01-30-2020 Letters and Commentary

CALLING ALL BAIERS… This is a family and friends alert I posted on Facebook this past weekend. You may find it of more than passing interest, if you have any German heritage that includes those that had any relatives that were imprisoned by the English during WWI. My family name Bayer was changed from Baier when my grandfather emigrated to England at the turn of the 19th century. That and other variations of the original Baier abound here in SW Michigan as many Germans emigrated here at the same time as he did to London. “Achtung ALL Bayer’s… our Grandpa Christian David Bayer was a POW at the Knockaloe Internment Camp on the Isle of Man 1914-1919 with his brothers Frederick and John. All told 23,000 German men and boys living in England when war was declared were arrested and sent to the camp. Their families, wives and children, were deported to Germany at the same time. The camp was abandoned at the end of the war and was reused during WWII with military POWs and then was left to ruin for 80 years. Now the camp is being restored as a monument and memorial to that history and to those involved. I have been in contact with the restoration process volunteers for the past 7 years. The ‘restored’ camp opened officially last year in October on the 100th anniversary of its closing in 1919. The story of the Bayer brothers will be chronicled as one of the 40,000 archives now being researched. Please contact me with any information and photos you may have. Please share this message with all our cousins from close to far.”

God was there There are peaceful places in this world that are there still. There are times when I like to remember the places I’ve been privileged to experience. How we’ve interacted with our contexts is a part of who we have become. Projecting ourselves back to those contexts can be a good thing. We can also remember that God saw us then, was with us then, and knew us perfectly then. And He still does now. It becomes a moving picture of God’s love and faithfulness throughout our whole lives. David did that in Psalm 139 when he wrote of God’s amazing awareness of him in every detail of life. The fact that the God of the universe takes any notice of us at all is both comforting and sobering. In Matthew 10:24-33 Jesus is expressing this to His disciples when He explains that God takes note of everything that happens, even those hidden things that will result in judgment. He also explains that we are personally of value. Something to remember when we are suffering. How that comes home for us is in our remembering those defining moments in our lives and being fully convinced that God was there too. For me those moments often involve the sea. Peering over the steel rail, cold rain on my face, with rocking waves of the North Atlantic drenching the “Victory Ship”, the Buckner, when I was about six. I was sea sick. God was there. A fun evening, when about 17, walking with friends on the Ocean City, New Jersey Boardwalk; God was there. There was nowhere in my life that God was not there. No matter my age, or my interests. And the same is true for you. You are loved. You are watched. You are watched over. And you have the opportunity to know the God who knows you so well. Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t He amazing?

The real work gets done in Michigan I spent the last week crisscrossing southwest Michigan, attending service clubs events, at plant tours, meeting with local officials, participating in Q&A sessions – you name it. It was a full-court press here in Michigan’s Sixth District, and that’s because Michigan is where the real work gets done. Here’s the thing – folks in southwest Michigan don’t care if you have an ‘R’ or ‘D’ next to your name. They want to see results, and that’s why I remain committed to working with all my colleagues on the issues that matter most to Michigan. We have a bipartisan proposal to lower the cost of prescription drugs and spur innovation so we can continue to develop life-saving cures. Because it’s bipartisan, it can actually become law and start helping patients immediately. At a number of meetings last week, I also heard about how new USMCA trade deal will help Michigan jobs and Michigan’s economy. Canada and Mexico are two of our state and our nation’s most important trading partners, supporting more than two million jobs nationally at 43,000 manufacturers. I’ll continue to work to support our economic growth. I’m also committed to protecting the Great Lakes. We continue to monitor and work on solutions for the erosion along the Lake Michigan shoreline. To learn more about important legislative issues, follow me on Twitter at @RepFredUpton or visit my website: upton.house.gov. You can also call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/ Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

Support Mill Creek Charlie’s… it is not closed! Dear Editor, Over the past few months we have heard multiple times that not only has Mill Creek Charlie’s been sold, but that it is closed. Because of these rumors, many people have stopped eating there. We three have been enjoying a breakfast/Bible study at Charlie’s throughout all this time. The food is delicious and the serving staff is very personable, caring and friendly, and attune to our needs. They keep fresh, hot coffee in our mugs throughout our meal. We were grateful to be informed last week by Jack, the owner, that the sale did not go through! Mill Creek Charlie’s will continue to be a family restaurant and a friendly place to gather. There are so few places in Watervliet where one not only can have a good meal, but also enjoy a relaxing time of fellowship. We encourage you to come out and support this vital business! See you soon! Jan Couturier, Lois Lowell, & Sharon Platt

Appealing property tax assessment may bring savings Among the many costs of owning real estate are property taxes. These taxes, which are generally assessed in the summer and winter, serve to support our local communities, like schools, public safety and utilities, and roads, for example. The taxable value of a property is used to calculate your property taxes. The annual growth in taxable value is capped at the rate of inflation, or 5%, whichever is less. The State Equalized Value must still reflect 50% of the property’s true cash value and may increase, or decrease, by more than the rate of inflation or 5% in any tax year. It is important to note that your property taxes are no longer based on the State Equalized Value. Changes to your home’s assessed value will reduce your taxes only if it is an amount lower than the taxable value. Reading and understanding property tax assessments can be confusing, and fortunately property owners have the chance to review their property taxes. While the assessors do their best and typically assess property taxes correctly, the government certainly isn’t perfect, and errors do occur. That is why I offer a free guide to help property owners effectively appeal property tax assessments if they believe they are too high or otherwise incorrect. If you think your assessment is in error, follow my eight-step guide on how you may appeal to your local Board of Review and, if necessary, the Michigan Tax Tribunal. As I mentioned, there are several steps to follow, and doing so isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s your money and if there is an error, you could save quite a bit. The good news is that appealing is free, and no attorney is necessary. To download my free “How to Effectively Appeal Your Property Tax Assessment” guide, visit www.StateSenatorKimLaSata.com and click the Publications link under the Resources tab in the upper right corner of my website. If you have any questions, please contact my office by email at SenKLaSata@senate.michigan.gov, or call 517-373-6960.

Could not have said it any better

Dear Jon Bisnett, We would like to thank you for the wonderful article that you wrote in the Tri-City Record about our husband and father, Ted Johnson. You made us laugh and cry with pride. You captured his essence in so many ways; from the comments you made about the projects that he pushed forward in the city to the way he dressed to honor the office of mayor. You did an amazing job articulating what we all knew and loved about him. We could not have said it any better. Thank you so much for honoring him in such a lovely way. Sincerely, Mrs. Donna Johnson, Sally and Terry

Valentine’s Love Letter winner from 1999

Dear Editor, Got your great paper many years when we still lived at home in Hartford. Now am in an asst. living home in Paw Paw, a great place and still get the paper. Enjoy it and all the local news. I won the Valentine’s contest in 1999 when I wrote about my husband Ken. That was very special and he sure was surprised. Loved the picture of us with the roses. You have a great paper with a lot of good news and pictures. Thanks much. Judy Jordan, Paw Paw Royal Thank You

Dear Editor, Thank you so much for the one year subscription! You guys do such a great job keeping up with all the community events. I love reading every article and I’m so excited to never miss one! Lilly Trapp, Miss Coloma 2020

Dear Editor, Thank you for all you do for our community. As an athlete, reading about the local sports stories and recaps is always exciting, especially when I am reading about my own team. You always report on all the positives occurring in the local area and it’s nice reading articles that bring the reader joy. With your gift I’ll never miss a story again. Thank you! Ian Ishmael, Mr. Coloma 2020

Historical Museum 2019 Holiday Open House tree winners

Dear Editor, The North Berrien Historical Society would like to announce the winners of our 2019 Holiday Open House tree sponsorship! Taking first place in both the People’s Choice and Students’ Choice categories is Cutting Corners with their abominable snowman-theme tree. Runners-up include Chemical Bank of Coloma, Sarett Nature Center, Coloma United Methodist Church, and society member Susan Plee’s collaboration with Paws of Hope and the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan. Congratulations to these winning tree sponsors. The North Berrien Historical Society would like to extend a huge “thank you” to all of the other sponsors for this event. B&B Grocery, Berrien Community Foundation, Centsible Heating & Air, Coloma American Legion Post 362, Coloma Elementary School, Coloma High School Choirs, Coloma Lioness Lions Club, Coloma Public Library, Coloma/St. Joseph KOA Holiday, Darlene Getz DDS, DiMaggio’s Pizza & Burgers, Don Young Insurance Agency, Edgewater Bank, Four Seasons Spa & Pool, The Friendly Tavern, GateWay Services, H&R Block, Harding’s Friendly Market, Hillview Estates RHG & JLH, Honor Credit Union, HOPE Resources, John’s Glass, Karla D. Smothers Agency LLC, Linear Electric, Loma Theatre, Moss Chiropractic Clinic, Paw Paw Lake Rotary Club, Round Barn Filling Station, The Upbeats band, Water & Wheat Cafe, Watervliet District Library, and Youth Development Company/PAL. NBHS also wants to acknowledge all of the wonderful volunteers who helped run the event. Vaneza Alvarez, Kati Burchett, Carabeth Culby, Bob Dorstewitz, Marge DuVernay, Cindy Gabriel, Brianna Gerrity, Sara Glisson, Savana Glisson, Morgan Gruss, Kandyce Hays, Clare Horneij, Dale Kaucher, Ronda Kaucher, Desiree Kerr, Destiny Kerr, Mike Kiernan, Meghan Klann, Greg Krell, Elaine Lavander, Debbie McVay, Marilyn Miser, David Moss, Penny Moss, Alice Mow, Fred Munchow, Sandi Munchow, Marilyn Paulsen, Martha Paulsen, Gloria Perkins, Susan Plee, Sherry Polashak, Joan Polaskey, Nicholas Polaskey, Ruth Pomeroy, Rick Rasmussen, Maggie Richter, Nancy Robinson, Deanna Signor, Phil Signor, Janie Staggers, Samantha Trousdale, Ellen VanderMyde, Kathleen Walter, Grace Weckwerth, Joyce Wendzel, Millie Wendzel, Pauline Wendzel, Ed Whitehead, Lynne Whitehead, Angela Widdis, Isabel Widdis, Steve Williams, Bryan Young, Cindy Young, Ellie Young, Lori Young, and Scott Young. Mark your calendars for December 4–6 for our 2020 Holiday Open House! Gratefully, Peter Cook Director of Programs & Outreach North Berrien Historical Museum

AG criticizes proposal that would allow predatory lenders to take advantage of consumers

(Press Release) Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined 21 other Attorneys General in opposing a proposal by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to exempt entities that are not national banks (including payday and other high-cost lenders) from state usury laws. Usury laws prevent predatory lenders from taking advantage of consumers by limiting the interest rates that can be charged on loans. If finalized, the OCC’s proposed regulations would enable predatory lenders to circumvent these caps through “rent-a-bank” schemes, in which banks act as lenders in name only, passing along their state law exemptions to non-bank payday lenders. These arrangements would allow lenders to charge consumers rates that far exceed the rates permissible under state usury laws. “My office has a responsibility to act when Michiganders are at risk of deceitful and abusive loan practices,” Nessel said. “If the OCC succeeds, more consumers risk becoming victims of predatory and misleading tactics by payday lenders.” State law continues to protect residents from predatory lending by non-banks such as payday, auto title, and installment lenders. Congress affirmed that role with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, preserving more protective state laws. The new regulations proposed by the OCC would extend the National Bank Act exemption for federally-regulated banks to non-bank debt buyers, such as payday lenders. The proposed rule is a sharp reversal in policy and a deliberate attempt to evade state laws that target predatory lending. The Attorneys General argue that the OCC’s attempt to extend the National Bank Act preemption to non-banks conflicts with the National Bank Act and Dodd-Frank Act, exceeds the OCC’s statutory authority, and violates the Administrative Procedure Act.

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