01-19-2017 Letters and Commentary

ALL THE BEST MR. PRESIDENT… Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President this Friday. Whether we voted for him or not, we owe him the respect due his office.

We need to set aside the hurtful squabbling and name-calling and join as Americans to work together to solve the problems that plague our country and eat up so much of our funds and attention.

I would hope our Democratic Party leaders will all attend Mr. Trump’s Inauguration as our representatives and to show unity, not only to your constituents, but also to the rest of the world.

Thank you President Barak Obama for 8 years of leadership and sacrifice, I hope you enjoy a restful vacation and then come back to the national spotlight to keep your values and programs alive for all of us.

GREAT JOB ARIC AND AL… the first of the year marked the end of the legislative terms of State Representatives Aric Nesbitt and Al Pscholka. Because of term limits, both could not run for reelection after serving three two-year terms.

I want to acknowledge the great job of both representing our local districts in Lansing.

I hope we see them both continue to be active in serving the public and someday soon Aric and Al will both hold more elected offices.

One of the complaints leveled at term limits is “the best and brightest will not seek public office.” Aric and Al proved that premise wrong.

I especially appreciated the contribution made by both in writing bi-weekly columns on Page 2 keeping Record readers informed of legislative news at the state level.

WELCOME NEW REPS… so as Aric and Al move on, Beth Griffin and Kim LaSata, our new district State representatives, have both agreed to continue the column, titled “My News and Views from the Michigan State House” found each week on Page 2.

Beth wrote her first column last week, sharing her excitement for the opportunity to serve us in Lansing. She also outlined some goals for her first term.

You can reach Beth by phone at 517-373-0839 or via email BethGriffin@house.mi.gov.

Kim LaSata’s debut column is in this week’s issue. You can reach her at (517) 373-1403, emailing to KimLaSata@House.mi.gov or visiting www.RepLaSata.com.

NEW LAW NEEDED… If there was ever the need for a new law, it is to ban distracted driving.

Recently I was by Hays Park on M-140, easing over to the left turn lane, when an oncoming truck crossed the centerlines.

The truck crossed the centerlines multiple times. So much so that I pulled out of the left turn lane and headed for the shoulder.

By that time, the tractor-trailer rig passed me by, still weaving over the centerlines. I could barely see the head of the driver as it was almost below the steering wheel. Perhaps that was how he was steering his rig.

He must have been texting his girlfriend or tying his shoelaces!

This past week an ambulance (not on call) passed me by with the driver resting his cell phone on the steering wheel and typing a message.

At any given morning, I can watch cars go by my front window on Main Street, more than half of them with drivers on the phone or texting. As it is school time, most of those cars have kids riding in them as well.

What is surprising is there are not more accidents caused by distracted driving. I surmise many more accidents are caused by distracted drivers but are not reported because there are no witnesses.

MY DEAR WIFE IS RECOVERING NICELY… Anne underwent hip replacement surgery Tuesday morning at Lakeland Hospital Watervliet.

Dr. Jeff Postma and his team replaced her arthritis ridden hip ball and joint with state of the art implants. He told us before the procedure that she would no longer have the bone on bone pain in her hip, and barring complications, could look forward to a quick recovery.

All we want is a quick recovery and pain free movement. By the time you read this she is planning for the short ride home and beginning a physical therapy plan. Soon she expects to be out walking, pain free!

If you would like to give her a call, dial 269-201-7289 or drop a note to 620 Riverside Dr., Watervliet MI 49098.

Our thanks to the wonderful staff at Lakeland Hospital Watervliet for the great care.

Where to from here?

 It’s very easy to become discouraged by the news these days. With continuing political turmoil, there is a sense of impending disaster. As the news business and their advertisers clamor for our dollars, we are left with a confusing array of voices and a growing collection of finger-pointing accusers on all sides of every issue.

Some decide not to listen anymore. Not to devote the energy to trying to understand what the truth really is. Sometimes that represents a retreat, sometimes just a frustration about not being able to make any significant difference in the troublesome situations. We need first to be effective in our own areas of responsibility and influence. To be overindulging in news, whether “fake”, invented, hyped, contradictory, dramatized, criticized or cauterized, is a waste of energy that should be spent on other, more relevant things.

Jesus once explained about an “unrighteous judge”. The account is in Luke 18. This judge did not care about right or wrong (evidently those kinds have been around for a long time). Someone came to him with a legitimate complaint, but he ignored her. Finally he relented and gave her judgment in her favor, not because he cared, but because she was “wearing him out”. Jesus used that judge to illustrate what God is not like. God will judge quickly and without delay on behalf of His people when He returns. Then Jesus poses this question: “Will the Son of Man find faith when He returns?”

With so much attention to other aspects of life, are we forgetting the spiritual part? Where is our faith in the midst of our daily clamor diet?

Our world is reeling, but our faith should not. Keep building on a balanced foundation of non-spin truth from God’s Word.

Make planning for retirement a New Year’s resolution

 It’s 2017, and that means you might be one more year closer to retirement. Whether you’re at your very first job or wrapping up a successful career, there are always new things to learn about when it comes to saving for the future. So why not make retirement planning part of your New Year’s resolution!

Putting money in a high yield savings account (if you can find one) is always smart, but you can do even more. The U.S. Department of the Treasury now offers a retirement savings option called myRA. There’s no minimum to open the account, you can contribute what you can afford, and you can withdraw funds with ease. To learn more about myRA, visit www.myra.gov/.

Hopefully your employer chips in a little. An employer-sponsored retirement plan or 401(k) can be a useful way to set aside funds for retirement, especially if your employer offers matching funds on what you invest. If you don’t work for an employer that offers this type of plan, there are many other plans designed to help you save for retirement.

From solo 401(k) to traditional and Roth IRAs, there are programs designed to fit a multitude of budgets. The earlier you start to save, the more funds you’ll have ready for retirement.

And, as always, there is Social Security, which is funded by taxes you pay while you work.

To get estimates of future benefits and check your earnings record for accuracy, you can create a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Along with giving up bad habits this New Year, start a good habit that can make a lasting, positive change.

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.

Scholarships offered by Lakeland Hospital Watervliet Auxiliary

Dear Editor,

The Lakeland Hospital Watervliet Auxiliary is offering two $2,000 scholarships this year to a qualified graduating senior.

The student must reside in either: Coloma, Hartford or Watervliet school districts, have a 3.0 GPA and plan to pursue a course of studies in a medical field.

Application packets are available from the high school counselors or at the hospital in Watervliet and must be submitted to the Auxiliary before March 15.

Marie Sineni

Scholarship Chairperson

To the Community of Watervliet

Dear Editor,

I would like to personally thank you for all of your love, support and words of encouragement this past year during my reign as Miss Congeniality/ Miss Spirit of Blossomtime and First Runner up to Miss Watervliet.  I have had such an amazing year! This experience has changed my life.  I have grown so much as a person and feel so much more prepared for the “Real World”.  I am continuing my education at Western Michigan University to become an Early Childhood Elementary School Teacher.  A lot of the skills that I have learned throughout this experience will help me succeed.

I have made so many new friends all over Southwest Michigan and have connected with some amazing people here in Watervliet.

Growing up right in the heart of downtown, I have always watched former queens ride past my house on the glittering floats.  I always looked forward to the Fourth of July Festival and watching new queens as the years go by wave at me personally.  Those queens had so inspired me as a little girl.  The best part of my reign was inspiring children to go after their dreams no matter what they are.

Even though this is a general thank you to the whole town of Watervliet, I would like to highlight and thank a few people and organizations specially.  Thank you so much to the entire Miss Watervliet Pageant committee for helping me and so many other young ladies become the women they are today. Thank you to Watervliet Public Schools for supporting all of my extracurricular activities.  Thank you to the Roland, Liles, Collins, and Fellows families for all of your hard work on our community float and the love and support you have given me.  A thank you also goes out to the Tri-City Record for highlighting all of my amazing year.

It was such an honor to represent my beautiful hometown in the Blossomtime Organization.  Thank you for being so proud to not only have one Blossomtime Queen, but two.  The entire community has made me feel so special.  I am so lucky to call Watervliet home.

With love,

Aliea Chapin

Miss Congeniality/ Miss Spirit of Blossomtime 2016

First Runner Up to Miss Watervliet 2016

Family of Pam Shimer offers gratitude

Dear Editor,

On behalf of the family of Pam Shimer, I would like to offer our sincere gratitude for your help in getting Pam’s obituary printed in the January 5 issue of her hometown paper, The Tri-City Record.

I would also like to thank you for your kindness and thoughtfulness for the extra copies of the paper that we requested. The papers will be distributed to her family and her children.

Jan King

Congressional Republicans want to cut Social Security benefits

Dear Editor,

Social Security works for all Americans, and it has never been more important for our economic security.  Social Security Works (www.socialsecurityworks.org ) reports the following facts: 1) Fifty-five million people depend on Social Security; 2) Nearly 2 out of 3 seniors depend on Social Security for most of their income. More than 1 out of 3 seniors rely on it for 90% or more of their income; 3) Social Security lifts 22.2 million Americans out of poverty – without it, the senior poverty rate would be 44%; instead it is 9%; 4) Social Security is an extremely efficient program, with administrative costs of less than a penny on the dollar; and 5) Social Security is fully funded by payroll taxes – it doesn’t add one penny to the federal deficit.

Before Congress recessed in 2016, 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.  If this bill were to pass, about 30 million Americans would lose about $4,000 a year.

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), Donald Trump’s pick as Secretary of Health and Human Services, has proposed a budget plan that would drastically reduce Social Security benefits. Price has also spoken favorably about privatizing Social Security, which would put seniors’ retirement security at great risk.

Social Security needs to be expanded, not reduced. The way to do that is for wealthy individuals to begin paying their fair share of Social Security taxes. At present, wealthy people pay no Social Security tax at all on income above $117,000. That is grossly unfair. By eliminating the cap on Social Security contributions, most of Social Security’s funding problems would be eliminated.

Today our young people are aware of the benefits of Social Security. They are also aware that middle class wages have been stagnant for many years, that pensions are under attack, and that Congressional Republicans are planning to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Expanding Social Security is definitely the right thing to do.

Gloria Weberg, St. Joseph

Upton repeal and replace bill is not the answer

Dear Editor,

The Affordable Care Act (ACA, Obamacare) has made it possible for more than 20 million Americans to obtain health insurance. The uninsured rate is currently the lowest it has ever been. Having health insurance saves lives – when people don’t have insurance they often avoid seeking medical help and often avoid taking prescribed medications.

The ACA prevents insurance companies from refusing to offer insurance to individuals with “pre-existing conditions”, from cancelling insurance if the insured person develops an expensive medical condition, and from charging women more than men for insurance premiums. This law also allows parents to keep their children on their plans until age 26, guarantees access to preventive health care for women, and reduces the cost of prescription drugs for seniors on the Medicare Part D plan.

Despite all of these benefits, Congressional Republicans, including Rep. Fred Upton, are racing to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. One of the Republican proposals to replace the ACA is a bill called the PatientCARE act, which Fred Upton has co-sponsored.

The non-partisan Commonwealth Fund has done a comprehensive analysis of Upton’s bill, and reports that if it were adopted it would, in its first year of implementation: 1) Increase the number of uninsured individuals by 9 million; 2) Increase the federal deficit by $17 billion and 3) Increase health insurance and medical care costs for older adults and low-income individuals.

Upton’s bill would also eliminate mandated coverage of women’s preventive health services and would allow insurance companies to charge women higher rates than men.

Fred Upton should withdraw his sponsorship from this very destructive bill. Instead, he should look for ways to improve the Affordable Care Act. He might begin by supporting legislation to introduce a public option into the insurance marketplace. If this proposal had not been blocked from the Affordable Care Act, health insurance premiums and deductibles would be much lower than they are.

Other important steps that Upton could take to lower the overall cost of health care are to vote for allowing medications to be imported from other developed countries and for allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs. The pharmaceutical companies are charging astronomically higher prices in the United States than they are in other developed nations. This needs to stop.

The Affordable Care Act has been enormously beneficial to all of us. It does not need to be repealed, it needs to be improved. Congressman Upton could help make that happen, or he could continue to sponsor legislation that will have seriously negative effects on the health of our country. Please urge him to stop sponsoring the PatientCARE bill and to work with his colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, to improve the Affordable Care Act.

Dr. Larry Feldman, Lakeside

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