02-06-2020 Illness causing local school closings; 3 couples share their stories of love

Illness causing local school closings

By Annette Christie

Both Watervliet and Hartford have had cause for a school day closing in light of recent overwhelming numbers of those affected by illness.

Hartford Public Schools were closed on Friday, Jan. 31. On their Facebook page, the district announced that the closure was due to excessive absences from illness. They credited their custodial staff with working very hard over the last couple of weeks, deep cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. They will be incorporating preventative deep cleaning and disinfecting, working in the buildings and buses, over and above their typical cleaning and disinfecting measures.

DISINFECTING… Watervliet Middle School classrooms is custodian Jim Sheffer. Sheffer spent the day Monday spraying all surfaces with non-alkaline disinfectant/ bactericide that is effective against antibiotic-resistant bacteria and kills 99.9% of all bacteria. (TCR photo by Amy Loshbough)


The district published hand washing reminders on the most effective way to wash hands and help prevent the spread of illness. “Rub hands together vigorously for at least 20 seconds using warm running water and soap; wash under fingernails, between fingers, the back of hands and wrists, rinsing hands well under running water; dry hands completely and if at home, change the hand-washing towels often; if using a towel dispenser in a public bathroom with a handle, be sure to roll the paper down before you wash hands; for hand held faucets, turn off the water using a paper towel instead of bare hands to try and eliminate picking up new germs and open the bathroom door with the same paper towel.”

Watervliet Public Schools were closed on Tuesday, February 4. Superintendent Ric Seager confirmed that the staff has been hit as hard, or harder than the students. Nearly half of the staff at South Elementary School is affected along with 25-28% of the students. Seager said that the kindergarten grade level has been hit the hardest but that it had been gaining momentum through Monday. He said the daily attendance at the South School and the middle school has run under 80% for several days and the high school has been dropping for three straight days. “Additionally, nearly 25% of our instruction staff has been affected,” Seager said.

To try and battle the bug, the district has been in deep cleaning mode in the buildings since last Thursday evening as well as extra cleaning time over the weekend and disinfecting into the beginning of this week. Hand sanitizer is available in all classrooms and common areas and the staff is making special mention about the importance of hand washing.

Early evening on Tuesday, the district announced that they would continue to be closed on Wednesday. Their post on their Facebook page stated, “If you or your child are experiencing any flu-like symptoms, please stay away from the school, seek medical attention, and take care of your health by getting plenty of rest, staying hydrated, following proper nutrition, and using good hygiene such as regular hand-washing.”

Coloma Schools have been able to remain open throughout. Superintendent Dave Ehlers said that their daily attendance is running consistently in the high 80’s to the low 90% for student attendance. “Our elementary staff has been hit with the sick bug, but as a staff, they have pulled together and done an amazing job covering classes and educating our kids,” Ehlers said.

The district has hand sanitizer readily available for staff and students. The cleaning staff disinfects hard surfaces daily and the teachers have access to disinfectant to apply to hard surfaces during the day. “To their credit, they are not afraid to clean desks or counters in their rooms as needed,” Ehlers said. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that between October 1 and January 25, there were at least 19 million illnesses, 180,000 hospitalizations and 10,000 deaths caused by the flu. They reported last week that flu activity remains high and, after falling during the first two weeks of the year, it increased over the last two weeks.  Fourteen new influenza-associated pediatric deaths occurring during the 2019-2020 season were reported this week. The total for the season is 68.

HARTFORD SCHOOLS BRING OUT THE BIG GUNS… as custo-dians deep clean and disinfect all district facilities during a day off for “School Closed Due to Illness” last Friday, Jan. 31. Harold Walker, of Hartford schools, operates disinfect-ing equipment readying for the return of students. This winter’s cold and flu season has been worse than usual prompting several Southwest Michigan schools to take a day off. The proactive closure serves three purposes. It gives staff and students a day to recuperate and also gives custodians an empty school to deep clean. As well, it avoids the potential of attend-ance falling below the State of Michigan requirement of 75% of total enrollment for a school day to count. (Any day with less than 75% is required to be made up. When the district is proactive and cancels in advance, that day is treated as one of the 5 “snow days” built into the sche-dule and does not require a makeup, as long as the total of five is not ex-ceeded.) Officials at Hartford Schools say no one can recall an “illness” closure in the district going back several decades.


Influenza (flu) can cause mild to severe illness, and as the numbers indicate, can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold in that the flu usually comes on suddenly. Victims of the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms: fever or feeling feverish; cough; sore throat; runny or stuffy nose; muscle or body aches; headaches; fatigue; and some may encounter vomiting and diarrhea. Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by tiny droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk.  These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. A person might get the flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

The CDC reports that an infected person may be able to spread the flu to someone else before they even know they are sick, as well as while sick. People with the flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins. Some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.

The CDC states that the most important step in preventing the flu is to get a flu vaccine each year. The vaccine has been shown to reduce flu related illnesses and the risk of serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization or even death. The CDC also recommends everyday preventative actions like staying away from people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes and frequent hand washing to help slow the spread of germs.

Special Valentines messages;

3 couples share their stories of love

By Teresa Smithers

Falling in love is easy and fun! The blood sings, the head spins. But what happens after that first wave of emotions wane? In honor of this month of love and Valentine’s Day, Tri-City Record has found three stories of long-time love, one from each Tri-City town. Pete and Marge Mannino of Watervliet are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary this year. Pete and Judy Sinclair of Hartford will be married 53 years in March. Bill and Julie Smith of Coloma are going on 58 years together. These couples, who all were once young and “in love” and faced the challenges of any couple, chose to travel this life together, and don’t regret it.  These couples offer their experiences and insights in hopes to encourage younger couples that love can, indeed, grow through the tribulations and busyness of life.

Pete & Marge Mannino: Sixty years of making beautiful music together

Marge Howe was not interested in going out with her girlfriends in March 1959, but they talked her into it. As they walked into a Chicago nightclub, The Leather Rail, she said, “You all are going to be sorry I came out with you tonight, because I’m going to meet the man of my dreams and marry him. Then, I won’t be able to go out with you anymore.”

Maybe it was destiny. That night, Pete Mannino asked Marge Howe to dance.

Even though Pete and Marge shared a lot of similar interests, their backgrounds were very different. Marge was a “big city” girl with all of her friends and interests in Chicago.  Although Pete was born in Chicago, the son of an immigrant, when he was less than a year old his family had moved to Southwestern Michigan where they farmed fruits and vegetables.

After graduating from high school, Pete joined the U.S. Army where he repaired helicopters. Upon his honorable discharge, Pete stayed in Chicago where he became a helicopter lead man and mechanic at Chicago Helicopter. Good thing! For if he hadn’t been in Chicago then he wouldn’t have met Marge.

After Marge graduated from high school in Illinois, she worked at Visking Corporation as a Dictaphone operator, typing regional reports for managers. After she and Pete had been dating a few weeks, an ex-girlfriend of his showed up to rekindle their romance. Marge’s heart broke while Pete considered his options, but it didn’t take him long. Less than two weeks later, he called her again, and, in September of that same year, he proposed. It was a proposal with the stipulation that he was a hunter and fisherman, and he would like to continue those hobbies after marriage. Marge thought that was reasonable and they made their first compromise. They were married on February 20, 1960, less than a year after they had met.

In 1965, Pete and Marge decided to move to Michigan. This was a very difficult decision for Marge, because everything she knew was in Illinois. At first, it was lonely for Marge – Pete had family and friends and memories and Marge had left all of those behind – but his family wrapped her in its embrace and she began making friends and soon, too, she belonged in Michigan.

After a few short-term jobs, Pete settled into a great job at Whirlpool as Leadman Senior Mechanic and Inspector, a position he held until retirement. He had to work nights for several years, so Marge raised their four children, babysitting to make extra money. Once the children were older, Marge took a job at the Watervliet Fruit Exchange as an accounts receivable clerk where she worked until her retirement thirteen years later.

Pete and Marge attribute two things to the success of their marriage – compromise and religion. Recognizing that no one is perfect, Pete said, “We have had a lot of give and take in our marriage.” That give and take has helped them through parenting challenges, loss, and health challenges.

Music, too, has played a large part in their lives. Pete played the trumpet and the sax; Marge sang. Most of the time the songs were lively, but sometimes – as in the loss of their beloved granddaughter, Brandi, four years ago – the songs were sad. Still, the rhythm of the music has played harmony throughout the ups and downs of their lives together. Currently, they are part of a band, The Upbeats. The six band members donate their musical talents to senior centers, nursing homes and assisted-living homes in the area, including Woodland Terrace in Coloma and Graceway at Countryside in South Haven. The band plays music from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. They will be playing at North Berrien Senior Center’s Spring Dance on Wednesday, April 8.

Marge and Pete are members of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Watervliet.

“We both thank God for the many blessings He has bestowed on us and for joining us together,” Marge says. “We have made our marriage work by remembering the vows we made before God on our wedding day – for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, and to cherish each other until we’re parted by death.”

Pete and Marge Mannino are blessed with four children, nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Pete & Judy Sinclair: A kiss in the morning and a kiss at night

Pete and Judy (Gelock) Sinclair have known each other almost all their lives. They met in 1st grade in Hartford, Michigan, when it met in the Legion Hall. Judy remembers Pete removing the ladder from the tree she was in.

“We were always playing outside in those days,” Pete recalls.

We don’t know how Judy got out of that tree, but the two didn’t date until they were seniors in high school – when Pete realized that he didn’t have a date for the prom.

“It was my second year as class president,” remembers Pete, who still keeps busy in local politics. “I was running around, organizing events, starting clubs, anything to keep from sitting in class. I was working on the prom and I realized I had forgotten to ask a girl to go with me to the prom.”

Now, when Pete asked a girl out, he followed a general plan of action. He always started by asking them out to dinner (after all, we all have to eat!). So, before asking her to the prom, he asked Judy out to dinner, and she accepted. They ate at Shuler’s Restaurant in St. Joseph.  “The old Shuler’s,” Pete explains. “Before they built the new one… which is now also gone.”

“We were almost total opposites,” Judy explained. “Pete was outgoing and involved, and I was quiet and shy. But I admired Pete – he was interested in absolutely everything, and when he became involved in something, he was 100% involved. I was more of a follower, and it was easy to follow Pete.”

Soon after the prom, the two parted ways as each went off to college (both to Michigan State University though). Like every other college student, Pete was thrilled to find an inexpensive form of entertainment for dates: a hockey game. He and his date were finding their seats at the game when Pete turned and, lo and behold, Judy was sitting directly behind them with her own date.

They began dating off and on. Then, Pete got his draft notice. He faced the service like he does any challenge in life – head on. He wanted to pilot a plane but was refused. In 1967, while he was in OCS (Officer Candidate School) at Fort Gordon, Georgia, Judy flew down to join him and they were married. Soon after their daughter was born, Pete’s service ended and they returned home so that Pete could take over the family business, the local newspaper, Hartford Day Spring (which eventually evolved into the printing/graphic design business, Sinclair Graphics, now run by his son, Scott Sinclair). Alongside his work, he served 31 years in the Hartford Fire Department. Pete also serves as County Commissioner. Currently, they are both members of the Lions Club. Pete’s main project now is the “Concerts in the Park” that are held every summer in Hartford.

Although Judy had a degree, she chose to stay at home while her children were small, babysitting other children to make extra money. Once they were older and in school, she worked as a teacher’s aide, at First Savings Bank, and then as an accountant at the City of Hartford before going to work as the Assistant to the Superintendent at Coloma Schools where she stayed for 33 years.

What keeps their marriage strong? Although Judy and Pete are very different in temperament, they have always had similar interests.

“Pete is very patient, he is my rock,” Judy says. Indeed, their differences seem more to complement each other than get in the way, as they each challenge the other to stretch beyond their limits.

“We make decisions together,” Pete explains that their marriage is a team effort. “She does the laundry, but sometimes I do it, and I cook, but sometimes she does it. And we always make sure to kiss one another first thing every morning and last thing every night.”

“We raised two great kids,” Judy concludes, “so we must have done something right. To us, family is everything. It is our treasure.”

Pete and Judy Sinclair have two children and three grandchildren.

Bill & Julie Smith: Happy wife, happy life

Bill and Julie Smith are a happy couple, that’s plain to see. Almost 58 years of marriage has not dampened their enjoyment of each other and they readily admit they make a great team.

Bill is a frugal man and Julie loves telling about the “multi-use” card he gives to her, with her birthday, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day, each written on the envelope, then crossed out as each holiday approached. That’s the kind of fun they have with each other. (Don’t worry – there’s always a second, new card just for her, just for that holiday.)

Bill Smith met Julie Masteri at the Eau Claire Senior Prom when Julie attended it with one of Bill’s friends. He took her phone number then and said he’d call her, but it took a couple of years for him to do that. By the time he called in 1960, they were both in college and Julie had a serious boyfriend. In fact, she was home and preparing for a double date with her steady and friends when Bill called.

“There was just something about him,” Julie recalled. (Bill is sure it was his haircut.) “I ended up calling my boyfriend and telling him something had come up and we couldn’t go.” Then she said “yes” to Bill.

When you know, you know.

“I was taking English and Debating in college, because I wanted to be a lawyer,” Julie recalls. “Then I fell in love.” She shook her head at the craziness of the love she had experienced that had changed her plans and shook up her life. “Now, my son is a lawyer, so it all worked out.”

Bill and Julie both have degrees in Education. Julie taught English for 25 years at Coloma Junior High School and loved it. She only took a break to be at home with her children when they were small.  “Best decision we ever made,” they both declared.

Bill worked at Coloma, Watervliet, Countryside, and Benton Harbor schools, teaching at times, superintendent at times. “I’d do anything! I’d sweep the floors if they needed it,” recalled Bill, who obviously had loved his 37 years working in Education.

Between them, they have 62 years in Education and hundreds of students whose lives they affected. “And those students affected our lives, too,” Bill insisted.

They married in 1963, not waiting until they were through with school. Julie wanted to leave Coloma and move west once they had their degrees. Bill was all for it. But then, they both got jobs, then children arrived, they became involved in their community, and that move west just never entered the picture.

“This is a great town,” Bill exclaimed. “We wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.” And Julie agreed.

By becoming involved, they helped their town to be a town they want to live in. They highly recommend becoming an active part of your community. Both Julie and Bill are active in local government. Bill is a former Coloma City Commissioner; Julie is one, currently. Her present project is planning a spring celebration to honor Vietnam War veterans, including a long-belated “Welcome Home” parade, tentatively planned for Saturday, May 9.

What makes for a happy marriage? Bill gestured to Julie and said, “Two words: yes, dear.” Julie couldn’t disagree. “Happy wife, happy life,” she stated, then, more seriously, “And also to give him second chances. Men don’t always get it right the first time.” Of course, that goes both ways.

In other words, laughter, compromise, patience and grace go a long, long way to fill a marriage with love.

 Bill and Julie Smith have two children and three grandchildr

By Teresa Smithers

Falling in love is easy and fun! The blood sings, the head spins. But what happens after that first wave of emotions wane? In honor of this month of love and Valentine’s Day, Tri-City Record has found three stories of long-time love, one from each Tri-City town. Pete and Marge Mannino of Watervliet are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary this year. Pete and Judy Sinclair of Hartford will be married 53 years in March. Bill and Julie Smith of Coloma are going on 58 years together. These couples, who all were once young and “in love” and faced the challenges of any couple, chose to travel this life together, and don’t regret it.  These couples offer their experiences and insights in hopes to encourage younger couples that love can, indeed, grow through the tribulations and busyness of life.

Pete & Marge Mannino: Sixty years of making beautiful music together

Marge Howe was not interested in going out with her girlfriends in March 1959, but they talked her into it. As they walked into a Chicago nightclub, The Leather Rail, she said, “You all are going to be sorry I came out with you tonight, because I’m going to meet the man of my dreams and marry him. Then, I won’t be able to go out with you anymore.”

Maybe it was destiny. That night, Pete Mannino asked Marge Howe to dance.

Even though Pete and Marge shared a lot of similar interests, their backgrounds were very different. Marge was a “big city” girl with all of her friends and interests in Chicago.  Although Pete was born in Chicago, the son of an immigrant, when he was less than a year old his family had moved to Southwestern Michigan where they farmed fruits and vegetables.

After graduating from high school, Pete joined the U.S. Army where he repaired helicopters. Upon his honorable discharge, Pete stayed in Chicago where he became a helicopter lead man and mechanic at Chicago Helicopter. Good thing! For if he hadn’t been in Chicago then he wouldn’t have met Marge.

After Marge graduated from high school in Illinois, she worked at Visking Corporation as a Dictaphone operator, typing regional reports for managers. After she and Pete had been dating a few weeks, an ex-girlfriend of his showed up to rekindle their romance. Marge’s heart broke while Pete considered his options, but it didn’t take him long. Less than two weeks later, he called her again, and, in September of that same year, he proposed. It was a proposal with the stipulation that he was a hunter and fisherman, and he would like to continue those hobbies after marriage. Marge thought that was reasonable and they made their first compromise. They were married on February 20, 1960, less than a year after they had met.

In 1965, Pete and Marge decided to move to Michigan. This was a very difficult decision for Marge, because everything she knew was in Illinois. At first, it was lonely for Marge – Pete had family and friends and memories and Marge had left all of those behind – but his family wrapped her in its embrace and she began making friends and soon, too, she belonged in Michigan.

After a few short-term jobs, Pete settled into a great job at Whirlpool as Leadman Senior Mechanic and Inspector, a position he held until retirement. He had to work nights for several years, so Marge raised their four children, babysitting to make extra money. Once the children were older, Marge took a job at the Watervliet Fruit Exchange as an accounts receivable clerk where she worked until her retirement thirteen years later.

Pete and Marge attribute two things to the success of their marriage – compromise and religion. Recognizing that no one is perfect, Pete said, “We have had a lot of give and take in our marriage.” That give and take has helped them through parenting challenges, loss, and health challenges.

Music, too, has played a large part in their lives. Pete played the trumpet and the sax; Marge sang. Most of the time the songs were lively, but sometimes – as in the loss of their beloved granddaughter, Brandi, four years ago – the songs were sad. Still, the rhythm of the music has played harmony throughout the ups and downs of their lives together. Currently, they are part of a band, The Upbeats. The six band members donate their musical talents to senior centers, nursing homes and assisted-living homes in the area, including Woodland Terrace in Coloma and Graceway at Countryside in South Haven. The band plays music from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. They will be playing at North Berrien Senior Center’s Spring Dance on Wednesday, April 8.

Marge and Pete are members of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Watervliet.

“We both thank God for the many blessings He has bestowed on us and for joining us together,” Marge says. “We have made our marriage work by remembering the vows we made before God on our wedding day – for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, and to cherish each other until we’re parted by death.”

Pete and Marge Mannino are blessed with four children, nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Pete & Judy Sinclair: A kiss in the morning and a kiss at night

Pete and Judy (Gelock) Sinclair have known each other almost all their lives. They met in 1st grade in Hartford, Michigan, when it met in the Legion Hall. Judy remembers Pete removing the ladder from the tree she was in.

“We were always playing outside in those days,” Pete recalls.

We don’t know how Judy got out of that tree, but the two didn’t date until they were seniors in high school – when Pete realized that he didn’t have a date for the prom.

“It was my second year as class president,” remembers Pete, who still keeps busy in local politics. “I was running around, organizing events, starting clubs, anything to keep from sitting in class. I was working on the prom and I realized I had forgotten to ask a girl to go with me to the prom.”

Now, when Pete asked a girl out, he followed a general plan of action. He always started by asking them out to dinner (after all, we all have to eat!). So, before asking her to the prom, he asked Judy out to dinner, and she accepted. They ate at Shuler’s Restaurant in St. Joseph.  “The old Shuler’s,” Pete explains. “Before they built the new one… which is now also gone.”

“We were almost total opposites,” Judy explained. “Pete was outgoing and involved, and I was quiet and shy. But I admired Pete – he was interested in absolutely everything, and when he became involved in something, he was 100% involved. I was more of a follower, and it was easy to follow Pete.”

Soon after the prom, the two parted ways as each went off to college (both to Michigan State University though). Like every other college student, Pete was thrilled to find an inexpensive form of entertainment for dates: a hockey game. He and his date were finding their seats at the game when Pete turned and, lo and behold, Judy was sitting directly behind them with her own date.

They began dating off and on. Then, Pete got his draft notice. He faced the service like he does any challenge in life – head on. He wanted to pilot a plane but was refused. In 1967, while he was in OCS (Officer Candidate School) at Fort Gordon, Georgia, Judy flew down to join him and they were married. Soon after their daughter was born, Pete’s service ended and they returned home so that Pete could take over the family business, the local newspaper, Hartford Day Spring (which eventually evolved into the printing/graphic design business, Sinclair Graphics, now run by his son, Scott Sinclair). Alongside his work, he served 31 years in the Hartford Fire Department. Pete also serves as County Commissioner. Currently, they are both members of the Lions Club. Pete’s main project now is the “Concerts in the Park” that are held every summer in Hartford.

Although Judy had a degree, she chose to stay at home while her children were small, babysitting other children to make extra money. Once they were older and in school, she worked as a teacher’s aide, at First Savings Bank, and then as an accountant at the City of Hartford before going to work as the Assistant to the Superintendent at Coloma Schools where she stayed for 33 years.

What keeps their marriage strong? Although Judy and Pete are very different in temperament, they have always had similar interests.

“Pete is very patient, he is my rock,” Judy says. Indeed, their differences seem more to complement each other than get in the way, as they each challenge the other to stretch beyond their limits.

“We make decisions together,” Pete explains that their marriage is a team effort. “She does the laundry, but sometimes I do it, and I cook, but sometimes she does it. And we always make sure to kiss one another first thing every morning and last thing every night.”

“We raised two great kids,” Judy concludes, “so we must have done something right. To us, family is everything. It is our treasure.”

Pete and Judy Sinclair have two children and three grandchildren.

Bill & Julie Smith: Happy wife, happy life

Bill and Julie Smith are a happy couple, that’s plain to see. Almost 58 years of marriage has not dampened their enjoyment of each other and they readily admit they make a great team.

Bill is a frugal man and Julie loves telling about the “multi-use” card he gives to her, with her birthday, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day, each written on the envelope, then crossed out as each holiday approached. That’s the kind of fun they have with each other. (Don’t worry – there’s always a second, new card just for her, just for that holiday.)

Bill Smith met Julie Masteri at the Eau Claire Senior Prom when Julie attended it with one of Bill’s friends. He took her phone number then and said he’d call her, but it took a couple of years for him to do that. By the time he called in 1960, they were both in college and Julie had a serious boyfriend. In fact, she was home and preparing for a double date with her steady and friends when Bill called.

“There was just something about him,” Julie recalled. (Bill is sure it was his haircut.) “I ended up calling my boyfriend and telling him something had come up and we couldn’t go.” Then she said “yes” to Bill.

When you know, you know.

“I was taking English and Debating in college, because I wanted to be a lawyer,” Julie recalls. “Then I fell in love.” She shook her head at the craziness of the love she had experienced that had changed her plans and shook up her life. “Now, my son is a lawyer, so it all worked out.”

Bill and Julie both have degrees in Education. Julie taught English for 25 years at Coloma Junior High School and loved it. She only took a break to be at home with her children when they were small.  “Best decision we ever made,” they both declared.

Bill worked at Coloma, Watervliet, Countryside, and Benton Harbor schools, teaching at times, superintendent at times. “I’d do anything! I’d sweep the floors if they needed it,” recalled Bill, who obviously had loved his 37 years working in Education.

Between them, they have 62 years in Education and hundreds of students whose lives they affected. “And those students affected our lives, too,” Bill insisted.

They married in 1963, not waiting until they were through with school. Julie wanted to leave Coloma and move west once they had their degrees. Bill was all for it. But then, they both got jobs, then children arrived, they became involved in their community, and that move west just never entered the picture.

“This is a great town,” Bill exclaimed. “We wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.” And Julie agreed.

By becoming involved, they helped their town to be a town they want to live in. They highly recommend becoming an active part of your community. Both Julie and Bill are active in local government. Bill is a former Coloma City Commissioner; Julie is one, currently. Her present project is planning a spring celebration to honor Vietnam War veterans, including a long-belated “Welcome Home” parade, tentatively planned for Saturday, May 9.

What makes for a happy marriage? Bill gestured to Julie and said, “Two words: yes, dear.” Julie couldn’t disagree. “Happy wife, happy life,” she stated, then, more seriously, “And also to give him second chances. Men don’t always get it right the first time.” Of course, that goes both ways.

In other words, laughter, compromise, patience and grace go a long, long way to fill a marriage with love.

Bill and Julie Smith have two children and three grandchildr

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