parents, with some limitations, the freedom to choose traditional public schools outside of their existing school zones. This process is called open enrollment, or public school choice.

Michigan also allows public charter schools, which are tuition-free public schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative. Magnet schools, which focus on themes such as math, science, technology, and the performing arts, are available.

In addition, the Great Lakes State is one of 41 states with a tuition-free online academy, allowing students to go to school entirely online.

Of course, parents in Michigan can also pay to send their children to private schools.

Finally, parents have the freedom to educate their children in the home – and more parents are homeschooling their children than ever before.

Seventy percent of Americans support school choice, and January is the time to exercise the choices available to Michigan families.

Parents who would like to explore their options, whether or not they’re happy with their children’s schools, should consider exploring in January. National School Choice Week is a great opportunity to visit schools, ask lots of questions of teachers and administrators, and talk with other parents to see which educational options are likely to be the best fit for their kids.

Parents who begin the school choice process in January instead of waiting till summer break will have more options available to them. Depending on which options seem best, parents may need to meet deadlines for applications or scholarships, or they may want to enroll before a school starts a waiting list.

Why is this process important?

In addition to ensuring greater peace of mind, research has demonstrated that when parents actively choose the schools their children attend, or choose to educate their children in the home, high school graduation rates increase dramatically.

A student with a high school diploma will, over the course of his or her life, earn more than a quarter million dollars more than a student who has dropped out. High school graduates are far less likely to be incarcerated, and are six times more likely to participate in community and civic affairs, than individuals without high school diplomas.

Most importantly, though: school choice matters because every child in America has potential. Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders, and when parents are empowered to customize their children’s education, just as they choose so many other things in their day-to-day lives, great things happen for kids, and for our country.

Andrew R. Campanella, President

National School Choice Week

Blue Mountain Beach, Florida

Trump’s appointees want to dismantle Medicare and

Social Security

Dear Editor,

As many Americans are, I am deeply concerned about the direction of our country. One looming concern I have in the first part of 2017 is the direction of Social Security & Medicare benefits. From several reports, it appears that the Republican majorities in the House and Senate, along with President-elect Donald Trump, are preparing to dismantle many of the Medicare and Social Security benefits we have earned.

Trump’s new pick for Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Rep.

Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), has been a strong supporter of Paul Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare, a move that would put health insurance out of reach for millions of seniors.

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), Trump’s pick as Secretary of Health and Human Services, has proposed a budget plan that would drastically reduce Social Security benefits.

Before Congress left town, Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) – Chairman of the House Social Security Subcommittee – introduced a bill that would, on average, cut Social Security benefits by 27% for the majority of recipients.  We must have a Congress that fights against this!

Since their inception, Social Security and Medicare have provided retirement and medical security support for billions of Americans.  Now it seems the Republican majority want to treat recipients as unneeded baggage in their rush to reduce taxes for the top one percent.  This impending regime appears to have no conscience or limit to the greed they intend to pursue at the expense of those least able to afford it.  Their proposed moves have a direct impact on the lives of anyone who depends on Social Security income and Medicare benefits.  These are programs that each of us as Americans have fully funded with the work we have done for decades, faithfully paying our Social Security and Medicare Taxes out of every paycheck.  Now, as we need them the most, they are at risk of being taken away.

I urge every reader to contact Representative Upton, Senators Stabenow and

Peters and ask them to support Social Security and Medicare and vote against any measures that would reduce these benefits for hardworking Americans and American retirees.

Laura A. Goos, St. Joseph

We are here to help you realize your dream

 January 16 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day — a national 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.

Many people commemorate this holiday by serving their community and giving to others who may be less fortunate. In many ways, this is what Social Security does every day, all year long.

A great way to be of service to others is to help someone you know who may need assistance applying for Social Security, Medicare, or Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs. This is easy to do at www.socialsecurity.gov.

Some people who need these benefits may not be comfortable with computers or may not even know applying online is an option.  But now, it is easier than ever to apply for such benefits from the convenience of a home computer at www.socialsecurity.gov.

For example, it is easy to apply for retirement benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline. It can take as little as 15 minutes from start to finish.  Once the application is electronically submitted, in most cases, there is nothing more to do.

People who already have Medicare coverage but who need help meeting prescription drug costs, can apply for Extra Help online at www.socialsecurity.gov/extrahelp.

You can make your Martin Luther King Day a day of service to someone who can use your help. Lead them to www.socialsecurity.gov. It may be easy for you, but it may help someone you love realize their own dreams.

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.

Continued epiphanies

 Christmas is over.  Down comes the tree, and away go the decorations until next time. Lights come down from the eves outside and the nativity figures go back in their boxes until summoned to stand in their assigned places again next year.

The wise men, Epiphany roles completed, get wrapped again in their regal tissue paper and go back to their cardboard boxes. And the manger, with Jesus? There’s a box for them, too; away to the shelf for another year.

Of course we don’t think of it that way. After all these are only decorations; they are meant to be reminders of the realities of our faith. Yet perhaps we need to be careful to remember an additional detail so we don’t limit Jesus to the box until next Christmas.

That detail? The shepherds came first and then came the wise men. It was fitting that the angels announced Jesus’ birth to shepherds. Jesus was the perfect Lamb of God sent to save the world from sin. The wise men came a little later to acknowledge Jesus as a king. Jesus was just a baby then, but he would become a savior by sacrifice and later a king by decree. In Revelation we see Jesus given the title “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”. That is the same Jesus that the shepherds and the wise men greeted as a child in Bethlehem. We must own Him first as our Savior, then as our Lord.

The “Epiphany” was the “manifestation” of God in Jesus, the Christ. If we say we’ve “had an epiphany” we mean we’ve come to a new understanding or realization. Our epiphanies should continue throughout the year as we daily own Jesus as Savior and as rightful King on the throne of our lives.

THANK YOU MR. PRESIDENT… It is hard to believe that in a few days we will mark the end of the eight-year tenure of President Barack Obama.

I challenge anyone, to submit the name of anyone else that could have done the job better than he could in those days. Right or wrong, forward or backward, up or down, rich or poor, President Obama has lead our country with courage and honesty. He has represented our country with dignity and class.

I wish him well and thank him for a job well done.

NEWS AT YOUR FINGERTIPS… Do you have back issues of the paper is a frequent question from readers.

“Yes we do, all the way back to 1882,” is my smart aleck response. (Not altogether true. There are microfilms of the Watervliet Record, and Coloma Courier, at the local libraries and MI State Library going back to the turn of the 19th Century.)

What most callers are interested in are the recent issues of the Tri-City Record. This week the caller was interested in the winning recipe at the Glad-Peach Festival bake-off.

The caller drove over and picked up the copy within minutes of the call.

Actually, the caller could have got the recipe online by connecting to the Coloma Public Library website and clicking the link to the Newspaper Archives. A search of the Tri-City Record papers for the Glad-Peach Festival 2016 will bring up the story.

In less time it took for me to type these beginning paragraphs and certainly less than the caller spent driving over, the information will be on your computer (or phone) screen.