02-02-2017 Letters and Commentary

Since mid-2011 some unexplained sounds have been coming from skies worldwide. Deep groaning and growling sounds. Sometimes including vibrations, very loud and persistent, they have been dubbed “Earth groans”. They seem to be linked to some sort of electromagnetic phenomena in the sky and in the earth itself. Also reported in some deep caves, they first sounded over Kiev, Ukraine.

Explanations have been sparse. Hand-waving dismissals such as “normal”, or “only distant thunder”, offered by “scientific authorities” provide obviously inadequate answers. Claims that the deep sounds are “apocalyptic” are also questionable (though we cannot dismiss that idea either without adequate evidence for or against). Whatever the cause(s), the sounds can be very powerful, haunting, and impossible to ignore.

What would it mean if they actually were “apocalyptic”? It would suggest that history is progressing toward conclusions.

The meaning of “apocalypse” is “revelation.” The title of the last book in the New Testament is usually either “Revelation”, or “The Apocalypse”, depending on the version. Noting that the first few verses of Revelation self-describe it as “The revelation of Jesus Christ”, our “Apocalyptic events” would be events leading to the fuller revelation of the person and work of Jesus Christ. That would be a good thing, not a bad thing.

Some identify the sky groans as a dramatically audible modern evidence of Romans 8:22: “… For we know that the whole creation groans…” Surrounding verses explain why it groans: “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God”. That word, “revealing”, is again, “apocalypse”.

Jesus will someday come back and culminate history with the creation of the New Heaven and the New Earth. He always keeps His promises, and the groaning Earth, whatever the natural cause(s) may be, reminds us to be ready.

Social Security celebrates Black History Month

Throughout the month of February, we honor African Americans by celebrating Black History Month. Created in 1926, this event coincides with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and Frederick Douglass on February 14. African-American communities have celebrated these birthdays together for over a century.

Honoring our shared history and reflecting on the past is one way we can remember that in America, we believe in freedom and democracy for all. Another shared belief is that we all deserve a comfortable retirement, free of economic hardship. This is part of securing today and tomorrow.

Social Security has the tools to help you plan for your retirement and to apply for benefits online. We also provide disability benefits to individuals with medical conditions that prevent them from working. If the disabled individual has dependent family members, they can also receive payments.

If you or anyone you know is disabled, they may qualify for disability benefits. Studies show that a 20-year-old worker has a 1-in-4 chance of becoming disabled before reaching full retirement age. You can see if you meet our strict disability definition and apply for disability benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityssi/apply.html.

Widows, widowers, and their dependent children may be eligible for Social Security survivors’ benefits. Social Security helps by providing income for the families of workers who die. In fact, 98 of every 100 children could get benefits if a working parent dies. And Social Security pays more benefits to children than any other federal program. You can learn more about Social Security survivors’ benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/survivors.

This Black History Month, we want to make sure our diverse nation is covered and that no one is left out of the benefits they deserve. We are with you through life’s journey.  Get to know your Social Security. Visit us at www.ssa.gov/people/africanamericans/.

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.

BE MY VALENTINE… The sweetest, kindest, nicest person you know is also your Valentine. Share your thoughts on your special person this Valentine’s Day with the readers of the Tri-City Record and win prizes too!

See the Valentine’s Day Love Letter Contest rules in this issue of the Record.

By the way, My Valentine is Anne. We will be married 50 years this June.

Thanks to all who have inquired on her health these past weeks. She is recovering nicely from hip replacement surgery. Drop her line if you like to 620 Riverside Dr., Watervliet, MI 49098

THE BETTER MOUSETRAP… “Karl, I hear a plastic bag rustling on the counter. We’ve got mice,” Anne exclaimed. “You better get a mousetrap.”

“No, you’re hearing things,” I replied hoping to continue my nap unabated.

Sleep wouldn’t come, I kept thinking of the time 50 years ago when such a discussion first arose.

There’s a mouse under the stair carpet trying to get me, Anne said, pointing at the ribbon of carpet runner heading up to the third floor of our flat.

Our three-floor flat was 1/3 of a 300-year-old stone house on the High Street of Oundle, England. Its address was “The Blue Door, 12c Marketplace, Oundle, near Peterborough, Hants, UK.

The stairs leading over the flower shop on the first floor made a sweeping turn in front of a stained glass window that once looked over the River Nene whilst the Tudors rode their royal barge from London to Fotheringay Castle (where Mary Queen of Scots lost her head).

When the Sgt. Bayers lived there, the window view was the stone wall of the neighboring fish & chips shop.

The grand staircase continued beyond our main floor of kitchen, dining and living rooms. Those rooms each contained a fireplace and large windows enclosed with heavy blackout curtains. None of which kept the ice of winter on the outside or the damp of summer from creeping into clothes and bones.

It was where the steps continued their journey that Anne was pointing. The wide steps narrowed to a shoulder width, the gentle gain of the risers abruptly steepened to a dizzying lift designed to get a chilled soul quickly and directly to the confines of a small bedroom heated with its own smoky coal fire.

Anne was soon pointing where the royal blue carpet runner would occasionally push out from the pressure of a rodent behind it to the town rat catcher who had promptly responded to her plea for help at city hall.

I knew the rat catcher, as he was also the town chimney sweep and had inspected our fireplaces just a few weeks earlier.

Now he was back at 12c Marketplace in nearly the same garb, heavy leather apron, long gloves and a leather cap covering nearly all his head but for a bit of his face. His change from chimney sweep to rat catcher was occasioned by emptying his bag of sooty chimney brushes.

Yup, that’s where they always try to get out, says he pointing with his pipe. They come up the old sewer pipes from the river, dig through where we’ve blocked them and get into the houses all along here.

By this time we had climbed the steep steps to the rooms above. Once there he pulled an antique wardrobe from the wall disclosing a hole in the floor chewed the size of a pie tin. From his grimy bag he produced a dish of powder, which he placed down in the hole.

I’ll be back tomorrow and we’ll see what we’ll see, he said and departed.

Anne and I were a bit concerned; the large hole was left uncovered. The best we could do was close the door against whatever have gnawed the big hole.

The next afternoon he was back at the door. It was apparent he had worked the morning cleaning chimneys because the soot would fly from his trouser cuffs as he stomped up the stairs.

In seconds, he was down on his knees before the hole in the floor. In another second his gloved hand was deep below the floor, his shoulder nearly touching it.

He was fishing around, feeling his way in the darkness below, in three centuries of dust when his movement halted.

Aha, here’s one he exclaimed and swiftly dropped something squirming into the bag.  Just as quickly, his hand dipped below and continued the hunt as another squirmy critter went into the bag and then another. I caught a glimpse of another, big and black, the size of a large cat, the river rat was barely breathing and was only feebly offering any resistance to the rat catcher with his gloved fingers clenched around its neck.

To my unspoken question he answered, “Aye, you want to get them outta here before they’re dead. They will soon wander away from the poison and leave a stench that will drive you away.”

As he picked up his bag of near dead rats and moved the wardrobe over the hole I said, you’re not covering up the hole.

“No mate, you need the hole to get them next time.”

And the mystery mouse on our counter? Sorry that story is not as interesting and was solved with the purchase of a better mousetrap at the hardware store.

Frustrated citizen

Dear Editor,

Response to the article on January 26, 2017: Hartford Commission hears plans for Main St. building improvements after citizen seeks action on other city properties.

I agree with Commissioner Frank Dockter on the issue that our town of Hartford lacks any real enforcement on properties and general violations.

Our family has lived in this community over 20 years and has a vested interest in the community’s well-being. We want some changes for the better!

The lack of enforcement is a problem! I have been to City Hall and spoke to multiple police officers and the code enforcer in regards to the following issues: blight, disabled vehicles, parking over sidewalks, snow plowed over sidewalks and trees/bushes blocking intersections or sidewalks. I have seen very little changes, even when I have brought in pictures of these violations. I’m frustrated that our city will comment in the Hartford City News that it’s against the law to walk in the road, but does not enforce keeping the sidewalks clear. We can do better! We need to take pride in our community and respect our neighbors. We have so much potential to make Hartford an awesome community.

Thank you,

Hartford Pride

(Name withheld by request)

Thank you for TCR subscription

Dear Editor,

Thank you for supplying my king and me with a yearlong subscription to your newspaper. As someone who is eager to scrapbook my year as Miss Coloma, the coverage of our events that you will provide is greatly appreciated.

Before I was even crowned, my grandmother would cut out any articles that you had written up that had my name in it, whether it is for academics or sports, so I’m glad to say that the tradition will continue as I start a new chapter of my life.

Cassidy Fickett

Miss Coloma & Miss Congeniality 2017

Thank you for the TCR subscription

Dear Editor,

Thank you so much for the one year subscription. I am so excited for this upcoming year and to have the Tri-City Record cover us. We are all very excited to spend the next year with each other.

Thank you again!

Jacob Sharpe

Mr. Coloma 2017

Thanks with love from Anne

Dear family, friends, doctors and nurses,

This is a thank you to one and all that have helped with my surgery and recovery.

I am thankful for my kids and grandkids who came by and spent hours on my sofa. When I would move they would jump up to help me.

A great big loving thank you to the doctors and all the caregivers associated with Lakeland Health System. They all know their jobs and what they are doing. They gave me first rate care and I felt they were doing their jobs out of love of others.

Thank you to my wonderful friends, neighbors and Tri-City Record employees for their really tasty homemade meals and such loving care. Thank you for all the cards and the offers of help.

I also want to thank my husband, Mr. Wonderful (the nickname he received with love from a child who is now in heaven.) Karl took care of me every day in every way since the surgery.

I really would like to tell many younger people who are thinking of marriage, there will be hard times but mostly there will be happiness and love.  Share that with each other every day and maybe someday you will be a 70-year-old person writing to thank you one and all. This is 50 years for Karl and me.  The time is now sweeter and more loving.

Hang in there young ones, make it through the hard times and the kids, and you will see what I am saying.

Life is sweet. I am blessed and so will you be. Thank you one and all.

Anne Bayer

Rep. Upton needs to schedule a community meeting on health care

Dear Editor,

Change is coming, and women in this community want to be included in discussing issues that directly affect us.  One of the pressing issues is congressional Republicans’ planned repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We are particularly concerned with the impact that this action might have on women’s health.

Along with a few friends, I met recently with Representative Fred Upton’s Senior Staffer, Mike Ryan, to learn where the Representative stood on women’s healthcare issues as they relate to the potential repeal/replace of the ACA.  We shared a list of services that are currently covered, but that may not be covered under a replacement plan.  A few of these services are: cervical cancer screening, breast cancer screening, osteoporosis screening, and contraception.  Prior to the Affordable Care Act, many of these services were not included in a standard healthcare policy.  In many cases, OB/Gyn services had to be added to a person’s policy and extra charges were incurred.

In light of the drastic actions being taken by the new administration, we do not trust that coverage will continue for women’s preventive health care services. Eliminating these important preventive services will impair women’s health and increase overall health care costs.

During our meeting with Mike Ryan we strongly urged Rep. Upton to schedule a community meeting so he can answer questions from his constituents and assure us of his commitment to fight for continued protection of women’s health coverage.  Given the rapid timeline for repeal and replace, and the limited amount of time the Representative is in town, it is reasonable for our community to ask for a meeting to be assured that our Congressman is fighting for our concerns. Individual and small group meetings do not meet the needs of the community at large. Health care is not a partisan issue, and we all need to know that our voices are heard.

I strongly urge Representative Upton to schedule a community meeting very soon to discuss his ideas for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. If you agree, please contact Fred Upton’s office:  (269) 982-1986, 720 Main Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085.

Peggy Getty, St. Joseph

Berrien County Democratic Party open meeting

Dear Editor,

On Wednesday, February 8, 2017 from 6 to 8 p.m., the Berrien County Democratic Party (BCDP) will hold an open meeting for all members of the community who are committed to resisting the extreme agenda of President Trump and his congressional Republican allies. In this meeting everyone will be invited to share their concerns and their ideas about how to move our community, state, and country in a more positive direction.

The meeting will be held at the BCDP office, 2517 Niles Avenue, St. Joseph.

Dr. Larry Feldman

Communications Chair

Berrien County Democratic Party

Abandoned railroad tracks

Dear Editor,

The Mountain States Legal Foundation on March 10, 2014 got a Supreme Court judgment indicating abandoned railroad right of way reverts to the present owners of the land.  The title of the case is: Brant Revocable Trust vs. United States, 592. (See www.mslf.org)

In Watervliet, I believe Side Track Cafe can build over the abandoned tracks south of their building.  Also, I imagine it means if there are any railroad tracks out of the old paper mill, or any other place to be used as a walkway, the State needs to get permission from each land owner to cross their land. I wonder if the Kal-Haven trail is legal. Will it affect the Grant?

Carl G. Oehling, Coloma