02-06-2020 Letters and Commentary

Coloma St. Pat Lighted Parade, March 14

St. Patrick’s Parade Guest: Please consider this letter as an invitation to participate in Coloma’s 2020 St. Patrick’s Day Evening Lighted Parade. Last year the Coloma community proudly hosted the first parade of the year on St. Patrick’s Day. We had more than 30 entries and were able to award over $1,200 in gold coins & prizes to the parade participants. This year we will host a Lighted Parade on Saturday, March 14 at 8:30 p.m. (notice later time). We are planning awards in the following categories: Float, Marching Unit, Costumed Individual, and Decorated Vehicle. First place in each category will win a “pot of gold” or gift certificates from local businesses, the amount will vary depending on category participation. Category of parade entries may be subject to change by judges, upon inspection. Please complete and return an application by March 12. Check in will be at the Coloma Fire Station (170 Washington St). Sign-in will begin at 7:45 p.m. and judging will be during the parade. The parade will proceed through town. Turn right at the light to head back to the Fire Station for awards or turn left at the light to head out of town down S. Paw Paw St. towards the Dairy Queen. IMPORTANT SAFETY CONCERN: You may not throw candy from a moving vehicle. You can have someone walk next to your entry and give out candy. If you have any questions you can contact Chana Kniebes at 757-2457. Thank you! Coloma St. Patrick’s Day Committee

Coloma church extends invitation to hear OutCenter director

(Press Release) On Sunday, Feb. 23 members and friends of Coloma United Methodist Church will have an opportunity for a glimpse into the status of LGBTQ+ issues here in the tri-county area. The evening will begin in the fellowship hall at 5:00 p.m. with a light supper to which all are invited. At 5:45 Mary Jo Schnell, Executive Director of The OutCenter of Southwest Michigan in Benton Harbor will speak about OutCenter programs and LGBTQ issues in general, progress being made as well as challenges to the rights of people of differing orientations. Of particular concern in the Coloma/ Watervliet area is the high proportion of teen suicide related to sexual orientation. The public is invited to attend and receive the information that is vital to understanding the realities of living in this area. All ages are welcome. Activities for younger children will be available in a separate room if needed.

E-Filing is the easiest, quickest way for State Income Tax Refunds (Press Release) Michigan’s individual income tax filing season has begun according to the Michigan Department of Treasury. Effective immediately, Michiganders can start filing their 2019 tax year state income tax returns online or by mailing paper forms and supporting paperwork through the U.S. Postal Service. All individual income tax returns must be e-filed or postmarked by Wednesday, April 15, 2020. “We are ready to begin processing your state income tax return,” State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks said. “Filing electronically is the easiest and quickest way for Michigan taxpayers to get any refund due. This helps ensure tax returns are accurate and improves tax refund turnaround times.” Choosing electronic filing and direct deposit is convenient, safe and secure. Last year more than 4.3 million Michigan taxpayers e-filed which is 85 percent of state income tax filers. For more information about e-filing, go to www.mifastfile.org. Printed tax forms are being distributed and will be available in limited quantities by mid-February at public libraries, some northern Michigan post offices, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services county offices and Treasury Field Offices. Individuals with low income, disabilities or are 60 years of age or older may qualify for free tax preparation help from IRS-certified volunteers. For information about free tax help, go to irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep or dial 2-1-1. To learn more about Michigan’s individual income tax or to download forms, go to www.michigan.gov/incometax.

Spaghetti Dinner to raise funds for scholarships The Coloma Lioness Lions Club is hosting a Spaghetti Dinner to support their scholarship program. Proceeds from the free will offering will fund two $1,000 scholarships to be awarded to two Coloma students. Raise a fork for a great cause on Friday, Feb. 21 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Riverside United Methodist Church, 4401 Fikes Rd. The dinner is all you can eat spaghetti served with garlic bread, salad and desserts for a donation of your choosing. To-go meals are available.

98 was enough

The Bible teaches that some people living before Noah’s world-wide flood lived a very long time. How did that happen? Some lived over 900 years! While it is not explained in the Scriptures, contributing factors could have included differences in solar radiation, differences in atmospheric oxygen concentrations, and different rates of DNA mutations before and after the flood event. Whatever the reason(s), Genesis 6:3 may possibly indicate an eventual upper limit of 120 years. Psalm 90:10 gives expected “normal” lifespan to be 70 to 80 years. What about us? How can we know our number? Both heredity and lifestyle contribute. I recently attended a funeral of a lady who had lived to 98. And for her, that was enough. Her name was Adell Mundt. Many of her family and friends were there. She was loved and remembered as a very gracious person. A few days before her passing, she fell at home. At that time she made a comment, as reported by her brother, Wilson, “I know my time here is up. I will be going home.” Her time here was up. She somehow knew she was done. The second part is interesting. She spoke of “going home”. 98 years was enough, and now she looked forward to “home”. She could say that with confidence not because she had led a good life, although that was true. No, it was because of her confidence in God’s promise of eternal life for those who trust Jesus Christ as their Savior – those who have faith in His finished work for them on the cross of Calvary and in His subsequent resurrection from the dead. Adell rested on John 3:16. For Adam, 930 years was enough. For Methuselah it was 969 (the oldest documented); for Adell it was 98. How about for us? When our “enough” comes, may we be finally “going home” and not finally lost.

Supporting our veterans

Last week, the Problem Solver’s Caucus in the U.S. Congress endorsed the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act, and this week, the U.S. House passed it with unanimous support. This bipartisan legislation will help veterans connect with service dogs in their community after they have returned home from combat by creating a pilot program within the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to give veterans access to treatment derived from working with service dogs. The program will ease the transition back into civilian life for those who experience post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury and will bring public attention to a health crisis which can no longer be overlooked. Veteran suicide is a tragic epidemic that requires decisive action. In 2017, an average of 16.8 veterans died by suicide each day, cutting lives far too short and leaving countless families incomplete. Our veterans protected our country during their time in uniform, so it is our duty to protect them when they return home. In my years of serving Michigan’s Sixth District, I have always put our veterans first. I am proud to be a cosponsor of this bipartisan legislation, and I look forward to this bill soon becoming law. 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).

SOMETHING NEW ADDED TO THE TCR… Thanks to Dr. Kasewurm’s Professional Hearing Services there’s a Crossword Puzzle on Page 2, and the answers on Page 9. Let me know what you think about it… too hard, too easy, or just right?

WATERVLIET WILLIE NOT SPOTTED… I came up to the Record building early Saturday after seeing Punxsutawney Phil on TV, dragged out of his burrow to forecast the next six weeks of weather. Had they been able to wake him up, he would not have seen his shadow, thus forecasting an early spring. For some years there’s been a woodchuck (Michigan groundhog) living under the rubble of the old Judd Lumber site, I’ve named the biggest “Watervliet Willie” (probably a female). The point is moot as I saw not a hair of Willie or Wilhelmina. I have but to hope that Willie came out Sunday morning when the wonderful sunshine warmed the rocks over the burrows and got the family to come out and bask in the spring like weather that hung around through Monday. Sunday and Monday were a treat, warm and sunny. I got the rest of our Christmas decorations, electric cords and light hangars off the gutters and back in the barn Sunday. Monday Anne and I watched our great-grandsons. Believe me, watch is the operative word, there’s no keeping up with those two. But the addition of Honey Bayer leveled the playing field a bit. It was chase or be chased for the trio. The boys (William & Jaxon) would chase the 4-mos old Pomeranian till they tired of it, then Honey would come after them for a while. When it appeared they were all slowing down, I slipped out after lunch to the peace and quiet of the Record office. Anne called soon after, “The boys are outside and won’t come back in. I need your help.” William had been helping his Grammy by letting Honey out (or in) the sliding door when needed. It wasn’t long before he just followed Honey’s beeline for the back yard, with Jaxon not far behind. I couldn’t blame the boys or Honey. It was gorgeous outside. Most of the snow was gone; all that was left were a few piles from shoveling and drifting. William was chasing the dog barefoot. William, I shouted, where’s your shoes? They’re there he yelled back. He was right… they were there on the deck, warming in the sunshine. You gotta put them on or come inside. He ran over and put them on, saying, these are nice and warm. Then he slipped his bare feet in, and then tore off after the puppy. Jaxon stopped picking up stones and other stuff and tossing them through the fence, to follow William to the farthest end of the fenced in yard. I was trying to somehow get them to come within grabbing distance without upsetting the fun they were having and keeping grandma from blowing a gasket at me for letting them go away so far from the door. Honey, “the wonder dog,” saw my plight and noticing I had left the sliding door open made a beeline for it. The boys followed, with Jaxon stopping off to take off his shoes to climb over a snow pile. I scooped him up with just one shoe off and we all made it back by the time Honey had nestled in her bed with her back to the sunshine. I guess it was enough for the first day of play at grandma’s back yard. I’m sure there will be more to come, no matter what Watervliet Willie forecasts or Punxsutawney Phil for that matter. Tuesday reverted to February Michigan weather, gloomy and cold, with lake effect snow and cold in the forecast in the foreseeable future.

February is Heart Month; Spectrum Health Lakeland Pavilion nears completion An ounce of prevention, as the saying goes, is worth a pound of cure. As we observe American Heart Month this month, it’s a great time to talk with our family and friends about heart health. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women; in fact, it takes the lives of more women than all forms of cancer combined. Heart disease, of course, does not discriminate. Men are just as susceptible to heart disease. During American Heart Month, you may see or read about “Going Red.” This acronym helps us think about heart health in a more meaningful way. According to the American Heart Association, Go Red means: G: Get you numbers – Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure and cholesterol. O: Own your lifestyle – Stop smoking, lose weight, exercise, and eat healthy. R: Realize your risk – We think it won’t happen to us, but heart disease kills one in three women. E: Educate – Teach your family about making healthy food choices. D: Don’t be silent – Tell everyone you know about the risks of heart disease. Following these simple but important recommendations can be lifesaving to you or someone you love. Check out Heart.org for more information. Touring the new Spectrum Health Lakeland Pavilion Speaking of health care, I recently had the opportunity to join with Spectrum Health Lakeland President and Corporate Chief Strategy Officer Dr. Loren Hamel, M.D. and other executives from the hospital for a tour of the facility’s new pavilion. It was great to meet with them to tour the new pavilion and discuss all of the exciting, future-thinking innovations that it will bring to help Spectrum-Lakeland advance its leading caregiving efforts here in Southwest Michigan. If you haven’t heard, the new pavilion, which is set to open later this year, will bring new, high-tech advancements in a modern setting to improve patient care and comfort. The $160 million pavilion project has been three years in the making and will feature new areas of care, including pulmonology, a wound center, a short stay unit and surgery preplanning in addition to its already stellar lineup of offered services. These modernizations are also designed to help recruit and attract a new generation of talented physicians and surgeons, which is important to the long-term success of the hospital but also to the health and well-being of the region’s residents. We are living in an exciting time of medical research and development, and the new Spectrum Health Lakeland Pavilion is going to play an important role in bringing those lifesaving advancements to Southwest Michigan.

Update on Michigan PFAS Action Response Team bills Last year, I introduced House Bill 4746, a plan that would make the state’s PFAS Action Response Team a permanent agency within state government. This legislation is part of a larger reform package addressing the safety and security of Michigan’s drinking water supply. From day one we have worked swiftly to detect, contain, and respond to PFAS contamination in Southwest Michigan and across the state. Due to the diligent interagency response by the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team, the communities of Hartford and Parchment were able to receive the answers they needed and transition to safe drinking water as quickly as possible. Investigation and detection are only the beginning, but it is an important first step keeping families safe. HB 4746 specifically codifies the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) in law. In addition to my legislation, the bipartisan package includes House Bills 4742-4769. The 30-bill reform proposal looks at water quality across the board, from improving municipal safeguards and oversight to tightening up environmental protection and conservation. On January 21, I testified before the House Natural Resources Committee on this important package of legislation. HB 4746 and the entire package passed the committee with nearly unanimous support, and has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. As the State Representative for Van Buren and Northern Kalamazoo counties, PFAS containment, detection and clean-up is one of my biggest priorities. For many of us in Southwest Michigan, this issue has become personal over the past couple years. If you have any questions or concerns about your water, I encourage you to contact the State’s Environmental Assistance Center at 800-662-9278 or my office at (517) 373-0839.

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